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 was...fun. 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.