Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Hearts of the Children

I'm sorry. I had to take the traditional 9 month picture. I made it to humpday!

Saying goodbye to my dear friend Elder Mwangi. Hopefully I'll see him at BYU.

Posing with the two deacons in the branch who brought all of their friends to church. We call them "the guys". Shout out to my nephew who was just ordained a deacon!

The fantasitc four of Ndirande being separated by transfers. We will miss Elder Cunningham!

March 30, 2015

Darling Family,

Well, we may still struggle with water (yes, still--since January) and I may still take bucket showers at least a couple times a week but life is swell in Blantyre. I still love being a missionary with all my heart no matter the weather.

We got transfer news this week and thankfully Sister Dlamini and I get to stay together in Ndirande for at least another month until more missionaries go home. Sadly, my good friend, Elder Mwangi (Kenya) is going to Lusaka to be an office Elder and Elder Cunningham (Arizona) is leaving the Ndirande branch. I will miss them too much. Elder Mwangi and I have served 9 months together--he was my zone leader in Lilongwe and then we were transferred to Blantyre together and he's been my zone leader here. Too many good times. 

I had the opportunity to teach at our district meeting on Tuesday and I was given the topic of contacting and referrals. As I prepared the Spirit directed me away from the hard "how to" and helped me to see what we are really doing as missionaries. My testimony of my calling has definitely deepened. This is more than just a job. In fact, if we think of it as a job then we are going to fail. This is life--this is life eternal. We are inviting people to come to Zion. When I think of Zion, I think of the most beautiful place on earth with Jesus Christ by my side. As missionaries we are not just convincing people to be baptized or join a church but we are inviting them to step up out of the grunge of mortality into His joyous rest. I tried to paint a picture for the district but mostly the Spirit just took over and each person's demeanor was different when they walked out of the meeting house. What a blessing it is to invite people to His rest and His loving arms.

We visited Sister Kuwali again. It was on a morning when I was a bit irritated but she never fails to melt my heart. We can barely understand each other but we had made cookies for a meeting later in the day so we shared one with her. She promptly took it and put it in a small pot to share with her husband when he got home. What love and generosity. They literally have nothing. We obviously had to give her another cookie. They were so small and yet she didn't even think twice to split that meager offering with her husband. 

One of our less actives has a nephew called Weekly who has shown a lot of interest in the Church. This week we taught him a couple of times and he even accepted a baptismal date. The best is to see members fellowshipping. We brought one of the Elder's recent converts and he was just so good to Weekly. 

On a sad note, Jessie, the girl we met last week that just had a baby, is sort of playing games. We went to her house to teach her and we found her sitting on the porch and she said she was a little "beezi" (though she clearly wasn't) and to come back another day. I love writing about all the little miracles that happen each week but sometimes it's sad to see that between each Monday that those people that were so exciting one week turn and close the door the next. I am learning to accept, embrace, and love the fact that I am a little sower in Ndirande and some day the fruits will be reaped.

By far the highlight of the week was our investigator called Katie. As we were planning for her one night the Spirit let us know that we should teach her about family history and temples. At that point we had only taught her twice so it sort of seemed risky but of course we followed the Spirit anyway. Even when we arrived and opened with a prayer, I was still unsure about it but we went for it anyway and it was such a sweet lesson. Before we dove into family history we asked her to tell us about her family and she simply said, "Well, my parents are both dead and my only sister also died." What? My heart simultaneously broke and took courage, knowing we were in the right place at the right time teaching the right thing. Her heart was completely melted as we taught her about family history and she was visibly excited to learn about its importance. She walked with us for a while after the lesson and told me that her father died before she was born so she doesn't know anything about that side of the family. She feels like now is the time to find out. It was so special.

Then, on Sunday we went to a nearby school to wait for her and walk with her to church (her first time). Time was ticking and she wasn't showing up. We finally called and she told us she was already at church! She LOVED church. She even stayed for the baptism after and sang along to every song she didn't even know. As we escorted her (that is a Malawian thing) after church she told us that she loved church and she especially loved that people were encouraged to participate and ask questions. I haven't had an investigator LOVE church in a long time so it was exciting and encouraging. The only sad thing was that we taught her again this morning and when we invited her to a baptism (again) she said no. When I asked if she had a desire she also said no. That sort of crushed my little heart but we won't give up. She has too many family members on the other side rooting for her to accept the gospel.

On Saturday, the branch attempted to have a "Why I Believe" fireside like the ones we used to have in Virginia. I say "attempted" because after a couple of weeks of no rain in Ndirande it poured right when the fireside was supposed to start. The Elder and us just stared out into the rain and said silent prayers that people would still come. Malawians are sort of deathly afraid of rain. If it rains then no one goes out. Finally the rain ceased and a few faithful members showed up (sadly, without nonmember friends). But it was still a lovely time of sharing testimonies and playing some scripture games. At least we strengthened the members' conviction to dig deeper into the gospel. Though it can be difficult, I love being a pioneer. 

Something I studied this week was the vision of the tree of life. The more I read those chapters in 1 Nephi, the more I understand about Jesus Christ. Something that stuck out to me this time was how the angel asked Nephi "Knowest thou the condescension on God?" and then later says, "Behold the condescension of God." After the first question, the angel shows Nephi the birth of the Savior. After the second statement, the angel shows Nephi the baptism of the Savior. My soul rejoiced to think that someone would love me so much as do descend below all to save my little, imperfect, weakness-ridden self. My gratitude for Jesus Christ deepens daily and I am so excited to have a day to remember Him and His resurrection.

Well, that's all for now kids. Enjoy watching conference live while I wait four more weeks! I wouldn't want to wait anywhere else but here.

Sister Proctor

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