Monday, August 28, 2017

Week 56 - Mazoto Be

Akory aby! I am sure you all had another great week! Our week was great too! I am loving this great area that I have been blessed to serve in for 4 transfers (about 6 months). There are so many great people here and I feel so blessed to serve with them everyday! This week was great. We are having so many great and prepared people being put in our path and you can definitely see the Lords hand in the work. There are so many "coincidences" that happen on the mission that are definitely not coincidences at all but rather the hand of the Lord helping His children that are ready to find the truth. My testimony is strengthened everyday that this is truly God's work and He is in control. It is always a nice comfort as a missionary to know that all we have to do is be obedient and work hard and the Lord will take care of the rest. This week we taught one of my best friends here, Dorgivier. He is now a member and a stud. We baptized him probably about a month or so ago. Dorgivier is one of the most humble guys I have every met. He has had a big impact on me as I have gotten to know him. He lives in the smallest house I think I have ever been in. I could not lay flat either way in his house and fit. Also, of all the members, he lives the farthest distance away from the church building. Oh and he is handicapped, as one of his legs is shorter and not developed like his other leg. Yeah having to mow the lawn on Saturday afternoon while the game is on doesn't sound too bad now huh? :) Anyways, we taught Dorgivier and when we were about done we asked if he had any questions. He said yeah. He asked, "Is it ok to blame God for some things? Like I am disabled and it is hard. I walk on the street and people stare at me and sometimes I will be carrying something heavy and some people will help me but other times I will fall as it is too heavy and people just watch. It is hard but is it ok to blame God for that?" Man, I felt as though I wasn't worthy to answer his question. But I shared D&C 122:7-9 with him. This talks about how no matter what happens to us in this life and all the trials and hardships we have the Savior has suffered more than all of us can imagine. And in this scripture the Lord says "all these things shall give thee experience and be for thy good." I told Dorgivier I don't know why certain people are born with disabilities or hardships that they cant control and they did nothing to deserve it. But I know that God gives us trials to help us in the long run. They are for our experience and good. Sometimes in life we get frustrated and mad at God because we have endured hardships and trials yet we have done nothing but tried to be good and keep the commandments. I know that those hard times are for our good. They make us better. They strengthen our faith. They help us realize how blessed we truly are as we focus on the good. If we lift weights, once 1 plate gets too easy, we usually add some more weight so we can strengthen our muscles. I am sure that principle is the same with our spiritual growth. We endure hardships and trials through out our lives. And I would guess that when those come, it is God saying ok you are ready to take a little more weight, don't worry this first rep is gonna be hard but it will get easier and you are gonna be stronger than before. I know that God is a loving and merciful God. He will never give us too much that we can't handle. But sometimes He sure does make it hard, and as we have faith we will recognize that "it is all for our good and experience." Focus on the Lord and He will help you through. I am so grateful for such amazing people like Dorgivier and many others in my life. I hope you all have a great week!! Mazotoa!
 Heiden Rooney and his wife, Savannah, were at our dinner with President Danielson and their family. Heiden served here a while ago and we are long lost family so that was cool! (Heiden is Paul's cousin's nephew). 
 Pic of some kids playing soccer in our area.
 Some little studs we found one night. They made this wooden guns that shot rocks like a sling shot. They made them themselves and it was so cool. We see them running around having wars with their friends. Reminded me of airsoft wars in the backyard when I was little haha.
 A pic with Dorgivier in a beautiful part of our area. He helped us teach on Friday. He was so happy to help us. It was awesome.
 Dorgivier posing for a pic.
 Pic with Mbola. They like taking pics a little too much. Seems that after every lesson we have a little photo shoot with them it is funny haha. 
 People like making the joke that I am a Mpanamboatra Kiraro (shoemaker) yet my shoes are broken. So I decided to pay a member to fix these up for me haha. Hopefully these bad boys can last one more year ha.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Week 55 - Fibebahana

Akory aby!! What's up everyone? I am sure it was another great week for all of you as it was for me!! We had a great week. Had some great and very spiritual lessons this week and we had a great turn out at church! It was a very exciting week. One story is of an investigator family we teach that I have grown to love a lot. The couple is named Zava and Poni and we teach a couple of Zava's sisters with them and Zava's niece. They are all great although Zava's niece has seemed to be the one most affected by our lessons.  Her name is Sisine. They are all a part of the Catholic church and they are great people. We taught a lesson on faith. At the end of the lesson, Sisine was telling us that she is having a hard time knowing what to do. She has been baptized and confirmed in the Catholic church and she always believed that was the true church. She has been moved by our lessons and our message though and she says she doesn't know what to do. As she said this, Zava spoke up, he said "Joseph Smith was like that, he didn't know what to do and he kept searching and searching." Then his wife, Poni finished off, "Yeah and remember what he did? He went and prayed and he got an answer! You just need to pray." They all then looked at us and I just said amen ha. They were at church the next day and it was great to see them. Sisine seems to be the one leading them and I truly believe they will all be baptized and be able to enjoy the fullness of blessings through the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve with such amazing people!! This week I listened to a talk by Elder Holland. He talked about the story in John 21. This is after Christ's resurrection. Peter and some of the other disciples decide to go fishing again and back to their normal lives. They went out fishing and didn't catch a thing. The Savior then appears to them and tells them to cast their nets again. As you can guess, they then hauled up a big load of fish. Christ invites them to come to Him. Then He asks Peter, "Peter, do you love me more than all of this?" Peter answers, "Yea, Lord thou knowest that I love thee." Christ asks him again, "Do you love me?" Peter says, "Yea, Lord thou knowest that I love thee." Christ asks him a third time and Peter answers again. Christ's answer to Peter was then this, "Feed my sheep." I love this little story and have loved relating it to me and my life and all of us today. I am fairly confident that one of the first questions, if not the first question Christ and our Heavenly Father will ask us when we meet face to face with them again is,"Did you love me?" We all know love is shown and not just spoken. I love the Savior's first question to Peter. It wasn't just, "Do you love me?" It was, "Do you love me more than this?" Referring to the fishing Peter was doing. I am sure that many of us have a love for God and his Son. Is it a perfect love? Maybe not. What if the Savior appeared to us and asked us a specific question like that? What would He ask? "Do you love me more than those inappropriate movies, tv shows, and songs you watch and listen to?" "Do you love me more than those inappropriate thoughts?" "Do you love me more than those swear words you say a little too often?" I am sure there are many things He could ask each of us and they would all be different. But I am sure His answer would be the same. "Follow me, and keep my commandments." As we all know that if we truly love Him we will keep His commandments. I love this story and have tried to apply it in my life and see what I can do better or give up to better love my Heavenly Father and Savior and to follow them. I know that as we do, we receive true and everlasting happiness. I would like to share a great quote from President Foote. He said this in my interview with him this week. "We aren't trying to make them Mormons, we are trying to make them Saints. But being a Mormon is the best way we can become Saints." I love this quote and know it to be true. I love this Gospel. I know that as we follow the commandments and guidelines of the living Prophets we will come to love the Savior more and more and feel His love for us more and more. I hope you all have a great week! Mazotoa!!
 Last P-day we made some dumbbells for our house. Some pics of us making them, me with the member's daughter who helped us, and the final result! We don't mess around here haha.

 A cool view.
 Some pics of Mbola's family, who always want us to take pics of them when we teach them.

 This bebe (grandma) was wanting to see the pic but I snapped a pic of her and it is classic haha.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Week 54 - Akory Ziora

What's up Everybody?! It was a great rainy week here and I hope you all had a great week also! Fort Dauphin is the place to be and it just gets better every single week. This week we had some great lessons and found some awesome new families that we are very excited about! One couple who we found, first talked to missionaries in 2005 in Tamatave. When they first moved to Fort D, there weren't missionaries or a branch here and they lost track of the church. They read the Book of Mormon everyday and it was amazing when the wife comes up to us as we had just tracted into her cousin's house. She was holding a really old Book of Mormon and my comp and I were shocked. She said they have been reading everyday and she led us to their house and we shared the first lesson with them. I am very excited about them!! We have many investigators right now that are so awesome and it is very exciting! This week I have thought a lot about the Atonement. Sometimes as we teach people about the Atonement and what Christ did for us it is a very deep and hard thing to understand. It is amazing that one person could be filled with so much love that He would be willing to suffer and die for all of our pains, sicknesses, sadness, loneliness, mistakes, and everything else we could ever feel. As we teach about the Atonement I often share a story I heard a long time ago but don't remember where. It is about a school class of boys. They were very rowdy and disobedient. Finally one teacher told the class they need to come up with ten rules. The students came up with ten rules they thought were fair to follow. The teacher then said if there is a law but no penalty then the law is pointless. What is the penalty for those who break these rules?' The students decided that those who break the rules would get beaten ten times across the back without their coat on. A few days later Big Tom found that his dinner was stolen. The class found out who the thief was and it was a little boy named Jimmy who was very small and very hungry. The teacher said, "Jimmy, you broke the rules you get the punishment; ten stripes across your back." Jimmy pleaded and told the teacher he could beat him but to please let him leave his coat on. The teacher said, "You helped make the rule, take off your coat." Little Jimmy took off his coat and the teacher saw he had no shirt under and just a skinny bony little body. The teacher thought to himself that he couldn't beat this poor little boy, but he had to do something to earn the class' respect. Just then, Big Tom steps up and says, "Teacher, I will take Jimmy's beating." The class and teacher agreed that if someone else accepts one's punishment it is acceptable. Tom took off his coat and the teacher beat him across the back. Little Jimmy jumped up and hugged Big Tom. He said, "I am so sorry Tom! I was so hungry. I will love you til the day I die. Thank you for taking my beating." I love this story and example of the Atonement. We are all little Jimmy at one time or another in our lives. How blessed we are to have a Savior that was willing to take our beating so that we can be forgiven and return again to our Heavenly Father. A day without repentance is a day wasted and I am so thankful for the Atoning Sacrifice of the Savior. I know He suffered and died for us but then rose again. All He asks is that we love Him and follow Him. I know this Gospel is true and as we follow the Savior we will have true and everlasting happiness. I hope you all have a great week! Veloma!
 Some pics of our walk we did last P-day right before we went out to work. The path we took is just right behind our house. Like a 15-20 min walk right by the beach. Sorry...not trying to make you guys jealous. Haha.

 Some pics from Mbola's house. This is some of Mbola's family. His dad is a Mpiambina Omby and his family makes charcoal. That is what the big hole in the ground with smoke is.  

 A pic of the path out by Mbola's house.
Elder Hunter was transferred to Tamatave and we took a goodbye pic. This is right outside our favorite restaurant here. It is owned by a French couple and it is so good.  

Monday, August 7, 2017

Week 53 - Akory ilahy toy

Salama dudes and dudettes. Hope you are all doing good and it was a good week! It was a great week here especially as I received news that I don't have to leave the paradise of Fort Dauphin for another transfer! I am excited to keep working in this great little branch some more! This branch has a special place in my heart as many of the members make many sacrifices just to be able to make it to church each week and it is a blessing to be able to work side by side with them. This week we had great success tracting and finding people as well as teaching our investigators we already have. We have many people and families that are amazing and it is great to work with them! We teach a great young couple that we found on a P-day a couple months ago. They are very religious people and read the Book of Mormon like crazy but still haven't come to church. We are working hard to help them have the courage to come. The wife shared with us that her father is not a fan of our church and she is scared he will be mad. We are hoping and praying they can come to church soon! They would be a huge blessing to the branch! This week I also listened to a talk and I can't remember who it was by or what it was called I am sorry ha. But the speaker talked about how one day when he was a kid he came home from a basketball game they had lost. He was upset and mad. He told his mom he didn't know why they lost as he had faith they would win. He then related the faith he had when he lost the b-ball game to that of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the Old Testament. King Nebuchadnezzar was trying to force the people to worship idols. Shadrach, Meshach. and Abednego said they would not worship the idol and the King said he will throw them into the fiery furnace if they do not worship it. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego then said we will not worship your idol and if you throw us into the fiery furnace our God will preserve us. BUT IF NOT, meaning if God does not preserve us, we will not worship your idol. The speaker related the difference in the faith the 3 men in the Old Testament had and that he had after the ball game. Sometimes we have faith and we have a lot of it but things still don't go the way we thought or planned them to go...but we had faith right? Why didn't it go the way we wanted? All things are dependent on God's will. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego knew that. They knew and had faith that God could preserve them but they also knew that maybe it wasn't His will and maybe He had a different plan for them. Faith is trusting the Lord. It is knowing that whatever happens, it is in the Lord's hands and it is for our good. Perfect faith is not just having faith that everything will go the way we want it but it is having our will swallowed up in the Father's. As all he does for us is for our good, even though we may not understand it at that time. I know that as we fully trust the Lord, our eyes will be open and our minds broadened to be able to see from his point of view. To see how He is trying to bless and help and strengthen us. As we exercise faith such as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, we will have peace and comfort knowing our lives are on the path Heavenly Father wants us to go. The Gospel is true! Hope you have a great week! Veloma!!
 Some pics of the year mark day! Had district meeting and took a bunk bed pic. Burned some shirts on the beach, a year mark tradition for missionaries.

 And had a dinner with this great member family! This young man on my right is named Mirant. He is our branch clerk even though he is 18. A couple weeks before I got here, he was walking home from the church after doing his calling. It was later at night and he actually got jumped and beat up...he lost half his teeth and was a little shy for awhile. He is starting to seem like his normal self and he is an awesome guy. Studs like him are what make the work of Salvation move along!! He is preparing for a mission and the family is preparing and saving money to go to the temple. They are great people!!

 Mbola and his family wanted to take some more pics. They are the family of the wood carver who lives in the middle of nowhere. We visit them every Saturday morning. Some pics of his family and him carving. They are great people!!

  My view from lunch Saturday of the couple I talk about on voice recording. The really nice and rich place they bought for us! Very nice people!
 Pics of our P-day last week! Went on a rainy hike to a cool waterfall basically in the middle of the jungle and it was sweet! And this pic of us at like the nicest restaraunt in Fort D. This waitress who has become our friend, will not be working for awhile as she is having a baby and so we took a pic with her!

 Some more pics from P-day!!

We went on the hike with some members. This lady is a single mom and she makes each of the missionaries a big bottle of juice each week! She is way nice and we decided to invite her and her fam to the waterfall with us!