Monday, February 23, 2015

Ambohimanarina, Madagascar Week 10, Cockroach-bane

February 23, 2015

The biggest news as of now is probably that we are moving houses soon. We are moving tomorrow, so that is pretty fun. Right now our current house is just wretched in every way imaginable. Whenever it rains it floods like mad in every room. Whoever made the roof wasn't thinking straight or something (See: Marijuana and its Many Side-Effects). The roof is literally just flat with a border around it, so whenever it rains the water stays trapped on top, and eventually seeps down the walls into every room. Our current house is also extremely dirty and messy as of late, we will most likely all be up until 1 AM tonight, murdering and disposing of cockroaches, spiders, and dust bunnies. Everyone in the mission says that the Talatamaty house (our house) is by far the dirtiest house in the mission. Every night we walk in inches-deep water in our house, and then it gets dirty because of the flooding (the circle of life: floods, dirtiness, and the dirty floodiness). I haven't actually seen the new house, but the Zone Leaders say that it is way better than our current one, so I will take their word for it. I am excited to change houses, but not too excited to do the whole moving process. Hopefully our new house can stay clean, I was just a little disappointed (to say the least) when I arrived at our Talatamaty house 2 months ago and witnessed how immensely dirty it was. The night previous to that moment I stayed at the AP's house, and it was decently clean. It is safe to say that my spirit was lessened when I first stepped into our incredibly filthy house, it will be nice having a new and clean house to stay in.

In other news, I got my first baptism this week (it still counts as mine even if my companion did the baptizing right?) It was a pretty cool experience (The baptismal water was cold that day, get it?) . There were three investigators that got baptized last Saturday: An eight year old son of a member, one of the Zone Leader's investigators, and one of our investigators named M---. M--- is 12 years old right now, he is a friend of one of the members, that is how we found him. The baptismal font was a decent sized box looking thing, the water was cold and an eerie shade of green (good thing that it was Elder Schroedter who did the baptism, am I right?). The day of the baptism was very rainy and cold (cold for the Malagasies, the perfect temperature for me). M--- later told us that the water was cold as well, that is a real shame. But yeah, a lot of members came to the baptism, along with M---'s family, so all is well. Elder Schroedter also didn't mess up at all when doing the Baptism, I was proud. Elder Hein missed a word and had to dunk his investigator twice (I'm sure the investigator particularly enjoyed getting submerged in freezing water an additional time, but, as I always say, "You can't get dunked in a baptismal font too many times").

Our new church building is almost ready to receive members, I think the only thing missing right now is the Church Plaque on the outside gate, the plaque on the building just got placed this week. I really hope that we receive the keys to the new building soon, our current building right now is cramped and small. We literally have people sitting on steps outside of the Sacrament Hall, due to the fact that the main hall is already full. I always feel embarrassed whenever we have new investigators witness the untidiness of our very small church-house. I will rejoice when we finally can use the new, nice, and big church-house while we pray. Although, it is rather nice being able to sleep during Sacrament meeting on the stairs, outside of the view of the other members. Sometimes we just have to sacrifice our desires (like sleeping during Sacrament) for the greater good (getting an adequate chapel for our Sunday Meetings).

Recently our members have been helping us (the missionaries) a lot more. The work goes a lot smoother when the members help us. One positive thing that happens when members teach with us is that the investigators can see that there are actually black Malagasies in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and not just a bunch of white "vazahas". One of the most commonly asked questions by investigators that still haven't gone to church is: "What language are the Sunday meetings in, because my French isn't really that great". They ask this question because they assume that our meetings are in French, because they assume that we are French, and they assume that there are actually more than 6 white dudes living in Ambohimanarina. I guess that they think our church meetings in Madagascar are composed of the only 6 or so white dudes that live around our area. Yesterday we received help from an adult-age sister and her brother from our ward. While we were journeying across the rice paddy I biffed it and slipped, landing hard in the mud. Everyone laughed as I attempted to wipe the mud off my pants with some grass located nearby. They then told me that I shouldn't use that grass because dogs pee on it (that is what I understood at least). Later that night I almost fell again, but I likely caught myself this time, no harm done. But I really do appreciate it when members help. Having member help can sometimes seal the deal of a lost soul's salvation. I am really grateful that the members have been helping us a lot lately.

And that's that. Thank you for reading.
The One... The Only... Elder Anderson, Cockroach-bane

Benjamin did not send pics this week so I posted my favorite from last week. He has some sort of bug bite under his eye and yet he still looks so handsome! He said it looked like his companion socked him - haha.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Ambohimanarina, Madagascar Week 9 'Not Bad'

February 17, 2015                

Well this week was "not bad" look up "not bad Obama meme" on the computer. But yeah, this week we had 6 investigators come to church, I think that was more than last week (correct me if I'm wrong). We taught like 25 lessons as well (as long as 15 minute spiritual thoughts count as lessons). 

Last week I went on splits with Elder Razazarohavana again, but this time we were in my area. I thought I did pretty good leading the way, we only got lost like 3 times! (one time I was wandering around for like 2 hours lol). My area is too big, hopefully I have the whole thing memorized before my companion probably leaves next transfer in 4 weeks (stated simpler: pray for me (no, but really, I need all the help I can get)). I did learn a lot when I had to guide us around the area without Elder Schroedter, so that's good. I just wish that there was some map or something I could use, there is literally nothing in the area book, just the occasional crude drawing from a crude Elder crudely attempting to explain the crude location of our crudely interested investigators. So my life is pretty hard right now (no maps = no fun). 

The other day Elder Schroedter and I taught T--- again (the drunk-off-his-knocker half-French half-Gaser), but this time he was sober (it was really weird to be honest, I had no idea what the good chap was like when he hadn't just downed a whiskey or five). But yeah, I guess our lesson from last week did have some impact in fact (my good mate wasn't fooling around when he passionately kissed the Word of Wisdom pamphlet, whilst praising that he loved it from the week prior). This last lesson that we had this past week he told us that he believes that the Word of Wisdom is an important commandment to keep and that it, wait for it, has lots of wisdom. He told us that when he gets some church pants he will come to church, I am almost tempted to just buy the lad some slacks (anything to get an investigator to come to church). So yeah, I am way excited for T---, every missionary needs one of the classic stories where a man changes from the town drunk to the 1st counselor in the local bishopric. I really feel like he is going to change and accept the Book of Mormon and the gospel.

Today me and Elder Schroedter went to the office, a very uninspiring journey (nothing relaxes me more than sitting (if you can even call it that) on a poor Malagasy half my size in a hot, cramped, over sized clown car for a duration of 2 and a half hours. Although it doesn't take long because of the distance, but because of the traffic here. The gentleman who designed the roads here probably wasn't the brightest. They are the size of 1-way roads in America but have 2 lanes of traffic and pedestrians walking on them. The times when I have to ride the Taxi-be are definitely not my favorite times of the day. Although, my testimony was strengthened when the baby that was on it's mother's lap who was sitting right next to me barfed all over the place, barely missing me. The baby's face was literally, no joke, facing straight at me mere seconds before the explosion. I now know, of a surety, that God does in fact exist.

Well folks, that's about all I've got time for this week. I bid you all farewell.

Elder Anderson, the Tamer of Drunks

​I got some weird red bump under my eye, it looked like Elder Shroedter socked me in the face. I think it was a flea bite acting up or something, it is gone now, but it got really big.

Dinner at a nice restaurant. It was pretty expensive for Madagascar, like 3 bucks.

Haircut time. I get my hair cut in a tiny shack about 4 foot by 4 foot. It costs about 90 cents. My comp says I look like I just joined the army!

A blurry picture of a huge spider in our apartment. It was way bigger than any of the spiders I ever found in my basement back home.

The squashed dead spider. My finger doesn't do his size justice, I didn't put my finger all the way on the wall - so the perspective is off.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Ambohimanarina, Madagascar Week 8

February 9, 2015

This week was pretty good, we had 5 investigators come to church this week, and 5 is more than 1. So this week wasn't bad. I am definitely getting better at the language, but you probably already assumed as much due to the fact that inside of every weekly email I have never failed to mention the following: "I am getting better at Malagasy". In more impressing news, I almost type as fast with the French keyboard layout as I used to type with the English keyboard layout back home. I am very happy with my improvement as a missionary. 

Yesterday I'm pretty sure my companion and I broke records. We taught 10 lessons on Sunday in addition to being at our church apartment (I said apartment not house) for 5 hours during the day along with an additional 2 hours set apart for eating. I'm sure you are all scratching your heads right now with your jaws touching the floor, wondering how my companion and I accomplished such an extraordinary feat. I will reveal unto you our secret combinations. We split off with native members of our branch and taught 2 lessons during 1 period of time 2 separate times during the day. 2 birds with one stone, or better still, 7 birds with 4 stones. 

Our DMB (Tojo) (Branch Missionary Helper-dude) has been helping us a lot recently, so that is nice. some days we will only have Lessons with a member present because he will hang with us the whole day. It really helps the investigators, I think, if a member is present in the lesson with them. Tojo is a pretty cool guy, he speaks really good English. Very few people here can speak English at all. The only ones are probably just the return missionaries. But yeah, I really like Tojo, he is pretty cool.

Yesterday one of the lessons we taught was pretty unique. There is this one chap that we have been teaching for a while, but the last few times he has been drunk. We knocked on his curtain (few people have doors here) and saw him looking particularly interesting. I swear one of his eyes was looking straight up and the other was looking straight down while it appeared to me that he was attempting to do his best Jack Sparrow impersonation. I turned to my companion and said, "This bloke is drunk off his knocker", but we taught him anyways. T--- is half Malagasy and half French, it is hard to understand him because when he speaks he has a surprisingly thick French accent. He has the face and hair of a Frenchman, but the skin tone of a Malagasy. We started the lesson off with the usual prayer, he got down on his knees once and wasn't back in his seat after that (this man was pretty drunk). Tojo was new so he introduced himself to T---. To my utter surprise, he took Tojo's hand and kissed it and said something in French after hearing his name. Not a common thing in Madagascar. We then shared the scripture stating that our bodies are temples and gave a quick message. After that we gave him the small pamphlet about the Word of Wisdom, and to my surprise, he began kissing it and kept on saying "Tiako" or I love. I thought it was pretty weird. Then a neighbor of his entered his house and noticed how drunk he was. They got into an argument and it ended with the man leaving and telling us that we needed to cast the Devil out of T---, and that we were wasting our time. After that he revealed to us hidden documents pertaining to the land in his possession, and that he would kill us if we told anyone the location of his "deed" because people would try to steal it. I had to try and hold back my laughter. We then attempted to end the lesson, but he kept on telling us how he wasn't Malagasy, but he was half and half. I eventually just spoke up and said the following in Malagasy, "I understand good, your mom was white and your father was Malagasy, but right now I am going to end with a closing prayer". His talking ceased, and I quickly took the opportunity and offered a prayer. We then offered him our hands to let him shake them (he decided it would be more appropriate to kiss them instead) and left. That was a very interesting lesson.

A few days ago I went on splits with one of the Elders in my house (The native Malagasy one called Elder Rawawarohavana). It was a pretty good experience. Elder Tangarasi was sick so my companion stayed with him. We taught 2 lessons. I was nodding off like mad in the first one, I don't know why though. Maybe it was because I didn't understand that much of the conversation, Elder Razazarohavana is very good at Malagasy (who would've thought?). The second lesson I taught a part of it and thought that it went pretty well. It was a good experience teaching with a native Malagasy I think.

Well, that's all for this week folks. The work goes strong. If only they would all come to church.

Elder Anderson

This is a picture of a door barricaded shut. When I went on splits with Elder Rawawarohavana we had an appointment right by this house. He told me that it was barricaded because a crazy lady lived there and broke everything in her sight. I heard her yelling nonsense to herself, so I can confirm she was crazy. I thought it was pretty interesting. They obviously don't have the resources to treat mental illness properly.

Food that I ate today, steak panne and frites. The main point of the picture is the huge pile of salt. While pouring from the shalt shaker, the lid broke fell off.  I decided to cover the spill with the convenient piece of lettuce that was part of my meal. It was a very expensive and nice restaurant for Madagascar, around 3 Dollars when converted to USD.

This wiring looks safe! Lol.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Ambohimanarina, Madagascar Week 7

February 2, 2015                

Well the first thing that comes to mind when I think of this week was the fact that I was sick for a few days. I got some feverish thing and a cold, probably the flu or something. Anyways, we didn't leave the house for a day and a half because of it, I was feeling pretty sick. This week we had a really low number of investigators show up at church, so low, in fact, that I won't tell you (there was 1). Most of our strongest investigators had semi-decent excuses though (for example, one said that she just straight up slept through church), so all is good in the hood.

Today is the last day of my first transfer in my first area in the last hour before P-day ends. Most of the missionaries in my room were excited, but I was like "whatever, that's nice" and went to bed before the news was announced. It isn't like I was going to switch areas or anything, I am still in the middle of the training program. This transfer doesn't really affect me at all, my entire house will still be the same, nothing really different.

The other day I went on a split with Elder Hein (the ZL) and I thought it was enjoyable. The first few hours we just searched for a new house around our area, we didn't find anything promising though. After that we taught two lessons, one was to a less-active member, and the other was to an investigator. The lessons went well, I understood a lot more than I thought I would, I was never really lost or confused during any part of them. The first lesson was about repentance, the second about fasting. The second lesson was a dinner appointment as well, so I got (had) to eat day old sea-food from a party the day prior. I literally was about to plug my nose while eating the rice, it tasted very sour and fishy. The fish looked extremely nasty (it tasted better than it looked (it would've been hard otherwise). The food had literally been sitting out all day in the heat since the night of the party, they had no refrigerator or anything. And there was loads of it as well, it was all cold, old, sea food. Elder Hein told me that during the day of the party when the food was fresh and warm that it was some of the best food he has consumed in Madagascar. I personally wasn't too impressed by the cold, fish stuff. I tried to eat as little as possible, while still being polite in order to not get sick, it didn't exactly work. The next morning Elder Hein and I had upset stomachs. If I'm like dead or something in a week, you will all know why. It has always been my motto to avoid fishy looking fish, but exceptions must be made in the presence of investigators of the church. Moral of the story: Malagasy stomachs can handle almost anything, mine can't handle jack.

Earlier this week we taught English in 2 classes. One experienced class, and one noob class. I taught an hour and a half of the latter. The start was a bit rough, I started out teaching them how to say "hello" and "how are you" of course it was 15 minutes of that nonsense when they revealed to me that they already knew how to say "hello". I then switched gears to a more advanced level and had the whole class introduce themselves "Mai nehm ees Fifaliana. Aye ehm fraum Ambohimanarina. Aye ehm dix-huit yirs auld." Most of them were about that good anyways. I then went through and talked about animals, colors, continents, and languages and had them all tell me their favorite of the above categories. Most would just answer with the simple dog, cat, black, blue, Africa, and Malagasy or french or English. But at least they learned something (they learned how bad my knowledge of the following Malagasy Vocabulary: Animals, Colors, Continents, and world languages.) But in the end, I had a pretty good time teaching.

Well, that is all. Pray for the fish in my stomach, or ,to be even more appropriate, pray for my stomach that is holding the fish.

Benjamin finally sent some pictures! He couldn't send many because the connection was bad.

At home in Ambohimanarina

Ambohimanarina river/sewage

Ambohimanarina trash mountain

A pic from the MTC