Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Week 65 - Tsara ny Sarotra

Akory aby ianareo! What's up everyone? I hope you all had a great week. I have had a crazy week but good to say the least. I have no idea where to even start. I am sure many of you have thought this whole transition has been hard and it will be hard to learn a new language, etc. If you thought that, you are right. And just wait what I have to say this week hahaha. This week we had a zone conference and we found out our areas of service here in La Reunion and our companions. The night before the zone conference, I realized what was going to have to happen. There are 6 elders that were originally called to this island to speak French and then me along with 11 other elders came from being evacuated in Madagascar. So that makes 12 of the 18 are "Malagasy" missionaries. Also 3 of those 6 elders that learned French in the MTC are still in training so they are brand new missionaries. I realized that we were gonna have some companionships that are two Malagasy elders that don't know French. And I bet you have guessed it by now. I am in one of those companionships haha. Not only that, but I am serving in St. Pierre, which is the bottom of the island and we have four missionaries in our branch and all four came from Madagascar and we are not good at French haha. So we are whitewashing an area that we don't even know the native language. It has been crazy to say the least. My comp is Elder Juchau and he has been on his mission 6 weeks. He is a good guy and I am happy to be working with him. This whole situation is crazy, man. In church they announced us as the new missionaries that don't speak French. (At least I think that is what they said). I wish I could just video our daily struggle with communicating with people and stuff. It is pretty funny actually. We always thank people for being patient as we are probably very frustrating to talk to. In our branch and house it is me, Juchau, Stromberg, and Alvarez. They are all good guys and good missionaries and it has been great to work with them. We were talking about how we feel as the early first missionaries of the church may have felt as they traveled to an area they had never been and didn't speak the language. It is an experience to say the least. In our zone conference, President Foote referenced Elder Ellis' talk from the last General Conference. His talk was about how "hard is good." I have thought about that a lot. I wont lie, I am so sad that we had to leave Madagascar but I am grateful for this hard and difficult situation as I feel I am learning a lot. I read in Alma 40 and verses 3 and 5 really stood out to me. In this chapter, Alma is talking to his son, Corianton. In verse 3 Alma says that there are many mysteries of God that we don't know and that we will never know. But that he had inquired diligently to know of the resurrection of the dead and that God revealed truth unto him. Then in verse 5 he basically says that God told him a little but he still doesn't know everything and that's fine and it "suffices him" to know that God knows all. It made me think a lot and I thought a lot about that in relation to "hard is good." During this whole evacuation, I just wondered how this could be happening. I didn't understand why God just let us all leave and (in my mind) abandon all the great people we had come to love. I felt as though I was being forced to forsake these great people and it was hard on me. As I thought about "hard is good" and how Alma had faith and could just say well I don't really know too much why that happened or why its like this but hey its God. He knows more than us and He will take care of it. Hard is good because it forces us to have faith. It forces us to rely on God. We see it all the time in The Book of Mormon. The people lose their faith when times are good and things are going well. Then a famine or "plague" comes and they are strengthened spiritually and reminded that they must always remember God and rely on him. I am so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father that knows our limits and knows how to make us stronger through making us face trials and hardships. As we have faith in him, as Alma did, we will learn to recognize how much we have been given and how important it is to follow Him. I hope you all have a great week! Mazotoa! Veloma!
 A sunset in our area here in St. Pierre.
 The church building.
 The view from the member's house. It is so weird being in a first world, I hate it to be honest. We are spoiled way more than we deserve and it has been frustrating and just lots of emotions for me seeing so many things I never even noticed or thought about before I went to Madagascar.
 We have a car, again not a fan of using a car but things are way too far and public transportation isn't effective here. This is me and Elder Juchau posing with the car by the beach ha.
 The view from our DMB meeting yesterday.
 Us with our DMB Brother Ivaha.
 We went to the top of this mountain this morning for P-day but it was surrounded in clouds ha. Still cool. 

Last goodbye pics from Madagascar. Another Elder sent me these as we took them with his camera so I didn't have them last week. This mom and her family are awesome. She is a single mother and always made us each a big bottle of juice for the week. I miss them!!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Week 64 - Homba anao hatrany anie ny Ray

Hello, Salama, and Bonjour. Wow.....well you all know the news this week, I would guess. I don't even know where to start. I am beyond heart broken and saddened because of our evacuation this last week. I grew to love the Malagasy people more than I love myself and I truly mean that with all I have. I have never met such loving and a happier people than the Malagasy people. I strongly believe that God put his strongest children in that part of His vineyard. I felt so blessed to live with them, talk with them, laugh with them, cry with them, and learn from them. And most of all strive to follow Christ better with them. One thing that has gotten me through this, is knowing God loves the Malagasy people and He will take care of them. I will pray for them everyday. For those of you that may now know, I am on an island in the Indian Ocean called La Reunion. It is technically part of the Madagascar mission but it is all French speaking and it is considered a province of France, I think. Quite honestly, I know about as much of this island as most of you ha. So yes, I am learning French. It is very hard to be starting over learning a new language and not being able to teach people to the effectiveness as I could in Malagasy before we left. The gift of tongues is real and I know everything is gonna go well. But I am very happy as I will be able to keep up my Malagasy because there are Malagasy people that live here and even some that are members. I haven't found out where I will be serving yet but I will probably find that out tomorrow when President Foote comes. There are so many things that are running through my mind. I don't even know what to say. A few things that has helped me with this new change is pondering what Christ-like love truly is. I had been studying that while I was in Fort Dauphin quite a bit and I think this whole situation is teaching me a little more about it that maybe I couldn't have learned any other way. I know God and Christ love the Malagasy people and I know They love the French people and the people on this island. My goal for my time here is to learn to love these people as much as those I left behind in Madagascar. I know the language and all of that does not matter as much as how much I love the people. It will be different and harder as these people may not be as open to the Gospel but the Savior had the Spirit to soften hearts of stone and that is what I will be searching for and striving to become in my new adventure here in La Reunion. Another thing that has got me through is realizing how blessed we are to have living Prophets and Apostles. I will be honest when I first heard the news that we were evacuating, I wasn't really wanting to follow the Prophet and Apostles' decision. I was angry, sad, disappointed, and most of all scared for what would happen to the church and the people there if we left, but I know they are men that are called of God. I know God wouldn't have let this happen if He wasn't ready to watch over the Malagasy people. What a blessing it is that we just need to follow the living Prophets and Apostles and things will always work out. To close, I will share my scriptures for this transfer. Each transfer I write a few scriptures on my daily planner that I want to strive to do better or focus on or something like that during the new transfer. This transfer they are Ether 14 verse 18, D&C 98 verses 1 through 3, and D&C 15 verse 6. The first one is kind of a joke that just explained my feelings on the flight over here ha. I hope you all have a great week. If you feel you have grown a love for the Malagasy people through my emails and stories of them I would like to invite you to keep them in your prayers. Even if you aren't sure you love them but you kinda like me or care about me please keep them in your prayers :). Fantatro fa marina ny Fiangonanan'i Jesoa Kristy ho an'ny Olomasin'ny Andro Farany. Tena sarotra be ity fiovana ity saingy raha manaraka Jesoa Kristy ary ny mpaminany velona isika tsy mety ho very isika. Tena te hiverina any Madagasikara izaho fa aloha izany tsy maintsy miasa mafy zah mba hanampy ny olona eto La Reunion. Mampalahelo be ny vaovao fa tsy mainsty mitraka zah, tsy handao ny olona any Madagasikara ny Tompo. Tsy hay soratana ny fitiavako ho an'ny olona any Madagasikara. Fantatro fa homba azy ireo Andriamanitra ary hiambina azy ireo izy. Ndao handroso hatrany hanao ny asan'ny Tompo. Mazotoa ary aza maditra. Veloma!
 Some of my favorite people in the world.

 Just a few of the many great people that I can now say I love. 

 Saying bye to President Danielson and Julie at the airport in Fort Dauphin.
 All the letters I wrote to members the last night in Fort D. Hopefully they got them.
 I had a hard time sleeping my last night in Fort D and got up at 4 and watched a beautiful last sunrise.
 Last sunset at the mission office in Antananarivo.
  Airport in La Reunion...everything is so nice here and it is crazy.
 View out of the window in apartment in La Reunion.
 Church Building in La Reunion.
 View from the Branch President's house here.
Our group at the hike to a waterfall today on the Branch President's property here. 

Part of our group at the waterfall today! The Elder in red is Cosper's cousin ha. The guy in white is family of a member and the others are Elders. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Due to plague outbreak, LDS missionaries transferred out of Madagascar

We got news this morning that Schyler will be transferred out of Madagascar. :(  We will update as soon as we find out where he will be transferred.


 Dear Parents

Due to the recent outbreak of the plague in Madagascar, the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve in Salt Lake City have asked for the evacuation of the missionaries from the island.    Those currently serving in Madagascar will be re-assigned in the next several days. Additionally, those missionaries who were scheduled to return home between now and January 7 will be released.  Missionaries serving in Reunion and Mauritius will remain.​  We love and appreciate so much their faithful service and we sincerely thank them for their inspiring work in Madagascar.  It is with difficulty that we let them go, but we know they go with our Heavenly Father's blessings.

Please be patient as we process the missionaries into their new assignments.

We would ask you to please wait for your missionary to contact you announcing his/her new assignment. We are working with great zeal along with the Area Authorities and the Mission Department in Salt Lake to make this transition move quickly and smoothly

Again we feel to tell you what remarkable missionaries we have here.  It is with hopeful hearts that we move forward in the work of the Lord.  Please share in our hope and prayers as well as your good words of council and uplift to help your missionary through the needed changes.  We look forward to an expected return to Madagascar in the future and ask for your prayers for the missionaries and the wonderful people of Madagascar.

With Much Gratitude,

Raymon D. Foote
Mission President
Madagascar Antananarivo Mission

Monday, October 16, 2017

Week 63 - Andriake Letsy e

Akory koahy ranignitse! I hope you all had a great week! This week was great and I am savoring every minute I have left in Paradisa Gasy. I received a call this week that I will be transferred to my old area, Ambohimanarina, in the capital city. I was very surprised about this call as the transfer doesn't end for another 3 weeks. I will leave the 24th. I am going to miss this branch and miss Fort Dauphin but I feel very blessed to have been able to serve here. There are many people from this area that I will never forget and I feel so blessed to have been able to get to know them. I am excited to go and see all the members and recent converts I left in Ambohimanarina last April. I was very sad when I left that area and never thought I would be going back but crazy things happen when there is a plague in the country haha (Go to this link for some information about the plague:
 http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/madagascar-plague-outbreak-now-threatens-largest-cities-50504224). This week was great. We and the members are working hard to help the many investigators we have feel comfortable at church and make friends. There are so many awesome families we teach that will help this branch and help move along the work of Salvation after they are baptized. This week I came across a scripture that just made me sit back and think for a little while. It was Doctrine and Covenants 15 verse 6. It says, "And now, behold I say unto you, that the thing which will be of most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people, that you may bring souls unto me, that you may rest with them in the kingdom of my Father." I sat back and just thought about that. This last year or so I have had so many experiences and things I have learned that are of such great importance in my life. I know that this is the most important thing I have ever done in my life and maybe ever will do. Every morning I wake up and I know that there is nothing more important I could be doing that day. What a great blessing it is to be able to go and help bring others unto Christ. To help them find happiness, especially when so many people here have such hardships. And also that last part of the scripture, "that you may rest with them in the kingdom of my Father," Man, won't that be a great day?! I cant wait to see people like Josette and Dorgivier there. What an amazing feeling that will be to know that you held out. You stuck it out through the hard times. You didn't let your faith dwindle, you stayed true to what you knew and felt was right. As I read that scripture, I just felt so blessed. I am living it, and I cannot bear a stronger testimony of the truthfulness of it. To any of you that may read this and are debating on whether to go on a mission or not. Go. It will change your life, your family's life, and especially the lives of those you serve. I am so grateful for this Gospel. I am grateful that I am allowed the privilege to be a missionary for my Savior. I know this is His work. I know He leads and guides all that we do in this church. Because this is His church. I know that without a shadow of a doubt. And what great joy it brings me when I see others listen to the whisperings of the Spirit and allow this Gospel to change their lives for the better. You don't need go to a foreign country and wear a badge to be a missionary. We can all feel this joy of sharing the Gospel and helping others come unto Christ. I know this brings eternal happiness for all of us. Share the gospel this week! In example or word. I hope you all have a great week! Mazotoa!
 The view leaving the house everyday for work.  
 We make shrimp tacos every Friday. Here are some before and after pics. They are way good.

 The view out the window from our kitchen..I am gonna miss this place.
  Some goodbye pics will Rolland and Georgian. They are an investigator couple who are studs. Georgian gave birth to a little boy a little while ago and Malagasies don't do anything for 3 months after they give birth so they are getting baptized in February. Georgian already finished the Book of Mormon and they are awesome! They are really Atandroy and taught us a lot about the culture of that tribe and the dialect!
 Some pics of the blue ocean and some Atandroy fishermen in their canoes.

 Us after our lesson with Dorgivier in his house. I am gonna miss that guy.
  Some pics from P-day today. Made a sandcastle with some people and buried some kids. One lady who had no relationship to these kids was very worried for their safety and didn't seem to trust the big white guys haha.