Saturday, December 27, 2014

Dec 22 The Spirit of Christ(mas)

''It's Christmas time again'' and of course memories of past Christmases and traditions and such are in my mind, but it's going to be an amazing Christmas and the Christmas season so far has been great! We have been visiting members, investigators, and the like and sharing a message that is purely about Christmas and it has been a great experience. And we have been singing a lot of Christmas hymns in those lessons, at church, in our flat, and walking. I have memorized half of them on accident because of how much we have sang them.

Although I am away from home this Christmas, it isn't something to be sad about or anything, but rather it's something glorious because it is helping me to really focus in on the true meaning of Christmas and the true gift of Christmas, which is Christ. It is humbling to see the people here who don't have enough for any decorations or even gifts for their children. We are truly blessed where we come from and please always remember these people in your prayers and while you celebrate just remember how good you have it!

I'm thoroughly enjoying doing the same work that Jesus Christ did while we celebrate Him this Christmas!

On another note..
Mom, you were right..I shouldn't have been drinking unfiltered water...I started off the week with a stomach that was giving me mavuto (problems) and I had a headache (I blame that on the mosquito coils we were burning though). I woke up Wednesday feeling terrible and not in a condition to go out and work.. I was visiting the toilet every 20 min at least.. but then I took some medicine and got a priesthood blessing and waited about 40 minutes then we were on our way to Chilobwe, a 30 min bus ride, so if there was going to be any problems in the area that wouldn't be a fun bus ride home. But I was good for the rest of the day! Truly there's no way I could recover so quickly if it wasn't for God's hand in my life.

Thursday was another interesting day though..for our first appt of the day we were hiking up the mountain to the Makawa Family (a recent-convert family in the Branch) and I was having some fun jumping up onto rocks as we were hiking and so my slightly-shorter companion felt I was challenging him and also jumped up and he actually made it the first time then went back and did it again but this time his foot hit the rock and he fell forward onto it and his hands didn't quite catch him right so he nailed his fingers..he was in so much pain and felt he broke them so we went home and he had to take some pain meds and then rested for a few hours..then when he felt the pain wasn't unbearable we went back to the area! If we can work at all we are going to work! Just sitting at the flat for those 3 hours was miserable though..My whole mission I've always longed for a nap, but this experience helped show me I don't need one or want one I guess.. I felt super lame just sitting so I made lunch, washed some clothes, and updated our area book to fill the time. I used to be perfectly content just sitting before I left..mission teaches you to work and enjoy work!

Friday we went to the hospital (this hospital trip wasn't nearly as bad as the last one!) and my companion got his hand X-rayed just to make sure. Well it's not broken but its badly sprained! {Btw it cost $15 total for seeing the dr and having an x-ray..I'm sure you would have taken me to the doctor more at home if it was that cheap mom!} We also got to visit a few people on Friday though!

Sunday we had an amazing sacrament meeting where I got to speak. I spoke on my favorite Christmas scripture, Isaiah 9:6. Afterwards we had choir practice and it was such a blast with all the members!

Well it was a weird week but still an awesome one! We are loving this Christmas season and really feeling the Spirit!
Thanks for all the love, support, letters, and prayers during this time!

Elder Grant Hiltbrand

Dec 15 Joy to the Work!

This week has been awesome. But before I tell you about it, my best friend, Kolton Osborn, got his mission call this week! To the Adriatic North Mission! Where there is very few members so he will be establishing the Church there just like us here in Malawi, but probably even more so for him there! So stoked!

This week the Lord really answered my pleas for strength and energy and my companion and I were just so excited all day everyday! We contacted some celebrity singers this week and look forward to teaching them. We even taught one this week and it was a great lesson! We focused a lot on the Book of Mormon. We actually focused a lot on the BOM all this week because we haven't had Restoration pamphlets for awhile so we give other ones instead and people see the BOM on it and that allows for us to come and explain it and its amazing. ALSO it helped because I received 11 extra Book of Mormons in a package with all my loved ones' testimonies in the fronts! Thanks Sister Ujin haha!

We also found some amazing families this week. We've been focusing a lot on families and well-established people lately and the Lord has directed our paths and almost everyone we taught this week was a family! We even had a Zone Meeting on "teaching all men" this week in which we talked a lot about finding those good people. Scheduling this week was especially hard though because almost all of Chilobwe wanted us to visit them! We met the Milore Family and the Bulike Family this week who are amazing. We had some very spiritual meetings with them and they promised to come to Church and when we showed up for Church on Sunday they beat us there! Usually people don't really take it seriously when they promise to come but they are really seeing the truth and definitely felt the Spirit bearing witness to them! Both families are
young families by the way and are excited to be baptized into the true Church by the correct authority. And Church with them there was amazing! In Gospel Principles they were all contributing and sharing their thoughts which really allows for
everyone to learn and grow! It's also a good sign because people that contribute are showing they want to learn and that they will help the Church to grow because they're not afraid to open their mouths and share the gospel!

For the Soche Branch's sacrament meeting I got to sit next to a little girl named Thoko. She's maybe 7 and her and her sister come to church faithfully when they're both only in primary and their parents don't come nor are they members. She couldn't speak english but with my little bit of Chewa I was able to talk to her and we sang together and she followed my example in the prayers and would say amen and then towards the end started touching my hair because "it's different than
theirs". What an awesome little girl! We also got to teach an elder of another church on Sunday and it was intense. He wanted to bash so bad but we just held our tongues and stayed calm with smiles on our faces as he called us liars and such. It just makes me think of Jesus Christ's ministry in which He went through so much worse treatment. This work is beautiful and so is Malawi and so are the people of Malawi.

Rain season is coming! We had some crazy rain storms this week but now it's gone away and it's burning hot.. This is a super unusual year for rain here, but everyone is still saying it's coming but I'm not too sure... In one of our lessons with Bro Kachikondo it was pouring and you can't hear anything with the sheet metal roofs so we had to sit right next to him to teach and still raise our voices but it was still a great lesson. He's facing some more health problems so he hasn't been
able to come to church for 2 weeks, but we pray for him and I'm sure we will be seeing him healthy again soon.
Also, we have to be home at 6:00 instead of 7:00 now because of the holiday season and some unrest with people wanting money for the holidays and such I's a bummer and makes our days seem pretty short but we just put that much more energy into each day because they're shorter!

Christmas here is going to be so awesome and one I'll remember for the rest of my life. Yes I'll miss my family but it's such a great experience to be doing the Lord's work during this time and sharing the Gift of Christ with them!

Elder Grant Hiltbrand

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Dec 8 Faithening Your Strength

What a tiring week! On Monday, we went to Mulanje Mountain and hiked, and that made me tired for the rest of the week or something.. also I hadn’t been sleeping well because it’s been hot going to sleep then gets colder in the morning so I’m either sweating or shivering, but I figured out I just need a fan blasting on me all night and then I can use my blanket and be a steady temp all night.

Tuesday we had District Mtg, which was our first one with the new sisters. They are a bit skittish still or something, but it was still a powerful meeting and uplifting! We also went and saw Bro Milos again today (I don’t know if you remember him?) But he welcomed us and then we sat down and he blasted us for 30 minutes about how we are wrong and we just simply and respectful bore powerful, unshaken testimonies and left. It’s a bummer that he won’t soften his heart, but it was also a very spiritual experience and helped me see how my testimony is sure and unshakable.

On Thursday we had Zone Conference.  My first one on mission! President and his wife and the AP's came to Blantyre and instructed us on many things pertaining to the work. Something that really applied to me was Sister Erickson speaking on faithening our strength (because a man in General Conference accidentally said that in his prayer).  Although he said it on accident, it’s actually something we can apply here on mission. Mission is tiringgg. So we can’t rely on ourselves for the strength to do this work. We need to rely on Him, the Lord. I have learned to have more faith in the fact that He will strengthen me everyday.  And He did this week as I spent much time on my knees praying for that strength. Also we were instructed on the ABC and DEF of missionary work. ABC includes finding, teaching, and baptizing. DEF included retaining, reactivating, and strengthening members.  And as missionaries sometimes we get the idea that we just want to baptize and people judge us and we judge ourselves on baptisms, but that’s wrong. Both ABC and DEF are equal. So we are refocusing a bit and focusing on strengthening the Zingwangwa Branch in all ways possible.

On Friday we were on exchanges with the Zone Leaders, I was with Elder Mwangi in Chilobwe. It was a great day with him and I learned quite a bit. Something very important that i realized was that as missionaries we aren’t robots.  He showed me we can just talk to people and have good conversations with them and also relate it to our message and wow it’s so much more effective!

Sunday was a great opportunity to fast and hear testimonies in church. And Louis was finally confirmed! It's powerful seeing people receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost! We also organized the branch choir and will be singing next Sunday "Far far away on Judea’s Plains" with just about 6 people.  It’s gonna be awesome haha I love singing nowadays! Chilobwe is struggling really bad with water recently. They really need rains to come.  Most of our investigators couldn’t come to church because they hadn’t showered for days (They could’ve but chose not to because of that) or other water related reasons.. Even we only had water 1 day this week...and one day completely ran out.   Not a drop to shower or wash dishes or flush the toilet. I went I think 2 or 3 days with only being able to wash my face...

I love being a missionary so much! And Christmas is coming so spirits are rising in town and all over!
Elder Grant Hiltbrand

Excerpt from letter to mom:
What?! Kwanza actually doesn't exist? haha that's messed up. America has such a wrong vision of Africa.. Well kinda. I got to see the village areas of Africa and they're basically exactly what people
picture, but here in the city it's not like that at all. And here in
Malawi the split between rich and poor is sooo big it's messed up. We see Range Rovers all over the place with the rich people, but then there's Amayis (women) in our area selling peanuts and charcoal to make less than 2 dollars a day.. I found out our area is one of the most poor here in Blantyre.

The electricity went out!

My poor scriptures!

Dec 1 Smile, Smile, Smile!

The internet cafe closes in 10 minutes from now so I'll make this quick. We're late today because we had a zone activity going to what I'm calling the African Yosemite..Mulanje mountain. It was beautfiul and so fun. We're not here to be tourists or vacation but it is important to have fun and we do have fun everyday in the work but also it was great this Pday to have an activity!

We got new sisters in our district, Sister Dlamini and Sister Browning
and they're great. Sis B is brand new and it's fun to watch another Azungu here and seeing them deal with things I also dealt with! We got to work in another area with our flat mate Elder Dlamini as we waited for his comp Elder Doig to come down from Zambia. It was great to teach with him for a few days and I learned a lot! We're making progress and working hard and we have some great families we're teaching that I love so much!

Also people here don't celebrate Thanksgiving (or Kwanza I guess? I
thought that was African Thanksgiving or something? if someone can inform me on what that is please do) BUT we did celebrate it Thursday night with 5 elders! I got to slaughter a chicken for the first time! And it was a terrible experience! The knife was way dull so it took a lot of effort and was just kinda messed up but hey we had fresh chicken, also it barely bled which was weird and creepy. But as for our feast we had jello, potatoes, potato salad, African cake and brownies, gravy, and chipatis! I'm fat.

Love you all
The Church is true!
Elder Grant Hiltbrand

Oh and as for the title today: Smiling in the work is the key to having fun and happiness! My comp and I smile at everyone and greet everyone! It truly makes you happier!

Nov 24 Growing Up!

Well yesterday was my last week of 'training' and doing the 12-week
program! I'm no longer a child on mission!

This last week was kinda of a down week pertaining to the work though..but not our spirits! We didn't get to teach very much and have been struggling to get members to work with us, but part of that was because the colleges here are having exams this next week so people are 'busy'. My companion and I were very optimistic, though, and still kept a smile on our faces. We were able to do a lot of finding and talked to some amazing people and found some great families that we hope to help come into the fold!

We got to do some service again this week for Sister Chikapa once again. We were moving bricks again! We didn't have as much work to do as last time so we weren't sore the next day which I was thankful for! It was really fun working alongside the Beals, our new senior couple in the branch.  They are such a help to us both in the work and also in helping the branch. We took them teaching with us a few times this week and theyre so great. Elder Beal reminds me so much of Dad with the goofy jokes he makes and also with the way his head got super sweaty (you're welcome dad) and just many other mannerisms.

We had an elders quorum activity on Saturday. The first one this branch has had since it was created 3 years ago! But we had a spiritual lesson then they gave everyone a mountain of rice and nyemba (beans). We didn't have utensils so we had to eat with our hands, I'm getting pretty good at eating with my hands! And when I come home I'll now have an excuse for having bad American manners! I'll just say I served my mission in Malawi!

Sunday was District Conference, so the all the branches in Blantyre got to meet in the nice chapel and watch the conference where Elder Bednar, Uchtdorf, and Gay of the 70 addressed all of Southeast Africa where they said there's something like 80 stakes and 70 districts? The church is growing in Africa! They spoke more on adopting the gospel culture instead of following cultural traditions and such. It was very uplifting and I loved seeing the chapel overflowing! I got to sit back in metal chairs in the overflow section even! (Dad you always said we're a metal-chair family right?) I'm sure many people are wondering about Thanksgiving here so: it doesn't exist. But! We are still celebrating it! We had all these great plans because Elder Hunter, one of our flat mates, loves food and was making great plans, but we got transfer news this morning and he's leaving. The day before Thanksgiving! But we will still be celebrating, just not as elaborately. I think we are slaughtering a turkey and braing (that's what Africans call barbequeing) it!

I'm grateful for many things this season and could sit here for the whole day writing things I'm grateful for but I'll sum it up: I'm grateful for my family, I'm grateful for Church of Jesus Christ being restored in these days, and I'm grateful for the privelege to share the gospel and news of the restoration  with the people of Malawi!

I love you all!
Elder Grant Hiltbrand

Monday, November 17, 2014

Nov 17 I am walking for the Truth!

What a great week!
We got new Zone Leaders this week, Elder Barnard (Idaho) and Elder Mwongi (Kenya), who are great! The ZL's live next door so we are always seeing them and having dinner together and such that's why this is big news haha. We had a great Zone Meeting on

Tuesday where we learned to rely on the Spirit in our teaching and not give the same lesson over and over.  My companion really focused on that this week and our teaching has improved a lot! The lessons this week were filled with the Spirit! I always love sharing the experience of the First Vision and just seeing people get pricked in their hearts. Joseph Smith truly saw God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.

On Friday we had interviews with President Erickson. He is such an inspired man.  He spoke to our district before speaking to each of us personally and talked about how hard mission is but how we need to serve willingly and joyfully and compared it to Cain and Abel and their sacrifices to the Lord.  We need to sacrifice these two years willingly, not holding anything back.

{Also on Friday I got your package! The journal is absolutely perfect, that's actually one of my favorite pictures that is on it! and my companion is  loving the compound W.  We enjoyed the warheads as a flat as well, all putting them in our mouths at the same time. My companion's face was so funny. But whyyy did you have to wrap my hymn book hahaha now I have to wait a month! It reminds me of when I was younger and would want things in October and you would say wait until Christmas...but I just borrow E. Dlamini's every night because my comp and I being our study with a hymn and it brings the spirit sooo strong. Also the shoe laces were greatly needed and they're the kind that won't break so thanks so much! I'm excited for my comp to open the baptismal clothing on Christmas! He was all down that night so to cheer him up I showed him there were things in the package for him as well and that lifted his spirit!}

On Saturday there was an all-adult meeting special district meeting with Elder Molechi, of the 70.  We invited an investigator to come named Brother Kachikondo. He is a crippled old man who can hardly walk and sees very poorly. He is very interested in the message of the Restoration, but his wife doesnt support him tooo much.  So last week he actually walked all the way to church though! The walk from his house to the church takes us about 15 minutes but for him its about 45-1 hour. At church last week he loved it and had many great questions and comments.  And so that brings me back to the special meeting. They were providing free transportation from the Zingwangwa Church house, so we told him about that since he is very poor and wouldn't be able to pay to go to Blantyre. They announced that the minibus would leave at 1:30 and then when we asked the leaders that day they said 1:00 so we told him and he said he would be there and would leave his house at 12:15. We also told the branch leaders to make sure to wait for him. Well at 1:07 we got a call from Bro. Kachikondo. Nobody was there at the church building. They had left at 1:00 with only 6 people. And so he didn't have any money to take a bus and we weren't there to help or anything so he just said it's fine and had to walk all the way back home. It was pretty aggravating that the branch leaders left without him and they even got there 45 minutes early because they left so early. But as for the meeting, it was a good meeting where they spoke on men and womens roles in the world and in the Church. Elder Molechi spoke on how parents should show affection such as holding hands in front of your children and say "I love you" often and many other counsels for stronger families and relationships. Also he spoke on how many traditions and cultural things need to be done away with because they don't go along with the Gospel Culture.  Such as lobola, or bride price. Here in Africa people have to pay the parents of a woman a huge amount of money to marry her.  That created a lot of discussion, but although it is hard for some people to give it up, they're been asked by an apostle of the Lord to end that practice.

And so for Sunday...we went to church to find 0 investigators there. And nobody showed up late either. It was so bizarre because we have had 7-10 the past 3 weeks... but it was still amazing and I felt the Spirit so strong the whole time. After church we went and visited many people to strengthen them and tell them we missed them. And one of those people we visited was Bro. Kachikondo. We apologized for the unfortunate event yesterday and he was okay with it and very understanding. He's one of the most humble men I've ever met. He was bummed he missed the discussions on how to strengthen family though because from what we've seen and what he's expressed, his family isn't too close. He tries to have family prayer with everyone every night and some will just go to bed and different things. Also he has to ask them to read our assignments to him since his eyes are too bad. And so we helped amayi wife) realize her husbands desires to learn and to come unto Christ and she committed to help him more and support his desires. My companion asked him the inspired question "Why do you keep walking to church and different things when it's so hard for you" (or something like that) and he simply responded, "I'm walking for the truth." Things like that are what keep me going everyday. This work is beautiful. I know this is the truth. This is Jesus Christ's true Church once again on the Earth.

I love you all and although I miss you all, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else than here in Malawi, Africa with no running water, 12 mosquito bites on one hand, and the blazing hot sun that makes me drenched in sweat everyday because this is the greatest and most important thing I can be doing right now. I love the Lord and I know He loves me and you!

Elder Grant Alan Hiltbrand

Friday, November 14, 2014

Nov 10 White is my favorite color!

This week my companion and I worked hard and then ended the week with our first baptism together which is also my first baptism on mission! Louis was baptized by my companion, Elder Chiliza, yesterday. It was amazing to see Louis take that step in following Jesus Christ into the waters of baptism.

So a little bit about him: We found him through offering to help a man build a fence and it happened to be a fence for Louis' house and so after we finished, Louis came out and offered us lunch and then we took that opportunity to have a lesson. From then on he progressed rapidly, but he faced a challenge of having school from 8-5 on Sundays so he couldn't go to church, but he decided to sacrifice time to come to sacrament meeting every week and has been doing so every week for the past 5-6 weeks. He even sacrificed the whole day of school yesterday for his baptism! He is 20 years old so we believe we will see him go on a mission in a year or so! That would be amazing to see someone I baptize get a call to serve WHILE I am still serving! Also he brought his sister to church and his baptism and she loved it so soon I think we'll be seeing Louis baptizing his own sister soon enough! I'm grateful for the opportunity we had to find Louis and help him come unto Christ. I'm also grateful for the Priesthood Authority which has been restored in these latter days that allows for the true ordinance of baptism to take place once again. (Matt 16:19)

This week we also had a great opportunity to serve Sister Chikapa as a district. She needed help carrying 500 bricks down a hill to her house and then stacking them.  And when I say bricks I don't mean the bricks we know in America.  500 of those would be easy. These bricks were huge. Carrying 5 at a time was a challenge! And so we had to carry them down this hill then from there we had to toss them to one another in a line across a riverbed then stack them on the other side. Well after throwing and catching 500 bricks our hands were ROUGH. and slighlty raw. But it was so worth it! And although it was hard work, it was super fun! But getting out of bed the next day was a bit difficult!

E. Parker, E. Muthoka, me being forced to shorten myself since im taller than them all, my companion.  Goodbye to E. Parker and E. Muthoka!
We also had another district activity where we set up a table in our
area and had pamphlets to give to people. It was super successful and we found some amazing people. The only problem was the mavuto children crowding the table. But they were fun so its fine. My companion looked at the list of numbers we got yesterday and decided to contact one we felt good about and the father immediately invited us to come teach them right then and so we did and they are one of the greatest families we have taught so far on my mission. I'm so excited for them and they want to be baptized on the 7th of December so hopefully you'll be seeing a picture of them in white in about them in a month!

Transfers took place on Saturday because Elder Muthoka, our Zone Leader, was going home. My companion and I didn't get affected directly, but now we have 2 new ZLs (Zone Leaders) next door so that will be fun! Also we got another set of senior couple missionaries here in Blantyre and they're working in our Branch! Elder and Sister Beal. They were so excited to meet everyone at church on Sunday and Elder Beal was even writing down everyones names and such so he could remember them, it was pretty funny. Oh and I went up to them and started speaking Chichewa just to mess with them a little bit when I first met them. I love couple missionaries and all they do to help us in the work. Can't wait to see my parents go on a mission together! (;

Well thank you all for your support and prayers! And also thank you
for the emails and MAIL! I got mail from America for the first time on
Saturday! So great!!

I know the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true!
Ndikuziwa kuti Mpingo wa Yesu Khristu ndi woona!

Elder Grant Hiltbrand

Nov 3 Eesh! No time!

I have no time to write a blog post this week but some highlights:

October, the hottest month of the year here is finally over!...and it's
still hot..but rain season is coming soon!

We have a baptism this Sunday! Louis!

Halloween was great! Kids were all over in cute costumes knocking on our door and we just sat at home and gave out candy all day.  It was so great! NOT! They don't celebrate that holiday here nor do they even know what it is (even though somtimes I see some people wearing shirts that say happy halloween on them since all the clothing here is mostly second-hand or donated clothing that people actually sell. Yeah those clothes you thought you 'donated' to AFrica? They're being sold by some man or woman on the streets of Malawi.) But I'm glad they don't celebrate Halloween here because honestly that would just be really scary..

We hiked Soche Mountain today and then barbequed a goat..they
slaughtered it before we got there because my companion and I went to the wrong missionaries' flat and they couldn't wait so that's okay I still have 22 months to slaughter a goat...

Church yesterday was so amazing. We have some great investigators that keep coming and I even bore my testimony in Chichewa! It's amazing to see people applying the Atonement of Jesus Christ in their lives and I am so grateful for the privilege I have to bring the Gospel to those here in Blantyre, Malawi!

Oh and this week we didn't have water for 4 full days! I've gotten
totally used to it actually!

Love you all and I thank you for all the support and prayers!
I am losing myself in this beautiful work!
Elder Grant Alan Hiltbrand

Inside of a mini bus (we had to be sneaky taking this so as to not look like tourists).
Not sure if the arm is dirty or tanned?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Sept 27 Embracing the Culture: Toilet

Another amazing week that flew by! (kinda)

This week we really started to see the fruits of our labors start to show! We have worked hard for 2 months and on paper it didn't look like we were too successful, but we always knew we were just planting tons of seeds and now many of those took root and are growing! For example, I spoke of people coming to church last week and we always just had 1-2 come...usually one, but this past Sunday we had EIGHT! I was so excited! We have some great investigators who love the gospel and it is really changing their lives! Baptisms are coming soon! I'm so happy seeing people follow the example of Jesus Christ and improve the quality of their lives!

Our quality of living isn't too good though...this last week we again had more days without water than days with water, but it has become normal to us now and it's not too bad at all! Except for, like I mentioned last week, when you use the toilet...this time we just tried to hold it all day in hopes of water being on when we got home that night. Well I was really struggling at one point so my oh-so-loving companion asked the member family we were visiting if I could use their toilet. They said of course and asked if I had tissue...that's when I got scared...but my oh-so-loving companion knew how to handle the situation and just said they could give me the materials to use. Materials?! what did that mean? So then the abambo (father) comes out and hands me two pieces of printing paper about the size of a large post-it... Wonderful.. so then he showed me to the bathroom and so I entered and found...a hole. That is where I will end this story, but just know I did not end up having to tear out sheets in my planner.

This week we worked with this amazing family, the Sanganu Family, who we introduced to the Book of Mormon and shared with them the Restoration.  When we came back and followed up on their prayers, they all testified of the Spirit bearing witness to them of the truth of the Prophet Joseph Smith and they knew that this church really is the same church Jesus Christ established.

So on Friday I got the privilege to go on an exchange with Elder Muthoka, one of my Zone Leaders (ZL) on his 2 year anniversary on mission! He goes back home to Kilungu Hills, Kenya on the 10th of November! (That is where Rushton served his first 6 months -- in the bush.)  But he really opened my eyes as to how fun talking to people is and how to really just be comfortable with silence in lessons to let the Spirit teach the people. We finished our day with a super powerful lesson with a man named Zivalle where we prayed with him to ask if he should be baptized and we were all just so humbled by the Spirit we felt.

Also this week we saw a man chopping down a tree so I said oofoona tandeezo? (I butcher the spelling of chichewa but it means something like can we help you) and so he let us help him chop down this giant tree. What seemed like a job that would take 15 min turned into 60 because this tree was stubornnn. And his axe was quite dull and heavyyy. so I am still sore from that service, but it was fun! and when the tree fell it started rolling down the hill at us all so everyone was running away and it was hilarious. That was the first time I chopped down a tree! Oh and people laughed at me chopping because they think azungus (white men) are weak or something so that made me chop harder, but I admit..azungus are weaker by companion and I work out in the morning and man his arms are just huge! I'll send home a picture of our home gym next week! It's amazing haha we even got a bench press!

Our flatmate got bacon in a care package, so we made a huge breakfast this morning!
Well I love you all and thank you for all your thoughts and prayers!This Church is true!
Love Elder Grant Alan Hiltbrand

Friday, October 24, 2014

Oct 20 Part of 88,000

So I've been on mission for 2 months now! Pretty awesome! and what a crazy experience it has been so far, I’m excited to see what the next 22 holds for me! haha

Alright so we had Zone Meeting on Tuesday where we talked about how to get people to actually attend church. We all decided that if they really do gain a testimony from the Holy Ghost that what we share with them is true, then they will come.  For us in Zingwangwa, it is pretty hard to explain where the church is to people so I thought maybe that would be scaring them off but nope I have seen that those people who really do pray and get that answer that these things are true, they come.  One girl got lost this last week and called us and we went looking for her haha. and then we have another young man, Louis, who sacrifices some of his class time at college to come to sacrament meeting! That's because this Church really is the true church. For those of you not of my faith, I invite you to attend The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on an upcoming Sunday and see! (If you take me up on this invite email me I want to hear about it!) So yep that meeting was great and also transfers were this week so Elder Barton, a missionary who has been in the same area for 13 months, finally got transferred so everyone was saying goodbye to him at the ZM.

Wednesday was Mother’s Day here in Malawi! Everyone was off from school and work so there was an excitement about the town! It was great going and visiting different amayis (mothers) and sharing messages about how great mothers are! We visited a recent convert family, the Ambalis,, who the mother is a widow and just amazing. She is my amayi (mom) right now on mission. She makes us great food and so we baked her banana muffins for Mother’s day! Her daughter, Patience is the cutest kid in Malawi too. When she first met me she was terrified. Never seen someone so scared to see an Azungu, but she’s grown to love me so much and even said she wants to move to America because she only likes white people haha.  Also here in Malawi (and all of Africa I think) they wear titenjis, which are just fabric you wrap around your waist like a towel and it acts as a skirt and all the women wear them and they made special Mother’s Day I bought one and just wait until I can send the picture of it would see them alll over and it was really funny to me.

Previewing General Conference in our apartment.
We got to see General Conference this weekend! They send DVDs of it to the district and branches here. So on Saturday we all met at the nice district building and watched both sessions. SO good. and many investigators came! It was great sitting in a real church building for once haha! and then on Sunday we watched both sessions back to back in church. Of course though since this is Africa we had technical difficulties and sat there for an hour waiting for them to go get a new DVD player haha...but we all sang hymns and such so it's fine! 

Conference was amazing watching it with a missionary badge on. Especially when they spoke of the EIGHTY EIGHT THOUSAND missionaries I am a part of!  (See Elder Bednar's talk below.) It's amazing that the work of the Lord is being carried out to the whole world by so many people.  That's a testament in itself of the truth of this could 88,000 young people be so willing to give 2 years to the Lord if they didn't know these things are true. I could never survive here and work as hard as I do if I was just doing it because my parents want me to or something. I know this Church is the same church Jesus Christ established when He was on earth and I’m grateful for the privilege to share that truth with the Malawians! Of course, many of our investigators had left by the end of 2nd session. 4 hours is a long time to sit I understand, but then Elder Bednar got up and shared such a powerful message!  The talk was titled “Come and See”.   (In this talk he answers the question "“Why are Latter-day Saints so eager to tell me about what they believe and to invite me to learn about their church?”).

It was also really powerful when Elder Holland spoke on poverty  "Are we not all Beggars" and I was sitting with all the Malawian members who know first hand what he was speaking about.. I'm so grateful for modern day revelation and leaders who guide us in these Latter-days! I know that the church is led by a living prophet and apostles today!

Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers! They helped make this week great and gave me strength to keep going!
Happy Mothers Day to my amazing Amayi!
Love you all!

Elder Grant Alan Hiltbrand

Monday, October 13, 2014

Oct 13 This Life is Beautiful!

It's day 3 without water and our electricity went out this morning, but all is well! I've been getting really good at bathing with just a wash cloth! The only problem is flushing the toilets...I'll just leave it at that haha.

But yeah everything is great! This week we even made cookies AND peach cobbler that's how good life is! (Not only am I becoming more Christ-like on my mission, but I'm also becoming a better baker!)  We couldn't find chocolate chips at the store, so we improvised and bought a chocolate bar and then I had some fun smashing it up with a massive stick to make chocolate chunks!

So as for the work this week, we had some great days and then some not-so-great days...It's funny how some days I'm just like yesssss this is the best! and then others I can just be really down and tired, but it's all in your attitude out here! And I'm learning to love it even on the days that it's very hard and hot and nobody listens to us! We found some awesome people this week though so I'm super excited to see them continue to progress and come closer to Jesus Christ!

This week we had a branch activity that us missionaries put together.  We invited tons of investigators and members to come to the church on Saturday and we watched the movie about the Restoration and we also watched Finding Faith in Christ and we rented a popcorn machine and bought a bunch of Sobo (the most popular drink here which is just sugar syurp concentrate that you mix with water).  We had an amazing show up and many of the members brought their friends and everything was great, but then the projector cords were broken so it wouldn't play...awkward...but we decided to just sing hymns and then Jonathan, one of the members in the branch, ran up to a mini shop on the street and bought a new cord real fast. So yep that was a set back.. but it all worked out. We showed the Restoration and then had a few people bear their testimonies and a great member shared his conversion story (in Chichaywa..I have no idea what he said) and it was just a great activity. Of course my companion and I, the ones who planned it all, didn't have any investigators show up even though we invited sooo many. BUT right as we were finishing, Louis showed up and enjoyed some socializing, popcorn and sobo, and they put in Finding Faith in Christ to watch while we socialized and he loved it and even after everyone left he stayed and wanted to help clean with E. Chiliza and I!   The next day he came to church as well even though his classes in town start at 8:00 and so does church but he sacrificed time to come to Sacrament meeting!

Oh we got mail for the first time this week too! I got 1 letter! Hand written letters are great!
So yep that's a little snapshot of the week I had! I'm very happy and love this life - even if we don't have water and every single dish in our flat is dirty and I'm wearing my last clean shirt and pair of socks today and its burning hot everyday! I'm grateful for this opportunity and privelege to be a missionary!

I hear there's a good movie out in the theaters for a short time called "Meet the Mormons"? You should all go see it!  (Click on link to find out where.  All proceeds go to the Red Cross and David Archuleta sings a beautiful new song.  That alone is worth listening to -- can hear by going to the link!)

The Church is true!Love
Elder Grant Alan Hiltbrand

John 17:14-19 
14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
 17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
 18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.
 19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.