Monday, August 29, 2016

Bloom Where You are Planted and Embrace the Culture!

Something that I learned this week is that I can either complain that it's too hot outside, that I'm tired of being called white girl, OR I can bloom where I am planted and embrace the culture. We can be so focused on the garbage and disgust on the ground that we forget to look up and enjoy the beauty that surrounds us. 

On Saturday, my heart was filled with joy as Takudzua, a 14 year old boy who is a sweetheart and Melissa a single mother of two were baptized. Being able to teach them the gospel and see how their lives have changed for the better is the reason why I am here- bringing others closer to Christ. Melissa said, "I knew that baptism was the right thing for me because everything just fell into place." 

Brother Sekuru:
 Came to church on Sunday! Words can't describe how I felt when he walked through the door- I was extremely happy. Sekuru lives a simple life of peace and joy- the kind of man who whenever Sister Ziqubu and I go to his home to teach him, he is sitting in a lawn chair observing his surrounding and enjoying the sunlight. He told us that he knows the church is true this week and he is getting baptized on September 24th.

Brother Kayenda:
The economy in Zimbabwe is tough right now, just google it. Oftentimes when people try to get money out of the bank-there is no money. Brother Kayenda said that he gets scared to go get money out of the bank. He prays and pleads with His Heavenly Father before he goes to the bank that he will be able to access money. The struggles the Zimbabwean people go through even on a daily basis is just tough. It makes me happy that I can give them something even better than any worldly substance, I can give them the gospel!

I'm sorry that I couldn't send any photos this week - hopefully I can next week! 

I love you all so much! I hope all of you have a very wonderful week. :)

Sister Beckstead

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Africa, the New Nauvoo!

Hello family and friends,

The highlight of my week was stake conference on Sunday! Our stake presidency was getting reorganized so Elder Mark S. Palmer and Stanley G. Ellis of the seventy spoke to our stake (the Marimba Park stake!) Elder Palmer shared an experience David A. Bednar had while visiting Ruwanda a couple weeks ago. A sister asked him, "How can I get to Nauvoo?" He replied, "You don't need to go to Nauvoo, you are Nauvoo!" I loved what he said because it is the beginning of the church's growth in Africa right now and they are the pioneers. Elder Palmer asked David A. Bednar a good friend of his what he should say to the Saints of Zimbabwe. David A. Bednar said, "Keep the gospel simple. Don't confuse the gospel. Members of the church in Africa set an example for the church everywhere." I agree with this statement. Their testimonies are pure and sincere. They don't need to share stories or make unnecessary comments, they just get up and say what they know to be true. I love the simplicity here.

Update on Brother Sekuru from last week (the front door not locking problem...) He mentioned to my companion and I this week how he is no longer worried about his door and that if he goes to church, his home will be protected.This sweet man is progressing fast and I'm excited to see what is going to happen! Sister Melody is my companion's hair dresser and has been seeing missionaries for quite some time. Melody wants to get baptized but it's a marriage issue. One morning after personal study my companion and I prayed that Melody's husband's heart would be softened. When we went to visit her last that afternoon, she said that she finally had the courage to ask her husband if they could be legally married. She said, "He reacted so calm and said we could! I was not expecting him to act that way at all." We could tell she was so happy, and we are happy for her. We are probably having a marriage and baptism for her this September! Yay. :)

My first dinner appointment... Found out that we had a second one right after it on the same night. It was quite the experience. Sadza is a very thick and heavy bland...kind of like cornmeal that is moldable? Very hard to describe but it sort of feels like eating 3 loaves of bread. So I got done eating my first meal completely stuffed, then we go to a member's home for a quick spiritual thought and we get fed sadza a second time! I wanted to die hahaha.

Another highlight this week was one of our sweet ward missionaries paid for some of our investigators' transportation to get to stake conference on Sunday. It's examples like this that make me love the people here in Zim! They are so giving and loving!

That is about it from this week! I love you all and hope you have a spectacular week! 

Sister Beckstead

Picture 1- Helping a member take these veggies to her market.
Picture 2- My first zone meeting.
Pictures 3 & 4- SADZA.
Pictures 5 & 6- The city of Harare. Where we go on Monday's! 
Picture 7- We got African dresses made and wore them to stake conference.

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Key to Missionary Work is Work!

This week my companion and I have worked SO hard. I come home feeling sort of like I'm dying and I can't think straight but feeling happier than ever and feeling fulfilled. Missionary work is wonderful and so amazing. I have never worked harder in my life but it's enjoyable work. It seems like my companion and I don't have enough time in the day to visit and teach all of our many investigators no matter how hard we are working but it doesn't matter-I'm just happy with how receptive they are to the gospel.

We got a new investigator named Brother Sekuru. He is the kindest old man with missing teeth and has the best heart. At our first lesson with him he asked my companion and I, "Since I'm old and have forgotten God my entire life, do I still have a chance?" We told him that yes, our Heavenly Father is sad because He wishes His son would talk to Him like how any father would feel, but it doesn't matter how long it's been because He loves you and will be happy when you to come unto Him. This sweet man says that he can't come to church because his front door doesn't lock and he's scared someone will break in while he's gone...third world problems. Still trying to figure out a solution to this one! 

Man, I am getting so sunburnt/tan here! The sun is beating down so hard already and it's only spring time! Crazy. 

Something else I've learned is that there's no coincidences when you're on the Lord's errand. Weekends are always tough in the area because everyone is gone and goes out to town. So, on Saturday, many of our investigators that we planned to meet with were not home. We had about an hour until we had a dinner appointment at a member's home, so we were trying to decide what to do. We finally decided to go see a less active member down the road. As we started walking, two of our investigators that we were supposed to meet with walked by! We ended up having those two lessons, and they both showed up to church on Sunday! We were so happy.

The little kids here in Zimbabwe are the cutest. They always want to take pictures with me and give me high-fives.They always yell, "hey maroongoo!" (white person.) Also, some good news is that the language barrier has been a lot better this week. I am learning how to greet people in Shona, and I think our investigators can understand me a lot better now, it'll just take some more time. We also got the ward missionaries to help translate for my companion and I at lessons where our investigators only speak Shona. It has been a STRUGGLE though. 

Spiritual thought for this week: Charity. This is a topic I love, and one I love to share with others. Charity is an attribute that we should all seek to develop and I know that we can develop charity if we pray for it and strive to become better. 

 Though speak with the tongues of men and of angels,and have not charityam become as sounding brass, or atinkling cymbal.
 And though have the gift of prophecyand understandall mysteriesand all knowledge; and though have allfaith, so that could remove mountains, and have notcharity, am nothing.
 And though bestow all my goods to feed the poor, andthough give my body to be burned, and have not charity,it profiteth me nothing.
 Charity suffereth long, and is kindcharity envieth not;charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
I love you all, I'm thankful for the love and support I receive each week! You are all wonderful. Have a great week!
Love, Sister Beckstead. 

Monday, August 8, 2016

First Week in Zim!!!

This week has seriously been awesome. Since I haven't emailed in forever I am going to back track to the MTC.
It was Sister Park's birthday on July 30th! President Ashton let us escape the MTC and we went to a pretty botanical garden and saw a waterfall. It was a great break from being locked up in the MTC. :)
I got to Zimbabwe on August 2nd. My new companion and trainer's name is Sister Ziqubu. (The q is a click.) She is from Durban, South Africa and is quite a character. She knows Shona really well so it is very helpful in our area. Our area is called Kwatzana! I absolutely love it, it's peaceful for the most part and the people are humble. The struggle I am having right now is the language. It is hard for investigators to understand my American accent but everyone just tells me to wait a couple of weeks and it'll start changing. Also, they speak Shona here a lot more than I thought they would...English is more of a second language so it's tough but it's ok! 
The first day in Kwatzana I went to a Mormon Helping Hands activity. We did some gardening and planting and it was nice to meet some members and to start to build a relationship with them. It amazes me how receptive to the gospel people here are. It's almost like, "wait what, are you serious?!?" The highlight of my week was that our investigator Michael agreed to be baptized on August 27th. His faith in Jesus Christ is incredible.

 I met with Brother Shekede who is a recent convert to the church as of last year. He is a very devoted and faithful member. When we visited him he asked us a very bold question. He said, "If we didn't get a chance to accept the gospel while we were on earth will we be saved?" I realized he was asking that question because his wife passed away several years ago before he was a member of the church. It was a tender moment to be able to tell him that because our Heavenly Father loves us, we can be together forever and your wife still has a chance.
If you are ever questioning the importance of paying your tithing, just come to a fast & testimony meeting in Zimbabwe. The members rely on tithing for the blessings they receive from paying it. An inspiration of this is Sister Makondora. She lives in a very humble home. By the time we walked to her house, my companion and I had to go to the bathroom.It was a hole in the ground outside. We shared 3N 13:32-34 with her. It says, "
 32 For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.
 34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient is the day unto the evil thereof."
After I shared this scripture with her, I said, "Since God loves us, he is always willing and ready to bless us. We just have to ask." Sister Makondora has a small little market off the side of the road where she sells home grown fruit. She said how we never have to worry about tomorrow because God always takes care. She has trouble putting food on the table for her family, but still tells my companion and I to take home some fruit from her market.. She sees these blessings as blessings from God.
I love the scripture Matthew 25:35-36 and how much it relates to missionary work.
35 For was an hungredand ye gave me meat: was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: was strangerand ye took me in:
 36 Naked, and ye clothed me: was sick, and ye visited me: was in prisonand ye came unto me.
"I was lost and you taught me that God has a plan for me. My family was waiting and you gave us a way to be together forever. I was broken, and you gave me hope."

P.s. another highlight of the week was finding Quinn in the Liahona I was reading. I love my buddy!!