Thursday, January 14, 2010

It's Mad Ant time

Well, I can't believe my time here is almost over. I am so excited to get to Madagascar. Mad Ant refers to the abbreviation that is used in the MTC for my mission. Antananrivo is the capital, there's only one mission in all of Madagascar, so there's our mission, we're the Mad Ant or some people say Mada.

My weight has stabilized. I hover between 173-175 lbs pretty consistently. Some how, my six-pack is rockin and I run a mile in under 6 minutes. These last couple of days I have decided to eat whatever I want, whenever I want. I figure since I am about to go to Mad Ant and be malnourished I should get as much good old American junk food as I can. Besides, I’ve heard that everyone gets sick for the first couple of weeks when you get there. Thanks for sending the protein powder, but cookies and cream flavor?

We are leaving SLC, then to Chicago, layover for several hours, then to London, layover for at least 8 hours, then to Johannesburg for several hours, then finally to Mad Ant, woohoo. I am going to be on 3 continents in three days. The journey goes from Monday to Wednesday. 30 hours of flight time. It will be quite the trip. My companion is from England, but I doubt we will be able to leave the airport in London. We have to ask the travel office people and something tells me that they will say no. Mission rules are mission rules. The flights will be crazy long and we'll have to wear the same pants and shirts for 3 days, but it'll be ok. I want to teach anyone I sit beside in the plane. I want to sit by a Malagasy on the plane from Johannesburg so I can practice speaking the language and I can teach someone. I have to start taking malaria pills on Saturday.

I've learned a lot in the MTC. My knowledge has grown ten fold about the gospel. I feel it so fervently that when I look back on, well, even the days just before I left, I see a different person. I am the same mostly. It is just that a monumental, spiritual change has been wrought. I am still working and progressing, but it is so amazing to see how far I’ve come and how for I still have to go. I feel like there are so many things about the gospel that I just did not adequately understand.

Yes, I cashed the check for the flight reimbursement. Yes I did get the clothes box. I’m wearing the skinny jeans as I write this and was very happy with everything you sent to me. Love those old clothes. Even the new Bruce Springsteen shirt - I wore it last night and everyone was like, “Why are you wearing that?” I just said, “I don’t know. My mom sent it to me, she's a fan.” New or old, love stuff from home.

So this week was pretty chill, I guess. I am now semi-officially proficient at gospel speech in Malagasy. I’m sure a native Malagasy would disagree, but I feel very comfortable with teaching lessons/ street contacting/ praying/ bearing my testimony. Conversationally I am lacking and not quite where I would like to be. There are still so many words that I do not know. My teachers have assured me that learning how to be conversant proficiently should be a cake walk (paraphrase) in Mad Ant. I can have simple-ish conversations. Basically I can say all the needed things but I can’t really talk about, oh idk, the weather, sports, work, and a myriad of other subjects. I know that through the Lord’s help, it is just a matter of time. I really should send you a video of my speaking Malagasy so that you have some idea of what it sounds like in action. Maybe.

This week we heard from Elder L. Tom Perry, again. Last time his talk was kind of dry and scripture based. When he walked into the room, I think everyone was kinda expecting the same thing. He talked on the first lesson…it seemed as though our fears had been manifested. It was going to be another quiet talk. It fact, I walked out of the room thinking that, indeed, it was exactly as I had imagined it would be. It was so quiet that I drew a picture of Elder Perry as some anime warrior and took all of my notes in Malagasy (Which is very hard if they are using big words in English. Ex. testimony = fijoroana ho vavolombelona. It just takes forever to write).

Once we had gotten to our sharing time meeting thing, my perception began to change. As I reviewed my notes, I realized how extremely profound some of the things were. Though there was no actual deep doctrine going on, his words provoked deep reflection, thought, and introspection, made me really think about my testimony. The talk the Elder Perry gave turned out to be a home-run for everyone…after the fact. It was as though a spiritual boomer-rang had been thrown. On its way back, it knocked us all in the back of the head. And yes, I know that boomer-rangs don’t actually come back in a full circle like that.

I’ve decided that I will eat at every single fast food restaurant that I see from here to Mad Ant. So, if I email again in a week asking for more money, forgive and forget.

I love you and miss you all a lot. I think about you all the time and I want everything to be going good and you guys to be having lots of fun. My family is the best. I pray for all of you every day.

love, Elder Cryer

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