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

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