Monday, November 24, 2014

11/24/14 - Baptism, Sick, Feeling the Spirit

Hey, hey, hey!!!

Hi y'all! We had a good and busy week.  The word of the week is "makasary" (ma-kuh-sorry).  It means to take a picture.  Whenever a kid sees my camera, they will say, "You should makasary me".  They love seeing themselves on camera.  They will also ask you to print up the pic so they can have it.  It is hard to tell them no.  Pictures are pretty expensive.  Stingy little kids. haha
This week had its ups and downs.  Elder Lehr got sick on Friday.  We wanted to go out and work but it is better just to rest when you're sick.  If you push yourself you will make it worse.  You can get really bad here in Madagascar.  Elder Lehr was better by Saturday and we got to work again.  On Saturday we held a baptism service.  The baptism was planned for a couple in Elder Glazier and Elder Garcia's area and then for a young girl in Elder Connault and Elder Coleman's area.  The couple in Elder G's area did not show up.  They were disappointed about that but Elder Kono was able to baptize the girl from their area.  It was great.  Me and Elder Lehr sang for the service.  We actually winged it.  We were not warned ahead of time that we were singing.  We sang 'I Stand All Amazed' and I think it went well for only singing it once. 
Our investigators are doing well.  Pella is doing awesome.  He has just had a problem with coming to church because it interferes with his job.  Wilson is doing awesome.  He is such a stud.  Super smart kid.  He understands the gospel so well!  He has been very active in coming to church.  Loma who I talked about in the last letter is also doing awesome!  He and his wife have been learning the gospel from us and they are receiving it very well.  His wife is super smart! We are trying to get them to church now.  Their baptism date goal is for December 20th.  Baptisms before Christmas!  That'll be awesome!
Soo, this week Thursday was my 3 month mark!  How crazy right!?  It doesn't seem that long ago that I just entered the MTC.  Soo insane! 
Yesterday, we went to Francias' house.  Elder Lehr baptized her while I was in the MTC and she has been so strong and active.  But recently she has had trouble feeling gods love.  We didn't know how to really help her but yesterday Elder Lehr felt something telling him to take Frer Mario, one of the members, with us to go see Francias.  He was willing to come.  Mario helped soo much.  He knew exactly what to say to Francias.  Francias said after Mario was done speaking that she felt her stress calm down.  I couldn't understand everything that was being said but I could feel that the spirit was present.  It was there.  It was incredible and I know Francias felt love in that lesson. 
Well, that's the week!  I hope all is well!  Have an awesome week and HAPPY THANKSGIVING!! They obviously don't celebrate Thanksgiving here but we elders are going to.  We are going to a fancy vahzah restaurant! It's a French restaurant that President Adams took us to when he came down last month.  Yeh yeh!!!

Elder Mack

Me and Patrique - Santa hat swag

Me and Wilson making muscle poses

Aladdin is in Mada!  (Mom:  This is kind of an inside joke.  For those who don't know the joke - a few times kids at school thought Jordan was Mediterranean.  Jordan always said, "No.  Hawaiian."  They thought he looked like Aladdin.  Then in Aida he wore a hat kind of like Abu, the monkey from Aladdin.  Rachael, his sweet friend, calls him 'monkey' because of that.  Jordan's audition song was 'A Whole New World.'  Just lots of Aladdin humor.  Love the magic carpet Elder Mack.   

Excited for Christmas.  (Mom:  This is the contents of our Christmas box for him.  The envelopes are 'The 12 Ways of Christmas' or the 12 ways to be more like the Savior.

There were some guys smoking in front of the church so I got a No Smoking sticker and put it up

This guy is a stud.  He is deaf but he reads lips.

Some pics of our area

It's lychee season!!! Yay!!

This is Rufen and Alan.  They're fierce.

My uke

These girls are so cute.  This is Fetch and her sister.

This is Eric and his dad Etienne.  They are so buff.  He killed my arm.  I really need to work out.

Patrique could be a model.  He was cold so I let him wear my sweatshirt.

Monday, November 17, 2014

11/17/14 - Marriage, Wilson, Pascal, & Christmas box


Hey y'all!! What's new?!?  This has been an awesome week!!  First things first of course.  The word of the week!  The word is "sorompanavotany" (sue-room-paw-nah-vu-tu-nee).  This word is cool because it's long and I always remember it.  That's because it means "atonement". Something that is very important and special to me.  I am thankful for our Savior Jesus Christ and for his atonement for all of us. 
This week was a pretty good week.  It was transfer week so we worked on getting Elder Glazier and Elder Garcia into the new missionary house.  Elder Rigby and Elder Johnson came in on Wednesday.  They are super cool and with how their area has been going, the branch is going to blow up!  It'll be awesome! The gospel is true!!
So the highlight of my week was teaching Wilson.  I believe I have talked about him before but this kid is a STUD!!  He is like 12 or 13 and we gave him a Book of Mormon a couple weeks ago and we taught him last Tuesday.  He told me and Elder Lehr that he has read up to Alma. We were like "What??"  That was hard to believe but when we asked him questions like, "What is the story of Nephi about?" and "Who is King Benjamin?" he answered all of our questions!  This kid was not lying.  Such a stud!  He has been actively coming to church with one of his friends, one of the branch members.  We are hoping that his family will soon want to learn.  We actually started teaching his uncle last transfer but he hasn't really been progressing.  We are hoping Wilson will be a good influence on him. 
I love being a missionary. I love doing this work.  A special friend of mine gave me a quote and it went something like, "If you are obedient and trust in God, the Lord will put people he has prepared in your path."  This is so true.  This guy yesterday just walked in front of us and asked us what church we were from and if we would share with him our message.  And HE WASNT DRUNK!  His name is Loma and he brought us to his house to show us where he lives. We teach him this Saturday.  He has a family and they are awesome!  Soo excited to teach them!
It's been a great week!  I just got a little homesick this week. I got my Christmas package this past Tuesday.  The mission home sent the mail when they brought furniture for the new missionary house.  This is going to be my first Christmas away from home and my beautiful family. Yesterday Elder Lehr gave me a really powerful blessing of comfort.  I know that the priesthood is real.  I'm so grateful for it and I am ready for another great week of teaching! Well that's my week!  Have a good one!

-Elder Mack
(Mama Mack:  Yay! The Christmas box reached him.  Darn!  It made him a little homesick.  Mailed October 14, received by Elder Mack November 11.  Not bad Malagasy postal service.  FYI Mada Mission Moms:  Elder Mack said it was not inspected and there were no fees.)

My missionary certificate - "This certifies that the bearer, Elder Jordan Pohaku Mack, who is in full faith and fellowship with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is a duly ordained minister of the gospel and as such has authority to preach the principle of the gospel and to administer the ordinances thereof.  We invite all people to heed his message."  Then it is signed by President Monson and Elder Mack.  Way.  Cool.
Shoes before and after shining

Walking through the rice paddies, strike a studly pose

Branch party - Elder Lehr bottom left

Surgery on my shirt - ripped walking through a really skinny door

These kids are super swag and so I took a pic with them

Elders excited for Christmas packages (Mom:  Yay!  He got the Christmas box!!  Doing the happy 'package got to him' dance and saying a prayer of gratitude.)
Elder Connault found a chameleon just on the street and picked it up!
For the Tangled fans - I found Pascal!  Haha!  Rockin' Grandpa Mack's old school tie.

Elder Rakotoarisoa, our current Branch President is such a boss
One of our father-led-families got "vita soratra" (legally married) so now the dad can receive the Melchizedek priesthood!  So awesome!
Missionaries with the couple.  Malagasy adults don't like to smile in pictures.  It's just funny that the only people in the picture who are not smiling are the ones that just got married.  Haha

Selfies!  Love my trainer!!

Elder Connault's coke exploded in the freezer

Monday, November 10, 2014

11/10/14 - Zone, transfers, and musical number

(We did not hear from Elder Mack when we usually do.  Apparently mommy needs to learn some patience.  Finally at 6:30pm Madagascar time we got an email.  He said that they had some internet issues.  The connection was really bad today.  No pictures were included and I did not get the song that he mentions.  Hopefully we will get it next week.) 
Akoryabio!! Or in English - WAZZ UPP!!!
Hey y'all! This week has been AWESOME!!  I'm loving it here.  It is an incredible place. For starters - the word of the week is "Mahay" (Muh-hi).  This is commonly used word in Malagasy.  It means skilled or when talking about language, it means fluent.  So if a foreigner speaks malagasy to a native, they will usually say, "Efa mahay ianao" which means "you are already fluent".  I can't wait till I'm mahay.
OK, so guess what!?  It's the end of my first transfer in the field!  Soo crazy!  Where did the time go!?  This went by so fast!  We only have 5 weeks in this next transfer because of getting missionaries home in time for Christmas so I am over half way done being trained by Elder Lehr... :( So sad...  We also found out that Fianarantsoa is now a zone!  That's awesome!  We got an Elder coming in, Elder Rigby, who is going to be zone leader. Elder Lehr is pretty excited because all of his responsibiites go to Elder Rigby. haha  All Elder Lehr will still have to run district meetings and do stats Sunday nights.  Elder Glazier who I was with in the MTC is moving to the other house.  I don't want to see him go!  He is a stud and is getting the language.  Just one of those super talented fast learning guys. 
Well, this week was like I said, AWESOME!!  We got 5 baptism commitments for December 20 so me and Elder Lehr are pretty excited.  This week we are hoping for two more!  So awesome!  We have this one investigator named Pella who was just so ready to receive this gospel!  He is keeping all of his commitments, and he has been reading the Book of Mormon. Golden investigator right there!  There is also a little boy named Wilson that we are working with.  I gave him a Book of Mormon on Friday and he came with one of his member friends to church yesterday!  Such a stud.  He was holding onto that book like Elder Connault to his coke. haha.  Sorry, private joke between us elders. But this was a great proselyting week.  We know that this next week will be even better!  Me and Elder Lehr wrote down some goals that we are excited for!
Yesterday me and Elder Lehr sang the musical number in the sacrament meeting!  It was awesome!  We recorded it when we practiced so I'll try to send it to my mom if you so desire to listen to it.  We sang "I Know that my Redeemer Lives."  Awesome song!  Elder Lehr said he looked up a few times from the lyrics and said some of the members were jaw dropped!  Das wassup!  nah nah nah just kidding!  I love singing with Elder Lehr!  I thought it sounded great.  It was definitely a spiritual experience for us.  I made a goal that even though I couldn't speak the language very well in the beginning, that I would use music to try to touch the hearts of others.  I love music.  Music brings in the spirit like nothing else.  I hope I'm fullfilling that goal.  Elder Lehr is an amazing musician!  He plays the piano for sacrament meeting for both branches.  So fun! 
Well, I heard that my cousin Malia is back from the Philippines!  That's crazy!  It doesn't seem that long since she left.  And her brother Makoa comes back in January!  What??  Time flies!  Yikes!  To Mia and Koa:  I love you both and can't wait to see you both in a couple years and then we can talk mission experiences!
Well, that's the week! Hope everyone is doing great.  I'll talk to you all again next week!
-Elder Mack

Monday, November 3, 2014

11/3/14 - APs, Funeral, and Conference

HOWZ IT!!!???

Hey y'all!  How's everyone doing? I had an AWESOME week this week!! I'm super happy with how this week went! Before I forget, word of the week is "Mivoa" (Me-vuah).  This is a fun word and not rude.  It means "leave my presence".  Me and Elder Lehr use this word on the little kids all the time like when we're trying to do something and they are being loud.  When we use it they just laugh. haha
This week, we got to do splits with our zone leaders and the APs! They are all swag elders.  Our Zone Leaders are Elder Galbreath and Elder Arrieus.  They are awesome.  They are almost done with their missions.  They leave in like February.  The APs right now are Elders Fox and Weber.  Elder Fox is a boss! When he was with Elder Christiansen as AP, (that is Elder Snells Trainer currently) they created a book to better help the new Elders with their language!  It's an awesome book and gives a lot of good tips.  Elder Fox has a photographic memory too.  So not fair.  He speaks like a malagasy. 
On Wednesday, we didn't do splits with any of them so it was just me and Elder Lehr.  We were walking around and we heard that there was a death.  My area is not very lucky right now. Malagasys, they have a certain fomba (way) at viewings.  Visitors will walk in, give money to the family in an envelope and they whisper in each family members ear, "mahaiza mionona" which is like saying, "my condolences." The funny thing when Elder Lehr was teaching me that, he said "Whatever you do, don't say mahaiza miNona."  The difference between mionona and minona is condolences and breastfeeding.  Very different. haha.  For this family, we did the malagasy fomba and even sang a song for them in their language and it was incredible.  Everyone started to join in and it was so powerful.  We said a prayer for them after.  The brother was in tears just thanking us soo much.  He was thanking us for respecting their culture enough to learn their culture.  They could tell that we cared and it really softened their hearts.  Such an amazing experience.  We hope that when they see missionaries again, they will talk to us. 
Thursday and Friday, we got to do splits with Elder Galbreath and Elder Weber.  It was awesome! They helped me with door approaches and I think just that helped my language.  This week, I totally recognized progress in my language! So grateful for the spirit and for the additional help! It's awesome! My ears are starting to get used to the Malagasy accent and I'm starting to pick out words.  It is not quite to the point where I know what they are trying to say but you know, it's progress!
Well, time to get spiritual.  General Conference! Such an amazing conference! After a month of waiting, we finally got to watch it!  My three favorite talks would have to be Elder Anderson, Elder Ballard, and Elder Scott.  These guys are Studs! Elder Scotts was a really powerful talk.  He talked a lot about family.  The four ways he talks about to strengthen families is prayer, scripture study, family home evening, and going to the temple.  The power of prayer is magnificent.  Always have family prayer. Before kids go to school have family prayer. Before bed have family prayer.  Me and Elder Lehr always have companionship prayer before we go to work and before we go to bed.  We believe that it strengthens our companionship.  Same thing with families. Study the scriptures.  Ponder the word of god.  Don't let anything get in the way of spending time with family.  Family home evening strengthens family bonds.  It brings happiness in the home and adds protection.  Go to the temple.  Be qualified to go there and go OFTEN.  There is no better way to feel peace.  My mom sent me an email today and talked about my sweet sister Lindsay.  She has worked so hard this term with school.  She is so tired. The young women had a temple baptism time and Lindsay went even though she was exhausted and could have really used the extra sleep.  She told my mom what peace and relief she felt just from going to the temple.  My dad told her it is because Satan has no influence there. You just feel the comfort and the love in there.  The temple is incredible and I can't wait till I get to go again. General Conference was amazing and I can't wait for the next one in April. 
Well, it was a great week with little miracles and awesome spiritual experiences everyday.  I hope you all have a splendid week! Love you all!

-Elder Mack
Malagasy haircut
Sweater swag!  We had a cold day

Our kitchen and Elder Connault
Our dining room
Family Home Evening
Saw this and thought it was supa funny - "pee - no"
One of our contacts had a pet lemur!
Making out with a lemur.  Just kidding.  You can tell I was a little unsure about this...
Watching general conference!
Trick or Book of Mormon (Treat)!
Uhhh... catch?

The second coming!!
Cutting veggies fo days!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

11/1/14 - received letter by snail mail dated 10/13/14

Aloha!  & WazzUPP!!

How is it going my sweet family of mine!?  Hope all is going well.  Mom and Dad - it was great being able to email chat with you today.  Glad everything is running smoothly with the new restaurant and with the family.  Today after emailing we taught a less active family who has started to come back to church.  It was great!  We reviewed the plan of salvation and talked about preparing for the temple.  They really want to go but there is a problem.  They are not 'vita soratra', which means in English 'legally married'.  So we are wanting to help them with that so they can go to the temple and be sealed.  It was a great lesson.  I love talking about the temple.  I loved doing sessions with you mom and dad.  It is such an amazing feeling going through the temple and get a glimpse of being with your loved ones forever.  I love the temple.  I miss going to the temple so much.  I'm glad that we had the opportunity to go every week in Provo.  It wasn't the same without you guys but it was still really good and spiritual.  Temples are great.  I know that there will be a temple in Madagascar one day.

I've been having a hard week with the language.  But it'll come. 

You wanted to know about some of the different things I'm seeing here.  Here's one for you.  People carry animal heads on their heads.  Today me and Elder Lehr saw a guy carrying a cow head on his head.  Another something to get used to is women breastfeeding in public even during our lessons.  Elder Lehr says he's been out 10 months and he is still not used to that.  We just sing 'I am a child of God' when that happens.  Another weird thing is the public "W.C." bathroom (vay-say).  You open the door and there is no toilet.  There is just a hole in the ground.  You have to squat over the hole and do your business.  Another different thing is how they flip each other off.  You know when you tell a little kid, "I got your nose" and you put your thumb between your two fingers?  Yah, that's flipping someone off here.  So weird.  Something that I have been expecting but hasn't happened yet is that it hasn't rained once since I've been here.  That's actually really junk because electricity here is powered by rain so during the hours of 6-9 and sometimes in the night the city shuts down the electricity to conserve the energy.  That makes walking in the dark really hard because the roads are not flat and it is really dark.  I can't tell you how many times me and Elder Lehr almost biffed it. haha.  We have a lot of fun together.  I seriously could have not asked for a better trainer.  We are really close!  It's awesome!  He's got an awesome voice too!  Love singing with him. 

Well mom you asked about Hoby, Gilbert, and Jean Pierre.  All doing well.  We havn't been able to catch Jean Pierre or Gilbert in a while.  Hoby is 12 and wants to get baptized but his parents said that he can't until he's 15.  We've asked the young men to involve Hoby in their activities.  We really pray that Hoby will have the same desire to be baptized when he's of age.  We've been working a good amount of time with our investigators lately so we have not had a lot of time for tracting.  Tracting is a little easier here than in America.  The polite thing for people to say to others when they come to the door is, "Mandroso" which is like saying, "Why don't you come in?"  We usually get to give our message.  People are really open to listening to us.  I think the biggest problem here is the people keeping their commitments.  Always working on that.

It's fun here!  Definitely something new and different but I like it.  I feel a little like a hero.  haha.  I know but listen...Today, me and Elder Lehr talked about the gospel to a lady in a restaurant and as she left she shook our hands and then kissed our hands.  That was new but made me feel good.  Hero stuff.  Well I love and miss you all!  I'm looking forward to the package and to our emails.  Hope everything continues to move smoothly.  Love you all so very much.  Thank you for all the support.  Veloma.

Elder Mack 

Elder Glazier who lives in the same house as Elder Mack took a picture of the vesse (vay-say)

11/1/14 - received letter by snail mail dated 10/7/14

(Elder Mack wrote a handwritten letter on 10/7/14 when he was only in Madagascar for less than a week.  He mailed it on 10/15/14 and we received it 11/1/14.  Just over 2 weeks to get here.  Look at the scan below of the stamps.  Pretty cool stamps.) 

Aloha 'Oe!

Salamo my beautiful family!  How is everyone doing!?  Miss you all so much!  I am finally doing real missionary work!  It doesn't feel real right now.  It feels like a dream that I'm not waking up from.  Sooo  weird.  My whole life we've talked so much about preparing for a mission and it's here.  Well, I am very grateful for all the preparation I have received.  You all have had such a big part in my preparing for a mission.  Thank you!  The mission is a definite challenge.  It's not Utah that's for sure. 

Thanks so much for sending me a package.  So cool of you all.  Okay, I have not received it yet but I know I will by the time you get this letter haha.  So just thanking you now!  I actually have to wait a little longer for mail since I'm sooo far away from the mission office in Antananarivo.  So this has been a very good week.  Today was actually the hardest.  Both me and my companion Elder Lehr were exhausted all day.  We both just wanted to sleep but we stayed obedient and were able to make contacts with 2 new families today.  We made two return appointments and they loved our message!  The spirit was really working through us.  It's awesome!  We also went to Andrys house today and gave him a Bokini Mormona.  Oh how I will never forget the smile on his face when he got it.  I had the impression that he is going to be an amazing servant of the Lord.  He has been really good with his commitments and he has even started coming to church.  It's incredible watching the convert process.  And guess what the next step is?  Baptism! 

You know for the longest time I thought missionary work was all about baptizing and getting people to church.  I mean, that's awesome and everything and everyone goes through it but the main task of being a missionary is helping others to come unto Christ.  I have been really thinking about the mission purpose.  "Help OTHERS come unto Christ."  'Others' doesn't just mean helping converts.  You help everyone.  Baptism is not the end of teaching someone.  You have to nourish and strengthen their faith and testimony.  We help less actives all the time here.  We want everyone to continue to grow.  I drew a little picture showing how others come unto Christ. 
Notice the missionary only has one arrow going to others?  The missionaries job is just to put others on the right path.  Then god does the rest.  Missionary work is truly amazing.  What's better than helping people receive these blessings?  The same blessings we have received throughout our lives? 

Well, I love it here but I'm not quite to the point where I want to stay.  haha.  Utah is still home.  Elder Connault has been out for 16 months and wants to move to Madagascar after his mission.  I love Elder Connault.  He's from France.  I think when I get the language down I will feel the same.  haha.  The language is going good.  Elder Lehr says he can see progress everyday in my learning.  I'm so glad.  I'm hoping I can be mahay (fluent) quickly.  It's killing me that I can't talk much.  Well, I love you and miss you all so much.  Hope all is well.  Be safe.  I love you!

-Elder Mack