Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Week 67 - Miasa Mafy ny Mpikambana

Salama daholo! I hope you all are doing good and had a great week! Much like Bingham Football, the work of the Lord just can't be stopped. Today I received an email from the Branch President in the branch I served in down in Fort Dauphin before the evacuation. He told me that there is a baptism today for some of the people we taught! Wow! I cant even describe my excitement from that news! What a great example of member missionary work. I asked for them to send pictures so next week I may have some baptismal pictures that have no missionaries in it. What a great day! This week was good too! I'm not getting laughed at as much for my French so that's good haha. We had some great lessons and we are working hard with the members here to get this branch going. It has definitely been a transition getting used to Reunion, which seems like a whole new world. As different and crazy as it is here, the Gospel is the same, no matter where you go! This week I did a little study about virtue. President Foote did a zone conference in Fort Dauphin about virtue and I had been wanting to study that more and this week I was able to. Virtue to me is one of the most important Christ-like attributes that we can obtain. Virtue is mainly in our thoughts and what we truly desire. To me virtue is our focus; what we focus our thoughts, words, and actions on. Focus is a huge part in anything you do. In sports, you need to be focused to be able to perform at the best of your abilities and in living the Gospel it is no different. I read a talk that related the story of Peter walking out on the water with Christ, to our focus. Peter was able to walk on the water because he was focused on Christ. But maybe he looked down or back at the boat and lost his focus, then he began to sink. As we keep our focus on Christ, meaning that as we are virtuous and center our lives on Christ and His gospel, we can do amazing things in our life such as Peter walking on the water. While I was in the MTC, Chad and Michelle Lewis came and gave talks. Michelle talked about when she was first dating Chad. She said all he talked about was hurdling a guy in a game. She said that's literally all he wanted to talk about, they'd be walking down the street and he would jump over a garbage can just as he would a guy in a game. Back then, not too many people jumped over defenders in a football game. But Michelle said one day, she saw Chad do it in a game. She used that as an example that as we think and focus our lives on certain things, we become those things. What if we constantly thought and focused on the Savior? I know that would change our lives in ways we can't even imagine. I love the example one of the General Authorities talked about last General Conference. I don't remember who told the story of the young boy who died and then his parents found an alert on his phone that said "Remember to put Jesus Christ at the center of your life today." That should be all of our goal. Each day as we strive to put the Savior first, I know that we can become the people He wants us to be and there is no greater joy than that in this life. I hope you all have a great week! Mazotoa ary aza maditra!! Veloma.
 A pic of Josette and her kids and some other kids at her stand where she sells eggs and bageda (kind of like a sweet potato sorta thing). Miss these people. Josette's son emailed me this week and that made me way happy! 
 A pic of a sweet waterfall our first counselor here in Reunion took us to.
  And he took us to a nice beach also.

 Our dinner with the Jeankatt Family last Wednesday.
A pic of our group at the picnic last Saturday (Schy said the 1st Counselor in their Branch Presidency invited a less-active family on a picnic in the mountain and wanted the Elders to come along)

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Week 66 - Fiovam-po Tanteraka

Akory ziora? Enga anie salama tsara ianareo! I had a good week and I hope you all did too! I am getting more used to missionary life here and life in general here. We are working hard to learn French and help this little branch in St. Pierre. The gift of tongues is real and such a blessing especially in situations like this. This week I read a scripture in Alma 5 verse 14, which I am sure a lot of you know already. I love this scripture! It says, "And now behold I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have you experienced this mighty change in your hearts?" I think my favorite thing about this scripture is that it is directed to "the brethren (and sisters) of the church". I thought a lot about this. We taught a man the other day and he decided he won't come back to church because the members here aren't loving and aren't humble. Statements like these frustrate me and confuse me more than anything. Our goal in this life isn't to become a member of Christ's church and become a Mormon and then think, "Sweet we are done we made it." That whole enduring to the end part is the most important part of the whole process. Like a quote I shared by my mission president not too long ago said, "Our goal isn't to make them Mormons. Our goal is to help them to become Saints. And the best way we can become Saints is through being a Mormon." The word become is a big word in that quote. That's the enduring to the end part. This life is for us to strive our very best to become like Christ. We need His love, His charity, His humility, His kindness, His obedience, His faith, His everything. We were given the Gospel to help us do this. No one in this church is perfect. I love that scripture because that is our goal. One thing that was very hard for me in Madagascar was challenging people to read the Book of Mormon everyday and then they tell me they can't read. It confused me and made me very sad. I thought about it a lot. God does not judge us on things such as reading the Book of Mormon or going to church, but by living what is in the Book of Mormon and living what is taught at church. Now obviously, we have to read and go to church to know what is taught but if we think going to church every Sunday is going to save us then we don't really quite understand why we are doing that. When we learn of the Gospel, we must become what we learn. We must strive to become all that we hear about and all that we learn and read about in the scriptures and at church. Going and reading is not enough. We need to apply and live what we learn. Testimony is going to church and reading the scriptures. Conversion is doing our absolute best to live what we learn when we do these things. The scripture in Alma talks about true and full conversion to me, spiritually born of God, his image engraven on our countenances, and mighty change in our hearts. These are all things that we can achieve and become as we strive to be converted to the gospel. No one in this church is perfect, but it is the right path. I know we can all achieve these things through the doctrine and principles taught in this church. What we learn each week from scripture study and church attendance and keeping the commandments is a start to becoming like our Savior. I am so grateful for this Gospel and this church. I know it is true. I hope you all have a great week! Mazotoa ary aza maditra.

#Shoutouttowolfgram If his mom reads this you should be proud of how good of a guy your son is.

  Our dinner with our second counselor and his family! 
 A pic of our house.
 And some pics of the views here.

 This is a member from our branch. He is not Malagasy at all but he speaks way good Malagasy. He was born there are lived there til he was 20. Way funny guy and makes me happy he speaks Malagasy.  
 Our dmbs restaraunt right on the beach way nice.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Week 65 - Tsara ny Sarotra

Akory aby ianareo! What's up everyone? I hope you all had a great week. I have had a crazy week but good to say the least. I have no idea where to even start. I am sure many of you have thought this whole transition has been hard and it will be hard to learn a new language, etc. If you thought that, you are right. And just wait what I have to say this week hahaha. This week we had a zone conference and we found out our areas of service here in La Reunion and our companions. The night before the zone conference, I realized what was going to have to happen. There are 6 elders that were originally called to this island to speak French and then me along with 11 other elders came from being evacuated in Madagascar. So that makes 12 of the 18 are "Malagasy" missionaries. Also 3 of those 6 elders that learned French in the MTC are still in training so they are brand new missionaries. I realized that we were gonna have some companionships that are two Malagasy elders that don't know French. And I bet you have guessed it by now. I am in one of those companionships haha. Not only that, but I am serving in St. Pierre, which is the bottom of the island and we have four missionaries in our branch and all four came from Madagascar and we are not good at French haha. So we are whitewashing an area that we don't even know the native language. It has been crazy to say the least. My comp is Elder Juchau and he has been on his mission 6 weeks. He is a good guy and I am happy to be working with him. This whole situation is crazy, man. In church they announced us as the new missionaries that don't speak French. (At least I think that is what they said). I wish I could just video our daily struggle with communicating with people and stuff. It is pretty funny actually. We always thank people for being patient as we are probably very frustrating to talk to. In our branch and house it is me, Juchau, Stromberg, and Alvarez. They are all good guys and good missionaries and it has been great to work with them. We were talking about how we feel as the early first missionaries of the church may have felt as they traveled to an area they had never been and didn't speak the language. It is an experience to say the least. In our zone conference, President Foote referenced Elder Ellis' talk from the last General Conference. His talk was about how "hard is good." I have thought about that a lot. I wont lie, I am so sad that we had to leave Madagascar but I am grateful for this hard and difficult situation as I feel I am learning a lot. I read in Alma 40 and verses 3 and 5 really stood out to me. In this chapter, Alma is talking to his son, Corianton. In verse 3 Alma says that there are many mysteries of God that we don't know and that we will never know. But that he had inquired diligently to know of the resurrection of the dead and that God revealed truth unto him. Then in verse 5 he basically says that God told him a little but he still doesn't know everything and that's fine and it "suffices him" to know that God knows all. It made me think a lot and I thought a lot about that in relation to "hard is good." During this whole evacuation, I just wondered how this could be happening. I didn't understand why God just let us all leave and (in my mind) abandon all the great people we had come to love. I felt as though I was being forced to forsake these great people and it was hard on me. As I thought about "hard is good" and how Alma had faith and could just say well I don't really know too much why that happened or why its like this but hey its God. He knows more than us and He will take care of it. Hard is good because it forces us to have faith. It forces us to rely on God. We see it all the time in The Book of Mormon. The people lose their faith when times are good and things are going well. Then a famine or "plague" comes and they are strengthened spiritually and reminded that they must always remember God and rely on him. I am so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father that knows our limits and knows how to make us stronger through making us face trials and hardships. As we have faith in him, as Alma did, we will learn to recognize how much we have been given and how important it is to follow Him. I hope you all have a great week! Mazotoa! Veloma!
 A sunset in our area here in St. Pierre.
 The church building.
 The view from the member's house. It is so weird being in a first world, I hate it to be honest. We are spoiled way more than we deserve and it has been frustrating and just lots of emotions for me seeing so many things I never even noticed or thought about before I went to Madagascar.
 We have a car, again not a fan of using a car but things are way too far and public transportation isn't effective here. This is me and Elder Juchau posing with the car by the beach ha.
 The view from our DMB meeting yesterday.
 Us with our DMB Brother Ivaha.
 We went to the top of this mountain this morning for P-day but it was surrounded in clouds ha. Still cool. 

Last goodbye pics from Madagascar. Another Elder sent me these as we took them with his camera so I didn't have them last week. This mom and her family are awesome. She is a single mother and always made us each a big bottle of juice for the week. I miss them!!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Week 64 - Homba anao hatrany anie ny Ray

Hello, Salama, and Bonjour. Wow.....well you all know the news this week, I would guess. I don't even know where to start. I am beyond heart broken and saddened because of our evacuation this last week. I grew to love the Malagasy people more than I love myself and I truly mean that with all I have. I have never met such loving and a happier people than the Malagasy people. I strongly believe that God put his strongest children in that part of His vineyard. I felt so blessed to live with them, talk with them, laugh with them, cry with them, and learn from them. And most of all strive to follow Christ better with them. One thing that has gotten me through this, is knowing God loves the Malagasy people and He will take care of them. I will pray for them everyday. For those of you that may now know, I am on an island in the Indian Ocean called La Reunion. It is technically part of the Madagascar mission but it is all French speaking and it is considered a province of France, I think. Quite honestly, I know about as much of this island as most of you ha. So yes, I am learning French. It is very hard to be starting over learning a new language and not being able to teach people to the effectiveness as I could in Malagasy before we left. The gift of tongues is real and I know everything is gonna go well. But I am very happy as I will be able to keep up my Malagasy because there are Malagasy people that live here and even some that are members. I haven't found out where I will be serving yet but I will probably find that out tomorrow when President Foote comes. There are so many things that are running through my mind. I don't even know what to say. A few things that has helped me with this new change is pondering what Christ-like love truly is. I had been studying that while I was in Fort Dauphin quite a bit and I think this whole situation is teaching me a little more about it that maybe I couldn't have learned any other way. I know God and Christ love the Malagasy people and I know They love the French people and the people on this island. My goal for my time here is to learn to love these people as much as those I left behind in Madagascar. I know the language and all of that does not matter as much as how much I love the people. It will be different and harder as these people may not be as open to the Gospel but the Savior had the Spirit to soften hearts of stone and that is what I will be searching for and striving to become in my new adventure here in La Reunion. Another thing that has got me through is realizing how blessed we are to have living Prophets and Apostles. I will be honest when I first heard the news that we were evacuating, I wasn't really wanting to follow the Prophet and Apostles' decision. I was angry, sad, disappointed, and most of all scared for what would happen to the church and the people there if we left, but I know they are men that are called of God. I know God wouldn't have let this happen if He wasn't ready to watch over the Malagasy people. What a blessing it is that we just need to follow the living Prophets and Apostles and things will always work out. To close, I will share my scriptures for this transfer. Each transfer I write a few scriptures on my daily planner that I want to strive to do better or focus on or something like that during the new transfer. This transfer they are Ether 14 verse 18, D&C 98 verses 1 through 3, and D&C 15 verse 6. The first one is kind of a joke that just explained my feelings on the flight over here ha. I hope you all have a great week. If you feel you have grown a love for the Malagasy people through my emails and stories of them I would like to invite you to keep them in your prayers. Even if you aren't sure you love them but you kinda like me or care about me please keep them in your prayers :). Fantatro fa marina ny Fiangonanan'i Jesoa Kristy ho an'ny Olomasin'ny Andro Farany. Tena sarotra be ity fiovana ity saingy raha manaraka Jesoa Kristy ary ny mpaminany velona isika tsy mety ho very isika. Tena te hiverina any Madagasikara izaho fa aloha izany tsy maintsy miasa mafy zah mba hanampy ny olona eto La Reunion. Mampalahelo be ny vaovao fa tsy mainsty mitraka zah, tsy handao ny olona any Madagasikara ny Tompo. Tsy hay soratana ny fitiavako ho an'ny olona any Madagasikara. Fantatro fa homba azy ireo Andriamanitra ary hiambina azy ireo izy. Ndao handroso hatrany hanao ny asan'ny Tompo. Mazotoa ary aza maditra. Veloma!
 Some of my favorite people in the world.

 Just a few of the many great people that I can now say I love. 

 Saying bye to President Danielson and Julie at the airport in Fort Dauphin.
 All the letters I wrote to members the last night in Fort D. Hopefully they got them.
 I had a hard time sleeping my last night in Fort D and got up at 4 and watched a beautiful last sunrise.
 Last sunset at the mission office in Antananarivo.
  Airport in La Reunion...everything is so nice here and it is crazy.
 View out of the window in apartment in La Reunion.
 Church Building in La Reunion.

 View from the Branch President's house here.
Our group at the hike to a waterfall today on the Branch President's property here. 

Part of our group at the waterfall today! The Elder in red is Cosper's cousin ha. The guy in white is family of a member and the others are Elders.