Monday, June 27, 2016

Week 15: Rabbits and Guinea Pigs and Cows, Oh My!

First week in Mabvuku! What in the. I feel like I've been here for about 80 million years but it's okay! My companion is great and can talk until you would think a person wouldn't physically be able to talk any more, but we're doing just fine haha. She's powerful and the people here ADORE her. 

The area is probably about the size of all of china and russia and every big thing in the world combined, and we talk a ton! Mabvuku is pretty much just a ghetto version of Chi Town, so we have to be super careful, especially at night. We work in two wards (which means 6 hours of church on sunday wow) and the members here and SO involved! Seriously! Every single day we have members working with us which is so nice because of the language barrier. The members love to feed us, as in LOVE to feed us, and I'm not gonna lie, my skirts are getting a little bit tight (how does that even happen in a week), so some serious action needs to be taken ASAP!

Yesterday we were able to give four baptismal dates! If anything, the people of Mabvuku are prepared! We're teaching this family who belonged to this super crazy church before, and they want to be baptized so bad! At their other church they couldn't eat anything while the sun was up, they weren't allowed to go to school or be formally employed, and a bunch of other insane things. They're so great, and I'm so happy to be able to invite them to a not so crazy church. 

My companion, Sister Ngwenya, is making me try so many new foods! This week I had rabbit twice, guinea pig, sugar cane, and some part of a cow - I was too scared to ask what part cause it was funny funny. Haven't gotten sick yet. So many blessings.

I'm speaking in Zone Conference on Wednesday, so that's consuming my study time for now. When my Zone Leaders called to tell me, I told them that they must have called the wrong Sister Richards, but they assured me that I am, in fact, the only Sister Richards serving in the Zimbabwe Harare Mission. So I'll be speaking on staying cheerful in times of tribulation. Throughout the scriptures are pleads for us to be of good cheer, so I've loved studying more of those verses. The gospel is truly a message of hope! 

"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." John 16:33

Love you all! 

Love, Sister Richards 

My companion, sister ngwenya!

Sister Walbeck, my favorite person everrrr

Monday, June 20, 2016

Week 14: Ndeipi Mabvuku!

Family and Friends!

A great week in Chitungwiza, but sadly, my last. I leave today for Mabvuku, which is about an hour out of Harare town. Chitungwiza was the same distance away, just on the other side. I'm suuuuper sad to be leaving Chi Town, but half of it was closed, so it's okay. My new companion is Sister Ngwenya from South Africa, and I'm way excited! I've had two Zulu companion's in a row now, and since it's a clicking language, I'm getting pretty good! In the house I'll be with Sister Kapinga who was in the Chi House with us, and Sister Walbeck from my MTC group and I'm PUMPED! It should be awesome.

We're right smack in the middle of winter right now, which means high 70's during the day, so it feels so nice! We had some really nice lessons this week, although it lasted about 75 thousand years. I told you about the gogo and baba that we're teaching, and they're the cutest ever! So gogo says she's having a hard time being able to remember what she reads after she's read her Bible and she asked us what to do. So we told her to always start with a prayer, and ask Heavenly Father if he'll help you remember what she read. So we came back after a couple days, and she was SO excited to tell us everything that happened. She had read the introduction and Joseph Smith's testimony at the front of the Book of Mormon, and told us in detail about everything! It was incredible! She remembered everyyytthing from Joseph Smith's testimony, and let me tell you, even I get confused because Moroni comes so many times! But it was so incredible and she's the best. 

We started teaching Brother Lovemore the week I got here, and he's so funny haha. He speaks fluent English which is nice, and is thoroughly convinced he's the single greatest person in the world. Anyways, we dropped him awhile back because he wasn't keeping commitments, but we saw him on the streets a couple weeks ago and I told him I'd fall dead if I ever saw him at church. Well, the next week he showed up and we laughed cause I'm definitely still alive. Anyways, he accepted a baptismal date this week! I'm sad I won't be here for his baptism, but he will be such a great contribution to our ward. 

I got a camera this week and have been taking pictures like crazy so brace yourselves haha. I'm so happy and I lock it up every single night cause I don't want this one stolen too! Pretty much I'm just pumped for Mabvuku and to see a new area and everything. 

"Many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land (CHI TOWN), for which we will praise his name forever"

Love you all!

Love, Sister Richards 

#1: Sister Jili and me!

#2: First pic with my new camera YEEYUH

#3: Sister Kapinga!

#4: Sister Ziqubu, we were in the MTC together. I love this girl!

#5: Last day with our beloved car, Snow White. Real life tears.

#6: Sister Jili and Elder Tsongora, my DL is Chitown.

#7: my favorite gogos in our ward! I will miss them soo much.

#8: cute little patricia

#9: Ruth! Her family had us over to dinner every Saturday. She calls me her "doll"

#10: Chi Town District (minus Sister Stegs and Kapinga) with the Bishop and his wife. 

#11: Mmmm my favorite food here. Chicken stew, rice, and lots of coleslaw. My house jokes that I would never accept drugs, only chicken stew and rice. WOW I LOVE IT. 

#12: Steers, a burger place in Harare town. Kapinga's obsessed with it, but it does not even compare to american burgers. Sorry, Steers.

#13: We went to the rural areas for soccer on Saturday. Week 6 we always have an activity the day of transfers. It was called Domboshava, and it was the bush! We almost died getting there! But it's okay it was super pretty.

#14: Last sunday in the tent for church. I was so sad. 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Week 13: You're Supposed to Pray About That

Ah my peeps!

Today I am just sitting here beaming with happiness because I just love everything so much! Today we were able to get money from the bank (hallelujah) and I came to the mission office to find a package from Abby with OREOS! I am just spoiled rotten these days! Thank you all so so so much! 

This week was so stinkin good! Sister Jili and I have been working our very hardest, and we come home at the end of the day just exhausted. I mean EXHAUSTED. There's really no better feeling, though!  Missionary work is so good! Transfers are coming this week and tensions are high. It's one of those transfers where you have NO idea what's going to happen. There are 20 Elders going home and only one coming, which means about 9 or 10 areas are going to be closed, so Chi Town might be closed, and we all might be going. I'm going to be so sad to say goodbye to all the sisters in the house because we've been through so much together! But I'm excited to see who my next companion will be. 

This week we had about one trillion lessons and it was amazing. We got to teach the restoration to a ton of new investigators and hear about their experiences after praying about Joseph Smith. The baba I talked about last week was so cute when we asked him how his prayers went. He said, "I asked God if Joseph Smith was true, and I closed my eyes and all I could see was Joseph Smith in the trees with angels above him. That's when I knew it was true". How incredible is that! The Restoration is SO important and there's nothing I love teaching more. 

We're teaching this 15 year old boy named Paddington, and he is the best ever! I always think of cute Daniel who loves Paddington bear, and just can't help but smile when I see this kid. He wants to get baptized so bad and is so dedicated! He traveled all the way to Mbare and sat through two verrry cold hours of stake conference, and he's not even a member yet! If nothing else, the people of Zimbabwe are DEDICATED. 

This week, we were planning on starting the recent covert lessons with Albert, who was baptized in May. He has a strong testimony, but sometimes just doesn't quite get it. A couple weeks ago when I was teaching gospel principles, I asked the class what A in the steps of repentance stands for. We teach it as ABCDE, Admit, Be Sorry, Confess and Correct, Don't Do It Again, and Endure to the End. Albert so confidently raised his hand and said very loudly, "Alcohol!". Well, not quite, but yes that's something you can repent from. Anyways, so we go to teach him this week, and he invites one of his friends in and just starts teaching him his own version of  The Gospel of Jesus Christ. He starts asking his friend what all of his weakness are and every time his friends says one Albert goes, "Oh yeah you're supposed to pray about that". The guy's a hoot. Definitely have some work to do before he's our member present, but he's trying so hard! 

"Oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain! Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy". I've experienced a different kind of pain on mission than I never have felt before, and let me tell you, it was been exquisite. But as I have taught and testified with my companion about the truthfulness of this gospel, there has been nothing that has brought me such exquisite joy! "O my son, the Lord doth give me exceedingly great joy in the fruit of my labors" 

I love you all so stinkin much! Thank you for the love and the prayers and everything you do for me!

Love, Sister Richards 

Monday, June 6, 2016

Week 12: Diet Coke & Miracles

Hello my people!!

Good week down in Chi Town! Definitely starting to see some success, and the work is moving forward!

First off, major shout out to my one and only Mother Mary for the heaven-sent package of Diet Coke and candy from Ghana. Honestly has kept me alive this week (you think I'm kidding, but I'm not). Sister Jili and I laid on our beds, drank diet coke, and enjoyed the serenity of a chopin nocturne playing in the background. I thought I was in paradise for a second but then I was like shoot still definitely in Zimbabwe. Although, Zim comes pretty close to paradise sometimes. THANK YOU, MOM!

Before I get to the good stuff, you may have seen on the news, but Zimbabwe is experiencing a major financial crisis, there's pretty much no money in the whole entire country. So when I said the package was keeping me alive, I was serious because we have hardly any food. All the missionaries were joking that it was easy to fast on Sunday because we actually had no choice haha. We're hoping to find a bank with cash today, and praying that Pick n Pay will let us swipe our cards so we can get groceries! Nevertheless, God will always take care of his missionaries, and somehow someway, we've been able to eat every day!

On a happier note, we had a baptism this week! Brother Godfrey, my favorite human being in all of Zimbabwe, was baptized yesterday and it was so happy. He bore a powerful testimony of the Prophet Joseph and the Restoration afterwards, and wow I was just so happy. Baptizing father-led families is so important, because generations upon generations will be blessed from that one family!

We've found a lot of new people to teach this week, and it's been great! We have this baba and gogo that I love so much, and they came to church yesterday! As we taught the restoration this week, I recited Joseph Smith's first vision, and at the end, baba sat up and said (edited version), "Well shoot! This is a miracle!!". I think we often forget how miraculous the restoration of the church is, but this baba so kindly reminded me (with a little bit of colorful language) that I witness a miracle every day! Haha the best.

"Blessed be the name of my God, who has been mindful of us, wanderers in a strange land." 
Zimbabwe is definitely still a strange land, but for sure throughout this week, I have seen that God is mindful of all of us, no matter where we are!

Love you all!!
Love, Sister Richards 

Brother Godfrey at his baptism!!!!! I was so happy!!