Monday, June 20, 2016

Week 101 - This Is It

Well, here I am. Still in Madagascar. For now. Everyone's been asking me what I think about going home (this) week, but I don't really get what they're trying to get at. I am home. Madagascar is my home.
Antsirabe is my home.
Antananarivo is my home.
Fort Dauphin is my home.
Tamatave is my home.
I've been going home every day for the last two years. I won't be going home next week, I'll be leaving home.

I feel so blessed to have been able to travel around so much this last little bit and see all the parts of my home that I love so much. I haven't been able to make it back to Fort Dauphin yet, and I won't make it back before I leave, but I will make it back.
You always have to come back home.

I'll put a little morsel of Malagasy here. Probably my last one. Fo. It rhymes with who. It means heart. My heart is here in Madagascar. My heart is here with the Malagasy people. My heart is here with the stellar missionaries serving here. And my heart is here, stuck very tightly to the little black piece of plastic with my name and my Savior's name carved in it that sits on my chest. I think removing that will take part of my heart with it.

In zone conference, my little portion has been about charity and love. About the reason we serve the Lord for two years. I feel like the reason I left on my mission hasn't really changed much these last two years. I am a missionary because I love the Lord and I want to do as He would have me.

I've definitely learned a lot these last two years, though, but I wouldn't say it's ever been a big change all at once. Doctrine and Covenants 98:12 says it pretty well: "For He will give unto the faithful line upon line, precept upon precept; and I will try you and prove you herewith." I feel like I'm the same person I was before I first came home here two years ago, I've just been magnified and grown.

I feel so blessed to have been allowed to come here and be touched by so many wonderful people here. I feel so blessed to have been allowed to come here and maybe touch some of them.

Jesus Christ lives. The Book of Mormon is true. Thomas S. Monson is a true prophet. I can be with my family for eternity. Jesus Christ lives.
He lives.
The words of my testimony haven't changed at all, but the conviction and strength most certainly have.

I love you all.
Mandra-pihaona indray.

Goodbye Madagascar.
Mbola hifankahita indray izaho sy ianao.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Week 100 - Highlights From the Week

So I've been trying to figure out how to end this all off. I'm mostly pulling blanks though. I want you all to understand a little bit of how I feel right now, but I've never been good enough at English for that.

I think I'll start with a brief overview of the week.

On Monday we played soccer on the nice turf field in Carrion, on the road to go to Tamatave. It was  a Tana North Zone activity, and it was a blast. Highlight would be the massive chunk of my leg that got ripped out by the turf. I think it looks a little bit like Madagascar.

On Tuesday I went tracting with Elder Pinson, from my group and my first companion back in Fort D. He works in our area, so I pretty much worked in my own area. We just have two companionships in the same area, essentially, no boundaries or anything. It was fun. We talked to a LOT of people. It was great being with him again for a day.

Wednesday was back in my area with my companions. I went with Elder Covey and we went looking for families. We found one. Then we taught our fantastic recent convert family that got baptized last week. They are doing great! They have their baptismal certificates framed in their living room and they were raving about the blessings of the Gift of the Holy Ghost. There's nothing like that.

On Thursday we went to Ambohimanarina for splits. We went to district meeting with them, and Elder Heiden taught a great lesson about working with members. That's something that I'm still working on. It's way important too. Then I went with Elder Razafimandimby. He's from my Amparihy Branch in Fort Dauphin. We came out into the field at the same time. He's doing fantastic! What a stellar missionary! He's going to be a great leader when he gets back to Amparihy! Then we had to end the split early for Elder Covey and me to go pick President Foote up from the airport, he was coming back from Fort Dauphin and Toliara. So we drove him home and talked to him while we waited in traffic. For a very long time. I love President! He's the coolest guy in the world!

Then Friday was the highlight of my week. We went back to Tamatave for zone conference. We left early in the morning and got there at two in the afternoon and started right away. I love my zone. It was so great to see everybody again and be back in one of my homes. That was my favorite zone conference so far. Everyone was very well prepared and the Spirit was very strong. I love being a missionary. Then I got to go out with Elder McCrary and teach Frederic and Eleanor and their family. Elder Johnson and I found them and they are preparing for baptism right now. Then I got to stop by the church and see Delphin because it was his shift (he's the security at the church and a recent convert). He's in my top three favorite people in Madagascar. I was so happy to see him again.

Then on Saturday we drove back and taught and tracted in our area.

Sunday we went to church. I love church. Then we taught and tracted and found a new family. Justin is from Fianarantsoa and is a retired soldier, then his wife, Mary Louis is from Toliara. They were so inviting and brought us into their house before we could even introduce ourselves. Then they felt terrible that they didn't have any food to give us. People are so GOOD.

And that's my week. I only have one more of those. That's weird. I think next week I won't be emailing really, so I'll write another email here in just a sec: my last one. I just wanted y'all to get a little taste of how life is going for me right now.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Week 99 - Zone Conferences and Baptism!

Great week!!! I'm sure you all probably didn't read the subject line, so I'll just say it again, but we had zone conferences and baptisms this week. Cool, huh?

On Monday we were in Tamatave and decided to drive back to Tana a day earlier, so we did. Did we get stopped by the police on the way home? Yes we did. Did we get away safely? Yes we did, I'll tell you how some other time. Then on Tuesday, President Foote got back from his trip to the missionary president's seminar in South Africa and then from Mauritius and Reunion visiting the missionaries over there. Anyway, he'd been gone a while, so we met with him all Tuesday and Wednesday, then on Thursday and Friday we had zone conferences for the Tana North Zone and the Tana South Zone. Zone conference was great! I love learning from President Foote. On Wednesday, he told us stories for hours and it was great! I feel like there's so much stuff that I can learn from him. But zone conference was great. And it was way cool to see all of the missionaries too. And eat the pulled pork sandwiches for lunch. Twice. I loved it.

Then on Saturday we had a baptism!!! Harilala and Tina got baptized! They're a way cool couple whose son was baptized about six months ago. I'll send pictures next week. Then, over in Tamatave, MODEST AND SOAZARA GOT BAPTIZED!!!!!!!!!!! bap bap bap bap tized, I'm lovin' it! So good week. Two families baptized, one in my area now, and the other in my last area. I'm happy.
Then, another cool story, this last week I sat next to James' MTC companion at church! Way cool! I also got to see all my members in the Tana 1st ward because the go to the same building as the Anjanahary ward!

Then we also finally got out to work in our area on Saturday evening and Elder Wiscombe and I killed it and set up so many times and taught a couple times in like the three hours. It was lots of fun. Our other companions wish they were as good as us, hahahaha

Anyway, malagasy morsel is mandresy, which means to win. And Andriamanitra (God) always mandresy (win). And if we can sacrifice the little bit of time that it takes to get the Spirit with us we will have His help at all times.
Love y'all,

Monday, May 30, 2016

Week 98 - Tamatave!

Hello all y'all that aren't in Tamatave right now! Guess where I am!
That's right, I'm in Tamatave. In Madagascar. And only one other person that gets this email is in Madagascar and he just so happens to be in Tamatave too. Lucky him!
So I'm back in Tamatave! The weather is GREAT.

I was going to just send it like that, but then I decided not to. But somehow that's all that got sent anyway.

But Tamatave's great. It's warm. And humid. My lips aren't chapped anymore like they were in Tana and Antsirabe, so that's great!

We came down on Tuesday and had splits every day since. Andranomadio, my old area, is doing great! It was way great to see everybody! Especially Modest, Soazara, and Cedric! They're getting baptized on Saturday and they were all way surprised to see me! It made me feel great. Then I got to work with Elder Johnson again which was a blast. He's such a big stud! I also got to work with Elder Walker, Elder McCrary, Elder Band, Elder Tshetu, Elder Price, Elder Francom, and Elder Nortje. They're great.

I got rained on a little bit, which was less than great, and I left my good shoes in Antsirabe which was very much not great! But I'll get them back soon. Also, we went contacting a ton again and I was just thinking how great it was that I'm talking to these short, little people in a language that most people have never heard, trying to get into their house and help their family get better and teach them about Jesus, who died almost 2000 years ago, and teach them about a bunch of stuff they need to change in their lives. And it's great! I love being a missionary so much!

I also got to have a Sunday Soiree with President Paul, the district president here. I love them and their food so much! When I first got to Madagascar, I had been a member longer than just about everyone else in my branch and I never thought I would learn anything about being a good member here. But there are so many amazing members like President Paul that I want to be like! I was just so happy to get to see him and his family again!

Anyway, malagasy morsel for this week is ndao. It means like "go!" or "come on!" "get moving!" In the hymn "Let Us All Press On." The malagasy version is "Ndao Handroso Hatrany" which means like Go keep progressing! Haha that was a really rough translation. Hopefully you get it. Anyway, I love you all, and I hope you have a great week. To quote a great man, "Keep moving forward."

Monday, May 23, 2016

Week 97 - Antsirabe!

Split Week!!! We were in Antsirabe all this last week doing splits with each of the eight elders down there. We all came and slept in the same house with them and had studies with them, then when we went out to work we would stick two of us with a companionship and split their area for the day. One of us and one of them would teach all of the times, then the other one of us and the other one of them would go contact all day. It was a blast! I remember at the beginning of my mission I dreaded tracting. I would do just about anything to avoid it.

But this last week, I tracted all day for a couple days and loved it. We just walked around knocking on people's doors and talking to people on the street. Then we helped some people their furniture off of a cart and into their house then talked to them about the gospel a little as we did that and set up a return appointment. I had a lot of fun. Then that was about all for the week. I felt like we did a ton of contacting and a LOT of driving and then the rest of it just kind of blurred together... my bad. I'll send a lot better email next week, but we've got no time right now: we're about to drive for sixish hours to get to Tamatave and go do splits there this whole next week. It'll be a blast. I'm so pumped to see my zone and my area again!

Malagasy Morsel for this week would be mandrakizay. It means forever/eternal. And I get to use that a lot when I'm teaching. This gospel is all about those eternal things! Eternal life, eternal families, eternal atonement, eternal covenants, eternal joy, eternal exaltation, eternal peace, eternal happiness. I love teaching about all of those things. The only catch is that there are some mandrakariva things that we have to do to get those. Mandrakariva means always. We need to always read the scriptures, pray always, look to God always, repent always, always believe, always try, always grow, and always love. The eternal stuff can't come without the stuff that we do always before that. But if we do our always stuff, then our Heavenly Father is more than happy to always help us with our always stuff.

Anyway, y'all have a great week, but I gotta go. Love ya!
Mandra-pihaonantsika indraika!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Week 96 - 4SOME

Alright, so there was already some transfer buzz last week when I skyped home, but we've got a little more to fill y'all in on. So, President called me on Friday and told me that I would be coming down to work with Elder Glazier, but I was supposed to keep that a secret, because he didn't call out the rest of transfers until Saturday night. I had to go get a bus ticket for Monday, though, so that was why he called me so soon. Then we had a great Sunday, took some goodbye pictures and stuff. Then on Monday morning I skyped home. It wasn't anything like the first skype. The first time I skyped I was way pumped about it and thought about it all the time, but each skype since has gotten less and less notable I feel like. Not that it wasn't great to see y'all, but I just felt like I had been emailing. It didn't really seem like all that big of a deal. It was great to see everybody though. Then after skyping, we went home and packed a little bit. Then Elder Tangarasi and I got on the bus to go back to Antananarivo.

As we got closer to Tana it got colder and colder and the lady behind me had her window open. Also, we left when it was starting to get dark, so by the time we had left the warm coastline behind it was dark and it got way cold. We finally got into Tana at about 2:30 in the morning. IT WAS SO COLD HOLY COW! I could see my breath! I also was shivering way bad and my teeth were chattering pretty hard core. Then Elder Glazier, Elder Covey, and Elder Glazier picked me up. That's when they popped the news that there were four of us in our companionship!

Then I asked them to turn up the heater because I was a block of ice. Then we went and slept for a couple hours and then got  up early to take missionaries to bus stops to their new areas. Then we picked up the new missionaries, then took them around a little bit. Then ate dinner with them.

Then the next day we had breakfast with them and then had some orientation stuff we did, then we dropped off the elders that were going home at the airport. I feel like that should have been weird because my group will be the next ones going home, but it didn't seem like that at all. Then on Friday the 13th we finally got out to teach a little bit. Then we taught some on Saturday too. And we tracted. Then on Sunday, Elder Wiscombe and I headed to the office while Elder Glazier and Elder Covey went to our ward. Elder Wiscombe and I drove President and Sister Foote, Elder Van Renin who is an area Seventy, the district president of Reunion, and some other people from South Africa who came here to start organizing a Malagasy EFY here. We took them to the Ambohibao ward for church, and then dropped them all off at the airport after that. Did I get complimented on my driving by a Seventy? Of course! It was lots of fun, I seriously love driving so much! Then after that we went and taught a couple of good times.

The whole companionship thing is lots of fun. So there's four of us and we all work with each other. But since sometimes it's a pain in the butt to have four giant white guys cram into a little house, we go on splits kind of often, so I've been with Elder Glazier and Elder Covey, and then I've been with Elder Wiscombe when we were all together. Elder Wiscombe and I are still way new, so we don't really go teaching together much because we don't know our area at all. It's tons of fun in our house and when we do stuff together. I love these guys so much! Then we're planning on heading out to do splits in Antsirabe this week and then in Tamatave the week after, so it will definitely be fun to see some old areas and all the missionaries. It's going to be a blast!

Our area right now is Anjanahary, and we have two investigators with bap dates! Not the same as Tamatave for sure! But we are having baptisms on June 4th and I taught them with Elder Glazier and Elder Wiscombe and they are way cool! I'll tell you more about the area and investigators later, but I still don't really know much. But don't worry! I'll let y'all know as soon as I can.

Then today, we got up and played soccer at my old ward, the Tana 1st ward. It was way fun to see some of my converts and great members there. I saw Bishop O. and his family, F., L., L. D., J., M., and J.!

 All of us missionaries played against the ward. We won. Then we went to eat at the Tana Waterfront Mall, which was a place that I went to pretty often back when I worked in that area. It was so cool to see all my old places! Then we drove some missionaries around and played some basketball with them. I only lost twice in like the four hours we were playing, and they were in best-two-out-of-three series and we won the series each time. Killin' it. Also killed my socks and shoes. I already had holes on the toes of my shoes, but now they're bigger and I wore through my socks too. Might as well have taken my shoes off! Also, speaking of series, at Tana Waterfront we saw part of game 7 of the NBA quarterfinals, Toronto agains Miami. BASKETBALL!!!

It was tons of fun to see all of the missionaries today! I was trying way hard to get to know all of the missionaries because I know like a fifth of them. Usually, missionaries will all see each other all the time in Tana, but since I've been out of Tana for a year, there's not too many that I know right now.
Spiritual thought this week will be done in Malagasy for the Malagasy Morsel: "Raha tia ahy ianareo, dia hitandrina ny didiko." "If ye love me, keep my commandments." I love that scripture. When we have a good reason like that for doing things, it becomes a lot easier to want to do them. And with that scripture is another one that kind of goes along with that: "O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind, and strength..." If we love Him, then we need to make sure that we're serving Him with all our heart, might, mind and strength. That's way important to me in my mission and my life. I do all I can because I want to show my love for my Heavenly Father and having that perspective/motive makes it so much easier for me to give Him my all.

Anyway, I love y'all and I hope y'all are having the time of your lives this week. Sorry about the monster email! Next week will be a lot better and entertaining. But to spice this one up I'll add some pictures of all of us!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Week 94 - We Are the Three Nephites

This week has been great! I loved it. There were so many cool things to write in my journal. So I've trying to be good about writing in it this week.

On Tuesday, we were heading to a time with our member help, Fabio, and Delphin, our incredibly awesome recent convert, came up behind us on his bike and started talking to us. Turns out he had moved that morning and he wanted to show us where he lived now so we could visit him. So we followed him over and he bought a liter of coke on the way with some crackers and welcomed us into his house. He told us that he'd read about the three nephites (he's finished the Book of Mormon already) and he said he prayed that the three nephites would visit him. Then here were three people visiting him. Coincidence??? Haha he's such a funny guy!

Then on Wednesday, we taught Carlo, the guy who was a referral from Sister Heather Moody in England, and he told us that he's "way ready to be baptized." June 4th, here we come! Then he was asking about which form of the name "Jesus" he should use because in Malagasy some people use Jesoa and Jesosy. The name of our church uses Jesoa, but we told him that it wasn't really important. He said, "I think 'Jesoa' is better, because 'Jesosy' sounds like 'J-sauce' and sauce is slang for money." hahahaha I laughed really hard. I don't want to be sacriligious, but if he's ever looking to go into the rap world, he's all set with a name and everything! Also, Elder Brown informs me that the number one rap album in the world right now is by JamesTheMormon. I'm crushed that my plans for going big with "NateTheMormon" are now crushed. He beat me to it.

Then we've been trying to contact each investigator every day with at least a text, so we send out big group texts to remind our people to read and not smoke and stuff. But we don't like being boring, so we try to shake it up. Elder Johnson sent one out that said, "If you don't read your Book of Mormon today, Rasmussen will eat you." So when we got to our time with Modest and Soazara, Soazara had read the text wrong and wanted to know what a "ramusen" is, "Is it some kind of devil???" Hahahahahaha we had a little bit of explaining to do there. It was way funny.

Also, their son, Cedric, came to church and Manitra, a sweet guy that we helped come back to church again, taught a great lesson about why the Restoration is called a restoration. So then he explained all about that to us. So cool! Then, the lesson that we had for them was the Word of Wisdom. We taught them, then asked if they had any problems with it. Modest, always a stud, said, "I drink coffee right now, but I'll stop and never drink it again. But I don't have any problems with any of the other things. I used to smoke, but when you guys invited me to church, I decided to stop smoking that day and I did." HE QUIT COLD TURKEY THE DAY HE CAME TO CHURCH THE FIRST TIME AND HAD NEVER EVEN LEARNED THAT IT WAS A COMMANDMENT! Then he's quit coffee now and he's doing great. He is the coolest guy in the world. And his families not really behind him at all!

Then, Friday night, I was heading to the other missionaries' house late at night with Elder Ncoyo to do a split the next day when our pousse-pousse (like a bicycle rickshaw kind of thing) came up to a police checkpoint. Elder Ncoyo whispered to me, "Elder Rasmussen, I left my papers at home." Not good! So I started praying right there that we would somehow get home fine. The police come up and start asking for our papers in French. I tell them in Malagasy that I don't speak French, but I do speak English and Malagasy. He then turns to the pousse-pousse driver and says, "Oh, so he doesn't speak English OR Malagasy? That's how these guys are, they always pretend not to understand you." I was like "No! I am speaking to you in your own language right now! Speak to me in Malagasy, but I don't speak French." So he asks for our papers. I start digging around in my bag a little bit, and then the pousse driver needs to get at his papers under the seat, so we have to get out. I hand the photocopy of my passport to the police and he says, "These are your papers?" I told him that those were indeed my papers. It's my passport. Then the pousse driver showed him his papers and he let us go. In all the commotion, he hadn't looked at Elder Ncoyo once. Elder Ncoyo didn't have any papers to show, and he never got asked to show any. That was way cool!

Then I went on a split in Ankirihiry with Elder Maleka and it was a blast. We did five baptismal interviews and some of them were way cool! But this email is already getting pretty long, so I'll have to save those for later. Then we also ate octopus and biked for 45 minutes out to a time and biked back. It was lots of fun.

Then church was fantastic! Lots of our people showed up. But not enough members. We're probably going to start doing some more work with less actives.

Of all of the families that came to church with both mom and dad there, 3 were member families, and 6 were ours. I was pretty excited and bummed at the same time by that.
Then this morning we went to a lemur park. Great week.

Malagasy Morsel would be vatsim-panahy, I may have already done this, I can't remember. It literally means supply or treat for the soul. It's what you say for spiritual thought, and here's our little spiritual thought following that, on Tuesday when we visited Delphin in his new house we talked about small and simple things bringing about great things and he said something that I really loved. He said that one of the small and simple things is a little prayer that goes like this: "Heavenly Father, is Joseph Smith really a true prophet?" And that small and simple prayer can bring someone onto the path that leads to exaltation and eternal joy in the Kingdom of our Father, and that is the biggest thing of all!
He understands it.

Delphin is just so converted, I love him so much. Once he comes back from a mission he's going to be a bishop, then a stake president, and then the first 70 from Madagascar!!!! Haha but really, what he said really got to me. I love learning from the great members here. Working in Madagascar is such a pleasure for me. There's always things that take me by surprise.

Anyway, that would be my email this week. I hope none of y'all are too dissapointed by how long that took you to read. I know Andrew's got lots of important things to do... haha

Have a great week!
Mazotoa e!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Week 93 - Talk Remix

And we're back! How's everybody doing?

The last couple of weeks have been so great! Tamatave is really starting to pick up a lot and the missionaries are getting way pumped and so are the members. It's beautiful! We had a couple meetings this last week that were great. First we met with President Paul, the district president. He's awesome. I love meeting with him, he's such a solid member and he know how the church runs so well! Meetings with him always make me feel really optimistic about where the church is going here.

Then we had a meeting for "Project Black Plaque" a missionary prep fireside that we are working on. We talked to President Paul a couple weeks ago about how there's barely any missionaries out from Tamatave and having a mission prep fireside was our solution, so we're now on a commitee that's planning the fireside and we had a meeting and set up the whole program and we've got a mormon message that will be translated into malagasy and refreshments planned and everything! It's gonna be big! We're going to blow their minds with a good ole American style fireside. That meeting went really well too. I'm excited about that fireside, even though I might not be here for it.

So the last week or so we've been having a lot of success with some of our families. We started off by tracting in to two families who's parents are active members... Coincidence? NO! So we're way excited about them, and then we've got a story that's kind of the opposite of that, because one of the kids is a member and his parents are learning.

So there's this guy named Jean Luc, he's not active. He works all night at a night club and can never come to church or be caught during the day. So we started teaching his dad. His dad came to church that week and helped clean the church on Saturday. We told him, "You should bring your wife!" So then his wife came with him. And then his other son starting coming with them. And they're so converted already! They bought glasses so they could read the Book of Mormon, they came to every session of conference which is way more than you could say about the members, and they come early to church every single week! They're perfect. So we went in to teach them about the law of chastity so they could get started preparing to get legally married and Elder Johnson talked about how we see lots of young people just living together before getting married and that's wrong, and they both nodded their heads and agreed. Then he said, "And I know that you said that you're not married yet, so what will it take to get you guys married?" And they jumped in, "Woah there! We're married! We've been married for 20 years!!! What are you taking about?!" It's was like there was a choir of angels singing, it was so beautiful on my ears. Then we taught them about the word of wisdom so they could start working on that too. They both drink coffee. But before, Modest, the husband, smoked a lot. But as soon as he came to church the first time, he just quit cold turkey on his own. THIS MAN IS INCREDIBLE!!!! They're doing great. We asked about the coffee and they assured us that they'd stop right away because they want to get baptized. They're doing fantastic.

Then our other families are coming along great too. Jerry came to church, but Ercyla was pretty sick. Olivier and Angela were out of town. Bertello and Rogette were at their neice's house trying to help them out because their neice and her husband have been having some problems, but Jeannot and Vanessa came to church. So really, only like 2 1/2 of our families came to church, but the other ones had some pretty good excuses.

Then at church the sound system was having some problems, so there were some really gnarly echoes going on whenever someone talked, so Delphin, our brave, fearless recent convert turns around to me during one of the talks and tells me that the speaker is doing a remix and putting some weird effects on his voice. Haha I just reread what I wrote there and I promise it was waaayy funnier than it sounds there!

All start with our spiritual thought tidbit then go into the Malagasy Morsel after that, but on Saturday, when we were at the church waiting for the rest of the commitee to come for the meeting, we were translating the mormon message into malagasy and we were on on the study notebook thing doing that and I saw a quote that I really liked: "Gratitude is the key to obedience." -Nathan Rasmussen, April 3, 2014. Out of the mouths of babes. Haha alright, I was 17, but still. It was kind of cool to read that though, I think it was notes from seminary or something and the whole idea is that if we're truly grateful for all that our Heavenly Father does for us we have no desire to not be obedient. And I really liked that. So I wrote that on the back of my planner and I can look like a tool for the last two weeks of the transfer and have a quote from myself written on my planner.

That leads into our Malagasy Morsel of fisaorana which means gratitude. I really do think that being grateful for all the things that we have and not getting focused on the few things that we don't have right now is the key to happiness. I almost hate writing out things I'm grateful for because it takes so long! But I'll do a little bit now just for fun even though this email is already long.

I am grateful because:
The weather is great today.
My stomache is not having problems.
I don't have a headache.
I can email right now.
I have a great family to email.
The power is going right now.
This cyber has GREAT internet.
I'm a missionary.
I have a great companion.
My mission president is awesome!
I have clothes.
Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith on a spring morning in 1820.
I've been to the temple.
Thomas S. Monson.
All of my stud buddies who speak in General Conference
General Conference.
A roof that doesn't leak.
Washing machines and dryers
A stove.
My bed.
My scriptures.
All the great education I've gotten.
The awesome leaders I had when I was younger.
Preach My Gospel.
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
My camera
The members here in Madagascar, especially here in Tamatave
The other missionaries here in my zone
My parents were sealed in the temple and I was born in that covenant.
I've been healthy enough to do everything I could possibly need to this week.
The ocean.
Madagascar is a safe enough place for me to do missionary work.
the Malagasy language
The Malagasy people
and tons of other stuff! That was way easy, like three minutes, but I already feel more blessed.
I love all y'all and I really hope you have the best day/week.
Mandra-pihaona indraika!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Week 92 - Killing It!

This week was great! We had two areas in our zone get Fort D levels of lessons taught and one of them may have been Elder Brown and Elder Tangarasi and the other one may have been us. If it was us, we definitely would have had more time than Elder Brown and Elder Tangarasi... It was a great week though. We did a lot of work and we just caught so many people at home, it was fantastic. Lot's of families too.

There were lot's of great stories this week, but we had a zone activity with President and the AP's so we got to the cyber late, so this will be a way short email, so no stories. Good new would be that I don't think I got sand rash as bad this time and also going on splits with Elder Glazier was great. I love that guy.

But I will definitely make up for it next week, don't worry.
Love y'all, have a great week!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Week 91 - Conference!

We watched conference. AND IT WAS SO GOOOOD! I love that stuff. I had to keep reminding myself that the whole point of it is to apply it in our lives and not just watch it over and over again, because that's definitely what I wanted to do! President Nelson's talk in the priesthood session was so good! I love that stuff!

Then we've got some cool stories this week, on Monday we were in line at the checkout in Shoprite, a grocery store, buying some shampoo and a couple expensive food items, when the guy behind me was actually a member from the Philippines and he was wearing garments and all 7 of his siblings were return missionaries and two of his children are return missionaries and he bought my food. I imagine that's what serving a mission in Utah would be like. It was way cool though, we talked to him for a while and he actually works on a ship that was in port for a few days, and he's comes here fairly often, but he didn't know the church was here until just barely. So that was way cool!

Then the next day, we were meeting up with this guy named Jean Carlo who just showed up to church and said that a missionary told him to come. We didn't know where his house was, so we met up somewhere and he lead us to his house. On the way he was talking with us and we found out that he lived in Tana for a while and had been to church once there and gone to the missionaries' English classes before. Then he asked me, "Do you know Sister Moody?" I wasn't a hundred percent sure what he said so I asked, "Do you mean Sister Wooley?" Because she's the mission secretary and I know some of the couple missionaries teach English classes in Tana. He said, "Nope, Sister Moody. Do you know her? Because she knows you." At this point I was way confused, "She knows me and Elder Johnson?" "No, just you. She said you were way good friends." Turns out he had been looking at and somehow starting chatting with missionaries there, which turned into a facebook chat with Sister Heather Moody. I know her!!! And she told him that he should go to church and he did, then he told her that he met the missionaries, "Elder Johnson and Elder Rasmuseen." Haha close, but yeah, crazy right??? She just hooked me up with an investigator who seems way cool and gave us Sprite once the time was over. I was so amazed by it all.

Then I also got a letter this week. From Brother and Sister Williams in the good old 30th ward, it was a Christmas card... haha it may have taken a while to get through the mail system here, but it got through! I was touched by that.

Anyway, we'll close with a malagasy morsel of mandehana which is a command form of go. Mandehana amin'ny tempoly. Go to the temple. I kept thinking about that all of conference and I'm so pumped to get to go again! So much good comes in and because of the temple. And back home I'm not even 5 minutes away! Crazy!

Anyway, love y'all and have a great week.
Mazotoa e!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Week 90 - After Much Tribulation Come the Blessings

Haha I hope you all are intrigued by the subject to this email... But first I want to make a big statement that no, I have not seen conference yet, and yes, I am way jealous of y'all that have. There.
I feel like I have a ton of stuff to write in this letter, but not a ton of time to write it and I know you all love huge emails a lot, so I'll keep it pretty short.

We started this week of really strong: on Tuesday we had four baptismal interviews that Elder Johnson and I did for Ambolomadinika, then we taught Erik and his family, Seraphin and his familiy, Jean Francois and his family, Ramiandrisoa and his family, and Alexice and his family. They were all great and we got some good times with members there building relationships with them too.
Then on Wednesday we taught Berthrand and his family, we tracted into Jean Jacques and his family, taught Lucianno, Tino, Thierry and Lidia, Jerry and Ercyla, then street contacted for a little bit at night.

Then on Thursday, we had a great last district meeting from Elder Snell about how to get awesome like Captain Moroni, then we taught Modeste and his family, Maroviavy's family, Jeannot and his family, Prisca and his family, Prince, Berthello and his family, and we picked up the new missionaries who came from tana for the transfers.

Then on Friday we taught Landry, Dadabe Francois and his family, Anthony, Ramiandrisoa and his family, Deni and his family and a less active woman whose name I forget... I actually didn't teach her because I was with the branch mission leader looking for Landry's house, which Landry said was right by the branch president's house, but turned out to be a two hours walk away. I loved that.
Then on Saturday we had times scheduled with 11 families who we were both way exited about AND a baptism! But then every time but one fell through, and that one was a referral from a member, it was his dad and he pretty much just plead with his dad to learn from the missionaries, but he wouldn't accept. That was probably one of the roughest days on the mission, but you know what? Even though a big part of me wanted to be way discouraged, I just couldn't do it. Being a missionary and not teaching anyone or getting let into any times is still being a missionary and that's so cool! So then it was late and dark and we had about an hour and a half of work left, and no times, it was too late to tract, so usually at that time we street contact. I've done lots of street contacting on the main street in front of our church but I've never seen any quality investigators come from it. Then yesterday, after a way hard day, we set up times with two families while street contacting, and we taught them both on Sunday and they were great. So that's where the scripture in the subject line comes in, because that was the start of the blessings.

Then Sunday came! That's my favorite day! You get to see everyone at church and take the sacrament and it's fantastic! And our three best families all came!!! And we had 24 investigators at church and 103 people total! That's the best week for a little while and it was so awesome! The members were making friends with the investigators and helping them out and the investigator class was great and way full! And then a ton of members want to help us this week. Sunday just made my week so much better.

Then another great story about Sunday, we have this recent convert named Delphin who is a huge stud. Elder Glazier baptized him before I got here and he's the one who called Elder Glazier the "key to his light" if any of you remember that. Anyway, Saturday night we were talking to him at the church (he's a security guard at the church) and he told us about how he broke up with his girlfriend because she wouldn't learn from the missionaries and was always trying to get him to move in with her. And he was telling us how since he broke up with her she's been trying way hard to get him back and coming to visit him and crying, he moved houses so she couldn't visit him and she went to his aunt and was trying to figure out where his parents lived so she could talk to them about him and he is just trying to get away from her. I thought it was way funny, but SHE CAME TO CHURCH!!!  And then he felt way awkward and came and sat by us so he wouldn't have to sit by her and it was SO funny! But I feel way bad for him. But anyway, I'll keep y'all updated on that for sure!

Malagasy Morsel is a word that y'all probably don't even use in English, but it's sognambo and it means breadfruit here in Tamatave.

Y'all have a great week, and hopefully next week when I email, I'll have seen conference!

Love y'all. The church is true. He lives.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Week 89 - Big Week!

This was an exciting week complete with transfers and everything, but I'll tell you about the transfers at the end.

I don't know if you all remember, but like two weeks ago I told you about this guy who goes by "Kevin's dad" that was way drunk and kept telling us that he loved us. Yeah, we were suppossed to teach him again on Tuesday, but... he was drunk again. And this time he kissed our hands. That was a once in a lifetime opportunity. So by then we were giving this guy a 1/6. We'd seen him 6 times and he'd been sober once. We didn't teach him on Tuesday, we told him we'd be back the next day and "remember, Kevin's dad, don't drink, right? Ok, that's good, Kevin's dad, we gotta go now, ok? Yeah, we love you too. Yeah. Uh-huh. Ok, bye. Yeah. Goodbye! Tomorrow. Don't drink. Yeah." That was pretty much how the conversation went. Then on Wednesday we caught him. Sober. Bam! 2/7!!! He's doing great!

Then we've been teaching some way cool families that have been coming to church. Two of the best are Olivier and Angela, and Jerry and Ercyla. Jerry and Olivier work together, and Angela and Ercyla are sisters. Way cool families! They learn together once a week, then they each learn separately once a week too. When we taught them together, we went over the Plan of Salvation. They loved it. Accepted bap. dates. It was great. Then a guy was being chased by a bunch of dogs outside and we heard him yell at the barking dogs, "In the name of Jesus!" Then the dogs stopped barking... We all just looked around at each other and busted up laughing. I couldn't help myself. Then when we taught them that we committed them to talk about getting married with their spouses and making a decision about doing that because none of them are technically married yet. Then we come back yesterday to ask how that's going. Jerry says, looking down, "Yeah, I talked to Ercyla about it." (she's sitting right next to him looking at him.) We're like, "And what did she say?..." He looks up with a slow grin and says, "She says she's really, really ready to get married!" Ah that was great! They're so great together. They're both around 24, still no kids, and they are just such a couple. That's a big deal because usually here, not a lot of couples seem like a couple. They just live together and have kids but they don't do stuff together. Jerry and Ercyla come to church together, they sit way close and look like they are together. AND THEY'RE GOING TO GET MARRIED!!! So cool. Then when we went to Olivier and Angela and asked what they decided on, they said that they need to get married. So they will. Then Olivier's crazy mom piped in that they needed to get married and it really wasn't all that hard to do. So it was great.

Then it was Easter this week so we were expecting lots of people at church. But then it rained. So we had 83 at church. Not happy Bob. But we still got 19 investigators and one of them was KEVIN'S DAD!!!! 3/8 BABY!!!! HE'S KILLING IT! hahahahaha but really we were way stoked to see him. He seemed to really enjoy himself. The members were great.

Then for our Malagasy Morsel this week we'll do teny gasy. Short for Fiteny Malagasy which means the Malagasy language. Dumbest Malagasy Morsel ever, I know. But the reason that we're doing that today is because Elder Johnson and I are staying together for another transfer, so we've got big plans. One of those is to only speak Malagasy for the rest of the transfer exept for emails home, important phone calls, and zone meeting when we're teaching. We even buried my large plates (my english scriptures) in the hole in the hill cummorah (in my suitcase under my bed) and they won't be coming out until the year 1823 (about May 11 when I'll probably get to my next area in a transfer). So that's the big announcement for the Malagasy Morsel this week. We'll see how that goes.

Then to end on a little bit more of a spiritual note. We had a great district meeting this last week with a lesson by The Elder Brown. He was talking about how we can conquer fears through faith and referenced Elder Ballard's talk that referenced Brigham Young's talk about being in the good ship Zion. And then he talked about when Jesus calmed the tempest and how the Apostles were all freaking out and he said "Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?" The Elder Brown said that Jesus is in the boat with us, so we don't ever need to worry that we'll sink. We're doing His work so we can do it with confidence and enthusiasm because we're not going to fail as long as we keep it up. I really liked that a lot.

Anyway, way long email, but hopefully you all will manage to have a good week in your spare time when you're not reading that way long email. And those of you back home, make sure you don't forget about James, because he's coming home this week and he can't wait. It would be a bummer if he didn't have anyone to pick him up at the airport. Have fun Elder Rasmussen from South Africa! Elder Rasmussen from Madagascar will see you when he skypes home in a month and a half.

Mazotoa e!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Week 88 - Rain

So this week we got caught in the rain a little bit. Nice, huh? I'm all for keeping it really simple in my bag, so I usually don't bring a coat. That's what a waterproof bag is for, right? I don't need to worry about that!  So anyway, we got soaked. Elder Johnson kind of feels the same way about jackets. But, to be a hundred percent honest, it's too hot for a jacket. I feel like if I wear a jacket I end up getting soaked with sweat instead. So then it's just a choice between sweat or rainwater. Obviously rainwater wins, so no jacket for me!

We had a fantastic week this week though. We worked a lot and it was a lot of fun! We also had two splits this week, one with the Ankirihiry elders. We pulled both of them into our area and had two companionships working our area. I started with Elder Maleka, a convert from Uganda, then halfway through the day we switched and I worked with Elder Francom, from Kaysville, Utah. It was lots of fun. Then the second split was on Saturday and I was with Elder Snell, also from Kaysville, Utah, while Elder Johnson went into Ambolomadinika with Elder Band, Elder Snell's companion. It was lots of fun and I had a blast working with all of them. Splits are always so fun and it's way neat to work with other missionaries. But honestly? I'm usually pretty excited to get back with my companion again once the split is over... It's nice to work with someone that you've been working with for a little while and you're both on the same page. I've been blessed with some balling companions though, that makes it nicer. But we might just have one more week together and then it's transfers!!! Crazy right? Time's flying, it's already Fall down here, so we're going to start getting a little more chilly. Tamatave won't really get too chilly, but if I move next week, and I probably will, then I might be pretty chilly for the next little while. I'm not too excited about that.

Then it rained on Sunday. You might want to know why that's worth mentioning that it rained on Sunday when it rained on a couple other days too. Well, when it rains on Sunday people don't come to church. We've been in the 90's with church attendance, got into the low 100's a decent amount. It rained this week and we had *drumroll* 57. Haha that's the lowest I've had my whole mission! Then there were only like 45 members that came. Not super good. I feel like if you live your whole life in a rainy place the rain would stop bothering you as much, but you never know!

Then next week is Easter! So church attendance should be pretty high for that. Also, I might be emailing late or not emailing next week because the Monday after Easter is a huge party here. So just a heads up.

But for our Malagasy Morsel we'll keep it way simple and in line with Easter. In our good old Fotopampianarana sy Fanekempihavanana (Doctrine and Covenants) section 76 verse 22 we got "velona izy." "He lives." BEST TESTIMONY EVER. So there is is guys. He lives.

Love y'all.
Mazotoa e!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Week 87 - Zone Conference!

Well, this last week was exciting! We had a zone conference with a member of the 70! It was Elder Kevin Hamilton and he's in the area presidency down here in the Africa Southeast Area. It was way good. Fun note though, my first day in country involved a zone conference with him, and here we are having a zone conference with him again! We talked about a ton of different things and it was great. Everyone came way prepared with questions and had read the talk that we were supposed to read in preparation for it.

Then, the day before that we went on splits with Elder Brown and Elder Nolan, except instead of one us us going there and one of them coming to us, we pulled both of them into our area for the day and then switched companions halfway through the day. It was lots of fun! They're doing great! They're both pretty new missionaries, but they're doing fantastic right now. It was lot's of fun to work with them. Especially because Elder Brown and I were already companions down in Fort D, so it was way cool to work with him again and see how much better at malagasy he's gotten. Way cool guys. I had a blast with them.

Then the rest of the week was just working. It was nice. We found a way cool family, and then our two best families right now came to church and were way pumped and happy! I love being a missionary!

Malagasy Morsel for this week is mimohy or mihomehy, Betsimisaraka and Merina versions. It means to laugh. And I feel like the one thing that makes me have a good day no matter what is finding something to laugh about. There's lots of good things out there and when I am good at laughing, I'm way happier. Isn't that great?

Anyway, love you all, have a great week!
Mazotoa e!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Week 86 - He's My Zoky Be Too!

Alright, so this week was great. We just went down and went to work. It was lot's of fun. Then on Wednesday we had a split with some elders from the other house, so we snuck into their house in the evening and called them and told them they all needed to come home right now! Then when they got there we had sloppy joes just finishing up. Then we hit them with a spiritual thought in D&C 100:4 about how the Lord has sent them here for a reason. Then we told some stories about some awesome people we've found that the Lord has prepared for us and just tried to get them pumped up to be missionaries here in Tamatave. It went great. Then we split up and I took Elder Tshuma from South Africa with me. He's from JoBurg and he has been out for about 8 months or so. He's doing great. He was a little bit under the weather so I feel a little bit bad because I dragged him around and taught eight times. I think he was a little bit overwhelmed... But it was great! We had lots of fun. Then Elder Johnson and I ran a little get to know you thing in zone meeting on Thursday then had a Preach My Gospel Jeapardy thing going on. It was great. We made situations and had them give the right answer according to Preach My Gospel. It was lots of fun.

Then the rest of the week was just work and work. It was great. Then we had 26 investigators at church! It was so cool! We just had people crawling out of the woodwork and talking to us during the week then coming to church! It was so fantastic!

Our Malagasy morsel this week is zoky. It means older sibling. And then zoky be is the oldest sibling who usually is the head of the family when the parents die. It's a really important thing here. So story time, Delphin, our awesome recent convert who was baptized by Elder Glazier a little bit before I got here was flipping through a pamphlet and so I pointed at a picture of an old african man and said, "that's my  grandpa." He laughed and then turned to a picture of Jesus being baptized and said, "That's my zoky be!" I was all, "No way! Mine too!!!" Then we laughed and he said we were related and it was great. But really. Isn't it great having an older brother that's always got your back perfectly. Like the judge at the final judgement is our older brother who died for us! How awesome is that? Way awesome. Anyway, that's all for this week. I hope y'all have a fantastic week and we'll talk to again in a week.


Monday, February 22, 2016

Week 85 - New Companion, Same Old Place

So like the subject line, I finally got a companion. He came on Wednesday night at like 7:30. I had no companion or member help on Tuesday or Wednesday, so I just tagged along with Elder Snell in his area of Ambolomadinika. He's great. Then Elder Snell and I had to go unlock the house when the mission driver came with all of the new elders. So we let them in and then went out to catch another time. Elder Johnson and I took Elder Brown with us (my last comp in Fort D) and taught Delphin, our very awesome recent convert. It was great! Lot's of fun. Then we settled down and got to work for the rest of the week. It was great.

So Elder Johnson is from Las Vegas, and he was in my MTC group, so we came here together! He's a great guy! He played volleyball in college for a year before his mission and he's 6'4" and right now about 185 lbs. He's lost a lot of weight since the MTC, but he's still a pretty big guy. We tower over all of our Malagasies, it's ridiculous. He's way funny and friendly and he's a great missionary! I'm way pumped to work with him. With him, I'm keeping my streak going of only having companions older than me. He's my eleventh companion if you count the MTC and the only companion that I've had younger than me is Elder Glazier. But it's great.

We'll just keep it short today and go for our Malagasy word of the day: Mahafinaritra. I may have already done this one, if so, awkward. It literally means pleasing or delightful. But it's also used as great or awesome or sweet. And life is just so mahafinaritra! That's also my little spiritual thought. There is so much good in the world! And we have so many blessings! I got a good fever of 102 Friday night and got a headache and chills and crazy goosebumps, then I was fine the next morning. It was great! It made me appreciate being healthy so much! There are so many things like that that we take for granted. Life is so great!

Y'all have a great week and just be happy!
Love you!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Week 84 - And She Gone!

Well. For starters, this week I got my right shoe!!! I was so pumped. I got the left shoe about two months ago, right before Christmas, and the right one came on Tuesday. It's brown. Just like the other one that's been sitting under my bed all by itself. So that was good. Then Elder Glazier left on Thursday, so that was not good.  Dream Team has come to a close.

Then this next transfer will have me with Elder Johnson from my MTC group! He's flying from Toliara to Tana today, and then he's driving up on Wednesday, so I should have a companion to work with again on Thursday. I'm so excited. Not having a companion is terrible. I've been going out with members every day, which is fantastic, but I'm so pumped to be with another missionary that knows what they're doing a little bit more.

So this last week was a little bit slow because we had to work things out with the members and stuff like that, but it was great! It all pulled together nicely without to much hassle. There are some way great recent converts who are preparing to go on missions that were way awesome to help out.
Shout out to Mom and Andrew and Timmy  for getting older. Happy birthday!!!

Then we have a fun story that made me feel like a boss. In Elders' Quorum yesterday they were teaching a lesson from the teachings of the prophets, which are not translated into Malagasy, but are only in French. So the teacher writes down the lesson name: "L’Adversité faite partie du plan de Dieu pour notre progression éternelle." Then he asked what it meant in Malagasy. Everyone just kind of nifampijery-ed and didn't say anything. Oh, that's the Malagasy Morsel for the week, mifampijery means to look at each other. So they nifampijery-ed and didn't say anything and then who translated it? Yours truly. Who knows jack squat of French? Yours truly. It's a good thing all the words look the same, right? Adversity, part, plan of God, for, eternal progression. Then I used my incredibly shallow grasp of connecting words and put it together. Win. Gift of tongues at work.

But it was a good lesson. Adversity is great. I don't always appreciate it as much as I should, but I have learned and grown so much because of the hard things in my life. God knows what He's doing, He's been helping His children become gods for eternity and He'll keep doing it for eternity.

Then another cool thing that I thought of this week as we taught a lesson about the story of Nefia and Lehia from the Bokin'i Mormona as they baptized 8,000 people then got thrown in prison and the soldiers came to kill them and the fire protected them then there was the mist of darkness and good old Aminidaba turned around to see them and their faces were glowing as they prayed/looked upwards. Then all the soldier looked at their shining faces in the middle of the mists of darkness and started their paths on the conversion process that lead to them believing the words of Nefia and Lehia and believing in Jesoa Kristy and going and teaching their Lamanita buddies and converting the greater part of them. How cool is it that all of that came because Nefia and Lehia were shining in the darkness? Well we shine in the darkness too, so we need to try to shine bright. That was pretty much what came into my mind while we taught that. Way cool story.

Anyway, y'all have a great week, I sure will!
Love y'all,
Mazotoa e!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Week 83 - Last Week of the Dream Team

This week has been great. Every week is great though, so that's really not saying much. But this week was pretty nice. We went on splits with the Ankirihiry elders, Elder Cyusa and Elder Maleka. I went with Elder Maleka in Ankirihiry. He's from Uganda and he is just about done being trained by Elder Cyusa. He's doing great. He can lead his area wonderfully.

Then Elder Glazier and I got to go to a wedding on Friday. Elder Snell's investigators were getting married and he doesn't have a companion right now, so we got to go with him! It was the two people getting married, each had a witness, and then the mayor performing the wedding and his secretary. Then Elder Snell was taking pictures while Elder Glazier and I watched. It lasted 15 minutes. It was a great wedding!

Then they got baptized the next day, along with 11 other people in our district. We had 13 total baptisms and two were children of record, so 11 investigator baptisms. It was way nice! Tons of members came out to show support and we didn't all fit in the room where the font is! Elder Glazier and I didn't have any, those are all next month, but it was way sweet to see how great our zone is going.

Then one of my favorite things this week is the lesson that Elder Glazier and I had with J. We taught a third, also known as the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You know, faith, repentance, baptism, gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. We both walked out of the door and told each other that that was the best third we've ever taught. It was probably mostly because J is such a raging baller and pretty much already knew it all. But we had scriptures, there were great questions, he talked a lot about how he understood it, we worked together well, and it was just great. The spirit was just flowing beautifully. Everything was simple and clear and it felt fantastic. The Book of Mormon is so cool. I feel like the whole reason that lesson was good was because it was all from the Book of Mormon which brought the Spirit and J is so balling that he just followed that Spirit and learned from Him while Elder Glazier and I sat there. Beautiful.

Then the malagasy morsel for this week comes from the Book of Mormon: Helamàna. Yep. It means Helaman. Sorry, really dumb one this week, but it's just because I wanted to share a scripture in Helaman and couldn't think of any way to tie it in to a different word... Just call it a lack of creativity. Anyway, the scripture is Helaman 5:24. It's the story of Nephi and Lehi, they'd just baptized 8,000 people then they get caught by and army and thrown into prison. Then they're starved for a couple days, then 300 people come to kill them. I feel like it's safe to say that they weren't having the best day. They probably felt like they were in a bit of a slump... But good news, God had his eye on them and surrounded them with fire that protected them but didn't burn them. Then we get to the scripture, it says, "And when they saw that they were encircled about with a pillar of fire, and that it burned them not, their hearts did take courage." That means that their hearts weren't taking a whole lot of courage before that. It's ok to get down a little bit. I don't feel like God expects us to be super pumped about hard things, I don't think God was disappointed with his two prophets for being a little bit bummed about being imprisoned and starved and about to be killed. But He helped them. And He always helps us if we're willing to let him do that. I love that. I know he loves us and He's always got our backs.

But yeah, y'all have a good week for me. I'm going to have a great week for all y'all--Elder Glazier and I are going to rip up this area for our last week together, so I should have lots of great stories next week.

Love you!
Mazotoa e!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Week 82 - Branch Conference

This week has been fantastic! We did not have to take two really long busrides to Tana and back, so we were able to put in some good work. It wasn't a ridiculous week as far as amount of work done goes, but it was solid. We may or may not have been leading the zone... haha but it felt great! The best part is we still did decent while missing out on some work because we had lots of crap we had to do that got in the way of preaching and teaching and working as missionaries do. But it was still important stuff, and we got it done, so it's all great!

This week was Branch Conference and Elder Glazier and I sang in the choir. It was beautiful. We had two basses on the back row. Coincidentally, Elder Glazier and I were the only ones on the back row... I think they weren't used to Elder Glazier's beautiful, masculine singing, because we got SOO many compliments on our performance. The talks were great and the lessons were great and I just kept writing stuff down in my planner that was coming into my mind. I loved it. My favorite thing was while we were having our Elder's Quorum lesson about Obedience. I just kept thinking about John 14:15, you know, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." And I was thinking about how Christ was such a great example of that! He didn't need to be warned of the consequences of sin, he didn't need to be corrected all of the time like the Nephites going through the pride cycle. He loved His Father, and He wanted to do His will because of that love. He wasn't looking out for Himself, He gave that up to do the will of someone that He loved very much. If we do that, obedience will never be a chore, it's a great opportunity to show our love for our Heavenly Father! He does so much for us and we can give Him back a little bit through our obedience. How great is that???

Anyway, we'll keep the Malagasy Morsel in line with that. Manoa means to submit as in submitting our will to the will of our Father. And that's how we get all those fitahiana (blessings)!!!

But yeah, Branch Conference was fantastic. We had 125 people at church! Our highest yet, then we had 14 investigators too, which is also our highest yet here in Andranomadio! It's great. I love being a missionary!

I hope y'all have a great week! Do something good every now and then and not just play Clash of Clans on your phone.

Love y'all!
Tahian'ny Tompo

Monday, January 25, 2016

Week 81 - Antananarivo

This last week was great. And by great, I mean different, and pretty cool, and we didn't really work... Because Elder Glazier and I went to Antananarivo on Tuesday morning! It's about an eight hour drive from Tamatave to Tana, then we still had a half hour bus ride on a different bus from the bus station to the mission home. It was great.

Then we drove around with one of the AP's, Elder Covey, to drop off the Reunion/Mauritius Zone Leaders off at the Tana North Zone Leaders house so they could go on splits with them the next day. Then he took us out to eat at a way good hamburger place by the American Embassy, then we drove back to the office/mission home and got our stuff and went to the AP's apartment to stay the night.

Then the next day we went on splits with the office elders, I got to go with Elder Monsen who was in my zone last transfer. Elder Glazier actually trained him like eight months ago. He's way cool, one of my favorite missionaries for sure. That was lots of fun, but we didn't get to work together the whole day because we had to end early because Elder Glazier and I had to go to a meeting with President, the AP's and the zone leaders, then when that was done we watched the Worldwide Missionary Conference. SO COOL!!! I love all of the Apostles and the other way cool people that participated. I learned a lot. Meeting with President was way cool too. And so was seeing the AP's. Those two elders are probably among my favorite missionaries for sure... I may have given them a hard time every now and then, but they are way cool.

Then on Thursday we got invited to crash a zone activity and play soccer on a turf field like an hour out of the city. It was waaayy cool! Look at Sister Foote's instagram for pictures, I didn't have my camera, sorry! Then after that we had another meeting with President Foote and another meal from Sister Foote. WAY GOOD!!! I stuffed myself so bad both times so I could be weighing the most for when I weighed myself right after we ate. I've gained like 20 lbs. since I entered the MTC! Yeah buddy!

 Then the next day we drove to Tamatave. Then we went to work on Saturday and Sunday and got 12 investigators at church! That's the most it's been since I got here! I was way stoked about it!!! And yeah, Sunday's are great.

Malagasy Morsel for the week would be fanasan'ny Tompo, which means sacrament. And I love sacrament meeting. The last couple of months I've been trying to make the sacrament a very meaningful, sacred time for me and it has been fantastic! I love the chance to renew my covenents and ponder about where I'm at. It's so great. Then my favorite thing from the Worldwide Missionary Conference was all about being the Holy Ghost's tool. They talked some about how the Spirit isn't just something we keep on our toolbelt to use when we need him, but we are the tool and He is the boss. That's way cool, but it doesn't just apply to missionary work, we should be trying to be the tool of our Father in Heaven at all times, in everything that we do. That's a lot more satisfying way to live life. Anyway, that's all I've got for you guys for now. Have a great week and go kill 'em!
Mazotoa e!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Week 80 - Look Unto Me in Every Thought

So we'll start with my ponderize scripture from this last week because it's just so good! It's in Doctrine and Covenants 6:36 and it says, "Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not."
Way good scripture, right? I just love it so much because if we're focused on Christ, we won't fear and we won't doubt. Because our faith will be kicking in at that point. Definitely one of my favorite scriptures.

Man, did we have a great week!!! We got down to business this week! The last few weeks have been pretty good, but not great with Christmas, then New Years wrecking our schedule, then the next week we hadn't caught lots of people for a few weeks because of Christmas and New Years, so they forgot about our times and it's just been a little bit of a mess. But not this week! As we weekly planned for this last week, we decided that we were going to have a much better week. So I called it "work week" and wrote that down on the first page of the planner for that week, and then Elder Glazier wrote one of my favorite quotes, "Kill 'em!" And we definitely killed 'em! We had a way good week and we had the Spirit with us and we found some WAY cool people! And we got eleven people to church!!! That's the highest either of us have seen here and we were SO stoked! We're starting to see some good fruits!

But before we talk about that, we gotta talk a little bit about the week that lead up to Sunday. Monday was a pretty good p-day: we caught a lesson and a family home evening with some fantastic members. Then Tuesday was just a nice solid day of work by the mission standards of excellence, which means an ok but not great day by "The Dream Team's Standards of Excellence." Then we hit it in gear a little better on Wednesday and didn't turn back! We were always either in a time, walking very briskly to a time, or talking to people. It was fantastic! We found some great new families!

Then Thursday started off great too! We caught a couple times, waited at the church for a time, he didn't show, but a recent convert just popped by and said she felt like she should stop by the church on the way from work because we haven't caught her for a while. Way cool! We are almost never at the church and she came at the perfect time.

She had a cool story too, apparently there was a kidnapping right by her work the night before and there had been some shooting and some people were killed and some got away. We thought it would be a good idea to give the AP's a heads up and then tell the missionaries who work in that area to avoid that particular area at night. So we called the AP's they called President, we started our time, then the AP's called back and let us know that all of the missionaries in Tamatave were in lockdown and had to go straight home and get enough food for two days on the way and then on the third day we could go out in groups of four or six to get food. We just turned to each other and were like: Well that sucks. So we let everyone know and headed home, then on the way we just let loose on all of the words that we've been trying to say less like "Gosh dang it!" and "this is freakin ridiculous!" So we were on lockdown for a day. Then, after calling the district president and the AP's a couple times we got permission to go out the next day like usual. It wasn't that big of a deal. But we took the elders whose area it happened in on splits. One with us and the other with the Morarano elders.

We went with Elder Smithson. While we were with him he complained a little bit about his chest all day long. So we made him call the mission nurse because he had an open heart surgery nine months ago. So now he's banned from doing anything until tomorrow and can't do any hard work. He just had to stay home in bed for the last two days just in case there's a problem. I feel pretty bad about it because we made him call and he just did some pushups and put some strain on his sternum is all. And it's our fault he can't do anything now... Oh well, better safe than sorry?

But that was our excitement for the week... Then we had great days after that. There's nothing like not being able to work that makes you want to do lots of work!

Then a fun story: we were going up this path and a bunch of punks were walking down towards us and yelling at us. They got in there way and seemed like they wanted to start a fight. So we just walked through. One of them jumped right in front of me and made me stop. He took a nice big breath from his cigarette and tried to blow it in my face. Jokes on him, I'm 6'6" and he's probably like 5'4"--Elder Glazier made him look tiny--so he ended up blowing smoke on my tie knot. We just walked away and didn't do anything but part of me really wanted throw him down with his little buddies. So that brings us to our Malagasy Morsel for the day: faharetana. It means enduring, but it also means patience. I kind of like how that works: enduring to the end becomes being patient to the end. And it just reminds me of my favorite scripture, 3 Nephi 27:27: "Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am." Jesus Christ was patient. Jesus Christ didn't throw the little men that spat on Him down to the ground. As a missionary I get to wear his name over my heart every day, and I feel so honored for that. But I feel even more honored that my Savior wears me every day. On His hands and on His feet. I'm so grateful for my Savior and the perfect life that he lived that we can look to for an example of how we should live. Then the last scripture, another one of my favorites about the Savior, D&C 76:22: "He lives!"

I love you all,

Mazotoa e hatrany

Monday, January 11, 2016

Week 79 - If You Want the Blessings...

Happy first week of the new year. I hope you all enjoyed it. Because we did! We had a way cool week and we had a little bit of rain in the mornings but not in the day and it's still way hot. I love it. Way rather be hot than cold! WAY rather! So it's great, but the rainy season is already overdue and it probably won't be long and we'll be in the middle of it and wading through water again. I can't wait. 

Just a real quick story for this week about S. and O. We found them my first couple of days here when we were waiting at a time and this guy next door heckled us a little and was very surprised when we responded to him in Malagasy. So then he talked to us a little bit, found out why we were wearing white shirts and ties and wondering around his neightborhood and he wanted us to come visit him. So we go to his house and teach him. His wife had just left him with his kid, he had a drinking problem and was out of money and had no job. Turns out his wife's parents had her and wouldn't let her go back until he had 40,000 ariary, about 13 dollars to his name so they knew that he could take care of her. So we kept coming, then they got together, they're reading the scriptures, they are way happy all of the time, and we went to pick them up and take them to church yesterday (they hadn't been yet) and we show up and he's dressed up like a blackjack dealer in Vegas, got a black shiny button up shirt, looking so good! Then we walk back to his house, his wife's all ready, and nailed next to the front door is the Family: A Proclamation to the World that we gave to him. They loved church, made some great friends, it was fantastic!

Selfie while riding a bike with no hands!

I'm loving Madagascar. It's just so fantastic, every day just brings some way cool things and I love it!
Malagasy Morsel for the week is manoa which means submit. And if we submit to God, we get huge blessings! I love that! I feel like it's pretty hard for us imperfect people to submit to the will of someone else: we've got stuff that we want to do, but we came here to be tested, and if you want to do well on a test, you don't color wherever you want, but you color in the bubbles. In life, if we want to do well on the test, than we have to stay in the bubbles. We're not here just to do what we want, we're here to get into the Celestial kingdom, so we gotta follow the rules to get there. The best part is that if we do that, then we get help throughout the test and then we get eternal life with our families. Nothing is better than that!

This sunset looked way cooler in real life, like way close and 3D.

I love y'all and I wish you a great week!
Mazotoa e!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Week 78 - Lobster and the Beach

So I'll start with transfer news real quick. I'm still with Elder Glazier. Then just about no one in our zone is going anywhere. Elder Hammer is headed back to Tana, and so is Elder Monsen. The original plan was for Elder Monsen to stay, but he got way sick this last week and the AP's are taking him back to Tana so he can be close to the mission nurse. He's lost a lot of weight and I'm hoping he'll get feeling better in Tana soon.

This last week was full of excitement with some splits and New Years! No one was home on New Years. They were all at the beach. Except for the missionaries, we were wandering by their homes looking for them. 

I went on two splits this week, one with Elder Tshetu from South Africa, and the other with Elder Cyusa from Rwanda. They are both big studs. With Elder Tshetu we stayed in my area and we went into Ankirihiry with Elder Cyusa. We also biked way out in the middle of nowhere to teach this family that comes to church every week. They should be getting baptized soon and they're way cool!
Then on Saturday, President and the AP's came up. They did interviews all day, and Elder Glazier and I were last. I love talking with President. And Sister Foote. And the AP's. Elder Covey and Elder Herrin are so cool! Then on Sunday we went to church and then had a big meeting with the branch presidencies, the stake presidency, and President Foote. So we only taught once on Sunday. But the meeting was really productive. I'm excited for the future of the Church here in Madagascar!

Then on Monday we went to a beach about an hour or so to the North of Tamatave and played football and volleyball with President and the AP's. We also ate lobster and I turned into one! Way red! I think I'm allergic to the sand or something, because my skin just got way raw and red after being outside for a couple hours. It was way weird, I don't understand at all. Elder Glazier told me it's sunburn, but everyone knows redheads don't get sunburned. I think I'm allergic to the sand... But we got back way late from that, so the AP's said we could email today. So that's why I'm emailing today.

Malagasy Morsel for the week is Talata. It means Tuesday, because that's today, and I was running out of good ideas for words... But, the church is still true, and I'm just loving serving the Lord every day out here in Tamatave. The Lord knows what he's doing and if we trust him, everything will be fine. I get so much peace and love from trying to follow Him!