Monday, June 27, 2016

June 27 Goodbye President and Sister Erickson

Hello again! It was once again a great week for us. We had 2 more baptisms! Hope and Sembe. They were baptized along with a family of 3 that the other elders taught, the Mwale family. Brother Mwale has two prosthetic legs starting above the knee from a car accident and to witness him get baptized was such a miracle. He wasn’t too sure how it would work out but he was determined to get baptized. Fortunately it worked out just fine. His legs were  a bit buoyant the first time so they had him kneel and it worked fine.

Sembe Bupe with his family -- the Sikaonga family.

Hope Musanga with her uncle, Brother Musanga and sister, Gracious Mutale.

This was President Erickson’s last week in the mission, so on Saturday he held a farewell devotional for Lusaka stake. Matero ward organized a bus and all the members pitched in some money to cover the cost which made it over half the price it would usually cost to go to Lusaka chapel and back. President Erickson is loved very much by all the members and especially the leaders. Much was said about how he helped in Lusaka becoming a stake in March 2015. I got to see all my friends and converts from Libala ward at the devotional as well!

The missionaries were responsible for handing out refreshments at the devotional.

The refreshments consisted of 'biscuits' (aka cookies) and a carbonated apple juice drink.

Tomorrow we will go to the airport at 9pm to pick up President Kupu, his wife, and their 17yr old son. President Erickson will take them to their new home and then he will pick them up again in the morning and bring them to the mission office where we will be there and the Mission presidents will meet briefly and then the Erickson’s will go to the airport. I am sad to see President Erickson leave, but we are very excited to meet President Kupu and assist him in adjusting to the mission. The next few weeks may involve some travel with him and I’m sure it will include lots of meetings with him!

Love you all
Elder Grant Hiltbrand

President Erickson had the beloved Assistants and Zone Leaders over for dinner last Monday.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

June 20 Return of Elder Hiltbrand from Zambia Lusaka Mission

Dear Brother and Sister Hiltbrand

Greetings from Lusaka, Zambia!

Elder Hiltbrand, will be returning from his mission in Zambia on  Wednesday, August 10.

His flight itinerary is attached.

We want to confirm someone will be there to greet him and take him to be released.

Thank you so much for sending us this wonderful elder! We will miss this great young man.

Warm regards, 

President and Sister Erickson

(Grant will be leaving Zambia August 9 at 1:05 pm and arriving in Orange County on
August 10 at 11:50 am.)

June 20 The GREAT Matero District

Last week I had said that this week would be our last full week of proselyting before the Mission President Transition, but never mind! We were pretty busy this week! President decided it would be best for us to meet this week in order to have more time before President Kupu comes, so we met and discussed what's called the transition checklist for the new mission president then President wanted us to know where his flat is so he drove us there and also showed us the American International School that Pres Kupu's son will attend. It was awesome to spend informal time with President. I learned a lot just from our conversations along the way.  I'm sure we will have some more transition business this week as well since it's President's LAST week!

This week we also did some more maize shucking for a family in the ward, the Bandas. (Although I love this family so much, I suppose it's almost a waste to write their name here or in my journal because it will be so difficult to remember who I am talking about since the most common name in Zambia (and Malawi I think) is Banda! Thank goodness for pictures though!) Our district has grown recently with the addition of the Lilanda elders, Elder Day and Elder Komakech, so now we are a district of 6 elders. It makes transportation difficult though since I can only drive 3 missionaries in the back of our truck, so the Groesbecks also help us with transportation for the other elders and its such a joy to have them around as well!
In total we shucked about 200kg of maize kernels

On Saturday the ward had a primary activity and they enlisted us to help out! It was so fun. The kids are so fun and probably haven't experienced activities like this in the past! I don't know what they (or we!) enjoyed more though, the games or stuffing their mouths with as many PB&J sandwiches as they wanted!

Our work in the area is still going very well. Hope and Sembe are sooo excited for their baptisms next week! As a district we should baptize 8 people in total! 

Today was a fun day too. We had a district activity and went to some place called Eureka where they just have wild animals roaming around like zebras, giraffes, antelope, and a super friendly dog ha! Check out some of the photos to see how close we got to the zebras. The giraffes were a bit more skittish though.. and the antelope don't allow you to get close at all! We were leaving and saw that the baby elephant orphanage was close by and they would be feeding the elephants soon so we went over and got to see them chug their milk and play around for a bit. It was a really nice activity! Then we finished it off with Zambian Kentucky Fried Chicken. Oh and I was the chauffeur for the day so I got to drive our nice big mission van! It's an automatic so that was a little weird for me..subconsciously you want to push the clutch or move the stick.

Love you all
Elder Grant Hiltbrand

So the police are just going bezerk over here... today I got pulled over for the light turning yellow whilst in the middle of the intersection ha...I was even driving our mission van with the office couple in the car so they also knew I did no wrong, but it's just one example of how crazy they've been. I didn't get a ticket today, I talked her out of it and she probably felt guilty after seeing my badge

Our vehicle coordinator went in to register my previous truck again and they couldn't because there was a ticket, so he went and just admitted guilt to the ticket and paid and then came back and found out it was me who was driving! They didn't pull me over or anything and I checked the date of the ticket and I know exactly when it was. I got a ticket because I didn't allow a mini bus to ILLEGALLY merge! It's just so biased here... and the ticket was 450 kwacha ($45)... usually tickets NEVER exceed 300k or 150k.  I called the police and they said that that isn't even allowed to just write up a ticket.

June 13 Zambia combined conference

Oh man I was so exhausted at the beginning of this week because of all the traveling last week! (It doesn't even feel like those travels were last week..feels like last month haha!)

It was so nice to get back to work this week and have our planners filled up once again. We got to teach a lot this week and found a few more investigators that even came to Church on Sunday. Currently we have so many wonderful investigators. They're the type of investigators that ask us to come and teach them and if we can't fit them in they're bummed.

A few of the upcoming baptisms include:
Sembe, Hope, Kelvin, and Sister Judith Kalonga.
I believe I filled you in on Sembe. He was scheduled to be baptized this Sunday but we pushed it to next Sunday so we could combine with the other elders' baptisms, but theirs also got delayed so we'll see this week if Sembe wants to be baptized alone or if he wants to wait one more week.

Hope is the sister to 2 really strong recent converts, so they have really helped her know the truth. It's so nice to teach her because she already has a basic understanding because her sisters have taught her so much.  I spoke about Kelvin in a previous email. He's still working on getting some church clothes instead of wearing his 'swagg' to church!   Sister Judith is newly wed to a member and has been taking her time to make the decision to follow the truth, but now she has. She and her husband weren't at Church on Sunday because they went to her old church to officially break things off in a respectful way instead of just disappearing all of the sudden.

On Thursday this week, the Copperbelt missionaries came down to LSK and we had our combined conference for all the Zambia missionaries. I got the privilege of attending both conferences so I got to do some comparing. We had the same program and topics for both conferences but they were still quite different and unique.  From both conferences I have learned so much more about the temple and the covenants we make there. I am so excited to attend the temple again when I come home!
Zambia Zone conference.
This will probably be our last week of normal, steady missionary work before all the craziness begins with the Mission President Transition!
Elder Grant Hiltbrand

June 6 Malawi Trip

After sitting in a car for 24 hours and driving 2000 kilometers and having the equivalent amount of bugs hit the windshield over the course of 4 days, we are back in Lusaka! We traveled to Malawi this week for President Erickson's last round of zone conferences. 

Elder Ssengooba and I were to drive to Lilongwe (LLW) on Wednesday and spend the night then we would drive down to Blantyre with the rest of the missionaries where we would have the conference.

The drive on Wednesday was great. Because I was so excited, it went by so quick! I can't even express how overjoyed I was to be back in Malawi. Right after crossing the border you see an immediate change. It had been 14 months since I was last in that beautiful country. You see tons of people along the road biking or riding in ox carts and so forth. Along the road you see the red-brick houses, or in some parts, the thatched-roof mud-hut bungalows. 

We slept the night in LLW on wed then on Thursday morning we woke up early and put some missionaries on buses and got on the road! The road from LLW to Blantyre (BLT) was even more beautiful. 
Huts by side of road.
Snacks for the way home.

Back in Malawi.

On Thursday we got to BLT around noon and had just a little time before we gathered at the BLT Chapel to begin our conference sessions. My companion and I first conducted a meeting called "Train the Trainers" where we had pre-selected missionaries in attendance who can potentially train in the next 1-2 months. We discussed principles of leadership and training new missionaries. It's really important that missionaries step up right now because lots of our tenured mission leaders are departing in July and August and we will be receiving 16 missionaries between those two months along with a new mission president! We then went into the actual conference until evening.

On Friday we began the 2nd half of the conference in the morning and went until around noon so that there was ample time to drive back to LLW that same day. This was the portion of the conference that we were all waiting for. We have been studying two talks 'Prepare for the Blessings of the Temple" (Elder Nelson) and "Obedience, Consecration, and Sacrifice" (Mcconkie) in preparation for this conference. During the conference we had a discussion on the principles in those talks and about the temple and our covenants. It was really inspiring. We then concluded with a testimony meeting and pictures and that was the last time the Malawi missionaries will see President Erickson! 

Before we drove back to LLW, we went to lunch and it was close to where Rushton's previous mission companion, Elder Nyrenda, lives, so I called him and got to meet him! 

Rushton's former companion, Mike Nyrenda.
We originally planned to stay in LLW until Sunday, but we wanted to attend Church in our own ward, so we headed back on Saturday. That means for 4 days straight I had spent 6 or more hours driving! Eish it was exhausting!

The trip to Malawi was an amazing experience though. I'm grateful for the chance to associate with all the missionaries in Malawi and to take part in the trainings and discussions this week.

I'm grateful that the Lord watched over us and that we returned back to Lusaka safely.
Elder Grant Hiltbrand