Saturday, December 3, 2011

Last few weeks in Fort Dauphin



There's one flight in and one flight out.



Pres. treated us to the best lemur park in the country.












The started together, they end together. From L - R, Matt, Elder Sender, Elder Goff, Elder Evans.













Monday, November 14, 2011

Lucky

Madagascar is finally coming to an end. I won't trouble you with descriptions of how excited, or sad, or depressed I am. I'm human and the regular emotions of leaving a place you know and love are pulsing through me. It's expected, and natural. You probably already know about how I'm feeling. Put yourself in my shoes; I'm sure it would give you an accurate illustration of what's going on.

This last week was good, but thankfully uneventful. As much as I've enjoyed the adventures of my mission, a crocodile to snap at my neck and possibly catch me, or that bull from Antsirabe coming back for round-two are things that I've had enough of, and I just want to get on the plane unmaimed and of sound mind. The idea of getting on the plane without one of my appendages that was there when I first came, or having to nurse a wound until I get to a real American hospital is not what I'd call ideal. No, no; not very nice at all. So, for the relaxed but still focused week, I am grateful. It was a good week to say goodbye to friends, investigators, recent converts, and a good week to say hello and then a quick goodbye to brand-new investigators. "Hi my name is Elder Cryer....well, I won't be seeing you again. Hope you get baptized! Bye!" - the week went something like that.

We got to watch General Conference this week finally, so Saturday and Sunday were completely blocked out for the sessions and goodbye-dinner appointments. I'd like to watch the whole thing in English so that I can get the real stuff that the General Authorities were saying.

The Mission Wrap Up - a full summary of my mission is simply not possible at the present. What can I say? It was sensational. It was incredible. It was hard as all get out. It was the best two years. Now when people say such things about their missions, I know for a fact that there is always someone out there who says either aloud, or to themselves, "Oh gimme a break. That's what everyone says." But really, this mission is incomparable to anything else in my life thus far and will stand as a milestone in my eternal progression for, that's right, eternity. If you don't believe me, get out there and go the two years. The first few months may be a bit of a pain, especially if you are lucky enough to speak something crazy, but I guarantee you that this thing is life changing.

Does the fact that I've given the past two years the title of, The Best Two Years, mean that for the rest of my life nothing will ever overtake its greatness? Well I most certainly hope not! I pray that more adventures and spiritual epics are looming in my future. But of course, we shall see, as that is why it's called the future.

One of the best things I've seen on my mission is that radical change for the better is yours if you want it. I can't say that I'm 100 percent different or anything, but things are not the same as before. Spiritually, physically (I'm skinny now, but with a gut. Hooray!), and mentally I am a different person. The best thing is that this change and preparation for adult life (ahem...marriage?) comes almost completely free of charge. Someone has to sacrifice actual money to get you on a mission, and there is the tremendous amount of work that goes into it, but when all is said and done, those things are an honor and a privilege to take part in, for all involved. I'll spare you a recitation of glory tales and just say that a mission really is all that, and a bag of chips.

I know the church is true. I testify, and stand as a witness, that Christ lives and that the Book of Mormon, a true testament of Him, can draw us closer to our Savior, even him who was "the Word." I testify that when the prophets, those holy mouthpieces of God upon the Earth, tell us that "missionary work is the lifeblood of the Church," they are correct in every way possible. I will never forget my mission. I love my mission. I love the people of Madagascar with all my heart, and I know that they, despite their extreme poverty and lack of temporal success, are among God's finest and most choice souls in existence. There is no place like Madagascar, and I thank my lucky stars that I was one of the few privileged ones that has been able to serve here.

I made a starter list of things I'd like to eat when I get home:
Crawfish Jambalaya
Crackered Chicken
Roast with Extra Gravy
Meat Loaf
Hot Dogs
Nachos
Gumbo
And any deserts that you would like to make
My tastes have been much expanded since my departure from America, so feel free to cook anything you like. I'm sure it is all delicious. By the way I ate some completely curdled milk this week called Abobo. It made me want to kill myself. It was literally just milk that had sat out for like two weeks. Hopefully this may prove to you that I will literally eat anything you serve. I'll even eat plain bread if there's nothing else...I'm sure it's fantastic...

It is seriously so hard to believe that it's all over. Am I really going to see you on Friday? Me and the rest of my group have this idea that we actually aren't going home, but we're just going to be placed back into the MTC to go serve in like Germany
or something. I'd like to give an especial thanks to two people who are so dear to me - Charles Cryer and Lou Ellen Cryer, my parents. Without them none of this would have been possible. Thanks Mom and Dad. I would like to thank you for aiding me so much on my mission. Literally, I couldn't have done it without you and Mom. Every single time I pray I thank my lucky stars for a family like you guys, and also try and ask for special blessings on everyone - even the grand babies.

I love you guys so much, and will see you soon. What are we doing on Friday
afternoon, by the way? Oh wait, I'm sure you'll tell me at that time.

I'll see you all soon. I love you.

-Elder Cryer

PS: Should any of you like to contact me about my experiences as a missionary, about what a mission is like, or if you just feel like shootin' the breeze, feel free to contact me at: mcryer27@gmail.com or add me on Facebook. Thanks to all of those who have been reading my blog over the past two years.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Last Rodeo

The illness is not completely gone. Sister Donnelly doesn't want to give me an antibiotic for it because she says I could build up a tolerance to antibiotics and then they won't be as effective.

Back on the 15th of October I had my last baptism here in Madagascar. And baby, that one needs to go down in the record books. To recap: the sky was dark and gray; a usual scene for Fort Dauphin baptisms. Waves were rolling in above our heads as me, Elder Peaden, and Elder Ravelomahefa stood along the shore with the baptizes. It was grim, I tell ya. But press on we did, right into the murky emerald-green water, we were unaware that what gave the water its interesting color was the chopped up seaweed. After the first big wave, we looked at our once white and clean baptismal clothes to find them covered in yucky, sticky, green leaves. To our horror the seaweed had the nerve to penetrate even into our own personal Holy of Holies; aka our garments. All of the baptizes didn't seem to notice the green stuff stuck in their hair and everywhere as they emerged from the water. But are we a bunch of wimps that would cower at a little bit of seaweed and waves? NO! Even though us missionaries were complaining about the circumstances, we were having a great time. We are Malagasy missionaries, of course. What else could you expect?

I baptized two people: Tsena and a grandma. Grandma went under the water without a hitch, but the 16 year old young man named Tsena was a different story. Right as I went to dunk him, the water level dropped super fast. The result was Tsena doing a Matrix-pose (think Neo when he dodges the agent's bullets the first time) supported by me. Only his ankles and the back of his head was even touching the water - that isn't enough for a baptism by immersion. We redid the dunking right when a wave came so he was immersed and then the back draft of the wave pulled him out of the water and me almost down into it.

As the baptizes were heading back in, I looked around me and enjoyed the moment. Right at that time, as I was looking at one of the big, lumpy, green mountains that dot the shoreline sitting off in the distance, a very distinct impression came to me. It went something like this, "This'll be your last rodeo Elder Cryer. So soak it up, enjoy it, and remember every detail." A wonderful feeling of peace and comfort came over me then that was indescribable. Right then I knew for a fact that this was my last baptism here in Madagascar. This was a slightly odd idea because I thought that I'd still have one more baptism before the end, but that baptism has been pushed back to sometime in December. A lot of things contributed to this happening, but as each one was revealed to us it idn't make me sad or depressed at all. If anything it only strengthened my testimony about God's love for me, and I know that God will always be ready to comfort us in our time of need.

I'm thinking of some plans on how to get my stuff on the airplane and home safely. I'm going to declare everything, not gonna lie about anything I've got. I plan on
being 100 percent honest with the customs people, so the most they can do is take my souvenirs away.

That's all I have time for today. Prepare for the end! The Church is true! Mexican food rocks!

Love,
Elder Cryer

Friday, November 4, 2011

The lucky few


Fort Dauphin ~ it's pretty strange to know that the very end of my mission is going to be in such an incredibly remote place. On the twelfth we may have 11 baptisms or we may have none. Any number between one and eleven may occur, but we are just trying to work as hard as we can. My last baptism here in Madagascar..

The rest of Island Conference went really well. Elder Nelson blessed us all, he said:
· We would be great disciples
· We would feast upon the word
· We would apply them
· We would be safe as we obey the laws of the land
· We will all return and continue to be missionaries hereafter
· We would have vigor, health and strength

He asked us to HEARKEN. We will do it. He asked us to write down the number of units in Madagascar and then one day we will look back in wonder.

That's all I really have right now I suppose. I've been sick, bad throat. Two weeks from tomorrow I'm getting on a plane that will take me to America. That seems pretty crazy and awesome.

Love,
Elder Cryer




Monday, October 24, 2011

Island Conference

Elder Nelson has left Madagascar after a blitz of meeting after meeting for both us and all the rest of the church people that literally demanded his attention during his short stay. We got an entire meeting with him, including a mission picture, a hand shake, lessons and testimonies from Elder Mkabehla, Bishop Edgley and his wife, and then Elder Nelson and his wife. It was truly an amazing meeting, and one which I'm not going to ever forget. During Elder Nelson's portion of the evening we were actually given a very special question and answer time. The part that he actually taught us was fantastic.

The point at which I also got to sing for everyone was also quite interesting as well. As soon as I got on stage Elder Nelson and his wife got of the stage and sat right down in the front row, like seven feet away from me. All the crowd looked pretty shocked and on the edge of dire anticipation. So I sang the song: a simple, keyed up and higher rendition of 'Nearer My God to Thee' that Elder Sell and I had worked out ourselves. Elder Nelson and his wife rushed up to shake my hand and thank me for the song. It was a bit of a shock to be honest, but I'll take it. Afterwards Elder Edgley said some nice things.

The next day we had a huge All-Mada conference with the members, and then a training meeting with the APs and Zone Leaders. President Donnelly has been with Elder Nelson the entire time. After the training meeting we had a musical fire-side where I and many others sang and performed from the piano and even a clarinet. I sang
"Every Valley Shall Be Exalted" from Handel's 'Messiah'.

Today we had a giant finding activity involving all of the missionaries in the mission. It was centered in an area called Analakely, which is pretty much the epicenter of all the business and trade in the entire city. When we arrived we got the nearest zone-leader, grabbed a street board, and not knowing anything else to do went and soap-boxed. It was probably one of the coolest teaching experiences of my mission as at one point Elder Bates and I had at least 40 people gathered around,
listening to our preachings about our church. I was hoarse teaching all the people gathered around us. I suspect that in the space of an hour, we probably taught about 120-150 people. It was truly amazing, and even on that dirty, busy street corner I felt the Spirit so strongly. It was so exciting telling all the people about our church and the Word of Wisdom, which was the subject on our street board. From what I understand, some of the people we taught went straight to the nearest church and learned more from all the members and missionaries gathered there to teach them. Incredible.

Island Conference has been terrific thus far, though it is still continuing even now. I'm emaling with Elder Nash, as we have a couple of hours before returning back to the mission home for the last part of Conference. Elder Nash and I are on splits for old times sake because this is pretty much the last time that we're going to spend any time together. I guess that the first news is that I'm going back to Fort Dauphin on Wednesday, alone, as my current comp and the other Malagasy are going back
down tomorrow. Elder Peaden, the other American down there with me, will be heading to a new area in Tana and shall not be replaced down in Fort Dauphin. This means that his old companion, Elder Ravelomahefa, is going to be getting a 'mini-missionary' until I get home at which point the two Malagasys are probably going to be together.

This means that I will be with only non-English speakers until the very end of my mission. We have to be at the office in about an hour and a half. I'm going to have to say goodbye now as we are going to soon be late for the last meeting of the Conference. I love you so much and pray for all of you.

Elder Cryer

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Green Baptism

We had another big baptism this past Saturday, and it was great as always. I ended up personally baptizing two of the people, so again I entered into the tumultuous water and waves of our all natural baptismal font. Only one of the six people getting baptized was actually from my area - Tsena. The water at the baptism was a bit unusual: emerald green. It was kinda pretty before we got in, but once our clothes were covered in green stuff did we realize that the water was chalk full of seaweed. And this was grinded-up-into-small-bits seaweed, so it got all over our the outside and inside of our clothes. The poor baptizees ended up getting dunked into the soupy green, it was all in their hair and ears and stuff.

We had a giant group of new investigators come to church this week that all live out in the middle of nowhere. We call them the "Airport People" because they live out beyond the airport, which is far away from anywhere that we actually work. A couple of our branch missionaries found and started teaching them first, so this past Saturday we were able to go out and teach them. All of these extremely humble people were so receptive, even if they probably didn't understand that much of the lesson; their language is different. 9 of them came to church yesterday, and at their appointment on Saturday 7 of them accepted baptismal dates for the 12th of December. This is quite close, but we're still hoping that they'll make it on time. And judging by the progress they've already made - as four of them came to church the week before - they just might be able to make it...enga anie.

Today we climbed a small mountain that literally kicked our butts. I probably fell and slid down this thing like 7 or 8 times. The mountain is called Peak St. Louis and it's about 1500 tall. There might be some legitimate, established trails that lead to the top, but all we were able to find were shimmied-up paths that some balahazo farmers use for their little farms on the mountain side. After some time we were forced to start bush-whacking it, and that's when the going did indeed get tough. After about an hour of struggling through brush and steep rocks, we arrived at the tree covered peak only to find that the peak wasn't quite what we were expecting. But oh well, gotta count your blessings right? I got a lot of scratches on my legs, fell a lot, and even ran into a raspberry patch that staved off our hunger and fatigue. It was awesome.

Fortunately the horrid Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease has left me and all I have to deal with now is a minor sore throat. I've been gurgling lots of spicy liquids and such so I'll be ready for singing at the Island Conference. Regardless, pray for me hard.

In summary:

The baptism.

Climbing the Mountain.

Not knowing where I'm headed after Island Conference.

The Airport People

I love you guys and regret to say that I'm all out of time for emailing today. I was just notified that the cyber cafe has been closed for the past 21 minutes and all the workers are waiting on me. Oops.

Miss you,
Elder Cryer


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fort Dauphin

in the Indian Ocean

in an Baobab Tree

Diseased & Healed

I did have a good week, I suppose, if you don't count the fact that I got Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease. That was downright terrible. Waking up in the middle of the night to swollen fingers and toes, having the most horrible urges to just scratch, it feels like acidic worms are crawling through your flesh. It was awful, and I'm so grateful that it's rapidly on the decline.

On Saturday night I got a blessing from my mission-mates. I just tried to focus on the fact that I have faith to be healed, and because I had faith I would go out to church the next day and even go work, knowing that God would free me from the virus. So, the next day, I went to church with puffed up hands and itchy feet. Fortunately enough though, by the evening my hands had mostly deflated and my feet were a non-issue. And now I'm healed! Woohoo!

We weren't able to go out to Ambovombe this week, so I am emailing on Monday at the regular time. We were all set to head out to the strange, mythical city of Atandroy-central, but President Donnelly called us yesterday and told us that he had received two promptings that we should not go out to Ambovombe after all. There probably was going to be some kid-nappers waiting for us vazahas on the roads. But ya know what, after hearing more about this place I'm quite ok with us not going out there. The word on the street is that though this city has tons of cool souvenirs and interesting things to look at, the people are pretty much savages and will kill you for nothing. Apparently they carry around swords and some of them have even crafted their own home-made guns. Eeek! Thanks, but no thanks.

The work here is going well, though we've been down-trodden by getting people married and random French prophets coming in and wowing everyone with some cheap tricks. One entire group of our investigators pretty much dropped themselves because they say that since the French prophet turned out to not be true, then obviously there is no such thing as a true prophet and they're just going to go on back to the Protestant church. One of our best and brightest investigators has been slowly digressing ever since he found out that he actually has to be married to his wife in order to be baptized. This has all been a head ache for Elder Rasoloniaina and I, but amongst it all there are still those wonderful people that are about to enter into the waters of baptism.

One of them is actually going to get baptized this Saturday. He is the son of a member, who got baptized only a few months ago, and has only been learning for about a month or so. We had thought that he had been learning for much longer than that, as he had been at the first time I'd ever taught his family. When we reviewed all the lessons for him before his baptismal interview, he received the information and responded as if he had already been learning for months and months before. We, according to Elder Peaden who was here before me, he had never learned anything before. Crazy, right?! I've seen it before, and I'm sure I'll see it again; the Lord prepares people in subtle and unusual ways. From what I understand, he passed the baptismal interview with flying colors. A literal testament to his spiritual preparedness.

Love you guys.


Elder Cryer

Monday, September 26, 2011

Every chair and bench completely full

The days are slowly drawing themselves to a close with significantly more finality than they have before. I'm enjoying my mission as much if not more than I ever have, but it seems as though my interest in writing big emails is coming to an end. My life of dealing with the day to day just seems regular and familiar now.

This week I finally fulfilled a dream ever since I first saw pictures of the giant Malagasy Baobab trees. I always wanted to see a baobab, to touch a baobab, to even....oh yes...hug a baobab. It wasn't exactly huge or anything, I did in fact wrap my arms and legs around that strange, twisted tree and DREAMS CAN COME TRUE.

The work here is still going well. We're expecting a couple of baptisms on the 15th of October. The people who got baptized at the beginning of this month are still very diligent, thankfully, and we're starting to see some recent converts who have gone less active come back to church. This past Sunday I got to translate for a member from Utah who doing a small visit here with Rio Tinto. He was also here over two years ago, so it was really neat for him to see the tremendous growth that the branch has seen since that time. As he said to me, two years ago there were only 5 members total! He was in a bit of shock when he walked into the building to see every chair and bench completely full.

Dad, the insect repellent in the sock thing is a good idea, but I nor anyone else has insect repellent. We're all dealing with cutting the fleas out. The locals are used to it, they handle it easily.

My time is a bit short today - farewell until next week. My shoes have holes in them now. Hopefully my kicks will make it.

I miss you guys and love you bunches.

Love,
Elder Cryer

Monday, September 19, 2011

So goes the work~

This past week was great! My companion, Elder Rasoloniaina, and I are exhausted every day and working hard. So we have this one man named Leonar and his wife who have been learning for about two months from the missionaries. Leonar is about 85, and reminds me of a Malagasy version of the karate master from 'Karate Kid'. I just think they look alot alike ;P. Leonar was born a terribly long time ago in a place called Farafangana, which is very far from civilization. He is from the Tandroy tribe, and therefore fluent in Atandroy, but fortunately also speaks a bit of Marina.

Our lessons with Leonar are always interesting, as well as entertaining, affairs. He complains near constantly about his eyes, and the fact that reading the Scriptures is hard because his glasses suck, and even when he bought new glasses he still says that his eyes are bad so he can't really read that much. He also claims that if his eyes were better, then he'd be able to stand more of the dialect we use. During our lessons, he is always excited to talk or tell us about something...even when we are talking. As soon as he starts off rambling, we finish saying whatever we were going to say quite rapidly. He enjoys learning from us, and coming to church. He seems to be learning the doctrine little by little, so maybe the Spirit really is doing the bulk of the teaching - which is as it should be.

Leonar and his wife are currently waiting on their marriage, which is on its way eventually. Yesterday when we were teaching him and his wife about the temple, he asked when he and his wife could go to the temple. We said that there would probably be a temple here in a few years, so if when he and his wife got baptized all they would have to do is wait a bit. To this he said saucily, "If we're even alive at that point. Geeheehee!" Leonar is as witty an old man as they come.

Finding efforts here in Fort Dauphin are very different than what they were in other areas. For instance when I went out tracting in my other areas we usually wouldn't get let in all that often (as is to be expected with tracting), but when we could get in the door the people were usually pretty diligent. Here in Fort Dauphin everyone and their dog lets you into the house, but that does not mean they are ready to receive the message. A lot of times they are laying around and other times they just want to hear what we have to say but have no intention of following the principles found in the lessons. So far we haven't actually found anyone ready to progress through tracting, but we press on none the less :D.

I'm salama tsara as of the moment (healthy), though the fleas continue to make attacks upon our very lives. This last week I found a flea inside of my foot. I was just looking at my foot one night and boom! I see this weird looking growth right under my big toe. I asked an elder if a flea had crawled into my foot - and he should know because at that time he was in fact pulling TWO of them out of his own foot - and he confirmed my fears. I sanitized a knife and finger-nail clippers and sliced it out.

My week has been good, I suppose, though the low turnout to church was pretty depressing for both companionships. I was told by a couple investigators who are Protestant that this past sunday there was "Fandraisana (Receiving of the Sacrement)" so even though they are planning on getting baptized in our church, they had to go and take the Sacrament at their old place. We're going to have to go back and teach on the subject "Receiving a Testimony for Yourself". But ahh well. So goes the work of the missionary.

Well I have less than 60 days left at this point. AHHH! Scary and exciting all at the same time. I'm super excited to see you guys; thanks for wishing me a happy birthday.

Love you!
Till next time,
Elder Cryer

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

In the ocean

Sorry to be emailing a day late, but you already know of the problems we have with the Internet connection here. My companion especially is having problems because he has never used a computer before. Please tell Brady that I'd love to go with him to Comic-Con. I don't know if I would be wearing a costume to this thing or not , but I'll sure try to get into the full spirit of the thing. Also please tell Sarah that I wrote her a birthday letter and have been trying to send it for a couple of weeks now, but still no luck with the Post Office here. I'll probably just end up scanning the letter and sending it as an email when the actual day comes. Please tell her sorry for me!

So the biggest news of the past week is obviously the baptism. In terms of awesomeness, I'd probably place it equal to the gigantic 40-plus person baptism that took place in Antsirabe a year ago. That baptism was cool for its sheer size, and also for the General Authority that was in attendance. For this little baptism here in Fort Dauphin we had 7 baptized, but it was made special because of the fabulous people whom were dunked, and the unusual circumstances of having to baptize in the ocean.

The waves were over our heads. There were a couple of times that all of the Malagasys went completely under, Elder Cryer being almost totally swallowed in the surf, and Elder Peaden alone with his 6'2 frame being able to keep most of his head dry. Each person that got baptized seemed to be unaware of the giant waves that were coming. All of the women had to be picked up and elevated when each wave would come so that their baptism was not just one long process of being underwater the whole time! Even the older women didn't seem to want to jump up for themselves. For the two little girls who got baptized (twins, so cute) I had to carry them in my arms and literally hold them up the entire time. We tried to see if they could stand on the actual sand bottom, but the waves that were hitting us would have swept them away.

Another challenge, but fun part of the baptism, was that I was the one who had the baptismal prayer memorized. For each of the baptisms I spoke the words with those who were baptizing. It was fun, and exciting, and a little bit scary when one of the baptizees would go under water and not come back up when we wanted them to. I'm thankful that the waves weren't higher. So that, and the wonderful experience of baptizing in the ocean are definitely things to be grateful for. We have another baptism coming up at the end of this month, and at that time we might just try and do it in a river or something. There is one place where a giant lake meets the ocean called Ankoba, and the water there is very calm. Maybe that'll be the trick....

When it came time to head back to land, we all started trudging through the tumultuous water. Unfortunately, and simultaneously fortunately in many respects, a giant wave came that engulfed us all, so I stroked my arms, kicked my legs, and body-boarded that sucker. I cruised into land, eventually getting taken under and flipped over, and finally back-stroked to where the water was a bit less crazy. I love my mission.

Walking back to the church after the actual baptism was over was tough. My feet were covered in scratchy sand, I hadn't brought a towel to begin with, and long-sleeve shirts aren't too comfortable when wet. The testimony portion of the meeting was good, if a bit humorous. The first person to bear testimony included a portion at the end that was...not bad....but maybe timed a bit wrong for sharing with the congregation. The woman told of her old and past sins, saying that because of the church she didn't do them anymore. And then, every one of the other baptizees followed suit. It was really funny when the two little girls said, "I used to not do my homework but now I do!" and "I used to whine all the time but now I don't!"

In conclusion, I know this church is true. I love this church, and I love my mission more than anything.
Till next time,

Love,
Elder Cryer

Monday, September 5, 2011

Full to the brim

What a week it has been! I'm sorry to hear about the horrible heat and dryness that ya'll Texans are having to put up with. Here in Fort Dauphin the weather is beautiful every single day, never that hot and never that cold. I kinda feel like I'm in Hawaii, minus all tourists that I remember crowding the beaches while I was there. A couple days ago we had strong winds buffeting us all day - sand flying into our faces, getting in our hair, blowing into our mouths when we tried to talk. This was not exactly pleasant, so Fort Dauphin doesn't quite qualify as perfect, but it's definitely the closest I've ever seen during the past two years.

The branch here is growing at a rate which is not to believed! Even though missionaries have only be here for ten months, the attendance is already over most old wards in Tana. President Jacko, who came to visit and set apart new Melchezedik priesthood holders, said it best, "Even though Tolagnaro (Fort D) is so new, the priesthood here is as strong as it is in my home ward, Manakambahiny, which has been around for quite some time." This past Sunday we had 7 new Melchezedik priesthood holders officially enter the Elders Quroum. Almost all of the guys who received it work with us day after day - going on splits, leading us around, etc. They are all way great guys, every single one of them. Last Friday we even saw Frederick and Firazana marching off down the road to do some tracting because, well, they wanted too. Even with no name tag on it would've been hard to say those weren't missionaries to the truest extent going out to do the work of the Lord.

We're thinking that they will have to split the branch within the next year, just as soon as we can add more potential leaders to the ranks. Already the warehouse which doubles as our meetinghouse is full to the brims and we're having trouble placing people. It would be way cool to see the split actually occur, but I won't see it.

People understand the spoken version of the official dialect (marena, or ambony andro) but reading it in the Bible of Book of Mormon is another story entirely. They just don't understand so many of the words in there. We try to get them to read, and they do, but in the end they are just sounding out a bunch of big words they don't understand anyways. It's a bit frustrating - not gonna lie - and more than anything just surreal that me as a vazaha has to teach Malagasys their own language. All of these translating things aren't necessarily bad, and more than anything I suppose I'm just thankful for the opportunity for a new challenge. I'll stop complaining.

Regardless of the differences in dialect that we have to deal with here, and the obvious lack of education, these people are truly God's elect. They are so ready for the gospel it is almost not to be believed. And remember that this is coming from a guy who's already worked in the other areas of one of the highest baptizing missions in the world. Teaching is the easy part. Getting them married is still a challenge, but so long as they are coming to church and still have a desire to be baptized, it's worth it.

I know the people of Madagascar, despite their incredible poverty, were probably in many cases great leaders before this life; chosen spirits that fought for the cause of Jesus Christ when it was not yet certain who the final victor would be. I believe this because there is no other way to explain the incredible progression of these people in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I do not know why God put so many prepared people in one such poor place in the world, but I am still extremely thankful for this time I have to be with them. The members are so new to the gospel, they are constantly learning

I do feel a lot better, as I got some sort of anti-biotic from Tana. President Jacko (the second counselor in the mission presidency) brought a bunch of stuff down for us this past Friday. Whenever someone from the mission or stake comes down to visit the branch they usually end up hauling whatever supplies we need as well. So I got some medicine that seems to be working pretty well.

Just got done negotiating prices with a sword maker. We got the price down to 30 dollars for two swords. I love you guys and pray for you. Please pray for me as well. I'm in a scary part of the world right now, and a one where people dislike their clothes.

My shoes are on the verge of death. My extra shoes were stolen. I think the Docs will make it through to the 18th of November. There are millions of terrible fleas. Some get into your skin, burrow and lay eggs. Our house walls seem to be infested with woodworms. They are so loud, especially at night. I'm pretty sure that someone tried to break into our house last night.

I'm with 2 native elders and Elder Peadon, love 'em. 7 baptisms this Saturday, in the ocean!

Yall be good now, ya hear!

Love,
Elder Cryer

Monday, August 29, 2011

The rain is gone, the sun is out

I'm starting to be a little bit worried about my sickness as well, so I'm going to call Sister Donnelly and get the OK for buying some sort of drugs from the local pharmacy. I don't really have anything wrong with my throat any more, but my lungs are still wheezy unless I drink gallons of water - which is strange.

This week went well, except for the fact that my companion and guide for Fort Dauphin has been transferred and replaced by a Malagasy trainee. Fortunately for him though, he only knows a little bit less than I do ;P. Last Tuesday after lunch Elder Smith got a call from President Donnelly saying, "Hey Elder you're moving to Tana tomorrow morning at 6:00. Back your bags quick! You'll find out your new area and companion when transfers come out tonight." And that was all.

My new companion is a cool guy from the ward of 67 in Antananarivo. He doesn't speak a lick of English, so I've started teaching him that as well as informing him on as much of the local dialect as I've heard thus far. All of his siblings are members and have been for the past five years, but his parents have yet to come around. He went to the MTC in Ghana. He arrived in Tana this past Wednesday but wasn't able to get a flight out here until Saturday night.

I waited at the tiny Fort Dauphin Airport completely alone for about two hours. His flight was crazy late and we finally got home at about 10:15 PM. It was strange seeing all of the rich Malagasys and vazahas going off to far-away locations, enjoying their vacations. Some of them were from Spain, some from France, others from Italy, and one cute older couple from Japan. They all looked at me weird at first, but then got used to the site of a odd religious vazaha that speaks Malagasy but not their language.

I got my package this week, and it was amazing! Thank you so much! We've already eaten all of the candy, and I've already read all of the reading material.

An interesting thing of note is that Fort Dauphin is full of different kinds of people. They grab at you on the path, scream and dance around for hours on end, shout random nothings into the air while you are trying to email your family (he's still screaming at this very moment). Maybe it's because they practically have no medical care here, or maybe it's just something in the water. Whatever it is, it always keeps things interesting.

The rain has gone, the sun is out, the heat has yet to come, and a lot of people are not wearing their clothes. I can't even tell you how many naked people we've seen. From what I understand, it is generally the Atandroy people alone that have no sense of modesty. The other tribes that live here are generally more decent in their dress. I was pretty shocked when I first started seeing the nudity, but now I'm more used to it and just focusing on not staring. Even Elder Ravelomahefa and Elder Rasoloniaina have been taken aback by the decidedly strange behaviour of the Fort Dauphin residents. Oh well. I'll keep my eyes to myself.

I love you guys and am praying for you. Have a great week! See you soon.


Love,
Elder Cryer

Monday, August 22, 2011

Wild Pig Attack and 3 Full-sized Cows Needed, please

Everything is going well here in Fort Dauphin. I'm a little bit under the weather but I already feel much better than I did yesterday. I found some sort of all day medication that I've been taking, so hopefully that will nip this thing in the bud. Or maybe it won't...tsy maninona! All week it has been raining so hard! I came here expecting sunshine and incredible heat, but instead I get loads of rain and a head cold. The mountains, jungle, and beach still look amazing but only in a generally menacing way.

"Tribal" is the first word that comes to mind when I think of the people here. Though they wear clothes, they don't seem to particularly mind about whether all of their private (from a Western point of view) parts are actually covered or not. All of the women wear their hair in corn rows or Princess Leia buns; most of the men carry giant machetes, sticks, and huge fish around with them. It is definitely an interesting place, so exotic. Everything here is so different from the way it would be in a 1st world country that sometimes it is a bit scary.

Most people here live in sweet huts that remind me a lot of the only-for-show huts they have at museum exhibits. They have rice mats for floors, patted-down leaves for roofs, and not-too-sturdy wood sides for walls. Now that I think about it, all those other times I said people lived in huts in past emails - really, those 'huts' are mansions when compared to the living conditions here. No one lacks for food as the sea provides constant nutrition and you can just walk around and find food to eat from off the ground, but everything is very primitive. To give an example of this, in one ten minute period I saw people carrying giant sword fish over their shoulders, people carrying around actual spears, and a crazy pig running loose through the maze of huts. The pig actually tried to kill us by running us vazahas straight to the ground, but survive the attack we did. I think he actually did bite my leg though...it felt like a sledge hammer. Only in Madagscar do you get the wonderful opportunity to worry about wild pig attacks.

One of our investigators is named Marolahy, and he has a bit of a problem. He needs to get officially married to his wife of seven years, Julie, before they can be baptized. This is a usual problem that us missionaries in Mada have to deal with, but down here in Fort Dauphin we have a new twist: Marolahy has to marry his wife according to the 'fomba gasy' (Malagasy way). In order to do this he has to buy three full-sized cows and give them to Julie's parents. These cows cost about 400,000 - 500,000 ariary a piece, which is far more than Marolahy makes in two years. Considering the current financial position of Marolahy and Julie, this task is literally impossible.

We have been talking to them quite a bit lately and our best advice has been to just beg Julie's parents to let them get married legally first and then complete the fomba gasy later. Hopefully they will accept the proposition, but if not Marolahy and Julie will not be baptized for a very, very long time - as in, when her middle-aged parents die then maybe they'll be able to get married and baptized. We are really hoping that Julie's parents relent. This one's gonna need some prayers...

We have a few baptisms coming up this Saturday, but we are waiting on a marriage to come through. All of the information, papers, and forms are filled out and done, we are just waiting on the necessary signature from the number one man at the Lapan'ny Tanana (government agency). Enga anie this'll all come through, but if not then they'll just be baptized at the end of next month. The work goes extremely well here - 31 investigators to church.

This place rocks ;).

I miss you guys and pray for you. Tell everyone I said hi, and if anyone asks them why I don't write them back, please respond, "Matthew's on the other side of the world in a place that is not conducive to sending mail. His apologies."

Love,
Elder Cryer


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

From the last few months~





Rounding up the critters before lesson time

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A devastating fire and onto Fort Dauphin

Fort Dauphin - this place can be likened unto a Malagasy Hawaii, an incredible paradise minus all of the usual tourist fringe-benefits that come with the location. There are tourists here, but it is just so far away from anything that coming here adds an extra price-tag to an already costly vacation. Consequently, the area is still relatively undeveloped. There are a couple of restaurants and hotels, but they are small and pretty expensive. But, this place is heaven on Earth -- seriously.

Elder Ravelomahefa and I left early Monday morning to get to the Ivato Airport. I still don't understand why we had to arrive at 6:45AM for a flight that was supposed to leave at 10:25AM, but it sure did give us a lot of time to tour the airport, which was a surreal-as-can-be experience. I never thought that I'd be coming back to the Ivato Airport for anything other than going home in November.

We ended up being able to sit in what we think was first-class - or as first-class as Air Madagascar can provide. We sat in the very back of the plane with a bunch of rich dudes, seperated by a curtain from the other passengers. The fed us real food and gave us sodas, where as everyone else on the plane just got small little bread balls that you can easily get on the street. The food was very strange, and the coke just made my stomach hurt, but it was a nice gesture anyways.

The flight was about an hour and 45 minutes, which seems to be quick work for a propeller driven plane. It was very interesting seeing all of the Madagascar landscape roll beneath us. Not a cloud in the sky blocked our view of the changes from rainforest, to mountains, to desert, and finally to Taolagnaro (Fort Dauphin).

We settled down into a little-bitty airport, grabed a taxi that had been brought courtesy of the two elders already down here (Elders Smith and Peaden), and cruised off to the house. We got settled, taught a couple of lessons, and finally chowed down. During the appointments I realized that though everyone understands what I am saying, I have to strain to understand what they are saying. They speak in two main dialects here: Atanosy and Atandroy (probably spelled those wrong). Their accent is very different than what I'm used to, but the biggest problem of all is that unless they are speaking directly to me, they usually speak in their own dialect. These dialects are somewhat similar to Marina, and they rarely speak in straight non-marina, but when half of the words they use are spoken in a language I don't know, I'm having to really pay attention and do some quick deciphering. It's fun though.

Unbelievable story- last Friday we went to one of our investigators houses to meet an appointment. Elders Cassel, Mclaughlin, (he's from Scotland, and way legit) and I were walking down the path, coming pretty close to the person's neighborhood, when all we ended up seeing was a giant, burned patch of destruction. A huge fire had blazed the night before, completely leveling all the wooden shacks in sight. 500 people without anything but the clothes on their backs; 5 dead and many in the hospital for severe burns. It was probably one of the saddest things I'd ever seen. As soon as we walked up one of our investigators approached us, burn marks on her face and hands, and apologized for not being able to receive us because her house was burned to rubble.

Long story short, we talked with a couple of the leaders about things we could do, talked with President Donnelly and Elder Ridges (humanitarian missionary) and then finally decided that we were going to do something about it. The next morning we (Cassel, Mclaughlin, and me) found, bought, transported by pouspous, and delivered 200 kilos of rice to the homeless people at the burn site. We had to pay for the rice with our own money, but were then payed back from out of the humanitarian-mission's budget. It was hard to describe, the experience.

We also had two baptisms this past Saturday - Melissa and Nany - which went really well.

Don't start worrying about me down here in old Fort Dauphin. I wasn't able to email yesterday because it was some sort of catholic religious holiday. I figured that there might be some worrying because I wasn't able to email, so I'll start by saying that there are indeed Internet cafes here, it is just that they are expensive - as is everything else in this little chunk of paradise! Seriously; every single thing that is available for sale in Fort Dauphin that is also available in Tana is about a dollar or so more expensive. Now that may not seem like much, but it adds up! They have regular restaurants here, regular-ish stores here, but everything they have to offer is pricey pricey pricey. Fear not though, for my goal is not to ask for more personal funds. It is to learn to budget better.

Praying for you guys all the time. Even when I'm really tired and I can only stay awake for a couple of moments in prayer, I always pray for you guys.

Love,
Elder Cryer


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Heading down south to the other side of heaven

This Thursday I'll be a leaving on a jet plane....or a tleast I hope it's a jet plane! I'm headed out to what is called the absolute paradise and proverbial heaven of this mission: Fort Dauphin. FOrt Dauphin is located pretty much at the bottom of Madagascar and is a three day drive should you be foolish enough to go by car. But, because of the danger from bandits and the huge distance, me and Elder Ravelomahefa will be going by plane down to this most wonderous of places. Fort Dauphin opened about 8-9 months ago and is considered the gem of all the areas in Madagascar. If I'm not mistaken, I'll be the eighth missionary to ever go down there.

They also heavily use two other dialects called Atandrohy and Antanin-nosy. I hope to learn at least one of them before I go home. We'll be opening up a new area in Fort Dauphin, so that'll be fun.

Along with this, however, is a couple of issues. I'll only be able to take down one 20 kilo bag, so the vast majority of my stuff is going to be left here in Tana for the next couple of months until I come back. So I'm having to pack one of my suitcases for going home right now, give away a lot of clothes, and generally scramble. In Fort Dauphin the baptisms are in the ocean; I doubt if my one white long-sleeve shirt will survive. So if in my last package there could be a white long-sleeve, size 16 1/2 in the neck, slim-fit shirt, that would just be fantastic. My suit is already trashed.

Well this is it. Wish me luck and please pray that the plane doesn't crash.

Love,
Elder Cryer



Monday, August 8, 2011

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Monday, August 1, 2011

'Baptize Rondro'

We gave it our all this week with the teaching times aspect, but were hampered in a few ways by funerals, other stuff, and just some straight up bad luck. Regardless, we still had some very interesting experiences with new investigators as well as newly progressing investigators. But my favorite part of all was the baptism of Tojo, Rondro, Fely, and Neny. I think I'll start at the beginning and work my way backward, hopefully I'll have enough time to finish all the stories.

The baptism was extremely spiritual, but was made even better by the level of conversion that the people displayed. These new members have been learning from anywhere between 5 months to a little-bitty 1 month. They were all practically golden investigators, and all have their own individual stories of conversion, but I think I've told you all but one.

Rondro is a girl who learned many years ago with the rest of her family. Her dad got baptized, her mom got baptized, and she should have been baptized at that time if not for her father having problems. By that point the father had decided that he wanted nothing to do with the church, and that meant that Rondro would be waiting
another 4 years before being able to make that sacred covenant. About a month ago Rondro finally came to our attention when her 18th birthday occured. Everyone and their dog, all at once, began practically screaming at the missionaries "BAPTIZE RONDRO!" It took us a few days for the importance of their words to fully sink in, and then another couple of days to actually find her house. She was a shy girl - her mother being shy as well - but totally and completely committed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The same cannot be said of her father.

Every time we would come over it was like there was a giant wall blocking the missionaries; he would almost completely ignore us. We would say hi, and he would generally nod, but there wasn't much more than that. Finally the day of Rondro's baptism came. We were 20 minutes into the meeting, about to start the actual ordinance, when guess who walked quietly into the room? That's right, Rondro's father. The man who had been estranged from the church for some several years came right into that room and took an almost divinely empty seat beside his daughter on the front row -- right where he was supposed to be all along. He didn't end up
coming to church the next day, but I'm sure that a light has been re-lit inside of him. Will it burn for long? Will it actually but him back on the right path permanently? Only time will tell. But putting all those questions aside, I know that I saw a man who doesn't really know what he wants in life anymore, but knows that what may be lacking is what he'd already left behind.

So, we'll go to work and pray for the best. Nothing else you can really do in such circumstances. We'll teach him as much as we can, try as hard as we can, but in the end it is all up to that man alone; ain't a thang we can realistically do when it comes to them terms.

Terribly sorry but I really have to go now. We have a dinner appointment very soon that we will likely be late for. Wish us luck.

With Love and Prayers,
Elder Cryer

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mad scramble

This past week we have worked ourselves half to death. One thing that President Donnelly really focused on in my most recent interview is my enduring, and working to the end. I'm trying to take that to heart and make these last few months the most productive of all. This has left Elder Cassel and I absolutely spent and really that much more eager for our P-Day. We've been trying to use our ward missionaries as much as possible, and they've been utilized successfully. What's ended up is over-loading our appointments for the evenings and then calling around frantically to ask for the ward-missionaries to go on splits with us. We should probably make the process more stream-lined and less hectic, but it's a work in process. It feels great to go home totally spent from your labors.

We were able to get a lot of new investigators to church this past Sunday, so that was really great to see. A couple of our newest investigators is the family which I spoke of last week. This is the family of Selesten, the ones who promised that they would be coming to church if we could only show them where it was. We had planned on having members go and pick them up, but just before we left our last appointment with them I had a strong feeling to say that we, the missionaries, would pick them up ourselves.

So there we were on Sunday morning - hungry, tired as all get out, and worried because we'd already decided that they wouldn't come with us to church. It was 6:55 a.m. As soon as we knocked on one of the doors to see if anyone was awake, we were startled by the call, "Come in, come in! O we're so late I'm so sorry!" This started off a mad-scramble of all of those who planned to come to church with us running around their little community of shacks, throwing clothes on the naked children, combing their hair, and shouting at bystanders to hurry up and get ready, because they should be going with the missionaries as well! It was funny and, I have to say, a little bit stressful. We all finally got out of there at 7:55 AM, so walking to church wasn't an option anymore. The whole group of us jumped on to one of the taxibes and headed out. We got to church a little bit late, but everyone was mostly just excited to see us and the new investigators. From what I saw, they had a really wonderful and spiritual experience. The teacher in the Gospel Essentials class was so on-point by talking a lot more about her own personal conversion and entrance into the church than focusing too much on the deep-ish doctrine lesson. When they finally left to go home you could see their genuine happiness and desire for more as they said, "Thank you sooo much elders!!! Church was fantastic and know that we know where it is, we'll be coming every Sunday." Maybe that seems a bit cheesy for us more mild-mannered Westerners, but Malagasy people are pretty straight forward when they like something -- not too much beating around the bush with these people.

One thing which happened that really shocked and humbled me was at the time of Silvy. We were teaching two brothers and a sister about the importance of coming to church when Silvy softly said, "And Rivo, if you need any clothes for church I'll buy some for you just like I did with Raphael and Tojo." I think she was trying to say it so that I couldn't hear, and I didn't want to embarrass her, so I just said nothing. I had already seen the handsome little suits that Tojo and Raphael had been strutting around in, and I'd been wondering how they had gotten hold of them. These people are as poor as you can get without starving and being forced to live on the streets.

Now it all makes sense how they'd gotten these clothes -- it was Sister Silvy all along. Poor, sweet, spiritual, and wonderful Silvy had probably gone hungry for a few days just to buy these boys clothes from her measly 60 dollars a month. Well, I'll just say it: my charity and love is pretty much nothing compared to that kind of devotion. Those little boys coming to church and getting baptized was more important than food, to Sister Silvy.

I love you guys and am still praying for you. Tell Brady good luck for me and also please tell Sarah that I'll get back to her next week. I want to think about her question a little bit before I answer. Dad, I'm glad you made it well on your trip. The pictures, btw, look incredible and it really sounds like the trip was quite nice.

My release date is set as November 17th. This is indeed a firm date. I'm working like a maniac, so please don't think that this'll slow me down in the least bit. I'm workin my tail off.

Love,
Elder Cryer

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A bit more kick

Well, The CrashNyer (Cryer and Nash; Elder Reynolds can be credited with the creation of this name) companionship ended. We had both known that it was going to happen eventually. I'm really happy for Elder Nash though because he finally got to leave his Birth Area and go off to Tamatave.

My new companion is named Elder Cassel (pronounced 'Castle') and he is way legit. He most recently worked in Antsirabe, and before that was to be found in La Reunion; the all French-speaking island off the cost of Madagascar. He's one of the lucky few Reunion elders that has gotten to come over and experience the most incredible mission in the entire world. From the past few days that we've been together it seems as though he's quite grateful. Who knows how long we'll end up being together? Maybe a month; or maybe he'll put me in my mission grave. We shall see...

So I got the fabulous package this past week, and I was impressed as always. The candy and corn nuts was savory, the letters were sweet, but the beef jerky had a little bit more kick than I was prepared for. For a couple of days the beef jerky was in my backpack before I took it out, and during those few days I was sure to hand out little samples of pure spicy pain to a few of those I talked to. The Malagasys thought the joke was pretty good.

This past Friday we were feverishly looking for new investigators, going from door to door and contacting those on the path. After an hour or so we had gotten pretty discouraged with the whole tracting thing, so we decided to go and recontact a family that Elder Nash and I had taught about a month and a half ago. Nash and I had tried to return to them many a time, but they were never in. Anyways, we gave it one last go to see if just maybe they'd be there. Finally, the entire family was there and even a bunch of the neighbors. They chided us for not coming back, and we in turn chided them for not being home ever -- all in the spirit of joking of course ;). We started the time and decided to not teach them a first lesson, but to instead teach about keeping the Sabbath Day holy. The message of the restored doctrine concerning this principle and the new information about a 'new and ever-lasting covenant' resounded well with all of them, and it just so happened to turn out that they were totally not on board with any of the Saturday Sabbath, things. So the lesson went great and everyone was really excited; they were passionate about what we were saying. I felt the Spirit prompting me to give the invitation, so I invited all of them to church. This may seem like a pretty "duh, of course you would do that" move, but you have to realize that they all go to their church every single day, and the last time we tried to invite them to church they turned us down flat.

The first guy to say anything, Selesten, said that there was no way he could come to our church because he had responsibilities to fulfill at his own. When he started saying that stuff, I got pretty discouraged pretty quick, especially considering the fact that he is the self-stylized leader of the neighborhood. But, after he had said his peace everyone else in the entire room told us that they were coming for sure the next Sunday - because they had already signed up for some kind of meeting thing on the coming Sunday - and we even were able to get a brand new family into the teaching pool afterwards which was a direct result of the previous appointment.

So, that was awesome :D.

Yesterday at church I had to go and teach the primary kids about the temple. It was cool. I've been somewhat sickly of late. It's yucky. I think that I finally nailed
down what was making me feel so crumby, and it just so happened to be our Malagasy version of Ramen Noodles. Sadly, this is the tastiest and cheapest food for us missionaries to consume so I'm not happy to be giving it up. Oh well. It is what it is.

That's really pretty much all I have for right now. I love you guys and am praying for ya.

Elder Cryer






On Sun, Jul 17, 2011 at 4:04 PM, wrote:




Monday, July 11, 2011

Bumping It

This past week was pretty great for us. We tried to work harder and harder, and were simultaneously met with more and more obstacles. Regardless, the work progressed and is moving on. Not too many investigators are coming to church, but Sacrament meeting is full of recent converts from the past six to seven months. To me, it doesn't so much matter about the number of investigators showing up to church, but combining that number with the total number of recent converts and less actives as well. The work of the missionary does not, or should not, end at baptism. So we get pretty stoked when we see our recent converts getting the priesthood, receiving callings as teachers, and becoming some of the most diligent seminary and institute students in the ward.

From one of our times with Silvy and her daughters: Little Finoana (Faith) is an adorable child and often likes to express her loveliness with hitting people, sometimes on the arm and softly, and sometimes on the face and quite forcefully. We were teaching some way awesome investigators about the Atonement and the need for all of us to repent. We got onto the subject of infant baptism and after teaching them what Mormon had to say, I said, "Just look at Finoana! That little girl couldn't possibly be capable of sin!" And then she socked her sister straight in the side of the head. Everyone had a good laugh, and the violence of little Finoana served to illustrate how small children cannot be blamed for their mistakes.

My next experience occurred just yesterday at the time of our recent converts, Julienne's family and friends. We taught them and about four of their friends about the Plan of Salvation, which we had already covered in part at a previous appointment. They received everything well, asking very astute questions and showing their understanding by their profound comments. The best one came at the end of the lesson when we had taught them all about the Three Kingdoms and about the importance of setting the Celestial Kingdom as our number one goal. Julienne raised her hand and said softly, "The things the missionaries have taught me are things that I know are true, and things that I absolutely never knew before. I had the Bible and went to church before the missionaries started teaching us, but we never had any ideas about these things. I'm so grateful for the teachings of the missionaries and what the church is in my life." Somewhere towards the beginning of her words the Spirit jumped from an already high state to cloud nine. I love these people so much! Elder Nash and I are constantly high-fiving and bumping it from the sheer quantity of awesome people and lessons that occur here. Four months left is hard to swallow.

Ok last one: So, as of late we've started teaching this one guy named Liva and his family. The lessons are Spiritually-charged, they readily accept the doctrine as if they've known it their entire lives - which in a way, they have for much longer -, and they are so ready to accept and fulfill commitments. The most incredible thing about all of this, however, is the fact that Liva is completely crippled and only has use of his neck and head. Happiness and hope lights his countenance. In a way he reminds me of Brady, of Frere Jules, and many others who have been given a tough lot in life, but never let it get them down. They can be sad or discouraged from time to time like all of us imperfect humans, but the rate at which they bounce back is astonishing and a true miracle. One of my new challenges for the upcoming week is that when I feel down, or about to give-up, to think about these literal heroes in my life and follow their examples.

Yesterday, interesting eating experience: For dinner we had a bowl of rice and cabbage. Sometimes cabbage loque is ok, but this time it was downright disgusting. Seriously. So me and the member who came with me - a way cool guy named Faniry who's preparing for his mission - ended up eating our entire heaping mound of rice dry. Afterwards Faniry and I could not stop talking about the sheer horribleness of the food. Oh well, Mazotoa is what I always say. Mazotoa is what you say before everyone starts eating. It means, diligence!

This past week we worked hard and were met with a lot of success. On the flip-side however, as we tried to accelerate we were met with a few bumps in the road. We had some sickness, on Saturday all of our times dogged us, I got punched in the family jewels by a five year old, and we didn't have the best turn out to church. O ya, and it is extremely cold. But hey, the work moves on and so does our time here. Sure don't have time to be standing around feeling bad for yourself. "Put Your Shoulder To The Wheel...."

Today we are getting transfer news. Seeing as both me and Elder Nash have been in Ankorondrano for ever, we're both ready to go. We're happy though, so if we both stay I'm sure we'll be content for another month.

I love you guys so much. Miss ya too. Praying for you, as always.
-Elder Cryer

Monday, June 27, 2011

Rushing

This week we were rushing to get the baptizees ready for Saturday, rushing to get the program ready for the baptism, and rushing with no other apparent purpose then just to rush.

The baptism of Ravaka, Malala, Julienne, Nombinina, and Clara went off well. Our ward mission leader forgot to call all of the people for talks and prayers, so Elder Nash and I ended up giving both talks, the music, and baptizing. By the end I was run ragged, but immensely pleased with the results. All of the baptized bore their
testimonies, and one really stood out among the already heart-felt and touching words given. Sister Malala is the young woman who has only been learning for two weeks, and yet she seemed to have the deepest and most intense conversion of all. Had it not been for this highly unusual sensitivity to the Spirit, it would have
been impossible to pull the whole thing off for her. The next day during Sacrament meeting, every single one of the speakers commented about how strong the Spirit had been the day before at the baptism, and how their own personal testimonies had been strengthened by it. I had a few really strong impressions come to me.

Sometimes I wonder if maybe baptisms end up meaning less to us Malagasy missionaries than others, like missionaries in Europe because here, they happen all the time. But the thing that I value the most is seeing the conversion process of these people. The moment when they decide that they know the church is true, and you watch their countenance change is something of indescribable worth. To me, that's the best. To me, there's nothing better.

This past weekend we also had the national independence holiday of Madagascar. Things got absolutely insane! It was a crazy and fun weekend. We went and nistangatsangana-ed with all of the excited party goers, watched some fire-works, and even lit a bunch off ourselves. It was quite a treat. Btw to mitsangastangana is to, essentially, go and stand around. Imagine all the people who just stand around, talk, and eat stuff during New Years Eve on Time Square....same idea I suppose, just more Malagasy. I didn't break mission rules or commandments, so I'd say it was a success. And that's all I'll say about that.

I have whipped the sniffles. It is quite cold outside, so my throat isn't always super clear. O well. I'll live.

Praying for ya,

Elder Cryer


Monday, June 20, 2011

Teach people, not lessons




No, I haven't eaten any uncooked pieces of doughnut lately. I learned that lesson a very long ago from Ivato ;). A couple of weeks ago I did end up buying a tasty-ish looking fried piece of chicken. Fortunately, before I sank my teeth into the suspicious little morsel I had the good sense to open up the little sucker and see just what was waiting for me inside. Sure am glad I did that, because a disgusting piece of bloody chicken was awaitin' for me amidst the cold, crumbly fried bread. That was certain to make me sick as a dog.

This past week was full of a lot of really excellent times and one really inspiring zone conference. We are trying harder and harder to teach people, not lessons. The principle is much better understood now, so now we can be more specific about our "teach to the needs" way of doing things. Sometime back in November or so the Missionary Department released the "New Curriculum." This was not necessarily a whole new way of teaching, but just a firm refocusing of the already existing principles found in Preach My Gospel. Elder Nash and I have really been trying to institute these types of teaching skills in our appointments. So far as we've seen, the Spirit is even stronger during times and there has been a heightened amount of progressing investigators (meaning those who keep their commitments and are progressing towards baptism) in our teaching pool on the whole. It wasn't like we weren't having the Spirit present in time before, or like investigators thought we didn't care before, it is just that they understand our want to meet their needs and connect with them on a level better. On the whole the times are more spiritual because the investigator is sharing, more often, in the overall presence and power of the Holy Ghost. So far as I've seen, things are working awesome on that front....

Elder Nash and I are still working hard to get everyone ready for their baptisms on the 25th (this Saturday!). Thankfully, it looks like we'll be having at least six people headed for the font, and each one of them is so ready to be a member of this church it is almost unreal! All of the people who are getting baptized are way legit.

I'm not really sniffling anymore, though I'm not exactly fit as a fiddle. I ate tons of mandarins this week to try and get better.

Happy Father's Day Dad! Wonderful to hear about your delicious Father's Day menu, though a tad bit depressing when compared to the food here. I hope everything turned out great for your Father's Day. I love you Dad, and just want to say how much I appreciate all the things you've done for me. I fully realize that if wasn't for your patience with me that I wouldn't be where I am today, nor who I am today. I was never the child naturally disposed to obedience, so I'm glad that you were naturally disposed to being the best Dad ever.

I love you guys, and take more joy than I express in my emails home from the letters and emails you send me. Sometimes I don't comment about the things which interest me greatly...I chalk it up to laziness.

Mivavaha for moi, por favor. Domo arigato.
Auf wiedersehen,
Elder Cryer

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Pentacost




I got the package from you guys last Monday, and lemme' tell ya, it was fantastic. Elder Nash and I greedily consumed the entire contents of the precious box. I've gotten a lot of packages from you guys in the past year or so, and a lot of them have been equally splendid, but I'd still rank this latest addition quite highly. The Gushers were something extra special....Nash and I almost cried as we ate the beautiful things. Yum. We also got really sick, but I'll take stomach aches over not eating delicious food any day.

Coming up on the 25th of this month we'll be having a projected 8 baptisms. This is incredible! as you might guess. A lot of the people who are getting baptized have been learning for at least over a month or more, except for one. There is the 18 year old daughter of one Sister Julienne who has come to church twice so far that has decided that she wants to be baptized with the other investigators in her household. We only met and taught her this past Sunday, and we gave her the option of being baptized at a later time to allow for ample time to receive all the lessons. She said that she couldn't do it, but absolutely had to be baptized with the other members of her family in two weeks. Though this was a little bit nerve-racking for us, the missionaries who have to teach her everything in two weeks, it was still amazing to see how much her once non-existent testimony had grown in the very short time of her relationship with church. As we taught the family about Joseph Smith and the Restoration of the Gospel - which most, but not all, had already learned previously - the Spirit was so powerful in that house. Even for those who had heard it before - and Elder Nash and I have heard it quite few times before - the truthfulness of it all was witnessed by the power of the Holy Spirit. We now have the somewhat difficult task of going through all the lessons effectively for this young woman, but we're thinking that it should be do-able. Pray for us!

On Sunday we had good old Pentecost: the wonderful day when the Apostles received the Holy Ghost. Wonderful then, but not so wonderful at the present for the missionaries of Madagascar. Why? I'll first start by saying Malagasy people really like their holidays, and their drinking. When holidays arrive, the amount of alcohol consumed by the populous increases tenfold. They also get much more rowdy and rude, as you might guess. Sunday, the actual day of Pentecost wasn't really bad at all...but Saturday is another story. We were yelled at, made fun of, harassed, literally attacked, and at one point we even had rocks thrown at us. Pretty much no one was home, and we ended up wandering around, searching for something to do the entire day, something of worth. Mine and Elder Nash's area is not really known for its sparklingly polite people, so over the months we had disciplined ourselves in not paying any attention to the harassment. I'm glad that we had received this training prior to Saturday, for boy o' boy was our patience tested! At close to the fever-pitch of the whole charade, I even said to Nash, "Let's just pretend that they're all talking about how cool we are, and complimenting us and stuff" just to make it through the torment.

I'm not gonna lie -- it wasn't fun. But I'm still thankful for it because it gave us the opportunity to show the people of our area that we really do love them, and even when they're drunk as a skunk we'll still not disrespect them. Maybe that's why people were so much nicer to us on Sunday....who knows?

I thank yall for the concern over my illness, but on the whole I've pretty much shrugged the thing off. I'm quite thankful that Madagascar is not sharing in on the over 100° June weather back home. Instead, we are going in the exact opposite direction. I usually wear sweaters and jackets out to work every day now, and I'm often shivering in the mornings and nights. This past week went really well. I was still sick on Monday and Tuesday, but from Wednesday on me and Elder Nash went after it. On that note, btw, Elder Nash and I are still together making us the longest standing companionship of the moment in the whole mission.

Prayin' for ya.
Well that's about all the time I have for today. I love you guys so much and pray for you constantly. The Church is true! Woo!

Love,
Elder Cryer

Monday, June 6, 2011




Woo-wee those were some cute little pictures of the youngins' and folk (you guys being the folk, of course). They have gotten so big! Ella and the bunch are probably all going to be scared of me when they see me again. Joshua is no doubt going to be screaming...sigh. Maybe Ella will kinda remember me in some way, but probably not. They'll all be thinking 'Who is this skinny guy that kinda looks like my mom? And smells like rice?! I hate him.' And then they shall spit upon me ;P, I can see it now. Oh well. Can't wait to see those little-ones anyways.

This week was sick. As in, I had the flu this week and it kept me in bed from last Monday night all the way until Thursday. I tried to move around and go do some errands or work, and each time I was batted down by the flu. Today we are going to the mission home after emailing and it'll be time to get some heavenly advice from the mission president's wife. I've already been taking medications that are supposed to treat the symptoms of the flu, but they have done nothing. Maybe I don't even have the flu but instead some sort of bacterial infection. IDK. I may be going to the doctor soon, but I personally feel like this might be a pointless move. The health care here is tough; often you end up just paying a bunch of ariary to these doctors who proceed to do nothing. Oh well. In a couple of days I'll be willing to do anything in the world to get this illness off my back.

In other news we finally moved houses. The house we are in is in a place called Anjanahary, though the specific location is almost impossible to describe to taxi-drivers. The area around our house is priviledged, providing us with some absolutely delicious sausage houses, bakeries, and quality rice-shacks. We have an absolutely beautiful view, looking out into the Tana valley and off into the mountains beyond. Apparently the guy who lives above us is a famous pop singer named Eziet. Cool...I guess. The house is pretty large and pretty cold - we blame the tile floors. There are a couple of problems with the house currently, mostly relating to plumbing and the inability to wash and dry our clothes. I've been wearing the same under-clothes for a couple of days now....hopefully these problems are solved soon.

We still had 15 investigators come to church yesterday, which made Elder Nash and I quite proud, but I still feel kinda like a failure for not being able to stand up to this flu. This is a little bit stressful, because we have many investigators who are suppossed to be baptized in the coming Saturdays - as in this Saturday - but Nash and I still have to wrap up all the lessons and what not.

I hope that this week ends up being much better than the last. I'll pray extra hard. Pray for me too!

Love,
Elder Cryer