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,
Monday, June 20, 2011
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.
at 12:48 PM
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
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!
at 8:05 AM
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!
at 1:17 PM