Monday, August 31, 2015

Things are starting to heat up in Ndola (Literally!) August 31, 2015

The nonde girls!

This may have been the best week of mission! Can you believe I have been in Zambia for 10 weeks now?? Where is the time going? Two weeks left and I am done training and I am finally a real missionary! But really I wish that I could tell you every single thing that happened this week because it was amazing. I LOVE being a missionary. I LOVE Ndola. I LOVE these people. I LOVE this gospel and most importantly I LOVE my family!!
Monday: Last preparation day I felt so much love from each one of you that emailed me and I want to thank you for your constant love and support. I am convinced that we have the best family ever and this whole week I have been focusing on sharing that families can be together forever. Every time that I bear my testimony about the plan of salvation I am overwhelmed by love for my family! The plan of happiness is truly amazing and I am grateful for the perspective that it gives me in this confusing and dark world. I am so grateful for the knowledge that I have that I am a daughter of God and that if I follow the gospel of Jesus Christ and apply his Atonement in my life, I can return to live with Him again. I also am grateful for the temple and those covenants that I made there that make it possible for me to receive exaltation. How blessed are we as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! How great is the responsibility we have to share this plan with those hear on earth but also to do temple work for those that have passed on!

Sister selfie

Tuesday: Happy late anniversary Mom and Dad!! I am so grateful that you were sealed in the temple. You have set an amazing example for me and all of us kids. I hope someday I can be half the parents you are. We finally got to teach Sister and Brother Mwiinga together in a lesson! The tender mercies of the Lord were never ending this week! Sister Motsi totally fell asleep in a lesson though and it was so funny!!! I have no idea how she did it but we were reading the scriptures and all the sudden she just stopped mid verse…hahah we were laughing so hard after the lesson. I am grateful for the small experiences that make us smile and laugh and keep us positive when discouragement happens.

rollin' in our corolla!

Wednesday: We went with Elder Mukisa and Elder Madilu to a family that they had been teaching. The parents were baptized last week but they have a daughter named Olivia who is 17 who they didn’t teach because she was always busy. The Namanwe family lives in our area but they are friends with someone in Masala which is the Elders area so the Elders were teaching them and the Namanwe’s have been going to the Masala branch. So we went with them to meet Olivia and I LOVE this family!!! You would all love them so much! They are probably the happiest people I have met on mission and I they welcomed us with so much love from the moment they met us. Sister Namanwe was telling us about her baptism and how she thought she was going to drown because she wouldn’t come back up and she was acting it all out and was laughing so hard! I wish I had a video of it because it was hilarious!!! What made me the most happy though was to hear them say how blessed they are to now have the gospel in their lives. I am sure they were an incredible family before but the light of Christ glows from them and I was once again reminded how much the gospel blesses families. They have 7 children total but they are all older and live in different places. Olivia is a really fun and cute girl and has a great desire to learn about the gospel. She has been to church a lot and knows a lot about the gospel and we invited her to be baptized by the end of September. I am excited to get to teach her and help her realize how incredible the gospel is. As we talked with her it made me reflect WAY back to my high school days and I realized how blessed I was to have the scriptures, prayer, church, the temple, my family, the prophet and everything else we have in the gospel to help me overcome the temptations and trials that are present in every teenagers life. I was far from perfect but I don’t even want to think what I would have been like without the gospel. I am filled with so much joy to think that Sister Motsi and I get to be the Lord’s instruments in bring the gospel to Olivia in this specific time in her life. Remember how I said the hand of the Lord was seen soooo many times this week?? Well Sister Motsi and I were trying to find this family that the previous sisters used to teach and we knocked on this random gate. This lady came and we started introducing ourselves only to quickly learn that she was deaf. Without thinking that maybe sign language is different in Zambia, I started signing to this woman and SHE UNDERSTOOD! She invited us into her home and as we walked to the door, I said a silent prayer that I would remember what I learned and that we could communicate with this daughter of God. Now I didn’t all the sudden remember everything and it was actually a struggle to communicate with Hosea but I felt that enabling power of the Atonement strengthening me and helping me understand and talk with her. I wish I could express how incredible this experience was but through broken sign language, we were able to bear our testimonies of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This truly is the Lord’s work, He has prepared children for us to teach and if we are worthy to have the Spirit with us, He will guide us to them and help us teach and love them. Being a missionary is the greatest blessing ever! We stopped by Sister Mwiinga’s house and we didn’t get to teach her but we have been able to build a great relationship with her. No effort is ever wasted as I have seen how as we have loved and served Sister Mwiinga, her heart has been softened. Sister Mwiinga loves to laugh at me! She loves how I mess up pronouncing everything and how I am bad at washing and can’t cook their food but I love it! She is one of my favorites. I know I have said this so many times but the sistets in this mission are such great examples to me and I have learned so much from them. Sister Andriamamonjisoa made dinner for us even though she was fasting. I can’t remember if I told you about Sister Andria so sorry if I already said this but Sister Andria grew up in a large family and her father died from a heart attack about ten years ago. She and her mother and a couple of her sisters are members. She never has had running water or electricity. She has never cooked on a stove or with an oven. She has never had a toilet at home or shower or bath. She amazes me each and every day!!

Thursday: We spent the day in Pamodzi and Chifubu and we ate at the night club again…we tried to find another place but it was the only one that we felt was clean and we were comfortable eating at. It still cracks me up that we eat there but when in Africa….just kidding, the food was great! It is the same thing at every single place. Chicken, sausage, nshima, French fries, meat pies, and that’s about it. But its good and I am grateful for it! We went and saw Mercy from the branch. She owns what they call “tack shops.” I sent pics of it but these shops are EVERYWHERE!!! They sell everything too…milk, soap, vegetables, snacks, candy, toothbrushes, toilet paper, oil, sugar, and random stuff. So I tell Sister Motsi all the time that if I lived here I would open one and I always want to go inside them. Well I finally got to go inside and it was so cool!!! I even got to sell a boy some Jiggies which are pretty much the same thing as stale cheetohs. In Africa they don’t have normal flavored or plain flavored food. The flavors are like bbq chicken or red bbq beef, cheese and onion, chutney, haha they taste good though! We had a lesson with her in the little shack though and it was really great. We gave her the “preparing to enter the Lord’s house” book because she is 23 and the next step for her is either a mission or marriage. As I testified of the temple and the blessings that come from receiving those ordinaces, the Spirit was so strong. I am so grateful that I was able to live so close to a temple to go so many times. I am far from a temple but as I taught and bore my testimony, I felt like I was in the temple. Even if we aren’t close to the temple, if we keep and honor our covenants, we can feel its power and spirit. I can’t wait to go back to His holy house but until then I will enjoy the blessing of knowing I have made covenants with Heavenly Father and He has promised me blessings. I also can’t wait for the day for Mercy to be able to go to the temple and everyone else that we have taught or come to know in the Ndola branch. It is a huge sacrifice for them to go to the temple and so whenever I meet someone who has gone, I have been so humbled. The people here are so inspiring! We taught this girl named Ruth who is 14 and is a member but her cousin Chansa is not. We started teaching them and then this other girl joined us, and another one and then two boys, and then two more. It was funny to just have these kids come in but I was reminded of Christ teaching and blessing the children. I was reminded that I truly am a representative of the Savior and that I am here to invite all to come unto Him. How great is this calling that I get to wear his name on my shirt  and stand as a special witness of Him for 24 hours a day for 18 months!! We taught these children with the plan of salvation pictures that Mom sent me with and Mom…those have been the best!!! I think we used them 5 times this week!! Sister Motsi wanted me to specifically thank you for them. The kids love them too! We play a fun game where we mix all the pictures up and then see how fast the kids can put it in order. They laugh so hard! I wish you could see them! Sister Mosti taught me how to make nshima the fast way and I think I am finally able to make if for you when I come home!

doing service with sister Nyachwo

Friday: We went on exchanges again and I took Sister Motsi to Luanshya to be with Sister Natsala (from Uganda)  and I brought Sister Nyachwo (born in Kenya but lives in Uganda) to Ndola. She Nyachwo used to serve in Ndola so it was fun to see her revisit old families, especially the Mwiinga’s. They were sooooo excited and couldn’t stop hugging her. I think it was good for her to realize how much she is loved and how much of an impact she made in Ndola and the people here. We went and served Brother Nzima (he is about 26 and teaches with us a lot. He is also the first counselor in the branch presidency). We washed his work suit for him and then his sisters car. It felt really good to serve and work. I am grateful for parents who taught us how to serve and work hard! I am grateful for the joy I have been able to feel as I have served the people here spiritually but also physically. The exchanges went a lot better than last time and I learned a lot from Sister Nyachwo! It was a good day!

Saturday: We taught the Mwiinga children and their neighbor Justin who we have been teaching. They have a hard time paying attention in lessons so Sister Motsi and I had to be a little creative to make the lesson a little more entertaining. We brought the gospel art book and then divided the 4 kids into companionships. Peter (12) was with Selina (14) and Natasha (11) was with Justin (14). We told them that today we would be switching places. They would be the missionaries and we would be the investigators. We picked pictures for each part of the gospel of Jesus Christ and then they had to teach us. They LOVED it!! And they did such a good job teaching us! It was good because Sister Motsi and I realized how much they understood. I feel like by them teaching us, they really learned what the gospel of Jesus Christ is. They loved it so much that they said we wanted to do it again so today I promised to make them name tags so they can wear them next time. I used to think teaching children was difficult but now I love it and I love the challenge of coming up with something creative. It also made me excited to be a mother someday! We drove to the Nonde’s (the less active family that lives in Dola Hill…pretty far from town) and we brought a chocolate cake for Patience their oldest daughter. She was sick awhile ago and apparently we had promised her a chocolate cake? I remember telling her we would bring her  a banana but I made a chocolate cake and it was so good…not to brag. They have a bunch of kids…Nathan (he baptized Raphael and works with us a lot and is probably about 25), Bwalaya (23), a couple other boys and then Patience, Precious, Charity, Lydia, Mutale, Peculiar, and Liahona. 

Peculiar, the one of the left, laughs everytime I look at her! she is adorable!

They don’t know English really well so we used the Plan of Salvation pictures and it was great! As we were driving back to town we found Brother Nonde, the father, and HE LOOKS JUST LIKE DAD!!! I will send a picture of him next week but it is crazy how much he looks like dad. And he is goofy just like Dad. He is always saying the funniest things and he was wearing this bucket hat….It made me miss Dad! We chatted with him and asked if we could come to FHE on Monday and asked him to prepare a lesson. As we were pulling away, I stuck my head out the window and said, “Hey maybe you could come to church on Sunday?” He responded by “No problem!” Sister Motsi and I looked at each other and smiled because this is the classic response from Zambians. They love to say no problem and then they don’t do what we asked. Oh well…we taught Sister Mwiinga’s neighbor and they stay close to town in this area called Kanini and we haven’t spent much time in Kanini so we thought we would drive home a different way so we could plan a day to go contacting there. Well we started going down this what looked like a good road but it was awful!! Haha and all these people kept telling me to keep going while others were asking what we were doing and it was dark and man, I love the adventures that we have every day!!!

Mercy's shop!

Sunday: BEST DAY EVER!!! We went to go pick up Selina to walk to church with her and any other Mwiinga’s that we had invited. As we got close to their house we saw Natasha and my heart dropped. She was just in normal clothes so I figured she would tell us once again that she wasn’t coming. BUT she ran up to us and said, “We are all coming to church! Me, Selina, Mom and Dad!!!” I had the biggest smile on my face!! We have been teaching the Mwiinga’s since the first day I came to Ndola and they were finally coming to church!!!!! It was amazing. We were sitting in the church, waiting for it to start, and my heart was already filled with joy and then guess what…in walked Brother Nonde!!!!! I haven’t ever seen such a big smile on sister Motsi as I did at that moment! They asked me to conduct the music for the meeting which is fine except for the fact that in Africa when you lead the music you have to sing the first line of the song to set the key. So yes, I was expected to stand up their and sing a solo pretty much! I know the branch is small but I was so nervous…hahaha and when I went to sing the first couple notes were good but then it went bad! Hahah how embarrassing but all is well. We sang “Joseph Smith’s first  prayer” and I was looking at so many people that we were teaching and that I loved and then we sang the words, “But undaunted, still he trusted in his Heavenly Father’s care”. I know that if we work hard and be obedient and seek the Spirit, that Heavenly Father will bless us. If we trust in Him, he will bring blessings in his own time and in his own way. It was so incredible to have the Mwiinga’s and Brother Nonde at church and Sister Martha! I have been reading in Alma about the Sons of Mosiah and Ammon and Alma and they find so much joy in missionary work. I feel like every other verse it says joy…well I felt that joy on Sunday and I decided that I am not going to come home but I’ll just be a missionary forever J We had some really great other lessons with the Sambe family (the lady we randomly found that was taught by the elders a long time ago) and with the Namanwe family. Brother Sambe was reading the Restoration pamphlet for us and it talks about John Calvin and Martin Luther and while he was reading he accidentally said, “Martin Luther King Jr.” and it was so funny! We also taught the sisters of this man named Shadreck who we met one day after he followed us so he is a little bit on the creepy side but his sisters were really nice! They were asking a million questions though and my favorite one was, “So we can be sealed to our friends??” She also was asking all the questions…one after another without giving us a chance to answer them and then just said, “I guess no one knows any of these answers and we never will.” Sister Motsi and I laughed about this afterwards but I looked at her and said, “Actually we have all the answers.” It was funny but it just hit me how much we know and how Heavenly Father has a plan for everything. I am so grateful that a mission is part of His plan for me.

This week truly was amazing and I love this work! I love you all more!!!!!!!!

Sister Bingham

some super cute kids outside of the Chalwe's house

this is where we buy our fruit every single week...sorry its kinda far away

a classic soccer field...I want to play so bad!!!!

Cooking with Sister Ganesh

A random house in Pamodzi

Gift...yimali's brother. Yimali was baptized in May. Gift made all these bricks from mud by himself!

us with yimali!

Sunday morning tradition of making breakfast! i found the recipe in a book...its called dutch baby!

this super creepy hallway to an investigators apartment!

we left a note on an investigators door to come to church. He tried to avoid can't hide from us

making nshima!

Monday, August 24, 2015

August 24, 2015

Family!!! This letter might be a little short because I was the last one to get a computer but hey this week was amazing!!!

Monday: We went to have family home evening with a less active family in Pamodzi and so we picked up Sister Chalwe and her 3 kids. Well….Sister Chalwe moved so she told us to meet her at this random school and it was quite the adventure finding the school! Before I came on mission, everyone loved to tell me that I was so ready for my mission because I had shot a bear. I never understood how a mission and shooting a bear could ever relate and so I just thought it was funny when people said this. Well Monday, I discovered that those who told me that were inspired! No I did not have to shoot any animals but the roads we had to drive on were crazy!!! I think only Dad, Jacob and David can really relate to this, ok and maybe Brooklyn and Mom ( remember Leslie Gulch?) but it was so much fun driving on these dirt roads in the villages. We had to ask a lot of people for directions and African directions…I am not sure if I have talked about them before but this is pretty much how it goes, “ Just go this way and then turn that side and go until you turn this side and the roads curves and then the school will be on that side.” Haha I need Dad’s directions!  I wanted to take a video of driving the roads and I tried taking one picture but it doesn’t do it justice. I have had to use my best driving skills but it took us about an hour to get to the school, pick up Sister Chalwe and then make it to Maya and Ruth’s house for FHE. It probably should have taken 15 minutes but if you saw the roads, you would understand! Maya and Ruth ended up not being home so we went back to the Chalwe’s and had FHE there. Sister Chalwe is a single mother, her husband passed away about a year ago. She has 3 kids and is the Primary President. She never misses church and reads scriptures with her family each night. I want to be just like her someday! This past week I have been AMAZED by the members here and feel so blessed to be among these incredible saints. Since her sons are pretty young we sang a lot of fun primary songs. We sang “Do as I’m doing” and we each picked something to do. The youngest boy, about 3 years old had us squat down and then do these tiny jump things…hahaha I could not stop laughing! It was so great to be with a family, all laughing together. It made me miss you all like crazy though! This week I have missed each of you more than usual but this morning as I was running I had this thought come into my head, “This is a time I have given you that you may learn to love and serve your family more completely.” I am so grateful for the many, many reminders I have that serving a mission is the greatest blessing in the whole world! The sunset was beautiful that night and it made me grateful for my mother who taught me to appreciate the sky and all of God’s creations.  I read this quote that night and I thought I would share with you all as we all are require to make sacrifices in our lives “The blessings you receive are greater than anything you ever give up.” I am grateful for the sacrifices I have made to be here and the everyday things we sacrifice as missionaries, because I have felt an even greater amount of love from my Heavenly Father and greater amount of strength from the Savior Jesus Christ.

Tuesday: We had zone meeting and Sister Motsi and I had to do a 25 minute presentation on the importance of effective companionship study and it went really well. I could tell she was nervous to present but she did amazing! Zone meeting was fun but they rush us out fast so I didn’t really get to talk with a lot of missionaries but once again I loved being with so many missionaries and the power that was felt in that meeting. Just about every lesson fell through that day but we did get to teach Elvis with Brother Nonde and the lesson was good. Elvis is really interested in what we have to share but is struggling with how it can help him in his life. He works on Sundays but I think as we continue to teach him by the Spirit, he will understand the joy and blessings that come from the gospel.

Wednesday: My first exchange was a success! We woke up at 5:30 and made our way to Kitwe which is a little over an hour away from Ndola. I was kinda annoyed that we had to drive so far but then I realized what a unique opportunity I have to see so much of Zambia! Anyways Sister Nijirayfa really intimidated me at first but within a few minutes I realized how loving and friendly she is! Turns out though that she had malaria so we taught a lesson but then she had to go and lay down for a couple of hours. Poor girl! I felt so bad. She is the missionary that came here from the Botswana mission for her last transfer. She talked a lot about the Botswana mission the whole day which was awesome to hear all about another mission and part of Africa. We got to teach Sister Mwiinga and it was crazy to think that my very first lesson on mission was with Sister Mwiinga and we haven’t been able to teach her since. It was fun to think back to that very first day and see how much I have changed. I can remember being so excited and nervous for that first lesson! We ended the day teaching a lady named Charity who has 7 children and her husband left her to marry another woman. Charity has a great faith in God though and I am excited to continue teaching her and especially how the gospel can help her raise her family and overcome all the challenges she faces. The end of the exchange was kinda hard….as an STL I am supposed to tell them what they did well (Which is easy) but then I have to tell them what they can improve on and this is where I struggled. I started to doubt myself and wonder how I, a new missionary, tell this seasoned missionary what to work on especially when I know how many weaknesses I have. But it went well and I am grateful that I get to have many other opportunities to improve on exchanges since we have so many sisters in our zone. While Sister Nijirayfa was napping, I took time to read and ponder on my patriarchal blessing. I would invite each of you to take time to do this because for me, I received answers to prayers and I know that Heavenly Father has so many blessing in store for us as we truly develop those attributes and talents in our blessings.  Anyways the day was great!

Thursday: We made our way to Pamodzi again and got ourselves in a pretty bad dead end road…haha but we came out alive! All of our appointments fell through that day and I was starting to get really discouraged but then a miracle happened! We were trying to find this house and it was dark and we really didn’t know where we were going. We thought that this one house was maybe the right one but we weren’t sure so we just pulled in. A lady came out and we discovered it was the wrong house but we talked with her for a few minutes and turns out she used to be taught by the Elders but they stopped coming. She was talking and it sounded like she really wasn’t interested but then all the sudden she invited us into her house. She told us she is searching for the truth and she goes to another church but she isn’t totally sure. She is really skeptical about the Restoration and Joseph Smith but says she would love for us to come and teach her! We bore testimony of the first vision and prayer and the Spirit was so strong! We had her pray with us right then to know for herself if Joseph Smith truly saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and she gave a powerful prayer but said she is still unsure. Her prayer touched my heart though and I am so grateful that we could find her again. Who knows if her heart has been softened to the message of the restored gospel but I know there is a reason why Heavenly Father led us to her house again. The hand of the Lord is constantly blessing and guiding us in this work! Oh Thursday afternoon, Sister Ganesh from the branch taught us how to make Indian food cause her husband is from India. It was really fun even though I don’t remember how to make anything she showed us! Funny story from the day…I was calling an investigator to set up an appointment and I accidentally said, “Love you too” when I hung up the phone instead of goodbye!!!! How embarrassing!!

Friday: I have been spending more of my time studying from the Book of Mormon and I am so grateful for  it! I thought I had a love for the scriptures before mission, but I have realized how much more my testimony has grown. My love and testimony that I have now would probably never been developed if I didn’t come. What an opportunity serving a mission is!

Saturday: One short funny story from the day….The youth and the YSA for all the Copperbelt had a conference for a few days which sounded so fun! Akim, a member of our branch showed up to go to the conference with nothing but the clothes he was wearing. When they told him to go home and get his stuff he just told them that Christ never had a toothbrush or a blanket and he went around for 3 years preaching the gospel so he could go 2 nights. Akim is always saying stuff like this and likes to prophecy to my companion but he is awesome and is a strong member of our branch!

Sunday: Church was good!! We walked with Selina Mwiinga to church and she amazes me! She comes to church every single week completely alone. She told us yesterday that she wants to be baptized!!! We still want her parents to get baptized first but I am so excited for her. We walked into Church and guess who was there…sister Martha!!! What?!? Last week we visited her and she told us many times how she wanted to come to church but it just wasn’t possible because she didn’t have any money. Sister Motsi and I promised her that if she put her trust in the Lord, then she would find a way. How amazing it was to see her at church and to see the blessing of being an instrument in the hand of the Lord. At church I looked around during sacrament meeting and just felt so much love for every member of the branch. When I first came I thought the branch was great but kinda dysfunctional and it has been amazing to see it grow and develop over the past 9 weeks! It hasn’t changed that much but the love and appreciation I have for the members has. That night we went to have a lesson that ended up turning into a Bible Bash between our investigator and one of our members and it was kinda funny cause any time Sister Motsi or I opened our mouth, we would get interrupted. It was so difficult to know what to do but we left with our testimonies and faith that their hearts may be softened. 

This work is filled with many difficulties and challenges but I felt so much joy this week! I love working hard, I love my companion and the sisters I live with. They have so much knowledge and faith! I love the people and the culture and most importantly I love this gospel, my Savior Jesus Christ and My Father in Heaven. I hope all is well at home!! Thank you for your much love and support!!!!! You are all amazing!!

Sister Bingham

 "Shout out to Sister Mbele's friends in South Africa! I love her and I am jealous you get to have her back with you in a couple of weeks! Our flat won't be the same without her!!"

Saturday, August 22, 2015

All the STLs out to Chinese with President and Sister Erickson.

This picture was taken from Sister Proctor's Blog - The Warm Heart of Africa

Monday, August 17, 2015

Letter dated July 22, 2015

Mom and Dad!!!

I am writing on a bus from Ndola to Lusaka (for immigration) so I apologize that my handwriting is even worse than normally cause TIA (this is Africa) and you know how the roads are.  Well, I guess you actually don't know but they are a little bumpy.  I am grateful Dad isn't on this bus with that bad pain though!  I am also grateful though for transportation and the funds and all those who make it possible for me to stay here and be a missionary.

Sara Bingham sent me a talk a couple of weeks ago from President Hinckly called "Gifts to Bring Home From a Mission" and one of the "gifts" he mentioned was a love and gratitude for you parents. I didn't need to be told by a prophet that though because from the moment I left you until now (43 days ago) my love and gratitude fro my parents was more than I can even describe and every single day that passes it just continues to grow and grow and grow!  I still constantly need and rely on your example.  Mission has been the greatest experience of my whole life but it has stretched me and challenged me more that I thought possible.  Sister Motsi told me yesterday, "Mission doesn't get easier.  You just get stronger." I know that is true.

Some of the things I am grateful that I have learned are:

1. Hard-work.  Missionary work is physically exhausting!  I thought it wouldn't be hard for me and I have been blessed with strength but some days I just sit down in a lesson and don't feel like getting up.  Then I think back to backpacking, running a marathon, riding my bike with Mom, hunting with Dad, doing yard work, service projects, etc, and I know that I can keep going.  All those things we did as a family have prepared me fro this.  Heavenly Father sent me to you and has allowed us to spend many great memories recreating because I would need it in Zambia!  I am so grateful for the counsel from the First Presidency in the Family: Proclamation to the World that says we should make time for worthwhile recreation.  It really has helped!  And plus we did the sweetest stuff!!

2.  Always have a positive attitude.  Man, plans don't always go as planned here!  Even my own personal goals or plans aren't achieved no matter what I am doing.  The key though is to not be discouraged.  Keep moving forward with a smile on your face.  Life is so good!  We have the joy of the gospel!  We have made covenants with Heavenly Father, and if we do our part, all is well.  A positive attitude helps me wake up in the morning and keep going until 10:30 pm.  It is a choice though.  Everything about life is a choice.  In 2 Nephi 2:27 we read that we can "choose eternal life."  When we understand this, put our trust in Heavenly Father and our faith in Christ, we cannot fail and will always be happy!

3.  Patience is key.  I really don't know what being a parent is like but sometimes I think it's like being a missionary.   We want those we teach to learn.  We want them to  make commitments and changes.  We know exactly what can help them and that if they do what we say, they will be so  much happier, and have peace in the life and in the life to come.  But they have to learn and act for themselves.  We have to be understanding and patient. As parents, I think you know exactly what I am talking about.  I want those people to accept our message so so so badly because I know how much it has blessed me and our family.  We however must be sensitive to their needs, patient and continue teaching, loving and serving them.  In addition to patience with others, I have learned we must be patient with ourselves.  We can't and will never be perfect but this life is all about progressing.  If we are patient with ourselves and look for the small accomplishments and growth we can feel successful.  I know that I can be that person I want to be if I am patient and work every day at it.

4. Serve others! I know why you have set an example of service - It feels good!  All your own problems seem to disappear as you turn your focus from yourself and turn it to others.  I have truly learned to love Sister Motsi not because we get along perfectly and are best friends (we are actually extremely different) but it is because I have remembered to serve her.  I have come to love certain people here because I found time to serve them.  I love my Savior, Jesus Christ so much more because of my decision to serve a mission.  Sometimes I get so overwhelmed or stressed by everything we have to do or the responsibilities we have or the expectations I have and I am always amazed at how a small act of service completely washes all my worries away.  Heavenly Father has blessed us with strengths and talents not to help ourselves but to bless the lives of others.  As we use these strengths to serve, we in turn become stronger and become more aware of Heavenly Father's love.

Thank you for making it possible for me to be here.  I have learned and grown so much already and can't wait to learn even more.  This is the best adventure and I wish you were here to experience everything from eating Nshima to getting called Mozungu (white) to hand washing laundry to knocking gates with rocks to having filthy feet to eating stale BBQ flavored Cheetos that turn your fingers purple to dodging huge buses while walking to trying to speak Bemba and looking like a fool to being proposed to to eating cereal for every meal to accidentally buying sour milk to running sprints around your apartment to falling asleep the moment your head hits the pillow to praying for longer than you have ever prayed to waiting for 2 hours for someone to bring you a church key to having no toilet paper let alone a toilet to eating in the dark to cooking with cockroaches in the kitchen to singing a hymn all by yourself and your totally off key to having your companion's feet stink!  HaHa - I love every second of it here but I love you more!

Much love,
Sister Bingham

Going out to lunch with the immigration sisters--Falco, Quaye, Proctor, Owuse-Afriyie, Alli, and Hirwa.


Every week is an adventure on mission but this week was extra unique. MLC was amazing!!! I wish you could have been there and learned and felt everything that I did. Both days we were taught, we counseled, we testified, etc from 9 to 6. I thought I would get bored or get sick of sitting in the same room all day long but I didn’t want it to end!! Tuesday we got to meet all the leaders from around the mission which was really fun to get to meet the missionaries from Malawi. I know I have said this before but there are some amazing missionaries in this mission! President Erickson opened the council and it was so inspiring. He talked a lot about the culture of our mission and asked what we thought it was. Some of the responses were…obedience, hard work, self-reliance, kindness and love, joy in the work, beginning with the end in mind. While all these are true, President said he wants the culture of our mission to be spiritual development. President Erickson is very concerned with who we are becoming and what we are learning. He wants to establish the gospel in Zambia and Malawi but he knows how important it is for the missionaries to be changing and becoming builders of the kingdom for the rest of their lives. There is this quote, I think its from Elder Ballard that says, “it isn’t about how many baptisms you have at the end of 18 months or 2 years but where you are in 20 years.” President Erickson talked a lot about how mission is preparation for the most important time in your life. I am so so so grateful to be a missionary and what an incredible opportunity I have! He also said, “There are only a few times where you will be tried to your very core…mission is one of those opportunities.” It is true. Mission is hard and has tried me in so many different ways but I am learning so much and I know Heavenly Father is preparing me for the future and the challenges that will come then. Anyways the opening remarks were just awesome and made me even more excited for the rest of the conference. We had a council about the mission schedule and I am sooooooooooooo pumped because we get to stay out later now!!! We get to stay out until 7 unless we had an appointment with a progressing investigator than we can come home at 8. To be honest, I have always felt that I was cheating missionary work because we had to be home so early but now we get more time to work!! And now we will do companionship study in the morning which will be better because we will be more focused and united for the day. We debated about this schedule a lot but President Erickson feels good about it and this country really is safe. When we went back to Ndola and had a conference with all the district leaders in our zone, a couple of the Elders were really worried about this change. It was so sweet when Elder Etiang(from Uganda and he has blue eyes!!) said, “I fully support this decision and I am so excited to work later but I am worried for my sisters.” This schedule change will be difficult for some but it is a great opportunity for our mission to exercise our faith in Heavenly Father. His work is truly hastening here and what an amazing blessing that I get to be a part of this! That night we got to go to this super fancy Chinese restaurant…I guess it is tradition for MLC but it was sooooo good!!! I honestly ate so much because who knows when I will get food like that again. We stayed at the Lusaka STL’s flat and I felt a little out of place because all the sisters were having so much fun because they all have served around each other but have been separated. They are really nice though and included me and it just made me so excited to meet and serve with even more sisters as I grow older on mission.
The next day was just as amazing as a conference! We had some amazing training on exchanges which was good because I have been really nervous about doing exchanges. We are going to go on exchanges in Kitwe this week and I have to go with a sister who was transferred here for her last 6 weeks from Botswana. Exchanges are done with the purpose of the STL training the other missionary but I am most looking forward to learning from this sister who probably knows so much! It should be exciting but I am still really nervous. I’ll tell you how it goes! Sister Erickson taught about keeping all of our covenants and spoke a lot about the temple. I didn’t realize how much I miss the temple! I hope you all have been able to go because I really really wish I could go. She talked about how when we partake of the sacrament we not only renew our baptismal  covenants but we can renew all our covenants. This Sunday, the sacrament was so much better and different because I pondered on this. I am so grateful for the sacrament. The rest of MLC was great and it was sad to leave!!! Hopefully we get to go again in November because I left feeling so inspired and uplifted and excited to be a missionary. BUT….it also made me miss Ndola soooooooo bad and want to get to work!! It made me realize how much I love being a missionary, missionary. Not so much a leader but I am so grateful for our leaders and the office elders…how everything runs so smoothly is such a testimony to me that this is the Lord’s work. Also, President and Sister Erickson do so much for us. They are amazing! Anyways, nonetheless, I couldn’t wait to get back to the Belt!
Sister Erickson came Thursday morning to do a test drive with me and it went great! I didn’t even stall once!!! I kept putting the windshield wipers on though instead of the blinkers and I accidently drove on the right side of the road a couple times but all went well. Then we discovered the insurance and registration were expired so we couldn’t go home Thursday. We stayed at the mission all day which was hard but I got to write letters to our family so be looking for them!!
Friday we woke up and were on the road to Lusaka at 6 am! I drove all 5 hours back to Ndola and we were safe and everything was fine. I am so grateful for Dad and Mom who have taught me to be so safe and careful so that I was able to be comfortable yet cautious while driving. I hope that someday you get to make that drive because its pretty exciting. A lot of police stops and big trucks on a two lane highway with potholes….Africa driving is fun! As soon as we got to Ndola we had to go to Luanshya for a Zone Leadership Council and I pulled into this parking lot to turn around and as we were pulling out this guy came up to the window and told me I had to pay for parking. I argued with him for a couple minutes trying to explain to him that I didn’t park, I just turned around but he would not listen. Haha it ended up being 1 kwacha but it was funny! Then Elder Mukisa said, “So…don’t you have to report that parking fine to the mission office? Are you going to get your driving priveleges taken away?” Hahaha he is hilarious! The Zone leaders were late so we parked the car and Sister Motsi and I left the elders to go and buy an orange. Well the elders call us and say, “you better hurry back here because they are cutting down a huge tree and its going to fall on your car.” Sister Motsi and I ran back but not in time….this HUGE tree came crashing down!!! It was so loud!!!!!!!!!!!! Luckily though our car was totally safe and out of the way but it did give me a small heartattack! First day with the car and it gets smashed by a tree…haha.
Saturday we had a lesson with Brother Mwiinga and it went soooo well!! We asked him if he got an answer about the Priesthood being restored and he said yes and that he wants to get baptized and then I asked him how he feels about the answer. His response made my day! He said, “I know I am on the right path.” Heavenly Father doesn’t care about where we were or who we were but He truly cares about where we are going and who we are becoming. Brother Mwiinga has a long ways to go and a lot to learn and do but he has a desire and as he exercises even a particle of his faith, Heavenly Father will help him and his life will begin to change for the better. It’s hard to be a missionary sometimes cause we know how amazing the gospel is and how much is has blessed us and we just want people to realize that! We can’t force them though and they must make their own decisions but as we continue to teach by the Spirit and do our part, then we are promised that we will stand blameless before God at the last day. Highlights from the day: “Joseph Smith went into the bush to pray.” LOL only in Africa. “Joseph Smith built a church in water”….uh what??? These were quotes from Selina Mwiinga who is 14 and comes to church every week. She is super smart and has such a strong testimony so the last comment was weird but made us laugh! This man came up to me and said, “I have seen Elders but I have never met beautiful sisters!” Grace Chisimba is 18 years old and is a member of our branch and says she wants to go on a mission!!! So happy for her!!
Sunday, my favorite day always! Big news…we got a new branch president! His name is Webster Cholonga and he is going to do amazing but when he bore his testimony I could tell he is really scared and nervous about the calling. He said this though and I loved it so much, “I am not the best but I will offer my best.” What great advice is this for all of us. We are not perfect but as long as we do our best and rely on the Savior, we will accomplish what is asked of us. We had a lot of funny things happen with our past branch president, President Jackson, but as he got up to bear his testimony I felt soooo much love and gratitude for him. He is such a sweet man with a pure heart. He will be missed as branch president but now he is a high councilor for the district. We visited some members that afternoon and guess what??? We visited Sister Martha, she is about 30 and has a 4 month old and her husband works somewhere else and she has been a member for 15 years and she lives FOREVER away! We drove a long way down this road that I love because its away from the town and has all these trees but anyways as we were talking to her I found out she know Peter Kunda the man I talked to from Zambia before I came here. How crazy is that?!?! It really is a small world! Sister Motsi and I had an interesting training last night and debated a lot of gospel topics. I found out afterwards that she was asking me all these weird questions to try to get me mad and think hard but we ended up learning a lot and laughing about it. Sometimes I forget that she has only been a member for 4 years because she knows so much! Anyways I am grateful for her and how she pushes me! We got this text from a random man we met on the street that said, “ U HVE DISPPOINTED ME U LISTEN 2 YO FRNDS WHEN ITS TRU LUV” hahahah this mission is hilarious!
I love you all so much!! I hope all is well at home!!!! Keep being the people and examples you are. You are making a much bigger difference than you can even imagine!!!
Sister Bingham

MLC pictures

Monday, August 10, 2015

Finding, finding, and finding

Mulishani to my favorite family!!!! How is everyone doing? I hope all is well back in America! I am currently emailing from Lusaka because tomorrow and Wednesday we have MLC (Missionary Leadership Council) so all the zone leaders and sister training leaders are going to all be here. The ones in Malawi fly in tomorrow so I am really excited to meet even more missionaries. We drove down with the Copperbelt Zone Leaders, Elder Mohlokowana and Elder Parker. Elder Parker is the one from Twin Falls and whenever we passed a field of any kind he would say, “IT LOOKS JUST LIKE IDAHO!!!” hahaha I am pretty sure he said that about 20 times but of course I loved it because I loved Idaho but I think he has been away from Idaho just little bit longer than me because I think his memory is fading….Just cause there is a pivot doesn’t mean it’s Idaho but I loved seeing the fields and feeling a little like home. I will maybe be driving home from Lusaka which freaks me out so say prayers this week that I will be safe and comfortable driving. Anyways I am beyond excited to be here for MLC! I can’t wait to tell you all about it because I really don’t know what to expect but everyone said it is so spiritual and a lot of fun. Sister Motsi said she wasn’t excited but she doesn’t like big gatherings. I had a hard time understanding why she wasn’t excited until we walked into the email shop here in Lusaka and I saw all the missionaries emailing. I got sooooo nervous because I realized how experienced they all are and I couldn’t stop thinking about how long they have been on mission and how long they have been STL’s. I am 7 going on 8 weeks on mission and Sister Motsi and I really have no idea what we are doing. All the fears and doubts I had when I received the call came rushing back. But I heard someone say this week something that has brought continued comfort as I have felt inadequate. “We have the ability to grow as we serve in our weaknesses.” The past two weeks have been so humbling as I have reflected on this responsibility I have been called to. I have had to learn how to trust in Heavenly Father and His timing. I have so many weaknesses, I am still learning everyday, I am a new missionary that makes tons of mistakes everyday, I am constantly working on my patience, etc. Yet I know that this calling is for a reason and the timing has a purpose. I hope that through MLC I can continue to build that trust in the Lord and prepare myself to be the leader that He wants. I know that Heavenly Father loves me and when I think of what the Savior has done and what is possible because of His Atonement, I know that I can have the courage to be a sister training leader.
I know last week I didn’t get to write a long letter but I’ll just do this week
Monday: Sister Motsi got her hair done in Chipulukusu at this tiny hair shack from some of our friends. Her hair took almost 3 hours and I was just sitting there so I asked the mom if I could help somehow. I ended up scrubbing hair out of hair curlers for an hour with this sweet 13 year old girl named Royce. My fingers were raw and scraped up afterwards but it felt sooooo good to serve!!! Sister Motsi and I have been making an extra effort to ask everyone how we can serve them and everyone turns us down. It was a blessing to find someone that was humble enough to let us serve them. This was a huge testimony to me that as important as it is to serve others, we need to allow others to serve us. Later that day we taught Brother Mwiinga who we have been teaching off an on. His daughter is Selina and is sooooo smart and is so ready to be baptized. The whole family is actually close to being ready for baptism but I think they are just waiting for the father. We have been focusing on him and he has a problem with the word of wisdom but he said this week he did better which is awesome! I fasted that his heart may be softened to the Spirit and the message of the Restoration of the Gospel and that night we had a great lesson with him. The Spirit was so strong and we invited him to be baptized! He said yes and so we asked him to pray about a date that he felt was good for him. I am so grateful for the blessings we receive as we fast and pray. The answers may not come as perfectly as they planned and we may have to look for them, but they are always there! Fast Sundays have become such a strength for me on mission and I look forward to them each month.
Tuesday: Sister Motsi and I were asked to teach at District Meeting. We each split the time and she did an excellent job on the power and authority of our callings. My companion is incredible and her knowledge and testimony of the gospel continue to amaze me each and everyday. It was funny because I spent at least an hour or more preparing for my part and I saw her prepare for maybe 20 minutes yet she did incredible! I love discovering how different people work and their strengths. I was asked to speak and teach about the High Standards of Obedience. Although at first I wasn’t excited to teach, afterwards I felt so grateful because you learn SO much when you have to study, prepare and then teach. I was nervous because I didn’t know exactly what to share because the topic was so broad and I could do anything I wanted but it ended up going really well, or at least I hope so. I talked a lot about the mission rules but more importantly I talked about forming habits of obedience now that will bless our lives. I asked Sister Mbele to share how obedience has blessed her because she only has a couple weeks left of her mission. From her testimony I decided that I wanted to be exactly obedient in all things. She said that it is easy to get discouraged about a lot of things on mission, but if you are obedient then you can always feel the assurance of the Spirit and Heavenly Father and you will have no regrets. I also feel that obedience is very personal and I hope that I will stay true to my own personal standards and not let anyone influence me to change my ways. I shared this scripture that I love….it is found in 2 Tim 4:7 I want to be obedient so at the end of mission I can say these same words “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” Obedience brings blessings and through obedience we can find joy in this life and in the life to come! Tuesday we had all our appointments fall through so we went finding or tracting. We met a lot of interesting people and this one lady slammed the door in our face after saying she was Catholic and we had nothing that could help her. Another lady told us to go and read John chapter 3 and then go and be born again before shutting the door. It was funny because usually people just let us in but Sister Motsi and I just laughed it off and kept on knocking. Sister Motsi is such a champ and never gets discouraged. I love her! The problem with Zambia is that everyone goes to church. That sounds weird I know but the other day Sister Motsi said, “ Ok lets go contact every single person that we see smoking. I am tired of all these good people who go to church. I want to teach someone who really changes from a bad to a good person.” This made me laugh but it is so true!!! Everyone seriously goes to church and is very devote in their faith so we are having to be more creative and even more in tune with the Spirit so that they can see and feel that we have something that is different and can change their lives. I am grateful that this work isn’t easy and that our patience and faith is being tried. Everyday we go through what sister Stephens called in her last general conference talk “stretching opportunities” and they are making us stronger and building our faith. Being a missionary is the best!
Wednesday: We were blessed to have a member say she could come teach with us but she was late and doesn’t have a phone so we ended up waiting an hour and a half for her which was frustrating but a good test of our patience. I am so grateful that we waited though because we had a great lesson with someone we contacted last week, Brother Mwansa. The rest of the day was finding again. That day I learned that we may not be baptizing, or even establishing progressing investigators but we are planting seeds. We are doing what the Lord has asked of us and that is all that matters. Sister Andria said,” for every 100 people you contact, you get 1 investigator. But if you contact 0 you get 0. And those 100 contacts are WORTH that 1 investigator.” It is easy to get disappointed if you look for numbers for success. I am grateful for the joy that I felt on Wednesday even by just bearing a short testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ and His gospel at people’s doorsteps. We were able to teach this hilarious lady named Pauline who kept telling us we needed to go teach her daughter. A lot of people want us to teach their family and tell us how much our church will help their children but they don’t want it for themselves. We have been trying to be more bold though and we ended up inviting Pauline to be baptized when she comes to know that this is the true church and that the priesthood has been restored again through a prophet. She accepted and so hopefully we can continue to meet with her and help her progress. She is super happy and said we are welcome to come over any day! Her birthday was on Saturday so we made her peanut butter cookies.
Thursday: This is the day we do weekly planning which is long and hard but we were guided by the Spirit even more than we ever have in previous weeks. I am grateful that as we prayed for inspiration, we were able to make plans that we felt were what Heavenly Father wanted for his children here in Ndola. We couldn’t plan for a lot since we will be in Lusaka until Thursday but it was amazing to felt so guided. We also came to a couple roadblocks when we were planning what certain investigators needed and so we would stop and pray. Immediate answers to prayers came. I wish you could have been there but I don’t think I have ever received an answer that fast. Ok I actually probably have but that was still really cool. We went and taught Lily, a less active who stays in Pamodzi, she is the rapper. We read with her the talk “ The music of the gospel” or whatever it is called and she loved it! We left with her the next talk which is “Latter-day Saints keep on trying” and then on Sunday in Relief Society she quoted something from that talk. It was incredible to see that someone actually kept a commitment we left with them and to see Lily progress and feel that joy again that comes from the gospel. She even brought friends the past two weeks to church! That afternoon we had to stop by a tailor that Sister Motsi left her skirt with and I had my first Bible bashing experience. It was awful!!! He was just going from verse to verse to try to show me that Heavenly Father, Christ, and the Holy Ghost are one. I just kept silence but not going to lie, I was kinda angry inside. I was so happy when we left the shop but we didn’t leave quick enough for him to tell me,” now go preach to people what I have taught you.” Haha we ended up just walking away laughing but man that was an experience! My greatest success of the day was getting a man to sell me some clothespins down from 15 kwacha to 5 kwacha!!! Sister Motsi was so surprised and so was I!!! Oh also we got to sit in the front seat of the bus which has been my dream since seeing the buses!!! It was such a good day.
Friday: The blessing of the day was when I realized I was saying things from Preach My Gospel that I have been studying but have never said before. I learned how important our study is and that the promise is real. If we study by the Spirit, the Spirit will give us in the very hour what to say. We met with Duane who we have been teaching since I have been here but he isn’t progressing. He said he knows the church is true but then he says he doesn’t want to get baptized or go to church so he is a little tricky but we have been bring a member to teach with us, Brother Tolle  (He is super amazing and is Elders Quorum president and served his mission in south Africa) and I think it has been helping. Sister Motsi and I have been praying how to teach him better though so that we may help him progress. It is crazy how you can prepare a lesson, teach it well, bear powerful testimony, yet they still don’t understand or accept. I am grateful for the challenge though and hope that as we continue trying that his heart may be softened. I can’t remember much about this day but I am sure it was wonderful!

Saturday: Another great day full of contacting!! We almost got bit by a HUGE dog, we got asked, “What?? Do you think you know more than Catholics?”, the only person who let us into their home was a Hindu woman, we contacted three Muslims, gave cookies to a Pentecostal, and bought ice cream for a Buddhist. I have loved being able to meet so many people from different walks of life! I have learned so many things and am grateful for this opportunity. My favorite thing was buying ice cream for Dorien. We contacted Dorien and although she said she was not interested in our message at all ended up talking to us for half an hour and kept saying how much she admired us young people. When we went to recontact her she said she wasn’t feeling well because she had a tooth removed. Of course my first thought was ice cream so we offered to go buy her ice cream and surprisingly she said yes. So we went to the store and got some for her and Sister Motsi was so confused because she said she thought that would make it worse. Don’t worry…I reassured her that ice cream fixes everything. It was really cool though to serve someone with such different beliefs than us and to have the chance to show her that we truly care about her. We don’t do the things we do so we can teach her, baptize her and add numbers to our church. We are there because we know she is a daughter of God and that as witnesses of Christ, we are to share his light and love with everyone. We didn’t even get a chance to bear a testimony but I know that actions are louder than words. I am grateful we could serve someone and for the happiness we enjoyed from that small act of service. There are so many opportunities we have each day to be examples of Christ. They sometimes aren’t obvious and may take time or energy but if we strive harder to open our eyes and be more aware of the promptings of the Spirits, we will be blessed beyond imagine.
Sunday: My favorite day of every week! We went to the Mwiinga’s before church so we could walk with them but Brother Mwiinga and Sister Mwiinga and Peter and Natasha didn’t want to come. Selina came though with her neighbor Justin who we have been teaching. They both are 14 and tease each other like crazy and are so silly. They brighten my day! President Erickson was at our branch and he gave an amazing talk about how we need to strengthen our families so we can strengthen the church. And by going to church and strengthening the church we can strengthen our family. It’s a win win situation. As he talked for some reason he reminded me of Dad and I felt like it was Dad talking right to me. President Erickson started talking to us four missionaries directly saying how much he loved us and how proud he was of us and I just felt so much gratitude and love for him but especially for my own Father. I am so grateful for all the priesthood holders in my life and the example they are to me! In Sunday school we sang How firm a foundation and everyone was singing with so much enthusiasm it was great!! I thought of mom and how much she loves the words to that hymn. We visited Francis that night with two members from the branch who are both RMs. It was so great to have them because I could tell they were excellent missionaries and have such strong testimonies. It was fun to see them back in their element and I could tell they were just loving what they were doing. We gave Francis a Book of Mormon last time and although he still doesn’t know it is true he said he wants to continue learning. HE HAS A DESIRE!!! And we know that is all that we need. That even as we exercise a particle of faith, miracles happen. We were all able to bear powerful testimony of how the gospel has blessed our own individual lives.

I am so grateful to be a missionary and I love love love bearing testimony everyday. I know that Christ lives. I know that through Him we can find peace and happiness not only now, but for eternity. I know that families can be together forever. I know that we have a Prophet here on earth, Thomas S. Monson and he has been called of God. I know that heavenly Father loves me and all His children and will help us every time we ask. He hears our prayers and answers us. I love this gospel and I love this work!!!!!! I LOVE YOU ALL!!!!!!!!