Sunday, March 29, 2015

Ambohimanarina, Madagascar Week 14

March 23, 2015

Well, sorry that I didn't send an email last week, Elder Schroedter spent most of his last P Day here saying "Good Bye" to people as he prepared to depart. Right now I have a new companion. His name is Elder Evans. So far he seems great, we get along just fine. Elder Schroedter went to a place called Mahajanga, it is on the coast by the beach and is way hot. I am still going to be working in this area for the time being. I am still here in Ambohimanarina.

In other news, last week I did my first Baptism ever. I was just a tad bit nervous to say the least, I was really worried that I was going to say the Baptism prayer in Malagasy wrong. Thankfully I did in fact say it flawlessly (I have confidence in my claim as not a single Malagasy laughed while and after I was performing the baptism, I was very proud of myself). The baptism was completed in a nice little squarish box thing. The water was nice and cold (I was glad that I was dunker and the dunkee, only my legs got wet). The font was also a lot cleaner than our last baptism, our diligent DMB (ward mission leader) decided to clean it before the meeting this time, bless his heart. Instead of being a certainly peculiar shade of refried beans brown, this time it was the friendlier color of "used" kiddy pool green. I baptised a 14 year old young man named J-- M---, he is a friend of M---, who is a friend of P---, who is a Recent Convert in the church. My well-thought goal for these next few months is to baptize someone who is above the age of 17, hopefully I can accomplish such a extraneous feat.

Lately I have started hating rice a little less than usual. Before I could only eat a little bit of it before it got boring (I would occasionally even gag if I put enough of the tasteless stuff in my poor, discriminating mouth), but now I am usually able to finish a plate. It still has no taste though if there is no meat with it, a minor setback. Now that I am on the subject, the difference in flavor between fried rice and plain white rice is tremendous. I still look forward to the day I return and get to once again taste fried rice from Panda Express... but for now I will just have to settle with good ol' fashioned sticky rice I suppose. I do like the meat and beans they put on the rice though. Tsaramaso and these peanut like things. They are pretty good, and they make it possible to consume the rice - a nice little bonus. You don't really realize how much you appreciate fast food until it is gone. I have gone many a day waiting for my rice to arrive at my plate while secretly lusting over Subway, Taco Time, Wendy's, and McDonald's (to name a few). A lot of commodities in America are definitely taken for granted by the people there, me included. My eyes have really been opened since the time I have arrived in "The Second Poorest Country in the World". Not a single McDonald's in site.

This week Elder Evans and I have been contacting a lot. We are trying to get our program 100 percent full, a noble task indeed. Just yesterday we ran into this nice little fellow and I shared a small spiritual thought that led into a brief introduction of the Joseph Smith story. As soon as I stopped talking about Joseph Smith, M---, the dude, started laughing. His laughing made me feel a little strange, I started thinking that I said something incorrect during the lesson and took a look at my companion to confirm my fears. But before I could correct some mistake that I must have made M--- announced to us that he, like Joseph Smith, also has been praying to God to know which church was the true church on earth, as there are loads of churches in the world today. So I guess the rumors are indeed true, some people are prepared spiritually for the missionaries beforehand. I was taken back just as much as all of you. Most of the time we contact into families they either aren't interested or are too committed to their family religion. But this bloke actually had been praying and asking the same questions that Joseph himself asked, and received the missionaries as his answer. I could tell that he was really relieved and excited about our message and he gladly told us that we could return next week. It seems that our hard work that day did pay off in the end. From the moment I saw him I could tell that something was different about him, I hope that he makes it in the end (I hope that all people make it in the end actually, I do have charity). Oh, and the weird feeling that I felt was probably the Holy Ghost, that's what I am hoping for at least (although at first I was scared that he was laughing because he thought we were preaching laughable content or that he was laughing at my poor attempt to communicate with him in his native tongue).

That's all I can think of for this week, there was probably more but my memory is certainly rubbish. The last thing I wish to say is that I now have a burning hatred for fleas and mosquitoes, and all bugs of that nature. I have quite a few bites all over my legs, it is rather annoying. Whenever I see one of the little devils I will shout out in Malagasy and murder the beast by whatever 
means necessary. Afterwards I will quote to the remains of the beast (Mark 14:21), "It would have been better for that man if he had not been born". I still am not sure what God's intent was when he created the mosquito, probably just to add to our trials in order to make us stronger.

Goodbye dear friends, until our next meeting.

Elder Anderson

My trainer Elder Schroedter, Elder Covey, Elder Schroedter's trainer's trainer Elder Weber, and me Elder Anderson

Elder Schreodter and I with the three kids getting baptized last Sunday. I baptized the oldest one, Jean Mikeal, on the far right. Malagasies don't smile in pictures because they are self conscious of the gaps in their teeth haha, that is why they all look a little depressed in this photo. 

Santa Claus in Malagasy looks very scary, the frown and umbrella combo next to the kid, gets me every time. :)

Elders in Benjamin's house before transfers, from Elder Hein's blog.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Ambohimanarina, Madagascar Week 13

March 16, 2015

Elder Anderson only had a few minutes to email this week and did not get a letter written :(

Here is what he was able to tell us.

He is getting a new companion, Elder Evans from Payson, Utah. Benjamin is staying in the same area, three of the 6 guys in his apartment are receiving new companions, so every companionship is changing. Benjamin, Elder Tangasari and Elder Babb will stay with their new companions.

Benjamin wished Christine, Rachel and Grace each a Happy Birthday, said love you all and that was it for this week.

A couple of March flood pictures from Antananarivo due to the 2 cyclones. Homes in the low lying areas were hit hard. Hopefully the rainy season will end soon.

Aparently there are deep pot holes in the ground that are not visible when the roads are flooded.

Inondation à Madgascar via @MiranaPriscilla sur twitter

Benjamin's new companion, Elder Evans

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Ambohimanarina, Madagascar Week 12

March 9, 2015

On Tuesday we had Zone Conference at the Mission Office, it was pretty good. We watched Meet the Mormons I had already seen it like a billion times at the MTC so it wasn't anything new for me, the other missionaries really seemed to enjoy it though so all is well. At Zone Conference President Adams stressed the importance of integrity and how we need to keep track of our money and give the allotment that we don't use back to the Mission Office at the end of the money. Recently a lot of Missionaries have been saving up the monthly allotment in order to buy computers, cameras, and smart phones when their missions are over. A lot of the Malagasy Missionaries especially have been saving their money and then starting businesses, most of them are really poor and have no money back home. I was selected beforehand to give the closing prayer at the conclusion of the Conference, I was a little nervous with all of the other missionaries present. After I gave my prayer Elder Hein (One of my Zone Leaders) told me that I sounded like an apostle when I gave my prayer (most likely half-jokingly though). He pointed out the stark contrast between the language of my prayer and the language I use when I am playing Risk in our apartment. I can assure you that no derogative slurs or slang terms were uttered whilst I was offering the closing prayer. The lunch at the Mission Office during the Zone Conference was pretty good, a lot different than the usual Rice and laoka. I was amazed at the fact that I did not have to pick out a single hair from the Sloppy Joes prepared by Sister Adams. I mentioned that President, in Zone Conference, stated that we all need to keep better track of our money and budget it better, so all of the missionaries in the mission now need to keep a budgeting notebook and write down every single 3 cent cracker that we buy. I have mixed feelings on this new requirement, it is probably a half-decent idea to have to keep a record of all of our purchases on the mission, but to me it is just going to be another chore to have to write down every single small thing that I buy. Who knows though, we will have to wait and see.

On Tuesday (The day of the Zone Conference) we got absolutely no missionary work done, Elder Schroedter and I left our house at 5 30 AM in the morning in anticipation of the 2.5+ hour Taxi Be ride and did not return to our house until 7 30 PM after an exciting 3.5 hour taxi ride back home. The traffic here is insane, the roads here are so thin, if there is a slight mishap in the road, no cars move. When we were about 30 minutes from our house on a nice little thin road with water on both sides the car broke down and nearly swerved off the side of the road. Thinking fast, I did what any sane man would do, I quickly repented of anything and everything that I could think of as my life flashed before my eyes. After the incident I was like, "Woah, we almost died". But yeah, the driver quickly regained control so no harm done, I wasn't even mad. The Taxi would no longer go anymore after it broke down, so we helped the Taxi driver push the car up and down the slopes of Antananarivo for about 40 or so minutes to the nearest gas station. It wasn't all too heavy actually, just a small little Taxi car. The Malagasy people were probably a little astonished seeing four white dudes in suits pushing a Taxi car around Madagascar, I know that I would be.

We are finally 100 percent moved into our new home, I like it a lot. I did have trouble sleeping one night though, somehow some nasty bugger of a mosquito gained entrance into my sleeping chambers. I would wake up every hour or so to the dreaded sound of a dreaded insect's annoying buzz. Around 4:30 AM I was determined to get my revenge. So I grabbed the bug-spray from off my table next to my bed and waited for the monstrosity to tempt my hand. A minuted later it began to fly right above my head, and I murdered the beast, songs and poems will be written of this day I think. I triumphantly sprayed the Mosquito 3 or 4 times just to be safe, the battle was won, the victory mine. I have like a million bug bites on every limb now, I really do hate bugs. But yeah, the house is pretty nice. Most nights we will play Risk or UNO for an hour or 2 (one night we played one game of Risk that lasted until 2:30 in the morning). The new house is loads better though, that much is certain. I even walked around barefoot once, it was an enlightening experience. I dearly hope that I never have to see the old Talatamaty house again, I imagine the Devil's apartment looks something like our old house, very dirty and moldy and such. Who knows.

We have 3 baptisms (possibly 4) coming up next Saturday, all of them are under the age of 17. Two of them are friends with M--- (my first baptism) and the other one is a 9 year old in a part-member family. A big problem with a lot of our investigators as of now is that a lot of them aren't legally married with documents. We have a lot of couples who are ready to get baptized but are still waiting to become legally married. Marriage is expensive in Madagascar due to the fact that most of the people here are incredibly poor, so most of the people here just avoid it altogether. More than 80 percent of the people here live on less that 1.25 USDs a day here, that is an insanely small amount of money. In the States it seems like you can sneeze and that much money will come out. Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world (if not the absolute poorest).

On Sunday I went on a split with Elder Tangarsi (my MTC companion). It was an interesting experience, we are both 3 months in country and fairly inexperienced with the language and the ways of the mission as a whole. Luckily we had 2 young members help us throughout the day, so that was a good help. I felt that we did a very good job for how new we are, the lessons weren't half bad. I had a fun day, if nothing else. At the conclusion of the day one of our member-helpers told me that I was already very good at Malagasy, and that I didn't say a single thing incorrectly. Whereas Elder Tangarasi made a handful of mistakes here and there. He is definitely trying his best though, even though he doesn't speak perfectly, he repeats himself and speaks in a way that the Malagasy people usually do understand him in the end. My biggest problem with the language right now is understanding what people are saying. If they say too few words, or words that I don't know it is hard for me to understand them at times. I just need to expand my vocabulary cache.

That's all I can really remember all ye people, so that is all.
Elder Anderson

On the far left we have Elder Schroedter, my companion. Next is Elder Tangarsi, my MTC companion. Following Elder Tangarsi we have Elder Hein and Elder Babb, my Zone Leaders. After Elder Babb is Elder Razazarohavana, Elder Tangarasi's companion and a native Malagasy. I am on the far right.

Benjamin has been in Madagascar long enough we think he has turned into a lemur! This picture he sent, he used picture effects from his camera - haha.

My first baptism, M--- is 12 years old.  Schroedter did the baptism.

Pics of the dirty old house after we attempted to clean it lol.

Benjamin and his companion - once again with camera effects.

The living room in our new house, it isn't half bad.

Elder Tangarasi on Elder Schroedter's bed. This is our room. Take note on how well my bed is made.

New bathroom.

Not an LDS church, but it had a statue of Jesus.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Ambohimanarina, Madagascar Week 11

March 2, 2015

We didn't get a lot of missionary work done this week, as most of the time was spent moving and cleaning houses. And as I predicted from the week prior, last Monday all of the 6 missionaries in the Talatamaty house all stayed awake until 2:30 AM killing cockroaches and mopping the water from the floods. And then the following day, we all got up at 6:30 and continued cleaning the wretched place. We then got all of the furniture out of the house and waited a few minutes for the moving van to arrive. After we took the first load of furniture to the new house, we were pleasantly surprise (not) to discover that the previous owners of our new house had still not moved out. They hadn't even started taking anything out of the house, everything from spoons to beds were still in their house. So instead of moving our furniture into their new location in the house, we instead put it all in the garage and had to wait hours for them to finally get out of the house. The house also wasn't as clean as I was expecting it to be, so we had to sweep and mop the new house along with the old one. But yeah, we all waited for hours for them to move out, and when we were finally finished at 6:30 PM we received a phone call from the office, saying that our old house was a dirty, disastrous mess and that we would need to clean our old house again at 6:30 the next morning. That old house was truly something else, imagine 10 years of sloppy missionaries living in a house and never lifting (or even looking at) a broom or a rag, it was truly incredible. We spent the entire day attempting to conquer that monstrosity, in the end we did eventually win. The beast was slain once and for all. The house was such a mess, we decided that the most efficient method of cleaning it would be to hose and flood the whole inside of the house. We were walking in water that was inches deep while scrubbing off mold from the showers that must have been there from before the time of Christ's birth. It was honestly not my favorite day in the world, but I did (I admit) enjoy hosing down the entire kitchen to my heart's content. After 10 hours of giving cockroaches early salvation and washing off bathroom floors that (or so the rumors say) were tread upon by Moses of old, we finally were done. Although the house still looked like a high school bathroom, it was way better than the days prior. The new house is really nice, it feels comfortable and cozy, I even feel comfortable walking around the place without a hazmat suit on.

After the house-moving adventure, we had a day of rest from cleaning with only a few lessons. They went well, as far is I understood correctly. Some of our investigators are progressing really well. We didn't get to visit T--- this week, hopefully he still isn't drinking though. We will catch him next Sunday. 

The rest of this week was spent at stake conference on Saturday and Sunday. A 70 from South Africa came and spoke to us about the importance of counseling and councils, and the role of the family in teaching the gospel. The meetings went very slow because someone had to translate his words from English to Malagasy. But yeah, it was pretty cool.

The power company here (they only have one in Madagascar, the competition is real) is being really stupid today, so I can't write down anything else. Most of the week was spent cleaning and moving anyways, so there isn't really anything else. Just know that our new house is loads better than the trash heap. I wish you all a great week!

Elder Anderson

A spider on the outside wall of the church building, larger than Benjamin's outstretched hand.

A Picture effect from Benjamin's camera of himself.

Flooding overnight in the old apartment. This was the morning after they had moved out and cleaned the previous day. Benjamin dealt with this continually for the 3 months he lived there, but never complained. :)

Pic of Benjamin cleaning up the apartment taken by Elder Hein. 

Pic of Benjamin's companion cleaning - taken by Elder Hein.