Monday, January 15, 2018

Week 76 - I'm Going Going Back Back To Mada Mada

Akory aby!!! Wow well if you haven't figured it out from my title #ShoutoutBiggieSmalls I am going back to Madagascar!! I am leaving this Wednesday! I am actually on the island of Mauritius right now and got here last Wednesday. It's so cool to see a new country and island but definitely hard to beat going back to Mada! President called me and told me the other night that me and 11 others are going back this week! I couldn't be more happy! Mauritius is a beautiful island and way cool! When President told me the news he said, "Now I bet you are already smiling from ear to ear but wait til you hear this." Then he said the first place we are going is FORT DAUPHIN!!!! I assume I will be in the Tanambao branch and see all those amazing people I had to leave unexpectedly. I am beyond excited and feel so blessed! We hope that all the missionaries will be back soon but not sure. President Foote is just a stud. I love that guy. This week was great. Lots of driving and logistics with getting people from airports and to their apartments they are staying in, as 10 missionaries came over here from La Reunion. I have got to see Mauritius and meet lots of people and it is a great place. The spiritual thought I have today was a short scripture I read in The Book of Mormon this week. Its Mormon chapter 8 verse 39. "Why do ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life, and yet suffer the hungry, the needy, and the naked, and the sick and afflicted to pass by you, and notice them not?" I don't know but this scripture just hit me pretty hard this week. How often in our lives do we "adorn ourselves with that which hath no life"? We often feel that we are so busy or have so much to do or we love our tv shows or movies or social media that we forget to "smell the roses" as my mom would say haha. We forget what things really matter. The things that matter most in this life is our relationships with those around us and helping each other on the straight and narrow path back to Heavenly Father and that which will be there for eternity. I can't remember but there was a quote a few conferences ago by someone, I cant remember, but anyways it was something like "we sometimes need to let go of the world to hang onto eternity." On my mission I feel this so much. Some people will say to me when I get home, "Wow you had an awesome mission. You got to see the world and three countries and see some amazing beaches and sights." While that is true and I feel blessed, the thing I will hang onto the most is those I met along the way. The people that have been so loving and caring towards me and the people I have been able to help just a little bit see the light of Christ in their life. I hope to never let go of those things that will truly be there for eternity. I know that as we live the Gospel of Jesus Christ we can learn what things truly matter most in our lives. As we follow the Lord, everything gets set straight and we will be able to see the bigger picture. I hope you all have a great week! I know I sure will. Mazotoa!! 
 Our house pic in St Marie the day we left. I forgot to say in Voice Recording but I actually got to Mauritius on Wednesday. While I was studying Wed, I get a call and Elder Boyle says "Hey we looked at your ticket wrong. You are actually leaving today." Haha. Felt a little like the evacuation when I packed that fast.  
 Elder Knudsen said I wasn't down to ask these guys for a pic at the airport in Reunion. 
 Pics of Mauritius. 

 Church building in Mauritius. 
 Elder Stromberg and I drinking some actual whole milk. It was great. I have had Subway and KFC here in Mauritius also. Wow it was good.

  When you're in the middle of driving around the missionaries on the whole island and you get a flat, who ya gonna call? 
A pic of Itema, who is the guy I found in St Pierre that got baptized this week. Stromberg gave him a pic of me and him and Wolfgramm haha he is awesome and is now a member of the church!!

 Some pics of the amazing beach we walked to this morning before emailing here in Mauritius. 

 Oh yeah they have Mountain Dew here too. Don't worry I'm not drinking all that in one day, ha. 

 We bought chicken sandwiches from this guy with a box on his moped. It was good. 
Pics on the bus from the beach to the emailing place. 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Week 75 - Tsy Tontan'ny Ela

Salama daholo! Inona vaovao? I hope you all are doing well. This was a great week for us. My last week in La Reunion as I will be leaving to go to the island of Mauritius this Thursday. I am very excited! Reunion was great and I will always remember the many lessons I learned from these unexpected months on this beautiful island. I don't have much time today but I just wanted to write some thoughts about the recent death of our Prophet Thomas S. Monson. As I heard of his death this week I thought a lot about the things he taught and the examples he showed. One thing I will always remember is "Dare to Stand Alone." Many things I think about when I think of President Monson is love, charity, kindness, and courage. I love his example of these Christlike attributes. I love how he challenged all of us to dare to stand alone. I read a great talk today called "Good without Guile". I cant remember who it was by but it was really good. It talked about Shiblon, who is one of the sons of Alma in the Book of Mormon. Alma writes to his sons in the later chapters of the book of Alma and Shiblon gets a small 15 verses written to him. The other sons get a lot more than that. This talk spoke about "Shilblon-like souls." Those that do good and expect nothing in return. Those that simply do good because they want to do good. I thought a lot about that with Dare to Stand Alone. In all of our lives we will have moments when we must choose to do good and stand up for what's right even if no one else agrees or supports us. When we trust Heavenly Father and have faith in Him. We can know that even though we may not be getting praised or supported for the good decisions we make, we will always be supported by our Father in Heaven. There is a poem I love called The Man in The Glass. One line I can remember is this, "You may fool the whole world down your pathway of life and get pats on the back as you pass. But your final reward will be heartache and tears if you cheated the man in the glass." All that matters in this life is that we truly do our personal and absolute best to do what our Heavenly Father asks us to do. If we do that, it does not matter what anyone else may think whether good or bad. We must dare to stand alone and be like Shiblon and expect no praise for our good works. As we do good because we simply desire good, then good will be given to us always. Maybe not from others but from our Heavenly Father. I hope you all have a great week! Mazotoa aza maditra! 
 Goodbye pics with Benjamin and his wife Meline. 
 The Eperronier family who is Malagasy! 
 David, who is an investigator.
Our Branch Mission Leader's family, the Payets.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Week 74 - An-tendrombohitra

Akory aby! Inona vaovao am'nareo? I hope you all have had a great Christmas and a great New Years and hope this new year has lots of blessings and highlights for each of you! Looking back on this past year all I can say is I feel so blessed to have had the great opportunities and experiences that I have had. I am looking forward to another great year. This week was great! We brought our Branch Mission Leader to teach Francois with us. Francois is doing great and has already asked questions about baptism and he is progressing great. Our Branch Mission Leader, Brother Payet, helped a ton in our lesson with Francois. Then on Sunday, Brother Payet stood up and challenged all the Priesthood holders to visit Francois with us and help him feel comfortable to come to church and be baptized. It was awesome! Francois is a way smart guy. He is a Physics Professor and has a ton of knowledge of the Bible and the Gospel. I know that if he truly and sincerely wants to the know the truth, he is going to find it. I am excited for him and his family. This week was another great week of striving to find the elect, hidden here in Reunion. We had an interesting experience this week also. We began tracting one day and 3 of the first 4 people we talked to were Atheist. There is actually quite a few Atheists here. One of them kind of mocked us a little and I tried talking to him. I asked him why he didn't believe in God. His answer was, "Look at all those in Madagascar they are starving, poor, and dying. There's no God." As many of you can imagine, this got me going a little. I asked him if he had ever been to Mada. He said no. I told him my experiences and thoughts after living there 15 months. I also told him just about every Malagasy believes in God. Because they have hope. Hope for a better world as it is said in Ether 12:4. I thought a lot about my conversation with this man for the rest of the day and night. One thing a lot of these Atheists say when I ask why they don't believe in God is that they believe in themselves...I thought so much about that. One of the biggest lessons we learn in The Book of Mormon is about Pride. When the people are struggling or have trials they are quick to remember the Lord. But when things go good they easily forget him. Then trials come and go and so does their faith and testimonies. Sadly this is still true today. As we left the conversation with this man, I stopped and said, "If you lived in Madagascar, you would believe in God. You would remember the one thing you can rely on, and that is God and the Savior." We had a district meeting about hope. Elder Wolfgramm shared these 3 scriptures, Matthew 9:2, Matthew 14:27, and 3rd Nephi 1: 9-13. These are scriptures that show us that our source of hope is only in the Savior and Heavenly Father. Whether we are sick of the palsy, on a ship being whipped around by the storms, being persecuted and killed for our beliefs, or whatever other trials we may face whether little or big. The only thing we can rely on is the Savior and Heavenly Father. Ourselves may not even be enough sometimes, no matter how strong and smart we may be. My testimony and faith has been strengthened from being around such great people. The members in Madagascar have such a great brightness of hope even through their many struggles and difficulties that many of us do not face. They know the source of their hope and who they can rely on. I am grateful for the members here in La Reunion who live in a place where believing in God and going to church on Sunday and keeping your standards high isn't the popular thing to do. They know their source of hope and who they can rely on. I hope we can all remember that we are nothing without the Savior and our Heavenly Father and they are always there for us. No matter what we may be going through. I hope you all have a great week! Mazotoa!! Aza Maditra! 
Lets just say President Foote is the best mission president ever and I watched the sunrise from the highest point in the Indian Ocean this morning. After I camped overnight on the side of a mountain. Thankfully there happened to be a lodge unlocked and we slept in there and had some nice beds, so not really camping. It was awesome!

 A pic of Elder Stromberg and Itema who is a guy I found in St. Pierre and he is getting baptized in two weeks! Stromberg has been helping him out a ton and sounds like Itema is doing great. Not sure if I will be able to see his baptism since I might be in Mauritius but glad he is doing good and wanted you guys to see a pic of him.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Week 73 - Tratra ny Kristmasy

Akory aby! Inona vaovao am'nareo? Enga anie salama tsara ianareo! I hope you all had a great Christmas and hope it is a great New Year's week! This week was a great week and we had a great Christmas. I will be honest, Christmas made me a little homesick for Madagascar but it was cool being here in La Reunion for Christmas. It is cool seeing the differences in culture between Madagascar and La Reunion for Christmas. But as most of you can guess, the one thing that doesn't change, is the reason for the season. The birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. This week I have been trying to think a lot more about the birth and life of the Savior. As a missionary, you obviously don't get a normal Christmas like you did back home. And for me I have enjoyed that change a little these last two years. It has made me realize that I have already been given the greatest and most important gift I could ever receive. Jesus Christ was born of Mary to become the Savior of the world. He performed the Atonement for us and therefore gave us the greatest and most precious gift we could ever imagine. Because Christ performed the Atonement there are so many gifts and blessings we receive each and everyday but not just on December 25th. We can repent, be forgiven, live again, have joy, peace of mind, comfort, happiness, and live eternally with those that make Christmas so great, our families and our Heavenly Father and Savior. There is no way we can ever repay the Savior for what He has done for us. But the greatest gift we can give to him is our hearts and our lives. The Savior asks for nothing more than that. We give our hearts and lives to the Savior when we keep His commandments and live the Gospel and also when we give our hearts and lives to others. Christmas is a great time of year to serve others and look to give a helping hand. I hope we can all find a way to bring a smile to someone's face at this great time of year. The greatest thing we could possibly give to someone is the knowledge of what the Savior has done for them and his love for them. I feel so grateful to go out and give others the knowledge of this great gift that they have already been given. I hope you all have a great week and a Merry Christmas. Mazotoa!! 
Me and Wolfgramm with Onja, who is a Malagasy lady that I had met in Madagascar about a year ago in Antananarivo. She is way cool and calls us her sons haha.   
 A pic of the beach and coast right by our house. 
 The white elephant I gave haha (with Elder Wolfgramm)
That's a pic of Elder Wolfgramm from the MTC.  
Our group at Christmas breakfast!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Week 72 - Fototra Mafy Orina ny Finoanao

Salama daholo! Inona vaovao? I hope you all had a great week this week! We had a great week here. Just working hard to get this area going and it is coming along slowly but surely. This week not too many people were rude, in fact one lady was really nice and decided to spray us with a hose while we were trying to talk to her. It was a really hot day and I was sweating pretty bad so it was a good cool down. Other than that we found some really cool people and have a man named Francois who I am pumped about. He is searching for the truth. Most people here don't care about that, is seems like, so it is great and I know he will finally find it as he keeps his commitments! It will be great to visit him again this week! This week I have been reading about Alma and the Sons of Mosiah in the Book of Mormon. One thing I have thought a lot about this week is what the difference is between Laman and Lemuel and those that see all this amazing miracles and angels and stuff and still don't believe and those like Alma and the Sons of Mosiah who totally change their lives when things like that happen...To me I think it is just faith and desire. It takes a lot of work to keep the flame of your faith burning. You gotta truly want it. It would be nice if all it took was one spiritual experience or one miracle in our lives and then our faith is strong enough to last us til the end. But its not like that. The flame of our faith is just like an actual fire. We all love when we throw some lighter fluid on the fire or some paper, it burns up all nice and warm. But after a little while it dies, just like our testimony and conversion. It isn't the big spiritual experiences that keep us on the straight and narrow. Its the small little decisions everyday that we make: reading our scriptures, praying with sincerity, keeping our thoughts clean, focusing on the Savior, repentance, and all of the primary answers. Sadly that takes a lot more work than just having an angel come to us and saying, look its all true, follow your brother he knows what he's doing. It takes our true and deepest desire to endure to the end. To change. To follow the Savior. Many of us want those big amazing experiences that they can one day make a Mormon Message out of. But that isn't what will do it for us. It is all the little things we do everyday. And one day our little flame of faith will burn big and bright. I know that as we do the things the living Prophets and Apostles teach us and guide us to do, we will never fall away. It takes a lot of work but the blessings will be innumerable. I hope you can all find a way to strengthen your faith and desire to follow the Savior this Christmas. I am so grateful for what He has done for me. I hope you all have a great week! Mazotoa! 
 Views from apartment buildings haha.  

 Some pics of the hike we took today with the Poussin Family.

 Pics from a dinner with Benjamin and his wife Meline. They are 22 and 21 years old. It was weird hanging out with a married couple that is my same age haha.