Monday, November 29, 2010

44 Dressed in White

One of the first major things that occurred this week was the fikarakaraina (taking care of) Ernest and Marguerite's wedding. Going into this experience, both Elder Peatross and I were not exactly of high spirits as Ernest had already put off going to the Commune (gov buidling) for days and days and it seemed certain that we weren't going to be able to get them married before baptism.

I walked in with Ernest to the desk in order to say the words that he might not have thought to say. It isn't that he wasn't mahay tengasy, it is just that sometimes Malagasys are overwhelmed with such difficulties as a stubborn office worker or regulations. We, as Americans, are more natural arguers and more apt to be assertive in working our way throught a system. Anyways, the man at the desk said exactly what I thought he'd say: "Yes; I'm glad that you and your wife would like to be married so soon (within two days), but it seems as though you did not take the liberty to read our strict policies and guidelines which state clearly that your marriage date is according to our whims and especially upon the date which you submitted you papers for the ceremony, in the first place. Consequently, you will not be able to get married until next Thursday (after their baptism date). Maybe in the future you should be more prompt with your requests."

Ok ok, so that may have been somewhat of a dramatic interpretation of what the man said, but the meanings were essentially the same. So at the point I begged the man to have mercy upon us, and I specifically explained our plight. I told him that us as missionaries were always helping people get married, and that it would be fantastic if we were to receive a little bit of help in return. If one was to guess his decision by his flustered face and harsh "gruff" at my pleas, I'm fairly positive that they'd say he would say "no." It was at that point that I turned to my Father in Heaven. I remembered reading about Ammon praying with his brethern so hard that God might pour out His Spirit upon those receivers of the word, and the Lord
doing just as he had asked. So, I prayed as fervently as I could under the circumstances and begged the Lord to soften that mans heart and pour His Spirit out upon the front-desk worker.

Then, a miracle happened and the worker said with a broad smile that Ernest and his wife could indeed be married that next Thursday. The Lord will hear our prayers if our intentions are good, our faith is strong, He will usually answer.

The following Thursday, Ernest and Marguerite got married at the local commune. The Spirit was strong as those wonderful people became a couple according to the Law and to God. Later that day we had a modest celebration of Thanksgiving with food, fun, and a movie.

I'm going to Sabotsy Namehana today and I will be senior comp. In fact, from my sixth month on in the mission, I've always been senior companion. Also, I got my Hump Day package and Christmas package! They were wonderful! All of the candy has already been consumed, the letters read, and the presents opened. I just didn't feel like waiting for Christmas, as the main present of the day for that holiday is going to be my speaking with all of you beautiful people. The socks, the ties, the light, and the journal are all wonderful and very much appreciated. The packages were wonderful and I thank you kindly.

The preparations of the baptism last Saturday were long and stressful. Goodness gracious; it was a wonderful event. We were running around town like chickens with our heads cut off trying to get all of our ducks in a row. When the baptism finally started after a good hour or so of delay, it was standing room only. Standing up straight for hours on end was tough - all of us missionaries had really bad headaches and backpains. During the baptism of the all-dressed-in white-44, I didn't really have the stength to ponder upon the wonderfulness of it all. I was just so tired. Seeing all those people in white and watching them all go into the make-shift baptismal font was truly incredible - a sight that I doubt I'll ever see again in this life time.

The next day at the District Conference to form the district, Elder Jackson Mkhabela of the Seventy spiritually brought the house down. This is a summation of what he said, "Seeing the faces of those people getting baptized yesterday was truly humbling. I could see their faith, their hope, and their commitment. But most of all, I could see their joy by the smiles on their faces. I have never in all my years of Church service seen something so breathtaking. I was taken away in the Spirit and I needed some alone time with the Lord." It was spectacular and articulate.

I love my mission and I especially love Antsirabe. I have a whole year left, but I doubt that I'll be able to see something that will trump that. I know this church is the one and only true church on the face of the Earth. I also know by that same power which gave me my testimony to begin with that every single one of those people will be joining us in the Celestial World, dependent of course upon our faithfulness and diligence.

In closing, I just wnted to say that I love all of you and pray for you daily. Also, my next Thanksgiving will be spent at home.

Sad to Leave But Thankful Regardless,
Elder Cryer

PS: I'm the new translater for the senior couple, The Lehnharts.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Week

It seems as though Thanksgiving is closing in. This coming Thursday, all the good wonderful people of America will be taking part in this joyous festival of food, fun, and family. In Madagascar, the missionaries get $2.50 to celebrate with a special meal. So, those are my plans for Thanksgiving.

All this week Elder Peatross and I have gone to all of our people who have baptisms coming up soon. As of right now, there are 7 firm baptisms for the Ambohimena ward this Saturday. So our seven will be there, along with 23 from the other branches and
Ambositra making a nice round number of 30 overall. All the branch presidents are going crazy with preparations and excitment.

This week I was thinking about how I need to move myself to a higher level of teaching and preaching the gospel, I've become alot more assertive with my investigators. I've made the move towards this style slowly over the past month. I think it really started when we were teaching a man named Njaka and and his family.
Njaka had been leading us on for awhile and had been not coming through on his commitments. I love this family, so it hurt and saddened me when he regressed and lied to us. It was affecting his family in a sad way. I felt the Spirit move me to action, so I told him that he needed to grow up and leave his childish ways in the past with his childhood...where it belongs. I told him that he needed to become the mature leader of his family that his wife and children needed him to be. The whole time I was talking to Njaka, his wife Holy was just nodding like, "Mmmhmm. You tell 'em brother. That's the gospel truth to my ears." Afterwards I told him why I had been bold with him - for my love for them. I explained that I see sinners constantly, but I never speak to them like that. The reason for my holding back
with others is that they would not receive such words of boldness, but I love my investigators more than any regular person off the street.

Though he was very quiet, I could tell that the Spirit had touched him. The next day he finally came to church, has been coming ever since, and will be baptized with his wife this Saturday. Now that, is a gift of the Spirit and a true miracle. As true, if not, more powerful than a healing, or a divine manifestation. Those are the miracles that your mission is made of. Other things are cool and work to strengthen your testimony, but I feel strongly that it is the simple things I will remember most.

I'll share with you one other experience. About a month back or so Elder Peatross and I gave a woman a blessing. This woman miraculously received her healing. And yet even after witnessing and receiving this miraculous event, she would not leave her old church of choice. She told us that she knew our church was true, but that it would be to hard to leave the Lutherans. It just reminds me of when Laman and Lemuel saw an angel, and then asked how the Lord could possibly destroy Laban and his fifty.

Well, it seems as though my English is starting to go the way of all missionaries that are long in the tooth (as Dad says). My speech is always sprinkled with Malagasy and sometimes I just have to switch. There are some words like amin (in, at, to) or ny (the) that I will sometimes say on accident, and then I have to finish my phrase in Malagasy. Most of the missionaries these days are pretty young, so when I say things like 'ny ankabiazany (the majority)' they just do not understand. And, sometimes I can't remember what those things are in English. If I'm talking to another missionary, I just slip into izy'roa (both). Plus, there are some words that just don't make sense in English - now that is annoying.

And no, I haven't gotten the hump day package yet. We only get stuff indray indray (sometimes...I had to ask for help on that one) because someone from the mission office has to take our packages with them when they come down for meetings and the like. So, hopefully I'll get my package this Friday. It'll be a nice after-Thanksgiving surprise.

About the coup and possible military junta: yes that is definitely happening. The missionaries are working in Tana right now, but sometimes they have to go inside for the day or be on lockdown because of riots and shootings and stuff. The story that I got from the Malagasys is that a group of generals told the current president that
he must leave, or be killed - an ultimatum. All the Malagasys are saying things like, "The shizz is gonna go down soon." That is pretty much exactly what my friend said in Malagasy, and then in English.

Btw, I'm going home on the 17th of November 2011. No extensions and no early home date. Don't worry about me. I'm safe. Just got the word that I'm being transfered next week back to Tana to an area called Sabotsy Namehana. It is right by Ivato.

Elder Cryer

Monday, November 15, 2010

How many times can I say this place is paradise?

Hello everyone: I suppose that I have been in Antsirabe for a bit now, but I really
don't feel like leaving any time soon. I could easily put in another three months, no sweat. I love this place so much, and the work is always on fire pretty much. We had the two baptisms at the begining of this month, and then we should have between 6to 11 more on the 27th.

About the whole going home a month early thing - it is still not super set in stone, but in the end everyone in the mission that is here now is going to have to go home a month early or a month late. The reason for this is that the transfers have been jumbled-up by the transfers of the MTC. They changed their dates for putting out our missionaries, so now we have to change ours as well. Otherwise, we'd have people leaving and new people not arriving to fill their spots for a whole month.

This week, both me and Peatross have been super sick. I was sick for one day, and then Peatross way sick for all of the rest. I think we ate some bad eggs or something like that. I was feeling horrible last Tuesday, but then just slept it off. Peatross is super sick. I feel really bad for him, but on the whole I just feel helpless. What can I do?! I wish there was something substantial. We still had 17 investigators show up to church despite the major lack of work.

This Wednesday is election day! Yay! Or maybe I should be saying, Uh-oh! The stand-in president has finally accepted the election, but things are still not all happy and dapper. Me and Elder Riding were talking to a Peace Corp worker a few days ago, and she said things are unsettled in Tana right now. Scary news, amiko (to me). We here in Antsirabe don't ever see even the slightest speck of violence or mayhem or even any real suffering. It is paradise :D. Then again, the relatively high level of peace could be the result of the garrison of soldiers patroling the central part of the city every day. Who nows?!

Frere Ernest set out this morning to pick up his and his wife's papers for their marriage. This is crazy exciting news as they will soon be married and they will then after be baptized! On the 27th, they and their daughter as well as another family of three are going to take part in the baptism bananza that is the creation of the District. For a long time Antisrabe has been kept under the wing of the Tana Stake, but now they are finally getting a degree of independence and being turned into a District. This means that they will have a fully autonomous leadership here. The fact that people are receiving their first ordinance of salvation seems like a miracle to me.

I'm afraid to say it but that seems like that's it for my news this week.

Love, Elder Cryer

PS: Tell Sarah congrats for me and give everyone kisses from me, especially the baby. He's real cute.

Monday, November 8, 2010


A Wedding and a Baptism

This week was absolutely fantastic. Probably the first major thing that happened was last Thursday. That was the day that Hery and Nirina got married! Woohoo! They had a really nice, sweet, and very humble wedding at the local Commune (government building); them, and another couple actually. I guess the Commune was running behind so they decided to do two weddings at once. So goes the ways of Mada. The
ceremonies are very official. Everyone sits around a table and signs contracts, shakes hands, and then talks about the commitments of a lasting marriage. At the end
they actually got to do the whole "you may kiss the bride" thing. Hery and Nirina straight up made out. Plus, the wedding officiator lady even gave us - the missionaries - a personal "thank you" for helping so much in the preparation process of the wedding. That was cool.

After the wedding we all went over to their house and had a reception. It was nice. All of this delight and excitment led up to and was exceeded by their baptism on Saturday. I've baptized a few people in my time and am usually very happy to see them entering the waters of covenant with the Lord. But this one was different. These people are strong - absolutely tough as nails. I know they are going to be incredible members and probably even leaders in the church. Everyone present could obviously tell that they were taking this baptism deadly serious.

This baptism was different. The Spirit was absolutely present and truly making his presence known upon all the people there. Then Hery and Nirina bore their testimonies, and it blew everyone out of the water. Usually they just talk a very little bit about the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, close in the name of Jesus Chrsit and then sit down. But Hery and Nirina bore full on, mature, and sincere testimonies. Talk about incredible. Nirina even talked about how much we - the missionaries - had helped their family and thanked us graciously. I've never even heard of this happening, so that was just fantastic. Overall, I'd say that it was one of the experiences and baptisms which I'll remember most from my stay in Mada.

Some more news of late - it seems like President is going to be giving everyone the choice on whether they go home a month early or a month late, as expected. Because of Thanksgiving and the majority of the Christmas season, I'm going home in October 2011. Just throwin' that out there for you guys. But, we've known this since the MTC.
Well it looks like I'm out of interesting things to say. I love you all and miss you less. Don't be offended by that - that just means that I love you a lot!

I am,
Full of Cheap Malagasy Cracker-Type Products, And Sincerely Yours,
Elder Cryer

Monday, November 1, 2010

Me and Elder Touli and a great family
Needs no explanation
Cool family
We all started together in the MTC
At Island Conference

Like a pioneer missionary

Business first:
1. Yes I did indeed receive the package from Sarah. And O, what a joy it was.

2. The most recent packages that I can remember are the one with the batteries (thank you!) and the Halloween one I just got a couple of days ago. The things in the Halloween package were this: The giant and supremely awesome 'Myth Busters' bag, more batteries, a shaver, a funny Halloween picture, and the Tony's. If there was anything else of special note you can just ask me and I'll tell you if it was in there. Sorry; my memory ain't perfect.

So this week we have had a major resurgence of people who are actually interested in getting married before their baptism instead of just giving up or splitting up. Nirina and Leah seem to be on the slightly up and up - though how many times I've thought this before, I cannot even begin to count - and Ernest and his wife have decided to get hitched after all. Yay! To top it all off, Hery and his wife Nirina are getting married this Thursday and baptized on Saturday. If that is not a straight up, down and out miracle, then I don't know what is. I'm so happy to know that though this marriage is only for this life - till Death do you part - it is most certainly leading to an eternal marriage in the temple someday. Maybe they won't ever be able to scrape the funds together to go to Johannesburg - in fact I
highly doubt that they will - there will someday soon be a temple right here in Madagascar (I hope). With the work going as rapidly as it is, there will easily be enough of a diligent membership base within the next couple of years to merit a temple. And that, my family, will be a day remembered by all Malgasy people, for what I would say is all eternity, as one of the greatest days in their peoples history.

A temple is probably something that is easily taken for granted in highly prosperous areas like the United States. But here in this country, only the richest of the rich are able to go all the way to South Africa and partake of the temple blessings at this time. For 98 percent of the others, it is absolutely impossible. I would even say that it would be like me asking an average American citizen if they would like to buy a ticket to the moon. Sometimes, that's how I feel when people realize just how far they have to go to get to the temple.

Regardless, the blessings of an eternal family and the ordinances which can only be had in the Holy House of the temple are something to save up for. Be it a few hundred thousand ariary, or that many billions of dollars. It's worth it. I know it is.

This past weekend we were privileged to watch conference. For the missionaries, it is very difficult - we had to watch it in Malagasy like everyone else. Six months ago I was able to watch Conference in English, but then again six months ago I was in Tana. Being in the province is cooler, but also a bit less accomodating and and a lot more independent. So, we're probably never going to get the Conference talks in English until we actually receive the Liahona that contains them.

I personally can understand the conference talks in Malagasy, but there are a lot of things I'm not understanding, or just not getting. The hardest part about listening to conference talks in Malagasy is the translater's accents. Some of the translaters are quite easy to understand. Some, are absolutely impossible. In the end, all of the
missionaries just ended up at the back of the chapel writing letters, reading, or sleeping.

This week we had to tract a lot. Anyways, we put our shoulder to the wheel and got out there, though we most certainly didn't want to, and found tons of new investigators. Every single time we opened our mouths to tell someone about the gospel, they let us in to share an entire lesson. I know it was four months ago, and my memory may be slightly tainted by time, but I don't think I ever had such success tracting back in Ivato. In my mind now, tracting is really just doing times that are unscheduled. I feel certain that if we have faith and just do it, the Lord will smile on us and bless us with even more diligent investigators, truly building His Kingdom here in Madagascar.

Mom, I really do sometimes feel like I am one of those super old time story tellers, or maybe even an authentic pioneer missionary. The fact that electricity is scarce and candles and fires are the main light sources for many homes, I always feel as if I've traveled back in time a hundred years or so. For example, we were teaching a lesson to two wonderful referals from my favorite member, Frere Hiaja (the womens
names are Nidina and Lalaina, btw). There were the missionaries (us), about ten members, and then the mother and daughter. Could you ask for any better of a combination for a time?

We all sat around two small candles, listening, sharing, and learning what the Spirit provided for us. It was an incredible lesson, and one which I will never forget. The mother said that this gospel was indeed what she had been searching all of her life for. At the end of the lesson we gave her and her daughter a bap date, and whadda know, they accepted. The Spirit was so strong that we practically knew before the invitation was even said that they would accept baptism. The members
got a little bit nervous as what I was saying became readily apparent, but they didn't try and stop us. Not suprisingly, they and some more investigators came to the showings on General Conference on Sunday. They'll get baptized for sure.

One thing I'd like to say about that is this: if you are a member who is hosting the missionary lessons at your house, don't ever (extenuating circumstances permitting) try to mess with the plan of the missionaries and that of the Lord. They know what they are doing. I have heard countless stories about members becoming mad at
missionaries because they were "moving too fast for their friends" or "they were too pushy." Maybe that happens sometimes, but I have faith that most of the time it doesn't. Missionaries are blessed with a special mantle and power, and they will probably know before a regular member what the needs of the investigator are. Regardless of levels of 'spirituality' or gospel 'experience,' the missionaries are going to know what to do. I know this to be true.

You guys have no idea how badly I would have loved to go camping with you! This is one of those times where missionaries just get kinda disgusted with the whole holidays-in-America-but-not-where-I-am, thing. Or at least it just kinda stinks here. There is certainly no such thing as Thanksgiving and Halloween in Mada. In fact, the few times that I have tried to explain Halloween to people, they were
kinda freaked out. On that subject though, we did have a pretty sweet Halloween party
last night for the whole zone. We all dressed up and had a nice little dinner. I was actually Zeus - toga, flowers in the hair, lighting bolt and all. It was seriously loads of fun. I'm fairly positive that never will there be a compilation of such cool and like-minded people again in my mission lifetime.

So the race is on to finish the entire Book of Mormon before Island Conference at Christmas. We've been promised some pretty serious blessings if we can do it, so I'm excited. Dang it! I just realized that I forgot to read my four BoM chapters last night. That means I have to read eight today. :/ That's gonna be a long one.

Well I miss you and love you. That's all I have for you guys today. Wishing I Could Have A Camp-Cooked-Hotdog. Love, Elder Cryer