Monday, May 11, 2015

God Winks

May 11, 2015
The darling Besa girls that cooked for us

The not so darling capenta I ate. Those eyes went in my mouth. Yum.

Darling Family,

This week we had very few lessons but we also saw a lot of miracles and the hand of the Lord in every step. He is so aware of me personally, not only in the missionary work but in my personal life, too. When things work together just too perfectly for it to be a coincidence I think of them as "God winks". Little reminders that God knows and gets it.

District meeting was so powerful. We talked about revelation through the Book of Mormon and it was a good reminded that the Book of Mormon is literally our most powerful tool we can use. I think sometimes it's easy to sit down and want to teach the restoration from the Bible because that is what people so dearly love and trust here in Zambia but the hard evidence that you can hold in your hand that the restoration is true is the Book of Mormon. All of the few lessons we had this week were so much more powerful because when investigators had questions we would turn them to the Book of Mormon instead of to our own thoughts or to the Bible. I love that book. It is like a little book of light I carry around with me everywhere and whenever I need comfort I can open it with full faith that I WILL find comfort. 

I think the best feeling in the world is being the answer to someone else's prayer. So many times this week we showed up right when someone really needed a reminder that they were loved in the heavens. We were knocking doors in an apartment building and this lady passed us while we were talking to someone else and we both felt like we needed to talk to her as she walked up the stairs. We didn't know where she went so we continued knocking and asked for a referral from one girl at the door. She told us to try a couple floors above so we skipped a ton of doors and went up to this referral. The referral wasn't home so we tried next door and that woman who had passed us answered the door. When we asked how she was she said, "I'm not too good. I just lost my brother and I have been gone since yesterday at 3am." We literally caught her in the only ten minutes she would be home for days. She didn't have time for a lesson but we came in and bore our testimonies to her and gave her hugs and I knew we were where God wanted us to be.

That also happened with a less active. We had been praying and praying and completely had a stupor of thought of where to go. As we were getting in the car to head to another area we just thought maybe we should check on a less active. At first it was just nice to chat with her and get to know her a bit. After a full day of knocking and getting yelled at with doors in our faces she offered us some hot chocolate. As we were talking though, all of a sudden she began to cry and sort of bore her heart to us. We totally figured out why she is less active and much of it has to do with a lack of testimony. I am excited to continue working with her. 

We had a lesson with our investigator called Friday who is in his 50s but we literally called every woman we could think of to come teach with us and everyone said no. We finally went to the chapel, because every time we go to the chapel we find a miracle, and the only person we found was a member of the stake presidency. He brainstormed with us and finally got his wife to come to teach with us. It may sound like not a miracle at all to you but when you desperately want to teach on of your only investigators and you might have to cancel because you don't have a woman to teach with you, it is a miracle indeed. The lesson was so great. We also brought Brother Sichinga who is a former Minister of Parliament and when Friday saw him it was like his celebrity crush had shown up at his door. So funny. He was definitely blessed by these two powerful members.

One of my favorite moments this week was when these three little girls (who are the daughters of a less active couple) made us lunch. They are about 3, 8, and 9 and the most giggliest gaggle of girls you will ever meet. When we arrived at their tiny house they saw us and brought two food warmers and two plates out to their little picnic table. They could hardly contain themselves as they opened their tiny warmers and revealed the lumpiest nsima I've ever seen and capenta (tiny fish). They were so proud of their concoction and Sister Frimpong and I ate with so much gratitude in our hearts. To be honest, capenta is probably my least favorite food in the entire world but I savored every nasty bite with tiny tears in my eyes as Heavenly Father expanded my visions. It was totally a type of how He feels about me and us as missionaries and as His children. Our offerings to Him are so imperfect and pale in comparison to His greatness and glory. But when we offer what we have with all of our hearts then He will just cry with gratitude. He doesn't expect a five course meal. He just expects our best. If our best is lumpy nsima then He will love every bite. No matter how many weaknesses I have as a missionary and person He is grateful for my meager offering. It was the most revelatory meal of capenta I've ever had.

Another sweet God wink this week happened as we ate dinner at a members house. Yes, people actually feed us meals here at dinner tables with forks and knives (is this real like?). I was asking Sister Charity about her life and she told me that she helped to found Mother Without Borders, the humanitarian group based out of American Fork. She and the CEO began a school and an orphanage here in Lusaka. As she spoke, I remembered that Liz Lemon Swindle, the painter of that beautiful painting of Christ walking with the African children, came to Zambia with Mothers Without Borders to find inspiration for this painting. I got that painting for Christmas right after our first trip to Kenya and it has hung on my bedroom wall at home sort of as a symbol of my deepest loves in life, Christ and Africa. As we got talking, I found out that all of the orphan children attend our ward and a few of them are the children depicted in that painting. It was such a simple discovery, but to think that this painting that hung in my room years before I got my mission call came from the very ward I am now serving in--it's just too perfect. 

I loved talking to you over Skype and feeling the love. You people are the greatest. Thank you for your forever support. 

Sister Proctor

Hopping the Border

May 4, 2015
I made it on the wall of fame in my Blantyre flat. My biography was written by Sister Zohner.

Sister Frimpong and I at the chapel. She is such a babe.

SUBWAY. You should have seen my face when I saw a SUBWAY. You guys, I was in Malawi a long time. I just kept saying, "Is this real like?"

Sister Komiha and I just hours before she goes home

Darling Family,

This week has been just wonderful. Heavenly Father has blessed me with so much peace in this transfer and Sister Frimpong and I hit the ground running. I think pretty much the whole world clumps Africa into one country or one general culture but Zambia and Malawi could not be more different.

My first hour we went to a shopping mall in our area to eat and I felt like I had come back to America. I'm pretty much a village girl coming to the city for the first time. I looked around and I felt nearly overwhelmed with how big this place is. I am so used to Malawi where the development is still underway and where the nicest place in the whole city to eat is KFC. Now I am here and there are chains from around the world. Our area is super nice--pretty much all gates and apartment buildings. We have a car as STLs and Sister Frimpong is the driver so it's just nice after hiking for months and coming home beat. When we pass people on the street, they are speaking English. I go to greet in Chichewa and then I realize that Chichewa isn't spoken here. I miss Chichewa. I miss saying, "Bho!" everywhere I go.

There are street names which is sort of revolutionary in my head. They use military time so our curfew is between 18 and 19pm. I serve in a ward and go to church in an actual chapel. So many people are just super educated. Multiple people in our ward have gone to the States for school, like the bishop's wife went to BYU Provo. There is a girl that is visiting her home ward that now lives in American Fork with her husband. WHAT? So many connections to BYU and Utah in this ward.

This first thing I did when I got to Lusaka was go to the chapel where they were having district meeting to meet my new companion. I was surprised to find SISTER KOMIHA there, too, just hours away from going home. I thought I would miss her but we got to teach one last lesson together. That girl is a bomb shell. I am grateful we got to be companions. It's so fun to be the STL in Lusaka because we get to see all the sisters who come in and out and who get transferred. 

My companion, Sister Frimpong, is the best. I love her so much. Her family is from Ghana but she was born and raised in London so, like I said last week, she has a beautiful accent to match her beautiful face. She is super level headed but also loves to laugh and have fun. I have pretty much had the best companions ever on my mission. Have I mentioned I am the most blessed child in the world? Heavenly Father is so kind to me.

Also, another tender mercy is that Elder Mwangi is in my ward and district! We served 9 months straight together and when he got transferred I thought I wouldn't see him before he left but now I will get to see him die. He's the greatest. I know a lot of the missionaries in my district already which is just fun. I live with Sister Muthengi from Kenya who I lived with in Lilongwe and Sister Mulunda from Congo who I met in January. Our house is definitely an interesting, diverse place to live.

Even the rejection in Lusaka is different. In Malawi they just tell you yes and promise to come to church and take your pamphlet and act super interested but in Lusaka they are blunt and tell you no and call your church Satanic. It's the best. That sounds sarcastic but after so many months of people stringing me along to believe they are interested and then after a 30 minute hike to their house I find it empty, it is nice to have people just honestly tell you no. Just in the few days I've been here we've had some sweet texts about how our message is blasphemous and such. Good times. Haters gonna hate.

My favorite investigator is Joseph. He lives with a super strong, seasoned member called Sister Charity who is a widow in her 50s and is the biggest powerhouse you will ever meet. On the walls of their huge house there are posters with lists of different things they want to improve on as a family like dependability and how much they reach out to their extended family. It's super impressive. Joseph has his own quad and as family they study their scriptures twice a day. He basically already knows everything, it's just a matter of getting him in the font. He is the sweetest guy ever. Sister Charity is amazing. She has a son at BYU right now and she's going out for his graduation in December so maybe I'll get to see her in Utah!

A couple of sisters came down from the Copperbelt to take care of visa things here in Lusaka and so we got to pick them up and help them through the whole process. One sister is still pretty green in the mission and as I asked her how mission is so far she told me she wanted to go home. I had the opportunity to just share how wonderful a mission is and how it is worth every hard day. By the end of the day of immigration and proselyting with us, she seemed so much happier and she gave me a hug and thanked me as she got on the bus back to the Belt. I feel like part of the reason I am here in Lusaka is to give excitement and encouragement to all the sisters that come through. I remember my first night when I arrived in the field and I stayed at this flat, the sisters scared me half to death because they told me how terrible mission was and how some of them wanted to go home. I want to give light to every sister that comes through.

I guess this email is just one giant first impression of Lusaka and I can already tell it is poorly written but there are so many new things to take in it's ridiculous. I think my greatest feeling right now is utter gratitude that Heavenly Father sent me to Malawi first. Malawi truly humbled me and broadened my perspective. The branches I served in were so pioneer and I was working at the grass roots but now I am in a stake with members that have been members for 20+ years. I will forever love those hills and that dust and those spiders. But I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be. 

Love forever,
Sister Proctor

Musali Bwino

April 27, 2015
With my darling Temba, the little boy that ALWAYS has to hug me every time I pass. The cutest.

The Young Women making their bracelets. I love these girls.


Sister Kuwali--my favorite person ever.

Sister Chinomwe and I. She is so full of light. I love this lady.

Regina and I. What a sassy friend she came to be.

Bob Kuwali, Me, Sister Dlamini, President Matale, and Sister Kuwali

Brother Bob and I. He's the most faithful night guard ever.

The sweet Chirwa family. Yep, I'm a giant.

Weekly. This will be my baptism picture since I won't be there next Sunday.

Darling Family,

Well, the call I was waiting for came late Friday night. There's nothing like seeing the phone light up with the ZLs calling. You just know that when a call comes late at night it's transfers. Last time I was transferred it was so surprising that my reaction was quite dramatic but this time since President had warned us that one of us was going I felt like it would be me so my heart was prepared to hear, "Sister Proctor [insert small talk to lessen the blow], we are calling concerning transfers. You are being transferred to Lusaka to be the STL with Sister Frimpong." Yep, folks. I'm crossing the border. After 10 months in Malawi I am going to another country with a different language and a lot less mountains and trees. In fact, from what I've seen of Lusaka, it's pretty much straight pavement. But I am excited for the adventures ahead.

This week we did exchanges and I got to go with Sister Zohner to Chilimoni and bring Sister Griffus to Ndirande. I had the blessing of finishing Sister Zohner's 12 week training. It had been a while since I watched "The District" and it was a good reminder of why I am here. Basically, I think I say this every week, but I love being a missionary. This is the best experience and my heart is so full. I love being an STL because I get to learn from and teach all of the sisters in the zone. It's fun to just sit down and ask about their goals and encourage them and be their best friend and confidant. Sister Griffus is going home in 2 weeks so I asked her what advice she would give to missionaries. Sister Griffus is a tough cookie sometimes--she doesn't like to cry--but she teared up as she expressed how much she knows that missions are not only to help other people but they are to help yourself. I definitely have a testimony of that. My heart has been under construction since day one and it's becoming something much more beautiful than it was when I left. I have walked miles for this testimony and this heart.

Weekly is so ready to be baptized and it is quite hard to fill out his baptismal record and send him into the interview knowing I won't be there. I have worked for so many months just to see this one baptism and now I will leave before it happens. But to be honest, my heart is at peace. I know that we will one day meet again. As we reviewed with him for his interview, I asked if he felt like the restoration was true and he has had a hard time receiving answers to his prayers in the past but today he was confident with a, "yes". I asked what changed and he told us that he had been reading the Book of Mormon and the Spirit communicated to him in two verses: "And they came down and went forth upon the face of the earth; and the first came and stood before my father, and gave unto him a book, and bade him that he should read. And it came to pass that as he read, he was filled with the Spirit of the Lord," (1 Nephi 1:11-12). He bore his testimony to us and I have no doubt that his prayers have been answered. What a blessing he has been in my life. My heart will certainly be in the Ndirande branch next Sunday.

The Young Women in our branch have never really had mutual or any kind of activities so we planned an activity for them and it was SO adorable to see how excited they were. Since Pat and Sarah Bluth sent me a ton of beads and string for Christmas we focused on the value of virtue and made bracelets to remind them to stay virtuous. Only four girls showed up but we went around and got to know each other a bit and it was so sweet. Each girl asked the group a question and one of the questions was, "What is a special moment you've had in life?" They all described their happiest moments and one girl told us how she had walked many kilometers every Saturday to go to seminary and when she got her certificate it was the happiest moment of her life. I thought that was cute. As we walked out of the meeting house gate together I told them that they need to tell their friends how much fun YW activities are and they said we will and just jumped up and down with their bracelets in hand. One girl exclaimed, "THIS is a special moment!"

General Conference was also a "special moment" this week. So many talks moved me to tears and my heart was full of gratitude to be a part of this great Church and gospel. What a joy it is to know the truth and to stand by it fervently. We also watched the General Women's Session again and as we sang, "How Firm a Foundation" my heart pretty much exploded. Heavenly Father is so good at these perfect orchestrations. That song has been one that just "happens" to be played at every poignant moment in my life (i.e. my last Sunday in Virginia, my last Sunday in Alpine before going to college, etc.) so to have it play on my last weekend in Blantyre was just too good. I am eternally grateful for the lessons I have learned in this place.

Being here in Ndirande has stretched me further than I thought I could stretch and I have learned to be happy and have fun no matter what. I have learned to rely on the Lord and wait on His promises and His timing because they are oh so very sure. I have learned that though I am here to help people, the Lord has also sent me here to help ME. I loved Linda K Burton's talk about how she may not have been through every trial but she has become well acquainted with He who has experienced all. I can not understand how it feels to starve or any other number of challenges people face here but I have become well acquainted with my Savior on these dirt roads and my understanding of the expanse of His Atonement has deepened. I love Him so much. 

My agogo amuna (grandpa)/eternal investigator Ian called just to hear the transfer news and when he saw me on Sunday he just told me how much he would miss me. When I told the Relief Society president, Sister Mbawa, I was leaving, she said, "Ahh, don't make me cry." Both Bob and Linda Kuwali are SO sad I am leaving. Sister Kuwali has been the highlight of every week sitting on her dirt floor and laughing so hard as we attempted to communicate to her. Brother Bob is our night guard so he has become accustomed to greeting us every night with a salute and welcoming us home. Last night, Brother Bob just expressed his gratitude and how I have really changed their lives. It's nice to hear all of these things from people but they don't even understand that THEY are the ones that have changed my life. Presdient Matale was also super sad to hear I was leaving. He has become someone very dear to me. 

It's funny that when I left Kalambo I felt like that was my one and only family here on mission but then I came to Ndirande and they have become even more of a family to me. These people and their beautiful, bright countenances will forever be etched in my heart. But I think what gives me the greatest peace about leaving is knowing that if I found another family in Blantyre, that Lusaka has a family waiting for me there. I may not have the same river adventures or hiking adventures but great things are ahead. I already know my companion and she's so powerful. She's from Ghana but grew up in London and has the nicest accent and face around. She's about 3 months younger than me on mission. And the up side of going to Zambia is that there will be no more water problems, we get to drive, the distribution center is in my new area, and our flat is where all the missionaries stay when they come in or go out so I get to meet everyone. 

Adventures ahead.

Sister Proctor