Posted by: elderleach | May 3, 2011

Pretty Fly for Two White Guys!‏

Let me first start off by excusing myself for the above title of this blog entry. I cannot help that I inherited these genes from a certain Mr. Gregory Leach, who happens to be my father. Haha.
But seriously, when the mission president called me last week and said that I was going to once again be paired up with an elder from Utah, I was shocked! The area in which Elder Nkala and I had worked the past 3 months was strictly Xhosa. I was severely out numbered, but I didn’t mind so much. But two white Americans traveling the rustic roads of Zwide is not a common sight! Race is such a big deal here, and Elder Critchfield and I have gotten our fair share of stares and comments.
“Mulungu!” they’ll exclaim, both adults and children alike. “Yes, we are!” I’ll respond. Yesterday, Elder Critchfield and I found ourselves with spare time. So, we decided to go knock a few doors, since that’s where all the good stories come from anyway. On our way to a home, we saw a man washing his car and decided to talk to him. That is, until he admitted, “Reverend, (we’re called reverends, pastors, priests, you name it!) I mustn’t speak further, for I am not in sober circumstances…” I almost snorted with a brief chuckle, but I held it in.
“We respect you for not wasting our time,” I responded.
“You can go to that house across the street, though,” he said. “Maybe they’ll be in the right frame of mind?” Having plenty of spare time on our hands, we walked over to the home and the door was wide open. I hesitated to walk right up to the door because I’m not use to having a white companion in township, but I chased away those foolish concerns and walked up to the door. There were a few women in the room, however all but two got up and left when they saw us. One of the women (I’d say in her 30s) still there was holding a platter of fish.
“Oh, are you having a party?” I asked.
“Yes!” she responded happily. “It’s my birthday!”
“Oh wow! My birthday is in May too!” I said enthusiastically.
“REALLY? How cool! What day?”
“The 6th!”
“Get out!” she said.  (I was a little caught off guard when she said that, because typically when people tell missionaries to “get out”, they’re not joking!)
We then gave each other high fives. I’m sure my companion was rolling his eyes the whole time and muttering, “Oh brother!” but hey, we were invited in the home! We gave a brief introduction of our message and we told both women in the room we were sent by a prophet of God. They leaned forward intently and the one with the fish said, “Please. Tell us more!”
We happily agreed, and by the end of that lesson they both miraculously committed themselves to baptism. It was an inspiring moment and one that was not previously planned. The Lord works in a mysterious way, and it taught me a great lesson:
Whether we be white, black, blue or green, this gospel is for everyone. My fears of being “too white for these people”, while a common concern in South Africa in general, should not have been as big as they were because I wasn’t approaching that home with a threatening message or to have them sign a contract. In the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Lord “looketh on the heart”. And it was truly the most peaceful feeling to come from different cultural and family backgrounds and yet have a universal message: that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ and that there is a prophet on the Earth today, even Thomas S. Monson.
What a glorious message! I love you all and wish you the best this week,
Elder Matthew G. Leach

South Africa Cape Town Mission


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