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.