Sunday, July 19, 2015

Love is Sacrifice

July 13, 2015

Darling Family,

Eating my caterpillar!

Caterpillars! Yum.

These are solid missionaries.

The District at Munda Wanga

FHE at the Nkowanes

Dinner with the Khans

Sister Falco and I. Love this lady.

My companion getting her hair relaxed in the dark. The power is still on and off.

 Last Monday we went to Munda Wanga as a district--a small zoo and botanical gardens just outside Lusaka. All of our activities have to have some spiritual purpose so the theme of the activity was unity. On our way out of Lusaka both the Elders and us got pulled over by police because of old stickers and we took a detour to the police station. In Zambia and Malawi if the police pull you over then they have to get into your car and you have to drive them to the police station. What a funny world. I guess that experience contributed to our theme of unity. It turns out a lot of us were secretly struggling with different things and so though no one mentioned what they were going through a good ole' braai was exactly what we needed.

One Elder said something this week that really impacted me. He was talking about something completely different and then he just said, "The greatest manifestation of love is sacrifice." I'm convinced the Spirit was speaking through him to me. It prompted me to read a letter Mom sent me almost a year ago about George Stevens, my great-great grandfather. Reading his story of leaving his wife and little children to serve a mission gave me strength. He showed God that he loved Him more than anything else. I feel like that's something the Lord is trying to teach me. The same blood that ran through George's veins runs through mine. I will continue through the challenge because without the sacrifice this experience wouldn't be complete. Love is sacrifice.

Many members invited us over for family home evenings this week, which was a blessing to take a breather from tracting all day err day. First, we had FHE with Sister Nkowane and a bunch of other random members of the ward that don't have families. We played games and had a great lesson and it was just sweet to be with these amazing saints. Sister Nkowane shared a scripture that touched me a lot. It is the story of Jesus healing a blind man in Luke 18. Christ asks what the man would have him do and the man replies, "Lord, that I may receive my sight." That is so much of what I am seeking lately. I want to receive my sight and see my challenges with spiritual eyes. 

Then, we had a FHE with a Korean family in our ward, the Khans. Brother Khan is the Elder's Quorum president. His wife just came to join him from Korea after living here a year so he's pretty happy to have her around with their two kids. She is still learning English but I could feel her spirit and how much she loves the gospel. I shared a scripture with them in Alma 26 about being "wanderers in a strange land" but how the Lord is aware of all of us no matter where we are. The Spirit was so sweet as we looked around the table of Koreans, Americans, a Kenyan and a Ghanian, realizing that we are all wanderers in this strange land but we are family because of the gospel. I felt that God was aware of us sitting on the floor around that tiny table. Sister Khan wept as she shared (in Korean) the perspective she has gained in coming to Zambia. She said everyone in Korea has so much but are so dissatisfied with their lives but everyone here has so little and they seem so happy. I really do love this ward.

Last night the four of us missionaries in the ward had dinner with the Sichinga family out at their lodge in the boonies. Brother Sichinga is a former member of parliament so he always has great things to say. He told us the history of the church in Zambia and all of the challenges we have had and still have with the rumors and such and it was just a lovely evening. We talked about the reality of God and His plan for Zambia and the world and it gave me greater courage. The stars were so bright and so was the Spirit in the room. Also, I tried caterpillars for the first time, so there's that. They aren't too bad but I wouldn't recommend them either :)

Sister Quaye and I have struggled a bit with our companionship unity but one thing really brought us together this week. We were knocking doors in an apartment building and we came to a door where this girl answered the door (probably only a few years older than us). She was nice at first but rejected a bit rudely at the end. As we went to the next door we couldn't help but overhear her tell her friend all of these rumors about the Church and how we claim to be Christian but we are really hiding our true nature and how the world is spiraling downward, etc. etc. etc. and we looked at each other wondering what to do. A man came up the stairs and went into the apartment so in a moment of courage my companion knocked at the door again and said, "Oh, we just saw that man walk in and we are inviting everyone to this activity so we wanted to give him a card, too." She took it and acted friendly and then Sister Quaye said, "And we just wanted to let you know that the Lord loves you and we do, too." She had no guile or sassiness but said it with boldness and kindness and the girl was totally confounded. She didn't even have to say anything about the smack she had been saying about the Church but she nobly stood up for the truth. I have a cool companion indeed. 

That's all for this week. I hope you have a great week!

Sister Proctor

What are You Becoming?

July 6, 2015

Ready for Church in her African dress.

African dresses for Church.

Dear Family,

Well, kids. Lusaka is pushing me to my limits but every once in a while I look around and realize that it's becoming more and more beautiful to me. We drive/walk the same streets but my love for the members and people I work with is increasing. 

I guess that's the greatest thing I have to rejoice in right now. I don't really rejoice in my low numbers or how many doors are slammed in our face or how many houses we are kicked out of because we are "satanic" (although my companion is really good at laughing at all of these silly situations) but I do rejoice in who I am becoming because of these trials. 

I had an interview with President Erickson this week and after discussing some practical things about missionary work he looked at me and asked, "Do you like who you are becoming?" The Spirit just filled me and I knew that Heavenly Father likes who I am becoming. So do I. My love and faith has increased, my endurance has been tested and I am continuing on and I am happy about who I am and who the future me will be as I continue on this course. As I told him some of my feelings I mentioned how I will be a forever saint on and after mission and when I finished he said, "Well, you have thoroughly uplifted and depressed me. Uplifted because you have touched my life so deeply and depressed because you had to mention going home. How much longer do you have?" When I told him he looked sad but then he said, "You still have time to touch my life more, touch the lives and missionaries even more, and touch the lives of members and investigators." I love that man so much. 

I think my sweetest moment this week was a totally unplanned one. For the past couple of months we have had volunteers with Mother's Without Borders staying in our area and coming to our ward and so with a break between two groups of volunteers two of them came to teach with us. We ended up waiting an hour for our investigator to show up but that hour was totally divinely planned. One of the volunteers began telling us about the past 5 years of her life of inactivity in the church and how since coming to Zambia for this trip she has come back to church and begun reading her scriptures again. It was amazing to see this girl so obviously changed. We got to teach her and I felt so much love for her. Hearing her story made me see how Heavenly Father slowly brings people back to Him when they wander. It wasn't all at once. It wasn't a few days after she made a bad choice. It's taken 5 years. But she's back and she is so full of light. It was a tender mercy for me even though she may have thought that lesson was for her.

We have a couple of YSA investigators that are progressing well which is sweet. They seem to be our only real investigators but at least we have two. 

But through all of this I feel like my greatest blessings haven't been in miracles or people to teach but in great treasures of knowledge. The Spirit has taught me so much about the gospel I never knew, even when I'm just brushing my teeth or driving the car (by the way, this week our car was in the shop so we walked one day and then we've used another car the rest of the week--an AUTOMATIC!). Something I learned this week is that we don't necessarily need to remember Christ on the cross or in the Garden every moment of every day to keep our covenant of remembering Him. We remember Him in our righteous choices and our service of others and our decision to keep pushing forward despite adversity. I will love and remember Him always.


Sister Proctor

Little Moments

June 29, 2015
My lovely Christmas card.

Sister Quaye and me.

1 Year!

Sister Quaye and me.

Darling Family,

Heavenly Father has blessed me so much this week. Not even in our investigators or in the area but just in my perspective and in noticing the little things that He blesses me with--perfect orchestrations.

Tiny things from this week that made me really, really happy:

1. Two new sisters from the US came into the mission from Utah and Idaho but also from BYU and it was fun to hear about BYU (I love that place too much) but standing there in the mission home with these two freshly-from-the-MTC sisters and feeling their excitement reminded me of when I arrived in the mission home all by myself and how fresh I felt, too. They kept asking all of these questions and wanting to hear my wisdom and it was strange to think they look at my as an "old missionary". When did that happen?

2. President Erickson took Sister Frimpong and I into his office and after some things that happened he just wanted to express his love for us. He told us how much he loves us and appreciates what we add to the mission. He doesn't do that very often so it was just a sweet moment.

3. I literally felt your prayers this week. I don't know who all is praying for me but I really, really felt them. I never understood when people said they, "felt other people's prayers" but this week I get it. Even as I learn manual driving in this crazy city I felt prayers ascending to heaven on my behalf. Thank you, whoever you are.

4. Something I've been praying to know what to do about was made clear as I read the Book of Mormon this week. Prayers are answered. The Book of Mormon leads to revelation. And I also just love looking down at these scriptures I got on my baptism day and to think how far they've come. They have traveled around the world with me and it all started when I was a tiny little thing and I got into that freezing water at the Fairfax chapel. Now my scriptures are worn, and the pages are filled with writing and dirty finger prints and I love them so much.

5. With Sister Quaye from my old branch in Lilongwe and Sister Falco from my old branch in Blantyre in the same house as me I have gotten updates on all my recent converts and it's the happiest thing. Some are definitely struggling but then multiple of my converts in Lilongwe are preparing to serve missions and I could just cry! Many are coming up on their year marks in the Church. And after month and month in Blantyre with pretty much no fruit Sister Falco told me that this lady we taught a lesson to and then seemed hard to get a hold of is now getting baptized with her husband and son! WHAT IS LIFE? I'm so happy! I remember I had been praying to have a reaffirmation of my testimony of the Restoration and then in that lesson the Spirit was so strong and I felt it so much and now she's getting baptized with her family. Miracles!!!

6. In one of my personal studies this week I was reading President Erying's talk from General Conference about fast offerings and the Spirit taught me something I've never realized about the Atonement. Sometimes we think that Jesus Christ suffered for our sins and our pains simply because of the fall and the natural way mortals tend to sin and feel pain, but I realized that 
Christ suffered to uphold the Father's plan that there HAD to be sin and pain in order for us to learn and become better and refined. He suffered knowing that that was an essential part of the plan and not just a natural effect of the fall. I love my Savior and His submissiveness to God's will. I want to be more submissive.

7. We were teaching one of our sweet investigators called Ammon (perfect name, eh?) and as we talked about faith then he gave an example of a full, unopened can of soda and an empty can of soda and compared it to faith and I laughed because I knew he had been reading the conference Liahona. He's solid. I'm excited about him.

8. On my year mark (26th) we were going about knocking and contacting and suddenly I found myself on the exact same road I contacted on my very first day in the field when I had a day in Lusaka. This is a road I've been looking for for a long time because I haven't been able to get this old man we taught that day out of my mind. It was sort of poignant to finally find myself on that road on that particular day. I found the old man's house and when we knocked and walked in he was sitting in the same exact chair he was sitting in one year ago. It was as if he had been waiting for us all that time. I sat down on the same exact couch but what was interesting was how different I felt a year ago and right then. I remember my heart was beating out of my chest and I barely said a word as we taught him but sitting there once again I felt so comfortable and free and it was like Heavenly Father put a mirror up to me and showed me just how much I've grown and changed. He is so incredibly aware.

9. That night, the power was out (it's been out like every day this week) so Sister Falco and I sat with one candle in our living room and talked for a long time. This sounds silly but I noticed a tiny ant walking around on the floor and as I watched it, it just kept making big circles around and around the candle. We sat there for hours and it just kept circling. I think it was a funny way of Heavenly Father teaching me that my problems are pretty small. This ant thought the candle was the only thing in the whole world but it was missing out on a whole house of adventure. I guess I learn through simple, small things but it was important at the same time. I look at my problems as mountains sometimes but really they are grains of sand.

10. I came into coordination with the Elders and bishop to find a letter on my chair from someone I didn't know. I opened the envelope to find a big Christmas card from this Polar Express place in Lindon, UT I've never heard of. I didn't know any of the many people that signed this Christmas card and though it was 6 months late it made me super teary that somewhere out there a bunch of strangers made little me a card. It was tiny but it made me so happy. Also, that is how long mail can take in Zambia so it looks like I'll never be getting mail again. Actually it arrives in Zambia quickly but it sits at the post office for months.

These things are so small but they made me happy this week. I am grateful for a Heavenly Father that is so aware. 
Notice the little things this week!
Love you!

Sister Proctor