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,