Monday, January 12, 2015

Christmas linali bwino

Dec. 28, 2015

My darling Sister Falco.

Blantyre seestaz (yes I just spelled that word that way)

My awesome district--we have the zone leaders and the sister training leaders. It's a powerful group.

Being silly with Agnes and Watipaso Chirwa. Love those two.
Looking smart on Christmas morning.

Cooking with Agnes and Joyce Chirwa. Those two crack me up.

Darling Family,

This has been one of the sweetest, most wonderful, hardest weeks of my mission. I can't even describe to you how joyful all the days leading up to Christmas were. Tears were practically always threatening to come because my happy cup was overflowing. I could count this Christmas as possibly the best of my whole life.

On Monday night and Tuesday morning we had a combined Christmas party/devotional with Lilongwe zone. It was so exciting to see my old zone. I was just buzzing with smiles. I love all those elders and sisters so much. It was especially sweet to see Sister Falco--she has become such a dear friend. She is just one of those people you can talk to forever. Monday night we had a white elephant (too funny--these Africans mwandi!), a big dinner (I also got teary sitting down with my full plate--so many people don't ever experience this kind of meal in their lives), and a viewing of "The Christmas Carol". Yes, we watched a movie. It was weird. And fun. Tuesday was the best of all though. We were given two talks on the sacrament to study Monday night and then Tuesday we got together and had a deep discussion about the sacrament. President said he was directed away from talking about Christmas and told to discuss this specific topic. The Spirit was tangible. After discussing, some of the elders blessed and passed the sacrament. During each prayer, we all knelt together. Wow. It was amazing. The sacrament has come to mean so much more to me on my mission. 

The opposition was raging this week. Pretty much every single appointment was canceled, we had people down right stop us in the middle of talking and tell us to leave them alone, and so many gates were shut in our faces. I feel strongly that the opposition is coming from our change in focus. We used to work a lot in Goliyo and Maplot (the poorer parts of our area) but we have shifted to New Lines and Nyambadwe (the richer areas) where every house has a gate to knock and every gate has a guard to convince to meet the boss. We know that this shift in focus is important for the establishment of the church and that God will help us find success but these first couple weeks of finding will involve a lot of laughing to overcome frustration. All you can really do is laugh.

Christmas Eve we got together as a zone at the Reynolds (senior couple) and watched the First Presidency Christmas Devotional. It's funny how much you can love people when you have known them for such a short amount of time.

Christmas was just amazing. I've never had a more pure celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. In the morning I opened my package (I LOVE YOU) and all the sisters enjoyed it and then we went to our area and visited every member, recent convert, less active, and investigator we could find. Most were at home and it was so special just to sit down and talk about what THEY could give to Christ this Christmas. I've asked myself a lot too--what gift will I give to the Christ child? We baked cake and shared some of the candy from my package and it was so sweet. One girl, Susan, who we work with a lot said it made her day because it was the only present she got. These people have so little but they love and feel so deeply.

We visited the Chirwa family (Agnes--the one going to London South Mission) and we just had a good time cooking and talking together. It poured rain and in every detail it was so different from the Christmases I've known but it was so full of the Spirit of Christ. I've never felt the Christmas spirit more than this past week. And of course it was lovely to see some of your darling faces over Skype.

I don't know if you can tell but I am really happy. Like inexpressibly so. I love this work, I love these people, I love being His missionary, and life is just beautiful. I hit my 6 month mark this past week and it's caused me to reflect on what I have learned in this short time on my mission. Here are just 5 of the lessons (sorry this email is long but I'm copying some from my journal):

1. I am nothing without God. Literally nothing can happen unless He is on our side. I can try and find and teach people but nothing can move forward without Him. He gives me my daily breath and my strength to make it through each day I wake up exhausted. He hand is what pushes me to continue walking even after every single appointment is canceled. There is nothing but my will that he can't take from me in an instant. It is only through His mercy that I have anything. I am so small but with Him I can endure all things.

2. Christ's Atonement CAN change my weaknesses to strengths. My mission has brought to my attention many weaknesses I never even realized I had. I'm not as generous, charitable, patient, or optimistic as I wish I was but something that I've seen is that as I pray for the Atonement to empower me to change, little by little I do change and that is a miracle. Change, as a human being, a life time pursuit and it is only though the Atonement that we can change to become like our Heavenly Father.

3. Seeing other people's contexts. Especially when you stay with a companion 24/7 charity is so necessary and the only way you can have long term charity for others' weaknesses is if you come to understand their context and background. On my mission, I've really been trying to stop and analyze people instead of jumping to conclusions and assuming things. Everyone has weaknesses and rather than losing patience you can love them through and help them overcome.

4. Reaching out to everyone. I thought I was pretty good at this before my mission but I was just skimming the surface of where I could be. Your eyes have to be open at all times to see the needs of those around you and how you can help and serve. At church I've learned to greet every single person and it makes you feel more involved and others feel appreciated. It doesn't matter if someone is socially awkward or popular or rich or poor, I can reach out to them and I don't have to feel intimidated.

5. I can happily weather any storm. Even just this morning we didn't have water or electricity in our flat (since yesterday) and it can be sorta rough to live this way sometimes but it's ok. I am grateful in all things. All is well in my soul even when we are rejected all day long and I'm hotter than anything and my body is telling me no. It's ok. I know in whom I have trusted. I know that with God I can handle all things. Here's to the next year of serving the Lord!

Love you all,
Sister Proctor
P.S. The subject of the email means "Christmas was good".

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