Monday, March 7, 2016

Lovin' Blantyre

Well it still hasn't hit me that I am here in Blantyre and staying here for at least the next 6 weeks! But i absolutely love it here so much!!! When the Beals picked us up from the bus late Wednesday night the first thing they said was "Welcome to the Garden of Eden" and they were right. ITS BEAUTIFUL!!! I think that I was sent here just so I could see the beautiful mountains everyday. When we turn down the road that takes us to our area, Ndirande Mountain is right there in front of us and I don't think I could ever get sick of looking at it! 9 Months without seeing mountains has made my love for the great outdoors sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much greater. Its the best. Our area is near the mountains and this is going to sound lame but our area kinda makes me think of those little villages that you see near the Himalayas or the mountains in that part of the world. its really hard to describe and I will try to take more pictures but all the houses are close together and we walk through these tiny paths up, and down hills to get to our appointments. It is just so awesome! Its really green and a little bit cooler here which is nice. We leave in an old senior couples house...yes a house! it has 4 bedrooms and bathrooms!!! its super nice and huge which is actually kinda lonely and it took some getting used to it since it is only me and Sister Kgwetiane living in it. Our area is called Ndirande which means "rob me" in English and I was told has lots of thugs...hahah but it seems pretty safe. Elder Beal told me it is the most populated suburb of Blantyre and has a population of about 100,000. We live in a nicer area but where we teach its pretty humble circumstances. The branch is great! There are about 60 people at sacrament but our meetinghouse is tiny! I think its the smallest I have been in. Anyways here is a quick update about my new area!!!

Monday:After emailing we went to the Lilongwe Wildlife was kinda lame but we saw some monkeys and crocodiles and lions but it was more like a zoo. it was really fun though just walking through the trees in the reserve!! oh and turns out there are only 15 lions left in Malawi and we saw 2 of them so that's pretty cool! 
 Lilongwe wildlife reserve
does the baboon bring back any memories?? hahah i laughed so hard when i saw this!!!

the zone leaders made us these brownies after losing a bet with us. the bet was who could teach the most families in the week

Tuesday: We had lunch at the Chipapals and then a lesson with their niece who is probably going to be baptized soon. anyways as we were closing the lesson I realized how much i had grown to love this family and how much they meant to me. We were teaching Sheena about the gospel of Jesus Christ and I was telling her how somethings we have to do really really hard things but as we trust in our Savior, remember the covenants we made at baptism, listen to the promptings of the Holy Ghost, study our scriptures, listen to the prophet, and pray then we can find joy! It is hard to leave places and go to new places, but that lesson made me realize the importance of enduring to the end and how it is a constant effort on our part but we don't have to do it alone. The Savior is there with us every step of the way. We had a couple other great lessons and we stopped by to see how Brother ABK was doing since he was so sick on Sunday. He is doing a lot better but still was struggling. We told him I was leaving and he said, "If this was a voting matter...I'd vote no. And a STRONG NO! A BIG NO! A POWERFUL NO!! NO PLUS PLUS PLUS PLUS!!" hahaha I will miss that man with all my heart and glad that I was able to meet him and learn from him. 
 Goodbyes at Chipapalas
I asked to take a funny picture and Brother Chipapala said that we should all say "HEY!!!!" hahah hes the greatest

Wednesday: We picked up Sister Newey from the airport which was so awesome!! she is from Ogden and is serving here  in Blantyre with Sister Motsi. Oh yeah another plus of Blantyre...I get to be with Sister Motsi again! Anyways it seems like just yesterday I was the one arriving here on mission...time is flying! She is really great and i loved getting to know her and i am grateful we will get to be together here in Blantyre. We said goodbye to the other was rough saying goodbye to Sister Brown, Sister Ratema, and Sister Mukweya. I really got so close with each of them!! I love the relationships we build as missionaries but then we get separated and who knows if i will get to see some of them after mission. But what a blessing to have spent the time together that we have. It makes me want to cherish my time with each of my companions from now on. The bus ride was LONG...we sat in there very back and it was so cramped but the 2 hours that it was still light were beautiful!! mom...we for sure should do it. 
Ndirande Mountain

Thursday: We had Mission Leadership Council over Skype which as always was inspiring! I love President and Sister Erickson more and more and especially after we gather as missionaries. President Erickson talked about how he looks at each of our pictures during transfers and receives revelation about where to send us. It was a much needed comfort as I kind of felt out of place and alone in the new area. We spent the rest of the day in the area and it really is great. They recently dropped a lot of investigators so we have a lot of work cut out for us trying to find new investigators and there are a TON of less actives but it was a great first day! We have a hilarious investigator named Bell. He is a 63 year old Muslim with his front 4 teeth missing but is a really humble, inspired man. He has a problem with smoking though....he told us he smokes 2 to 3 cigarettes everyday but HE IS NOT ADDICTED! And he knows how to stop and can help anyone stop but then when we asked him to go throw his cigarettes that he had away he wouldn't do it. He was making me laugh but it was also a really sweet lesson to talk about how we can't overcome some things in life on our own. But as we turn to the Savior, and His atonement, we can receive the strength that we need. I am so grateful for the Word of Wisdom as well as the Prophet Joseph Smith who received this revelation. I am grateful for the blessings we receive as we obey this commandment and have been seeing these blessings in the physical demands of missionary work. When we taught brother Bell about the Word of Wisdom, I realized that sometimes I don't recognize what blessings we have been promised. There are so many blessings in store for us, if we only would open our eyes then we would see them! This is what I have learned recently as I have been studying. Its when we learn more of the gospel of Jesus Christ, when we read the words of our prophet, apostles, and leaders then we begin to find so many wonderful promises for us as we are obedient. This gospel is truly amazing. That night my companion was sick so she went to bed early and I tried setting the alarm when I went to bed but I did something wrong and it sent of the alarms and my companion said that the men would be coming and I was freaking out and trying to call them to tell them it was an was so stressful but all was well...they didn't come. hahah it was pretty hilarious though cause my companion was half asleep so she laughed about it in the morning with me.

cute kids playing in the river after a rainstorm

Friday: We had a bunch of fall-throughs but we got to see a lot of members and less actives. My favorite lesson of the day was with a less active named Irene. She is 18 years old and her mom is refusing her to come to church. We read with her from Mosiah 24 and explained how she can be strengthened so that the burdens she is currently facing will become light upon her shoulders. Verses 14 and 15 really hit me hard during that lesson and made me super emotional as I thought of how I have been helped during different struggles both as a missionary and before. I also felt so grateful for my parents who have supported me and encouraged me in everything that I have done. I realized how much we need families and how families need the gospel to make them united and strong. I can't imagine what Irene is going through but I was grateful that in that moment, we were there to represent the one who can help her. I am so grateful for the words that we were inspired to say and the Spirit that we felt as we were able to comfort Irene in a time of great need. I am so grateful for times like these that make missionary work the BEST THING IN THE WHOLE WORLD! That night we had our zone leadership council and we talked about building a legacy here in Blantyre. This seems like a really great zone full of motivated missionaries...another tender mercy that confirmed to me that I was sent here so that I can learn and grow and become better. Oh we had our meeting in the Blantyre chapel...i need to send pictures because it is absolutely beautiful!!!! I didn't realize how much I have missed chapels...

Saturday: It was a super busy day! We tried to have an English class but no one showed up but we experienced a miracle! the lock on the door was jammed and for 30 minutes we sat there trying to open it. Then we decided to say a prayer and 5 minutes later it was open! I am so grateful for the power of prayer! I was kind of discouraged that no one showed up for our class and we had some fall-throughs earlier that day and as we walked away from our tiny meeting house I remember just thinking of all the saints around the world. The church is so small here and sometimes it feels like we aren't doing much good here and everything is so dysfunctional but I was reminded of all my friends serving missions in probably very similar situations and was overwhelmed by the opportunity to be here. Yes the church is small and the work can be disappointing at times but I have learned to strive to keep an eternal perspective. I am grateful for the ward and family that I grew up in that helps me continue pushing forward so that the people here in Malawi can enjoy the same thing. What is the most amazing thing though is how happy and faithful the members are without all of that! It amazes me the longer and longer I serve as a missionary.

Sunday:My favorite day of the week. Sundays are the best on mission! We had sacrament meeting last so more people would be there. My companion and I sit in the very back so we can see everyone and I had the most spiritual sacrament meeting just sitting there listening to everyone's testimonies. They are so strong!! Anyways as I was sitting in the small branch I realized that even though I have been here for a few days, I already felt so much love for and from the people of Ndirande. I thought of how amazing this branch was. I thought of how big our ward was back home and I honestly believe that going back to big wards is going to be a struggle...I will forever miss and love these small branches that I get to serve in. I can't express what I felt but I love the Ndirande branch. I love the faithful saints who strive their very best to fulfill their callings, who walk far to come to church, and who sacrifice so much just to partake of the sacrament. It truly is so humbling to serve as a missionary here and as I bore my own testimony in front of them I felt an even greater amount of love. I read a talk about Charity and have found that we can best love, serve, help, inspire, those around us by bearing and living our testimonies. My testimony has grown KWAMBILI since coming on mission and I still have so much to learn, but the testimony that I do have is my greatest possession and I feel so honored to have so many opportunities to share it and build it each day. Once again MISSION IS THE BEST. We had some great lessons after church. One with a 20 year old named Joel who is SOOOO prepared to hear the gospel. This was another tender mercy as I left behind some dear investigators in Lilongwe. We taught 4 siblings of 2 recent converts and it was really fun and sweet to teach little kids. I am inspired by their faith, and yearning to learn the gospel. Finally we saw a family where the father is an investigator and his wife and kids are members/less active. I guess missionaries have been teaching the father for a long time and guess what.....The very first thing he told us in the lesson was "I have chosen April 3rd to be baptized!" I am so happy for them!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We then visited the funeral of the sister of one of the branch members. Funerals are something else here in Malawi. All the women sit outside the house and all the men sit out on the street. and EVERYONE comes to the funeral and they all stay for hours. Family and close friends go inside the house and they cry and mourn and I wish I could have videoed what it sounds like. It is really awful and sad. It made me really grateful for the plan of salvation and I felt a burning desire to share it with as many people as I can. As we sat there for about 45 minutes I was just looking around at all the women. I realized how much I love the people. I truly truly truly love Malawians and Zambians. I love their culture. I love their strengths. I love their differences. I love their devotion and faith. I love their love and support they have for each other. I love everything about them and I am soooooooo grateful that I have been given this opportunity to be immersed in such an incredible culture for 18 months. How lucky am I? How blessed am I? Life is truly wonderful. I know that as we take a few moments, look around, and count our blessings...our stresses and our trials begin to melt and we begin to see the sunshine that is all around us. 

Well it was a life-changing week for me and I love Blantyre! My companion is super great. She is from outside of Johannesburg, South Africa from a family of 5 children. They are all members but her dad died about 10 years ago. She is 24 years old and has had many many health problems as a missionary but is one of the strongest missionaries I have met. She has helped me to use the scriptures more and to seek the guidance of the spirit. I am grateful for her and who she is helping me become. I am grateful for my family and miss you a whole lot!!!! keep on truckin.....

Ndimakukondani Kwambili,
Sister Bingham 

 love those mountains!

one of our investigators house. when i first saw the rocks guess what my initial thoughts were.."this would be a perfect kitchen for backpacking."

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