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

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