Monday, December 7, 2015

Death is But The Next Big Adventure

Dec. 6, 2015
Maria's Baptism

In the font.
Her brother-in-law came to support her but not her husband. President Thole baptized her
Darling Maria and I. Love her.
Eating my chicken for dinner at the Kantas. 
Yep, guys. I did it. I slayed, cleaned, and butchered a chicken all by myself. I think that was the official initiation for being a true Zambian.
More service at the Elder's investigator's house. She put us to work!
Woke up to a flooded bathroom. That's what happens when you are washing clothes late at night and you are tired.

Sister Ratema crossing a bridge in the area
Doing service at a members house
The bush of Ndeke
Maria and Gwen
Learning to put a baby on my back. I love this kid too much.
At the bus stop with Sister Ratema as she sent me off to Lusaka. We match.
Darling Family,

The day I got my mission call was one of the happiest days of my life. As I sat in a BYU devotional with President Henry B. Eyring, Dad sent me the short and significant text, "Your call is here." I was shocked. It had only been a week. I bounced around with anticipation all day until I arrived home, opened the mailbox, and held in my hands the next 18 months of my life. As I opened my call in front of that intimate group and attempted to conceal the whole of the letter so as to read one line at a time, I couldn't prevent my eyes from sneaking a glance down to the words, "Zambia Lusaka Mission," accompanied with a gasp of emotion. In that unforgettable moment I could have never foresaw or comprehended the eternity-altering experience that lay ahead.

Even with research and daydream I remained in ignorance of what was to come, relying solely on faith. No tiny missionary who hugs their family goodbye has any real clue of what they are getting themselves into. No amount of Preach My Gospel preparation can prepare the heart and mind for the soul-stretching months that lay ahead as you walk away from your loved ones into a bright, yet foggy destiny. I will never forget stepping onto that escalator and waving the last goodbye to you. The Spirit whispered, "You will blink and you will be coming back down this escalator to greet your family again." I have blinked and in two days I will be riding that same escalator and returning to your arms. 

An escalator--what an insignificant, commonplace thing to constitute the bookends of this glorious mission. It may be easy to imagine I've simply spent 18 months in the depths of the Salt Lake airport just waiting for the right time to come back out. But I will assure you that the girl that went up that escalator is not the same woman who will come down. Where once I went relatively blindly into my mission experience I now return having actually experienced it. It's no longer a vague destination on a call letter but it's a place and a people and an era that is embroidered into the very fabric of my soul. I could have never supposed when I started off from my home land to a far away unknown that God would have granted me such great blessings (Alma 26:1).

My mission has challenged me to the very core--body, mind and spirit. I've been rejected so much that it doesn't even make me flinch. I've spent so many days without power and running water that it's no longer a disappointment, just a norm. I've walked the dusty roads of Lilongwe, hiked the rainy mountains of Blantyre, knocked the gates of Lusaka, and fried in the heat and "hell fire" (haha) of Luanshya. I've seen people in deep despair and have hit my knees in sorrow, too. But amidst it all I have become deeply acquainted with my dear Savior and felt incomprehensible joy.

My greatest joy has come from seeing the miracle of change--hearts touched, sins repented of, branches reignited, and eyes illuminated with the light of the knowledge of Christ. Satisfaction has come as I have seen investigators open the Book of Mormon for the first time or kneel in fervent prayer, less actives remember the Spirit they once felt and enter the tiny meeting house once again, and members step closer to their eternal potentials and give selfless service. I have been inspired by the faith of consecrated leaders who sacrifice everything for the cause of Christ. I have been moved by investigators who step forward to be baptized despite persecutions from family and friends. And I have seen the Atonement work miracles inside of me, too. 

The lesson that encompasses all other lessons I have learned on my mission is love. My imperfect and often prideful heart has been softened by the infinite love of Jesus Christ. Amidst pleading for, studying for, weeping for, sweating for, and sacrificing for these amazing people I have tasted just a sliver of what the Savior felt on His mission culminating with the most infinite act of love--the Atonement. If charity really is the pure love of Christ then charity is, at the core, the Atonement. Therefore, none of us will quite be able to accomplish having true charity but the closest thing we can get to that true charity--the Atonement--is sacrificing for God's children. It is only through sacrifice that we can attempt to become like Him.

The Malawian and Zambian people have taught me to truly love and give freely, for instead of strangers they are my brothers and sisters. They, in their greatest need and poverty, have given so wholeheartedly to me, who never deserved such sacrifice. But no eternal or abiding love ever came without sacrifice. Because I have given these months to them they have become my family. One thing I love about Malawian/Zambian culture is that everyone calls each other familial names. I can't count how many times I've heard a taxi man call out, "Seesta! Taxi!" or a child giggle and say, "Auntie, how are you?" Even in meeting for the first time you call old women your grandmother and middle-aged women your mother. Children call their mother's sisters their moms and their father's brothers their dads and nearly all cousins are called brothers and sisters. They have taught me to see with clearer eyes that we are eternally connected as God's family. I haven't just been loving strangers here--they have become ever so dear to me. 

I will not attempt to tell you the whole of the events this week (hopefully the pictures will give you a clue) but I will tell you that my sweet sister Maria Kapembwa was baptized and confirmed as a member of the Church. My skin can barely contain the love I have for this woman. She has come so far in such a short amount of time. I've seen her countenance get brighter and brighter and as she put on her baptismal suit I just about exploded with joy. The testimony she bore after her baptism was simple and sweet. The gospel has changed her. As we taught our last lesson with her (yep, they are giving our area to the Elders and Sister Ratema is going to Lilongwe) yesterday we all wept together and in her greatest attempt in comforting me she said, "Don't worry, we'll meet at the temple." The temple is already her next goal.

As we walked with her through Kamirenda to have a celebration dinner with the Kanyesha family, drunk men spit degrading words at her about the church and she proudly defended the church and declared she is a member of it. And as we passed a less active working in his garden I said, "That guy hadn't been to church since 2008 and he came today. It was a miracle!" She said, "That will never be me. I will keep coming to church until the very end." Truly, she was one of the greatest miracles of my entire mission and I can't imagine any better "happy ending" than this one. Christ really is the granter of our fondest dreams.

The tenderest feelings of my heart are wrapped up int these people and in what my mission has done to me. As I come home I can't help but cry to the Lord, "My mission has meant everything to me, yet after all of this refinement I am still so imperfect." I am sure a similar cry will be said at the end of our lives, "My life has meant everything to me, yet after all of this I am still so imperfect." I am grateful for a Savior that makes up for my greatest imperfections. I may have come to the end of my full-time mission but this is only the beginning of my life-long discipleship and dedication to Christ.

For the past 18 months I have walked, talked, ate, slept, and breathed missionary work and I can honestly say I have lost myself in the work. I don't quite know who I was before mission or who I will be post-mission but I do know that in losing all the "extras" I have gone exploring in the deeper, eternal parts of my divine identity and have discovered something beautiful. I may have a small identity crisis awaiting me at home but this will only lead to even more self-discovery. Eternity is on the up and up and "death" is but my next great adventure.

I love being a missionary (that will always be said in the present tense).

I love my Savior.

And I love you all.

Thank you for your love and support.

Til we meet,

Sister Proctor

Is This Real Life?

Nov. 30, 2015

Daring Maria and her baby Gwen.
It's been a short stay in Luanshya but a good one. I've grown to love this place.
Gwen. Oh man, I just want to take her home with me. 

Darling Family,

Like I said last week, I have been a little conflicted about whether we should baptize Mrs. Kapembwa or not because of various reasons, so we brought our concerns to district meeting and had a very powerful experience. Basically, the Elders in my district are some of the most supportive Elders I've ever served with. They took on the issue as if it were their own. Elder Ford (UK) talked about how the Spirit has passed people in baptismal interviews even when their understanding of the gospel isn't perfect purely because of their desire and simple testimonies of the gospel. Some investigators can give the perfect answers but their testimonies are not where they should be. Elder Bobowski (UT) talked about how little he understood when he was baptized at age 8 but the desire and simple testimony that he had has helped him progress to where he is today. I thanked them for their advice and said, "We will continue to make it a matter of prayer," and Elder Ford said, "Do you want to pray right now?" I have definitely learned the power of praying in the moment you need it so the five of us (Elder Ford's new companion hadn't arrived), knelt and I prayed for guidance on what to do. The Spirit was so sweet. Many were in tears. My answer wasn't overwhelming in that moment but I felt great peace about the whole thing. 

Later in the week, the Spirit told me straight up, "She is not yours, she is mine. I will take care of her." I guess I've been holding back to baptize her out of a bit of fear that I will leave and I won't be able to visit her and support her anymore. But she's not mine. She is His. And over the few lessons we've had this week, I have had the confirmation that she indeed is ready.

Maria Kapembwa is truly a miracle--heaven sent. Of all the people to stop, she "happened" to stop our branch mission leader to ask which church he was going to. She has been to 4 churches but has continue to feel the prompting to keep searching. This week as we reviewed with her for her baptismal interview she told us that she had been worried how she was going to pay her tithing but Heavenly Father had suddenly been blessing her charcoal business and many neighbors that don't normally come to buy from her have been coming. She also told us that most of the family and friends she's been inviting to her baptism have been rejecting her invitation because "she is becoming a satanist". When we come to her house they all say, "Your satanists are coming." She simply tells them," Thank you!" Seriously, where did she come from? Her testimony is so strong already. She also asked when the next temple trip is. Every time we leave a lesson with her we just marvel at her faith and do a tiny victory dance.

Another miracle this week happened in Ndeke, the far away, struggle area. Our appointment fell through (opportunity) and I had the impression to go check on a young girl we taught once who told us she was going to Kitwe until next year. It didn't make sense but we went anyway. We found her home but she was totally uninterested. So in our networking endeavor (No Tracting November) we asked if she would introduce us to her next door neighbor. This neighbor was also a young girl who didn't seem that ideal but something compelled us to teach her. After a short lesson we asked her to show us where a friend stayed so she ended up taking us and introducing us to two other families. When we walked into the second house, there was a woman sitting on the couch and she said, "They sent you didn't they?" I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about. Come to find out, she was a less active we had no idea existed in our area! One house led to another and we found her! Apparently, she had just been talking to a brother from church so she assumed he sent us. I reassured her it was the Spirit. Yet another less active to add to our longgggg list. It was amazing!

During weekly planning (planning for my last week) I cried. So that gives you a pretty good indication of how I am feeling.

We put together a "Meet The Mormons" activity like we did in Lusaka and though not a ton of people came it was a great success. We invited a ton of our investigators but by the time the movie began none of them had come. It was sort of disappointing. But then, right as the story of the missionary mom began, our investigator called Sheba came in and sat next to us. It was perfect timing. She is a single mother of 4 and has had kind of a rough life. She's the sister to one of our less actives but teaching her hasn't been very easy. It was honestly a great surprise to see her there. At the end of the movie, Sister Ratema asked how she felt and she said, "Whenever the missionaries would come around the neighborhood when I was younger, my friends and I would run away from the 'satanists'. When you started teaching me I wasn't very excited but you began to change me perspective and show me that your really are Christian. Now I see." Even if that whole activity was planned for just that change of heart inside of her it was worth it.

On Sunday, we walked into Church to find the meeting house nearly empty. When it rains, people suddenly disappear. It was basically the 6 of us missionaries. But as I looked around the room, there in the corner I saw darling Maria Kapembwa bundled with her baby to the point of almost not recognizing her. She wanted to be on time for sacrament. I nearly wept. After church she passed her baptismal interview so next week Sunday will be one to rejoice about.

My thoughts on the Atonement this week: In Moroni 7 it tells us how we can "lay hold upon every good gift". It is by faith that we get all that is good--all that the Father has to give us. But what is our faith based on? Jesus Christ and His Atonement. So it is by faith on His great sacrifice that we gain all of this good he has in store for us. Faith and sacrifice. They are necessary for our exaltation. Christ didn't receive a fullness until after His sacrifice. Why then, do we shrimp and dodge making sacrifices when that is the only way to a fullness of joy? I have a testimony that Christ is the One who will grant us our fondest dreams. I know that is it by sacrificing for Him during this glorious mission that He has granted me my deepest desires. I love Him. I love representing Him.

Here's to one last week in the mission field. My heart is full.
Love,

Sister Proctor

Knowing Him by Faith

Nov. 23, 2015


Sister Zohner and I. I love this woman. She was trained in my flat in Blantyre and ever since we have been good friends. I'll miss this shorty.

Me with the STLs. I love Sister Bingham and Motsi!
Sister Ratema forgot her tag on the way to church so I gave her my extra one. Everyone got pretty confused and she kept telling people we were sisters and my parents adopted her haha
Elder Mohlakoana and I. He was my zone leader but now he's been transferred to Lusaka for his last 6 weeks. We were in the same district in Lilongwe. Born and died with him basically. Good guy. And I promise we didn't plan to match...
Darling Family,

It was a lovely week indeed. My heart is so full. I am so happy to be here.

Mrs. Kapembwa continues to progress well. This week she told us that she has already been inviting all of her family and friends to the baptism and we didn't even tell her to do that. That shows how sincere her heart is. The problem is that she will be out of town all of this week that we were supposed to prepare her for her interview. I am feeling really conflicted because I want to see her baptized so badly before I leave but I'm not sure if she will be ready. We wanted to talk to her about it and then she started going on about how she started counting down to the 6th of December. I am praying very hard to know what would be best for her. I don't want to baptize her out of my own interests if she's not ready, but her desires are certainly sincere. I love her so much.

Zone meeting was pretty emotional because it was my last. See all the pictures with Sister Zohner. I gave my final testimony to the zone and talked about how I felt when I was set apart. I always imagined a big weight to be added to my shoulders when I got set apart but when hands were actually laid on my head I felt like I was made lighter--I was given extra heavenly help. I testified that we have heavenly help at all times. What a blessing it has been to be here. I can't even describe how I feel in words. After I said, "Amen," I still had to chorister the closing hymn which happened to be, "Lord Dismiss Us With Thy Blessings." Perfect.

We received a referral from sisters in Kitwe with only a name and address. Addresses can be pretty hard to find in Zambia but it seemed pretty straightforward so we got in a taxi and headed in that direction. We planned on just getting dropped off in that general area and walking around to find the house but the taxi driver decided to go the extra mile and help us find the house. We were driving up and down and asking everyone and soon this taxi man became our good friend. We were speaking a mix of Bemba and Nyanja and Chewa together and I couldn't stop laughing. The house ended up not existing. That taxi man will definitely be blessed for his efforts. Haha

We finally got to meet with a less active we have been trying to meet with since I arrived in this area. On our way there, President Kanta called and asked where we were and if we could join us for our next lesson. It ended up being perfect because he was integral in this man's conversion process. We discussed the sabbath day and centering our lives on Christ and the Spirit was so strong. 

The Africa Southeast Area had a conference broadcasted from Salt Lake with many speakers including Elder Carl B. Cook, Elder Quentin L. Cook, and Elder Dale G. Renlund and it was so powerful. Two thoughts that I really want to ponder further upon is 1) We were invited to more frequently talk of Christ. How often do we talk of Christ in our conversations with friends and families, over text, email, or in person? I want to be better, even though I am a missionary and Christ is basically all I talk about. I want to be better at home. And 2) Carl B. Cook asked, "What blessings have you received this year? What blessings are you still waiting for? What can you do to qualify for these blessings?" Reflect on these questions. You will see where you need to change and what more the Lord has in store for you.

As I have continued my study of the Atonement everyday I am finding the Atonement in everything. The greatest thing the Spirit taught me this week is that the reason I have come to know Christ so much on my mission is not because of my hours of study, though that is definitely contributed. You can read books and books about Jesus Christ but if you do not do then you won't really know Him. The reason I have come to know Him is because I have felt just a sliver of what He has felt. I have suffered for His cause. I have pushed through physical and emotional pain for Him. I've gone through pain to bless others. I can't compare my challenges to His suffering but I know that my knowledge of Him has come from taking up my cross everyday and following Him. I haven't only walked by sight (reading the scriptures) but I've walked by faith. I've taken action. That is how we can deeply know Him. 

Also, the Pearl of Great Price is contributing to my Atonement study. Heavens, it is so deep. I studied Moses 7 this morning and nearly exploded because I felt so much love from Heavenly Father. Though He, of all people, has a perfect eternal perspective, He still weeps for our situations NOW. He knows where we are going and where we will be but He still weeps when we sin. What a compassionate Father we have.

In other news:
-My health is getting better.
-Rainy season is upon us so it's either really hot or pouring rain.
-We found a couple of grandmas this week who live in a house with 5 generations. What? How is that even possible?
-We were about to get slammed by a huge storm as we walked home in the dark one night and then a random person stopped their car and offered us a ride. I am convinced it was an angel because I've never seen them before or since. We gave that angel a Restoration pamphlet :)

By the way, I think we are going far out to the bush next Monday to see a chimp orphanage so I may or may not email. We shall see. 

LOVE YOU!

Sister Proctor

Monday, November 16, 2015

This isn't my area

Nov. 16, 2015
The flame trees are too beautiful.

Darling Family,

My companion forced me to stay in a few hours this week to sleep because I've been so sickly lately and it was super miserable. Staying in is the worst, especially when you only have so much time left. But multiple missionaries have said to me this week, "Stop being so hard on yourself." I guess I am just super anxious to leave all my efforts on the field. I have seen so many missionaries "die" at the end and I don't want to be that. It is good to realize that this isn't my work though. 

The Spirit sort of slapped me in the face with these words, "This is not YOUR area, it's MY area." Good reminder.

I went on exchanges this week with Sister Motsi which was great and short. In the middle of the day we got a call that the sisters got in a small car accident in the other area and we had to switch back early. But I still learned a lot. I had been studying diligence in the morning and it happened to be the perfect topic for the day because every single appointment fell through. We arrived at one house to find the guy waiting to tell us that his parents were against us coming and that we were satanic. Later he texted us telling us that we should never, never come back to their house or...what what what. These are things I'll always remember. Ha! Luanshya really likes thinking we're satanic. We are going to show "Meet the Mormons" to help the community change their perspective a bit. Hopefully a mob doesn't show up.

I am a firm believer that cancellations and fall throughs are actually opportunities. It just means God wants us somewhere else. We went to teach one of the sweet families we are teaching and they weren't home. It was a bummer but I had this feeling that we should go talk to this man we had passed. It quickly turned into a lesson with him and his wife and BAM, a new family to teach.

No tracting November is going really well thus far. I haven't knocked one door (except at houses of people we have appointments with). It takes a lot of creativity not to knock when a million cancellations come but it's really awesome. I definitely recommend it for missionaries wherever you are serving. Working through other people instead of through doors is the way to go.

Another family we are teaching, the Chisengas, are really sweet. The wife really didn't like us and especially the Book of Mormon (they call it the "Book of Mammon" here) but as we taught, her heart was softened and by the end she actually read a verse from the Book of Mormon for us. It was super cool to see the Spirit soften her heart.

We are still teaching that woman, Mrs. Kapembwa, who doesn't seem super ideal but TOTALLY is. I love her so much. She came to church again and stayed for the Elder's baptism after church. As we walked away from the baptismal font I asked her, "How did you feel as you watched the baptism?" and she said, "I felt good. I just wish it were me." She met with President Thole and told him that she is getting baptized on the 6th of December. I could have one last baptism after all :) We taught her after church and we asked how her prayers have been going. She said as she read the restoration pamphlet and prayed about it that she felt a hand on her shoulder and felt the words, "My daughter, what they are teaching you is true." I was in tears. This woman is sent from heaven.

In other news:
-We were quickly eating lunch in one of the classrooms at church and when we came out we found we had been locked inside the church. President Thole couldn't stop laughing at us looking out the windows.

Love you all!

Sister Proctor

What kind of happy ending is this?

Nov. 9, 2015
Sister Ratema and I heading out on a cold day. All I had was a scarf to keep warm haha 
Her reaction to our new power schedule
Yep. Never going to have lights again.
We have a tradition that after we pray we always look at each other under the table and share impressions. I have a really cute companion. 
Dearest Family,

Every missionary hopes to have a happy ending to their mission. They hope for one last baptism or a full planner of people to teach. They hope they can do one last thing that will leave a lasting impact. But as the days and weeks fly by, it seems that that ideal "happy ending" that I sort of envisioned may not come to pass. After all of this work in this area, there still may not be someone prepared for baptism by my last Sunday. 

I began thinking about Christ and the ending to His mortal mission. His final days were spent in suffering and pain of the highest degree. He suffered body and spirit. That doesn't seem like a very happy ending to His mission. But it wasn't the "ending" that meant the most. It was the ultimate outcome of it that changed the world. So I am being taught and my perspective is changing. I may not have the "happiest ending" to my mission but the ultimate outcome of these 18 months will be incomprehensible joy at what I have become. I am eternally grateful for this mission of mine. 

But I am going to be honest and tell you that though my heart and spirit are still anxiously engaged, my body is pretty exhausted. They just changed the electricity schedule and added more hours of no power so I will basically never eat a real meal again. We don't have regular food and we walk all day in the heat so my body is feeling it. I ache everywhere.

Nevertheless, there is still much to be grateful for. My companion's sister got married this week so I got to be there for her in a situation that I was just barely in. It was a really sweet day to cry with her and help her through. We both mostly cried with how much we love our families. 

We found a former investigator called Frank who is an evangelist and feels like young people can teach him a lot. We had been trying to meet with him for a few days and finally he came to our Wednesday evening devotional at church. Literally no one showed up and they showed the most random devotional addressed to seminary and institute teachers. The whole time Sister Ratema and I kept looking at each other and wondering if what to do because it seemed like it didn't apply to him but at the end he just sat in awe and then gave us a 30 minute recap of everything he learned and how it was an orchestration from God that he should be there. Heavenly Father is definitely wiser than us. It was sweet. There was a whole talk on the sabbath day and come to find out he is Seventh Day Adventist. Too good.

We got a referral from a member who met this woman on the road that asked what church he went to. She had been feeling like she needed to find a new church so we went to teach her this week and she is so, so sweet. She is definitely not what you would call an "ideal" investigator--her English isn't the best and her husband runs away every time we come--but she has the sweetest spirit about her. And she actually came to church! It was a miracle!! I'm excited to keep teaching her.

We also took the branch president and his wife to teach a couple that we are teaching in Ndeke. They are such a sweet couple but haven't seemed to take the gospel very seriously in the past. But little by little it seems like their eyes are being opened and it really helped to have president there. We walked out of the lesson and President Thole turned to us and said, "Wow sisters. That was so powerful. I don't think I'll ever work with the Elders again. I just want to work with you." Ha! That guy is super funny. He's one of the most powerful BPs I've been able to work with.

In my continuous study of the Atonement, I have thought about the beautiful symbolism of the second coming of Jesus Christ. What a breathtaking scene that will be when angels clothed in white will ascend with the Risen Savior clothed in red. He took upon Himself our stains so we could be pure. I am grateful for the sacrament that is a weekly memorial service to Him. I love Him so much!

In other news:
-The termites have come out and we walk through huge clouds of them everyday. We are constantly sweeping them out of our bedroom and I find them in my bed. It reminds me of Christmas in Blantyre last year.    
-Christmas decorations are up in the grocery stores. Is it really already that time?
-Our gospel principles teach closed his class yesterday with, "In the name of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint, Amen." I died.

-The weather is bipolar. Twice this week it was freezing and I was regretting leaving all my sweaters in Lusaka and now it's back to being blistering hot. 

Love you all!
Sister Proctor

I love my life!

Nov. 2, 2015

My shorty companion and me in the flat.
Copperbelt sisters representing Utah, Idaho, California, South Africa, Madagascar, and Zimbabwe.
Yep
In front of the church.
Darling Family,

For those missionaries that have lived with me, I am known for singing, "I LOVE MY LIFE!" all the time. Well it's true guys. I really, really love my life and being a missionary and serving the Lord. 

My companion is just amazing. I feel so blessed. Sister Ratema is from South Africa and I was the STL at the time when she arrived in Lusaka 6 months ago so we were already good friends before being companions. I'm pretty sure President thinks he's funny because he keeps putting me with the shortest sisters in the mission. I love this little shorty :) She is super hard working and fun at the same time so every day is full of good times and spiritual impressions and miracles. 

A lesson we have been doing with our members lately is called "Works of Salvation". Sometimes members think very narrowly when it comes to who they think they can share the gospel with. So we make a list for them of the "V.I.P.s" in their lives and all the ordinances they need to perform (baptism, confirmation, priesthood, endowment, sealing to parents, sealing to spouse). Then we begin listing the people that are most important to them in their lives. With the families we have done it with we fill an entire page of member and nonmembers and almost every person has at least one "work of salvation" they still need to perform. Everyone gets super excited to see what work they can help their families and friends with. I made my own list and I'm excited, too. 

No tracting November is in full swing. We love it so much. We've pretty much been trying to do it since we had zone conference in September but not knocking doors is the best. Instead of knocking we are networking. Pretty much everyone we teach we ask if they will just walk us next door and introduce us to their neighbors. Some people refuse but most are willing and that way we are not just strangers but we are friends of the neighbors. Referrals are booming and it is so fun to be creative instead of trudging along in the heat knocking gates all day. It is still HOT in Luanshya but at least October is over now.

With my study of the Atonement I have thought much on the resurrection. Basically when you think about it, everything represents the resurrection. The scattering and gathering of Israel. The apostasy and restoration. Sometimes I think we feel like "big" miracles don't happen in these days but this week I realized how miraculous missionary work is. I may not see a physical body raised from the dead but I have seen spirits raised from the dead on my mission. Spiritual death is very real and spiritual resurrection is just as real and miraculous to take part in. 

We have been trying to teach this family for a long time but every time we would go we would only find the wife at home (who seemed more interested in being our friend than hearing the gospel). But this week we just tried one more time and we found both husband and wife at home and had an amazing lesson with them on eternal marriage. They have been married just over a year and have a tiny baby so they are pretty glowy people, so introducing the fact that they could be together for eternity just made them glow more. We taught them again on Sunday and they seem very curious and excited. The husband said, "I think I understand Joseph Smith. It really is confusing in the world. I am confused. And I want to know that truth." Sister Ratema and I sang all the way home, we were so happy.

We also found a less active that has been gone for a long time. As we are still in the whitewashing process, I was looking through the phone and found her name and felt like I should call her. She picked up and said, "Wow! I can't believe you called. I would love to meet with you!" She met us at the church and we heard her story. She has been a member since she was 10 (now she is 25) and she was one of the first members in the Copperbelt. She just glowed as she bore her testimony of the Book of Mormon and the Church. She felt like she had been lost and that no one cared that she was gone so when I called she felt a glimmer of hope. The Spirit just told me, "You are still meant to be here." I wanted to weep. I really am meant to be here, even for these last weeks.

Last night we watched the General Women's Session of conference as the Copperbelt sisters and it was so delightful but I looked around the room and felt super emotional. Those sisters are so lucky they have so much time left. I cherish my mission so much. It is so hard to think it will come to a close sometime soon.

In other news:
-That less active that told us he was "in town" from his bedroom window ran away from us again. We finally sat down with him to have a lesson with his wife and half way through he just got up and literally ran. Yep.
-The men of Luanshya really like calling me names. They just make up anything that sounds azungu. "Catherine! Hey Catherine! How are you??" Sister Ratema and I laugh for days.

Love you all,

Sister Proctor

Final Transfer

Oct. 26, 2015
I have this secret obsession with reading past Liahonas and Ensigns. I found this article and couldn't stop laughing because I get called "mzungu" aka white person everyday all day.
My new companion is the one on the left. She's a cutie. Trained by my dear friend, Sister Hirwa.
My crazy Ugandan district leader. We came to Luanshya together and now he's back to Lusaka again. You can never quite predict transfers.
She finally let me take a picture with her. Farewell to Sister Mulunda.


Darling Family,

Well, kids. This morning I sent my companion on a bus to Lusaka and now I am emailing in Kitwe with my new companion, Sister Ratema! We are here for the afternoon until we get a ride back to Luanshya. Sister Ratema is 6 months on mission and from South Africa. She came down to Lusaka for immigration one time so we've already been on a 3-day exchange and I love her a lot. I am so grateful to have an amazing companion for my last transfer.

I've decided that I want to study the Atonement everyday until I go home because the Atonement is the why of sharing the gospel. If we didn't have the Atonement then there would be no need to go out and preach the gospel everyday or call anyone to repentance. We would all be damned in our progress without it. So far, I have learned so many beautiful truths and it really is increasing my desire everyday to be better and try my very best until the end. How amazing that the Savior had full power to end his suffering at any time in the garden or on the cross and die but he persevered until the suffering was complete. I am so grateful for my dear Savior.

It was Sister Mulunda's last week in the mission field so it was mostly a lot of goodbyes and getting things done. We went and served that family that we are teaching, the Chilambos, and it seemed to soften the wife's heart. What better way to serve a young mother than to wash all the dirty clothes? I'm pretty much a professional hand washer now.

Gilbert is still doing well though not coming to church. That seems to be the issue with everyone in Zambia. But his issue is greater because the "brother" that he stays with is actually a "brother in Christ" from church so he's scared if he leaves his church he will not have work or a place to live. I am praying that he clings to the truth that he is coming to know.

Everyone seems to be shocked when they hear where we live. As we are leaving investigators house they ask, "You are WALKING home?" Also, it's like 90-100 degrees everyday. I think all things Luanshya is the refiner's fire :)

I have been looking forward to finally viewing General Conference and this weekend we got to view it. For some circumstances I will not disclose, we were running about an hour late to get there. I was so frustrated because all I wanted to do was hear the prophets and apostles and I couldn't be there on time. I was praying so hard that something would happen to delay the viewing. When we get there, the power had gone out and they had only seen the opening hymn. 10 minutes later the power came back. Sometimes these power outages can be a blessing.

General Conference was so lovely. I feel that it was a great clarion call to remove the unnecessary from out lives and step up as valiant disciples in these last days. Every talk seemed to invite us to go back to the basics of scripture study, prayer, temple attendance, service, and Sabbath day observance. We have much to do. I can't wait to ponderize and simplify.

To celebrate Sister Mulunda's mission, the Kantas invited us over and we killed a chicken. That is the second time I've participated in killing a chicken. The rumors are true that when you cut a chicken's head off it will still run around. Yep.

Love you all!

Sister Proctor

Snakes, Peanuts and Funerals

Oct. 19, 2015



Darling Family,

We came back from teaching on Monday evening to find the power out and a giant snake waiting for us on our porch. My companion was walking unawares toward the door when I saw something move and heard a funny sound and yelled, "SNAKE!" As if the snake heard me, it practically ran away into the night. We were both quite startled. A few minutes later our Indian neighbors called us and said, "Come outside! The guard killed it." Apparently the snake had made its way to the tiny guard shack where the little old man that guards our flats was sitting. The Indians ran out when they heard him screaming in his limited English, "I KILL YOU! I KILL YOU!" So funny. And the next day the guard told us that our Chinese neighbors picked up the snake to cook it. It was like something out of a cartoon. 

We have been teaching a referral from the Kantas--their niece and her husband. They have been taught before so it is hard to tell how interested they are but it is sweet to teach a family. The husband has a lot of questions and really wants to understand every detail. The wife is a little apathetic but we are trying to help her out. But they have potential for sure.

We haven't been able to see Kauma at all this week because he has still been in Lusaka. So we will have to push back his baptismal date. I hope he isn't fooling around. 

We had a district service on Friday and Elder Walusimbi, Elder Tema, Sister Mulunda and I cracked groundnuts (peanuts) for about 3-4 hours for a family the Elders are teaching. We all at blisters on our thumbs by the end but it was quite fun to see the shells come up to our ankles. See picture.

I had a great interview with President Erickson. He pretty much just asked me what is on my mind and I pretty much told him that I just want to do my best until the very end and not get distracted or "die". He told me that you emailed him Mom to ask if he would reach out to me when Mariah got married and just give me so love and as he read the email with Sister Erickson he leaned over to her and said, "We'll give her love. We'll send her to the Copperbelt to whitewash with Sister Mulunda." He absolutely knows exactly how challenging this situation is but this week I just felt Heavenly Father let me know that he trusts me with these challenges because He loves me and knows I will grow from them.  

On Sunday we had branch council and we actually have a branch mission plan now! It's like the first time in my entire mission that this has happened! It's so exciting. 

Also, we were asked to attend a funeral of the uncle of a member of the branch. I don't know this guy too well and it was a long walk to the Elders' area but it was such a special experience to be there. The Zambians/Malawians have a culture where the women sit inside and the men sit outside during funerals. They don't really mix. So we had the opportunity to go and sit with the mother and wife of the deceased and share scriptures and sing. Many of the family are less active members of the church because the tradition here is if you marry someone outside the church you have to follow your husband to his church. It was a great opportunity to share about the Book of Mormon and all were very curious and open. It was heart breaking though to see the wife weep at the loss of her husband. In that moment, though she was a stranger, I felt that I was keeping my covenants to mourn with those that mourn. Most of the women were ignoring her but I just looked her right in the eye and told her I would keep her in my prayers. I think it meant a lot to her.

I guess the more I study about Christ and represent Him in any area I am called to serve in, I become more acutely aware of my many flaws and weaknesses but also feel so keenly the hope that the Atonement brings. I am so grateful for the Atonement, that I can become new each day. I have never been a perfect sister or friend or daughter but I am grateful I can try again and again.

In other news, there's a little Ukrainian boy (shout out to Eliot!) that lives above the meeting house who keeps telling everyone that he's in love with me. 

The adventures never end.

Love you,

Sister Proctor 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Fire in Eden

Oct. 12, 2015
me.
My pride and joy--my mission journals.

Walking in the area. The jacarandas are fading out and now these red trees are coming into bloom. Too beautiful for words.

My scripture bag is finished

Darling Family,

We were walking through our area on Tuesday and a man driving by stopped his car and asked, "You beautiful ladies wouldn't happen to be Mormons would you?" In excitement that someone would recognize us, I said, "Yes, that's us!" He replied with a smile, "I would hate to see nice young women like you to burn in hell fire. But the doctrine that you teach is sending you right into that fire." That was only the first of the "fire" that we got that day. Now I completely and fully understand why people say, "He gave me fire," in my mission.

This area, especially as the heat increases, is not very easy. I think my companion has decided it's the wilderness. But the Spirit told me to read 2 Nephi 8:3 and told me that this promise applies to us, "For the Lord shall comfort Zion, he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving and the voice of melody." So there might be fire and this might be a wilderness but I know that the Lord will make it Eden for us--even if it is just in what we learn.

Another day we made the long trek to one of our less actives homes whom we made an appointment with and when we arrived the kids outside said he was not around. When we called, however, we heard the phone ringing close to the window. When we called again, this brother answered the phone and said, "I'm in town! I can't see you today." We could hear him not only through the phone but through the window. We couldn't stop laughing. I said, "My brother, just come out and greet us." And he said, "I'm in town!" Too funny. The kids couldn't stop laughing, too. Zambians like to make their children lie for them.

Another detail about life here is that the economy is quickly diving into a depression. When I arrived in Zambia it was 7 kwacha to $1 but now it is 15 kwacha to $1. Most of the copper mines have closed and people are getting pretty desperate. With the hot season on top of it, life in Zambia is a challenge for many.

But there are still people that make this place Eden. We weren't able to see our progressing investigator this week because he was in Lusaka for a job interview but he is still on track to be baptized in a couple weeks! And the Kantas continue to be such a joy to be around. Meeting the members of the church has been the highlight of my time here in Zambia/Malawi.

Sometimes I wish that I would have had the opportunity to train on my mission. I know I still have a transfer left and it's a possibility but most likely it won't happen. But I'm finding that "killing" a missionary is probably just as challenging or more so than training one. A great lesson that I am learning in this companionship is that being Christlike is a choice. Even Christ himself had to choose to be humble and patient and kind. Those characteristics aren't just naturally apart of us but they are a choice we have to make in every circumstance. Eventually, the choice is easier to make because it becomes a part of our deepest self, but it will forever be a choice. What a blessing that we have been given agency, that instead of lashing out we can choose to forgive or say sorry. Instead of criticism we can swallow our pride with a teaspoon of sugar and decide to love instead.

I finished the 3 week Book of Mormon challenge and lest you forget, I love that book!
Have a joyous week. Pray for a missionary opportunity!
Love,

Sister Proctor

The Great Sieve

Darling Family,
Forgot to send this last week. Sister Mulunda and I at zone conference.

She hates pictures so I was trying to convince her to smile.

Walking through the golf course in our area. Shout out to Jeremy!


First day of the hottest month in Zambia. The weather has been pretty forgiving so far. I think Heavenly Father is hearing your prayers, Dad :)
Mangos are coming!

We found a river! Luanshya is beautiful.
The zone began a Book of Mormon challenge a couple of weeks ago to read the whole BOM in 3 weeks. It's definitely been challenging when I have so many other things to study for personal study. But I have learned so much from my reading. I was studying the Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson and he said, "The Book of Mormon is the great finder of the golden contact. It does no the things which are 'pleasing unto the world,' and so the worldly are not interested in it. It is a great sieve (1 Nephi 6:5)." Especially in Zambia I have found that to be true.

At zone conference, the zone leaders taught about using members to find those people who are prepared. They had an Elder from Namibia stand up and asked him what the most predominate physical feature of his county was. Naturally, he said the huge sand dunes--they are some of the biggest in the world. They asked if they put a coin in the sand dune which tool he would rather use to find it, a small box sieve to put sand through or a metal detector. Obviously the metal detector would be much more efficient. But in this case, the Book of Mormon is the great sieve that a whole sand dune could be sifted through to find those that are prepared. Maybe that analogy wasn't well explained but the principle is true--the Book of Mormon finds those that are prepared.

This week we have had so many people want to fight us on the Book of Mormon. One man didn't even want to open it. He looked at it like something giving off a bad odor. Some people can ask the same question over and over again and you can answer them over and over again and it will still result in a hardened heart. For those that are still too attached to the world, or even their worldly view of religion, they just won't be ready for the Book of Mormon and the truth it contains.

I had exchanges this week with Sister Bingham and it was so wonderful to learn from this dear STL. She has only 3 months in the mission but I have a strong testimony that young missionaries can teach old missionaries just as much or more than old missionaries can teach young  missionaries. Her excitement and zeal to do everything right was so refreshing. I realized a couple of things I've sort of forgotten and it was an amazing day. 

We have one investigator who is the son of the Kantas (super strong members) preparing for baptism. I am so excited for him. He is the most humble investigator you can imagine. We usually count on Sister Kanta to be the woman to be in the lesson with us but when Sister Kanta is running late or happens not to be there he takes it upon himself to ask the neighbors for a woman to join us. So many investigators either expect us to search of simply turn us away, but his willingness to find a woman to sit with us shows just how much he wants to learn.

We also have a guy called Gilbert who is SO excited about the gospel. We taught him the plan of salvation and he could hardly stay in his chair. It was like the most revelatory meeting he had ever experienced. He had the funniest questions like, "Now, can people sneak out of the terrestrial kingdom and go to the celestial kingdom?" So funny.

Sunday morning I was studying 3 Nephi 11 and feeling the Spirit so much thinking of Christ coming. I love my Savior so much. Then on the way to church we stopped to pick up some less actives to walk with us and they ended up taking a bunch of time and not even coming so we were late to church. I walked as fast as I could without leaving my companion behind (Africans aren't known for their fast walking skills :)) but when we got to church the doors were closed and they were already passing the sacrament. I felt like a foolish virgin without oil. It was so disappointing. I want to do everything I can to be prepared for when the Savior comes. I want to be lifted up on that glorious day.

Have I mentioned I love being a missionary? Yep. I do. Even when things are hard. It's the best.

Love you all!

Sister Proctor