Monday, January 26, 2015

Week 28 - Antsirabe - The Blessing of Being Rooted in the Gospel

So I'll start this week with a quick Malagasy Morsel. Basivava, BAHS-ee-VAH-vah, but it usually just sounds like boss-vahv. It comes from two words, basy which means gun, and vava which means mouth. So it means gunmouth. You use it when someone just talks a ton and talks way fast.

So now we get a rundown of the week again. On Monday we had two soirees, which was tough because that means two meals. We told the first soiree that we would bring pizza, but we decided that would take too long, so we took tacos to them instead. We called them "Mexican Pizza" it was way good. Then, on Tuesday we taught all day and while we were in one lesson, the little, old Malagasy man starts complaining about the government. He said, "Malagasies break stuff. Life was so much better when the vazahas were still in charge." He went on for about 10 minutes like that, listing every part of life that was better when the French were in charge. I thought it was sooo hilarious! Elder Razakamandimby did not. Then Wednesday, we taught English class and worked. Thursday I bought a pineapple for less than a dollar and took it home. Elder Razakamandimby turned his nose up a little bit and told me that any pineapple from Antsirabe, up in the mountains, is going to be way worse that a pineapple in Tana or on the coast. That being said, it was delicious! It was so juicy! I made grilled pineapple and covered that bad boy with honey and sugar and then I ate it all. I will probably have to do that a lot more. Then on Friday we went on member splits! I went with Setra, and he was sooo quite! So I just talked about the entire time, and it was fantastic! Saturday was poopy. There was a super long activity that we went to where the youth were making food for the members of the district under the direction of a professional chef to build experience to get jobs. It was pretty cool, but I was just itching to go because we had times to hit and places to be. I was pretty thrilled when we finally got out of there. Next time, I'm probably not going to go... Just call me the party pooper... Sunday was great! We got 20 less actives to come and we had some crazy spiritual lessons! Then, our soiree ended up in a discussion about ghosts, and we had to set a couple things straight. That was really, really funny.

Other than that, not much has happened this week. We didn't eat anything crazy, we didn't do anything too crazy, we mostly just walked, biked, and sat in lessons. We've been working out a lot in the morning, and the dunk is definitely a lot easier now, but I will have to wait until I get to a house with a scale before I can see if I've been gaining or not.

 This week I have definitely been seeing the blessings of families and individuals firmly rooted in the church. Since lots of the members here are way new, we have to be the doctrine checkers a lot. It is very apparent, however, who is really trying to root themselves in the scriptures and the teachings of latter day prophets. Those who study consistently and make that study a valuable use of time have a much greater knowledge of the gospel and they are more confident in the way that they live that. I guess what I'm trying to say is count your blessings. Having a long history in the church is a very great blessing and I feel very blessed to have that!

Love most of you!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Week 27 - Antsirabe - Cyclone Chedza

So, we'll once again start of this week with our Malagasy Morsel. Maninjitra, mah-NEEN-zee-chah, means to stretch out your hands or to reach. So when it says that his hands are still outstretched all of those times in Isaiah, that's the word. I just really like the sound of it, that's the real reason I'm using it this week...

So this week has been a party over here in the Indian Ocean! I will start with the food news, because that's all that half of you care about anyway, so you can just skip everything after this. This week I have been making a lot of tortillas. They are extremely easy so I've made them like six times. I don't always have stuff to put in them, so sometimes it's a little weird, but it all works out. My sunday dinner was a giant quesadilla with the two giant tortillas I made with the last of the flour. Then I put like half a block of this cheese stuff that I found that is very close to chedder. Way good. Then I ate it with my salsa I made a week ago and some hotsauce. It was super delicious. Then we've had pancakes very frequently. We don't have a spatula, so I've gotten very good at just getting the pancake unstuck from the pan and then actually flipping it. That also comes in handy with tortillas too. I ran out of oats this week, so I had to improvise a lot more. I just realized that the reason there is so much stuff about food in my emails is because I'm always way hungry. We always come first thing in the morning to the cyber and then eat after, so I'm always starving when I write. It's probably helped by the fact that I'm probably eating for myself, my amoeba colony, and my worms.

This week we worked our butts off again! It was fantastic! Apparently a cyclone came through, which is like a tropical storm, I've heard varying reports about how serious it was. Short story is we had crazy weather for like two days and lost all of our pretty flowers in our yard, our neighbors lost their wood fence, some people in our area lost their brick wall, and all the plants now look like they are trying to lay down and go to sleep. You can see all the corn leaning in one of my pictures.

I got some letters from home this week, and in one of them were some letters from the family back at the Thanksgiving party. Joe sent me one that shared his favorite scripture in Ether, he said he didn't know why he sent it, but I totally used it in a lesson that day. That was pretty great, so thanks a bunch! It was nice to hear from people back home too.

Then, a quick rundown of the week: on Tuesday we were going to teach these new investigators, but a cow was tied in front of their door, we tried to go around but she would charge us anytime we got close. Eventually they opened their door and helped us past the cow. Take that Satan!
On Friday we went on member splits and I went contacting for a couple hours and got six new families! I'm super pumped for them! Then, when we met back together we were teaching a lesson and I was feeling like it was going a little too long and I wanted to get going. Right then, Dimilahy, one of our member helps for the day turned to me, and said in some of the only English he knows, "Let's GO." I laughed really hard and we headed out right after that. Then on Saturday we walked past a little kid who saw me and tried to use all of the English he knew on me. So he only knew some Jason Derulo so he just ripped out his "wiggle wiggle wiggle." It was hilarious. On Sunday these kids came up to talk to me and asked me for money, I told them that I didn't have any money, which was true, so then he asked again in French. I told him I'm not good at French and he was astounded. "You mean you're not a vazaha?" I told him that I wasn't. I'm just an albino malagasy (there are a couple that live in our area that I've seen). He was just like, "oh, you're pretty tall though." "Yep." Then he walked away. HAH got him!

So yeah, it's all coming along well, I'm pumped for this next week, we've been doing really well the last few weeks, so this week we're going to try to keep that going and beat last week.
Love you all!
Mozotoa e!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Week 26 - Antsirabe - Beginning to Learn French

So I'm a little late getting this sent out today because this morning we had a breakfast meal with the Tolmans, the couple missionaries here. We have an Elder going home this week because he extended, so he's not going home on the transfer schedule, and we were having a good bye breakfast for him. His name is Elder Andriamanganoro and he is from Tana. It's weird that he's already going home! Anyway, the fruit salad, potato casserole, yogurt, and like ten cinnamon rolls consumed by yours truly were amazing. I love eating at the Tolmans.

That being said, I'll start off now with our Malagasy Morsel of izany hoe. If you want to be technical you would pronounce it as ee-ZAHN-ee way. But if you say it like that you don't have a malagasy accent because the words are ellided a lot of the time, so you barely pronounce the first syllable, then the third syllable runs into the last so it sounds like zahn-way. It means, "that is" or "like" and you use it when you add some clarification. It's pretty handy and I say it all the time.

Then, Friday was a pretty big day. As of Friday, I have been on my mission for 6 months. That's crazy!!! I still can't believe that I am more than a fourth of the way done now. I'm not sure that I'm quite as good at Malagasy as I was expecting to be when I was a fourth of the way done, but I'm pretty pumped I still have some improving I can do! Speaking of language learning, I officially started learning French this week. I already have picked up a bunch because Malagasies will use it all the time, especially because they think all white people are from France usually. But I officially started this week, so that's cool.

Before I get too much farther I will just apologize for any spelling errors, the computer is set to French so spellcheck tells me all my words are spelled wrong so I don't bother trying to check them.

I've been getting a lot of requests for just little things about how life is out here and for pictures, so this week I'll send some, if I can get a card reader from one of the other missionaries that works. Then just a little bit about Madagascar right now: it's hot. It usually rains each night, and it rains a lot. A lot a lot a lot. Yes, there is different food here. Some of my favorite things are passion fruit fanta (yes, that exists), coke (you can pretty much only get coke products here- coke, fanta, sprite, and they use cane sugar so it's way better than in America!), mofo akondro-- which is a deep fried banana covered in pancake batter pretty much, and ravimbofotsy, which is a type of herbal tea that's pretty common. Ooh, and there's this mango lasary, which is sliced mangoes in vinegar with peppers and other good stuff. You guys are probably all sick of me always talking about food though, so we'll move on to other things.

This week we have been working super hard! Last week Elder Razakamandimby was sick, so we didn't get a ton of work in, but this work we came back hard and we have destroyed our previous records on like everything! It's been great! We did a bunch of tracting and our schedule is just about to burst because we are teaching so many people! I love it! We've been having a lot of really cool experiences with our investigators too! We taught a family last week, and then when we came back yesterday, the wife told us that her husband was touched by our message and he stopped drinking, staying out late, he doesn't smoke anymore and he's been trying to be a better person! We didn't teach him about the Word of Wisdom either! We just barely taught about the restoration and that's it! It was so neat! Then we got to a guy who is a Bible Scholar and he pretty much already believes everything we teach, we just have to get him through the lessons to get baptized! He already promised to come to church, which is usually one of the hardest things to get people to do, he's a straight up stud!

Then we've also had a lot of fun experiences with crazy people. We were stopped by a drunk, old, probably crazy, lady who asked us to pray for her. We sat down and talked to her family a little bit to get a feel for what we should teach, and then she just starts praying and shouting up at the sky! She was like commanding God to help her, and then when she was done, she trailed off super quiet, then yelled a few more things. Then we told her that if she wanted to be able to think straight and not have a sick head all the time (what whe was praying for help with) she needed to stop drinking because she was most definitely on the bottle... It was super funny!

Another cool experience I had was looking at the stars last night. I haven't seen them for a month or two because there have been so many cloudy nights, but it was super nice to see them again! Then I've been having some problems with pousse-pousses, they're like these rickshaw things that are everywhere here. I am apparently too heavy now, and the last couple of times I've gone in one, I've had to get out and walk up the hills with them because they couldn't pull me. That's a real self confidence builder...

The work is going great though! Our church attendence was 154 last week and 149 yesterday! That's double what it was when we first got here! It makes me super happy to see all the growth and the less active members coming back and heating up their testimonies a little bit!

Anyway, I love you all, and I wish you all a fantastic week!
Mba hifalia foana!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Week 25 - Antsirabe - Prayers Do Get Answered

I will start with a quick message about fasting. Yesterday was fast Sunday, and because we have been dropping a lot of people because they aren't actually doing anything, Elder Razakamandimby fasted that the people who wanted to learn would find us and ask to learn. So now you're thinking, oh, so then someone came up and asked to learn, and it was all great and happy. No. Four people did. And then at a couple of our lessons THAT DAY they brought family members to come learn with them who hadn't learned before. It was fantastic! Especially because all of this happened after we broke our fast then headed out to work at 2, to when we headed home at 9:15ish. It was pretty cool to see how quickly our prayers were answered!

Anyway, we'll get on with this week. Last Monday, when the last email was sent home, we had planned to go to Lac Tritriva again because a lot of the new missionaries haven't seen it yet (fun fact, every single missionary who was here in Antsirabe when I first came has already left...). Then we didn't. So then we played football instead. Yours truly caught 2 of our 7 touchdowns. I'd be lying if I said I did a lot though, it was kind of a just throw it high up and he'll catch it kind of thing. I did actually run though... Then after that we went and got haircuts--my hair is way too short now... And then we picked up some food and went home.

Fun fact about this week: other than Monday and Sunday, we played basketball every singly morning. We've been getting up a little bit earlier and playing for an hour, then heading back to get ready. It has been fantastic! We played a local Malagasy club team and lost by 5  points. I think that's not bad for a bunch of missionaries who haven't played from anywhere for 2 months to a year and 9 months! I have noticed that I have been sleeping much better now! I also go to bed at like 10 and occaisionally 9:30 so I can keep up on sleep. It has been great!

Along those lines, I have also been demolishing food this last week. It started a little before we started playing basketball, so I'm not sure if it's from that or not. We have made a lot of great food this week, Elder Razakamandimby made 3 deep dish pizzas, I made biscuits and gravy to break our fast, we've had pancakes a couple time, oatmeal is a constant snack, Elder Kelsch made some no bake chocolate cookies ( also known by their real name of gorilla poop), and we've had spaghetti a few times too. An average day for me goes like this: We go play basketball, I get back and make oatmeal with peanut butter in it, then I make eight pancakes, then I study for a little bit, then I make another batch of oatmeal with peanut butter. Then I finish up studies and make a lunch of spaghetti with ground beef mixed in, just like back at home, then I eat 5 bananas with peanut butter. Then we go out and work. I buy two bowls of soup and some warm sugar milk with a bread ball at a little hotely for a snack. Then we work more. Then we come home and eat pizza. Then I eat some oatmeal as I write in my journal and then brush my teeth, put in my retainer and go to bed. Then you just repeat! It's crazy. Hopefully I am not growing any taller, that's all I can say, I already have to walk around hunched over in every Malagasy house... Maybe it's just that I have been healthy for a little, so I'm eating like normal again. I don't know.

This week we had next to no member help. That's an especially big bummer because two weeks ago we had member help every single day, all day. It's also a big bummer because we had member splits planned and nobody showed up. However, since we have been focusing on finding father lead families, we didn't have too much of a problem with needing a guy to teach with us because there were only women. So tha't good. We've found some more families and we had all of next Friday and half of Thursday planned to go do contacting in a new area we haven't been in too much. I say we had that planned because yesterday when all those people came to us, they all wanted to learn in the evening in Friday, so now it's just like half of Friday.

Malagasy Morsel for this week is manisa. mah-NEE-sah. It means to count. So for example, when I bought a Christmas advent calendar last Monday and decided to start counting up to the 25th of January (why not?) then manisa ny andro tsirairay aho. Or I count each day.

Anyway, that's the letter for this week. All of you enjoy the new year!
Tratra ny toana, samy hoa tratra ny ho avy indray, sns.