Monday, January 25, 2016

The Warm Heart of Africa

Too many cute kids!!!!

MALAWI IS BEAUTIFUL!!! I haven't even been here for a week yet but I already love this area so much! The first couple of days was a lot of change and trying to figure everything out and missing Ndola but life is so so good. Malawi is way more different from Zambia than I was expecting but this week has made me so grateful that I was called to this mission and for everything that I get to experience. I have also had soooooooooo many moments where I just stop and thank Heavenly Father for sending me here. He truly knows us each individually and sends missionaries where they are not only needed, but where He knows we will be happy. Let me just give you a couple examples of why this mission is perfect for me. #1-I GET TO DRIVE A TRUCK!! #2-I can wear chacos everyday #3-Its so hot that no one even notices when I have killer sweat stains...

Ok but for reals I have seen so many blessings this week that have once again confirmed to me that I was sent here for a purpose. That not only are my strengths needed but also my weaknesses. There are so many lessons that I learned this week and I have really grown a lot closer to the Savior as I have faced new challenges. Mom sent me a Christmas advent thing and I just got it but it was the most perfect timing!! With the change and all that occurs with transfers, I have found comfort in the Atonement and feel that my testimony and reliance on it needs to be strengthened. The pictures and scriptures you sent are exactly what I need! I also read this talk called, "Becoming a consecrated missionary" by Tad R. Callister. If you have time go read it....even though it is for missionaries it is amazing! I feel that I was transferred to this new area because I need to step up my work. I need to learn more and develop myself into the person Heavenly Father sees in me. I am sooo grateful for the challenging times that I have faced in the past that have been a source of peace and hope during the harder things I am facing now. I guess I really understand now that trials are blessings in disguise.

So like I said Malawi is WAY different from Zambia. Its so green! and cleaner! Our flat is insanely nice! 

our flat

WE HAVE A WASHER AND DRYER!!!! Hallelujah! We drive a diesel truck but we need it cause all the roads in our area are dirt roads and of course I love driving them! The don't have mini buses quite like they do in Zambia and instead they have Kabazas which are bikes with seats on the back.
I WANT TO RIDE ONE SO BAD!!! Sister Ratema is absolutely terrified but agreed to try them at least once. They are everywhere though and there is no shoulders on the roads so it is kinda scary but i love seeing them and realizing how hard the drivers work! they are my heroes! My companion is Sister Ratema from Johannesburg, South Africa. We are probably the too most opposite people in the world but I absolutely love her! She is a powerful missionary and works really hard. She loves the people and the Lord and missionary work. She is SUPER good at picking up the language so hopefully someday I can be as good as her. Her first name is Molebegang (the gang part you pretty much just hock a loogie...sorta like Vanderploeg). 
I feel like a giant everyday!

We live with Sister Mukaye and Sister Brown who are also super awesome! Sister Mukaye moved into Sister Motsi's ward after Sister Motsi left on mission but they are friends. Oh and a boy from their ward is serving in Taylor's mission so small world!! What else...oh 90% of the people we teach don't speak any English! We have to always bring a member with us to translate and that was a little bit strange to get used to teaching like that. I am still trying to figure it out because I feel like I can't totally connect with the people due to the language barrier and since I am new here. But it has taught me a lot! We have been blessed to have some young single adults come teach with us to translate and it has made me grow in my testimony of the Savior. No matter how great our knowledge and faith in the gospel is, we cannot teach people without an interpreter. There are things in our life that no matter how hard we try, we will come up short. We need not just the redeeming power of the Atonement but the enabling power. I am so grateful for how the Savior has made up for my weaknesses as I have strived to do my best yet still come up short. I am so grateful for the members here that sacrifice so much to help us in our work. Since the people don't speak English, we can't really just go and teach so we have to be really good at planning. The language is sort of like Bemba but not really. I have picked it up a lot faster though because I learned Bemba. I pretty much just know how to greet people, figure out if someone is home, ask how much money, and thats about it. You greet children and young adults by giving them a thumbs up and saying "Bho bho!" its pretty much like whats up.

Too many cute kids!!!!
I am learning bit by bit though and it's really fun to communicate with the people and try to learn more about the culture.oh The flight over was good! We went on the smallest plane and there were 8 of us missionaries and then 6 other people. I tried taking a picture but they got mad at me. My first night in the apartment was kinda overwhelming and I didn't realize how much I was used to Ndola but the very next day, in our first lesson, as soon as we started teaching, I felt right at home again. It felt so good to be teaching again and I know I have said this a million times before but I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY and sharing with others what brings me so much happiness. We met lots of great people and I am excited to build relationships with them. I feel like a newbie again but i am trying to just love with all my heart as much as I loved my old area. It's hard for me to not get frustrated and compare myself and this area to what I left behind but at the same time it is really driving me to improve and work hard.
 First Day in Malawi with our interperters!

Friday was a lot of lessons and this area is helping me to perfect my teaching as we really have to choose our words carefully. For the first couple of days I felt like I was focusing too hard on being simple and worrying about the translation but I learned by the end of the week that what is most important is listening to and following the Spirit. As much as I need to value my words and be careful, I cannot forget to be guided by the Spirit. Because the people can't understand me, the power of my words and my testimony are the most important so that they can truly FEEL what we are teaching is true. We had a lesson with a member father and his 10 year old son who needs to be baptized. We talked to the dad about setting a date for him to prepare for but the father told us how disobedient and troublesome his son is. The father understands how important the covenant of baptism is so wants his son to be ready. After we closed the prayer, I looked over and the son had tears running down his face. I held back the tears as I looked around and saw this single father, raising two sons, playing double roles as father and mother, living out of a tiny shop where he sells things such as bubblegum and soap, his children are dirty and have ripped clothes, they cook over an open fire and wash clothes in a bucket, they have chickens running around everywhere and the kids were playing with charcoal. They are just trying to do the best they can with what they have. I had a lot of different thoughts and emotions running through my head but I really was so grateful that they have the gospel. Amidst all their struggles, they have one thing to hold onto and that is the peace and joy that comes from the Savior and his teachings and example. I felt so grateful for the blessings that I have and although I don't think I will ever comprehend why I grew up how I did and other people live in different circumstances....I have a new found desire to serve more. "Where much is given, much is required." All my problems and things that I felt were hard this week, all melted away as I spent the rest of the day looking around and counting my many, many blessings. The humble people of Malawi have already changed my life and I cannot wait to see what miracles lie ahead.

Saturday we met with the Elders that serve in the branch with us. Our branch is the Kalambo Branch and the elders are Elder Etiang and Elder Scatena. Elder Etiang served in the Copperbelt so its fun to be reunited! Elder Scatena is from Arizona and has been out about 5 months. The branch is great here! Its bigger than Ndola and has a lot more priesthood holders. It still faces many of the similar challenges but the church is true no matter where you go in the world! That afternoon we went to go see a less active who is 15 years old named Paul. We park the truck and walk a little ways into his house but as soon as we are in sight of his house there are about 20 kids who start screaming and jumping up and down. Turns out that they always join the lessons the sisters have with Paul so we taught Paul with 20 little kids all surrounding us. They are so cute!!! Paul went to fetch water and was hit by a truck....but still came to church!! he is amazing. Mary is the wife to a member here and is going to be baptized next week! I just met her but I still felt this special spirit as we talked about this wonderful decision she has made to be baptized.

Sunday was so great and the spiritual renewal that I needed. They have interpreters for all the talks which was good so I could understand as well as our investigators. After Church we had to run a couple errands but we met the senior couple here, the Birrells and they are awesome! As i was talking to her I thought a lot about Grandma Anderson because she reminds me of her! I just really love our family so much and I am grateful that I still have these moments of homesickness because my family is just that great. We had a member bring his My Family book to church and we entered the information into the computer. It was my first time actually entering the information into the computer and it was the coolest feeling ever! I felt closer to the temple as I entered in the names of his family than I have the entire past 7 months! It was incredible to sit there and be a part of bringing the gospel to his family on the other side of the veil. He is trying to go to the temple this year with the branch so we reserved the names for him to take but I told him that if he can't do them all or if something comes up and he can't go that we could send them to my family. Wouldn't that be so cool?? I really have found a greater love for family history work and even though we focus a lot of missionary work here and now, on this earth, doing temple work is just as important and helps us feeling the Spirit more than anything else. I am so grateful for technology and for the dispensation that we live in where we can do the work of the Lord so much easier! We are so blessed to live here and now at this time. We left the church but we were in quite the pickle...we really needed to go see some investigators that are going to be baptized on February 14, but we didn't have a female or an interpreter to go with us. I feel bad because I don't know the area super well but was trying to think of possibilities. Finally we felt like we should go visit a member who was working with us for the past 3 days but just ask one last time. I have been scared that we are going to wear her out but Sister Ratema taught me that this is the Lord's work. We cannot be ashamed to ask people to work with us because even more than them helping our work go forward, the members themselves will receive blessings as they sacrifice to be with us. Scholar, the 19 year old, agreed to come with us and it was such an answer to prayer! we were able to see both the investigators we needed to and soon they will be baptized! This area is great. The church is still growing but getting stronger and stronger each day. I am humbled to be serving with and around so many faithful saints and missionaries. Challenges come each and every day but I am constantly learning and growing. I love the culture here and the people. I love my companion and I still love ice cream. Most of all I love my family!!! Wishing you the best this week and praying that someday we all will get to come to Zambia and Malawi!!!!

Kondwani (Be Happy!),

Sister Bingham (No one can say my name but they have this gum here called 'Chingum' so I use that to help them pronounce it but then I end up just getting called Sister Chingum! hahaha oh and these kids this week kept calling me China because they think I am

 Bus ride to Lusaka
Of course we'd get a flat tire and wait 2 hours in the middle of nowhere #africanadventures

 Sister Ratema was scared out of her mind. It took me about 10 minutes to convince her to cross the bridge. she had to hold my hand the entire way but she did it!!! #everydayanadventure

brought back so many memories of crossing that bridge over the Payette!

WE made it!

This is what I call the grand canyon...the picture doesn't do it justice.


It is still raining season but this year its super dry which is really really bad for the country. I think it will be hard for the people here.

the internet here isn't as good so my emails might not be as good....I'll try!! 

almost everyday I think...wait am I seriously in Africa right now??? it helps me to get through the hard times when I just think about how sweet this is.

The flight was such an adventure! I love these adventures I am experiencing! its crazy how simple it is to get into this country and how the mission just sends us off by ourselves! 

one more fun fact....1 us dollar equals 712 Malwain kwacha!!!!!

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