Monday, August 31, 2015

When in All Eternity?

Aug. 31, 2015

Making sandwiches at youth conference with Mashike, my girl. She just submitted her mission papers!

Visiting the Chainama sisters.
Darling Family,

After emailing last week, I went to get a haircut. For all of you who plan to move to Africa one day I highly recommend great caution when getting haircuts. Azungu hair is very different from African hair. So, I told and showed the lady how much hair I wanted cut off and she ended up cutting about double the amount off. My hair has been chopped. But it's growing on me and at least I have short hair going into the hot season. The lady could see my eyes grow bigger and bigger and I kept stopping her but she said she knew what she was doing. A mantra I've adopted lately is, "When in all of eternity will this matter?" So yeah, maybe my hair is chopped but whatever. Eternally, it doesn't really matter. I'll embrace it.

So many times I was sitting in lessons this week and I sort of stepped outside the situation and thought, "I can't believe this is real life. I can't believe I'm a missionary in Zambia right now teaching this person. How did I get here?" I feel like the joy and amazement I had at the beginning of my mission has returned. Can you believe it? I get to be a missionary! I get to share the gospel! In ward council yesterday I just sat there listening to all of these ward leaders concerned about all of these people and thought, "These people are so cool. I can't believe I get to participate in this." Life is beautiful.

We were teaching an investigator called Dingani who seems very promising and I had an experience I've never had before in a lesson. He is a very passionate person. He can get very intense about every little doctrine. When we came and asked if he had read the pamphlet we left, he told us no but he had been reading on the internet. Probably in the past my heart would have sunk but Sister Quaye and I just smiled and pleasantly listened as he raged about the Bible being the only word of God and about all of these different doctrines that we have. When all of his steam blew over I boldly testified (practically a spiritual slap in the face [in the kindest way possibly]) and then his response was amazing. He said, "Can I pray?" I have never had an investigator want to pray in the middle of the lesson, let alone an investigator who was raging about anti material online. So he prayed and said, "Father, if I have offended these sisters, forgive me. And if they have offended me, forgive them." We were pretty calm because this sort of thing happen all the time but his intensity mellowed and the Spirit came into his heart. I was so impressed. In a moment of heat in his heart he just stopped and prayed. And he totally accepted the Book of Mormon. MIRACLE.

I went on exchanges with Sister Mulunda (from DRC) and it was nice. We also got to visit the other sisters this week because one is very sick. I love being an STL because instead of recognition it just gives you more opportunities to serve others. The sisters in the other flat far away were so grateful that we came to visit them. The Spirit was so sweet.

The stake young women president invited us to speak at youth conference on Saturday and it was so fun! The youth theme this year is all about missionary work and all the kids were so pumped. They even went out to do some finding. Free referrals for the Elders. Ha! It reminded me of my days going to youth conference and girl's camp. I am so grateful for the leaders that helped me to gain the testimony that I am sharing. Especially youth conferences in Virginia have become my foundation. What a blessing these youth have to get to participate. 

Well, kids. I hope you find some way to serve a brother or sister this week. You have more brothers and sisters around you than you can count. 


Sister Proctor

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Marvel Not!

August 24, 2015

Family home evening with our members, the office Elders, the APs, Elder Lemperle 
(going home the next day), and our investigator. Too much fun. 

The truck.

Darling Family,

We are a zone meeting around the theme of how change helps us to grow as we introduced this new schedule to all of the other missionaries and Sister Quaye and I got to present the spiritual thought on change. In my personal study I found the perfect scripture, "And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters; And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God," (Mosiah 27:25-26). I love that the Lord plainly tells us to "marvel not" that we need to change. Sometimes when we are chastened or asked to change we find it hard to do, but we are imperfect mortals. Of course we need to change! No unchanged thing can enter the kingdom of God!

This week I have been studying the importance of the Book of Mormon and my testimony has grown so much. I am so grateful for that book. The Bible helps us to understand the events and the Book of Mormon helps us to understand how those events apply to us personally. I am so grateful that I have this tool to more fully understand the Atonement and the Fall--the pure love of God. As a result of my studies, I seemed to testify of the Book of Mormon a lot this week and use it in finding and it felt so good.

This new schedule has literally doubled our lessons. It's crazy how a change of one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening can make a difference. We are still trying to find solid people that will progress but just the fact that we are teaching anyone at all is the biggest blessing. I just fall down on my knees every day and thank Heavenly Father. There is nothing I have done to merit these blessings, and yet they are coming.

We found a couple of very interesting people this week. One is called Makai and he is the friend of one of our investigators. As we taught our investigator, we gave him a Book of Mormon just to look through and he was intently reading the whole lesson. It reminded me of my thoughts in Blantyre--what light shines forth from those pages when someone opens it for the first time. They are peaking into their eternal potential, if they will but accept it, read it, and use it. I am excited to see where he goes. He pretty much wants to meet with us everyday this week.

We also met an old man called Morgan Muti. He is a little bit crazy and also very intelligent. He already loves the Book of Mormon, too, and he went around to all of his neighbors telling them about us and wondering if they would like to meet with us. 

We also found quite a few families but most of them rejected us after "showing interest" in the first lesson. We will keep trying. Families are my favorite!

On Sunday we put together a ward choir and sang Hymn #70, "Sing Praise To Him". I had never heard of it until we learned it together but it has become one of my favorite hymns. Look it up.

In other news:
-One of our less actives hid in her house as we knocked at the door. The guard kept telling us that she was inside sleeping so we went around knocking on the windows to try to wake her up. It turns out she was just hiding from us...awkward.
-The power outages continue and I've decided to call this "the great apostasy" because of the "darkness" and "loss of power". Yeah, missionary humor. It's the best.
-Since our mirror got stolen we have traded our tiny carolla in for a truck (see picture). I can't even describe the irony of us driving around in this old, LOUD, manual, clunky truck and then we get out in our skirts with out scriptures to go help people feel the Spirit. I think I'm being converted to trucks.

Love you! Have a wonderful week,

Sister Proctor

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Live by Your Covenants

August 17, 2015

All the STLs out to Chinese with President and Sister Erickson.

Sister Rasband and I. Shout out to all the Lone Peakers!

Ma Frimpong and me. Love this lady.

My beautiful companion and I

Amon--the first one to Mormon Helping Hands. So proud of him.

All the Elders braiing at the mission home

Darling Family,

We had our two-day mission leadership council this week and it was so wonderful. I feel so blessed to still be a part of it and to council with such spiritual giants. It is always fun to see the leaders throughout the whole mission because all of them have become my good friends. I was reunited with Sister Dlamini and Sister Frimpong and we were the happiest children around. 

I can't really describe MLC to you accurately and capture the Spirit of those meetings but they were spectacular. I felt very chastened and desirous to become a better missionary, leader, covenant-keeper, and saint. Sister Erickson taught us about covenants and she said, "Live by your covenants, not by your circumstances." In all of these meetings I feel that I am not only building who I am now but I am building who I will be in the future, post-mission. 

President opened MLC with talking about his prayers. He told us that when he really wants to receive revelation that he kneels down, says, "Dear Father in Heaven," and then waits in silence for a response. A response always comes. In that silent moment I listened for what God wanted me to hear. His voice was heard and I felt his immense trust in all of us young, weak missionaries trying our best to bless this mission.

The biggest change from MLC is that we are changing the mission schedule. Because of safety, we have been leaving 9am and coming home at 6pm my entire mission but now we are adding an hour in the morning and an hour (or if you have an appointment two hours) in the evening. That will definitely change the dimension of our teaching pools because now we can see fathers and their families when they are home from work in the evening. It is going to take a lot of faith to proselyte in the dark but I know that is from Heavenly Father and I'm ready to take it on.

Funny enough, even though we missed two days in the area we had more lessons than other weeks. It was a week full of miracles! I am so incredibly grateful for every tiny blessing Heavenly Father is sending our way. At one point we had a fall through and we prayed to know who we needed to see and as we opened our eyes I said, "Chipoya" and Sister Quaye said, "Simooya". They are both members. We laughed that their names rhymed and decided to pray again because we obviously didn't quite hear the Spirit right. We ended up going to see the Chipoyas who we've never found at home and they were there! And we had the sweetest lesson with them on family history. And Sister Chipoya's name in Maurine so I call he my Zambian mom :)

We had Mormon Helping Hands this weekend and guess who was the first person to show up. Our investigator Amon. Powerful. I don't think he knew what he was getting into. We cleaned this market for over 4 hours in the heat and it was mostly chibuku (alcohol) cartons we were picking up. It reminded me of that quote from either Joseph Smith or Brigham Young that says something along the lines of, "If Mormons end up being wrong and [another religion] is right and all the Mormons go to hell then we will overthrow Satan and make it a beautiful place." We certainly overthrew the drunk men and made their hang out spot a bit more beautiful!

In other news:
-My recent convert from Lilongwe, Chisomo Brighton, just got his mission call to Cape Town!! I can't believe I've been out long enough for an RC to head out on mission. 
-All of the Relief Society sisters at church were discussing how no one visits each other and one said, "The only people that visit me are the sister missionaries." Then one by one each sister said, "Me too!" It made me happy that we had visited so many of them. We are making a difference!
-A former investigator is still going to the Catholic church but is paying tithing at our church? Still hope?

Love you all! Have a fantastic week!

Sister Proctor

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

African Joy

August 10, 2015

One of the Besa girls, Yvette, and me.

Cooking outside because what else can you do with no electricity every day all day?

Eating from the oven.

Our missing mirror. It's a good thing you taught me to look in the blind spot, Dad. It's coming in handy without a mirror. 

Darling Family,

Sister Quaye and I are basically like Sherlock Holmes tracking down all of these less actives in our ward. It's such a good time. We are finding people that haven't been contacted in years and some and very happy to be found. The best less active visit this week was going to a family to do service. We were just doing their dishes and all of a sudden they brought out the biggest basket of laundry I have ever seen. I actually felt quite honored because most Zambians refuse our service so we washed their clothes by hand in their backyard for 3 hours with their daughter. So fun!

We also taught the Besa girls (who gave us that fish that one time). Their parents are less active so the only solid teaching they get is from us and they just eat it up. After the lesson they taught us the Zambia national anthem and I couldn't stop laughing--I don't think they know the words exactly. They sang something like, "Stand and sing for Zambia proud and free. Land African joy in unity." Please say that aloud to yourselves. This is the land of freakin' joy, my friends. Oh, Zambia. 

Sister Quaye and I are doing super well. I love that girl so much. I think the process to get to where we are has been challenging but we are both so free and happy and we are helping each other to realize our talents and develop them. I know we are together for a reason.

Whilst planning one night, she was going through the phone asking about random names and then without asking she called a girl called Annet. This is an investigator I dropped with Sister Frimpong right before she was transferred so my eyes got big as she said, "Hi, is this Annet?" We dropped her for a good reason. But God's ways are higher than our ways so we trusted that an appointment was set for a reason. The lesson we had was so full of the Spirit. I haven't felt the Spirit that strong in a long time. Our mouths were opened to ask the exact right questions and essentially she loves everything about the Church but some of the people have hurt her. We talked her through it and suddenly the Spirit said, "Invite her to be baptized." We JUST dropped her. But I followed the prompting and invited her to prepare herself for baptism and she said yes. The bishop told us yesterday that she reached out to him so I think she is ready to slowly come back to church. We just need to help her figure out where to live--she lives with her boyfriend.

Can I just bear my testimony of fellowshipping. Fellowshipping is SO IMPORTANT. All you people at home, please look outside yourselves and friendship a less active or an investigator. Coming to a place with new people is scary. Our investigator called Amon has been sort of going down hill in interest and we were concerned he wouldn't come to church on Sunday. But when he actually did come, all of these people reached out to him to be his friend and one guy even offered him a ride home. When we went to teach him later in the day he was glowing. It was adorable. Love casteth out all fear.

Something I've studied and pondered this week is the question, "Where is your treasure?" Where your treasure is there shall your heart be also. I have a lot of good treasures--following the Spirit, serving others, reading the scriptures, etc.--but I also have bad treasures I want to root out of my heart. Maybe I treasure what other people think of me. Maybe I fear man more than God at times. Ask yourself this week, "Where is my treasure?"

In other news:
-We contacted a guy who claimed to be the CEO of Microsoft in Washington D.C. He was sort of crazy. I played along and asked if he had a 202 number and he didn't know what to say. There are a million little stories from contacting crazies I could share. Good times.
-We have a new investigator who is Zambian but spent 15 years in Boston. He has the funniest accent you could ever imagine. 
-We came out of the bishop's house after coordination and our side mirror on the car had been stolen. Yep.
-The lights went out mid-cooking so I pulled a chair up to the oven and prayed for my meat to cook with the remaining heat. 15 minutes later I opened the door and it had cooked! Miracles! I ate it right there from the oven.

Love you!

Sister Proctor

New Avenues

August 3, 2015

The district (minus Sister Mulunda)

Elder Nakale (left) and Elder Mwangi (right) going home tomorrow. 

Sister Owusu-Afriyie and I after exchanges. Don't mind my hair.

Darling Family,

Since the Elders in our ward are the office Elders and much of the time they are in the office, our zone leaders gave us permission to go into their area whenever they are in the office to support the women/families who are members and less actives. That made for a WONDERFUL week. Working with members and tracking down long-lost less actives is so satisfying. We got a ward list and we are ready to track down every last person on it. So many people just need to be reached out to and then they will come back solely from the love. 

We are working with one really great investigator called Nalishebo. She is a single mother and she seems to really love learning. This week as she closed our lesson with a prayer she said, "Please help me to understand so that one day I may join the Saints." So sweet. She promised to come to church and she didn't so we shall see what will happen with her.

I went on exchanges this week with Sister Owusu-Afriyie from Ghana. She's been in the mission field for just over a month and she is the most darling sister I've ever met. She is so excited about the work and ready to learn and improve. Instead of coming into the exchange with something I wanted to teach her, I invited her to bring into the exchange something she wanted to work on specifically. We both studied before hand and then discussed helping investigators receive answers to prayers. I told her the story of Weekly in Blantyre with Sister Dlamini and how after he prayed and didn't feel anything we discussed and had him pray again. That takes boldness and courage but sometimes, if the Spirit is right, that is exactly what people need. So we got the perfect opportunity to practice what we discussed when we taught this one lady called Florence from DRC. After inviting her to pray specifically about the Book of Mormon and about baptism she said the most general prayer with things like, "Cover them in the blood of Jesus as they leave." After the prayer I was tempted just to leave and be done but I invited Florence to pray again and to be more specific. The Spirit in her prayer was so different and though Florence may have felt a little strange it was mostly a sweet teaching moment for Sister Owusu-Afriyie. Missionary work isn't for passive aggressive teaching. You have to boldly teach the truth and invite people to act.

On our way back to exchange companions again I asked her where in the entire world she would like to travel to. She said, "The Promised Land, of course," (referring to America) and so I asked, "Where in America?" and she said, "Hmm...I think Idaho!" I about died. She is the cutest thing ever.

In Relief Society we talked about standing as a light. Whenever you talk about light there is always a deeper meaning to be found. Light can represent glory, wisdom, intelligence, and knowledge. As I thought further upon standing as a light, I realized that in this morally corrupt world of shifting standards we are going to have to stand for God's wisdom--light--rather than the wisdom of the world. We will have to stand as a pillar of godly wisdom when everyone is accepting the disintegration of morality. 

In other news:
-We've actually had electricity this week! It's a miracle!! I think it's because of the big holiday this weekend so we will see if it keeps up. We haven't had power for over 24 hours in over a month.
-I've started repenting of my lack of exercise and repentance hurts so good. Sister Falco and I run around our house a million times every morning. Dad, get ready for the tithing run in December.
-As we were about to start sacrament meeting we found a cat INSIDE the pulpit. What? No one knew how it even got in. It caused quite the commotion. 
-My friend, Elder Mwangi (Kenya), whom I've served 12 months of my mission with, is going home tomorrow. Time is running, my friends.

Love you all!

Sister Proctor

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Things are Happening

July 27, 2015

Going out to lunch with the immigration sisters--Falco, Quaye, Me, Owuse-Afriyie, Bingham, and Hirwa.
Darling Family,

I feel like my emails have gotten short and shorter since being in Lusaka but there aren't as many things that happen that I can really write about. Most of the things that "happen" are not lessons or baptisms--I can usually count on one hand how many lessons we have--but the happenings are within me. I am learning and growing and these are things that can't be easily measured or quantified. Like President Uchtdorf said, "Many of the things you can count, do not count. Many of the things you cannot count, really do count."

I also remember a talk that President Uchtdorf gave about a visiting teacher who came to visit a woman in her ward. When she arrived the house was a mess and the children and the mother were sick. Instead of teaching just to get a 100% for that month she saw the real need and cleaned the kitchen and called in groceries. We had a similar experience this week. We went to teach a newer investigator and as we began to teach the woman was clearly not feeling it because of sickness and fatigue. We quickly closed and got to work cleaning the kitchen and sweeping and mopping the house. Ministration vs. Administration.

Sister Quaye is really great. This is one companionship that has really not come easy to either of us. Though we lived together for 4 months before becoming companions we have had a hard time connecting and opening up. I tell you these things because she acknowledges it, too. We have been working really hard to improve our companionship unity and this week we made great breakthroughs. I am so grateful for the challenges because they teach me so much about relationships and communication. Though you might not agree Mariah, I don't think I was a very good communicator before my mission. But I am learning to treat her and those around me as sisters and brothers instead of strangers or acquaintances. It makes a world of difference.

We had two full days of immigration which put a hold on all of our proselyting plans but it's always good to serve other sisters and learn from each of them. I especially love Sister Hirwa (she's the one in the far right of the picture) from Rwanda/South Africa. She goes home in about a week!

We finally had our stake "Meet the Mormons" activity and it went pretty well. Not as many people showed up as we hoped but it was still really great. Mostly, I love seeing the faith of the members grow when they get the courage to invite a friend. We didn't even receive a referral from the activity and only one person out of the hundreds we invited came but it was worth it! That movie makes me happy every time.

In other news, the Elders had a baptism in our ward! First baptism in our ward since March! Woohoo! Also, I walked into a large mall this week and my jaw hit the floor. I thought I had mostly gotten used to the development of Zambia but I'm still a village girl. 

I hope you all have a wonderful week and you find reasons to rejoice about life. The number 1 thing I have been working on lately is recapturing the joy I felt at the beginning of my mission. I love the talk from conference, "Is It Still Wonderful To You?" I want to continue to marvel at the gospel and the joy it brings to me and others. Recapture your joy.


Sister Proctor

Ministration vs. Administration

July 20, 2015

All pictures here are of playing volley ball with the Relief Society in my ward in Lusaka.

Darling Family,

Whilst brainstorming different ways to find and planning many activities with all of these auxiliaries and stake, we still have to do something productive during the day when every appointment falls through. Knocking has become my constant companion but I'm learning to be bold and loving and it's great. We knocked at one gate and someone actually invited us in. The surprise in my heart was evident in how long it had been since that had happened. We taught this woman the restoration and instead of how everyone else reacts with criticism and, "Cult!" she felt it in her heart. I'm excited to see where she goes. 

We had exchanges this week with one of the other companionships and I got to go with Sister Falco. It was a really lovely day of more fall throughs but we had a good discussion on being genuine and loving genuinely. It's really easy to get into the groove of being a missionary and contacting everyone and forgetting to love strangers genuinely. Many times when she was going to walk away after briefly inviting someone to church I would stay and ask them more about themselves and get to know their spiritual needs. Sometimes when we aren't teaching we look at people as numbers but each person has a need for love and genuine care.

I definitely learned that lesson this week as we went to visit a member who has been a bit less active of late. If you were doing missionary work based on "using time wisely" all day every day then we probably would have left her house after 30 minutes and cut her short of fulfilling her true needs. She simply needed someone to listen to her story. She basically taught herself as she recalled all the details of her conversion. We spent over 2 hours at her house but it reminded me of what Christ would do. Yes, as missionaries we need to be time conscious but the ministering to individuals is much more important than that administration of numbers and time management. That member came to the activity we had on Saturday and came to church as well, all because we simply listened to her. 

Many times as we go about the whole day not teaching anyone it's easy to wonder what you are really doing. But this week as I asked my companion inspired questions I realized that for right now, my companion is my investigator. That doesn't mean that I will teach her a lesson her give her a baptismal date but I know we have been put together for a reason. One thing I learned about her this week is that we are completely emotionally opposite people. But I also learned more about Christ and how He is emotionally and socially.

Christ gives all the opportunity to know Him. He reaches out to the individual and line upon line He opens His heart to all that desire. He is not afraid of being vulnerable, even though He was fully aware that He would be denied and betrayed. I guess this is sort of a practical lesson for life but I have learned so much on my mission how important vulnerability is. If you don't allow yourself to be vulnerable then you can't even receive answers to prayers.

The Relief Society activity was so fun on Saturday. It went totally not as planned but we played volleyball 40 years and older vs. 40 and younger and I was on the older team. We called ourselves the Madalas (I don't know how to describe that word in English very well--sort of like old people who know what they are doing). We totally won. It was so funny. 

Also, another one of our investigators is doing pretty well. He has been coming to church with his cousin but we haven't been sure if they are actually serious. Yesterday we taught him about the word of wisdom and he admitted he was sort of addicted to coffee (not an addiction I have really face here before) but he wants to follow the commandments. He seems like he will progress towards baptism for sure!

Love you all,

Sister Proctor