Monday, September 25, 2017

Week 60 - Tsinai-pia

Akory aby!! Inona vao vao? Mbola tsy mahay mirehake ve ianareo? It was a great week here in paradise! Fort Dauphin just doesn't disappoint and when the missionary work is going well too it sure is hard to complain! This week was great! We found some great new families and people that are searching to find the truth of the Restoration. It is awesome when you find a new family that is just so prepared to hear the message when you are a missionary. I always wanna just chest bump someone coming out of those lessons man. They are the best. This week I was asked to give a talk about the Book of Mormon in Sacrament. I love teaching about The Book of Mormon especially to investigators. I have grown a love for the scriptures since I have been on my mission. I know they are the word of God and as we read the scriptures we will draw closer to Him and be able to better follow His son, Jesus Christ. As a missionary teaching about The Book of Mormon I have heard it all haha. Just about every reason why that book isn't true. But I have yet to find someone that has told me they have read the book prayed and asked God and then received an answer from Him that it is false. It makes me sad that so many people these days overlook their relationship with God. People are so quick to go to Google and so slow to just sincerely ask God about their questions. One thing that people always say about us when we teach them is that we aren't like other missionaries that come and teach them about their church and the Gospel. They always say "I like your message. You aren't trying to force me to believe this but you are wanting me to ask God." The Malagasy people have a strong faith in God and truly do believe He answers prayers and that is why there are so many baptisms that happen here. I have grown a love for the scriptures and the Gospel in my time here as a missionary. One thing that I have grown a love for too is my relationship with God, my Heavenly Father. You learn a lot of things on a mission that you didn't know before. And many people question you with things that you have never thought about or recognized. Many times I have not known an answer to a certain question or principle, but I always kneel and ask God to help me understand and then I read the scriptures and I have always received an answer. Sometimes those answers require faith and trusting God, but it is an answer. I know the Book of Mormon is true, without a shadow of a doubt. There are no facts or history or websites or groups of people that will change that, only God. I know this is true because I have knelt in prayer and asked my Heavenly Father and He has told me through the Spirit. I know that anyone who TRULY has a desire to follow God and prays to know the truth will find it. Trust God. I am so grateful for the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon and the Bible. The Book of Mormon has taught me more about the Savior and how I can follow Him and that is why it is true. No liar or evil man could have written that book. I know it is of God. I hope all of you will read it and pray to know of the truthfulness. You will find everlasting joy. It will fill your thoughts and mind with teachings of the Savior instead of teachings of why a certain person lied or is false. Focus on the Savior and on God and they will lead you. I hope you all have a great week!! Veloma!
 Our group of members and investigators at soccer two Fridays ago.
 How Malagasies travel to the capital and other places, they are squished on these huge buses, and sometimes tiny little vans. The people on this were going to be traveling for three days before they arrived.
 Last week I thought I was being transferred so I took pics with a bunch of the members and investigators at church haha ended up showing up at church the following week so that was funny. 
 Pics from our sweet hike to Lokaro last P-day! It was cloudy and not hot, so it was pretty nice day for a hike.

 Our guide/investigator, Ronaldin, showing us some carnivorous plants.
 More pics from our hike last P-day!!

 Me with some random guy from the nearby village. His name was Lambo, which is pig in the Antanosy dialect ha. He followed us until we stopped for lunch and he sold us some oysters which I will send a pic of too. Not the tastiest but thought we would buy from him since he walked so far with us haha.

 Some more pics from the hike!

  Ronaldin brought his guitar and was playing some Malagasy songs for us!
 This has nothing to do with pics but I love Madagascar. Some guy with a bucket of bread with chocolate inside came in to this place we are emailing and I bought one for about a dimes worth in dollars haha. #livingthelife

I am still in Fort D but they added two more missionaries here in Fort D. So me and Elder Shelby moved houses. We now live really close to the church and about 200 or 300 yards from the ocean and can hear it constantly. We live with Elders Salmon and Allen. And they are good cooks so I am pretty happy about the move. 
 Some pics of the house and the Wall of Remembrance. Any missionary that comes to Fort D gets a nickname and a paper hung up in the house after they are transferred.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Week 59 - Ataovy Dimy

Salama y'all. I hope you all had a great week. First off, I received news that I will not be leaving paradise!!! I am very happy to say the least! I will be here my 5th transfer and my 4th with Elder Shelby. It is great and we will hopefully be seeing some great families baptized this coming transfer! I could not be happier!! We had a sweet p-day activity today so I don't have much time, so this may be a short little email. I will let the pictures do the talking for the p-day activity. Basically, just gotta go on a nice hike in ParadisaGasy. This week we were able to have a great District Conference with President and Sister Foote also. It is always great having them in town! We had a cool experience this week that I would like to share. Monday nights, we usually have dinner and family home evening with one of the Branch Presidents. But our dinner was cancelled late notice, so it left us with a night we had no program or lessons set up. So Elder Shelby and I decided to go visit a less active family and we shared a lesson with them and it was great. As we were closing the lesson, I looked at my watch and realized it still wasn't too late. I didn't know who to visit though. There were no members or less actives that lived close by and it was late enough that most Malagasies would think you were crazy or trying to rob them if you knocked on their door. But I felt something tell me to go to this family we tracted into a while ago...but this family wasnt exactly the most warm-welcoming last time as they just said they didn't have time and we could come back another time. Most of the time that is the Malagasies way of saying I want nothing to do with you get out of my house haha. But I still felt that we should go there. I thought to myself that it was just me and that I was wanting to be a good missionary and not go home and that nothing would come of it. So I just kept thinking of others we could visit. We left the house of the less actives we had visited and we started walking. We walked one step past the house I was prompted to go back to and I just stopped and said let's try these guys. So we did. They were home. The husband didn't seem too happy to see us again but they let us in and we had a very great lesson and are visiting them again this week. When we got out Elder Shelby told me that if I didnt say something he was about to say we should visit that house again too. I knew then that it was the Spirit. I dont know if this family is going to be baptized or anything but I am so grateful to be able to have the guidance of the Spirit in our lives. I heard a quote and I don't know who said it but it was this, "Follow all the promptings you have until you can tell they are not from the Spirit." I always remember that when I have thoughts or feelings to do something that might be weird and I tell myself that it is just my own thoughts. I know the Spirit is real. How blessed we are as members of the church to be given such an amazing gift that can help us in all aspects of our lives. We must always strive to live worthy of this great gift so we may be blessed by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I hope you all have a great week!!! I will be enjoying my time in paradise. Sorry if the pics make you jealous :) Veloma!! 
 Pics from lemur park last pday! We were allowed to use bananas to lure the lemurs but not allowed to let them eat them haha so there is an awkward pic of me smiling while fighting the lemur for the banana. 

Emma's baptism pics! It was a great baptism!!! 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Week 58 - Ny Sorompanavotana' i Jesoa Kristy

Akory aby! Hope you all are doing well and it was a great week! This was a good week for us! A few sad moments this week as our investigators that were preparing for baptism this Saturday were not able to get vita soratra (legally married). That was sad but I know they will be baptized one day!! We do have a baptism coming up this week! Emma will be baptized! She is a twenty-year-old girl and the cousin of our Young Mens' President who is also the Institute teacher who is also a recent convert. He is a baller. But anyways Emma is a stud like him, so we are pumped to see her baptized! I know she will help this branch a lot!! This week I thought a lot about the Atonement of Christ. One thing that amazes me is how little other churches teach about the Atonement. We will teach members of other churches and lots of them know very little or nothing about the Atonement. They know Christ died for us but it seems as though that's all they believe or know. It makes us sad when people don't know what the Atonement means for us and how many blessings it allows us to receive. There are 3 scriptures that I read this week that really made me think about the Atonement. The first one is Alma 37 verse 46. (I don't have my scriptures and this computer is too slow for me to switch pages and copy and paste. I am sorry you will have to read them on your own haha). This scripture talks about how the way is prepared for us and if we will look we might live. Then in Omni 1 verse 26 there is a line that says "partake of His salvation." I love the Malagasy translation of this as it translates to "handraisanareo anjara aminy famonjeny." It literally translates to take responsibility in His salvation. These two scriptures stood out a lot to me. The Atonement is done. Vita. Check it off the list. It's finished. Eternal life, happiness, peace, living with God and our families for Eternity is all prepared for us. It is all there. Heavenly Father and Christ are now just telling us to go get it. The path is there and Christ has done everything for us so that we can receive all that God has prepared for us. But we need to partake of His salvation. We need to take responsibility and do what we need to, to receive it. Christ suffered, died, and rose again for us so that we, sinners, can receive such great blessings. But it doesn't just come to us. Christ didn't just suffer and die for us so that we could be lazy and not follow Him and still get all that. No, He did all that and prepared the path. And then He showed us that path and has given us all we need to go and stay on that path. But He cant drag us down that path. We need to do our very best and when our best comes short then He takes care of it. But it has to be our very best. I had a seminary teacher tell us that everyone in this life gets what they desire. That is so true. Hopefully our first and foremost desire is Eternal Life and following the Savior. If it is, then we know we will do anything to get and do that. If our desire is to go win a state championship, we are gonna work our tails off and practice more than everyone else. And if our desire is to follow the Savior, we are gonna work our tails off and follow Him. Then the last scripture is in Moroni 10 verses 32 and 33.
32 Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.
33 And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot.
(Hey that copy and paste worked, #churchistrue.) Christ prepared the path and He calls for us to walk with Him and follow Him. As we give all we have to the Lord, He will perfect us. He doesn't ask for us to be perfect but He asks us to give our very best. There is a quote by Gordon B Hinckley if I am not wrong, sorry if its not his quote. He said, "All we have to do is try, but you REALLY have to try!!"  I know that is true. The Atonement is done. We just need to follow Christ and keep His commandments and do our part. I know that through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, we can follow Him and do all that is required of us to receive the blessings of the Atonement. I hope you all have a great week!! A day without repentance is a day wasted :) Veloma! Mazotoa.
 Our dinner with President Danielson. He came to the other missionaries house this time haha we made sloppy joes. His daughter wasnt the biggest fan.
 A bunch of little kids ran up to me asking for help and led me to this poor kid whose older brother tied him to a fence. He was crying and I told him I would let him go but I had to take a picture first haha...older brothers are jerks. At least I never tied you to a fence Brax haha.
 Dorgivier's mom wanted a pic with me haha. She is awesome and will be baptized in a few weeks! Sadly I wont get to see it.
  Some nice Malagasy bathtubs.
 A selfie with all the kids in Mbola's house for our lesson with them! Thats only the kids that were in the lesson! haha.
 And a kid at Mbolas that wanted a pic!
 This fruit is the fruit from the baobab trees. The ones Madagascar is famous for!  Btw the fruit was nasty. It was way sour and just weird haha
Mbola's brother wanted a pic with us and it was way windy ha.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Week 57 - Faradofay

Salama aby! Can't believe it is time for the good ole weekly email again. Time goes by so fast on the mission and sometimes a little too fast. It was a great week! The work is going great in this area right now and it is so fun to be apart of. We gave a great family a bap date this week and they came to church. Rachel and Roland were a couple we tracted into a two weeks ago. Roland didn't seem as though he wanted to talk to us a whole lot, but Rachel was very nice. Roland said they didn't have too much time so we gave them a quick summary of our message and a pamphlet and to be honest figured they would never call or we would ever see them again. Then the next week at church to our surprise Rachel was there waiting almost an hour early. She told us she had learned with missionaries in Antananarivo and almost got baptized but moved down here to Fort Dauphin. When we gave a summary of our lesson we told them that are job isn't to go around convincing people this is true, but that we share a message and if the people search with their hearts for the truth we know the Spirit will convince them of it. She said Saturday night she prayed and asked God where she should go to church. Sunday morning she was getting ready and all of sudden felt she needed to go to our church, so she got ready and went. It was great. We went back to teach them and her son and daughter-in-law listened to the first lesson. Rachel's husband still doesn't want to listen but Rachel, Ronaldene (Rachel's son) and Ronaldene's wife Berline and their kids were at church and they all accepted a bap date on the second lesson. Needless to say we are very excited about them. They are all very awesome and kind people and Ronaldene is a guide here in Fort Dauphin so he speaks English and that is cool haha. The Lord's hand is in the work and it is great being on His team. This week in studies I read in Doctrine and Covenants section 136. Verse 31 really stood out to me. It reads, "My people must be tried in all things, that they may be ready to receive the glory that I have for them, even the glory of Zion. And he that will not bear chastisement is not worthy of my Kingdom." I love this scripture. The end part is what stood out to me most. My companion and I talked about this in comp study. I thought about how important it is that we can take help or coaching and be able to learn from it. In sports the greatest players are those that are coachable. I have played on many teams and multiple different sports and the players that improve the most and have the most success are those that listen to the coach and strive to implement that in their game. The coach was usually a player before; he usually knows the game and what it takes to win and because of that he is in a position to help his team and correct them. Our everyday lives are no different. God is the coach and we need to be coachable. Church, the scriptures, seminary, institute, and General Conference are just a few ways God coaches us. God wants us to win and he is the one coach that will never make a mistake. So as we strive to live the Gospel, He will guide us and try and coach us through the Spirit. It is important that we submit our will to His and we need to trust Him and know that His ways and His knowledge will always be better and broader than ours. I love verse 31, as sometimes in the gospel and church we learn something that we need to change or do better, it is vital that we follow those promptings and strive to follow Gods game-plan and throw ours out the window if necessary. I know that God has called living Prophets and Apostles on earth today as his assistant coaches. I know that as we follow their guidance and teachings we can take comfort that we are following God. God always has our needs in mind and as we strive to follow Him and give our lives to Him, He can shape us into better players and better disciples of His Son. I am so grateful for God's loving guidance, even though sometimes it requires us making the harder right rather than the easier wrong, as President Monson once said. We are all so blessed to have a knowledge of the Gospel and have such a perfect game plan set up before us, now we just need to go out and perform. I hope you all have a great week!! Veloma!!
 A Malagasy stove.
 A selfie with Lahavelo and Emma who is preparing for baptism on the 16th!
 Me and Lahavelo after he helped us teach a lesson. Our area is so beautiful.
 Velo and Bebline's family, who I brought some glowsticks for (thanks for the packages from home.) Velo and Bebline are the family I wrote about a couple months ago who can't read or write and have a hard time remembering the lessons but come to church every week. They are awesome!
 Some pics from our hike this morning! We had a good group of members and investigators come! It was fun!

Our group up at the top of the mountain!!