Friday, June 12, 2015

A Conference Weekend - Carole's Post

Perhaps as a child I would have groaned at the thought of three days of (Church) conference, but today I love getting together with the Saints and hearing the words of the leaders and members, renewing friendships, and singing, glorious singing with so many people and with such fervor.  It is an opportunity to remind ourselves that we in Malawi are just a small part of a much larger membership, but a very important part!

Friday, it started with a zone conference with the sixteen missionaries that now serve in Blantyre.  President and Sister Erickson came from Lusaka along with the two assistants to the president, Elders Draycock and Elder Chiliza - yes, the same Elder Chiliza who was here when we first arrived and who made us feel so welcome and needed!  We loved getting together again with him.

We spent the morning hearing from President and Sister Erickson, along with some training.  Then we broke for a lunch.  I had prepared chicken sloppy joes, potato salad, marinated vegetables, and Sister Merrill had made three types of cake for dessert.
Here I am with Sisters Zohner, Browning, Dlamini, Merrill, Falco and Sister Erickson.

We finished additional training at about 4 PM and then took photos outside.

(Guess who is taking this photo?)  The elders and sisters love having the time with President and Sister Erickson!

 Just so you know that we were there too!

To complete our wonderful missionary day, right after the conference we raced over to the Munthali home to present Memory with her mission call, which the Ericksons had brought with them from Lusaka.

First we handed her the envelope.  Malawians are very low exclamations, no screams, just a quiet smile.

Memory has been waiting almost three months for this moment!

"You are hereby called to serve in the Zimbabwe Harare mission..."

What an exciting time! We have two returned missionaries in the branch who served in that mission, so the news will spread quickly.  Lucky Memory, lucky Zimbabwe!

Saturday afternoon we had the first sessions of the district conference.  I gave a presentation in the women's auxiliary meeting and George spoke in the Priesthood session.  We had about twenty-five women there so I was extremely happy and I gave an overview of Primary, Young Women, and Relief Society and some general guidelines.  In the late afternoon, there was an adult session and George spoke again.

On Sunday morning, there was general excitement at the Blantyre building.  When we pulled up, what did we see but

two little girls in their white dresses and

and a happy game of soccer.
As usual, the shoes were not on the feet!

It was an especially poignant day because there were two van loads of members who had come from the Liwonde group.
Liwonde is about 1 1/2 hours west of Blantyre and there is a large collection of members, but not enough to make a branch.  The LDS church in Malawi actually had their first base in Sitima Village, just outside of Liwonde.  Once a month the zone leaders go out to visit and help with what they can.  Most of the members do not speak English, but it was obvious everyone was thrilled they could come join us at conference.

After conference, I got the feeling that no one really wanted to leave.  It had been such a wonderful meeting, so I just snapped photos of many of the members afterwards.
Elder and Sister Merrill with some of her seminary students.

George is carrying our back cushions. We have learned to always bring them to long meetings at the Blantyre building because the backs of the pews are very slanted.

Good friends: Sister Chongwe of the Blantyre 2nd Branch and Sister Mwale of the Zingwangwa Branch.

Sister Faith Ngwira wanted me to "document" her upcoming happy event!

Jonathan Nkhoma and Gracious - planning a September wedding.

Amos Monjeza and Chisomo Phiri - planning a late fall wedding.

A happy time for the Zingwangwa YSA

Six more months until the next conference and we get to do it again!