Posted by: capetownelder | July 18, 2011

Access…Denied

Good day everyone! Hope all is well in the States, or wherever you are reading this entry.

I do have some sad news from the mission field: the Namibian government has denied the VISA applications of all six of us elders waiting to go. I found out around the middle of last week, and though I felt I handled it well, my insides didn’t feel so well. As much as I like it here in Cape Town, the thought of being in a trio until this Namibia mess gets sorted out is a horrible feeling. Really, it’s tough to not have an official area OR an official companion. We are supposed to get transfer news today, but so far no word.

Aside from that, though, I do have some uplifting news. I had been praying that the Lord would reveal to me the purpose of my service here in the Somerset West area. Wouldn’t you know it, a part of that answer came yesterday, the last day of the transfer. A member of the bishopric asked Elder Umeh, Elder Howard and I to teach the Young Men about missionary service and share some experiences from it. There are three young men, two white South Africans named Cameron and James and one Zimbabwean named Theodore. We took turns presenting various aspects of missionary work and it seemed to go quite well.

At the very end of this presentation, just as church was about to end, James bowed his head in disappointment as he expressed to us how certain extended family members of his have chosen not to go on missions and he sees that their lives are pretty good. He then began to doubt if he could be the only one in the family to serve a mission, especially since he gets homesick easily. I observed tears welling up in his eyes as he expressed his desire to serve, but lack of courage to do it.

During moments such as these, I begin to get very anxious. I could relate to this kid very well: we both have brown hair and brown eyes, we both are the only boys amidst three sisters in our family, we are both inseparably connected to our mothers and we both have the tendency to get homesick. I began to give him words of encouragement, but he was called out of the class before I could finish my thoughts, and it broke my heart to see him wipe his eyes and walk out of the room.

As I often do, I went to the piano in the chapel after church and began playing my own arrangements of the Hymns and Primary songs. But as I played, I couldn’t get James’s concern out of my mind. It was while I was playing, “I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus” that I experienced two distinct impressions: 1) I needed to write James a letter expressing all the thoughts I wish I could have said to encourage him but didn’t have time to and 2) I needed to call James’s mother and ask her a burning question that wouldn’t leave my mind.

“Hello?” she said.

“Hi, this is Elder Leach.”

“Hi Elder Leach. What can I do for you?”

“Well, this may sound like an odd question, but…does your son play the piano?”

There was a pause, and then she responded, “Yes…yes, actually he does. He’s been playing for about 2 years now and while he’s not very good, he has been making wonderful improvements. Why?”

“Well, I had a thought as I was playing the piano today that I should pass a message on,” I tried to work out how I was going to word the sentence, then I said, “Please tell James that if he practices his piano every day, especially the Hymns, and makes them personal to his life, he will not encounter homesickness on his mission. It worked for me, I am positive it will work for him!”

We then exchanged a few more words and that was that. What an interesting thought! How powerful those inspirational God-inspired words and music those Hymns are! The Hymns are what has saved me from a lot of grief, stress and homesickness on my mission. And I knew that if a young man like James was playing the piano now, he has a great advantage above all others to refine that skill and use it to console and uplift himself and others in the time the Lord needs him to use that talent the most.

I am grateful for parents who have encouraged me to not only serve my Father in Heaven through missionary service, but also stick with the piano which has enabled me to have access to distinct healing and nourishing effects on my life that I never could have imagined.

I love you all and wish you the best. Our mission President had the whole mission fast for the Namibian government, that perhaps their hearts may soften towards us and the glorious message we have to bring.

Love,

Elder Matthew G. Leach
South Africa Cape Town Mission

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