Monday, November 30, 2015

11/30/15 - Thanksgiving, Waiting for my companion...

Tsa mbolo manana namana aho izao.. mbolo miandry. 

Hey y'all! :)

Well, not going to lie... this is going to be a pretty short letter.  Haha!  This last week has been a little poopy but yet HECKA AWESOME!  Well me and Elder Tainter had our last day together on Tuesday and it was kinda sad to see him say goodbye to the people in his first area.  I called him up a couple of days ago and he is doing good with his new comp. :)  I love Elder Tshuma and they will have a lot of fun together.  Well you guys ready to know the name of my new comp? ..... Elder Tambalu!  I think that's how you spell it.  Haha!  The thing is I havn't met him yet... :p  I don't know what he even looks like yet!  There was a problem with him back in Africa or something.  I think he couldn't get his police report so he is having probs getting over here to Tana.  If things go well he should be here by this Friday.  It's been kinda hard because I havn't been able to work in my area. What have I been doing you may be wondering?  SPLITS!!!  I am with the 67ha Elders!  Elder Kelsch and Elder Evans from my MTC group are such ballers and I have missed hanging out with them.  We all came together and it was so cool to see how each of us have changed since the MTC. We have had some fun lessons together.  We all just got done with training someone so it was pretty nice being with people from your original group.  Training is soo much fun and I'm way excited to train again.  I talked to the MTC teacher and she said that Elder Tambalu is wonderful and that he is humble, teachable, and picking up the language fast.  She also said that he is from an area where he has to walk like two hours to get to church and he thirsts for more knowledge. He doesn't know a lot of doctrine about the gospel but he will learn.  I'm way stoked.  Well, that's really it.  I'll talk to you all next week and give a better letter at that time. :p  Bisous bisous!

-Elder Mack

The following are pictures from Sister Foote.  

Here is Elder Mack with Elder Davis.  They are at a little store right by the office.  They lived in the same house in Fianarantsoa and will live in the same house in Anjanahary.  There will be six elders in the same house - the APs Elder Covey and Elder Herrin, the office elders Elder Davis and Elder Anderson, and then Elder Mack and his companion.  
Missionaries at the Mission Home at transfer time.

This is Thanksgiving lunch with President and Sister Foote, the trainers, and trainees.  Elder Mack said he loves talking with President Foote.  Sister Foote posted these videos of them singing Happy Birthday to Elder Koplin.  You can hear Elder Mack laugh in the first one and see him on the right side of the table in the second video.  This mom will take whatever pics and videos she can get.  :)

Thank you Elder Tainter for the next pics!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

11/24/15 - Transfer news, a wedding, a baptism, & some turkey

Gaga kely ahy satria ny zanako no mandeha fa tsa manahy! hampiofana indray aho!!
Hey y'all!  How's everything going!? :) 

Elder Tainter and I had such a great week and I'll give you a few highlights in a sec but I think you guys want a little transfer news first so we'll take care of that!  So, I'm actually staying in Anjanahary.  Elder Tainter is still going to be serving in Tana but in an area called Itaosy with Elder Tshuma!  I think Elder Tshuma is one of the funniest guys I have ever met. Haha!  Tainter will have fun.  Well, ready for my new companion?  It's.... I DONT KNOW!  I'll find out on Thursday at the training meeting :p  Haha!  Das right, I'm going to train AGAIN in the same area!  Man, as my father Lehr bear would say, "My Taranak will spread!!" >.<  Well, I'm way excited cause Elder Davis is coming to the office and is living with me.  Woo hoo!  I got my ginger back!!  This house is going do be awesome! :)
- Friday was our BAPTISM!!! Christof, Niry, Faniry, and Mamyniaina all got baptized and it was wonderful and spiritual to be apart of.  I love working and watching people make it to this step in their lives.  What's next?  TEMPLE!!  Woo hoo!  I baptized Christof and Mamyniana and then Elder Tainter baptized Niry and Faniry.  It was kinda hard doing Mamyniainas baptism because she's pregnant and should give birth next month... Haha Tainter was great.  Faniry was having trouble going under the water so Elder Tainter shoved her under there.  Haha!  After they were baptized they shared their wonderful testimonies.
- Mamyniainas wedding on Thursday was wonderful. We had the APs tag along and they had a really good time.  Me and Elder Tainter were the master photographers! :p
- I wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving while I still had Elder Tainter so we did that last Thursday at Manda's house. We bought a turkey, duck, and pig and Manda cooked it.  Then we made brownies and mashed potatoes and we grinded!!  WAHHHH!!!
I'm way excited to train again and I'm also way excited for the plan that God still has for me in this area.  I will be here for 5 transfers which is pretty long for one area but this is an incredible area and I'll keep trying to bless it through the holy priesthood that I have!  Love you guys!  Church is true!

Bisous bisous!
Elder Mack

Sunday, November 22, 2015

11/22/15 - Letters from Elder Mack!

Mom:  Christmas came early!  I wanted to share some parts of the letters we each got today from Elder Mack.  We met Elder Lehr today at his homecoming and he brought back a bunch of things for us from Elder Mack, including letters!  His letters are so wonderful.

Hi pretty girl!  How are you?  I miss you a lot!  I miss going to the park with you.  I miss pushing you on the swing.  Do you like 1st grade?  I bet you are having so much fun.  You are going to be so smart.  Hey, are you going on a mission?  Heavenly Father wants you to go on a mission when you are bigger.  Are you reading your scriptures?  I love the scriptures.  Who are your best friends?  I hope you have good friends.  What is your favorite class?  My favorite class was math.  Thank you for all the pictures that you have drawn for me.  You are such a good artist.  I miss you so much.  I love you. 

How's it going baby brother?  You're freaking way tall now!  I already think you're able to beat me up now.  I'm way jealous of your new board.  I see kids on the street here with homemade boards and it makes me miss bombing down hills on that ghetto Walmart board of mine.  I love that longboard that Uncle Jo has with the paddle.  Dad sent me a pic of him riding that thing.  But dude, there is nothing like a mission.  I have had so much fun doing the work of the Lord.  I have really learned how to trust in him and let him lead.  Remember though, God doesn't do all the work but you need to meet him halfway.  You want to be successful?  God will help!  Give him your will and meet him halfway.  On the mission, you pray everyday to find those who are ready to receive the gospel.  He will help you but golden investigators don't just knock on your door and ask to be baptized.  No.  Haha!  It takes work on our part and through the spirit we will receive our help and answers we have been searching for.  Work hard bro!  Pick good friends.  Keep doing well in your classes. 

Seester!  I miss your million dollar smile and your beautiful looks and your gorgeous laugh.  I miss it all!  Sorry ah... Madame laurels president in the madrigals of the Manasseh tribe.  Pff.  Haha.  Nah nah.  Just kidding.  I'm guessing you're expecting some brotherly advice for finishing up your LAST year of high school?!  Let's see, senior year IS the best school year.  It's just that awesome.  Keep being active in school activities but at the same time work hard in school.  A's are earned, not given.  Don't get senioritis too bad.  DON'T STRESS MOM OUT!  That's very important and should be taken to heart.  Here's a little equation for you.  Happy mother = happy everything else.  :) I don't know what friend groups you are in right now but stay in a good friend group.  Have friends that lift up.  Have friends with good standards.  NO BOYFRIENDS!!!  I forbid it until I get back.  Haha!  Continue to go to dances.  I love getting those pics of you looking all spiffy but NO KISSING!  Remember that part from Hotel Transylvania when Dracula almost bit the human guys head off?  Me.  I love this mission.  It has changed my life and has helped me to give my will to the Lord and allow him to use me as a tool in this work.  I hope you're thinking about a mission.  It is hard and challenging but there is a quote that I really like.  "I never said it was going to be easy, I only said it would be worth it."  It takes work.  Trust in your Heavenly Father and allow his spirit to guide you in all you do.  I miss you but don't worry we'll still be bffttahsatt (best friends forever that talk about Harry Styles all the time) again.  Haha!

I hope you had a fun time getting to know Elder Lehr.  I'm going to miss him and his Lehr bearnessness.  I miss you so much especially after hearing Jeffry R. Holland's talk.  I'm so grateful for all the love that you have shown me.  Elder Holland said in his talk that there is no other love that comes closer to Christs than the love that a mother has for her child.  I hope you know how truly grateful I am for all that you have done for me.  You are an angel. :) I hope you're not too worried about me.  I have been getting sick a lot lately but I'm fast to get back up on my feet.  God has blessed me with good health.  I'm trying hard to take my vitamins.  I love my mission.  This second year has been flying by and I'm trying to do everything I can to work hard.  There is a scripture in Abraham that says something like 1000 years of our time is 1 day in God's time and if you do the math, to God, a mission is 3 minutes long.  Crazy isn't it?  I will finish strong and God will help me as long as I give my will to him.  I'm seeing miracles mommy!  :) 

I'm so grateful for the blessing that we have of living so close to the temple in Bountiful.  With that blessing, I hope everyone takes action in that.  I love knowing how often you and mom go to the temple.  Elder Bednar recently came to Madagascar and brought up the question that everyone was wondering - When is Madagascar going to have a temple?  People were thinking that we needed more members and that we need to have five stakes but Elder Bednar started talking about what happens when the temple is being built.  He said that people go all the time, they take pictures and watch the progression of the temple.  But when it is done people don't go often anymore.  They might think because the temple is so close that they don't need to go as often.  Elder Bednar says that when the Lord knows that the people are not going to do that and that they are going to make it a priority to go often, he will inspire his prophet and the people will get a temple.  It is so important to go to the temple often.

It has been a blessing to serve the missionaries around here as district leader.  I have a good relationship with each of them.  I hope I am able to continue to bless missionaries lives through service like this assignment throughout my mission.  I didn't think I was meant to really be a leader when president called me and gave me this assignment.  I actually had an interview with him and told him my concerns about being a leader and he made me sound like I'm in the same boat as he is.  He told me how scared he was when he found out he was going to be a Stake President.  He kept thinking to himself that there were so much more qualified people than he is.  I felt that way as well.  The only thing that he knew was that God chose him and that he just needed him to serve with all his heart, might, mind, and strength.  I pray everyday that I can serve in this manner to those I serve.  The Lord definitely blessed me with many opportunities to serve and I'm trying to follow every prompting that I get. 

The Holy Ghost is so so necessary for this work.  He is literally our Liahona that we can always take around if we are worthy.  I have definitely had moments when the Holy Ghost tells me to talk to someone, do something, say something, etc.  One little thing that happened today was that I felt prompted to ask an investigator if he wanted a blessing.  This investigator has been taught by missionaries for a long time.  He doesn't really seem to learn but we teach him because his wife is a strong member who wants him to be baptized.  He has a problem with alcohol and chewing tobacco.  As I talked to him I felt the spirit and words flew out of my mouth and then I asked him if he wanted a blessing.  After that blessing he looked at me and promised that he would try to get off of alcohol and tobacco and will definitely not touch them when the missionaries come over so that he can learn.  I'm so grateful for the opportunity I have to see the conversions in people.  The spirit teaches.  He convinces.  If you take the Holy Ghost away from these moments guess how much success you will see?  No success.  I'm always trying to be worthy to have the Holy Ghost and being truly converted to God and to be worth to see miracles here.  Dad, the mission rocks!  I love everything I'm learning. 

So crazy to think that my one full year of a mission is almost up.  Elder Lehr is done.  When he trained me he was coming up on 10 months.  Weird.  It was so weird sending my mission father to the airport.  Take care of him.  He is so full of love.  He helped me in such hard times.   

Monday, November 16, 2015

11/16/15 - Elder Lehr is gone, brownies, and baptisms

NOOOOOOO!!! Efa lasa nody ny mpampiofanako....

Hey y'all!  How's it going?  This week has been a little bit rougher than usual.  We were getting dogged a lot but the times that were home have been incredible. I'm excited to talk a little about them. First of all... ELDER LEHR IS GONE!!!! :(  Wow I miss him.  There is this bond between a trainer and trainee and I loved having Elder Lehr as a trainer!  Hey, take care of him on the other side okay? Haha!  Thx!  Well, here's a few of my highlights of the week!

- Mamyniaina passed her bapism interview so she will be getting baptized on the 20th along with Christofe, Niry and their daughter!  They are READY!!  Mamyniaina and Mamenosoa will also be getting married on Thursday, the day right before the baptism.  After that then they can be baptized but I've already got the invitation and everything.  They want me to make brownies for the wedding.  Tried to tell them that I'm not that good at baking brownies but they insisted.  Haha! 

- On Tuesday I decided to have Elder Tainter lead the day.  We only have one more week together and then he will most likely lead the area.  I had him lead me everywhere and lead all the lessons and I gave soo little help.  It was so hard to not help.  I kinda felt bad but yet, BEST TRAINER EVER!!  Haha!  Joke.  He was on top of his toes the whole day.  A couple times of times it took us 45 minutes to an hour to find the house but it's all good.  The boy figured it out.  Haha!  Love him!

- We had our last district meeting with Elder Rigby and we ALMOST got him to cry. Dang it Rigby!  Haha! 

- Valerie is starting to progress more. We explained to him our goal and why we do what we do. We told him straight up that we came here to baptize him. He has a lot of things that he needs to take care of.  He told us that he wanted to have eternal life and that he wanted to be with his family.  We focused a lot on that desire of his, told him exactly how he can reach that goal, and let him know that it will take work on his part.  He has promised to not drink when the missionaries come over so he can learn.  It's a start. 

- Transfers are coming up this Saturday and I'm nervous to see what happens.  I may leave or I may not.  We'll see.  I just know whatever happens will be revelation. 

- Alexandra and Lydia got baptized last Saturday!!!!  They were so excited and I'm very grateful for the chance that I had to do the baptism.  The sisters did a good job in teaching them and I loved following their progress. 

Well, I hope you all have a great week and have a great Thanksgiving!  Is that this week?  I don't remember anymore.  Haha!  Bisous bisous!

Elder Mack
Love dis area!!
On President's birthday Elder Rigby egged him and got him pretty good. 
So, President got him back!  :p

This wonderful couple is the Asays!  I have loved being in their ward and they have served long and hard for Mada. 
They go home on Friday to Texas.
This is Gaelle!  This baller served in the Caribbean and is soooo good at English.

Four generation pic!!!  BAM!  
Turkey Bowl football game today


Monday, November 9, 2015

11/9/15 - It is incredible to watch the hand of the Lord work here in Madagascar

Lety e!  Ho faty ny papako amin'ny herin androany...

Hey y'all!  Sorry that last weeks email just stunk with how short it was but I'll see if I can give you guys some good juice today!  Oui Oui!  Well, transfers are coming up in a couple of weeks and I'm sad that training is coming to an end.  Elder Tainter is ready to spread his wings and fly!  He'll do good leading the area and taking care of his mission mom.

Monday:  We have had an investigator named Valery for a long time.  One of our recent converts named Nadia wanted us to teach him and work to get him baptized.  Valery is her husband but he has never been interested.  He has a problem with alcohol and chewing tobacco so it's been hard to teach him sometimes.  But today when we got to their house we found that Nadia had finally given birth! Yay!  The baby's name is Revelson Gislain Franquie.  Valery was holding the baby just like a loving father and he was willing to learn.  We were able to teach him about the Plan of Salvation and Valery told us that he wants his son to get baptized when he is 8 years old and be strong in the gospel.  We told him, "We can see the love you have for your children and the life you want them to have but wouldn't it be better if you receieved the blessings of gospel first?  Will you be baptized?"  He told us that he knows he has a problem with the Word of Wisdom but he told us, "Elders - if you can help me get over alcohol and chewing tobacco then I will be ready for baptism." :)

Tuesday:  We taught a new investigator today.  His name is Fetra.  Here in Madagascar pretty much everyone believes in God and Jesus Christ.  This is the first investigator I found that believes in science and not in God.  I was way surprised.  We were tracting and his son ran out to us and wanted us to go teach his father.  He is a way nice guy but just has no faith.  Never had to deal with someone like this.  It was a little hard.  We told him our message and we invited him to pray to know that it is true but he totally denied it.  We hope to see progress soon... Eh, ho hitantsika. 

Wednesday:  We had a practice baptism interview with Mamyniaina and she is doing good!  She wants to get baptized and then make it to the temple with her husband who is already a member.  They will be married on the 19th and then baptized on 20th right before I leave.  Woo hoo!  We had a great lesson with Christoffe and Niry as well.  They are ready to be baptized.  They came to General Conference and loved it.  Our bishop was a little upset with the translation though. Hopefully the members still got everything they could out of it.
Thursday:  We taught Ermora again and he is starting to get strong again.  I love teaching him and his wonderful family.  I'm even more grateful for his wife and for the example that she shows.  The wife goes to church every single week and reads the Book of Mormon every morning.  Her husband has benefited from that example and now he's just solid.  He said the closing prayer and I thought it was a wonderful prayer. 

Friday:  We had another great lesson with one of my favorite families.  Samson is turning out the same as Ermora.  Samson has been less active for years and has had a hard time finding a desire to go back to church but he has the past month.  They want to do a family home evening with us and that will happen on the 20th.   

Saturday:  As a district leader I got to do baptism interviews for the district!  It was way fun.  The sisters have a couple investigators getting baptized and they are great.  Sr Alexandra and Sr Lydia.  I believe both want to go on a mission.  They will be strong and helpful for the church.  They asked me to do their baptisms this Saturday.  I am way excited for it!  
Sunday: (Don't hurt me mom, I already talked to Sister Rossiter :p)  Yah.  So I got sick again.  Haha! I couldn't make it to church so I called the bishop.  We had a good bunch of investigators come to church.  There was Christoffe, Niry, Mamyniaina, Haja, etc.  I love seeing investigators come to church.  Best feeling in the world.  We were with the trainees today so I had Elder Tainter go out in the wild with one of them and teach.  They were fine.  #besttrainerever
I love you guys so much.  It is incredible to watch the hand of the Lord work on the people here in Madagascar.  He really does love everyone across the globe from America to Madagascar. Byeee! Bisous bisous! 
-Elder Mack

Valery and his wonderful family

So this is the service project that we have been doing the past little while for Rene.
Mom - I kind of destroyed a house.  Haha!
Andry's job is repairing motos.  He just built this one for the kids.  It's funny watching him ride it because it looks like he enjoys it more than the kids.  Haha!

Love my area!  This is Anjanahary.
Sister Foote posted this on Instagram today.  She wrote, "Pday fun at the mission home with the missionaries and the locals.

Monday, November 2, 2015

11/2/15 - You the son of Mo' Bettah

Hey y'all!

So, today I really have no time. The electricity was out most of the day and I couldn't get on the internet till late.  I think they only turn on the electricity at night when people don't need it.  Haha.  So annoying sometimes.  Sorry, this email is going to be short.  Just a few highlights,

1. General Conference was incredible!  I had to translate a few talks for Jewels and it was soooo hard to do that. Yikes!  I still got some good spiritual juice but I'll have to watch it again so I can focus on just what is being said.  I really like the talk about choosing a scripture every week and then pondering it and take it to heart for that week!  Love it!!!  I also loved Elder Holland's talk as well! Love you mommy :) 

2. Street contacting has never been my favorite.  I used to think it was pointless because we just run into too many drunks but we gave it another shot after the zone leaders recommended doing it.  The first guy we talked to invites us in and is searching for the true church!  BAM! 

3. We filled Mamy Niainas baptism record and she wants to get baptized on the 20th.  They will get married on the 19th!  We already have the invitation!  We will move Christoffe and Niry a day back and have a 4-baptism day! BAM! 


Sorry to cut this way short but gotta go save the world ya know!  Byeee!  Bisous bisous!

-Elder Mack

Elder & Sister Bednar with President & Sister Foote
Elder Liao! 
We got guitars made!

This is Patrique, one of the ward members.  I just love this guy.  He served a mission in his home country.  He just opened a restaurant here and so we went to his opening.  It's a nice American restaurant that he opened right next to the embassy.  One of his workers came up to me and said, "Hey, you the son of Mo' Bettah!"  Haha.  They surprised me.  I had told Patrique about my dad's restaurants back home and he's been telling others and showing them the website.  I thought that was way funny.   
Patrique's wonderful wife Faniry
This is a steak sandwich with a side of fries.  It is pretty good!  It's about a $3 meal with a drink.

Elder Kissi from Ghana.  He's my brother.  Elder Hammer trained him.

Thank you to Sister Foote for posting the rest of the pictures and videos.  Here is the Tana missionaries watching the Sunday afternoon session of General Conference.

Video - "We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet"

 Video - "Rejoice the Lord is King"

Video - "Come, Follow Me"
Video from Zone Conference - "Called to Serve"

North Zone Tana missionaries at Zone Conference
The APs training.  Elder Mack on the front row.