Monday, October 24, 2011

Island Conference

Elder Nelson has left Madagascar after a blitz of meeting after meeting for both us and all the rest of the church people that literally demanded his attention during his short stay. We got an entire meeting with him, including a mission picture, a hand shake, lessons and testimonies from Elder Mkabehla, Bishop Edgley and his wife, and then Elder Nelson and his wife. It was truly an amazing meeting, and one which I'm not going to ever forget. During Elder Nelson's portion of the evening we were actually given a very special question and answer time. The part that he actually taught us was fantastic.

The point at which I also got to sing for everyone was also quite interesting as well. As soon as I got on stage Elder Nelson and his wife got of the stage and sat right down in the front row, like seven feet away from me. All the crowd looked pretty shocked and on the edge of dire anticipation. So I sang the song: a simple, keyed up and higher rendition of 'Nearer My God to Thee' that Elder Sell and I had worked out ourselves. Elder Nelson and his wife rushed up to shake my hand and thank me for the song. It was a bit of a shock to be honest, but I'll take it. Afterwards Elder Edgley said some nice things.

The next day we had a huge All-Mada conference with the members, and then a training meeting with the APs and Zone Leaders. President Donnelly has been with Elder Nelson the entire time. After the training meeting we had a musical fire-side where I and many others sang and performed from the piano and even a clarinet. I sang
"Every Valley Shall Be Exalted" from Handel's 'Messiah'.

Today we had a giant finding activity involving all of the missionaries in the mission. It was centered in an area called Analakely, which is pretty much the epicenter of all the business and trade in the entire city. When we arrived we got the nearest zone-leader, grabbed a street board, and not knowing anything else to do went and soap-boxed. It was probably one of the coolest teaching experiences of my mission as at one point Elder Bates and I had at least 40 people gathered around,
listening to our preachings about our church. I was hoarse teaching all the people gathered around us. I suspect that in the space of an hour, we probably taught about 120-150 people. It was truly amazing, and even on that dirty, busy street corner I felt the Spirit so strongly. It was so exciting telling all the people about our church and the Word of Wisdom, which was the subject on our street board. From what I understand, some of the people we taught went straight to the nearest church and learned more from all the members and missionaries gathered there to teach them. Incredible.

Island Conference has been terrific thus far, though it is still continuing even now. I'm emaling with Elder Nash, as we have a couple of hours before returning back to the mission home for the last part of Conference. Elder Nash and I are on splits for old times sake because this is pretty much the last time that we're going to spend any time together. I guess that the first news is that I'm going back to Fort Dauphin on Wednesday, alone, as my current comp and the other Malagasy are going back
down tomorrow. Elder Peaden, the other American down there with me, will be heading to a new area in Tana and shall not be replaced down in Fort Dauphin. This means that his old companion, Elder Ravelomahefa, is going to be getting a 'mini-missionary' until I get home at which point the two Malagasys are probably going to be together.

This means that I will be with only non-English speakers until the very end of my mission. We have to be at the office in about an hour and a half. I'm going to have to say goodbye now as we are going to soon be late for the last meeting of the Conference. I love you so much and pray for all of you.

Elder Cryer

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Green Baptism

We had another big baptism this past Saturday, and it was great as always. I ended up personally baptizing two of the people, so again I entered into the tumultuous water and waves of our all natural baptismal font. Only one of the six people getting baptized was actually from my area - Tsena. The water at the baptism was a bit unusual: emerald green. It was kinda pretty before we got in, but once our clothes were covered in green stuff did we realize that the water was chalk full of seaweed. And this was grinded-up-into-small-bits seaweed, so it got all over our the outside and inside of our clothes. The poor baptizees ended up getting dunked into the soupy green, it was all in their hair and ears and stuff.

We had a giant group of new investigators come to church this week that all live out in the middle of nowhere. We call them the "Airport People" because they live out beyond the airport, which is far away from anywhere that we actually work. A couple of our branch missionaries found and started teaching them first, so this past Saturday we were able to go out and teach them. All of these extremely humble people were so receptive, even if they probably didn't understand that much of the lesson; their language is different. 9 of them came to church yesterday, and at their appointment on Saturday 7 of them accepted baptismal dates for the 12th of December. This is quite close, but we're still hoping that they'll make it on time. And judging by the progress they've already made - as four of them came to church the week before - they just might be able to make it...enga anie.

Today we climbed a small mountain that literally kicked our butts. I probably fell and slid down this thing like 7 or 8 times. The mountain is called Peak St. Louis and it's about 1500 tall. There might be some legitimate, established trails that lead to the top, but all we were able to find were shimmied-up paths that some balahazo farmers use for their little farms on the mountain side. After some time we were forced to start bush-whacking it, and that's when the going did indeed get tough. After about an hour of struggling through brush and steep rocks, we arrived at the tree covered peak only to find that the peak wasn't quite what we were expecting. But oh well, gotta count your blessings right? I got a lot of scratches on my legs, fell a lot, and even ran into a raspberry patch that staved off our hunger and fatigue. It was awesome.

Fortunately the horrid Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease has left me and all I have to deal with now is a minor sore throat. I've been gurgling lots of spicy liquids and such so I'll be ready for singing at the Island Conference. Regardless, pray for me hard.

In summary:

The baptism.

Climbing the Mountain.

Not knowing where I'm headed after Island Conference.

The Airport People

I love you guys and regret to say that I'm all out of time for emailing today. I was just notified that the cyber cafe has been closed for the past 21 minutes and all the workers are waiting on me. Oops.

Miss you,
Elder Cryer

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fort Dauphin

in the Indian Ocean

in an Baobab Tree

Diseased & Healed

I did have a good week, I suppose, if you don't count the fact that I got Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease. That was downright terrible. Waking up in the middle of the night to swollen fingers and toes, having the most horrible urges to just scratch, it feels like acidic worms are crawling through your flesh. It was awful, and I'm so grateful that it's rapidly on the decline.

On Saturday night I got a blessing from my mission-mates. I just tried to focus on the fact that I have faith to be healed, and because I had faith I would go out to church the next day and even go work, knowing that God would free me from the virus. So, the next day, I went to church with puffed up hands and itchy feet. Fortunately enough though, by the evening my hands had mostly deflated and my feet were a non-issue. And now I'm healed! Woohoo!

We weren't able to go out to Ambovombe this week, so I am emailing on Monday at the regular time. We were all set to head out to the strange, mythical city of Atandroy-central, but President Donnelly called us yesterday and told us that he had received two promptings that we should not go out to Ambovombe after all. There probably was going to be some kid-nappers waiting for us vazahas on the roads. But ya know what, after hearing more about this place I'm quite ok with us not going out there. The word on the street is that though this city has tons of cool souvenirs and interesting things to look at, the people are pretty much savages and will kill you for nothing. Apparently they carry around swords and some of them have even crafted their own home-made guns. Eeek! Thanks, but no thanks.

The work here is going well, though we've been down-trodden by getting people married and random French prophets coming in and wowing everyone with some cheap tricks. One entire group of our investigators pretty much dropped themselves because they say that since the French prophet turned out to not be true, then obviously there is no such thing as a true prophet and they're just going to go on back to the Protestant church. One of our best and brightest investigators has been slowly digressing ever since he found out that he actually has to be married to his wife in order to be baptized. This has all been a head ache for Elder Rasoloniaina and I, but amongst it all there are still those wonderful people that are about to enter into the waters of baptism.

One of them is actually going to get baptized this Saturday. He is the son of a member, who got baptized only a few months ago, and has only been learning for about a month or so. We had thought that he had been learning for much longer than that, as he had been at the first time I'd ever taught his family. When we reviewed all the lessons for him before his baptismal interview, he received the information and responded as if he had already been learning for months and months before. We, according to Elder Peaden who was here before me, he had never learned anything before. Crazy, right?! I've seen it before, and I'm sure I'll see it again; the Lord prepares people in subtle and unusual ways. From what I understand, he passed the baptismal interview with flying colors. A literal testament to his spiritual preparedness.

Love you guys.

Elder Cryer