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!