"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, July 30, 2012

Freezing cold!!! - July 30, 2012

[I told Brad that he was never acknowledging things I wrote about in my letters and so this is his smart aleck response!]
Well that is so cool that you got to visit with Rod and Janeen and with Heidi and Greg and watch the Olympics. Satisfied? Ok just kidding! My comp's full name is Daniel John McLaughlin and he is from Fife, Scotland. We did not live in the same house in Tamatave but knew each other for two months. Smith got Rasoloniaina in Toliara. You might know him, He's from Tana. Sorry if I'm extra sassy right now, Tana people are super rude.Sorry the young people are rude. I just need some time to get my tolerance level back up. But yeah I was in Toliara for six months. February to July.
Elder McLaughlin and Brad
1. What is your first impression of your new area/apt./companion/ward, etc?
It is really super cold! The whole time I wear my long sleeve sweater. It is huge and it is hard to teach someone every hour because it is so spread out. I don't like waiting for taxi bus'. It's a bummer at night when the bus' aren't out anymore so we have to walk home. But the people are cool so I'm happy. In the apt. is just Me and McLaughlin. It's kind of old but I like the shower and the kitchen sink. Those were the two things I didn't like about the last house. McLaughlin is a hard worker, awesome at the language and is good at joking around with the Malagasy. We work in Ampitataosy. Which is truly called Ampitatafika and Itaosy. But the areas got combined, so the missionaries call it that now. I went to the Ampitatafika branch, and Elder McLaughlin went to the Itaosy ward. Right now we are looking for a bigger building for Ampitatafika branch because they have hit capacity. Both have awesome members.

2. What is your companion's full name and where in Scotland is he from? Daniel John Mclaughlin from Fife, Scotland

3. Are there only 2 of you in your apt? Yes but used to have four so there is room

4. What should I call your area on your blog? Ampitataosy for now.

5. What/who will you miss the most from your last area? I'll miss Smith because he was such a cool companion. All of the members because they are the best people I have ever met. And bikes. 

6. Did you get our packages yet? I got the one with the SD card in it. Will you tell me what was in it so I know if they stole anything or not. It looked like they went through it but I'm not sure. 

Well I'm ready to work, and hopefully make this area better somehow. I don't know how to speak the official dialect anymore. When I'm talking I catch myself before speaking the wrong dialect then I miss the second word because I was only focusing on the first. So right now I am repeating myself a lot. It's weird speaking the words that I was just making fun of a week ago. But you have to change! No problem! 

Not much to report, I'll have more next week. 

Love,
Elder Walker

On the road again - July 23, 2012

Transfers were last night and I am moving back to Tana! It is called Ampitataosy. Which is the missionary name of it because two areas got combined a couple months ago. It really is called Ampitatafika and Itaosy. My new comp is Elder McLaughlin. I first met him in Tamatave, he's a group ahead of me and is from Scotland. I'll get more info next week. Smith and I thought I was moving so I actually started to pack before the news came. I was a little worried that I wasn't going to move because it happens quite often with other missionaries. They get all ready to go and then they have to unpack everything because they are staying one more month! haha! I was happy because I thought I was going to be in a house with more missionaries but no, its just a two man house. But that's alright with me, at least I get to see a lot of people in Tana. It feels like I don't know about half of the mission now. Everyone is so new! I feel so old, it's weird. 

I'm really sad that I'm leaving Toliara because the people in general are a lot of fun. I know every single person's name that comes to church and their kids' names. The members are awesome. Everything is awesome! But I always like change and it will be nice to have a break from asking people to do talks and prayers every single week for church. There are always going to be the goods and bads of an area but this one just has so many goods. Smith is an awesome companion, easy to get along with because he lives five minutes away so we just get each other. I'm gonna miss this place and it is going to be hard to let it go but life goes on. And I guess the sooner you accept that the sooner you can be happy. Right?  This past week I have just been taking pictures with everyone so I'll just let the pictures take up the email room. You know what they say, a picture says a thousand words. 
Love, Elder Walker
Dino, Malala, Saulnah
Anthony,Cedric, Sisia   
Hello
Gino

The best family EVER!!

Vaohirina,Tahina
Zizia

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Pretty simple - July 16, 2012

So it sounds like you guys had a more eventful week than I did. I can't believe Nat didn't send me a picture! I was about to get mad at you but I guess you guys weren't there heehee. Well I better get a picture next week. [His sister, Natalie - in Minnesota, just had a baby girl.]

This week's email might be a little short. So as some investigators have stopped progressing we have been trying to switch them out with new awesome families. We try not to move on unless we have tried our hardest to make our message clear. We always give them a couple chances before leaving and always warn them if they don't do certain things, usually come to church or read the Book of Mormon, then we have to start teaching other people. It is always tough to leave someone. Especially if they have already received an answer to prayer.

On Sunday one of the people giving a talk didn't show up and the other thought that he was giving it next week. So as loyal missionaries, Smith and I stepped up and filled in both the slots. I first gave a talk on obedience and sort of connected it to love of obedience. And then Smith gave a talk on charity, hope and faith. We both did really well ha ha. Surprisingly, we only had a fraction of what we usually get to church. We couldn't fill in all the chairs even with every little kid having their own. It was a little pitiful, but really strange as well. But had a wonderful Sunday school lesson about eternal marriage. And I think it got a lot of people excited to go to the temple. Hopefully a temple comes soon to Madagascar so they can save up for just a year or so instead of their whole lives to make a trip. It would be a huge, huge blessing. I hope I can come back when it is dedicated. Also on Sunday we got fed a ton! We got fed at 12, 1:30, 5, 6:30 and 8. All full meals. I think I gained a couple pounds! My pants felt a little tighter.

As I have been serving in Madagascar for a little over a year, I have come to really, truly love the people. I think first it starts by respecting them. And that can grow into love. At least that is the way that I did it. I have been blessed to study the scriptures and other church resources to expand my knowledge of this wonderful gospel, to strengthen my testimony and to help others. I have seen the tiniest of blessings to the biggest of miracles. I have seen God's hand in all things and I know that His son died for us. I have had the joy to partake of this hard work to reap the really good blessings. I have come to know that our work really does change and bless. Little for little, big for big. It really does change people. I have learned a different language and a couple dialects. I might have gotten a little prideful in somethings :) but hopefully humble in most. I have met amazing people from around the world (not only from Madagascar) and have tried to learn from them. But the thing that I am most grateful for is my family. For teaching me and training me. For having patience with me and dealing with my bad jokes :) I have learned just a little bit while on my mission and hope that it doesn't stop when I go home.

I love you all and will talk to you next week!

Love,
Elder Walker
You like?

My breakfast: rice, sugar and milk

Crazy hair dos!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Nothin's special - July 9, 2012

Well this week has gone by pretty fast. It seems like my mission seems to be speeding up as it goes along. Smith said something funny the other day. He said that his first six months have gone by so fast that he already pictured his mission being over. And he suddenly got this feeling of missing his mission, but he has only been out for six months! ha ha! I thought it was pretty funny! I am starting to really really come close with the people. I can just really connect with anyone here. I don't know what it is. I hope I can do that when I get back to America, because I really strive for it now.

So this week, Smith and I got a little too excited with our object lessons and decided to do one with string. So we didn't use the string you use for sewing but this stronger kind. We said that when there is only one or two strings around our wrists we can break it on our own. But when there are a few more strings it takes a little longer to break but still possible. And then we would wrap a lot and say that we needed help from Jesus Christ to cut the strings and then we would be free. But before we got to the last part, we wrapped a few strings around Smith's wrists and it turns out that the string was a little stronger than expected. He couldn't break it and it actually cut a little trying to break it! That object lesson was a one time try. Don't worry it was just a little cut. :)

So our schedule changed a little bit so we had to ride out to this less-active and try to fit him in between these two times. So Smith and I were just riding as fast as we could. We got there and it was a good time and such. And then we had to ride back as fast we could to try and fit in two more times before the day was over. We were just both pooped by the time we got to the house. As we were teaching I was fine but when Smith took over for a little bit I started dozing off! My energy was spent and I was just trying my hardest to stay awake. And then I saw the mom catch me dozing off a little. I looked at her and she looked at me, and we both just started laughing! Trying to keep it as silent as possible we attempted to be professional and pay attention to the lesson. It was a good lesson in the end. I talked to Elder Smith after about it and he said he was so paranoid that he said something wrong, he didn't know what was so funny.
Daniela and Danielita

Odette and Daniel
So in a time with a investigator that wasn't progressing, we were just going to say that we love them but if she doesn't put forth any effort we have to move on. And we continued to state our purpose as missionaries. We recommitted to show a new sign of effort. And she seemed very touched by the spirit. To end the lesson we sang "I Need Thee Every Hour" and she started to cry, that's what I call a good lesson. Then we had to go down the street to our next lesson with the same situation. We talked about Joseph Smith and how there was still a prophet today that receives revelation and guides the people here on earth. Then we committed them to follow the prophet's words and they all five, in unison, accepted anxiously. It was quite cool because I shared a scripture earlier in the lesson about Christ having no divisions, and being of one mind and judgement. 1Cor 1:10. So it was just funny that is what happened when they all answered the same at the same time.

Well I love serving. It is tough but rewarding. I will never regret serving a mission.

Love,
Elder Walker

PS: I already told Nat about this but I have come up with some baby names. They are pretty dang clever because they are all Malagasy words but look the same as American names. But I can't tell any of you because you will want to use them. So for right now, they are secret!
Banana cherry smoothies

Friday, July 6, 2012

Toliara

The essence of Toliara
[This is a postcard that Brad sent us on June 11, 2012. We received it a couple of weeks later.]

This is the essence of Toliara. Cows pulling carts in the sand with a bunch of cactus. It is a pain to ride a bike through this sand by the way. I think the guy in front used to play for the Timberwolves. I can't tell though...

You guys better not be having a good time without me! In fact, I don't know if you guys could have a truly good time without me.

This morning it rained pretty hard. It reminded me of Utah a little bit. But no, I did not get trunky, just excited. [I had asked him if our Mother's Day call made him homesick.] I also get excited when I think about the food I'm gonna make you guys when I get back. Is there a place to buy a live chicken? we're gonna kill one and gut it ourselves! And eat it with ground up leaves. It's pretty good if you don't put in all the chicken guts that are chewy.

Well I hope you guys loved this little hello. Make sure Dani doesn't get into trouble :)

Love,
Brad

Monday, July 2, 2012

Jam packed week - July 1, 2012

Well a lot of stuff happened this week So I'm just going to try something different this email.

Monday: We played a pick game of basketball with some Malagasy punks. We barely beat them because they play everyday and we don't play at all. They also had a pretty tall guy on their team also but Smith put him in his place. Later that night, after teaching a recent convert she fed us octopus with the eyes, or should I say EYE. It was kind of crunchy and the outside or some part of it was like the outside shell of a popcorn kernel, very weird. It was the eve of their independence day also. So they set off a lot of fireworks on the beach (which we didn't get to see.) They partied a lot into the morning (which we heard while trying to sleep) It’s weird they party on the eve but the next day they just recuperate from partying so much. 

Tuesday: Well we were really sore from playing basketball the day before so riding a bike was pretty hard. But we managed. Like expected, no one was home because they were all just hangin around with their friends somewhere. But the good thing was is that we got fed three times in a row from investigators and members. We slept really well that night. 

Wednesday: So we were teaching a recent convert (practically every member is a recent convert here haha) and we used a balloon. We said it symbolized our testimony. But we poked a hole in it so it would slowly leak out. We told her that if we don't constantly blow up the balloon (build our testimony) then it will shrivel up and won’t do us any good. Then I accidently blew up the balloon too much and it popped. It was really load and it part of it hit my face and it really hurt. But it gave us a good laugh. During the day, we didn't have a chance to go to the bathroom so at the end of the day my bladder was about to explode. I felt really relieved after. It was like the time we went to Harry Potter five! Melissa probably remembers that :)

Thursday: We watched a movie 17 miracles with some members to tell them about the pioneers and such. But they only have subtitles in French not the sound. So apparently Malagasys need to read out loud in order to understand. Every single person was reading at their own pace and I could barely hear what was going on. They would also let everyone know when a miracle would happen. Pretty funny stuff. Turns out that I'm not the only crier in the companionship. Smith gets really emotional about pioneers stuff. He was gone by the first miracle. haha! 

Friday: This was the busiest day I have ever had during my mission. We had ten times planned and we got all ten times. Except the last four times were a little spread out. First we started out in the middle of the desert at a member’s house and we had to walk out before getting back on our bikes. After we got out we had to ride crazy fast to get to our next time and of course as always, the wind is going the opposite direction! When we turn the wind decides to turn also! I don't know if it’s Satan trying to discourage us or if it’s God just making us stronger. With ten times during the day we didn't really have time to sit down and have lunch. So we were pretty hungry by the end of the day. But it was all worth it in the end. 

Saturday: We were teaching some members and their little kid was being loud and disruptive. So finally the dad told her to go out and play but she didn't want to go out and play. So in revolt she went to the bucket of water they wash dishes with and started to scoop little handfuls of water out onto the ground. It was sprinkling at best and seeing her face while doing it was the funniest thing ever. I laugh every time I picture it. There was also this member that we found out that had 16 kids in her family! Only one set of parents. The parents were at 12 kids and decided to have one more but got a nice surprise of quadruplets! That must have been hard on the mom :) 

Sunday: Last week we had 9 investigators to church which was kind of low, this week we got 19 investigators to church. But they were mostly new! It was crazy! Having members bringing their friends, people only contacting on the street came. It was just awesome! I got up and bore my testimony about showing love towards others, and also the atonement. 2 Nephi 33:6. Really good scripture. After I sat down, a member sitting in front of me was gesturing her two boys 15 and 11 yrs. old to go up and bear their testimony. And of course they were too scared to do so. It was an exact replay of Mom and us. It just goes to show that no matter where you go in the world, everyone is the same. Seriously, it was a little creepy how similar it was! Haha!! Thanks Mom, I'll be sure to do that to my kids.

Well no special message this week, just my life as a missionary in Madagascar. I sure love it a lot! I hope you guys see that in my emails every week.

Love you all,
Elder Walker
A little too much baking soda!

Cute Malagasy girls

His new octopus mustache

Odile with buckets of fish

Fry sauce in Toliara!
Octopus or squid



Sunday, July 1, 2012

I'm Vezo!! - June 25. 2012

Down here in Toliara, one of the main tribes is Vezo. There are a couple others but that one is the majority. Their dialect is sort of similiar to the official dialect of Mada, but you can get really lost sometimes. Well I officially declare today that I am from the Vezo tribe! I just love the people down here. I love the way they talk, act and do things. I am pretty good at how they act and speak, so I can get along really well with new people. People usually warm up a lot quicker if you can joke with them and understand them. Missionaries are very new here so whenever we go down a new street I just hear the people talking about us as we pass by. But my favorite part is when we pass by a second time and totally surprise them by talking to them.

Yesterday we started talking to a group of people and they were just asking us what we were and why we don't have girlfriends, and then them offering two girls for us to be our girlfriends... that was weird... has happened more than once though haha! As we were talking to them more people start to gather around us. They walk up to the group and just have a blank stare with their jaw dropped. It is a little weird but I'm used to it by now. So after about five minutes of talking to these people we have a big enough group that it starts to block some of the path that we are on! So we decided to leave because they weren't really interested in the "gospel" part of us just the "white person" part. Which sadly happens a lot, but it does help us sometimes get new investigators.
I don't want to call it a problem because that makes it sound all around bad but it is a kind of problem. A ton of people want to talk to us, and we literally can talk to anyone about the gospel and usually get a time with them. But that doesn't mean that they will have the will to change or come to church or even be at their house when they said. Gospel is a big part of peoples' life here, if you don't go to church then you are just a weird person. So when we say to people: we share and teach the gospel of Jesus Christ, how it was lost before and now restored, they actually hear: we teach about the Bible. So people are always very accepting and invite us to teach them. But when we get into their home we go through the first lesson and get to Joseph Smith, they get kind of... weird. I don't know how to put it. Sometimes it goes well but sometimes they are surprised because they didn't really listen when we first talked with them. And then they don't want to learn from us anymore. So we have to really go around and look at the type of person. First we go to men, who usually look like fathers. Second we go for more nicer looking people, meaning nice clothes and such. Then we look for people who call out to us (literally) or who look like they want to learn. And then moms with children and then somewhat younger looking men/boys (16-25 yrs. old). So if we look right then we can actually get promising investigators.

Well I guess I'll tell about Sunday again because that seems to be the only day that amazing things happen. Or maybe that is just the only day that I can remember stuff... Anyway, the theme for the day seemed to be Love/Charity. That happens sometimes, we teach someone about a subject and then feel like we need to teach someone else about the same thing. Of course it is not the exact same scriptures or the order we say things but they are similar. We also sang Love at Home in each time with the families. The first time we taught about love was a mom with her son and daughter. The twelve year old daughter is the only one baptized. And there seems to be contention with all three of them all the time. But hopefully their bond with each other will grow over time as they apply the principles of the gospel.

The second time we taught about love is the one that really affected me the most. It is this family: father, mother, daughter and son. The father is Protestant, who doesn't go to church and just plays soccer all the time, the mother a devout Catholic who is loving and actually might come around to our church, and the 9 year old daughter who loves going to church with the other members that live by, and the 5 year old or something son. We got word from a member that this family is going to split up, the father doesn't do anything to help around the house. From what we have seen he is very, how do I put it, "stoic". He doesn't show his emotions and just comes home to eat. The mother gets annoyed about how much he doesn't do and is fed up with it. The mother is going to move out with the two kids at the end of July and the father is going to move into the same house as his next girlfriend/wife. We found this all out about ten minutes before we went in to teach them. There are about three members that live in the same lot and are kind of "family" come in with us to be present in the lesson. Again teaching about love and charity we were really trying to express that we need the gospel of Jesus Christ to be happy. We need to express love and receive love in order to be eternally happy. Well I started talking about family, and as I always do I started to get emotional. I said that I know that my family is sealed for eternity and that I will see them again after this life. And then I said that sometimes other people can get annoying, especially family. I told them that I always fought with my little sister, because she was so super annoying! But as we grew up and matured a little I decided to humble myself and try not to get into fights. And said that the gospel of Jesus Christ helped with me and my little sister. And now we are the best of friends. And you know what?! It's not fair that I'm an offspring of two big criers! That just makes me an even bigger one!!! So yes, I cried. Smith had to take over and finish the lesson. ANYWAY, the reason why I am sharing this story is not to show that I'm a cry baby or show my sensitive side to the ladies. The reason why, is that at the end the mother was crying a little and the father might have been tearing up a bit also. Along with everyone else besides the 5 yr. old son (but he wasn't listening anyways.) The gospel of Jesus Christ is powerful and infinite. It is literally the source of happiness and joy. It binds forever, which means I am eternally thankful.

Even though we might not show our love for our Heavenly Father all the time through our complete obedience in keeping the commandments, we can through trying. So don't give up and also don't underestimate the power of the atonement. Jesus lives and just like him, we will rise again to live with our Father in Heaven forever.

Love,
Elder Walker
video
My lunch

Mada money