Monday, January 26, 2015

Ambohimanarina, Madagascar Week 6

January 26, 2014 - Tropical cyclone hits, flooding and cockroaches. Prayers needed for investigators to come to church.

This week wasn't bad. We got a referral from a recent convert and he is looking strong as of now. He already has a baptism date, his name is M---. I personally think that tracting is sort of a waste of time, you waste hours knocking on doors, and most people won't let you in. If they do let you in though, they usually aren't the strongest investigators, most of the scrubs won't even come to church once.

There is this one family that kind of gets old, in fact, every day they all age a little. But yeah. We come like twice a week and give our longest lessons (because they ask loads of questions), and they still won't show up to church. We ask them why they won't come to church and they will say that the things they are learning still don't help them. What they don't understand is that in order for them to help you have to actually come to church. Last week our DMB (ward mission training leader) helped us a lot so we had a lot of Member Present Lessons. The mother of the family is name C---, the husband is T---, and their children are named D---, and other Ina names. But C--- always asks loads of questions so last week we taught a 3 hour lesson with the DMB. I felt bad for the poor sap, he had to answer loads of questions loads of times. C--- would keep on asking, "What is baptisms for the dead?". She legit like asked the question 4 times, and Tojo (The DMB) would keep on answering. We told her to come to church, she promised she would, and to me and my companion's utter amazement, she didn't show up. But yeah, I really like Tojo, he is a pretty cool guy. He is also really good at English, and really funny too. It seems like the only Malagasies who speak English are members of the church (probably because a lot of them have gone on missions and learned English there).

It seems like all of our progressing investigators right now are all under 15. We have M--- (a recent convert's friend who just committed to baptism) who is 12. We have J--- (a less active turned active family friend). And we have L--- (I don't think that is his real name because it means tall head, and the zone leaders were talking with Tojo about how he has a longish head, and then when we asked what his name was Tojo said it was L---) who is 9 years old and not a member. The best investigators are the ones that have relationships with other members of the church.

Last week part of Madagascar got hit by a cyclone or something (that is what the rumor on the street was at least). It rained non-stop for like 2 days in Tana. We have a sodding awful roof, so our house flooded like mad. There was almost an inch of water in some areas of our house. The funny thing is that it flooded right after we cleaned our extremely dirty house (we cleaned it as fast as we could because we heard that a missionary couple was coming to check the place to make sure it was tidy and clean). We did pretty good for the hour and a half we had. The couple only had a few complaints about the cleanliness. If they would've not called us and just shown up we would've all been murdered on the spot, our house was a bloody mess. It was so bad that we had like 5 dead cockroach bodies just in the bathroom alone that had been there for ages. We most likely would've all been sent home because of how messy it was. But yeah, the next day it rained and rained and rained, and our house got nasty again. When Elder Schroedter and I entered the house Elder Tangarasi was using a bucket to try and remove some of the water from one of the rooms. Elder Hein then said this (in his favorite English Soccer Commentator voice), "The island man is trying his best to stop the house from flooding, but I believe his efforts are in vain. The water is coming in faster than he can dump it out". We are thinking that we are probably going to move out soon, so that will be nice. I really don't like our house right now, it is too messy and has lots of broken parts.

Saturday Elder Schroedter and I ate at what we call "The Sinoa Place" (Sinoa means Chinese) because it is owned and operated by a Sinoa. While we were there we met two big white dudes from Australia. We have seen them a few times before. They were talking and said that "After you get to know Mormons and meet them, they really aren't that different from the rest of us". They were drunken out of their minds. They asked us what drink we ordered, and then we asked what they had. One responded and said, "water" (which was honest, he had like a sugar problem or something), the other then jokingly said, "I've got water but it seems that it has some bubbles in it, I'm not sure what they are though" (He was drinking beer). We then all laughed. They were loud throughout the entire dinner, it got annoying at times. One time I overheard the two sharing a joke with each other. One said to the other, (read with your most thick Aussie accent) "Do you know what Holy Smoke is? Its the steam that comes from the Pope's piss". I thought that was funny. Most of the time whenever I see other white people here they are usually older, larger, and drinkers.

Well folks, I am out of time. That is all for today. I'll be here all week (for 21 months in fact).

Elder Anderson

Mom notes:
We heard about the cyclone through the news last week. This is the report from yahoo news. 
Antananarivo (AFP) - A tropical storm which battered Madagascar at the weekend left 46 people dead, according to a final toll published by the authorities on Wednesday.
More than 120,000 people were left homeless or otherwise affected by the storm known as Chedza which lashed the Indian Ocean island with heavy rains for days, according to the national disaster management office.

Benjamin forgot his camera cord but we found some pics from Elder Hein who lives in Benjamin's apartment! 

This is a pic of Ambohimanarina. Some areas are 4 feet deep. Notice the main road in the middle of the pic is a river.

Another view of the Flooding.

A pic of Elder Hein showing the water they trudge through. He commented that it is cold except when they walk near overflown bathrooms!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Ambohimanarina, Madagascar Week 5

January 19, 2015 - The hills are alive with the sound of music and walking like a Gangster.

Well I do not have a lot of time so I will be brief. This week was pretty good I think. During lessons there are rarely times when I am completely lost. The hardest part is trying to not sound stupid when I try to speak my thoughts in Malagasy. There still are lots of words that I have not yet learned. A few days ago while I was teaching a lesson about Baptism and the Priesthood Authority I made a mistake without realizing it at first. I was on the part about the Baptism and I said, "Iza no nanao batisa i Jesoa Kristy?" - that part is good. They responded, "Jean mpanao Batisa", and then I clarified and said, "Eny, nanao batisa i Jesoa Kristy John the Baptist". The important part in understanding the story is that midst the Malagasy sentence I used the English Name "John the Baptist" which they won't understand (I did say it with a pretty good Malagasy accent though). My trainer then corrected me and I laughed after realizing my mistake. So ya, it was funny for me.

Something that was sort of strange during the week is that while Elder Schroedter and I were relaxing for a few minutes on a hill some random dude comes up on top and starts breaking out into song. It was really strange. It sort of sounded like gospel and opera music mixed together. He just looked over part of the city and sang his soul out to no one in particular. The only ones who were really in listening distance at the time were the two of us. 10 bucks says he was drunk.

Every Saturday here from 10 AM to Noon the six of us (missionaries in our house) teach English to all of the Malagasies who wish to learn. Lately they have turned more into lessons on politics and business and stuff, sometimes I even learn a thing or two. So anyways, when it was Elder Tangarasi's (my black MTC companion from Vanuato) turn to speak he started lecturing about current "problems that spoil the lives of the young people". So he started talking about the basic things like drugs, alcohol, Rongony, and teenage pregnancies. Something about Elder Tangarasi is that whenever he teaches English class he will always do giant motions to help clarify his words. The funniest part for me was when he started to talk about fashion and how that affects lifestyle. He gave an example of before he was baptized and said he was a good kid and wasn't a gangster, he then said that his friend gave him a hat (the caps that modern gangsters wear) and after he put on the hat his mannerisms changed and he started to walk like a gangster. He then demonstrated and took low thugish swopping stepps with his hands behind his back. He then compared the two types of walking: normal, and gangster. I don't know, to me it was really funny, but you probably had to be there. When he was finished talking about the negative influences on the youth's lives, Elder Hein (our zone leader) took the stage. He began talking about business and how easy it would be to make money and be successful in Madagascar. He gave an example of how in Madagascar people will all have the exact same inventory in their road shacks (called episteries) and the shacks will be right next to each other and the items will all be the same price, there is no incentive to go to one episterie over another (when it comes to Business, don't ask a Malagasy for advice). He said that all someone would have to do is to just have a different item than the rest, or cheaper prices and then they would make more money than the rest. He then ranted about the small roads and the horrible bus system in Antananarivo. Elder Hein dreams of starting a business here and becoming rich.

Thats all for now folks, hopefully I will upload some pictures next week. Have a decent week,

Elder Anderson

Whenever I walk by the chickens they all turn their heads and watch me, while clucking harshly, I imagine they are attempting to formulate the phrase everyone is saying (bonjour fahaza).

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Ambohimanarina, Madagascar Week 4

January 12, 2015  - A friendly (drunken) man, young teen masters of the rock polishing trade and a crazy lady!

This week was pretty good. I did get diarrhea again a few days ago, and I still have it right now. It probably wasn't a good idea to drink the soup broth at a local roadside shack, it probably wasn't filtered water (I can guarantee it wasn't filtered, none of the water here is).

I feel as though I have gotten a lot better at the language this last week. My comprehension of the language has gotten pretty decent. I still have a hard time responding to some things though, as the amount of words sitting ready at my disposal is limited.

Today my letter will be shorter than usual, it is very difficult typing on a French keyboard, when I have the American layout memorized. My wpm right now is at like 10 instead of the usual 120, it is very frustrating. The only thing that keeps me typing is this scripture, Revelation 3:21 "To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne". I must overcome the significant trial of French keyboards. On most computers you can switch to the American layout, but not on this one, very sad.

A few days ago Elder Schroedter and I went through a part of our area that I had not yet been through. In order to do so we had to go down a very long and steep downhill path (travelling back upwards wasn't near as fun). As we were going down we noticed an older lady whom we had seen before previously in a different part of town, we said Manahoana and decided to continue downwards. We then continued downwards and met a friendly and drunken man (those two adjectives are synonymous here in Madagascar, the promised land). He was excited to see two white dudes and firmly led us to his house (a wooden shack, smaller than my good old bathroom at home (which I do dearly miss, mind). As the seven of us sat on top of each other, the friendly (drunk) man gave us a heart-warming introduction: "I smoke weed, I drink alcohol, and I do things with girls that aren't appropriate (this is the PG translation of course), but I still love the Bible and believe it is true". After some more small-talk, we moved on to holy things. We gave a brief introduction to the Restoration of the Gospel and asked the chap if we could return, he said that he would be more than happy if we did. We then asked if he would come to church on Sunday, and to our uttermost surprise (not) he said he would! SPOILER ALERT: he didn't come. But yeah, I am still really interested to meet this man again (hopefully a little more sober the next time).

Immediately following that we met some 20 year olds polishing rocks (a very successful trade in 3rd world countries I hear, who needs meals when you can buy fancy looking rocks?) and they said that we could teach them later. When we returned a wild pack of young girls followed and listened to the outdoor lesson. They all said they wanted to learn and that they were around 18 years of age (from their size and looks I would've guessed 13 or 14 max). They most likely just wanted to flirt with white boys, and hope to eventually go to America with them. But yeah, they all promised to go to church on Sunday as well, but lo, Sunday arrived and not a single one of them was there, nothing that I didn't expect.

After meeting with the friendly (drunken) man and the masters of the trade, we decided to call it a day and head back home. But alas! On the way home we met the older lady who we had seen 3 times now again. She insisted that we entered her home (cardboard box) and help her, so naturally (reluctantly, she seemed crazy) we did enter. After we began with a prayer she began ranting about how she needed help and that she was in trouble with the police and that her husband was gone until late every day. The next 10 minutes transpired as follows: CRAZY LADY: I need help! SCARED MISSIONARIES: You should pray to God and he will help you. CRAZY LADY: I need help! Help me! SCARED MISSIONARIES: The only advice we have is to pray to God for help. And it continued, with little to no other words added to the mix. We have since seen that exact lady 3 times more, I believe that we are cursed. Now we try to keep our distance whenever we see her, she could have commited murder for all I know. She isn't interested in the Gospel, she only wants the protection from the government methinks.

Well that is it for today. We weren't able to meet with T--- my good ol' monkey friend this week, we called and he said that there was a death in his family. We returned to his house at a later date and noticed that there was a lock on the gate. He probably just doesn't want to meet with us anymore, though he did say we were always welcome.

That is all,
Elder Anderson

Local Roadside shacks in Ambohimanarina from Google.
These are along the main street in town that Benjamin 
travels each day. 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Ambohimanarina, Madagascar Week 3

January 5, 2014

This week was a pretty average week, nothing really spectacular happened. During lessons I can understand most things that are said, as long as they are concerning holy things. I feel like my ability is improving each week (who would've thought). I got sick a couple of days ago, so that was not fun. It wasn't that bad though, it only lasted like half a day. 

Today Elder Schroedter and I went over to the office to drop off some baptism documents. The Taxi Be (Van packed with a bunch of Malagasies (I feel really bad for the Malagasy that I was almost sitting on, poor guy) ride took 2 hours to get to the office from our area. Traffic today was really bad, Elder Hein said that the reason for the traffic today was that today everyone was returning to school from their families today and tomorrow. So, after we arrived at the office we stayed for like 20 mins and then went back on the bus. Before we returned I bought a donut from a shady looking street shop, it was pretty good (not quite sure if I would classify it as good enough to justify the inevitable diarrhea) The ride home was only 1 and a half hours (much better than 2 (sarcasm)). 

A lot of our investigators have been progressing really well. In fact, just yesterday we got three more to commit to a baptism date, now all we have to do is get them to actually come to church. One of the major problems in the Madagascar mission is that it is very hard for people to actually come to church. If you ask them to come they will accept and promise to show up, but when Sunday morning comes very few actually attend. Yesterday one of our AP's went on surprise splits with me and Elder Schroedter to see how we were doing as a companionship (he probably just wanted to make sure that we didn't accept any of the Rongony from the Malagasies we met last week - haha). While the three of us were walking along the sewage and litter streams to our next appointment he shared a story about a family that he was teaching. In summary: he and his companion taught a family and got them all baptized and coming to church. Everything seemed fine and good. Then a few months later when a new companionship was in the area they came to visit at a different time and noticed that the father wasn't there, Eventually the companionship learned that the Father of the family lived in a different house with another woman, and that he only was with his family during the regular times that the AP and his companion would visit the family and during church in the mornings. The family had been lying to the misisonaries for months, and the AP and his companion didn't notice. The moral of his story was that Malagasies are flawless liars, they start from the time they are young. When they are just small children their parents will tell them to say that no one is home so that they aren't disturbed, even when they are. They continue the rest of their lives and become expert liars. Elder Weber (the AP) reassured us that they were amazing people, but they had problems with lying. Even though all of our investigators and less-active members promise that they will come to church next Sunday, very few of them actually do.

This week we taught T--- ("I am just like that monkey") again, the lesson was about the Plan of Salvation. Things were going pretty good until we talked about the ressurection. He was concerned by the fact that after we are resurrected we get a body. He firmly believes that God doesn't have a body. We then said that when Christ was resurrected he had a body. He then responded saying that when Christ was resurrected he went straight through walls trying to explain that he didn't think that we needed bodies after this Earth life. I think that if we could convince him that God has a body, and that he isn't a spirit only, that he would progress drastically. If you have any ideas please let me know. 

In closing, I am having a great time in Madagascar, even though I still hate rice with a passion, it is a real shame that rice is the only thing they eat. All day, every day. Rice. Oh, I also am not too fond of the amount of litter. There are some areas that are literaly just huge mounds of junk and trash. The uncleanliness and the sewage lines on ground level also aren't my favorite, but that's just life I guess. I also hate the fact that the computers are all in French, it makes it hard to type.

Elder Anderson

Pic Elder Schroedter took at the church waiting for 
investigators who didn't show.

Trash in Ambohimanarina