Monday, September 26, 2016

Week 8 - Panamboatra Kiraro

Well the first full week is done here in Madagascar! It was crazy to say the least! There is so much to talk about but this keyboard is really crappy and I don't want to type all that. I will try and give you the good stuff. First off, last week I didn't really talk much about the actual missionary work. My comp and I are in a fairly new area so we needed to do a lot of tracting this week and try and get some new investigators. And we had a great week and it was very successful! We taught 45 lessons with 43 new investigators! The work is going very well here in Tamatave! It is awesome being able to teach so much everyday. The people are so humble and willing to listen to the message. The language is hard but I learn more and more every single day! I now teach more in each lesson and learn more things I can say every day during language study. The understanding is very hard though. The people speak really fast and speak really softly a lot of the time so it is hard to hear and pick out what words they are saying. This week and every single day has a lot of funny things that happen. I don't even know where to start! We have dinner appointments every Sunday, Monday, and Thursday though. So far I have loved all the food except our dinner appointment last Monday. Wow it was bad. It was this weird corn stuff and I gagged when I first ate it. But luckily the people were very nice because they did not make us eat the huge bowl they gave us and me and the other missionaries just choked down as many bites as we could haha. I also got bit by a little kid...I love the little kids here and they are so fun to play with but this kid felt a little too comfortable with the big white guy and I guess he decided he wanted to see what white meat tasted like. haha. The kids are so funny though! I love playing with them and making them laugh! I am loving it here! Today we went to a lemur park for pday and it was awesome!! It was so fun to see the lemurs but this park didn't let us touch the lemurs. But it was an awesome week! It is hard to see some things as these people are so poor and it is hard for me to say I am from America because I know they know how much I have and how blessed I am while they are struggling so much. I just hope I can help these people and give them the light of the Gospel. I love Madagascar and I love being a missionary!! I hope you all have a great week! You are in my thoughts and prayers! Love you all!!!
Forgot to add this to the group email! Every week we teach English class Saturday mornings! It is one of my favorite parts of the week! It is funny to hear the questions these Malagasies have hahaha. One kid asked if it is ok to say, ''What is popping around?'' Instead of whats up. haha Idk why but that made me laugh way hard. I was also practicing with one kid and he asked how old I was and he was like, "Wow you have a very big body." haha and another guy had to go to the bathroom so he came and said, "Sorry sir I have quick pee." hahahah Idk but those all made me laugh way hard. Well that is it have a great week!!

 The kids like to pose for pictures. Even some 23 year old guy
asked if we could take pics of him and he posed like a model haha it was funny.

 This little boy at the beach came up and asked for money...
definitely hard to not give him any as we are told to do so.
Schyler said these are his weights he works out with

Helping a lady pump her water to wash her clothes :)

 Some lemurs in a tree from the lemur park and some pics at the lemur park

I am on top of that waterfall but not sure if you can see me haha
 The lemur park is in the middle of the jungle. It was awesome!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Week 7 - Tonga Soa Madagascar!

Well I am finally here! It is so crazy I am actually a missionary in Madagascar! It has been a crazy but awesome week! I don't know where to start! When we got here we had an hour drive to the Mission Home and that was the craziest drive of my entire life. I saw things that I would have been fine never seeing. The roads here are insane, there are no traffic laws whatsoever and I don't know how people don't crash all the time. So I was in the capital Antananarivo for two days and then I got my new trainer and area I will be serving in. I am in Ankirihiry in Tamatave! It is a coastal town on the north eastern coast of Madagascar! I love it! My trainer is Elder Nortje from South Africa. He is an awesome guy and he is teaching me a lot. Tamatave is so beautiful but as you can imagine really poor. They live in these tiny huts that I can barely fit in. We were coming out of one lesson and I stood up too soon and hit my head on the roof of this guys house. I was so scared cuz it felt like the whole hut was about to fall down. Thankfully the guy just laughed and said wow you are really tall! haha! They all say that to me and think I am some freak or something. I don't do a whole lot in the lessons. I usually bear my testimony and say the prayer and maybe a line or two. It is hard to understand these people because they talk so fast and the area I am is in a little bit of a different dialect then what I learned in the MTC. But I am learning a lot everyday and improving a lot! This morning I was able to buy my breakfast by myself! The food here is actually really good! We usually eat at the same little restaurant for lunch and dinner. Last night we had dinner at the branch president's house. We walked in and I saw fish with the skin the head and the tails still on it and I was really scared to eat it. I ate it though! And even had seconds! The wife said that I was very good at eating fish which was funny! Church was really cool but long cuz I can't understand anyone. I had to bear my testimony since I am new. My trainer said to introduce myself as Elder Panamboatra Kiraro which is Shoemaker in Malagasy. So I did and everyone started laughing so hard! It was actually pretty funny how hard they laughed. I don't know why that was so funny but I guess it was. I am loving it here! I know these next two years are going to change me so much and I can't wait til I can actually talk to these people and start helping them. Thank you all for the emails! I don't have much time to email anymore so I wont be able to email everyone back and I am sorry. Know I am so thankful to hear from you though! I will attach a lot of pictures! (We added some from Mission President)
view from mission office

me and my companion

view from the roof of our house (the little bike things
are how we get around if we need to go far cuz they are really cheap)

a pic of my first bus ride

a pic of our apartment (it is one of the nicest ones in the mission)

a pic of a path that is like what I walk on everyday when we tract and go teach lessons

a picture of our church

The gross one is your basic malagasy toilet :) hahahaha
 I havent used one of those yet luckily!

This is where we played soccer this morning!
You can kinda see the goals made out of bamboo!

me and my companion on the bike things called Pous Pous.
I can barely fit so it is kind of a funny picture

View from back of Pous Pous

A pic of me and my companion chilling at a gas station waiting for people.

My companion wanted to take a pic of my first door I knocked on!
It is actually the gate but we knock and say Odayo!​​ 

All the new missionaries arriving to Madagascar on September 14th

Mission Home in Antananarivo
Elder Shoe with Mission President & Wife - Brother & Sister Foote

Training Lunch at Mission Home (that food is looking really American ;) )

Friday, September 9, 2016

Week 6 - Veloma MTC!!

Wow my last Pday in the MTC!! I will be honest that first night I was not sure this day would ever come but it has come faster than I could've ever imagined! I have loved the MTC, I have grown so much and learned so much in my 6 weeks here. There is no place on this Earth like the MTC. There is a special spirit here that cannot be described. While I have loved the MTC, I am so excited to get to Madagascar!! We got our flight plans last week! We leave Monday morning to head to the airport, fly from Salt Lake to Dallas, then have a 3 hour layover in Dallas, fly from Dallas to London, 6 hour layover in London, fly from London to South Africa, 3 hour layover, and then fly to Madagascar where I will have about a 23 month layover :) Yep, the MTC hasn't made me lose my humor but my jokes have gotten worse I will admit haha. So all in all from when we leave the MTC to when we get to the mission home in Madagascar it will be about 53 total hours of traveling. Not sure how that is gonna feel but we will find out I guess. This week was a great week! Definitely one of the better weeks in the MTC. Chad Lewis came to the devotional Sunday night! He played football with my dad back in the day so it was awesome to see a familiar face from the outside world! I went and talked to him after the devotional which was nice too. I loved his talk. Mainly because it is from an athlete's perspective and I could relate a lot to what he was saying. One thing I loved that his wife talked about was that she had said when she first met Chad that all he could talk about was jumping over someone in a football game. He said that is all he could think about. Then one day he did it. She said she learned something very special that day, and that is that whatever we put into our thoughts and into our mind that is what we will become and what we will do. I loved that! Chad also said some awesome things! He said, "You missionaries have been blessed with the Spirit of the Lord and his Spirit has no fear!" As I leave to Madagascar in 3 days I loved hearing that. I am so excited to get to Madagascar but have definitely had some fear with how the language is going to be the first little while. I know it is going to be hard to understand people as I know they talk really fast and our teacher has played some recordings for us. I just plan on smiling and nodding and saying Manahoana a lot. Then Chad said this, "The language doesn't matter as much as your love and desire to serve the people does." I needed to hear that! I have such a desire to serve these people! It has been burning in me since I got my call and even more these last 6 weeks! I can't wait to get to work and know that the language will come but it just matters about how much I love the people. Our Tuesday devotional was amazing too! Elder Christofferson came and spoke! I got to hear 2 of the 12 apostles in my time here! He gave a great talk as you could imagine. He talked a lot about the repentance. One thing I loved that he said is this, "It takes faith to repent and repentance brings about greater faith." I love that. We all need to repent everyday! Even missionaries in the MTC have to repent :) The more we repent and come unto Christ for his grace and forgiveness the more faith we will have in him and his Atonement. He also said this, directing it to us as missionaries, "You are bearing the Kingdom of God in your hands, you are saying I can give you access to the Kingdom of God, you are knocking on these people's doors and saying here I am, here is the Kingdom of God." When he said this I had a strong spirit come over me saying so what else could you be doing that is more important?! You are giving people the access to be able to live with their families for eternity! There is nothing more important you could be doing right now!...I am so happy to be here. I am grateful everyday that I get the opportunity to be a missionary and I am grateful to be able to finally get going with helping the people in Madagascar! There are so many things to look forward to and I can't wait to get going. Thank you all for the packages, letters, and prayers! I am so grateful for all of you and you are all in my prayers. I hope you have a great week!! On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday you can think about me and how I have been sitting on an airplane for like 3 days. Prayers that I can get an aisle seat would be appreciated too haha! I hope you all have a great week!! I will attach some pictures. Just a lot of selfies and stuff. Shout out to my mom for getting the district matching ties! Enjoy these pictures as my pictures next week will look a lot different :) I love you all and hope you have a great week!!!! Veloma!! BTW not quite sure what we are doing in half of these pictures.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Week 5 - T-Minus 9 Days: Madagascar Bound

Manahoana! Salama ve ianareo? I hope you all are doing great and had a good week! I had another great week here in the MTC! One week from Monday I will be leaving to head to Madagascar! I cannot believe that! It still does not seem real! We are all so excited to go! This week was a good week. Lots of learning and still trying to understand this crazy language haha. I am definitely improving everyday at the language but I know it will be a struggle the first little while when I get to Madagascar to try and understand what people are saying. I am just working hard so I can be as effective as possible when I get to Madagascar! We get our flight plans today!! Most likely it will be over 50 hours of travel so that will be crazy. Not much happened this week..I had to get a haircut and lets just say I am glad that will be my last haircut in the MTC. They do not give you many options on your haircut. They make you cut it way short for some reason. I got it as long as I could and it is still shorter than I have ever had. Oh well. I got to play basketball and lift a lot this week! I love having an hour of exercise time everyday and it is definitely something I will miss about the MTC. A lot of Elders in our Zone now know I played basketball for Bingham and we won state and all of that so they wanted to play me. I couldn't pass up and opportunity to give these great Elders a lesson on humility :) haha. The devotionals this week were very good too! Sunday night was Tracy Watson who basically wrote Preach My Gospel! He gave a really good talk on the purpose of missionary work and I learned a lot from him! Tuesday night was President Maynes who is in the Presidency for the Quorum of the Seventy. He gave a great talk about Joseph Smith and also told a really cool story about his mission that is too long to share but it was good, just trust me. Well as I mentioned before we are all really excited to go to Madagascar! Sister Wenyi (our teacher) showed us some really awesome pictures of her mission there! One picture hit me so hard. She showed a picture of some people they taught and their house was literally one room and the walls were cardboard boxes...the house probably fell down in the rainy season and they would have to find a new place to live during the rainy season. It hit me so hard that in just over a week I could be sitting on a dirt floor in a house made of cardboard teaching this amazing gospel to people who so desperately need it in their lives. I want so bad to help these people who I have not even met yet. Our teacher wouldn't even show us some pictures as she said they are things we need to experience and see while we are there. It is so crazy to think about being there in 9 days and being able to help these people. I cannot wait to get to work and I hope to be the best missionary I can to bring this joy to these people. Next time you are shopping and you buy a big appliance or t.v. or something stop and think about what it would be like to have that box be the walls of your home. It was just a picture and I am sure it doesn't do it justice but it made me realize how lucky I am and how two years of my life is so little in comparison to what these people have to live with everyday. My spiritual thought for the week is an amazing quote our Branch President said in Sacrament meeting last week,"There is no burden you will ever have that cannot be lifted through the power of the faith." Being in the MTC the last month has definitely made me realize how much faith I truly have. A great scripture to go along with that quote is 2 Corinthians 12:10. I do not have my scriptures on me or I would type the whole thing but go read that scripture and pay attention to the footnotes. The last line in the scripture says something along the lines of,"for when I am weak, than am I strong." If you look at the footnotes the word weak can mean humility. When we are weak, or humble, and we have faith in the Lord that is when we are strong. We are made strong by our faith in our Savior and Heavenly Father. I know that there is nothing we will ever face in this life that we cannot overcome if we have faith. I love that quote by our Branch President and am grateful for this last month as I can definitely say my faith has been tested at times and as I got through those times I have realized how much my faith and my testimony of this gospel has grown. I know this gospel is true! I know Joseph Smith is a true prophet of the living God. I know our Heavenly Father and our Savior love us and they are mindful of us in whatever we may be going through. Our Savior suffered and died for us so that we can be forgiven and have joy and return to live with our Heavenly Father again. There is nothing in this life that we cannot overcome if we have faith because there is nothing that is too hard for the Lord! I love you all so much!! Thank you for the many letters and packages! I wish I could thank you all individually! You are all in my prayers! I hope you have a great week!! Tiako ianareo! Veloma!!! Pictures: me with the district doing the moose sign (if you don't know what that is don't ask) our district with our Madagascar shirts we can buy here in the MTC, a selfie with Elder Baggs ft. my bald head hahaha. Have a great week!!!!