Monday, January 24, 2011

By one man are many made sinners, by Jesus Christ are we all saved

This was a really great week, full of new investigators, newly diligent families, and many more fun things.

I have yet to get the package you mailed right after Christmas, but I am pretty much expecting to get it today when I go to the office. I got Clarissa's MLK package last week. A word on that whole sending of packages should probably be said. Clarissa's package was pretty much opened up wide for the greedy hands of postmen stretching from here to America. I don't think they really stole too much, but there were a couple of things gone that, according to a note that was in the package, are unaccounted for. I was pretty peeved, but what are you going to do? Elder Slater had a package where they opened up his bag of Reeses Pieces, took a handful, and then sealed the package back up. So if there are any expensive or precious things that you are thinking of sending, lets talk some strategy first. I think we were just all kinds of lucky with the camera. Clarissa put some delicious muffin and cookie mixes in my Martin Luther King Day package, and what I have baked is delicious. Just a thought for the future ;).

To answer the monsoon question: [Ed : Matt lost his good REI rain suit] the yellow rain poncho was too heavy and bulky to be packed in my bags when I left Antsirabe. Consequently, someone else is just going to have to wear that silly thing for awhile. Maybe it will become a house tradtion of wearing the ugly coat in the Ambohimena house.

A story: I went on splits with Elder Smith in Ivato. Elder Jordan, the zone leader, was doing a baptisimal interview in Sabosty Namehana, so I got the chance to go back to my old stomping grounds. We only taught one lesson out there, but I was able to talk with so many people that I taught, baptized, and even worked with back in those begining days. It was so awesome to see those people again, especially now that I can fully understand them and express myself in the language. At the end of the day we went over to Soeur Fanza's house to just see what was up. I believe I mentioned Soeur Fanza many times back in those days, but just as a reminder, she is my Malagasy mom. For a good hour and a half we just talked about different subjects and caught up. In conclusion, Ivato is a lot cooler than I remember it being.

While tracting this week we came along a new little group of houses, huts, and shacks, and decided to try our luck. We walked up to one - a tall, long house that kinda reminds me of an apartment building, yelled "ODY O!" the usual term to say that you are at the door, and about six heads popped out of the upper stairs window. We said, " Hey we"re missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter...." but then stopped because they all popped their heads back inside. Elder Slater said it was like wack-a-moles. They all came downstairs, invited us into their house, and we proceeded to have an incredible lesson with all ten of them. Three distinct families were present, but there were all the children of one grand-father named Eli. They all accepted bap dates for the 26th, and seemed very receptive to everything that had happened. One of the fathers, towards the end of the time, said, "I'll definitely come to church this Sunday, but if I'm gona be baptized I need you guys to come teach me in my house just about every day! I wanna progress!" Just the words a couple of missionaries love to hear.

Another experience which we had this week was at the house of Joel. Joel learned from the missionaries back in 1993 when all the lessons were still in French. He learned everything, but had problems with his work so he and the church grew apart before he was baptized. For ten years after the time when the missionaries stopped coming, he just cruised around. Joel learned about the relationship between the Book of Mormon and the Bible, and we talked a lot about the church in general. He told me a pretty amazing story about when he finally parted from the church. Back ten years ago, some preachers from his wife's church came to his house and told him the the Mormons were evil, and the the Book of Mormon was the word of Satan. So they took all of his church literature away, and told him to repent. Since that time, he says, he has not ceased to have troubles in his life. Marriage, children, and work. He told us that he fully believes that this is the result of the church being removed from his life. Because of that, him and his entire family are going to be baptized in the end of Febuary or the begining of March. Awesome.

After we finished our time with Joel, we invited him to come to the baptism of Frere Phillippe at the church. He came with us, along with a bunch of other investigators who have just recently become very interested in the church. Phillippe's baptism was such a spiritual event, and a somewhat peculiar one. The entire first half of the
service, rain came down like no other outside. Since I was going to be doing the baptism, I was a little worried that everyone would have to wait inside while I baptized Phillipe outside by myself. Fortunately, the rain miraculously stopped for five minutes as soon as the time came to get into the portable fount. Just before Phillippe went down into the water, his whole non-member family came through the gate. I think it was a definite miracle that they were able to see that, as they have now decided to investigate the church. "So by one man were many made sinners, by Jesus Christ are we all saved." I just think of that scripture when I see more and more people coming into the church because of the actions of one or two people.

We see so many spiders! They are absolutely everywhere! And scary! Skinny ones, fat ones, little ones, huge ones, ones that are so big and muscley that me and Slater swear that we saw a new type of Tarantula.

Time to continue on the increasingly shortened train of emails. Well I love you guys and pray for you mucho mihtsy. Have a good week and don't get bitten by any spiders.

Wondering If There Are Any Poisonous Spiders In Madagascar,
Elder Cryer

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Show Goes On

To answer your questions, I really much only hear from the family. It's fine that only family emails or writes. Because I've been away from America for so long. sometimes I feel a little bit cut off, but most of the time I don't really mind. Isn't that what a mission is for? To focus 100% on the things that truly matter? I think so anyways.

This week was as good as ever. The show goes on in Sabosty Namehana with little change. This, I am glad for because it always seems like when you are in an area that is constantly being beset with different matters, you are also in an area that is constantly being troubled by disturbances.

Yesterday afternoon we were dogged (meaning our appointments fell through) by five different groups of people in a row. So from 2-5 in the afternoon we had nothing to do. We decided to do some tracting in new areas, which eventually brought us to a giant rice-paddy that stretched out for miles. Elder Slater and I looked at each other, and decided to set out across the vast unkown, hoping to find adventures waiting for us around every turn.

The rice-paddies paths could really be likend to tightropes made of mud. Each little square of paddy you go into is planted with different types of rice and even different types of produce all together. We tried to catch a snake, but only succeded in losing both my pen and planner in the muddy brown water of the fields. You win some, you lose some I suppose.

This week we had two baptisms, Soeur Hasina and Soeur Irina. The baptism was really a great event, filled with the Spirit and some changes of heart from more than two individuals who attended. A lot of investigators showed up and many less-active family members of those whom were baptized came as well. After the baptism, we went and had dinner and then went to an appointment with the whole family of Irina. Irina's grandfather has been a member for many years; he even has the Melchezidek Priesthood. He has been inactive for some time and Irina's parents are both somewhat in-active. We had an amazing lesson with them all about recommitting ourselves to diligence in the service of he Lord; both the father and the grandpa shared with me their converstion stories. We committed them to read the entire Book of Mormon again, keep all of the commandments, and to pray about the church one more time. They agreed and I told them that I had already in my life had to go through a similair recommitment experience on my mission. I felt the Spirit so strong during that time, and I know they did too.

A backapacking trip when I get home would be great. I've always wanted to do Mt.
McKinely, ha. IF that seems like it might be a little bit too much, then a smaller, closer mountain. Though, if were are to undertake such an adventure, then I feel that I might need to bring along my old missionary shoes. My Dr. Martens are the most comfortable buggers in the world, which is proabbly on account of the extensive wear and tear program they have been forced to go through.

To answer your question about the SD card, one is headed home today! Enjoy.

Tell Spencer congratulations from me on his call to Korea.

Well I love you and pray for you guys all the time. Still not seeing any crocodiles but smelling like a cow.
Elder Cryer

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Faith and Chameleons

For goodness sakes! Now for the fourth time I start my email to you. Ahhhh! Twice when we were at the email cafe earlier this morning, my computer died, thereby erasing my email to you twice in a row. The second time I was actually on the way to
finishing up and sending the email when all of the computers in the email cafe simultaneously restarted themselves. At that point I stood up and walked out, refusing to pay. One of the guys wasn't happy with my decision to not pay, got pretty ticked at me, but his manager accepted it and said that he was sorry. I'm
writing this email from a completely different email cafe.

We've found tons of diligent, and ready to learn people this week. One couple which I'd like to talk a little bit about is named Lucy and Remi. They are a quirky couple who just relocated from downtown Tana in order to find a nice countryside pad to retire in. I don't think they speak much Malagasy around the house, as some of my
phrases had to be translated by Lucy to Remi into French. He still understands and speaks pretty well, but not that great. Anyways, they are awesome. Our lesson with them was truly spectacular. In the end they accepted the invitation to be baptized and really seem like they are going to go somewhere.

This week we had an exceedingly large amount of experiences with some fine species of critters in the animal kingdom. On Thursday evening we were walking down a path by the river, going off to do a little bit of tracting before one of our later times. Looking to my left, I spotted a rare to see creature - The CHAMELEON. But this was no ordinary tarondro (chameleon). He could have been considered a giant of the lizard family on the whole, a mythical legend only found in the most fabulous of fantasy novels, a forearm-sized relic of another age. all actuality he was just a really big and really mean tarondro. Anyways, we picked him up and started taking pictures. Malagasy people are very fearful of tarondro, so they were amazed that we would actually pick up such a dragon. He was as mean as a bobcat straight out of the bathtub! Attempt after attempt, he tried to sink his sharp teeth into us. Luckily, we were too fast for him. After a giant crowd of people showed up, and THEN we all had to hide from some stampeding cows, some kids found us another tarondro that was of a very peculiar variety. Most big chameleons are black, grey, and white, and cannot really make much color difference outside of those three. But this one was a beauty. For once, I've finally seen a really, color changing, big, and unusually green tarondro.

We have really seen a jump in the number of diligent, ready to hear the gospel investigators this week, but we have also seen a major decline in the number of people that simply come to church. Last week we had fourteen investigators come to church, and this week we had seven. We don't know what happened, but we've decided not to dwell on it. We figure that if we are working our hardest and being
obedient to every single rule, then we'll be ok. I have faith that there is still much progress to be done in this area.

Elder Cryer


Monday, January 3, 2011

Flying and Falling

This week was, interesting. New Years proved to be a wash. No work, no nothing.
Just an added amount of drunks and crazy people to deal with. That was all.

Earlier in the week though, we were able to teach a lot of times and get a lot of work done - with a couple of adventures to boot. The first came when after teaching our regular afternoon times on Tuesday, we really just wanted to get some food. At that exact time, so did the taxi-bay drivers. So instead of working, they all just sped on by towards the hotelys and epiceries, not picking anyone up. Having enough of their shenanigans, we chased one down and jumped onto the back off it. Holding a thin piece of metal by the grit of our nails, we held on for dear life as the speeding taxi-bay towed us into town. We figure that they knew we were on the back of their bus, because I saw one of the guys turn around, laugh at us, and then speed up. The off-roading parts were especially difficult and hair-raising as the bus caught air over the dips in the path.

Towards the end of the ride, another traveler hopped on with us. Saying that he was in a hurry to get home to his kids, we made some room on the already cramped metal step which we were perched upon, so that he could stand with us. We got to know him, invited him to church, and then bid him farwell as we hopped off at our restaurant of the night. Later that evening - following the apparent theme of the day - we hitched a ride in the back of someone's glass-moving truck.

In other news, I touched a giant spider and it tried to bite my hand off. Actually, we saw a lot of giant spiders on Wednesday. Strange.

This week we were once again entrapped by the winding, perilous maze of the rice paddies. It proved far too much a chore for us as we both fell in again, multiple times, filling our shoes and pants with ripe mud of the pasture. The paths of the rice paddy have become more and more like tight-ropes...or maybe even slack-lines. When we finally made it to the other side of the valley, Elder Slater looked at me and said, "Ya! Man we conquered that thing for sure!"

To this I said, "I don't know man. I feel certain that we were only let off easy, and this is just the begining of our battles. Today, I feel conquered."

This week we found an amazing new family that lives right across the street from the church. The husband and wife are named Zino and Dina. We came into contact with them through their son who learned English from the missionaries awhile back and plays soccer with us every Saturday. Dina hasn't really been present at any of the two times which we've already had with them, but Zino and his son are thirsty for the gospel. The lessons have been incredible; the Spirit so strong! When we gave them a baptismal date, we were met with instant acceptance. On Sunday, the father didn't come to church but his two sons did show up. I feel certain that this is going to be a family to watch in the coming weeks.

Whew weee am I glad to see the holidays come to an end! Christmas and New Years back home were nifty and all, but on the actual working mission, they are horrible! The work gets disrupted, people become lazy, and we have nothing to do but just wait until everyone sobers up and comes home from the parties. For both the day before New Years Eve and New Years Day, pretty much no one in the entire mission was able to work. Elder Slater and I, thinking that we could fight the slump with good old hard work, were sorely disappointed when for five hours on Friday we went from house to house, appointment to appointment, nothing. The next day we tried to go play some soccer in our area, to no avail. No one showed up at all - not even the little kids who always follow us around. So we went back home, had a nap, went shopping (which was an experience in and of itself), and then went and had dinner at the Bishop's house in Analamahitsy.

Elder Slater and I are trying our hardest to be obedient in all things, and generally work as hard as we can. Consequently, our area is doing well and our companionship is fantastic. This morning, Elder Slater and I cleaned the house for two hours.

I pray for you guys. Say hi to everyone for me.
Elder Cryer