"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.