Ok so the country is sweet. I've picked up the language very well and I am dominating. I can teach the lessons and people actually understand what I'm saying. My trainer, Elder Horn, is super cool. We teach all the time and I've probably walked about 1 million miles by now. I like the food. The house I live in is super nice. I'm personally baptizing a kid this Saturday. Wish me luck. Prez Donnelly is way cool. The people in Mad Ant are amazing. I love them so much.
Mad Ant is so awesome!!!! I love this place, the food, and most especially the people so much! I shall now take you through a step by step of what it has been like so far.
So when we got here it was very hot and the airport looked downright ghetto-tastic. Though we were all bubbling with excitment (except for one elder) we were all slightly nervous as well. Of course, the lady who came up to us spoke zero English and thought that we were French. Apparently there are no white people here that aren't French. Getting through the signing in process was kinda difficult. Once we got to the other side and made it through the customs check, we were met by the Donnellys, the APs, the Petersons, and the Birds. Those last two are the missionary couples here in Mad Ant. Prez Donnelly came up and gave us all a warm handshake. He was so nice and friendly that we all felt immediately invited. He is so much nicer and cooler than I was expecting. We all took a picture and then Elder Goff and I went to go get some passport pictures (apparently the ones you sent didn't arrive). The APs, Elders Cox and Burton, are awesome. We chatted all the way to the picture place and it was so cool. When we got to the picture place, which is in the middle of Tana, we decided to go and contact people as we waited. I'm sure my meager attempt to contact someone all by myself was horrible. Burton said that he was listening from around the corner and that my Malagasy was super good. Hmph, ya right. Long story short, we went out and tracked in the super-turbo ghetto and then ate at the Donnelly's house that night. While the 5 by 5 ft shack that we taught a family in suprised me that first night, I now realize that it is pretty common-place in Mad Ant. Ain't no thang.
Next day we went through our orientation and stuff. One by one, drivers took us to our respective areas. Mine, as you already know, is called Ivato. It is a two hour drive (if you are in a good taxi). There are tons of rich people in my area though so it makes tracting very difficult. They literally have castle-mansion-palaces. Craziness.
So my trainer is named Elder Horn. He is from Utah, he's 21, super funny, and fairly good at Malagasy. Our first day (I arrived at 6 PM) we went and taught two families. At our first house there was a boy named Faly. I shared with him a spiritual thought about Jesus. His Mom is a recent convert and Faly is going to be baptized this Saturday. He is only 9. When Horn asked him who he would like to baptize him....he said me. So I am baptizing someone for the first time in Malagasy this Saturday. Woohoo!!! Now I just have to remember the prayer in Malagasy.
We have taught many other times since then and had many wonderful experiences. I wish I could share all of them with you but I have not the time. I will tell you about this one family who we taught in a shack full of other peoples stuff. The building was like some kind of rental place. Anyways we taught them the third lesson and it was absolutely awesome. I teach the main lesson in all of the times because I can and because Horn thinks that it would help me alot. I agree. So half way through the lesson, the girl's boyfriend comes in and sits down. We catch him up to speed with the lesson. The problem with this family, which is the same problem with 18 of our other investigators, is that they aren't married. It is very difficult process to become married in Mad. I won't go into details.
The father, who is probably 70, is a member. After I finished the third lesson he bore an amazing testimony of how his life has been blessed by the church and by being baptized. He started to cry and it was absolutely amazing. Then he chastized the other guy for not getting married to his daughter. Then more chastizing to the young guy for the same thing, and says that if he doesn't marry the mother of his child, he should leave. Then...he agrees to get married! Holy cow! He decides to also take the lessons and come to church. All three of those things which he agreed to have been major problems with him in the past. Horn said it was one of his favorite lessons of all time. The Spirit was so strong in that humble shack, I feel like could have almost bottled some and taken it home. I hope that story was semi-linear.
So my Malagasy is not as good as I thought. But through the Spirit, the people understand everything I say. Everything! It is like a miracle. They respond correctly, they answer questions, they are engaged in the lesson. It's like a dream come true!
If you send anything, send it in an envelope or disguised in food or whatnot. Otherwise they will open the package and steal the card. Guaranteed. If there is cash in a package, they will take it no matter what. Candy, food, other things - no problem. But electronics and money sent through mail will definately be taken. The best way to send cash or cards is by hiding it in something like a box of candy or jar of peanut butter.
Alright, so I am very happy to hear about the Saints. It is close to Texas and my heart. I love you all so much and miss you, but more than anything, I am focused on the work here in Madagascar. Later -
love always, Elder Cryer