Posted by: elderleach | January 10, 2011

What Exactly is My Mission About?‏

Zone Conference, Paarl
Well hello once again wonderful family and friends. Paarl just experienced one of its worst heatwaves last week with high temperatures ranging from 106º the first day of the heat (Tuesday the 4th) to 114º in the middle of the week. Humidity also made things feel much, much worse. Violent winds made it feel like someone left the oven door open and it actually hurt to have my eyes open! They would just water and burn if I faced the wind. Cape Town itself was only 90-100º the whole time, so while that is unusually hot, Paarl got the worst of it.
 
Aside from the heat, though, things are going pretty well. This week I had many thoughts and began to even get somewhat discouraged…but only somewhat. It’s one of those things where you know what is right, but you don’t feel like it’s fair. I’ve been able to take control over my emotions and be happier, but of course there are those difficult days that make you think.
 
One question in particular I had: What exactly is my mission about? To babysit unmotivated missionaries who want to go home? To teach people only to see them fall through the cracks as other missionaries all over are baptizing and adding on to the numbers here in South Africa? I can’t lie to you, having only baptized one person personally but seeing so many others fall away has been disheartening. My expectations were so much higher, especially in this part of the world, but alas I’ve had to search my soul and figure out the answer to this question,
 
“Why? Why am I out here? What is my purpose? Well, I’m supposed to bring souls unto Christ. Am I doing that? Well, yes, but they aren’t getting baptized. Is that really the only determining factor of success? No. Then what have you done out in the mission field that you consider successful?”
 
I just had this weird, long conversation in my head that I couldn’t fight this whole week. But the answer did come, and it has come before, I think I just chose to look for something else. Yesterday (Sunday) afternoon my companion and I went to teach this group of kids Elder Balmforth and I found a month and a half ago. It’s amazing how I keep running into kids, especially youth between the ages of 14 and 16, because this was the case in Knysna! When I was teaching these kids with Elder Balmforth, we just taught them basic gospel principles and played a few games. But something has drawn us to do something else with this situation.
 
There are 5 young men in this group, all of which are 15 and nearing 16. As is my weakness in every single stinkin’ situation I’ve been in so far on mission, I have grown to become very attached to these youth. They listen so attentively, they’re all able to recite the Restoration lesson to us, they have Books of Mormon and they keep coming back for more. Yesterday my companion and I just met with these 5 teenagers and introduced a challenge to them:
 
“We have seen how devoted you are to the things we’ve been teaching,” I said. “and we want to use you as missionaries. We would like to have you all take turns walking around this neighborhood teaching the Restoration with us to the families we meet.” We then introduced the missionary guide book, Preach My Gospel, to them and taught them what they must do as future missionaries. We then explained how they’re all wearing invisible missionary badges and should always act like missionaries and never do anything Christ or his disciples wouldn’t do.
 
During that lesson the answer came! THAT is why I’m here. This is my mission. I don’t think there is any coincidence involved here. I taught 4 youth in Knysna and they loved the Gospel and are apparently still doing well. And now here I am in Paarl teaching 5 more youth and using them as fellowshippers to help strengthen their testimonies of what has been taught. I told this to my parents on the phone during Christmas, but I’ll repeat it: I believe I’m here for the youth in South Africa. The connection I feel and the deep desire I have to help them stay out of the deadly trouble that surrounds them in these neighborhood’s and alleyways is overwhelming. I feel a more strong determination to help them become 19 year old missionaries of this church than anything else.
 
Missionaries are meant to do various things. I believe my mission is to help these kids find the truth and live it, because that has become my passion. Maybe they won’t be baptized tomorrow, in 2 weeks or 2 years, but the seeds that are being planted are priceless. I have grown to love this work more than anything else because the future generation is strong, capable and willing. They just need a chance.
 
Anyway, those are my thoughts this week. My prayers are a lot stronger this transfer. I’m doing well with my companion, but he is certainly struggling. I’ve been praying for a vision on how to best help him, but it is so difficult. I can use your prayers!
 
I love you all,
 
Elder Matthew G. Leach
South Africa Cape Town Mission
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Responses

  1. Thank you for your message. I think we should all be “wearing invisible missionary badges”…I’ll think of that during my encounters today. Praying for you and all you meet. Your delightful and insightful letters are a blessing.


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