Tuesday, December 2, 2014

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

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