Monday, November 24, 2014

Week 19 - Antisrabe - First Basketball Injury

So this week has been exciting. We had district conference, which was pretty good, and then we did missionary work stuff. It's been fun! Fun side note: Elder Branch, James's companion, traveled with us from Provo to London and then split and went to Capetown instead of JBurg with us. Small world right?

The word of this week is inspired by my basketball game last Monday. Marary- mah-RAH-ree and it means sick or injured. Now to the basketball... We played with all of the missionaries here and it was a party. Before half of them got here we were playing a small game and I went up and when I came down, I landed on the side of my foot and dropped like a pile of bricks. It is still swollen by the way. So then I walked it off over to my water, the other missionaries showed up, I walked it off back to the court, and then kicked all of their butts. Not to be cocky or anything... Each team had one sub, and when someone scored they got subbed out, and I got a lot of rest... Haha it was a ton of fun, and we have some good basketball players here!

Then last night we had a barbecue at my house with our whole zone. It was so much fun and the food was way good! We have a Malagasy style fireplace thing so we just barbecued over kitay- kee-tie- which is just like dry firewood. It was way fun!

Living at our house has been lots of fun, we have a really good time! Elder Rice painted me a precious picture with some watercolors he found in one of the rooms. I'm keeping it forever.

 Oh, I also finally got pictures of my suit. Enjoy. I am probably going back to the tailor this week to get some new pants.

This work has been going well this week. We struggled occasionally  getting male member help, because the are all working or at school. We don't have any problem getting female help though... They are always super excited to... help people become converted...? We did have some great lessons this week, I really love working with Elder Razakamandimby. We've been working on getting the members to actually help more with the teaching because they usually just sit there and then at the end they maybe share a little thought or testimony. It's been coming along really well though!

Mbola marina ity filazantsara ity! Aza kivy ary tohizo amin'ny asan'ny Tompo!
This gospel is still true! Don't get down and keep up the work of the Lord!
Elder Rasmussen

Monday, November 17, 2014

Week 18 - Antsirabe - Baptism by Ice

Manahoana daholo! (not to be confused with manahoana dahalo... very different)

This week has been fantastic! Elder Cartmill left on Tuesday and then Elder Razakamandimby came on Wednesday. That's Elder Rah-zock-ah-mahn-deem-bee for all of you vazahas. You just say it fast and it's not hard at all! Because of the transfers, our stats suffered this week, but that's ok, because next week will be great! Elder Razakamandimby is a baller! Literally, he played on the Madagascar national basketball team before his mission. He is also way good at English, especially because he only started learning eight months ago when he started his mission. We mostly speak Malagasy though, and that is a crazy party! Malagasy is so cool! I am having a blast learning it!
Which leads us to the language part. Fatana means stove, not to be confused with Fasana, which means grave, and that's not to be conused with fasika, which means sand. The emphasis for all of them is on the "fa" then you just say the rest really fast and you've got it! That's one of the biggest differences between English pronunciation and Malagasy: you say everything really slow in English.

So I moved houses this last week and I am in the sisters' old house. It's pretty nice! It's like a cute little cabin that you would find up Provo canyon.

The stairs are hardcore messed up...

Pictures will be coming after my camera works again... My new housemates are Elder Rice and Elder Morse, straight from Tana. Elder Rice is from Boise and he played rugby before his mission. He is a lot of fun to be around and then I already knew Elder Morse from the MTC so we are already a nice cute little family.

Elder Rice (l), Elder Morse (reaching into cupboard), and Elder Raza (r)

Speaking of cute little families, I have made friends with a cute little family of fleas again. My first night in the new house I got 24 flea bites on my left hand alone. 24!!!! At least they seem to really enjoy the fact that I moved in, so that's nice.

We got a couple packages for other elders this week, which reminds me about the method for successfully sending packages across the world. Especially in Madagascar, the people are quite religious and slightly superstitious, so if you put stickers of Jesus on the seams of the package, then they will be less likely to steal stuff. Cool, right?!

So we actually did missionary work this week too... When we visited Maxime and Noelisoa, Noelisoa had just gone into labor. So she went to the hospital and we will see her sometime this week with a new baby! Then we did some contacting, taught a few firsts and we have some new, ballin families thaqt we are teaching! This week has been great! We had a baptism on Saturday, and pictures will come next week. When they came out of the (very cold) water, it was terrifying! They were thrashing and gasping, and I thought something was wrong until they bolted out and sat wrapped up in the towel with chattering teeth. Even with that fantastic part of it, it was a great baptismal service!

We just hit the pavement this week. I mean, we hit the dirt and occasional cobblestone this week and got a lot of work in. When you work hard and do your best, the good results follow. That being said, work hard and don't get too content with where you are at right now, but improve a little bit and help someone else too!

Tiako ianareo! Misaotra betsaka!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Week 17 - Antsirabe - Joe Handsome

So we got transfer news last night. I will write that at the end and you HAVE TO READ EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN FIRST!

First big event is we had our first baptisms on Saturday! We had to start everyone from scratch when we arrived because we whitewashed. When I say we had our first baptisms on Saturday, I really mean we had our first baptisms scheduled for Saturday. Until Jirema (the power and water company) cut off all of the water and the lake was too far away... and since you can't really have a baptism by water if there is no water, we did NOT have baptisms this week. Which is a bummer because that means Elder Cartmill and I had no baptisms together. (Spoiler. Now you know one of us is leaving, but since we both whitewashed together it could go either way because he wasn't here before me...) That's alright though, because we have about 15 set up right now, and they're all coming along well. So that was a bummer for sure.

I still do not have my suit back because I was being pretty picky with the tailor and it wasn't quite perfect, so I'm getting it today, it's going to look legit.

(in the next email...)

Sorry. The computer decided it was time to send the email before I was ready.

Let's see, other than the water being cut, the power keeps getting cut too. Not that that's a big deal, because if we try to make toast while the dryer is going the power dies... However, it's been especially bad the past few weeks and we have our candles set up all the time because it's only a matter of time before the power goes out, so James... one upped!

This week Elder Cartmill and I got Malagasy names from an investigator, this will be the Malagasy for the week. He was kely sauce. Kely means little and sauce means sauce... So when small sauce Cartmill complained about his name and asked why that was his name, this Malagasy with significantly smaller muscles told him it was because he wasn't bokana, or muscular... I then showed him how Elder Cartmill's arms are significantly larger, but he wouldn't accept it. I didn't complain much about my nickname because it is Rakoto Bogosy, Rakoto is just a way common name, and bogosy means handsome... I think it definitely fits.

Last week when we were going around we were stopped by a tipsy woman who let us know that she had been having a really hard time at home and had left to go drink and then kill herself. Then she felt that that would be dumb and she decided she needed Jesus in her life. So she prayed and then right then she saw us. That was a really cool experience, we should start teaching her for real this week.

Then when Elder Cartmill and I were walking by a garbage pile (they're everywhere), we saw a kid pull down his pants and do his business in the ditch (really pretty common) and then when he was done he just wiped himself with some garbage he grabbed off of the ground. That's the life! You don't even need to do any work to find toilet paper!

It has rained a bunch since last Monday. It's pretty geat! My jacket works really well! I still get soaked underneath it, but that's because of sweat. It's still pretty dang warm when it rains, so bundling up to keep dry doesn't really work...

Ok, transfer news now.
No changes to Antsirabe other than the sisters who work in the Ambohimena branch with us leaving and Elder Morse and Elder Rice coming down. Elder Rice is way cool and Elder Morse was in my group. We are moving in to the sisters' old house so it will be the Ambohimena house. It should be a party! The Elder Cartmill is going to Mahajanga! That's a 2 man area an airplane ride away from everyone else, so he's heading up to Tana on Tuesday and then he's going to fly out! Not every elder gets to go to a big 3 (Mahajanga, Toliary, and Fort Dauphin) and he's way psyched for that! My new companion is Elder Razakamandimby! He's a native Malagasy and I'm super pumped! Everyone I've talked to loves him, so it's going to be a party!

This is a great part member family. The man is the one who gave us our new names, the little girl's name is Diary and at first she hated us. Now she loves us.

 This is our best progressing family right now. They're all ballers. Baptism is in December. I love 'em.

This is the champion family of all champions. In their family they have the elders quorum president, young mens president, relief society second counselor, 3 branch missionaries, young single adults leader, district young single adults coordinator, family history expert for our branch, and branch clerk...

The church is still true, and when you trust in God first, everything else works out.
Mozotoa daholo!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Week 16 - Antsirabe - Here Comes the Rain

So I'll just start this one out with the word of the week. Let's be real, that's the most exciting part anyway. Anyway, mikitika, mee-KEE-tee-kah, means to tickle. Then, if you double the root it turns into mikitikitika, mee-kee-tee-KEE-tee-kah, which means to mess around with, or tinker while having absolutely no idea what the heck you're doing, as in, "I don't actually know how to fix the car, but if I just open the hood and tighten some stuff and put some more oil in, then it should work..." It's also just fun to say, so have at it!

Last Monday we all went to Lake Tritriva, sorry, LAC Tritriva... (that French stuff gets everywhere!). Anyway, it was a nice long bumpy ride, but then it was super pretty! It's up in the mountains and you get a beautiful view of most of Antsirabe from up there. It's mostly a tourist attraction, so when we got there all of us white folk had to pay the vazaha price while Elder Andriamanganoro, the only Malagasy missionary in Antsirabe right now, got to pay the Malagasy price which was several times cheaper. And then we got hounded by people selling souvenirs. That was pretty funny because they all have jacked up prices because they're used to selling to French tourists. So they would run up and show us their carved rocks or bracelets and say, "Mora be!" Which means, "very cheap!" Then when asked how much their little polished rock was, they would reveal that it was more than the cost of my food for a day if I ate out for every meal. But the lake was super pretty, I took some pictures on other people's cameras, because I still haven't figured out what's wrong with mine. Most of that is probably due to the fact that usually I don't have time to mess around with it (mikitikitika, see how useful it is?).

Then, some exciting news about this week is that the rain has started for real! The even more exciting news is that I left my raincoat back at the other house when I moved, and I didn't get a chance to get that until three days after it started raining! It's a good thing my bag is waterproof... The rain is a blast though! It just comes and comes. Whenever it starts looking like it's about to rain everybody rushes home. Then when it does come, people are crowded underneath any canopy or overhang they can get under! You'd think that people would be used to rain in a place with a nice monsoon season every year, but they're not. It's super funny. The rainy season hasn't started for real yet though, so far it's kind of clear to mostly clear in the mornings, then by about 2 the sky gets dark and cloudy, and then it rains from around 2:30ish to around 7, and then it's just drizzles the rest of the evening. Then repeat the next day! The coolest parts are that the clouds are always a lot lower than back home, so they're super huge and you can see them in detail really well! I'll have to send some pictures. And then the rain also fills up all of the sewage ditches, so you have to be careful which puddles you walk through, but that's just part of the fun! Final note, water proof shoes aren't really that waterproof... If it's not raining and you're just walking through water, they work great. But when it is raining, the water is just running down your legs into your shoes anyway, so that's that. Actually, they do a really good job of keeping the water in once it's there, so I guess they are pretty waterproof...

Let's see... notable things this week would include a split with my district leader, Elder Bowler. He is the second counselor in the Branch Presidency in the Manandona Branch, just South of Antsirabe. He's super funny and way good at Malagasy so it was way fun! However, we only taught two times and half of Preach My Gospel class before we had to go home because he was having some stomache problems... He was just laying on the floor while I taught PMG class... That was a bummer... Pun intended...

Then yesterday I learned how to make mofo sira which means salt bread. It should probably be called mofo siramamy, or sugar bread, because the recipie uses 1/4 kg of sugar, but only a spoonful of salt... Oh, it's also makes enough to feed a small neighborhood... They make it in a muffin tin over a fire, and it's essentially just muffin tops, it's pretty good though.

This week we had lunch with all of the missionaries at the couple missionaries' house. Elder and Sister Tolman, who are actually from American Fork too!, made us some delicious chili and cornbread. Of course, the chili was over rice because you have to have rice with every meal, every Malagasy knows that! Then we had ice cream and cake, which was some of the most delicious stuff I have eaten in since Sister Adams's food the first day in country. Then I also got to check their scale, which actually works. I'm still five pounds under my post MTC weight, but I lost 10 lbs when I got sick last month, so I've gained five back!

The final notable accomplishment is that I made bread again this week and it was heavenly. Thanks for the advice, Trent, because it turned out much better this time. I thought it was so good looking that I sent home a picture for all of you to enjoy to. Except you don't get to taste it... I made some rolls too, and it was nice to just eat bread and rolls for essentially half of the meals this week.

Something I've been working on a lot with those I teach is the principle of obedience. In John 7:17 it says if any man will DO Christ's will, THEN he will know if it is of God. That's true with just about anything, if you want to know if the Word of Wisdom is true, then follow it. If you want to know if the Book of Mormon is true, then read it. If you want to know if God exists, or even if you just aren't sure, then follow every single one of his commandments as best as you can and pray to him, then you'll know.  I know that seems backwards logic, but science has figured this concept out too. It's been proven that if you want to be happy, then live and act as if you already are, then the happiness will come. If you don't know if God exists, then live and act as if he does and the knowledge will come. That's an eternal concept, and I know it works. God exists and he is our literal father. The gospel has brought me so much joy not just because it's something I can believe in to improve myself, but because I know that it is true and that my Heavenly Father, who has all power and wisdom, is on my side and wants me to be happy. I know this stuff is true, and like I tell those I talk to here, if I didn't know it was true than I wouldn't have left home and my schooling to come work on the other side of the world.

Love you all!
Elder Rasmussen