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!