Monday, May 30, 2016

Makadii Week 17!

Wow! 4 months a missionary!

It has been quite a roller coaster so far, and I hope it continues to be. I was officially set apart 4 months ago yesterday, so time is really flying. A little less than 20 more to go! I hope everyone has had a wonderful start to their summer!
Things are going well here, and we are now half way through the current transfer. Things are well in Marimba and Mufakose, and my companion and I are getting along well. I'm just trying to be the best companion I can be for him. No baptisms or marriages this week, but we did have some confirmations of those baptized last week. I always love seeing someone officially welcomed into a ward. It is the best feeling. :) We did receive a good number of referrals from members this week, and some of our investigators are progressing well. We are planning for a baptism of 4 people for June 11, so hopefully all goes well.
Lobola has caused me lot's of problems already on my mission. Shylet and Sister Rondinyu, two people I have been teaching since I came, have stopped progressing because of it. It breaks my heart to stop seeing them, because I so badly want them to be baptized and come closer to Christ. That can't happen until they are married, and lobola, as well as other circumstances are really getting in the way. If it doesn't end up being me who baptizes them, I really hope it happens in the near future. Satan really does work hard on our investigators.
One highlight from the week was exchanges with the Zone Leaders, Elder Brooks and Chikato, in Domboshava. I got to go back to the same area I have gone to before, with Elder Chikato, and I loved it just as much as I did before! It was a good day, and a nice change of pace for me. Elder Chikato is a Zim native, and Elder Brooks is from California. They are super fun guys.

We also had a good time as a zone at the lake last Monday, but there is nothing planned for today. I think there is something coming up next week, but I'm not sure what. We didn't end up playing soccer, so I still haven't had a chance to redeem myself. Haha :)

Random stuff for the week:
1. There are lot's of dogs and cats in the ghettos where I have spent most of my time, but no one takes care of them. It's pretty tough to see sometimes.
2. Construction here is very frustrating. People will dig up the road, and just leave it unfixed for weeks. It makes traffic even worse than it already is!
3. There are actually more white folks here than I thought. The areas I've been in are mostly filled with black Africans, so I don't get to see murungus very often.
4. Members speak a mixture of Shona and English almost all the time. It is sometimes frustrating because they are wanting me to become fluent in Shona, but they have no idea how hard that really is. I'm doing my best :)
5. I have heard some rumors about the temple and where it will be, but nothing has been finalized. I will be sure to let you all know when I find out for sure.
6. The police here are basically thieves in a uniform. They just stop you randomly, even when you do nothing wrong, and do whatever they can to get money from you. Luckily, I personally haven't run into any problems with them, but I've seen it happen.

As you can tell, my emails have started to get a little shorter. I hope that is okay! I'm trying to include all the big happenings during the week, and any funny cultural things that I come across. My emails won't always be super detailed, so just a heads up. When I get home, I will be able to answer any questions anyway, and tell you all about it. I hope the pictures my mom posts to the blog and to my facebook page are good as well!

I love you all so much! Never forget the Lord's hand in your life. He is guiding you and helping you more than you know. Keep loving life, and everything it throws at you. You are blessed! :)

Monday, May 23, 2016

Makadii Week 16

Hey friends and family!

I hope all is well back home, and that you are enjoying the start of summer and the end of the school year! I'm glad that the weather is warming up for you!

Things are going well here in Zimbabwe, at least for the most part! For most of the week things were going well in the area, with all investigators preparing for baptism. Then came the weekend, and so many things fell apart. Luckily, out of the 7 we had hoped to baptize, 4 of them still happened! I'm just trying to be thankful for even the small success we were able to have. I always say, any week with a baptism is a great week, regardless of anything else that happened. After much craziness, we were able to have one couple married and baptized, along with 2 others. The couples names were Blessing and Lisa, and the other 2 were Prince and Hillary. Even though it gave me much stress, things still worked out, and I'm grateful for that! If all goes well, we will have a few people being baptized in the coming weeks, including the 3 we lost this past week.

Some random things:

1. It is incredible to me how many times a missionary shakes hands with someone. It's getting pretty old actually. Haha :)
2. Winter has finally started and I'm loving the cooler weather. It makes me feel more at home!
3. Sometimes kids think I'm Chinese. It didn't really start til this week, but I'm not sure why they think that. I don't look Chinese at all!
4. Plans on a mission can be totally turned around. This week has shown me that for sure. Just have to let it go and do your best!
5. Zone Meeting this week was good, just like always.
6. A correction about the schools here in my previous email. It's A level and O level, and the others are Form 1,2 ,3, etc.
7. During any meeting, the members here always stand up for the intermediate hymn, and they sing very loud, with no help from the piano.
8.My mission diet has recently consisted of a lot of PB+J, Sadza, Rice, Eggs, and cinnamon sugar. Not bad eh? :)
9. Zimbabweans are actually pretty short for the most part. I am taller than most of the people here.
10. There are no car washes anywhere, and the only vacuums that I've seen are at the churches. Most places don't have carpet, and most buildings are just concrete or brick.

One thing I've really noticed this week is that this truly is the Lord's work, and that we are truly just instruments in His hands. We find people without planning it, I teach or share something that one person or family needs without much thought. The spirit is really with us, and is the only reason we can find success. Each day brings something that we had not planned for.

We are heading to the lake again today for some soccer. I hope I play better this time! I've also been running a lot more in the mornings. I always feel so much better after!

I love you all and hope you are doing well. Please keep me updated with anything big going on in your lives. Know that I am doing my best, and staying safe here in Africa! You are always in my prayers. :)

Stay sweet til next week!

Also, my old companion, now Brother Melvyne Milikafu, was able to be there for the marriage and baptism on Sunday! It was so great to see him again. He was my companion when we started teaching all of the people that were baptized this weekend, so I'm glad he was able to see it happen. He is still as crazy as ever, he just doesn't have the name tag on anymore

Monday, May 16, 2016

Makadii Week 15

Zvirisei!? How is everyone?
Things are well here, and just like past weeks, this one was very action packed, and a lot happened.
It was my first week after my 12 week training, and my first official week with my 2nd companion, Elder Takudzwa Sekerere. His last name means smile, so I call him Elder Smile. :) He is a really great guy, and he ends his mission in 11 weeks now. He has served all over Zimbabwe, but actually hasn't served in Harare until now! He is from Mabvuku, Zimbabwe, which is also part of Harare. He has been living with just his mother for most of his life, and he was baptized in 2009! He actually just finished training my MTC companion, Elder Silotile, in Bindura!
I really enjoy being around him, and just like with all of my companions, I am doing my best to see the good in him always. To be honest, he is a very tired missionary. There are many aspects of the work that he just doesn't do anymore, so it puts a ton of pressure on me to pick up the slack. The teaching is going well, but almost everything else has been up to me. Leading the area has officially opened my eyes to how hard missionary work is. When you hit week 13 on your mission, and you no longer have the mask of being trained, your whole perspective changes. I'm just doing my best to make sure things still happen. Since we are covering 2 areas and 2 wards, I sometimes feel like the responsibility of 4 missionaries is completely on my shoulders. Setting appointments, planning for our visits, and all of the indicators are done by me. I'm doing my best to push through, and fill Elder Milikafu's shoes. I hope that I have been doing that so far. Driving back and forth from the area isn't too bad, but to save gas we have had to walk a little bit more. It's not bad at all, but endurance stuff comes pretty easy to me I guess :) The first week back in the area went well, and we are trying to get some referrals from members at the moment to build up our teaching pool.
I've just come to know that every week will have ups and downs. That's just how it is, in all aspects of life, but especially on a mission.
One of the investigators that I was teaching in Glenview during my week there, Brother Gwezere, was baptized this week, along with another sister that Chidarara and Sakala had been teaching. I was very honored to be able to perform the actual baptisms for them!  It was a wonderful Saturday for me! I love putting on all the white clothes. People have started to call me John the Baptist! haha :)
The investigators in our area are doing well, and we have 2 marriages and 7 baptisms scheduled for this coming Saturday. The two marriages will be for families that I have been teaching for a long time, and I'm super excited to see them get married and baptized! I hope and pray that things will go well this week with all of the final preparations we will be doing. Please pray that things go well for us and these investigators! :)
In the next few emails, including this one, I will be including many random cultural things, from both the mission and the country. I hope you enjoy!
1. The mission language is very funny. We say fetch a lot, which we just use in place of that other word. There is also what we call a mission family. Fathers, sons, brothers, grandfathers, nephews, etc. Milikafu is my father, and I am his son. His other son, Elder Chibanda, is my brother. At first I thought it was really dumb, but I've actually started to open up to it. It's like another family away from home. :) They also have what we call dying missionaries, and missionaries being born. I was born in Marimba and Mufakose, and I have no idea where I will eventually die. Haha :) There is also what we call killing a missionary. I actually got the privilege of killing my father!
2. There is currently a cash crisis happening here in Zimbabwe. You will have to look it up to really understand. To summarize, it is very hard to find cash! The government is issuing a new currency soon, to go along with the US dollar.
3. At our house in Glenview, we have lots of bugs in the kitchen. We even had a rat in there the other day! At least the birds don't poop everywhere like the other house! The house really isn't too bad, though. I'm just looking on the bright side. :)
4. People just ride on the back of combies here, even when they are going super fast. I have no idea how they hang on sometimes! The combies are just nuts, and they drive very crazy. They usually pack it full of people. You could even be sitting on someones lap!
5. Mothers here are super cool. They carry their babies on their backs, and carry lots of stuff on their heads. I don't know how hey do it sometimes, but it's cool to see. The babies really like to chill on their backs wrapped in a blanket.
6. The phones we use, which we share with our companions are very small and very old school. There is not much technology in the mission!
7. Schools are very different here, and I don't even know very much about it to be honest. I do know they have 3 sessions a year. They go for 3 months, have 1 month off, 3 months on, 1 month off, etc. It is a very different schedule. From Pre-school up to high school they all wear uniforms. Each school is a different color, so you can tell the difference. They have what they call Form A, and Form O, but I'm not really sure what that means, haha :) Elementary school is Primary school here.
8. There are no trash cans anywhere, and also no drinking fountains. The trash is just left on the side of the road, and then it is burned. The cities just don't come and pick up peoples trash. People just have to figure out their own ways to make things work.
9. In lots of places, people walk for 30 minutes or more to come to church. It's really cool to see the commitment that people have here in Zimbabwe.
No soccer this week, but we did do some fun hiking today as a zone in Domboshava. I even got to see a giant baboon! It was really great to be out and about. It felt a lot like hiking around in Wyoming actually. You will see in the pictures that I love to rep the great state of Wyoming all the way here in Africa! :)

Happy late Mother's Day to all the mothers out there! Thanks for all you do.
Congrats to all the college graduates this past week, and also to the high school grads coming up!
I love you all so much! Please know that I am safe and well, and that I'm loving every second, even if it is tough. I know the Lord is looking out for me, and is helping many of my weaknesses become strengths. I continue to enjoy learning so much in such a short time!
Remember, any questions at all are welcomed. I will do my best to answer any that come! :) I am trying to keep you all as involved in this experience as I can.

Next week y'all!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Makadii Week 14!

Hello there everyone!
This week has probably been the longest of my mission so far. I am so glad that Mother's Day came when it did, so that I could see my family for the first time in over 3 months. For those who don't know, each Mother's Day and Christmas missionaries have the chance to call/skype home to their families. They are oh so special. It came at the perfect time for me. :)
The threesome this week was the hardest thing, second to the first week of my mission in the field, that I've had to go through so far. The house in Glenview is nice, and the other Elders are great guys, but there were many many frustrations with the work. It was tough for me to be with them, when I knew that there was other investigators in Marimba that I needed to visit. Because of the constraints though, I wasn't able to be in my area, except for an hour or so on Sunday. The confirmation that I thought wasn't done last week actually took place after I left. I'm thankful for the members help in getting that done! Teaching with two other Elders was interesting, but very tough for me. They ended up not saying anything during their lessons, so even though it technically isn't my area I ended up taking control of every single lesson. It was a very long week, but it was a good learning experience for me. The Lord is really helping me to fulfill my responsibilities.
I also got my iPod stolen, which was a huge bummer. That happened to top of an already tough week. There is still a chance it could turn up again. It was a really weird thing, and I'm not sure how it really happened. The call home really helped me refocus, and to help me realize that things are really not that bad. My family is the best!
Today has been very busy, and I didn't get to email until later on in the day. With transfers happening, and with me being a driver, I've been driving missionaries and their luggage all over the place. It's been a long day for sure.
One thing you should know is that my emails won't always be so in depth. Mondays can be pretty busy and stressful here, so I might not always get to write for a long period of time. I hope that is ok! I've tried to do my best to explain my experiences so far! If any of you have specific questions for me, please email and ask! I would love to answer you! :)
The big news is that I have a new companion, and that I will be staying in Marimba and Mufakose for another 6 weeks! It is cool that I have someone new to be with, and at least I will be in a familiar place for awhile. I definitely don't want to stay here much longer, but I guess that is up to the Lord. I'm doing my best to be happy and content no matter where I am, and where others may be. I know for sure that there is still plenty of time for me to see more of the mission and the country! There were lots of changes throughout the mission this transfer, especially in our Zone. I am the only one left from my original district when I first came. Pretty crazy how things can change so fast. The changes help keep things exciting though! A mission would be pretty dull if there were no changes :)
My companion is Elder Sekerere! I just met up with him today, so I still have a lot more to learn about him. He is from Mabvuku, Zimbabwe, which is very close to Harare. We played soccer there a month or so ago. He seems like a great guy, and I hope this first week together goes well! Much more about him will be coming in next weeks email! We will hopefully be having a marriage and baptism this coming week as well, with a family and a few others that I was teaching with Milikafu! Exciting things continue to happen.
By the way, the house I was staying in with Milikafu, in Marimba has been closed. My companion and I will be staying in Glenview with the elders there, and will be making the 15 minute drive to the area and back everyday. That is if the traffic isn't completely terrible. Haha :) It will be very interesting finally being with a new companion, and I'm excited to see what this transfer will bring! Hopefully nothing else gets stolen! We have gotten some new locks for the house, so hopefully that will prevent it from happening again!
I love you all, my friends and family, so so much! I hope that all continues to go well back home for all of you. Please stay in touch, and remember to ask any questions that come to mind. I would love to answer them the best I can :) I miss hearing from you. Have a wonderful end to the school year, and a wonderful start to summer.
Good luck to the Happy Jacks on their upcoming tour!

I'm officially done being trained, so I am no longer a "greeny" in the mission. I've felt like my training has been done for a while now, but it is now the real deal. Anything can happen for me, and that is really exciting! :)
Stay safe and stay sweet. Keep trying, and keep trusting. I pray for you all constantly!
See you next week y'all. :)

**The picture with the shoes and other items are all made out of elephant hide. The headset ones were taken on Mother's Day when we Skyped.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016


This is Kevin's mom. His brother Doug and I went to the University of Wyoming Happy Jack's Concert on Friday night. The Happy Jacks are a male acappella group that Kevin was in for three semesters before his mission. When they came out for their encore, they said,

"We'd actually like to dedicate our final song tonight to a former member of the group named Kevin Baldwin. He's currently serving an LDS mission in Zimbabwe." ***LOTS of cheers*** "So this one is for Kevin."  

Here is a link to a video of them singing their encore--"Africa."

Monday, May 2, 2016

Makadii Week 13

Hello friends and family!

It was great to here from some of you this week, and I'm glad things are going well back home. Hopefully the weather warms up for most of you!
This week has been very busy and very eventful. For the past few days and for the rest of this next week (until the end of the transfer), I am in a threesome with Elder Sakala and Elder Chidarara in Glenview. Glenview is an area very close to Marimba, and is a place I actually did exchanges this past month. I was actually with Elder Sakala in the MTC, and I love the guy to death. He is a talker, and is very loud. Elder Chidarara has only one transfer left on his mission and he is a great guy. Right now though, he is pretty dang tired of missionary work. It is tough to teach with him sometimes, because Elder Sakala and I end up teaching the whole time. I hope things get a little better, but so far so good. I'm doing my best to learn the good things from my two companions at the moment. Haha :)
We live in a pretty big house with lots of rooms. The good news is that we almost always have water and electricity, and there are no birds getting in and pooping everywhere! :) The mosquitoes are much much less there as well.
I am trying to make sure a few things get done in Marimba and Mufakose while I am with these two guys. We had to attend 3 wards on Sunday because of the two wards in my area, and the one they work in. I'm very thankful that we were able to make it to the two wards in my area on Sunday so that all but one of the confirmations were able to take place. I got to do many of them this time, which was a great experience. I will do my best to make sure that the one that wasn't completed is completed in the near future. This week is just very weird and hectic with a lot going on. I basically in charge of two area on my own, while working in an area that's not even mine! Luckily, it is only for the rest of this week, and then transfers will happen. When transfers happen, I will receive a new companion. I could be staying in my area or leaving, it is too early and too tough to tell at this point.
I am officially certified to drive, and the car Mili and I used is now assigned to me for the time being. I am actually very thankful to be certified so early, because it opens up different possibilities for me in the near future. One thing is for sure, I had no idea how bad traffic actually was here until I was really behind the wheel all the time. I am already getting used to it though. Driving in the US will be a breeze when I get back! I am also really good with the manual now, so now I'm not limited to driving just automatics. I used to be scared of driving manual, but it's good that I've been thrown into a situation where I had no choice but to learn!
It works the same way with all of our fears and weaknesses. If you want to overcome them, you have to work at it and learn to overcome it, even with something as silly as driving a stick shift. I encourage all of you to work hard to overcome a fear or weakness you may have. Christ will help you overcome it if you are willing to let him help.
The last few days with Elder (now Brother) Melvyne Milikafu were very bittersweet. We stopped by many homes in our area to say goodbye, and we even went to Ruwa, his first area on his mission to visit some people. The first day or so without him was very weird. I had relied on him so much throughout my first 11 weeks, it was just a really different feeling not having him around. The cool thing is that I will see him often, because he lives so close to me. I even saw him today in town! He has even offered to come and do some lessons with us if he is available. I love that guy! My time with him was definitely a roller coaster, but I wouldn't trade it for anything, and I will never forget him or the memories we shared together. I have some big shoes to fill with him gone, but I know with the help of the Savior that I can fill them.
On his last night, we got to go out to dinner with President and Sister Mkhabela. I was very lucky to be invited. We went to a super fancy restaurant, and the food was wonderful. It was really great to chat with President and his wife with my companion. They are really great, kind, and funny people. I hope that I can build a strong relationship with them while I'm here.
The first chapter of my mission has come to a close, and it's time to start the next! I'm on to mile 4 now, and I starting to find my pace. I still have so much to learn, and am doing my best to soak it all in, both good and bad. Missions are not perfect, that's for sure. You just have to do your best to get as much out of your mission as you can, and enjoy every second. I'm very excited for what the future will bring.
We ended up playing soccer again last week, but I played pretty bad again. That's ok though! I will get another chance to play better. You just have to move on and work harder when you have a rough day.

I hope this week goes well in Glenview, and that the investigators in Marimba still stay somewhat involved with the things we taught them. If I will be staying in Marimba this next transfer there will be another wedding and baptism coming up very soon! I pray that Heavenly Father still watches over the area while I am away this week. The weather is starting to become perfect around here. The winter months ahead will be wonderful, at least I hope so! :)
I'm very excited for all the of the wonderful things happening here in Zimbabwe, but also back home. Keep striving to have hope and faith in the future, and remember that weakness and fear can be turned into strength and faith. All can be made right through Jesus Christ and his gospel. Never forget that!
Good luck to all on upcoming finals and the end of the school year.
Congratulations to all who will be graduating this month!

Thanks Happy Jacks for the awesome tribute at the concert. I was definitely there in spirit. I was able to watch the video of "Africa." It sounded great guys! I am really digging the new look you guys have. I am jealous that you guys decided to do Africa while I am in Africa, cause I wanted to sing it with you! I hope the concert went well and that the crowd was large. Go Jacks! :) To those who are staying in the group, keep it going!

I love you all so much. Please keep the thoughts and prayers coming, they mean more to me that I can ever explain.
If you have any questions of things that I am experiencing let me know! It is tough for me to know what to put in my emails each week. There is just so much to tell you guys that I forget a lot of things.  By the way, that's sugar cane I'm eating!
Talk to you next week y'all.