Monday, December 29, 2014

Dat Christmas Tho....

Hello again everyone. This is the last email I'll send in 2014! It's crazy that 2015 is already here. 2014 went by so fast... I can still remember this time last year and had no idea this is where I'd be spending my next Christmas. Never in a million years could I have imagined this. I can't think of anywhere much better than this though.
Well I left all my notes at the house because I'm so not kinga-tsaina but it's whatevs. I can remember most of the week. Last P-day was just a super chill day and just sat at home. We went out to work and contacted this way cool family. They don't seem too interested but we'll try. The dad's name is Ali, like Prince Ali and their youngest child, still only a few months old, is Valim-bavaka. Her name is significant because it means "answer to prayer" in Malagasy. I asked them if there was a story behind that and is as follows to the best of my memory.
They have four kids and the one that is just older than Valim-bavaka had some medical problems when he was born. Some pretty serious ones. He almost didn't make it but he did. They thought that was over but when they had Valim-bavaka, it was even worse. The mother had medical  problems and the kid had even more than the last one. The prayed fervently for help and miraculously, little Valim-bavaka became healthy as is as healthy as any other couple month old baby.
Tuesday was a way cool day. I did not have a lot of hopes for Tuesday because our whole program was empty which meant contacting. This close to Christmas, I didn't expect anyone to let us in. But Christmas miracle! Tons of people let us in and listened to us! More than usual in fact! Super awesome! We taught Fanasina later that night and while we were waiting for her to show up we were talking to some kids. Well Jean Chrys daughter was there and she's a deal that's for sure. She was throwing rocks at us and it was super annoying. She almost hit us a couple times. I knew that she was super scared of us so I set my bag down and ran after her. I chased her for a little ways, down a hill and totally almost ate it. But I caught myself. On a wall. That was a little sharp. So yeah I scraped myself up a little but nothing too bad. I was just super stupid.
Christmas Eve was an awesome day. We taught Tahina and Alicia about the Word of Wisdom and that went way good. THey are super smart and should be good to go for their baptism on Jan 17. We taught this new family and they are way cool. Their oldest daughter is handicapped. She's 18 and when she was born she had a twin. But the twin's head and hers were fused together. The twin died and they had to surgically remove her. Now this girl has a huge head and is super underdeveloped everywhere else. She can't do anything by herself. It is super sad. We taught them abut the Plan of Salvation though and they seemed to really like it and the idea of the Resurrection. That night we went to ZomTel, the same place we went when President came to zone conference. For some reason it was full of Indians. I guess they like to spend Christmas in Madagascar or something. There was one rich family that was Malagasy though with a little kid. They had a Malagasy Santa Claus there for him and he was super terrifying. The kid was obviously super spoiled and it made me think a lot about the people here. This kid is so happy and has all this stuff and probably has no idea about what every other kid his age has to go through in this country. After dinner, we walked home and I passed a kid that had to have been the same age as the kid I saw in the restaurant. This kid had rags for clothes and he was sleeping on the stairs of a store. He came up and begged us for money. The amount of contrast was just ridiculous. No kid should have to have that on Christmas. I felt super bad because I didn't even have any candy to give him. It was really eye opening to see this kid. That's how a lot of kid's spend their Christmas' here. Most of them don't even know what it's like to have a normal Christmas.
Christmas morning was weird. It just felt like a normal day. We went to the other house to make crepes, pancakes, burgers, and watch movies. I learned my lesson this time and brought candy and gave it to some kids on the way. At least that way they can get one present for Christmas. Our service project for Christmas was moving the pews down stairs to a bigger room. It went way fast and it's so much better now. Then the best part came: the Skype call. I won't lie it was weird to see you guys. Looking back on our conversation I realize that I was super weird haha. I don't know how to speak English anymore haha. We always use Malagasy words when we talk between missionaries so that was hard to do. I was way good to see you all though.
Friday was kinda a lame day. Got stood up a lot and didn't teach a bunch. It was a very slow day. Nothing exciting.
Saturday was interesting. We went out and taught a few lessons but Elder Connault wasn't feeling well. Elder Hammer was sick also so I took Elder Connault home and took Elder Mack with me. We worked a little in my area and then worked in his. We taught some way awesome people. Also, remember Andry? From Tana? Yeah I met his mom! Well re-met his mom I guess because I met her when I was in Tana. She's one of the ladies that made the locusts for us. In the video, she's the one sitting on the floor prepareing them.
Yesterday was good. The sacrament room is so much roomier now. And LAry and Dorise came! Again! That's two Sundays in a row! They haven't been to church in years but they're coming again. Way sweet. We taught quite a few lessons yesterday too. We taught a recent contact, Olivier, but when we got there he was a little distraught. We found out that his sister had just passed away and he was leaving soon to go to the funeral. We shared the Plan of Salvation with him and his wife and they loved it. They asked where our church was because they said we didn't give them enough so that's good haha. Hopefully they'll go next Sunday. We taught this guy named Michele too and he's a stud. He spoke English to me a couple weeks back asking what I was doing and when I told him he said we could teach him too. SO yeah super awesome. WE taught him the whole first and he asked tons of good questions. Way smart guy. We taught Eric at Etiennes about the Word of Wisdom. We saw him the other day with a cigarette in his hand so we thought it would be a good idea to talk about it. He drinks coffee too so hopefully he can get over it. He's a cool kid but he'll have to try really hard if he wants to get baptized on the 17.
Well that's it for this week I think. I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas and have a happy New Year. I get to see the new year first so ha!
Elder Coleman

 This is the Christmas tree at the family's house that Austin is teaching. He calls them the  Brady bunch.

 Elder Hammer and Elder Mack playing in the rain.
Last dinner with Elder Lehr

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Good and Bad Week...

Well this was quite the week. A little bit of a rough one but that just has to happen sometimes. The rough times are where you grow the most.
So last P-day, we woke up to find no water in our apartment so I didn't get to shower all day until late at night so that was lame. I felt super gross but that's just how life goes here.
Tuesday was a good day. We did a lot of contacting and that turned out pretty good. We had a meeting with our new Branch President Rakotovao and he was way cool. He's one of the first members ever in Madagascar. He translated the session in the temple into Malagasy. Salt Lake called him and paid to fly him there to do that. He's a way cool guy and has lots of experience. I contacted a guy in English so that was cool. We just started talking and he says Hey you can teach me that's fine.So that was cool. We taught Mario about symbols of Christ and it was a way awesome lesson. I love Mario and his family so much they are so cool. He's not like other Malagasies that judge you if you're not good at Malagasy so that's good for me.
Wednesday, Elder Lehr left so we had Elder Mack with us the whole day. It was fun to be in a trio  for a day. We taught these inactive Priesthood holders again that we've been teaching for awhile and it was a way good lesson. We decided to talk about the baptismal covenant like President told us but I felt like we should talk about the 1st vision too. So we started with that and they had no idea what it was. So that's probably why they are inactive. So we taught them about all that stuff and they said they would be coming on Sunday. They've said that every time but maybe it'll be different this time. We taught TInah about the Plan of Salvation and repentance and that went well. He asked a bunch of good questions as usual but he's so lazy. Elder Connault did a bap interview for an investigator of Elder Mack and while he was doing that, we played soccer with some kids outside and it was way fun. They just destroyed me though. I am so bad a soccer. We taught a couple other times after that and they were good too. We picked up Elder Hammer, Elder Mack's new companion. It's way awesome to have Elder Hammer down here now.
Thursday, we went out on to the mountain again but it was Elder Hammer and I this time. So fun. We taught Soa and her son Tsilavina and he is a stud. He's already to Alma 17! And when we asked him what he remembered he told us the whole story of Ammon almost word for word.
Friday, ate with the other Elders and saw Elder Covey. He came down here this transfer and is with Elder Glazier in the other house.We taught Ludovic today and it was super awesome. We taught him about the Plan of Salvation and tried to get him motivated to do anything. First though, we asked him if he believed if the church and the Book of Mormon is true. He said yes. We taught all the requirements for the celestial kingdom and told him that it's the only way he can have and eternal family and be with his wife for eternity. He was quiet for a minute and then asked how does he know if this church is true or not. It was so awesome! It's the most progress we've made with him since I've been here. Hopefully, he'll come to church.
Saturday we taught this student who wanted to learn from us. We showed the Restoration Video and gave him a Book of Mormon to read over Christmas since he was leaving. We taught Patrick's girlfriend and that's an interesting experience. We taught the Alma the Younger story to Etienne's family. We've been trying to teach the members about the stories in the Book of Mormon because most don't know them.
Sunday was good. We taught Tahinia and Alicia from the Brady Bunch about Repentance and they are way smart. We got home and it started to rain super hard and our street turned into a river and Elder Mack and Elder Hammer went out and walked around in it for a minute. We got to bible bash this Adventist guy and that was fun. It was mostly him digging himself into a pit and trying to catch us in something but it didn't work. It was a little disappointing because we taught the most lessons we have taught in a week this week. We would have beaten it but our last time wasn't home. So lame. But the inactive guy we taught this week? He came to church! For the first time in a very long time! So awesome! And Ludovic didn't come... that bum.
But it was a little bit of a rough week after Wednesday when I got a phone call from President Adams. It was very unexpected and not pleasant at all obviously. But my testimony of the Atonement and the Plan of Salvation was strengthened this week;much more than it was before. It was hard at first but I just tried to not think about anything except for these people. These people are amazing and I love that I am here. This people need the knowledge that we have as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints; that the Atonement is real, that the Plan of Salvation is God's plan for us to return to him, and that Christ died for us to help us get there. He alone conquered death and through him we will all live again. I know that families can be together forever and that God knows each and every of us individually and knows all of our trials and hardships. Alma 7:11-13 continues to be a big help to me.
I look forward to the call on Christmas! I'm more excited for that than really anything else right now.
That's all for this week,
Elder Coleman

Memories of Grandpa
I can remember when I was still little and we would sit outside the station and have a competition for who could count the most cars of a certain color. I'm pretty sure I always won but he would always cheat. 

We would go to the laundromat and find ladybugs. That was always my favorite thing to do. 

Or just when I would stay at their house and watch TV with him. I'd always steal his chair and he wouldn't like that at all but it was ok if I took Grandma's. 

Or when I had to fix solitaire on his computer and when he absolutely HAD to have it at the house. 

The most recent memory I have is I would drive to the station when I was a little eearly for work or when I would get done with track practice. I would get a drink and we would just talk about stuff. He would just ask how life was going. 

Oh the best one would have to be the little fat retard girlfriend but I don't think you can put that in your talk hahaha.

I don't know what else haha. He would always just say funny stuff. I can't think of anything off the top of my head right now. Oh he would always cheat at bingo too on Christmas Eve. 

He was a great grandpa that I was very close to. He was always there to listen to me and always took my side because I was the handsomest and smartest grandkid (duh!). He was supportive of everything we did and would always ask how our various activities were going. He would always tell us how proud he was of us. I don't know what else really. I can't think of much else. His laugh has a distinct place in my memory. And he always had that cup of coffee obviously.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Varavarana Misokatra, Zone Conference and Transfers

The weeks just go by faster and faster, it's ridiculous. It doesn't even feel like Christmas is next week. Literally at any other time in my life, December would be going by super slow but not anymore. Time flies when you are doing the work of the Lord I guess haha.
So Monday was very uneventful. We had a time at 7 but he wasn't home so we ended up teaching his neighbor because she saw us and was like "hey lets invite these strange vazahas into our house and see what they have to say" We just shared a quick vatsim-panahy with them but it was super lame. The whole time they were just like laughing at us. It was usually actually when I would say something. So annoying. So i just cut the lesson way short and left really mad. But as we were walking to Sofia's, Elder Connault told me about this video called "Missionary Work and the Atonement" and when we got to Sofia's, I watched it on one of the computers and holy cow is it good. Totally helped me. I have watched it so many times since then. I would definitely suggest watching it. Also I read that talk that Mom sent me, "The Inconvenient Messiah". So good. Went right along with it.
Tuesday was a lot of contacting. We contacted this guy named Solofo who is way cool. We taught them a little bit and then gave his brother a blessing. He was in bad shape though. He went to Tana about 4 months ago and came back a month ago and had an IV in his arm and was weak and skinny and apparently he hasn't eaten really anything since he got back. He looked way bad. Like a Holocaust victim. I felt way bad for him and I'm afraid he'll probably die this week or next. We contacted another guy and he is way cool. The first thing he starts doing is asking us all these way good questions like "Why aren't there miracles now like with Moses?" Well obviously that was the perfect question so we were like "hey, we have this video that answers just that, would it be ok to share it with you" so long story short we showed him the Restoration video and it was so awesome. SO much spirituality in that room. And you could tell he felt something. He even said he felt something, like a tickle in his heart when we watched it so hopefully that'll be good. We help a couple brothers in our branch with their mission papers by taking their picture for them.
Wednesday was straight poop. We just got stood up by everyone. We taught Jeanine about the Plan of Salvation and we taught Marcellan about the story of King Noah and Abinadi. These people really don't have much of an idea about the stories in the Book of Mormon so that's what we're trying to do right now. The church is still very young here, we found out the other day that it is only about 5 years old here in Fianarantsoa. They need a lot of help.
Thursday was pretty good. We didn't have Florent with us because he was helping with the open house at the church. We went out on to the mountain and taught Teophile and got him committed to baptism. He's a stud and asks all kinds of good questions and he's got a lot of potential. He's progressing way faster than a lot of our other investigators. We also taught Soa and found out that her and two of her kids went to church last Sunday but went to South and not North.... Lame. But they are doing way good. They also accepted a date for baptism on the 31 of Janvier (January in French, Fun fact)
Friday we were at the open house all day. It was way good though we had a pretty good turnout annd got a lot of contacts from  it. There is this Jehovah's Witness missionary here from Canada and he's a way cool guy actually. We've talked to him a couple times. He came and he liked what he saw and came over and talked to us for a bit. He said he used to have a Book of Mormon but he lost it and wished he could have read it. Well I still had an English one from the MTC and I told him that I could go home and get it for him if he wanted. He wanted to so I gave out an English Book of Mormon to a Jehovah's Witness in Madagascar. That is a weird sentence that I didn't know was possible to type on a keyboard haha. But you could tell that he felt something being there and so hopefully he'll be able to come closer to God. And we picked up our suits that we had made and mine looks way good. The girl that did it did a way good job. And we had crazy rain and hail again so that was fun.
Saturday was zone conference and it was way awesome. We had a slide show on the history of the mission here in Madagascar and it was way cool. The history of the Church in Brazil is almost directly parallel with the church here right now. In fact, when Brazil was this young in the church, there weren't as many things as we have here. But basically it put a big perspective on the future of the Church here. Oh and fun fact, I am one of the first 1000 missionaries to ever serve here. I think right now there have been a total of 963 and that's counting the ones here right now. Also we talked about how we need to look at our investigators and nothing short of Celestial Beings. That is our goal as missionaries is to get people to the celestial kingdom. We talked a lot about conversion too and the baptismal covenant and how when we understand the baptismal covenant we should be converted. If we do everything that that covenant entails then we should be converted. Obedience, sacrifice and consecration were also topics of discussion. Obedience should be willing always. Sacrifice is enduring through hard things that you didn't choose and consecration is giving up things freely to God. All of those things are essential in conversion.
Yesterday was actually a pretty good day. At church though I had to translate for Sister Adams and a new mission couple that came with them. Holy Shiz. Translating is hard. So hard. Hopefully they got something out of my translation cause I felt like I was all over the place. We got a new branch presidency so that should be good. The new president used to be a stake president in Tana so he should be good. He's been a member for awhile. We taught two of the Brady Bunch after church, Tahinia and Alicia. They are super annoying but way awesome. They are way smart too. They might be the only two of the Brady bunch getting baptized on the 17 of Jan. We taught a few other lessons but one that was way good comes to mind. President had given us some advice on how to teach a little better to make sure they are converted. Basically it comes down to the picture book. We show them the picture of the 1st Vision and tell them, while pointing at God, that He is your father and that he loves you. He wants you to talk to Him and return to Him. We know the way how to do that. Let us teach you how. So we did that yesterday to a guy in a very quick lesson that was just the first vision. It was a super powerful lesson and the Spirit was there and it was just sweet.
That's this last week for ya. Oh transfer wise, Elder Lehr is leaving as well as Elder Garcia. But, we are getting Elder Hammer and Elder Covey, both from my group. That'll be super fun. It'll be really young down here for awhile haha. Half the missionaries down here will be from my group so that'll be interesting.
I got all of my packages when the AP's came down and oh my goodness, was it amazing. American Candy, Music, Ramen Noodles, Taco Seasoning, Cactus Cooler, just all of that so good... You are all so lucky to have that stuff. Thanks for everything. I'm saving some of the stuff to open on Christmas so I'll have something to open.
Well that's it I think so have a wonderful week everyone. Enjoy the cold and the snow and I'll talk to y'all next time.
Elder Coleman

Monday, December 8, 2014

It's Getting Close to Christmas.....

Well, it's getting close to Christmas time and you know what that means... That's right, it means really hot weather, lots of sweating, mosquitoes, tons of rain and a small chance of Malaria. Don't you just love the Christmas season? Yeah so it doesn't really feel like Christmas because it's hot and there really aren't like any decorations. I've seen maybe three Christmas trees, and two of them were the fake like plastic ones and the other one was painted on a window, very badly I might add. Anyway, on to the week. 

On Monday, I already told you everything that we did except we did teach a time that night. We taught a guy named Jean Kely, who happens to be the cousin of one of our recent converts. He is a way cool guy and would be a huge help to the branch because we are in desperate need of Melchezidek Priesthood holders. 

Tuesday, we taught this family we have dubbed the drunk family because the first time we met them they were all drunk. The mom wasn't drunk this time but the dad was super drunk and was being sooooo stupid. It was super interesting though. We pretty much just told him to his face that he needs to stop that because it's bad for him and that next time we come back he can't be drunk. We went and taught Tinah after him and we haven't taught him in a long time. We taught him about ny Drafitry ny Famonjena (or Plan of Salvation for you that don't speak this crazy language) and I honestly think we scared him. Because, well he's a smart guy and he completely understood that our church is the only way to get to the Celestial Kingdom. He's scared because he's lazy and he knows that now that he knows about it he's accountable. So he's kinda stuck in a sense. But he just needs to be not lazy and come to church and everything will be ok. We did invite him to be baptized though and he said he will accept when he comes to us and asks to be baptized. Then we went and taught Mirana and her husband part of the first lesson and that went pretty well. But after that, the rains came... So much rain... I honestly think I saw more rain this week than Kanab sees in a year. So ridiculous. We taught Fanasina about prophets as soon as the rain stopped so we could actually go anywhere. We had Mario after but he wasn't home so went home a little early because I had felt like crap all day. We got home and I just ate and went to bed and figured I'd feel better in the morning.

Well Wednesday morning rolls around but it comes a little earlier than expected. At 2:30 I wake up and feel absolutely horrible and had to run to the bathroom and lets just say it wasn't super fun but I felt so much better afterwards. The term commonly used in this mission is "double dragoned" and it happens to everyone at least once in this mission. We taught the Brady bunch first thing this morning though and we had etienne help us. He was soooo helpful too. He calmed them down and it was the first lesson where they didn't make a lot of noise. They all accepted a baptismal date too so that was way awesome. I think only about 4 of them will be ready but hey it's still 4. We got to teach Yari today too who is a friend of ours. He used to work at this restaurant that we would go to sometimes. He wanted us to teach him and he's a way smart guy. We taught Marcellan and asked him if he reached his goal since November was over. His goal was 20,000 A and he said he had raised 25,000 A! We were so excited for him and then he told us that our branch president had told him not to pay tithing to help save up towards his goal. Yeah not ok. Our soiree got cancelled so we taught Mario about giving your all to God and not doing things in front of people for praise. I just read about it in Jesus the Christ that day and it was way good. 

Thursday we had district meeting which was way good. We practiced singing this French hymn that we are singing on this upcoming Sunday. Fun fact, it's not in the English hymnbook. For our lesson we just talked about all the different things that have changed us since we've been on our missions and it made me realize that I've already changed quite a bit. It's weird. Anyway, we taught Elder Ralaivao's family about enduring to the end and I just want them to accept the gospel so bad. They know it's true but they refuse to become a part of it because they are stuck in what they are used to. It's so frustrating. Today was our day out on the mountain and it was actually kind of a poopy day. No one was there so we only got to teach like 2 lessons out there. 

Friday was a split day. I went on a split with Elder Rigby and it was such a great learning experience! He's a way good missionary and it was way fun to be with him. But our program just kind of rolled over and died. All of our times dogged us. But we got a lot of good contacting in and taught a time to one of them and it was such an awesome lesson. Elder Rigby is so good at Malagasy and we had such a spiritual lesson with this family. We shared the message of the Restoration and it was so awesome. The spirit was so strong. The only time that we got to was our last one at 7. 

Saturday I got to teach English which was way fun. I love teaching English. I taught them Baseball and it was way fun. We did some contacting after that and found a Gideon which is all kinds of weird. You know those Bibles that are in hotels in northern Utah? They are the ones that put those there. So yeah that was kind of weird. We taught that Adventist guy again about the Book of Mormon and he didn't try to Bible bash us and he just sat and listened and agreed to read it so that was awesome. We taught Etiennes family about the story of King Noah, Abinadi and Alma and applied it to them. It was a way awesome lesson. I love their family so much. They are seriously the coolest. 

Yesterday, All of our times dogged us again which was super lame. There was a crazy rainstorm too that was way cool though. We were at home eating and you could literally see a wall of rain coming toward us and it was so cool when it hit. And there was hail in it which was really weird but yeah haha. We contacted these college students that were way cool and taught them the first. After that we went back to Etienne's and taught Eric and Stephanie about the Book of Mormon. 

This week we have a zone conference and President and the AP's are coming down. President should be bringing all my packages down with him so that'll be good. Just in time for Christmas :) Well enjoy your cold weather everyone (suckers) and enjoy all you Christmas decorations because some places just don't do that I guess.

That's all for this week. Peace out

Elder Coleman

Monday, December 1, 2014

Dat Thanksgiving Tho.....

December already... So weird and it doesn't feel at all like it's December. Today it does because it's dark and overcast and all the Malagasies have sweaters on and stuff even though it's still like 70 degrees. Weirdos.

Anyway, last Monday, I got a haircut. And since this email convers Thanksgiving week, I will talk about everything I'm grateful for. Number 1 Stephanie Clarkson for cutting my hair. I never thought I would be grateful for someone who can cut hair but I am so much. The buzzer thing that they used hurt so bad. I'm pretty sure they pulled more hair out than cut. It honestly felt like someone was just using sandpaper on my head. And then, after it was all done, it was uneven and I had to fix it myself. If i can get a decent haircut in this country it'll be a miracle. Other than that, we just contacted around our house for an hour and then had a soiree with Etienne and Mario.We had a way good lesson about blessings. Mario used a scripture from Alma, I don't exactly remember where it was but I talked about how we need to pray to God for everything. Sometimes in order to get blessings all we need to do is ask. Obviously, there has to be work involved but sometimes that's all it takes. But also sometimes when we ask for blessings God gives us trials. But according to 1 Nephi 1:1 footnote 'e' (in English versions of the Book of Mormon anyway, this doesn't work with Malagasy Book of Mormons, those of you who may have access to various other language versions of the Book of Mormon could see if this is in there) afflictions and trials are blessings given to us by God. And I know without any doubt that that is definitely true. They refine us and make us better people. Also if you look at D&C 121, after our trials we can receive huge blessings too, but we need to endure it well.

Tuesday, we got to wathch the stake conference in English for studies and holy cow was it good. We had Elder Gay of the 70, Some lady from the Primary Presidency, Elder Bednar and Elder Uchtdorf. It just went over tons of problems that members have in Africa and it was super awesome. Afterwards we went to the Fokontany, basically it's an annex of city hall in neighborhoods that take care of business and stuff for that neighborhood so city hall isn't super crowded; way cool concept, not sure if that exists in America. Anyway yeah we went there and tried to find land for sale because we are looking for a place to build a church. President Adams is coming down on the 13th and we want to have some places ready so when he comes down he can maybe make a decision. That took a lot longer than we thought so we were late to a lot of times and most of them didn't have time to learn anymore so that was lame.We found some less active members and taught them real quick though. Elder Connault wasn't feeling well so we went back to the house. But as we were going, the biggest storm of the century rolled in over the top of us. Within not even three minutes my pants were completely soaked through. We were home for a couple hours but Elder Connault felt good enough after that to go teach a Fanasina, our most recent convert. We started reviewing the lessons with her. Elder Connault told me to lead and I thought "hey she just got baptized, let's talk about the Gift of the Holy Ghost" so we did. She didn't know a lot about it so it ended up being a way good lesson. She's such a stud. 

Wednesday, we had the Ambositra elders come down for our zone meeting the next day. I got to go on splits with Elder Mack and Elder Christie for an hour and that was fun. After that, I went on a split with a branch missionary in our area and that was super interesting. I had to speak only Malagasy for pretty much the whole day but it was way fun! I taught quite a few lessons and I pretty much had to do the whoe thing because this branch missionary is not exactly a lot of help. Even when I asked if he had anything to add he would say a short sentence or say he didn't have anything. We had Jean Chrys' suare that night and it was interesting. It's just a little awkward now when we go because they won't go to church anymore but we're trying to get them to change their minds. 

Now for the big day, Thanksgiving! We had a way good zone meeting with Elder Rigby that morning. He's going to be such a great zone leader. He's seriously such a stud; love that guy. He set some good goals for us as a zone and things should start improving. We went up onto the mountain to teach again and we had Etienne with us this time so it was way good. After al the lessons we came back and went to Tsara Guest House, a super fancy vazaha place, way expensive but so worth it. Way good steak and cake. We went around the table before we started and did the super cliche cheesy thing where we all say things that we are thankful for. It was super awesome and I will go over everything at the end of the email. 

Friday, we had nothing on our schedule pretty much. We went and visited a contact and got a return appointment so that's good. We stopped by an investigators house on the way and found out that they had just got married! That is a major problem here and they already have it out of the way so that's way good. We did a bunch of contacting by our house and found a bunch of great contacts. First we contacted into this guy who used to be the bodyguard of the president of Madagascar. All he ever does is drink and he told us he wants to change and wants us to help him. So hopefully we can. And right next door to him we found a lady that can make custom suits for the same price as the guy in Tana. And she must be good cause she has a nice house, is not married, has kids, and has teenage girls apprenticing under her. We might go by there today and get another suit made. A little while after that we taught a guy who was so backwards, he might have been pooping out his mouth. He told us that nowhere in the bible does it say that Christ saves us from our sins. Fun Fact! I started reading the new testament recently and in the first chapter of Matthew it says that.... just so you know. Anyway we gave a lesson while he was saying stuff like that the whole time and then we asked him to pray about what we had talked about. He refused because he knows he will get and answer and will switch to our church. But he doesn't want to change churches even though he knows his church isn't true. Last highlight of the day was our lesson with Onja and Oly. We talked about the story of Lehonti? and Amalakiah? I don't remember the names but it's like Alma 47 or 37 or something like that. We talked about how Satan uses a tactic similar to that; to lure us to lower our standards just a little bit and then he takes us. Oh and we ate bugs... again... yummy.

Saturday was kinda sucky. We had English class and that was good. I didn't teach though I just was teaching myself how to play piano. I can kind of play "Misaotra anao noho ny mpaminany" Or "We Thank Thee Oh God For a Prophet" for all you English speaking folk. Anyway, we taught this guy that lives right next to us about the Book of Mormon and invited him to be baptized. He accepted so that's good! We went to Etienne's to finish of the day and shared a vatsi-panahy. I was again given the role of teaching and so I used Ether 12:27 and 1 Nephi 4:6-7. The Nephi one is way good; I recommend it to everyone if you have time. 

Yesterday we had 6 of the Brady Bunch come to church without us reminding them or taking them with us. I think some of them will be able to get baptized pretty soon. We had some more branch drama because our branch mission leader has been super mad at us for no reason. His brother brought it up in branch council in front of everyone so that was fun. He's like a teenage girl. We taught Alfred and that family again and taught about the Book of Mormon and invited them to be baptized. They said they would have to think about it. Oh and they didn't come to church because there was a wedding the day before somewhere far and they didn't get back until 3am. And after that, all of our times weren't there. So we did even more contacting.... until 7 when we taught Stephanie and Eric. We taught them the first vision and invited them to be baptized. THey accepted and they are way cool. 

This week was kind of a hard week. We worked hard but we saw almost no progress. It's very frustrating but it's all part of the work I guess. THe only thing to do is to keep on swimming and just do better the next week and hope that our investigators do their part because there's only so much we can do as missionaries. We can't convert them; they convert themselves.

Alright thankfulness time since it's thanksgiving. First thing: family. Being out here in Madagascar and seeing all these broken families has made me realize how grateful I am for mine. I am super grateful for the place I was raised in and the family that I had around me. SOme of the funnest memories I have are of things we did as a family, from family home evening board games to Thanksgiving at grandma's house. Also included in that is the GOspel. THe gospel really does bless familes. You look at the average family here in Madagascar and it's a mess but the families that are members are so happy. They are literally almost a beacon of light among so much chaos. These families that we visit everyweek, the recent converts, changed their whole lives and are super blessed because of it. For example, Etienne's family is not very wealthy and he is recently out of a job. He is helped by all the members near him and his family is so happy with what they have. He searches for a job everyday and still comes and helps the missionaries if we need it. I know that I have taken for granted that I was born into this gospel so many times through out my life. And sometimes I just need to step back and look at everything that I have been blessed with because of this church. I look at the friends I grew up with, the ward I was raised in, the priesthood leaders that helped me become who I am, everything that my life is, is because of this great gospel that was restored through Joseph Smith, because one humble farm boy had a question and wanted to know the truth. I am so thankful to be here, serving these people, bringing them this divine message of truth that will bless their lives. I am thankful for the Savior and his Atoning Sacrifice. I am thankful for everything He has done for me. 

Ok now for all the other stuff that I'm thankful for: an actual house, carpet, the time when I wasn't being eaten alive by fleas, roads, sidewalk, people that drive on their side of the road, a mattress, a pillow, clean water, real food, shoes, doctors, car, Temples, electricity, running water, stars, music, and for almost everything that is America (it's pretty obviously what is not included in that).

That's all for this week, sorry for the long email. I'm trying to go short but it just doesn't work out. Only 25 more days until Skype call ;)

Keep that beard hanging low,

Elder Coleman