My new companion is named Elder Eschler. He is pretty big, with a big heart and amazing language skills. He is ridiculously good at Malagasy; so much so that I have started to actually study again so that when I get to my year mark I'll be half of the speaker he is now. Eschler is super cool, really spiritual and such a good example in everything. Studies are way fun and insightful and, mother, you'll be glad to hear this next part: he is also a clean freak. So the house is on its way to being somewhat sanitary once more as is might have been immediately upon completion and before any missionaries moved in. We made a solid dent in the muck today.
To answer questions: The baptism clothes I have are from the wards storage closet. I really wish that I would have had the foresight to buy some before getting here.
Yes we lock our doors at night. We're in Madagascar for heaven's sake!
Eric and Vola, and Faby and Zafy have still not been baptized. Paper issues are clogging up the way and it is quite frustrating. With prayer and faith though, I know that they will be happily married soon and right after, baptized. What a pleasure - and a relief! that will be. The work is going quite well here in Ivato. The sisters in our ward are on fire. They are supposed to have 9 baptisms this coming Saturday. Wowza! I don't know what they are doing right but I wish I could get in on it. One thing that definitely contributes substantially to it is the amount of help they get from the ward members. They have tons of member-present times per week and get boat loads of referals. Now, I'm not sayin the members don't like us, I'm just sayin that the sisters get a lot more help. O well. No worries. I'd probably trust the Malagasy sisters before the giant white guys who are bad at the language, too.
So first of all: general conference was awesome! This may have been the first time that I was truly ready to receive the message from the Lord and the prophets. Sad, but true. There are so many talks that were just awe-inspiring and seemed as though they had been crafted to fit me. Some favs were the talk on good judgement, the one on lust, hard work from Elder Eyring, and patience from Elder Uchtdorf.
I know without a doubt in my mind that we have a true, living prophet here on the Earth. He represents God and his words are the same as the Almighty one. I am so grateful that the Lord has seen it fit for us to hear from the truly inspired leaders of the Church. I know that if we follow the words of the prophet, then we will see innumerable blessings in our lives. If someone is reading this who is not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, then I challenge you right now, to seek after this message and obtain for yourself the truthfulness which God has so benevolently given to us.
I am also so grateful for my work here in Mad Ant. It was somewhat surreal this morning as my companion and I went on a morning run. We jogged through the muddy and dirty cobble-stone streets. The Malagasy people looked at us and probably thought, "Crazy vazas (white people)." No one runs here in Madagascar but missionaries. It was so cool to think that just four months ago, I was running and working out on the other side of the world in a nice and comfortable gym. Now, I am in this wonderful land.
But, when you are sick, you long for the luxuries and medical technology of home. This week I got super duper ill. I threw up all night on Thursday and then wasn't able to eat for the next two days. I seriously thought I was going to die. But the Lord helped me through and now I am pretty much ok. The ironic thing is that I had only eaten peanut butter and no street food that day.
The marriage situation here in Mada is pretty much horrible. The person has to have a paper called a copy, a residential card, and a photo ID that is called a Kartapanonjo (probably not spelled right). All of these things besides the ID must be obtained from the birth place of the person. This is extremely hard when a person was born pretty much across the country and has not the money to even buy rice - much less a bus ticket. Matters are even further complicated when you factor in that you cannot send money through the mail. Gahh! So if there is no one down there who will pay for the copy for you, chances are slim that you will be able to get it. A lot of couples end up going through many sets of elders and never get married. It is so sad. There are tons of couples that go to church but simply cannot be baptized. There are also major issues with getting a divorce - even harder than getting married.
Alright well I am going to depart. We're off to buy food. In the words of Clarissa, "adventure on.
The Curly-Headed Wanderer