Monday, April 24, 2017

Week 38 - Bogosy Misy Sosy

Akory irehe!? What's up everyone!? I hope you all are doing good! This week was a great one as always here in Madagascar! The work is going great and it is such a blessing to be around such amazing people everyday. This week we had lots of success finding new people, helping people progress, and helping people understand the importance of this great message. This week we had President and Sister Foote in town and that was awesome. President Foote is one of the greatest people I have ever met and I feel so blessed to work with him. I learned a lot from his lesson in Zone Conference. One thing he shared with us was a scripture in the Book of Mormon. One missionary said they had a couple they were teaching and the husband believes the Book of Mormon is true and the wife says it is false. He asked what to do about that. President Foote read a scripture that is 1 Nephi 15 verse 3, if I am not wrong. It is Nephi saying how Laman and Lemuel did not see the truth because they did not search for it as they should. They did not search for it with an open heart and mind. They did not truly desire to know the truth because they had already made up in their minds that it was false (they did not believe Lehi's teachings). This hit me. I have already taught a lot of people here in Madagascar and for the most part I can tell who will one day be baptized after the first lesson. It is easy to tell when the person is listening with their heart instead of thinking of ways to prove us wrong. And I know that anyone that reads the Book of Mormon without first deciding that it is false will come to know that it is the word of God. There could not be such a book filled with lies that can change peoples lives for the better. Sadly in this day and age, Satan tries to deceive us into believing what is truth and what is just against what the modern day Prophets say. He tells us that things of the world are the truth or the way of God. He hardens our hearts when the Holy Ghost is whispering to us. We need to truly seek for what is truth and what is light. I know that if we do that we will truly find it. I love teaching about the Book of Mormon. I tell people there are two results you can find when you read the Book of Mormon. Either Joseph Smith is a prophet of God or he is a liar. There is no in between, there is no fence to sit on. I know Joseph Smith saw God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. He did not lie. There is no possible way that I could have seen so many people find such amazing happiness in a message that is a complete lie. I know I am just one missionary also, there are many in the world that see miracles everyday and I know it is not because we are sharing a lie. This message is true, it is of God. I invite you to read the Book of Mormon with an open heart. If you have already read it, read it again. If you have read it but later felt that it is false. I invite you to read again. Pray and ask God. I know He loves you, He will help you if you will just ask sincerely. I love this Gospel. I hope you all have a great week!
 Chicken fight stadium haha. 
 Couple pics from lunch at President Foote's hotel. PARADISE. (He said it was only about $40 a night for a very nice hotel.)

 The dream team but I wasn't ready for the pic haha oh well.
I love these kids!! 
 Throwback to the 80s.
  Some more crazy kids.
 Ye are called to preach my gospel two by two. haha Malagasies always "mandeha doubla"

 Some pics from our dinner last night with Donne's Family. They kinda got a little crazy when I gave them some glowsticks haha.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Week 37 - Ilay Kristy Velona

What's up! I am here in Fort Dauphin and it is definitely the coolest place I have ever been in the world! I will let the pictures do the talking on that one although the pictures don't do it justice. I hope you all had a great Easter week! Easter on the mission was great! Lots of pondering and reading about our Savior and what he did for us and his resurrection! I know He lives and because of that we can all return to Him and our Heavenly Father again one day. There is a ton to talk about this week but I have no idea where to start. Fort Dauphin is great, it is very poor though. We teach many people that don't know how to read or write. Also they speak the two hardest dialects of Malagasy here: Antanosy and Antandroy. My first lesson here the guy said he needed a translator as we were speaking in the main and basic dialect of worried me a little haha. Most people can understand but it is definitely a lot different. It is great though. I am learning a lot of the words and phrases of these dialects to help the people more but we are told to teach and preach in the basic dialect as that is what the church and the standard works of the church use. A little difficult sometimes but it is a great experience!!! I love my new area and have met and love so many new people here already!!! The Malagasies are great no matter where you go!! My little spiritual thought and Easter thought is a scripture in Luke if I am not wrong haha dang my memory is already leaving me. In the chapters of Christ's Atonement in Luke it says something different than the other accounts in the Bible. There is a verse saying that an angel was there strengthening Christ as He was in the Garden of Gethsemane. It stood out to me as Elder Nichols showed me this scripture in Companion study. I thought a lot about it. I wonder who the angel was that was chosen to strengthen Christ. I wonder how thankful Christ was for that. And I wonder how great the angel felt knowing he could help our Savior and strengthen Him through part of the most important event in the history of the world. I thought a lot about this one little verse. Even our Savior the most perfect person to walk the Earth, the most obedient, humble, strong, and brave man to ever live needed strengthening. Luckily there was someone there for Him. I hope I would've been there for Him. I hope He would've thought that He could count on me to help Him. I know that is the reason we are here. That is what a true follower of Jesus Christ is. Someone willing to strengthen and help those around them. Someone you can count on. Someone loving. I hope that one day I can be like that. I hope I can follow the Savior's example and learn to love as He did. I know He lives. I know He loves us. He loves you and He wants to help you. He wants to strengthen you. We need to let Him. And if we are at a place in our lives where we don't need strengthening at the moment we need to go and help others find Him, find the strength that comes from knowing our Savior. And we need to be His hands here on Earth to help strengthen our brothers and sisters. I am so grateful for what my Savior went through for me. I know that as we live His gospel we can find the most true and pure happiness there is. I hope you all have a great week!!! Love you all!!!
 A few more goodbye pics from Ambohimanarina. Gerard and Lalao's family...
  and Lydias kids! Love them and miss them!
 The airport in Fort Dauphin
Shoemaker and Nichols round two #DreamTeam
  A cool view of my new area! 
 Basketball court we play at every morning at 5:30
 Our zone pic after bball!  
 Fort Dauphin...nuff said.
 Some pics of our house haha. I got the top bunk.

 A family we taught were eating these for dinner when we came....I am not joking haha.
  A birthday dinner with Elder Nichols with a great family! Malagasy tradition is to egg and flour you when it is your birthday!!
 Our house is the green one in the bottom right corner...really close to the beach!!
 Awesome family!
 Our church building!
 View from the front door of our church building.  
 View from the top level where we have Sacrament meeting!
  Me and Elder Nichols with some of our investigators at church.
 Went to the beach today and it was crazy as the whole village was practically there and saw some members! It was a big party for Easter. We were trying to find members that invited us and stopped by and hung out with them for a little. It was crazy!
 Then the pics of the coolest hike and view I have ever seen......dang!

 Coolest.hike.ever. Also don't have the pic as it is on another elders camera but we had two guides with swords as apparently a group called the Dahalo lives in the mountains and they steal people's cows and kill the guides had big swords and stuff hahaha. I dont know if that is true but it made it all feel a lot cooler haha. Basically modern day Gadianton robbers hahaha.

 A few more pics of the hike!! It was literally like the jungle! Saw a wild lemur!! It was so dang cool!

I got the pic of the guides with swords! haha there are a lot of legends about these Dahalo guys. I have heard they are real from stories from other missionaries but have a hard time believing they really live in those mountains haha. It was such a sweet day! 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Week 36 - Veloma Mampamangy

Whats up fools?! Hope you all are doing tsara be! It was a great week!! And my short time here in Ambohimanarina has come to a close. This place, people, and branch will always have a special place in my heart. It is hard for me leaving here but as we looked in a session of General Conference playing for the branch. I saw lots of people that I loved and couldn't have felt any better than leaving them with that final sight...listening to our living Prophet and Apostles. I was sad but was reminded that a lot of these people are in a lot better situation than when I found them. Like my favorite country song, 3 Wooden Crosses goes: "I guess it's not what you take when you leave this world behind you, it's what you leave behind you when you go." My goal no matter where I go or what I do is to help people and help them find true joy and happiness. I know there are people that have found that and that is what makes missionary work so great. I will be leaving to Fort Dauphin tomorrow
 morning and surprise surprise the Nichols and Shoemaker reign is about to be rolling again. Yes, I will be working with Elder Nichols in the final transfer of his mission. I am pumped to say the least. We work well together and saw lots of success with our last transfer and looks like we will get a chance to carry that on in Fort Dauphin. This week was great. I loved being able to watch General Conference. There were so many messages that stood out to me and helped me realize things I can do better in my work here and in my personal life. My favorite quote probably was by one of the Presidency of the Seventy. I dont remember his name and dont have my notes with me but he said this, "Sometimes we need to let go of the world to hang on to Eternity." Wow. That hit me hard. Everyday we are either drawing closer to our Heavenly Father and Savior or further away...there is no in between or sitting on the fence. We need to look at all that we do and think is this something of the world or Eternity? If it is of the world or has no benefit to us or our families or our Spiritual growth it is time to get rid of it. I know that as we do this. We will find true and pure happiness and we will have that happiness not only in this life but for Eternity. I love this Gospel, I know it is true. I hope you all have a great week! Love you all!
Me and some crazy guys that make me laugh...haha they work on the busses we take all the time.

 My favorite restaurant here with the couple that works there!

 Geolin, Dorecia, and Elder Stromberg and I.

 Us with some teenage punks that were messing with us and then we started speaking Malagasy and they were amazed haha.
  Me and Rova (a recent convert) and her grandpa. He is 80 years old but always waits for us down the road from their house and walks with us.
Me and Eric...definitely one of my best friends I have made here!
Me with Tolotra and Tafita's son Steve haha. 
Me with Tolotra, Tafita, Henintsoa, and Dina when I said bye to them. Pic on the roof of their house with amazing view.
Sunset from roof of Tolotra's house.
Me with Eric, Vero, Tolotra, and Nirina when I said bye to them. Love those families!!
Me with some young men that help us and are preparing to serve missions.
Me and ole Jimmy.
Cool view of my last time working that area. 
Me with a chameleon ha.
Lanta and her family and I.
Me with Jean Gee, Lydia, and their daughter. Hoping they get baptized soon!
Me with probably the nicest and happiest guy I have ever met, Liva!!
Tolotra ,Tafita, Henintsoa, Josef, and Dina with our last lesson and glowsticks!
Me with Patrica and Fara's family! They are so fun!!
Me and Tahiry messing around haha.
Me and Malala's family who we gave a bap date to my last lesson with! Awesome way to leave them.
Last night with Rachel and Claire's family....
and Donne and Lala's family. I am going to miss them a ton!