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.

Oct 6 Embracing the Culture: Shoes and Water Edition

What a week! So I'll just jump right into it!

On Tuesday we had district meeting where I got to teach and it was a great experience! It was a really powerful meeting because of all the other missionaries's contributions and testimonies, dang I love my district! Too bad transfers are in a week and we're probably losing Sister Komiha since she's been here for almost a year. In the same area. That's the trend here in Malawi.

My District
So Wednesday was quite a day. We had a district service project helping a man mold bricks.  They just put mud into a mold of a brick shape and then let them dry in the sun and use those to build houses. So we got to get knee deep in mud and dang it was fun! I think I finally got all the dirt off myself.

On Friday though.. the sisters in our district weren’t feeling well so the ZLs (Zone Leaders) drove them home, so my companion and I had to walk home. I didn’t want to get my shoes muddy so I borrowed Elder Parker's sandals (which were sandals made out of a car tire and some simple straps) and we started walking to the bus stop (they’re called stages here). Well we were late to an appt. already and had to get home and shower then bus up to Chilobwe, so we decided to run.  About a km into the run I realized the sandals I was running in were rubbing against my toes pretty bad and I had just raw flesh by that point but the adrenaline of running made me to not realize originally. So I took the sandals off and just walked barefoot...That day was HOT. So by the time we reached the stage my feet were dead.  I can't believe how tough Africans' feet are! So yep now I experienced the culture of not wearing shoes first hand.. And don’t worry mom I put antibiotic cream on after I got home. Oh and that was one of the best showers I’ve ever taken getting all that mud off!

So I figured out how to get rid of the drunkards that attack me lately. I speak to them in German.  They attack me because they want to show they can speak English, so if I don’t speak English to them they usually go away..or they want to hear the word of God and in that case its hard to pry their hands off..

Lately we have been teaching a lot of boys around the age of 18 which is awesome because that means some day they will be missionaries too!  I love this guy named Michael who we’ve been working with.  Hopefully  I'll be writing home after the 26th Oct about him being baptized!  That’s when his date is!

So on Saturday we ran out of water in the morning...luckily I had already cooked, but I hadn’t showered so I went without.  But when we came home there was no water still.. so we couldn’t cook or flush toilets or anything. The ZL's next door fed us a hose over the fence and gave us some water so we could cook and such and then they also ran out of water right after we got all their water the next day was Sunday so I had to take a bath with just a bucket of water and a towel... but luckily it was Fast Sunday (The first Sunday of the month when we go without food for 2 meals and donate the money from those meals to the church to help those in need.) so we didn’t need water to cook or drink..BUT when we got home there was still no water! So we went to the couple's flat and filled up all the emergency water jugs that we had previously depleted and we used that for everything that night. Luckily the water was back this morning though, so life is goooddd again! Chilobwe has tons of water problems though so the people that live there have these struggles all the time yet we were complaining for 2 days.. I'm really being humbled and learning to be grateful!  During all of this I really just learned to be grateful in any circumstances. I love the talk President Uchtdorf gave about that last General Conference titled "Grateful in Any Circumstances"!  (Click on the bolded links to read about who President Uchtdorf is and to read the talk he gave.)

This week was a great one and I love being a missionary, even though
obviously we have some hard days and it's not always perfect, but hey
this is Africa!

The Church is True!
Thank you all for the love and support!

Elder Grant Alan Hiltbrand

Sept 29 Phephani phalibe time!

Btw I only type chichaywa words I know, that says “sorry no time”.
The internet was down today so our schedule got all messed up, so I don't have much time to email today!

To sum up the week: We taught a ton of great lessons and found some amazing people who are just so prepared to hear the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ!

We also had a chance for service because we found this water pumping station so we pumped water for the people of Chilobwe for awhile.  The kids there were going crazyyy because I’m an azungu.  I love when kids play with me and are happy about the azungu rather than the other kids who will taunt me or the teenagers who will cuss at me or even the drunkards who will harass me just because they want to show that they can speak English...

Pumping Water
One of the member families in our branch, the Makawas, recently moved and they moved onto Soche  mountain, the mountain our area is at the base of.  The house that they built is the highest house up Soche right now though.  It's quite the hike.. but the view is worth it! And the family is worth it as well!

Oh also I learned how to make porridge with Ufa! Ufa is maize powder
that is the staple food for everyone in Malawi. It’s quite delicious actually.
So I mentioned Bro. Milos last time, or maybe I didn't give his name,
but he's the man who has crazy things about the Book of Mormon. So we
met with him again and this time he went off about how it took place in America and then went off about how bad America is and was actually quite racist.. I'd never experienced racism towards me until coming on mission, but it’s not fun! But the key is to be patient and to not take it personally!

I love being a missionary and I'm so grateful for the privilege!