Nov. 30, 2015
Daring Maria and her baby Gwen.
It's been a short stay in Luanshya but a good one. I've grown to love this place.
Gwen. Oh man, I just want to take her home with me.
Like I said last week, I have been a little conflicted about whether we should baptize Mrs. Kapembwa or not because of various reasons, so we brought our concerns to district meeting and had a very powerful experience. Basically, the Elders in my district are some of the most supportive Elders I've ever served with. They took on the issue as if it were their own. Elder Ford (UK) talked about how the Spirit has passed people in baptismal interviews even when their understanding of the gospel isn't perfect purely because of their desire and simple testimonies of the gospel. Some investigators can give the perfect answers but their testimonies are not where they should be. Elder Bobowski (UT) talked about how little he understood when he was baptized at age 8 but the desire and simple testimony that he had has helped him progress to where he is today. I thanked them for their advice and said, "We will continue to make it a matter of prayer," and Elder Ford said, "Do you want to pray right now?" I have definitely learned the power of praying in the moment you need it so the five of us (Elder Ford's new companion hadn't arrived), knelt and I prayed for guidance on what to do. The Spirit was so sweet. Many were in tears. My answer wasn't overwhelming in that moment but I felt great peace about the whole thing.
Later in the week, the Spirit told me straight up, "She is not yours, she is mine. I will take care of her." I guess I've been holding back to baptize her out of a bit of fear that I will leave and I won't be able to visit her and support her anymore. But she's not mine. She is His. And over the few lessons we've had this week, I have had the confirmation that she indeed is ready.
Maria Kapembwa is truly a miracle--heaven sent. Of all the people to stop, she "happened" to stop our branch mission leader to ask which church he was going to. She has been to 4 churches but has continue to feel the prompting to keep searching. This week as we reviewed with her for her baptismal interview she told us that she had been worried how she was going to pay her tithing but Heavenly Father had suddenly been blessing her charcoal business and many neighbors that don't normally come to buy from her have been coming. She also told us that most of the family and friends she's been inviting to her baptism have been rejecting her invitation because "she is becoming a satanist". When we come to her house they all say, "Your satanists are coming." She simply tells them," Thank you!" Seriously, where did she come from? Her testimony is so strong already. She also asked when the next temple trip is. Every time we leave a lesson with her we just marvel at her faith and do a tiny victory dance.
Another miracle this week happened in Ndeke, the far away, struggle area. Our appointment fell through (opportunity) and I had the impression to go check on a young girl we taught once who told us she was going to Kitwe until next year. It didn't make sense but we went anyway. We found her home but she was totally uninterested. So in our networking endeavor (No Tracting November) we asked if she would introduce us to her next door neighbor. This neighbor was also a young girl who didn't seem that ideal but something compelled us to teach her. After a short lesson we asked her to show us where a friend stayed so she ended up taking us and introducing us to two other families. When we walked into the second house, there was a woman sitting on the couch and she said, "They sent you didn't they?" I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about. Come to find out, she was a less active we had no idea existed in our area! One house led to another and we found her! Apparently, she had just been talking to a brother from church so she assumed he sent us. I reassured her it was the Spirit. Yet another less active to add to our longgggg list. It was amazing!
During weekly planning (planning for my last week) I cried. So that gives you a pretty good indication of how I am feeling.
We put together a "Meet The Mormons" activity like we did in Lusaka and though not a ton of people came it was a great success. We invited a ton of our investigators but by the time the movie began none of them had come. It was sort of disappointing. But then, right as the story of the missionary mom began, our investigator called Sheba came in and sat next to us. It was perfect timing. She is a single mother of 4 and has had kind of a rough life. She's the sister to one of our less actives but teaching her hasn't been very easy. It was honestly a great surprise to see her there. At the end of the movie, Sister Ratema asked how she felt and she said, "Whenever the missionaries would come around the neighborhood when I was younger, my friends and I would run away from the 'satanists'. When you started teaching me I wasn't very excited but you began to change me perspective and show me that your really are Christian. Now I see." Even if that whole activity was planned for just that change of heart inside of her it was worth it.
On Sunday, we walked into Church to find the meeting house nearly empty. When it rains, people suddenly disappear. It was basically the 6 of us missionaries. But as I looked around the room, there in the corner I saw darling Maria Kapembwa bundled with her baby to the point of almost not recognizing her. She wanted to be on time for sacrament. I nearly wept. After church she passed her baptismal interview so next week Sunday will be one to rejoice about.
My thoughts on the Atonement this week: In Moroni 7 it tells us how we can "lay hold upon every good gift". It is by faith that we get all that is good--all that the Father has to give us. But what is our faith based on? Jesus Christ and His Atonement. So it is by faith on His great sacrifice that we gain all of this good he has in store for us. Faith and sacrifice. They are necessary for our exaltation. Christ didn't receive a fullness until after His sacrifice. Why then, do we shrimp and dodge making sacrifices when that is the only way to a fullness of joy? I have a testimony that Christ is the One who will grant us our fondest dreams. I know that is it by sacrificing for Him during this glorious mission that He has granted me my deepest desires. I love Him. I love representing Him.
Here's to one last week in the mission field. My heart is full.