This week has been, interesting. Apart from the fact that the monsoon season has arrived here in Antsirabe, it just seems like every day has presented its own set of crazy problems and challenges. The first one I'll write about is the first one that really presented itself to us last week. Elder Peatross and I were teaching a really incredible family. The father of the family, came up with an unusual problem
towards the end of the lesson. He asked us if it was ok to do the traditional 'turning of the dead' ceremony with his family. I said that it was ok, just so long as he didn't do any of the witchcraft stuff that usually associates itself with such practices. He shook his head and said ok, but I could tell that there was something just eating at him. With a little bit of proding it came out that his family does indeed do some super bad witchcraft practices. He described some of the rituals to me and asked if they were ok to do. Well, duh, of course they aren't ok to do! He kept persisting and trying to get some sort of lee-way. I told him again that it was totally not ok to do and I shared with him 3 Nephi 13:24 - "No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the
other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon." Never before have I used this scripture and had to apply it in such a literal way. Like, this was an actual case of a devil worshipper that has religion; or vice versa. He kept arguing a little bit, so I came down on him hard and said, "As
representatives of Jesus Christ, I am telling you that witchcraft is absolutely evil and not acceptable. You must leave this wickedness in the past. Will you serve God and not hold to this dark practice any longer?" He agreed, but it was a tense moment. Dealing with witchcraft and devil worship is something that I could really do without.
During that same time, it was discovered that this man and his wife are not actually married according to the laws of the state. I don't know how we never talked about this before, but it was very stressful. So as of right now he is traveling out to a far-away town in order to collect his papers for their marriage on Saturday - four hours before their baptism. We'll see if they make it!
So as one couple decides to inherit salvation together, two more decide to completely separate. This is an extremely sad thing to see happen, but sometimes a completely necessary one. The first and less contentious couple is just tired of being together and they don't feel like getting married before their baptism. The man seems to be in all actuality just perfectly frightened of committment, though they've already had eight children together. Whatever - though I think that
they should just show some responsibility and get married, that's their choice.
The other couple is one that you guys have heard about before. Now, for the past three months of my stay here and even a few months before I arrived, us missionaries have been having to deal with the suspicious monkey-business and endless ups and downs of this couple. There were times when everything looked solid; they were going to get married and baptized. Then there were times when I felt like I was in an episode of twilight zone, the problems were just so weird. Last Thursday everything came to a slightly violent head. The wife, who has completely stopped drinking for some weeks now, was beaten and cussed at by her husband, who still drinks. When we came in for the time the wife was already crying and the husband just shook our hands and left without a word. Through babbled tears she tried to explain what had happened, but she was completely incoherent. In the end I had to ask her son (the coolest ten year old in the world) what had happened. After I got the full story, we then had to deal with her hysterical crying. After a good five minutes of this, Peatross said, "Dude, she is gonna hypervenilate." Peatross worked with doctors and stuff before his mission, so when he speaks about health-related things, I listen.
Once she finally seemed to be restored to some sense of stability, we offered a prayer and called the branch president for them. President Grenie is the one who should be dealing with such problems, of this I am sure. Long story short, we almost fought with the husband on the road outside of a bar and then the two decided to scream at each other that they were getting a divorce - and so a painful era comes to a painful end.
O! One more thing about that story. After we had left this house we went to another person's house right across the hallway. And the very end of the lesson with Leah, she asked us for money or food. We said that we couldn't but that Prez Grenie could. During the next lesson Leah came in all smiles and told us that a very charitable and loving member had given her and her kids some rice and money. Now that, is the true love of Christ. If only we could all let ourselves be used in such powerful ways by the Lord our God.
Sweet! I'm so excited that my package made it to America. I told the other missionaries that my package made it, and it was kinda a victory for all of us. Hardly anyone has tried to send a package from here in Antsirabe, so the news that it is possible and somewhat quick is quite wonderful. Everyone here is also about to send their Christmas packages. There packages range from small to huge and absolutely
expensive as heck.
Well paps, a very horrible thing has happened. Either someone stole my nice rain jacket, or I simply misplaced it, or I just left it at the Ivato house. Short story shorter, I can't find the thing for the life of me. And whadda know, the rain is finally here. The monsoon season has started, and every day there is rain for at least 2-3 hours, sometimes all day. For two days I just braved the storms jacket-less. Talk about retched! I was covered in mud, literally drenched, and just all around not happy at the world. On the third day I'd had enough and I went to a giant market looking for a rain jacket. Elder Riding had lost his as well, so he had bought a pretty sweet jacket from the market the day before. As is usually my luck, the seller of good jackets was gone to Tana for the day and only the bad sellers were there. Fantastic. So I ended up purchasing a giant, yellow, plastic number that is suppossed to be able to withstand fires. Sweet! Needless to say, I look absolutely ridiculous. But hey - wind, rain, fire, and probably acid is not getting through that jacket.
Well, I love you guys and pray for you always. Have fun at Enchanted Rock! Eat some brauts for me - I haven't had a hotdog in a year.