Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Mar 27 Home Sweet Home

It's official! Chilobwe is my home! I'm staying here another transfer with Elder Ngendabanka! This news was actually easier for me this transfer than last because I have come to know transfers are truly directed and chosen by the Lord through His servants the Mission president! I learned so much these past 6 weeks and just know if the Lord is keeping us here there are still things for me to learn and people I can change over the next 6!

 As for the week, it was good! We are teaching a woman named Rosalia who is progressing super fast. She has gained that witness that these things are true and the Spirit just is working in her! We taught the Plan of Salvation and she seemed touched when we explaned the Spirit World, which is one of my favorite things to teach because it just makes sense and gives us all hope and confirmation of a merciful and fair God. Of course those people that never got the opportunity to hear about Christ and the Gospel will get the opportunity! She came to church again this Sunday and loved it again.

Church was awesome on Sunday actually. Sometimes I get annoyed or impatient with the branch when they're disorganized and such, but I'm learning to just look at the good because if we look for faults, we will always find them and then the spirit won't be there with us.  So as I look at the good, I just feel the spirit in abundance at church and love the branch! We have had great attendance lately too! Less actives coming and most members coming consistently which is awesome. I love when the small home is full.

After church, I had the opportunity to interview the Zone Leaders' two baptismal candidates. One was a man we would previously see in Chilobwe drunk with his friend, but over time I have gotten to see the change he has made and how repentance has changed him. He expressed how amazing it is going to be to be baptized on Easter because he feels like he is resurrecting from the dead - starting a new life. It was just so powerful. The next man is another I've seen coming to church for awhile now and he has such a light about him! He always comes in and greets everyone and is just so excited about the gospel! And I got to see why when he shared his conversion with me. He had been introduced to the church by his Uncle in Zimbabwe and was given the Book of Mormon. When he came back to Malwai the church wasn't to be found in his area until a member's father saw the Book of Mormon he had and said his son had it too. His son, Maxwell, brought him to church (a 2 hr walk) and he hasn't missed a Sunday since. He also comes to institute every Saturday as well. He had tears in his eyes as he shared these things with me and many more things. When I asked him to close with a prayer I casually just bowed my head to pray when I saw him getting off his chair to kneel. I of course followed suit but this action amazed me and I couldnt fight back the tears from coming during his prayer. The Church is true haha.  I don't always like being a District Leader, but moments like those make me so grateful.

This letter is getting long sorry, but we also did some service for the Chikapas this week! We collected small stones for 2 hours to lay down under the cement of their floor. Their son Time and I decided it was quicker just to break stones to the right size instead of scowering for them haha.

It's good to be a missionary!
Elder Grant Hiltbrand

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Mar 23 One year older and wiser too?

Thank you everyone for the kind birthday wishes!  Thanks to the age-change a few years ago I didn't have to wait until now to go on my mission! But hey now I'm no longer one of those 18-year-old missionaries!

As for my birthday, it was a great day. I went to church and after Sacrament meeting the Branch Presidency all wished me a Happy Birthday along with many members (and I hadn't told many people at all!) But the greatest part I think was how instead of focusing all on me because its MY birthday, I was able to focus on others and spend the day in service of others. Of course I was very excited because of my birthday so I took that excitement and energy and directed it towards others. Just giving them big smiles or words of praise and the like. I love this branch and feel like I am part of the family here. Also we had a get together last night for the Reynolds (a senior couple that has served 2 years) because they leave for home today, so we had ice cream and desserts all as a zone, so it was super cool that it fell on the same day as my birthday! Last Monday I had forgone buying flour and such items to bake myself a cake because I'm low on allotment since it has to last 3 weeks this time so I had accepted  that I would just eat some pudding or something but then this came up so it was awesome! They sang Happy Birthday to me but I'm glad it didn't take the focus off the Reynolds too much. They were such a help to us always working behind the curtain and we will miss them!

The rest of the week was great as well, just long. It seems like it was the week before actually now looking back. But on Tuesday we had a powerful district meeting where we all discussed an MTC (Mission Training Center) address "Becoming a Consecrated Missionary" by Tad R Callister. Instead of me instructing, I instead took a seat with the District so that we could all just discuss. Of course I still have points I felt needed to be addressed that were prompted to me prior while I prayerfully prepared, so I still was able to guide the discussion a bit, but it was awesome. I hope each missionary took it to heart and has that extra drive to be a little better and consecrate themselves a little more.

On Wednesday the APs (2 missionaries that are Assistants to the President) came down and had a little meeting for the District Leaders which was cool because they are including us and we all got to discuss the needs of the zone and districts on how to improve. Leadership is an interesting experience on mission and a great experience to grow.

We have an amazing investigator named Rosalia that we are teaching. She just understands everything and has come to know it to be true. I love teaching people like this where you can just tell from the very start, even from the moment you meet them, that they are prepared. After the 2nd lesson she understands the whole Restoration, while there are some investigators who still don't understand after the 6th..but we love them all the same and continue to strive to help them come to Christ no matter what their level of understanding!

I love this mission experience! Thanks again for all the loving words!

It's good to be a missionary!

Elder Grant Hiltbrand

oh just a note: this morning I went out back and there was a crab there! Now that's an animal I wouldn't expect to see here! But Elder Doig and I jumped on the opportunity in front of us and caught it and boiled it and ate it with melted butter!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Mar 9 Time doth swiftly softly glide

This week was awesome and super quick! We taught a ton and just had a great time each day. Elder Ngendabanka and I are doing great! I love this guy now that we have figured out each other a bit more! Chilobwe is doing great as well - we are teaching most of everyday so I think that might be why the week flew by as well. But when we aren't teaching and have to find, it is difficult since I'm going on 7 months here and we only work in what is called the center of strength. Which is 30 min walking any direction from the church. Because as the church is growing here and we don't have many meeting houses all over, it is hard for people to walk an hour to come to church for the first time. So basically, I have knocked every gate or door in the center of strength! I could even tell you what many of the houses look like on the inside haha!

My favorite family we are teaching right now is a family of a man with Parkinson's who owns a shop that we have passed by many times. He saw us last week passing and sent a child to go stop us and tell us to come to his shop. Well we are teaching him and his family and they just seem prepared by the Lord. They are very strong members in Seventh Day Adventist Church (pretty common church here), but they are seeing the truth from what we have taught. This message is true and will bless this family so much.That goes for everyone we teach though! No matter what religion or what background they have, we see the truth working inside them - whether they accept it or not - and I just feel God's love for them and can see how the truth will bless them. 

I had some awesome pictures from this week that I was going to send, but they were destroyed today as I plugged my card in.. luckily I backed them up on a usb this morning so maybe next week! 

Shout out to Sarah Paul for getting called to serve in the West Indies Mission!

The Church is true!
Elder Grant Hiltbrand

Mar 2 If there's a will, there's a ChilobWE (haha sorry I had to)

The longer I stay here the less I have to write haha so forgive me. But it was a good week! We have some great people we are teaching and continue to work hard!  (ChilobWE is in reference to the city he is serving in.)

We played soccer with the branch on Saturday! That was sooo fun! I haven't exercised so much in the past 6 months! My body is sore all over even today.. I figured hiking Mt. Soche everyday was good exercise but I guess not! Well the sisters and I were the only azungus but I think I held my own against the Malawians! Soccer is a huge part of culture in Africa so they are very good. And yeah Nicole, I had an assist.

We taught a preacher this week and the lesson took forever but in the end he realized the truth but said he wouldn't pray and it's all "in the word" like many people here do, but he said that if it is true then what he is doing is wrong, so I understand his fear, but each and everyone of us at some point will be backed up to the wall of faith! But the promise is the same to all: if you pray and ask God if these things are true, He WILL answer! I love this gospel and I'm grateful to have the privelege to serve a mission - no matter what area I serve in or who I serve with.
Love you and thanks for all the support!
Elder Grant Hiltbrand

Bro. Mkochi, one of the RM's in the branch and probably my best (non-missionary) friend here! The RM's in this branch hold the branch together and are such a blast!