Posted by: elderleach | February 22, 2011

Lost and Found

Molwennnnni! (That’s how people say hello here. They drag out the ‘n’ ;))
It has been a blazing fast week here in the busy field of Kwa Magxaki. This is so very different than the past 2 areas I served in, but it’s a good kind of different. People aren’t nearly as drunk on the weekends here (even though they still attempt to call out “Pastor, pastor!” and give us kisses) and it seems like the overall attitude is an excitement about religion versus riotous living.
I have another thought to share this week that, perhaps, I may have talked about in past letters. But it seems like every week there’s a certain principle of the Gospel that stands out to me more than others, and that if I don’t say something about it I will be held accountable for not sharing.
On Thursday Elder Nkala and I ventured to the 3rd biggest township in South Africa: Motherwell. Motherwell is a maze of houses with a confused numbering system (how house #10 can be right next to house #452 is beyond me) and cows, ducks, dogs and other wild beasts blocking the roads and bathing in inconvenient mud puddles the car simply can’t run through. Crime is high and self worth is low. But, we do have members of the church that live there so we’ve planned to go up there every week to follow up on active and less active members.
One less active stood out to us, so we typed the number in my handy dandy GPS and luckily it knew the road and led us straight there. We knocked on the door and it opened, with a smiling face to greet us! But that sun-shiny face suddenly turned into a dark cloud of thunder and lightning as she observed who we actually were. Reluctantly, she let us in and had us take a seat.
“I used to be a member of your church,” she said. “But not anymore.”
“We still have your records, so you’re actually still a member,” I reminded her. She paused, then snorting and adjusting in her seat she said, “Huh…well, I haven’t been there in 10 years so you might as well take me off your records.”
Elder Nkala and I looked at each other in confusion: what should we do next? I was getting really agitated with this lady’s attitude and I wondered how long I could manage to bite my tongue.
“I’m now a member of the New Apostolic Church,” she informed us. “And there, they welcome me and treat me like a normal human being.”
I eventually lost control of my tongue’s leash and it barked, “Oh, so you’re church hopping then, huh?”
That dark cloud of dissatisfaction her face displayed when she opened the door now turned into an F5 tornado/lightning/thunder/hail storm combo. Before I could issue a Severe Weather Warning to the South African Weather Service, she cried, “HOPPING? HOPPING? Children hop! I’m too old to hop! I can determine what is best for me now, I don’t need anyone telling me what’s right and what’s wrong.” She looked away from us, and then turned her fiery glance at the floor.
It was quiet. I said timidly, “We just want you back…”
That’s when the rain started to fall. I observed her wiping away her tears and immediately felt horrible. I made this poor woman cry! She then said,
“I was baptized a member of your church 20 years ago in Cape Town. I liked it then. A few years later I moved over on this side and got to know the new ward. Everybody was nice to me, but I was living here in Motherwell at the time and it’s so far away from the chapel that the visits from church members became less and less frequent…” The tears came at a faster rate now, and she said, “I called one of the church members to come visit me because I was lonely and they said, ‘No, I can’t do that because it’s too far. Just come to church and we’ll talk’. It was at that moment I decided I can’t do it anymore. They don’t love me, so why would I keep going to church?”
The room was still, and I saw her face turn from anger to complete remorse. She knew what was right, but she just didn’t feel supported or included in church activities. Eventually she just joined another church, clearly not keeping in mind the covenants, or promises, she made to the Lord in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. But, she didn’t display much interest in coming back…not yet, anyway.
We left her home with a prayer, during which she displayed even more sadness. We said goodbye and that was that.
Clearly, this lady had more problems than just being offended by a church member. A big part of it was being forgotten. How tragic it was to see a once devoted church member living unaffordably so far away from the chapel, lost and forgotten in the eyes of the ward. She revealed to us she hasn’t received any visits from members in nearly a decade.
So, that’s what we’re busy with here. Reaching out to the lost, so that they may become the found and enjoy what they once had. Out of the nearly 10 months I’ve spent as a missionary, rarely have I met someone who has fallen away from the church and likes it that way.
Just keep in mind those who are struggling! Reach out a helping hand.
Have a fantastic week!!!!

Love,
Elder Matthew G. Leach
South Africa Cape Town Mission

 

 

1. Elder Gilbert is my new zone leader! (He was my 3rd companion in Knysna during August and September!)

2. The district at a service project: Me, Elder Ncube (South Africa), Elder Rapitse–District Leader (Lesotho), Elder Nkala (Zimbabwe), Elder Andriamanantena (Madagascar) and Elder Pearson (Utah).

3. I had to post this one, because Dad insists I can’t make a good egg! 😉
4. Lunch one day (it’s called “Mqnushu”, or corn, meat sauce and beans. Xhosas love that stuff! And so do I. They don’t have chili here, so that’s the next best thing!)
5. Dark clouds in Kwa Magxaki

6. More cloud pictures (I’m probably the only one interested in this haha)

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