Monday, June 29, 2015

Monday June 29, 2015 - MULI SHANI


I can't believe I am actually here and sending you my first legit mission email!! So wow I really don't even know where to begin!!!!

Tuesday: After getting to the mission home, President Erickson met with us and I felt the Spirit stronger in that hour than I ever did in the MTC. This was a huge testimony to me of the calling of President Erickson and the importance of following his counsel and direction. Preparation and the MTC were incredible and I loved my time there (sometimes I miss it, mainly the food though) but the mission field and the real missionary work is where it is at. He talked to us about obedience...we are always talking about this but I love it! Some differences in the rules here...Sisters have to be in at 18:00 (yes we use military time and I am slowly getting used to it) but if we are teaching we can be in by 19:00. but other than that is about it. He spoke about how as missionaries we are accountable to the Lord. Not to our district, zone leaders or even President Erickson. He talked about how a missionary can go above and beyond the exact obedience. In the mission handbook it says we should "devote all our time and attention". I have really been trying to do this and I have already seen so many blessings. He talked about a lot of others things that were great but for the sake of time I will tell you when I get home:)  Oh one thing he talked about was that we were not called to spread the gospel but to establish the church. He has asked us to teach and find near centers of strength. He explained that if we went out to all the small villages and areas far from branches and wards, we could get at least 500 baptisms in a week, no problem. When we build  centers of strength then those who will accept the gospel in the millennium will have places to go to church and their will be leadership. I'm not sure if that makes sense but it was deep and now that I have been here in Ndola for 5 days, I understand.When he explained this I couldn't help but thinking of my amazing parents who works so hard to establish centers of strength in good ol' Eagle Idaho. I admire all that you do with the youth especially. Your work with them will help produce missionaries that will then change the world!! I love you guys! After our personal interviews with the President we went over to the sisters' flat and spent the night there. I talked with Sister Proctor for a long time and she is even better in person!! I can tell she is an incredible missionary. She has been a Sister Training Leader since after 3 months!!! 
Wednesday: I said goodbye to Sister Thueson, which was sad because I really grew to love her. She will do awesome in Malawi. Oh her blog is if you want to check it out! The zone leaders in Lusaka came and picked me up and we headed to the bus station. by bus station I mean...I really can't explain it!! Hahah I wish so so so badly you all could have been there. It pretty much was this big dirt parking lot FILLED with big, a little bit, sketchy charter buses. As we were walking up, all these men kept coming up to me talking in bemba. They wanted to take my bags for me for money but it was crazy. Oh and there were a ton of men and women that kept coming on the bus while we were waiting to go, selling stuff. There were a lot of women with stuff on their heads which was crazy then but now is just an everyday sight:) The zone leaders paid for our tickets and then said, "Get on the bus and the zone leaders in the Copperbelt will pick you up." And that was it. Elder Tema and I were on our way. Honestly I was so happy he was with me because I was a little nervous!!! The bus ride was LONG. It was over 8 hours and I was expecting 5 but it was all good. It was hot but not too bad. The man sitting across from us had met with the missionaries before and so he had a lot of questions for us which was awesome!! I got to answer his questions and bear my testimony of the Book of Mormon. He lives in Lusaka so hopefully we planted some seeds that the missionaries there can help grow. Back to the bus was insane!!! It was a two lane highway with I guess what you call the African grasslands. There were tiny, tiny houses here and there the entire time. I have no idea how the people survive because they live so far from any kind of town. It was really eye opening and humbling to see people live in such circumstances. We stopped a couple times next to fruit and other kind of stands and all these people came running to the window to sell food to us. We stopped once for the bathroom and we had to pay 2 kwacha (1 us dollar equals 7 kwacha) and there was no toilet paper and Africans don't shut the door when they go to the bathroom but hey it was great! A couple preachers would get on the bus and stand in front and preach in english and bemba so that was interesting. Other people got on and would sell stuff. Some man was selling magical beans I think. One time we stopped by a small school and this one boy walked past so I gave him a thumbs up. He got the biggest smile on his face and then ran over to tell his friends. They all came over, very timidly and waved or gave me thumbs up. It was so cute!!! Anyways we FINALLY made it to the Copperbelt. The Zone Leaders, Elder Kohlsomething and Elder Parker (from Twin Falls) picked us up and took Elder Tema to his area. We then went to my flat and I met my companion Sister Motsi from Zimbabwe. She is the best!! She has been out for 4 months but is awesome. She has been in Ndola the whole time so she really knows the area. She is the only member in her family. She says some funny things like "what what" and "eh!!" The flat is really nice and big! There are 3 bedrooms, a bathroom with the best shower, a kitchen, and a room with a couch and our table. It has to be one of the nicer apartments in Ndola which is nice. A lot of our neighbors are from a lot of different places around the world. 
Thursday: My first day!!! Ok overwhelming but excited would probably be a good way to describe it. We hardly had any food in the kitchen, we are going shopping today so we have barely gotten by the past few days. For breakfast we had baked beans and ramen noodles. We went on a 8 minute run which felt good, i wish we could go longer but I am just happy to exercise and then we do sit-ups and push-ups for like 5 to 10 minutes. Since I am training we have one hour of personal study and one hour of companionship study before we leave the flat at 10. WE have an hour of training when we get home but as soon as I am done training we will move companion study to the evening and will leave the flat at 9 am. Planning for Thursday was stressful because my comp kept asking me what we should do but I have no idea who anyone is. But we first visited the Muwenga family. They live like a 20 25 minute walk from our flat but its down a dirt road into a very humble neighbor hood. We taught Sister Muwenga and read the scriptures with her. I had no idea what to say to her because I don't know anything about her, my comp doesn't say much, but I knew how to bear my testimony. That is what I have to rely on the past couple of days! After that we went to the nicest part of Ndola. Its crazy because there is a nice mall and then one street over it is really run down and uh...not nice. So we have some investigators, Donald and Elvis that work by the nice mall at a mattress store. We went to visit them and ran into Brother Mbawo who is a member and sells minerals or something in the mattress store. He also gives these foot massages on this machine. He always gives new missionaries a free massage so I got one and it was hilarious!!!! I stood on this thing and he turned it on and it literally vibrated my entire body! I had to hold on to Sister Motsi or else my legs would have collapsed! It was only for 2 minutes but it was the longest two minutes of my entire life!!! Man it was great. We went and met Sister Ganesh (a less active) and asked her to come with us to teach Raphael (he lives like 5 minutes from us). Raphael is a sweet, young man who has been taught just a couple times but has been to church 3 times. He has a great desire to learn more and follow Christ. I had the strongest impression to invite him to be baptized but at the end of the lesson a couple things happened and the spirit wasn't there anymore but time!! As we left his house he said he was grateful god had sent him angels to teach him. The people here are so sweet. We went to the church to meet with Benson, the grounds keeper who is less active now. He said he didn't have time to meet with us. I think this has been something that has been difficult for me to get used to. We walk really far to get to people's homes and they are either not there or don't have time. It can be hard because they don't really have a reason but I can't complain when I am on the Lord's errand! We have a phone but we have limited minutes each week so we can't call a lot and other people either don't have phones or don't answer. How it works here is we pretty much stop by someone's house and ask when we can come teach them. They always say we can come so we write it down but then when we show up...they have forgotten. It was really frustrating at first but I have gotten used to it, even after just 5 days. That is why it is so important for us to have a back up plan! Thursday even we walked home through I guess what you would call downtown but it was the market. It was so awesome!!! Everyone is selling stuff on the sidewalks. There are fried caterpillars, fish, eggs, oranges, apples, potatoes, all kinds of food. There are stands and stands of DI clothes and tons of mismatched shoes. Everyone calls out to me "Mozunga! (which means white person)" I hear that sooooooo many times a day! One man said hi to me and the first thing that came out of my mouth was "Hi we are missionaries!" He started talking to me in Bemba and so I just gave him a pass along card with our number on it and invited him to church on Sunday. He told us to wait and then he went into his stand and brought out his bible to show us!! Oh his stand was named KFC but anyways he kept calling us that night and for a couple days after...kinda creepy but its all good. We had noodles again for dinner... we really need to go shopping! I found some chocolate chips though and they made my day!!! My first day was an incredible learning experience. I was so so so overwhelmed by everything. I can't understand people, they can't understand me, I can't remember names, I can't pronounce names, I don't know what to say to people. Everyone is really shy at first so I feel like I can't be my normal self. I have no sense of direction. I never know where we are going. I ask my comp questions but I am afraid I get annoying. But I am soooooo grateful for all of these struggles I am going through. I have really learned how to rely on my Savior and his Atonement and the enabling power that I feel from it. He has been my source of strength for the past 5 days. My testimony of him and the Atonement have grown a million times and more! I know that he knows exactly what we are going through. I know that if we ask for his help and guidance, he WILL help us. I know that if we continue moving forward and do what we are supposed to do, we will be blessed with the Spirit. I didn't expect mission to be this has been hard and very trying. But I have seen and felt so many blessings! I don't want to be anywhere else in the world or doing anything else than what I am doing. Mornings are hard for me for some reason but as soon as I start studying and reading my scriptures I feel so at peace. And at the end of the day...even though my feet kill from walking, my feet and legs are filthy from the roads, I am starving, many of our appointments fall through, I feel so much happiness!!!! We may not be successful as far as numbers but because we follow the Spirit and are doing the Lord's work, I feel that confirmation that I am doing what I need to be doing and Heavenly Father is proud of me.

Friday: . WE have a lot of ground to cover and only one set of sisters but I am grateful for all the work. We went to teach Benson again...but he wasn't there. We went to teach Duane who works next door to Donald and Elvis. He wasn't there we started walking and guess what?? Mission miracle! We ran into Duane! We went back and taught him about the plan of salvation. He had many, many questions and we had Brother Mbawo with who ended up doing a lot of the teaching which was great. Ok family and friends...GO TEACH WITH THE MISSIONARIES!!! They need members!!! It is so so so so hard for us to teach. Not only do we strive for 50% of our lessons to be with a member but in order for us to teach a male, we need another female. We have to cancel a lot of lesson because we don't have someone to go with us. I told my companion that I would get my entire family to move to Ndola so we would have members to teach with. What do you guys say??? Its really great here!!! After Duane we headed out to of our 7 areas. Chipulukusu is what you picture when you think of Africa. To get there we ride a bus because it would take about an hour to walk. So the bus ride...hahahaha man that was quite the experience. Once again we went to this parking lot full of buses and all these guys just sitting around trying to get you to get on their bus. Oh side-note...when we walk down the streets, taxis and buses honk at you and then you wave if you want to get on. I thought they were just honking to say hi so I kept waving at them!! I had no idea and finally my comp told me I had to stop. hahaha she laughs at me a lot! So "the bus" aka the most sketchy van ever!! It was PACKED FULL of people!!! It had to be pushed to start but all my worries quickly fled when I saw all the stickers on the windows that said, "This car is protected by the blood of Jesus." Words can't really describe the bus ride but is was an adventure! 15 minutes later we made it to Chipulukusu which is pretty much a small village. "Mozunga" was the word of the day for sure. All the kids loved to stare at me and wave hi. One kid had enough courage to come touch me and then I was surrounded by little kids!!! My companion said I looked like that picture of Christ with all the kids surrounding him. We brought lunch because we can't buy any food in Chipulukusu and bought a soda from a small shack. Orange fanta of course! We then went and taught Alice, Mary and Marium. Alice was Sister Motsi's first baptism. I wish I had a picture of there house but it brought tears to my eyes to see them living in such conditions. We couldn't meet inside their house so we met in this cement room filled with animal feed and ashes from cooking. Alice (10 years old) got me a cinder-block to sit on. We began the lesson by singing I belong to the church of Jesus Christ. I could hardly get through the song because my emotions were all over the place. I felt so much love for this beautiful child of God and I think I had a small glimpse of the love that Heavenly Father has for his children. It doesn't matter if they have no shoes, a dirty dress and face and flies all over their house, he loves us all the same and we are all of equal importance to him! None the less, Chipulukusu is an incredible place that has humbled me more than I can imagine. I wish I could express everything I learned from my day there but you will have to come here to see for our self!! Oh I also had to go to the bathroom really bad so I went in a hole in the ground. Everyday an adventure! Friday I read Helaman 5:12 about building our foundation in Christ. Because of my foundation I have been able to overcome by weaknesses. When I bear testimony I feel so comfortable and at peace while everything else makes me scared and nervous. I know that if we rely on that testimony we have, and continue to strength it and learn more everyday, we can get through any situation or trial that is placed before us. 

Saturday:  We went tracting and we met some great new investigators! I can't wait to teach them! We had a ton of fall through on Saturday and so we ended up walking A LOT with all our back up plans. We also needed bread because we had no food and we ended up going to 3 different stores!! My comp doesn't say much or explain anything so finally I just said, "Hey do you need help making a decision? Is there something I can do cause I am kinda lost." Together we came up with a plan and found bread. I have learned I just need to open my mouth and not be afraid. I won't learn anything unless I ask. I am learning though which is good. I am grateful I will be here for at least 11 more weeks. President Erickson told us that as much as a mission is to help others, we ourselves grow and develop. Oh how much I have learned. I feel so blessed that I have the opportunity to grow in the gospel and become more like my Savior every day. I am beginning to realize that I will never have an opportunity like this again and so I need to take every advantage of every second I have to study and teach and even just be in Zambia!  I read in Preach my gospel under "enduring to the end" that we "must exert every effort to stay on the path." As a missionary we work hard. at the end of the day we are exhausted and we fall asleep in about one minute. but it is worth it and is required if we want to obtain that eternal glory that we are promised. I hope that we all will continue to "exert every effort" in following our Savior and living the commandments of the gospel. 

Sunday: The branch is small but mighty! The Branch President, President Jackson is a very happy man with a great smile! He gave a great talk and even talked about the early saints building the Salt Lake Temple. I was reminded of Trek and I am so so so grateful for the things I learned there. I am strengthened each day as I remember the sacrifice that those pioneers and saints gave to make it possible for the gospel to be established here on earth. Without them I would not be here!! Sacrament was the best and meant so much more to me as a missionary. Pay attention to the prayers and what they say and you will know what I mean. Whether we want to our not, as missionaries we have to keep our part of the covenant and the promises are amazing. I am so grateful for the covenants I have made in my life! Relief Society was good. They taught half in English, half in Bemba so I got half of the lesson but it was great. Everyone talks really quiet too but I am excited to get to know the sisters even better. We went to go to appointments but the Ward Clerk informed us that from now on we can only teach with the ward mission leader until they come up with an approved list of members to teach with. At first Sister Motsi and I were speechless!!! We have a hard enough time getting members at lessons so this will be a challenge but we will be obedient and do what we can with this new rule. This actually brought us a lot closer as a companionship because we kept making all these jokes about it. We are going to have to get creative about teaching but through Heavenly Father's help we can do it! We are going to try to talk with the branch president as well. I guess the branch here has had a lot of issues that even President Erickson has had to resolve but all is well! We went over to the Muwenga's house again and met with Brother Muwenga. He has been taught a lot by previous missionaries but it has been awhile since they saw him. He said he really wants to get baptized so we are excited to teach him this week!! His kids were the ones dancing outside their house and they ended up walking with us quite a ways home. The two girls each held my hands which was a huge answer to my prayers!! I have felt so out of place and that I don't belong here. The love these girls showed me helped me so much!! 

David and Sara: I love the pens and the backpack. Seriously the bag is a lifesaver!!! And it feels like I am backpacking with the dirt roads and everything. I love it.\
Matthew and Rebekah: The scripture you gave me was a HUGE comfort this week. Thank you!
Melissa and Josh: I loved those pictures!!!! I dreamed about Avery and DAvin last night. Give them loves. Give all the nieces and nephews loves!!!
Brooklyn: Love you!
Jacob: Love you!!!
Mom and DAd: I love you!!!!!!

oh can I get cash from my credit card? and can you send some cookie recipes?


I love you all! I love Ndola!!!!!

View from the bus ride

Bedroom in Alli's flat

Alli's flat


The one downside about the flat...cockroaches in the kitchen!!!

That is curry I made and naan that my comp made. 

The Ouside gate of the church. Everyone has these gates around their house!!

Sister Motsi and I outside of the church.

Some of the kids in these pictures are from the Muwenga family who we are teaching! They were outside dancing to Shania Twain!!! They are so cute and said on Saturday they will teach me to dance. They have a boy named Benjamin who is 4!!!!

The kid to the left of the boy in the red jacket is Benjamin. The kids loved getting their picture taken!!!

Email from President & Sister Erickson

June 25th, 2015
Family of Sister Bingham,
Dear Family,
We are so pleased to report that Sister Bingham has arrived safely in the Zambia, Lusaka Mission. She is a choice young woman and eager to be an excellent missionary. We were very pleased to note the preparation, worthiness and commitment she has to be obedient and to serve the Lord. We know that as she serves the people, she will learn to love them and they will love her. Her testimony is strong and we are honored to have her in our mission.
Sister Bingham will be laboring in the Copperbelt Zambia Zone with an excellent trainer, Sister Motsi.
Sister Erickson and I will see her at least every four to six weeks. 
The mission home address is:
 Zambia Lusaka Mission,  14038 Katima Mulilo Road,  Lusaka, Zambia 10101. 
Mail and packages can be sent  here .   
Uplifting and supportive letters from home are important to missionaries. We encourage you to write or email your daughter weekly. Large packages are unnecessary, difficult for us to disperse and highlight the disparity among missionaries. Most everything can be purchased here if your daughter needs additional items.
Thank you for teaching, nurturing and sending forth this fine young woman to serve the Lord and honor her family and other loved ones. May the Lord bless you with peace and assurance that all is in His hands.
Yours Sincerely,
President and Sister Erickson
Zambia Lusaka Mission
Sister Erickson
Zambia Lusaka Mission

June 23, 2015 - I MADE IT TO ZAMBIA!!!!


I was told just to send a quick email but I'm here in the mission home in Lusaka! It is absolutely beautiful and the flight was great. It is definitely very different from Johannesburg and I am extremely excited. We just found out where we will be serving and I'm going to......The Copperbelt Zone!! To the Ndola district and my trainer is named Sister Motsi. I really don't know anything besides that but tomorrow morning, Elder Tema (from the MTC) and I will get on a bus and drive 6 hours to the area. I am feeling all kinds of emotions but of course just excited!!!!!!!! The Spirit has been here even stronger here in the mission home than the MTC, this truly is the Lord's work. I'll write later next week about what President Erickson said when we got here but it was amazing. I already love him and his wife and feel so blessed to serve under their direction. I love you guys!!!!!!!!!!

Sister Bingham

P.s. President Erickson warned me that this is very different from America and especially my first week I will miss the small comforts. He said when I am tired and exhausted and emotional that I won't be able to just look out and see a beautiful mountain....he is the perfect mission president for me! Enjoy those beautiful mountains for me while I enjoy the incredible African culture. I already love it!!

Pictures from Johannesburg MTC June 2015

Alli - all alone at the Johannesburg, So Africa MTC

 Temple with Sister Sister Thueson & Sister Owusu-Afriyie

 Here is at the Joburg temple! Just like Boise.

Elder he is a character but is the most flexible boy I have ever met.

We aren't sure where he got this U of U shirt but it was not ok

Thursday, June 18, 2015

June 18, 2015
In 18 months, I'm moving to Africa!
MANAHONA (Hello in Malagasy)
OK BEST WEEK OF MY LIFE!!!!! I know I am going to say that every single week for the next 18 months but seriously...the MTC is the best. Last night we watched a devotional from Elder Holland from May 26, 2015 at the Provo MTC and it was soooo good. I know we don't get general authoritites from the states but just watching him on the screen was so powerful. I am so grateful for our church leaders and I know that if we follow their guidance and listen to them, our testimonies will become stronger and we will know how we can all become more like our Savior. 
My schedule is about the same every day. We wake up at 6:30 and eat breakfast at 7. Every elder says "Good Morning" to you. I love the elders and I will probably talk about them a lot but they are so hilarious. It doesn't really feel like I am in Africa yet because we are cooped up inside all day so I love to ask the elders a million questions and find out as much as I can about their families and cultures and everything. Elder Desouza from Uganda (Justin Langford...the missionaries from Uganda are my favorite! They are all spiritual giants and know the scriptures so well. Their testimonies are incredible and are so humble. I am so excited for you to get to teach those people. Tips for the MTC...bring a sweater or two because it is cold inside. Love the Africans and try really hard to get them out of their comfort zone. THEY ARE HILARIOUS!! Brother Kubekah is the best teacher so try and get him or at least get to know him. Tell him you know Sister Bingham.  Also the mission president here and his wife are awesome. This MTC is super small but the best. You kinda feel trapped in here but take advantage of every second. You only have a couple days and they go fast. I am so pumped you get to come here!!!!!!) anyways...Elder Desouza asked me one day "Why are Americans so fat?" I just started laughing and we talked about it and then he told me that here, at the MTC he ate like a king. It was a very humbling moment and I am so grateful for the example these elders are to me. The food...well it's not the best but it isn't bad either. I am starting to get used to it but man do they give the biggest portions ever!! And every elder eats every single thing on their plate! The other day we had fish sticks for breakfast. All their sausage and beef tastes like those salami sticks we take backpacking. Good thing I like those. Oh and I had NSHIMA for the first time!!!! It was pretty good. It's hard to described but it really didn't have a taste so sister Thueson and I decided we will survive in Zambia! Other funny comments from the elders...I asked one you lives on the coast of South Africa if he ever goes swimming. he just looked at me and said, "I'm black. Do you think I like to swim??" In class our teacher asked us to define a word and Elder Tema just said, "Americans?!" Elder Tema is hilarious. He was having a really, really hard first day and I think he is still struggling. But he loves talking with the Sisters and even though my teacher gets mad at him, he told us that we have a special spirit that he likes. He told us about his girlfriend at home and turns out almost every one of them has a girlfriend and they love to talk about them. 
My companions...are the greatest. We work really well together and have so much fun and really love each other. This week has been a hard one for sweet Sister Owusu-Afriyie. She had a terrible dream one night and told me about it and started crying she was so worried. The whole next day she really couldn't focus so I encouraged her to talk to President Collins and she felt much better. I loved that she trusted me enough to open up to me though. Then she fell on the ground when we did this activity outside and we thought she just scraped up her knees but she couldn't walk. Since Monday, she hasn't been able to bend her leg and has to hold onto the wall as she walks. I feel so bad for her and just hope she will be ok to go to Zambia. President Collins said he might have her go to the doctor but we aren't sure how serious the situation is. Then today she started throwing up. I felt awful for her and wish I could take her place. Although I wish that none of this would have happened, I am grateful for how it has brought us all together and taught me patience as well as charity. Sister Thueson and I have had to work hard to help Sister Owusu-Afriyie do everything but it honestly doesn't bother me at all. I think at home I would get annoyed but as I have learned over the past week, mission is changing me. Keep her in your prayers though.
We LEARN A LOT!!! We are in class everyday and we teach our teachers, they pretend to be investigators, every morning and night. That has been where I have learned the most and realized how unprepared I am. It's easy to get frustrated with myself but I know that this whole teaching thing will just come with time. Today it was incredible. We have been taught that the most important thing is to teach with the Spirit. Obviously I want to do that but what is tricky for me is that sometimes means we have to go away from our lesson plan.  We have been taught to find the investigators need and then teach to that concern according to the Spirit. It sounds so simple yet it way harder than I thought. However, after getting frustrated that first day, I have decided that my own weaknesses and faults will become strengths not only as I teach more and more in the mission field, but also as I rely on the Savior and his Atonement. Being here has increased my testimony of the Atonement one million times more. I know that if we apply that enabling power in our lives he can help us accomplish whatever. Even if it is as simple as being able to follow the Spirit when teaching. Today we taught again and for the first time since being here...I felt that enabling power take effect in my teaching. We were listening to our investigator and I had this thought come into my head and a burning in my heart that I needed to share something. It was not what I had prepared but as I spoke those words, I knew that I was speaking with the Spirit and the investigator could feel it. As we walked out of that lesson, I felt so much gratitude for that answer to my prayers. I know Heavenly Father hears and answers our prayers. He loves us and loves all his children. 
Sunday was super great. The two non-English elders who are learning English blessed the sacrament and they did it in perfect English. Tears filled my eyes as I once again felt that enabling power of the atonement. The lord watches over and blesses his missionaries and children you seek to do his will. Whenever I think it's hard here, I think of those elders. They are such an inspiration!! We all, 17 missionaries, had to prepare talks and then the President just called on us. I wish you could hear the testimonies of the missionaries here. We love to have fun and joke around, but as soon as they speak about the gospel, the get serious and quiet and speak with so much power!! I think there is a big difference between Americans and Africans and how we show our reverence. I love how humble and sweet the Africans are and feel so privileged to be among these amazing missionaries!! That night we had a devotional by President Collins about the Law of Sacrifice and Consecration. Wow. He gave us two talks...One from Elder McConkie in 1975 and one from Elder Bednar a devo from BYU Idaho on Jan. 5, 1999. look them up and read them and then you will know what I am talking about. I feel that I have already sacrificed to be here on a mission and now it is up to me to develop and dedicate all my time, talents and strength to the building of the kingdom of God on the earth. Being in the MTC is like one big fireside. I have always loved firesides so it's great but you really learn a lot. I am beyond excited to go to Zambia (real Africa according to President and Sister Collins) but I have treasured these days at the MTC. I love my teachers. My one teacher, Brother Kubekah is incredible!! He speaks 11 languages!!! He talks with clicks all the time!!!!!!!! it is the coolest. Matt...I have been trying to learn it but wow. Hopefully by the end of 18 months I can get it. It is more speaking than clicking though but still you should look it up because I can't describe it. He is only been a member for 4 years but I can tell he was an amazing missionary. As I have been in class, I couldn't help but think of Matt, Rebekah, and Josh teaching in the MTC. I wish I could be learning from you and I have so much more love and respect for you. Not that I didn't before but wow....these teachers know so much and have helped me a ton! I also have felt so much love for my brothers, Sara and dad as they have served missions. 
Court asked if I was nervous about singing here. Well...considering I am probably the best singer here...not really. They love to sing loud but maybe sister Duffy could give them a few lessons. I love it though!! I love everything about this continent and its people. YOU ALL HAVE TO COME HERE!!! I haven't seen much outside of the MTC but from what I have seen...I'm glad I'm not going to Joburg. Kinda sketch...I just learned today that South Africa has the highest murders in the whole world!!!!!!!!!!!! That's why they don't send sisters here. Oh so the Joburg mission home is right next to us and on their P-day the American elders were so pumped to talk to Sister Thueson and I. It was funny. I love going outside for sports time!! THE SUN IS THE BEST!!!!!! We kinda get trapped in here so it brings so much happiness to finally go outside! There is a soccer field (it's pretty sad) and a basketball court. The other day, the elders said, "Sister America, teach us how to play basketball!" You should have seen them!!! Not one of them had ever played before and I think Mom could shoot better than them. They all laughed the entire time and had the biggest smiles on their faces. Even this fun experience was so touching. Being here has made me so much more sensitive to the spirit and grateful for all that I have been blessed with. On Tuesday we had a Health and Safety meeting but don't worry, it didn't scare me at all even after they told us all about these terrible diseases. They said if you get bit by a dog, cat, monkey, mongoose, lion, elephant or any animal you must get a rabies shot. AN ELEPHANT?!?!? Hahah he might have been kidding up he was serious about malaria and all that jazz. 
Wednesday....the greatest day. A member of the African South East Area presidency came and spoke to us. He talked about how if we do what we are supposed to, then we will become what our Heavenly Father wants us to become. He taught that we need to not worry about the non important things of our life and instead focus on what the Savior did while here on earth. He taught, blessed, healed, and most importantly he loved. We then went to the temple and getting there was an adventure. I just stared out the window the whole time!! It really is a whole different world here and they have been telling me this isn't real Africa!! Everyone parks their car on the grass underneath a tree. It doesn't matter if they could park on the street or on their driveway, they drive up on the grass. I wish I had a picture to show you. We can't send pictures from here but Sister Collins said she would send you at least one group picture. While the missionaries that hadn't been through the temple went early, we went to the distribution center. They had Books of Mormon in a ton of different languages and they are crazy!!! I want to learn the languages in Zambia and Malawi but will be difficult. The temple, I don't have words to describe it. 6 hadn't gone through and I know a couple of those who have never even set foot in a temple. When I heard this, I felt spoiled to have gone to the temple so many times. But yesterday, I made it a goal that I would go to the temple as often as I can because we live so close to one! Elder Mugenyi from Uganda told me that they are building a temple that will only be 12 hours away and he can't wait. 12 HOURS AWAY?!? the faith of the saints here is inspiring. I couldn't help but feel an overwhelming amount of love for my family in the temple. I can't express how much love I feel for each and every one of you. I am so grateful for Mom and Dad and that because they were sealed in the temple, we will be together forever. I love the prayer for the missionaries and our families. So many times in one day, you are prayed for here by the missionaries, our leaders, me, my companions. The temple will be one of my fondest memories of my MTC experience. The temple was beautiful!! Oh and I met Morgan Firmage's grandma in the temple!! How crazy is that? I am here in South Africa and I made a connection to home! She was really really excited. Oh and my teacher served with Dallas Yorganson. Mom forward this to Sister Yorganson so she can tell Dallas. Brother Kubekah speaks very highly of him and told us this hilarious story about a man with a super long chin.

How is everyone though?? I wish I could be there with Susan and Beth and Elise and Suri and Grandma! Give them big hugs from me! Tell Elise she needs to come to Africa. How did Jacob's soccer tournament go? Melissa how was the half marathon? Your time was incredible!!!! I am so proud of you! Maybe we can do one together when we get back. I never get to exercise in here and its killing me...seriously I am probably gaining weight. Dad, and all the fathers in the family...HAPPY FATHERS DAY!! Being here has made me so grateful for the amazing priesthood holders you are. I feel blessed to have you in my life and for how you honor that priesthood. I know it is the power from God to act in his name and with it, we can bring others unto Christ. Without the Priesthood we could not have the ordinances to return to our Father in Heaven. I love you guys! They are super sweet to the sisters here. Today our teacher said, "If all the Elders were like the Sisters, the very powers of hell would shake..." Hahah we get a lot of praise but we have so much improvement to make!!
I love the culture here and I really wish I could express how much love I feel for my companions and the Elders here. Last night an elder told me that he had a dream about me and that I shouldn't get freaked out but in the dream I died and he felt very sad. He said he wanted to share that with me to tell me how much he cared for me and the other sisters. I appreciate the missionaries as they have accepted me and welcomed me in! Sister Owusu-Afriyie told me that she never would have thought she would serve with a white companion, let alone two, but that color doesn't matter to her. I have felt this same love from all the missionaries. They are amazing!! I keep telling them I will come back to Africa and visit them all. 
I apologize for this long email and for how scattered it is!! They are pretty relaxed here at the MTC and I just don't know when I will have this much time to email again. It is the best though. There is so so so much to explain and describe!!! I wish I could video it all and send it to you. Someday I will be able to tell you all about it but for now, I love you so much and pray for you every day. I am so grateful to have an amazing family!!!! Keep being faithful. 
Ngiyakuthanda (I love you in Zulu)
Sister Bingham

P.s. some african slang...."Eish" which means darn it, or bummer. Everyone says it here. And they say "Eh?" and "You know" and "Ok?" especially when they are teaching.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

From the South African MTC - Sister Collins

Greetings from the SA MTC

Here is a photo of our MTC Group #213 missionaries.  Aren’t they a great looking bunch?  We usually take this photo on our Intake Day, which was Thursday, but we had 5 of our missionaries delayed.  Our last two missionaries arrived on Friday night.  It was so wonderful to finally have them all here.  Now, everyone has been interviewed by President Collins, have filled out the necessary medical forms and personal history forms and all but the 5 latecomers have seen the nurse.  They will have that happen next Thursday.  So everyone has their companions and are settled in their rooms. I love them already.  They have taught investigators and are focusing on those things that are necessary for them to be the consecrated missionaries the Lord wants and needs. We will take good care of them and do our best to prepare them for their missions in Zambia, Botwana, and Johannesburg.  This is a photo we took after our Sacrament Meeting Block.  It is a beautiful Winter day here in Joburg as you can see. 

You won’t hear from your missionary until their P-Day which is next Thursday.

There were a few missionaries without email addresses for their families.  If you recognize one of the Elders as being in your stake, ward, or branch, could you please share the photo with their families.  Thanks so much.

With love,
Sister Collins

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Two days in a row

June 11, 2015

Hi again!
Three missionaries arrived today which made me extremely happy because I have been alone for a long time!!! There isn't a lot to do because I already unpacked and did all the registration and was interviewed by President Collins so they said I can send another email.  One sister and one elder came from Ghana and one elder came from Tonga. Sister Owusu is my companion and is going to Zambia as well as Elder Essilife. The elder from Tonga doesn't speak any English so he is here to learn but I feel really bad for him! I have been trying to talk to him but he really doesn't understand anything. I can't even imagine what he is feeling or thinking but keep him in your prayers. Sister Owusu is awesome and I love her so much! She wanted me to tell you she says hello! Her and Elder Essilife both have beautiful smiles and are so happy. I asked Sister Owusu about her family and she said she has an older brother who is 24 and a younger sister who is 16. She said that we can come visit her in Ghana. I really want to! She also said that we can go together to Tonga to visit the Elder. hahah she is the best. When they first got here we ate breakfast. I had already eaten but we had eggs, toast, and chicken nuggets. There are about 8 ladies from South Africa that work in the kitchen and laundry and everything else. They are all very sweet. This one lady named Yvonne came up to me and asked my name and where I was from. She told me she was a member of this church and with much entusiasm she told me "I LOVE this gospel. I LOVE this church and I LOVE Heavenly Father!!!" She told me all about her family and how someday they will be members of this church too. And then with her toothless smile she said goodbye and as she walked out the door she said, "I love you." I couldn't help but cry as I felt so much love from this woman I didn't even know and her love for this gospel and her simple testimony amazed me. I can't wait to get to Zambia and find and meet more people like her. I have a feeling I will learn more from these people than I can teach them. So at breakfast with the other missionaries I got to know them and man I wish you could meet them! Hopefully I can send a picture of them to you soon. They smile a lot and laugh too. I only understand about 75% of what Elder Essilife says because he has a heavy accent and talks fast and kinda quiet. He told me he is determined to learn how to speak Swaheli (I'm not sure how to pronounce it). He and Sister Owusu got speak a native language to Ghana but I forgot what it is called. I want to learn some words in their language though. They are both so humble and sweet. They are finishing registration forms and an online questionnaire and then Sister Owusu is going to unpack her bags. In my interview, President Collins told me that today we weren't doing much until tonight where him and his wife will be teaching us. I am very very anxious to start learning though. The rest of the missionaries, besides the two Americans who are coming tomorrow, will be here today so I'm excited to meet them and get to know them!! President Collins told me he has only had 5 American sisters in the MTC so Maren and I will make 7. Tell Justin Langford that two of the elders that are coming today are from Uganda and that I am so so so excited he gets to come here! Next Wednesday we are going to the temple which will be awesome. Sister Owusu went through the Ghana temple but all the other missionaries who didn't get to go through before they came will go through for the first time on Wednesday and then will go again on Thursday. I feel so blessed that I get to be there when they go through and I am so grateful that I was able to go through the temple.  Last night as I laid in bed trying to fall asleep, I thought of my temple covenants and how grateful I am for them. I know I will not be able to go to the temple for the next 18 months but I will keep the feelings of the temple in my heart. 
Well I love you guys! Today President Collins prayed for our families back at home. I know many people are praying for me, for which I am very grateful but there are also people here praying for you. I love being a missionary!!! Talk to you soon!

With love,

Sister Bingham

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

She made it to Johannesburg Africa!


Wow. I can hardly believe this right now. Life is so surreal! I am a missionary!!! Ok so today was crazy. And crazy is an understatement. After the sad goodbye at the Boise Airport I got on the plane just fine and sat next to this nice couple from Poland. I slept a lot of that ride....I haven't been sleeping very well the past week I think because of the anxiety of leaving....anyways just as we were landing the couple next to me asked where I was going so I told them about my mission. The guy just went off about how I am going to get kidnapped or even killed. Then he just kept saying how stupid Americans are. Hahah don't worry, it didn't make me scared at all, in fact it was just the opposite. Once I got to Minneapolis I had to walk to the complete opposite side of the airport but I made it to the gate with 5 minutes to spare before I boarded. On both flights from Boise and the second one to Atlanta I had so many awesome spiritual experiences. I am actually so glad I had a lot of traveling to do because it gave me time to reflect on exactly what I was about to do and how I felt now that I was set apart as a missionary. I read Alma 25-30 on the about the best chapters to read before my mission. It was a huge pep talk about missionary work!!! I loved it so much. Verse after verse says how much joy comes from sharing the gospel. But it also says that the happiness only comes after patience, perseverance, hard work, suffering, etc. I wish I could tell you all that I felt today but as in Alma 26...there are too many feelings I have for me to even express. Although I have not even done any missionary work and don't even have a companion, I feel so much closer to the Savior and the people of Zambia and Malawi. Alright so our plane was a little late getting into Atlanta so I had to RUN to catch the plane to Johannesburg!! (Joburg or Josie as they call it here). It was hilarious and all these people were just staring at me as I sprinted down the halls in my skirt. Well I made it to the gate super sweaty and there was no one around the gate except for the lady checking my boarding ticket. I got on the plane and was searching for Maren but SHE WASN"T ON THE PLANE!!! I sat down and starting thinking of all the places she could be. Maybe she was in the bathroom. Maybe she went to get something to eat and was still coming. Maybe she was waiting for me somewhere. Is started to get nervous but kept thinking that she would eventually come. Well soon enough the announcement came on that said, "We are now closing the doors and will be taking off soon." So Mom your worry came true. I flew all the way to Africa by myself. I actually started laughing when I realized this happened and honestly wasn't that nervous. The flight was LONG but I slept for a lot of it because I had a whole row to myself. The dinner was good and so was the lunch they served today before i got off. The lady in the next row over was super nice, she works for the Peace Corp, and she helped me get off the plane and get my passport stamped and find my luggage. She was my guardian angel. Many times during the flight I would look over at her and she would just smile. She helped me stay calm and at peace with the situation. I decided to start following the mission rules and went to bed at 10:30 :) but as I lay there in that plane, all alone, I had the neatest experience. Although I was scared to be flying halfway across the world to a place I have never been and to live there with people I have never met, I felt an overwhelming sense of love from our Heavenly Father. I knew at that moment that I was his daughter and He was looking out for me. At this time I started to wonder why He would be sending me all the way to Zambia when I am sure there are plenty of other sister missionaries in Africa. I knew I have been called to Zambia and its where I am supposed to be but on that plane I realized that the people in Zambia are His children just as much as I am. There is someone there that specifically needs me as a missionary. I know this is the Lord's work and that I am called here for a reason. Well the rest of the flight was great and I got here at 5 pm. After we (Johann the peace corps lady) got my bags I walked out to the Arrivals area where I was told to go and there were two African men holding a sign that said, "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints MTC Missionaries". I walked up to them and they were so happy!! They had me sit down and then one of them had me give him my passport so he could go get my papers or something. I am not entirely sure what they were saying because they are hard to understand!!!! But they were very friendly and I was a little scared to just hand off my passport but I guess we just trust in what our leaders tell us. Then the other man took me and he went and got his car, i think his wife was in the car too but I'm not sure. She just said hello to me. As we left the parking garage, the police had to check the man's license. They started talking in some crazy language and were laughing their heads off and boy was I lost. They were just laughing and talking so loud for a long time and then the police man asked where I was from and then some other stuff I couldn't understand. Then he came around the my door and opened it to show me that the man's license was expired. Then he just started cracking up laughing. I just kept smiling and nodding my head and kept thinking, What have I got myself into and I really think they had a typo when they said I was going to speak English! Shout out to Katie are amazing! Well after that we drove for about an hour to get to the MTC. I talked to the MTC President in the car and found out that Maren and one other American elder had been delayed and didn't make the flight to Atlanta and then got stuck there. Apparently they had to sleep at the airport because the hotel was too full!!! Poor Maren. Hopefully she comes tomorrow. So the car ride was good except Morgan (the name of the guy driving me) couldn't understand English very well so we didn't talk at all. I got to the MTC and President and Sister Collins are sooooo nice! Turns out I am the only missionary here right now. Uhh..crazy!! But I decided that this whole mission is going to be crazy and I'm not going to have an expectations. They kinda showed me around and its really nice! Our room has like 5 bunk beds but there are only two other sisters that will be here. One is from Ghana and I can't wait to meet her! There are only 14 elders that will be here and all are from Africa except one from the US and one from Tonga. We all are here for 11 days but two of the elders are learning English here so they will be here longer. I guess they just barely started teaching Malagasy (Madagascar language) here and the last set of missionaries here learned that. I had a bowl of cereal and now I'm about to go to bed I guess...I talked with the President and his wife a bunch. They are super awesome! they were mission presidents in Moscow, Russia and then were missionaries in Columbia but were transferred to Ghana and then got moved here. Next Wednesday we will go to the temple so I'm really excited for that. Tomorrow I am really really excited to meet the other missionaries so I won't be alone anymore!! Well, life is soooooooooooooooooooooo great!! I'm glad I made it here safely but I am loving every second of this adventure. I love you all soooooo much!! I miss you but I don't wish I were at home. I wish you were all here with me!! Actually through everything that has happened I have just wished everyone could be here because it is so different and exciting. I'm not sure when I will get to email again but love you guys!!!!
Sister Bingham
P.s. Mom they drive on the left side of the road.
P.p.s. I had some weird dreams on the plane but I had this one and Sister Steele was on the plane with me! How fun would that have been??

P.p.p.s. I already love Africa. even if everything I have seen is in the dark.