Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Two Stories

Goodness gracious it is strange that I only have about six months left until I go back to the old lone star state. One of the most common phrases that missionaries who are getting ready to go home say is that it didn't seem like two years. And I can attest to that! In no way shape or form does it feel like I've been here for a year and a half. I wish I would have known from the beginning that two years back home does not in fact equal two years on the mission. I'd say it equals about a year. My advice to missionaries who are preparing to go out is this: don't worry about the time. Serve your mission as best you can, not thinking about the homecoming which to you seems like will never arrive. Just give it all you got, and by the time you remember that there is indeed a homecoming waiting for you, you'll be close to the end.

Anyways, this week was really somethin' special. So many things happened that I literally have not the time to write about it all. If I was more diligent about writing in my journal then maybe I could recount all of these things to you, but I only have time for two stories.

We were waiting on a somewhat elderly woman to begin a time with a family that lives close to a neighborhood practically full of members. We were all sitting around, making small talk to pass the time until the grandmother of the family would arrive. Finally I saw her face out of one of the small holes in the wall that act as 'windows' for the hut. I called to her and asked if she would be able to attend our appointment. She said that she was on her way, but first she'd have to put away all of her chickens and wares from the day. I volunteered us and the rest of the people in the house to helping her out for a bit. Scampering, running, and shuffling along, the many varied members of our little group went outside and began the chicken hunt.

All of the chickens had gotten out of their pens and were heading for the hills! Everyone spread out and was chasing after them, trying to herd them back to their outside pens and then transfer them to the house. Jumping, and diving, the chickens flew around the road, trying to evade us. The whole neighborhood was outside at the moment, so it was really quite to show to see all these people running around with a couple of gangly white-guys-running-like-chickens-with-their-heads-cut-off - pun intended. My tactic was to chase the chickens to the shore of the poo-river which runs through our area and leap at them before they got over their fear of water and went for a swim. I was uniformly unsuccessful in my attempts. I swear that some of those chickens were really ninjas disguised as poultry. I've never seen a feathered-friend move so fast on land. After a short and crazy period of time, we had conquered all of the chickens but three. Seeing that these guys were by far the most skillful of all, we split up into three main groups and went after 'em.

Somehow, despite our miserable efforts at catching the chickens before, Elder Nash and I ended up in a group by ourselves. Using the tactic which had already proved ineffective before - so why we used it again I have no idea - we chased the d'Artagnan of the three musketeers to the shore of the river once more. Like a raptor he stooped and ran, hurdling children, baskets, and white guys. Finally though, we had him cornered. Standing on the edge of a of a perilous ledge, a full six feet above the rushing waters of the poo river, the roue had met his match. On one side was the river, the death that awaited him there. On his right was the battle-proven Elder Nash, his sweet bag from Mexico swaying at his side, word of his chicken-catching fame having already spread to even the ears of this young, fool-hardy d'Artagnan. And on his left was the fumbling, red-faced-as-a-tomato Elder Cryer.

The chicken faked to the right, then to the left, side-flipping over the swiping hands of Elder Nash. Having thrown himself a bit too wildly, he hovered out over the thundering waves, beating his wings ferociously. Finally pulling himself around and back to the ledge, the trap had been laid, set, and sprung. Waiting for his lofty return were the grasping, yet patient hands of one Elder Cryer.

The next story I have to share it most certainly not one of adventure, intrigue, or happiness. Walking back from one of our later appointments and going to our final lesson of the day, we were stopped in a very dark alleyway by a man and a little boy. The man called out to us, begging us to heal the boy for his head was hurting very badly. I asked what the problem was and the man said, "His head is exploding." Alarmed, I pulled out our cell phone and shined it over the boys scalp. What I saw shocked me and prompted me to take the man and boy with us to a place that had more light. As we walked towards a lamp that lit up a railroad track, I asked the man if the boy had a severe sun-burn. He said no and began the describe how the illness had come about. Finally standing in the lighted area, we were able to give the boys head a closer inspection. In our minds at least - we saw what looked to be a pox. I talked with the parents about how the illness was acting in the boys body, a frightening virus.

After seeing the boys blisters and lesions under our cell-phone light, I instantly began praying for inspiration on what we should do. The Spirit very srongly seemed clear - a blessing of comfort and peace for the boy and the family as a whole seemed like the best thing. After talking with the people for some time we told the family that we would bless the boy, we were just going to give a folded arms-type blessing, but then Elder Nash felt strongly that I should put my hands on the sides of the boy's shoulders. Feeling the secure nudge from the Spirit to follow his guidance, I did it. What followed was one of the most Spirit-filled blessings I've ever personally heard or given, and also the saddest. I almost began to cry during the blessing. The Lord assured them that everything would be alright, and that whatever was to come was indeed the Lord's will. Then I blessed him that he would feel no pain and suffering as the coming events related to his illness unfolded in his life. And that was that.

Elder Nash and I are uncertain about the state of the boy and his family, and even his entire neighborhood, but we are not filled with hope. We just keep moving on and telling everyone in our area to wash their hands, stay clean. Elder Nash and I are totally ok and have not contracted a virus and have both gotten our immunizations.

Well, sorry to end this email on such a sad note. I feel like the thing we should take from this is the fact that we are in the Lord's hands. That boy was only six years old, so I know he could not have placed himself in the path of such a horrible trial by his own actions. Little children are swallowed up in the Atonement of Jesus Christ and are sinless. Whatever happens to us is the Lord's will. If you are doing what God has asked you to do, then there is never any need to fear or despair. Maybe it won't be comfortable, maybe it won't be what you wanted to happen, and you may not know the reason for it.

I'm sure next week will prove to be pretty plain and I'll have nothing to write but my testimony next Monday.

Anyways, it was fantastic to hear from you and I can't wait to talk to you
guys on Mother's Day. Next week I'll be sure to give you all of the
information for the call.

I love you guys and pray for you often. Stay safe...
Elder Cryer

Monday, April 18, 2011

Moments in Mada

Gimme some prayers

As of right now the work is going really great here in Ankoranadrano. There are about 6 baptisms that are coming up this next Saturday, so we have now entered the rush to get everyone ready set and geared up for the baptismal interview. Two of the people have been learning for some time, but the other four have only been learning from the missionaries for a little over a month. They've been diligently coming to church for the entire time we've known them, and their baptismal date which had originally been set back when they first started learning draws near. I feel sure that they will be fine and that everything will work out.

This Saturday we have a Ward Missionary activity. We are planning on the centerpiece being a viewing of the Restoration video, which was translated by missionaries into Malagasy. There will be a spiritual thought from the Bishop, a game and lesson-type thing from us, and then some snacky-type food provided by the ward. It should be quite the little get-together, and we are hoping for a huge out-pouring of support by the ward. Our biggest hope is that this outpouring of support will be manifested in the form of many referrals. And maybe even promises of some delicious dinner-appointments...that'd be ok too.

This week a way awesome thing happened to us. We went out tracting and contacting people with one sister in the ward named Soeur Tina. She and her husband are have been called on a mini-couple mission by the ward. Anyways, on Friday we went out for an hour with her. Our original plan was for us to just try to contact diligent investigators that had fallen through the cracks in the numerous changes of missionaries. As we were walking towards our appointments a couple of people started saying hi and asking us where we were going. We jumped at the opportunity to invite them to church and before long had gathered the entire surrounding neighborhood around us. I seriously felt like one of those old-time missionaries that started the work in England all those years ago. Maybe it was because we were with a Malagasy, or maybe it is because she - the Malagasy - was with some vazahas, or maybe we just got really really lucky; either way every single person at that gathering was glued to us and wanted to learn more. We talked a little bit about the church and its teachings, but we mostly just invited them to church for the following Sunday. We had originally started out the day with two fat stacks of invitations, but by the end of our street meeting we had handed all of them out! This Wednesday and Sunday we are going back to try and teach anyone who will let us in, which we hope will be a lot. Pray for us!

In conclusion, I got my package yesterday! And it was AWESOME!!! The candy was absolutely exquisite - though it did make me sick - and I think you'll be happy to know that I showed some self-restraint by not going ahead and eating the entire load on my first go. Now I can portion my chocolates out for a few very happy weeks to come :D. Both me and Elder Nash have already read the entire article about Madagascar from National Geographic. There were alot of things which I have personally seen, so that was neat. But there were also tons of things which I have not even come close to experiencing: Baobabs, rainforests, lemur-stew, and total ambanivohitra (countryside) life were extremely interesting to see. Thanks again mama.

This week was pretty fantastic as we were able to see all of General Conference...finally. Conference was absolutely fabulous. We got to watch all but one of the sessions in English, so that was for sure a major improvement over 6 months ago. And besides, I was able to understand the one Malagasy session pretty well.

Well I love you all super much and pray for you guys. Wish me luck this next week...and gimme some prayers...Looking forward to possibly eating some tasty lemur stew someday after they recently tasted me.

Elder Cryer

Monday, April 11, 2011


This week was a slow one. Our Tuesday was pretty jam packed full of appointments and new investigators, so we figured that the whole rest of our week would be the same. Sadly, it was not at all. My companion came down with some sort of a mystery illness Wednesday morning that had him bed-ridden for two days. He was majorly suffering from this strange sort of stomach pain that was like a "spiky ball of pain". Ouch! For pretty much the entire week we didn't know what was inflicting him - turns out, he was experiencing an especially violent form of respiratory infection. In the past week we were only able to work for about three days. We had quite a few people come to church, though.

As we were walking from place to place one day, we had an unexpected surprise that brightened our day. Driving past us in a large, highly guarded, convoy was a professional soccer team from France. I guess that they were excited to see some other white people other than their selves - which is a highly unusual sight in this country - so they all said "hi" and "bonjour" to us. How nice! I'm so used to people saying bonjour with a cheerful little - sarcasm, of course - "white guy". The poorer the areas we go to, the more people comment about our whiteness. They mean no harm by saying "white guy" to us; it is just that they have really never seen a white person before in their lives. They love to talk to us and learn from us and socialize with us, so I know it isn't said in any kind of a mean spirit. Anyways, that was way cool to get a hello from a pro soccer team :D.

Later that day we were trying to get home by taxi, but also trying to catch a free ride from a passer-by. We had our thumbs stuck out, hoping to get some charity filled soul to pick us up. On our second or third try a really beautiful SUV pulled over to the side and rolled down their window. And what do you know? French people had come to our rescue again! But wait...it gets better. They rolled down their window, probably expecting to see some tired backpacking tourists from their own homeland. Instead, they hit the accelerator as soon as they realized it was a couple of missionaries. O the joys. You get all sorts of fun experiences.

I gave my companion a blessing last Saturday, went with him to the doctor, acted as interpreter for the whole encounter, and then gave a 20 minute talk on Sunday about missionary work. Frere Hery, the 1st Counselor, called me late Saturday night and told me about the assignment. I'm pretty used to talking and preaching at this point. I feel like the talk went well, or at least like someone understood the general idea of what I was trying to get across. Afterwards we had a flood of help come from all the members in the ward.

The work is moving along well here. I love and miss you guys. Pray for you madrakariva.

Havin' a fabulous time,
Elder Cryer

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Monday, April 4, 2011


Adriakaiky! I spent so long on this email to you guys last week, so to find out that it didn't even send was a huge bummer. I saw the email from gmail this morning saying that the earthlink server had rejected my email because the file size was too big - aka -, too many pictures of lemurs :'< . So today you guys will be getting two emails from me; hope that makes up for last week. I edited the pictures out. And here it is:

News this week: Someone named their son after me. I can't remember all the other Malagasy names in the boys title, but his first name is "Matthew." This is seriously one of the biggest honors I'll ever have! The boy is the grandson of my favorite investigators in Sabotsy Namehana, Julian. I think I've already told you about him. Anyways, a few weeks back he had told me and Elder Ortiz that he was going to get his daughter to name her son after me, but I totally thought it was only a joke. And then last week the baby is born and Elder Ortiz texts me with the crazy news! Holy cow was I blown away.

Half way through last week we were on our way to a time with a lady who is getting baptized this Saturday named Abeline. We were stopped by her sister on the path, saying that Abeline was at the home of Frere ToiƩ because his father had just died earlier that morning! So we trooped on over there to help with anything that could be helped with, and mostly because the Spirit directed us that way, just in time to attend the viewing ceremony. I described one of these ceremonies back in when I was in Antsirabe. We didn't know a single person in the visiting group of respect-payers, but we stood with them solemnly anyways, consoling the family members to not be sad anymore. In the end we ended up sharing a spiritual thought with those of the family who were members, or at least affiliated themselves with the church. The spiritual thought was obviously picked out by God, perfect for the situation. I forget the exact verse number. Anyways, it was about paradise and the resurrection and stuff. The Spirit was so powerful during that time, and I feel positive that everyone left strengthened and bettered for the exchange. They were still sad, but not in a way that was counter-productive and paralyzing. I love missionary work. Sometimes you get to use your calling in a different way than is normally thought of, like comforting a family in need.

Other unusual opportunity presented itself when Elder Nash and I broke up a domestic violence dispute that was way out of hand by the time we arrived. I won't go into the circumstances of the situation, as they are sad. Regardless, I can affirmatively say that the Spirit lead us to the right places at the right times to prevent more harm from being inflicted and sustained. Follow the Spirit! That's what I'll say about that one.

BTW the reason I am emailing so late in the day is that we went to a lemur park this morning. That's right, a bonafide lemur park! The lemurs were on the whole pretty nice, though completely wild. They had had little experience with people before, so it was pretty difficult to coax them in with endless bananas and peanuts. One of them was probably sent by Satan himself to give us rabies and other wicked monkey diseases. This especially ratsy fanahy (evil spirited) one bit the heck out of my hand and arm! That's right; he bit me! Twice! This same especially mean male lemur also bit Elder Nash twice. Once, horribley on the hand, and the second time a seriously vicious attack on his right nipple. It was horrible and awesome to behold. On the whole, it was the best P-Day I've ever had. Seriously.

Well I'll talk to you guys more next week. Praying for you...Right now I'm off to go play frisbee.


Are you and Brady still feeling unwell? I'd imagine that the heaviest hitting part of the virus has probably disappeared by now, but all those stories still worry me. I'll give some extra special prayers for you lovely people. Don't be gettin' sick or nothin no more before I get home! I only got seven months left woman! Hold on!!!

Don't Stop Believin'

This week was interesting, productive, and full of its interesting challenges. One of which came in the form of an unclothed screaming woman who blockaded us on our way to a baptism last Saturday. I really don't know why she had stripped her shirt off and gone running amuck, but it was inconveniencing us for sure. I was determined to keep following our original path down the road - much to the dismay of Elder Nash, as she was waving her old....bosom, but then she crossed to our side of the road, directly in front of us. She seemed like she would like nothing more than to assault a couple of white boys at the time, so we promptly ran away and went down the street by means of a side souvenir market.

Coming out on the other side of the market, we realized that the crazy lady had followed our same path and was then throwing rotten fruit, trash, and rocks at the crowds of people who were coming in for a look. People were running every which way, trying to get away - I think she was actually a witch. We came out of the market and she was throwing big rocks at the ground, shouting profanities at the surrounding people. Then a poor unsuspecting woman who just so happened to walking down the wrong part of the sidewalk at the wrong time bumped into her. The hag began to strangle her - of course - before she was interrupted by a man carrying a leafy stick. The guy took over. It was perhaps one of the strangest things I've ever seen in my entire life. Ahhh, Madagascar; I wouldn't have it any other way :).

Once we actually got to the church, we had to wait a couple of hours for everyone that we needed for the baptism to show up. The baptism was only attended by a small group of women and children - six in all, not including the missionaries - and it was a pretty humble little gathering on the whole, somehow it missed being announced in church. The missionaries in Mahamasina had down a baptism service just thirty minutes before us, and the water was straight brown. But baptize we did. The water was dirty because they had been forced to fill up the font with water from the emergency fire-hose. I had to conduct the meeting.

On the whole, the meeting still proceeded well until the slightly awkward time of waiting for the baptizees and baptizers to change back into dry clothes. Usually there is music provided in the form of hymns or soft interlude-type music, and sometimes even a short testimony meeting fills the time. But our pianist was one of the ones in the bathroom changing, and we didn't have any where close to enough people to have a testimony meeting. So...I tried my hand at the piano. I sure gave it a shot. 'Silent Night' 'High On the Mountain Top' and even 'Don't Stop Believin'. I don't think that being a pianist is going to be in my field of career choices any time soon.

Overall the baptism was humble - as I've already said - but Spirit filled. The two people who got baptized were named Soeur Abeline and Soeur Tania. I've only known them for a small period of time, but the are both very wonderful spirits and definitely some of God's elect that have been found again here on the Earth. The work of the Lord moves on here in Akorandrano.

On Sunday I had to teach the Gospel Essentials class. After church we had a giant planning session with the Ward Council, where we convinced the ward that we are actually diligent missionaries. It seems like they are behind us now as they immediately gave us a few referrals and promised many more. Big activities with a missionary purpose in mind have been planned and everyone just seems more excited about getting into the work with us.

I know that a ward working by itself without missionaries or missionaries working without the ward are very pathetic and useless in accomplishing the Lord's work. In some of my past areas, there have been differing levels of member utilization; all based pretty much upon the decisions of the individual people. But, in those areas the landscape - I use the word literally - was more forgiving than here. Countryside will almost always be more successful than downtown. In down-town I am however, therefore the ward and its members absolutely must be utilized to their fullest extent here. There is no other way for us. I can bear testimony that the Lord's way
is for each and every member in this church, be they full-time missionaries or not, to fulfill the responsibilities which were first given them when they received the possibility of their salvation. If we sit around twiddling our thumbs, watching our fellow man die in spiritual unbelief then we are condemning ourselves with them.

How could we keep this to ourselves? If we have love for those around us, then we have a charity-born responsibility to share the gospel. Even if we don't have love for them then we should get us some love or do our duty anyways! Try first, work first, even if you haven't caught the vision yet; it'll come.

Well, I love you guys so much. I miss you mucho and pray for you always.

Till next time,
Elder Cryer