Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Week 73 - Tratra ny Kristmasy

Akory aby! Inona vaovao am'nareo? Enga anie salama tsara ianareo! I hope you all had a great Christmas and hope it is a great New Year's week! This week was a great week and we had a great Christmas. I will be honest, Christmas made me a little homesick for Madagascar but it was cool being here in La Reunion for Christmas. It is cool seeing the differences in culture between Madagascar and La Reunion for Christmas. But as most of you can guess, the one thing that doesn't change, is the reason for the season. The birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. This week I have been trying to think a lot more about the birth and life of the Savior. As a missionary, you obviously don't get a normal Christmas like you did back home. And for me I have enjoyed that change a little these last two years. It has made me realize that I have already been given the greatest and most important gift I could ever receive. Jesus Christ was born of Mary to become the Savior of the world. He performed the Atonement for us and therefore gave us the greatest and most precious gift we could ever imagine. Because Christ performed the Atonement there are so many gifts and blessings we receive each and everyday but not just on December 25th. We can repent, be forgiven, live again, have joy, peace of mind, comfort, happiness, and live eternally with those that make Christmas so great, our families and our Heavenly Father and Savior. There is no way we can ever repay the Savior for what He has done for us. But the greatest gift we can give to him is our hearts and our lives. The Savior asks for nothing more than that. We give our hearts and lives to the Savior when we keep His commandments and live the Gospel and also when we give our hearts and lives to others. Christmas is a great time of year to serve others and look to give a helping hand. I hope we can all find a way to bring a smile to someone's face at this great time of year. The greatest thing we could possibly give to someone is the knowledge of what the Savior has done for them and his love for them. I feel so grateful to go out and give others the knowledge of this great gift that they have already been given. I hope you all have a great week and a Merry Christmas. Mazotoa!! 

Me and Wolfgramm with Onja, who is a Malagasy lady that I had met in Madagascar about a year ago in Antananarivo. She is way cool and calls us her sons haha.   
 A pic of the beach and coast right by our house. 
 The white elephant I gave haha (with Elder Wolfgramm)
That's a pic of Elder Wolfgramm from the MTC.  
Our group at Christmas breakfast!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Week 72 - Fototra Mafy Orina ny Finoanao

Salama daholo! Inona vaovao? I hope you all had a great week this week! We had a great week here. Just working hard to get this area going and it is coming along slowly but surely. This week not too many people were rude, in fact one lady was really nice and decided to spray us with a hose while we were trying to talk to her. It was a really hot day and I was sweating pretty bad so it was a good cool down. Other than that we found some really cool people and have a man named Francois who I am pumped about. He is searching for the truth. Most people here don't care about that, is seems like, so it is great and I know he will finally find it as he keeps his commitments! It will be great to visit him again this week! This week I have been reading about Alma and the Sons of Mosiah in the Book of Mormon. One thing I have thought a lot about this week is what the difference is between Laman and Lemuel and those that see all this amazing miracles and angels and stuff and still don't believe and those like Alma and the Sons of Mosiah who totally change their lives when things like that happen...To me I think it is just faith and desire. It takes a lot of work to keep the flame of your faith burning. You gotta truly want it. It would be nice if all it took was one spiritual experience or one miracle in our lives and then our faith is strong enough to last us til the end. But its not like that. The flame of our faith is just like an actual fire. We all love when we throw some lighter fluid on the fire or some paper, it burns up all nice and warm. But after a little while it dies, just like our testimony and conversion. It isn't the big spiritual experiences that keep us on the straight and narrow. Its the small little decisions everyday that we make: reading our scriptures, praying with sincerity, keeping our thoughts clean, focusing on the Savior, repentance, and all of the primary answers. Sadly that takes a lot more work than just having an angel come to us and saying, look its all true, follow your brother he knows what he's doing. It takes our true and deepest desire to endure to the end. To change. To follow the Savior. Many of us want those big amazing experiences that they can one day make a Mormon Message out of. But that isn't what will do it for us. It is all the little things we do everyday. And one day our little flame of faith will burn big and bright. I know that as we do the things the living Prophets and Apostles teach us and guide us to do, we will never fall away. It takes a lot of work but the blessings will be innumerable. I hope you can all find a way to strengthen your faith and desire to follow the Savior this Christmas. I am so grateful for what He has done for me. I hope you all have a great week! Mazotoa! 
 Views from apartment buildings haha.  

 Some pics of the hike we took today with the Poussin Family.

 Pics from a dinner with Benjamin and his wife Meline. They are 22 and 21 years old. It was weird hanging out with a married couple that is my same age haha.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Week 71 - Trano Bongo Misy Ronono Ka Sarotra Atao Malahelo

Manahoana daholo! Inona vaovao am'nareo? I hope this was a good week for all of you! We had a great week. Lots of finding and talking to people. I learned this week that the French don't have the same sense of humor as me sometimes, but oh well they need to lighten up a little bit. Haha. This was a great first full week in St. Marie. Elder Hunt and I are working hard to get this area going and spread the good word. Won't lie...this last little while here has been hard. It has definitely been a different mission experience for me. I came from a place that was mostly Christian and the people loved to talk about Jesus Christ and I could speak the language. Now I find myself in this place where people look like they don't like us just cause we have a shirt and tie on, but then once I try to talk to them and they hear my horrible accent, my assumptions are confirmed and they don't like us haha. I decided my best bet is to just try and make people laugh and smile. It works with some people; others don't like my jokes, I guess haha. One thing I have really learned since being evacuated is relying on the Lord. Even though this is one of the more challenging and patience-trying times in my mission and life I have been able to enjoy every day and wake up and go to bed with a smile on my face. I have taken great comfort in the fact that all I have to do is my very best and somehow, someway Heavenly Father is going to make up for what I lack. It's awesome! That's what this life is. Do your best. I think President Hinckley said this quote and I love it, "All you have to do is try, but your have to REALLY try!" I love that. No matter what it is in life. As we follow Christ as best we can and just truly try to do our absolute best we are gonna end up alright and somehow things are just gonna work out. Larry Bird has a quote that I love also it goes something like this, "I've got a theory that if you give 100 percent effort 100 percent of the time, somehow things just work out in the end." It has always been a great comfort to me knowing that we can rely on our Heavenly Father, in fact He wants us to do just that. I love Nephi and his example. When God commands Nephi to build a boat, he says ok and starts looking for tools and things he can use to make a boat. I am sure he had no idea what he was specifically looking for. He just knew hey that's what the Lord has asked so I need to get going and he will start helping me sometime. Sometimes we want to see or know what the end result is going to be if we do this or do that. But as long as we are doing what the Lord has asked, we can take comfort and know that the end result will always be good, even if we can't initially see that at the beginning. I feel so grateful to have a knowledge of my Heavenly Father and my Savior and His Atonement for all of us. Because of this great Atonement and the love they both have for us. We just need to do our very best and all will workout in the end. I hope you all have a great week! Veloma! 
 View of area  

 A parade that was going by our house when we went out for work. 
 My new shirt dad sent me last week vs my old shirt I have been wearing in Madagascar hahaha. This just got out of the wash too. 
A pic Stromberg snapped of me with an elder climbing the tree haha.
  Our group today in the mountains for P-day. 
  A view of the cool town up in the mountains we went to this morning. 
A dinner with some members from St. Marie branch this week with Elder Hunt, Knudsen, and Shelby.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Week 70 - Mihinam-bary Aza Misy Latsaka

Akory koahy rangitsy! I hope you all are doing good and had a good week! This week was good for me and I am all settled in with Elder Hunt my new companion in St. Marie. Should be a great transfer. The members here in Reunion are great and I love the members in our branch here. There is a Malagasy family too so that is awesome! We are going to their house tonight for dinner and a lesson and that will be tsara be! We will be working hard to find some new families and investigators to start teaching. This week I have thought a lot about all the many blessings in my life. That has definitely been one of the things on my mind most since leaving Madagascar. I have wondered why some of us just seem to get so blessed and lucky and some of us have it a little harder. A big part of me since leaving Madagascar has just felt not so good about myself as I feel I have done nothing to deserve the overly comfortable life I have. I have prayed and thought a lot about God's plan for us and His love for His children. We all have been blessed so much, in one way or another. I truly know and believe that though the world says money, house, cars, and nice vacations are blessings the true and real blessings are that of obedience, peace, happiness, forgiveness, and eternal life. There is a scripture that says "He who has Eternal life is rich" I have seen so many people here who have life so much easier than those in Madagascar, yet they are always just grumpy and angry. It makes me sad. I know those that have the Gospel are those that can truly receive that inner and lasting peace and happiness. We know that Heavenly Father blesses us when we are obedient and keep the commandments. Those blessings can be spiritual and temporal. Blessings such as being able to live comfortably can come from God because of our obedience. One thing I thought about is how God divides up all those blessings. I feel that every blessing we receive is not for us, it's for someone else. I truly believe that just like the parable of the talents, whatever blessings God gives us we can do so much more with those as we put them to use the way God wants us to. God gives us blessings so that we can become more effective tools in His hands to help His children. Sadly a lot of times, we let those blessings get in the way of us helping others. There is a scripture in Alma and I don't have my scriptures so I don't remember where it is exactly but it says something along the lines of this, "Do you think we can just sit here upon our thrones and not make use of the resources God has given us?" I love this scripture, we all have been so blessed and it's so we can now go and return the favor and bless someone else's life. I know that as we are obedient, we will always receive blessings from God. I also know that as we put those blessings to use in helping someone else along the straight and narrow, we will be doing what Heavenly Father intends us to do with what He has given us. A huge part of Enduring to the End is helping others endure to the end also. God gives us blessings for this reason. I hope we can all strive to see how the Lord has blessed us and how we can use that to help others. I hope you all have a great week! Mazotoa! 
 A pic of me and a way cool member from St Pierre named Brother Guyto.

  Me and the other Elders from St Pierre.  
 The church building in St Marie. 
 A view of the coast in St Marie. 
 A view from the back deck....
 and front deck of our house.... 
and a pic of the inside of the apartment..it is huge.