Monday, October 20, 2014

10/20/14 - Funeral and Lemur Park

Aloha my Ohana,

I thought I would use hawaiian for my greeting just to feel a little brown again. haha.  I get called "vazaha" everywhere I go!  It's like in Finding Nemo where the birds say, "Mine, mine, mine, mine!"  Except its, "Vazaha, vazaha, vazaha, vazaha!"  Oh my gosh!  haha.  It drives missionaries insane sometimes! Vazaha means like 'foreigner' or 'white guy'.  haha. 
Well, this week was well quite a week! haha. Elder Lehr is the district leader and he pretty much does the work of zone leaders here.  We got really caught up with duties this week.  Our branch is struggling a little but we have faith that it will run smoothly soon.  Elder Lehr is really like a third counseler to the branch president. haha  We got a new elder in our district! His name is Elder Coleman and he is a swag master. haha  Such a fun, awesome elder! This week we did very little teaching but still helped investigators feel the spirit!
So, this week I got to experience my first funeral.  One of our investigators family members died and we decided to go to the funeral.  The culture is that if someone close to your home dies, you go to the family to pay your respects and give money.  We went to the burial and this is where it got interesting.  The family let me and Elder Lehr in the tomb!  It is a small room with some slots on the sides to put the bodies.  They don't use caskets for the bodies.  So they just carried the body down the stairs and into the tomb and placed him in a slot across from me.  They realized he was too tall for that slot so they had to put him in the one that was right behind me.  I couldn't move out of the way! The room was too small and the door was blocked by people.  They picked up the deceased and came towards me with him and so what was I to do!?  I ducked!!  The malagasies carrying him are so short so I was almost laying on the ground trying not to get hit! The deceased was like an inch away from kicking me in the face! I stood back up and looked at the deceased and one of his eyes was not all the way closed and he was just looking at me. They put a blanket on him and we left.  They also have a tradition here called "turning of the bones".  Every 7 years, the family opens the graves back up and takes the bodies out of their graves and dances with them. Elder Coleman said he saw one of those parties happen and people were just carrying bones above their head, dancing and they were all drunk!  He said it lasted for two days! Well, that was my week! It was cool to experience some of the Malagasy culture! It was definitely different from what I'm used to but it was cool!
I got your package mom and dad!  Thank you so much!  You were smart to put catholic pictures on the outside.  Gives it a higher chance of not being stolen!  I really appreciated everything in it.  All of us elders love the candy!  Haha.  One of our companionships had to drive to Tana.  They brought the mail back with them.  (Mom:  We sent Elder Mack a Halloween box on September 16.  It took just over 4 weeks to get to him.  I'm so glad it got there!  I kept hearing that you take a risk in mailing anything.  I won't say how much I spent to mail it.  It's a little painful.)  
It is super hot over here.  Me and Elder Lehr come home drenched in sweat. Haha.  Today we went to the Ranomafana National Park to see lemurs.  It is a rain forest.  This is the lemurs natural habitat.  They're not used to humans so they don't get too close to us.  Lemurs are so cool!!  There is a lemur park in Tana that I'll probably get to hold one but not here.  Just to answer dad's question: we are in a smaller city.  It is called Atarandolo. 
Hope everyone has a good week!

Elder Mack

This is my friend Kai.

This is a rare orchid rose. 
This bug is called a giraffe beetle. 

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