Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Ambositra, Madagascar Week 6

June 8, 2015

So, this week has been pretty slow and busy. The zone leaders came up to the lonely Ambositra last Tuesday and we did splits with them. I was with Elder Lambert and we just followed the usual program, whereas Elder Snell (My companion) split off with Elder Hein (My old zone leader from Ambohimanarina whom I dwelt with) and they mainly visited old members and investigators that Elder Hein was close with when he worked there. Elder Hein is going home this week, pretty crazy. Elder Lambert still has 6 weeks left before he leaves. The rest of this week we have just been sitting around in the house waiting for the Malagasy workers to finish our house. They work very slowly. The house still isn't entirely finished, but we do have hot water for our shower now, so that is nice. Now we just need them to hurry and install the new faucet in the kitchen so that we can have some clean, filtered water to drink. Man can only live on bottles of Coke and Ramen broth for so long. Water is slightly essential to human life (If my AP Biology teacher knew his stuff that is). But we do have like a bottle or two of that good old eau vive, so no harm done I guess.

Malagasies are very lazy though (though you will eventually see the occasional Malagasy or two that has some sort of ambition, but they are definitely lazy as a whole), that is something that I have learned during my many adventures and trials attempting to work with them. The best way to describe the situation of Madagascar and her people is that they are very content with what they have, and are afraid of change or help in general. You can teach a Malagasy a more efficient and easier way of getting rice off of the rice-stick-thing, but the next day they will go back to the usual, grounded, way of taking a single stick of rice and hitting it against a rock. They are like this in all ways of life. And that is probably the reason why they are the 2nd poorest country or something, they are so behind the times. The only stuff that they sort of keep up to date is phones. But even then, most of the phones here are just fake copies, not the original. They still aren't half bad though from what I've seen. The average image of a Malagasy is this: Sitting on the floor in their uncomfortable squat position thing that the do, they will be texting on their fake iPhone with one hand, cooking food with charcoal (there is a stove in their house mind) and will be nursing their baby at the same time outside in the open in cheap, dirty, old clothes. And the next day they will wash all of their clothes by hand, and if you ask them why, they will say because it is faster and that washing and drying machines ruin clothes. Pretty strange to me, but whatever makes them tick I guess. But yeah, the dudes in our new house painting and cleaning, and installing pipes, and reinforicing windows, and fixing doors all work incredibly slow, and they are never on time. The average working Malagasy day is like this. Show up fashionably late to work, earn a buck or two, and then blow all of the money they just earned on alcohol at a local bar. And then it repeats. They just like staying still I guess, they don't have any desire to change or to progress. But it is fine by me, because I get to eat at the finest restaurants here for around 3 to 7 bucks a plate, not too shabby at all. One day they may reach 3rd World Country status, but we will just have to wait and see for now.

I am writing you all from Antsirabe right now, we came here for P day and to get our new companions. Elder Snell is switching areas, he is going to work in Antananarivo for the first time. I am staying in Ambositra and receiving a new companion. His name is Elder Wootan, I don't really know much about him. He has been in country for around 10 months or so, around there, so he will be the senior companion. I am not sure if I am ready to lead the Ambositra area though, I still have a really hard time remembering paths and roads and the way around my area. I have a pretty general idea now, we shall see.

Our Branch here hasn't been doing so great as of late, this past Sunday we had 33 people come to Sacrament meeting in total. that is 20 down from last week. The decreasing church attendance might be a result of the cold though. It gets fairly cold here in Ambositra, still not as cold as Logan, but still pretty cold for being in Africa. Ambositra is close to Antsirabe which is the coldest place in Madagascar. The center of the island is full of mountains which is the reason for the cold here. I even had to wear a sweater one day when I went out to work. Hopefully next Sunday doesn't follow the established pattern, lest we have 12 people come to Sacrament meeting, that is about the size of my family.

Dang, flies are annoying, one of the stupid things just flew straight into my eye, maybe they get drunk like everyone else here in Madagascar, IDK. This is like the 7th time these past few weeks were a fly has just flown straight into my eye, it is really annoying. Shouldn't they be able to see a giant white dude sitting down at a computer? Man, bugs in general though. The struggle.

So apparently the weird thing on my heel was an African flea. It shouldn't cause too much of a problem from what I have heard.

That is all
Good Bye,


Here we have a recent pic of my heel, as it heals from the African Flea laying eggs in it.

Some ladies washing their clothes. They literally work all day and all night just washing clothes.

Me in my new apartment, 3 floors for 2 guys, not bad.

Pic of my eye taken while waiting for my rice. As you can see, no permanent damage from seven flies in and out.

Two Random old pics from my camera.
MTC with me, my MTC comps, and one of my teachers.

Some reptile thing that we found back in Ambohimanarina.

More heel pics as it is healing.

The following are pictures from Elder Snell, Benjamin's companion.

The view from the apartment.

Another view from the apartment.

Cows on a path, a very common occurrence in Madagascar.

Street vendor selling hats by the side of the road.

Elders Snell, Hein, Lambert, and Benjamin on splits.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Ambositra, Madagascar Week 5

June 1, 2015

This week we moved. It is kind of strange that I have already moved into 4 different houses during my 5 months in country. I can confess that it has not been fun cleaning up years of crap from other missionaries though. I live in a house for half a week and then have to clean 5 years of dirt. Missionaries really do not know how to clean. The mop had been sitting idle for so long that a 5 foot long weed was growing out of it, that is pretty messed up. But I am now moved into my new house, we just need to wait for it to get finished now. The new house still doesn't have power or filtered water or hot water or a gate or doors that work and lock properly. But, it did have some bonuses waiting for us. It has a surplus of cockroaches and spiders. We were forced to move into this house early because our old contract ended on the 31 of may. So it was either move into the unfinished house (that the landlord promised would be finished in time mind) or live on the streets of Madagascar. I figure that there are already too many Malagasies living on the streets, there wouldn't be any room on the road open for two big vazahas. Our new house should be fairly decent when it is done, though. We shall see. I still don't like taking freezing showers though, not fun at all. I remember my old shower back home, nice, clean, relaxing, the perfect temperature. But at least for now I am going to have to shower in ice-water.

Yesterday I gave my first talk in Malagasy in Sacrament meeting. And, as always, I procrastinated until Sunday morning to write it. On Saturday night, I had hoped that it would write itself while I was getting some sleep, but, to my utter dismay, it was not so. So I wrote it on Sunday morning from like 7 to 8:30. I wrote a 3 page script that I was going to read in order to give my talk, but I ended up not really using it at all. I used it as a guideline for my talk and for my scripture references. While I was speaking I was shocked at my ability to speak in Malagasy, I wasn't really thinking of the words nor translating from English to Malagasy in my head, so it was good. It ended up being about 10 minutes in length, so not bad. My longest talk yet. Afterwards my Branch President told me that my talk was good and that I was really good at the language, so that's gotta count for something, maybe he was just being polite though. Oh, by the way, the topic of the talk was the keys of the priesthood. That was what the Branch President wanted me to talk about.

This last week I have also developed some sort of strange blisterish sort of infected thing that has a black ring on my foot (Mom note: It turns out that Benjamin actually had a chigoe flea in his foot. It had embedded itself and laid eggs in his foot). It has been growing for quite some time but hasn't starting really hurting or bugging me before this past week. So I sent some pictures to our Missionary Doctor-of-sorts, and she told me to pop it and depusify it to stop the infection or something. So I did just that, I depusified the thing and I was shocked at what came out, there were like 4 different colors and types of fluids that exited the thing. Pretty strange. I will probably send some pictures so you can enjoy the beauty for yourselves. But right now it is looking a lot better, it has lost its pale green color and has gotten smaller I think, and the infection covering my entire heel doesn't hurt really that bad anymore. Earlier this week though, it was hurting so bad that it woke me up at 2 am in the morning. It felt like my skin was decomposing off of my foot, but when I looked at it it just looked normalish. I was convinced that I had gotten the Bubonic Plague or something and downed some drugs from my special cache. After I operated on it though the pain lessened.

The investigators here are still pretty solid, but there is one minor problem, they never come to church. Every week everyone promises that they will come, but when Sunday comes we have our eternigators here and that is about it, though, this week we had one more than usual. So 4 came in total to church. The people here just don't like coming to church I guess, they think it is hard moving from church to church, and it is. But yeah, people never come, so it is sad. It is all about the FJKM. Ny Fiangonan' i Jesoa Kristy eto Madagasikara. We didn't catch too many lessons this week though, we spent a lot of time cleaning our joke of a house and then we spent the rest of our time moving into the unfinished house. Hopefully we get a new washer soon, because my clothes are getting pretty dirty.

My memory isn't the best so that is all I can think of to write about right now. Have a good week.

Not for the faint of heart. A chigoe flea (tungiasis) that embedded in Benjamin's foot and laid eggs.

A few days after the self extraction and the infection (redness around his heal) has started to diminish. He is taking antibiotics his dad sent with him and watching it closely. Hopefully he got all the eggs out. Benjamin says not to worry, it's fine and he seems to be a lot less concerned than his parents :)


 These last pics were taken by Elder Snell. Benjamin's New house in Ambositra.

Malagasy pharmacy.

Malagasy clothing shop.

Duck cage.

Talk on the keys of the Priestood.

Information about the Chigoe flea from the online journal of dermatology.

Tungiasis is caused by penetration of the flea through an intact epidermis by the pregnant female T. penetrans. The tiny (1 mm in greatest dimension) flea then burrows deep to the epidermal-dermal junction to feed on blood from dermal capillaries. As the parasite becomes engorged, it can enlarge up to 1000-3000 times its original volume, up to a diameter of 1 cm. Subsequently, the invaded local tissues become inflamed and the characteristic pain, tenderness, and swelling ensue. Within 1-3 weeks the flea extrudes hundreds of eggs that disseminate from the wound and into the environment. The exact biohabitat of the early stages of the flea are unknown. Following release of eggs, the adult dies shortly thereafter.

Patients with this condition most commonly present with a lesion on the plantar, interdigital or periungual regions of the foot, but infestations of the leg, buttocks, hand, and elbow have also been recorded. It is likely that the foot is most often affected, in part, because the flea is a poor jumper. Handheld dermoscopy may aid in visualizing the insect's dark exoskeleton and multiple eggs within the hyperkeratotic nodule. The gross appearance of the lesion varies according to the progression of the infestation process. This progression is described by the Fortaleza Classification system. In stage I (early infestation; 30-120 minutes), the flea that penetrated the epidermis is visible as a reddish spot. In stage II (1-2 days), the hypertrophied flea is visible as a 1-2+ mm opalescent spot with a central dark punctum. Stage III (2-21 days) is characterized by an indurated white halo, 3-10 mm in diameter, circumscribed around a central dark punctum. Hyperkeratosis is apparent, pain is common, and extruded eggs may be visible. In stage IV (3-5 weeks), a crusty dark ring of necrotic epidermis forms around the lesion, which now contains a dead parasite. Lesional involution with small scar formation characterizes stage V at six weeks to several months following infestation. More severe cases may also present with dystrophy or loss of the toenail, and/or permanently deformed toes.

Treatment involves extraction of the flea from the wound with a sterile needle followed by a sterile saline wash. With Stage III or later lesions, excision by deep shave followed by curettage with hyfrecation will suffice. Topical antibiotics should be applied to the area postoperatively. To date, no uniformly effective anti-parasitic drug has been identified to treat this particular entity. Although often effective against a broad range of ectoparasites, ivermectin did not show better efficacy than a placebo in a randomized, double-blind, controlled trial utilizing a relatively high dosage (2 x 300ug/kg). When secondary infections occur, culture most commonly reveals Staphylococcus aureus or various enterobacteriaceae. If secondary infection is suspected, appropriate oral antibiotics should be administered. Other rare infectious complications of this disease may include gas gangrene, tetanus, and septicemia. Generally however, prognosis is very good if sterile methods are employed during flea extraction and there is no pre-existing secondary infection.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Ambositra, Madagascar Week 4

May 26, 2015

Well, everything was closed yesterday for the Pentacostal Holiday. So I only have time to send pictures.

Pic of us at the savika (type of bull wrestling). I am also not really as white as the pictures makes me out to be, the camera was just having a rough time deciding whether or not to use the flash.

Another pic from the savika.

Here we have an action shot from a posy posy.

Posy posy in Ambositra, pic from the web.

Open market, pic from web. Benjamin buys his food from markets like this.

Busy street in Ambositra, from the web.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Ambositra, Madagascar Week 3

May 18, 2015

Well, nothing really happened this week, I was sick one day though, so that is something. Last Wednesday I just felt awful, my head was pounding all day, every time my heart would beat (and it was beating fast mind) my head would just kill. It felt like I was banging it against the door of a taxi be over and over again, which would most certainly result in brain damage I think. So that lasted one day, one day of suffering, but we worked on Thursday because my head got better. But then my throat starting hurting like nothing else. Every time I would swallow it felt like I was was banging my throat against the top of the door of a taxi be (taxi bes are not my favorite mode of transportation as you can tell). Malagasies really ought to invent a better mode of transportation. Cramming 30 people into a minivan and driving across thin, swerving, and holy streets (holy in this case referring to the extraordinary amount of holes that are in the roads), taxi bes are not fun at all. But, I am feeling pretty good right now, so all is well I suppose.

Here in Ambositra we have a lot of strong investigators, but, there is one small problem, no one wants to go to church. Which is a bit surprising when you think of the fact that nearly every one here in Madagascar dresses up and goes to church on Sundays. The most popular church here is the FJKM. The Church of Jesus Christ here in Madagascar. I don't know if it is just me, but I highly doubt that the true church is a church that is only found in Madagascar. Who knows though, maybe Jesus was actually a Malagasy and established his true church here in Madagascar. We never can be too sure. So every Malagasy will go to church on Sunday, but no one wants to go to our church. Life is hard I guess. Maybe we should all just go to the FJKM (sarcasm intended).

Last P Day we went to a lake in Antsirabe (I don't remember the name) but it is a way cool place. It is a nice change seeing a body of water that isn't an unearthly shade of brown, a very nice change indeed. The lake was way cool, very still and very clean. It was a pretty fun experience. Malagasies also believe that there are weird half fish-half human things living in the lake, so it is kind of sacred or something to them. I didn't see any mutant creatures though, I was a little disappointed about that. But it was fun.

I still hate bugs. Dang, the pests are annoying. I just did a nice little count, and I have 10 separate flea bites just on my right foot. It is extremely annoying. They just keep on biting all day and all night. I will probably be getting like the Black Death or something from all of the bites, but worse things have happened I guess. I still find that somewhat humorous and terrifying that Madagascar still has outbreaks of the bubonic plague, I was always told in History classes that that disease has been extinct for a while now, but not here in Madagascar. Maybe if people would start showering regularly they would have less diseases, who knows? I have started to become the same way though, showering once every two days now (which feels really gross). It just sucks having to take a freezing cold shower every morning, though, it does wake me up fairly quickly. I always imagine a scene from Titanic whenever I shower, "Don't let go Rose, don't let go". It is literally that cold. We were supposed to move in like 2 days but the power and water still hasn't come for the new house, so we are stuck in the North Pole for a little bit longer. Malagasies rarely hit deadlines, here they have a thing called "fotoana gasy", which means malagasy time. And they use it as an excuse to always be late, they are literally never on time. Church here always starts 15 minutes or so late in order to accommodate fotoana gasy. If we started on time there would only be the missionaries and the Branch President (sometimes) to pray. The struggle.

But, I don't think there is really anything else that was outside of the usual this week, so that is all.

Elder Anderson

                                                       Lake Tritriva


This is a picture of some cute kids. One is the daughter of our investigator Nahary.

Taxi be selfie (it got even more cramped after the photo was taken).

My area in Ambositra. (Click on the pic a for bigger view)



Thursday, May 14, 2015

Ambositra, Madagascar Week 2

May 11, 2015

So this week was fun, I got to skype my family on my birthday, so that was good. My family is still doing good without me, contrary to popular belief. But, yeah. On Saturday we took another Taxi Brosy to Antsirabe, which is about 2ish hours away from Ambositra. Oh, that reminds me, my parents could not pronounce the name of the city I am in at all. It is pronounced like this, [ahhm-BOOS-tcha]. SO yeah, and then the name of the other city in Antananarivo that I worked in, Ambohimanarina, is pronounded like this: [ahhm-BOO-ee-mun-AHR-een-uh] It is a bit of a mouthful. But this past Saturday we went to Antsirabe for District conference. [ahhn-TSEER-a-bay]. Antsirabe is a pretty nice city, a lot cleaner than Antananrivo. In Antnanarivo there is trash and junk and crap everywhere. There are literally rivers that are so polluted that they are straight brown. Other missionaries have told me that if you throw like a rock or any object in the rivers (if the giant sewers can be called such) it will stay afloat and not sink. It is pretty gross. Luckily when I was in Antananrivo I got to work in one of the more cleaner areas. But even then, I would always see mountainous piles of garbage piled around the city. And there would always be, without fail, a few Malagasies and a couple of dogs digging around the rubbish searching for the next meal. Very sad. If I am not mistaken, Madagascar is the 2nd poorest country in the world, and Antanarivo is the third dirtiest city in the world (The dirtiest the missionaries are sent to). So I do have some bragging rights at least, I can say that I have worked in the dirtiest place missionaries are allowed to work in the whole world. But the food is really cheap due to the lack of wealth here, so that is always nice. But anyways, we came here to Antsirabe for zone conference, it was pretty good. President Adams came and spoke in both sessions. The missionaries got to sing as part of the choir in the Sunday session, so I enjoyed that. It is fairly hard sight-reading Hymns that are unique in the French Hymn Book in the French language though, but what can you do?

Last week I also had my final interview with President Adams. It was good. I asked him how to be the best missionary that I can and the condensed answer was fairly simple: Obey all of the rules, Work hard, and Be worthy. He also told me that the most important thing on the mission was my personal testimony and change here. So I really liked that. But yeah, I also got my birthday cookies from Sister Adams, and they were way good. The assurance that they were made with clean hands only made it better. It is always unsettling thinking that the food that we eat here from the little ghetto shacks was probably (almost certainly) made by a Malagasy who hasn't showered or washed their hands after using the bathrooms for ages. But, my stomach has adjusted I think. I only have bowel problems once every 2 weeks or so, instead of the past where I would experience that joy every day when I first arrived here in country.

I also still hate bugs, if you happened to be wondering. Fleas and mosquitoes are now my biggest enemies. I hate those things. One of my most deep-doctrinal questions that I ask investigators or members is the following, "Maninona nahary ny parasy Andriamanitra?" (Why did God create fleas?). I guess that some things we just will never know during our life here on Earth. But my legs are literally covered in bug bites, super annoying. It has gotten a little worse here in Ambositra (parasite wise). I just try to not itch them so they won't get infected. But man, it is annoying. Do fleas or mosquitoes actually help society in anyway? They were probably created to be a trial of our faith. We just have to endure to the end. One of the things I miss the most is the lack of flea bites back home. But, what can you do? I also miss walking in carpet or bare-foot. The houses here are just too dirty to walk around without shoes. Missionaries do not know how to keep a house clean and welcoming haha. But Malagasies may have us beaten. Even the more wealthy Malagasies (ones with the cement or wood floors instead of dirt) still don't know how to dust, or how to mop, or how to wash. They usually just do a rough sweeping job and call it a day.

But I just had a thought, in case you were all wondering, Ambositra has a really strange English translation. In English Ambositra means castration. A strange name for a city I must admit. But rest assured that it was named that due to the amount of bulls here that were castrated. When I first heard the name I was a bit worried that it had something to do with castrating humans, but it was thankfully named Ambositra because of male cows here rather than male humans, so no harm done. Ambositra is just a nice and quiet city in the middle of nowhere, but I like it, even though it has a really queer name. Malagasies man.

I am still learning all of the names and faces of the new people here in Ambositra, it will take me some time I am sure. A lot of the investigators that we have right now are really smart and ask a lot of questions, so that is always a nice change. Back in Ambohimanarina, there were not many questions asked by our investigators, they were all just accepting and agreed with anything we said. But here they like asking lots of questions which I do like. And, on a partially-related note, my Malagasy Comprehension has gotten a lot better. I am rarely lost in a conversation, even if the subject is non-holy like when members will talk about rice or umm... I can't think of anything else. Malagasies do like talking about rice here though lol. They are always amazed when we tell them that we eat rice and laoka just like them. I guess that most French dudes just eat other food instead of the local stuff, so yeah. But literally every single Malagasy that learns that we eat rice almost every meal just like them is always shocked and amazed without fail, kind of weird I guess. Oh, rice is also tasting less awful as of late, it still isn't quite "good", but it is now consumable.

I think that is all for today folks, so have fun. Kill a mosquito for me, they need to go extinct, every less mosquito in the world does help.

Elder Anderson

The View from Elder Anderson's apartment

We got to Skype Elder Anderson for Mother's Day and if turned out to be on his birthday! It was an extra special Skype. Happy Birthday Elder Anderson, 19 years!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Ambositra, Madagascar Week 1

May 4, 2015

So, this week I got changed to Ambositra, that is the name of my new area at least. It is a small and quiet city on the way to Fianarantsoa from Antsirabe. The drive here was not my favorite, I can not tell a lie. I woke up at 5 AM on Wednesday, took a Taxi from our house to the office and got there at about 6 30 AM. I then put my luggage on a mission vehicle and took an hour long ride to the big bus stop for interconnecting cities. I waited for an hour and then was off. So before I have mentioned my distaste of the taxi bes back in Antananrivo, well this was much worse. They are a special kind of bus called a taxi brosy. They are the same size as the taxi be, but they have more seats crammed inside. It was not my favorite experience. And the seats are definitely not designed with non-malagasies in mind, so my legs were awfully sore. Before my mission I complained with the amount of space for legs on cheap airplane seats, this was about ten times worse. My knees were jammed straight into the seat in front of me and my feet were hovering above the ground. There was not enough room for me to have my legs straight out at a 90 degree angle, but I had to curve my body in order to fit. So after the very fun 3 hour bus ride along broken roads and swerving paths, we arrived in Antsirabe. I still had another 3 hours to go. So all of the 5 elders that were with me got off at that point and I was left alone on the crowded, small bus. Another 3 more hours and I finally arrived in Ambositra. I nearly threw up, but I contained myself. We are taught in this church to be masters of our bodies, not servants to them. I feel I have adequately achieved this principle by not allowing my body to throw up, against all possible odds - haha. But yeah, hopefully I won't be taking another bus (crammed minivan) ride like that anytime soon.

Ambositra is a fairly nice city. It is a lot less crowded than Antananarivo, and a lot cleaner too. Back in Ambohimanarina it felt as though every time I took a breath of the air, 1 year of my life was getting sucked away. I have concluded that I will most likely die at the age of 28 from natural causes, just because of the air quality in Antananrivo. But the air here is much nicer, and that is mainly due to the fact that here there are no taxi bes, and only a small amount of other vehicles. Here the preferred mode of trasnportation is a posiposy. A posiposy consists of a small one-man (three-malagasy) carriage, and a small Malagasy in the front, playing the role of the horse. The total length of the posiposy is about 6 feet, not very long. But there are loads of them here in the streets of Ambositra. But it does keep the air cleaner having the preferred mode of transportation powered by human-strength, and not by gas or any type of fuel. Though I must admit, it is quite a sight seeing a 5 foot 3 thin Malagasy pulling a family of Malagasies down the road in a small man-carriage. Whatever makes the dough I guess. Something unique about Ambositra is that it is Madagascar's wood capital, so it has loads of nice little shops where people can buy things carved from wood. Another cool thing is that many shops here let you place custom orders on carvings, so I can literally have a custom made and high-quality carving made for a very cheap price. So yeah, I will probably be spending a lot of money on souvenirs here.

Another thing that is different is the dialect. Back in Ambohimanarina we spoke a dialect called Merina, here they speak Betsileo. It isn't quite as different to be considered an entirely different language, but way more different than just an accent. There are lots of new words that are used here that I still don't know. The dialect here is one of the easier ones though, so it shouldn't be too bad. It is very similar to the National dialect of Merina in Antananarivo.

Oh, I almost forgot, the shower in my new house is awful. It is the coldest water I have ever had to shower in throughout my entire life. It is strange though, somehow the shower water is twice as cold as the outside temperature. It is very queer. But back in the old house I used to enjoy and look forward to showers, but here, showering is probably my least favorite thing to do. It feels as if I am dumping ice-cold water down my body. I sometimes gasp just from the shock I get from the coldness of the stuff. It isn't too much fun. It reminds me of the days of Scout camp, when there was the water challenge or something where we had to swim in a freezing cold body of water for some time. I can assure the shower is much worse.

Well that is probably all for this email, the connection here in the middle of nowhere isn't that strong, signing off.

Elder Anderson

Picture of Benjamin and his new companion Elder Snell. Picture from Elder Snell.

Rice paddies in Benjamin's new area, Ambositra.

Benjamin, LoaNika, Leona, Ely, Lanto, Elder Evans in Ambohimanarina. They are a member family and Benjamin liked them a lot.

The following two pictures are from Elder Snell. They are both in Benjamin's new area.

This is taken at the Hotel Artisan. Dad told Benjamin to eat lunch here, the online reviews were very good. It looks like they might have.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Ambohimanarina, Madagascar Week 19

April 27, 2015

So I was right, I am moving areas this transfer. I am going to a place called Ambositra. It is a place that is kind of in the middle of nowhere with respect to other missionaries. It is in the middle of the country up in the mountain area. I will be in a 2 man house only, so that will be interesting I guess. There are no supermarkets in the city, so I guess I will be eating a lot more shack food - lol. The city does have some decent wood carvings that you can buy, so that is good.

Last week we got to see conference. We watched it at the office in Antananarivo. I thought it was enjoyable and may have learned a thing or two. I liked when President Uchtdorf spoke in his native language after the Spanish talk and cracked a joke. I was confused and honestly thought I just wasn't understanding his English or something.

Yesterday something really weird happened. We had just finished a Dinner appointment and were heading home. We were tired and excited for transfer news. Then a kid said the classic, genuine, original statement, "Bonjour Vazaha Be", and then we responded in kind with "Hello Gasy Kely". They said "Bonjour Big Foreigners" and we said "Hello Small Malagasy". But some dude was behind us (and just a little bit drunk) and got upset. He told us that it was bad saying "Small Malagasy" and to not say it again. He may of thought that we were talking to him or something, I don't know. So we took our separate paths in the road and parted ways. We walked for 10 minutes and then I heard someone running. I turned around and say this Malgasy coming back, he was still way upset because we said "Gasy Kely". We started to converse, he was ranting on how it wasn't OK to say that Malagasies are small. He then used some hand motions and demonstrated how Malagasies are really taller and bigger than Americans. We tried pleading with the man, telling him that we were just responding to the children's blunt remarks of, "Big Foreigner". But he was out of control mad, so he asked for our number and address, and we didn't give them to him obviously. I didn't want a bunch of upset and noisy Malagasies breaking in to our house loudly and ruining my sleep that night, the mosquitoes are bad enough. He then told us that he was a Police officer but not working today, that is when I got a little nervous. He then tried walking with us in order to go to the police station. Flashbacks of watching Prison Break then flashed through my mind. I imagined the awful prison that they were all stuck in in season 3, the Malagasy prisons are probably worse. I then concluded that I didn't want to be in prison before I could even grow a beard so I tried reasoning with this man. He was way mad. I was like, "Dude, we were just talking back to the kids because they called us big foreigners, and they are small Malagasies". But he wouldn't listen. He was screaming how that wasn't good to him. Malagasies are really big, and Americans are small (whether he was talking about height or morals, I couldn't really decipher). He also told us that he hates the English Language, it is too confusing so we shouldn't use it anymore. I tried calming him down and attempted to agree and apologize with him, "Yeah English sucks as a language, Malagasy is really clear, I am sorry we called the small Malagasies small". He started to cool down a bit. I then said that I loved all of the Malagasy people (which is true, mind) and told him that I was dearly sorry for offending him. We then told him that we had another appointment back in the town and that we had to go the other way. He reluctantly let us go and told us to be careful and to never call a Malagasy small again. We then waited for a bit and turned around to go back home. It was a pretty weird experience. And from this story we learn that alcohol is truly bad, and that it scares young missionaries into thinking they are going to have to plan a prison escape from a third world country. We also learn that Malgasies (contrary to popular belief) are in fact taller than Americans. It was weird though, lol.

Well, this keyboard makes me mad, so I refuse to write anymore.

Have fun in America this week, the place where there is freedom of speech (I thought that freedom was in this country too, but I guess it is not so).

Elder Anderson

Recent Convert to the church.

A member family (the grandparents are still not members as they are waiting for legal marriage).

My dmb (ward branch leader) enjoying a snack.

An investigator.