The missionaries living with us are Sister Training Leaders, so every Friday they exchange with another set of sisters in this area. Last night when Craig and I came home, our cute red-headed, Idahoan Sister Pyrah had been replaced by this beautiful African sister missionary. Her name is Sister Gondwe and she is from Zambia.
Holy cow! She was so stunningly beautiful, I had to just go tell her and give her a hug! I instantly loved her. We didn't get to visit much last night because it was late, but she sang Love at Home for us in her native language before we all had family prayer and went to bed. Amazing.
This morning, over piles of pancakes and bacon, we asked her a million questions about her life and her family back home. (Poor Sister Bradford...the novelty of being from Hooper, UT didn't capture our attention for quite as long as Sister Gondwe's amazing story.) She has 17 brothers and sisters! Her mother is 70 years old, and she has had two sets of twins. She and her twin sister are the youngest in the family and they are both serving missions right now along with her older brother. Her sister is serving Kenya and the older brother is serving in Uganda. Her father met the missionaries and joined the church first and then her mother and all the children were baptized after. In the 16 months that Sister Gondwe has been in Birmingham, both her father and an older sister have passed away.
They only eat meat about twice a year, mostly just on holidays. And she was planning to go to college when she goes home (she wants to be a pharmacist) but since her father died she will now stay home for awhile and help her mom until her sister and brother return from their missions and then they'll decide what they'll do about their careers and education.
While she was in the MTC she fell down a flight of stairs and broke her leg really badly, like the bone was protruding out of her leg! But since it was so far to send her home, she decided to just stay and start her first transfer in Alabama with her leg in a cast on hobbling around on crutches! And now she has a GIANT scar down her leg from where it happened. She said it'll make for a really good story when she gets home. :)
We asked her if it's a lot different here than in Africa, and she said that there are too many trees here for her comfort. She doesn't know what's hiding back there. :) It's too green. Not enough dirt. :) And it's much more humid here than in Zambia. (Evidence that this is indeed the most humid place on the planet, just as I suspected.)
When we asked if she had anyone waiting for her at home, she said, "Oh no, I'm never getting married. The world is too crazy to get married and have babies." And I said, "Well, sometimes Heavenly Father has a different plan for our lives than we do. He might send someone who you can't resist." And she said, "It's ok. I can run fast!" (bahahaha...she's quite possibly the spunkiest missionary I've ever met)
We asked if she had eaten anything unusual here, and she said, "Oh yes, I've eaten alligator and possum and chitlins and you know, it all just tastes like chicken." She said she doesn't mind any of the food. She'll eat anything "except frogs and people." (haha...!)
I have stopped counting the blessings we feel each day from having these sister missionaries in our home. There are too many. But meeting Sister Gondwe and hearing her amazing story have definitely topped my imaginary list. What an amazing young woman! What hope there is to be found in her and in her family for the rising generation of the Church in Africa and around the world. What a privilege to have crossed paths with her before she flies back to her life in Zambia in two months.