Monday, April 25, 2016

A long one cause things are picking up in Blantyre!!!

 This is Bingham. A lady named a puppy after me!  This week she came running over saying "Have you seen Bigum??? Bigum is getting so big! Bigum is getting so big!" hahah I had no idea what she was talking about!!! Lol here he is!!!
My girls

April 25th…what?? Time is going by faster and faster each week and guess what less than 2 weeks and I will get to talk to you!!!!! It feels like yesterday we were talking at Christmas. But I guess I’m still excited to see you…just a little though. This week though...maybe that is why time is just going so fast. So much happened this week!!!!

Tuesday we had district meeting and at the beginning a deaf man walks into the church. Our district leader, Elder Alexander knows a little sign language so between the two of us we were trying to communicate with him. We were really struggling but we were able to talk a little bit and found out that he has met the missionaries before. It took quite awhile but we finally were able to explain to him that we would talk to the Elders that stay in his area and talk to a deaf member who is in the Zingwangwa Branch here in Blantyre. Elder Alexander and I were talking after district meeting and we both were so grateful that we had learned sign language and that we could now use it in our missionary work. It has been really amazing on mission to have so many experiences where previous experiences in my life have prepared me for this specific calling. I am so rusty on my sign language but I know that Heavenly Father gives us many gifts, even if we think we aren’t good at them or they aren’t 100% perfect, so that we can help bless His children and teach them the gospel.  It was really awesome to also reflect on how his inability to hear could have been the reason that led him to church and I was also so touched by how happy he was when it seems like he would have every reason to be discouraged. I know it will be difficult for him to have the gospel but I know that his life can be greatly blessed and someday he will have an equal opportunity to hear and accept the gospel and receive all of God’s blessings. After district meeting a bunch of the elders and then us 4 sisters were invited to a member of the Blantyre 2nd branch house to eat lunch and to do service for her. We all were pretty excited but then we met the member….Niledi. The next hour was the craziest hour of my entire mission!! I thought I had experienced some pretty crazy stuff but it has been nothing compared to this. And I can’t even explain it. But we are pretty sure that she has some African Witchcraft, Voo doo shan shan going on but she was insane!!! Yelling and dancing all over the place and preaching and shouting and praying. Oh man I can’t wait to show you when I get home. She was telling us she is the queen and then was calling her ancestors and then started to impersonate her ancestors  and then mixing all this stuff with things about the Church . It was taking all of my will power to not just bust up laughing but at the exact same time I was kinda freaked out. So we got out of there….and turns out she was taken to the hospital but yeah April 19, 2016 will never be a day to be forgotten. That evening we finally had an opportunity to meet with both Peace and her mom to discuss their concerns about Peace’s baptism. The mom was finally honest with us and told us she just isn’t comfortable and would like to know more about the church before her daughter is baptized. We are SO happy that she was honest with us because before she kept saying everything was fine, it just was Peace who was nervous. We set an appointment for today to explain our purpose as missionaries and teach her more about the church. The more and more we talk to the mom I am seeing more and more how uninterested she is about the church but I know that with time that Peace will be able to be baptized.  We have been praying a lot and I have seen time and time again prayers being answered in the mission field and I know that miracles happen all the time. Just yesterday I got a call from the Lilongwe sisters telling me that Brother ABK, who we taught back when I was there, was baptized!!! Mission work is just the greatest! I know that things don’t always happen exactly when I want them to but the work still goes forward and as missionaries continue to take over where we left off, then finally are the fruits of our labor and that of the Lord come to pass. I guess we really will never fully be able to know the influence of our service and it just makes me want to do more. Find more people, teach more people, serve more people, love more people, no matter how slow their progress is, the more that I and my companion do, the more that the missionaries over the years will have to work with and find success in.

Wednesday started off so good and I was just dying to have mom here with me cause the sky was the most perfect blue!! Seriously Mom, I thought about you the entire day. I have been really grateful for little things of God’s creations that help me feel His love and awareness of me and my mission. At MLC and various meetings, we have been discussing improving our teaching skills and helping our investigators to truly make and keep the commitments we extend. This is a big challenge we face here in Africa that I have talked about before. The people are soooooo spiritual and love God and the gospel but committing to act is a little difficult for them. So anyways its been something I focused on this last week and really it is what I am here to do. I have been called to teach. It can be easy as a missionary to get caught up thinking and worrying about or focusing on other things when what is most important is our teaching skills. Yes I have been teaching the restored gospel everyday for over 10 months now yet I still struggle and have SO much to work on. There definitely have been weeks were I just feel like I am an awful teacher and have to rely so much on my companion and the spirit to make up for my weaknesses. This week though as a put a great focus on my personal studies to focus on my investigators and work hard in every single lesson, I saw a lot of blessings. I felt so much better after lessons. President Erickson taught us last week at MLC about a certain teaching technique and as I worked to implement it, even though it was sort of awkward at first, it was incredible!! I am soooo grateful for a mission president who receives inspiriation not on just who we should be companions with or what area we should serve in but also is there to help us with something as simple as helping our investigators accept commitments by the way that we teach. I know that when we listen and apply the principles that we receive from our priesthood leaders, no matter how small or insignificant they may seems, that we will better fulfill our callings and even find more joy in them. I still have a LOT to work on as far as teaching but I love the opportunity that we have to just improve and improve each and every day! I also focused a lot on using the scriptures more and they are so powerful!! I’ve been trying to plan out specific scriptures for the individual needs of each person we see and its been amazing as the lessons go so well and we are able to use those prepared scriptures. I love the scriptures and they have been a source of much help and guidance lately and I just want everyone else to have that same blessing. Ok sorry enough about what I’ve been trying to work on….We saw Gift that morning and he has this friend Joseph who is really interested in the message we share and is really enthusiastic! Its been really touching to find so many new investigators through Gift. Gift is great. He wants to do what is right, he is just shy and it is taking him a little bit longer to understand the importance of what we share with him and he struggles to find the courage to change and come to church without his cousin who is sort of less active. Anyways he has introduced us to so many friends and its just wonderful that even though Gift’s progression is slow, he is leading us to more of God’s children. More opportunities to build up His kingdom and truly bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man here in Ndirande. Alfred is another investigator who is just doing great! We taught him the beginning of the first lesson last week and he would not stop talking about how much he loved church. We taught him about Prophets and he was like “Oh yeah you are explaining dispensations and we are now in the final dispensation.” Uhhh…what investigator let alone member here ever knows about the word dispensation. Seriously my comp and I were pumped after the lesson. He is doing great and has really taught me the importance of Church in gaining a testimony. As we were walking to Alfred’s lesson, we had Raphael and Linda from the branch with us. Raphael is going to Ghana in June for his mission and we were talking about it and he was telling me about all the challenges he is facing now that he has his call. He is having troubles at work and stays alone and feels so many temptations. He is nervous about leaving and he has no one to support him at home. He knows the gospel is true without a doubt but is just scared. It was an incredible opportunity for me to bear my testimony of missionary work and that there is absolutely nothing better or more important or that will bring more blessings in his life than serving a mission. I can’t imagine how hard it is for him, honestly I was quite humbled that afternoon about how blessed I am with the support of my family and friends, but I know that his life will be changed. He will gain a strong testimony. He will be more prepared to be a father and husband and priesthood holder. It will bless his family here. We talked for about 15 minutes about how wonderful a mission is and it was probably more uplifting for me as I testified to him of all the good about mission. It was interesting because of some things that have been happening this week, I was feeling really down and discouraged but talking to him made me realize how much I have grown and changed and how much my testimony has been strengthened. I feel like I could honestly give a testimony about everything! You experience it all as a missionary and I know that it will be the best preparation for the rest of my life. Anyways I really loved just having that chance to talk with him and help him as he is about to be in my position serving the people of Ghana. I love little moments like this that aren’t shown in our numbers that we report but still help us fulfilling our missionary purpose.

Thursday we met with Grace. Her 3 children are members and she has been taught for almost a year now. Right when she gets ready for baptism, she leaves town for awhile for business and then comes back. Well now she is back for good and so she is on date for May 15th! She is doing so good!! But we went to her house and she told us about how she is now going to start selling alcohol. She assured us again and again that she wouldn’t be drinking it, just selling it. My companion immediately looks at her and says, “Well Grace you won’t be getting baptized then!” I was kind of taken back by my comps quick and blunt response and even found myself justifying it. I have really grown close to Grace and want her to be baptized so bad! She is so diligent and has so much faith that I overlooked this new problem. I am really, really, really grateful though for Sister Kgwetiane who listened to the Spirit. We then were able to have a powerful lesson with her about the Word of Wisdom and that no matter how hard things may seem, Heavenly Father blesses us when we are obedient. Grace seemed pretty quiet that lesson and it was even hard to teach her that because she wants to get baptized and it just doing her best to provide for her family. They have so little and this is definitely one way she can make money. But my thoughts kept pulling back to Mosiah 2:41. How grateful I am for the knowledge I have been taught from my own parents to put my trust in the Lord, be obedient, and then I shall be happy. I know that Grace can do it! It won’t be easy. I know she is now in a stressful situation but she can do it! And she isn’t alone. We will be there. The branch presidency is there to support her and most importantly the Savior will be there. Sometimes as missionaries we have to teach scary things. It’s hard when someone has so little and we ask them to give up what they have to follow the Savior but its worth it. Every sacrifice we make is worth it. We saw a member Tessa that day and taught her about the temple. She is so great! We asked her why she wants to go to the temple and her response was, “I know my life will be complete without it. It just feels empty.” This was so inspiring to me and I was so strengthened by her simple, powerful testimony. I know that it is the faith and testimony of the Saints like Tessa that brought the temple to Zimbabwe and someday it will be here in Malawi. Finally we ended the day by teaching Oscar’s, a recent convert, younger siblings. They have been coming to church for weeks but Oscar has been so busy he hasn’t been able to teach with us but we finally were able to! My favorite part of the lesson was watching Oscar helping his siblings learn the gospel. He was so concerned that they were really understanding the lesson and I was so touched by his love and concern. Obviously I felt a huge rush of gratitude for my own siblings. For their examples and testimonies that helped me to know of Heavenly Father’s plan for us and how we can live with Him again. I know that families really are one of God’s greatest gifts to us. The most important lives we will influence are those of our family. And they can be eternal! I enjoyed so much watching this older brother help his siblings and felt my role was so small. I felt grateful that we could help them but really it was Oscar who was doing the most. Missionaries really do so little in the work. And its funny how the less we do, the more that families and members do, the more successful we are! But the role that we do play is vital and so we need to do our best to help that initial step for our investigators. I think that we don’t realize how often we are doing missionary work in our lives and I hope that I will continue to make it a priority my whole life. We weren’t able to teach Joel because we didn’t have a female to teach with us but we got to talking to him and he has been reading the scriptures like crazy! He told me that “I am not just going to read the entire Book of Mormon but I am going to memorize it!!” hahah Joel cracks me up and I’m continually touched by his progress.

Friday Sister Kgwetiane got really sick so we stayed inside that day but I read this super quote by Brigham Young that changed my perspective on a lot of things. “It is our duty to improve upon every blessing the Lord gives to us.” I loved this so much and it helped me to find more joy in the simple things that we do and to take every opportunity that I have to do my best. To not relax when life is good, when something goes well, but to continue to find a way to do more and improve. Around 5 that evening I was a little restless so I asked my comp if I could just walk around the house for about 15 minutes. You should have seen the sunset!!! It was so amazing and I just loved being in Heavenly Father’s creations. There is this “mountain” that we can see from our house and on the top of the mountain is one tree. It is standing there all alone. I noticed it a couple weeks ago but now everyday I look at it and I draw so much strength from it up there. It sounds kinda dumb but time and time again I have been amazed at how exactly when I need it, Heavenly Father sends me a little sign that He loves me. I was filled with so much joy that evening as I just walked around and hummed hymns (yes I did it in honor of my humming father). I was reminded once again how blessed I am to be here. That the church is true and that The Savior, Jesus Christ lives!

Saturday we had a little extra time in the afternoon so we went to go and see if we could help Bell since we haven’t been teaching him. He agreed to let us wash clothes for him. My companion was talking to his neighbor who happened to be a former investigator while I was helping Bell. Bell just cracks me up but today was the funniest. I asked him how often he does wash….every week or every other week. I could not stop laughing when he said, “Ahhhh sometimes every two years!!” hahahah a part of me just wanted to drop the shirt I was washing and get out of there but it was really uplifting to serve him and just remind him that we still love and care for him. And guess what??? He came to church the next day!!!!!! We went to see Thoko who we’ve taught once and found a less active who stays next to her at home. Irene, the less active, joined us for the lesson and was sharing her testimony left and right. It was incredible!! Irene has some family problems and has to go stay with her brother every weekend and a whole bunch of other things keeping her from church but that lesson really taught me the importance and the power of having a testimony. Although things get in the way, and our testimony does grow dim, the embers are always there! It gave me hope for other people both here in Africa but also at home. And if we seek to give them opportunities to share and live their testimonies, then it might be that very spark that helps them to come back!

Sunday was THE BEST!!! We had 8 investigators at church!!! The church was packed!! We had people sitting outside even. They definitely need to get a bigger building for us. It was really humbling that even though we didn’t have a ton of time in the area due to different issues, our investigators are still progressing and coming to church! I know that it is because of the Hand of the Lord that is making up for our limitations. I know that as my companion and I have had struggles but have put our faith in Him, He has helped us and our investigators. We went to go help the Primary because they haven’t had anyone teaching singing time since none of the teachers know the songs and it was soooooo fun! I love those little kids and you should have heard their sweet little singing voices as they sang about trying to follow the Savior. Its amazing how we can be in the presence of little children or listening to Prophets and Apostles at General Conference and feel the exact same spirit. Joel had his baptismal interview and will be getting baptized next week!!!! It was so awesome and a little emotional for me actually because I have been able to be with Joel since he very first started learning the gospel until now. To watch him change and be filled with so much more joy!! I feel like I could go home now. Seeing Joel and being apart of this experience makes everything worth it! We asked him how the scriptures have helped him and he gave this amazing response about how now he knows about God’s plan for him and that he can receive so many blessings now and in the future as he is obedient. He said it better than that and more than that but it was a once in a lifetime feeling to be there and listen to him. I know that a lot of missionaries don’t get such opportunities to see their investigators get baptized and I am just really grateful that I have been able to be a part of such a miracle. We did so little and honestly Joel was prepared by the Lord for the gospel. Man I am just so excited for him to get baptized. He was super nervous for his interview and then after he told me, “That was it??? I could do that 3 more times and it would be so nice!” hahahah he’s great. While the district leader was interviewing him, we were talking to Elder Tshabalala and I have been dying to tell you his life story. He never knew his father, and grew up with his aunt and uncle. When he was 11 he went back to live with his mom for a couple months and then she died. So he went back to his uncle who then died in 2009. From their he went to live with another uncle who died and the wife chased him and his siblings. So for the past 3 or 4 years he has been caring for and providing for his 16 year old brother and 21 year old half sister. He was trying to finish high school and was making money by playing soccer. He met the missionaries when he was 16 and is the only member of his family. And now he is here serving a mission!!! I asked who is caring for his siblings and he said he just have to leave them. His bishop said he’d check up on them but he hasn’t heard from his family since he left. I wanted to cry hearing this story. Seriously the missionaries here continue to amaze me!!! I wish you all could met them and to hear their testimonies and serve with them. I think that is why I was sent here. So I could learn and be blessed by them. Anyways, that night we went to the Sisters and had a little devotional about Gratitude. It was really awesome as we all discussed how much we have been blessed with both on mission and in our lives overall! It was a much needed booster to help all of us to “reach the peak” and to enjoy to the end. I am so grateful for the sisters who help me be better and improve. As we were discussing though I just wanted to let you know that you, my family, are definitely one of my top blessings. I love you all so much!!!

Hope this week is fantastic and you keep learning and growing lots!!!
Ndimakukondani kwambili,
Sister Bingham

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