Monday, March 21, 2011


First in email, I suppose I'll tell you about my new companion, area and general surroundings. My new companion is named Elder Nash and he is from Newcastle, California. We like pretty much the same things and he is pretty chill and awesome so we make a good match. I wonder if we'll be riding out the next 8 months in Akorandrano with Elder Nash. O ya, and he's about a million times better at Malagasy than me when I had been in country for a month.

My new area is called Akorandrano and it is right in the middle of the smelly, amazing, weird, noisy, fascinating city of Antananarivo. For the entire portion of my mission that I have spent in Tana, I have spent the majority of my p-days in this area, which is kind of equilibrium-shifting. I love this area. There are some of the richest people in Madagascar here and some of the poorest. The ward here is called Tana 1st and it is the original unit organized in the country in 1992. The ward is stable, all the major callings are filled, everything runs smoothly and the members help us a lot with missionary work.

My house is awful. I am not even joking. We rent out the second floor of an apt. and we deal constsantly with ruckus all around us. The excellent news is that this house will soon be closed to any and all missionaries. One of the wonderful features of this area is the amount of tracting we do to fill up the schedule. I have learned that amazing things can happen when we tract. We've had some pretty interesting experiences, sometimes crazy, but sometimes people that are so ready to receive the gospel.

One of our most interesting experiences here came when we went to a return appt. with what we thought was an interested man. Approaching the door, I called in my usual-I-am-here-let-me-in voice, "Ody O!" Nothing happened at first, no one came to the door. Both doors were open so we knew that someone was there. After calling "Ody O!" a second time, I notice a rustling behind these curtains covering the door of what I assumed was the kitchen. Pulling the curtain back to see what was going on, I saw a sight I will never forget. The man was in the process of climbing under the kitchen table to hide from us. I closed the curtain, told Elder Nash and we had a good laugh. The man also laughed and said he was praying AND cleaning the underside of the kitchen table at the same time. Who doesn't pray while cleaning? You'd be a fool not to.

I am short on time at the moment, so the next story will have to be greatly condensed. A lady approached us on the street and asked us to come to her house and pray for her injured husband. Of course we went right away and gave the man a blessing of healing and together a lesson about faith and priesthood power. They are taking the lessons now and they are experiencing a miracle of the Savior in their hearts.

I love you guys so much and pray for you constantly. The Church is true! Hoo-raa

Elder Cryer

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Christmas 2010 and Island Conference

Flash floods and fainting

So many things have happened this week that it feels like I haven't emailed in a month. Before transfers, I had to find a mini and prepare the area for the transfer which would be taking place soon. So me and Rado, the brother of Souer Helisoa, a return missionary, visited every single person in our teaching pool and told them to get ready for the new missionaries. We encouraged them to continue forward in diligence, because it might be a little while before the new missionaries would get around to visiting them.

We told one of our newest recent converts that Elder Slater and I both would be leaving...she passed out instantly! We had to pick her up and put her in bed - fear not for I was only in a supporting role. I made Rado do all of the actual carrying because I didn't want to get into any sort of a sticky situation -, then we asked people to watch over her until she came to once more. After that, we bolted to avoid any awkward questioning which we could possibly get from suspicious neighbors. Admittedly, I would wonder too, if some dudes from a weird church caused a girl to pass out.

At one point we were walking down a path, moving towards our next appointment when we heard the sounds of rain coming down in the distance. We both turned around at the sound, looked at each other, and then said "mihazikazĂ  (run)!" So we took off down the path, trying to get inside before the rain caught us. We were about a hundred yards from our next time when the onslaught reached us. As soon as the storm hit us we were completely engulfed. Running under the protection of a tin roof that was outside of an epicerie/trano vato/snack shop, we decided to try and wait out the worst of the rain. Little did we know that the worst was to come.

I had never actually been in a flash-flood situation before that rain-storm. Within five minutes, the entire path was washed away in the flood which came out of literally nowhere. Withing ten minutes we were forced to climb onto a ledge outside of the epicerie to escape the rising water. Within 12 minutes the waves were lapping at our ankles! At that point, we were sure that we were goners and had resigned ourselves to a very wet end to our short lives. Fortunately, as floods can flash in, they can also sometimes flash out. A few minutes after the worst of the storm, the rain eased off and the water level had descended dramatically....we continued on our ways.

After transfers on Thursday, I left my new area of Akorandrano and went back to Sabotsy Namehana to help the new missionaries get used to the area. There is a lot of people that are ready to be baptized and we didn't want them to fall through the cracks. So I only just started working in my new area yesterday. So far it seems cool. From what I hear, the ward will reward hard-working, enthusiastic missionaries with loads of referrals and daily dinner apppointments. Sounds like a blast! My new companion is awesome.

When I came to my new area I also became District Leader. This past Sunday we had the Tana stake split and a stake conference. Some from the First Quruom of the Seventy showed up for the event, namely Elder Renlund and Elder Mkabelah. The conference went well, and the next day we were able to take part in a Zone conference with Elder Relund doing training with us. Before the conference for everyone started the District Leaders, APs, and Zone Leaders got to have a leadership training meeting with President Donnelly and Elder Renlund. When I walked into the room to see Elder Renlund at the table, I almost had a heart-attack right then and there. I've talked to a Seventy before, but never had the opportunity to ask him questions and answer questions from him. I'm positive that for me and all of the other elders that were there, it was an incredible experience.

That is pretty horrible news about the earthquake in Japan.

I miss you guys and pray for you often.

Elder Cryer

Monday, March 7, 2011

Faith on our little island

Thank you for the package! It was wanting of any types of candy - a fact which I took in stride - but it did contain some really incredible little tidbits as well as homey odds and ends. Reading the calendar that actually has my going home date inside of it was something special and very weird. Elder Horn, my mission Dad, is going home this week - everything is flying too fast! I am currently wearing the CTR ring on my right pinkie. The books, posters, sweater, and key chains are all fabulous. Thank you :D.

Our over-all goal this year in baptisms is at this time 2045. Just in case you were wondering, this is huge! Just two years ago we only got 725 baptisms, and last year we only got 1200 baptisms, so this is a monumental jump from past goals. And ya know what the craziest thing is? We are currently holding onto where we are supposed to be in the progression towards completion of the goal. Here in Sabotsy Namehana we have gotten 8 baptisms, but in a couple of the provinces there are areas who have gotten over 20 in just two months! I'm no expert, so I won't be saying here what has been done differently now than before to cause this success, but I will say that it is pretty awesome to be a part of.

For me, however, and for other areas which I have seen, I can say that a major credit to the success has just been the simple belief in miracles that come through living, breathing faith. I am a firm believer in the scripture in James which goes "Faith without works is dead." The miracle-type of faith is only present when our works are of true worth and actually fruitful. If a person has real, genuine faith, then he will have a hope of his gaining salvation through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We can only have this hope if we are obedient to the laws and ordinances of the gospel. Our faith must be shown and sustained by our works if it is ever to do anything important. Let us continue to follow the counsel of Paul in
this, however, and not base worth upon our works or the works of another lest we be lead unto boasting of our own strengths.

Living faith is practically the most needed virtue. Satan will fail in the face of faith on our little island on the Indian Ocean.

I love you all and pray for you. Miss you guys! Have a great week!

Elder Cryer

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Best Things First

All week was a preparation rush for the baptisms on Saturday. We worked ourselves ragged making sure everything was ready. Reviewing, reviewing, reviewing, teaching teaching, teaching, collecting, collecting, collecting information. By the time I and Elder Ravelomahefa went on splits last Friday, all the of the baptizees were fit as a fiddle and passed with flying colors. And lemme just say, that was the relief of the year so far.

Saturday went fabulously. Like clockwork, the right people came to fill their positions and the baptizees came. The talks were short, but sweet. Both I and Elder Slater took some dips in the water to get this thing done, and it was extremely satisfying. Five there were that day, five who went into the waters of baptism and emerged as new men and women. It was so fantastic to see everyone have the lines of pure sincerity and real intent marking their features as they climbed into the portable font. I can honestly say, without reservation, that these people are golden. They'll endure to the end, of this I am sure. Afterwards all of the baptizes bore their testimonies and it was touching. Frere Joel and Souer Suzanne gave incredible testimonies that really showed the depth of their conversions. Jessica (an 11 year old boy) and Pierre were as far as I could tell, extremely nervous, and Hiantra got up there and praised the Lord like it was no tomorrow, gave a stirring testimony, and then had us all pray. It was different, but heart-felt, making it perfectly A-O-K.

The next day, both I and Elder Slater did some of the confirmations of the Gift of the Holy Ghost. That wasn't my first rodeo, so I feel like I did fine. But I was so proud of Elder Slater for overcoming all fear and doubts and going for it. Despite the fact that it was mildly apparent that it was his first time giving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, he did a bang up job of it. Elder Lehnhardt even made a time of it by
giving Frere Joel - who, I think I may have already told you, is fantastic at English - the laying on of hands in English. The rest of Sunday went well with a couple of great soirées that left us on the verge of death by over-consumption of food.

So here I sit, a sunny morning on P-Day writing to you all. There was some other things I meant to write about, but it just doesn't seem to fit when you put the best things first.

Thanks Dad for sharing your cockroach story from your mission. Wow that story most definitely trumps mine! I remembered the cockroach in the pancakes story from you as I was writing my emails last week. But woowhee the fact that she was purposely doing it just to be a stinker and make you guys go away..the nerve...

This week I've become even more lazy about working out, but I've also been getting skinnier, suprisingly. Sometimes I feel absolutely wretched and the food I eat seems to be doing weird things to me. I'm fairly positive I have some kind of a worm in my stomach, eating up all of my food. In a couple more months, I'll go see Sister Donnelly for some anti-worm pills that should solve the problem fairly effeciently. Almost every missionary gets some worms from time to time in this land, so it is natural - worry not. My companion thinks my declining health is probably caused by the food I have been eating lately. When my money started running low this month, I had to start eating a lot of noddles and rice only. We figure that the change in diet could be responsible for me feeling crappy sometimes, as in the beggining of the month I always eat really well.

This all reminds me of the need - painful and frustrating as it often times can be - for affliction in suffering that must exist in this life for us to truly understand things like happiness and joy. I'm a firm believer that the Lord's way is the high way (or the low road, as Nephi says), therefore I know that pain is a catalyst for prayer, and prayer is a catalyst for godliness. So often to I see those who have not known the bitter trials of the real world, or those who simply try to insulate themselves with money, and I know that they do not have true happiness, for they have never experienced true pain with a heart turned to God. Many of us go through these sufferings whether we are rich, or poor, but only the humble one, the penitent one will be able to take from that experience good that lies in all things. Long story short, let us all count our blessings in order that we may see the incredible contrast in how few our trials really are, and how many blessings exist in our lives from our Maker on high.

I miss you guys and pray for you. Well that's all for today folks. Love you much, and miss you not a little.

Elder Cryer