Monday, March 30, 2015

3/30/15 - Time is Flying, Youth Activities

Yo yo ianareo!! Matoa tena tiako ianareo dia mahafianaritra sy bogosy be ianareo!!

How are you all doing!?  I miss you guys a ton but I am having a BLAST in Madagascar!!!  The week was balling!  This week flew right past my face!  I swear last p-day was like 2 days ago!  Well, with how much fun I'm having in this area (don't mean to brag :p ) I know that my time here is going to fly!  It's so weird how fast time has gone by.  My mom just told me that my siblings are on their 4th term is school!  What the heck? haha then Lindsay will be a senior and Spence will be in high school (I think :p, love you bro haha how old are you now?)  Yes mom, I get to see Elder Lehr all the time!  It's so great!  Elder Gariki does sing and he speaks French, Tahitian, English, Spanish, and Malagasy now. 
So, WORD OF THE WEEK!!!! woot woot... Mitsangatsanga (me-sahn-ga-sahn-ga) vs. mijangajanga (me-zon-guh-zon-guh).  These are just one of those words that sound super close but mean something TOTALLY different.  Mitsangatsanga means to like walk around and kind of do tourist things like site seeing, all that fun jazz.  If a Malagasy says, "Hey what's up?" You can say, "Mistangastanga foatson." Then there is mijangajanga which means to commit adultery.  If a Malagasy asks you, "Hey what's up?" and you say, "Mijangajanga foatson" they will look at you funny and probably will just walk away... haha :p

This week was super cool!  The first week was definitely weird just because I was new and I didn't know anyone but I think the people are starting to warm up to me.  Hopefully. :p haha  The branch is way cool.  It is still a work in progress.  A lot of things are still not organized.  Me and Elder Gariki right now are trying to set up the weekly young men and young women activites.  It's a little harder here but it's coming along.  Our proselyting work right now is working with less actives not new investigators.  So right now we have about... drum roll... 100 LESS ACTIVES!!!  Insane..  I got here and my jaw dropped...  Yikes!  But getting them converted to the gospel is what is the most important! And guess what!?  Yesterday for church we had so many less actives come to church!  It was awesome!  It was a way good day for less actives!  Me and Elder Gariki were so happy we were dancing the dougie behind the church!  haha nah nah joke.  We had a branch conference and we were so happy to see so many people. There were 140 people that came to the conference.  Our usual number is like 110.  We were so happy!  Branch is way cool!  The church is in the process of building a new church building right now!  The land is already picked out.  They just need to start construction!  I won't get the chance to see it probably but it's cool to see the church growing! .
Well, I think I'll cut the letter off here.  I love you all a lot!  Have a great week!  For those of you starting a new term - good luck!

-Elder Mack

Dramatic shot.  Rice paddies fo days.

I may or may not be standing in the middle of a rice paddie

Train tracks...

Elder Snell and Elder Delbar came to Antsirabe on P-day!

Bogosy :p  I asked Elder Snell if he could get me an elder wand made in Ambositra :p  Get it?  Elder wand.  Harry Potter fans?  Jokes fo days.

Me and Elder Gariki

Monday, March 23, 2015

3/23/15 - Andranomanelatra, Daughter, Driving

Akoryabio!! (I miss my betsileo dialect already)
Hey y'all! :) Super excited to tell you about my week, new area, new comp (my daughter), etc. but first I gotta give a shout out.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the most gorgeous women on the face of the planet - my mother! :)  Hope it was spectacular and that the other kids cleaned the house spotless and treated you extra special, like a queen!  Love you mommy! :)
One other business to take care of just really fast, WORD OF THE WEEK! What what!!  My favorite :p  Let's do a commandment just because! "Mahatsiarovo ny andro sabata hanamasina azy". So this is commandment number 4 - "Keep the sabbath day holy." Then in my last letter, I actually used another commandment - "Manajà ny rainao sy ny Reninao." That's commandment number 5 -  "Obey thy father and thy mother".  So "fomba gasy."  A lot of men have a super long pinky nail just because its good for scratching your head, picking your nose and ears.  That's really all its used for. So a lot of missionaries have it and a member in my last area wanted me to grow it so I did.  Mom thought it was gross and wanted it gone. "Manajà ny rainao sy ny reninao" and poof,  gone :p hahaha.  I couldn't play ukulele with it anyway haha. 
SOO, LET'S GET TO THE NEW AREA SHALL WE!!?? :) This area is KILLAH!! I love it soo much!  Super pretty area!  So to answer moms questions first, the trip to Antsirabe was good!  The road is rough but the scenery was beautiful!  We did go by taxi brus.  There were 4 other elders with me. Glazier and Rigby were going to Tana. Connault went to Tamatave. Covey went to Tana to pick up his trainee and then they will head back.  The trainee is from Elder Lehr's home ward - Elder Wiscombe.  While they were driving back down to Fianarantsoa they stayed in Elder Lehr's house for the night.  They got to have time together so that's cool.  Elder Hammer's new companion is Elder Payne.  He was our last AP.  My comp is a baller! Elder Gariki is from Tahiti and was born and raised a member. We are pretty much the same person but he's buff. Yah, we have a lot in common. He is way good at ukulele too! :p  Our house is small but nice!  It is one story. We have two rooms for us to study and sleep. The washing machine works but the dryer doesn't.  We just hang up our stuff.  In our house are the zone leaders Elder Fox and a Malagasy Elder.  (I call him Elder Aina because I can't pronounce his full name yet.)  Then there is me and Gariki. Being senior comp is nothing special really. haha.  It just means that I've been out longer! But I did like dad said and got some good rules established and will set goals every week. I know that we will help each other with problems that we may have.  It's going to be a great companionship.  We have a super nice place to email at. The internet is super fast and that is so nice.  I'll probably Skype here for Mother's Day :)  (Mom:  49 days and counting)  I don't know if we have a post office here yet.  We have a little store just right outside our house where we can buy groceries.  I think we will only cook on Sundays. During the week we are usually far from home so for most of our meals we eat out.  Food is super cheap here but it can be sketchy though.  I eat "vary sy loaka" everyday and my stomach is finally turning Malagasy.  My stomach has not been kind to the bathroom lately.  Fianarantsoa is a richer area than Antsirabe. We ate way too good there and then I come to one of the most poorest areas - my poor stomach. haha.  But this place is so pretty.  They are farmers here.
So I serve in Andranomanelatra.  It is not actually in Antsirabe. So the deal is that we have a car. We drive outside of Antsirabe to our area, go to the church to drop off the car and get our bikes, and then we go around like that. Super cool! Driving is HECKAH scary. There are no rules really on the road. They do have police but they just stop you to see if they can bribe you. haha. I haven't had that happen to me yet, but yah, it happens.  I think I would just pretend I didn't know Malagasy. :p  haha.  Driving is fun but I pray for safety on the road everyday. Yikes.  Haha mom, don't worry, I'm safe :p  So this area is huge.  There's a few houses like every 1/2 mile or something. Houses are far from each other.  It's kinda hard to get good stats in this area because most of our time it seems like we are spending just getting to the appointment.  What I love is that in this area we spend most of our time on less actives.  We don't have a lot of investigators but reactivation is just as good as a baptism. Work is going good here.  I'm super excited to really dig into this area.  So we actually kind of have two areas.  Once a week we drive down to Saradroa which is like a 45 minute drive.... it's super far but the area is SOO PRETTY!!  You pass by this place that is just like a lake of rice patties.  The green landscape looks soo pretty!!  This is a super nice area.  We have investigators out there who are getting ready to be baptized!  That's exciting!  Then once a transfer, I believe, we go and attend sacrament meeting over there.  Our branch is good.  It is a work in progress but people love each other.  The church looks like a house like in Fianarantsoa but smaller.  We have our meeting in the living room.  I have no idea how we fit 100 people in there.  We had people in the hall way and outside looking in through the window yesterday. 
One quick little funny story that happened this week and then I'll close this letter.  On Wednesday we tracted and got a contact.  We went to the contacts house on Friday and she wasn't there but her husband was.  So we thought we could still share something but then our member help turned to me and said that the man was drunk.  We were disappointed but the guy kept wanting us to teach him so I thought we would give him a little vatsapanahy (spiritual thought).  Worst mistake ever.  haha.  So I decided to teach the word of wisdom.  Yup.  I figured he wasn't going to remember it anyway.  I get so frustrated with how many people drink here so I was just like, "Eh! Yolo."  We shared with him what the word of wisdom was and then I shared a scripture from 1st Corinthians 3:16-17.  It talks about how our bodies are temples.  In Malagasy it says, "Ny vatanarea dia ny tempolin'i andriamanitra." All of your bodies are a temple of god. The drunk guy read it and was just like. "Okay, so all of your bodies are temples but mine is not so I can drink because it said all of you, and not me".  Such a shmuck.  Don't try to teach drunk people.  Not worth your time.  I took the book and read it to him and told him, "See, it says all of us."  Then he got mad and then we left. 

Well, otherwise it was a great week!  Super excited to see what this coming week brings!  Have a good one!  And happy birthday again momma! bisou! <3
-Elder Mack

This is a recent convert - Olga and her baby Clara

Look how buff they are
My new area
Our member help - Njaka ny anarany

In my new area we have two branches.  One is in Andranomanelatra and the other is in Saradroa.  This is the Saradroa church building.

Corn... mmm <3

Isn't my daughter pretty?  Elder Gariki

I got my daddy back!

Monday, March 16, 2015

3/16/15 - Antsirabe, I'm a Mom, Honesty

Soooo, hey! :p haha

How y'all doing!?  Big, big news!!  I'm a mom!!!  Haha. We got transfer news this week and I is OUT OF HERE!!!!  I'm heading to Antsirabe to meet my daughter Elder Gariki tomorrow!  I heard he's Tahitian and a baller!  He just got out of training and I'll be his second companion.  Super stoked!  First time being Senior Companion..... yikes... wish me luck! :p  Best part, I'LL BE WITH MY DADDY ELDER LEHR!!!! WOOT WOOT!!  Oh my goodness I was so happy yesterday!  I called him last night and we started screaming like teenage girls. :p What what!  haha  No shame!  Elder Connault is going to Tamatave.  He will finish his mission there.  Elder Glazier will head to Tana and will be with a Tahitian comp too.  So that's swag!  One thing too that I heard is that I will be driving (yes, a car) in my area!  SKETCHY!!  Haha.  Mom are you excited for me to drive in a place with no rules on the road?!  :p  Antsirabe is about 6 hours away and I leave tomorrow morning.  Super stoked!  (Mom:  A mission mom is mission talk for being someone's second trainer.  That person would be your mission daughter.) 
For the word of the week how about a phrase?  Sound good?  Yah it does!  "Tsy mba fantako!" (Tsee-bah-fahn-tah-ku) means "I don't know!"  I used this one a lot.  Haha.  I'm pretty sure you guys will know how to use that so no explanation needed right!? :p Cool beans! Milay tsaramaso!  (Mom:  The translator says it means, 'good beans'.  Haha.)
This past week we had zone conference and it was way good!  President Adams came down and helped us work on how to ask questions to investigators to help them really understand what our message is. There are a lot of people here that just nod their head and smile but we really want them to understand.  We also got to watch the Meet the Mormons movie which was WAY good!  It made me a little trunky though.... :p joke haha  Oh, another cool thing that happened is that since Elder Snell (MTC bestie) is in the same zone, we got to see each other again!  Super swag!  It was so good to see him!  He is way good at Malagasy now!! He's a hard worker.  I will include a picture!  One of the things that stuck out to me in zone conference was the topic of honesty.  President said that a true man is honest and has integrity. Be honest in your everyday lives.  Choose to have integrity whether it be something little or something big.  I really recommend y'all reading "Becoming Men and Women of Integrity" by Tad R. Callister.  Way good talk!  Zone conference was definitely the highlight of the week!
Sorry about complaining about the branch last week... :/  Things have cooled down. The missionaries went to all the meetings and things were just fine. I have no idea what happened two weeks ago!  Crazy...

Hey, so Landy ended up getting baptized on Saturday! Yay!  I will include pictures! haha  Super glad that I ended this area off with a baptism!  She was ready! :)

Yesterday it was kinda sad saying goodbye to everyone.  There were some people that I didn't get to say goodbye to.  It hurts to say goodbye.  Maybe for the rest of my life.  Poor Danny he started crying when he found out that I was leaving.  :/  I love Danny.  He's a stud.  I'll miss him. Super sad that I won't be able to see his baptism but Elder Hammer promised pictures.  Fianarantsoa has been great but now I'm ready to spread my wings and fly to a new area, experience a new town, with new people, a new dialect, etc.  It was fun but I is OUT!!! :p  Y'all have a great week!  Love you guys! Can't wait to tell you all about my new area next week!

-Elder Mack

P.S. Mom, don't worry I cut the nail :p "Manajà ny rainao sy ny reninao." (Mom:  Translator says it means something like, "Courtesy of your father and your mother."  Silly Elder Mack.  He keeps making me look up phrases.  Glad that nail is gone son.)

Went on a sweet hike for P-day.  Farewell Atarandolo!  (Mom:  When I was email chatting this morning I asked him how he got up on that tall tree stump and he said, "Psh.  I'm a lemur mom!")

My pinky nail!  Fomba gasy (it is the Malagasy way).  "You got troll hands" - from his real father.
Tolotra and her family
My man Elder Snell
Bisous Bisous (Mom:  Literally it means "kiss kiss" in French.  It is said when parting with someone whose company you truly enjoy.

Tastes like chicken.  Joke.  Elder Hammer

Elder Mack
Landy's baptism

Tarsile and Onja!  Mamasile is so funny.  I asked her why she didn't smile and she said, "Because I don't have any teeth."  Good answer.
Saying goodbye to Danny and Tahina

Elder Connault looks like a tourist


Monday, March 9, 2015

3/9/15 - Teachings, Poop, & Nine

Bonjour, tena tsy mahay amin'ny teny frantsay aho.....

Hey guys!  This week was poopy.... haha.  So so so many problems!!!  Pray for me!?  Yah?!  Cool.
Word of the week is Fampianarana which means 'teachings'.  If you add the "foto" then change the "f" to a "p" then it means 'doctrine'.  "Fotopampianarana sy fanekempihavana" means "Doctrine and Covenants".  We use this word for English class too.  "Misy fampianarana tena anglais amin sabotsy am folo maraina" which means, "There exists teachings in the English language on Saturday at 10 in the morning."  Cool right!?
So, about this week.  One word - poop. haha.  I can say I have definitely had better weeks!  But it has been a fun learning experience!  Missionary work kinda just failed this week... hardcore...  So last Monday and Tuesday Elder Hammer was sick so we didn't get to work in our area at all.  I did get to switch with Elder Connault during that time and went on a split with Elder Davis.  Such a baller! Twas super fun.  Wednesday and Thursday were normal.  We got to do our usual work.  Friday is when we found out some interesting news that made the week pretty much poop.  I can't go into detail or anything but the Branch members got into a disagreement and some members are causing problems.  President Rakotovoa is not a very happy camper right now.  So the missionaries stopped teaching investigators while we went around and visited with members.  We are continuing to do so. #branchprobs
Well let's look to the brighter side shall we!? :)  So yesterday me and Elder Hammer beat our record for investigators to church!  We got "9"!  So swag! Tarsile and Onja came of course!  Super ballin! Jean came again!!  Super excited for him!  Danny came and brought a friend!  His name is Mario and he joined us for a lesson one time and loved it.  Landy also came!  I don't know if I ever talked about her.  She learned from missionaries forever ago and never got baptized but she comes to church every week.  We thought she was a member already but no, so we reviewed with her and she actually had a baptism interview yesterday and passed!  So she will be getting baptized on Saturday! Woot woot! Ok - then we have Gilbert who is cool.  We also have a guy named Anglonie who comes to English a lot.  He came to church today and wants to learn more!  We found out he was in our area so that's great. Then there is 1 more investigator.  Her name is Tolatra.  Funny story about her... haha.  So last week me and elder Hammer found out that Rose, wife of the 1st out of the 16 brothers, moved into another area.  So that was sad KANEFA(but) Tolatra is Elder Connault and Elder Davis's BEST investigator.  She is super awesome and has come to  church every week for the past month or so. Then she recently got kicked out of her house and found a new house in our area!  haha  So yah, we got their best investigator.  Lost a baller, gained a baller!  I'm super excited to teach her!  She is a super nice lady with the most adorable little daughter!  I'll have to send a pic!  Exciting things coming.
To answer mom's questions we have had no signs of a cyclone yet.  It's not raining right now.  I appreciate the prayers so much.  President Adams is really on top of things and calls us when there are weather issues like that.  We get transfer news next Sunday.  We'll see what happens.  Well, that's it for this week!  Y'all have an awesome week!
Love you all,
Elder Mack

I wasn't sure if I was going to like this but it was good

This is Bota.  It means chubby.  Such a funny name and a funny kid.

Elder Hammer was sick for two days.  As you can tell I needed to get out of the house

I thought this guy was dead at first but then I realized he was heckah drunk
Tena mahafatifaty kely izy Kanefa, tena maditra loach izy.  Haha.  (Mom:  I tried to figure out the meaning of this.  I think it says something like, "She is adorable but naughty")

This is Tolatra's little girl Faniry.  Her name means desire.

Getting a picture with Francia and her family just in case I get transferred next week.

Monday, March 2, 2015

3/2/2015 - Keep Trying, Nofing, & Anjelo

Hey Hey HEY!!!!

"The most important thing is to keep trying!" - Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Tena marina izany! Hey y'all! I thought it would be kinda cool along with the word of the week I could share a quote of the week.  The quote today was one that stood out to me this week. This week was a little harder week. It was hard to get appointments and it felt like a lot of our investigators were not really progressing like we want them to. Missions are hard, life is hard but, "If the blessings were immediate, choosing the right would not build faith" -Henry B Eyring. As we continue to work and to try that is when the blessings come.  If we don't take action, then nothing will happen. Times will get tough on a mission, times will get tough in life. I know as we continue to try and to trust in God that is when we will receive the blessings that we need and hoped for. It may sometimes not happen the way we wanted it to but it always works out as we trust in God. There's my little spiritual thought for the day! :p
So instead of the word of the week this week I will tell you how Malagasys prounounce some things. For 'Joseph Smith' they pronounce it as 'Jusef Smiff'. They can't make the "th" sound to save their lives.  In English class it is fun to hear them pronounce English words.  We have some pretty good English speakers and then some that are not.  Danny, our balling investigator, comes to English class to learn and I was trying to teach him how to say 'nothing'.  This was our conversation back and forth - "nothing", "nofing", "nothing", "nofing." He tries so hard.  Here's a kind of funny story.  The "tr" in a word is pronounced as "ch".  I sent this text to an investigator thinking I said, "We'll be at your 'chano' (house) at 3:30."  He was so confused because house is spelled 'trano' not 'chano'.  I was spelling how it sounded.  Elder Hammer was laughing when our investigator showed him the text when we got to his house. Still adjusting to Malagasy!!! haha
So like I said earlier, this week was a little harder KANEFA (but) we had a few very spiritual lessons that made me say to myself, "How could people think this church is not true?" I don't mean to brag about our church or anything but eh, it's perfect :p
We have a balling new investigator named Anjelo. We taught him yesterday for the first time and I think everything just went perfect. He was engaged in the lesson, and he was asking questions. It was one of those lessons that we felt like we helped this person UNDERSTAND why we believe what we believe. It was AWESOME!!! Tarsile and Onja are still doing awesome! Tarsile made it to church but something came up for Onja. She brought Danny again which was awesome! Danny is always asking when we can teach him! I swear, we taught him like 3 or 4 times this week! We were kind of worried that it was too much but he's getting it!  He understands and he remembers! Love that kid!  I got a pic with him!  I'll try to send it!
OH HEY!! Guess what!? Do you all remember Jean!? He's the one that we were looking for and that bebe was like, "What?  I don't have any kids!" That one! We set a baptism date with him! He came to church and we are super excited for him! We are trying to set up an appointment with him now every week where we can teach his family! Cool right!? He is understanding everything super well and progressing nicely! AWESOME!!!
Well, that's it for this week! Thank you all for your love and prayers!  Ya'll have a good one!
Elder Mack

Elder Connault and Elder Davis' area

Every Saturday we teach English class.  This little girl was being maditra (naughty) in English class so Elder Connault put her outside the window.

Etienne's new baby

This is a little game that the kids do here.  They make little shops and sell plants, a little food, rocks for slingshots, etc.  For money they use candy wrappers.  Genius! 

This is Danny