"Magicianary" - A missionary who does magic to bring joy and happiness as well as share the gospel with the people of Madagascar (According to Brad)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas was awesome!! - Dec. 26, 2011

Merry Christmas everyone!!! I hope that everyone got every present that they asked for, and if they didn't... it was probably too expensive. I just loved talking to family! It was great to hear all of your guys' voices again. And Phil's humor never gets old for me. Thank you for the USB with all the pics and dinner table conversation, funny as ever! This past week has been good. There has been missionary work, parties and all around fun. 

On Saturday, there was a party with half the missionaries in Tana [Antananarivo] (it is split up into two separate zones). And we had a delicious dinner and a white elephant gift exchange; we were also allowed to watch a Disney or Pixar movie, so we picked to watch Cars 2. It was pretty funny, I suggest watching it. For the dinner each house had assignments on what to bring or make for the dinner. We were assigned rolls and a dessert. I wouldn't say they were the worst rolls I've ever had but... who am I kidding, they were pretty bad. But it wasn't because of the chefs. It was our crappy oven, I swear! We also think we had bad yeast, can yeast go bad? We just found it on a shelf and decided to use it, so we don't know how old it was. It still tasted somewhat good, but they weren't risen and the bottom was burnt. Now for the dessert. We decided to cook brownies. We had everything right, we baked them just right, we had all the right measurements, the baking powder was not expired, everything! Except one thing... We couldn't find any cocoa powder for it, so we had to use just the chocolate powder you put in milk. In the end they didn't turn out too bad, they just could have used some more chocolate. Even those were a little burnt on the bottom too, I think it has to do with that there is no PAM in this country. So everything sticks to the bottom of what you're using. So that is what we brought to the dinner. What everyone ended up having was: chicken, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cooked vegetables, an asortment of soda, and all kinds of dessert. Pumpkin pie, brownies and sponge cake. I have no idea what sponge cake is but everyone said it tasted good. After that we watched Cars 2, Mater is super funny in it. Then after that we had the white elephant exchange. I ended up with six "Presto". It is this way cheap crappy brand of top ramen. I might keep the Christmas cheer going and give it to some homeless kids tomorrow. So that was all of Saturday. 

Sunday I woke up at 5 because Elder Bates had to wake up at 5:00 because that was when his family was going to call him. And I ran to open up my presents that were under our 1 foot tall Christmas tree. I got tons of candy, brownie and cookies mixes, a very nice tie and a USB with pictures and videos with people saying Merry Christmas. Oh, and thank you to everyone who sent me a short message. I loved every present and can't wait 'till next Christmas. After that, we went to church and had a wonderful Sacrament meeting. Me and Elder Landon helped pass the sacrament because they were a little short. And they asked him to bear his testimony without warning. And I forgot to teach him the proper way of bearing a testimony in Sacrament meeting but everything else was perfect. He is awesome at the language. After church we stayed there to charge our phones because our power was out at our house. We wanted to have our phones plugged in when we talked to our families just in case the phones had a short battery life. But luckily at two o'clock the power came back on. I loved talking with all of you guys. 

Brad at 5:00 a.m.

He looks so happy!

Brad's presents

A little side story, during the early morning while we were still in bed Elder Wilson and I heard this "thing" in our ceiling. It sounded like a cat or maybe even a dog walking around up there! It really freaked us out, so in our spare time we decided to go up into the attic and check it out. So me, being the smallest and the lightest, I was chosen to go explore the unknown! I borrowed a headlight from Elder Landon and went on up. Now the least exciting part of the story is that I wasn't able to find anything up there. But it was still pretty scary at first. We came up with the conclusion that it was just birds getting through the cracks. It was still an adventure none the less. 
Elder Wilson (Brad's MTC group) and Brad - heading up to the attic.

Notice he's holding his shorts!
After that us four missionaries in the house played a board game "Settlers of Catan: Extended edition" It is a really fun game and I might have to get it after the mission. And while Wilson and Landon were talking on the phone with their families, Elder Bates and I went outside on our balcony that looked over the neighborhood to ponder about Christmas. We ended up singing Christmas songs out of the hymn book. When we got tired from that we found a rolling pin with no handles and figured out a way to make it sound like a conch shell! All the practice over at Olex's house blowing the conch shells helped me out a lot.
All in all it was a really good Christmas for being in Madagascar. 

Elder Walker


Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas is so close!! - December 19, 2011

"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Every where we go. Take a look at the 5 and 10, it's glistening once again, with candy canes and silver lanes that glow. "........Well not really. 

Sadly, there is no snow here and it doesn't seem like we will get any time soon. But that's ok, there is a first for everything. I'm still just as excited for Christmas as usual! I can't explain how jittery I get when I think about it. Anyway, I got your guy's package!! And I opened it and yes I did read the letters inside but I didn't open any of the presents. It was a little confusing when you guys talked about some of the presents in the letter but it just made me more excited. And I love the candy! I think I already have some cavities from them. My teeth aren't used to the amount of sugar that's in them. I didn't know that G&G sent a package! I can't wait, hopefully it is in today. 

Elder Landon and Brad
Well I guess you guys are just dying to know who my kid is. His name is Elder Adam Michael Landon. He is from Las Vegas, Nevada. And is just as excited as ever to go out and work. I was so surprised when we went out for the first time, I was dreading it so much because I thought I wouldn't understand anything. But luckily I could understand almost everything that was being said! I think they just dumbed it down so that Landon could somewhat understand. It was a little difficult when one of our investigators asked about the new Jerusalem. He was like comparing it to something in Revelations and I could not understand what he was so concerned about. He is the greatest guys ever. I committed him to be baptized on the 7th of January because he has been learning for over two months now and has learned everything and loves learning the gospel and comes to church every week, he is already married, already followed the word of wisdom before we met him and agrees with everything taught in the church. So naturally you would think he is ready to be baptized but no. He said he wanted to learn everything possible there is to learn before getting baptized. I told him that would take an eternity, literally. I told him that I was still learning, that I learn something new everyday when I read the Book of Mormon. We talked about the principle of faith and not needing to know everything first just believing it to be right. He didn't seem satisfied with that answer so then I taught about the Holy Ghost and how it can help him learn faster and more in depth. But he needs to be baptized first to receive the Holy Ghost. That kind of warmed him up a little but he is still a little hesitant. And then I made my favorite promise in the world, I told him to pray about it. It is the best guarantee you can make, you can always rely on God to come through. I told him to pray and ask God if he should be baptized on the 7th of January or not. Very specific very simple and it gives the chance to receive a simple answer, Yes or no. I've learned so much about prayer while on the mission. I've learned that its so important and that we would be lost without it. Life would be so hard if we didn't have the chance to pray whenever we have a bad day or when we have a question or whatever. So we will see what he says on Tuesday when I go back to him. If not him hopefully his daughter still wants to be baptized on the 7th. 

So when Landon and me became companions they gave us the "12 week program" to follow. It is this new thing that started right after I got to Mada. It is basically this schedule for the first three months. It tells us what to do for comp study and certain goals that Landon needs to accomplish before each week ends, Like extend a baptism date or contact someone, something like that. We need to do two hours of comp study with another hour of language study along with the hour of personal study before all that. I don't know about you but it is starting to sound like the MTC all over again. That is a lot of study time! But the goal of this program is when the three months end, the trainee is ready to be the trainer. It is crazy how fast you can learn a language if you try hard. Well Landon got here on Wednesday and had dinner with the Donnelly's and then on Thursday all the trainers went to the office in Tana to pick up their kids. We had a couple meetings about being a trainer and the relationship with the trainee. And then we had a delicious lunch prepared by Sister Donnelly and then we found out who our kids were. Me and Landon got back to our house at 6 and we just went to a time at 7. He extended a baptism date the first appointment he went to. And then the next day he contacted a couple people. He is already a pro at the language. It is definitely going to be a long three months but at least it is with someone that I get along with. He went up with Bates to Anasobe the next day. So him and Bates slept there and held down the fort up there. Bates basically was senior comp for a day and a half. Elder Wilson is lucky to get someone already so good at the language as a companion. 

Well I don't have much else to report about except that I love you guys! (Even the people that read this on the blog) 
Have a wonderful, great Christmas!!!!!!!!!!

Elder Walker
A Malagasy storm + some old wood = broken pole in the middle of our road

Monday, December 12, 2011

Early transfers!! - Dec. 12, 2011

So we actually got transfers news last night. So as you all know I have had a mini missionary for the past month. Usually that means that you train the next transfers... and that is exactly what happened! I am training! I'm not really freaking out because I've had a month to think about it. They leave the MTC today and they get here on Wednesday. Then they have dinner with President Donnelly and then they decide which kid would be best for their trainer. And then they go to their areas on Thursday or Friday, depending on where they go on the island. I really hope my kid is ready to work because there is a lot of it right now! 

Nothing too exciting this week, just working hard as usual. On Saturday Elder Bates, Wilson's companion, got invited to the Christmas office party, where everyone who worked at the office and their families would be there. He was asked to sing something with a guitar because he is practically a pro. But Wilson couldn't go because his throat was hurting a little so I went with Bates. So we went planning on only Bates and another set of missionaries playing something. But when we got there they wanted me to do something also! I kinda freaked out because it I didn't prepare anything. But we came up with the idea to just sing the four parts to "Angels We Have Heard on High". I was chosen to sing the melody, which I did not complain about. But then they came up with the brilliant idea for me to sing a little solo on the first verse! I did complain a little about that idea. But they coaxed me into it. So I sang a little solo in front of a little group of people and it was pretty good, if I do say so myself :) It was pretty good altogether. It has been a while since I've sang like that. In between the musical performances there were games. One was the classic "musical chairs". It's just as fun in any country apparently. I was laughing so hard how the grown-ups play and tease each other.  But when it was time for just the little kids to play, they were really confused. I guess musical chairs is too complicated for them. But it was all super fun. After the games, we ate! We had the classic "vary sy laoka", rice and the food on top. The food on top was this chicken broth with shreds of chicken in it. And there were also pieces of cooked chicken to just pick up and eat or pick the meat off of that and eat. Way super good. And then, there was dessert! I think they said it was a trifle? There was strawberry and raspberry on the bottom with custard on top of that and then whip cream with sprinkles on top of that. I think it was the best thing I've ever eaten in this country yet. And it's all thanks to Sister Donnelly the cook, President Donnelly's wonderful wife. After the food I started to play with this one kid and balloon. After awhile all these other kids started to come and play with us. And then some other grown ups started to play too. After about just ten minutes we had a huge group of people playing with the kids and balloons. I don't want to say I'm a trend setter but...I am.

So very recently I've decided to read the Book of Mormon all the way through before April. I read it once up in Tamatave and it was really cool. I loved just connecting all the stories, and feeling the spirit as well. I suggest to maybe read the Book of Mormon all the way through. It is super tough because it is kind of long but it is very worth it. I know that you will appreciate the blessings in your life so much more if you read the Book of Mormon. You will be more in tune with the spirit all the time if you read every day, you will be happier and will be able to be calm if something bugs you. I love the gifts that come from reading the Book of Mormon; I know that you will get them if you do what is necessary. I love this gospel and the infinite power God uses to protect us and bless us. I know he loves us and would do anything for us. 

You could call at 4:30 or 5:00 PM, 6:30 or 7:00 AM your time. You are also allowed to call at 9:00 my time too. I think 1 hour is the time limit for talking. I don't think I can Skype on another computer so you'll have to call my phone. Each area has a set phone, when you move the phone stays with the area. I think that is all. I hope my new kid doesn't complain with whatever time you guys call. He gets to call in the airport anyways. So hopefully he won’t be too picky. And sorry I don't know Stephen Harper’s blog. 

I love you all, that might sound old by now but I need to say it every week.

Elder Walker

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Lord Always Helps - Dec. 5, 2011

Hey Momma!

Thanksgiving sounded really fun over there. By the way I wish Melissa would have caught on to that 1st lunch 2nd lunch thing before I left. We could have eaten together. I don't remember putting my name on the ceiling of G&G's house but definitely sounds like something I might do. No I want move to Ankazobe, no one will anytime soon; no grocery stores just little epiceries, no internet place to email your family and missionaries could contact every person and every house within three months. It's a super small town, you can literally walk around the town in 10 min. I love Cody [Adam], he is going to be an awesome missionary. And Spencer [Headman], stop flirting with the girls! :) That is so awesome that Bill is engaged! Rebecca seemed really cool the couple times I met her.

So this week has been just a little slow on the teaching side of things. But it’s because Hermann wanted to do some tracting around our neighborhood where all the rich people live, to get ready for the people in America. It is a good idea, but Malagasys and Americans are still super different, no matter how rich they are. But we still got 7 new investigators out of it so that's just amazing. Part of it goes to Hermann being Malagasy, people seem to be more accepting to other Malagasys than white people. While we were tracting around we went walking up to this one gate and this woman with two buckets of water came out. When she saw us she got the widest eyes and tried to run but waddled away while carrying her two buckets without us seeing her! Me and Hermann just stood there for a second just kind of stunned, just thinking if we should still go up to the gate But shortly after, what looked like her sister came out and started talking to us. The original sister came out again and listened in to the conversation. She said she is just really shy and got scared when she saw two people in matching shirts, smiling and walking towards her. Totally understandable.

Just a little side note, our power was out for 20 hours during most of Thursday and half of Friday. It was really frustrating because we couldn't shower, no one cleaned their dishes before it went out so we couldn't make any food and it was way super hot during the night without any fans on. Our power goes off for a couple hours sometime every week but this was just ridiculous! As Malagasy's would say "mandrereka be izy!" It's very tiring. Is that how you spell it?

This weekend Hermann and Bates went up to Ankozobe and me and Wilson stayed to hold down the fort. While they were up there, they got 13 new investigators, lots of people up there are just so ready to learn of this beautiful gospel. And while they were there I went to church with another member as my companion for the day. I was worried I was just going to feel lost because I wouldn't be able to understand anything and no one that understood English but it was exactly the opposite. The first couple people that came up to me to ask me some questions I could understand everything. And the next couple people I could understand too. Then I started to just talk to some members and I was just amazed by how much Malagasy I knew. It gave me real confidence and now I think that I can answer anyone’s question. It was fast and testimony meeting this week and it was just amazing of course. Why wouldn't I write about it if it wasn't amazing in my eyes. So as usual you have the person conducting the meeting that starts off the testimonies and before he was done with his testimony there were already 5 people sitting on the stand waiting to share what they know. This made me wonder how much love they have, to share the gospel with others. Do you have a great love to share what you believe, what you know? If you are scared and feel like you can't talk to people about the gospel, just read stories in The Book of Mormon about the missionaries who went out and preached to cities. The Lord will help you in sharing his gospel, the truth.

After sacrament meeting I had to leave because I don't know if I told you but I am district leader now, and I had to go do interviews for baptism. I wasn't too worried because they said that it would be just one girl that knew English almost perfectly. But when I got there they said they had 5 people for me to interview. I was kind of freaking out because I did not plan to ask if they have committed a crime or had an abortion in Malagasy. But another missionary, Elder Lunt, helped me out and wrote down a little cheat sheet for me. I ended up interviewing 3 little girls, an older lady, and the original English one. They all knew there stuff and passed. I asked if the one that knew English if she wanted to do the interview in Malagasy or English and she said English. Honestly, it was really weird! I would use Malagasy words in the middle of speaking. It was funny because she would do it too, with the Word of Wisdom she named off the things in Malagasy instead of English. And I'm glad she did because I did not remember some of the names in English. All in all this week was a good confidence builder.

Just remember everyone, to have confidence in sharing this gospel to others. The Lord will help you. Just remember to speak the truth.
I love you all,
Elder Walker

When are your next transfers? December 12th, and we'll see who my new companion is!
Tell us about calling on Christmas. We only have Sacrament Meeting that day and it is at 10:30 a.m. (we're 10 hours behind you).I don't know how you want to do it but they said you call us. so I'll just give you my number now and we will keep working it out. I could call you before or after so you can see which one is better for you guys. I have church form 9 till 12. I don't know if we are just doing sacrament meeting or not.
Did you get our Christmas package yet? I was tracking it and it says it made it to Antananarivo so I'm waiting to hear. I'm sending you another small package tomorrow - not necessarily for Christmas. It could be in the office today I just need to go there. I'll let you know.
Are you taking your vitamins? I could do a little bit better but I still am sometimes.

 I decided to send a picture I got of a lightning bolt! Don't ask me how many pictures I took before that.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving - Nov. 28, 2011

  Hey everyone (Mom)! That is crazy that Chris is home and has lost 30 lbs! [His cousin just came home from Paris, France.] I've already lost twenty pounds from the MTC, So now I'm back down to 135. I'm a tiny little guy but I don't think I'll go lower than that. With all joking aside my testimony actually might take a little bit longer [than Chris's at his homecoming on Sunday] if I do it in Malagasy because of the long words haha! Are there still a lot of people at the holiday parties at G&G's or is it kind of dwindling down a litlle? I remember when I was litlle and running around the pool table when playing tag with the cousins and then Grandma or Grandpa telling us to be careful or stop. I can't wait to do that when I get back.
   So Thanksgiving here was pretty good. There wasn't as much food as home because we didn't have a lot of money but it was still good. We decided to buy a live turkey. So we got it, killed it, plucked it, gutted it and cooked it. I'll only send the before and after pictures to save anyone who gets squimish. It looked great! But...since it's a turkey in Madagaascar, they don't get that big. There was barely any meat on it. But the meat that was on it was pretty dang good. We also had these mash potato packets that Goff left behind and then we bought some green beans and corn. And then had a soda pop of our choice. It wasn't much but it was still a blessing to me. So for our first time cooking a turkey with no knowledge whatsoever of how to do it, it turned out alright.

This last weekend I went up to Ankazobe with Elder Bates this time. There was this little girl getting baptized and Elder Bates got to do it. The people that were there was the Group leader, the only other Melchizedek priesthood holder and then 5 kids counting the one getting baptized. We walked down to the small river and Elder Bates and the little girl were already in the water before we even started with a prayer haha. So we said an opening prayer, Bates baptized her and then I said some stuff about baptism before the closing prayer. The spirit was so amazing there. It was just so simple, and quiet there. I liked something that Dani said in her email to me, "this gospel is simple, not easy". There are five steps in the gospel of Jesus Christ: Faith, repentance, baptism by water, baptism by faith, and enduring to the end. With those five simple steps we can receive eternal life. But it is not easy. But eternal life wouldn't sound so good if it was easy to get. But I know that if we do those five steps and continue to keep the commandments to the best of our ability, we can receive eternal life. We will not be tempted above that which we are able, given a burden that is too heavy.

Elder Bates baptizing in Ankazobe
Our questions to Brad:
Did your zone do anything special for Thanksgiving or was it just a regular day? It was just us four as a district.
Will you be able to Skype for Christmas? I am not sure, I'll ask today.
Who is Elder Wilson's companion? Elder Bates

I love you all and hope you remember to continually have faith and repent everyday.

Elder Walker

Has Andrew Jessee or Cody Adam turned in their mission papers yet? Anyone else in the ward?
Any news on the name of the baby?
Who loves me the most?

Brad with his mini-mission companion, Hermann - who has been called to Salt Lake City!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Forgotten? - Nov. 21, 2011

I got a little sad when I didn't see an email from you. Luckily I was still on the computer when I got your email.

So this week Goff my old companion went home to Malta, Idaho. He was a great missionary. 
Elder Goff and Brad - a member gave them those shirts cuz he thought they were cold.
Then on Tuesday and Wednesday I had a mini missionary. On Thursday, I got my new companion! He is actually a Malagasy from Antsirabe, and technically not even a missionary. He is just doing a mini mission for a month before his actual mission in SALT LAKE, UTAH!!! He wanted to get better at his English before doing an interview with the U.S. Embassy. He is already way good at English though cuz he has been helping the missionaries for two years now. His name is Justino Hermann Raharizoandrinirina but he just goes by Hermann. I laugh every time I think about people trying to pronounce his last name haha! He is way awesome and already pro at being a missionary. Too bad he is my companion for just one month. Next transfers he is going to go back home and I'll get a new companion. So now we know I'll stay in this area for at least two more months. Everyone thinks I'm gonna train in December, because whenever someone has a mini for a month it usually means you are training. But so many people think that, President Donnelly may throw a curve ball and give me an older missionary instead. I'm fine with both... It's still tough to understand when they talk super fast or when their questions are super long but I guess that's what I'll get good at if I train.

On Saturday Me and Elder Wilson went to a place called Ankazobe. It is this way far out place, it takes about three hours to get there. And the buses are crammed with four people to a row, so that was a fun three hour ride. 
The crowded bus to Ankazobe
So we went up Saturday and taught some times and then went walking around to go find the nearest houses to teach. Then slept in a hotel and went to church the next day. I'll give you some quick stats: They are a group, they use 1 room of a building for church, 24 people at church, 8 adults, 4 priesthood holders, the chorister is 12, they use a stereo to play the hymns, the 1 deacon they have is crippled so it's hard for him to walk, and they are the most amazing people I have ever met in the world. It humbled me so much when I walked in to the chapel. They are out in the middle of nowhere so the houses are so spread out. Some members have to wait for awhile for the bus to fill up to go to and from church. I can't really explain how amazing they are. Then we got back into Tana around 6 o'clock.

I do check my friends' blogs to see any cool pictures but I don't usually have time to read them. I did send Ryan [Wells] a DearElder, I think it's approved, I got a DearElder from TJ [Hartman] that way. I'll ask President Donnelly about the picasa thing, I'm sure it will be ok though, since it's from family. I hope Alex and Jean are ok. I'll be sure to pray for them.   If you could send some deodorant, that would be nice. They don't have any anti-perspirant here. And by the way, the last package was perfectly fine, no damage, nothing opened or missing and nothing melted.

Love you all and urge you to study the scriptures tonight. Don't just read them but look up the footnotes, ponder a little, anything. I know it will help you somehow. The scriptures and this gospel are super amazing!

Elder Walker
 Madagascar Ambanivohitra (wilderness)

Classic Malagasy life - Sitting by his house, with his cow, watchin' over his rice field.

The group leader's bull - he was nice.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Check LDS.org - Nov. 14, 2011

You said that you saw pictures of Elder Nelson talking to the people in Mada in that training meeting but did you know that there are tons of pictures and videos of when he was here on lds.org?! I know a ton of people that are on there! The connection between members here are so close. On one of the videos, there is an albino Malagasy, he is a past missionary that went home in September, his name is Nicholi and he is so funny. You should really check it out, it’s really cool.

We had 4 baptisms this last Saturday. And we already have four planned for the next baptism, they were just working during the baptism so they obviously couldn't get baptized, or they were never home to be interviewed before the baptism. The place that we are mostly working in is called Ambohidratrimo, the place is exploding because missionaries have barely worked there. We are working really hard to get a group started there because it is so far away from the church, you have to take two separate buses just to get close to the church and then walk after that.

Transfers are tonight. I'm really nervous because everyone is saying that I will go senior comp, if that happens I'm scared the people won’t be as accepting because I can't answer their questions as well and just all in all not good at Malagasy. I guess I'll just bring a member with me a lot then. Whatever happens, I know it is for the better. President Donnelly is an inspired man and knows what I need, my new comp needs and the people in the area need. Goff is going home on Thursday so he has been excited for that for the past month. Him talking about home keeps reminding me of stuff from home. That's why I really need a new companion quick haha!

I love serving the people here. Some people here are really racist and mean, but it doesn't matter whenever you see someone accept the gospel and be baptized. It is really hard serving a mission, being away from home but how can you grow if you don't do anything that’s hard. I love feeling the spirit, receiving revelation for my investigators, and teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Most people here know that this is the true church, they just don't know that it exists. The people here are constantly searching for what they feel is right and when we come to them they are super accepting cuz they feel the power of the Holy Ghost. I know this church is true and that will never change.

Elder Walker

Did you ever figure out what town in Idaho Elder Goff is from? Malta, Idaho. And Evans is from Bristol, England. So you can change it from "Great Britain?" haha
How often do you go to the mission home? Every Monday for Pday, sometimes other days if we really need something before then. It takes like an hour and a half to get there by bus.
How do you get around? By "taxi be" which is just a bus. Are you doing a lot of walking? Yeah, we walk a lot, it’s hard to keep up with Goff and his long legs :)
We were wondering if you have to sleep with netting? We don't have to cuz there are barely any bugs in the house but we have them. I'm assuming you still take pills or whatever for Malaria every day, right? Yep, turns out that it helps with acne, so that’s a plus. But it doesn't let you get tan somehow, that’s why I'm still white as ever.
At a soirèe, eating a some bread recipes from Diego (a town on the north side of the island).

Just a little part of the Ambohidratrimo valley

Her name is Fanja and is an old convert. She is nice and feeds us a lot.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Monday, November 7, 2011

Rivers - Nov. 6, 2011

I miss having family dinners with all you guys! I would say that that is the thing that I miss the most while out here, or American fast food restaurants, I don't know yet. ;) I can't believe that Chris is going to be done with his mission in 15 days! I still remember his farewell, that was quick! That's hilarious about Uncle Merrill wearing two different shoes to the temple! I had a good laugh too when I read that. I can totally picture me doing that when I'm older.

This week went by super fast! Not so many things exciting happened this week but is was still amazing as ever. That's the thing about a mission, it's tough and hard every day, but you never regret any moment spent helping other people.

Sundays are hectic in this ward! They get things done, they are having meetings about doing less-active work, parties, members helping missionaries, getting a group started out in Ambohidratrimo. I swear they could get just as many baptisms if there weren't any missionaries if they really wanted to. And it's extra crazy because everyone wants to talk to Elder Goff and set up soirée’s with us because he is leaving in a week. Hopefully it slows down a bit, if not I guess I better just get used to it.

We have this one investigator family that is super awesome! Only the father comes to church every Sunday but they all are excited to learn when we come over. The father, Harivelo, always has amazing questions we usually don't have anything planned to teach him because he always has questions. And his questions go along with the things he needs to learn anyways, so that’s even better. His daughter is way diligent in learning too. We gave her a couple different chapters to read in the Book of Mormon and some stuff in Gospel Principles book and the next day she read all of it. She is super interested and loves to learn about the gospel. The Holy Ghost is an amazing feeling. It really is the true teacher. The power of the Holy Ghost is so strong. I can't even express how strong of an influence it is. I love it so much, and so grateful to have the opportunity to have it all the time.

We have another group of people that learn from us. They are all grown up but live in different houses right next to each other. At first we were just teaching one sister, then her other sister joined in, then the brother. And now we teach them, their mom, and two friends they brought from the last church they went to. I love doing missionary work when that happens.

We had a soirée with one of the stake patriarchs. It was really fun just to talk and have fun with his family. During the soirée, it started to rain. When we left, we were walking up this hill and all the water accumulated on the one path that we needed to walk up. So we were walking up this hill ankle deep in water. I love Madagascar

Not a lot happened this week. Transfer news is next Monday, Goff is going home a week from Thursday but leaving Tuesday to do something with President Donnelly. This area has a chance to explode with baptisms, I just need to work really hard, and that's exactly what I plan to do. I hope I get a senior companion to help with the language, if not, I predict my language skills are going to sky rocket... hopefully.

You guys are an awesome example to me. Please keep emailing me even if I don't respond always, I love hearing about your life and reading your personality in your email. (Dani, Phil, especially Nat) Don't forget to pray every day, a couple times.

Elder Walker
My best friend in the ward so far. He has a pretty cool rat tail, I might grow one out after the mission...

Monday, October 31, 2011

Oct. 31, 2011

Hello!!! Hello!!! Hello!!! How is everyone?! I hope everyone is having or had a great, fun Halloween. Here in Mada, absolutely no one celebrates it! But they definitely know about it, because everyone takes work off for it :) And that is the one reason why we didn't get mail today :(

This last week we had a couple meal appts. with members. Since Goff is dying in 18 days (ending his mission) everyone wants to have soirèes with him. Even though Malagasy food is not bad, its not the best either... don't get me wrong, it's great to get so much free food, but when you eat rice for dinner a few days in a row it gets old. But I will accept any food a member or investigator gives me, since it is such a big sacrifice of money and time to prepare it.

 I have decided that the people here in Mada are the coolest people on the earth! I was on splits with Elder Bates and a member, and we took the member's car to this way far away place to go teach and tract. I don't think some of the poeple there have ever seen a white person before in their life. They are extra surprised when they see us. But after we teach one time out there we decide to go tracting before our next appt. and we walk up to this house and an old grandma is just hanging up wet clothes on the clothesline to dry and we start to talk to her and she is just staring at us doing nothing. (Malagasys are good at staring by the way, its hard to beat a Malagasy in a staring contest, trust me) But then this man comes out and he is just so happy and surprised to see us and then he just runs back in the house. We wait for about 2 maybe 3 minutes just trying to talk to the grandma while the way excited guy is in the house. Luckily he comes out again and invites us in. We sit down and are just talking and he is still smiling the whole time. After we finish teaching he said that he has been hoping for people like us to teach him about Christ. He was way excited about the gospel and the Book of Mormon. So we gave him a Book of Mormon and some homework to read. He seems way cool and I can't wait to teach him again.

 The member that went with us used to be a pastor of the Adventist church. He was first taught in 2004 was kinda hesitant about the gospel but eventually came around to it and got baptized a year ago. Now he is a ward missionary and is helping us out a ton. When we bring him to teach he kinda still teaches like a pastor, using rhetorical questions and being really animated. He is fun to have around :) The members in my ward are legit. They help out so much and are just amazing in every way! It could basically do missionary work by itself if it wanted to.

 So we had a soirèe yesterday night and we went over to this member's house. We had a blast, we played UNO and other card games. But... the choice of food was spiders!!! They are not that bad actually, as you can see in the picture they were cooked with tomatoes and oil :) The worst part for me was just holding it in front of me face right before I eat it. So I just had to pop it in my mouth. When I bit down I could feel all the guts, the legs felt like fish bones that were really soft. But of course the first one I had was too small so I ate a second bigger one. It was a good experience but I think that will be a one timer. But now I can say I've eaten spider!

To explain the last pictures, today we went over to this member's house and had a lunch soirèe. The father owns a Bank of Africa which is the biggest bank here. Their house is huge! They had maids and like four cars and little mini ATV's. It is probably the closest thing to America I'll ever see. They fed us grilled chicken, fried chicken, fries, other stuff and of course, rice. It was really tasty. That humongeous fat chicken you see is from Australia apparently, they wanted it so bad they had it imported. It is a beast and I had to take a picture of it, it runs so funny. It has to move its legs weird 'cuz it has so many feathers.

 - Did you end up playing for the mission FHE? I did not, but Pres. Donnelly wants me to play for them sometime, so we'll see.
- How is your new area? I love it, part of it might change into it's own group cuz it's so far away from the church.
- Is the accent any different in Ivato than it was in Tamatave? It's not really an accent, it's more of a different language. The same one that I learned in the MTC, so it was a little easier to understand when I first got here.
Some rice patties that are everywhere that is flat and then some traditional Malagasy homes.
The richer part of town where we live.
My awesome group I came to Mada with!

I love all of you so much obviously!  And remember, in order to love the lord you need to serve him by serving his children.
Elder Walker

Monday, October 24, 2011

Island Conference - Oct. 24, 2011

This week has been crazy! It was island conference this weekend, and Elder Nelson came to visit us, along with Bishop Edgley and Elder Mkabela from the Seventy. On Saturday, we went to the office and took a huge group picture with all the missionaries in Mada and the General Authorities. After that we walked into the chapel and shook all their hands, including Elder Nelson. And Mom, I know it is not as cool as shaking the prophet's hand but Elder Nelson came out of love, not to dedicate a temple :) [President Kimball came to Japan while I was on my mission.] After that we sat down and listened to all of them and their wives. Elder Nelson just let us ask him questions that we have been wondering about. Except we weren't prepared with questions to ask so some of the questions were weak. He taught us simply and strongly with conviction. He was amazing to listen to, I loved it.

The next day we went to this huge convention center to listen to all the General Authorities again and every person in Mada that wanted to come could come. I saw multiple people from Tamatave and many missionaries' investigators came too. There were a TON of people there! Elder Nelson talked about how the parents need to teach their children to love their Lord and God. How they need to read the scriptures to their children. Bring them up in a family enviroment. How they need to prepare the way for the generations to come, so they can have enough worthy people that can serve in the temple when it is built. He also stressed about doing family history work on the computer. Which I thought would be very difficult for Malagasy's to do that but if he says it, then there is a way. He put a lot of new responsibilities to the Malagasy people. I can't wait to see this mission in 25 years. This mission started in 1998, it has only been around for almost 14 years. The longest member that I have heard a missionary meet was baptized in 2002. It is so new here. I can't wait 'til families start to grow and and children grow up in the gospel! 

After the conference we had a music talent show with testimonies and spiritual thoughts shared. I did not play because I got too scared, but President Donnelly found out that I was thinking about it and asked me to do it for FHE tonight. But he asked while we were in the chapel in front of everyone, so I had to say yes. You should try that tactic Dad. If someone is too scared to give a talk or play a musical piece, then just ask them in front of everyone, so they feel bad if they say no. So lets hope that I do good tonight. 

So that was island conference, including the FHE with the Donnelly's tonight. I love it here. Goff and I are expecting around 8 baptisms for the 29th of October. Let's hope everyone can reach that goal. And by the way Mom, it is not certain that I am training after Elder Goff goes home, so don't say those preposterous things. I am strongly against the idea of training. I don't know, maybe it would be cool, fun, a learning experience, terrifying, scary, not a good idea to train. I guess we will just wait and see.

What the heck Melissa! Why didn't you send me an email!!! Now I don't know the sex of the baby! I'm guessing it is a girl, break that Glad trend and start the Walker trend over again :) Instead of making four kids that grow up to be beautiful, and one that ends up short and not as funny. Just make all of them beautiful, funny and tall. Just a suggestion... Have you come up with the name yet?! You should name it "Zanaka". Because it sounds cool and coincidently means "child, daughter or son". 

Sounds like you guys have a full schedule ahead of you. I hope you all have fun, make sure you smile and laugh as much as possible without annoying anyone. One thing I liked that Elder Nelson said was, don't think you are a nuesence (I don't know how to spell it so I wrote "mpasosatra" which means annoyer) when sharing the gospel to your friends and other people. Another thing he said was use your talents, no matter what they are. Sports, music, smiling, laughing, listening, just use them. So don't forget to use your talents. I can't remember much other than that but it was an amazing experience.

  • What's your companion's first name and where is he from? Brandt Goff, Idaho somewhere, its a small town 
  • Do you go into the mission home very often? I'm sending your Christmas package soon so I'm hoping you won't have to wait forever to get it from the mission home.Yeah I'll be able to pick it up when ever it gets here
  • Can you ever print off our emails? I can
  • Will you get your own copy of the Conference issue of the Ensign or should I send you one? You don't have to send me one, we all can receive one.
  • Do you still want me to send you DearElder letters from your friends? Yes
  • I'm assuming you are in a bigger city now. How do you like it? It is pretty crazy but I like it
  • What do you do on P-days now? Email, go to the office, shop, eat have fun, I don't know. Whatever we come up with right on the spot.
Love you guys, a lot! Keep being awesome and keeping the commandments!

Elder Walker

Monday, October 17, 2011

Tana!! - Oct. 17, 2011

Yes, I did get transferred. I am now in the area called Ambohibao, or more well known as Ivato. My new companion is Elder Goff, and he is amazing. He is in Elder Evans' group, so he is actually going home in a month. Which means I am taking the area over in a month... After being with him for only for 4 and a 1/2 days, I realize that I am slacking on my language capabilities. He is so good at the language and teaching. Of course he has been on a mission for 23 months now but still. He is amazing. He connects with the people here so well. In Ivato, a lot of the members actually speak English pretty well. So it's fun to joke around in Enlgish sometimes. I am still in a branch and the church building is smaller but we built it, so it is really nice inside. I haven't really met a lot of members because we just watched the morning session of General Conference on Sunday. All the other sessions all the missionaries went to the main office and watched them in English. They were all so great! I'm glad I got transferred in time to watch them in English, because everywhere else outside of Tana watches it with their members in Malagasy. All five sessions.

So in Tamatave, we used these bike things called pouses, but here in Tana we use Taxi Be's (which is pornounced "bay"). They take a normal van that could seat 8 people, and change it into a van that can seat 28. You can imagine how much wiggle room you DON'T have. Lucky for me I'm small and I fit just like a Malagasy. But it is still five to a row and when you are in the middle of not so small people, it gets pretty awkward how close you are squished together. And the other three elders that live in the same house as me get the privilege of riding them alot because we don't actually live in Tana. So we have to take a 45 min ride into Tana if  we want to go there.

I love it here:) SO the other two elders that live in the same house as me are Elder Wilson who I was born on the same house with in Tamatave, and Elder Wilson's kid, Elder Bates. It's fun to see Elder Bates on a Taxi Be because he is about 6'2'' and weighs around 280. I'm not sure, that's just my inexperienced guess. Wilson and Elder Fryer are actually training, and they are in the same group as me! So that is what our house looks like. Everyone who trains has to stay with them for three months now, it's a rule. So our house is not going to change much after Elder Goff leaves. I love my new apartment that I am staying in, it can stay so clean without even trying. The last house, you had to sweep every other day whether you wanted to (I don't know why you would) or not. So that is what's new. Sorry no pictures this week, I'm slacking, I know. But you guys will get extra amazing pictures next week!

1.  Have you gotten a small package yet? Yes I got it Saturday afternoon, I loved it! If you did, how were things inside? Fruit snacks are gone and the bag of M&M's is about to disappear as well.
2. What was the hardest thing you've experienced this week? Realizing how much I still need to learn in the language and teaching.
3. What was the best experience this week? Getting Goff as a companion, to help me with the language and teaching. 

I love this gospel and I know it is true with all my heart!!! Since I have started my mission, I have grown a huge testimony about prayer and prophets. Don't forget to pray, ever! Heavenly Father will help you in anyway, you just have to ask. He will bless you with anything, you just have to ask. Don't forget to pray. Also, I know that Thomas S. Monson is the true and living prophet today. I know that if we heed to his counsel from General Conference, we will be blessed. I love everyone so much, don't forget to live the gospel.

Elder Walker

Monday, October 10, 2011

Stating the obvious - Oct. 10, 2011

How is everyone this week?! I'm doing great! Right now it is raining. It has actually rained every P-day for a month now. But it barely rains during the rest of the week. Guess I better get used to that. 

This past Saturday we had 13 baptisms in Tamatave! Just our branch had 4. I don't want to say sadly, but sadly, they were all women. Our goal is to teach Father Lead Families, FLF's. So that we can get more priesthood holders here in Madagascar and get a temple here as fast as we can for the most amazing members in the world! When the temple here is going to be dedicated, I hope I have enough money to come back and see it! It's probably going to be the coolest temple ever... just sayin.

Brad, their four baptisms and Elder Smith
Tamatave baptisms - 13!

So the culture in Madagascar is a strange one. Like the title says "stating the obvious". You have no idea how many times I got called bad at Malagasy at the beginning of my mission, how I look like an Asian when I smile, how I'm shorter than all my companoins, stuff like that. You would be surprised how slow you get used to that :) Anyway, if you are sitting down, they would tell you are sitting down. If you are white, you better believe every kid will say you are white. I found myself stating the obvious and thought "oh, I'm turning into a Malagasy."  Then I remembered that I usually stated the obvious before my mission too. 

One day out in Antiranampasika [that's a mouthful!], we were walking to a time and this white guy walks up to us and says "Hey missionaries!" and continues to talk to us in English about this sports thing that he has here. I didn't really pay attention after the "Hey missionaries" part, I was just standing there like a deer in the headlights. Just so you know I'm probably going to be just as bad at talking to people as before my mission, unless they're Malagasy. After that we were teaching a time and the mom of one of our recent converts came walking around the corner with her shirt off! And yet again, deer in the headlights.That's normal in Madagascar because they breastfeed wherever in public but it was just really funny because they get really embarrassed in front of white people. And after that we were walking back and this other white guy starts walking up to us and by now me and Elder Smith are just hoping he speaks Malagasy or keeps his shirt on. But no, it was a drunk French guy that just wanted to chat. Luckily Elder Smith knows a little French so he could figure some stuff out and just fake the rest. And I was just standing there like a deer in the headlights waiting for this guy to magically speak English or Malagasy so I can hop on in the conversation. Luckily, he kept his shirt on. That was an eventful day.

Yesterday, after church we went out to that same area to teach some of the recent converts that just got baptized and there are quite a few of members out there and they all live right next to each other. So when we got there with another member, all the other members out there wanted to learn with the 2 recent converts also. So we literally had (sorry for the lack of better words) a prayer circle. We had six members there and about four other people that just decided to jump in at the last second, sitting in a big circle. It was really fun, we taught about how we need to endure to the end. Which means, continue to have faith in Christ, continue to repent and continue to go to church every Sunday and partake of the sacrament. 

So transfers are tonight and I have been up here for 4 months now. Elder Smith thinks I'm going to a new area, but we both don't want me to go. I love it up here but am ready to serve wherever I go!

Elder Walker

PS: The last picture is of Elder Smith and I playing chess. We made the pieces out of bottles and marked the floor with dry erase marker. And don't worry Phil, the practice from Prostar has done me good. I remain 3-0 in my apartment. 

Questions we were wondering about:
  1. How much money do you get allotted each month from the mission home? We get 180 dollars which turns into 365,000.
  2. What is your money called? Ariary, and don't say it in plural, or you'll sound really weird.
  3. About how much money in US does it cost to mail a letter? About 55 cents.
  4. What would you like for Christmas? Pictures of you guys having fun, candy of any sort I don't care, cookie mix or brownie mix, letters of you guys having special experiences or memories or encouraging words would help a lot, any special gift you guys can make or think of. I just want to feel like it's Christmas at home.
  5. Do you or can you buy a CD player? We can have anything that follows the white handbook. As long as I don't use headphones I can get one. Also you can send a USB with stuff on it because everything here can play a USB and it would be more compact than a CD.
  6. How's your cooking coming along? I know how to cook I just need to get the willpower to buy the stuff and prepare it.
  7. What song are you going to play for the island conference? I was thinking of "God Speed the Right" but I might play "I Believe in Christ."

Monday, October 3, 2011

Prophets - Oct. 2, 2011

How is everyone?! I'm doing great! That is crazy about conference! 6 new temples, that is so cool! Bad news is, that we don't get to watch conference here until a month later and they give us DVD's in Malagasy. But we are going to just download the audio on someone's USB and listen to it on someone's stereo next week. 2 temples in Africa though, I'm so excited because Elder Riding my zone leader up here read somewhere that after there is a temple announced in the Congo, Mada is next! We are all guessing 2 or 3 years. It might be a little hard to keep it clean though, I'm sure they will solve any problem that comes their way. 

On Friday, me and Elder Smith had a soirèe (meal appt.) with our branch president. He is probably the funniest Malagasy I have ever met. Malagasys don't understand sarcasm, but he teases his three daughters all the time. It reminds me of our family, if only they had a son on a mission in America, our families would be creepily similar. But they don't. Anyway, we had the best time over there. Their two older daughters, who are only like 10 and 12 by the way, gave a short spiritual thought and we gave a short lesson on explaining the 13 Articles of Faith. It was so fun, just to joke around with them and be in a house with diligent members. 

The picture of the little girl is their youngest of three kids and she is so outgoing! She was singing and dancing Michael Jackson for us! And a lot of other songs too.
So yesterday, we were teaching this woman named Chantelle for the first time. We were going through the routine teaching, I was kind of distracted because I was hungry. We were teaching about how when Joseph Smith died, they called a new prophet, so on and so forth until today with Thomas S. Monson. I looked up from the picture book I was holding and she was just crying. She said to us that she knew that Joseph Smith was a true prophet and that Thomas S Monson is a true prophet today. I felt bad because I wasn't teaching with love and not really in tune with the Spirit. I got my head in the game and taught the rest focused on her. It really impacted me on the importance and great, wonderful, amazing blessing it is to have a prophet today. And now with general conference, we get to hear from the closest people to God. I know that we need to listen to the prophets today and try our hardest to live their council. I love teaching and feeling the Spirit!

I love you all and hope you all listen to conference more than once.

Elder Bradford Walker

A blowfish on the beach
Elder Sea Turtle