"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, 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