Monday, November 16, 2015

This isn't my area

Nov. 16, 2015
The flame trees are too beautiful.

Darling Family,

My companion forced me to stay in a few hours this week to sleep because I've been so sickly lately and it was super miserable. Staying in is the worst, especially when you only have so much time left. But multiple missionaries have said to me this week, "Stop being so hard on yourself." I guess I am just super anxious to leave all my efforts on the field. I have seen so many missionaries "die" at the end and I don't want to be that. It is good to realize that this isn't my work though. 

The Spirit sort of slapped me in the face with these words, "This is not YOUR area, it's MY area." Good reminder.

I went on exchanges this week with Sister Motsi which was great and short. In the middle of the day we got a call that the sisters got in a small car accident in the other area and we had to switch back early. But I still learned a lot. I had been studying diligence in the morning and it happened to be the perfect topic for the day because every single appointment fell through. We arrived at one house to find the guy waiting to tell us that his parents were against us coming and that we were satanic. Later he texted us telling us that we should never, never come back to their house or...what what what. These are things I'll always remember. Ha! Luanshya really likes thinking we're satanic. We are going to show "Meet the Mormons" to help the community change their perspective a bit. Hopefully a mob doesn't show up.

I am a firm believer that cancellations and fall throughs are actually opportunities. It just means God wants us somewhere else. We went to teach one of the sweet families we are teaching and they weren't home. It was a bummer but I had this feeling that we should go talk to this man we had passed. It quickly turned into a lesson with him and his wife and BAM, a new family to teach.

No tracting November is going really well thus far. I haven't knocked one door (except at houses of people we have appointments with). It takes a lot of creativity not to knock when a million cancellations come but it's really awesome. I definitely recommend it for missionaries wherever you are serving. Working through other people instead of through doors is the way to go.

Another family we are teaching, the Chisengas, are really sweet. The wife really didn't like us and especially the Book of Mormon (they call it the "Book of Mammon" here) but as we taught, her heart was softened and by the end she actually read a verse from the Book of Mormon for us. It was super cool to see the Spirit soften her heart.

We are still teaching that woman, Mrs. Kapembwa, who doesn't seem super ideal but TOTALLY is. I love her so much. She came to church again and stayed for the Elder's baptism after church. As we walked away from the baptismal font I asked her, "How did you feel as you watched the baptism?" and she said, "I felt good. I just wish it were me." She met with President Thole and told him that she is getting baptized on the 6th of December. I could have one last baptism after all :) We taught her after church and we asked how her prayers have been going. She said as she read the restoration pamphlet and prayed about it that she felt a hand on her shoulder and felt the words, "My daughter, what they are teaching you is true." I was in tears. This woman is sent from heaven.

In other news:
-We were quickly eating lunch in one of the classrooms at church and when we came out we found we had been locked inside the church. President Thole couldn't stop laughing at us looking out the windows.

Love you all!

Sister Proctor

What kind of happy ending is this?

Nov. 9, 2015
Sister Ratema and I heading out on a cold day. All I had was a scarf to keep warm haha 
Her reaction to our new power schedule
Yep. Never going to have lights again.
We have a tradition that after we pray we always look at each other under the table and share impressions. I have a really cute companion. 
Dearest Family,

Every missionary hopes to have a happy ending to their mission. They hope for one last baptism or a full planner of people to teach. They hope they can do one last thing that will leave a lasting impact. But as the days and weeks fly by, it seems that that ideal "happy ending" that I sort of envisioned may not come to pass. After all of this work in this area, there still may not be someone prepared for baptism by my last Sunday. 

I began thinking about Christ and the ending to His mortal mission. His final days were spent in suffering and pain of the highest degree. He suffered body and spirit. That doesn't seem like a very happy ending to His mission. But it wasn't the "ending" that meant the most. It was the ultimate outcome of it that changed the world. So I am being taught and my perspective is changing. I may not have the "happiest ending" to my mission but the ultimate outcome of these 18 months will be incomprehensible joy at what I have become. I am eternally grateful for this mission of mine. 

But I am going to be honest and tell you that though my heart and spirit are still anxiously engaged, my body is pretty exhausted. They just changed the electricity schedule and added more hours of no power so I will basically never eat a real meal again. We don't have regular food and we walk all day in the heat so my body is feeling it. I ache everywhere.

Nevertheless, there is still much to be grateful for. My companion's sister got married this week so I got to be there for her in a situation that I was just barely in. It was a really sweet day to cry with her and help her through. We both mostly cried with how much we love our families. 

We found a former investigator called Frank who is an evangelist and feels like young people can teach him a lot. We had been trying to meet with him for a few days and finally he came to our Wednesday evening devotional at church. Literally no one showed up and they showed the most random devotional addressed to seminary and institute teachers. The whole time Sister Ratema and I kept looking at each other and wondering if what to do because it seemed like it didn't apply to him but at the end he just sat in awe and then gave us a 30 minute recap of everything he learned and how it was an orchestration from God that he should be there. Heavenly Father is definitely wiser than us. It was sweet. There was a whole talk on the sabbath day and come to find out he is Seventh Day Adventist. Too good.

We got a referral from a member who met this woman on the road that asked what church he went to. She had been feeling like she needed to find a new church so we went to teach her this week and she is so, so sweet. She is definitely not what you would call an "ideal" investigator--her English isn't the best and her husband runs away every time we come--but she has the sweetest spirit about her. And she actually came to church! It was a miracle!! I'm excited to keep teaching her.

We also took the branch president and his wife to teach a couple that we are teaching in Ndeke. They are such a sweet couple but haven't seemed to take the gospel very seriously in the past. But little by little it seems like their eyes are being opened and it really helped to have president there. We walked out of the lesson and President Thole turned to us and said, "Wow sisters. That was so powerful. I don't think I'll ever work with the Elders again. I just want to work with you." Ha! That guy is super funny. He's one of the most powerful BPs I've been able to work with.

In my continuous study of the Atonement, I have thought about the beautiful symbolism of the second coming of Jesus Christ. What a breathtaking scene that will be when angels clothed in white will ascend with the Risen Savior clothed in red. He took upon Himself our stains so we could be pure. I am grateful for the sacrament that is a weekly memorial service to Him. I love Him so much!

In other news:
-The termites have come out and we walk through huge clouds of them everyday. We are constantly sweeping them out of our bedroom and I find them in my bed. It reminds me of Christmas in Blantyre last year.    
-Christmas decorations are up in the grocery stores. Is it really already that time?
-Our gospel principles teach closed his class yesterday with, "In the name of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint, Amen." I died.

-The weather is bipolar. Twice this week it was freezing and I was regretting leaving all my sweaters in Lusaka and now it's back to being blistering hot. 

Love you all!
Sister Proctor

I love my life!

Nov. 2, 2015

My shorty companion and me in the flat.
Copperbelt sisters representing Utah, Idaho, California, South Africa, Madagascar, and Zimbabwe.
In front of the church.
Darling Family,

For those missionaries that have lived with me, I am known for singing, "I LOVE MY LIFE!" all the time. Well it's true guys. I really, really love my life and being a missionary and serving the Lord. 

My companion is just amazing. I feel so blessed. Sister Ratema is from South Africa and I was the STL at the time when she arrived in Lusaka 6 months ago so we were already good friends before being companions. I'm pretty sure President thinks he's funny because he keeps putting me with the shortest sisters in the mission. I love this little shorty :) She is super hard working and fun at the same time so every day is full of good times and spiritual impressions and miracles. 

A lesson we have been doing with our members lately is called "Works of Salvation". Sometimes members think very narrowly when it comes to who they think they can share the gospel with. So we make a list for them of the "V.I.P.s" in their lives and all the ordinances they need to perform (baptism, confirmation, priesthood, endowment, sealing to parents, sealing to spouse). Then we begin listing the people that are most important to them in their lives. With the families we have done it with we fill an entire page of member and nonmembers and almost every person has at least one "work of salvation" they still need to perform. Everyone gets super excited to see what work they can help their families and friends with. I made my own list and I'm excited, too. 

No tracting November is in full swing. We love it so much. We've pretty much been trying to do it since we had zone conference in September but not knocking doors is the best. Instead of knocking we are networking. Pretty much everyone we teach we ask if they will just walk us next door and introduce us to their neighbors. Some people refuse but most are willing and that way we are not just strangers but we are friends of the neighbors. Referrals are booming and it is so fun to be creative instead of trudging along in the heat knocking gates all day. It is still HOT in Luanshya but at least October is over now.

With my study of the Atonement I have thought much on the resurrection. Basically when you think about it, everything represents the resurrection. The scattering and gathering of Israel. The apostasy and restoration. Sometimes I think we feel like "big" miracles don't happen in these days but this week I realized how miraculous missionary work is. I may not see a physical body raised from the dead but I have seen spirits raised from the dead on my mission. Spiritual death is very real and spiritual resurrection is just as real and miraculous to take part in. 

We have been trying to teach this family for a long time but every time we would go we would only find the wife at home (who seemed more interested in being our friend than hearing the gospel). But this week we just tried one more time and we found both husband and wife at home and had an amazing lesson with them on eternal marriage. They have been married just over a year and have a tiny baby so they are pretty glowy people, so introducing the fact that they could be together for eternity just made them glow more. We taught them again on Sunday and they seem very curious and excited. The husband said, "I think I understand Joseph Smith. It really is confusing in the world. I am confused. And I want to know that truth." Sister Ratema and I sang all the way home, we were so happy.

We also found a less active that has been gone for a long time. As we are still in the whitewashing process, I was looking through the phone and found her name and felt like I should call her. She picked up and said, "Wow! I can't believe you called. I would love to meet with you!" She met us at the church and we heard her story. She has been a member since she was 10 (now she is 25) and she was one of the first members in the Copperbelt. She just glowed as she bore her testimony of the Book of Mormon and the Church. She felt like she had been lost and that no one cared that she was gone so when I called she felt a glimmer of hope. The Spirit just told me, "You are still meant to be here." I wanted to weep. I really am meant to be here, even for these last weeks.

Last night we watched the General Women's Session of conference as the Copperbelt sisters and it was so delightful but I looked around the room and felt super emotional. Those sisters are so lucky they have so much time left. I cherish my mission so much. It is so hard to think it will come to a close sometime soon.

In other news:
-That less active that told us he was "in town" from his bedroom window ran away from us again. We finally sat down with him to have a lesson with his wife and half way through he just got up and literally ran. Yep.
-The men of Luanshya really like calling me names. They just make up anything that sounds azungu. "Catherine! Hey Catherine! How are you??" Sister Ratema and I laugh for days.

Love you all,

Sister Proctor

Final Transfer

Oct. 26, 2015
I have this secret obsession with reading past Liahonas and Ensigns. I found this article and couldn't stop laughing because I get called "mzungu" aka white person everyday all day.
My new companion is the one on the left. She's a cutie. Trained by my dear friend, Sister Hirwa.
My crazy Ugandan district leader. We came to Luanshya together and now he's back to Lusaka again. You can never quite predict transfers.
She finally let me take a picture with her. Farewell to Sister Mulunda.

Darling Family,

Well, kids. This morning I sent my companion on a bus to Lusaka and now I am emailing in Kitwe with my new companion, Sister Ratema! We are here for the afternoon until we get a ride back to Luanshya. Sister Ratema is 6 months on mission and from South Africa. She came down to Lusaka for immigration one time so we've already been on a 3-day exchange and I love her a lot. I am so grateful to have an amazing companion for my last transfer.

I've decided that I want to study the Atonement everyday until I go home because the Atonement is the why of sharing the gospel. If we didn't have the Atonement then there would be no need to go out and preach the gospel everyday or call anyone to repentance. We would all be damned in our progress without it. So far, I have learned so many beautiful truths and it really is increasing my desire everyday to be better and try my very best until the end. How amazing that the Savior had full power to end his suffering at any time in the garden or on the cross and die but he persevered until the suffering was complete. I am so grateful for my dear Savior.

It was Sister Mulunda's last week in the mission field so it was mostly a lot of goodbyes and getting things done. We went and served that family that we are teaching, the Chilambos, and it seemed to soften the wife's heart. What better way to serve a young mother than to wash all the dirty clothes? I'm pretty much a professional hand washer now.

Gilbert is still doing well though not coming to church. That seems to be the issue with everyone in Zambia. But his issue is greater because the "brother" that he stays with is actually a "brother in Christ" from church so he's scared if he leaves his church he will not have work or a place to live. I am praying that he clings to the truth that he is coming to know.

Everyone seems to be shocked when they hear where we live. As we are leaving investigators house they ask, "You are WALKING home?" Also, it's like 90-100 degrees everyday. I think all things Luanshya is the refiner's fire :)

I have been looking forward to finally viewing General Conference and this weekend we got to view it. For some circumstances I will not disclose, we were running about an hour late to get there. I was so frustrated because all I wanted to do was hear the prophets and apostles and I couldn't be there on time. I was praying so hard that something would happen to delay the viewing. When we get there, the power had gone out and they had only seen the opening hymn. 10 minutes later the power came back. Sometimes these power outages can be a blessing.

General Conference was so lovely. I feel that it was a great clarion call to remove the unnecessary from out lives and step up as valiant disciples in these last days. Every talk seemed to invite us to go back to the basics of scripture study, prayer, temple attendance, service, and Sabbath day observance. We have much to do. I can't wait to ponderize and simplify.

To celebrate Sister Mulunda's mission, the Kantas invited us over and we killed a chicken. That is the second time I've participated in killing a chicken. The rumors are true that when you cut a chicken's head off it will still run around. Yep.

Love you all!

Sister Proctor

Snakes, Peanuts and Funerals

Oct. 19, 2015

Darling Family,

We came back from teaching on Monday evening to find the power out and a giant snake waiting for us on our porch. My companion was walking unawares toward the door when I saw something move and heard a funny sound and yelled, "SNAKE!" As if the snake heard me, it practically ran away into the night. We were both quite startled. A few minutes later our Indian neighbors called us and said, "Come outside! The guard killed it." Apparently the snake had made its way to the tiny guard shack where the little old man that guards our flats was sitting. The Indians ran out when they heard him screaming in his limited English, "I KILL YOU! I KILL YOU!" So funny. And the next day the guard told us that our Chinese neighbors picked up the snake to cook it. It was like something out of a cartoon. 

We have been teaching a referral from the Kantas--their niece and her husband. They have been taught before so it is hard to tell how interested they are but it is sweet to teach a family. The husband has a lot of questions and really wants to understand every detail. The wife is a little apathetic but we are trying to help her out. But they have potential for sure.

We haven't been able to see Kauma at all this week because he has still been in Lusaka. So we will have to push back his baptismal date. I hope he isn't fooling around. 

We had a district service on Friday and Elder Walusimbi, Elder Tema, Sister Mulunda and I cracked groundnuts (peanuts) for about 3-4 hours for a family the Elders are teaching. We all at blisters on our thumbs by the end but it was quite fun to see the shells come up to our ankles. See picture.

I had a great interview with President Erickson. He pretty much just asked me what is on my mind and I pretty much told him that I just want to do my best until the very end and not get distracted or "die". He told me that you emailed him Mom to ask if he would reach out to me when Mariah got married and just give me so love and as he read the email with Sister Erickson he leaned over to her and said, "We'll give her love. We'll send her to the Copperbelt to whitewash with Sister Mulunda." He absolutely knows exactly how challenging this situation is but this week I just felt Heavenly Father let me know that he trusts me with these challenges because He loves me and knows I will grow from them.  

On Sunday we had branch council and we actually have a branch mission plan now! It's like the first time in my entire mission that this has happened! It's so exciting. 

Also, we were asked to attend a funeral of the uncle of a member of the branch. I don't know this guy too well and it was a long walk to the Elders' area but it was such a special experience to be there. The Zambians/Malawians have a culture where the women sit inside and the men sit outside during funerals. They don't really mix. So we had the opportunity to go and sit with the mother and wife of the deceased and share scriptures and sing. Many of the family are less active members of the church because the tradition here is if you marry someone outside the church you have to follow your husband to his church. It was a great opportunity to share about the Book of Mormon and all were very curious and open. It was heart breaking though to see the wife weep at the loss of her husband. In that moment, though she was a stranger, I felt that I was keeping my covenants to mourn with those that mourn. Most of the women were ignoring her but I just looked her right in the eye and told her I would keep her in my prayers. I think it meant a lot to her.

I guess the more I study about Christ and represent Him in any area I am called to serve in, I become more acutely aware of my many flaws and weaknesses but also feel so keenly the hope that the Atonement brings. I am so grateful for the Atonement, that I can become new each day. I have never been a perfect sister or friend or daughter but I am grateful I can try again and again.

In other news, there's a little Ukrainian boy (shout out to Eliot!) that lives above the meeting house who keeps telling everyone that he's in love with me. 

The adventures never end.

Love you,

Sister Proctor