Well I've been in Africa for a month now! I can't decide if it feels like it flew by or if it feels like it's actually been a year... I think it feels like both because 1. I remember home like it was only a month ago and 2. I already feel like I've figured out Africa and mission life and yeah I can't really put my thoughts into words never mind. So I won't address my terminal illness until the end. I guess if you don't love me or care about me you can just skip to the end and read about it since this letter is my longest one yet...
So Last Monday we went to one of the nicest restaurants in Malawi haha it was so good! And again they just serve American food... Our schedule here is modified because we have to be home by 7 since it can get sketchy when its dark. So on P-day it's hard to get any work in since we start proselyting at 5 and it takes awhile to get to our area, but we met with a part-member family and had a great discussion so I'm happy to say we got some work in on Monday! Oh and our alottment has to last us three weeks this time, so we had to buy cheap stuff at the store for this week, so I ate a lot of rice, maize, and pasta this week. Oh and Nyemba! I love Nyemba. (kidney beans)
On Tuesday we had our first District Meeting and it was very uplifting and spiritual! My companion is DL (District Leader) and he does a great job. He's such a good missionary! That morning we got ripped off (on the fare) in the minibus and were pretty annoyed and then decided to just forget about it and be Christlike because us getting ripped off isn't even worth being bothered by. (But seriously we get ripped off every time. Because I'm white they think I don't know the price it should be.) Also we met my favorite investigator yet today, his name is Michael and he is so kind and humble and very accepting!
Wednesday we had some great lessons too but we were contacting on the streets and Elder Chiliza asked a man we contacted if there was anyone he knew that would benefit from our message too. To this the man asked "How'd you find me?" and we said the spirit directed us (because it did) and then he said "well then use that." and then we all laughed but dang haha he totally confounded my companion and I!
On Thursday we were in a nice neighborhood and then I saw this house a bit off that looked poor and the people in poor houses usually only speak Chichaywa so I can't talk to them, but I felt impressed to go there and we did and found a great guy who was really seeking for the restored gospel. We committed him to baptism. We then went to the next door house and another man there really needed to know about the gospel of Jesus Christ and that repentance is real and we also committed him to baptism! I know God is watching over us and directing us in all that we do. Oh we also forgot the phone on thursday so we were helpless. We went to a "payphone" and tried calling people though. The pay phone was just a lady at a normal phone who punched in your numbers and you choose 30 seconds or a minute and then she hands you the phone and you attempt to set something up with someone in that short time. We failed.
On Friday we visited an amazing recent convert family, The Makawas. They just love us so much. The father told us how he literally got laid off 3 hours before we came, but he was still being faithful and just knows that God has a better plan for him and his family. After our lesson they asked us if they could get us cold drinks. I was thirsty and said yes just to realize as he left that when Malawians say cold drink they mean either Fanta or Coke. I hadn't drinken soda since the summer before high school. 5 years. And then he walked in
with our sodas and there was NO way I was going to reject it since he just spent money to get it even though he lost his job earlier. So I drank soda! (Soda here is healthier than in America though...it's just carbonated water, sugar, and citric acid. No high fructose anything. So I will drink soda on my mission when it is offered to me!) We also had some other amazing lessons on Friday, one of which with Homes Mwale, our progressing investigator. He is very slow to understand but he has great faith and is a really great guy! (and he fed me 4 samosas (pastry with savory filling?) soooo I have to like him)
On Saturday we got to go to a district temple fireside with all the endowed members in Blantyre. I loved hearing about their thoughts on the temple and such and I just love how many of these members have sacrificed so much to go to South Africa to attend the temple. Oh and that fireside was at the District Center in Blantyre. Dang that chapel was nice. I couldn't help but envy the missionaries that get to have services at that building, but then I repented and I am grateful for our meeting "house" in Zingwangwa. (It's just a rented house
Saturday was the busiest day of my whole mission. We had a lesson for every single hour of the day and were practically running from appt to appt! Oh and our last lesson went late so there were no more mini buses and the ZL's were busy so they couldn't pick us up so we had to walk probably 2 miles home in the dark. My companion and I sometimes "challenge" each other as we hike and walk where we just start walking fast to kinda race and he was doing that on the way home so I decided to just start running and then he joined and we ran the whole way home! Reminded me of the good old cross country days.
Alright so Sunday. Church is always great. I love our branch and I'm always grateful to be able to partake of the sacrament and think about the Atonement! We got to confirm a man who was baptized my first week here by the elders before us, but now he is ours, so we confirmed him. I really felt the power of the priesthood as we laid our hands on his
head and confirmed him! After church we had 5 lessons planned. Every single one was either not there or "bussyyy". Everyone's excuse here to get rid of us it that
they are "bussyy" haha they say it so funny.
At the end of the day we went with the branch leaders to the hospital where one of the members is sick. This is where I got Ebola? First of all let me explain this hospital. The main ward was completely PACKED with people and so the corridors had people all over
the sides just sleeping and sitting on mattresses. It doesn't seem very clean there either like you think hospitals should be. So the brother we were visiting was in the corridor, so we were all sitting with him and talking and then 5 feet away there was a sick man on his
mattress with what we think was his mother and wife caring for him. 5 minutes into our visit, the man starts convulsing a bit and then starting vomiting black goo out of his mouth and nose and then passed away. I have never seen anyone die before or even seen a dead body for that matter.. so this was kind of traumatizing... The whole time I was just thinking what if this man has ebola and I'm right here...but seriously it was such a sad thing to witness...especially seeing his mother and wife. I just was praying for them the whole time and I still am. I just wish that they had a knowledge of the Plan of Salvation because it would give them some comfort although death is never ever easy I understand. (FYI: There have been no confirmed cases of Ebola in Malawi. But if you saw this it would make you nervous. Mom will recommend that he not venture into any more hospitals without a hazmat suit.)
The things you see on mission...
Well maybe I shouldn't have saved such a morbid topic for the end of my letter...
Alright well aside from that, this week was amazing and I love this work.
It's good to be a missionary!!!
The Church is true! I love you all!Elder Grant Alan Hiltbrand
PS Vote Nicole Hiltbrand for Freshman President