Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Good Week-No Time

Dec. 1, 2014

Dearest Family,
I literally have 5 minutes so this will be short but it was a good week.

My new companion is Sister Komiha from Zimbabwe. She was recruited for the national futbol team but she declined to some on a mission so she's pretty cool. She works hard and is so happy and obedient. She is definitely pushing me to be better. She is especially good at finding ways to start random conversations with people and then bringing it around to the gospel. I truly love her.
The reason I have so little time is because today we went to Mulanje mountain, the tallest mountain in Malawi and it was AMAZING. We got to go hiking up to this beauitful water fall and my heart was just exploding with joy. My zone is full of such good people and the drive there was through fields of tea bushes. I can't even describe how gorgeous it was. Rolling green hills. Be still my soul.

We had Thanksgiving at the Beals house (senior couple) and it was a good time. They are sweet.
A new sister came this week from Idaho. It was interesting to meet her because since she's American it was sort of like looking at myself in the mirror five months ago and seeing how I have changed and become more confident. It's amazing what my mission has tranformed me to be. I love this experience so much. I love the people and I love teaching the gosel and sharing my testimony.

Love you!
Sister Michaela Proctor


Our mosque adventure in Lilongwe right before I left for Blantyre

Lone Peakers! I love Sister Rasband and I'm sad to see her go!

All us Blantyre sisters at KFC. Yes, that exists here. Sister Rasband isn't happy because she doesn't want to leave Blantyre. My new companion is the Zim lady on the far right.

I love my Mozambiquano :)
Dearest Family,

Well, I have truly loved my time with Sister Bulha but we got a call from the zone leaders this morning and after a year in Malawi Sister Bulha is being transferred to Lusaka. So yes, I am getting a new companion on Wednesday. I got to serve with Sister Rasband for exactly two weeks (Lone Peakers) but now she is going to Lilongwe (my home town) and I will get her old companion, Sister Komiha from Zimbabwe. I feel pretty at peace I suppose except that I still don't know my area and I have to take the lead now. Everything will be ok.

This week was hot and cold, both literally and figuratively. A couple of the days this week have been so cold you could see your breath and then other days I could barely keep walking because it was so hot. A couple of the days were so successful--we found so many new people this week and it's been sweet--but a couple of days nothing seemed to go right and everyone dropped our appointments or flat out rejected us. We showed up to one appointment and the door was open but when we called, "Odi!" no one came to the door. We called the guy and he said that he was far away but his son was home so he asked if we would teach his son. Finally we began to leave and as we passed the old car in front of the house we could see his son was hiding in the back seat. We got a good laugh out of that. Yes, we have gotten to that point.

I feel like I didn't write about everything I wanted to last week so this email might be bit long. These emails are a good process for me and it lets you hear about all my thoughts, experiences, and adventures.

When Presiden Erickson came for interviews he taught me a really amazing lesson. He told us the story of Cain and Abel and how it relates to us on our missions. Satan did not tempt Cain not to give a sacrifice. He tempted Cain to give a sacrifice less than his best. He told us that we went through the temple specifically for our missions and we promised to sacrifice our all. This mission experience is our test. God wants to see if we will give Him our best sacrifice. That is something Elder Bednar talked about in the Africa Southeast Area conference this past Sunday. He invited all the Africans to give their best to the Lord because only our best sacrifice is good enough for Him. That includes striving to develop ourselves so that we can give an even better best than we have in the past. The area conference was powerful. Elder Bednar, Sister Stevens, and President Uchtdorf spoke. It was cool to hear these General Authorities speaking directly to the African people. These people are so dear.

One investigator that I just love in Ndirande is Ian Mafuleka. He is this 60-year-old, white-haired man that is the most stubborn man you'll ever meet. He has been investigating the church for over a year now and he's gone through about 12 missionaries, including President and Sister Erickson and some senior couples. He's famous in Blantyre for being the forever investigator. He knows everything is true but I'm still trying to figure out what is stopping him from getting baptized. I'm determined. Mark my words, that man will be baptized. Soon.

If there is one way that Blantyre and Lilongwe do not differ it is the way my skin stands out. Heavens, I can't blend in to save my life, no matter how much Chichewa I learn or how tan I get (still white). One of the first days in Blantyre this drunk man began to follow me and asked me to marry him and I said, "I'm already married." He said through his slurred speach, "No you aren't!" and I said, "Yes I am. I'm married to God!" and he started laughing and said, "God don't marry no babe". Too funny. Another day all these men were calling out, "AZUNGU!!" and I wouldn't turn so finally one said, "WHITE ANGEL!" Oh man. These people, they like this skin of mine. Another day a whole school of children saw me walking and started chanting, "Azungu, Bho!" from probably 200 meters away. They never seem to get used to the white girl in their town.

But to make up for that, the other day I was in our members house, Susan who works with us twice a week, and I was making the nsima and she looked at me and said, "You are Malawian!" Oh my goodness, I was so happy to hear that! I've worked hard to be good enough at nsima to be called that. I still need to improve but I'm becoming an African woman. Woohoo!

Another investigator I truly love is Alinafe Mkandiwire. That guy is so full of light. He began investigating with sisters about a year ago but then his father found out and got angry so he stopped meeting with them. Now we are teaching him again and he is so amazing. We taught him about the Book of Mormon and at the end of the lesson I asked about his father and he picked up his water logged, falling apart Book of Mormon and said, "I was like Moroni. I buried my Book of Mormon so that my father wouldn't throw it away." I wish you could see that book. Alinafe is full of faith. I'm excited for his baptism in December!

One thing that the Spirit taught me this week was that He can witness unto us of truth because he has WITNESSED all truth. Wherever there has ever been truth or light he has been present. He can witness to us that Joseph Smith is a prophet because he was there when the first vision occured. He can witness to us that Christ lives because he saw Christ come forth from the tomb. If you want to know any truth or receive any light the Spirit can give it to you because He has received it all. I thought that was a cool impression.

Well, I love being a missionary. These transfers can be strange and hard but I am learning and growing so much. And how can I not be happy when old men in the Blantyre district with no teeth come up to me and read my tag and say, "Sister Protector! Protect me from falling down! Hahahaha". These people are so funny. I love them. So many people have ready my tag and said, "Sisters protected by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." Too good. I will forever be Sister Protector.
Have a glorious week!

Sister Michaela Protector

Blantyre-the Land of Mountains

Nov. 17, 2014

So I have a new address! Don't worry if you've already sent something to Lilongwe, it will still make it to me! But my address is Blantyre is:
P/Bag 277
1 Kufa Road, Mandala
Blantyre, Malawi

The post is sketchy here so I'll only be able to send letters through pouch when the Ericksons come about once every month-ish. So if I don't reply for a while, don't fear! I will reply.

Dearest Family,

This week has been really great. Blantyre is going to be a wonderful area. It is so different from Lilongwe. Lilongwe was semi-hilly but Blantyre is built in the mountains. There is no place where it is flat. Our area is basically one big mountain so I'm hiking in a skirt everyday. It's a good thing I like hiking because this is just one big hiking adventure. I come everyday exhausted. Sometimes I look up at all the mountains and I feel like I'm in Utah and then I look down and there are Africans everywhere. I am a blessed child, that's for sure.

Blantyre is also way more condensed. It's more city-ish but not as nice as Lilongwe. BUT there is a KFC which was out of the blue. The KFC sells nsima nuggets. So there's that. The flat is different here too. I'll be washing all my clothes by hand so my washing skills have already gotten better. I'll come home a true African woman. We also sometimes have to haul water because there are water issues in our flat. Good times.

By far the best part of Blantyre is that there is a real life CHAPEL! After being in a meeting house for 4 1/2 months I basically cried when I came around the corner and saw the steeple.  Maybe I'm just emotional lately but wow, walking into the building and there were actual benches and bathrooms and a pulpit, I just wanted to weep. You all in America don't even realize how blessed you are to have chapels. My branch doesn't meet in the chapel though. We meet in a tiny house.

My new companion, Sister Bulha (Bool-yah) is a gem. She is from Mozambique so her first language is Portugues but she has learned English really well. I met her last month in Lusaka so it was comforting to already know her a tiny bit. She is a person full of poise and grace. She is positive and kind and I just feel so blessed to have her. We teach well together and we live well together too.

Something that is fun about Blantyre is that there is much more tenure here than in Lilongwe. Some people have been members for 10 years or more. Two people got their mission calls this week and it was SO exciting! One girl, Agnes Chirwa, who we work with about every other day and is the cutest thing since sliced bread, got called to the LONDON SOUTH MISSION. Shout out to Sister Wood! African missionairies don't often get called outside Africa so it was so exciting. I have this secret dream that Agnes will get trained by Sister Wood. The other guy called Osman who is our branch mission leader and is super sharp got called to Birmingham England. What are the chances of two in the same tiny branch getting called outside Africa? So exciting.

We had district conference on Saturday with Elder Molechi of the Seventy. It was powerful and it was focused on changing our personal/national culture to be in line with the gospel culture. It was sweet. It made me think what I need to do to change my own personal culture to be more in line with the gospel culture. It is so cool to be apart of an actual district. Blantyre really is so great.

I had an interview with President Erickson and it was really sweet. I hadn't showed any of my emotions about transfers to anyone in Blantyre but when I finally sat down with him I just started crying. He gave me a blessing which was just the best and I thought the best part of council was this: "If it weren't trying it wouldn't be complete". President is seriously such an amazing man.

I am emailing so late because we had a sister's activity to go to Majete Wildlife Reserve today! It was so fun and where we stopped for lunch and devotional on the banks of the river we could see elephant, hippos, worthogs, crocodiles, and many varieties of birds. The devotional was so full of the Spirit because we talked about how we felt when we got out mission calls and amidst feeling the Spirit we heard the grunts of hippos. What a life I live. I am truly so blessed.

This transition hasn't been easy but I love my Heavenly Father so much and I thank Him for constant earthly and heavenly support.

I would write more (yes, I love to write) but I have to go!

Love you!
Sister Michaela Proctor

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Michaela's Christ-Centered Testimony

Nov. 17, 2014

As a missionary I get the opportunity to be in places that most people wouldn't ever dream to be in. One Sunday afternoon I was walking through the village and came to our investigators house where we found our two investigators practically passed out on the floor suffering from Malaria. After getting permission, we helped them to get to the hospital and got the branch involved with helping them in their sick and helpless state. It was such a parable of Christ. Christ comes and finds us in our fallen, helpless state and he lifts us. He gets us the help we need. He pays the debts we cannot pay. He heals us. He brings us safely home. As I have been on a mission I have seen the affects of the Atonement not only in the people we teach but in myself. The Atonement reaches down to the depths of despair and lifts you up. And truly we are His hands. I know that every time we repent and are forgiven for our sins it is a miracle. Every time we see a weakness become a little stronger it is a miracle. Christ is not only in the big picture but He is in the small details. I know that He lives and that He is ready and willing to lift us higher if we desire and come to Him. He is my best friend, exemplar, and Savior and no matter what I will put my all on the altar for Him.

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

Posing with Brother Livingstone who made our dresses. He is the second counselor in the branch presidency.

Visiting a less active on a Sunday.

I love Sister Orr so much. Waiting for a teaching appointment.

All of our chitenge dresses. I am going to miss them all so much.

The group of men that speak Swahili.

The beautiful red flowering trees in Lilongwe.

New dresses!

Our primary kids. Love the Lilongwe branch!

Eating lunch at an investigator's house.

Baby Eve (eve-ee) Mitambo aka the cutest child I've ever seen.
The sick nasty camel spider. Look at the scale compared to the razor.

Peace and Eve Mitambo. Love the Mitambo children.

Goodson, his wife Lucy, and his son Wonder. Don't be fooled by the lack of smiles, these people are so kind and amazing. Love them so much.

Nov. 10, 2014

Dearest Family,

Well, I guess I will explain the subject of this email. Friday night at about 10:30 I was about to get in bed when I heard our phone ringing. I thought it was strange to get a phone call so late so I went out to the kitchen to see who it was. "ZL Lilongwe". Eish. I answer and my zone leader says, "I am calling concerning transfers". My heart just dropped. You see, in the Great Zambia Lusaka Mission there aren't any set transfers because we take in all the missionaries that don't get visas throughout Africa. So it's a guessing game when anyone will be transferred. I was definitely never expecting this one. I thought I would stay with Sister Orr to the end because she only has a month left until she goes home but I have been transferred to Blantyre and I leave on a bus in about 2 hours.

After hanging up I just sank to the floor in front of the bathroom where Sister Orr was. When she opened the door she found me bawling on the floor. I've noticed that before mission my feelings would often be delayed but on mission I feel things in real time. I can barely write this email without crying. I love Lilongwe so much. I had truly done as the Doctrine and Covenants says, "And the hour and the day is not given unto them, wherefore let them act upon this land as if for years, and this shall turn unto them for good" (D&C 51:17). I treated Lilongwe as if I would live here forever and I came to love these people like family. Truly, the Kalambo Branch is my second family.

The first thing I thought when I hear was that I would miss Sister Orr terribly and I wouldn't get to see her off but second, I am missing the dearest baptism to me ever. We have been working so hard and the next Sunday we are having 6 baptisms and I won't get to see them. Three of those are Goodson and his wife and son. When I saw Goodson at church I sat down next to him and told him the news and I could barely choke it out. That man is so dear to my heart. Missionaries in my mission have journals that they give to other missionaries and branch members to sign, sort of like yearbooks, so I had Goodson sign my journal. He wrote about a Malawian saying that says, "Eyes that have once met will meet again". I know that I will see these people again, whether it's in this life or the lift to come.

So the past couple of days have been a bunch of teary goodbyes. Lilongwe is my home. It is my birthplace of sorts. I can't think about leaving in T-minus 2 hours without hurting inside. I know I may sound dramatic because transfers happen all the time but I really thought I would stay for a long time. Church was sweet because so many people came up to me and told me how much I had meant to them. I got a ton of pictures and it was just sweet. Mostly people are going to miss my keyboard playing :)
So yes, I am going to Blantyre and my new companion is Sister Bulha (Bool-Yah). She is from Mozambique and only has about three more months on mission. I met her at MLC in Lusaka and I already think she's great so that's comforting. She went to the Provo MTC to learn English for her mission so that's cool. I will still be an STL in Blantyre. My new branch will be Ndirande. That's really all I know. I'm anxious, sad, and excited all at once.

So now that I've written a novel on one little thing I will tell you about the rest of my week. It was great. We had a lesson with Andrew, a recent convert, and his wife Zione (the one we visited in the hospital a long time ago). We have given Zione many baptismal dates but she hasn't really ever progressed. This time we just focused on the My Family book which is a little book to help people record their family history. It was so amazing to see the change of heart she had. It wasn't like she was all of a sudden wanting to join the church but just her attention she gave us and her body language was so different. Her heart was truly softened. I feel like my testimony of family history is slowly growing because it truly turns hearts, not only to ancestors but to Christ.

We didn't have the truck most of the week because it was getting repaired from the crash we were in so we took transport to our area. Our area is like 30 minutes walk+30 minutes mini bus ride to get to without our own vehicle so we had lots of adventures with trying to be in by curfew and such. One thing I noticed as we walked so much in our immediate neighborhood is a mosque just down the road. Hearing their call to prayer every night at 5:53 as we walked by was fun. I love mosques and Muslim people. They are so devoted.

Speaking of which, we are trying to do more activities on Pdays so today we arranged with this man called Asad Abdul to see inside the main mosque in Lilongwe city center. It was so cool to just sit in the huge prayer room with him and ask him every question we could think of. It helped me gain so much respect for these people. I understand many nuances of the religion more and it was just neat. This place is actually quite multicultural. There are a ton of Chinese people and Middle Eastern people as well as Europeans and sometimes Americans. We just got a few new American neighbors from the Baptist church. They are suspicious of us, though friendly.

We were teaching the ten commandments to that group of Swahili speakers this week and when we asked one called Baraka to explain adultery he said, "It's where you go searching up and down for meat illegally." Ha! Also during that lesson the sentence, "Don't killing people," came out of my mouth. My English is struggling.

We met with Styford again, the president of the Church of Jesus Christ here in the Central Region and though I'm not sure if he will be baptized soon because of all his ties, the Spirit whispered to me, "He'll come around". That man knows this church is true. You can tell. He just doesn't know how to get out of his calling over all of the branches in the whole region. Miracles will happen.

This man we met a couple months ago on the road who is a teacher called Sly called and asked us to come speak to his students and just encourage them in the word of God. So this week we trekked to the school in the outer reaches of our area (our area is HUGE) and met with the teachers over the Christian society at the school. The two of us azungu sisters sat at this huge table and spoke with these amazing teachers and there was so much light in the room. It turned into a lesson on the Book of Mormon and we set up an appointment not only to come teach the secondary aged kids but also teach all the teachers during their lunch break. Heavenly Father is SO evident in every thing that happens. I just wish I could be here in Lilongwe to teach those lessons!

Well, next time I email you I will be in Blantyre. I am just preparing myself to say goodbye to Sister Orr. That girl has been such an immense privilege to work with and learn from. She has become one of my dearest friends. I can't believe I have to leave her but my ultimate feeling is one of gratitude. I set out from the US not knowing beforehand who I would meet or the things I would experience and Heavenly Father has definitely led my through the most fertile parts of the wilderness.

I love this work. I love this gospel. I love life. Now I am going to go shed some tears before I board the bus--tears of sadness but mostly tears of gratitude.

Love forever,
Sister Michaela Proctor

Monday, November 3, 2014

This is Paradise

Nov. 3, 2014

Well, life continues to be ever so beautiful and happy. Where once there were bright purple flowering trees there are now bright red flowering trees. This place is like spiritual paradise. And it's not even rainy season yet.

Tuesday was a bit rough. After General Conference every lesson that day people just wanted to argue with us about the validity of certain things and it was kind of unbelievable. Sometimes I wish I could just put my heart into other people's bodies for two seconds so as they could feel what I feel. I hate seeing people pass up the most joyful thing on the planet because of their own hardness or blindness. One of the guys that wanted to argue with us was supposed to read the pamphlet on Word of Wisdom. In his effort to look superior he began to describe what the WOW was about in the most aloof voice he could conjure. This is what came out: "After you receive Jesus as your personal Savior you receive wisdom that will help you have wisdom." Glad you did your reading, silly man. Sister Orr and I laugh a lot.

We had a flat tire this week and guess who came to the rescue? Elder and Sister Bingham! Shaelie Wood's grandparents! Oh, I love those two people so much. They are in Malawi for some conferences and they were also assigned to do truck inspections. They helped us for a good portion of the day and we got to talk quite a bit. Shout out to Sister Wood for having the coolest grandparents in Africa!
We got to teach Clever and friends quite a few times this week in his tiny shop. If you remember he is the young man who lives in his shop and only really speaks Swahili and Chichewa. My love for that group just continues to grow. As we were teaching I was looking at Clever and all of a sudden I just felt this overwhelming love for him like I knew him before this life. We can't understand barely anything the other is saying but so much has led him here and I know we were meant to teach him. We haven't heard a ton about his life but I have gathered that he is a refugee. That whole group of Swahili speakers have such rough backgrounds but they are so prepared and amazing. I am so privileged to associate with them. Their testimonies are growing quickly.

Do you remember me telling you about the giant, rodent-sized spiders we found a couple months ago? Well we encountered another one this week. I know spiders shouldn't really be a topic to write home about but I found out they are called camel spiders. Google at your own risk. They are giant. In my head I call them SOUS (spiders of unusual size).

One really wonderful part about this week has been the improvements I have seen in myself. Refinement takes time and I tend to be impatient with myself but I can see the Atonement enabling me to make tiny steps forward in the right direction. In situations where I would have been short or impatient I have found greater love and long suffering. This fast Sunday I simply fasted out of gratitude. I am trying so hard to do everything I can to give back to the Lord for all that He has given me but I am ever an unprofitable servant (Mosiah 2:20-21). So much happiness. My little heart can't even take it in.
I guess this whole email is less of what happened this week and more of my thoughts. I've done a lot of thinking this week. One thing I studied was in Alma 41 about resurrection/restoration. God's plan for us is so centered around agency it blows my mind. Basically, I learn more and more how your desires and your choices will ultimately be your destiny. Just like President Monson said, "Decisions determine destiny". We really choose where we end up in the next life but our choices every day and our inner most desires. I feel like judgement will be less of God telling us our faults but us telling God our deepest desires of where we want to end up and what we desired all along.

You guys, my brain is stuck in July. Malawi seems like an endless summertime. I can wrap my mind around the fact that it is November and that Halloween just happened. Halloween was nonexistent here so it sort of just feels like a continuous summer. Time is so warped on mission. You are constantly planning for the next day and the next week and even the next month and yet you are working so hard to try your best in the NOW that time is just confused. Sister Orr and I were planning baptismal dates as if November was already coming to an end because of all the preparations we have to do with different investigators and it's only the 3rd. I can't even really accurately describe how strange time is here. As it gets colder there it gets hotter here. I'm basically living in a dream. It's strange and sweet.

One funny detail I noticed this week about Malawians is that they all support each other in EVERYTHING. Americans could definitely take a few lessons from Malawians. We were having a lesson with this one lady and she told us she didn't come to church because her uncle's friend passed away and she went to the funeral. That sounds like a ridiculous excuse but it's legit here. Even if your father's friend's brother is getting married they go to the wedding. Weddings and funerals are like their form of entertainment and they have no social stigmas towards going to a party they won't know anyone at. They're all just one big family.

We had a great lunch for the relief society sisters in the branch to discuss about temple preparation. I think only two sisters in the whole branch have been to the temple. It was so wonderful to discuss all the things we must do to enter and it made me miss the temple a lot. We are so blessed in Utah to be so close to so many temples. Sister Stones (senior sister) spoke about the importance of tithes and offerings and she told a story from when they were still raising their family. They had 5 out of 9 kids still in the house and 2 were on missions and her husband lost his job. They didn't know how they would keep their kids on missions because they literally had zero in the bank. They prayed and fasted for him to get a job but they had no money for fast offerings. So they gathered their 5 children and they all went around the neighborhood collecting cans to sell back for 5 cents each. Finally they got $2.50 after all the can collecting and they were able to pay a meager but sincere fast offering. Elder Stones soon after got the best job he ever had and they were able to support their missionaries. That story made me want to cry. I guess I'm just emotional/I LOVE MISSIONARIES but what inspiring devotion. I always want to be like that. No matter what, I want to show my love to God.

We got to watch priesthood session yesterday and I loved Pres Uchtdorf's talk. My challenge this week is to ask "Lord, is it I?" and strive to improve ourselves each day.

I Love My Life

Oct. 27, 2014

This week has been so wonderful! I am such a blessed child. I can't even handle how blessed I am. I am exhausted but so, so happy. We had our first district meeting as a new district with all of the transfers and my district is heaven sent. Wow. Our district leader, Elder Barton is like the most obedient, hard working missionary you can imagine and he has such a broad vision of why we are here. Our whole district meeting was like a spiritual feast. I learned so much and it got me pumped for the week. That is how they should be. One quote that Elder Motlhaping (from So. Africa) said was, "It's your attitude not your aptitude that determines your altitude". I love that. I love my district and the Kalambo branch. And get this, our branch is growing so fast that president added another set of Elders so now we have 8 missionaries in one branch.

As STL I am responsible, with Sister Orr, to do exchanges so I went on exchanges with the new sister from Kenya, Sister Muthengi, and Sister Quaye, from Ghana. I was honestly really nervous because I still feel so new to this mission thing, hardly experienced enough to teach others, but the Spirit really helped me. Sister Muthengi was practically silent in the first couple lessons of the day but as I left her in silence to let her pick up the lesson and as I complimented her after every lesson of the things she did right, by the end of the day it was like night and day difference. She was so confident and excited to teach. It was a fun transformation to watch. And Sister Quaye is just awesome. She came out a month before me and she's just the most beautiful person you can imagine. I live with amazing sisters.
We had a lesson this week with Styford, the man who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ (break-off church). We taught the plan of salvation and the Spirit literally taught the entire lesson. Every time Sister Orr said anything it was the exact thing (even down to the wording) that I had in my mind to say. We invited him to be baptized and he said yes but he has a lot of things to figure out. Come to find out, he's not just a president of his branch but he's president of the whole church in Lilongwe (over 6 branches). Holy moly, if he musters the faith to follow what he knows is true can you imagine how many people he could influence. There was an absolute stillness in that home as we taught. It felt like a temple.

We finally got to watch General Conference this weekend and it was amazing. I can't even handle how blessed we are to be apart of the Lord's Kingdom on earth. Saturday morning session especially blew my socks off. I remember at MLC in Lusaka that President Erickson shared with us from his experience with the Brethren that they don't want to hear, "Wow, I loved your talk!" but they want to hear, "Wow, your talk really challenged me. I need to change." That is exactly how I felt as I listened and felt the words that were spoken. It wasn't like I just really liked the talks--they challenged me to change and become a more consecrated disciple. I especially loved Elder Christofferson's talk about justice vs. mercy and how we need to CHOOSE repentance and CHOOSE mercy--his talk literally gave me an adrenaline rush. I loved President Uchtdorf's talk comparing our learning of God's light to man's discovery of the vastness of the universe. That talk blew my mind. And Elder Robbin's talk just challenged me to the max. His talk has sort of been a theme in the mission this past month. Which way do you face? Basically I just learned a lot from conference and I felt so blessed in that little Kalambo chapel watching it with so many dear people.

Goodson came to all four sessions and he finished the ENTIRE Book of Mormon. We gave it to him three weeks ago and he finished it. WUT. He is amazing. The Elders had a baptism between conference sessions yesterday and Goodson took us aside afterwards and basically said that he can't even wait to get baptized himself. I keep wanting to write, "This blew me away," or, "He blows me away," but really. Being a missionary blows me away. So many miracles. So much happiness. I can't even hold all the blessings that are being poured out.

After Saturday's conference sessions we hadn't planned any lessons because we were waiting to see who didn't come to conference and who really needed us to come. Sister Orr and I were so tired after sitting there that we drove to our area, got out of the truck, and just started walking like zombies, not sure what our plan was. We would turn if we felt like we should and finally we ran into the man we met on the bike last week, Zacchaeas. We had planned on seeing him earlier in the afternoon but then we had conference so he told us to go to his house and that we would find his wife. So basically a lesson just fell into our laps and this family has been so prepared. I love teaching families! His wife, Eunice, said, "From tomorrow on we will be together," (meaning they want to join us). Unfortunately they had to go to a funeral so they didn't come to conference but I really feel like they are ready to hear the gospel. Investigators seem to just fall into our laps and I don't understand how it happens. The key to all of these baptisms is retention. Retention is the hard part.

The branch president and elder's quorum president's children (they are brothers) are the cutest kids ever. They just love Sister Orr and I and every time we see them they just give us the biggest hugs. I'll hopefully send pictures of them soon but man, they melt my heart. I miss being able to hold kids.
Just one last little thing: At BYU I sort of made it a goal to smile at every person I passed. I wasn't perfect but especially on rainy days when people seemed extra frowny I just smiled at every person I could, attempting to radiate some sunshine into their day. It made my day to make other people smile. I have brought that here. So many times these women are laboring with their bundles on their heads, babies on their backs, and frowns on their faces but I try to smile at every one and suddenly their furrowed brow turns into a bright smile. It's the little things, man. I am a happy child.

Of Hospitals, Police Stations and Airports

Oct. 20, 2014
Parliament building tour and us with our tour guide who we had our awesome discussion with.

Adventures in Lusaka--on the plane with Sister Orr,

All the Sister Training Leaders in Lusaka.

President, Elder Jorgensen (old zone leader), and Elder Payne (my new zone leader) braiing (African BBQ) it up.

A giant, face-sized steak.

Sister Ntuli leaving us. I love that girl.

This week has been crazy and besides Friday and Saturday we only got one lesson a day due to the strange things that kept happening. Here in Africa the lack of keeping time can be frustrating but you learn to roll with the punches and just work with what you are given. 

Hospital: Our investigators were in the hospital with Malaria and so we took our branch, President Mitambo, and his wife to visit them. There we shared with them 2 Nephi 2:1-2 about how the Lord will consecrate our trials for our gain and we talked about how God has a purpose in all things. I have a testimony that we met these investigators at the exact right time. They needed our help. What are the chances that two in the same family get Malaria at the same time? That doesn't happen very often. They are now home and recovering really well. Goodson, the man, is so excited about everything he is learning and is already talking about how he can be a tool in helping the church spread in Malawi and how to establish Kalambo branch to be a center of strength. He is extremely learned in the Bible and he told us that our little pamphlets are like primary books to him so it's been fun to step up our game and come prepared with scriptures and boldness. He and his family are golden.

Police Station: On Tuesday we were turning into the place we usually park on the side of the road entering our area and we got in a small accident. This guy wasn't paying attention and decided to pass us on the outside shoulder right where we were turning. I think his brakes were also mabvuto (a problem). It was such a cultural experience to see how the whole community around the crash reacted and how the police handled it. First off, someone had to go pick up the police because they didn't have a car of their own. The police hitch hike here in Malawi. Then we drove them back to the station and seeing them take a piece of printer paper and write down such an unofficial statement was so funny to me. They were going to make us pay the fine even though it was the other guy's fault so we got a police woman who is a member of the Lilongwe branch to come with us. I can't even describe to you how interesting the whole situation was. One police officer even called us and we thought he was giving us an update on the final say of the fine but then he asked if we could, "Share me a Bible". We find teaching opportunities everywhere. Everyone was ok and our truck didn't suffer too badly.

Airport: We picked up a new sister! Sister Ntuli is now home in South Africa and so now Sister Falco is training a new sister from Kenya (woohoo!) called Sister Muthengi. She is super cute and I am excited to get to know her.

Malawian Mother's day was this week and that was also a funny cultural experience. It was very different from the American Mother's Day. Everyone had work off and there was a huge political celebration with a ton of women dressed in the same chitenges. As we waited for an investigator the TV was on and we even saw President Dr. Arthur Peter Mutharika speak to the nation about how Malawi honors mothers and womenhood and how they have equality between women and men in the work place.

Saturday we had a ton of appointments to make up for the lack of lessons the rest of the week and our path was so clearly directed. As we were walking to one lesson this man on a bicycle asked where we were going and we told him and he asked if we could come visit his family. So because we live by Africa time, we followed him back to his home where we found a house full of children of various ages ready to be taught. We sat down right there and taught the plan of salvation and he kept clarifying to his kids and telling them as if he already knew what we were saying is true. It is so exciting to teach families because that is what this gospel is all about. Then, in the afternoon we sat down in the market to eat some mangos (mango season is on and we eat them all the time. They are about $0.04 each) and this guy just opened the door right next to us and started inquiring about our beliefs. And then he ACTUALLY came to church. It was so cool. Heavenly Father is so acutely aware of us.

Something I studies this week is how we gain access to God. It is a topic in the Topical Guide. And it was amazing to me as I read verse after verse how so much of it depends on our willingness to receive. God is so eager to bless us with revelation and amazing spiritual experiences if we but have the desire. WE are the ones that put up the pavilion or the umbrella that block all the blessings that are raining down and WE are the ones that can take down our walls and let Him in.

Little details:
-It rained on Friday night and then much of Saturday and it was so nice! I love walking in the rain and we even went on a run in the morning. I was in heaven. I love running in the mornings.
-They already put Christmas decorations up in stores so I guess Malawi has been hit with the commercialism of Christmas too. I didn't expect that.
-We asked our recent convert to give a closing prayer in a lesson and he said, "We know with you nothing is possible". Oops. English is mabvuto. 
-I have decided I have acute narcolepsy because I have energy all day but when I get into the room and I am writing in my journal at night I can't stay awake for my life. 

Oh! I almost forgot. This morning we got to tour the Parliament Building and it was so cool to get to know how the government of Malawi works. We got to go into the chamber where they meet and it looked quite similar to the one in the US. But cooler than that, after asking all of our questions, our tour guide turned to us and asked questions about the church and we discussed for like 30 minutes about our beliefs. It was amazing. AND he stays in our branch boundaries! Perfect orchestration. Our Elders will love us for this referral. He's prime.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Photos from Zone Conference (from September)

Just found these fun pictures on the mission president's website. This is a zone conference in Lilongwe, Malawi.

Lusaka or Bust!

Oct. 13, 2014

Darling Family,

This week has felt like a year but it has been great. Again my weaknesses and I have come nose to nose and it can be really frustrating and hard to be patient with myself but I am being refined and it's a good kind of hurt. Forgive the ambiguity. 

After a wonderful sisters night at the Fisks (a senior couple) where we had a potluck and watched the women's conference, the zone leaders, Sister Orr and I flew out the next morning to Lusaka for MLC (mission leadership council). I felt a little unsure going into the situation because I was the only one coming as a companion and not as a leader but the first thing president did when we arrived at the mission office/home is call me into his office. He sat me down and said, "Sister Proctor, the Lord has found fit to give you an extra responsibility. You are being called as the sister training leader and I have every confidence that you will perform well in this calling." Wow. I was so humbled. Every other missionary at the two day council will be going home within four months and I don't even have four months on mission yet. Maybe that is why my weaknesses have been so evident this week, I have been called to step up. I am so excited to fulfill this call.

MLC was so, so fun. We had meetings all day where we discussed different aspects of the mission and how to be greater leaders. A theme that I found prominent was that as leaders we are called to "leaven" the mission. When you are making bread you put in a lot of flour and only a little leaven and so it is with leaders. Though there are few of us compared to how many missionaries there are, we can be the agents that help the whole mission rise to a higher level. I love President Erickson and his desire to create an environment where we can grow as people. He isn't aiming to run the most efficient mission in the world but to create a place where we grow in our conversion and become people who will remain faithful saints building the kingdom of God the rest of our lives. He is truly inspired and it really is humbling at how much confidence and trust he has in me.

We also had interview this week and since we don't have a set transfer in our mission we also got transfers. Many changes are being made in my district and zone but I get to stay here. I am pretty sure I will stay for quite a while--until Sister Orr goes home and beyond. I'm glad for that. Even though I observed that Zambia is WAY more developed than Malawi while I was there, I really love Lilongwe with all my heart. Sister Ntuli went home yesterday so we will soon be getting a new sister in the flat. I'm excited to meet a new sister--Sister Falco will be training.

Besides the wonderful trip to Lusaka filled with both spiritual and physical filling (the food was tops), it seems that another theme of this week is Malaria. Don't worry, I take my doxy faithfully, but since the heat has come (it is literally like an oven here) the mosquito have come out to reek havoc. So many people we are teaching have gotten Malaria and I have seen first hand how deathly ill people get. Yesterday we came upon an investigator and his wife and they looked so bad I thought they wouldn't make it. We were able to give them the help that they needed and it was quite the stressful and miraculous situation.

We met with that reverend, brother Goodson, that came to church last week and in the 5 days since we had seen him and given him a Book of Mormon he had already read up to Mosiah. I wanted to cry for joy. He was suffering with Malaria but he still wanted to discuss with us. He had such good questions but he was also quite intimidating considering he is a Bible scholar (and has been for 18 years). My mouth was so obviously filled with words to say right at the moment I needed to speak. I'm pretty sure he will be baptized. He's golden.

We had another lesson with Clever, the friend of Innocent who was a refugee (told his story last week) but this time Innocent wasn't there to translate. So we turned it into an opportunity and invited his neighbor to come translate for us. So there we were in this tiny shop with us two sisters, Clever, Placide (recent convert that speaks a ton of languages but not English), and his neighbor, Thomas. We were teaching about the Book of Mormon and so Placide let us use his Swahili Book of Mormon, Clever read swahili, asked questions in Chichewa and Thomas translated to English. Oh, and Clever is from the DRC. There were so many cultures and languages in one room it was fascinating and by the end Thomas asked, "So how can I become one of your learners?' Booyah!

The funnies: A drunk man followed us into one of our lessons and as Sister Orr was boldly explaining a doctrine he exclaimed, "She's a prophet!" It was hilarious. He just kept bursting out and yelling, "AMEN!" and at one point he even got on his knees and put his hand in the air and said, "Pray for me sisters! I want to change." Too good. Also, we taught one of our recent converts how to use a computer and it was the funniest thing. He kept picking up the mouse and he couldn't figure out how to move the cursor. I think I take my computer skills for granted.

Well, I love you all so much! Hope all is well!
Sister Michaela Proctor

Monday, October 6, 2014

Life is SO Good

Dearest Family,

Every single day I get down on my knees and thank Heavenly Father for letting me be His missionary. It is the best thing in the world. And every single day I plead for Him to loose my tongue so that I might say what He would have me say. My prayer has been answered so many times this week. We had a lesson with that guy from "The Church of Jesus Christ" and though I was sort of intimidated I opened my mouth and these inspired questions just popped out that helped us find his hole that we can fill. We also met with a friend of our investigator who died and he asked whether dying is a punishment from God. I had no idea what to say but my mouth was miraculously filled and he could feel the Spirit so much. We visited another recent convert that has had a lot of struggles and the Spirit just filled my mouth with the coolest pep talk ever and he actually came to church AND used his priesthood. Miracles.

I was struck as I sent the baptismal pictures last week that you must think that these baptisms just come out of no where. There are too many people to tell you about every single one and their progress and suddenly you see they are baptized. It kind of blows my mind that to you they are just beautiful African people on a computer screen but to me I know them personally and deeply and have answered the concerns of their soul. I wish I had time to tell you about every single person. These people are stunning.

One guy we worked with this week is like the most amazing person I have ever met. He was baptized in July after a long journey to the church. He came with us to teach his friend and he ended up sharing his conversion story with us. It sounded like a story you would find on Meridian Magazine. His name is Innocent Hankinamana (say that ten times fast) and he is a refugee from Burundi. He always wanted to be a priest growing up so he went to school for seven years to do just that. He found that he didn't agree with everything so he joined Jehovah's Witness. During all of this he fled to Tanzania for his life because of political unrest and people trying to kill him. His brother was killed. He got married. He left the Jehovah's Witnesses because again he didn't believe all that they taught and they burned his house down. In the same day his wife died. He had two sons and nothing else so he came to a refugee camp near Lilongwe where he researched online for a church to join. He found ours and contacted the church to learn more. He was prepared to move anywhere to come to our church. He investigated a long time because there aren't any branches outside the city but he was finally baptized and he moved just down the road from our branch so he can come every week. He is constantly giving us referrals. He speaks like 7 languages. Obviously this is the boilerplate version but wow. He blows me away. 

On Wednesday we met a girl called Maria who has been a member for 4 years and just moved to Dubai (part of our area). She brought us to her house and we found that she is living with a few other students. We sat down together to meet them and two of them announced themselves as "Prophet Lucky" and "Prophet Ernest". I held in my laughter. That is SO Malawi. The culture here is like all about prophets and dreams and visions and preaching. Everyone and their dog thinks they're a prophet. So yeah, we are now teaching a couple of prophets. I'll let you know how that goes.

Guess what! There is a quarterly MLC (mission leadership council) in Lusaka and all the zone leaders and sister training leaders are flown into Lusaka. Well, since Sister Orr is the STL, I get to go with her to Lusaka! Woohoo! So we are flying out tomorrow morning early and we stay for 2 1/2 days. I'm so excited. I love president so much and I am excited to participate in this council even though I haven't been called as a leader.

Fun/strange/happy details from the week:
-I tried this fish called bonya. They are tiny little fish like minows and they have no taste at all. I tried not to think about it too much as I ate these fish whole, head, eyes and all.
-Two nights in a row we were terrorized by this small-rodent-sized spider. We killed one and then there was another one the next night. Holy. They make my skin crawl and they walk with their front two legs extended in front of them as if they are coming to get you. Eish.
-Every Saturday is wedding day and there are cars with boys on them and all these wedding parties everywhere. The week goes by so fast that it feels like every other day is wedding day. They are everywhere.
-We not only have to prepare the bread for the sacrament in the branch but we have to prepare for the water because of the scarcity/purity. That is definitely not something you think about in Alpine, UT.
-We met with our branch president yesterday and he just expressed how much he appreciates our hard work. It was such a sweet moment.
-A random guy showed up to church yesterday and told us that he used to be a reverend but he was excommunicated from his old church for his stance on the family. He was researching online for another church and found ours. So basically, he is well educated and SO prepared. We gave him a Book of Mormon and Family Proclamation and he said as he was leaving, "I know I will join you someday soon" as in get baptized. These people. They just fall into our laps. I foresee a future bishop in him :) 
-As we were meeting with the branch president one of our recent converts, Innocent, came in to pay his tithing. My heart exploded. It's all about the little things.

Love you forever,
Sister Michaela Proctor

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Good Morning Brethren and Sisteren

Exchanges with Ntuli

Having church outside

Chicken in church

In front of the flat

Lusayo getting baptized 


The Mwakasungula family

Lwimiko and Lusayo getting baptized. Love them so much.

Everyone getting baptized

The cool bridge we adventured on a few Pdays ago

On the scary, awesome bridge

When there was a black out in the grocery store

Sept. 29, 2014

It was another great week here in the warm heart of Africa. We walked for dayz and the weather is getting hotter and hotter (October is the peak) but it was still so lovely. I mean, how can it not be lovely when people get up in church and say, "Good morning, brethren and sisteren," or when you ask about their favorite scripture from a specific chapter they share 1 Nephi 16:7 about how Nephi takes a daughter of Ishmael to wife and say, "the prophet found himself a shining star." These people. They're great.

We have also been teaching a few of our recent converts some English words they may not know as we walk to our appointments and one we have taught Pricilla (the cute RC who is preparing to go on a mission after 8 months in the church) is the word "goof". She was reading in 1 Nephi 15:28 during a lesson and she read, "And I said unto them that it was an awful GOOF, which separated the wicked from the tree of life..." So funny.

So a little detail about Africa that you might not know is that they really like the color white--they paint everything white--but NOTHING stays white. The dirt penetrates all and so it's impossible to keep anything white. So I found myself at the kitchen sink one night scrubbing my not-so-white garments (I'm becoming a pro hand washer--the Malawians have taught me well) to try to get them just a little whiter. No matter how much soap, how much bleach, how much I scrubbed, they would only get clean to a point. The next morning I was reading in 3 Nephi 27 about how our garments are only made pure through the blood of Christ and it really hit home for me. Nothing I can do will get my figurative garments perfectly clean but the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I'm grateful for He who makes up the difference.

President Erickson came for specialized training this week and since I am companions to the STL (sister training leader) I got to participate in the training. It was so great. President is fantastic. Something I loved was that we focused on how leadership is a process and that it's not the position but the behaviour that makes you a leader. He encouraged us to live worthily to accept any calling that comes, that we may place ourselves on the altar and offer ourselves to the Lord to do anything He asks. I want to strive to be that willing servant always.

We met a man on the street that said he had met with missionaries before so we went to his house and there was sort of a weird feeling there. We asked him about what all the previous missionaries had already taught him and he was very insistent that we just tell him our basic beliefs. So I started into explaining the Book of Mormon a bit and then he walks out of the room and brings a leather bound Book of Mormon to us. As we looked through it, it all looked the same except the introduction. He was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ who I guess believe most of what we believe except for the prophets that followed Joseph Smith. It was the strangest experience. It was like meeting your doppelganger. We struggled to know how to teach them when they already had so much of the truth. It was quite interesting. I never expected to run into an LDS break off in the middle a village in Malawi. AND their church building is in OUR area. I don't know how we've never heard of it before.

We had a baptism yesterday, as you saw in the pictures, and it was so great. It wasn't completely smooth but it ended up being a great occasion. There were four of them: Lwimiko and Lusayo, children of Mary who got baptized in July, and Rodrick and Perez, friends of Gift who got baptized in August. It's so amazing to watch this little branch grow. These people are very inexperienced and very dear.

We met with Bright Banda again (the guy that we met in the internet shop who lives in Nkhata Bay) and it was so great. I am used to teaching to a primary level to help people understand, but he is so prepared and has a deep understanding of things so it's challenging and exciting to teach him. He is truly someone special. We have to get permission to have him baptized but hopefully in the next month or two it will happen. The day that happens will be a sweet day, indeed.

I GRADUATED from my training so now I am full fledged and we get an extra hour of proselyting. Woohoo!

Love you so much! 
Sister Michaela Proctor