Monday, March 29, 2010

Our area is on fire

So, here we go. I am still in Tana and Elder Horn is still my companion and I am so glad. Nope, no moving for either of us. We are the only companionship in the whole mission to not get transferred or split up. To answer a question : Yes we eat at members and investigators houses quite a bit. Not as much as I would like - ha! - but enough to help out the old wallet. The food is usually top-rate and delicious. Would it be delicious without the fervent prayer that I say to myself just before? Probably. The set-up ranges from full on full-course meals to rice and leaves. I honestly love every single thing I eat at peoples houses. The events where people feed us and we give a spiritual thought are called 'soirees'. They are always very enjoyable. Silverware...well we always have at least a spoon.

No I haven't yet gotten my first package. Wasn't it sent about a month ago? If so then I still won't receive it for at least a month. Things take quite some time to travel here. On the subject of sending things - my SD card will begin its journey home next P-Day.

So, about this whole mission is amazing! Our area has been on fire this past week and it has been such an incredible joy. Every lesson seems like it is amazing and the Spirit rarely gets on oppurtunty to not be on max. I really have no clue why there has been this rise in success.

The baptism we had this Saturday was really good. The Malagasy sisters in our ward have been doing some pretty amazing work with their investigators. Horn baptized four members of a family which the sisters taught. I was supposed to baptize a man but he didn't ended up not showing up. A little bit of a bummer for me, but a major bummer for the sisters. Hopefully everything will be sorted out soon enough and he can be baptized soon.

We have this one family that is aboslutely out of this world. The parents are named Eric and Vola and they have three kids. They are some of the poorest people that we teach - making about 3 to 4 dollars a week for the whole family. But despite their lack of material goods, they are so extremely thankful for what they have. The wife has given up coffee and paraky (chewing tobacco?) cold turkey. They have literally turned their lives around and are now following the straight and narrow path. They are having big getting-married problems - but with the unceasing aid from the Lord and our own faith and obedience, marriage is just around the corner. I never thought we could jump through the marriage hurdles that were before us, but we have. When we told Eric that we couldn't baptize their family on their original date - - March 27th - Eric amost had a heart attack. He wanted more than anything in this world - as it should be - to become a member of this church. While it is depressing and confusing to see people not recognize the truth plainly in front of their eyes, when you see people who really see it for what it is - all of our work is worth it. They will probably be baptized on the 17th of April and - I'm not lying here - it will be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life thus far. We gave him some shirts and ties so that he would look spiffy at church. So stinkin cool to see someone transform like that.

All of our investigators are progressing and have caught the vision. We are - finally - getting referals and in some cases people are walking up to us and saying that they need this gospel in their lives. Talk about crazy! I'm not sure if it is because of the area that I'm in or what, but the past two months has felt like - at the most - two weeks. To think that I am two months away from my 1/4 mark feels strange.

Could you please also send me some journals? I am almost out and I will have to have one made here in Mad Ant soon.

I see how you guys start partying it up and buying new computers left and right once I leave the house. Hmph! Alright well I'm off to go and finish my round of emails. I love you guys. Thank you so much for all the advice and support you've given me.
I hope everything is rockin back home.

Elder Cryer

Monday, March 22, 2010

Have it anyway you want, crazy white man!

Dear Beloved Family and Friends,

In answer to a question - Scripture study is probably the thing I look forward to most in my entire day, aside from appointments. I have almost made it through the Book of Mormon again (three chapters left). This is the first time, however, that I have taken notes, analyzed, and really thought out everything. This takes a long time and is very slow moving. Some days I am only able to finish one or two pages in an hour and a half or more. Hence, it has taken me four and a half months to finish it. But hey, I'd rather really understand everything than read it like I do any another book. I mean, it is the most true book on the face of the earth. It deserves the time and mental effort.

I also do a different scripture study for my lessons and investigators. A lot of this is Malagasy-based and focused on constructing ways to best explain a certain scipture. Honestly, I haven't been bible bashed nearly as much as I thought I would be. In fact, the number stands at zero. I have always known more about the Old and New Testament than the people we teach. Sometimes someone who is tena mahay Baiboly (Yes that means what you think it does...probably) and they throw out something their preacher has told them. Through study and my senior companion passing on his knowledge to me, the proper verse of scripture to help explain is always found. Plus if you explain any principle using the Spirit and using basic, easy to understand teaching methods, then there usually aren't any questions or problems. I've probably have just gotten very lucky so far and haven't really met a true Bible wielder.

I've learned so much about myself and the scriptures and the gospel and a little more about the true nature of God and a million other things that it is impossible for me to write it all down. I will say that everything I knew before my mission has had an "Ah ha!" moment. I knew it before, but now I feel like I better understand it. I won't say that I completly understand each gospel principle, because then I'd be perfect, and we all know I am as far as you can get from that ;P.

So we have five baptisms coming up this Saturday. The sister did all the teaching and we get to do the baptisms. I like this arrangement.

So, it's time for my weekly food story - eating Malagasy food, great way to save a lot of money. For 50 cents I can get two bowls of rice and beans on the side of the street for dinner every night of the week. Call me crazy but I think that it tastes like heaven. Most of the meat that they try to put in my bowl is gross and cold so I generally ask for them to not put in in there. The lady is always like, "Have it any way you want crazy white man". Her and I have become fast friends in a bond through rice and beans. She knows I will always stop on the way home at the end of the day for my regular. Yum yum yum. Best of all, it is fast! I hate getting hope late and then not being able to eat for thirty minutes to an hour. Preperation time is not fun when you don't have much time to begin with.

I am going to buy about 65 Kilos of weight tonight from this guy that makes custom weights. I am going to pull all the money out of my account and spend the rest of my personal fund. Will this leave me broke and left to survive on the allotment? Yes. Will I propbably go hungry or at least become sick of rice? Yes. Is this a price I am willing to pay for a good weight set? Absolutely.

The language is going well, I think. I can have pretty decent conversations with people I know. I can't talk about everything, obviously, but my understanding (or guessing!) has much improved. It is cool when people think that I am just a missionary who isn't that good at Malagasy but has been here for awhile. No one assumes I am new anymore so that is fun. Then when I tell them I've only been here for two months, their heads explode. I am soooooooo glad that I have the Lord on my side in this venture. Otherwise, I'd still be a babbling idiot. Pray for me.

The gospel brings change to peoples lives, so extremely true. I was just thinking on this yesterday when I observed some kids at church. Because of the gospel in their lives, they have structure. They have peace. They have morals. And most importantly they have the knowledge of a life to come and of the love of their Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. These members have no more money than the average Malagasy, but they do have the gospel. There is such a profound difference in their behavior that it is shocking. At first glance you would assume that they belong to some rich family that can afford an education in Europe. But no, all they have is the gospel. And that is truly all that really matters.

What I do know is that I have been called to invite all to come unto Christ. I will listen to the spirit directing me in times of trouble. Well I love you mom and dad and I pray everyday for you.

The Curly Headed Wanderer
Elder Cryer

Monday, March 15, 2010

Tastebuds are changing, transfers are coming


Everything is going well here is Madagascar. My language skills are increasing, mostly speaking-wise but some comprehension as well. I have started to have Malagasy dreams, which is cool and confusing and trippy all at the same time. People get more and more frustrated at me the more better I can speak. They expect me to be super mahay tengasy and understand everything that they say. Sadly, I usually can't on the first try. Some people even think I don't like them because they hear me speak, assume I am mahay, and then I don't strike up a jolly good conversation with them about anything under the sun. Gah!

Well not much news beyond the normal, living as a missionary in Mad Ant stuff. Or investigators are doing well....kinda. We had eight baptisms lined up for the 27th. 6 of them fell through and we are going to only get 3 total for March This means that we are behind schedule and lacking big time. Our mission goal is to get 1500 baptisms this year. We aren't been bad or lazy or anything, we are just in the mean city.

Info, haven't gotten any packages yet. And yes I've gotten everyone's's letters. If you thought that I am ignoring them, I'm not. I read each one like five times, but I just don't have enough time to go through each one and talk about them. I hope everyone understands.

I workout every day just to try and stay in shape. Blah, it is hard. All I have is 2-25 pound weights and a jump rope. It takes like 20 sets with the dumbells to get tired and I have become an extremely good jump roper. On that note: I am going to have to buy some weights for myself within the next week. My companion is taking his with him when he is transferred someday.

Btw, I'm on a rice diet now. For some reason my fat-stores really enjoy all this Malagasy food. Why I lost weight in the MTC and have trouble keeping my weight down here, I have no clue. Thanks for those wonderful genes parents ;). I eat meat and other tasty things but after I am done with the main part of the meal, I eat rice. This keeps me full most all the time, so that is a benefit. The other benefit is that I love rice. Give it to me plain, that's fine by me. Add a little somethin' somethin', and that's even better. Something weird has happened to my tastebuds in this strange land. I like vegetables a lot, can eat meals with no meat at all, and don't flinch. All those years when I got a cheese burger with only mayo, cheese, and meat are over.

Well transfers are fast approaching. There are eleven new kids coming in from the states, which is very exciting indeed! No longer will I be the new kid in the mission. At the same time, no longer will I be the smart kid that picks up everything fast. With each new transfer comes more responsibility and higher expectations. I've never wanted to be babied, and I am finally moving a step in the right direction.

Ok well again, I'm sorry that I can't go through and comment on everything in your emails....I just simply do not have time :/. I love you and miss you all.
Elder Cryer

Monday, March 8, 2010

Hospital on P-day

Man it sounds like so much stinkin fun back home. Good thing it is pretty awesome here as well.

Well, a lot happened this week. To start off with, Horn and I have been at times very ill. Yuck. Horn is much worse off than I am and we actually have to go the hospital today. Needless to say, neither him nor I is very enthused. Hospital on P-Day? What a drag :/. This week we even had to take a day off because we were both being assaulted so badly. I'm fine now, but Horn is not.

Great news: I did Tantaly's baptism and, as per usual with me, in about a foot and a half of water. It's a mystery why sometimes the font is filled and other times, not. Sometimes it seems like we are getting everyone we teach progressing towards baptism and a lot of people to church. Only the Lord knows why we've been blessed this way.

Have you gotten my letter yet? I need to know whether it is safe to send my memory card in the mail or not. The thought of losing all of my pictures makes me sick to my stomach. Or is that simply the street food digesting?

The language is coming along quite well, unless you count understanding as part of the language learning. In which case you would be most certainly inclined to say that my progress has hit the creeping dregs of stagnation. I can understand everything the other missionaries say, even the aces, but most of the time I am simply guessing at what a native is trying to tell me. If I am controlling the conversation, better. If someone randomly asks me a question though, talk about hard to understand! I can usually get what they are saying if I have them repeat themselves, but they don't like to repeat. I just pray that it will come eventually. The only way I can properly illustrate the problem is this: when you have trouble understanding a East Texan or a New York kid or a gangster off the street - I know the words they are saying. I just cannot hear the words through their accents and slurring. Sometimes I can't even distinguish the words enough to tell if I know the word or not! I've had some Malagasy dreams.

I am very hungry and out of time to relate the dull, exciting, and sometimes scary events of my life. Someday soon I'll send home my journal and you can get everything. All the blisters have healed up and all that jazz.

I miss you and love you all.
Elder Cryer

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The food I miss...let me count the ways

1. Mom's lasagna
2. Gringos
3. crawfish jambalaya
4. Pappadeauxs
5. meat loaf
6. pasta
7. popcorn
8. chicken and dumplings
9. Casa Ole
10. Joe's
11. sausage
12. the delicious Cajun stew that I can't remember the name of, the one that Robbie loved so much, we ate it at Aunt Susan's when we went for that climbing competition
13. boiled crawfish
14. roast
15. pork chops
16. Jade Garden
17. Burger King
18. Sonic
19. Mom's Christmas fudge - 'drool'

Hard Work = Blisters and Baptisms

What's up? How are things back home? Everything safe and sound? I sincerely doubt that one of the tectonic plates would have moved far enough to start giving earth quakes in Texas but hey, you never know. I feel like all these giant calamities are signs that we are very much nearing the end of days. The church has to spread to everyone on the earth and that has simply not happened yet. Someday soon though.

Some (Mom) have expressed worry about me eating the street food - my answer is, no really big deal. I only eat things that have been deep fried and 90 percent of the time they contain no meat. We go to buy these tasty fried Malagasy things called nims and sambos. They are usually supposed to have meat in them, but with increasing regularity, they contain nothing but onions. Mind, they are still very tasty, just not quite as good. Lots of eggs, rice, and chicken is what I buy every week. The local Shopright has some good deals but you have to look for them and be willing to sacrifice a lot of American quality. Ain't no thang though.

Spices and sauces are crazy expensive here. You need not send peanut butter or mayo. I found a really good deal for mayo but the store that used to sell peanut butter has stopped. Will they get more soon? I hope so!

Great week - we had two baptisms on Saturday. Things have been pretty stinking great!
It was very cool and Elder Horn did the actual baptizing. One of the girls wanted me to do their confirmation. Seeing as I had never given one in English and people in church expect big things from these confirmations, I was extremely nervous. It went well, but I'm pretty vague on what I said. Good signs hopefully. This Saturday we have another baptism. The girl is named Tantailley and she is way cool. In March we are looking to have between 6-9 baptisms. Crazy huh? I am so excited. It has been amazing to finally see our area picking up and doing well. Horn and I have worked very hard and finally it seems as though our hard work is paying off. We don't teach that many times per week, but we do get alot of people to church and our baptisms are high. So many blessings - there just isn't enough time to count them all :D.

So that really stinks about the Mens hockey lossing to Canada. Everyone here thought that the men had won from last weeks email. Everyone gets about the same news from their parents. Very cool that we won the over-all medal count....not cool that Canada beat us on the gold medal count :(. O those Canadians.

My shoes are holding out very well. My first week I actually got horrible blisters on my feet. I suffered through it for another week, and then just chopped them off. It was actually blisters under blisters. Ouch. Now they have all calloused over, for which I am thankful. For awhile when they were still healing, I wore one of my regular pairs of socks and the big nice wool socks as well. That seemed to help matter immensely. Now I wear two socks when my feet hurt pretty bad from the day before.

I finally accessed my money. It wasn't easy, though. They tried to make me show them my passport, which I don't have, and then give them the number for the account, which I don't know. After about 15 minutes of me stone wallin' her, she gave in and gave me my money.

Love you and miss you, much love from the curly headed wanderer (OYA nickname from a few years ago),
Elder Cryer

PS: Im gonna go eat some bolo or frego or something. Peace