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