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!
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:
- How much money do you get allotted each month from the mission home? We get 180 dollars which turns into 365,000.
- What is your money called? Ariary, and don't say it in plural, or you'll sound really weird.
- About how much money in US does it cost to mail a letter? About 55 cents.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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."