Monday, January 26, 2015

1/26/15 - Six, First Brother's Wife, Seeds are Growing

Hey hey!!!

Hi ya'll!!! How's ya'll doin!?  SUPER excited to tell you about the week that I had! It was amazing! But first I gotta do the word(s) of the week!  Ya'll know the drill! :p  So I thought today it would be fun to teach you the Malagasy numbers from 1-10.  We actually use French numbers more than Malagasy numbers here but every once in a while you'll hear them in Malagasy too.  I'm not sure how to spell the French numbers so I'll just stick with Malagasy. 1-iray, 2-roa(roo), 3-telo(tay-loo), 4-efatra(eh-fach), 5-dimy, 6-enina(en), 7-fito(feet-two), 8-valo(vah-loo), 9-sivy(sea-v), 10-folo(foo-loo). That's all of them!  Hope y'all enjoy the word of the week!  It should be "Mahay amin tena gasy" already! :p  
So THIS WEEK!!! Such a great week!  Best one yet on the mission!!  At church yesterday we had 110 people come to church.  That beats the normal 86 any day!  We had a super lame attendance to start off the year but numbers are starting to increase again!  Great right!?  And guess what?  We went from 0 investigators to church, to 1, then 2, and yesterday ..... wait for it..... 6 investigators!!! Woot woot!!!  Awesome right!!!? 
You remember the 16 brothers right!?  So the wife of the 1st brother came to church.  It seemed like she liked it.  We teach her on Sunday nights.  So we went back to her house that night but she wasn't there.  We were excited to teach her but one of the other brothers was there so we started teaching him.  Throughout the whole lesson he was super iffy about it.  Around the end of the lesson the first brother's wife walks in breathing heavy and saying sorry. We just continued the lesson and talking about the way you can know if what we say is the truth! Then the first brother's wife starts going off bearing her testimony to the brother!  It was incredible! She told him, "A few weeks ago I prayed to God to know the truth."  So do you remember the story about her? She was protestant in another city and when she moved here, the protestant church was different.  She said, "Then a few days later, these two boys showed up at our doorstep with a beautiful message about the gospel of Jesus Christ." What what!! MIRACLE!!!!!  When we tracted into her we were actually on our way home and felt we needed to go to one more house. She is amazing!  Then she said, "I went to church and it was amazing.  They did the sacrament, then they had classes according to the peoples needs."  I was blown away! She bore such a beautiful testimony and me and Elder Hammer were just speechless! We just gave her a Book of Mormon last week and now she is in Jacob.  It is so amazing seeing the gospel change lives.  I am so very grateful to have seen this miracle and to see the gospel work in her life.  Now I want to get the 16 brothers!! haha.  I probably won't be here to see her baptized but to have planted that seed for her makes me feel like that was what I was to do. She can grow now.
It has been an amazing week.  A 29 hour proselyting week with 25 lessons and 13 families.  I have no complaints! :)  I am so much more grateful for the opportunity to be a missionary now. It truly is an amazing work. For those of you questioning whether to go or not, DO IT!!!  You won't regret it! :) That was my week! Hope you all have a good one!  I love you all so much! Listen to the promptings that Heavenly Father gives you.  Never procrastinate it.  It will not only strengthen you but others as well!

-Elder Mack
My favorite little boy.  This is Tony.

This is how they move dead bodies - on top of a bus

The cyclone - there was a tree there


... such a bondie!  (Mom:  Urban word for someone who takes your things

At Francia's house
Happy birthday Elder Coleman!

American cake... 4 guys... lots for Elder Mack!  :)

Believe it or not we actually taught a guy in there...

On splits with Elder Johnson

A view of Elder Johnson's area

These cute little girls got baptized on Saturday (Tahina & Alicia)

(Mom:  girl on the right is wearing Elder Mack's sweater)

Getting some goodbye pics just in case I get transferred next week.  Here's Patrique...
... and Ruffin

(Mom:  After Elder Mack wrote the update above he read my email to him which told him about his dad having a mild heart attack yesterday morning.  I also emailed the mission president to let him know what had happened.  I was able to email chat with Elder Mack a little about it early this morning and assure him that all is well.  He said initially he was shocked, scared, and a bit emotional but he said he immediately felt comforted.  He knew that Heavenly Father was watching over dad yesterday.  He felt that all was well at home and that he knew dad was getting better.  While I was email chatting with Elder Mack President Adams called him on the phone to check that he was okay.  So grateful for the peace that comes from the gospel.  I know that Elder Mack was comforted not only by the mission president and myself but by the Holy Ghost who is the comforter.)

Monday, January 19, 2015

1/19/15 - Potty Break, Cyclone, and Journey Concert


Hey y'all! This week has been quite the week here in Mada.  Its been one of our harder weeks... BUT, we'll get to that in a bit. First, I want to give a shout out to my "bogosy" (handsome) cousin of mine Makoa who just got back home from the Philippines Tacloban Mission.  I love you Koa. You were a superb missionary who truly loved the people.
So, for the word of the week, we'll do a greeting.  I've already taught you 'hello' I believe.  It's 'salamo'.  There, if I didn't then now I just did.  So, to say, "Whats up?" or, "Whats new?" you would say, "Inona no vaovao."  This translated is, "Nothing new?"  If there is something new, you would usually say, "Misy kely" which means, "There exists a little".  Then you would just say what was new with you. 
So, this past week was definitely a weird one.  We had a huge problem this week with people not being home.  We were tracting a lot this week and we had a harder time getting people to commit to times.  Funny story, so me and Elder Hammer were tracting around and we walk by this building that I thought was a house and there were some people outside. We go over and I tell them who we are and the work that we are doing.  Then they said something and I didn't understand them so I asked them, "Is there a time we can come back and teach you?"  Then they all started laughing. Elder Hammer turns to me and apologizes and says, "I just understood what they said, Elder Mack.  This is a church and they are on potty break." Sooo embarrasing!  Soo embarrasing!  haha!  But that's how you grow right!?  By making mistakes.  I am bold! haha 

Well, along with bad tracting, its cyclone season! Yay. haha  We had the tail end of the cyclone come over our area and it was raining soo hard this past week.  In fact, on Saturday, President Adams called us and told us not to work that day.  It was hard to not go out.  Saturdays are our favorite days because that is when we get to see all of our favorite families.  We were somehow still able to get about 15 lessons this week even without Saturday.  It's not bad but this is the worst that me and Elder Hammer have seen.  It's okay though.  If we didn't have bad weeks, we would not be able to recognize the great weeks.  Going through this week makes the previous week even awesome-er. 

Mom asked about President Rakotovoa's conversion story.  He was one of those investigators that was very stubborn with the missionaries.  He would just sit and listen to them.  He followed the commitments, prayed, and read from the Book of Mormon.  One night while he was in bed he heard a voice tell him, "Tena marina ity boy ity," which means, "This book is true."  He shook his wife awake and asked her if she had said something.  She said no and told him to go to sleep.  He was immediately converted and he became super strong!  His testimony has just grown and grown. 
So, guess what!?  This Sunday, we got 2 investigators to church! What what?!  Slowly gaining more.  We went down to the house of the 16 brothers on Sunday, the day after the cyclone.  We were supposed to pick them up to come to church.  We came to the path to their house and the path was destroyed.  The cyclone put trees and debris in the way of their path.  It was so sketchy.  Me and Elder Hammer struggled to get to their house. We finally got to their house and they told us that they didn't want to try going down with their little ones. They said they would come next week and they made sure that we would come back and teach them that night.  They were super interested, but didn't want to die going down the path.  The cyclone didn't do much here but it did knock down a lot of trees, fences, etc.  Nothing big. 

We live next to a church called the "Let My People Go" church.  They're insane haha  They dress kind of like muslims do, except more colorful.  When you look inside the building, it looks like a bunch of colorful muslims at a Journey concert or something.  They are so loud.  They actually have colored disco lights that just shine around and they blast music.  Crazy.  But a huge tree fell in front of the door and people couldn't go in.  It's the power of God!  haha  During personal studies we can just hear them screaming and singing rock songs.  Some songs you hear on the radio.  One of the most popular ones is "Tsisy Karaha Anao."  You should look it up.  It's super good.

So, that is it for this week.  Really nothing much happened.  Just hoping for a better week. Maybe no rain!  That would be nice but probably not going to happen because there's supposed to be another cyclone. :p  Hopefully not as bad.  My poor rain gear is getting destroyed.  haha  It may be water proof but it's not Madagascar proof.  Don't worry mom.  I'm good and safe! :)  Sometimes when it rains though, it's nice to go out with an umbrella.  Malagasies will just walk under your umbrella and then you can contact them. haha!

Oh one more thing, I think I only have two more weeks left here in Fianarantsoa. Super sad. I love it here but I think I'm ready for a change.  That would be nice.  I think I'll probably be called to serve in Tana next.  We'll see.  Excited!  That's all folks!  Have a great week! 

Love you all.  Amin'fitiavan foana.
Elder Mack

Mom:  No pictures.  Other news from Madagascar:
  • Cyclone:  So I looked up a few things in regards to the cyclone in Madagascar.  Cyclone season goes from November 15, 2014 - April 30, 2015 this year.  This current active cyclone is called Chedza.  There have been 48 deaths reported on the island so far.  It hit the west coast of Madagascar on Friday, January 16 and then on Saturday, January 17 it hit the South East of the island.  Jordan is in the central mountain region.  The home that they live in is a good structure.  It is much better than most homes that the Malagasy people live in.  Some of the elders said that they were able to sleep through the cyclone Saturday night.  The news said there were gusts up to 130 km/h (about 80 mph) with torrential rains.  Lots of flooding.
  • Politics:  Madagascar is on a list of countries with a high threat of political instability in 2015.  On Monday, January 12 the entire government resigned.  President Rajaonarimampianina named the Air Force General Ravelonarivo as the new head of government.  Others are calling that appointment unconstitutional.  Looks like politics will be sketchy for awhile there
  • New Mission President:  The Deseret News published a list of new LDS Mission Presidents effective July 2015.  The new Madagascar Antananarivo Mission President will be Raymond Foot.

Monday, January 12, 2015

1/11/14 - Aloha, Bebe, Branch President

Aloha O'e!
It has yet again, been another beautiful week here in Madagascar.  Skies were blue, birds are chirping, lemurs were making whatever the sound they make...  Just loving it here in Madagasikara.  First things first, word of the week! Yay! so the word is... (drum roll).... "aloha". haha  So it's not the "aloha" we are all used to.  The meaning of this aloha is "before".  For example, "Taloha ny fiainana'i Jesoa Kristy" (I think that's right haha I'm still learning).  I added a 'T' before the 'aloha' because it's past tense but this should mean, "Before the life of Jesus Christ".  But yah, the Hawaiian meaning is still cooler. 
So this week was a pretty good week for me and Elder Hammer.  We were working hard, got some great contacts, and taught some great lessons.  I was looking through the area book at the list of former investigators. I found a record for a couple named Jean and Corine.  I read through their progress and apparently it was going really well. They were coming to church a little.  I guess there was a problem and it stopped their progression and then the missionaries stopped visiting them.  It was a year ago and I wanted to find them again.  There was no address or phone number but under fellowshippers, it said "Bebe Marie, John's mom" (bebe means grandma).  If it was the same Bebe Marie, then she is a member and I know where she lives.  She's an older lady and is a little crazy.  Me and Elder Hammer went to her house.  We asked her if she knew a Jean and Corine.  She said, "No, I don't."  We were bummed and told her that we have this missionary book with the names of all the investigators.  We told her it has the names Jean and Corine and it says that Jean is Bebe Marie's son.  She said, "Hold on a second."  She went in her house and grabs her Book of Mormon, gives it to us and says, "Where are those names?"  We were just like, "Oh my goodness."  Elder Hammer then asked, "Bebe, do you have children?"  She said, "Uh no.  I don't have kids."  We were so confused so we asked Bebe's sister to come outside to talk (because she is a little more sane).  We told her our story about Jean and Corine.  Then she said to Bebe, "Bebe, you have kids, Jean and Corine, they live right next to you."  Then Bebe said, "Oh yah... Jean!"  We face palmed internally and then went to talk to Jean.  He is super cool!  Even though the missionaries stopped coming he continued to read the Book of Mormon.  So me and Elder Hammer are reviewing again with him.  Super awesome guy with an awesome family and he's a potential Melchizedek priesthood holder.  I'm excited to teach him. 
So like I said, great week this week.  Good things are starting to happen.  Our new Branch President is awesome!  President Rakotovoa has an awesome conversion story (Mom: I will ask about his conversion story.  See picture of President Rakotovoa in last post 1/5/14) and he has done amazing things. For one, he was asked to translate the temple endowment session into Malagasy.  That's how cool he is.  He was flown to Salt Lake to do that.  He speaks way good English.  He worked as a temple worker in Johannesburg, South Africa for 3 years.  I'm still learning about all the cool things he has done.  He is so awesome!  On Thursday, he came with us to teach.  Me and Elder Hammer were having a bad day.  All of our times were falling through.  It was frustrating. Then President called us and asked if he could join us so he could visit some members.  He wanted them to get to know him better.  We said yes, of course, with the day that we were having. Then he picked us up in his car. It was a super nice car. We were going from lesson to lesson. We taught 6 lessons that day! The spirit was super strong in all of them! President really helped those members and investigators.  He is definitely a blessing for this branch. 
So yesterday Me and Elder Hammer tracted into this guy and he wanted to learn. We go to his house and there were a lot of guys there - like 7 or 8.  We asked if they were family.  They said, "Yah, we are all brothers."  Then Elder Hammer asked how many brothers they had.  They said, "16". There are 16 boys and they are between the ages of 13 and 30!  That's insane!  And no girls?!  One mom!  Crazy!  Both me and Elder Hammer were thinking that if we got this family baptized, we could split the branch!  Just that family alone can start a branch!  haha.  So we taught a lesson with them then they asked if they could come to church next Sunday.  Ummm.  We said, "OF COURSE!" haha!  I love being a missionary!  Greatest calling in the world!  That's it for this week!  Work is moving!  Have an awesome week everyone!
-Elder Mack
(Mom:  I mentioned to him that I missed getting pictures last week.  His response was to send a whole bunch.  Thank you Elder Mack.)
This is some of the family that we call the Brady Bunch

These girls... haha!

Believe it or not there's a house in there.  A tree house.  Haha!

Me and Elder Coleman on splits
I put my new shoes on today

My custom suit

My desk

One of our investigators that's moving to China for a few years

Last week we went to Ranomafana National Park again so some of the newer elders to the area could see it.  We went to the tourist area this time along the river.

Bananas!  Yummy

While we were there we ate a super super nice hotel

Lia - I drew you some pictures pretty girl!  :)

Another picture from Wilson's baptism two Saturdays ago

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

1/5/14 - CTR,Taxibe, the Sabbath

My beautiful ohana and friends!

Happy New Years! Tratra ny toana voavoa! I hope everyone had an awesome new years!  I hope you got to spend time with family, make resolutions, blow up some fireworks, etc.  For us here in Mada, we went to that French restaurant that we went to for Thanksgiving.  I had the steak.  It was pretty good.  It came with some tater tot kinda things.  Is it "Mo Bettah"?  NOPE :p 
Today we went to the Ranomofana National Park.  There is a tourist area and a beautiful river.  I saw many species that I've never seen before but they move too fast to take a picture.
So instead of a Malagasy word this week I'm going to teach you a phrase.  This is a phrase that I have repeated a lot lately.  I have a CTR ring that I always wear.  A lot of people ask me what CTR means. I tell them it means "Choose the Right" but in Malagasy you say, "Fidio ny Tsara".  Choose to do good.  Choose to do the things that lifts you and others up.  I also want to share another word, it is "halo" (hey-lew) which means umbrella.  This past week the halo has been my best friend! haha.  We have had some hard rain storms come in this past week. I really needed my halo. 
So this week was pretty good for me and Elder Hammer.  We had some long days here.  Most of it was tracting.  A lot of our appointments fell through this week because people were at parties or they had a hangover.  Yes, we are teaching a lot of people about the word of wisdom over here.  But me and Elder Hammer did get to meet alot of new people... new potential investigators ;)  We've had to take a taxibè a few times. A taxibè is just like a little bus.  I love making contact with people on a taxibè.  It's like I sit by someone and I think, "You can't go anywhere.  You're mine."  hahahahaha Nah nah. Just kidding. But it is super nice.  You get to meet some awesome people on the bus.  But really every time I enter a bus I can't help but think, "Who is my next victim?!"  haha.  Joke.  
I think this week went well and this new week should be even better.  Hopefully everyone will be home and sober.  We should have a full schedule this week.  I'm hoping for a good turn out at church next week.  Yesterday we did not completely "0" out like we did last Sunday.  We had one investigator come!  Next week I know we will have more. 
In our zone meeting we talked alot about how we can encourage people to come to church.  That is a common problem that all misionaries have is investigators not coming to church.  A big lesson that Malagasies need to learn is the importance of the sabbath day.  That will be super essential for people to learn here.  Me and Elder Hammer are working with two awesome investigators right now.  They are Ernest and Bessa.  Ernest is an older investigator but he's been coming to church and he has been so diligent in reading The Book of Mormon.  He is in Alma now and his scriptures are marked like no one I've seen!  It's awesome!  I really hope that I will be able to see his baptism.  Bessa is so cool as well.  We taught him yesterday.  He is a new investigator.  He is receiving the gospel very well.  His family though has 3 different faiths.  Bessa is FJKM (Fiangonana Jesoa Kristy I Madagasikara - The Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar).  His wife is Catholic and his kids are Adventist. He told us that he just wants his family to be one faith so that thay can pray and worship together.  So super cool.  He had some very good questions and he's understanding the lessons very well.  That's it for now.  Have an awesome week and get back into the swing of things after the holidays!
- Elder Mack