Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Feb 22 Kwach' ya doin?

There is never a dull moment in this mission!

Tuesday was a shocking day...all that needs to be said is that I will be getting a new companion soon. Probably this week.

Friday was the day! The whole zone arrived at the chapel about an hour early and sat reverently to prepare for Elder Andersen. Our meeting with Elder Andersen was amazing. He had everyone laughing the whole time, but also had us all feeling the spirit and being inspired as well. It was amazing how he answered many of the questions I had come with without me even having to ask them. He also addressed many of the missionaries concerns in the zone without ever being briefed on the zone or anything. Basically he helped us all to 'raise our sights' and he reviewed what took place in the Worldwide Broadcast. That just shows that those topics are what the Lord wants us to be focusing on.
Elder Andersen and wife front left.
After our meeting we got to attend the member devotional and we had front row seats. Elder Andersen didn't actually plan anything for any of the meetings, but instead conducted the meetings by the spirit. Elder Ellis, of the 70, spoke first on multi-generational families and then Elder Carl B Cook just spoke about his experiences traveling with an apostle for 9 days (since they were previously in the DRC, Democratic Republic of Congo,  doing a temple ground breaking). He shared that right after our missionary meeting and before they went to the devotional Elder Andersen said to all the leaders 'Wait, there's one more important thing we need to do before the devotional! It's my grandson's 9th birthday" and he pulled out his phone and got his grandson on skype and they all sang Happy Birthday to him 1000's of miles away whilst in the middle of a busy meeting schedule.

Once again in the devotional elder Andersen was hilarious: ''What's this money called?'' someone answered, 'kwacha'
him: 'kwacha?!'....''As in, kwach'ya doin?!''
Yeah...had to be there.

When President was driving Elder Andersen out of the parking lot they stopped and Elder Andersen told Pres that he could invite all the elders to the meeting tomorrow as well (which we previously weren't invited to). That meeting was for all the branch/district/stake/ward leaders in Malawi and Zambia. So I got to see President Chikapa again and Bro Banda who is now the Branch President in Zingwangwa since Pres Chikapa is in the District Presidency! The meeting on Saturday was amazing as well.

I am so grateful for this week and for everything that happened. Sorry I can't tell you too much about the people we are teaching due to time and length of this letter (I'm sure nobody else will even reach this part except you mom!) But what I can say is that we taught more this week than any other even despite being in so many mtgs. This area is so amazing. We are seeing so much success.

Elder Grant Hiltbrand

How could I forget?! We baptized Christopher Mayondi on Sunday! He was so happy to be baptized by his father (actually his uncle but there's no such thing as an uncle in Zambia. haha)

The assistants truck basically exploded this week so we had to sacrifice and miss some of our appointments to tow their truck back to the mission office ha.
The office elders also got in an accident (not their fault) this week and the police impounded their truck (discrimination).

Looks like everything falls apart when President goes out of town! (All the senior couples went on a conference to Livingstone this week)

Feb 15 Preparation Week

It's here already! The week we have all been waiting for when Elder Neil L Anderson comes. On Friday we will have our meeting with Elder Anderson, President Cook, and the rest of them.

This week we did a lot as a zone in preparation for that visit.

On Tuesday we had our zone meeting. The sisters presented on what I call 'patiently progressing', or in other words, being optimistic and not getting down on ourselves for mistakes we make. In their presentation they blind-folded me and then cluttered the room with chairs and such then they told me to get across the room. They put Elder Madilu on the other side so that he could call out to me, but while he tried to yell, the whole zone was also yelling in my ears and making noise so I couldn't hear him (doesn't help that he is a pretty soft-spoken guy!). I managed to start hearing him through all the clatter and started to make progress but then the sisters started giving me bags and other objects I had to hold as I trudged forward. I suppose you see some of the spiritual insights: I needed to listen to the still small voice and disregard the rest. I also had to be patient in this ordeal and as I made more progress I was tried more with a greater load on my shoulders, but as I got further and further instead of feeling weighed down I felt like I could handle more and more because I had figured it out.

Other discussions included preparation for Elder Anderson and improving the 'culture' of our mission in general and also discussion on helping investigators receive revelation through coming to church.

On Thursday we then met again as a zone at Lusaka chapel, but this time not in ties and skirts, but in our work clothes! We had been asked to participate in the renovating of the Lusaka Chapel in preparation for Elder Anderson's visit. We cleaned out gutters and planters.

On Saturday we met AGAIN as a zone to watch the Worldwide Missionary Broadcast. For that meeting everyone came 30 minutes early and reverently prepared for the viewing. It was amazing to see that. Such an improvement from the conduct at previous meetings. And it shows that missionaries are adopting that culture of coming early and preparing and not just doing it once for when Elder Anderson comes just to fake it.

Despite all of those events, Elder Madilu and I got into the area and did some great work. We had been trying for weeks now to contact a man named Kupe I met a few weeks ago in the internet cafe and had given a Book of Mormon. We went to his house and nothing. We called and nothing. We were actually giving his phone a call for the last time this week when this time he picked up and we scheduled to meet the next day. We met and the Restoration just clicked for him and he shared with us some of his life and how he believes this is what has been missing. Such a miracle.

There was a funeral in our ward this week. Georgina Kateule, a young single adult in the ward, passed away. It was so tragic. The Funeral service was on Thursday morning, at the same exact time as the service we were in charge of...so we didn't get to attend. But we went to the home to support the day before and the day of the funeral as well. In Zambian culture when someone dies they move all the furniture out of the house and everyone comes from the villages and they stay there, sitting on the sofas outside or sitting inside on mattresses on the ground inside - from the day of the death until the day after the funeral. We are actually teaching the sister/cousin to Georgina and she was scheduled to be baptized soon but this shook things up a bit. I am eager to teach her deeper about the Plan of Salvation though so it can give her greater peace and solace. The mother is a long time member who stayed in Arizona for months. It was inspiring to hear her bare testimony of how she knows she will be with Georgina again.

Also when we were sitting in with the mother, a man came to pay his respects and he started to preach to her and then offered to pray together and he started to pray really nice then gradually grew in intensity and began shouting and I opened my eyes at that point and he was even raising his finger to the sky and rambling on and on. I actually couldn't help but laugh...but don't worry I stifled the laugh well, nobody noticed. I was covered in the blood of Jesus many times in that prayer by the way.

Love you
Elder Grant Hiltbrand

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Feb 8 Mission Leadership Council

This week was wonderful. We had an in-person Mission Leadership Council (MLC) for which they flew in the ZL's (Zone Leaders) and STL's (Sister Trainer Leaders) from all 4 corners of the mission to counsel together on what is going on in the mission, what should be implemented, and to receive leadership training ourselves.  The missionaries flew in mid-day on Wednesday and we drove straight to the mission office and began our meeting. We concluded in the evening and '' went unto our homes, and pondered upon the things which were said, and asked of the Father, in Christ's name, that we may understand, and prepared our minds for the morrow''.

Mission Leadership Council
Thursday we had meetings all day and then once again concluded in the evening. We met again Friday morning until mid-day and then we took everyone to the airport again.

It was 3 days of Spiritual edification that's for sure. As we counseled together we were able to discern the Lord's will for us and for the mission. I really saw the benefits of councils in the Church. 

A big portion of our meeting was the Worldwide Missionary Broadcast that was shown on 20 January. In our mission we weren't able to view it on 20 Jan due to not having the resources to do so, so we watched as the MLC and then we will be watching it with our respective zones this week. The missionary executive committee shed light on many fields of our work we need to improve on such as teaching by the Spirit, finding people more effective (through members), testifying more frequently of Christ. It was amazing to watch the broadcast and see that our mission is right on track. I'm grateful for such an inspired Mission President that introduced these concepts (for example: not tracting, but working through members) long before this broadcast even aired.

Other portions of our meetings included discussion on priesthood lines of authority. It's amazing to know that as a missionary we are only about 3 steps away from the Apostles. They receive revelation and relay it to General authorities who relay it to President Erickson who relays it to us. 

Elder Madilu and I also led a counsel on helping investigators and members receive revelation through church attendance and Sabbath day worship which I really enjoyed.

There was many other discussions but these were ones I thought of sharing today. I guess MLC is just a 'you had to be there' kind of meeting. Just like how we will never fully understand the counsels that the 12 apostles have, that's' how this was! So sorry I can't explain it very well haha!

After MLC, I got a new truck! We sent the old truck up with the Copperbelt STL's since its smaller and I got a newer, bigger truck. (They had an extra one that they wanted to give to some sisters in the Copperbelt but it was bigger than the one I was driving and way newer so I worked my magic and got the sisters to take my old one and now I drive a bigger, better truck!)

As for our area this week, we didn't have too much time in it, but we managed to teach a few great lessons. Christopher, a young boy, will be baptized this coming Sunday! We should follow his baptism with a few more 2 weeks later as well!

Things are really great.

Elder Grant Hiltbrand

Christopher's Baptism

Feb 1 More Miracles

I loved this last week. 

The Lord is really blessing us lately and I don't even know what we have been doing to deserve it all! Everyday we just seem to have a member say they have someone they want us to meet or we just receive a referral from missionaries in the Copperbelt area.

We met with a few new people this week and had amazing lessons with them. One of those that stuck out was a girl named Faith. We got her number from some sisters in the CBZ (acronym for copperbelt zone). When we met with her and her mother we found out that they were actually related to a family that Elder Madilu taught and baptized in his last area! I guess his fruits are following him haha! She loved the message of the Restoration and despite her busy schedule working for ShopRite, she is making time for us to teach her on her only off day off, Tuesday and she is going to come to Church when she starts mid-day on Sundays.

Peter continues to progress and is reading the BOM from cover-to-cover. He managed to get the maid to come early on Sunday and he came to church! It was the Primary program yesterday (wasn't that supposed to happen in December?) and he said it was wonderful. It really was wonderful in my opinion too. There's something angelic about children's singing. We're acutally teaching a boy that is in primary right now, so he was in the program as well. He lives with members but since he's 10 it's our job to teach him! We teach him really simply and try to use pictures to keep his attention haha. I love those appointments because it's just a nice mix-up from our other normal lessons! I get to become like a child in those I suppose!

Today we went to the Crocodile farm as a District so that Elder Madilu could go as well as Elder Malingas' new trainee, Elder Tippets. It was great. My favorite part was the drive though since it's rain season now. (;   That drive was a lot better than when we got the truck stuck this week haha!

Elder Grant Hiltbrand

Our whole day on Thursday was kinda eaten because on Wednesday I was driving and got cut off causing me to swerve into another lane causing a car (who was speeding illegally and coming into my blind spot) to swerve as well and that car hit the curb and popped a tire which I didnt know. I knew they had to swerve but then they came up to my side driving very fast and were yelling (never said to stop) so I just drove off seeing their car was driving fine and wanting to avoid contention. Well they went to the police and reported me and got the address for the car (mission office) and went to report me to Elder Groesbeck, our senior couple office elder. He called me Thursday and told me the story so I went and met with the other driver and called a member in our ward that's a mechanic and he came and checked it all out to find that only the tire popped so we went and bought him a new tire so as to protect the name of the Church. If I wasn't a missionary I wouldn't have done anything though since it wasn't my fault and he had no claim. The police won't do anything either so nothing to worry about there (well they probably would if they knew I was a white man haha..). So that's why I withdrew personal funds mom. It's a wakeup to drive more cautiously though and also a testament of how orderly the church is. We got a mechanic there within 30 min and had an indemnity form sent to the man's email right then by our vehicle coordinator. It's awesome to be a part of this organization!