Posted by: elderleach | January 3, 2011

A Tragic Week for Papa Leach‏

Good afternoon family and friends, it’s Elder Leach here and I’m…sad 😦 Ok, I’m actually much better now, but I was certainly having a tough time earlier this week. Don’t worry, this letter will be sad, but it also includes dashes of happiness here and there 😉

Paarl is one of the hottest places in the mission; it can frequently reach temperatures of 100-110 degrees F. Some bodies tolerate heat better than others—mine tolerates it fine, Elder Balmforth’s…despises it. I won’t go into too much detail, but let’s just say this heat has been getting out of control lately and our productivity struggled as a result. Last Sunday I couldn’t take seeing Elder Balmforth sick any longer. He insisted he was OK, but I insisted he was not and did something I’m not sure if I regret or not: I called the mission president and filled him in on the situation.
A few days passed. Nothing much was said to warn against the heat other than guarding against staying out in it for too long. Monday night, December 27th, was a difficult night for Elder Balmforth and I. At 10:21 PM the phone started ringing. We were already in bed starting to sleep, so Elder Balmforth hopped out of his bed and looked at the display screen—it read “President Probst”. My heart dropped as he gave the phone to me.
President Probst sounded remorseful and even a little uncertain, but he gave me the news anyway: “Elder Leach, I’ve been having difficulties with a missionary in Knysna and don’t know where to place him now. He’s struggling and just needs some help, and I considered your phone call a few days ago an answer to my prayers…”
I remained silent.
“…Elder Leach, how do you feel about having Elder Balmforth come to Knysna where the weather is cooler and healthier and having this other Elder come up to Paarl so you can share your enthusiasm about missionary work with him?”
The little ball of emotions that frequently forms in a person’s throat upon hearing bad news formed in mine. I said, “If that’s what needs to be done, then yes. That’s OK.” I was heart broken and Elder Balmforth was not so happy about it either. Tears formed in his eyes as he expressed his concerns about leaving. I told him all about Knysna and how much fun I had when I was there. He cheered up a little bit. He said to me, “Elder Leach, I’m tired of these blessings in disguise! Why can’t I have a blessing I recognize for once?!”
The next day after he got all packed, we had lunch at McDonald’s…our last one as mission father and mission son. We then drove off to Cape Town to meet with President Probst at the mission home. After arriving and talking for a few moments, the assistants to the mission president drove up and packed Elder Balmforth’s bags into their car. I gave him one last hug and saw him enter the vehicle. To my surprise, my bottom lip began to tremble and my eyes started to water.
When the AP’s drove off and I saw my son’s little greenie head disappearing from view, the tears sprang out of my eyes at an uncontrollable rate and I couldn’t hold in any emotions. I was a mess. President Probst said, “Imagine what his real father felt like when he left home…” Sister Probst then ran in and got me a tissue. I felt silly for crying over a companion, but c’mon! He was ripped away from me!
“There’s no companion like the one you trained,” I said amidst snot and tears. “He was a good companion.” Really, another reason for my emotions was because I felt nervous and inadequate about working with a missionary on the verge of going home.
Now, flashing forward almost a week later I’m doing well and so is my companion. He’s from Detriot, Michigan and has a great, willing heart. I am excited to continue working with him. Mission life is hard sometimes, but this is all preparing me for real life.
Well, that about sums up my week. New Years was great! We spent it at the church watching church DVD’s haha. I also wrote a lot of letters. There was also a big thunder/lightning storm which I enjoyed, so things are definitely looking up! 😉
I love you all,

Elder Matthew G. Leach
South Africa Cape Town Mission


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