Monday, August 7, 2017

Week 73: a good fight.

Hi Family! Hi friends!

This is my last P-Day here in Zimbabwe! How did that even happen? This week was full of finding, NOT full of electricity, full of happy tears, good companions, and the spirit. I'm ending off my mission with a marriage and baptism this weekend, and LOTS of sadza. Oh, Zimbabwe how I love you. 

Thank you all for the emails of encouragement these past (almost) 18 months. Thank you for the packages and letters, and for your love and friendship. I will be forever grateful for each of you!

"Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life."

"And we have suffered all manner of afflictions, and all this, that perhaps we might be the means of saving some soul; and we supposed that our joy would be full if perhaps we could be the means of saving some. Now behold, we can look forth and see the fruits of our labors; and are they few? I say unto you, Nay, they are many; yea and we can witness of their sincerity, because of their love towards their brethren and also towards us."

"For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished  my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day."

The best decision I have ever made was to answer the call to represent my Savior. I have felt more joy here in Zimbabwe than I have in my whole life. I cannot deny that God lives. His Son has been by my side every step of the way. This gospel brings happiness, of that I can testify. I love you, Zimbabwe! 

See you soon, family. I love you!!

Love, Sister Richards 

bernard and natalie, my favorite children

my companionship for the day!

love these people

more of nanoview

my bho zvekuti companion

street art!

DA's for the win

exchanges with sister arbon! love this girl. we had so much fun.

said goodbye to sister mpiyakhe this week, my longest companion. SO HARD. 

 almost all of my companions with at Mission Leadership Council with me this week! SO FUN. only missing three from my whole mission. I LOVE THEM ALL. 

 got to see my peeps in mabvuku for a second this week!

my two favorite elders.

cooking in the mission home. ALONE. 

sister ziqubu, my comp with the click in her name

elder wilcken has taken more selfies on my camera then on his i bet

the elders had a competition to see who could eat the most. the winner ate EIGHT full plates of spaghetti. then sister mkhabela told him he was breaking the word of wisdom so he stopped

Monday, July 31, 2017

Week 72: The Gift of Discermination

Helloooo Zimbabwe!

This week was just kind of a giant blur because it was so crazy. But so crazy good, so all is well. We had a powerful Zone Conference on Tuesday where President shared our experiences we've been having with Brother Tawanda and the Book of Mormon! That meeting was so full of the spirit I thought I might die. I love missionary work and I love the Book of Mormon!! 

So my comp and I accidentally got ourselves into cooking for Mission Leadership Council tonight. Oh my gosh. SO not intentional but here we are. We roped all the other Sister Training Leaders into it though so we're cooking for like 35 people tonight! Sister Mkhabela is leaving us in the mission home all alone all day to cook. President Mkhabela has informed me that he's very worried, and Sister Mkhabela said she'll take some anti-food poisoning medication before she eats. It's okay we'll show these people that sister missionaries know how to COOK. 

So we're always murmuring about the water here and how we never have it, right? Well the tables have turned here in Chintungwiza. Our water WILL NOT stop overflowing every single day. Our landlord had a heart attack about it DURING CHURCH yesterday so we had to run home to save his dear life. Shame. But all was well until it happened again while we were asleep but we could hear the water rushing and we were tired and didn't know what to do so we just flipped of all the electricity and went back to sleep. It worked so we have not yet become like Noah and his family. Yet. 

So we have this really hysterical investigator named Emmanuel who stays waaayyyy far out in Nanoview. He's 22 and calls us multiple times a day so see how we're doing, so my companion has resulted in telling him that we travel to Durban very frequently so he will just have to wait to see us during his appointments. Anyways. This week we followed up on him reading and praying about the Book of Mormon. It was very sweet moment  he said he had a vision and it was through "the gift of discermination" that he knew God was speaking to him. Oh my goodness I lost it. But like silently lost it but I didn't do a very good job of doing in silently but we were sitting in such a way that I just kinda ducked behind my companion so Emmanuel couldn't see me. I'm very grateful that many of our investigators come to know that the Book of Mormon is true, but sometimes I wonder about the visions and dreams they have. But alas, God works in mysterious ways, even through the gift of discermination. 

This weekend, we had the baptisms of Spiwe and Takudzwa! Spiwe is 16 and was a referral from her Mom who is being taught by the missionaries in South Africa. She got in contact with our branch president and asked that the missionaries go and see her daughter. We saw Spiwe on our first day in the area and it's been such a joyful experience. She's been attending Roman Catholic all her life and at first had many doubts about what we were teaching her. We prayed that Spiwe would be able to recognize the answers to prayer she was receiving and be willing to act on them. She prayed for awhile about the Book of Mormon but every time we followed up she said her answer hadn't yet come. We didn't give up on Spiwe and neither did she get up on trying to receive her answer. She came to church every Sunday, and she always asked for more passages of scripture to read. One day she told us that she had received her answer! She said she prayed and asked God if the book was true, and afterward just stayed silent for a moment. An overwhelming feeling of peace came into her heart and she said she just wanted to keep reading and reading. I feel like I've had so many experiences like this on my mission and I'm so grateful for them. What I love about Spiwe is that she never gave up, and God never gave up on her. Sometimes we may feel as though answers to prayer are delayed or even nonexistent, but I do have a testimony that God hears each prayer, and through His own time will answer them according to His will. 

2 Nephi 32 is a great chapter on prayer and scripture study that we usually read with investigators. As I was studying it before a lesson this week, I noticed something I hadn't seen before. "Wherefore, now after I have spoken these words, if ye cannot understand them it will be because ye ask not, neither do ye knock; wherefore, ye are not brought into the light, but must perish in the dark." All of us want light in our lives. None of us would ever want to be in the dark. It is through prayer, by knocking and asking, that we can be brought into the light. Joseph Smith's prayer delivered our world from the dark night of the Great Apostasy, and we can be delivered from any darkness in our lives if we simply get on our knees and pray. I do have a testimony that through personal prayer we can be brought in the light and our lives will be filled with light.

Missionary work is bho zvekuti and I am HAPPY. I'm savoring the sweet country of Zimbabwe for my last two weeks. Love you all!

Love, Sister Richards 

With our recent convert named Tessa. She's the best!



oh happy day!!

surprise birthday party for our branch president! we made the cake. 

Sister Makosa went GOURMET for the party! Chapati and mashed potatoes. Sooo stinkin good. 

more birthday party fun.

Texas sheet cake in Zimbabwe. Powerful.

This is lunch a couple times a week. How much does this cost? ONE DOLLAR. 

oh the joys of Nanoview.

it's stinkin far away but stinkin pretty

guess who I found at zone conference?! SISTER MPIYAKHE. 

Sister Mkhabela, the best mission mother in the world. 

This is Elder Barlow. Apparently his grandparents are serving in Ghana and know Mom and Dad!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Week 71: Pamamonya Ipapo!

Hi family and friends!

This week was great, just like all the rest! My companion and I really saw some big tender mercies in the area and are just having the best time! We had water and electricity all week long, ate TOO many avocados in the area, and have been trying to learn as much shona slang as  possible to fit in with the young crowd. Way harder than it sounds!! The latest: Pamamonya ipapo. All of the drunks say it to me in the area because it means a little guy walking around with big guys. And because i'm shorter than every person on the earth, it looks like I'm always walking with big people. Hence pamamonya ipapo. Bho zvekuti. We had four baptisms this week and it was seriusly like the best baptism EVER. They just get better and better with every weeks. Chitown, you are the promised land. I'm convinced of it.

Brother and Sister Muringayi are a couple who have been investigating the church since April and this weekend they were baptized! They are so powerful it's not even funny. Brother Muringayi used to smoke 20 cigarettes a day and is now completely clean. With tears in his eyes, he bore testimony of the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ in helping him to change his life. He and Sister Muringayi already have their eyes set on the temple and are working on getting their passports to go to the Johannesburg, South Africa temple! It has been such a privilege to meet them both. 

This week we met with a 19 year-old investigator named Tinotenda. He came to church for the first time last Sunday after being contacted on the street, and you honestly would've had no idea he was an investigator. He was participating like crazy and just loving every second of church. This week we invited him to read and pray about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. We discussed the fruits of the spirit and how we can recognize our answers to prayer. He said, "I have faith that God will answer my prayers about the Book of Mormon. I know He will because He already has before." He held the Restoration pamphlet in his hand and told us how he followed the instructions in the pamphlet to pray to know if Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. He felt a burning in his heart that this is the truth that God wants him to follow. He comes to every activity, every meeting, every everything! He is so excited to have found the truth and I'm so grateful for the power of the Holy Ghost in confirming the truth to our hearts. 

The last tender mercy we say was with the mother of the twins who were baptized this weekend. She's been coming to church every Sunday without fail, but has wanted nothing to do with taking the discussions. We've been at her house almost every other day the past three weeks to see her daughters, so she's gotten really used to having us around. The lesson in Gospel Principles on Sunday was on missionary work and the importance of sharing the gospel. Our branch mission leader taught the lesson, and it was super powerful. People were just pumped up after the lesson. I watched Sister Takadii super closely during the lesson and could see the wheels starting to turn in her head. After church she came and put her arm around me and said, "Sister Richards, I think it's time you and Sister D come and teach my husband and me." I ALMOST PASSED AWAY. But then I just kept it together and asked when we could come and see her. I AM SO HAPPY. God has His own time table and sometimes we don't understand it, but His plan is perfect. I cannot wait to go and see Brother and Sister Takadii so they can enjoy the blessings of the gospel as a family!

My testimony of personal prayer seems to grow each and every day. Heavenly Father truly listens to us and is aware of each word we say. I really learned this week that Heavenly Father just wants to be our friend. He wants us to be close to Him, but He will never force us. What a blessing it is so have a friend who is the perfect listener and has the perfect solutions. 

A ton of weeks down, three to go. LET'S DO THIS. 

Love, Sister Richards 

St. Mary's extension back at it again

paparazi caught me doing the progress record 

 Elder Leneham and Hanson, Chitungwiza District. 

my people!

The Muringayis!! How happy is this picture!!

the twins flashing gang sings.

I love these girls!



happy Friday

Washing our car waiting for the baptismal font to fill up. 

BERNARD. my favorite child. We are teaching his Mom right now!

St. Mary's extension 

chikafu chakanaka to get us through weekly planning 

exchanges with sister plothow!

getting ready to make the drive back to epworth

 With Foster, our member present for the day, and Katherine! 

svosve street. don't even try to say this word, you will choke.