Monday, March 23, 2015

Zikuyenda? Pongono, Pongono

We even have green jello in Ndirande. Love these women.

This is sort of an awkward picture but here's our wonderful Relief (that's what they call Relief Society here).

I may have zero investigators coming to church but at least I have the most faithful recent convert the world has ever seen. I can't wait for him to put a tag on for real. Elder Mkandawire would be a nice name. Alinafe is the best.

We had a goodbye party for the Reynolds who are going home today. I will never forget Papa Rey teaching me how to drive stick and Mama Rey teaching me how to make bread. Love these people and my zone.

I woke up a bit early to peacefully write in bed this morning and I looked over to find this friend right next to my face. What a nice way to wake up!

Darling Family,

Something I have studied this week is diligence. As I labor day in and day out and I don't find a whole lot of quantifiable success, I have learned that diligence means consistently doing your best. It doesn't mean being a super hero everyday, just plugging away, one day at a time. We have become friends with our guards and every evening when we walk in they know I'll say, "Zikuyenda?" I can't really translate it exactly but it's like, "How's it going?" One guard never fails to reply, "Pongono, pongono," which means, "little by little". I guess I learn by repetition because now I see how true it is. Pongono, pongono I am doing the work of the Lord. Diligence is key.

I wish I could report that things have completely turned around but mission in Blantyre continues to require steady diligence. One morning I woke up and decided out loud, "Today is going to be the best day of my whole mission!" I think Heavenly Father has quite the sense of humor because it ended up being one of the worst. I laughed and cried as I prayed that night. I laid on my bed and listened to Jeff Holland and all was well but this mission thing is not easy. I am grateful for the opportunity that I have to grow everyday. 

I am also sincerely grateful for a companion who is patient and loving. Sister Dlamini is very meek and mild and takes challenges in her wake. She nearly always has the perspective that if we are doing our best and nothing is working that all is well and the Lord knows what He is doing. I did laugh pretty hard though when on "the best day of my mission" every single appointment fell through including the one we were going to teach a couple of pastors and she covered her face like she was going to cry. I asked if she was ok and she just exclaimed some choice words--South Africans are a bit more free with their language. Too funny. We laugh together a lot. That's all you can do when you get empty houses where you were planning a perfect member present lesson.

My gratitude has also increased for my family. I guess distance makes the heart grow fonder but I also found myself on Sister Kuwali's floor again trying to communicate with this hilarious, nearly deaf lady and she told us that she was also one of 11 but 6 of them have died. I mostly take for granted that all 11 of us are still living but what a tremendous blessing that is. 

One absolute miracle this week just made my heart explode. We went to visit a member and when we found them not at home we recalled something we heard a couple of weeks ago that a less active lived just down the hill from them. As we went searching, the first house we knocked was the house of the less active. He wasn't home but we did find a girl called Jessie who is about my age and who had a baby 5 days before. She is somehow related to this less active but she told us that she had been taught before and she basically bore her testimony to us that she already knew the Church was true. Right then and there we committed her to a baptismal date and I could just feel this brand new baby calling out to her mother to accept the gospel. The Spirit was so sweet. Jessie didn't come to church yesterday but she also just gave birth so I see why. Hopefully next week she will come. 

I love how the Spirit often teaches you in the midst of teaching. We were teaching my favorite girl ever, Ireen Mtonga (member), about repentance and the Atonement and since she is in high school I shared about how I had used the Atonement to get over a boy once and how the Atonement is much greater than a stain remover. It is not just for sin. The Spirit taught me as words flowed out of my mouth that that was one tool I have been under utilizing during these tough few months. Yes, I have been praying for strength to get through and to be the best I can be but I have forgotten to pray specifically for the enabling power of the Atonement to get me through. It was a good reminder. I already feel more strength.

On Saturday we had a Relief Society activity to celebrate the RS birthday and it was just fun to see them all work together to cook a nice meal in celebration. Sister Dlamini and I taught about visiting teaching and then they did role plays to demonstrate. It was the cutest thing ever. As we all sang the closing hymn, "How Firm A Foundation" with all of our hearts I felt like angels were round about us. There were just over ten of us but I knew that much more were with us.

We saw Tapiwa again and it was a good lesson but the Spirit taught me so much more. After finishing up the restoration, I pulled out the Book of Mormon and handed it to her. She opened the cover and quietly, curiously flipped through the first couple of pages. God opened my eyes to the significance of that moment. It was like she was peaking into eternity--the light that could be there if she just accepted this miraculous book of scripture. I could just feel that generations, past and future, were vying for that moment of her opening the Book of Mormon for the first time. That moment has the potential to be an eternal turning point for thousands, both ancestors who have come before and desire saving ordinances and children still to come who desire to have the gospel from infancy. This calling of mine is much bigger than I can comprehend with physical eyes.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to give a talk in church. I was given the topic of "perfecting the saints", a topic that has been on my mind as I've studied for quite a while. I was only given a night's notice that I would speak so I didn't have a ton of time to prepare but when I got up there I sort of set aside my notes and spoke, praying the whole time for the Spirit to speak through me. I testified of the Atonement and how patient God is with our weaknesses. It was a tender moment to look out on a congregation I dearly love and to look into the eyes of so many I know personally. It's sort of an occupational hazard that as a missionary you get to know people's issues almost too well, despite your efforts to remain aloof and refer them to the branch president, but as I looked out at this congregation full of imperfect people I saw so much light and potential. I didn't see that man who committed that sin but I saw a son of God who's Father wants Him home. I love these people so much. Ndirande is so close to my heart.

I hope you have a wonderful week and determine to do something good for someone else.
Love forever,

Sister Proctor

Monday, March 16, 2015

Tapiwa-Gift from God

March 16, 2015

The sign that is outside the gate of one of our investigators. It's a good thing we still had the courage to knock

Reunited with Elder Motlhaping, my friend from the Kalambo Crew. Elder Mwangi, Elder Motlhaping and I serve

One of our investigators gave us a pineapple from Molanje (tallest mountain in Malawi) so I decided to plan with it by my side. 

Saying goodbye to Sister Chirwa. What a doll.

Baby Tapiwa!

Darling Family,

Heavenly Father is pretty cool. He knows me pretty well and He knows that I tend to feel small things poignantly and see the tiny, happy things. One poignant thing He gave me this week was to help my dear Agnes get ready to leave and see her set apart. It was a year ago that I got my mission call and now I am almost half way through my mission, so seeing this sweet girl get set apart as Sister Chirwa was a good reminder of how I felt when I got my call and when I was set apart myself. As I look ahead on the next months of my mission I want to be rededicated and consecrated. The time is going too fast. I only have so much time to give my full attention to this work. Hugging Agnes goodbye was really emotional. I am not sure when I'll ever see her again. She will be a fantastic missionary.

Another tiny moment that made me happy was one day as we took our long walk home. A guy from Zimbabwe drove by who is our down stairs neighbor and offered us a ride home but since we didn't have a woman with us we politely declined, looking a little daunted at the mile or so to go after a long day. But we were blessed for our obedience. As we continued walking we passed the boarding school and a girl about 16 years old excitedly ran up to us. In my tired mind I sort of just assumed that she just wanted to make a comment about me being an azungu (like so many a million times a day) but she said, "Are you missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?" When we said yes she told us that she was from South and that she was here for boarding school and hadn't been able to find the church. She told us how much she missed young women and how she had even done baptisms for the dead. As a missionary pushing everyday to help people catch the gospel fire it was so exciting to see that fire in someone so young and far away from her family. She has obviously felt her own conversion.

Remember that lady in our branch that was 10 months pregnant? She finally had her baby so we went and visited! They named their little boy Tapiwa, meaning a gift from God. It was just exciting to sit with these new parents, one a returned missionary, and think of the future of this tiny bundle. 

We also experienced a girl called Tapiwa this week that truly lived up to her name. Saturdays have sort of notoriously been our long days for the past couple of months. Our plans always fall through and we feel like a couple of kids wandering despite our best efforts. As we headed to do some finding in a specific area, the Spirit said, "Expect great things," and I suddenly had a surge of faith that we would find someone special. We knocked on the first gate and a girl about our age opened the door. She knew one of the RMs in Blantyre 1st branch, Christopher, and so she let us in with an open heart. Christopher is known for being just happy we let her know that his happiness came from the gospel. The Spirit led us to talk about prophets and it just connected with her. She accepted baptism and told us she can't wait for us to come back next Saturday. She is here in Blantyre for school but guess where she is from. My old area in Lilongwe. Thanks Heavenly Father. It's the little things.

Another time during the week we had a cancellation (can you tell we have them a lot haha) and before we could even pray for guidance we both clearly knew the person we needed to go see. There is this woman we contacted and we have never been able to teach. She is always busy (or "beezi" as they say it here) and her husband is barely at home. When we knocked on the door we found both husband and wife at home just sitting on their couch. It was as if they were waiting for us to come. The Spirit knows so much better than us.

I guess the greatest lesson I am learning lately is to have a faith and a good attitude no matter what. If I expect Saturdays to be rough every week then they probably will be. I need to expect great things no matter how many Saturdays in a row are long and hot and tiring. My faith in Christ is growing so much. I know that's what God wants right now, despite how much I want a progressing investigator.

Saturday night we called every person ever to try and visit on Sunday and we only found one appointment. Well, during church, that one appointment was canceled so we had an afternoon of zero plans. I decided to go into it with excitement and God truly guided us. The Lord my God is leading me by the hand. He is patient with my weaknesses. And He even gave His Son so that I could overcome them. Sunday was just full of the Spirit. I sat there during the sacrament thinking about the Savior and the Spirit just said, "He died to know you." Being known and seen is something I dearly value in life and it was just another tiny moment that was felt poignantly. 

In other news, they used to have little plastic sachets of alcohol sold for cheap everywhere (that even a child could buy them) but this week they were out lawed. Word of Wisdom, bho! Also, Sister Kuwali's (the half deaf lady that makes me laugh) husband is now the night guard at our flat and every evening when we come home he shakes our hands and says, "You are just coming in now? CONGRATULATIONS! You are doing a commendable job!" Ha! Those two are perfect for each other.

Love you all like crazy,

Sister Proctor

The Whole is Greater

March 9, 2015

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Darling Family,

Something that kept running through my head every day as I trudged up and down Ndirande was that "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts". The parts of my day or my week or my month or my mission may be long days, cancellations, and rejections, but the whole is so much greater than that. The whole is full of joy and satisfaction. I look back at where I started and where I've come and the whole is something I am deeply grateful for. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else, no matter the challenges.

We did exchanges this week with the Chilimoni and Zingwangwa sisters and they were really great. I feel humbled that the Lord has called me to be an STL. Sometimes I still feel like I am new on a mission but I know I have been called for a reason.

I went with Sister Mntungwa to Chilimoni and since we were companions for a month and a half and we went to Chilimoni quite a few times during that period it was fun to be back in that place. The picture is of a recent convert called Aubrey in Chilimoni. He is a rasta man gone Mormon. Every time we go to his house we find him sitting on his couch listening to music. I'm convinced that is all he does with his time. Sister Mntungwa is training now so I think it was good to have time with someone she is comfortable with and just work hard.

I also brought Sister Browning to Ndirande and Heavenly Father blessed us with the perfect day. We pretty much have cancellations every day but that day we only had one and every lesson was super powerful. During an hour of finding we found a few really prime people and I just felt orchestrations in every step. My favorite lesson was with Ian, our eternal investigator (the one who has been investigating for over a year). Sometimes we want to drop him because he moves very slow and sometimes doesn't progress at all but he continues coming to church and we are now working on his smoking problem. I think that that is the only thing really holding him back. He knows the church is true. We talked about the Atonement and he was more solemn than I have ever seen him before. I wish you could meet this character. He is my Malawian grandpa (agogo amuna). I can just see him in the temple.

At MLC over skype this week we had a discussion on John 6, Christ's sermon on the Bread of Life. I was struck at how bold Christ was. Many turned away from Him but he courageously declared that it was only through His body and His blood that they could return to the Father. Sometimes it is hard to stand up for truth. Sometimes it is hard to have the courage to tell a sister that she needs to improve in some way. Sometimes it's hard to tell investigators that our ultimate goal for them is baptism. But boldly declaring truth is how you sift the wheat from the tares. The twelve stayed behind with Christ even when the multitude dispersed. He asked, "Will ye also go away?" I always want to stand for truth. I will never go away from Christ.

Something I learned in personal study this week is what I should hope for. In Moroni 7 it outlines exactly what we should hope for. We are not invited to hope for a certain event to happen or a certain person to come through or a certain dream to happen but we are asked to have hope in the Atonement of Jesus Christ. What should I really be pleading for in my prayers? Not for my will to be granted but for the will of the Father to be done. His will is so much more glorious than my dreams could ever fabricate. The path He will lead us on if we trust Him is a thousand times more lush than one we could think up in our heads. My hopes and my prayers have changes as a result.

On Saturday we had another day of wandering in the wilderness. No matter how many times we prayed or how many houses we tried there was just no one to teach. As I continue forward in my mission I think I am realizing that this experience is more for me than for anyone else. That may sound selfish and I hope you don't get me wrong. I am here to serve the Lord and to serve these wonderful Malawians. But if it were all about other people then we would have line ups of people to teach and baptize. God has a greater purpose than baptizing a whole stake at the hand of little me. His purpose in all of this is shaping me. I am serving 100% for the Lord and 100% for myself.

Sunday was just the happiest. We had 5 investigators at church! You have no idea how many weeks it has been of 0-2. I sit at the front to play the keyboard and when I looked over and saw Tabitha Chimwanga and her son walk in tiny tears filled my eyes. The whole Chimwanga family couldn't come but at least they took that step of faith. We have taught them for 2 months and finally they took that step. Oh, I was just elated. After church we taught Mercy, that woman that was praying when we knocked on the door and she told us that she wants to be baptized. We found a member's house we have been looking for for weeks. And we had our last lesson with Agnes before she heads out to London on Wednesday to become Sister Chirwa. I love Agnes so much. She has become a sister to me. I am going to miss her so much.

Finding that member's house was the funniest thing ever. They are called the Kuwalis and they recently moved from Luwande (a group far away) to Blantyre. The wife is pretty hard of hearing so she talks really loud but is super adorable and charming. She wrote some vague directions down on a piece of paper and told us that we should just ask around to find their home because they are well known. Having no addresses can be a problem sometimes. We got to where the paper directed us and then began asking everyone we could if they knew the Kuwalis. The language barrier was cartoonish. People kept leading us to different houses and no one actually knew who we were talking about. Finally a woman knew them and took us to their tiny, crumbling house. Sister Kuwali was so excited to see us. She is very child-like. When we sat down on her floor and began to talk we kept asking her questions and she would answer something completely different. "Sister Kuwali, when were you baptized?" "Oh, I have one daughter and she stays in Zomba." She understands English well it's just the hearing issue. I sat there laughing with this Malawian woman who couldn't understand anything I said and it hit me again: I am a sister missionary in MALAWI. That's pretty cool. Of all the places in the world I am sitting on the floor of a tiny house in Blantyre with a half deaf woman talking about Jesus Christ. I am a blessed child.

Well, another happy thing is that almost everyone I talk to thinks I am fluent in Chichewa which is a vast overstatement but it's flattering. I know enough to get myself around and these people are impressed. "You've only been here 8 months??" Ha. I love these people.

Have a joyous week. Serve someone. It will make you happy!

Sister Proctor

Perfect Orchestrations

March 2, 2015

Me looking fine (please sense the sarcasm) on my 20th

I brought cake to district meeting (because we have the best district) to celebrate Elder Lemperle and my birthdays.

Agnes' second to last Sunday before she heads to the London South Mission. I love this girl too much.
An awkward selfie

The Chirwa family--my Malawian family. These people are too good. 

Darling Family,

Have I mentioned that I love being a missionary? I remember as I wrote my farewell talk the the theme "perfect orchestrations" emerged--little did I know I had discovered the theme for my entire mission. There were so many moments this week where divine intervention was so obvious I couldn't help but smile and think, "Oh, Heavenly Father, you are too good."

First of all, the rest of my birthday was grand. Sister Dlamini and I took a bus to a market outside of Blantyre called Limbe and I think the men were all informed it was a special day because they were all saying really funny things to me. As we were getting on the bus to go back to Blantyre this guy yelled, "You look like a thousand!" and the whole bus, including myself, started laughing. These Malawians are too funny. My companion told another guy that it was my birthday and he gave me a little angel made out of white beads. We laughed because Agnes always calls me the "white angel". So yeah, my 20th was a success.

District meeting was powerful. We have a couple new Elders in the district and we've all mutually agreed we are the best district in the mission. We might be biased but whatever. We also may only be 1/11,000 of the missionaries in the entire world but we are making a difference for the people we come in contact with. We talked about the importance of the Spirit in conversion and I had a sort of obvious yet important realization--the Spirit is all that matters. Sometimes it's easy to get down on myself for forgetting little things or not being perfect but if I am remember every little thing and not bringing the Spirit then I can't do anything. The Spirit is what will change and convert people. Yes, the other things are good to remember but if I forget and I bring the Spirit, all is well. The Spirit is the real missionary.

We had a few days this week where we felt like children wandering in the wilderness. One day it was hot and appointments were cancelled and I was praying for guidance from the Spirit but it didn't feel like any specific guidance was coming. Then we knocked on a door. It took a while for someone to come and we were about to move on to the next house but finally the door opened and we found a thin woman peering out at us. We didn't even tell her we were missionaries before she invited us to come in. When we sat down and began to introduce ourselves as missionaries and how we share the restored gospel she just started weeping. When she pulled herself together she told us she had just been on her knees pleading with God to help her and we knocked at the door mid-prayer. I knew that we had been directed to her. We went again yesterday to meet with her, Mercy, and her husband, Bruno, and it was just a sweet lesson. It's worth wandering in the wilderness to have moments like these.

We are teaching this guy called Mukeya and when we taught him the restoration last time there were a few things that he didn't agree with so he told us that our next lesson he was inviting his friend who "had been in the Word longer than him". We were praying that they weren't going to be bashers and that their hearts would be softened and that, too, was a great lesson. At first his friend was a bit abrasive but then Mukeya stepped in and said, "Man, let them teach us. I think they'll answer your questions." It was possibly the most spirit-filled lesson about the Book of Mormon I've ever taught. I truly appreciate earnest seekers of truth. Another prayer was answered.

We got a member called Brother Wisiki to come work with us one day and then our appointment was cancelled. It's always a little uncomfortable if an appointment is cancelled and a member has walked all the way to teach a lesson with you. But like I said last week, fall throughs are just opportunities in disguise. Another member called Brother Likoswe told us about this guy that baptized him but went less active years ago and hasn't been to church since. No one had really heard of him. We recently tracked him down and so we felt like we should go try and see if this less active was home. Yes he was home, and what made the orchestration even more perfect was that he and Brother Wisiki were long time friends but neither knew the other was a member. It was just too perfect. We had a sweet lesson on the restoration and this guy pulled out his baptism and priesthood certificates and baptismal photos and he was obviously still very proud to be a member. Well, on Sunday, after nearly 7 years of being less active he humbly walked into church. I wish I could describe how happy Brother Wisiki and Brother Likoswe were to see their brother back at church. You guys. Less actives are the best.

We have been going through our area book and contacting former investigators and we went and taught one called Emmi who lives in Nyambadwe aka the big gates. I've never been that deep into Nyambadwe. Heavens, these people are rich. I felt almost uncomfortable sitting down in her house and drinking her ice cold juice across from her huge TV. I wonder how I'll feel when I sit down in the house in Alpine again...

Church yesterday was the happiest. Not only did that less active, Davis, come but so did a few other less actives and INVESTIGATORS. Since December, we haven't really had any sold investigators come to church so to see these two guys walk into the meeting house I about died. Also, ever since Alinafe was baptized in December he hasn't missed one chance to bear his testimony on fast Sunday. He loves to tell his Moroni story of how he buried the Book of Mormon. Watching him teach primary is the cutest thing ever. And we were talking to him today and he told us how natural it feels to work with the Elders. The day I see a badge with "Elder Mkandawire"on it. Oh man.

My overwhelming feeling this week is that God loves these people so much and He loves me so much and He has a plan for each of us personally. Though these last couple of months have been challenging in many ways, I am so grateful for the trials I have faced. I'm living in Thanksgiving daily. It's a good life.


Sister Proctor

One Year Older and Wiser Too!

Feb. 23, 2015

Osman, a guy in the branch, is heading out to Birmingham, England on a mission so we had a goodbye party for him. The youth are too good.

Sister Erickson giving me my first haircut of my mission. I was nervous...but it turned out great.

I showed up to the grocery store this morning (in my new birthday dress--a birthday gift to myself) and found these two hooligans, Sister Griffus and Sister Browning, with these ridiculous signs on their shirts. Everyone in the grocery store was saying happy birthday to me. It was hilarious.

Darling Family,

Yep, I turn 20 today. So there's that.

This week was definitely better than last week. We are on the steep climb up hill--things are looking up. We had many wonderful lessons and found some new investigators and we felt Heavenly Father's love poured out upon us. Still no progressing investigators but slowly but surely we will conquer this mountain (pun intended--our area is literally one big mountain).

We taught the Kawere family again except we are having a hard time finding the abambo (father) at home. Esther is so powerful--she knows that what we teach is true. The problem is getting them to church. Actually, that is the challenge for every one of our investigators. While the Elders in our branch get 14 investigators we get zero. But Esther is powerful. I feel strongly that she will come around. Her daughters are beautiful and very smart. They will soften her heart because the youngest girl knows all the answers to our questions and she's the one that wants to come to church the most.

We got a new sister this week--Sister Zohner from Boise, Idaho. She is super fresh and super white (sunburns for dayz) and it's fun to have her in the house. Sister Mntungwa is very happy to be back in her branch, district, and area. It is nice to be back to work full time in Ndirande with Sister Dlamini. She is so sweet and patient with my weaknesses and my tears.

On Wednesday we went to the Elders area to do some Relief Society visits. One of my greatest joys is seeing the branch that I serve it become more established. The Relief Society sisters are few in number but great in light. We went to visit Sister Duwa, a sister who is 10 months pregnant. Yes, I wrote that correctly. That poor lady. It is her first pregnancy and she is just turning into a pumpkin waiting for this kid. It was a sweet moment. On the way back through the market and dusty roads, a couple of drunk guys got in a fight and one of the sisters, Sister Kadzuwa who speaks two words of English, immediately took my hand and protected me through the crowd. It was a tense moment but also very characterizing of Malawians--they are SO protective of each other. So many times random strangers have stepped up to protect us in seemingly harmless situations. Have I mentioned I love Malawians?

Thursday the windows of heaven were opened. We set aside time to go finding in the richer area and we found so many new investigators. The whole time we were just praying and it seemed like every door was opened to us. At one house there was a sign that said, "Beware of the owners not the dog". I was slightly intimidated as I knocked at the gate and there opened the smiliest, nicest guy I have ever met. He was about our age but he was cute like a little boy. We had a powerful lesson with him and his cousin and they both wanted to learn more.

We had many fall throughs this week but I am learning to see them more like opportunities--like God has somewhere else we need to be. After a fall through, I felt prompted to go visit a less active/part-member family and do service and when we got there the non-member father was sitting on the porch. We ended up teaching him and as we were getting to know him we found out that he was nearly baptized with his children but his "fellow Christians" discouraged him from leaving the CCAP church. We invited him to be baptized and he said yes. That was a sweet moment because all along he has known that the Church is true. Tender mercies. Perfect orchestrations.

We had interviews on Saturday with President and my interview was both encouraging and challenging. I expressed some of the struggles we have been having in our area and he just told me how my influence is far greater than a linear baptismal statistic or investigator pool--that I have a great influence on the whole mission. It was humbling as I have been feeling inadequacy lately. Then he turned to challenge me to step up. He said that each person brings something on their mission that they need to leave behind. He gave the example of a football jock bringing the mentality that he is the man and he will pass through the mission by his good looks and charm. He asked, "Sister Proctor, what did you bring on your mission that you need to leave behind?" This is a question I have also asked in another form whilst reading about the Anti-Nephi-Lehites. What weapons of rebellion do I need to bury to be a better, more consecrated disciple? 

Well, I love you all so much. Life is good. Being a missionary is the best. I love this refining, stretching, beautiful experience so much.

Sister Proctor

Will We Keep Pace?

Feb. 16, 2016
My beautiful, rainy area.

My sweet zone before transfers.

Ndirande district. Sister Mntungwa is going back to her other district, Elder Barnard is being transferred to Oakley, Idaho, and Elder Kapande is going to the blessed Lilongwe zone. They will be missed!

Our joint birthday "party" for Sister Dlamini and I and the seminary students. These kids are the greatest.

Darling Family,

To start out, President emailed us and announced that Elder Bednar officially approved a new DISTRICT in Lilongwe. I am the happiest child. My birthplace is growing and it makes me so happy. Lilongwe is a special place, indeed. Sister Stones, one of the senior sisters that lived across from me in Lilongwe, called me last night to ask about a girl in my old branch and she just let me know that Sister Orr and I are somewhat of legends in the Kalambo Branch. I miss those people so much. What a blessing it was to serve there.

This week has been a week of low lows and high highs. I suppose I will start with the lows and end with the highs.

Like I said last week, I got a good chastening from the Lord and with that a great endowment of hope but when something great like that happens, Satan often follows to take you down. This week I had a lot of feelings of indadequacy. It seems like I have been doing everything right and trying to do my best on all sides but I always fall short. It was extremely hot this week and on the day when Satan hit me the hardest I also got attacked by a bunch of ants during a lesson. Ha! The Spirit was definitely not there. I found myself on my knees just pleading witht the Lord to know what to do. Ultimately, these two scriptures have helped me:

"He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform" (Romans 4:20-21).

"Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed" (Doctrine and Covenants 123: 17)

Now to the high highs:

Zone meeting was just great. We were reminded that though we have all suddenly been hit with a wall of opposition and pretty much all of us are finding very little success that the Lord has covenanted with our mission that if we do His work in His way that we will accomplish our goal of 750 baptisms. The question is, will we keep pace? I am not perfectly spiritually in shape and to be honest I cannot keep pace on my own. The Lord is hastening His work and at the same time He is doing a great hastening in me. I am doing my best. Now I need to stand still and see the salvation of God. All will be well.

We are teaching this Ba-hai guy called Amos and we had a great lesson with him on the nature of God. He sort of has this idea this God is the all-knowing, all-powerful being that is far away and has no personal interest in us. Each of us studied the nature of God before the lesson and then we asked for the Spirit to help us know exactly what we needed to see. We testified that God is truly our loving Heavenly Father and that He knows us. We even have the potential to be like Him. Even if Amos didn't completely feel it, I did. I know that God loves us and knows us personally. He is our Father and we are His children. What a hopeful and beautiful knowledge to have.

We taught these two 12-year-olds, Clifford and Dave, about the Aaronic Priesthood. They both come from semi-less-active families but it was the cutest thing ever. They were both so excited about the priesthood and they both came to church on Sunday in their fresh white shirts. It's the little things.

Transfers came and Heavenly Father answered my prayer: I get to stay in Blantyre! Yay! A new baby sister is coming to our flat from America. I'm excited to see her freshness--new Americans are so funny when they come to Africa. I know I was. Sister Dlamini and I are excted to continue working through this opposition together and find investigators that are prepared. We are still struggling with our teaching pool but all is well.

On Saturday night as we planned for Sunday we literally had no one to see. We called like 20 possible investigators and they all said they would "let us know" aka no. We said a prayer and my mind was opened as if I was walking through the area to a house that we needed to go to. We had contacted it before but the Spirit guided me to see that was where we needed to go. Yesterday we went there and had a sweet first lesson with a girl who had been taught before by missionaries. She has a lot of great questions and has a desire to learn. We were truly guided by the Spirit not knowing beforehand the things which we should do.

I feel like this email was slightly jumbled and poorly written but I hope you got the general sense that though this mission thing is hard I am continuing forward with faith and I love it with all my heart.


Sister Proctor

Oh, to Grace How Great a Debtor

Feb. 9, 2015

When I turned 6 months I wrote an email about the things that I have learned on my mission so far. One of those things was that I am nothing--that I am completely reliant on Heavenly Father. Well, this week taught me that lesson even more. God gave us some fire this week and I would say I have truly been chastened and encouraged to step up and move forward with greater commitment to Him.

We were doing some finding in Chilimoni (Sister Mntungwa's area we are balancing with ours) and finally we just sat down wondering how to move forward. I said, "You guys, lately I just feel like I'm not feeling anything. No matter how hard I try I am just not feeling it in lessons". They were both glad that I said something because they were feeling the same way. We went home that night and did some analyzing of what was wrong. We have been having amazing, uplifting, motivating meetings lately and yet we were pretty much numb to move forward. As we talked further and started studying to find the answer we got the greatest chastisement.

Recently we came up with a standard of excellence and some mission goals for the year and they have asked us to be much better than we have in the past--they require true consecration of heart, might, mind and strength. We have been trying so hard to live up to all of these new expecations but in our great efforts we had forgotten that ultimately it is not our strength that will do the work. We have been relying on our own strength to try and step up and it has resulted in failure. This is the Lord's work. Of course we would need His strength. We have been searching and searching but if we don't have the guidance of the Spirit then we will yield nothing.

That's what the Spirit has taught me this week. "If you don't yield yourself, you will yield nothing".

Heavenly Father let us know that we haven't been seeking His guidance enough. We have been called to do things that are much bigger than us and the only way we can do them is if we work with someone much bigger. We know what we need to do but without the Spirit we cannot feel or do what we need to do. President Erickson and Elder Cook have given us the knowledge, but it is only through the Spirit that we can confirm it in our hearts and actually put it into action.

So, I am going back to the basics. I guess my mission up to this point has been life changing and wonderful and I have seen many people's lives change but now I am called to be better than I've been. I was doing my best with what I knew at the time but now I know better and that means I have to be better. I have to lose myself even more. I thought I had but God wants more of me. He wants all of me. I need to study Preach My Gospel everyday and not just once in a while. I need to study for my investigators and not just for my desire for knowledge. I need to forget myself and go to work.

I guess this email has sort of been a sermon but this has taken up most of my thoughts and actions all week. I am grateful to know that God chastises those He loves. He cuts us down because He sees our potential to be better. He doesn't want us to settle for less.

We are teaching this family called the Kaweres who are super SDA (seventh day). We have been teaching the plan of salvation and it has been hard for them to comprehend that we lived with God before and we aren't just made of the "breathe of life". Finally, the wife just totally got it and she started looking at the things that her church was teaching and she was like, "They have been teaching me this all along but I feel like what you are saying is true". When we asked what she would do with her knowledge she said she would know it but continue going to the church she knew. I gave the example of many schools around Blantyre all teaching different curriculums. If you knew that one school taught the true curriculum then wouldn't you want to go to that school? It's not about the school but it's about what is taught there. Then she said, "Ah, Sister Proctor. You are teaching my in parables". She is the sassiest woman. I love her.

Another tender mercy happened. After the grand chastisement we were excited to go out and apply all that the Spirit had taught us. We were finding in the richer part of our area and as we were searching for this man we contacted before we came upon a girl our age sitting in her house called Nelia. She actually reminded me a lot of Capri (shout out to Hermana Dahle!). We asked her if she knew the man we were looking for and she invited us in. We took the opportunity to teach and the whole time I was praying to find her need. The Spirit opened my mouth and I began to testify of repentance and the peace that Heavenly Father can give us despite our pasts and she just began crying and telling us about her life story. Her mother died and her father abandoned her and so many things have happened that has made her feel like God isn't hearing her prayers. I just testified to her that though her earthly father abandoned her she has a Heavenly Father that will never abandon her. I can't wait to teach her again.

Well, I love you all. If you want to understand more of my feelings read Nephi's Psalm (2 Nephi 4). God is so good. He knows what we need. I am certainly being refined and I am eternally grateful.