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!