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