Monday, July 28, 2014

These are Experiences to Remember

Dearest darling people all over the world,

This has been yet another wonderful week in the mission field. Two of our investigators were babatized (that is how they pronounce it here--it's so funny) and it was so happy. I have been here long enough to get close to these two mission-aged boys, Innocent and George, and it was the most exciting thing to see them baptized. They are just stellar guys. One night it was getting closer and closer to dark (when sisters are not supposed to be out) but we couldn't find transportation to take us the miles and miles back to our truck. So they escorted us for probably a mile to make sure we would be safe. They make me laugh so much--I love them dearly.

It seems like many of our investigators are 18-20 year olds boys. I feel like Sister Orr and I are on the brink of converting the next generation of missionaries that will go out. How exciting it would be to see someone I taught go out and teach other people. I found out this week that our branch is the fastest growing branch in the mission (both Zambia and Malawi). It's no wonder though with having like 5 baptisms a week. It's the most exciting thing to be a pioneer in Africa and getting this work rolling forward.

So I realized that I haven't really told you about my actual area very much. Lilongwe is split up into many little areas so Sister Orr and I work in Area 49 and 50. Each area is also split up into little subdivisions so some of the villages we work in are Dubai and Bagdad. Isn't that funny that two Middle Eastern names would be found here? Also, these bread buns we buy for lunch a lot used to be called "bin ladens" they are called "obamas". Oh Malawi, what a funny place.

The culture is so, so different from America or even other African counties I have been to. They care a great deal about respect and power here. Many of the church members are very excited to share with you their calling or "title". It's interesting. Another thing is that many girls get married/get pregnant super young. We are teaching this girl that looked young but I didn't know how young until I asked. She's 17 and has an 18 month old baby. WUT? After a lesson, I watched her strap this little girl on her back,  put on her ruddy heals and head off to market. What a different life I have led than her. It was a stark.

Another stark moment was visiting the hospital last night. I can't go into a ton of details about why, but one of our investigators was rushed to the hospital after a certain incident and so we went to go visit her. We have worked very closely with her and her husband (who is a recent convert) through many challenges, so seeing yet another challenge come her way was heart wrenching. This hospital was nothing like you have ever seen. Every room was stuffed full of sick people everywhere. We found her in a long, poorly lit hall full of beds and mats on the floor. It was hard to even recognize her in the midst of so much chaos but we found her slumped on a mat looking absolutely defeated. She speaks zero English but we knelt by her and prayed and then sang a few hymns. Sister Orr and I love harmonizing together and as we sang many heads of suffering people in the long hallway turned to listen. I was just praying more than one heart would be comforted. If I was given the ability to sing for that moment alone I would be grateful. We couldn't communicate with words but we communicated with our hearts. Oh my goodness, I will never forget that moment.

The Lord is directing our path every moment of every day. We sat down just to eat some lunch on a cement block outside a gate and this woman walked out and asked us about who we were and what we were doing. She invited us in and heard our message. Seriously, ever step we take is directed. And then in those moments when people flat out say NO or we can't get through to people, we just laugh together. Sister Orr is so great. We laugh to tears practically every day. It's so happy.

I have decided to memorize a scripture every week of my mission so this past week was 2 Nephi 25:26 and this week will be Mosiah 18:8-10. Anyone that wants to join me is welcome!

I am growing spiritually and emotionally everyday and I just wake up every morning and thank God that I get to be here.

Love forever,
Sister Michaela Proctor

Friday, July 25, 2014

Malawi is Paradise

Plane ride to Malawi--such a small plane!

First baptism. Mary and Bertha!

Learning to make ensima with an investigator.

Dearest People,
So I have a lot to say but it doesn't all really run together so I am going to do bullet points instead--little vignettes of sorts. So here it goes:

-Malawi has a very distinct way of speaking and it is so funny. They add an "e" which comes out sounding like a "y" to almost every word as they speak and their inflection goes up. So they say, "I knowy thaty the churchy is truey and the booky of mormony is the wordy of Gody". Sometimes I have to hold back from laughing. Also the switch the "r" and the "l" in every word. So I am Sister Ploctah here. 

-Not only do the people (mostly the kids) yell "Azungu bo!" (hello white person), they also yell "China bo!" or "Ching chong!" because they think we are Chinese. It makes me laugh so hard. I haven't seen many Asians here but apparently there's a pretty big Chinese population here. They build all the big buildings.

-Capri gave me the talk "The 4th Missionary" before I left and I finished reading it this week and it definitely has influenced me to make a lot of goals about my mission and life and who I want to become. I definitely recommend missionary and non missionary alike to read it. It's a little long but life changing and worth it.

-My companion and I are the only white sisters together in the whole mission I believe and it's for a good reason. Being with a black companion kind of protects you. So now that are threesome is done and Sister Chasinda has gone home to Zimbabwe, we have to be extra aware of each other. It's great! But we are also two azungus that don't speak the language. We laugh a lot because really, what else can you do? Sister Orr is so positive about everything. She is 14 months out and is dreading having to leave because she loves it so much. I feel so blessed to have a good trainer. She is thoughtful and loving and hard working and wild and crazy and it's just the best.

-This is seriously such a good life. We wake up early everyday and exercise, I am trying really hard to eat healthily, I am reading my scriptures and praying all the time, and I am serving and teaching people constantly. Life is so good as a missionary. Disciplining yourself feels so good. Sister Orr, Sister Falco, and I went on a run the other morning and it was so beautiful. The sun was just rising on the lush, dusty landscape and people were walking the roads and it looked like a scene from a movie. There a lot of tall trees here and they are green now but it is the dry season. I can't even imagine how beautiful it is after rainy season.

One of the little primary girls that immediately latched on to me. She is so adorable.
Eating chip sandwiches (bread with chips in the middle) after church before heading out to teach.

My first cabaza (bicycle) ride. Oh, it was dreamy.
-I took my first cabaza ride and it was the happiest moment. We had walked a long way to get to an appointment and it was starting to get dark. The sisters aren't allowed to be out at dark, so we got some cabaza men to bike us back to our truck. There is just a little seat on the back of the bike (see the picture). The sun was just setting one of those spectacular African sunsets and the busy market was coming alive in the darkness with candles and bustling. Men were bargaining, children were laughing, and woman were whispering as we rode up this bumpy road. The people were silhouetted in the sinking sun and time seemed to stand still as I felt deeply that I was in AFRICA and this is real life. Tears gathered on my eye lids because it was just the happiest, most human, raw moment that I was riding a bike through a village street and Heavenly Father sent me here. I can't accurately capture it in words, but it was pure joy.

-There's a slang word this mission uses: xing. I can't quite describe how you pronounce it but basically if something is off or strange we call it xing. I will definitely bring that one back to America.

-The electricity turned off once this week and we keep running out of water since it is dry season but our little flat makes the most of it. I love all of these sisters so, so much. 

-When I first introduced myself to the Elders in my district they didn't quite catch my name and they thought I said "Sister Popcorn" so now they always call my Sister Popcorn. 

-Our branch is so small that we often have more investigators than members. There are six missionaries in the branch and just from our companionship we had nine investigators at church yesterday. Two of them (a married couple) we met off hand on the street and forgot to even get their number but we invited them to church and they actually showed up. Their first question was "How and when can we get baptized". #onlyinMalawi I just about cried. Another guy we taught once and he came to church and he was writing down deep questions and taking notes on all the talks. There are so many people prepared here we can barely handle it. Another boy we are teaching who is getting baptized next week started asking about how he can become a missionary like us. Oh my goodness, when these things happen I just want to cry, it is so exciting and happy.

Trying sugar cane. It is SO hard to eat, especially with my silly jaw.

Sister Orr and I when the power went out. Yes, we lose power and water quote frequently. It's an adventure :)

All the Sisters in my flat before Sister Chasinda left. The blonde one is Sister Falco, the one I met at BYU before we both left. It was exciting to find out we would live together.
-President Erickson, the mission president, has so much love for the missionaries. We saw him briefly this week and he expressed so much love and trust in us. He sees us the way Christ sees us and I love it.

Well, kids, that's all for this week. I love you all so much and would love to hear from anyone over email or snail mail. I know it seems like it takes a while but many of the sisters in my flat send and receive letters every week. There is like a 3 week delay but it's fun to hold something from you in my hands. Again, Malawi address is better.

Love you so much!
Sister Michaela Proctor

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

I Just Want to Cry!

Don't be fooled by the subject of this email. The reason I want to cry is because I am so grateful for this beautiful, blessed life. I don't deserve this. This is not to say that missionary work is hard--I am exhausted every single day when I fall into bed--but it is the best sort of life anyone could ask for. Every single moment has been orchestrated by the Lord from the moment I arrived and it has been amazing to watch the tender mercies unfold.

After a night with the sisters in Lusaka, I was dropped at the airport to fly to Malawi to my first area. The plane was a 19-seater and only 6 people were on the flight. And who happened to be on the plane with me? A BYU professor named Tom Heaten who is part of the International Development program (the minoir I am planning on). In the whole ENTIRE world to meet someone, a little plane in Zambia seemed impossible to find a BYU professor in my field. It was so orchestrated I couldn't even take it. I felt blessed to have him to talk to on the flight--a little piece of home in a strange land.

I secretly really wanted to go to Lilongwe so there is another orchestration and I have been assigned to such great companions. I am in a threesome with Sister Orr (from Canada) and Sister Chasinda (from Zim who finishes her mission tomorrow). They are such patient, loving companions--in fact, all the sisters I live with are so uplifting, encouraging, and WILD. We have so much fun together but we also work hard and stay focused all at once. It's an amazing balance. 

The little flat has a kitchen and eating area, two bathrooms. and then beds just kind of where they can fit. I sleep with a mosquito net over me every night so basically I'm a princess in a canopy bed :) We mostly eat normal food but I have had ensima a lot as well, which is the staple food here. It's like Kenyan oogali--maize mushy stuff that looks like mashed potatoes. I'm learning to love it.

Everywhere we go people and children call out, "Azungu, Bo!" which means "hi, white person!" We walk on bumpy dirt roads but we have to drive into the area. The drive is like Indiana Jones, so wild and bumpy and people just walk in front of the car all the time. I'm kind of scared to drive here but I'm sure I'll have to do it some time. The houses are similar to those in Kenya. We help people with laundry a lot and I even learned how to cook ensima. I would send pictures but the internet here isn't good enough so hopefully next week we will go to the other internet cafe. So, I know you love pictures, but I can only send them once in a while.

I had my first two baptisms this Sunday! It was so happy! One woman named Mary and another young girl named Bertha. I know it wasn't really the fruits of my labor but it was still exciting to see my companions so happy. The Branch meets in a tiny concrete building and it is super small but the members are really great. Everything is translated into both English and Chichewa. I know that I was called English speaking but I wish I were fluent in Chichewa because most people only speak a little English. I don't know what Sister Orr and I will do when Sister Chasinda, who speaks quite a bit and can understand, leaves tomorrow. 

I love my companions. I feel so, so blessed. I wish I could just take you here and show you the amazing scenes I get to see every day--from the drunk men passed out on the side of the road to the sugar cane and baskets sold everywhere we go. It's a good life, it's a good life.

I can't wait to get even more acclamated here. So far, I am still a little bit clueless, especially when people talk to me in Chichewa. I will get there. At least I know thank you: "Zikomo". Also, how are you is "Muli bwange". I'll try to continue tell you words as I learn them.

If you want to send me a letter (I have a little more time to respond to those), email my parents and they will give you my Malawian address. 

Well, I love you all so much and know that I am a happy little missionary down here in Lilongwe! Praying for you everyday,
Sister Michaela Proctor

I'm Here!

July 8, 2014
Well, I left the MTC early this morning and it was a hard goodbye. I love those people so, so much. Especially hard goodbyes were to my best friends (besides the sisters) for the past two weeks, Elder Kane, Elder Woodward, and Elder Pitsoane. All of the people I met were just so wonderful. I can't imagine that I just met them two weeks ago. 

After talking to the Japanese man on my left and the South African girl on my right for a couple hours, I landed in Zambia. I can't believe I'm here! South Africa was actually very cold so it was a surprise to get out of the plane and be hit with this wave of heat. It's the middle of the dry season here so nothing is too green yet but President and Sister Erickson say that it gets really green once the rains come around November.

I already love President and Sister Erickson. They have made me feel very welcome. And they announced that I will be flying to Malawi tomorrow for my first area! I'm so excited because I've heard Malawi is the promised land. I will be in a threesome for the first week and get this: An Elder in the MTC said that his sister was in my mission but leaving in about a week. Well who is going to be in my threesome but his sister, Sister Chasinda! The Lord has a way of orchestrating things perfectly.
Love you all! I'll tell you more when I have time next week!
Sister Michaela Proctor

Thursday, July 3, 2014

First Week at the MTC - So Happy

The MTC has been a wonderful and soul expanding expereince. The first day I arrived I was a bit overwhelmed to be with only Africans who were so unlike me in so many ways. Most are from Zim (Zimbabwe--they always shorten it) and knew each other before coming. It is kind of like having 28 Lone Peakers at the MTC at the same time. That first night with the other 5 sisters from Zim I was quiet and didn't know exactly how to connect to them. They kept speaking their native language, Shona, and so I was intimidated and nervous for the rest of the time at the MTC. President Collins (MTC President) told us that many people have such a great time at the MTC that they cry when they leave. I thought to myself, "That is impossible. I could never feel that way." Well folks, it happened. I'm hooked.

My companion is Sister Matare (Mat-tar-ay). She is a sweet, sincere sister. She is on the quieter side so as we teach I feel like I am doing most of the talking and planning, but she has a great desire to love and serve and I've had many special moments with her just encouraging her through her trials and praying together all the time. The other sisters are HILARIOUS. They are so talkative and wild and I'm pretty sure by the end of my mission I will have a different accent because I already think in a different accent. 
I asked Sister Mupariwa (Moo-pa-ree-wah) what she thought of me when she first met me and she said, "I thought, 'Oh no, a white girl.' And then you were quiet and I thought I would never like you." But by the second day I had decided to embrace my isolation and differences and laugh along even if I totally didn't get what was going on. Now I feel like I'm so ME with these girls and it blows my mind because I have a hard time opening up sometimes. They think I'm the funniest person ever. I don't know how it happened but the Lord has really blessed me. Discouragement is a decision! I have had a few moments during this week where discouragement threatened but instead I have CHOSEN to be joyful. I am so blessed to be on a mission!

I have two teachers, Brother Mogadima (Mo-ha-deem-a) and Brother Sibeko (See-bake-o). They are both pretty recently returned missionaries and native South Africans. Brother Mogadima is SO funny. I don't know where he came from. These teachers are amazing. I learn how to improve my teaching every day--that is the point of all of this. We aren't learning any principles of the gospel, just how to teach them. The more I learn, the more I realize how little I know and I am humbled to be called to do something so important. We had TRC (teaching evaluations today) and my companion and I taught Sister Collins (president's wife). The Spirit was so strong as I testified to her that families can be together forever and I believe that so fervently that I left my family for 18 months to help others know that joyful truth. Brother Mogadima came in after getting her feedback and told me that he thinks I am the best teacher he's seen in a long time at the MTC and he wouldn't give the rest of the feedback because he didn't want to boost my ego. I was blown away because I felt the Spirit in the lesson but I thought of like ten things I did wrong or could have done better as we were leaving. I am such an imperfect teacher and missionary but that helped me feel a little more confidence in myself. B. Mogadima thinks I will be a trainer my whole mission and wants me to report to him on my daughters and granddaughters. Seriously, that guy is so funny!

My district is the coolest ever. I never knew I could fee lso close to people so fast. It makes me sad to think about leaving them because they are like family to me. It was a privilege to help all of them through the temple for their first time and feel of the Spirit of the Johannesburg temple. I decided I REALLY want to becalled to be a temple worker with my husband when I'm older like Grandma and Royce in Spain. It is the sweetest work. 

I wish I could just open a portal and let you step into the MTC for a few minutes just to see the dynamics and let you feel of every relationship I've formed. I have funny inside jokes with so many of the Sisters and Elders and I laugh so hard sometimes that I step outside of myself and think, "Is this real life? Am I really in South Africa joking around with these amazing people?" Obvioulsy we do more than joke around, but those moments when we are eating in the cafeteria and everyone is just on one--those are the greatest. Last night I talked to Elder Pitsoane (Pit-swan-ee), from South Africa, Elder Kane (Con-ay), from Zim, and Elder Woodward, from Vernal, Utah, about which X-men character we would be, what Avenger we would be, and what element we would bend if we were in the show Avatar:The Last Airbender. It actually blows me away how westernized these cute Africans are--they know so many shows, songs, movies, etc. that I never would have expected. Little moments like that I just love.

So basically, I am wonderful. Not going to lie, this week has felt like a million years and I probably won't get to email until next, next Monday but I love it here!
Love forever,
Sister Michaela Proctor