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.

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