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. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Week 70: He Lives!

hey fam hey friends hello everyone

This week was great! We had a great Mission Leadership Council with missionaries throughout the mission to discuss our theme for the next several weeks which is (drum roll pleeasssee) THE BOOK OF MORMON! Hallelujah! Amen! So obviously I was like the happiest person on planet earth when I heard this and could barely contain my excitement but it's fine! The week was full of lots of laughs and lots of tears and LOTS of tender mercies! We have four baptisms coming up this next week and everything here in Chitown is sweet as candy. 

Probably the highlight of the area was with Brother Tawanda who I wrote about last week. Seriously a miracle! I spoke about how my companion and I bore our firm testimonies of the Book of Mormon and how we knew it would bring him the happiness he needed in his life. When we went back to follow-up, we were amazed by what we both saw and heard. Tawanda had a smile on his face. Not only a smile, the biggest smile I have ever seen in the world! Before we could even ask to say the opening prayer, he had started telling us the miracles that have come into his life as he has started to read the Book of Mormon. 
"Because I read the Book of Mormon, I know that God created me for a purpose. God created me to be happy. Not even just to be happy, but to have joy."
"The spirit in that book is the spirit of Jesus Christ."
"If I were to write a book, the first thing I would write about is my sisters of God bringing me a Book of Mormon."
We took a picture with Tawanda that day and showed it to him. He said, "Is that me...smiling?!" Then he started laughing so hard I thought he might die. The Book of Mormon brings happiness! It brings a knowledge of who we are and why God created us. I am so grateful that Tawanda read the Book of Mormon, and I know that it is true!

During our first week of whitewashing, we were busy wandering around looking for house numbers when a guy named Kelvin stopped us and asked us what we were doing. I told him we were looking for house numbers and he was like no what are you DOING. Turns out he wanted to know about the gospel (missionary FAIL on my part). We started teaching him the Restoration right then and there, but before we started, I felt prompted to ask him a question: If Jesus Christ was on the earth right now and had a church, would you join it? Obviously he said yes. Well we taught him the whole Restoration just standing there, and at the end, we testified that this is Jesus Christ's church once again established on the earth. We testified that just as we could have joined his church during his time, we have the same opportunity today. We saw him this week and all I can say is that he is SO prepared for the gospel! He accepted a baptismal date for August 12, and is reading the Book of Mormon. Oh how I love missionary work. 

Elder Bruce R. McConkie once said of Jesus Christ, "I am one of his witness, and in a coming day I shall feel the nail marks in his hands and in his feet and shall wet his feet with my tears. But I shall not know nay better then than I know now that he is God's Almighty Son, that he is our Savior and Redeemer, and that our salvation comes in and through his atoning blood and in no other way." As I was reading in 2 Nephi this week, Lehi testifies to Jacob that the spirit that testified to the people in Jerusalem that Jesus is the Christ is the same spirit that witnesses to each of us today. I know that this is true. During my last 17 months in Zimbabwe, I have gained a firm testimony that He lives! Especially this week, I have felt His love and strength. Someday I will bathe my feet with His tears, but my testimony of his life will remain the same.

I love missionary work. I love Chitungwiza. I love the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I'm just really happy to be alive. 

Love, Sister Richards 

do you see this restaurant we found? IN ZIMBABWE?? hellooo p day

sunday night is for cooking GOOD AFRICAN FOOD 

the one winking is my husband! he proposed to me my first week on mission, and now I'm serving in his branch! He's 11. 

sister makona!! I love this lady!! working on legal marriage and then BAPTISM! 

charmain! she is one of the twins that is getting baptized next week. so stinkin cute.



not a sunburn - that is the light of the setting sun. so majestic. 

my companion our branch mission leader WHO I SERVED WITH ON THIS MISSION (am I old or am I old?)

more sunsets

my favorite street in st. marys!! 

Tawanda and his book of mormon SMILE!

mama and chicken intestines

Monday, July 10, 2017


Hey fam and friends and those who still read these haha

This week was great! We got robbed again (what the). We woke up on Wednesday morning and hapana water and I looked at my companion and said, "My dearest companion, do you remember the last time I lived in Chitown and we ran out of water?" and she just looked at me and said, "DON'T SAY THAT COMPANION!" Yeah. Robbed again. Fortunately they didn't get into the house, but the water pump and stuff in the yard were taken so locks were changed and everything is getting fixed so all should we well. 

Other than the water saga, this week could not have gone better! Whitewashing has the potential to be like 800000% disastrous, but the spirit guided us every day and we were able to get so much work done! We found a lot of the old sister's investigators, and we found so many more who are SO POWERFUL. Wow chitown I love you and I also loved your washing machine and dryer. The branch is being very supportive and helpful, and I'm so glad to be finishing my mission here!

Tawanda: We had a really amazing experience with Brother Tawanda. He's 40, divorced, and cannot walk due to a car accident he was in a couple years back. He's pretty down on life, but really perks up when we come to teach him. We had taught him about the Book of Mormon on Friday, and on Saturday we just happened to pass by and see him outside. He was looking so so sad, so we asked him if he was okay. He spoke to us about all the challenges that he was facing in his life and how he just cannot seem to be happy. I silently just pleaded to Heavenly Father that He would help me to know what I should say to Brother Tawanda. Just in that moment, a crystal clear voice came into my head: "You are holding one of the greatest tools of happiness in your hands." I looked down to my hands and saw the Book of Mormon. I had been prompted to take one out of the car but didn't know why. I testified of the happiness that can come from reading the Book of Mormon. I shared with him Ether 6, which has brought me happiness in times of trial. As my companion and I shared with him our testimonies, the spirit was so strong I didn't want to leave that moment. Brother Tawanda has now started a serious study of the Book of Mormon and there is no doubt in my mind that it will bring happiness into his life. 

Reuben: Reuben was a referral from his old brother, Forster, who was baptized in another area very recently and has just moved into ours. Reuben is 14 and is SO BRIGHT. We taught him and his family the message of the Restoration after church yesterday, and we asked what they thought after hearing about Joseph Smith. Rueben said, "He was very clever. He was clever because he decided to ask God which church to join instead of just picking one himself." I thought it was just the cutest thing in the world! Joseph Smith was very clever, and was moved by the spirit to ask our Heavenly Father which church to join. I LOVE THE RESTORATION! Rueben and his family are preparing themselves for baptism at the end of July :)

So as I was studying the Book of Mormon this week, I read about Laman, Lemuel, and Nephi. Laman and Lemuel are complaining about how they don't understand the things that Lehi has told him about his visions. I was so touched by the way Nephi responded to his brothers. Instead of having them focus on the things they didn't know, he reminded them of the things they DID know. So many times in life we can get caught up in things we don't understand (like why do we always get robbed haha) but God has asked us to focus on the things we do know. We DO know that God loves us, and that He sent His son Jesus Christ to be our Savior. We DO know that we belong to the only true church. We DO know that blessings comes from being faithful to our covenants and obeying the commandments. I am grateful for what I DO know because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

And most of all, I am grateful to be a missionary.

LOVE, Sister Richards 

the last photo wall of my mission WHAT

pizza so celebrate a good week of whitewashing 

also frozen yogurt. the only frozen yogurt place in zimbabwe probably. 

MY POSTERITY!! just call me Abraham...

 Sister Mpiyakhe and I are still trying to teach our sisters the finer ways of taking pictures. they just can't seem to get it. 

Chitungwiza sunset

With the Muringai Family!! They're getting baptized on the 23 of July. So excited!! 

Rueben, Forster, Tatenda, and little siblings akawanda. LOVE THESE PEOPLE.

LISA! This member saved our lives this week!! We would've gotten even more lost than we did without her help!! 

Takudzwa! Baptism coming soon

Spiwe! Older brother to Takudzwa. Baptism also coming soon!

 another sunset in Manyame Park. We call it ManyaMAZE Park because it's impossible to navigate. 

This kind boy on the street offered to help us (pictured here) and then he came to church on Sunday. Aces. 

french toast this week. so nice. 

Sister Jesi Benesi! Baptism also coming soon. Love this lady!!