Monday, May 30, 2016

Zohner and Bingham Round 2

The Branch!
Can you find me?

Sister Zohner and I are back together!!! I wanted to cry, scream, laugh, jump for joy, run around when the zone leaders told me but I honestly didn't believe them. I thought they were kidding on the phone. Sister Zohner and I were emailing back and forth last Monday joking about how we were going to be back together and what do you know...dreams do come true. BUT leaving Sister Kgwetiane will be really hard. Luckily she has just been transferred to be with Sister Newey in the other area here in Blantyre so I will still be able to see her at least once a week. Its been a hard but amazing 3 months together and I wouldn't trade it for the world! She has taught me SO much and even though we are probably the two most opposite people you could put together, I am grateful for her and the time that we were given to serve together. She is the greatest example to me of enduring to the end and putting her faith in the strengthening power of Christ's Atonement. I will miss her. 

Monday: We had a lesson with the Muringa family. They, just like a ton of the families that we teach here, are very very very active in their current church. The father has some big calling in the Pentecostal church he goes to but he really wants to know more and loves what we have shared so far. We went with the plan of just starting from the beginning and see how far we got. We started talking about families and he has such a great understanding of his role as a father, probably better than a lot of people I have met here. Anyways I felt a prompting to give him The Family: A Proclamation to the World and as I gave it to him, I was overwhelmed by the love that I have for my family and how blessed our family has been because of two wonderful parents who embraced the principles of that document. We then started to discuss the importance of prophets and the member that was there pulled out his tablet and was able to read a part of President Monson's most recent conference address (I got super jealous for all those missionaries who get i pads and how it must help them so much to teach! but all is well....i mean I'm in Africa so how could I possibly complain). It really just hit me in that moment that we truly have a LIVING and TRUE prophet of God here on Earth. I don't think that Brother Muringa fully understood what this means and how it can bless him, but he seemed to feel the spirit and I could see in him an interest that I know will grow as he sincerely seeks to learn more. 

Tuesday: We had quite the surprise at our district meeting when the Shurtz family came to the chapel. It was really fun to talk to them and to hear that they know the Pugmires and Wrights!! This sounds super pathetic but it almost made me cry. I miss those Sunday dinners:) We had so many appointments fall through but we were able to see this new investigator who is a Muslim and it was such a cool lesson! Did you know there are tons of Muslims in Malawi? I didn't. Anyways we get there, her neighbor told us she really wants to know more about Jesus Christ, so we are really pumped. She starts telling us that she is from Mozambique and that she is in 10th grade so she can get a high school degree from Malawi and then start working. She is enrolled in a Bible Knowledge Class and said she is really struggling and wants us to help her prepare for her exams. My heart kind of sunk as I was worried that she just wanted to mooch answers off of us. But we went forward and helped her to learn of our purpose as missionaries and how the Restored gospel can really bless her life. Before we knew it, she was opening up to us about some challenges she is facing and that she really feels that she needs Christ in her life. Its pretty amazing that there are people who don't even know Christ or don't believe in Him. Especially since I have learned so much of the Savior and His teachings while serving, I can't imagine how hard life would be without the knowledge I have of His love, grace, and mercy. How incredible that we get to be the ones to introduce her to the most perfect, most forgiving, most loving, most humble, man that has walked the earth and who know reigns in the Heaven's above, just waiting to help her in her trials. Actually, this week we ran into an azungu and he was wearing an Oklahoma Sooners hat so i struck up a conversation. He and his son were traveling to Mozambique where they go into the villages and "teach people the name of Jesus." I was really grateful for their service and how they actually are preparing the people to someday accept the restored gospel of Jesus Christ but also I just felt a greater testimony of the truth of our church and our work as missionaries. It is soooo much more than that and it is so much more difficult and demanding but it is so much more rewarding and holds so much more eternal significance. I have been reminded time and time again that this really is the Lord's work.

Wednesday:I went on exchanges with Sister Motsi and oh how great it was to be reunited and teaching together again after serving together for 6 months and then been separated for 5. It was interesting to see how much we have changed and grown but still are the same old sisters. She is amazing though and the whole day we were just laughing and talking about so many great memories that we shared together! We went to see a member named Sister Frank who went to the temple about 10 years ago. We taught about how she can still receive the blessings she felt when she was in the house of the Lord even though she lives SO far away from the temple. She is one of my favorite members because she is always smiling! And what I love most about Sister Frank is that she sort of struggles to express herself in English. She speaks great but sometimes its just hard but throughout the whole lesson, she wasn't afraid to tell us what she felt and knew to be true, even though it was difficult to say. I could just feel her desire to share her testimony and how much she recognizes the Hand of the Lord in her life. In fact, both Sister Motsi and I noticed this and talked about how incredible she is to just look past her weaknesses and find joy in the gospel! We invited the district president, President Matale to join us for a lesson with Grace who was just baptized but she wasn't home. We went next door to a less active and President Matale went right in the house and started to give Happy the 24 year old son FIRE about not coming to church. He was so bold but also his testimony of keeping the sabbath day holy was filled with so much power and love that I myself found a greater desire to find more ways to truly sanctify that day. I love love love how closely we are able to serve with the leaders here in Malawi and how much they sacrifice. President Matale has a family and work and is district president yet still finds time to just come a teach a few lessons with us sisters that don't even live in his area. I know that he works with a lot of other companionships and I was so humbled by his service and dedication to the gospel. We have been asked to study a couple talks about consecration and although the Church is still so new here, I feel that sometimes the members live this celestial law so much better than where the church is much more established and the temple is so near. And i don't think that they even realize it. They just serve with a smile and they don't expect any recognition. It makes me sad that someday I will leave the humble people of Zambia and Malawi but I will be forever changed by their examples. That day we asked Susan, a member, if there was anything we could do to help after teaching a lesson in her home. Susan always says no but she actually said yes which actually wasn't good cause it made us late for our next appointment. But all was well. We had to fetch water for her and I have a FHE activity for the fam Go get 5 gallon buckets and walk out to the hose by the raspberries. then with a bucket in each hand walk into the house, down the stairs and back up the stairs. That will give you a little bit of an idea of the daily life for people here. Nonetheless, my arms were sore the next day. Hahah but I love the simplicity of life here. that night as we were driving home, I just looked over at Sister Motsi and realized how much she means to me! We spent some of the most growing and best months of my life together and now that she is going to Lilongwe we may not see each other again. Mission is hard and sad sometimes....but I think and hope that we will continue to stay close our whole lives!

Thursday: We went and saw Sister Fellium who said she is done with the church because she was offended. We have been trying to see her every week and just slowly help her remember the blessings of the gospel. This week she told us that she has really been questioning her standing before the Lord and where her spiritual life is. This small comment brought so much hope to me for her!! And guess what?!?! She came to church!!! I know that as we pray and do all we can to help others come back, and as we exercise patience that we will witness miracles. Sister Fellium has a soft spot in my heart and when she told me she was giving up on her faith I actually cried. I have also learned as a missionary that the more we love the people, the greater Christlike love we strive to develop, the more aware we are of the tender mercies of the Lord. Sometimes it can be so hard to love and I admit that at times I just think it isn't possible but we represent the Savior who loves more than we can imagine and so i am extremely grateful for His help in my calling and especially when i fall short.  

Friday: We finally got to talk to Alinafe about coming to church and he is still facing a lot of persecution from his father but he has so much faith it really is amazing! And he has a desire to serve a mission. I got the strongest impression during our lesson with him that I need to do all I can to get him out serving and so I am really excited to continue to meet with him in the upcoming weeks and months. It seems sort of impossible for him to serve a mission and when I got that prompting I thought "how in the world is this going to happen" but one HUGE lesson I have learned is that when we receive a prompting from the Spirit we must act. And when we do and put our trust in the Lord, all things are possible. Its going to be tricky to help Alinafe but I gave him my copy of "our Search for Happiness" to give to his father and will continue to pray that his heart will be softened. One quote that I read that more and ending up sharing in two different lessons that day was by President Monson. "The path is difficult but the promise is real." This has been something that has helped me with different challenges throughout the week but also is what I am realizing is something that we really need to help our investigators to understand. Unfortunately, ok actually fortunately, the journey back to live with Heavenly Father isn't easy. It is not just something we wake up one morning and go and do but it takes sincere repentance and commitment and faith and obedience and diligence and humility and hard work, but the blessings are eternal and incredible! so its worth it. Its worth it to walk far to church each Sunday. Its worth it to take those few minutes even if you are so tired to kneel in prayer to talk to heavenly father. Its worth it to wake up a little early to study the scriptures. Its worth it to work and save so that you can go to the temple and be sealed with your family. Whatever it is, its worth it. I promise. So does the Prophet and so does our loving Heavenly Father.

Saturday: We got to teach another new family!!! The mother is a pastor at her church and pretty set in her ways but the father seems ready for the gospel. We were just getting to know him when all the sudden he said that he had seen the Book of Mormon at his friend's house a long time ago. It was such a small miracle but I just was hit by the Spirit when he said that. Its actually pretty amazing to find how many people here have some connection to the church but I ended up expressing to Brother Mbewe how much the Book of Mormon means to me and that it truly is the hand of the Lord that has brought it back into his life and now he can learn of it himself and receive the fullness of the gospel. I love these tiny yet significant miracles that occur throughout the day! They really help me to just loose myself in the work and remember why I am here and how much i love it!!!

One more of the Branch

Sunday: Brother John Phiri, the old happy man that I love so much, came!!! He hasn't come for the past 2 weeks and we have struggled to meet with him. His sister told us he has been drinking even more so it was really sad for us. We told him about priesthood blessings though and after church he asked for one. We were able to join him and it was such a wonderful experience. We were in the tiny branch presidents office and there sat Brother Phiri surrounded by 4 worthy Priesthood holders. The blessing was given and the words were really great and even I myself felt the strength of the Lord bless me. I was really touched as I sat there and tried to just take it all in. Most of the times we see the Priesthood blessing us in big events such as baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost but I was really touched by the simplicity of the power of God that helps us just to comfort or strengthen us against trials and temptations. Heavenly Father loves us so much that He has given us access to the powers of heaven to help us in our personal struggles. It was absolutely amazing as I realized the love of God and His son Jesus Christ and how aware they are of us. How much they love this little old man, Brother Phiri. Ahh it gives me just chills thinking about it. Sister Kgwetiane was talking to someone and I was walking Brother Phiri out the gate to go home. I shook his hand and told him how much I loved the blessing and how I hoped it would give him the courage to have faith and continue to prepare for his baptism. He just smiled and said, "Sister Bingham, thank you so much. I won't disappoint you!" 

This week was amazing! I know that is was because of the extra prayers from my family and I couldn't have done it without you! This week is going to be crazy and so great! Tomorrow we get to be there for the setting apart of a member from the branch who is going to ghana. A sister from another branch is also going so she gets to spend the rest of the day with us! Then we will take her to the bus that night to go to Lilongwe. Then on Wednesday we go pick up Sister Zohner from the airport. Man, its going to be the best reunion!!! Then Thursday we have interviews and that afternoon the missionaries from Lilongwe come down and we start a combined zone conference. Fridaymorning we have a discussion about consecration and sacrifice and a testimony meeting because its our last conference with President and Sister Erickson. Its going to be really hard to say goodbye to them!!! Then Saturday and Sunday we have our district conference. Mission is so great!! I love it. I love my family. Life is oh so good!!!!

Ndimakukondani Kwambili,
Sister Bingham

P.s. my favorite quote of the week!
"Cherish your spiritual burdens because God will converse with you through them and will use you to do his work if you carry them well. " -Elder Holland

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Monday, May 23, 2016

"Be still and know that I am God"

I know its been the hot topic of the Church the past couple of days and since I got a lot of questions about it in the emails this week....yes we now are allowed to wear pants in our mission! Honestly it is sort of weird to me to think about wearing pants and I don't think that I will because #1 its hot. #2 I have no idea where to buy nice dress slacks. But its really cool to see how much the Lord cares for His missionaries and that nothing will stop the working from moving forward. Now that I think about it...maybe it'd be kind of cool to wear pants as a sister missionary....

Well this week was an interesting week for sure but a lot of moments where I felt very near to the Savior and Heavenly Father.  

Our truck needed to get serviced so we got to ride public transportation and it was the best!!! I have missed riding on those lovely minibuses. Any difference between Malawi and Zambia minibuses? Yep...Malawi minibuses literally turn the van off EVERY chance they can to save gas I guess....hahah we were coasting down the hills and it was just cracking me up. One afternoon this week we were trying to get a bus to take us home and they were trying to rip us off. Finally we agreed to 100 kwacha and then they started yelling at everyone that to town it was 100 kwacha instead of 150 kwacha and the people started running! well then as soon as the bus was full, the driver says in chichewa but i caught on.."just kidding it's 150." I thought there were going to be fights!! good thing the driver was just joking but boy have I missed the adventures of minibuses in Africa! This past week I was really hit by the poverty and circumstances of this country. I don't know if I ever have really talked about it much in my emails home but its pretty rough here. I had a few moments this week where I just took time to look around and count my blessings. I wish you all could see the living conditions and lifestyles of the people of Malawi. How they get by and how they do so with smiles on their faces, I don't know. But I know that they are God's children and He loves them and what they need most is His gospel. As I was sort of overwhelmed by the poverty this week, which is weird cause I have been here for quite awhile maybe I've just sort of become used to it all, I felt so humbled to be a missionary. To be one of the few that gets to bring something of SO much worth into the lives of these people. To bring them the gift of eternal life in the kingdom of our Heavenly Father! How great is my calling!!

I don't have much to report on this week. Sister Kgwetiane's anemia was really affecting her this week and then she got a really bad cold so we worked half days and then Thursday to Sunday  we ended up staying home all day. It's been hard to see her struggling so much but today she is doing much better! You know how our family is...go go go! Staying in for 3 days was challenging and I honestly can't think of a day in my life where I haven't done anything (even with food poisoning we went to Sierra Trading Post:) but I had a lot of time to study and to learn so much!! I really felt like I learned and grew in appreciation for the Savior and His atonement. As I had moments of frustration and a lack of understanding the following quote from Elder Bednar brought a lot of peace and comfort. 

"Sometimes we may ask God for success, and He gives us physical and mental stamina. We might plead for prosperity, and we receive enlarged perspective and increased patience, or we petition for growth and are blessed with the gift of grace. He may bestow upon us conviction and confidence as we strive to achieve worthy goals. And when we plead for relief from physical, mental, and spiritual
difficulties, He may increase or resolve and resilience."

Sunday we were able to go to Church and partake of the Sacrament which was a much needed blessing. I know I say this a lot but Sundays are my most favorite days of the week!!! I can't explain how much strength they are to me. So we show up to church and in walks Cynthia. I have talked about this sweet 14 year old before but she is incredible. If there is one person that is keeping me going its this precious daughter of God. Last Sunday she came up to me all shy and whispered into my ear. "I have something for you." She then pulls out this silver, tarnished bracelet and puts it on my wrist.I could hardly hold back the tears as i thought about what she had to sacrifice to get me that and what it meant to her. I wrapped her in a big hug and tried to tell her how grateful i was and how much it meant to me! The whole day I couldn't believe the love that I have felt while serving a mission from so many different people and I feel so blessed to be able to be a part of their lives! Well this sudden Cynthia comes walking in and sits right next to me. I had given her a necklace that Christina Walker gave me before mission and she was wearing it! And when i pointed it out she could not stop smiling. Cynthia has really taught me to find joy in the simple things and to show forth a greater love to those around us! She comes all alone to church every week and just has a burning testimony of the gospel! So she helped me to feel not so alone and that the Lord still is blessing our area even though we weren't in the area much. Ok then get walks ALINAFE!!! Alinafe is the less active whose father is so against the church and absolutely refuses him to even read from the Book of Mormon. And he was at church!!! I was in shock. We have had about 3 incredible lessons with Alinafe. Every lesson the spirit is so strong as we share with him the importance of just having faith and to trust in the Lord. It was absolutely amazing to see the how the Hand of the Lord has softened the heart of his father. Unfortunately we had to leave to go back home right after sacrament meeting so i didn't get to talk to him but I was so happy and so touched. This week I felt like I was a failure and I was so stressed about our area and all our investigators who didn't come to church and we haven't been able to see. But I am so grateful that even in our limitations, the Lord sees our desires and is doing all He can to help us help Him bring the world His truth. This may seem like something so small. And in the eyes of some maybe it is. But it was a miracle and another moment where later that day as I was thinking of all the blessings I have received this week and throughout my mission I just stood still and knew that there is a God. That He loves us. He will answer our prayers. And He will do all He can to help us return to live with Him again.

Sorry this week was short. I love you all so much!!!

Sister Bingham

Monday, May 16, 2016

1 Crazy Baptism and 100+ Mosquito Bites


Hey hey hey hey!!! 
Another amazing week here in Malawi! And yes Dad...I'm still in Malawi. We have two more weeks until transfers but I'm pretty positive I'll be staying here for awhile which is perfect cause I love it! Just this morning I was running around our house and I just thought about all the other places I have been blessed to serve and how crazy missions really are. We just get thrown in different places across the world and are expected to just give all of our heart, might, mind and strength to the work of the Lord. It is usually so different from anything we have experienced before yet we just love it and do what we need to. Ok sometimes we have to warm up to it but it truly is such a magnificent work to be a part of and I love being a missionary! I hit my 11 month mark this past week and it was bitter sweet. Time is flying.....

 cute kids

Highlights from this week:
Zone Meeting was inspiring as always! Sister Kgwetiane and I presented on "embracing the gospel" and I think I was the one who learned the most even though we were trying to help the other missionaries. I am really grateful how we have many, many opportunites to teach people about the Gosepl of Jesus Christ because everytime I grow in my own testimony. We really tried to recreate what President Erickson had counseled on about consecration and relying more on the Savior and one thing that I loved that he had said at our most recent Mission Leadership Council was that "the more you feel lost, the better. When you feel lost, that shows signs that you are changing." I have had a lot of those feelings the past week and I know that this is one of the greatest chances for me to lose myself and become a new person and I want to take as best advantage of it that I can! After zone meeting we went to get in our car and the alarm would not go off!!! 30 minutes and 4 elders later and it finally stopped.....I am grateful for the priesthood. 
crazy traffic!!!
this picture doesn;t do it justice but it was INSANE!!!!!

We finally got to meet with Sister Tembo!!! I need to send you a picture of her!! She sells Mazila (eggs) out of a shipping container and works everyday so its been really hard to see her!! we have tried and tried to just see her for an hour at lunch but she gets really nervous her boss will get mad. Anyways we've been stopping by her shop every single day for the past 2+ months just to say hi. The other day I ran in and gave her some flowers I picked and ran back out...Sister Tembo thinks I'm crazy cause every time I see her she just starts laughing at me! She's great. Anyways she is a less active but came to church this Sunday which was amazing! we had a super simple lesson with her and read from the Book of Mormon and honestly, the spirit was so strong in that hot, small, shipping container and in that moment I just felt all is well. I have felt that time and time again when I read from the pages of the scriptures. Sister Tembo struggles to come to church, her husband hasn't come in forever, she doesn't have money to send her boys to finish school, but as we were reading I knew that everything would be ok. She has the gospel. She doesn't completely understand everything in the Book of Mormon but she tries and has a great desire. I know that as she makes just small changes, even reading one verse a day that someday she will get to where she needs to be. You know, this week I really learned that Heavenly Father loves us soooooo much! sometimes I used to think that if we did things differently that He'd love us more. But He loves us right where we are in life. Nothing changes His amount of love. He loves Sister Tembo even if she comes to church every 3 weeks and only stays for 1 hour as much as if she were to come every week and stay all 3. So I need to be patient and love her just the same. Help her to understand that so that she will be able to more fully trust in Him and find the strength to live the gospel. 

Friday we had a REALLY hard time setting an appointment in the morning so we ended up just planning to stop by a less actives home and if she wasn't there, go find someone to serve. We ended up finding the brother of one of our investigators at home with his friends. We were able to teach them and to explain a little bit about the Restoration. As I shared with them the story of Joseph Smith I felt the Holy Ghost present as I thought of how each one of these teenage boys needs the blessings that have come from a simple prayer of a boy just like them! I loved being able to testify to them that Joseph Smith saw God, the Father and His son, Jesus Christ. That they answered his prayer and then later called him to be a prophet in bringing back the gospel of Jesus Christ. One boy was Catholic, one was CCAP (central church of Africa Presbyterian), and one was Muslim, but I felt something whisper to me that the message we hold so dear and proclaim day after day after day, is not something that they can just pass by but they NEED it. I am grateful that forever person, there is something that we can relate to their lives to help them to immediately feel the spirit and recognize its importance. They are friends with Joel who was just baptized so I hope that we can help them progress!!!

 Making nsima with Alli!!!
This is Alli and Oscar. Oscar was baptized in December and were are just starting to teach Alli again. And this was the first pot of nsima that I made 100% on my own!!! 

Ok so here comes the climax of the week....wait first of all. Saturday, Grace called us to tell us she needed to give us something. We stopped by her house and she had made us matching dresses for her baptism!!! I couldn't believe it!! I know that it cost her a lot of money to make them but I was sooooo touched by her love. She had the whole family ready for the special day....she made herself a dress, her daughter and her nephew George. She was soooo excited! It really made me so happy and grateful for her as she sacrificed so much for us and for her special day. Not going to lie....I could not stop laughing all of Sunday as my companion  and I walked around in our matching dresses! Some of the looks we got, especially from the Elders were hilarious but Grace loved them! So the baptism....everything was going great. The talks were amazing, she got in the font, Praise said the baptismal prayer, she went under the water, she came up out of the water and then she passed out. was soooooooo scary and we didn't know what to do!!! She was out cold! Some women rushed over to help carry her out of the water. I was shocked though!! hahah a million different thoughts were rushing through my head....was she just nervous?? was the water too cold? did she lock her knees? Was she unworthy and struck dead? Was it going to ruin the experience for her? What was she going to think about it? What were the members and investigators going to think?? They quickly rushed us all back inside to not make it dramatic and then she came walking in perfectly fine and gave a beautiful testimony! Afterwards she didn't say anything and was just beaming! She invited us over for dinner that night and never mentioned anything about it. We were kinda scared to ask about it. We had the sweetest lesson with them though! We ended up each bearing our testimonies. The family felt more comfortable saying theirs in Chichewa so I obviously couldn't understand but the spirit was so strong. When it came to my turn I was fighting back the tears but the love that I have for that family and how much they are growing in the gospel was just too much for me to handle. I really feel like they are the blessing that Heavenly Father has sent me to continue to be positive and love the work! 
 We could not get her to smile....
And she made us these matching dresses!!!
 The fam!
finally got a few smiles out of them!

 Everyone with their newly made dresses!!! favorite

Well it was a terrific week! I love you all. I love everything about Malawi except maybe the legs look like I have a disease but all is well!! I am really grateful for the Savior and that He has allowed me to be a representative of Him with all my weaknesses. I am really grateful that He has first set the example for me in accepting the will of the Father so that I can better know how to fulfill my purpose here and that I can turn to Him when I need help. I am really grateful for goals and plans that even sometimes aren't accomplished but help us to educated our desires for righteousness. I am really grateful that families get to be together forever and that this week we were privileged to help a family get one step closer to going to the temple. Have a great week!!! 

Sister Bingham

Sister K's umbrella
after 15 months of faithful service it finally died.....she still insisted on using it though until we could get to the truck and she could use mine. Funny how all my African companions can't stand the sun more than us azungus!!

 the house
since you all were asking lots of questions about the are some pictures!!!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Monday May 9, 2016

It was sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo good to hear and see all of you!!!!! We just have the best family in all the world...I'm convinced. I love all the families here but they don't beat you! Last night we came home and Sister Kgwetiane had a migrane so she went straight to bed. I was eating dinner alone and just thinking about the week and the day and skyping you. In our dining room (yes our house is that fancy) there is a big world map. I sat across from it and just looked at America and then Malawi. Then America, then Malawi. We are SO FAR from each other! It still amazes me. But anyways I was thinking about how much I missed you but how I really love being here. That I wouldn't want to be anywhere else! As hard as it was to see you and talk to you, I am so happy with life right now! I only wish I could just move you all to Malawi. I continued to look at that map for awhile and I just felt an overwhelming rush of gratitude for prayer and how it has helped me to feel so close to each of you! Anyways there were a million more things I wish we could have talked about and I realized how much we talked about me and my mission but I really do care about and love each one of you. Thank you for making me feel so appreciated, loved, and important. You continue to bless me each and everyday! Thank you for raising such wonderful children and for teaching them the gospel. I think my favorite part of yesterday was hearing those cute nieces and nephews sing I'm a Child of God. I am soooo happy that they are building their own testimonies and I couldn't help but think about each of them someday serving a mission and teaching children all over the world those simple truths we learn from that primary song. They have such a bright future and its all because of the gospel which is so amazing!!!
carrying water!!!!

Well this past week was really awesome but its going to be a shorter one this week:) 
Monday all the missionaries in the zone went to a local soccer game at the stadium here. It was the Blantyre Wizards vs. the Zomba Red Lions. They crowd was soooooo into it and it was so much fun!!!! They celebrate and react differently so we were probably enjoying the crowd just as much as the game. It made me miss playing out on the field for sure.
 soccer game with the zone!
 Pretty sure us missionaries were the only white people there
 this man would not get out of our picture and also just grabbed my bag and I was SO nervous he was going to steal it!!! 

 That Bingham soccer blood runs too deep in our family.

...that night we had a really incredible lesson with an older couple. It was the first time teaching the husband, (we taught the wife about a month ago) and turns out the member we took ended up knowing the family! it was a tender mercy for sure. We went to just have an introductory lesson as usual but this month as a mission we have been focusing on our "how to begin teaching" and so I really wanted to apply the principles we've been studying. Instead of our usual first lesson, we felt prompted to teach and testify of the temple. The wife is not really open to the church but it was amazing to see how as we listened to the Spirit and taught the blessings of the temple and eternal families, the husband was so captivated and immediately interested in what we had to share. I am so grateful that the Spirit works so individually and can help us to know exactly what to share. I have been studying the Doctrine and Covenants where this principle is taught again and again and again. I know that as we learn to individually love the people we teach, we will be much more successful. Maybe not always successful as in helping them get baptized but we will develop that Christlike love for them and help them draw nearer to the Savior.

We taught Gift who is the one who works 14 hours a day for 700 kwacha. we had a super simple lesson where we were just reading from the book of mormon since he struggles to understand it. Anyways during the lesson I was trying really hard to focus on his needs and listening to the spirit. I spent a lot of time that morning wondering how to best help him progress. During the lesson, Linda the 17 year old member who was teaching with us told Gift "Heavenly Father wants you to read the Book of Mormon so he WILL help you to understand even if it seems so hard now." Number 1 this is so true. Number 2 Gift needed that reminder and encouragment. Number 3 it helped to answer my own prayer as I felt very inadequate in my calling lately. I even made me tear up as I realized how much Heavenly Father is aware of me and for how often He blesses us through other people. Linda was there serving Gift yet comforted me through her own testimony. I also felt that I never would have received that answer if I had been striving to be a better missionary to meet the needs of our investigator. Never before have the words, "the best way to find ourselves is when we lose our selves in the service of others" rang more true than in that lesson that day.

Funny moment of the week...we went to go see John Phiri and unfortunately he wasn't there so we were just talking with his sister, Sister Lobeni. She was telling us about how he is still struggling with drinking and that is why he wasn't there today. then she said "You know what?! I am going to tell him to go take a bath and then lock him in there until you come back!!" hahaha she always cracks me up. you have to meet her someday.
We ended up seeing John Phiri the next day. He is improving on keeping the word of wisdom or in his words, "reducing" but he is still struggling. He is really doing great though! We taught him the Plan of Salvation and asked what he desires for his life here on earth and even in the next life. He told us he wants to get married, have a successful career, and just be happy. He is 65 but I was so humbled by his simple goals and aspirations. And when he told me this, I couldn't help but scream out, "You need the gospel of Jesus Christ!" ok maybe he won't find a wife or a job but he will find happiness, of that I know without a doubt. And not just mortal happiness but eternal happiness! I love the hope that the plan of salvation brings. I love that we have been given this life to prepare us to live with Heavenly Father again and that we sometimes have to pass through struggles so that we will be more qualified to inherit the blessings of heaven. I love seeing the circumstances of the people here and just knowing what they will someday get to enjoy! I love being able to be the one to teach them such truths and to actually witness them changing and being filled with the same joy and hope I have! 

Sunday was just the best!! Not only because I got to talk to you but Joel was confirmed and Grace is going to be baptized next week!! It was so incredible to watch, well listen, to Joel receive the Holy Ghost. I just kept thinking about how much it has helped me in my missionary work and with gaining my own testimony. I can't imagine how much it will help Joel as he beings his own journey to the Celestial Kingdom or what he calls his "hometown." He finally was able to share with us his testimony in English yesterday and I should have him write it down. He told us how he wants to bring someone else into the gospel just as his friend Raphael did for him. To think of the influence that he will have made me just so happy and grateful that we could be able to teach him. Joel is incredible. He has made my time in Ndirande wonderful and I know the Lord has sooooooo much more for me to do here but I am grateful for how He has blessed us in helping one of His children. Joel also said some really great comments in gospel principles class and his testimony is growing everyday! I sat next to Grace in Sacrament meeting and right before we partook of the Sacrament I was thinking about all the struggles of the week and a lot of my own mistakes and weaknesses. As I started to feel overwhelmed I looked over at Grace and she gave me a big smile, with her front teeth missing and all! I was so grateful for this tender mercy and for the love I feel from her and many people in this area. They help lighten my burdens and point me to the Savior just as Grace helped me to soften my heart so by the time the bread reached me, I was able to feel the love, mercy and grace of the Savior. Without Grace's smile, I may have been too wound up in my troubles to feel the true power of His atonement. 
 the primary presidency

I am just incredibly grateful for the Savior this past week and how my mission, my daily experiences are drawing closer to Him. The feelings of inadequacy and uncertainty and discouragement still come but there was a quote that really summed up what I learned this past week. "If I feel like a teardrop in the rain when I meant to be a river, God sees the ocean in me." I know Heavenly Father knows the desires of our heart. And I know that just as Elder Holland said we do get credit and blessings for trying. So I'm going to keep on trying here in Malawi!

Well I love you all. You all have changed so much, I can hardly believe it! Have such a great week!!!!

Ndimakukondani Kwambili,
Sister Bingham

 fhe last week with the paseli family!

Sister Fellium's wig
she insisted that I put on her wig!!! what do you think???

Monday, May 2, 2016

You can have what you want or you can have something better

6 days and we will all be skyping!! I can't wait! And to see my new nephew!!!! He is just the cutest!! Hey happy birthday shout out to Grandpa, Elise and Davin this week, I love you all.

he said he wants to come to america and marry me. 

The week was one of great learning and growth for me, especially centered on accepting the will of the Lord in my life. I don't remember the exact quote from conference but I have written down in my notes, "You can have what you want or you can have something better." This has been what has been pushing me forward the past couple of days and I have learned that He truly knows more and that if I trust in Him, then I will be exactly in line with what I need to do to one day return to live with Him. 

During district meeting this past week I had a couple moments where I just felt really, really grateful to be a missionary. I loved looking at the chalk board and seeing "Sister Bingham" and then looking down at my name tag. It was for probably the 1,000th time a surreal "wait I'm actually a missionary" moment. Will it ever sink in? It made me want to accomplish more and do more while I am still Sister Bingham. We went with a branch member, Brother Likoswe, to visit John Phiri who unfortunately wasn't home but we taught his sister, Grace Lobeni. First of all, he said one of the most powerful opening prayers in that lesson and I could almost feel the faith that he had in the restored gospel and how much it would bless the life of the woman he had just barely met! Then he told her about how he joined the church and it is a pretty remarkable story, just like every conversion story. The lesson went well...Sister Lobeni is really having a hard time with committing herself. She knows its true. She loves every thing we teach but each time we invite her to be baptized she says, "How many times do I need to tell you? I have already been baptized and changed churches too many times! I can't keep changing. you know how people talk." hahah she is such a sweet woman. We have addresses her concerns a lot of times and guess what....I really think she is coming around. Its really really really small changes but she'll get there. Anyways although the lesson wasn't as successful as we hoped, afterwards Brother Likoswe kept saying "I am soooooooo happy I could come and do missionary work. I just loved it!" and then on Saturday at a branch activity he bore his testimony on the importance of missionary work. Ok so Sister Lobeni still is unsure about baptism and coming to church, BUT Brother Likoswe has caught the fire of missionary work and I just was so grateful to see him grow in his own conviction of the gospel. Later that day we had one of the sweetest lessons. Clinton just turned 12 and his mother passed away about a month ago. His aunt is the only member in their family. We taught him the Plan of Salvation and then at the end of the lesson we asked him to pray. He is a quiet and shy boy and didn't say much throughout the lesson but his prayer!!! I wish you could have heard it. He said, "Please bless my mom who is in spirit prison." It was a heartbreaking moment but filled with so much strength because of what we had just discussed to hear him say this and to show his faith in Heavenly Father and His plan. I have had many experiences in my life and especially as a missionary where my testimony of the Plan of Happiness has grown but this was by far the most meaningful. I am so grateful that life doesn't end when we die. I am so grateful that even Clinton can still have a smile on his face after losing his mom. I am so grateful that even though Clinton's mom didn't accept the gospel here on earth that she still has a chance! I am so grateful for temples that makes our families eternal. And most of all I'm grateful for Clinton and his simple, faith filled prayer that blessed my whole day and week.

A member called us to tell us they were harvesting the maize and lucky us we had an appointment cancel so we headed over. It was probably the most fun I have had my entire mission!!!! At first we were just taking the ears of corn off the stalks that had already been cut down by Watipasso but then I asked if I could try. He was hesitant at first to give me the machete but after very careful instructions (Dad you'd be proud of him) he finally let me do it! I got a blister and was sore the next day but who knew chopping down corn stalks was so much fun!! It was nice to just not think, work hard and serve. And we also got to build a great relationship with the members at the same time!

Service at the Chirwas!

the field.

 Sister Chirwa and the finished job. Now she is going to dry out all the cobs and then get all the kernels off the cobs and take it to the meal to make flour for nzima.
this is Anna Phiri. She might possibly be the strongest woman in the world. She was carrying the BIGGEST bag of maize on her head. She is the maid at the Chirwas.

 Our Branch President is moving to Lilongwe so he had us over for lunch to say goodbye. He lives in an area called Mchinjiri, which is on the other side of Ndirande Mountain and it was so beautiful!!! It is a little more out in the bush and it brought back a lot of memories of driving in the back-country of Idaho for our early backpacking trips. We had to cross this super narrow bridge...Lol my comps was freaking out but i just said a prayer and stepped on the gas! I'll send a picture of it. #africanadventures.

 The meal was wonderful and we ended up sharing a scripture with President Amos and thanking him for his service. Although I only served around him for a short time I feel like he may have been one of the best branch presidents I have met. Ok they all are great but he is just so humble and really strives to help the branch, sacrificing time away from family, work, and education. He has helped me to want to maginfy every calling that I am blessed with and to put the Lord first. He will be great missed but I know he will be a strength in Lilongwe. Later that day we went and saw Grace Paseli who is on date for May 15th and it was interesting to hear this investigator be so sad over the news that President AMos is leaving. I guess we really never really understand the impact that we have on others. Our simple words and actions may leave a lasting influence on those who we wouldn't think. I am grateful also for Grace's trust and respect for Priesthood leaders and the love that she expresses for them and she isn't even baptized! What a small miracle that brought peace to me as we are anxious and nervous for her being prepared for her baptism. 

Later this past week were some of the most defining days so far as my mission. I can't really explain all the happened or why but yeah it was impactful. I was trying to receive some revelations about what to do with various situations and how to be strong and improve. I was pondering over my mission and trying to think about what Heavenly Father wants me to become and learn. I didn't receive an immediate answer and in fact its been bit by bit over the past couple of days. What I felt though was I need to align my will with that of the Fathers. My current will and desires, my hopes, goals and dreams for this specific area and companionship are great! They are righteous, hard working, faith filled, everything I would assume a good missionary would be. But its not exactly what He knows is best for me. Ok yes He wants me to do those things but He needs me to focus on some other things first and be more patient. Those things are not what He needs of me. It is not His will. This was kind of hard to could these righteous desires not be ok? I thought that all this time I was striving for His will by working harder, studying more, etc. Now I can see that yes those are good even wonderful desires but He has something greater for me. Even though it may seem like I am doing less, it will be what makes me grow the most strong and even prepare me for many challenges that lie in my future. What has been the most frustrating or discouraging aspect of this new discovery that I am struggling to explain to you, is that I'm not really succeeding at following His will. Its hard. I actually feel like now I am failing and doing worse than before. He needs me to be patient. I think so often that we assume as soon as we accept what He has planned for us in our lives, that all will be well. That we will be doing everything perfectly and with greater strength. But I've come to learn that we still have to work hard, we still have to have faith, we still have to be diligent even if we are doing what He wants and not following our own desires. With that said, just as He didn't when the Savior took upon Him the sins, pains, sorrows of the world and drank the bitter cup, He will not leave us alone. He will send angels to strengthen us. We will be able to accomplish the task. It may take time and we may feel like at first we aren't succeeding but we will. And I know that many blessings will be in store and we earnestly say and do "thy will be done." 
A small but really awesome blessing this past week was Sister Thueson and Sister Zohner calling me to tell me that the Sambe family is on date!!! We taught and testified, and prayed and fasted for that family and to hear that they have accepted a date brought tears to my eyes!! Missionary work is just amazing and the blessings are never ending! It doesn't even matter that I am not in Ndola anymore, I am just sooooo happy to hear how well they are doing and to know that soon they will be able to have the blessings we enjoy as members of Christ's true church! 

Sunday was so great cause JOEL was baptized!! It may have been my most favorite baptisms. Am I allowed to say that? And i think I have said that after every baptism but it was just awesome. During the service I was sitting next to John Phiri and I couldn't help but picture his baptism in a couple weeks. I loved sitting next to him and helping him learn to read/sing the hymns. As usual, I was overcome with a powerful rush of the spirit as we watched the ordinance take place. AS I watched Joel stand in the waters and then be baptized, I once again knew that this is the path towards Heavenly Father and His kingdom. This is the true church. As I looked around, saw many faithful African saints, saw the two in the font, clothed in beautiful white, I just wanted to shout out in gratittude! I wanted to just stop time and take it all in. How did I ever get so blessed to be here? It was less than 200 years ago that Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdrey were baptized and now, we have an established branch in little ol' Ndirande, Malawi Africa that is growing all the time. I just couldn't even believe it. It was such an incredible experience to be a part of especially as I thought of what this means for Joel, his life and his family. For the first time in a couple days, I remembered why this work is the one of the greatest joys!!! Then Joel bore his testimony. He gave it in Chichewa but had the BIGGEST smile on his face and I could just feel his joy and powerful conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ. As he stood there, up in front, I had another "heaven sent realization" We had a little bit of a difficult past couple old days so I've just had a lot on my mind. But looking at Joel and thinking of how far he has grown, I realized how little we as missionaries have done. I realized that this is the Lord's work. It cannot and will not be frustrated. I know that if we do the best that we can, because we have sacrificed and consecrated ourselves to be here, that the Savior will enable us to be instruments in His hands. We are so little in the entire work of salvation. What did i personally do for Joel? Not much but that afternoon I was humbled, grateful, and amazed that I've been called to be a part of the Lord's work and to be called to witness His miracles. They have strengthened me and blessed me beyond what I can express. All my worries and stresses of the past week melted and the words, "Its all worth it" came softly into my mind. It really was a tender mercy that the baptism feel on that day and week. you know....blessings/answers really don't come when we would like but when Heavenly Father knows we need them and will be the most grateful for them. Bottom line, the baptism was such a spiritual and meaningful experience not just for Joel but us as missionaries! 

We had a FHE with Grace Paseli and Lucy Mwase (they are sisters and Lucy was baptized in Feb) and their children. It felt sooo great to be gathered with a family. We had a sweet lesson and then ate dinner. The best part was at the end when I had them play the game "2 truths and a lie". So Beauty the 11 year old daughter takes a turn and the first thing she says is "I saw Jesus Christ at the market today." Hahahah we laughed and laughed for like 15 minutes. I love families!!! I love how much that family just took us in, served us and loved us! I felt the Spirit testify to me in that small candlelit home that this is what life is all about. Being gathered as families, being happy and learning the gospel. It made me love my family even more!!!

I'm grateful that this week was filled with so many miracles and blessings as well as a lot of moments that brought me to my knees. I am so grateful that I get to experience something better even if its not exactly what I think is best or what I initail want. I am so grateful for agency and Heavenly Father's plan. I love this quote I found "The Lord is eager to see us exercise our agency than to see us always make perfect decisions." I am so grateful that He knows what will help us the most and that we have a time to be tried and pushed to our limits to become more refined and able to live with Him again.I'm grateful for repentance and the atonement that even helps us turn our strengths into weaknesses. I am grateful for my companion and her testimony. I am grateful to be a missionary and I love my family!!!! Osodandilula (no worries) is good.

SEE YOU SOON!!!!!!!!! 

Ndimakukondani kwambili,
Sister Bingham