"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 31, 2012

Dec. 31, 2012 - The big man now!

So my time in Ampitatafika is now over. After one month with McLaughlin and four months with Austin I have been called to a new area. It is called Antsirabe, which means the land of a lot of salt. But in reality it is the land of everything! They have almost all kinds of fruit, they have the main factory where they make the soda in the country, and they have a huge dairy farm down here! It is also the coldest place in Madagascar. Right now it is perfect because it is still in the summer part of the year here.
Electrified! He "grew his hair out" so he could show us on our Christmas Day Skype.

Brad and Elder Austin having fun at a ward activity.

Merry Christmas, Dad. Golf tribute.

Brad, Elder Austin, Brother O'Day and President Georges and family

Christmas hat chess

My new  companion is Elder Beau Chandler Waters and he is from Winter Haven, Florida. And is also the tallest missionary in the mission right now at 6'6". And yes, we are both the zone leaders for the five areas here in Antsirabe - itself and then one area in Ambositra, the two areas in Fianarantsoa and the one area in Toliara. Elder Waters has been here for only a month so we both are learning the area, how the zone leader thing works and everything else down here. haha! 

We are living with two other elders, Elder Randriamamonjisoa (he's Malagasy if you couldn't tell) and then Elder Kumar. He is Fijian but I think he is very closely related to India because he speaks Hindu, along with the Fijian, English and now Malagasy. And Randriamamonjisoa also speaks really good English. So we have a fun house. 

The church here in Antsirabe is a little... it needs some work. It turns out that the district president doesn't work well with the branch presidents and the branch president doesn't work well with the members and the members don't work well with the district president. All in all, it's the gossip and being easily offended that is tearing the people apart. So hopefully we can work with President Adams and get this long time problem to go away in a short amount of time. But on a good note, some of the members are way super cool!! I can't wait to try to get to know everyone before I go. 

I only have a little time left. I just want to let you guys know that the 27th of Feb. is not set in stone. And don't be too sad if I come home a little later. I'm happy to come home early too but I'm also kind of scared. So I'll work really hard for you guys and make sure that I don't have any regrets. I'm glad that Pres Adams gave me this opportunity for the last bit f my mission. I love this new area and can't wait to make some positive changes here. I'll try to get some pictures up next week of the area, the new comp etc. 

I love you guys and hope you have an awesome New Year's!!! Talk to ya next year!

Elder "Zone leader big man" Walker (I'm still working on the title)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas call - Dec. 25, 2012

Doesn't he look good?

Can he look any happier?
Brad went to his branch president's house to Skype this time which made it really nice for him not to compete with all the noise of a cyber cafe.

We were just finishing our Christmas morning breakfast when his call came in. I rushed down to the computer and in my rush answered just regular and not the video so we could see them, but they couldn't see us at first. Anyway, his MTC teacher Brother O'Day has been in Mada the last few months building lower cost housing there. Brother O'Day tried to pull a fast one on us and tell us that Brad had been transferred and he'd have to call us in a couple of days. I wasn't buying any of that!! Finally he said, "Well, it's time to open the presents..." and Brad came into view. It was fantastic!!

He got a chance to meet his nephew and niece and also future sister-in-law. He was so happy and upbeat. We got to say hi to his companion - Elder Austin, Brother O'Day and also the branch president's family.

Brad told us that he had some little news and some big news to share. So we asked for the little news first. Turns out he is being transferred on Dec. 27th to a place I can't pronounce - what else is new? He then said that he was going to be a zone leader there. So, we thought that was the big news. No, he then went on to say, "I'm being released on the 27th of..." and I shouted, "March?" No, February!! He warned us that it is not set in stone because it is 5 weeks early and the mission president has to get permission from the First Presidency if it is over a month early. I did notice that other elders who were supposed to go home in February are coming home two days after Christmas so I guess it really could happen!

We also asked Brad to bear his testimony and it was so sweet. He got emotional and choked up and we could see such growth and a wonderful spirit about him. He is still the same Brad but has more confidence and maturity about him.

It was a great experience talking to him - I love Skype! Being able to see him is the greatest!

Later in the day we all opened individual letters from Brad that he had secretly sent home through me. We were one big cry fest as we all read our special letters. It was a great Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve! - Dec. 24, 2012

The Skype thing sounds good. I think I'll try to go over to the Pres. Georges' house to Skype. But I'll still do it at the same time.

Don't let Taylor [Hartman] scare you. He couldn't handle a measly spider bite, of course he thinks its scary in Africa! I'm fine over here. [We went to the Hartman's homecoming yesterday - their son, TJ, reported too. It was great!]

I might email later today if I have time. I actually have an interview with Pres Adams so I'm pressed for time right now. 

I have big news for you guys tomorrow. [Release date maybe?]
Elder Walker

Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas is close! - Dec. 17, 2012

Christmas is close and I am so excited!! We have been counting down the days here in Madagascar. I don't know if you guys have it over there in America, but there is something about the last day being on the 21st of December. It has kind of stolen the thunder of Christmas. But Christmas is a strong fellow so I think he is going to pull it out in the end. Another funny thing about the 21st, every single ward/branch is doing a little open house/contacting thing on the 22nd of December. Once everyone realizes that it is actually not the last day then we swoop in and catch everybody in our salvation giving net. I can't wait, it's gonna to be fun. 

Lately we have been teaching lot of recent convert/ less active times. It is just a little different focus than what I have been doing my whole mission but I guess it is just what I feel this branch needs. The lesson that I taught last week, I mostly wanted to focus on just love between the members in the ward. Just so they can start to love each other enough to serve each other. Hopefully they feel the Christmas spirit and start to do better. 

We did get this one family as a referral from the Branch President  It is a mom and four kids that are really well off and the dad is always working and never home. They have been taught a lot before by missionaries and they can't come to church because of family problems but they are so willing to learn and they just love the missionaries. They want to feed us so much too! That has become a highlight of my mission, not just the getting fed but just being in that environment with Malagasies. I love it when we can just talk and have fun. They are a super nice family, hopefully their problem can be fixed and they can start coming to church. 

On Saturday there was a little activity going on in one of the areas of the branch. So me and Elder Austin went to it with a lot of the young single adults in the branch. The members that were there was the family whose house it was at and then us with the young single adults. IT was still good. We learned about prayer and the comfort it brings. It was also fun with the young single adults there. 

Church was nice and organized. Nothing too crazy happened. After, we headed out to work and got dogged a lot! It was just tough because it started to rain and then Elder Austin wasn't feeling good so we ended up heading home early. Missionary work can be hard but by now I know that it brings happiness. So even when it gets tough and hard and whatever, if you push through even after no success with the extra effort done, Heavenly Father will bless you for it. 

I love being on a mission. It is tough and pushes you to the very edge. I hope that every man makes the choice to go and serve. 

So I guess that's all for this week. Not much to report. I hope all of you can get you shopping done this week. And if you are really in the Christmas mood, you can buy me a Christmas present and save it for me for when I get home. 

Elder Walker

1. How many missionaries are there in your mission? Any sisters? Any white sisters?
There are about  70 ish missionaries here in Mada and no white sisters. They only send black sisters here. 
2. Would Christmas eve be a better time to call? Or Christmas later? We could have you get on Skype anytime Christmas night and it would be our morning. So, how late is the cyber open? Could we set it up for 7:00 p.m. Christmas night for you? It would be 9:00 a.m. for us which would be perfect! Could you still do that or do we need to go earlier. We're flexible so I really need to know how things work on your end. Last Christmas we just called and so it didn't matter as much but now that you have to be on a computer we want to make sure it all works out. I LOVE that we can Skype because then I get to see your smiling face! You have to answer with a time because we only have one more email to do this. Can't wait!!
I think Christmas night for me would be the best. Except could we do it at 6:00 PM for me instead? That would be much better and safer for me because the cybers here close a little early. 

You can call me just to confirm the time and make sure it is all set up. I actually might have to set up a new Skype account because I forgot my password and username... So That will be settled before next Monday haha

PS: I have not gotten any packages yet so hopefully they will be there today when we go to the office of next week on Pday.

Monday, December 10, 2012

December 10, 2012

I'm sorry f this email is a little short. The keyboard is being really crappy!!!

So I'll start on Thursday. Nothing happened. There are three companionships in the house with only two sets of keys. We were the last ones to leave and had no keys. By the time that we figured anything out both the missionaries were way too far to come back to the house. So we just spent the whole day inside almost about to go crazy. The next day me and Elder Austin were so restless we could barely sit down for personal study. 
For Friday, we went over to this member's house because the wife asked us to come over. Turns out that they are in some pretty bad financial trouble. They raise pigs and then sell them for meat. But since the pigs they had were American pigs and not Malagasy pigs they were really prone to getting sick. So the income they were going to receive got cut down to one third of the original price when most of their pigs died of some sort of disease. It is really tough to not give good people like that some money. But they are going strong and still active in the church. They have some really good faith. 
On Saturday we went over to the church to buy some pizzas! The young single adults were making some pizzas to raise some money for their trip they are taking. I bought five pizzas on my own and Elder Austin bought four. He actually bought six but sold two of them to Elder McLaughlin. I actually ate three of them right there on the spot. I was really hungry. And it was for a good cause. 
So here in Tana the missionaries go by what is called "taxi be" which means big taxi. With Malagasies it can hold up to 27 people in it. But sometimes that isn't even enough. We needed to take a taxi to this far out place and it just so happens that everyone else needed to get there the same time as us so we actually didn't get the chance to go out to these awesome members and investigator. But they weren't mad when we saw them on Sunday so everything is OK. 
The rains decided to pour on Sunday, our busiest day of the week. But before we get to that part I have to tell you about one of the best moments on my mission. It was the Primary program! Oh my gosh I was so happy. Anyone who knows me, knows that I'm a crier. I didn't cry during it but I was getting close. Kids like that just have such a pure spirit. Nothing will be able to top that for awhile. 
OH I almost forgot! I taught Priesthood class. Our branch here in Ampitatafika is slacking on the home teaching so I wanted to get them a little more diligent in completing that. I focused mostly on charity and how we can't let our own family perish spiritually. I thought it went well, let's hope that it makes a difference. I was pretty scared to do it before but it turns out that Malagasies just love to have some input so something was always being said. 
When we actually got out teaching the rain decided to start. And like always, it comes hard! Always. But we still got to some times and had some wonderful lessons. I can't forget but we had a couple, not just one but a couple less actives come back to church this last Sunday!!!! Sunday was just an awesome day! 
Well the weeks are winding down but I still need to work hard. I wonder everyday how many people can I give the gospel to in the amount of time I have left. It helps me work just a little harder. Especially as it is winding down. 

I love you all. Please give to someone. Have the Christmas spirit with you. It always feels good to give.