Posted by: capetownelder | October 10, 2011

“I’ve Got Your Back”

Hello everyone! It’s great to communicate with all of you again 🙂

I would like to share an experience with all of you that is pretty typical of me, yet it ended up making a bigger impact than I had expected.

In the Book of Mosiah, King Benjamin declares: “I say unto you that if ye should serve [H]im who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another…ye would be unprofitable servants.” I would like to emphasis the statement I highlighted in bold.

This morning (Monday morning), the 4 of us elders participated in a seemingly simple hike on one of the nearby hiking trails in Windhoek. True, my athletic and physical abilities are limited, but I figured that my chicken legs could handle a few mountains and hills. How hard could it be?

Elder Chatora and I left the boarding this morning with no backpack, no food, no water…nothing (Looks like after 17 months I haven’t changed in that regard. Oh no…I sense my mother worrying!). We were told by one of the elders, Elder McDonald, that it would be an easy 1 hour hike, both ways. Because some of my favorite activities back home were biking and four-wheeling in the mountains of Wyoming, I felt this would be a fun activity.

The hike began with a very easy incline in the cool of the day. We went up, down and around small hills, taking pictures and observing the wonderful nature of Namibia. We then suddenly stopped. Straight ahead within one of the bigger “mountains” (there aren’t really mountains here…they’re more like really big hills!) that we planned to hike, we saw a family of baboons hopping and skipping all over the place. Then one growled.

“Umm…I think we should go the other way,” one of the elders suggested. The baboons were still far off, but as much as Elder McDonald wanted to play with them, we felt it would be better to take a longer, but more rigorous route.

I took sissy sips of water here and there, but for the most part I refused—I have never been a big drinker of water, not even when I was at home. It has always been a bad habit of mine, but I just don’t like water. So, on this hike I generally avoided drinking that tasteless liquid. We then reached a troublesome incline. As I made my way up the big mountain with jeans (stop laughing! My companion was wearing jeans too :)) I began to feel very tired. My lips were dry and my legs were trembling. I took several rests with my companion as the other two elders went ahead, but we all stayed within sight of each other.

After a grueling 30 minutes, I made it to the top! Oh, Hallelujah! I took a seat and panted for about 20 more minutes, then we all took turns sharing our favorite passages of scripture (mine came from Moses 7) and singing some hymns, one of them being my favorite: “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” (Hymn #72)

After that spiritual and physical breather, we made our way down the menacing mountain. I took a big gulp of water before embarking on the journey.

To make a long story short, we ended up getting lost several times along the way not remembering where we parked the car (yes we are elders, not sister missionaries!). Let me tell you folks, I suffered. “I can’t make it up another big hill,” I said with my legs shaking from the stress. “I feel a bit dehydrated.” I developed a cramp and a slight headache. I knew this wasn’t good and I was given plenty of water along the way…until we ran out.

That’s when we approached the final hill…and it was a big one. I stopped right where I was and in exasperation I said, “No…no…I can’t do it. There’s no more water, I have no more energy…I need to rest.”

“You can do it, Elder Leach!” Elder Houston said, cheering me on. “Think about the shower you’re going to take when you get back…think about lunch! And the nice cold water you’ll be drinking.”

“Not helping…” I grumbled. “But thank you for the encouragement.” I began the climb, but my legs were weaker than ever. I then stopped right where I was with a ball of emotions forming in my throat. “How pathetic,” I thought to myself. “How inexcusably unfit I am! I’m slowing everyone down…” Just as I came to a full stop, I felt a gentle hand push my back from behind and my legs began moving. It was incredible! I could climb with ease. Then the hand disappeared.

I turned around and there was Elder Houston with a smile on his face. “It feels easier to get up the mountain with a little support, huh?” he said. “It’s amazing how hard it is to fight against gravity.” I gave him a weak, dehydrated smile and proceeded. But my legs began to lock up and I stopped again. I hadn’t been still for more than 1 second before I felt Elder Houston’s hand push my back again and help me up the mountain.

At this moment I became very emotional. I was holding back the tears as he used his energy to help push me forward. He would repeat encouraging words as he led me on. Of course, I didn’t want him to see I was about to unleash another physical fact that I have many weaknesses, so I coughed a few times and swallowed the emotions. As he pushed me forward, I reflected on how the Savior has led me throughout my life and my mission so far. I have had some very trying moments, and when I feel like throwing my hands up in the air and stopping right where I am, I feel his gentle hand give my back a push and help me move forward in a way I couldn’t otherwise.

We made it up the mountain, found the car down below the other side and…yes, I drank A LOT of water when we arrived. Lesson learned!

I would like to echo Nephi’s words, “My God hath been my support; [H]e hath led me through mine afflictions…” (2 Nephi 4:20). I am so thankful for this experience and Elder Houston’s example. Though he’d never admit he did anything major, it meant the world to me.

Trust in the Lord, let Him be your guide, and let Him show you who you really are and what you can do.

I love this gospel! Sweet is the peace the gospel brings.

Elder Leach


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