Leetoane Mats’aba describes herself as “a happy soul filled with promises and blessing of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.” She lives in Lesotho, the Southern African country sometimes called Kingdom in the Sky because of its lofty elevation. After losing both of her parents, she was drawn to the truth of the restored gospel when a neighbor taught her that families could be forever thanks to the saving temple ordinances. Having recently returned from a mission in Madagascar, Leetoane is continuing to build the kingdom of God on earth in the Kingdom in the Sky.
Tell me about your upbringing.
My name is Leetoane Mats’aba and I live in Maseru, Lesotho. It is a beautiful mountainous country within the country of South Africa. I’m from a very small family; it was just me and my older brother, my mom and my dad. My mom was a hospital nurse and my dad was a military soldier. I was born in the military barracks. My parents were never members of the Church but I’d like to think that they did a good job in raising both me and my brother.
What were your parents like?
My mom was very reserved but she was very kind to others. My dad, on the other hand, was very playful and outspoken. Both my parents were believers in Christ, but my mother much more interested than my dad. I think my mom was a very strong woman. I really admired that attribute in her. She was a woman of faith. My dad was the kind of guy who would play hide and seek with me at home. He was very nice though I think he easily got offended at times.
Did you attend church with your parents?
Yes, we had our faith. My mom and dad were both born and raised in Catholic families. My mom decided to leave the Catholic faith when she felt she didn’t understand some of the doctrines practiced there and nobody explained anything to her. So my family adapted to another faith which is called the Evangelical Church. My dad never had a problem with my mom switching faiths. As long as it worshipped Jesus Christ he was always happy. My mom’s courage to leave the Catholic faith never sat well with her parents especially because her parents (my grandparents) had callings in the local Catholic Church they went to as family, so it was never really okay with them for my mom to leave.
I remember at a very young age I’d go to church with my mom. We had times when we would sing at home, just the two of us, lying on her bed, some gospel hymns. I remember vividly she had taught me how to sing and her favorite hymn was “Master the Tempest Is Raging.” I’d go to Sunday School (Primary class at our previous church), and she would ask me what I had learned and to recite all that I remember learning at church. I don’t recall my mom being specific or accurate with scripture quotation or recitation, but I knew she had a testimony of Jesus Christ. She believed. I saw it in her deeds and talk. I grew up in church. She loved church. We went to church as often as possible with her, together with my brother sometimes. I don’t remember going to church together with my dad. I believe my mom was planting a missionary seed in me which we never recognized.
How did you learn about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
I was introduced to the Church after both of my parents had passed.
I have a family in our neighborhood that introduced me to the LDS missionaries. They have been members of the Church since 1998. Sister Palesa and her two beautiful daughters of my age have always been good family friends.
I was always invited to Friday Family Home Evenings with the missionaries at Sister Palesa’s home before I became a member of the Church. It was always nice to have everybody around. Especially the missionaries. In the back of my mind I knew I wanted to be like the missionaries but I’d always dismiss that thought. They always seemed happy.
What brought my attention to the restored gospel was when Sister Palesa’s first-born daughter told me one day as she was visiting me in my home that I’d see my mother again if I allow the missionaries to teach me and accept the restored gospel. That statement of hers really touched my soul! I wanted to see my mother again.
I started learning with the missionaries with great concern and desire straight from that point until the Lord’s time came for me to be baptized into His church. I remember vividly. It was a cold winter Sunday of May 15th 2011 when I got baptized at Maseru Chapel, Maseru, Lesotho. I am celebrating eight years of my membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Ever since then I have always been a happy soul, filled with promises and blessings of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I had to let go of some of my previous behaviors and norms for the restored gospel to take over in my life, but I will never regret this decision. I am happier than before. Ever since joining the Church I developed an unquenchable desire to learn more about Jesus Christ. Until one day I thought to myself that maybe if I enroll for a mission I could actually learn almost everything about the Savior.
Was the decision to serve a mission a difficult one since you were the only member in your family?
I knew deep down in my heart that I was going to go on a mission. It seemed impossible sometimes, but the feeling I had about mission, knowing that ultimately I would go, was the drive even on days when I felt mission preparations were just too much to bear.
I sincerely wanted to learn for myself so I made it clear that I would highly appreciate an English-speaking mission.
Because English is your second language, your first language is Sesotho, right?
Yes! But no! Instead, I was called to learn to rely on Heavenly Father and to be patient. I received my mission call to serve in Madagascar Antananarivo, for a Malagasy Language-speaking mission. I was at least pleased that I was called to go to the Provo MTC to learn Malagasy and go to the temple, but instead, my papers did not arrive, and I wasn’t able to go to Provo. I guess I wanted to be in too much control and to know everything.
How did you feel about your mission once it started?
Serving a mission has been the most rewarding experience ever in my life. I always feel privileged to share a few experiences I had on my mission. I started my mission May 1, 2015 and finished it October 30, 2016. That is the best memory of my life so far.
What was it about your mission that makes it the best memory of your life so far?
I learned to rely totally on the Lord on my mission. There were days when I could hardly understand anything in a meeting with our investigators. Times when I had to let go and remember that I was to teach as the Lord desired, not as I desire. I learned and witnessed the power of the Holy Ghost and the gift of tongues. It required a lot of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
So many things unfolded on my mission. I felt many things being fulfilled in my life. I can’t exactly say how. But I was mostly nostalgic on my mission; I felt like I had been there before. Like I had lived there before I came into this world. Most things made sense to me. Most things fell into place with me. I knew then that being called to Madagascar was truly an inspiration from God. I know that God is very mindful of all His children. He knows us individually and He does care for every one of us.
What was the most difficult thing about serving a mission?
Sometimes things were not looking very good back home. My parents were deceased already before I even joined the Church. I left to go on mission the same time that my brother went to receive training in his church. We were not able to discuss religion with each other much. Both of my grandparents passed away while I was on my mission. I was discouraged when I learned about my grandparents’ passing, mainly because I was teaching about families and eternity. I thought I would come back home to them and the whole family and start teaching them also. I am still the only member of the Church in my family.
But God works in mysterious ways. Oh, I love that I was then encouraged more to go out and find families to bring to Christ despite my situation back at home. I knew that God had a better plan for me, for everybody.
As I met with new families to teach and baptize, little did I know I was also meeting and making lifetime friends. I grew to love the Malagasy people so much! Love was also the motive to get up and go find and teach families, despite the language barrier. Fortunately, most of my companions on the mission were natives so I had to rely on them and relate to them, to understand and communicate with our investigators. Eventually my 18 months were finished and I had to go back home to be released as a missionary.
I can’t and I will never forget my mission experience. It is what keeps me going all the time. I make conscious decisions every day in my life based on the truth and revelations I learned and received on my mission.
Have you been able to perform temple work for your family since returning from your mission? Is temple attendance difficult in Lesotho?
Temple attendance in Lesotho is not really a big obstacle when one is prepared spiritually and financially. The closest temple to home is the South Africa Johannesburg Temple which is about 4 hours from Lesotho. There are no long procedures at the security entry to South Africa. Just a passport is needed.
I have been blessed to perform temple ordinances for both my parents, on my way to my mission during my stay in the South Africa MTC. I was also blessed to perform temple ordinances for both my grandparents on my dad’s side of my family. Both my grandparents on my mom’s side of my family died while I was still on mission and I’m yet to perform saving ordinances for them, together with everybody else that has died. I was then sealed to my parents for time and eternity.
I remember I got a confirmation dream on my mission that my mom had accepted the gospel on the other side of the veil. I remember rejoicing with my MTC companion in our room as I shared the story of the dream, about my mom and her gratitude and acknowledgement for the saving ordinances I had performed for her in the temple. I had a couple more confirmation dreams throughout my mission about my mom’s acceptance of the restored gospel. That also played a lead role and encouragement to endurance on my mission. I look forward to being sealed for time and eternity with my other loved ones, too.
What are your plans for the future?
I have been working to save money. Soon I will start with the BYU Pathways program. I desire to pursue and study Somatology and become a skin analyst or skin doctor. My mom knew my dream. God knows my dream; to become a qualified somatologist one day.
I hope to find some dates. It is so difficult to find a date here! I look forward to having a family of my own one day and be sealed for time and eternity. I have learned what it takes to reach these things on my mission. Faith and obedience in the Lord Jesus Christ is part of it all.
What messages do you wish to share with your sisters around the world?
I know that my Redeemer lives. Jesus Christ is the son of God. The one who was and still is chosen to be the savior of all mankind! God is real! He lives amongst us. And the Holy Ghost will reveal the truth in the doctrine of Christ to us all. He works among the children of men according to their faith in Him!
At A Glance
Name: Leetoane Ernestina Mats'aba
Location: Maseru, Lesotho
Convert to Church?: 15 May 2011
Marital History: Single
Languages Spoken at Home: Sesotho and English
Favorite Hymn: Redeemer of Israel
Interview Produced by Jenny Willmore