Monday, December 29, 2014

Week 24 - Antsirabe - Christmas Happened!

So we'll start this week off with a quick review of the end of last week. On Sunday, Elder Razakamandimby was sick. Ok, that's enough to get going here. So on Monday he was feeling a lot better, so what does he do to continue the rest and recovery stuff? He plays a very competitive game of basketball with all of the other missionaries. Then, when P-day was over, we headed off to have a soirèe at a less active family's house. After eating a lot of corn, with lot's of sacay (like mashed peppers with oil--way spicy) on them, he decided he once again wasn't feeling good. The timing was pretty good, because it was already just about time to go home. So he went home, threw up, and then slept. Then on Tuesday and Wednesday, that's mostly all he did. Threw up and slept. And used the bathroom. He was even sick on Christmas too, but he was feeling better and we managed to get the skyping done without a problem. The poor guy was finally feeling better on Friday, so we managed to get back out to work. Moral of the story is don't push yourself too much when you're sick. And something else we can learn from that is that we didn't do very much work this last week. It was kind of nice staying home and studying a lot, and it was nice to stay home so my companion didn't die, but I'm not going to lie, I missed working pretty bad. I've got a nice habit of working every day, so not working just drove me crazy, but it's all good, because he's doing a lot better now.

Then, Christmas happened!! It did not at all feel like Christmas, but we did have a Christmas pageant thing that we were able to get to, in which the missionaries were all angels and sang "Far Far Away on Judea's Plains" in Malagasy, of course. Then I was the lucky duck who got to be the Angel Gabriel and wave my arms around and look angelic while the narrator read my lines. It was pretty fun. Then we skyped home! That was amazing!!!! You all looked so good and it was so nice to talk to you all!!!

It was pretty fun getting to be a part of the present opening on Christmas morning too! Things I learned from that:
1. Matthew's voice dropped and is comparable to mine now.
2. Sammy and Danny are HUGE!!!
3. Every one of you is HUGE!!! (That might have been because the camera was right next to the floor, but also, when I see a 5'8" person now, I think he's way tall. And my 13 year old brother is the same height as my companion...)
4. Andrew looks a lot older.
5. South Africa does actually look like a very pretty place. I will admit that now.

The whole skyping thing was fantastic though, I had a blast and it was so great to see everybody and talk to y'all. Between seeing everybody at home and James in South Africa and even talking to Elder Glazier on the phone and wishing him a merry Christmas too, it was like I never left!!! Except I was in Madagascar. Small sidenote.

One other cool story for this week, after writing in my journal on Saturday night, I was reading through it some, the entries before I left on my mission, and I read one from March 2nd 2014. It talked about how I got a plate of snickerdoodles at my door with a typed note that said, "Nate Rasmussen (that was my name back then), you are probably the nicest guy I know. You are a great example of a disciple of Christ in everything that you do. You are smart and funny and a great friend. Thanks for that. :)" Feel free to start the "nice guy" jokes now, but my entire journal entry was just super happy and I just felt so loved! It was probably around a half an hour or so of effort to make some cookies, but the part that made me the most happy was just this little note with 4 little sentences and it totally made my day and made me feel so great about myself! Then, when I read it again, almost a year later, it made my day again!!! That's a lot of influence that one person with a little bit of free time has! I still have no idea who sent that, and that's part of why I'm writing this, so that maybe they will read it and know that I'm super grateful for them. So what you should all be getting out of this, is send me cookies. Not really, they would go bad, but really, if we each take a little bit more time to build up the people around us, then we can do so much good and so much service and we will get so many blessings! Complimenting someone is not going to have bad effects on you, even though we might think so, and it could totally make someone's day! Even if they're having a WAY rough time! A little bit of kindness goes a long way. So, my little challenge for you is to work on spreading a little more goodness, and I'll work on that too.

Going somewhat along those lines, the Malagasy Morsel this week is manatsara, mah-nah-TSAH-rah. It literally means to make good. You can use it as improve but you can also use it as compliment or talk good about someone. I think that's pretty cool because when we spread kindness like that, we are really improving the world a little bit. Rehefa manatsara ny olona hafa isika, dia tsy manao afa-tsy ny fanatsarana izao tontolo izao.

Love you all!
Aza adino ny manoratra ahy matetika! Satria tiako ianareo!
Elder Rasmussen

PS sorry there are no pictures, some should be coming next week. And a new camera might be coming soon too, we'll see.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Week 23 - Antsirabe - Christmas is Coming!

So... This week has been pretty exciting. We got to enjoy the hectic transfers but we managed to make it through all right. Everybody is starting to settle down, and it's been nice to meet some new missionaries.

I'll start of at the end of the week and work backwards. On Saturday we had the Talent show. It was pretty great, there were lots of surprising talents and there were lots of not so surprising talents. Elder Razakamandimy and I were one of the last talents to go. Razaka was playing the guitar and singing a song he wrote while I played the drums on the keyboard. We looked like straight up G's in our snapbacks and RayBans. And proselyting clothes... We were looking pretty hood, and everybody loved us, especially when the bass dropped and I came in. But then there was Tahiry interrupting our stream of thugness. He decided to switch out his outfit right before we went on and wore a... jesters hat...? Then he was much to flamboyant as he sang the harmonies. Razaka had his nice manly guitar playing thing going on, and I had a nice Daft Punk head nod going on with the keyboard, so it just seemed a little out of place. But that's ok, we got called back for an encore! We were the only ones who got that, so in my mind, we won this unjudged talent show pretty squarely. What can I say, we're keeping it real out here.

Then, a neat thing that happened this week. I have been studying faith this last little while, and there is a nice entry in the Bible Dictionary about that. One of the things it says is that miracles always follow faith, and the elements can be controlled by faith. Anyway, skip to Thursday and it was raining very hard. That's not really new because it is the rainy season, after all. Anyway, we could barely hear anything because most of the roofs are made out of corrugated tin, so I decided to offer a small prayer while all of the cannons were going off above my head. I asked for the rain to stop, but once I was finished I felt a little ashamed of my prayer. It just felt like I had been to wishy washy and the prayer had kind of been a "do it if it by Thy will and in Thy time" kind of thing, and I felt like that was more just throwing a wish out there than actually exercising faith. So I prayed again and asked that the rain stop in the next five minutes and it stopped in two. He's real. Usually the rain doesn't stop that easy during a big rainy season storm like that, often the rain can last for several days. So that was pretty cool and it helped me change my perspective of what it actually means to exercise faith. You got to be an agent and actively seek something, like the Brother of Jared. Don't just throw a wish out there and hope for the best. That's not actually doing anything. But I know that faith works. Then, after that, the next day we had three appointments in a row that weren't there. So we turned to go grab a quick snack two of the times and then they walked right up just as we were turning away! Then for the last one we felt like heading over to someone else's house and we found them. We had really great lessons with each one and it was great to see the Lord's hand guiding the work.

Malagasy Morsel for the week: bandy. BAHN-dee. It means like a young adult man who is just a thug. Imagine a bunch of kids trying to look like rappers sitting on the side of the road calling out crap to the missionaries as they walk by. That's a bandy. Example: Elder Razakamandimby and I looked totally bandy in the talent show. Do something with that word.

Anyway, HAVE THE MERRIEST CHRISTMAS EVERR!!! And a happy new year too.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Week 22 - Antsirabe - Staying Put

Alright, so this week starts off on last Monday. When we played basketball and I went and picked up my two pairs of tailored pants. Then we got some food too. That's a pretty important part...

Then on Thursday we were teaching some less actives who have recently been reactivated and she has been trying to introduce her friend to the gospel and brought him to our lesson. We were all excited, it's nice when members do missionary work. Then, it turns out he just wanted to Bible bash. Which was all great, because we managed to teach her some, answer some of his questions and then at the very end, gave him some scriptures to look up later and come back ready to talk about the spirit world and the resurrection next time. He even wanted to bring a friend to help him understand! Or in other words, he found our answers too satisfying and sensible, so he needs to bring his preacher to help out. But that's all good! That's just another person who gets to learn a little and feel the spirit and choose what to do from there! Surprisingly enough, that experience really helped our less active family come to church! I think the real reason is that the weight of our message was just so impressive. Literally. We came in and sat down on the two beds and 1 chair--that's all there is--and then about ten minutes in, the bed just collapsed! It had nothing to do with the big white guy who was sitting on it... I think there was a small, extremely focused earthquake or something. I felt so bad, but granted, it was me sitting with like three other people there, so I can't take all the blame. But there you have it. I'm fat. I am way fat. I am furniture-breaking fat!

Then, we moved again. We bought a new house that is pretty nice, the only problem I have with it is that there are some low hanging lights and some pretty painful doorways! We didn't really move in much and settle in because we weren't sure what was going to happen in transfers, but here's the news.... I'm staying!!! I'm super pumped about it! Elder Razakamandimby is staying with me, and the other Ambohimena elders are staying too! Which is great because our branch could use a little extra help and attention. It's started turning around some, but it still has a long ways to go before it will be able to totally stand on its own. It reminds me of the early church a bunch! People are still just trying to figure out how the church runs and how they fit in to that. Lucky us though, the Doctrine and Covenants was written when the early church was going through some growing pains, so it applies really well! Imagine that! The rest of the zone is changing though, Elder Covey is heading down to Fianarantsoa to mom Elder Glazier, who just finished being trained. That will be fun for both of them! Then we are getting both Elder Christiansen and Elder Fox, who were the APs when I got here, and they are super awesome, balling missionaries!

So these transfers were pretty good! I'm pretty satisfied, and I'm way excited to stay here for Christmas and spend that here! Skype you later!

Tiako ianareo tsirairay avy!
Elder Rasmussen

PS whoops! Forgot my Malagasy Morsel! Fahafantarana means knowledge or knowing. Faha-fahn-TAR-ah-nah. You use this a lot when you ask quesstions, for example: araka ny fahafantaranao, iza moa Andriamanitra? or according to your knowledge, who is God?
So, yeah, that's it for today. Have a great week before CHRISTMAS!!!!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Week 21 - Antsirabe - Last Week Here?

So I'll start out with a little game of two truths and a lie. This week I flipped over my handlebars on my bike. This week I crapped my pants. This week I broke one of my super long pinky fingernails. You all get to decide what's actually happening over here.

In other news, this is probably my last week in Antsirabe. I'm pretty broke up about that, but I'm excited to get transfer news this Sunday! This transfer is only five weeks because they didn't want to be doing transfers over Christmas. So I will probably be skyping home for Christmas in a new area, with a new companion. It's a bummer I don't get to spend my Christmas here with all of these members I love so much. I am, however, pretty excited to go to a new area and meet some new people. It's not 100 percent certain that I'm gonna be bouncing, but Elder Razakamandimby will have only been here for five weeks and I'll have been here for 17.

We have already moved though. Our house was having some problems with the power... we apparently used over 1,000,000 ariary worth of power and hadn't payed for three months. The guy who turned off our power stuck to that story even when we showed him our receipt from last month. So we lost power. We're guessing the landlord has been stealing power, because we haven't been using our washer, dryer, or our hot water heater for two weeks, so it's not like we've been using anything but an occaional light. So then we moved. Elder Rice and Elder Morse headed over to the Antsirabe house, my last house, and then Elder Razakamandimy and I went to the Mahazoarivo house, my first house. So right now I'm living with Elder Covey again, and then Elder Stokes, Morley, and Kelsch. It's pretty packed. We are sleeping in the main room and we have our stuff in there too, so there's enough room for the table and that's about it.

We went on splits with our wise and all powerful AP's this week. That was pretty fun. Other than that it's just been work as usual this week. We've been having great member help this week! We organized them a little bit, and now we are scheduled to have at least 1 man helping us each day. I want to work it up to where we have one day of member splits each week, but we'll see what we can do this week.

This week's Malagasy Morsel is mitsiriritra, I'll let you all guess on the pronounciation of that one. It means to covet, so we frequently use that when teaching about the commandments. Plus it's just fun to use right after I blow past Elder Razakamandimby and dunk on him. "Aza mitsiriritra ialahy." Don't covet man.

Favorite hymns? My favorite Christmas hymns would probably be the same as yours (Silent Night and Angels We Have Heard on High). My favorite just Christmas song would probably be "Let it Snow" We've started singing some Christmas hymns in church, but there's barely any that have been translated into Malagasy. Other than that, I hear an occaisional Christmas song being played every once in a while, but it really doesn't feel like Christmas at all still.

I know how you feel with the whole "it doesn't feel like Christmas" thing. I'm sleeping with just a thin sheet so I can keep the mosquitos off and not get too hot.

About the baptism, they're fine with it (the less-than clean water) because to them it is clean water. That's the water that comes out of the pumps and the taps, but most people wash from well water, which is even worse because it just fills up with runoff when it rains and the runoff is nasty. We do have filters on our water, but it comes out of the filter much slower than the regular water.

I'm glad it sounds like you all are getting around and doing stuff together, it sounds like lots of fun!
I got two packages on Thursday, one had some snacks and 4 wrapped presents and the mission journal, and the other had the ensign and an advent calender that had melted and all the chocolate leaked out, and then a little letter from Sam.

Yeah, life's pretty much going good here. Just doing work and helping people to change.
Love you all!
Aza kamo!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Week 20 - Antsirabe - Thanksgiving

So I had my first baptism where I actually baptized some one. To quote Nacho, "Baptized!!" It was great! The water was cold and green and full of bugs and smelled like Utah Lake in August and that is the water that comes out of our taps... It was fantastic! Our program has finally started getting to the baptism stage, when we whitewashed it took a while to get people going, but the harvest is finally starting to whiten and it is wonderful!

So Thanksgiving happened, it's this really big holiday here in Madagascar where no one does anything different except for a bunch of white Americans and a random Canadian and some Malagasies that got dragged into it. It started at 7 in the morning where we went and had a zone activity and played football, the american kind, for a while. I believe that was our district meeting too.

After that we went home and studied some, got ready, and went to have a delicious Thanksgiving meal at the Tolmans' house, the scrawney Malagasy turkeys weren't good enough for them, so they made chicken cordon bleu instead. But we had all of our stuffing and potatoes and fruit salad and pie. Then we went and worked. Then, at around 8 we went to a restaraunt called Sam's and ate another thanksgiving meal, this time with real turkey. It was fantastic and almost as good as Sister Tolman's cooking! Then we went home and went to sleep.

But did we stop partying there? No. We just waited until Saturday after the baptism when we went to our now former investigator's house and had a Malagasy party. We had some Macaroni stuff for an appetizer and and then we had rice and loaka. The Malagasy way on this is you have to eat until all the rice is gone and there was soooo much. Then, throughout the meal we had some natural pinapple juice they made and put into water bottles, I think you can see them in the picture. Anyway, those destroyed my entire system yesterday, but they were pretty good on Saturday. Then we finished off the meal with some ranon'ampango or burnt rice water. Then they pulled all of the chairs and tables out and filled the room with subwoofers and an army of other speakers and then we had a dance. It was awesome. I still think most Malagasy music sounds like the Mexican radio station mixed with bluegrass and occaisionally dubstep, but Malagasy dancing is one of the most entertaining things I've seen. You know Napolean Dynamite's dance where he starts out just stepping on one foot then the other? It's like that but usually they don't get too far past the first part. It just reminded me a lot of a junior high dance filled with white people with white people, so in other words, I've found my place! I can do that!!

So other than making plans to return to Madagascar after my mission and become rich as a professional dancer, life has pretty much gone on as usual for us out here in the Indian Ocean.
This week's work is midoladola, mee-doo-lah-DOO-lah, which means to waddle. Why, you may ask, would a missionary need to know this word? I'm honestly not sure, but I'm super happy I asked what it was during English class! And since this week has been a week of bounty and the Christmas season has begun, I will give a second Morsel of Malagasy for you all (I think that's what I'll call this from now on), and that Morsel is, "kay ilay ity!" It is pronounced kie-lay-tee if you say it fast, and its English equivalent is, "the heck is this?!" So there you have it. Do something good with your increased knowledge and fahaizana.

Our branch supposedly has around 300 members. Ususally church attendance is around 90-120, but this last week it was 139! But that was the primary program, and I think people from the other wards skipped sunday school to come to that...

This week's spiritual though comes at you from John, he said, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son..." Sure you've all heard this before, but it's the fundamentals that are the most important, and as we get into the Christmas season don't forget that you mean something special to your Father and your older brother in Heaven, and they will do all they can to help you if you will accept their help.

I love you all!
Stay gold ponyboy.
Mifalia daholo!