Monday, July 27, 2015

7/27/15 - Happy 19th Birthday Elder Mack!

Me and Elder Thompson

Aloha O'e!!!
Hey y'all! It's been a super exhausting week here.  Me and Elder Thompson are working hard and are tearing this area apart!  First - thank you everyone for the birthday wishes!  It was really nice!  So, this week....
Monday:  Elder Rice came with us to a soiree at Maman Tendrys.  Elder Rice just finished his mission and his last dying wish was to visit his members in Ambohimangakely.  The soiree went really well and me and Elder Iata got to say our goodbyes as well.

Tuesday:  This day was moving day.  We went and said goodbye to a lot of people and investigators. They were really sad to hear that they won't be having missionaries in their area for a while.  Haingo was kinda upset because now she has to wait longer to get baptized.  Well I got Elder Thompson that evening.  We met at the bureau and taught English class.  Class is now on Tuesdays and there are a lot of people that come.  It  is crazy!  In Antsirabe we sometimes  had a couple but usually no one came.  In Ambohimangakely only Fi came and learned. haha!  But there were so many people that they had to do two separate classes.  I was amazed.  After class one of our ward members came to learn sign language.  In this area we have this guy named Jewels.  He is incredible.  He is deaf but he can read and he can do sign language.  We helped him get on skype and he was able to communicate with some sister missionaries down in Washington D.C.  It was way cool.  Even though they are living on opposite sides of the world, they can still speak to each other with their hands.  Well now I have to learn sign language because we have to translate the talks and lessons for Jewels.  Wish me luck :p
Wednesday:  We went on a split with Elder Wiscombe!  He is a baller.  He is from Elder Lehr's ward back home and he came down to pick up his trainee.  He came on a split with us waiting to get his fresh meat from America.  haha!  We taught a few lessons.  One was a contact and they were not really interested.  We taught Zo and Jean Luke.  This is an investigator family.  Way cool family and way fun to talk with.  They just need to start keeping their commitments.  Yikes.  We gave them homework to read in the Book of Mormon.  Our last lesson was way cool.  Wiscombe gave a great spiritual thought on Christ and how he knows that He lives.  I think the coolest part was that the son in the family told me, "So Elder Mack, you're my grandchild!"  I was of course confused.  Then he said, "I'm Elder Lehr's trainer!" and I was like, "OHHH!!"  haha!  He is way cool!  Rasolofonarina is his name.

Thursday:  District meeting twas good.  We taught a really cool guy named Sambatra.  He is getting ready for baptism but he is one of the most converted people I have met.  He's 20 years old I think.  I asked him if he had a girlfriend but he told me and Elder Thompson, "No, I got to wait till after my mission to get a girlfriend."  I was amazed!  He will be baptized the Saturday right before Thompson leaves.  We went back to Zo and Jean Luke to see if they did their homework - nope.  Haha!  Lety e! We taught an investigator family.  Christoffe and Niry are the parents.  They are a little bit slower at learning but they have been very diligent in coming to church.  Way cool!  Then they invited us to a didipoitra.  What is that you may ask?  A circumcision.  The fomba gasy is that when a boy turns three he becomes a man by getting circumcised.

Friday:  We went to the circumsision.  Yikes.  Haha!  It was way interesting.  So according to fomba gasy two men have to hold down the kid while he gets his treatment :p  But there was only one guy that came which was the grandpa so they asked me to hold the kid but I wouldn't do it because I'm too nice so Thompson did it.  haha!  He held the kid DOWN!!  Haha!  I filmed :p haha.  The people love it when you follow the fomba gasy.  You become one with the people when you do that.  Then according to fomba gasy the grandpa eats the fore skin... ewwww!  We taught Ernesto.  He will be baptized right before Thompson leaves too.  He is a weird guy but I love him.  He is very diligent and always does him homework.  He just quit the use of  coffee and it's been great with him.

Saturday:  Me and Thompson went ham and found a lot of less active melchizedek priesthood holders.  One guy said he doesn't come because some guy in the ward stole his turtle.  But yah, we are working on him.  We were so tired at the end of the day.  Yikes... haha!

Sunday:  Church was great.  Jewels just sat next to me.  He pulled out his Book of Mormon and paper and taught me how to sign some things.  It was way fun!  He is a way good teacher!  We gave Ernesto a practice baptism interview and he did well!  We just need to fix a few things but I think he'll be ready by his date!

Well I'll stop there.  I love you guys!  I hope you all have a fantastic week!  Thanks again for the birthday wishes!

-Elder Mack
Email chat this morning:
Mom:  Happy birthday!  What did you do today? 
Elder:  I played basketball and got a haircut.  I'm gonna make a cake.  Elder Thompson is going to take me to get fabric to get a suit made.  So funny story.  The secretary got my birthday wrong on the newsletter so elders have no idea about my bday.  I might get some birthday wishes on Thursday though.  I know that I made one in Fianarantsoa but in Andranomanelatra I gave that suit to Sitraka.  He has helped us almost everyday and the people there are so poor.  He has worked so hard to get money for his mission.  He's sacrificed so much and what he wanted was a suit and so I gave him mine.  I'll try not to give big things away but I felt that was the right thing to do for him.
Mom:  I bet you want to give all of your things away.  I think Mumford gave a lot of things away before coming home.  His mom mentioned bleaching his shirt three times. 
Elder:  I think most elders mostly just come home with souvenirs.  Yes, shirts get destroyed here.  Elder Rigby's shirts look like poop.  My shirts are changing too.  Tell dad that the security guard wearing The Bus shirt just bought that shirt off the streets.  The clothes that people donate in America come to Madagascar and people sell them.  It made it half way across the world.  Tell everyone that I have no more time to email.  I got to go.  Thanks again for the bday love!
Scouts - let's not let nature look like this.  A fire on the hillside.

This is the right way to get around the rice paddies

Elder Iata fell into the rice paddie so he is washing himself right here
When there is a birthday Malagasies smash eggs on that person's head and pour flour all over them

These people live right next to the dumps of Madagascar.  They found old mosquito nets at the dump and made tents out of it.  My heart broke a little... 

So we actually had to fish for our meal one time.  That was fun!  I got it on video for you mom.

Bucket of fish
This is Angel.  She wanted a picture souvenir from me.  I kept doing ugly faces though in the pics and she was getting mad.  This is when they caught me while I was laughing.  Haha.

We said our goodbyes to Dababe Andre and his fam
Saying goodbye to Haingo and her daughter

Maman Tendry and her two beautiful daughters Kanto and Mendrika.  The meaning of their names?  Beautiful and Worthy.

Said goodbye to Fi and his wonderful family.  Fi helped us all the time and has helped me a lot with my Malagasy!

This is Elder Lehr's trainer Rasolofonarina

My new area Anjanahary

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

7/20/15 - What are you going to do now to return to God's presence?

The Bus made it to Madagascar!  I found our security guard wearing this shirt.  Mom:  Jordan's dad and uncle used to drive The Bus in Hawaii (public transportation).  The drivers wore aloha shirts with small buses in the design.  How in the world did he get an OTS shirt all the way in Madagascar?
Somary tezitra kely aho noho ny faritra ko izay mihidy kanefa nahazo namana voavoa izay bogosy,

Bon Jour y'all!!

So shout out to my Filipino twin sistah who goes into the MTC this week!  Love you girl.  Have an amazing adventure! :) 
Now let's get this week taken cared of shall we?  And we got some transfer news too! :p

Monday:  Me, Elder Snell, and Elder Thompson celebrated our birthdays as dinosaurs at this restaurant called Carnivore!  Yikes!  So this restaurant is like the Rodizio Grill of Madagascar.  They have so many different kinds of meat!  For example: cow tongue, chicken gizzard, lamb, beer battered chicken, cow kidney, crocodile, snake, chicken liver, etc. and yes, the crocodile was way good. Haha!

Tuesday:  I told Elder Iata earlier about the drunk guy that I had taught the word of wisdom to back in Andranomanelatra.  Then today we tracted into a guy and found that he was way drunk.  Elder Iata wanted to try to teach him too but it just doesn't work.  You can't feel the spirit when people are drunk.  After that we had a lot of time for tracting because one of our investigators Victor was on a little trip.  I asked Elder Iata to pick an area and he did.  As we were walking across this big area of rice paddies he fell in the paddies!  So we had to get him all cleaned up but he cleaned up fast and then we went and taught one more lesson right before the day ended. We taught about the Plan of Salvation. The beautiful Plan of Happiness. This lesson is a favorite.  It's unique to our religion and it makes perfect sense.  My father explained it this way.  We left the presence of god and are gradually getting farther and farther from god but since Jesus Christ atoned for us it created a "U turn" that returns back to God.  I love talking about the atonement.  This lesson is the "One" that truly inspires people to want to be better.  You give them the 'where', then the 'how', and then you can ask, "What are you going to do now to return to God's presence?" and BAM!  Conversion just clicks then. :)

Wednesday:  I went on a split with Elder Thompson!  It was way fun!  I wish I could be his comp! :p (just wait)  We taught Papa Charl and lalao today.  Me and Elder Thompson talked about the atonement a little bit deeper.  It was a beautiful lesson.  The spirit was so strong and I almost got a little teary. :p haha  They said that they want to come back to church.  They couldn't come this past Sunday but they will come next week.  We'll see. :)  They said that they were lazy and now they feel like they don't have a place to stand in the kingdom of God.  Not true.  If there was no atonement then that probably would be true but this life is about changing and becoming like him.

Thursday:  Zone meeting!  We had a great lesson about goals and wanting to change to become the person that God wants you to be!  So all our appointment times failed today which was sad but that's okay.  Our soire still worked out.  We had dinner with some recent converts. We had mangahazo with rice.  Way good.  I made brownies (be proud mom) and malagasies love it!  haha!  Brownies in malagasy is kinda funny "mofo kadradrika" which means cockroach bread.  Don't ask me why they call it that.  haha!  I brought my uke and they just wanted to sing all night.  We probably sang almost all the hymns in the hymn book.  Then Elder Iata shared the scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 25:12.
Friday:  We taught Yaingo today and she really wants to be baptized!  Her and her daughter have been active!  Her daughter is 8 years old.  She doesn't really understand things yet but she loves primary and she loves going.  She is way shy though.  She doesn't like me.  haha!  It's cause I'm white. :p
Saturday: We taught some less actives and recent converts today.  We have been trying to contact them for so long but and we finally caught up with them.  Guess what they said?  "We don't come to church because the baby cries and makes a mess and it disturbs people when they pray."  I face palmed a little.  We talked and convinced them to come back to church.  We taught Alexander too about the atonement.  LOVED IT! :)

Sunday:  Yes!  They came to church!  So did Alexander and Sarika.  Great Sunday!  We taught the returned missionary and she's just kind of being lazy.  haha  We're trying to get her out of her house.  I love visiting with her but she needs to come to church! We took Romina and Feno with us.  They are youth that are wanting to go on a mission.  Romina looks up to Vero and wants to have served an amazing mission like her.

Transfer News:  Well I got some sad news.  So Ambohimangakely is being closed.  There is just not enough missionaries so they needed to close a few areas.  I was pretty upset at first but then I heard where I was going and it gave me more comfort.  I'm going to be with Elder Thompson in Anjanahary!  Now this is a way cool area because it is the APs area and since they are always busy with their AP duties we are going to be tearing this area up!  Woot woot!  This is Thompson's last transfer so I'm going to work him hard!  Elder Iata is going to Antsirabe with his cousin.  haha!  Elder Lehr is coming to Tana!!  This area will be my first area with a ward. 
Love you guys!
-Elder Mack

Elder Connault before going home.  (Elder Mack, Elder Glazier, and Elder Snell were in the MTC together)

I love this area!

Mom:  The next two pictures are from Sister Foote's Instagram page.  She is the new mission president's wife.  She said these are the Ivandry Zone missionaries.
Mom:  The mission office.  See Elder Mack posing, I mean reading the notepad?  

Thank you Elder Walker for the next few pictures

The birthday celebration at Carnivores

Monday, July 13, 2015

7/13/15 - Malagasy is my spiritual language

YOOOO!!!  Mi ting se bae kat one pikinini...
Hey y'all!  So Elder Iata has been teaching me some Bislama.  I'm horrible right now but I think if I keep him for another transfer, I'll be way better at it!  Haha!  Yah so transfers are next week.  I kinda heard from a little birdie that Iata will leaving and that I'll be training...  Yikes!  Am I ready for that?  I HOPE SO!  Well let's get to the week shall we?

Monday:  Some investigators invited us over for lunch.  We ate and sang.  I brought my ukulele.  We played some basketball after at the church office.  The way home kinda sucked because the taxi be that we took happened to be one of those that allowed smoking... yikes..

Tuesday:  The highlight of the day has to be when we taught Victor.  If you guys remember him he is the one that I played guitar with.  He is a way cool investigator!  He actually read the pamphlet we gave him and he understood it!  He told me that he and his wife were taking turns reading it to each other.  Way cool.  We showed him that we brought a Book of Mormon for him and he gasped!  Haha!  Best reaction evahh!  We gave him homework to prepare for the next lesson which will be 'The Plan of Salvation'.

Wednesday:  I had a weird experience today.  I met a guy who was a little drunk and he thought I was Jesus.  Yikes.  Flattering but yikes.  I met him at a shop and he had his two kids with him.  He told me, "Give me your hand, Lord".  I didn't know where this was going so I gave it to him.  Then he placed my hand on both of his kids and blessed them with my hand.  He said, "Thankyou Lord"!  I said, "God Bless!" and I was gone.  He was drunk.  Haha!  We ended our day with a soire at Fi's!  Way fun.

Thursday:  So last week I talked about a less active couple that we found.  Well we found out their problem.  So they had callings before they became less active but they said that they were a little lazy will their calling.  President Nirina gave a talk in Sacrament meeting one time and he shared the scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 107: 99-100.  They heard the words, "Let every man do their duty" and "He that is slothful shall not be counted worthy to stand."  When they heard that they felt like they didn't have a place anymore in the Kingdom of God, and went less active... Yikes... We tried talking to them and talking about the beauty of the Atonement but they are a little unshakable right now... Pray for them?

Friday:  We taught Mamy Niring and his wife again. The wife is way cool but the husband needs a little faith and desire.  He told us he can't come on Sundays because he has to cut grass and feed his cows.  It is hard work.  I know, I've done it.  So we asked him if we could come and help him Saturday and there would already be food on Sunday for the cows but he tried to think of all possible reasons why we could not help.  He said, "I don't have another cutter."  Us: "We can borrow one from a member."  Him: "The place is too far for you."  Us: "We walk far every day."  Him: "This is hard work."  Us: "We're buff."  Then he told us he didn't want help and left it at that.  Eh, the wife is cool!  Haha!  Then we went to Yaingo and are just preparing her and her daughter for baptism. They have been diligent in coming to church so they will be baptized on August 15!  Yay!

Saturday:  I slayed Dadabe Andre for drinking coffee.  Haha!  I won't go into detail. :p  We set a baptism date for Alexander and his son.  He has really been receiving all the teachings very well and he will be baptized before I leave this area.  Woo hoo!

Sunday:  I got asked to give a talk today in sacrament meeting about the priesthood.  I like giving talks in Malagasy a lot better than English.  Haha!  Malagasy is my spiritual language.  :p  After church we taught Tsimba's family.  The sister is way cool and understands what we're teaching.  The brother is very hard-headed and is always trying to pick a fight.  Of course he can't beat the truth but he still tries :p  He told me that people just made up the story of Joseph Smith and I was trying to tell him, "Yah, people may not believe this at first, like, I mean, it's CRAZY!  So how can you find out? PRAYER!"  Then he started going off about prayer and it was getting a little frustrating.

Well, that's all folks!  Hope y'all have a great week!  Thank you all for your prayers, your love, and your support.  I can feel it 10,500 miles away! :) 
Bisous Bisous,
Elder Mack

Monday, July 6, 2015

7/6/15 - Harddrive, Guitar, & Fishhook

Salama ianareo! Iza moa ny Patron? Izaho no Patron!
Monday:  Hey y'all!  You ready for a letter!  Let's do this!!  So, last Monday after emailing we went down to the office to say goodbye to President and Sister Adams.  I brought my ukulele so me and Elder Huata from Tahiti started singing Aloha 'Oe and it was way cool because others started joining in and then we all sang God Be With You Till We Meet Again and then they started crying,  The spirit was strong.  Well, I saw a little miracle in my life today!  I got to see Elder Connault again before he leaves!!  Woo hoo!  We got to talk and chat a little and oh how I love him!  So back in Fianarantsoa my camera got stolen (we'll say stolen because I don't want to admit I lost it :p) and all my pictures and videos that I had on that were gone... I thought I would only have the pics that I had sent home.  Then I saw Elder Connault with his 150 gb hard drive and I remembered that Elder Connault had wanted to take some pics from my camera before we left Fianarantsoa.  I asked him if I could copy the pics that he copied earlier and then he told me that he had copied EVERYTHING from that flashdrive!  My pics, videos, everything I had from Fianarantsoa!  I just got everything back!  WOOT WOOT!!!  Be happy mom! :p haha

Tuesday:  We taught a new family today!  So we were tracting and I saw this family and someone was playing guitar.  I asked them if I could play and then I showed off a little and then they wanted to know who we were and why the heck there was this vazaha walking around their neighborhood.  So they accepted us and we taught them a wonderful first lesson about the restoration and they understood!  I love it when it just clicks in people's minds!  What is also nice is they live next to a member that they know!  So, we'll see how it goes with them!  The dad's name is Victor and the wife is Mamy Tina and they have one adorable little girl.

Wednesday:  We had a way good day today.  We taught 5 lessons today!  We taught a new family. Their names are Iaingo and Zano.  They have a way nice house and it seemed like they really understood what we were trying to teach them.  Yay!!  We will be teaching them again.  We taught Fi and his family.  They are all members except for the dad. They have been having problems with the dad recently and it hasn't been good.  It's gotten to the point where the son is kinda less active now so we are working with him too.

Thursday:  District meeting today!  Elder Ahlstrom is our district leader and he is a baller!  We did a lot of tracting today.  We tried tracting in this one area that's close to the church and missionaries apparently have not had much luck there. We tried our best and were able to get a few return appointments.  That's good right?  haha!  Dang - on the path there was this kid that was maybe like 12 years old but he was smoking!  I was like, "Oh my gosh kid!"  Dang - it made me remember a time back in Antsirabe after zone meeting there was this vazaha family sitting next to us in a restaurant. The dad ordered beer and he poured some in his cup, then his wifes, and then to his kid that looked like 5 years old!!  We were like, "WHAT THE ISH??"  That kid picked up that glass and chugged it in like 5 seconds.  Our jaws just dropped...

Friday:  We taught Dadabe Andre today. Way cool guy.  He's been a member for a while.  He loves to laugh with missionaries.  He makes fun of Elder Iata because he is still learning Malagasy.  Elder Iata hates it.  He always makes me give Dadabe Andre the lesson because he doesn't like speaking in front of him.  Today I talked about my fishook necklace.  I havn't shared that with anyone yet but Dadabe loved it!  haha!  Fishers of men baby!  We found a less active family and they are way cool. But they have a problem with some of the people in the church.  When I invited them back to church the wife said, "Just wait a little."  It's so sad when people don't feel comfortable enough to go to church.

Saturday:  HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!  I had a balling interview with the new mission president! He's gonna be such an amazing blessing to this mission and I'm very excited to work with him!  He's going to the Dona to help out my father Elder Lehr who is working overtime.  We taught Alexander again today!  He is way cool.  He has been very active at church and he wants to get baptized!  He did tell us that he saw Jesus and that's the reason he knows this church is true.  Hmm... but thats ok!  He understands the lessons and comes to church haha!

Sunday:  I gave my first blessing in Malagasy!  haha!  Way scary but it was not as hard as I thought it was going to be.  I can't believe I waited this long to try it.  Church was good!  7 investigators to church.  No complaints there.  We taught a new catholic family.  They have a lot of good questions but they believe that all churches are true.  They believe that if all people believe there is a God then they will be saved.  We working with them. haha

Well, that's it for this letter!  Love you guys so much!  Bisous bisous!  Shout out to Elder Woodwell who will be going into the MTC this Wednesday!  Love ya bro!

-Elder Mack
This is Sarika!

Making paint!

Video from Tsimbazaza Park, a zoo close to the Mahamasina area