Posted by: capetownelder | January 30, 2012

Namibia to Be Without Missionaries for (another) Season :(

Hello everyone! Yes, yes, yes I am doing much better, thank you! I haven’t had any complications since I was released from the hospital (thank goodness) and my health is good.

Latest news in Namibia is…no new visas, which means no new missionaries. President Wood gave the OK for me to call the elders in the zone and inform them no one will be staying here another transfer (except for the Ladles, the senior couple who leave in March) and we will all be going down no later than the 15th of February 😦 Can you believe this is happening AGAIN?! It was not easy news to break.

So, we as a 6 man zone have been busy with several projects to arm the two branches we have here with enough ammo to carry on the work we’ve started.Β  In the Katutura Branch (where I’m serving) we have organized “Branch Missionary Training” where Elder Andriamitantsoa and I have enlisted 5 branch missionaries for our area (Khomasdal) and Elder Zarbock and Elder Khanyile have enlisted 5 branch missionaries for their area (Katutura) to continue teaching the investigators we have.

We are teaching these branch missionaries how to fill in teaching records, progress records, and how to use Preach My Gospel, the missionary handbook. We are also teaching them how to tailor their teaching to investigators. This is a task we are trying to accomplish every Saturday (starting last Saturday) until we leave. That really only gives us 3 weeks to train them! So yeah…it’s crunch time. And guess who’s one of the branch missionaries? Alu! (the one I baptized in December)

We are also busy preparing a branch missionary fireside for this coming Saturday and we have been putting on a very successful branch scripture study class that convenes Saturday evenings. It has consistently had 20+ people in attendance, so we have been happy to see the branch continuing to strengthen their already strong testimonies.

I am grateful for the work up here. There’s still a lot to do these last two weeks, though. Elder Zarbock and I are setting an appointment with the main newspaper company here called “The Namibian” to discuss writing an article about the missionaries and our current situation. We will of course need to be delicate when talking about home affairs and their refusal to accept visas, but we feel having a newspaper article published will help our cause.

Thanks again for all your love and support!

Love,

Elder Leach

Posted by: capetownelder | January 16, 2012

Case of the “Runny Tummy”

Well hello everyone! Though I can’t see or speak to any of you, I have felt particularly close to you this week as I was hooked up to an IV and a hospital bed being fed the classic yogurt and tapioca pudding! Apparently the word spread like wild fire, so I might as well confirm the fact that I was indeed in the hospital from Monday evening up until Thursday evening with a horrible stomach flu-like bug that knocked the socks off of me.

I first got quite ill Friday evening and experienced something Africans call “runny tummy” which is a very polite, less aggressive term for “diarrhea”. Now, there’s really a LOT of detail I COULD go into concerning this whole runny tummy deal, but suffice it to say when it was all said and done by the end of this week the number of times I got acquainted with the bathroom nearly reached the triple digits. That’s a lot of bathroom newspaper reading time! But, because missionaries can’t read newspapers I just used it for toilet paper.

I was pricked, prodded, stabbed and jabbed with an assortment of needles and other instruments to asses my unusual series of bowel movements and stomach pains. They put me on a variety of antibiotics and other “who know’s what” pills that, in the end, weren’t making a difference. But it wasn’t until Wednesday that I felt particularly helpless and low. I could hardly walk (aside from the fact I carried around that gigantic metal IV coat rack thing every 10 minutes to the toilet and it seemed to have the infinite capacity to run over my toes) and I didn’t feel like eating a thing. Well, I couldn’t even if I wanted to! It’d just come back up. The last full meal I had was on Friday, so I was pushing 1 week with no real food.

I received a call from my marvelous mission president, President Wood, and not only did he call to check up to see how I was doing, but he called to tell me he sent out a mass text message to the whole mission (121 elders) asking that they pray for my recovery. He said, “I did that because I felt it would stimulate your faith.” Within 24 hours of sending that text message, I was discharged from the hospital and although still weak and a tad cranky, I was healed from some terrible unknown bug; even to this day the doctors have no idea what it was that affected me so badly.

But now let me thank YOU for your prayers and faith, for truly that is what I know healed me when everything else wouldn’t work. The Lord watches over his missionaries and is mindful of their needs and the needs of their families. Thank you for your continued support and I can’t wait to see you all and thank you personally. Now I gotta get back to work! The people are waiting πŸ™‚

With much love and appreciation,
Elder Matt Leach

Posted by: capetownelder | January 9, 2012

Elder Meat and Soda

Hello everyone! Hoe gaan dit? (Remember what that means? Yes, they speak Afrikaans in Namibia too!) It was transfer week this week and Elder McDonald left to East London, South Africa and I remained because I still have time left for one more transfer here in Namibia. So, Elder Andriamitantsoa from Madagascar is my new companion. Back in August, I had a Malagasy companion named Elder Randriamalala. Remember him?

If you struggle with the name, think of it this way: Adriamitantsoa = “Andria-meat-and-soda”. So sometimes I’ll say, “Hey Elder Meat and Soda, can you…” or “Elder Meat and Soda will you…” haha. But that’s only occasionally πŸ˜‰ Most people give up trying when they see his name, which is sad, but I have taken myself to learning it. He’s a happy, jubilant soul as most Malagasy people are, so that’s a plus!

Elder McDonald had to leave Namibia a day before Elder Andri came in, so that left me with a branch missionary named Marcelino (from Angola) as my companion for the day. It’s quite a surreal feeling to not have an elder as your companion in appointments! Marcelino and I actually got lost walking in Otjomuise in the middle of the hot day with no water and that was scary. Needless to say, I felt quite outnumbered.

The rest of this week we committed two people to baptism, one of them being Alu’s sister, who is just like Alu, so things are improving here in the area.

Well, my time is limited, but I love all of you and thank you for your prayers and support!

Love,
Elder Leach

Posted by: capetownelder | January 2, 2012

Bringing Christmas to Otjomuise

Hello family and friends! Sorry about no e-mail last week…there just wasn’t enough time! But boy did I enjoy my holidays here in Namibia. There’s a wonderful Angolan family we stayed with to have Christmas dinner (a goat I saw get slaughtered, mind you!) and make our phone calls. I called on their Skype and was able to speak to my sisters, my brothers in law and my parents! Alu even came along and got to say hello to my family.

On Christmas Eve we did a couple really fun things. First, my mom sent me a package with lots of little candies and toys to give to the township kids, so Elder McDonald and I along with Elder Khanyile, Elder Zarbock and Alu went around the poorest of poor townships in our area called Otjomuise (I dare you to pronounce that! :)) to pass the items out. Oh my word, this was the Africa I had envisioned. Now, never would an American child appreciate living in a tin shack in 100ΒΊ weather, but these children are just jubilant as ever with what little they have.

We trekked up and down the dusty hills of Otjomuise searching out little kids who would like a Christmas they may not get otherwise. It was funny how when we’d find one, many would follow since kids usually travel in groups. We handed them whistles, gum, pez dispensers (they were really confused as to what those were!) and other little toys. Even the older kids happily received what little we gave them and the smiles on each mother’s face was priceless. This was truly such an uplifting moment for me.

Later that evening we went to a single woman’s home to cut down a small bush in here yard so we could make her a Christmas tree (yes, we had her permission :)) and you should have seen her face! Elder McDonald and I thought it wrong that someone should not only spend a Christmas alone, but also without a Christmas tree. After stringing the lights, we left to go do some zone caroling with all the elders and the senior couple. This went down as my single most favorite Christmas Eve of all time, and I doubt anything could beat it!

Well, it’s transfer week this week and Elder McDonald’s visa is just about done, so he’ll likely be leaving me and I’ll get either a new companion or spend this next transfer with a branch missionary since no new visas have been approved. Oh, Namibia! The drama continues… πŸ™‚

I love you all! Hope you had a wonderful Christmas season and will enjoy the new year ahead,

Love,
Elder Leach

Posted by: capetownelder | December 12, 2011

It’s Christmas Time in Windhoek, Namibia!

Hello everyone! Hope all is well. Last week has been a great one for Elder McDonald and I as we have found several new people and got ready for our “zone conference” in Cape Town for this upcoming week. We are SO excited to be flying down to Cape Town as a zone in a few days, but in the meantime we have some more work to do.

Did you know, even in Windhoek, Namibia, they deck the streets with Christmas lights? Never mind the fact that it’s 70ΒΊ outside in the night time, it still looks festive!

Windhoek Christmas Walk

Christmas Time in the City

Santa Claus apparently doesn’t come here, though. Instead of Santa on a sleigh full of reindeer, it’s a wild bushman on the back of a giraffe. Slight difference, huh?

One of the Christmas presents I received just a couple days ago was baptizing one of the most incredible young men I have ever met. His name is Alu and he is from northern Namibia. He came into contact with the missionaries earlier this year, but they never ended up calling him. He came to church one day on October and we started teaching him immediately! He read to us 2 Nephi 9:2 and said in his quiet voice, “I have been restored to the true fold of Christ!”

His baptism was equally as powerful. As we went up out of the water, he stood in place for about 30 seconds, contemplating what just happened. Tears came to his eyes as he realized the big step he had made. I asked him later, “How do you feel?” and he said, “Amazing!”

He’s already talking about serving a mission. I asked him where he’d like to serve and he said, without skipping a beat, “Anywhere in Asia!” Upon asking why, he said, “I just love the people and the culture.” That’s when I shared with him how I prayed every night I’d get to serve a mission in Africa a month before I got the call. Heavenly Father answers prayers! His desire dwindled a bit when I told him he’d have to learn a language like Chinese or Japanese πŸ˜‰

The happiness and joy I see in people embracing this gospel is the BEST Christmas gift EVER! And that’s the best Christmas gift I can imagine giving Christ. I feel so blessed to be out here and thank the Lord daily for this opportunity.

I love you all! Hope you have a great rest of the week,

Elder Leach

Alu's Baptism

Posted by: capetownelder | December 5, 2011

Grateful to Be a Missionary!

The City of Windhoek, Namibia

Hello family and friends! It was another fabulous week in Windhoek, Namibia. I remember commenting to one of the individuals we were teaching, “I am shocked at how modern Windhoek really is. I had no idea it’s as up to date as South Africa!” Not sure if that comment offended him or not, but it’s true! πŸ™‚ When you hear “Namibia” you automatically think “foreign”.

A few nights ago I had a very distinct dream that has caused me to think a lot about where I am in the mission field. I have approached 19 months (no, I’m not counting down yet!) and there are certain missionaries that never fail to remind me (haha, and they know who they are).

I dreamt that I was at home in the kitchen talking to my mom (which was a common scene back home) and I told her, “Mom, I just don’t feel happy. I feel like I’m just not as busy as I should be and I don’t feel good about it.” She laughed then said, “Oh, my sweet boy, that’s what all the returned missionaries say! Don’t worry, things will get back to normal soon.” But I remember distinctly feeling, “No! I don’t want normal! I want to go back into the field!” And then I woke up.

That morning I thought a lot about my feelings in that dream. It’s not like I really needed a reminder of how much I love my mission, but that dream gave me more of a push and helped me feel even more grateful for being out here, for I am truly eating this experience up! I told myself several months ago, “Never do I want to be termed a ‘dead missionary’. I want to work hard until the end.” And I feel that I am doing just that πŸ™‚

Anyway, I just want to let all of you know, that things are going so well here and the Lord is blessing these precious Namibian saints abundantly. One of our star investigators, Alu, is being baptized on Saturday and confirmed on Sunday, so we’re excited about that!

Now I will leave with this quote: “The Savior’s love is so overwhelming that I think He and our Father in Heaven are anxiously waiting to bless us at the slightest good we do, because that’s Their nature.” ~Tad R. Callister

Love you all!

Elder Leach

Posted by: capetownelder | November 28, 2011

Elder Leach and the Body Builder

Well howdy! Hope you all had a marvelous Thanksgiving! Ours was fantastic! Who knew they had turkey’s in Namibia? At least, as far as I knew it was a turkey πŸ˜‰ The senior couple missionaries here made us a wonderful Thanksgiving feast and we enjoyed it with the three new elders that joined us: Elder Khanyile, Elder Zarbock and Elder Critchfield! If you remember, I trained Elder Critchfield in Kwa Magxaki for six weeks, so it’s nice to see him again.

My new companion is Elder McDonald, a 220 pound body builder from St. George, Utah, compared to my 130 pounds of pure muscle πŸ˜‰ I’ve had the tallest of the tall (Elder Critchfield at 6’5”) and now biggest of the big, muscle wise. During his morning work outs he’ll usually like to holler like the Hulk and then say, “C’mon Elder Leach! Let’s see you do some reps!!!” Haha, yeah, I definitely see a fireball companionship coming up. And who knows, maybe I’ll grow some muscle mass by the end of these six weeks. All I can say is, he’s a hard worker and willing to do whatever to takes to move this work forward, so I’m excited.

Well, I don’t have much time left. I just want to say that I’m thankful for all of you and your prayers. I have felt strengthened and uplifted these past several weeks and I am excited for the future. I love what this gospel has to offer and to share it with others. I hope you feel the same πŸ™‚

“O that I were and angel and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people!” Alma 29:1

Love you all,

Elder Matthew G. Leach
South Africa Cape Town Mission

Posted by: capetownelder | November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving in Namibia

Elder Chatora and I with John Mutjemo on his baptism day

 

Hello everyone! What a week it has been. Thanksgiving is on Thursday, and luckily we have an American senior couple up here who will be providing a Thanksgiving feast for us elders. My companion, Elder Chatora, received news he’s being transferred to Cape Town (he’s been serving here in Namibia for 6 months!) and I still don’t know my news…it should come tonight, but either way, I know I’m staying here. I haven’t served in Namibia long enough! πŸ™‚
But I am grateful to have the senior couple, Elder and Sister Ladle, up here to make things seem a little festive with a turkey, mashed potatoes, corn, the usual, even if the surroundings won’t be what I’m used to. Word is, it’s supposed to be stormy here on Thursday, so I’ll have another thing to be thankful for!

Speaking of gratitude, we had a wonderful investigator, John, baptized on Saturday and he was confirmed a member on Sunday. He’s one of the oldest members in the young Katutura Branch, but he doesn’t care! He told me on the day of his baptism, “I couldn’t sleep all night! I was too excited for this moment.” He was found by missionaries in late 2007 and was almost baptized in 2008, but he had to leave the city to attend to family in Northern Namibia. He returned this year and he contacted us at the church my first Sunday there! He is definitely a prepared soul.

I am also grateful for the prayers of these faithful saints. Just weeks after it was announced in church to pray for missionary visas to be accepted in this land, 4 visas were approved and those 4 elders will be coming up within the next couple days. The work will continue to press forward!

I am also grateful for the weather. Namibia is a desert in the winter (May-August), but it turns into a tropical rain forest in the summer (November-February), and the heavy rains and storms will be arriving and, in some degree, have already arrived just in time for me, a stormy-weather lover! πŸ™‚

I am also grateful for the missionaries I’ve had the privilege to serve with and around up here. There’s only four of us, so we have gotten to know each other fairly well. My companion and I have also established such a friendship that the people in this branch have consistently remarked, “We don’t know what we’ll do when you two separate. Missionaries are typically so serious and to the point, but you guys know how to make us comfortable and enjoy missionary work!” I do agree that Elder Chatora and I have formed a chemistry that has helped this area and branch progress. Encouraged members and a good relationship as missionary companions is the key to successful service!

I am also thankful for the opportunity I have to serve my Father in Heaven in His Vineyard. It’s not easy service, but I have noticed the tremendous blessings that are given to those who serve. Sometimes I don’t feel my attitude is the best and I watch the work suffer. It is so important to be in the “attitude of gratitude” at all times.

I have come to personally believe this: “If you are ever unhappy, it is because you are ungrateful”. I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and enjoy the upcoming holidays!

“…[and] they poured out their thanks to God because he had been merciful unto them, and eased their burdens and had delivered them out of bondage…and none could deliver them out of bondage except it were the Lord their God. And they gave thanks to God, yea, all their men and all their women and all their children that could speak lifted up their voices in the praises of their God.” ~Mosiah 24:21+22

Love,

Elder Matthew G. Leach
South Africa Cape Town Mission

Posted by: capetownelder | November 14, 2011

4 Countries in One Room

Hello family and friends! Hope it’s been another fortunate week this week. Namibia is still hot, yes, and I am sure Washington is still cold and wet? πŸ™‚ It’s November, so it must mean rain. Namibia’s rainy season starts in December (yeah…I WOULD know that! It’s the first question I asked!) and lasts until February with heavy rain and thunderstorms. Ah! Can’t wait.

So here’s the spiritual thought for today. We’re teaching this wonderful woman in a location called Wanaheda (Vah-nuh-hay-duh) and she’s been to church a few times. Her current struggle is accepting the Book of Mormon (a common struggle in these parts. A so-called “American Book” is not as happily received over here in the Eastern Hemisphere as it is in the Western!). Her question was actually something along the lines of, “How do I know this wasn’t written by some man trying to deceive all who read it?”

Well, the obvious answer is, “Read the Book just as you did the Bible!” but that answer won’t always suffice. Superstition and false rumors can get the best of people sometimes and they need an extra push to turn it’s pages. My mind immediately reflected on an experience I had in Cape Town before I came up here. I was in a room with my Austrailian companion, my South African companion, our Congolese fellowshipper and our Burundian investigator. This investigator struggled to accept the Book of Mormon, so we all bore our testimonies. After that experience, I said, “You just heard 4 testimonies representing 4 countries that the Book of Mormon is true!” His confidence grew that this is a universal church and he progressed to baptism.

Now this wonderful woman was struggling with answers. We did the same thing. I bore my testimony, as did my South African companion, our Namibian fellowshipper and our other fellowshipper, an Angolan. This is what I love about serving in Africa! There are so many countries meeting under one roof sharing one message: that He lives! That the Book of Mormon is an authentic record! I said to this woman, “You have just heard 4 testimonies representing 4 countries that the Book of Mormon is true!”

Tears immediately came to her eyes. There was silence in the room for a little while, then she said, “Yes, I know this Book is true. I’ve just been trying to find ways to disbelieve it. But now I know!”

I can bare you my testimony that the Book of Mormon is truth. It answers the great questions of the soul and heals open wounds. I promise that if you read even so much as a page of this marvelous book, you will experience the mighty change that so many of these wonderful African saints have experienced. May the Lord bless all of you and your growing testimonies!

Love ya,

Elder Leach

Posted by: capetownelder | November 8, 2011

Familiar Land, Foreign Bugs!

I found this little sucker in our boarding yesterday! Don’t worry! I killed it. And I feel no remorse, because I understand the Plan of Salvation!

Hello everyone! This blog post is a little late mainly because…well, I had an interesting procedure done yesterday that…well, I wouldn’t necessarily share on a public blog, but I am feeling great now. South Africa and Namibia are hardly what I would call “foreign countries”, but there are a lot of foreign bugs and what not that can enter into the body at times that will cause unpleasant results. But rest assured, the Lord watches over His missionaries. This is a truth I’ve come to embrace the more I’ve served.

Perhaps one of the most profound lessons I have learned over the past several months is to trust in the Lord more and in myself less. Human beings are capable of doing a lot of things, but not everything. Back home if I ever got stressed or worried I would resort to three main things 1) my Heavenly Father through prayer, 2) my parents and 3) the piano. I was never put in a position in which I had to let go of either of these things until I entered the mission field. I left my parents behind, I left the upright piano behind, but my Heavenly Father has remained constant.

I was speaking to my mission president’s wife, Sister Wood, in Cape Town a few days ago (my companion and I were there for a mission leader council) and she said something to the effect of, “Perhaps things happen in life to give you the realization that you need God more than anything else he has blessed you with.”

How true that is! Heavenly Father gave me a marvelous family with two great parents. He gave me the ability to play the piano and create arrangements of the Hymns that calm me when the waves of life seem to heave beyond their bounds, but take those things away, even if it’s for a moment, and Heavenly Father is ALWAYS there. There have been times on my mission in which the piano hasn’t been available. I have no choice but to turn to God.

I’ve always loved this scripture: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5)

I have learned, in these blessed 18 months, to trust in the Lord. Words cannot express the closeness I have felt to my Father in Heaven since I made that decision one day to step into the Seattle Airport and fly away for 2 years not knowing what was ahead of me. But I know His hand has been in all of this and for that I am grateful.

The work is moving at a wonderful pace here in Namibia. No “headline article in the Ensign” moments, but very special nonetheless. We have a wonderful soul, John, being baptized on November 19th with another wonderful potential priesthood holder and future missionary, Alu, being baptized on my mother’s birthday, December 17th. Thank you all for your prayers! I have felt their power.

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

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