Monday, January 11, 2016

Sometimes you get lost and end up at the Congo border......

Today marks my 7 month mark as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and it truly has been the most happiest, most challenging, most exhausting, most rewarding, most best 7 months of my life!!! This past week I closed a lesson like every other lesson we teach by saying, "I know that all we have taught is true and we share everything in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen". By now I have said that sooooo many times but as I said it this time, I truly felt the power of our calling as missionaries and that we truly are His representatives. I am sooooooooooo happy that I still have 11 more months to keep sharing His gospel and trying my best to bless the lives here in Zambia!

 7 months plus 11 months!
= 18 months!

Tuesday: We saw the Sambe’s again and read from Alma 34 together. During the lesson I felt the strongest impression to promise them that if they prayed that night, they would receive the answer that they are searching for. I have never felt so strongly that I should give such a specific and direct promise. I even hesitated for one second but it that quick moment, I felt the prompting again so I continued forward. I hope that they will act upon the invitation but I am so grateful for how many opportunities I have had lately that have taught me how to recognize and act upon the promptings of the Holy Ghost. Every week, if we partake of the sacrament worthily, then we are able to have the Spirit with us at all times. This blessing has become so important in my work recently and one that I have really cherished. We had a lesson not go so well but then later that day, an investigator asked us if we ever made mistakes. Hahah of course I could have given him a million examples of how I have messed up but it was really interesting how we were able to share how earlier that day we didn’t follow the Spirit during a lesson and acted more upon our own knowledge that from the Lord. I know that everything happens for a reason and today I learned that I need to accept my mistakes and weaknesses and see them as positive catalysts to my spiritual development.

Wednesday: I was privileged to go on exchanges with Sister Nkosi which was really really great because even though we stay in the same flat, it was an opportunity for me to get to build a stronger relationship with her. We usually get home between 7 or 8 and then by the time we close the day, plan for the next day, write in our area book, cook dinner, and do anything else we need….we hardly get to be with the other sisters!! I wish I had more time with each of them but that is the blessing of exchanges!!! It was also one of the least stressful and comfortable exchanges I have been on and Sister Nkosi is an incredible missionary! We saw Greg, who we haven’t been able to see in about 3 weeks and it was the best lesson that I have had in forever!!! I can’t really describe it and I wish that you all could feel what we felt during that lesson but I guess I can try. He started telling us things that he is struggling with right now and he is in a pretty awful family situation. He doesn’t really know where to go or what to do. We had planned to reteach lesson 1 and I didn’t know if that is what he needed. But after the opening prayer, I felt good about moving forward with that plan. It was incredible how we were able to relate the Restoration to him and especially what Josphe smith went through. We focused a lot of prayer and faith. We testified of how the challenges we face allow us to come unto Christ and that through His gospel, we can be more than just helped but find lasting peace, purpose and joy! I even cried as I thought of Greg and what he is facing now. I thought of my own trials and then multiplied them by 10 to try to feel that true charity towards Greg. The Spirit was ever strong during that entire lesson and Greg shared a lot of his thoughts and desires. As he shared, he said how he feels us teaching him is part of God’s plan and is exactly what he is searching for. At one point he started crying and man….its lesson’s like these that make everything worth it. Its moments like these that I am beyond grateful to be a missionary. It’s moments like these that build my testimony and want me to have greater faith in the Savior and His Atonement. I realized how much he needs the enabling power of the Atonemnt and the reassurance and hope that the plan of salvation brings. My heart aches for this 18 year old boy but my faith in the gospel has grown as I reflected on how I personally have been strengthend during difficult times. Also it was a miracle we found Mercy in town so that we could have a female to teach with us. Heavenly Father has great plans and knows how much Greg needs the gospel. We saw Selina and Sister Nkosi asked her to share with her why she joined the church. It was the sweetest! I think I need to have her write it down and then send it to you! I want to read it to my own children someday. She is a rockstar. At the end of every exchange we talk about what occurred that day and what we both learned from each other. Sister Nkosi shared with me my strengths and I felt so uplifted and encouraged. I know that a lot of the things she said are probably not true and but the words she shared with me really helped me that day. This calling continues to bless me WAY more than I will ever be able to bless the other sisters in the zone.

Thursday: We drove to Kitwe early in the morning (on the drive over I told Sister Zohner that it felt like the drive to mountain home…I love how she actually knew what I was talking about #idahocompanionsarethebest). We had mission leadership council over the web and we had to present about the doctrine of the restoration and I was so nervous!!! It was kinda weird having to talk and bear testimony into a computer but it was a great learning experience for the two of us and especially for me as I realized how much more I need to study the Restoration. Sometimes I forget to focus on the simple doctrines of the missionary lessons because I feel like I have studied them over and over and over but the more we study, the more we learn, the stronger our testimony becomes, and the greater spiritual power we will be able to have while teaching. After MLC we headed back to Ndola and stopped to by chips (fries) from our favorite chip lady Dorothy!! We love her chips and we can get a lot for 5 kwacha so ended up going there a lot this past week. We are so busy that we hardly have time for lunch so its an easy and quick stop…I’ll try and take a picture of it this week but its so fun to build relationships with people like Dorothy and the other guy that we always buy cokes from. Oh also, Sister Zohner has made me like cokes and I also think its in my blood from Grandma Anderson. But anyways when you come visit, we will for sure go to Dorothy and buy chips…they are delicious!!! Gibson, a 16 year old boy who was baptized in May, gave a super powerful testimony as we taught him and his friends. We asked him to explain to his friends why he joined the church and he told us how the missionaries asked him to read the book of mormon but he couldn’t understand it. Then he prayed and tried again and could understand! Hearing him say this touched my heart and gave me such a a great hope for so many of our investigators now and in the future  who struggle with reading the Book of Mormon. Gibson has gone up to grade 8 but doesn’t have money to keep gaining an education yet reads the Book of Mormon almost perfectly. His story is so similar to that of Joseph Smith and once again reminded me of the truth of the Restoration.

Friday: We got a phone call in the morning asking us to check up on the Kitwe sisters. Sister Owusu-Afriyie (my companion from the MTC) has been sick so we ended up driving there that night to make sure she was doing ok. That day we had a really unproductive day and ending up what felt like driving around in circles. Plus our trunk wouldn’t stay shut so we worked on it for awhile and then tried taking it to a branch member to fix it. Anyways as we drove to Kitwe I felt discouraged about the day but then was reminded by Sister Zohner that what Heavenly Father needed us to focus on was our sister. We may not have had a “successful day” with what we often associate missionary work with but we were still able to bless and support and love one of God’s children. We bought the sisters dinner and we stopped at this candy store and that is when we found the Dr. Peppers!! You should have seen how excited we were!!! I love moments like that! Anyways I was worried and nervous with how to help Sister owusu and felt really inadequate and even asked Sister Zohner to say a prayer before we walked in. I have a testimony that prayer works because conversation flowed so smoothly and I never once worried about what to say to her. I think our visit lifted her spirits and let her know how much we really do love and care for her. She is so dear to me and its hard to see her struggling but she is strong and has such a zeal for missionary work like I have never seen. I know before long she will be right back at it again! We got home right before 10:30 and I was exhausted but at peace to be in the service of this sister and ultimately my Savior. Mission is challenging in so many different ways and I can’t imagine what Sister Owusu is going through but I am grateful for what I have experienced and what I will continue to experience in life, the ups and the downs.

Saturday: We had a lot of lessons with investigators opening up about their concerns and needs and it was sort of overwhelming. I actually have felt a big burden on my shoulders again as those we are teaching are struggling to see the blessings of the gospel or because of their agency, are choosing not to accept and keep the commitments that we extend. I know that every missionary goes through this but this week it really pressed down on my mind. But what a wonderful thing to be worried over! And I know that every worry, every question, can be answered and solved and made better through the gospel. Its challenging though to fulfill this responsibility as missionaries but I grew in love for all those young men and women serving around the world. Brother Mupundu shared about how his wife is really hesitant with the gospel and so I shared with him about Grandma and Grandpa Bingham and how through the influence of Grandma, Grandpa being reactive and their family was sealed in the temple. There was a special spirit in that home and I know that we receive help in times of need from those on the other side of the veil. We all can feel their strength as well. We saw the Nonde family and brought the Book of Mormon stories for the little girls to read. We had Brother Nonde read from one chapter to his daughters because they only know Bemba and it was really precious. I couldn’t help but think of all my memories of Dad and all the time he spent reading with us, playing with us, taking us hunting, fishing, camping, backpacking, cross country skiing, canoeing, boating, wrestling us, making us Spam and chocolate pudding, and everything else! We have the best Dad and I love him so much! I don’t think I would be here today without you!!! Love you so much!!! The next adventure of the day happened when we tried to go visit a member of the branch who stays in our farthest area, Kaniki. I have been there twice but somehow I missed the turn and all the sudden there were police on the road and a big sign that said, “Customs border” or something. We called Martha and turned around and made it to her house. Apparently we had made it to the Congo border…hahaha.

Sunday: I say this all the time but we have seen so many miracles and blessings here in Ndola!!! Sister Nonde finally came to church with her husband!!! I am so grateful that I have been able to stay here for so long because I have seen a lot of the fruits of our labor. It made me think of many missionaries who get discouraged but really just aren’t around to see the blessings.  Justin’s baptism was so great! Sister Zohner and I gave some last minute talks and then the best part of the day…while we were taking pictures, in comes Justin’s parents!! They weren’t going to come but then felt like they should. It made the service so much more special! After they got in the font, Brother Nzima was talking to Justin, probably explaining how he would baptize him but it was silent for about 30 seconds. I was overwhelmed in this short period of time by a strong sense of peace as I reflected on this wonderful covenant and ordinance Justin was about to participate in. Baptisms are something that brings me so much joy and the more I have witnessed, the stronger my testimony of the priesthood and ordinance has become.

 Justin's family

 the gang!
 My two favorite!

Monday: We woke up at 5 and watched the sunrise from the top of Dola hill. It was really beautiful and really great to ponder on the past 7 months I have had here in Ndola. I love this city and I love all the creations of Heavenly Father but especially the sky. I thought lots about Mom and wished she could have been there with me and made some spiritual analogies with the light and the Savior, Jesus Christ. 
Sunrise from Dola Hill

 top of ndola this crazy companion of mine!
 planking in honor of Josh
 can't leave the top of a mountain without a jumping picture
 the hike down

We headed home and then we went to the National Futbol stadium that they have here and got a tour of it for 10 kwacha (pretty much 1 dollar) and it was sooooooooooo cool!!! They let us go on the “pitch” and everything!!! I am worried though because we are slowly running out of fun things to do on p-day….we are going to have to get creative. We have tried going to the river to ask the locals to let us fish but they haven’t been there the past 3 weeks…one day.
Ndola stadium
 View from the presidents seat!! 

 Put us in coach!
  Don't mind the garments but check out Sister Zohner's photography skills!!!

 View from the presidents seat!!

Well family I love you all so much! Thank you soooooooooo much for all the birthday wishes! I have felt so much love today and I am so grateful for how you have helped me here on mission!! You are the best and I love being a missionary!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sister Bingham

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