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.
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!