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.
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.