Monday, February 22, 2010

Life is fantabulous, just get the roach out of my food and I'm set

Ok well another fantabulous week here in Madagascar. Though we actually got less times and had to drop some more people, this week went so much better than last week. My attitude change has a lot of different factors that feed into it. My getting better at the language, time in the country, going to the waterfalls, the food. I absolutely love the food here! Give me a giant bowl of rice and loque(topping) and I am set. Wanna add some vegetables and beans in there? Go ahead! Something changed in my stomach and in my tastebuds drastically of late. I have eaten entire dishes of only vegetables. Amazing right? I just pray really super hard before every time I eat at a members house, and badda bing, the food tastes good. Considering the fact that I have never eaten a vegetable in my life before coming to this country, this is further proof of the blessings of God.

I have also discovered the amazing street food they have here - wonderful, spicy, sweet. This country is really into sugar bread. AKA, bread that has almost no flavor beyond a slight sweetness. Yet, it is still amazing! The food is also very, very cheap as well. It took me about a month to realize the startling wonder of that which is street food. And to my credit, I sill haven't gotten sick :D. Let us hope that this trend of health keeps up.

So I am understanding people better and better. Not perfectly, but much better. This comes as a relief because my main talent is in saying whatever I want. I am satisfied with where I am (for now). Malagasy, the easiest language ever. I can already tell that I will plateau in a couple of weeks and then I will realize, again, that I am horrible. But until then, I'm riding high on the false sense of security and comfort. I'll ride this one out while it lasts.

About provinces: though I have stated in the past that I will probably stay in Tana for the rest of my mission, this was misleading. President Donnelly knows that there are many more baptisms to be had in the provinces and not very many to be had in Tana. So he has said that everyone will be getting in loads and loads of province time. Sounds good to me! One guy just triple provinced. He went from the French island of La Reunion to Tamatav (on the east coast. Companionships average 15 baptisms a month) to Anstirabae (below Tana, has amazing food, picturesque, and about the same bap rate as in Tamatav). It is very good to know.

I hope everything else is just absolutely fantastic. Probably not, but hey, when you live on the other side of the world as your family, ignorance is bliss.

Dad, I have been thinking about the deep doctrine stuff that always seems to come up in gospel doctrine. Here in this poor and primitive country, I get to focus on the basics of the gospel. It has been such a joy to learn more and more about things I first learned about in Primary. Who needs the deep doctrine when there are basic principles of monumental importance to be had first? When I come home I probably won't even be able to have any distinguishable form of higher thought. I'll be limited to, "Is the rice done? Get that roach out of my food! Joseph Smith translated the BoM, right? O ok, good to know". The golden basics :P.

Yes! That is so funny that we beat Canada in ice hockey. That's pretty embarrasing that we beat probably the best team in the world and the country that is hosting the Olympics. That is still so crazy to think that Robbie is leaving and Seth just got home. I'm ecstatic that Rob is going into the MTC.

Our main mode of transportation is walking and taxi-bays. For some reason the church will noy allow us to drive any kind of cars. Something about there not being traffic laws, traffic lights, stop signs, etc. They had cars here when the mission first began but took them away after there were many accidents. So we end up walking miles per day and riding on these way over-crowded vans called taxi-bays. The are able to pack like six people to a row. This presents problems to all of us missionaries. Especially to big and broad guys like me ;P. Everyone laughs when I have to sit down in between five Malagasys and I pretty much crush all of them. I've learned to find humor in the situation as well. In a couple of the provinces they have bikes, so, that will be a treat.

So, this is the big tamale email. Well, it is time to jet. Pray for me. I pray for all of you all the time.
Elder Cryer

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

P-day (miss) adventure

Hello -

The reason I wasn't able to email yesterday is a long story. Here it goes:

All the missionaries in Tana went to some way cool waterfalls.
They were super duper awesome. I got some amazing pictures. After the
waterfalls, we all went and got some food from these little tiny
'restaurants'. It was a little bit gross, but w/e. Afterwards we
decided to go back to some gysers. The best part was the scenery. It was what I dreamed Mad would be like, something out of Jurassic Park. So cool, many pictures will be coming soon.

Because we wasted three hours coming out to these waterfalls, we started home really late. Then the tires on the van popped twice and we ran out of gas. Then our drivers weren't able to safely drive anymore so we got a new driver and new van, and the new
guy wouldn't even take us into Tana. It was so late when I got back that no busses were running and we had to stay at some other missionaries' house. The day was good, but horrible at the same time. Now I am very sunburned and tired. And emailing on a work day because the waterfall trip completely took over P-day. When we got back to
Tana, the mission office was closed so I couldn't even get my mail. Greatness. And I can't access my money b/c my ID is locked up.

The week went fairly well. Very, very fast indeed. I ran out of money
and out of food by Sunday, so that was fun. We tracted for a very
long time this week and got some cool, and strange investigators.

I have no clue what the gospel doctrine class is about. I am always in
the investigator class and that is hard for me to understand. Horn
says that they always get into major deep doctrine in meetings. As I
have observed Priesthood, they talk only about deep doctrine.

Well, some people outside the church don't like us. Some are stoked that we
know Malagasy. But there's bad feelings about big white guys sometimes.
We haven't been in a fight, exactly, but we have to be careful and watch our back. If I wasn't huge, there might be problems. Good fun.

Well, that's about all that happened this week. Kinda lame, I know. We
have a couple of baptisms coming up soon that I am very excited for.
In March we have about 8 scheduled so that should be fun.

I miss you guys and can't wait to chat in May!

Elder Cryer

Monday, February 8, 2010

This is eternal salvation...that's what I'm talking about...

Dear Family/Parents/People,

I still have not received my debit card in the mail. I am down to 15000 ar ($7.50)
left of personal funds. Other missionaries have told me to just never even use a debit card. Apparently you can just make an account with Western Union, give me
the password and account number and other such things, and wire me money. To me, this sounds a thousand times easier than a debit card. Plus, from what I've heard, alot of debit cards don't even work. Fantastic, right? So if could please go and make an account at Western Union and email me the information by next P-Day, that'd be great. I won't buy anything besides food and absolutely needed things. Promise :D

So this week has been really cool and tough at the same time. Cool, because we have found some amazing families and the work is going very well. Bad, because it seems like everyone has it out to get us. Almost NO ONE likes us. They are always making fun of us or trying to cheat us out of money. And if they are drunk, they are trying to murder us. No lie. Now that I have a general idea of what everyone is
saying, yikes. If it wasn't for the investigators and extremely awesome church members, this place would be hard. O ya. It also really really stinks when people
aren't there for their appointment. At first, I didn't really care and it wasn't so much a big deal, Now, I get very annoyed and frustrated. I mean, come on people! This is eternal salvation! It seems as though our success with some people directly correlates with the failure of others.

We've had to drop about 4 people in this past week. Talk about unbelievably depressing. At one time, we were dropping an entire family because the dad refused to get married. He kept saying, "O we need a party and there isn't enough money and blah blah blah." His wife was heartbroken because she has wanted to be baptized for a very long time. She even cried! People who have been to Mad will recognize the craziness in this. People in Mad never ever ever cry. They just don't do it. Their life is so extremely hard that there is no room for tears. When a child dies, the parents might shed a few tears, but that is all. I didn't even recognize how powerful of an action this was until Horn explained it to me. It is so very hard to see someone come half way up the path to salvation....and then turn away.

Ok well no more sad/bad stuff lol. We really have had some amazing experiences this week. People and families have received the first lesson and had no questions because the Spirit already bore witness to them of its truthfulness. That is truly a miracle. We have rejoiced with people as they committed to baptism. Because of our fast on Sunday, eleven people came to church when last week we only had 1. Some people are beginning to see the light and are making the neccesary steps in the right direction. Now that I am seeing people progress from the very start (finding and teaching) they mean so much more to me. We have alot of baptisms set up for the next two months so this is a very exciting time!

Today we went to this place called "Croc Farm". It is basicly a zoo of the few animals that actually live in Mad. I think it is actually a cover for a very expensive tourist shop (croc wallets for $250!). All in all, it was pretty cool. Some guy cheated all of us out of money, so that was not cool. We saw huge crocs, 100year old turtles, lemurs, fusa, ostrichs, and a miriad of other animals. Lots of

On that note; I think that I will wait until my memory card is full or almost full and then I will send it to you. The internet is so slow here to download pictures in any speedy amount of time. You'll probably end up getting my last MTC days, all the way up until the end of my first transfer lol. Sorry about that ;P.

Btw....any packages would be nice :D. I desperately need peanut butter, mayo, and cheese. All of those things could be sent in a package and they would be long as they are air tight that is. So, if you sent it soon, I'll get it in a couple of months. In the mean time, extra money will suffice. Those three items are very

Ok so in church the language is all in Malagasy. The ward members are cool. My house is very nice. It is probably bigger than our house back home and there are only two guys in the house. The thing is still in Mad. So there are bugs and
some things just are not made very well. No big deal. Our ward building is amazing! After my first Sunday in a rented out school (companion exchanges) it was nice to go to our big, new, and modern church. Sadly, they don't have any toilet paper! Nice. My ward building is probably 2.5 x as nice as the Alvin building. No joke :P.

Alright, well, congrats Robbie on getting your call. You'll be an amazing missionary. Good job Saints on dominating the Colts. I'm proud of ya.

I miss you all and will see you in 21 months and one week....not that
I'm counting or anything lol.

Elder Cryer

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Feeling At Home

Dear Family,
I've had a few people ask me about the food here in Mada so I will address that first. I'm not sure why the food here gets such a bad rap. The heaping mounds of rice and lok (meat topping) are really quite good. Some may complain alot about the food and about the allotment which we recieve to buy it, may say we don't get enough. To me, it seems like we get plenty of money. I pretty much live on sandwiches, cereal, rice and lok, and huge amounts of milk. There is definently enough money to still eat like an American here. You just have to be smart about it.

Some of the missionaries here are constantly sick, stomach problems about 6 times a day, they throw up. When I got here I decided right then and there that I didn't want such things to happen to me as well. Call me crazy but being sick all of the time just doesn't exactly sound like a ball. Those that get sick a lot have a history of eating the street food...bad idea! The Donnellys and other mission couples told us that is just asking for trouble. I am inclined to believe them. All in all you can easily be healthy and fit here.

I think that I have finally gotten used to this place. The first few days were weird. Everything was so new that, while I wasn't freaking out, it just felt uncomfortable. Now, I think I have been able to properly settle into things. Mad Ant feels alot like home. When I walk outside, I get this over-whelming sense that I belong. Sure, I am a large white guy and everyone here looks at the missionaries and thinks we are Secret Service (or some other ludicrous idea), but I still love it here. It's basically a poor country, but the people and the food are amazing. Everything I've heard about the provinces and rainforest areas sounds great, but I'm not there yet :P. Heck, I may never get there. I decided about a week ago that my entire mission would be in Tana. I don't want that to happen in the least bit, but if so, I'll at least be prepared.

Language update! So I can say a lot more things than when I came here. I'm understanding a little bit more, but that aspect is still very difficult. If a native talks slow, then I can mostly understand them. If, as per usual, they talk fast and slur their words and speak in a high pitched voice then I can barely even get the gist of what they are talking about. My favorite is when they ask me a question and, not knowing precisely what they said, I answer completly wrong. Those always get good looks. I can understand missionaries pretty well, but that is only because we pronounce our words all the way. In fact, a lady yesterday told me that my accent was very good and that I am easier to understand.

Most of my problems when teaching stem from my lack of knowledge about the lessons themselves. I've started re-studying them to try and make things more clear for my investigator. I can say most everything that I want to in the lessons (if I have the Spirit) and everything is mostly clear. The thing I have the most trouble with is drawing a blank when a get into a certain principle. For example; yesterday I was teaching lesson 3 and I only said about four sentences about Repentance before moving on to Baptism. Soooooo frustrating. I just couldn't think of anything else to say! Not only do I look like a fool, but my trainer has to go back and clarify a ton of stuff, and the investigator suffers. Well, not really suffers but I'm sure it is annoying to be taught the same principle twice in one time.

On Saturday we had the baptisms. I baptized both Willie, a grown man whose wife is a member, and Faly, a 9 year old boy. Everything went well, except for the fact that the water was around ankle length deep! No one turned on the water until two hours before. The water pressure was weak so by the time the baptism was supposed to start, there was almost nothin' in the font. Awesome. So then Elder Horn and I had to bucket in water from outside.

Anyways the baptism of Faly went off without a hitch. Then came Willie.... He is about 5' 7" and pretty broad. A giant of Malagasys you could say. I tried to baptize him but the water was so low that his knees were sticking out. So I told him to just lay flat on the ground. He did so on the next attempt and it was hilarious. I was almost was laying down myself! Good fun with baptisms.

Ok well I'm done rambling. I miss all of you and love you dearly.
Love, Elder Cryer

PS: Nice job on Sacramento Mission Jason! You'll do awesome!