Monday, December 28, 2015

Happy New Year!!!

cute kids in kawama

I LOVED TALKING TO AND SEEING EACH OF YOU SO MUCH!!!! Really...that was the greatest Christmas present! It was sooo good to see the nieces and nephews, they are the cutest and have changed sooooooooo much!! Of course I wish we could have talked longer and it made me miss you all but Skyping also made me realize how much I LOVE being a missionary and how many incredible things I have been able to experience. So many times this past week I would look at Sister Zohner and say, “how did we ever get so lucky to serve not only missions, but be missionaries in Zambia Africa??” I have felt so grateful this holiday season as I have pondered over all the blessings I have. You are definitely in the top 10! Also fun fact...Sister Zohner, Sister Thueson, and I are the only white sister missionaries in Africa (not including Madagascar). Isn’t that crazy?!?! When we found this out I was determined to never take any of my time here for granted but to truly live every moment to the fullest and work my hardest. Anyways, I love it here and I miss you all a lot but I am so happy being a missionary in Ndola.
This past week was really busy and we had so much to do!! Tuesday we had to run errands with trying to finish up the car getting fixed and then we went to visit some investigators that we haven’t seen in a long time because the husband has been sick. Well we walk to their house and there is a big canopy outside so that means there is a funeral. I am so shocked as I realized that the husband had passed away. We hadn’t taught them much but we have spent a lot of hours in their home doing service, washing dishes and clothes. I had grown a love for the wife and mother and discovering this news was a lot harder than I thought. We went to pay our regards and let them know that we were available to help in anyway. We then shared a short testimony of the Plan of Salvation and upon leaving the house, I was so grateful for the knowledge that we have that we will all live again and we can be reunited as a family! Death is not the end but only part of Heavenly Father’s plan that takes us one step closer to finally obtaining everlasting joy! Later that night we saw Barton Zulu and taught him about the temple and family history. The experience from earlier that day made the lesson so much more powerful as we taught Barton one of the greatest blessings of the restored gospel. He understood well but then his concern and issue that we have been dealing with from the beginning came up again about the struggle he is having leaving the Anglican Church. He has such strong ties there and it is difficult to leave. As he shared with us his concern, I had one of the strongest impressions I have ever received while teaching to “Be Bold.” I didn’t know what to say to Barton and I didn’t want to offend him so I didn’t say anything at first. Once again the words, “Be Bold” came to my mind again. Without knowing exactly what I was going to say, I was amazed to find the words perfectly flowing and filled with the Spirit as I testified of the truthfulness of the restored gospel  and how Barton could be a great example to his friends and family by deciding to follow the Savior, be baptized, and become a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. When I finished speaking Barton, all dramatic, turns his shoulder and squints his eyes and says, “ Bingham! Why are you speaking to me in this manner?” I had the weirdest mix of emotions as I felt the spirit so strong yet wanted to laugh at the same time.....anyways Barton is slowly progressing but he is growing! His problems with the Word of Wisdom are getting better as we continue to call and check in on him everyday. Sometimes I feel it is a waste to put so much energy and time into Barton but that night I was able to look past his imperfections, past his hilarious mannerisms, and I saw the son of God that he is. I saw how much Heavenly Father loves and cares for him and even his ancestors that we talked about in the lesson. We must never give up on anyone. Hope and faith are so critical in missionary work and I am continuing each day to learn how to increase my hope and faith in His children as well as the redeeming love and healing of the Savior. It still amazes me how we go to people’s homes to teach them yet I also learn something!
                Wednesday we went on exchanges with the sisters in Kitwe. They are struggling with finding investigators so Sister Zohner and I split their area and tried to help build up their investigator pool. Sister Moyo and I ended up contacting a lot of former investigators which was really awesome to meet with people who had been taught or met the missionaries a long time ago but through different reasons lost contact. I know that not all of those that we saw will become progressing investigators but it will be a great start for the sisters. They have a really hard area but being on exchanges with them made me learn a lot of things. Sometimes we don’t know what to do or where to go in life, but we must act. We must have faith and with the small amount of faith that we have, take a step forward and trust that the Lord will direct us. I know that if we are diligent and work hard, no matter the circumstances, blessings and miracles will come. Maybe Heavenly Father needs us to learn something else such as patience or charity. Anyways it was another blessing for me to have the opportunity to serve alongside another amazing sister and learn from her. Before the exchange, I had a lot of feelings of inadequacy and doubt. Sister Zohner kept reminding me how I have been a STL much longer than her yet I felt like I didn’t even know what I was doing. She encouraged me though and reminded me of my potential. I am really grateful for her support and advice as well. She really is such a blessing in my life!
Thursday we had a kind of crazy day in Pamodzi/Chifubu because for the first time, a lot of people weren’t home. We saw Aaron Mupundu and his daughter Mercy and they are the greatest! Both of them accepted the invitation to be baptized and I have been so influenced by their humility to learn the gospel. He had some questions about eating pork since we were teaching the Word of Wisdom and we encouraged him to pray and to gain a testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith because this was revelation from God through him. We testified of Joseph Smith and President Monson and shared that they are called of God and are given to us so that we may receive blessings. It’s interesting how every little concern or question someone all leads back to the basics of the gospel. It reminded me once again how we need to have a strong foundation of the principles and if we build our testimony on these things, we need never worry, all will be well. We visited a less active and her husband that afternoon and shared a Christmas message. The husband told us he refuses to celebrate Christmas because too many other people make poor decisions on this day and focus on presents and drinking and going out instead of the Savior. Sister Zohner and I discussed this after the lesson and were so sad that he choose to allow other people’s decisions affect his own happiness and celebrations. Christmas is such a special time of year and yes there are aspects of it that are fun and maybe not very spiritual but as individuals we can make it meaningful and it is our own personal decisions that allow us to be happy and grateful.  That evening we went to visit Brother Nzima is the hospital because he has malaria. We got there and Violet, Sister Ganesh, and the Kapato family were all there. We were all talking and laughing  and then we asked if we could sing a couple Christmas hymns. We sang Joy to the World and then asked if Sister Z and I could share a message. We shared from Luke 2 and then concluded with D&C 76:22 and each bore our testimonies the Jesus Christ lives and is the Savior of the world.  We finished by singing Silent Night and I couldn’t stop the tears as I looked around the hospital room full of beds and sick people, and then looked at so many people that I have grown so close to and love so much. It was Christmas eve, I was far from my family and home, yet I felt like I was home and with my family. I love each one of the people that were there and have learned something from each one of them. I love that I get to be a missionary and that I get to share a message of hope and love to a world that lacks such. I love that I get to be a representative of the little babe born in Bethlehem who was the Son of God and is God’s greatest gift to us. I was so touched that evening to be there and to realize how many blessings I have had just these past 6 months and my thoughts turned to how much more I will experience in the next year! Anyways it was one of my most favorite Christmas moments. As we were leaving the hospital we ran into a contact we had met on the street a couple days earlier. He is a super funny guy and ran to give Sister Zohner a hug! She tried to avoid it but he was just too quick. I was laughing so hard but then he turns to me and I just kept backing up with my hand out hoping he would just shake my hand but nope! He just kept on coming! It made me laugh so hard and then this just have to meet him, but I lost it and couldn’t stop laughing. The way he talks and the things he says...I tried so hard to pull myself together but I couldn’t and I felt bad because everyone in the hospital was staring at me and Cornelious (the man) kept saying, “ Bingham! Stop making me laugh! What is so funny? Bingham you are making me laugh! Bingham you are making my day!” hahahah he is quite the character and it was sooooo funny!

CHRISTMAS!!!!! We woke up early and headed to the children's hospital...probably the saddest thing in the whole world as the halls were filled with sick little kids and their mothers. We went to see Aaron Mupundu’s daughter and wife. She is 2 years old and something is wrong with her tonsils...we aren’t totally sure because the wife doesn’t speak very much English. It was kinda awkward as we tried to speak to her and cheer her up but Gloria, the daughter, did not like us and kept on crying. We gave them some oranges and pictures of the Savior’s birth but although it was really sad, I loved being able to start out Christmas that way, bringing what joy and light that we could to this family and others in the hospital. We saw Selina Mwiinga first and helped her decorate her house with pink toilet paper! She wanted us to stay the whole day and celebrate but we had a great Christmas lesson and then had to be on our way. We went to the Nonde family next, expecting just to share a message and then leave. But they wanted to have lunch with us so we helped them prepare. The meal was so simple, rice, potatoes, chicken, and cabbage, but I know that it was FAR more than this family could afford. It was so humbling to see the sacrifices of this family and we were so grateful that they would share with us. It was incredible though to see how excited and happy the children were and we had a lot of fun playing with the girls. The parents kept saying that we are their daughters and I really did feel a part of their family. At one point we sang Christmas hymns and I could feel that special Christmas Spirit as we were gathered together in honor of the Saviour. We rushed to visit Sister Chalwe and her kids and left them some muffins before we hurried over to the Simanwe’s. They wanted to feed both sets of sisters and the elders but with skyping it wasn’t going to work out. We shared a Christmas message and I wish you all could have been there to hear their testimonies!! They are an incredible family and as I sat there in their home, I realized that I have been here 6 months and I had a feeling that in the next transfer or so I will be leaving. I was overwhelmed by emotion that I would be leaving this family that I have come to love so much and also by how much they have grown in the gospel and that I wouldn’t be there to continue to see them and teach them and learn from them. All the sudden I never wanted to leave Ndola, and I realized how hard it is going to be to say goodbye. I also realized how much I love being a missionary and that someday it will be over.  I know i still have  a year but still ONE YEAR!! But we were able to eat with them and it was as good as always and they were sooooooooo excited when I had them call mom! You should have seen them. After that we went to the church and I saw each of you! BEST THING EVER!! I honestly think this was the greatest Christmas I have ever experienced. We were so busy and were able to visit so many different families and I have never before felt so close to the Savior on this day as we were blessed to testify of Him and His life. At each home we committed each person to decide on one gift that they could give to the Savior this next year. We wanted to help them “give back” but then I realized that we never can truly “give back” or “repay” for what Jesus Christ has done for us. No matter what, He continues to bless and help us. But with that said, I want to change and do my best to show my gratitude for Him by sharing his gospel with everyone. I know that as I do this, I will only learn and grow more so I guess that means I am going to have to keep on serving missions when I get older!!!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY JACOB!!! Saturday was super busy as always and we ended up going to Pamodzi again to visit some people we really needed to. It started to rain super hard though and so we were worried about driving down the roads that we need to because it was practically a river so we parked the car and ran into this tiny shop. We waited for about 15 minutes for the rains to stop and we started talking to the women in the shop. They were asking about our families so I pulled out the picture of our family. She couldn’t believe that a Mozungu would have such a big family and couldn’t stop saying how great mom looked for having 7 children...yep, Mom you are pretty amazing! We taught Cletus and he is set for baptism this next Saturday! We talked about his baptism and he shared with us some experiences that he has had that he has realized are blessings because he has chosen the be baptized. We are really excited for him and humbled by his decision.
Church was awesome! Dad I actually counted everyone there and there were 41 in sacrament meeting. Peter, a father we have taught once came to church and he loved it! The members welcomed him and befriended him so when he was leaving he looked so happy and told us that it was a very powerful service and he can’t wait to get a copy of the Book of Mormon when we were coming to see him that night. Relief Society was super great and remember how I used to not want to go because I thought it was for old women? Well know i finally realize how wonderful it is! that afternoon we went to see an investigator. We visited her once and she kept saying how she knew the Book of Mormon was true. Well....when we went there yesterday she started out the lesson sooooooo good and then out of know where dropped us. She rejected everything and gave us back the Book of Mormon. It was so interesting though at how this experience made my testimony of the gospel and especially the Book of Mormon so much stronger! I also felt a great connection to the Savior as I thought of the many times that I have sinned or not followed his will and how he must have felt. My heart was filled with so much sorrow as this woman turned us away and I just wanted to tell her how much she was missing out on! Anyways she gave us back the Book of Mormon and as my comp and I walked back to the car in silence all the sudden I realized the miracle! She had given us back the Book of Mormon and we had an appointment that night with a man who we had promised a Book of Mormon but we were out of them!! We ended up having an amazing lesson with that man, Peter, and he already loves the Book of Mormon. On mission I have come to find that there are tender mercies of the Lord all around us but if we don't look for them, we may miss them. It is so easy to focus on the negative and become discouraged but if we choose to be happy and look for the Hand of the Lord, we will begin to see that Heavenly Father is raining blessings down upon us all the time!
I love being a missionary so much! Can't wait for the new year and the chance we have to set goals to become better and serve more. I love you all!!!!
Sister Bingham

 cooking nashima at Mercy's!

 sandal club

The Chalwe Family!

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