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