Monday, July 25, 2011

Mad scramble

This past week we have worked ourselves half to death. One thing that President Donnelly really focused on in my most recent interview is my enduring, and working to the end. I'm trying to take that to heart and make these last few months the most productive of all. This has left Elder Cassel and I absolutely spent and really that much more eager for our P-Day. We've been trying to use our ward missionaries as much as possible, and they've been utilized successfully. What's ended up is over-loading our appointments for the evenings and then calling around frantically to ask for the ward-missionaries to go on splits with us. We should probably make the process more stream-lined and less hectic, but it's a work in process. It feels great to go home totally spent from your labors.

We were able to get a lot of new investigators to church this past Sunday, so that was really great to see. A couple of our newest investigators is the family which I spoke of last week. This is the family of Selesten, the ones who promised that they would be coming to church if we could only show them where it was. We had planned on having members go and pick them up, but just before we left our last appointment with them I had a strong feeling to say that we, the missionaries, would pick them up ourselves.

So there we were on Sunday morning - hungry, tired as all get out, and worried because we'd already decided that they wouldn't come with us to church. It was 6:55 a.m. As soon as we knocked on one of the doors to see if anyone was awake, we were startled by the call, "Come in, come in! O we're so late I'm so sorry!" This started off a mad-scramble of all of those who planned to come to church with us running around their little community of shacks, throwing clothes on the naked children, combing their hair, and shouting at bystanders to hurry up and get ready, because they should be going with the missionaries as well! It was funny and, I have to say, a little bit stressful. We all finally got out of there at 7:55 AM, so walking to church wasn't an option anymore. The whole group of us jumped on to one of the taxibes and headed out. We got to church a little bit late, but everyone was mostly just excited to see us and the new investigators. From what I saw, they had a really wonderful and spiritual experience. The teacher in the Gospel Essentials class was so on-point by talking a lot more about her own personal conversion and entrance into the church than focusing too much on the deep-ish doctrine lesson. When they finally left to go home you could see their genuine happiness and desire for more as they said, "Thank you sooo much elders!!! Church was fantastic and know that we know where it is, we'll be coming every Sunday." Maybe that seems a bit cheesy for us more mild-mannered Westerners, but Malagasy people are pretty straight forward when they like something -- not too much beating around the bush with these people.

One thing which happened that really shocked and humbled me was at the time of Silvy. We were teaching two brothers and a sister about the importance of coming to church when Silvy softly said, "And Rivo, if you need any clothes for church I'll buy some for you just like I did with Raphael and Tojo." I think she was trying to say it so that I couldn't hear, and I didn't want to embarrass her, so I just said nothing. I had already seen the handsome little suits that Tojo and Raphael had been strutting around in, and I'd been wondering how they had gotten hold of them. These people are as poor as you can get without starving and being forced to live on the streets.

Now it all makes sense how they'd gotten these clothes -- it was Sister Silvy all along. Poor, sweet, spiritual, and wonderful Silvy had probably gone hungry for a few days just to buy these boys clothes from her measly 60 dollars a month. Well, I'll just say it: my charity and love is pretty much nothing compared to that kind of devotion. Those little boys coming to church and getting baptized was more important than food, to Sister Silvy.

I love you guys and am still praying for you. Tell Brady good luck for me and also please tell Sarah that I'll get back to her next week. I want to think about her question a little bit before I answer. Dad, I'm glad you made it well on your trip. The pictures, btw, look incredible and it really sounds like the trip was quite nice.

My release date is set as November 17th. This is indeed a firm date. I'm working like a maniac, so please don't think that this'll slow me down in the least bit. I'm workin my tail off.

Elder Cryer

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A bit more kick

Well, The CrashNyer (Cryer and Nash; Elder Reynolds can be credited with the creation of this name) companionship ended. We had both known that it was going to happen eventually. I'm really happy for Elder Nash though because he finally got to leave his Birth Area and go off to Tamatave.

My new companion is named Elder Cassel (pronounced 'Castle') and he is way legit. He most recently worked in Antsirabe, and before that was to be found in La Reunion; the all French-speaking island off the cost of Madagascar. He's one of the lucky few Reunion elders that has gotten to come over and experience the most incredible mission in the entire world. From the past few days that we've been together it seems as though he's quite grateful. Who knows how long we'll end up being together? Maybe a month; or maybe he'll put me in my mission grave. We shall see...

So I got the fabulous package this past week, and I was impressed as always. The candy and corn nuts was savory, the letters were sweet, but the beef jerky had a little bit more kick than I was prepared for. For a couple of days the beef jerky was in my backpack before I took it out, and during those few days I was sure to hand out little samples of pure spicy pain to a few of those I talked to. The Malagasys thought the joke was pretty good.

This past Friday we were feverishly looking for new investigators, going from door to door and contacting those on the path. After an hour or so we had gotten pretty discouraged with the whole tracting thing, so we decided to go and recontact a family that Elder Nash and I had taught about a month and a half ago. Nash and I had tried to return to them many a time, but they were never in. Anyways, we gave it one last go to see if just maybe they'd be there. Finally, the entire family was there and even a bunch of the neighbors. They chided us for not coming back, and we in turn chided them for not being home ever -- all in the spirit of joking of course ;). We started the time and decided to not teach them a first lesson, but to instead teach about keeping the Sabbath Day holy. The message of the restored doctrine concerning this principle and the new information about a 'new and ever-lasting covenant' resounded well with all of them, and it just so happened to turn out that they were totally not on board with any of the Saturday Sabbath, things. So the lesson went great and everyone was really excited; they were passionate about what we were saying. I felt the Spirit prompting me to give the invitation, so I invited all of them to church. This may seem like a pretty "duh, of course you would do that" move, but you have to realize that they all go to their church every single day, and the last time we tried to invite them to church they turned us down flat.

The first guy to say anything, Selesten, said that there was no way he could come to our church because he had responsibilities to fulfill at his own. When he started saying that stuff, I got pretty discouraged pretty quick, especially considering the fact that he is the self-stylized leader of the neighborhood. But, after he had said his peace everyone else in the entire room told us that they were coming for sure the next Sunday - because they had already signed up for some kind of meeting thing on the coming Sunday - and we even were able to get a brand new family into the teaching pool afterwards which was a direct result of the previous appointment.

So, that was awesome :D.

Yesterday at church I had to go and teach the primary kids about the temple. It was cool. I've been somewhat sickly of late. It's yucky. I think that I finally nailed
down what was making me feel so crumby, and it just so happened to be our Malagasy version of Ramen Noodles. Sadly, this is the tastiest and cheapest food for us missionaries to consume so I'm not happy to be giving it up. Oh well. It is what it is.

That's really pretty much all I have for right now. I love you guys and am praying for ya.

Elder Cryer

On Sun, Jul 17, 2011 at 4:04 PM, wrote:

Monday, July 11, 2011

Bumping It

This past week was pretty great for us. We tried to work harder and harder, and were simultaneously met with more and more obstacles. Regardless, the work progressed and is moving on. Not too many investigators are coming to church, but Sacrament meeting is full of recent converts from the past six to seven months. To me, it doesn't so much matter about the number of investigators showing up to church, but combining that number with the total number of recent converts and less actives as well. The work of the missionary does not, or should not, end at baptism. So we get pretty stoked when we see our recent converts getting the priesthood, receiving callings as teachers, and becoming some of the most diligent seminary and institute students in the ward.

From one of our times with Silvy and her daughters: Little Finoana (Faith) is an adorable child and often likes to express her loveliness with hitting people, sometimes on the arm and softly, and sometimes on the face and quite forcefully. We were teaching some way awesome investigators about the Atonement and the need for all of us to repent. We got onto the subject of infant baptism and after teaching them what Mormon had to say, I said, "Just look at Finoana! That little girl couldn't possibly be capable of sin!" And then she socked her sister straight in the side of the head. Everyone had a good laugh, and the violence of little Finoana served to illustrate how small children cannot be blamed for their mistakes.

My next experience occurred just yesterday at the time of our recent converts, Julienne's family and friends. We taught them and about four of their friends about the Plan of Salvation, which we had already covered in part at a previous appointment. They received everything well, asking very astute questions and showing their understanding by their profound comments. The best one came at the end of the lesson when we had taught them all about the Three Kingdoms and about the importance of setting the Celestial Kingdom as our number one goal. Julienne raised her hand and said softly, "The things the missionaries have taught me are things that I know are true, and things that I absolutely never knew before. I had the Bible and went to church before the missionaries started teaching us, but we never had any ideas about these things. I'm so grateful for the teachings of the missionaries and what the church is in my life." Somewhere towards the beginning of her words the Spirit jumped from an already high state to cloud nine. I love these people so much! Elder Nash and I are constantly high-fiving and bumping it from the sheer quantity of awesome people and lessons that occur here. Four months left is hard to swallow.

Ok last one: So, as of late we've started teaching this one guy named Liva and his family. The lessons are Spiritually-charged, they readily accept the doctrine as if they've known it their entire lives - which in a way, they have for much longer -, and they are so ready to accept and fulfill commitments. The most incredible thing about all of this, however, is the fact that Liva is completely crippled and only has use of his neck and head. Happiness and hope lights his countenance. In a way he reminds me of Brady, of Frere Jules, and many others who have been given a tough lot in life, but never let it get them down. They can be sad or discouraged from time to time like all of us imperfect humans, but the rate at which they bounce back is astonishing and a true miracle. One of my new challenges for the upcoming week is that when I feel down, or about to give-up, to think about these literal heroes in my life and follow their examples.

Yesterday, interesting eating experience: For dinner we had a bowl of rice and cabbage. Sometimes cabbage loque is ok, but this time it was downright disgusting. Seriously. So me and the member who came with me - a way cool guy named Faniry who's preparing for his mission - ended up eating our entire heaping mound of rice dry. Afterwards Faniry and I could not stop talking about the sheer horribleness of the food. Oh well, Mazotoa is what I always say. Mazotoa is what you say before everyone starts eating. It means, diligence!

This past week we worked hard and were met with a lot of success. On the flip-side however, as we tried to accelerate we were met with a few bumps in the road. We had some sickness, on Saturday all of our times dogged us, I got punched in the family jewels by a five year old, and we didn't have the best turn out to church. O ya, and it is extremely cold. But hey, the work moves on and so does our time here. Sure don't have time to be standing around feeling bad for yourself. "Put Your Shoulder To The Wheel...."

Today we are getting transfer news. Seeing as both me and Elder Nash have been in Ankorondrano for ever, we're both ready to go. We're happy though, so if we both stay I'm sure we'll be content for another month.

I love you guys so much. Miss ya too. Praying for you, as always.
-Elder Cryer