Monday, March 27, 2017

Week 54: Issues of Faith, Not of Bananas

wassup fam!

This week was great! We witnessed the baptism of Hilda and Tinashe which was the sweetest experience EVER, had electricity the whole week (!!!!!), saw so many miracles, and WENT ON A SAFARI!!! IT WAS SO STINKIN COOL. We drove down to Gweru and did a game drive and it seriously was so sick. Giraffes, zebras, lions, the whole shibang! 

Tragedy: So you can tell how old someone is on mission by how brown the letters of their name tag are. Well because I've been here for over a year, naturally my name tag was stinkin brown and I was so proud of it! Well. Tragedy struck my life and I put the white shirt I had worn that day in a bucket of bleach and laundry soap. About an hour later the still small voice reminded me that my name tag was on my shirt and then there was weeping and wailing and ghanshing of teeth because now my name tag is so white I look like I'm straight from the MTC.  

Drunk: Our drunk encouter this week was much, much longer than we have ever hoped for. We went to see one of our investigators, and his 100% completely wasted uncle sat us down and would not let us leave! He talked and talked complete nonsense for ever, but after an SOS text to the Zone Leader, they called and said there was an "emergency we need to tend to immediately" (we'll pay for this one at the last day). Well at the end, this uncle reminded us not to count the people we teach because after all, "These are issues of faith, not of selling bananas." for a second i was like ??? but then it was a nice reminder that the work we do is not about numbers, but about strengthening peoples faith!

Kudakwashe: Kudakwashe came to church for the first time last week after being invited by one of our other investigators. Immediately when we met him, he told us he drinks and smokes but really wants to stop, and that's why he came to church. Amazing! We went to visit him this week and it was such an incredible experience. We sat down with him, and guess what one of the first questions he asked was? "How soon can I be baptized?" What! We had a great lesson with him and the spirit testified to me so strongly that this man has been prepared for the glad message of the gospel. He is so excited for general conference, is trying to read every material he saw at church, and is inviting the rest of his family to church. I cannot wait to teach him about the atonement of Jesus Christ and the change it can brings in our lives. There are miracles in store for Kudakwashe! 

Abindai: This week I studied so much about Abinadi. How amazing was he?! Some of his last words before he seals his testimony with his death are of the atonement of Jesus Christ. "He is the light and the life of the world; yeah, a light that is endless, that can never be darkened; yeah, and also a life which is endless, and there can be no more death." Jesus Christ truly broke the bands of death so that we can have an endless life, but with that, provided us with endless light! Do you ever feel darkness in your life? Let Jesus Christ be your light. That light can never be darkened. In this Easter season, let us turn our minds to His atonement and remember it is because of Him we have life!

I love missionary work, I love Africa, and I love the Book of Mormon! Have a wonderful week, my friends! 

Love, Sister Richards 

enjoying ezra in my favorite part of our area! no roads, just grass. welcome to dutchman! 

my people got baptized!! 

the happiest day!!

the young men/YSAs believe it's their "priesthood duty" to wash our car. i'm not complaining. 

so much chibage. gave me blisters! but our member was grateful and that's what matters!

banana trees

nothing better than a nice view of the book of mormon while doing service

this is charity cooking!

my freshly bleached name tag :((((

comp swaggg

dancing to the beat of our own song because a year of only efy and motab will make you want to make up your own songs 

in the car for the safari!

so everything was really calm and nice and quiet, but then I sneezed and it sent all the zebras running. Oops!

so the male two giraffes are fighting for the girl giraffe off to the side. nature is so weird. 

they call me farmer c rich. but today I wasn't a farmer, I was on a safari. 

hey giraffey giraffes! 

hey giraffey giraffes! 

with ngha, our safari man

antelope park! loved it!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Week 53: "You'll Find Me Running"

Hi Family and Friends!

This week was great! We worked like MANIACS this week and it was so amazing. Appointment after appointment after appointment. There's nothing better! It was so insanely crazy busy. Traveling to and from Zone Conference, exchanges, interviews with President Mkhabela, and trying to fit all of our investigators somewhere in between! We didn't have electricity the WHOLE week which makes pretty much 100% of life impossible, but hot water came back today so all is well!

SO get this. The reason our electricity went out was because a lizard crawled into some wires somewhere or something and fried the whole system. Well, poor little lizard got fried himself! The electrician gave us our petrified lizard and we proceeded to take 1894729 pictures with him. Poor guy. Caused us so much distress in our lives. 

So we keep on seeing our less active sekuru (grandpa) Brother Khumalo whom I LOVE! He's doing SO well with his Book of Mormon reading and is progressing so well. His native language ndebele, his second is shona, and third english. But all of church is in english, and he's trying to practice praying in english so he can pray at church. He asks every member that comes through with us to write down a prayer in his prayer book so he can get ideas haha. It's the cutest thing!! He prayed in english on Friday and we just praised him for how great it was. He said, "aewa aewa (no) it goes like this. You stand up, fall down. Stand up, fall down, stand up, fall down. But next time, you'll find me running." I loved his determination. We will find him running!

This week we had a great experience with More Blessed! Obviously his baptism has been way postponed due to his criminal history, but he really is changing. We taught him the word of wisdom this week. It was apparent before that he has problems with smoking, and we were able to hear him open up about it. When he started coming to church, he started to have a change of heart about his smoking and drugs habits. He knelt down one night and told God that he wanted to stop smoking, but he would need His help. Well, just in these two months, and without us knowing, he's gone from 30 cigarettes a day down to 4! Imagine! He committed to filling out that page of the WOW pamphlet of "plans and goals" and we are excited to help him officially quit tobacco and marijuana. It just really strengthened my testimony that God prepares His people for the gospel. The gospel instills in us a desire to change, and we see that so clearly with More Blessed. We are really seeing miracles with him.

President Russell M. Nelson once said, "As in all things, Jesus Christ is our ultimate exemplar, 'who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross'. Think of that! In order for Him to endure the most excruciating experience ever endured on earth, our Savior focused on joy." Something my trainer told me at the beginning of my mission is that it never gets easier, you just get used to it. I have found this to be so true! Missionary work is WORK. It wasn't meant to be easy. But for us to get through anything, we can follow the example of our Savior and focus on JOY. It's as simple as that. Finding joy in each and every day can make the longest and hottest of days seem bearable, and you will be able to live every day of your life with a smile on your face! I have an unshakable testimony of that. 

I love missionary work. I love zimbabwe. I love sadza. Come to zimbabwe and you'll find me running. Love you all!!!

Love, Sister Richards

ate in the car after church so we could go straight to the area. classic. 

 member gogo chuma! she's leaving for south africa this week for an operation. we went to say goodbye.

the petrified lizard who ruined our lives

the petrified lizard who ruined our lives

lindsay grauling i love you!! thank you for the gushers!!!

the famous brother khumalo!

with member charlton. he had just finished writing his prayer in brother khumalos prayer book. 

went on exchanges with sister bergen in gweru and had the greatest time! 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Week 52: "Wherefore, I Could Not Be Shaken"

Hi Fam!

Another great week in Mbizo! This week I hit ONE YEAR! What! We were in Harare for a couple days where we were able to attend Mission Leadership Council. It was so awesome and I learned so much! Fire was witnessed, fire was received, and fire was given. I have been so blessed to be called to a mission where the missionaries work so stinkin hard, and the leaders care so much. We are striving for perfection! I had the flu this week which was terrible, but on the bright side, a new hot dog place opened up right by our house so we have been blessed by many, many hot dogs. (america, i miss you shamwari)

*drum roll please* WE GOT A CAR! HALLELUJAH AMEN PRAISE THE LORD!!! Good things come to those who wait (and work hard)!! We got a brand spankin new Nissan Almera straight from the dealership! It was a 3 hour drive back to Kwekwe and was one of the most enjoyable rides of my life. I missed driving so much! We named the car Ezra because we loved Ezra Taft Benson, and there's this member named Ezra who's 10 and comes to our lesson with young children, and he's the funniest human alive. So Ezra was the obvious choice. The car has CHANGED our lives and the work is just blowing up. GOODBYE to being a foot soldier.

At MLC we discussed our new Mission Culture which is "Commitment through Obedience". My companion and I re-committed ourselves to Jesus Christ and His work this week and we have seen miracle upon miracle. We had 10 investigators come to Stake Conference with us in Gweru. They had to be at the church at 6:45 am, and many of them walked an hour or so to get there! We also had 3 less actives attend with us, and we were blessed throughout the week with EIGHT new investigators! We've been struggling finding people the past couple weeks and now our schedule is completely packed. The Lord blesses those who are committed to His work!

We're teaching two young women named Hilda and Emily. They are so amazing. They have had such tough lives, I cannot even begin to tell you. They have been victims of terrible terrible things, and have come out feeling that God has abandoned them. It has been such a great experience testifying that God is there and He loves them. By the end of one of our lessons, they were both just crying. Hilda offered the most heartfelt closing prayer, and thanked God for the miracle of the gospel in her life, in making her feel of His love again. Sometimes God has to bring us down to build us up again. I truly can testify that He loves us and is aware of us.

In my study this week, I finished the book of Jacob. I was especially touched by chapter 7. Jacob truly was committed to our Savior Jesus Christ. Sherem came to tempt Jacob because he knew he was strong in the faith. The devil labored diligently through Sherem to bring Jacob down. Jacob 7:5, "And he had hope to shake me from the faith, nothwithstanding the many revelations and the many things which I had seen concerning these things; for I truly had seen angels, and they had ministered unto me. And also, I had heard the voice of the Lord speaking unto me in very word, from time to time; wherefore, I could not be shaken." God needs all of us as His children to be strong like Jacob. When temptations comes and times get tough, we are going to want to surrender. But when we are committed to our Savior, we can come out of our trials with the words "I could not be shaken!" Commit yourselves to Jesus Christ and see the miracles He will place in your life.

I have a testimony of this gospel and of this work! I love it! I love it so stinkin much! Have a great week, my friends. ONE YEAR IN AFRICA!! See you soon!

Love, Sister Richards 

we're teaching two children in a part member family, brandon and tatenda. This day we taught the Book of Mormon with member Ezra (far left) and my companion brought these actions figures of Moroni and Joseph! It was so awesome haha

Seventh Day Adventist we visited, sister ncube. she might be impossible to convert about the sabbath day, but it made for a nice visit. 

we made tacos this week and they were awesome (thank you for the taco seasoning, abby!)

weekly planning made possible by the one and only CLAIRE FERGUSON. Thank you for the package of biscuits!! 

my MTC friends who came to africa with me ONE YEAR AGO!

my MTC friends who came to africa with me ONE YEAR AGO!

my MTC friends who came to africa with me ONE YEAR AGO!

my daughter, and my granddaughter! sister park is training! 

my beautiful granddaughter from malawi 

my people!

helllooooo ezra!

featuring member Takunda

brandon and tatenda, who showed up to the chapel at 6:45 am by themselves for stake conference!! books of mormon in hand. i love it.

sister mpiyakhe has had a goal for like 5 weeks in a row to make a video every night about our day, but every night says she's too tired to do it. so today i made her sign a contract. i'll let you know how it goes. 

KWEKWE ZONE: the greatest zone in the zimbabwe harare mission

KWEKWE ZONE: the greatest zone in the zimbabwe harare mission

KWEKWE ZONE: the greatest zone in the zimbabwe harare mission

Monday, March 6, 2017

Week 51: "The Damage Has Been Done"

Hi Fam!
Good week again here in the promised land! This week was hotter than anything I have ever felt in my whole entire life. I CAN'T EVEN EXPRESS TO YOU THE HEAT. Like even my feet are extremely sunburnt? how does that even happen? Anyways. We saw some huge miracles this week, including the baptism of Isheanesu!
MORE BLESSED: So we've been working with an investigator named More Blessed for weeks now and he's doing so well! He used to be a cold hard criminal. He was in jail for a long time for like murder and theft and stuff but is really doing so so well now. We discussed just about repentance this week and we were able to read Alma's conversion story from the Book of Mormon with him. More Blessed told us the pain and guilt that has been consuming his heart, and we were able to read the words of Alma saying that although his pain was so bitter, his joy will be so sweet. I wish you could've seen the look on his face! This man is changing and wants more than anything to repent of his sins. He's been working with Bishop a lot and everything is going so well!

REPENTANCE: So something I repented of this week was my refusal of seeing less actives. Oh my goodness I do not like visiting less actives. It puts me in a terrible mood. Well a member of the stake presidency asked to work with us this week because he said he had a number of referrals to show us. No no no. None of them were referrals, they were all less actives. So here I am thinking poor me I'm being forced to see less actives but it was actually the best thing ever! Brother Khumalo is like 65 and is the funniest old man alive and we were able to walk to church with him on Sunday! He's really taken to us and he's kind of like a grandpa to us. He has a BEAUTIFUL garden with oranges and papaya and guava and everything you could ever imagine! When we picked him for church we asked if he was excited and he said, "of course, can't you see I'm looking smart?" Everyone was so happy to see him at church. So we had three less actives come back to church this week and I know they're going to stay!
THE DAMAGE HAS BEEN DONE: So things blew up again with Ishe's family this week before the baptism. We we were at the Ngirande's (the family whose house we teach him at) and waited for about 45 minutes and Ishe didn't show up because of some stuff with his mom. We were starting to get worried and were just talking as a companionship about everything. But then President Ngirande (EQ President) looked at us and said, "Sisters don't worry, the damage has been done. The gospel has been planted deep in his heart. He will be baptized." Well, because God is a God of miracles, everything fell into place, and Isheanesu was baptized on Saturday and bore the most powerful testimony. President Ngirande came up to us after the service and took us both by our hands and said, "Sisters, what did I say? The damage has been chii?" (chii meaning what) and all together we said "DONE." It was awesome.
Something I learned this week is to trust and obey God even if we don't know the reasons why we are asked to do something. One of our investigators really, really struggled with the thought of not taking coffee and tea because he didn't understand WHY God would ask that. After many days of praying and asking, he said, "I still don't know why, but I just know that I'm supposed to do it. These are word from God and  I have to follow them." Faith! Let us each have faith enough to follow Jesus Christ, even when we don't know why.
Love you all, have an awesome week. Sending you some sunshine from Zimbabwe!!
Love, Sister Richards

with nthando the great, who frequently introduces himself as Jesus the Christ

mom don't worry that's not a sunburn it was just really hot that day

at a dinner appointment

you gotta look up!

love my companion, love the rain

visited a member named sister norreen. not sure if she's completely there, but she's very sweet. made for a very interesting visit 

my kiddos!

ishe with charlton and president ngirande, the ones who invited them to church!

ishe felt like he was a karate master hahahaha