Monday, April 25, 2016

Week 6: By Their Fruits Ye Shall Know Them

Hello Family and Friends!

Another scorching hot, but great week in Chi Town!

This week was so stinkin great! Sister Jili and I were getting pretty frustrated, because our area is was feeling so dead. People have a terribly hard time keeping commitments, and so nothing was really happening at all. But this week, we have started to see the fruits of our labors!

We were able to set 6 baptismal dates this week, and that is huge for our area! We are so happy. We're praying that everything goes well, and that our investigators keep coming to church. The Lord truly has led us to those who need to hear the message of the gospel. Amazingly enough, people have come to us and said, "Sister I need you to teach me. Please, just teach me". There's no better feeling!

The Elders had a baptism on Saturday that we were able to attend, and one of the little boys who got baptized bore a powerful testimony after. He's only nine years old, but stood confidently in front of the congregation and said "Brothers and Sisters, I am happy to stand here and bear my testimony. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the only true church. I know that The Book of Mormon is true. And I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen." It was so simple, but so incredibly powerful to hear this testimony from a nine year old convert.

We saw one of our investigators preparing for baptism on Saturday, and he was so drunk. Drunk people are so chatty! He could've gone on and one. Anyways, he brought his other drunk friend to the lesson, and we made it verrryy short because we didn't think they were really getting anything. At the end of the lesson he turned to us and said, "Sisters, I really think my friend needs to hear what you taught me last time." We had taught him several of the commandments, but I couldn't tell which one he was wanting us to teach. And then he says, "The Law of Chastity." Oh shoot. Well before we can say a word, our investigator has started teaching the lesson, and even has his friend reading quotes from the pamphlet. Here I am, sitting in Chitungwiza, Zimbabwe, watching two drunk guys trying to get to the bottom of The Law of Chastity. It was probably the funniest thing I have experienced up to this point in my lifetime! Then his friend said the closing prayer, and asked that all of our enemies burn in the fiery depths of hell. My companion and I LOST IT. It was one of those silent laughs where your body just shakes because you're trying not to make any noise. Safe to say we will be reviewing The Word of Wisdom again this week.

As we went over the parable of the Ten Virgins this week in District Meeting, it really hit me that the oil of conversion cannot be borrowed. As you come on mission, you are testifying of dozens of things eight or nine times a day. You can't testify of something you don't already know about. We have to convert ourselves, save up our oil, so that one day we can testify of the gospel - whether it be about the cleansing power of the Atonement, the reality of God's love for each of us, or of the Book of Mormon. The oil of conversion cannot be borrowed.

I love this gospel with everything I have, and my heart grows more fond of it every day. The church is true!

xoxo Sister Richards

We call our house the celestial kingdom because it's the nicest house in the mission. Here is my bed with the african sun shining through the windows. Doesn't it look celestial?

 My Area

 My Area

 My Area

 The African Sunset

 My favorite kids in our area! They're trying to teach me shona. 

 We are not allowed to hold babies on mission, unless the people would be offended. And we were not about to say no to this Gogo (grandma) who handed us this newborn baby, because she didn't speak a work of english, so we didn't know how to! So we took advantage of the opportunity and took pics.

 The tan. The tan is real.

Sazda and fish. Mmm. Tasted just about as good as it looks. But the spirit helped get that down. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Week 5: You Know You're In Africa

Family and Friends!

A great week down in the books! This week I was in both Chi Town and Kwatzana, because we had exchanges.

This week we went and saw Brother Lameck. Sister Jili and her old companion and taught him a little, but I hadn't seen him yet. So we get off the kombi and start walking, and I ask my companion where he stays. And she thinks for a minute and says, "Hmm, you know that really busy street that we walk down all the time? Well you just turn after that and then turn again and then we meet under that big tree that's there". You know you're in Africa when you know EXACTLY where your companion is talking about when she says you meet under a big tree off a busy street.

So for exchanges, I was in Kwatzana with Sister Bert. Yes, two white girls walking around Africa. I now can see why President never does that. We left the house at 10, got to the area about 10:30, and have 45 contacts before 11. We weren't contacting people, people were contacting us. It was hysterical! I wish I stayed in Kwatzana for a couple more days because we got some serious appointments set up.

We had another great lesson with Brother Timothy, and he said something that just made me smile. He has been having a super tough time with a lot of things in his life. But he looked at us and said, "you guys helped me to stand back up again." And that's really what the gospel does! As missionaries, we're there to help people stand back up, and realize that there is hope.

Also something funny. Brother Lovemore, the guy that could talk FOREVER, almost had a heart attack when he realized that the footnotes in the Book of Mormon weren't written by Nephi. Hahaha I  was trying to hard not to laugh but he was just so concerned that we had to put the footnotes in ourselves and that the prophets couldn't do it themselves. It was so funny.

Scriptural thought for the week:
"And it came to pass that the master of the vineyard went forth, and he saw that his olive tree began to decay; and he said: I will prune it, and dig about it, and nourish it, that perhaps it may shoot forth young and tender branches, and it perish not." 

When Heavenly Father sees we need to grow, he takes the time to prune us, dig about it, and nourish us. These can be seen as trials. When have we felt like we have been pruned? Although these trials may seem hard, Heavenly Father sees it necessary for us to shoot for young a tender branches, that we perish not. The branches may not be very big or strong, but he's willing to put all the work into us just to see a little change.

I hope you all have a great week! Some each some chick fil a for me.

Love, Sister Richards

Monday, April 11, 2016

Week 4: Downpour in Chi-Town

Family and Friends!

Another great week in Chitungwiza! Also known as Chi-Town. I wish I could say I made that up, but I didn't.

This week was hot, cold, full of miracles, and the spirit! One day you wake up and it's 98 degrees, the next day is pouring rain and 40. Sometimes I wonder if I'm still living in Utah because the weather is so bipolar. 

First off, we got to watch conference this week! Wow, it was so incredible. I came away feel inspired, comforted, and empowered. The feelings that were felt in that meeting testify that there is a God. Those words could not have come from men. How blessed we are to live in such a time where God reveals His word to us through His servants! It was verrryyy cold in our chapel (tent), so we seriously packed on the layers. It really makes no sense, because here I am with a sunburn on my face, yet I'm wearing two sweaters, a scarf, and a coat. Thank you, Africa.

We have a new investigator named Brother Lovemore. Oh my. This guy is something else. He could just talk and talk and talk and talk. It took us two and a half hours to get through the restoration alone. He has so many questions, so it's been a great learning experience for me! As we taught him the Plan of Salvation, he had a question he thought could ever be answered in this lifetime. The spirit spoke to me to open a scripture from the book of Alma, and I handed him my scriptures and asked him to read it. After he read it, there was a moment of silence. He looked up from the book and into my eyes and said, 'the scripture says it all'. The Book of Mormon truly says it all.

Here is my latest dilemma. I have such a hard time understanding people on the phone. They speak so fast and their accents are so thick, so usually Sister Jili just talks. Well one day I see that the AP is calling, and so I answer and we talk for a minute or so and I'm understanding him so well and I'm just like YES I'm getting better at this. Well then he says, "sister richards I have a favor to ask. Will you make invitations for zone conference next tuesday?" and in my mind I'm thinking "uhh why do we need invitations for zone conference I'm pretty sure everyone already knows about it". Well obviously I'm new here so I wasn't going to question him, so I said that I would. Then he proceeds to talk more and I can't understand anything so I hand the phone to Sister Jili and give her a heads up about having to make invitations.Turns out, the AP was asking me to give the INVOCATION at the Zone conference, not make invitations.We laughed and laughed and kept on laughing. Safe to say I won't be having any important phone calls in the next little while.

Well, this week I can tell you all that I know that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is real, and it is for all of us. Jesus Christ will be there for us through it all, and will not provide us only comfort, but strength. "What matter is that you are His. Because He loves you, He will find you and put you upon His shoulders and rejoice."

Far and wide we'll tell the Father's story. Far and wide His love proclaim!

xoxo Sister Richards

Monday, April 4, 2016

Week 3: Little White Girl Takes Chitungwiza

Yes, they do call me little white girl here! Chitungwiza is something else!

We're about a 45 minute kombi ride from Harare, and it's really beautiful. Kombis are 13 passenger vans, but there's usually about 28 people in them. If there's not room, people will just sit on your lap. Yes, that's real. 

I've been so surprised by how shocked everyone is to see me! We'll be walking down the street and someone will see me and yell "muroogoo!" and then everyone will turn and yell "how are you!" All the little kids chase after me and just giggle. They're so stinkin cute! Always lifts my spirits. 

My companion's name is Sis Jili, and she's AMAZING. She's from SA and knows a little bit of Shona, so that makes things easier when contacting. But people love trying to speak English with me. 

Last night we had dinner at a members house (we ate caterpillars), and we got there at about 5:30 and then didn't eat until 9:00. We call that African Standard Time. Nothing starts on time around here, except for church! Hooray for church! They asked me to give my testimony during sacrament meeting, and the whole meeting was really nice. Everyone asked if they could touch my hair. They would tug on it and ask if it was real and then be appalled when I told them it was. Haha too great. 

We have four investigators preparing for baptism right now, and we're crossing our fingers that they go through! We're trying to work out some stuff with legal marriages and word of wisdom issues, but we're getting there. The people here are so willing to listen and learn. I love them!

*drum roll please* WE ARE GETTING A TEMPLE!!! Hallelujah! Amen! We haven't watched conference yet but we got the good news last night!!! The people here are so faithful and I know that a temple will just change their lives! Harare! Harare!
The gospel is truly a message of hope for the people of Chitungwiza. Hope for happiness in this life, and a better life after death. The past couple weeks, I've really gained a testimony of missionary work (imagine that). We've been so incredibly blessed by the gospel all our lives, and I can't imagine trying to keep that happiness to myself. If that means I have to walk miles and miles in 102 degree weather and eat caterpillars every day, I can do that. You can do anything for 18 months, right? Let's do this thing.

I love you all so much and thank you for your emails!! President Mkhabela has given us permission to email our friends now because the mailing system is so unreliable.

Please enjoy the nice spring weather for me! Please!!

"And he denieth none that come unto him; black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen, and all are alike unto God"

xoxo Sister Richards