Monday, October 12, 2015

Fire in Eden

Oct. 12, 2015
My pride and joy--my mission journals.

Walking in the area. The jacarandas are fading out and now these red trees are coming into bloom. Too beautiful for words.

My scripture bag is finished

Darling Family,

We were walking through our area on Tuesday and a man driving by stopped his car and asked, "You beautiful ladies wouldn't happen to be Mormons would you?" In excitement that someone would recognize us, I said, "Yes, that's us!" He replied with a smile, "I would hate to see nice young women like you to burn in hell fire. But the doctrine that you teach is sending you right into that fire." That was only the first of the "fire" that we got that day. Now I completely and fully understand why people say, "He gave me fire," in my mission.

This area, especially as the heat increases, is not very easy. I think my companion has decided it's the wilderness. But the Spirit told me to read 2 Nephi 8:3 and told me that this promise applies to us, "For the Lord shall comfort Zion, he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving and the voice of melody." So there might be fire and this might be a wilderness but I know that the Lord will make it Eden for us--even if it is just in what we learn.

Another day we made the long trek to one of our less actives homes whom we made an appointment with and when we arrived the kids outside said he was not around. When we called, however, we heard the phone ringing close to the window. When we called again, this brother answered the phone and said, "I'm in town! I can't see you today." We could hear him not only through the phone but through the window. We couldn't stop laughing. I said, "My brother, just come out and greet us." And he said, "I'm in town!" Too funny. The kids couldn't stop laughing, too. Zambians like to make their children lie for them.

Another detail about life here is that the economy is quickly diving into a depression. When I arrived in Zambia it was 7 kwacha to $1 but now it is 15 kwacha to $1. Most of the copper mines have closed and people are getting pretty desperate. With the hot season on top of it, life in Zambia is a challenge for many.

But there are still people that make this place Eden. We weren't able to see our progressing investigator this week because he was in Lusaka for a job interview but he is still on track to be baptized in a couple weeks! And the Kantas continue to be such a joy to be around. Meeting the members of the church has been the highlight of my time here in Zambia/Malawi.

Sometimes I wish that I would have had the opportunity to train on my mission. I know I still have a transfer left and it's a possibility but most likely it won't happen. But I'm finding that "killing" a missionary is probably just as challenging or more so than training one. A great lesson that I am learning in this companionship is that being Christlike is a choice. Even Christ himself had to choose to be humble and patient and kind. Those characteristics aren't just naturally apart of us but they are a choice we have to make in every circumstance. Eventually, the choice is easier to make because it becomes a part of our deepest self, but it will forever be a choice. What a blessing that we have been given agency, that instead of lashing out we can choose to forgive or say sorry. Instead of criticism we can swallow our pride with a teaspoon of sugar and decide to love instead.

I finished the 3 week Book of Mormon challenge and lest you forget, I love that book!
Have a joyous week. Pray for a missionary opportunity!

Sister Proctor

The Great Sieve

Darling Family,
Forgot to send this last week. Sister Mulunda and I at zone conference.

She hates pictures so I was trying to convince her to smile.

Walking through the golf course in our area. Shout out to Jeremy!

First day of the hottest month in Zambia. The weather has been pretty forgiving so far. I think Heavenly Father is hearing your prayers, Dad :)
Mangos are coming!

We found a river! Luanshya is beautiful.
The zone began a Book of Mormon challenge a couple of weeks ago to read the whole BOM in 3 weeks. It's definitely been challenging when I have so many other things to study for personal study. But I have learned so much from my reading. I was studying the Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson and he said, "The Book of Mormon is the great finder of the golden contact. It does no the things which are 'pleasing unto the world,' and so the worldly are not interested in it. It is a great sieve (1 Nephi 6:5)." Especially in Zambia I have found that to be true.

At zone conference, the zone leaders taught about using members to find those people who are prepared. They had an Elder from Namibia stand up and asked him what the most predominate physical feature of his county was. Naturally, he said the huge sand dunes--they are some of the biggest in the world. They asked if they put a coin in the sand dune which tool he would rather use to find it, a small box sieve to put sand through or a metal detector. Obviously the metal detector would be much more efficient. But in this case, the Book of Mormon is the great sieve that a whole sand dune could be sifted through to find those that are prepared. Maybe that analogy wasn't well explained but the principle is true--the Book of Mormon finds those that are prepared.

This week we have had so many people want to fight us on the Book of Mormon. One man didn't even want to open it. He looked at it like something giving off a bad odor. Some people can ask the same question over and over again and you can answer them over and over again and it will still result in a hardened heart. For those that are still too attached to the world, or even their worldly view of religion, they just won't be ready for the Book of Mormon and the truth it contains.

I had exchanges this week with Sister Bingham and it was so wonderful to learn from this dear STL. She has only 3 months in the mission but I have a strong testimony that young missionaries can teach old missionaries just as much or more than old missionaries can teach young  missionaries. Her excitement and zeal to do everything right was so refreshing. I realized a couple of things I've sort of forgotten and it was an amazing day. 

We have one investigator who is the son of the Kantas (super strong members) preparing for baptism. I am so excited for him. He is the most humble investigator you can imagine. We usually count on Sister Kanta to be the woman to be in the lesson with us but when Sister Kanta is running late or happens not to be there he takes it upon himself to ask the neighbors for a woman to join us. So many investigators either expect us to search of simply turn us away, but his willingness to find a woman to sit with us shows just how much he wants to learn.

We also have a guy called Gilbert who is SO excited about the gospel. We taught him the plan of salvation and he could hardly stay in his chair. It was like the most revelatory meeting he had ever experienced. He had the funniest questions like, "Now, can people sneak out of the terrestrial kingdom and go to the celestial kingdom?" So funny.

Sunday morning I was studying 3 Nephi 11 and feeling the Spirit so much thinking of Christ coming. I love my Savior so much. Then on the way to church we stopped to pick up some less actives to walk with us and they ended up taking a bunch of time and not even coming so we were late to church. I walked as fast as I could without leaving my companion behind (Africans aren't known for their fast walking skills :)) but when we got to church the doors were closed and they were already passing the sacrament. I felt like a foolish virgin without oil. It was so disappointing. I want to do everything I can to be prepared for when the Savior comes. I want to be lifted up on that glorious day.

Have I mentioned I love being a missionary? Yep. I do. Even when things are hard. It's the best.

Love you all!

Sister Proctor

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Photographer's Eye

Darling Family,
President and Sister Erickson and I. Celestial back light.
All the missionaries in the zone. How dirty the tag is determines how old you are on mission. We have a young zone. 
My companion's favorite food--rice and ice cream
A letter from one of the Relief Society sisters in Blantyre

We were just walking from out flat to town and I said, “This is a long walk and it is so hot.  I wish we could get a ride.” Two minute later a man stopped and said, “Get in! I’ll take you part way to town!” Gratefully we got in the car and as he began to drive he said, “I couldn’t let servants of Jehovah God get scorched in the sun.” Yep, a Jehovah’s Witness.  He totally thought we were J-dub missionaries. He felt pretty awkward when we gave him a passalong card with the Book of Mormon on it. I laughed for days. Heavenly Father has a really good sense of humor.

I feel like my emails lately have been lack luster so today's might be a long one. Here it goes:

We have a lot of walking time in our area and Sister Mulunda isn’t the most talkative person in the world so it gives me a lot of thinking time, too. This week I realized how grateful I am to have a photographer for a Dad and a writer for a Mom. The lens through which I look through life is so different as a result. From when I was a tiny child you both constantly pointed out beautiful things that most people didn't notice. "Look at the way the light is hitting the mountain." As a result, my eyes and my heart have been trained to see the beauty in people, situations, and places and I am so grateful. That is one of the reasons I love photography--I get to show people the beauty that I see in them. 

So, yes, this area is really hot and whitewashing is challenging but I see great beauty in all around me. Sister Mulunda isn't the easiest companion but I have finding so much joy in helping her to learn English better before she goes home (in 4 weeks). Her trainer was the only one that has helped her with her English so I am grateful that I get to be her last companion. We walk forever but it's just wonderful to observe the jacaranda trees and how the ground is blanketed with purple flowers beneath them. And walking home in the dark is so peaceful as I look up at the night sky. There is beauty all around.

This week was a spiritual powerhouse full of powerful lessons and miracles. It began with district meeting. Our district is full of very "old" missionaries so it's fun to bring all of our experience to the table and then learn so much more. My favorite part was when one Elder asked, "How to we cultivate our desire to find?" Then it somehow led to the scripture when Christ says that he was hungry and thirsty and naked and he was fed, given drink, and clothed. As missionaries we don't give people money or hand out food but we do offer the bread of life, the living waters, and the robes of righteousness to bless the needy. When we pass people by we are denying them of substance that they need to spiritually survive.

The Elders sent us a number that we assumed was a referral so we went to see this guy called Augustine. When we arrived, we found that he had every pamphlet and a triple combination. It turns out that he was baptized, confirmed, and received the Aaronic priesthood and then left the church because he saw anti-Mormon material and denied Joseph Smith. He humbly told us that he was ready to come back, that he had prayed and thought and felt the Joseph was a true prophet but he didn't know how to come back. It was one of the most humbling, miraculous lessons ever. 

We also happened to run into two New Apostolic reverends (separately) this week which We taught them both about the Book of Mormon and they both didn't really like the idea. One was more open than the other. The first one pulled out a million Bible verses to try and tear us down and I just sat there smiling at him. These big madalas don't intimidate me anymore. I bore solemn and bold testimony of the Book of Mormon and he was pretty confounded. I could see the Spirit had touched him. The other one practically yelled, "When it comes to the Book of Mormon I say NO!!" I've learned just to laugh and to feel sorry that they are rejecting something they don't even know." That day I studied in 2 Nephi 28 which says, "Wo be unto him that shall say: We have received the word of God, and we need no more of the word of God, for we have enough!" Unfortunately for them, every time they try to tear down the Book of Mormon it only increases my testimony of it. 

I had my last zone conference on Friday and it was AWESOME. One of the best of my whole mission. President introduced "No Tracting November" and I am so pumped for it. Basically the whole conference was a training on how to work more fully with members and the branch leaderships so that instead of knocking we are finding solely through members. I am so excited! Sister Erickson also taught us on conversion using the parable of the ten virgins and then gave each of us a lamp but instead of oil powered it is solar powered! They are definitely needed with the power going out on the daily.

This weekend was the first Ndola district conference. Since the last district conference the districts in the Copperbelt were split. It was all about the temple and families, as this year marks the 30th anniversary of the dedication of the Johannesburg temple. I love the temple so much. I miss it. I was reading in the Liahona about the dedication of the Joberg temple and it said that normally they wait a couple months after the temple dedication to open temples for ordinances but for the Joberg temple they opened it the next day for all those that traveled to the dedication. 80 children waited in the gateway for their parents to be sealed to them. I love serving in Africa. These people are so dedicated and inspiring.

Also, amazing news! Two more of my recent converts from Lilongwe got their mission calls! That is the most exciting thing to hear. One is going to Ghana and the other to Liberia. Liberia is reopening! Miracles.

I love life and this work. 

Sister Proctor

My Cup Runneth Over

September 21, 2015

My journal on transfer day
We were greeted with no power in the house and no food in the cupboards. It's a good life.
Darling Family,

I can’t even describe the gratitude I am feeling. Yesterday my companion was sick so we didn’t get to proselyte and so I had time to study and reflect on my mission thus far. I literally had tears of joy flowing. How did I ever get so blessed? I am so grateful to be a representative of Jesus Christ.

Whitewashing is one big adventure. I really love it! It's like figuring out a mystery--the epitome of 1 Nephi 4:6 ("I was led by the Spirit not knowing beforehand the things which I should do"). Sister Mulunda is still working on her English so I am trying to help her with that. We are still trying to figure out the area a bit but I feel like we are doing the purest form of missionary work there is--working with members and following the Spirit. We are trying to find all the members and ask them for referrals and so far it's been really great! But they weren't lying when they said Copperbelt is HOT.

One member family, the Kantas, are amazing. They are one of the five original families in the Copperbelt to begin the Church. Even before they had an official group organized, they requested a senior couple to come teach some of their older children mission prep and before a branch was organized they sent three of their children on missions. Wow! They are such a powerful family. And they feed us like nothing.

We were knocking doors one day and this one woman let us teach her for only 5 minutes. She doesn't even live in Luanshya so she isn't someone we will pursue but as I asked her about her relationship with Christ she bore a very fervent, simple testimony. In that moment I realized just how amazing it is that this man of Galilee that lived 2,000 years ago continues to touch the hearts of billions, even in the bushiest part of Zambia. (Yes, Luanshya is a BUSH compared to Lusaka). I wish I could put into words how much I love the Savior. He loves on such a personal level and yet everyone feels it. I am grateful that he embarked on his own mission and left his heavenly home to sacrifice for me. The least I can do is leave my home for 18 months to make a small sacrifice for Him.

Copperbelt zone is on fire. We had zone meeting and it got me so pumped. The zone is made up of missionaries who are mostly really young on mission and then my district who are all nearing the end. It is really exciting to be around all of the greenies that have so much zeal for the work. We discussed extending baptismal invitations in the first lesson and I left the meeting ready to repent and be better. I'm grateful that repentance is a daily, hourly thing. I need to change in so many ways.

We have one investigator who we gave a baptismal date and came to church! He has been coming to church for a long time but hasn't been baptized. He is the adopted son of the Kantas. We still need to figure out what has stopped him from baptism but I feel really good about him. I have high hopes.

So basically all is well! I love life and I love being a missionary and I love whitewashing and I love my French speaking companion.


Sister Proctor

Four Corners

September 14, 2015
Exchanges with Sister Kgwetiane. Mashike came teaching with us.

Washing clothes with the Besa girls.

Mashike and I. This girl is the sweetest.

My Zimbabwean sister, Anna. I love this lady so much.

My crazy bishop and 1st councilor. These people have been too fun to work with.

Sister Nkowane. This woman. I can't even tell you how much I love her.

Bishop and Sister Shambana. We've already discussed it. They want to come for my future wedding. Eh, these people are too good.

I'm going to miss this truck. 

Out to lunch with Sister Van Heerdan and her Mom. These people truly feel like family.

Darling Family,

Mariah, I can't belive you're married. Congratulations for being the most beautiful bride on the planet. You are simply radiant.

Well, kids. The transfer calls are finally official I am leaving for the Copperbelt early tomorrow morning to whitewash with Sister Mulunda. I'm pretty sure I am the first sister to make it to all four corners of the mission so that's exciting. Sister Mulunda is from DRC and only has one transfer left before she goes home. This is going to be an adventure. 

This means that after all of this time I've finally been released as sister training leader. Even before the calls came I knew I was leaving. I felt it. I had my last mission leadership council on Tuesday and it was quite poignant. I can't even describe to you my feelings of gratitude for being trusted with this sacred calling and having the opportunity to associate so closely with President and Sister Erickson and the other amazing leaders of this great mission. I have learned so much from so many and I feel humbled that Heavenly Father see fit to put me on this council for so much of my mission. I feel like I've been tutored by the Spirit on a very personal level and I've had the opportunity to work with so many different people. What a tremendous blessing.

I also went on my last exchange as an STL with Sister Kqwetiane from South Africa. It was such a solid day. We found a really sweet new investigator--a friend of one of our current investigators--and he actually came to church. I told a lot of my investigators that I was leaving and after all these weeks of no one coming to church we had 4 investigators at church! It was a miracle. I hope this gave them a taste of that joy that you feel at church.

We got to work with a girl from the Peace Corp called Megan this week who has been in Zambia for 16 months and lives out in the bush. She only gets to go to church once every few months so it was nice to bring her teaching with us and help her feel the Spirit. We are so blessed to have the Church so near. 

Saying goodbye to all of these ward members on Sunday was really sweet. I have grown to love these people so much. I am grateful that they are a bit more connected than Malawians so I will be able to stay more in contact with a lot of them. Each one has touched me in so many ways. So many feel like family. It's funny how every ward or branch I serve in becomes my family and I can't imagine feeling that way about any other group. But then I am transferred and it happens again. I can't wait to have a family in the Copperbelt, too. 

Sorry it's a shorty today but I love you all so much. Enjoy the pictures!

Sister Proctor

Why do You Fear?

September 7, 2015

Yvette (one of the Besa girls) wrote in her Book of Mormon we gave her. So sweet.

Nancy so happy about the fruit she got at the end of the iron rod.
Sister Sichinga (RS president) and I. Love this lady.

Proselyting with Mary (member) and her cousin Alisha (non-member, daughter of less active)

FHE with the sisters.
Darling Family,

It has been another good week on the mission. I love being a missionary so much. It is so challenging and fulfilling and I feel like I am becoming what Heavenly Father wants me to be. There is so much to be happy about. 

A while ago we contacted this half Irish half colored Zambian lady who randomly invited us out for "coffee". When we went, she bore a very strong testimony to us about her Christianity and it was a good experience. It seemed like the just wanted to be our friend. But as we were planning one night I decided we needed to call her and have a lesson with her. We had given her a copy of the Book of Mormon so I asked if we could explain it to her. When we arrived she beat around the bush for a long time until I asked, "Will you  bring your Book of Mormon so we can discuss?" She told us she didn't have it. She went on to lovingly plea with us to accept Christ in our lives. She was sincerely concerned for us, that we were lost and preaching the wrong gospel. She kept saying things like, "Because I am your friend I need to be honest with you," and "We need the full truth and not just parts." It's funny how much courage you build up over the course of a mission. These sort of trying lessons don't even phase me anymore. We just took it with love and told her we loved her, too, and because we loved her we gave her the Book of Mormon that helps us to know the full truth. In the end we couldn't change her mind but we left with love for each other and that was what mattered. Someday she will look back and remember instead of an argument, a response of love from these two sister missionaries. Maybe her heart will be softened. 

We went to see the Besa girls (daughters of less actives) and taught them about the tree of life. We set up a whole course with a hose going all around the yard and they had to follow the "iron rod" with blindfolds on to get to the "tree of life" which was just a chair with papaya on it we cut from the tree in the yard. When the day is hard or we feel a bit off on our companionship it is so nice to go to these girls full of giggles and joy. (See picture)

The Besas are a family I really love so much. We came to teach the husband, who has a word of wisdom problem, and he never came. So Sister Besa gave what little food she had to us--nshima and eggs--probably one of the dryest meals I have ever had. As I ate I felt this immense gratitude that while so many people eat to live, I am blessed to "live to eat" per se. I can choose what I want to eat and it barely even phases me. The Besas live behind other members who live in a huge house and eat extravagant meals and the contrast is overwhelming. My mission has definitely taught me gratitude. 

I also just love the culture of Zambia and Malawi that they call each other brother and sister. Cousins are still brothers and sisters. Tribe mates are still brothers and sisters. They really know and feel the truth that we are all sons and daughters of God. That is a culture America really doesn't have. We tend to estrange one another for the smallest differences. I want to adopt that part of this culture for my life.

We don't have many investigators but we did teach the crazy old man this week called Morgan. Last time he seemed to understand the Book of Mormon really but this time he sort of got intense in giving us fire and telling us that the Book of Mormon just confuses people and no villager would ever understand it if he can't and he said, "Why don't you just throw the Book of Mormon away and just use the Bible?" Again, when people give us fire it truly doesn't phase me anymore. I just boldly stopped him and testified. I can't change people's hearts or minds but I can bear my fervent testimony and leave it at that. Being bold and saying your mind feels so much better than keeping it inside. I have to do that a lot here in Lusaka.

We got to have a FHE with the sisters in the Lusaka zone and it was so good. We discussed fearing God vs. fearing man and everyone felt the Spirit so much. We all fear man in some way or another. What it takes is recognizing that fear and turning to God with repentance and a desire to change. Sometimes I fear being misrepresented or people thinking I am something I am not (both in the positive and the negative). My companion has really taught me not to care what people think. If we are so desirous to please the world then we will become like the world. If we want to please God, we will become like God.

I hope this week is wonderful and that you find the opportunity to bear your testimony to someone. Mariah, I love you. Blessings on your wedding day this Saturday!


Sister Proctor