Posted by: elderleach | April 4, 2011

Dude, Where’s Our Car?‏

Well howdy, everyone! Every once in a while I pause and think about where I am. “Holy cow, I’m in Africa!” But I feel, at least sometimes, South Africa is very different than the rest of Africa. On the outside it is so developed, you’d think you’re in America, but on the inside…well, there’s a lot of work to be done. Let’s just say the gospel must continue to be preached to these wonderful people!
Every week I feel that Heavenly Father gives me certain experiences so that I will learn from them (after sometimes being spiritually rebuked!) and then my duty on the following Monday is to report on what I’ve learned so the rest of you don’t make that same mistakes!
This past Friday, I woke up more tired and groggy than normal. I practically crawled out of bed and pathetically made my way to the shower. I washed up, shaved and did my normal routine. When I walked out of the bathroom at about 7:05 am or so, Elder Nkala stood near the door to the balcony that overlooked the parking lot and said, “Elder Leach, come over here…”
“Uh-oh!” I thought. “This doesn’t sound too good…” I walked over to the balcony and looked over the ledge. Before I could say anything, Elder Nkala inquired, “Where’s our car?” My heart dropped 15 stories and I searched frantically in that parking lot for a sign of our silver Chevrolet Aveo. Sure enough, it was gone. Hopelessly gone.
I began to panic within myself, “What are we going to tell the mission president? My GPS is in there, some books of mine…oh my word, what are we going to do? We can’t possibly WALK in our area!” Upon realizing the joke was going too far, the two other American elders, Elder Patterson from Pennsylvania and Elder Pearson from Utah came into the room and threw our keys on the table.
“APRIL FOOLS!” they said in unison. I looked at my watch…and surely, it was the 1st of April. As I began to think of all the ways I could murder them, they said, “Elder Leach, it is so unlike you to keep the door AND gate unlocked during the night! You’re in South Africa for havens sake! We’re sorry, we had to take advantage of that opportunity…” They then gave us clues as to where they hid the blasted car.
My mind then began to devise a plan to pull an April Fool’s prank on our district leader, Elder Randrianarison from Madagascar. He is set to go home in a few weeks, so we plotted to steal his phone, swap the mission president’s contact name with ours, and call him later on in the day, pretending to be President Probst (I am told I do a very good President Probst impersonation!). I was to tell him that because his VISA is expiring early, he will have to be sent home a week early.
Well, I decided to pull the prank in the middle of our district meeting that day (BAD IDEA!) and when I called him, I told him to get ready to leave the area a whole 7 days before his departure date. After the stunt, I went back in the room and pretended like I had just gone to the bathroom. Elder Randrianarison’s face was perplexed, but excited. “President Probst’s voice sounds weird, but it looks like I’m going home earlier than I thought!” he said. He then went back into the contacts list to observe the President’s number closer. His face then changed.
About 10 seconds passed as he just stared at the phone. He then frowned and ran into the bathroom. My heart dropped and the rest of the district sat in the room silent. “Is he OK?” one of the elders asked. We went to the bathroom to check up on him, but he blocked the door. He said, “Just go away, guys. I don’t want to talk to you for the rest of the day. I just feel like going back to the flat…”
What was I thinking?! How could I pull such a prank during his district meeting and joke about his departure date? I felt terrible. We then heard him talking to the mission president about 10 minutes later and my heart dropped further. I’m doomed! I thought. This was such an immature thing to do. I have ruined this whole district’s relationship and chased the Spirit away. How could I do such a thing?! I almost went into tears thinking about the disappointment I likely caused to the mission president and our district leader.
Elder Randrianarison then came back into the room and announced, “Well, President isn’t very happy with what just happened.” I hung my head in shame. “He says you all have great cause to repent…” There was about five seconds of silence, then he exclaimed, “APRIL FOOL’S!!!! Heh heh, we play these games in Madagascar too, you know!”
My heart leaped with joy, but murderous thoughts entered my mind yet again. “ARE YOU SERIOUS?!” I said. “You were joking?”!
“Yup!” he said, smiling.
“So you didn’t call President?”
I ran up to him and slugged him in the chest…softly. I then gave him a hug, “Sorry for ruining your district meeting,” I said. “It really wasn’t the right thing to do, but I’m glad you can take a joke!”
I learned a very good lesson that day. Have you ever thought of a joke that perhaps you find funny, but upon saying it you realize it made someone else the victim? This has been a growing experience for me. I am embarking on my 11th month as a set apart missionary, and I must say…my jokes have improved! But I do make mistakes from time to time.
This is something I have to remember: “Therefore, cease from all your light speeches…from all your lustful desires, from all your pride and light-mindedness, and from all your wicked doings.” (D&C 88:121) This doesn’t mean be a stone-faced weirdo, but be careful what you say. I was so afraid I had ruined my whole mission future because of a little joke, and luckily the person I played it on took it well. But there are those times when jokes go too far, feelings get hurt and communication stops.
I’m grateful for the Spirit and its assistance in bringing my thoughts, jokes and attitudes closer to the Lord and helping with my ability in knowing when and how to joke. It’s a constant process, but if you pray for help, it will happen!
I love you all! Have a great week,
Elder Matthew G. Leach
South Africa Cape Town Mission


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