Monday, November 28, 2016

Slippin' and Slidin'

A member had to borrow my camera for something so this is the only picture I have from the week! 
Sister Mulomba from Zimbabwe and Sister Asemnyinah from Ghana:)

Rain season is here and in the words of my dear father, the roads have been very “snotty” but not even muddy roads have slowed down the work of the Lord in Ndola. Sister Reid and I experienced greater success this week that we have yet and we have had much to rejoice over!! We taught many lessons this week and were even able to focus a lot of our efforts on strengthening recent converts and less actives and we witnessed many tender mercies.

FHE: We went to the Mpundus who I had taught when I was here but Brother Mpundu and his two daughters were baptized after I was transferred. They are an incredible family but are facing major challenges right now. Brother Mpundu hasn’t been paid in almost 5 months now and so hasn’t been coming to church. It has been too hard for him to sacrifice the money to travel to church and he has to spend his Sundays doing odd jobs to have enough to provide food and other necessities for the family. He does have a bike though and since Sister Reid and I are trying to lay the foundation for a future branch in his area, he will play a vital role in that. He taught the lesson about having faith amidst the great trials we face. You can imagine how touching of a lesson it was to hear him testify of the power of the Atonement of the Savior Jesus Christ and we only know very little of all that they are facing. We committed the family to act on what their father taught by coming to church at least twice a month. We committed Brother Mpundu to ride his bike and make the sacrifice so the Lord could bless them for their obedience. It was difficult for us to do and but the longer I serve as a missionary the greater my trust in the Lord that he will fulfill his promises. GUESS WHO CAME TO CHURCH AFTER NOT COMING FOR 5 MONTHS?!?! BROTHER MPUNDU!!! And his daughter Mercy gave a wonderful talk in Sacrament Meeting about serving with Christlike love.

Andrew is on date to be baptized on Christmas!! He is progressing so well!!! He told Brother Thole who has been the best fellowshipper, that he feels as if he has finally found where he belongs. We taught him the Book of Mormon as well as the Plan of Salvation this week. He is really quiet but his understanding is incredible!!! Brother Thole was teaching in the lesson about baptisms for the dead and asked him a few difficult questions and he answered them perfectly! Another miracle for me as I realized how Heavenly Father is continuing to prepare hearts to hear and accept the restored gospel.

Wednesday I was blessed to go on a half day exchange with Sister Asemnyinah. She reminds me a LOT of Breck Steele so I love being with her!! Things didn’t go like we wanted but we ended up being able to meet with the Mwapes. We hadn’t scheduled an appointment with them and we didn’t have a member to teach with us. I said a silent prayer in my heart and then we made our way to the lesson. Sister Chalwe, a nearby member, was not only home but was very excited to go teach with us! The Mwapes were extremely touched by her testimony and the faith that she has and it really softened their heart to have a lesson with us. We taught them the gospel of Jesus Christ and even though they have been taught the Restoration and we have reviewed it a couple of times, the Priesthood finally clicked!!! And even the mother who has been hesitant to learn was engaged the entire lesson. I am grateful that we were able to quickly know who to teach, who to teach with us, what to teach, and how to teach. I am grateful that as we prayed and then went forth not knowing exactly what would happen, we were able to bless the Mwape family with the knowledge of the simple truths that our Savior has taught us.

Thanksgiving didn’t really feel like Thanksgiving but there was MUCH to be grateful for!!! We ended up experiencing a lot of fall throughs and all our back ups fell through. Sister Reid suggested that we go see the Sambes. I wrote about them a bunch when I first served in Ndola but they really didn’t progress much with the Sisters since I was here. They sort of gave the Sambes a break but we both felt that we should go visit them. We got to their house and Sister Sambe was shocked to see me! Oh side note…I had written them a letter while serving in Blantyre and they had responded so we have kept sort of in contact. Anyways she was so happy to know that I was back in Ndola. Right as we started the lesson I had another prompting remind me that I was sent here for a reason….We read Alma 5:26 and then I asked her her thoughts on the scripture hoping to gauge her testimony and her desire to progress. She explained the verse SO well and then began to tell us an incredible story. She told us that just the day before she thought about the missionaries (the sisters haven’t been there for probably 6 weeks) and not only missed us but especially missed the message that we share. And she felt a strong impression to start reading the Book of Mormon again…then we came the very next day.  She was amazed at how we happened to come back and shared that she knows there is a purpose behind it. It was a big blessing to me as well to come back and to teach her once again. She didn’t come to church but I know that our visit brought the Spirit into her life and that she is once again going to have an opportunity to accept the restored gospel. The Lord ways truly are higher than ours…..

We were able to work with 19 different members from the branch! We worked with Sister Nonde who has been a member for over 10 years. She bore a powerful testimony in each lesson that she taught with us.  It was my first time taking her to go teaching with us and when we were dropping her off after a few lessons I found out it was her first time EVER teaching with the missionaries. She loved going and asked if she would be able to go with us each week. It was amazing to hear how much the spirit of missionary work touched her heart and to see her now catch the fire!

Brother Nkhole is the husband to our recent converts that we baptized 2 weeks ago. Since I first got to the area, we have been praying to have his heart be softened so that he may be able to experience the blessings of the restored gospel with his family. We felt that for our gift to the Savior, we would complete the Nkhole family. He has been difficult to get a hold of but this week we were able to teach him twice!!! And at the end of one of the lessons, I asked how he has felt as we have been teaching him. Before he answered his wife, who normally is very quiet and reserved, told us about how her husband was telling her how he always feels peace when we come over. It was such a small tender mercy but we count it as a miracle that his heart is slowly softening.

We discussed with our Branch Presidency about starting group devotionals in a part of our area that is very far from the Church. It costs about 11 kwacha per person to travel to and from church and so we felt that to strengthen the members and to lay a foundation for a future branch of the church, we should gather families and individuals once a week. We met with the 2nd Counselor in the Branch Presidency that stays in the far area and he has agreed to hold the devotionals at his house and he and his wife are more than excited!!! We read from the Book of Ether with them about the power of faith and acting upon faith as well as the power of prayer. We connected it to our vision for the devotionals. Great things are happening in our area and I told the sisters that I am getting overwhelmed about going home. There is just way too much to be done and too many miracles happening that I can’t leave!

Ok so I have grown a great love and appreciation for the Sacrament while serving as a missionary. It has become so much more meaningful in my life and my main source of peace and joy. But I am pretty sure that over 75% of the Sacrament meetings that I have had on my mission, I have cried. Hahaha I just always get really emotional as I think over the significance of my calling and how much I love being here and the specific people that have become such a large part of my life. I only have 2 more Sundays after yesterday and it was a hard hit especially since we had a wonderful Sunday! We had more investigators at church than in the past and a lot of less actives. During Relief Society I was trying to soak it all in. I wish you could be in our Relief Society…hahah it is pretty different from home and hard to explain but I looked around the room yesterday and was overwhelmed with love for these women! I don’t know if they will ever know how much I love them and look up to them! I love the simplicity of the church here and I also reflected a lot on the relationship that I have developed with my Savior through my experience.

I am really doing so well and just this week I was telling Sister Reid how much I love teaching!! How much I love being a missionary and that I never want it to end. This week I felt extra grateful especially as I greatly missed the members and recent converts from Ndirande. As I was missing them, I realized how blessed we are to love and serve so many of Heavenly Father’s children and to learn from them. Although I am far from them, and may never see most of them ever again, I continue to be blessed by their testimonies and faith. Last week Sister Porter told me that 2 different people that I taught in Ndirande have been baptized!!!! I could hardly believe how the Lord prepared those people and although I wasn’t there to witness the baptisms, I am filled with immeasurable joy!!! John Phiri, the old man that had a struggle with the Word of Wisdom was baptized on Sunday! And Peace who was supposed to be baptized in April was baptized! And Sister Thueson told me that another man that I taught in Lilongwe was baptized yesterday!!!

I am almost finished with The Book of Mormon but Ether 12 was especially meaningful this past week. At since it was Thanksgiving, this chapter reminded me of the many blessings that I am grateful for!! Here are just a few…
-Prophets, both those of old and our dear prophet, President Thomas S. Monson
- The Holy Ghost that is given to us and is felt by our investigators that convert us to the Savior and His gospel
-The sacred calling to be representative of the Lord Jesus Christ.
- The diligent examples of the people of the Book of Mormon
-The promised blessings of serving with all our heart, might, mind, and strength
- The hope that the Plan of Salvation brings
- Faith that anchors us to the Savior
-The faith of my fathers
- My weaknesses that have been given to me that help me to be humble and rely of the Lord
-The grace that is administered through the Atonement of Jesus Christ
- The gift of charity that can be given through mighty prayer
- The selfless service and example of Christ
-The knowledge that the Restoration brings that Christ lives!

There are too many blessings to count! Another incredible week has come and gone and I don’t have many left but I know that is enough to do what the Lord expects. I guess it all is summed up in a quote I found this week by Elder Holland "The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have 
brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead and 
remember that faith is always pointed toward the future. Faith always has to do 
with blessings and truths and events that wilyet be efficacious in our lives." -Elder Jeffery R. Holland

Nalikutemwa Sana Sana,
Sister Bingham

more pictures from MLC:

Monday, November 21, 2016

Happy are We!

President Kupu asked each companionship to give a gift to the Savior. He extended the challenge to have each companionship baptize on Christmas day so we will have a mission-wide baptism! So awesome right? Sister Reid and I have been praying and working diligently to find teach and prepare someone to make the sacred convent by entering the waters of baptism on that special day. We were able to put a lot of people on date for Christmas but unfortunately they weren’t able to come to church yesterday. We did have 2 of our new investigators come to Church though and we still have plenty of time to accomplish our goal and show our gratitude for the Savior. But I was getting a little bit worried until a miracle happened… flashback to Blantyre a couple weeks ago. I was kneeling in prayer one day and I felt the prompting to begin praying for whatever area I would be serving in for my last 6 weeks. I started to consistently pray that the Lord would prepare hearts for me to find and invite to come unto Christ. Within a few days the call came that I would be transferred. Ok now flash forward to this week. I continue to pray as an individual and as a companionship that we will be guide to those who are prepared for the gospel. 
 Family Home Evening!!!

Sorry its blurring and sort of was probably the first picture Bana Geni has ever taken:)

Monday night we come home and our night guard Joseph was holding the back cover of a Liahona that was torn out and had been thrown away earlier that day. I asked him if he would like a copy of a complete Liahona and he said yes. I went inside and sort of forgot…oops. Well then I was reading the October 2016 Liahona and it has a story about a man who finds a Liahona with a  picture of king Benjamin on the front and after reading it and meeting the missionaries he ends up being baptized. When I read the story I hurried into closet and looked through the stack of old Liahona’s. GUESS WHAT I FOUND??? The same Liahona that the man in the story found in the old flat!!!!! I quickly grabbed it and ran it outside for Joseph. Next morning I go out to run my morning laps around the parking lot (it seriously isn’t even as big as a basketball court) and Joseph tells me he has read 5 talks and loves it! That night we gave him a Book of Mormon and as of yesterday he was in 2 Nephi 10. He actually stays in the Elders area so they were finally able to teach him on Saturday and he is on date to be baptized on Christmas!!!! It was a huge tender mercy as I realized that he was prepared by the Lord and through us missionaries, he is now able to learn of the restored gospel. Mission is just incredible and filled with so many moments like these!
Ndola District!

 Gift and Vincent Nkhole were confirmed last week and we were able come teaching with us a couple times this past week. Gift is 11 years old and is the spunkiest girl I have ever met. We went and taught an investigator who didn’t come to church. He assured us that he would come this next week and before we could say anything Gift goes “You better come to church or else I will punch you!!” Lol she is adorable. We finally were able to teach her father this past week and it was incredible to watch her testify and teach him. Most families that I have taught in both Zambia and Malawi are very reserved with each other. Especially when we ask a child to teach their father, they get very quiet. I think it is a part of their culture and how they show respect but not with Gift. She went right ahead and was telling him about how much she loves the gospel! We had shown him the picture of his family’s baptism and it softened his heart so much! We could sense a longing in him to also be dressed in white like his wife and children. He asked a lot of questions about baptism but had a concern about being baptized twice. Before Sister Reid or I could even respond Gift goes, “You can be baptized twice but Heavenly father only counts one baptism. The one that is done by the priesthood power of God.” She continues to amaze me. I am in 3 Nephi now and I couldn’t help but think of her as I read the account of the Savior blessing the children one by one. 

 Teaching with our recent converts!!!
We got a referral from the other sisters and were surprised to discover that when we met him he was the driver of a taxi that Sister Reid “bumped” into 2 weeks ago. Hahah I saw him and asked, “wait how do I know you??” hahah but he is so great!!! We saw him twice this week and he came to church. The best part of teaching him was when we followed up on his prayer about Joseph Smith. He said he still hasn’t felt a sure confirmation yet but he said that he is so grateful he now knows how to pray. He continue to explain to us that before when he would pray he never would listen. He would just say his prayer and then chapwa…that’s it. But he said that he began to listen and it has made his prayers more meaningful and he feels the Spirit. He thanked us for teaching him how to pray. We don’t know what will happen with Andrew. So far he is progressing really well and even stayed for our baptism on Sundaybut as we left the lesson with him on Friday I felt so much JOY to know that we helped him know how to communicate with his Father in Heaven. We helped him to understand better and strengthen the most important relationship that he will ever develop in his life. My heart was overwhelmed once again to be a missionary and to get to experience such miraculous events in other’s lives.

I gained a testimony of visiting teaching this week. Remember last week when I talked about Sister Lunia and not knowing how to help her but then she came to church?? Well this week when we went to see her it was a complete 180 from last week! She couldn’t stop smiling and when we asked her about the concerns she had last time, she said they weren’t even a problem anymore. Another tender mercy for me as I learned that we may be inadequate, we may not know what words to share, but if we humbly follow the Savior’s call to find his lost sheep, we will rescue and save them. 

There was one day this week where things were just not going as planned and I was SO tired. I have been blessed my whole mission with an incredible amount of energy and health! But on Friday I was dragging….I started to doubt why exactly I was sent back to this area. But I received a lot of answers to my questions as to why I need to be here. One reason is to learn once again from the members. I will share with you one story. Sister Chalwe lost her husband last year. She has 3 children and doesn’t work. Ok well she sells charcoal but she buys a big bag for 70 kwacha and she makes a profit of 8 kwacha, 10 if she is lucky, which is equal to loaf of bread. Anyways during a lesson we asked her to share to the investigator how she is able to sacrifice to come to church. She shared how she walks over an hour to get to church each week with her kids, whether they have eaten or not. Hearing her testimony moved me to tears because never once have I heard her complain or not smile. She is one of the happiest saints I know! I am grateful that the Lord called me back to Ndola so I can be reminded of the faith and obedience of the members here and so that I can build my own testimony to be like theirs. I was asked to give a talk in Sacrament meeting and as I sat in front, I loved looking at each of the members. Then as we sang “How great the wisdom and the love” I thought of how great the wisdom of the Lord to allow me to be here. How great his love he gives to me in allowing me to serve in Ndola. And how great His plan is! How great it has been to serve in Lilongwe and Blantyre! How great is my calling!!!
 Bernard's Baptism!

The week was great!!! Since I only have 4 weeks left I feel a lot of temptations to think about home which is frustrating because I know how precious my time is and i want to serve with all my heart, might, mind and strength. but at the exact same time I don't feel like i am leaving at all. I feel like it is all I have ever done and all I ever will do. We did a super fun service project and the whole time i wished you could have been with us. I worked really hard and have blisters and my back has been so sore but I loved it!!! it made me miss working in the yard so much. One of the elders was sweating so bad from his head and it made me think of you - Dad! 

 Service Project
We helped move dirt and rocks and the new meetinghouse in Masala...I'm still sore!

We tried to get youth activities started in the branch so i got them to play games. We only havd about 5 youth so not as great as Ndirande but we are laying a foundation. I am happy it is getting colder in Eagle!! its getting hotter here and the rains are finally starting. we couldn't teach a couple lessons this week because it rains so hard on the iron sheet roofs that you can't hear anything!! mid lesson this week a roof came flying off and hit the house we were teaching in. i thought we were going to die!!! hahah funny thing was that we were teaching about the spirit world when it happened.

The work continues to move forward. We taught with a member of the district presidency yesterday and he wants to work with us in creating a group in our area so that the members don’t have to travel so far to get to church. I am sooooooooo excited!!! It is going to take a Lot of hard work and planning and I probably won’t be able to see the results but it is amazing to see the work of our Savior hasten onward. Thank you for your prayers, love and support. I couldn’t do it without you!!!!

Nalikutemwa Sana,
Sister Bingham

 Missionary Outfits
Sister Arok used to roast me on my outfits cause they never matched....things get boring after 17 months of serving so i took this picture just for her but i thought you'd enjoy. Especially Dad since he always makes fun of my mismatching outfits. 

Sister Asemnyinah
This is Sister Asemnyinah (try saying that one) and she likes to do cute poses!

 Helen...she doesn't like the camera

Monday, November 14, 2016

Kukamba Sana Sana Sana

Baptizing souls and killing chickens....what more could I ask for?

Hot season is up and roaring! I forgot how hot the Copperbelt is....nonetheless missionary work is bwino bwino!! I know I wrote a lot about how great it is to be back in Ndola once again but even after all the reunions the work is progressing and we were able to witness SO many tender mercies! 

We went and visited Sister Lunia who has recently become less active. We shared with her "Joy and Spiritual Survival" by President Nelson and to be was a struggle to get through the lesson. She shared with us that she has been less active before but that time, she actually missed church. Now she doesn't have any desire to be there and it is just too much work to get her kids ready and go to church. Everything that we would share with her, and each time we would testify of the importance of the Sacrament and obedience to the Lord's commandments, she would just sort of shrug her shoulders at it. There were many times that I just didn't know how to help her or what to say. But we bore our testimonies and at the end of the lesson I felt a strong prompting to not invite her to church. WHY??? I had no idea. Why should I not invite her to church? how could we teach that whole lesson and not invite her? It was so weird as I ended up just committing her to finish the talk. We prayed and left her house and as we were walking out the gate...she runs over and gets sort of quiet and says, "Sister Bingham, i think I am going to come to church on Sunday" It was then that i realized the reason behind my prompting. She needed to make that decision herself. The choice for her to come and the desire to do so needed to come through her own spiritual impressions so that it would be more powerful and lasting. It was amazing to see her speak out and say that to me after spending the previous 30 minutes refusing to come to church. AND GUESS WHAT?!?!? SHE CAME TO CHURCH!!! AND TAUGHT THE LESSON IN RELIEF SOCIETY!!!!!! This helped me to learn so much about my role as a missionary. SO many times I just want them to realize the importance of our message and almost force them to act upon our invitations because I know how much it will bless them! But it all goes back to the fundamental principle of the plan of It truly is one of God's greatest gifts that He has given us and we have been sent here on earth to learn to make correct choices and follow the Savior, Jesus Christ. It made me so grateful to know that I have been called and set apart to help people learn to make small but eternally significant choices in their lives. I have to be worthy, I have to be faithful, I have to be happy, I have to be bold, and I have to testify and then trust that through the Holy Ghost they will make that right choice. I am so grateful for Sister Lunia and her courage to do what is right!
Our area is really big and we struggle to find people to teach near the actual town part of Ndola. It is important for us to teach here as it is close to the church and often has more self-reliant people. Wednesday morning, Sister Reid and I prayed right before going outside. Sister Reid prayed that we would be able to find new investigators to teach within our center of strength to help establish the church. During her prayer, I had a calm, peaceful feeling rush over me and in that moment I knew that we would be guided to find someone. We went through the day, busy as always, it feels like we never have enough time!!!! We had a few fall throughs but felt like we should go visit a less active. it was hot....i had drank all my water and I started to doubt. We walked into the less actives home and found her daughter at home who initially told us she wasn't a member. She actually is but just didn't want to tell us....anyways she showed us to her neighbor's home and within 20 minutes we had found 7 new investigators! I am grateful for the faith of my companion who petitioned the Lord to help us overcome one of our stumbling blocks. And it truly is amazing how it all works out....often through ways we wouldn't initially think of.
Thursday one of the sisters this side was told she was being transferred to Malawi last minute so we rushed to drive her around her area to say her last goodbyes. She got emotional while saying goodbye to some recent converts and investigators and of course it made me cry. It gave me an opportunity to reflect on my months of service (since it was my 17 month mark) and think of what I have done. I thought of all of the people that I have developed relationships with in each area I have served. It was a really hard hit for me to think my time is far spent and that I won't be doing this everyday for the rest of my life. Honestly it feels like this is all I have done my whole life and really all I want to do for the rest of it. I have learned SO much but this week I was most especially grateful for the opportunity I have been given to love. I think they should change the lyrics to "Called to Love." Unless you have served as a missionary you may not know exactly what I am talking about but it is so hard to walk away from the home of someone you have prayed for, studied for, taught, cooked with, served, laughed with, worried over, learned from and wonder if you will see them again. It was hard to watch Sister Brown say goodbye but it was a big wake up call for me to cherish this time that i have left and to express greater gratitude that the Lord allowed me to come back to see those I love so much. We taught Yimali that afternoon and Sister Asemniynah, who was in a threesome with us for a few days, testified to her of her own experience of walking to church in Ghana and committed her to sacrifice to make it to church on Sunday. AND GUESS WHAT??? She came. It was soooooooo great to see her but the best moment of all was Sunday evening hearing Sister Asemnyinah talk about how happy that moment made her! I love watching the other sisters find success and joy in the work!!! Its been humbling and really inspiring to discover there is so much more happiness that we can experience if we rejoice with those around us. Too often we find ourselves comparing ourselves and wishing we could do better that we miss out on great spiritual experiences that are family and friends are having! I have come to find the same amount of joy and have learned so much from the other sisters and elders and their successes! 
We had a FHE with the Nkholes who were baptized last week and their father joined us for the lesson!!! The sisters haven't been able to teach him and he is pretty hesitant to learn but we taught from the family proclamation to the world and it was incredible how it softened his heart. There is so much power in families and always connecting the message we teach back to the family. Brother and Sister Simanwe came with and shared how the gospel has blessed their family. I have heard them do it plenty of times before but the spirit was so much stronger because they have been to the temple! We also visited another member who went to the temple and she had the most amazing glow about her and couldn't stop smiling. I wish you could hear their testimonies.....
 Water Problems
 Saturday morning the elders called us and asked us to come help them fill up the baptismal font at their meetinghouse because they didn't have water. We made about 5 trips with 12, 20 liters bottles full of water. It was hectic but we are so grateful everything worked out and the baptism was wonderful!

Saturday we spent the morning filling up a baptismal font for the elders and then we stayed to watch the baptism. Even though I had never met the baptismal candidate I was so touched by the service. I tried to soak it all in and as always there was the sweetest spirit there. I love love love being able to witness sacred ordinances performed so often! On Sunday the Nkhole's were confirmed and it was the best. The words in the confirmation of "We your brethren" really touched my heart. It made me remember that we are all part of Heavenly Father's family and he loves us all so much! It made me grateful to be able to work hand in hand with the members in Ndola to bring about the purposes of God. It made me want to go out and shout from the housetops about the restored gospel!!! I have found so much joy lately in literally talking to every person I can about the gospel. Despite their response or progression, it makes my own testimony and love for the Savior grow each time.
So the week was great! Mission is great. My companion is great. I love being a missionary and the promise that we read in Helaman 3:27 "The Lord is merciful unto all who will, in the sincerity of their hearts, call upon His holy name."
Nalikutemwa Sana,
Sister Bingham

Ndola Branch!
My hair dressers
Look how big the Nonde girls are!!!!