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Monday, February 23, 2015

A very interesting week..

Well, Monday, we went to this big market place called Tsena Sabotsy (Saturday Market) to buy some stuff for the soccer tournament. They didn't have any cleats my size so we might have to go back today. I also intend on buying soccer shorts too. I miss short shorts way bad haha. I bought a backpack too because if you've ever tried to ride a bike with a shoulder bag, it's a bit difficult. And then add on top of it that anytime you go anywhere it's like navigating an obstacle course. So yeah it was necessary. I'll be sad when I move somewhere without bikes and I'll have to switch back to the shoulder bag. We saw this family in the Tsena from Norway and they spoke English. Like they were speaking English to each other. I didn't know they spoke English in Norway. They gave this little kid like 20,000 A which a ton of money. When we went out to work we taught Robin's family because they are all super mangatsika (inactive). And then we had our suare with Tahiry's family and decided that next time (today) we are going to eat rabbit. Maybe next week we can eat guinea pig...

Tuesday we went to the bike guy first thing and went with him to Tsena Sabotsy to buy the part for my bike. Well we get all the way there and it was closed... Lame. Our first few times fell through and then we went to Landy and this was cool. So this is a family without a dad. It's the mom, some little kids and about 4 girls close to my age. Well we have no guy with us so we can't go in. We are thinking about what to do when Johnson, a member, walks by. So we grab him, and were able to teach them. Way cool thing. He had no reason really to be where we were but there he was. It was a way cool blessing. We had quite a few good lessons that day too, all with super solid investigators that are progressing well.

Wednesday we went all the way across our area to this swimming pool that is being built and waited for our member help to show us a referral. Well he never showed up so that was lame. So we went to English class and I got to teach the Mahay Class. It's so much better than the other class. I can just talk to them in English it's way nice. We did a split after English and Robin went with me. We taught quite a few lessons together and it was way fun. God helps for sure when you get put into hot water. I noticed this in Fianarantsoa when I went on a split with Elder Mack when I first got there. You just all of a sudden can say things that you couldn't before. God isn't going to let you fail in his work. 

Thursday was super awesome. We had district meeting then went to this way nice pizza place. You pay 20,000 A and you get two super huge pizzas. Razaka and I split one and it was so good. So much pizza too. All of our first times stood us up though so that was lame. We went to one time and this is where it gets good. We get to the house and Razaka starts talking to the people there to find out where our investigator is and this guy comes strutting over talking about the vazaha (me). So he comes over and I'm like "Hey that's not polite to be calling people vazaha.) And then I notice that he has a leaf in his hand. Yeah a marijuana leaf. I start telling him that that is duper bad for him and he shouldn't do it anymore. He thought it was fine and was a game for his brain. Well I kept on him and he was like "ok you're right" and dropped it. Well then some kid comes and picks it up and puts it in Hi's pocket. He was trying to hide it too. I wasn't going to have any of that though so I made him give it to me and I ripped it up and got rid of it where he couldn't get it again. But then we went to this other part of our area we had never been to before and got tons of contacts. We walk down this street and start knocking doors. Well we come across a inactive member, someone who learned before and then just tons of people that wanted to learn. We were standing in the path writing down directions to get back and people just were coming up to us and asking to learn. It was super awesome! 

Friday, we went to a member's house to teach an investigator but she never showed up. We were talking to the recently returned missionary there and she was telling us about her mission in Cote d'Ivoire. Let's just say I am very blessed to be here in this mission and to have President Adams as a mission president. The amount of crap that goes down there is ridiculous. We taught Solofo right after and then went with a member to this place super far away, clear on the outskirts of Antsirabe. We taught an inactive member and apparently in this area that she lives, there were 32 investigators that were supposed to get baptized with her but something happened when the president changed so it didn't happen. Well we are going to go back and find these people again. We went to Faly and he told us that his house got robbed the other night. His son was sleeping on the couch by the TV and DVD player that got stolen and he is super grateful that his son isn't hurt. 

Saturday, we had a practice for the soccer tournament. We had this field to ourselves for 4 hours. It was way fun but sooo long. I scored a couple times though haha. One was a header too and I felt super cool haha. We taught a Preach me Gospel class today after all our times before that fell through. Robin and Johny taught me about the Restoration for practice and they struggled a little bit. I realized that I was where they are right now only 7 months ago. Just goes to show the blessings you receive as a missionary. We did another split and Robin came with me again.We taught a couple 
times and met back up at a soiree. The soiree was with some investigators and they are way cool. They were telling us that they really want to be baptized now because ever since the missionaries came to them, the dad and the son have stopped drinking and they have seen many blessings. Way cool.


Sunday was a great day. Woke up super stiff and sore though because of soccer the day before. We had tons of investigators come to church and that was way awesome! We had another split today after out first time. We had almost all of our times fall through. We taught the ex-branch president who is super inactive right now. He's a way cool guy though. Then we went to teach a time by Robin's house. It was raining so we went to his house real quick to grab him an umbrella. There are tons of people at his house having some kind of party. They are drinking and it reeks of marijuana. Robin's dad and this other guy were standing outside talking so I talked to them real quick. They were trying to hide that there was marijuana there but they knew that I knew and they thought it was pretty funny. They were probably high. But what really made me mad was Robin's dad was like, "No he doesn't drink. They don't drink at their church." He's a member though too. Yeah dumb. Our time went not too well either. It was this Lutheran chick that just straight up told us that they never want us to come back and they already have their church, there is only one God, we all worship him so why should we go to your church and all that stuff. So I left them with a Plan of Salvation pamphlet and invited them to church if they change their mind. All they wanted to do was argue so I though it best to just get out of there. We left with a prayer and the Lutheran girl said it. At the end they all started doing this chant thing that was super creepy. Even Robin joined in with the chant. I felt like I had just entered a M Night Shamalan movie or something. We met back up with the others and did a practice interview with our investigators getting baptized. Then we went to a less active member house and were a little mean. We asked why they didn't come to church today and they said they went to another church and didn't see what the problem was with that. So basically it went like this: 3Ne 27:8, 1Ne 14:10, 2Ne 6:12, and D&C 82:3 to top it off. It was very blunt but they needed it. 


Well I think that's all for this week. Have a good week everyone; don't all get married at once. It's weird.
Baobab fruit

Worm that burrows into your skin




Monday, February 16, 2015

Down with the Sickness...

An interesting week for sure with the worst ending ever but hoentintsika.

Well last Monday, we spent the rest of the P-day playing basketball which was way fun!  A little bit of info about my companion is that he loves basketball. In fact, he was on the National Team here in Madagascar before his mission. Yeah so he's pretty good. For language study he always asks me how to say basketball terms in English. We had a back to back soiree so I was super full. SO much rice it's ridiculous. 

Tuesday was good. We taught a bunch of times and these people are so nice. These people are so poor. But when you teach them, they give you food. Even when they have nothing to give they still do. And it's usually awful food but it's the thought that counts. I can add more details once I get people's names down. We did teach one lesson in this tiny shack and they gave us this super nasty soup that I knew was going to get me sick if I ate it. Then there was a fight outside so that was fun. We got some help from a girl in our branch that just got her mission call to Cote d'Ivoire (I don't know what that is in English sorry). There are so many return missionaries from Antsirabe and so many that are about to leave too. We finished that day off with another soiree at a less active's house.

Wednesday, most of our times fell through so that was lame but we had English class! I love English class! We taught some of our investigators at the church after that about the Book of Mormon and it was a good lesson. They are way smart and understand everything super well. We taught an inactive family about the importance of the Book of Mormon, read a chapter with them and set a goal for them to read a chapter every day. And then, you guessed it, we had another soiree 

Thursday we had district meeting and I had the lesson. I just talked about how in Fianarantsoa, when we followed the schedule with as much exactness as possible we had more success. We would follow the schedule in the white handbook and try to start all our studies on time, and when we did, we saw great blessings and were able to reach our goals for the day and the week. Sometimes we would even surpass our goals. There is a scripture in Romans that I really like. I think it was in Romans chapter 8? but it talks about how when we love God, things work for our good. And another scripture in John says that if we love God then we will keep his commandments. So when you put those together it equals good things. We did a bunch of tracting in the rain today so that was fun too. And then we had a soiree haha. Our member help Robin, did the vatsi-panahy from Alma 30:6. Elder Razaka and I were super surprised when he started talking about anti-Christ and stuff. Yeah a little bit of damage control had to be done on that one. It's a good thing I know that story. 

Friday we wasted a lot of time getting our bikes fixed. First, Elder Razaka didn't want to ride his because the front wheel is doing sketchy things so we hire a pousse to take us there. Well we tied the bikes to the back of the pousse and it was way funny. I sent a picture so you can see what that is like. The gear shifter on mine doesn't work so we had to go with the bike repair guy to this huge market on the other side of town to find out they didn't have any and wouldn't until Monday. Lame. We taught quite a few good times though. We taught Solofo who is an inactive member. If you remember, I had an "investigator" in the MTC named Solofo played by brother Aldous. Well this is the reall guy. He has a picture in his house of Aldous so that was kinda cool to see. And there is this way cool cactus tunnel that you walk through to get to his house. He gave us some free popcorn so that was cool too. We went to one lesson and these kids saw me with the popcorn and swarmed me trying to take it from me. It was fine though it was kinda funny. But then one stuck his hand in my pocket and tried to take my wallet. Yeah I was a little peeved. 

Saturday I woke up and felt awful. I think i had pink eye in both eyes. My eyes were just super red and bloodshot and I looked like I had just finished smoking a bunch of weed so don't worry I represented the Church well on that day while tracting. We went to teach one guy but he wasn't home. His brother was though so we taught him and he's a way cool guy. He's got a nice family and I see good things for them. Torio ny Filazantsarako class was a total bust. No one showed up. A girl opened her mission call while we were there and she is also going to Cote d'Ivoire. At this point I was feeling absolutely awful but I decided that I needed to keep going because we still had people to teach. It was a long couple of hours. At one point, I decided to go home because I felt like I was going to poop my pants. Yeah the food here just destroys you. I felt a little better after an hour or so with some medicine. But since it was valentines day, we went to a fancy restaurant later that night with the other Elders in our house.

Sunday I felt just as bad as the day before. I started to feel better as the day went on though. We made some mofo akondro for lunch which was super good. We did a practice interview with one of our investigators today who has a date for the 28th with her husband. Speaking of which, right after we finsished that interview we were going to our next time and we come across him. He has a cigarette in his hand and was obviously super drunk. He saw us and stopped dead and his eyes got all wide and he didn't know what to say. He said, "Aza tezitra" a lot which means "Don't be mad". It really bummed me out but we will work with him and get him to get off of it. And then later that night it was close to 8pm and it was dark. We were walking to this time that was a little far away. We walk through this big gravel field and Elder Razaka was like "Oh shiz" and I was like, "What?" Then I saw what turned out to be a prostitute who was like calling to us from the other side of the field. Yeah awesome. And there was some guy walking with us that kept whistling and Elder Razaka told me that he was whistling to his buddies that there is a white guy here and we need to rob him. So yeah that was fun. But even worse happened after that. We walk into our time and the family is watching a movie. Well I happened to recognize the characters in the movie unfortunately. They were watching an illegal copy of The Hobbit Part 3.... So yes I saw Thorin and Azog fight and both of them die. I told them how I love the Hobbit and they were like,"Hey the fight is already over but we'll go back to it cause it's way cool!" Oh my goodness. Literally any movie I could've handled. Any movie but that one. Yeah the amount of suckiness was over 9000 for sure. And they told me that if I go to eat there at noon they'll make sure they watch it again. Yeah hard pass. A very difficult, tempting pass.


And in other news, Our washer is broken and I have 0 clean clothes. The joys of living in Madagascar... You learn to love the little things. Like carpet, hot water, running water, Clean clothes, washing machines, tons of good stuff like that. 

P.S. I Forgot to mention that but I'm in a soccer tournament. I'm going to buy some cleats and stuff. It's the whole district here that is doing this and there is a team of just missionaries. We aren't on that team but we are going to beat them haha
Yeah Elder Razakamandimby is a very cool guy. He is a convert. He had a very messed up life before and it really shows me what the Atonement can do. He was basically a gangster before and did all kinds of bad stuff. He was in fights all the time and stuff but he is a way cool guy now. His family is pretty wealthy for Malagasy standards from what I understand. He has his own car so they must be. His sister and his mom are members but his dad is not. No one else in his family. He is very good in English and we talk in English a lot but Malagasy too so it's good for both of us. 
(Speaking about Elder Kelsch) Yeah I've talked to him about Japan. And he did Sterling Scholar too. He said I looked familiar when I got her so that's where it was from. He didn't do math he did some other category. 

Saying Goodbye in Fianarantsoa....


Christophe, Jean Chrys' wife, Melina, Jean Chrys, and some little girl

Don't remember, Mpatory, Hentsoa, Onja, Lioka, Don't remember, and Oly

Fanasina and Sandra with the family that she learns with


Frederic, Mika, Emma, Etienne, Prisca, Estella, and I

Frederic



Me and the Kids


Francois and Sr Theresa

Florent and I


Us and Raymond



Julie, don't remember, Miary, Mario, don't remember, Tefy and Landry

Marcellan, Lucy, Princess and the two boys


Rakotovaos and I

Sr Pirette and someone I don't know


New Area Antsirabe...


A nice surprise in our brownies

Cactus tunnel






Elder Razakamandimby


Our bikes

Solofo and Boa Katsaka(popcorn)

Fried spiders!Yuck!

Elder Kelsch(St.George), Elder Thompson (Emery), and I

video



Monday, February 9, 2015

Antsirabe!

Monday, was a sad day... Well we climbed the mountain first and took a nice picture behind which was way nice because it was all green from the rain. The rest of the day was spent saying goodbye to members and getting pictures with them. We taught Etienne and Mario that night and I gave the spiritual thought for them since it was my last. They were all super surprised that I was leaving and not Elder Connault. Mario was even a little mad ahahah. He wanted me to stay I guess. I told Tahina and Alicia that I was leaving and they were super sad too. Tahina was especially sad.

Tuesday was more saying goodbye to people. I got a picture with Rakotovao that morning. He is such a stud. We went to Francois house and told him I was leaving and his mom, Sr Theresa gave me this cool lamboany and got one for mom too. So there you go mom. Raymond was sad too. I love Raymond so much. He even gave me some sunglasses as a parting gift haha. I got pictures with Fanasina, Sandra, Onja and oly's family, and with Jean Chrys family. I was very sad to leave Fianarantsoa. It was such an awesome place and I miss it. But I am very glad to be here in Antsirabe! I've heard many rumors about the work here and it sounds like it goes very well. I'm very excited for that. 

I left Fianarantsoa at 7:30 on Wednesday morning for a very along trip to Antsirabe. Elder Johnson and I were on the same bus though so it wasn't too bad. I sat between these two very nice ladies and talked to them for the whole 8 hour bus ride. They had a ton of questions about the church and I was able to help them understand it a little bit better. I even gave them a Restoration pamphlet. It was a way cool experience. The Lord definitely helps his missionaries to learn these languages. I never would have been able to talk to 2 Malagasy ladies for 8 hours after only learning this language for 6 months. I got picked up by Elder Lehr and Elder Christiansen in Antsirabe and taken to the church to my new companion. This will be an interesting transfer for sure with a Malagasy companion. 

Thursday we had district meeting and we rode our bikes to the church. Holy cow I have not ridden a bike in a long time. But you never forget; it's like riding a bike. And it's Madagascar so I hit like 3 people. The people here don't know how to go from one place to another effectively and not being in someone's way. I got to see the area today though and it is huge compared to my area in Fianarantsoa. And Antsirabe is so poor. So poor. The people are awesome though. We taught one time and they gave us food. I felt bad to take it and I also felt bad after I ate it. The food here destroys you. 

Friday started off way good with a visit from the Tolmans. They brought packages and cookies over to our house. I got my birthday cookies! Sooo good. We taught a bunch of times and walked a lot but it was a good day.

Saturday we had interviews with President which are just always good. It's great just to be able to talk to President. We taught a Preach my Gospel class after that and then went out to teach. We had a soiree that night and had made brownies to take with us. We went back to the house to grab them and there were some mouse tracks in part of it. Way funny. We let the people we taught eat that piece. They are used to eating that stuff anyway. 

Sunday was way good. The Adams came to our sacrament meeting and President gave an awesome talk. I ended up translating for Sister Adams which was way hard. Elder Christie and I ended up giving our testimonies since we are the new missionaries in the branch. It was a lot easier this time now that I have a little bit of a firmer grasp on this language. We had a bunch of member help today when we went out to work and caught a bunch of spiders to fry up. Elder Razaka knows how so we're gonna try it. We went back and got our bikes from the church and rode them home. Holy cow was that hard. I have not used some of those muscles like that in a long time. 

I'm not sure on the plan for today but I think we way go play soccer. We cybered first thing so we haven't done anything yet today haha.

Well I just want to say that I know this church is true and I know that the Atonement is real. I know that as we seek to repent and come closer unto him, we will be changed and that we will become more like him. I know this gospel blesses lives; I know it's blessed mine. 


Have a great week everyone.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Transfers! With an unexpected twist...

Another great week in Fianarantsoa! The best week so far actually; it was a way good one.

Monday was pretty uneventful, but Tuesday was good. We taught a ton of lessons. We taught Miadana, this rich girl with a way nice rug. It's like super thick carpet rug; kinda like the one Arizona has in her house if you know what I'm talking about. Super nice. I never though I'd be super thankful about carpet but yeah. She's super smart and I can see her going all the way. She genuinely wants to know the truth. We taught this way smart 18 year old girl, Andrianina, but we found out that she is moving to Mahajanga, which is north west Madagascar on the coast. Way far away. It's basically as far as Tana to here, so from her it's like super far. We did a lot of contacting that day too and taught Sandra, Fanasina, Orion and his mom, Nina. We asked Sandra who God is but she still says Jesus, even after a lot of weeks of trying to teach her that. It's very frustrating. 

Wednesday we taught Tahina and Alicia as recent converts! Way awesome! I love them some much! They were super out of control though. More than usual. We taught a bunch of contacts and other lessons after that. WE had Marcellan and Jean Chrys that night and we finally got a soiree this transfer with Jean Chrys. We had a way good vatsim-panahy with him and his family. Mario and Etienne were there so it was even better.

Thursday was a way awesome day too. We had a zone meeting with Elder Rigby that morning about change. It was a way awesome lesson and he had us write down things we don't like about ourselves or things we want to change and then burn them. It was a great learning experience for me and I have discovered more things that I want to change in my life to become more like Christ and be a better missionary. I'm super thankful for this mission and for the Atonement for helping change me into someone that I want to be. We taught Raymond after that and he'[s such a stud as I've said before. But he won't come to church... We taught Bethe and she is way awesome. We taught about Joseph Smith and she asked us for the 1st pamphlet to read and study before next time. Never had that happen before. We found these new people, Patricia and Patricia, sisters, that are related to Francois. They learned from missionaries before and really seem ready to change. We found a cool family by the hospital here that seems very interested in our message. They are the kind of people the church here needs right now. We went to Sofia's that night to eat and oddly enough, there was a white guy there. Even weirder, he spoke English. He was from England and he was travelling Madagascar on a bike for 30 days. Way cool guy; way funny. But he has such a sad life. He asked us what we were doing here so we told him and he told us some of his beliefs. He's a very smart guy, very educated and firmly believes in science and fact. He told us that he used to believe in religion but then he got educated. He believes that us as humans are just a big chemical reaction and that when we die, well that's it. He has no sense of real joy in his life. Talking to him made me realize how great we have it. I realized how great it is for us to know the things that we know about the Plan of Salvation and that through the Atonement we can live again. I'm comforted in knowing that I will live with my family for all eternity. I genuinely felt bad for the guy. The saddest part was that he didn't even know he had a sad life. 

Just some quick highlights from Friday. We went back to house we contacted and the lady's husband was home. We go in and he has like 25 trophies sitting on a table in the living room. They are basketball trophies from all the championships he has won here in Madagascar. As we taught him he got out his scriptures which were on a freaking iPad. An iPad. A real life, American iPad. He even let me use it for a second to pull up James 1:5. He's way good at English and French and has been to England and France. In fact he studied in France at a school that would be comparable to Harvard. Perfect for this branch if he is baptized. We taught the Patricia sisters after that and it was super good. They said they would try to come to church so we'll see. 

Saturday was a super hard but way good day. We taught one guy about the Plan of Salvation and when we asked if the Fall was good or bad for us he actually said good! That's like the first time ever someone answered that the first time. We taught a ton of families today it was way awesome. I love them all so much but they need to just come to church. It's so hard to get these people to go to church. To finish of the day we taught Olivier, the guy that gave us the liter and a half of milk. We had a way good lesson with him and his family and he seems very interested. He wants us to come back so hoipefully he'll progress.

Yesterday was a weird day. We got a text that morning from a number we don't know that said that one of the couple missionaries here was dead. Super weird because, well, she wasn't. She wasn't even sick. Church went way good though. Rakotovao is turning this branch around and it's doing so much better. One lady passed out during church today and that was interesting. The big higlights of yesterday were: first, suare with Rakotovao. We had Alicia and Tahina come too and it was so good. Sister Rakotovao is such a good cook. And next was our time with Etienne. We had a way good vatsim-panahy with him and his family. We also broke our previous record of lessons taught in a week. Way good week for us.

And now the moment we've all been waiting for: transfers. Well, contrary to popular belief, I am leaving and Elder Connault is staying. I am going to Antsirabe in Ambohimena. I believe it is a biking area so I'll probably be doing a lot of that. And my new companion is.... Elder Razakamandimby. Yep I'm getting a Malagasy. Sad thing about this is that Elder Rice leaves Antsirabe to go back to Tana this transfer so I don't get to see him. I'm super excited to work in Antsirabe though. I've heard so many awesome stories come from Antsirabe and the work is going way good there. They are super poor, more than here.


Well that's it for this week. Next time I'll be at a different cyber in Antsirabe and hopefully it's a good one. If not, it'll be an interesting next little while trying to send emails.

Brady Bunch house


Goodbye Fianarantsoa!

Inside Austin's apartment

Austin's bedroom





Elder Mack and Elder Hammer






Tantara


Austin's apartment building

Selfie with Elder Hammer