Monday, July 24, 2017

Week 51 - Miasa Mafy Vao Mikaly

Salama aby! Hope everything is going good with all of you! Life is great and just gets better here in Fort Dauphin! We had a killer week! First off Dorgivier and Pascal were baptized and it was a great baptismal service. They are both studs and will be great members and a big help to the branch. They both gave great testimonies and it was awesome to be a part of! Then the next day was just about as good! We had lots of investigators come to church and lots that we have been working on for awhile finally came! One particular couple that I we have been praying for finally came! As they walked in late, I had to restrain myself to not get up and give the guy a chest bump. I was so pumped! It was a great day at church with lots of great lessons also. Looking forward to another good week to keep this great work moving along. One thing that has amazed me is how faithful these Malagasy people are. Those in our branch have to walk a long ways to the church building as there is still not a building in our area. And yet we have been seeing great success lately and it has been awesome. I know Elder Shelby and I are not that good at convincing people to walk a couple miles to go to some church service for 3 hours. I know it is the Spirit as this is the true work of the Lord. It is a great blessing to be a part of it! I feel so blessed to share this great message everyday! It is amazing to see how many people and families' lives change as they accept this message and are baptized into Christ's Restored Church. A lot of times we talk about self-sacrifice in the church. It is true we must sacrifice some things of the world to follow Christ and to be able to accept this Gospel. But I am sure if we could understand and see how many blessings we have received and will receive because of this Gospel we would not be calling it a sacrifice but more of an investment. All these investigators and members here in Tanambao Fort Dauphin walk a long ways to get to church. And I know that they will be blessed more than they can imagine because of it. As we submit our will to the Lord we sometimes sacrifice things we might want to do. Although I like to think of that as more of an investment rather than a sacrifice. You put something away and after some time you realize you have more than you could've ever given at first. That is how God's promised blessings work. As we follow Him, we receive blessings though not always right away. As Gordon B. Hinckley said, "What appears today to be a sacrifice will prove to be the greatest investment you will ever make." I know that if we could all see the future of what our lives would be like in this church keeping the commandments versus out of the church, we would choose to follow the Lord and the modern day Prophets. Although hard at first, it will be the greatest blessing and choice we will ever make. I am grateful for this last year of investment I have made. It is by no means a sacrifice in my mind as I have learned and received more blessings than I could have ever given. I know that is how the Gospel works. It takes faith to make an investment. But the Gospel is the most secure investment we could ever make. It is 100 percent guarantee as long as we do our part. I know this message we share everyday is true. If you will listen and search with your heart you will find that truth also. I hope you all have a great week!!
 Last P-day we went to this little village outside of the main town of Fort D and it was beautiful! The kids and people were scared of white people but then we had tons of fun with them! It was sweet! Here are a ton of pics from it!

 Went to the pig farm. Pic of the water tower we helped build that is now finished and some pics of when we climbed up on it.

 The missionaries in our house and I were talking about how our standards on good food has changed. This is a meal I ordered this week that I really like. It is leaves from a tree smooshed up and some onions and other stuff mashed in and some beef. Pretty tasty haha.
 We found these two studs from the Amparihy Branch going around teaching people about the Book of Mormon in our area. Just like us missionaries! They teach them and read with them and if they wanna learn more they tell us about them! They are studs and I had to take a pic with them! True example of Member Missionaries right there!!!
  These guys work at this little restaurant we go to and they wanted a picture haha...knuckleheads.
 Went and taught Mbola and his huge family. They live out in the middle of nowhere. They are the people President invited to church. Mbole hand-carves souvenirs for tourists and sells them at the airport so that's how President met him. Two of them came to church Sunday and it is forever away from their house! Really cool.

  A pic of some of the carvings I bought for cool souvenirs.
 Baptism! Dorgivier has the glasses and Pascal has the buzzed head. Solo is the other guy who was baptized in the other branch! All of them are studs!! 

 Dorgivier and his mom who is also an investigator. We gave her a Book of Mormon at the baptism. She held it up and kissed it she was so happy.
Pascal and his friend...sad but no one from his family came to support him.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Week 50 - Manimba Raha

What's up everyone!? Hope you all are doing good! It was a great week here! We had lots of success with investigators at church and finding new families! We had two of our stud investigators pass a baptismal interview so that was exciting! We will have a baptism this Saturday for Dorgivier and Pascal. They are both in their twenties and are ballers. Dorgivier is someone I will never forget for the rest of my life. He has a limp leg. Basically his left leg is shorter and undeveloped unlike his right leg. He lives in a house that can barely fit me, my companion, and him during our lessons. I am not joking. If I laid down straight in his house, my feet would touch the one end and my head touch the other and the other way I wouldn't be able to lay down straight. Dorgivier is one of my favorite people I have met thus far on my mission. He gives us so many referrals and shares the gospel with so many people. Yesterday he came to church late. He told us sorry cuz he invited a family to come with him and they said they didn't want to so he was sad and that is why he was late. Oh and on top of that he has to walk forever to get to church every Sunday. Literally forever. I still haven't figured out how long it is but my guess is close to a couple miles...with a limp leg...baller. He also was with us in a first lesson with one of his referrals and he taught the whole first like he had been a member for the last 20 years. He shared a beautiful testimony about how he prayed, and I imagined him in that little humble house of his, and told God he believes this is true but he needed to know for sure and he needed God to tell him. And he bore testimony that he received that answer and knows this is the restored Gospel. I am so excited to see him baptized this week! It will be an amazing day! Pascal is another baller too! Pascal is a more quiet guy but reads the Book of Mormon like a mad man and always comes to church and has great questions. His aunt that he lives with told him he can't be baptized into our church. He said he wants to be baptized though and he is ready and I know he is. These two studs will help our branch out a ton and I am so happy to see them baptized! This week my little spiritual thought is on gratitude. In our third hour lesson in church yesterday, the teacher shared a little quote and story that I think was by Gordon B. Hinckley, if I remember right. Basically it talked about someone that was real sad and frustrated that his shoe broke and he only had one shoe now...then he saw a man with one leg and realized his problem isn't too bad. This explains my life the last year. These Malagasy people are some of the happiest and greatest people I have ever met and their problems are greater than most of us can even imagine. As we love others as ourselves and look to serve others instead of focus on our problems, we will realize our problems are not all that bad. The Gospel is the solution to any problem anyone might have. I know that as we center our lives on the Savior we will realize just how much we really have been given and how blessed we are. I am so grateful for our Savior's atoning sacrifice and all he has done for me. Please look to serve others on days where your problems seem overwhelming. That is was the Savior did. This Gospel is true! I hope you all have a great week!!
 Some good views of Fort Dauphin.

 Saw the little kids that I have become friends with at the local hospital. They didn't say why they were there. I would guess they were just wandering around and ended up there. So humbling seeing these 4 little kids basically taking care of each other all on their own...I see their mother with them every now and then but not often. They wanted a pic.  They are the happiest, funniest kids and they have a place in my heart forever. The kid with me that has the name tag on is just a member help who likes a wear an extra name tag I gave him.
 Selfie in the taxi with our member help and Dominic whose mom was sitting in front seat...he was a little scared of two big white guys at first haha.
 When you go to put your pen on the table and your chair decides to break and knock over and break the glass table with all our stuff on it at the same time...gotta love those Malagasy built chairs...ha.
My view every morning...paradise.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Week 49 - Ny Pamboly

Salama aby! Inona vaovao? Enga anie salama tsara ianareo. It was a great week! First off, President and Sister Foote were here and we did a District Conference. It was a great. We learned a lot from them and it was a good time as always. They were able to come to our Tanambao Branch this Sunday also and it was great to have them there. President is a great guy and I love talking to him and hearing his wisdom and stories. This week was a really great week of work also. We had a lot of investigators come to church and the work is starting to roll. Dorgivier, one of our investigators that is preparing for baptism the 22nd, gave us 3 family referrals last night and that was awesome to say the least. He is an absolute stud and I love that guy. There were lots of great lessons I learned and stories from the week but I want to share something I learned in my studies this week. I read the scripture in Ether 12:6. It talks about how we don't receive a witness until after the trial of our faith. I had read this scripture a lot and shared it with people a lot but when I read it this time I thought a lot about it and a story came to my mind. I remember hearing this story a long time ago although I don't remember where I heard it exactly. Its about two farmers that desperately needed rain as they were in a drought and the crops were dying. They both were God fearing men and knew that they could pray to God and ask for blessings. So they both prayed and asked God to send the rain for their crops. Then one of the farmers went and sat and hoped and wished and probably had some faith that since he prayed God would send the rain. But the other one went out and prepared his crops for the rain although he could not remember the last time he had seen the rain. Which one do you think God sent the rain to? This is exactly what we learn in Ether 12:6. Of course we need to have faith we need to pray and do all that. But when we get on our feet and work and do all we can to show our faith, that is when the blessings come. We must have faith and rely on God but he expects us to do some work too. I thought about this a lot. Every day and every night I pray for the Spirit and I pray for help finding people that are ready to receive this message and for help being able to know what they need to hear. As this story came to my mind, I realized that of course Heavenly Father wants us to ask Him for those blessings but I need to make sure I am doing everything to prepare my fields to receive those promised blessings. I know that as we show our faith we will be blessed with all He has promised us. This Gospel is true. And God wants you to be able to enjoy the fullness of it but He expects you to show Him that you want to enjoy the fullness of it. I hope you all have a great week! Veloma!
 My view from lunch last p-day.
 Pics from lemur park!

 Me with Richard and Lala's fam as most of these kids are leaving to live in the countryside with family for the next couple months and I will be gone before then. They are crazy but I love them!
 Me with President Dimby as his family as his kids are leaving too to live in Tana with their Grandpa for the next couple months.
And me and Sister Haingo who is our Relief Society President and her fam. Her youngest daughter is going to move to Antsirabe so we took a pic. Sister Haingo's husband isn't a member but she is awesome and we are trying with the husband.
We were supposed to teach a lesson before church started but the people came late so we took a pic with the kids that were there early haha. 

Monday, July 3, 2017

Week 48 - Sambatra be izaho

Salama Everyone! I hope you all are doing well! First, I would like to thank everyone for the birthday wishes and emails. I am grateful for all the amazing people I have in my life and I feel very blessed. This week was great. We met a lot of great new people and there are lots that are progressing well. This small little branch has a big place in my heart and I feel grateful everyday being able to serve with these great people. Yesterday was great as we had lots of investigators come and it was a very special fast and testimony meeting for me as 3 of our investigators overcame the nervousness and shyness and bore their own personal testimonies. They were all great and one especially hit me. I was on a split with Elder Hunter two weeks ago and we tracted into a cool young couple. They let us in and we shared a message with them. One woman who is family of the husband we were teaching kept coming in and out of the lesson and would sit and listen until something else stole her attention. I didn't think much of her...just figured she was wondering why the heck two white guys were in her house. So we finished the lesson and set up a return time. Then Elder Shelby and I went back to the return time and the husband was not home but lots of other family was. But we had another time we could go catch so we gave an invitation to church and said we would stop by another day. The one woman who was in and out of the lesson the first time told me she would come to church. I laughed a little as everyone says that. I said, "Ok don't let me down." She laughed and said, "I won't I am coming." I told her, "Ok I hope so I will be happy if you do." We walked to our next time not thinking anything about it. Sunday morning comes and in walks that woman whose name is Francine. I was pretty shocked but very happy. She came all by herself and seemed very nervous. She met a member and sat by her. Then Francine got up and bore her testimony. She said that she was not going to come to church that day. She was too shy and nervous. But she said she felt something pushing her to go and she knew it was the Spirit. She said she was glad she came and was uplifted by the testimonies of the other members. This was a very small and simple experience for me but I felt the Spirit very strongly. I thought about how hard it must have been to come with no one else and then to get up and bear testimony and that she realized it was the Spirit telling her to come. I am so grateful for the Spirit and that we can have that guidance in our lives as long as we search and listen for that guidance. As a missionary, I pray everyday to feel that Spirit and pray that those we teach will feel that Spirit. I know that it is there as we share this great message about the Restored Gospel. I am grateful for people like Francine that open their hearts and listen with a broken heart and contrite spirit. I know that all people no matter where you are or who you are can feel that Spirit. I know that we learn all truth from that Spirit and that Spirit alone. I know this Gospel is true through that same Spirit. I am no religious scholar or professor but I know this is true through the Holy Spirit of God. It is there if you will just listen and look for it. I know this is His work and He is in charge. I invite all who may not know if this is true to pray sincerely and ask God to help you feel that Spirit, I know you will feel it if you just ask sincerely. I hope you all have a great week! You are all in my prayers!

***WARNING!  Do not look at pictures below if you get queasy at the sight of blood! Eek!***

 A pic from the festivities for the Madagascar Independance day last week.
 And a cool pic of a part of our area.
 Me with Herindraza our 2nd counselor and his wife Rosemine, we had dinner with them Friday night!
 This was the birthday present the other missionaries got me haha. Really nice of them as these are pretty expensive here in terms of Malagasy money.
 Sunday morning we woke up to our land lord killing some goats haha. Sorry if its gross but the video is a lot worse!

 Happy Birthday to me haha eggs and flour is a Malagasy tradition they do here...the eggs and flour are definitely better in a cake but it was a fun time. Had dinner with lots of the members and this great family last night!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Week 47 - Tratra Fety Isika

What's up everyone?! I hope you are all having a great week and a good summer. This week was a good one here in Fort D. Today is Independence Day for Madagascar. There have been lots of cool Malagasy Cultural things going on and it has been cool to see. The work is going great here also. We have found some great new families and people. Two of our investigators that are preparing for baptism had birthdays this week and we bought them white shirts and ties as they didn't have any. They were very happy to get those and they looked good in them on Sunday! Dorgivier and Pascal are their names and they are complete studs and I can't wait til they are baptized! Right now we are looking for the family that is gonna be a big piece in helping this little branch grow. We have many of our investigator families that I feel could help be that piece and help this branch grow and it is exciting. As a missionary in such a small branch it has been a cool and different experience that I am very grateful for. I have been praying and looking for ways of how I personally can help the members and investigators and all the people in this area realize the need of the Gospel and especially the Restored Gospel. I thought about what the Savior taught about which of the commandments was most important. He taught to Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart with all thy soul and with all thy mind is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is to love your neighbor as yourself. He taught that on these two commandments hang all the law. That means that if we truly Love God and truly Love our Neighbor then we will be living all the other principles and commandments of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And all the other things in our life will just fall into place. I thought about this a lot. I feel as though I love God but I am sure I can increase my love for Him. I also feel that I love my neighbor. I have learned a lot on my mission thus far but one of the most important things I have learned is to love all people. I thought that I can definitely improve in this category though also. I have thought a lot about this and know that it must be very important for us all. If Christ said these are the two most important things then we should probably make this the center of our lives and what we need to be doing. Christ truly loved everyone and that is what we need to strive to do and become. I know that as we love all those around us, especially our Heavenly Father, our lives will be changed and we will recognize all the blessings in our life and we will experience true happiness. That is why a mission is so great. You get to wake up everyday and think about the people you teach, you pray about the people you teach, you strive to help better the lives of the people you teach, and you love the people you teach. There is no greater joy than losing yourselves for those around you. I know we will be happier and find more blessings as we live these two simple but important commandments. I hope you all have a great week! Veloma!
 Went on a split with Elder Parraga this week and this is a cool view they have in their area.
 And a sick basketball hoop. Ball is life.
 Some funny little kids that were wanting their pic taken very bad.
 Me and my English class. Taught them the Hokey Pokey and they thought it was a funny but weird dance haha. 
 Some pics from the big Independence Day parade that was going on here by the town hall in Fort Dauphin which is right by our house. These people were all doing different Malagasy dances and stuff and it was cool.

Also a pic of us watching the firework show from our house. Today is actually the day of Independence and so there are tons of activities and stuff going on that should be cool to see!