Monday, January 8, 2018

Makadii Week 101!

Well, I can't believe that this moment has actually come already. My final email to you all. 

This past week went really well and we had a baptism at the end of the week for our investigator Fidel. He is such an awesome guy, so prepared for the gospel. We have another baptism and marriage planned for my final weekend on Saturday for Sister Ganduka and we are stoked for that. I am so excited to finish my mission on a good note! :) The mission ended with 2,033 records made for 2017! So sweet! 

My 14th and final MLC meeting last week was a success! We have a zone conference in Gweru on Wednesday, exchanges on Thursday, preparations for the baptism and marriage on Friday, and the marriage and baptism on Saturday. My last week on mission is one of the busiest, and I am pretty grateful for it. It keeps my mind away from all of the excitement and nervous feelings about going home. I am excited to work hard for this final week. I have set a goal to find two new prepared families to teach in our area this week so that I can help Elder Whiting with more investigators after I go. Time really is winding down, and it is pretty crazy that this week is my last!

A cool plus from this week was that Elder Edward Dube of the Seventy made a surprise visit to our ward's sacrament meeting on Sunday. It was cool to spend some time with him, to introduce our recent converts and investigators to him and to hear his testimony. He was there with his wife and son. It was cool to have him around. It's not very often that a General Authority will just show up to your ward! haha :) I have been honored to meet 4 General Authorities on my mission.

I don't have much time to say all that I want to say, but I will have plenty of time to fill you in and tell stories when I am home in just a few short days! I would like to thank all of you for staying tuned in to my mission these past 24 months, and for all of the prayers and support that you have given me during my time in Africa. I love you all.

I am nervous and excited for what the future holds for me, but I have learned that as long as I put the Lord first, I will never go wrong. I am excited to show my family around the country that I have served in next week, and I am so excited to be with them again. I love them more than anything in this world.

I will forever treasure the short time I have spent here in Zimbabwe, and I will carry all of the memories and experiences with me for eternity. The church is true. The gospel is real. Jesus is the Christ. God truly is Our Heavenly Father. I am truly grateful for the relationship that I have with Them.

Tinowonana manje-manje shamwari dzangu! Hauite-Hauite! :) See you soon! 

Elder Kevin Jesse Baldwin
Zimbabwe Harare Mission
Over and out! :)

Monday, January 1, 2018

Makadii Week 99/100!

Makorokoto goredzva! (Happy New Year!)

Hello again everyone, and happy 2018! This email will cover for the last 2 weeks because of Christmas last week. I will try to fill you in! :)

It has been a busy first 2 weeks as an Assistant, much like I expected! We have been busy with training meetings, running errands, setting up skyping on Christmas day, planning for MLC, making a mission training plan and preparing the mission leaders to get smartphones to use with members and investigators to help with family history. There are many exciting things happening here in Zimbabwe right now, and the new year of 2018 is looking to be super awesome! We also received the news that starting July 1st, 2018, there will be another mission added to Zimbabwe. There is soon to be the Zimbabwe Harare Mission and the Zimbabwe Bulawayo Mission. The work in Zimbabwe is going so well, and I am so happy for this country to receive more missionaries and more of the gospel in areas that have yet to be opened. I am also so happy that the efforts I, and my fellow missionaries have put forth these last 2 years have led to the splitting of the mission. Exciting stuff. That's what it's all about! :) The mission has had a record year in 2017, with over 2,000 new converts joining the church in Zimbabwe. It has been exciting to be a part of it. 

Despite all of our office duties we also have our area that we are assigned to. The area is called Hatcliffe, and it is a sweet place. With the time we have had in our area so far we now have 2 investigators that we are preparing for baptism this week and next. I will get to finish my mission on an awesome note, helping two more people make their baptismal covenants. I can't think of a better way to go out than that! :)This week we will be busy with MLC, and also preparing Fidel (our investigator) for baptism on Saturday. Fidel is such an awesome guy, and I am glad to have the chance to prepare him for baptism alongside Elder Whiting! Next week, which is my last week as a missionary, we will be busy with a Zone Conference in Gweru, as well as preparing Sister Ganduka (our other investigator) for baptism on my final weekend. 2 weeks left, and those 2 weeks will be full of cool experiences that I will always cherish. The time is near.

I am so thankful to be where I am and to be having the experiences that I am having. 2 weeks left and it is all over. I am glad those 2 weeks will be full of fun for us. Being an Assistant has been a wonderful experience and I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to do it in the final weeks of my mission. By the way, our AP trio only lasted for a few days. Because of some unexpected arrivals, Elder Scoresby was temporarily reassigned until I leave. It is now just me and my former companion Elder Whiting together again. When I leave, Elder Scoresby will be back with Elder Whiting before he goes home soon after me. I am still a bit puzzled why the Lord wants me to be where I am, especially in these circumstances, but whatever the reason I know that He does want me here. 

Another exciting note is that I met Elder Edward Dube of the Seventy this past week. He is here in Zimbabwe for the holidays and I had the pleasure to meet him while he was around!

I love you all and I wish you a wonderful and happy 2018! Make Jesus Christ a focus in your lives this year. :)

Monday, December 18, 2017

Salibonani Week 98!

Transfer #16 is now done, and my last 4 weeks have officially begun!

This week brought many surprises, but sadly I don't have time to explain it all today. I am now an Assistant to the Mission President in Harare. It was a very unexpected change for my last 4 weeks, but I am excited for the new experiences I will have as an AP. The crazy thing is their are three of us as AP's now, and I am now back with my old companion Elder Whiting. The other companion in the trio is Elder Scoresby, a fellow elder in my group. I was in Cowdray Park for only a short time, but I will always remember my time there. :)

I wish I could write more but it has been a crazy day of transfers. Just know that I am now in Harare serving in the mission office. I will explain more when I get the chance. I won't have much time to write all that I would like these last few weeks, so don't think I have forgotten to do it! haha :)

I love you all and wish you a Merry Christmas from Zimbabwe! :)

Monday, December 11, 2017

Salibonani Week 97!

Hello and Happy Holidays from Africa! :)

This week brought us a smile as our investigators, Iphi and Bongie, were baptized and confirmed! After 5 weeks of hard work in Cowdray Park, the Lord has blessed us with success. We are grateful, and will keep working with them in the coming weeks to keep them going in the right direction. I was also told that some of my old investigators in Kadoma will be getting baptized soon as well, which makes me super happy! We are still working with more people and continue to find and teach each day. The final week of the transfer has now arrived, Week 6 as we say. 

This past week was my final Week 5, and this week is my final Week 6. After that there is only 4 weeks (28 days) left to go. The transfer news will be coming out this weekend, so soon you and I will know how and where my mission is going to end, whether it be in Cowdray Park or another place! It's pretty exciting waiting for your final transfer news. I have been anxiously waiting for transfer news every 6 weeks for the last 23 months, so it's weird to think that after this week I will never have another one to look forward to. Things are slowly coming to a close. 

This week we were busy preparing Iphi and Bongie for baptism, but we also found some new investigators. We also were able to help a member family prepare their fields (garden) for planting. In Zimbabwe during the end of November and throughout December, people are always busy in the fields, preparing and planting various things in preparation for the rain season to come. This week was much better, with rain coming off and on, and clouds in the sky. It was good to help them out and do some service! Just trying #LighttheWorld right? :) 

It has been a great transfer full of learning and growing for me and Elder Vave. No matter what the news is at the end of the week, I know the Lord is the one behind it all anyway! I am becoming very anxious and excited in these remaining weeks of my mission. I know I will be back home soon, and I know that I still have a bit more time to give to the Lord. This week on Thursday we will be going to Gweru for a Christmas Devotional with other people throughout the mission. I am excited to see some old friends. It might be my final zone conference, so I will do my best to enjoy it! There will be a baking competition, and a talent show as well. I plan to participate in both, haha :) We will see how it goes!

Merry Christmas everyone! I love you all and wish you a wonderful week wherever you may be. :) 

Monday, December 4, 2017

Salibonani Week 96!

Yebo! Lingani? I hope you all are doing well. :)

Another week gone, and another week begins. The way time works on a mission is quite different from back home, and days and weeks just run together. After you have been serving for as long as I have, you will know what I mean! :)

This week went well, and we are preparing for a great last 2 weeks to end the transfer. Elder Vave and I continue our work in Cowdray Park, and we are going to have some good things happen soon. Our investigators, Iphi and Bongie, are both preparing for their baptism this week on Saturday, so we will be busy this week to help them get ready for it! After 4 weeks of work, it will be awesome to see them be baptized! We also have some great new investigators that are keeping us busy, and we ended up 7 investigators at church. We will be working to help more of them make progress as well! :)

We had a pretty normal week. The weather was very very hot and sunny throughout, and no rain. We are hoping that more rain will come soon to cool the temperatures down a bit. I was able to go on one of my final exchanges this past week with Elder Dore, a native Zimbabwean serving in the mission until he gets his visa to go to his assigned mission in Cape Town, SA. We had a good day together. He knows my former companion Elder Sekerere, they are in the same ward in Harare. 

This past Sunday was Fast Sunday, which means that I am now left with only one Fast and Testimony meeting as a missionary in Zimbabwe. December has begun and the holidays are in full swing. It's not the way things are back in the USA this time of year here in Zim, but that's ok! I have now begun my final 6 weeks. My final transfer is on the horizon.

Today I handed over my guitar that I purchased early on in my mission to my good friend Elder Condie. It will be weird to not be able to play it over the next 6 weeks, but it's ok. I couldn't justify taking it back home when I already have one, and Elder Condie really wanted it so I gave it to him so that it can be used after I leave! I won't have to worry about lugging it around with me which is nice. :)

Some great news is that my former area, Chegutu, now has 2 branches instead of 1! Chegutu Branch was split yesterday into 2 branches to prepare for the organization of a district  in Chegutu and Kadoma this coming weekend. The church sure is growing! I am glad my work has contributed to the wonderful things that are happening. The mission is now at 1,985 baptisms for the year and our goal of 2,000 will be reached in the coming weeks as we end the year of 2017 and begin 2018. Lots of good is happening!

I love you all and wish you an awesome week wherever you are. Happy Holidays! :)

Monday, November 27, 2017

Salibonani Week 95!

Hello again! :)

Not much to report this week. Zimbabwe does have a new President now, but not much is different. The days are just as normal as ever for us. 

We continue to do the work in Cowdray Park and it is moving along slowly at the moment. We meet new people almost everyday but just don't experience much success in helping them act on the things that we teach them. We did end up with 5 investigators at church. Things are up and down, but we do have high hopes for next week. If all goes well, we should be able to have a baptism for two people. Their names are a bit tough to read and pronounce but I will type them out for you anyways. One is YSA age, her friend brought her to church. Her name is Bongie. The other is the youngest daughter of a part-member family who has been less active for some time. Her name is Iphithulenkosi. We will be working with them this week to see if they are ready. I hope all goes well! 

The transfer is now already half-way done with only 3 weeks left now. It feels like I just arrived back here to Bulawayo. Time continues to go by whether I can notice it or not. There ended up not being any zone conference this week, it has been postponed until the end of the transfer. I did get to watch the first primary program of my mission during church this week. I have yet to watch one in Zimbabwe until now, but it was good. As the young kids sang the songs and shared their testimonies it just reminded me of how simple the gospel is. So simple, yet so powerful. Powerful enough to change and save lives. I just wish I could be better at helping the people I teach to see just how simple and powerful the gospel is. I do my best to teach them, but many times they just don't fully understand what the restored gospel can do for them.  

Crazy to think that November is coming to an end this week and that the final month of 2017 is about to begin! Thanksgiving this week was just a normal day for us. We had some interviews with the Mission President and then had a big lunch downtown. The holiday season is officially here. The year is coming to an end, which means my mission is coming to an end too. 7 weeks is still enough to time to do some good while I still can. Just trying to remain humble to live and serve among the people of Zimbabwe to help them in anyway that I can.

I failed to take any pictures this past week, so I apologize that I don't have any to show you. I will do my best to take some more pictures this week.

I love you all and wish you a wonderful week! :) Happy Holidays!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Salibonani Week 94!

First of all, I wanted to say that I am safe and doing well. Secondly, I wanted to wish everyone an early Happy Thanksgiving 2017! :)

It has been quite an interesting week here in Zimbabwe. I am sure many of you have heard a bit about the political situation here, but this week brought lots of attention to Zimbabwe. During the week we were told to stay inside our houses for one day, (it was Wednesday for us). To be honest, here in Bulawayo nothing happened. We are safe and we feel safe. No violence, and no problems for missionaries. Even on the day we stayed inside it was peaceful. The only difference is the people are talking a lot about the situation and are glued to the TV to know what is happening, at least those who have TV's. Many people were happy and celebrating about what was happening, and many people were drunk throughout the country. Many people went to Harare to join the protest. The craziest part is in Harare with a very strong army presence and tons of people marching in protest. Harare is really the only place that has been affected, at least so far. I was able to catch some of the news headlines when we visited members and investigators. Except for the one day inside missionary work was as normal as ever for us.

As far as the work goes, Elder Vave and I had a somewhat discouraging week. We were working hard to visit those who came to church last week and visit our other investigators but we didn't have much luck. Many investigators were out of town visiting family, some attend a funeral, and many just are not a serious as we thought. After a miracle week last week, we only had 2 investigators attend church. 1 of them is new and the other is moving back to his rural home next week, which means he can't be baptized. We were sad that no one else came. We are going to continue to try and help people to progress, but success may take a bit longer than we thought. Lots of potential but nothing is for sure. We did find some less active families and we have a potential baptism for the youngest daughter of a part member family. We will see how it goes this week and next. For church this week we attended with my old ward and branch in Gwabalanda and Luveve. We went to the chapel I once served in, the members of Cowdray Park had to take transport to get there. I was able to see some of my converts that I baptized last year and many member friends. The whole Africa Southeast area of the church viewed a special conference broadcast from Salt Lake City that was presided over by Elder Anderson of the Twelve Apostles. We heard some great talks from him and other General Authorities. I hope the members were able to understand and take to heart what they shared. They talked about many things that the church struggles with here in Africa. Next week it will be back to a normal Sunday in Cowdray Park. 

My thoughts of home have increased, especially in my dreams at night. I always wake up and come back to reality and start a new day. The feeling that your mission is coming to an end is quite real, and I hope that I can handle/subdue those feelings. If I dwell on them too much I will not be happy and I need to be happy to help Elder Vave and to love the work. This week we have a zone conference in Gweru, and interviews with our Mission President. After this week I only have one or two more interviews and one zone conference left. We are now down to 8 weeks left, with 4 weeks left in the transfer.

As we begin the holiday season I just wanted all of you, my friends and family, to know just how thankful I am to have you in my life. I love you all so much. I want all of you to know just how blessed you are, never forget to be grateful for what the Lord has blessed you with. I want all of you to look at yourselves and realize just how much the Lord is in the details of your lives. There are many people in the world who have nothing. I have seen it first hand. Never take what you have for granted.  

Have a great week! Happy Thanksgiving everyone and Happy Holidays! :) 

For my pictures this week, I don't have many. I just took a picture of all of my missionary planners and transfer sheets for you too see just how long I have been around. :)