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! 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Week 46 - Fathers Day

This week was great! We had lots of success finding some great families and now working on getting them to church. My love for this branch and these people has grown immensely as I go to our small little sacrament meetings each Sunday. There is a special feeling of being in a branch where you can know just about every member by name. We had a very spiritual experience this week with one of our investigators that I would like to share. We teach a couple that is related to some members. Sadly this couple can't read or write. Yet they come to church nearly every week and do all they can. We have taught them the Joseph Smith story at least three times. And so I asked what they remembered. The husband sat there and thought. Then he got frustrated and said, "I am so sorry. I am sorry. I am not good. I am sorry. I can't remember this. I am sorry. I can't do anything. I am so sorry Elder! Please don't be sad or mad. I just want to follow Christ." I will admit a few tears welled up in my eyes. I told this man don't ever be sorry for that. If more people had the faith that you have and had that desire this world would be a much better place. I am not giving up on you. I told him to pray and ask Heavenly Father to help them remember. We reviewed the lesson again. Then it all clicked for him. He understood the first lesson just about as good as most new investigators do. It made me happy and I knew Heavenly Father was aware of his faith and desire. I truly believe this couple will one day be baptized and be able to retain and understand the importance of that. I know God helps us achieve all our desires as long as they are in line with his. I hope we can all have the faith of this strong man and remember we are all nothing without our Savior. This church is true and I know Christ lives. I hope you all have a great week! Love you all!
 View from the other missionaries' house in Fort D....livin the life. 
 Did a service project and started to build a water tower at a pig farm that one of the branch presidents here owns and a couple returned missionaries. A couple pics from that.

It was Olivia's birthday so I gave her a glowstick and some snacks. She is daughter of this investigator family.
  The tea we make that I talk about in the voice recording (he says it's not against the word of wisdom ;) but that it tastes and smells like Fruit Loops cereal). It is so freaking good haha.
 For all the other missionaries seeing these pics, I am sorry that your misison president isn't as cool as ours. We were allowed to canoe out to some hidden beaches like the one I went to a month or so ago. Lets just say work hard play hard is how we do it here. 

 The little village we canoed out to...the kids and people were either scared of us or did not like us. But we started playing games with the kids and they went crazy..I wish I could send the videos. We had to move to a bigger area cuz so many people joined in and as we were moving to a new place I got all the kids to chant Kilalao which means game. The whole village was definitely aware that some white guys were there haha. It was so fun. We were fed some rice and tsara maso and it was gooooood. 

 Some more pics from the best pday ever. Saw this guy on the hike to the beach and there was not another person around. Really liked his outfit but he was just chopping some firewood. Wouldn't be surprised if he had a couple drinks too haha.  

  The beach had some huge waves and got some cool pics.

 The canoe trip back we got the motor boat haha.  It didn't take us three hours, so that was nice.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Week 45 - Finoana

Salama! Hope you all are doing good!! I hope it was a great week!! I had a great week! We had a baptism this week for Malaza who comes to church every week with her Grandma and Uncle (who is a returned missionary). She is a 12 year old girl and has a strong desire to live the Gospel. It was great to see her Uncle, Firazana, baptize her this last Saturday. We had a great week! Working hard to try and get investigators to take the long walk from our area to the church that we are sharing with the other branch until the new building is finished. Many times we will have investigators find out about where the church is and tell us that is too far away...disappointing and hard sometimes but we are looking for the ones that will swim to America if they have to! One of my favorite investigators right now is a guy named Dorgivier. He is in his late 20s and has a limp leg. His one leg doesn't look like it just didn't grow as it is shorter and skinnier than the other one. He is the happiest guy though and has made a big impact on me. I truly love that guy. He is at church every week and he lives farther away than anyone else we teach. He has such strong faith and wants to follow Christ and do what is right and it is amazing. He has a baptismal date for July right now! My spiritual thought today is from a talk by Elder Bednar from November 2016 Conference. I don't know the title, I just remembered reading it and I thought about it a lot this week. He talks about the story in Mark of a father who brings his son to Christ to be healed. He asks Christ to heal him and Christ asks him if he believes his son can be healed. The Father replies. "Yea Lord I believe, help thou mine unbelief." I have always been a little confused when I read that verse before. I always thought so does he believe or does he not? I love Elder Bednar's talk about this. He talks about how sometimes we have faith in Christ and the Gospel but we lack faith that it can help us personally. I am sure the father knew Christ could heal his son. He had seen Christ do miracles before probably. But maybe the father doubted a little if that miracle could be for him and his son personally. Many of us believe in miracles and believe we can receive blessings from our Heavenly Father. But at the same time we doubt that those will ever appear in our own personal lives. We need to know and have faith that Christ and our Heavenly Father can personally help us. We need to know that they know us personally and they want to help us. All we need to do is have faith and ask. And if we don't feel we have enough faith, I am sure they are willing to help our unbelief just like Christ helped that humble father's. I know that we can see miracles and blessings in our own personal lives when we strive to follow the Savior. I know they are always there for us and loves us. They are just waiting for us to be ready and to ask! I love this Gospel and know it is true. I hope you all have a great week! You are in my prayers!

P.S. I guess the talk wasn't November conference as there is no conference in November. It was 2016 though hahaha.

 These two kids and this family have made a lasting impact on me...I talked about them in voice recording. They are homeless and live on this bench in the second picture. I see the two girls and their little brother who is not in the pic, walking around town by themselves. I see them asleep on the sidewalk and catching bugs to eat for dinner that had been a week or so since I last saw them and I heard the one to my left in the pic yell and I turned and they came running and gave me a hug...I always joke around and tease with them and it breaks my heart to see such happy kids have such hard life...we need to always be grateful for what we have. 

 Me with another cute little girl whos mom is a member and the little girl is usually all smiles except for when the camera comes out dangit haha. 
A canoe race, doesnt get bigger than this here in Mada haha tons of people were watching this. 
 A selfie with the crowd watching the wrestlers that I talk about in recording. 
 Some pictures of the cultural wrestling tournament that happened this week. And all the people that came to watch it. First ones back to touch the ground loses it was cool haha. 

 The baptism! The font #legit
 The two little girls that I did interviews for, the other Elders taught them.
  Malaza and her family and a couple of her member friends! It was a great day! 
 A picture at dinner at the house of the two little girls who were baptized.  
Some kids that live by Dorgivier. They freak out and go crazy when we come to teach him haha.