Thursday, June 23, 2016

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