Monday, July 25, 2016

But with Joy, Wend Your Way

Big things are happening here in Blantyre....they got their second stoplight in the entire city!!!!!! Ok but for reals it was an incredible week. We finally got to meet the Kupus and I LOVE THEM. Also I am planning on moving to Tonga now....Also happy late pioneer day!!! No one had any idea it was pioneer day, maybe cause they are pioneers here!! I am so grateful for the pioneers both in America and here in Africa more than I ever have been. Their faith is beyond comparison and now it is our duty to carry it forward!
We asked Clifford to teach with us that evening and we told him to study the Plan of Salvation pamphlet. That morning, while going to another appointment, we turn the corner and there is Clifford with his pamphlet. He is the best!!!

We had a lesson with Joel Jim. I know I report on him every week but he just gets better and better. We saw him later in the evening and so right outside the house there was a fellowship gathering and they were chanting and praying REALLY loud. It was actually a really spiritual lesson as we taught about the Prophet and the importance of following Him. As we sat there teaching above the noise outside,  the Spirit strongly confirmed to each of us of the great blessings we experience because of the knowledge we have of a true and living prophet of God. Joel then explained to us an experience he had before joining the church with a false prophet and how grateful he is for the Liahona's that contain the words of President Monson. The best part of the whole lesson was when we asked Joel to say the closing prayer and he says, "Umm....can we kneel?" Nothing gets better then kneeling down with your companion, your recent convert, and a member, in a humble home in Malawi, and praying to our Heavenly Father. 

Tuesday evening we had a member missionary fireside with the Kupus at the Blantyre Chapel. It was sort of last minute so we called as many members as we could to invite them. I was so worried that no one would be there for a lot of reasons. 1. it was last minute. 2. it was all the way in town 3. it was starting after it got dark so there isn't much public transportation. BUT we had a great turn out!!! Ok really not that many but as we sat up on the stand and watched the members come it, I couldn't contain the joy as I saw Regina come crutching in, then Praise carrying George on his back, then Grace, Beauty, and Vidah Paseli, then Oscar who earlier that day said he didn't have money for transport and sprained his ankle playing soccer so he couldn't walk, then Joseph who was just barely baptized, then Raphael a less active, then Evans Namanja an eternal investigator. As I looked around and saw these people that I love so much and then looked at President Kupu, I just wanted to run over and say, "President I want you to meet these people who have changed my life!!" I wanted to tell him each of there conversion stories and the sacrifices and the changes they have made. I wanted to invite him to come and teach them with us so he could learn how incredible they are! It was almost too much for me to handle and it was in that moment that I took a quick moment to close my eyes and express my immense amount of gratitude to my Father in Heaven for allowing me to be a missionary. The rest of the meeting was just as amazing!!! President Kupu helped the members to understand how important their role is and helped them to catch the vision of building a stake here in Blantyre. He comes from an island with 100,000 people, 50 % who are members. In Malawi we have 16 million people with less 3,000 members in the entire country. President Kupu has great plans and goals and man, I just can't wait to see how the work progresses in the next couple of years. For the closing hymn, all the missionaries here stood and we sang "Called to Serve." We really didn't sound that great, and we were only 16 missionaries, but it was way better than my dream of singing in the Provo MTC. There is so much power in our calling as missionaries and I sometimes wonder if I really am soaking everything in while I can. The meeting was to uplift and encourage the members but I walked away from it feeling like a whole new missionary, ready to go to work!!! 

The next morning we had a zone meeting with all the missionaries where we got to know the Kupus a little bit better and to learn what their plans are for our mission. What I learned from our meeting and from the Kupus was "Simplify to Magnify." It is difficult for me to really explain how I felt and how much I love and respect both President and Sister Kupu but they already have blessed and changed my mission. Sister Zohner and I got to take Sister Kupu to a lesson with us and then we had lunch with her and the whole time she was telling us stories of her life and I am not sure I have ever met anyone who is so in tune with the Spirit. In my interview with President Kupu he advised me to draw close to Sister Kupu and learn from her. I am excited to spend the next couple of months learning all that I can from these two humble servants of the Lord. I have so many different things to tell you about them but I think this transition to Zambia and Malawi has been difficult since they are coming from a completely different lifestyle. They haven't ever driven more than 2 hours in a car...they all got carsick driving around the mission but they are still willing and excited! And they already invited me to go stay with them in Tonga!!!!! Who's up for it???

Sister Zohner and I were so moved by what we learned and felt from the Kupus that we sat down and set some goals to apply it. We also felt a big responsibility to reach out more to the members and help them be missionaries. We had a good lesson with Susan who has opened up more to us lately. She even feed us lunch the other day!! It was the best mashed sweet potatoes and ground nuts, I've ever had. Anyways we read out of Preach My Gospel with her and discussed the fears that she and other members have in doing missionary work. I have totally forgotten what it is like to be a member and that it actually is really scary to introduce your friends or family to the gospel. I guess I have just become so used to my calling and literally sharing the gospel every second of every day. I loved talking with Susan and especially reading with her the part of PMG titled "No effort is wasted." It made me think of my family and friends back home....keep being missionaries!!! I wish that I would have reached out more when I was home and I can hardly believe how afraid I was to do so, but I am extremely grateful that now I understand how important this work is. I am so grateful for the testimony that I have gained of the gospel and how it blessed by life so much, that I can't help but talk with everyone that I can about it. I know missionary work is different here in Malawi but it is the same message that we share everywhere and IT IS TRUE. We all have fears but we proclaim what the Savior Himself taught so we cannot fail. Thank you all for your missionary efforts, no matter how big or how small. 

Saturday was so great and here is why. EVERYTHING WE HAD PLANNED ACTUALLY HAPPENED!!!!! I really can't remember a single day on my mission where this has happened. We even got an extra two lessons in! The Lord is really blessing Ndirande and helping us. I am grateful for our zone goal of praying for each companionship individually because it is bringing forth the blessings of heaven in great abundance! We got to enter Watipaso's My Family Book into the computer. He has done a TON of research which is amazing. Dates and family history in Africa is pretty rough...a lot of people don't even know the year they themselves were born. But we ended up entering enough information for Watipaso that about 12 of his family members work can be done in the temple!!! Right as we were starting we were joking around and the computer was being realy slow and I was sort of confused at all the information Watipaso had written down about his family. Watipaso then suggests that we pray. It was a total different feeling that entered the room and we were able to successfully put a lot of information in the short time that we had. We finished as much as we could and then asked Watipaso to say a closing prayer for us. He said a really powerful prayer and although I can't remember all the words he asked that we may continue to have the spirit of Elijah with us. We walked out of the office and down to the church to teach Christopher and my mind was still caught up in the family history work. As we sat down to start the lesson, I felt as if we were surrounded by many ancestors. I felt close to my family that I have lost and was reminded of the divinity of the work and how close we are to the other side of the veil. I looked at Christopher and thought of his family that are waiting, just like him to accept the restored gospel. He has some concerns and struggles but during that lesson, I felt help from the other side of the veil guide my words and even soften his heart. We had a member help us translate "I am a Child of God" into Chichewa for us and Sister Zohner and I have been singing it to the members in every lesson that we can. It has been one of the highlights this past week!! The members get the biggest smiles on their faces when they hear it and ask us to sing it again and again and again. It has given me great hope for someday when the gospel can be taught in their native language. Not sure if this is a secret or not....but Elder Andersen had a special meeting with the Kupus and told them that part of the reason they were sent to this mission was to work on translating the Book of Mormon to Chichewa. I almost started to cry when I heard this!!! I can't even imagine how missionary work would just take off. It makes me want to serve here for forever but also grateful that we get to lay the foundation of the church. 

Ndirande Primary supporting Vanderson

Vanderson's baptism was so so so special!!! 

Sister Zohner and I had planned on singing "I am a Child of God" in Chichewa but then after we taught it to all the primary kids they came running up to us and asked if they could sing "Jesus Christ was Baptized" for Vanderson. I wish I recorded them but it was so cute and brought a tender spirit to the baptism. So Oscar was baptized back in January and this was the first time he has baptized anyone. He was practicing a couple weeks ago but to see him standing there in the water with his younger brother filled my heart with so much joy!! Vanderson was glowing and had the biggest smile and did stop smiling the whole day. Praise came up to us after and was so excited because he is the one who introduced Oscar to the church who introduced Vanderson and now the influence will just continue on and on and on! Also another huge miracle was that we had 3 investigators on date for August 14th at the baptism!!! That evening we were able to teach 3 different families!!! Ndirande is continuing to grow each week and my love for the branch and area is getting bigger and bigger!!! 

 Oscar and Vanderson
My favorite brothers!!!! (they are the same years apart as Jacob and I!)


This morning Sister Zohner and I completed our 5th and final peak, Mt. Soche. It was really fun and of course I just loved being out in nature. About halfway through the hike a man comes and asks if he could escort us to the top. We tried to tell him we were ok but he ended up hiking the entire way with us. He was wearing dress slacks and dress shoes. He told us about his fellowship he started and it wasn't until we got back to the bottom that we found out he is actually a prophet. Hike up a mountain with a false prophet....check that off my bucket list. Ok all jokes aside he was a very nice man and we are grateful he could help show us the way. He also pointed out to us a den of hyenas...not sure how true that was but hey, we hiked by hyenas today! As I reflect over the fun hikes we've done, this morning I was reminded where the true joy is and that is in missionary work. You all know that I live, love, and breathe hiking but I can say with the First Presidency and with all my heart that "more happiness awaits you than you have ever experienced as you labor among His children." 
 Mt. Soche

 Prophet Poucher
Our very own guide up Soche Mountain!

Ofa Lahi Atu (I love you in Tongan),
Sister Bingchurch......the name of the week:) 

Funnies for the Week:
1. Brother John Phiri stops us while we are explaining he can read the words of the prophet in the Liahona to tell us that he already has one and that he say me in it!! We were all so confused and then he goes, "But I think they made a mistake and said you were born in 1952. How could you be born in 1952?" hahahah he had read about Sister Jean Bingham.
2. The night that the Kupus came to the mission we got Krushers at KFC to celebrate and then this week Sister Kupu took us to KFC. Sister Zohner and I were sort of freaking out.
3. Joseph was interviewed to receive the priesthood this Sunday! We got a text last night saying "Hey Sisters i have been interviewed. i will be confirmed next week." Sister Zohner texts back..."That is so great! We are happy for you!" Then he responds, "Thank you so much Sisters for helping to pass each and every interview am so much grateful thank you for that." Hahah i think he was pretty nervous about the interview......

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