Monday, June 21, 2010

Open up the window

First, the tough - bad purchases, extra expenses, emergencies have lead me to having little money left for the month. If I just eat rice I'll be good.

And now the good - I hit my 7 month mark. Woohoo! Three more months till my B-Day!

Elder Touli and I have seen the work go through the roof this week. We tried really hard at the begining of the week, hoping a miracle would happen at the end of the week and the blank space in our planners would be filled. And ya know what, it did. The Lord rewards obedience and hardwork, even from a couple of lowly, not mahay tengasy missionaries. Times came from literally nowhere and we found tons of new investigators. We are actually suffering from too much work and times....a problem I have prayed for my whole mission ;D. We don't have the time in the day to get everything done that we need to. People are setting up times with us that won't be fulfilled for over a week. All our usuals are kinda annoyed because they are used to two or three times per week. I feel bad, but what am I suppossed to do?! The blessings from our Father are limitless and without hindrance if we just open up the window and let them pour in. Hopefully in the future we can get our act together like the sister missionaries. This week they had seven baptisms and 40 times to our 21. Ahh!

Elder Touli and I have actually found great success from working out at our local ghetto gym. We just became friends with everyone. We talk about working out and stuff. Then later we told them about our purpose as missionaries and invited them to church and English class. They have received the invitations well. We've already taught one of them with two more soon on the way. Pumping iron and missionary work at the same time ~

So transfers are coming up - ya know what? I don't really want to leave. I've had a slow and subtle change of heart and I have come to truly love my area. My house, my Shoprite, my companion, my investigators, my ward, and everything else about Ivato. I love passing by the airport and seeing the planes take off, it gives me a motivation to work hard, get more done, be better before I leave this place. I just love everything about my area. Elder Evans - who has been in his area for 5 months as well - feels the same way as I, Elder Sender does as well. Our areas are now our homes. Whenever I leave - and leave I shall do eventually - it'll be sad. I've learned so much about these incredible people. Now I feel like I'm about to cry. What is this mission doing to me?!

Ok well, that's all folks. I love you Mom so much and I thank you for all the support you've given me before and after my mission. An SD card with a letter will be sent off next week, so don't worry.

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY! Pretty much no one in the mission knew that it was Father's Day on Sunday until the middle of the week. We all felt pretty bad and then remembered that our dads would still be receiving their emails on Sunday. So, though you probably won't read this until the morning, it is still on time.

Ironically I got a Father's Day present! At church the Primary came into priesthood and gave all of the men a pair of dress socks. It was meant for the the dads but - like with carnations for mother's day - everyone got one. They also gave us some sweet bread that I have really never tasted in America nor know how to properly explain. The bread probably exists in America, but I doubt that anyone eats it because we have Little Debbies, shakes from Sonic, and a myriad of other tasty delights. On that note, when I have on a rare occasion to eat something from America or something sweet like unto it - it is just too much! I mean, I like it, but I'm not used to how rich the food is. My senses are perfectly happy with just plain old bread now.

Also, would it be possible for in the next package you send me a CD with the choir videos from Easter? This one lady really wants them and she feeds me lots of food, so I feel like I must oblige. Thanks!

Well, that's all for news and shameless beggings for things. I feel like one of the countless hobos in Tana. I love you so much Dad and can't even begin to explain just how much of a positive influence you have been in my life. You have stayed with me all these years...even in the worst of times. Though you probably could have moved out of the way when I fell off those rocks of life - you didn't. Instead you caught me, gave me encouragement and guidance, and set me back on the right path. Thank you so much Dad.

Elder Cryer

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Me, Elder Touli and the Lord

Wow that seems like so much good news of late. I am so proud of all of you! The Meiks (who are actually Cryers), the Valdez' (same story), Brady, Dad. You guys are just the best! Everything is going well here in old Mada. Closing in on my seven month mark. The thing that when you grow up you start to realize just how much your parents actually know is so true! How dumb I was when I was younger. O well can't look back on the past.

When you were talking about your past week flying through your head as you are in the temple, I feel like I can relate. Now that I am a leader of sorts - though the smallest, most humble type to be sure - I think about things like that all the time. Am I doing this right? Is what I'm doing affecting the work? I feel like it is me, Elder Touli, and the Lord out here alone....O wait....that's what it is. But fortunately, as long as one of us is the Lord, any group can conquer all. It is still kinda scary sometimes, like, I could easily make or kill my area.

Just yesterday, actually, I was feeling pretty down about myself and my area. I was talking to my friend Elder Rawilson (Malagasy) about it and pretty much just having a pity party. He told me I was doing great, gave me encouragement, and did all the proper things that a friend should say in order for another to feel happy again. Regardless of my worry, I felt better. Pretty much everyone in my group is feeling somewhat similair to this. Three of us are leading our own areas and another is just having alot of trouble in his. It is frustrating, hard, slightly depressing; but most of all, rewarding. I wouldn't trade this experience for anything in the whole world.

Thankyou so much for the package mama. It was amazing - as always. I especially enjoyed the pancake mixes and the instant brownie things. Just so you know, if it ever becomes too much trouble to send packages, then don't. Keep your money, buy something nice for yourself, Woman. I don't want to be a burden on the other side of the world. I was already a burden enough when we were in the same house.

I'll tell you about a really amazing experience we had last Monday. It was late Tuesday night and several of our times had fallen through in a row. We were trying to do a mixture of tracting, contacting, and visiting people to try and salvage the day. As we go to our last time with Aindry - a member - a girl who is learning from us came in and sat down. I asked her where her mother was and she said the she was
very sick and consequently could not come to the lesson. I felt the Spirit prompt me quite strongly to offer aid. So I told her we could give her mother a blessing. She accepted and we scrapped our last time and went to the ladies house. In a little upstairs shack that you have to climb through a sketchy trap door to get to, her mother lay on the bed. There was one little candle on a humble table and the light was shadowy. Lucy, the mother, looked like she was near death. Sweat beads
rolled down her forehead and she looked like a wax model. I got pretty scared right then.

I asked her what the problem was and she said that is was her heart and stomach. I don't know what illness could effect both of those, but I'm not a doctor and Malagasies say their heart hurts for everything. I asked if we could have a prayer to invite the spirit and she accepted. I gave the opening prayer and then explained about priesthood power and the healing blessing. Before Elder Touli gave the anointing, I also told her that because neither of us was still very good at Malagasy, we would be doing the blessing in English. Her face crunched down in an almost inperceptible sign of sadness. She agreed anyways and Touli went on. After he finished, I laid my hands upon her head and felt the Spirit take over. This was not like any other blessing that I had ever given before. For confirmations I can pretty
much just memorize the whole thing, but this was different. Though my intention had been to deliver the blessing in English, I did the whole thing in Malagasy. It was an unbelievable experience for me.

Afterwards, she bore powerful testimony of the Book of Mormon and the feeling that entered her home when we were there. I explained that it wasn't us, it was the Holy Ghost. I told them that if they desired it, they too could have the Holy Ghost with them always. When Lucy began speaking again she had tears in her eyes and gave thanks to God for sending us.

It is experiences such as this that I will look back on someday and mark my spiritual progression. I feel like I take little tiny baby steps until one day I take a mighty leap. When I land again I am on a higher plane than before. Still, nothing to write home about (ha!), but better than before. The hard experiences and trials that I face after those jumps of valiance move me up and down that point, but I never return to old ground.

So this week - since Thursday at least - we have had Elder Rawilson with us. His normal name is Gino - as I've mentioned before. He is suppossed to be in the Ghana MTC right now but his visa has been delayed. President Donnelly had already set him apart so he couldn't really go home. He came up to us after lunch in a suit, dragging his bag behind him, his family across the street, and begged us for help. I didn't know what to do so I called President and asked if Gino could work with us and stay at our house until he left on Tuesday. President said, "Yes of course. That would really be the best thing to happen. I would call the AP's and have them set it up but there are in Tamatave right now. Can I look to you to organize that?" I was like...uhhh, yes? There was nothing hard about it but I still felt like I was being
put on the spot, tested. Everything has turned out alright but it was still a little scary when he said that.

It has been great to have Rawilson around. He is Malagasy so that is always wonderful to have on your side. He loves to talk and so do I so that has been fun. No, he doesn't speak English really at all. So that is fun and has been some great practice. He can't really speak English but he does have an interesting vocabulary. If you don't happen to know a difficult word in Malagasy, just say it in English
with a French accent, there's a good chance he'll get it.

I love you all and miss you a little (or alot!).

Elder Cryer

Monday, June 7, 2010

Sitting on Cloud Nine

To answer some questions from family - I would like you all to know that I am completely safe. The military has our back because the Church and especially the missionaries are probably one of the biggest contributers to the economy around. The goverment knows - if one of us gets hurt then all of us leave. The political situation has calmed down - we think. Rarely do any of the Malagasies talk about it because rarely do they even know themselves. We try not to read the newspapers and just focus on the work.

As to the weights I bought, I don't really use them anymore. We found a gym in a neighborhood somewhat close to our house. It is extremely rough, but quite ghetto-tastic. It is all outside and a mixture of mud and dirt cover everything. But, it is amazing. They have lots of machines and pretty much everything you would need for an excellent workout. For the first time in over six months I need to actually eat enough in order to recover from the lifting. Every morning Touli and I get up and go work out. Sweet. It is also fairly humorous. Touli and I are probably by far the largest people that the Malagasys have ever seen in their entire lives. The gym owner - who is obsessed with body building and looking at American magazines - runs around the whole time trying to aid us in anyway he possibly can.

Elder Touli, is doing great. He is much better at the language right now than when I was at that point. He has given it his all to keep up. He is still very new, but he's on his way to being mahay. Heck, I'm not even mahay! ;P

I am sure that you are tired of hearing me say this week after week (hopefully not though!), but this week was amazing. It feels like someone has gone inside me and switched on my 'feel the Spirit a lot more' switch. I'll just give the last and by far the largest spirit-filled experience we had this week. On Saturday we had the baptisms for Tahiana, Mervielle, and Christiana. Everything went off without a hitch and both Touli and I got to participate. I challenged Touli to give the confirmation yesterday and he rocked it.

This all leads up to a luncheon afterwards at Tahiana and Mervielle's. Tons of their family came in and we all had a big party. The food was delicious and the onversation pleasant. Anyways, afterwards we shared a first lesson with everyone. I had discussed this with Tahiana's parents the day before so we worked it out beforehand. Keep in mind that there was about 40-50 people attending so it was quite the crowd. We taught, we testified, we shared the glorious message of the Restoration. I've never seen a lesson so well received and such understanding. All of these people were religious so they had no trouble seeing the reasoning and logic. Also, they had no trouble accepting the real witness and teacher, the Holy Ghost.

At the end of the lesson, it felt like we were sitting on cloud nine. Thye all wanted to keep learning and have become investigators. About half of them are from another part of town so they will be learning from different missionaries. The other half -about twenty people - will be learning from us. What a miracle! This was so incredible and I still almost cannot believe it. How wonderous is the Lord our God. How mighty is His hand in supporting us and sustaining us. Hossana!

Well...sorry about that. I get really excited about this stuff ;D. Well I love you guys and miss ya. Daydream lots; eat good food; learn about the gospel and apply it; take opportunities to drive home a different way from work. Adventures are always just around the corner, new experiences a plenty. Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive faith in Him and his atonement.
Elder Cryer

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The work calls, rock on

So, about being DL and a trainer: I have experienced probably one of the biggest testimony builders up to this point in my life this week. When I got the new elder, as soon as we went to go and teach times, on our first day of work as a new companionship, I felt a change. With no other change besides a lot of prayer and a lot of faith, I became many times better in Malagasy. Astoundingly better, in fact. It has been the most insane thing to witness. I cannot even express my feelings about the whole thing. The only thing I can relate it to is when Nephi went back to
Jerusalem and he was guided by nothing but the Spirit, not knowing before how he would accomplish his task from the Lord.

The week has come to a close and I can now actually speak in Malagasy. I can understand everything - leaving out a few words that I can use context clues to decifer - and really speak Malagasy. Before I became a trainer, the language was a struggle. The Lord knows when the time is right, not us. These past few days have really illustrated that.

About my new companion: His name is Elder Touli and he is from Hawaii. He danced on the Tongan canoe and for the touring team at the PCC in Hawaii, so he is a pretty strong-looking dude. He is way fun and chill. I kid you not when I say that he knows more vocab than I do and that he is many times better than I was when I came. He doesn't speak often in Malagasy - a symptom of newness, nerves, and a combination of other things related to being in a crazy ultra-sureal experience - but when he does speak it is perfect. Contrast that to myself, who talked a lot for a new kid but made mistakes. He is very excited about the work and hasn't shunned the work or the challenges of the missionary way in the least. Very obedient.

Being a DL: I am taking stats, conducting District meetings, doing baptismal interviews, and other admin-type stuff.

We have three baptisms coming up this Saturday. The peoples names are Tahina, his sister (can't remember her name well enough to try spelling it), and Christiana. Tahina and his sister are the children of a couple who have been learning for years but cannot get baptized as of yet because of problems with an unfinished divorce that the man must deal with. Tahina and his sister have been coming to church religiously - ha! - and have been very diligent. So their parents gave them permission to get baptized with the promise that as soon as they (the parents) can get legally married they will follow. Christiana has been learning for four years and has not been able to be baptized because her family hates the church. But, she just turned 18 on the 25th and will be baptized on the 5th. Woohoo! We hopefully have a few more baptisms two weeks after this Saturday so I am seeing incredible blessings from the Lord. I am truly seeing the Lord's hand aid us in all of the things which we are engaged in; it is miraculous.

At the begining of my and Touli's time together, our program looked pretty grim. There were hardly any times at all and it seemed like it was going to be rough. We pressed on regardless and made the most of it, visiting families, tracting, stopping by old investigators; the Lord made it happen. We were led to some great people and taught some absolutely astounding times. One of these groups has promised to bring
the whole neighborhood and their familes to the next time. We'll see how that turns out, but how exciting!

Thank you all, family, for shaping me into the person I am today. I am still so far
from being a reasonably decent person, but I am better than yesterday and not as good as tomorrow. You have all left a permanent mark on me that will last throughout the eternities - a mark for good. I love you all so much and can't wait to hanoa fety when I get home. But for now, the work calls.

Rock on,
Elder Cryer