Monday, December 22, 2014

WHAT I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS: 1. The Complete Season Two Box Set of ABC Family's "Switched At Birth" 2. Death





Hello my friends.

1st of all sorry for not writing a blog post for a few weeks/not sorry cause I'm super flaky and feel no guilt about not fulfilling promises. Also this post is laf-be so hopefully it will make up for it. if I miss a week again just do a google image search of Madagascar (Fort Dauphin if you want the deluxe experience) eat some rice and burn garbage all at the same time and you'll essentially be having the same experience as me.

MOST IMPORTANT UPDATE OF THE LAST TWO WEEKS: Madagascar is kind of behind the times in culture so all of their spider-man merchandise is from Sam Raimi's originally trilogy, i.e. I WAS MADE FOR THIS CITY
2nd most critical update: my first baptism and my first split happened this week (note: split is missionary lingo for when you trade companions for a day or two, my hip sockets remain inflexible)




wait, did i say baptism? cause i meant three baptisms. don't get too impressed, i wasn't directly involved with any of these, these guys were already super solid investigators before i got here, i just attended. mostly cool cause i got to see the gnarly port-a-fonts they use here literally everywhere else other than Mahajanga (pronounced mah-ZJAHN-gah, and yes it does sound like a city from A:TLA) where they dunk in the ocean and the center of tana, where they actually have a nice church building and use a more american style font (pictured last). But most importantly...


This guy, Frederic Raherilaliana was the last on to get baptized. Hes in red, I'm in an awkward pose that makes me look like a twelve year-old named Noah. The eleven disciples are looking at the resurrected Christ, off-frame. Frederic might just be my best friend in this country, hes an extremely cool guy (and the fact that hes way good at English helps too.) we trade idioms and help each other out with our second languages. He and his bud Medisse practice English by imitating rappers (Medisse is Eminem and Frederic is 50 Cent) Frederic is super chill and intelligent, as well as very spiritual on top of that. he'd been looking for the church for years, because when he originally wanted to get baptized his parents wouldn't let him. then he moved to a province where the church didn't exist, and now years later he moved back to Tana and was reintroduced to the church through Medisse. He said he was originally going to make fun of the missionaries because they were some awkward vazahas (literally white foreigner, but more causal, I like to translate it in my head to pinkies), but the spirit prompted him to listen to their message. also, during his baptism, none of the people from the ward or his friends he invited showed up because they time and place kept getting moved around and everyone was confused. also, there was a freak thunderstorm (read as yes, it was a sudden and extremely heavy thunderstorm version of freak, but not as a version of freak that would make you think similar thunderstorms don't happen every couple of hours here, because they do) that kept everyone from traveling that night. So just him and the missionaries and the bishop were there, but when we tried to apologize he said it didn't matter because he was there and the Holy Ghost was there. What a guy. Frederic also taught me the Malagasy word for impregnate and i cant remember why (manabevoka for those of you who are wondering). He also wants to serve a mission as soon as possible, and then open an English school that's accessible to non-rich malagasies with Medisse and our ward mission leader (whose also a boss, Ill probably get a picture of him too)     

But now lets talk about ME

pictured: me

Something awesome happened: the next batch of freshly MTC printed missionaries arrived in country, so I'm no longer the greenest/whitest! it actually coordinated really well with a renewed surge of confidence i felt in my language and social abilities so i was able to give them a warm welcome and tell them not to worry. I'm starting to feel very much at home and I'm noticing my habits becoming slightly more Malagasy, but don't mistake that for competence, yesterday  i still cut myself shaving twice, ran into the top of two concrete door frames, and tripped and caught my fall with my face on pipe. The moneymakers taking a beating, folks. But the honies keep coming anyway (read honies as one tweenage girl who likes to pass notes in broken English during baptisms and one 70 year old street lady who sarcastically called out "Mon Cheri!" and blew some rum-scented kisses. Also the prostitutes on the walk home to my apartment. They seem very friendly!)  

also, i mentioned in passing I'm an office elder but didn't really explain it. essentially it means we help the people in charge of mission finance, public relations, medicine and humanitarian work do busywork and get info out to the missionaries, as well get supplies out the missionaries and other odd jobs. we make area maps like this one (also, a sneak peak at my apartment!) 


and facilitate flights and bus trips when missionaries transfer areas. its all very boring but we usually only have to do it  for an hour or two before we go out to proselyte. when i first got here it was really nice to have some time in an air conditioned building and the option to talk to English speakers but now I'm starting to get irritated cause i thinks its cutting into my Malagasy studies. But we do get to do some cool stuff, for example its a real bear to try and deal with landlords here. I've already been privy to multiple occasions where they've seen they're letting to vazahas from a big organization so they'll let their friends or the store downstairs siphon power from the missionary apartment. I got to put together a spread sheet to A. show the landlord it was obvious theft was happening and B. calculate how much he owed us as per our former agreement. They didn't tell me exactly when they started stealing power, but my guess is it was when the bill went from 142,000 to 858,000 ariary a month.

In terms of actual missionary work, its awesome because Malagasies are way receptive and love learning religion. The hardest part is that pretty much everyone will tell you to "Mandrosa, mandrosa!" (come in, come in!) because its fomba gasy but wont necessarily understand your theyre to try to change their lives or they will learn and never really take it seriously and keep inviting you back but never show up for appointments because they don't really care. its kind of heart breaking actually, cause everyone says they want to learn but you have to be real picky about who you teach and drop a lot of people in order to have success. In terms of getting in the door, having them believe what you say, even getting fed its actually too easy to the point where it hurts the work. (its way easy to get sick from home cooked rice.) But its kind of awesome when you can tell a trinitarian the godhead is 3 separate people and they'll be like "you're olona masina (holy people) so i believe you." or you tell a drunk they can stop drinking and he'll be like "with God all things are possible!' and you're well that was easy. but then you have to make sure they really understand, they really try, and they're not just saying. An alcoholic who knows he can change but refuses to try is just a worse alcoholic. 

I also went on splits with an Elder Nelson this week, it was really cool to see a different area and meet new people and see different teaching styles. Also Elder Nelson has only been in country one month longer than me, so i got a chance to step up my malagasy skills. We met some super friendly FJKM members I'm jealous i wont get to teach again.  Here's the view from Elder Nelson's apartment which is way nice but has water pressure like a new born babe sighing.


Beautiful, sa hoe tsy marina izan? Now let me tell you something awful. There are no garbage cans anywhere in Mada. No one comes to pick up your trash. when you have trash, you throw it in the gutter so it can make the flooding grosser that night. and if you have rich person trash, like in an actual bag, you just take it outside and leave it by the road. Someone wants it and you save them a trip to the dump. Depressing, I know. Remember to contribute a generous fast offering this month is all i can say i guess. It goes to the hungry and everyone can afford it.

Let's try and salvage the mood with...

Funny Malagasy Facts For the Week or V.G.H.A.H. (the acronym is in Malagasy) 

The word for snake is "bibilava" or literally "long animal"
also, for those of you who still think early 2000's memes are funny (and who doesnt) there is literally a tribe here called sakalava or longcat
if you see an albino malagasy walking down the street and you want to point them out, the correct term is bobo gasy pronounced "boob gas"

jew is pronounced juice here and juice is pronounced jew. go figure.

Lastly, I've met people named Parfait, Jail, Laundry, Poopy, and Rihanna. the only one of those spellings that may not be correct is laundry, but it is said exactly like the english word.


this shouldn't make me laugh, but here we are


***BOWEL MOVEMENT UPDATE***
Still a mess, but it goes in easy. I eat a lot of yaourt maison (read:yeasty spoiled milk in a dixie cup) because i heard it cleans you out. I've had some success. I've also realized travelers need to learn to read malagasy fast or else they'll order pig ears/face/foot/cow penis.

That seems like a good place to end, dont you think? Merry Christmas everyone, be thankful you dont have to see malagasy Dadabe Noel masks, they're friggin creepy

Monday, December 1, 2014

Betongolo Week 3, or, We'd Love For You To Join The Church But You're Going To Have To Stop Practicing Black Magic First

Introducing a new segment, which will hopefully continue on infinitely past this week and become a ray. (Geometry jokes! Thats the reason you read my blog!) 

***MEANT VS. SAID***

What I meant: I asked God for answers many times.
What I said: I asked God for easy sugar cane.

What I meant: My name is Elder McCrary (in a malagasy accent)
What I said: My name is Elder Prostitute

Okay enough of that garbage lets get to the real blog. oh no wait, actually another caveat needs to come first (caveats and geometry in one day!)

I wrote a little flippantly last week, mostly cause i think its more fun to write and more fun to read. but in retrospect i decided i needed to make some things clear. The last thing i want to do here is make it out like Malagasies or Madagascar is some uncivilized, unlivable people or place. It isn't. There's a lot of conditions here that are way different from america and i'm still getting used to it, but i love it here and i love the people. I'm also perfectly safe, were well taken care of here. there are serious diseases here but even though they exist it doesn't mean they're prevalent. there's an extremely low chance of anyone here getting malaria or black plague, and 0% for me because I'm medicated. as for the guy that hit me, don't worry about that either, I'm completely unhurt, it was even a punch or anything, he just slapped me cause he got a little over excited.  I mostly write in a way to entertain or make some point, but i realize because I'm in a place so far removed from a lot of you guys its my responsibility to represent it truthfully. So the truth is that yes, Mada is a developing country, but the people are insanely kind and welcoming. i can knock on almost any door and just get invited in and possibly even served some rice.  Its true that there's no traffic laws, but people here also don't drive like Americans. they're considerate of everyone on the road and its easy to stay safe.  I have enough money to clean my food and filter my water so i'm (mostly) well and in no actual health danger. Violent crime is virtually non-existent here, the only really sad thing is the prevalence of alcoholism and domestic violence. But please, please don't let that reflect on your impression of Malagasies,its due to a lack of institutions and awareness for those issues, not the people. Its actually been really inspiring to work within the church, because they're one of the few organizations here doing anything to to fight against alcoholism and domestic violence. I'm sorry if i caused any of you to worry about me or get a negative impression or this place, trust me, it beautiful and amazing and an awesome place to get to live in. 

On the other hand though, I frequently almost fall into the gaping sewer pits that periodically dot the streets, so you gotta watch out for those. especially at night. 

I think its about time for pictures, dont you? 







I want to move away from these PLS shots and get pictures of actual people, but i havent figured out a casual way to stop a stranger on the street, tell him his 90s windbreaker is fierce and ask for his picture. Similarly, i dont know a non creepy way to ask parents if i can take a picture of their adorable kid. im working on it though, hopefully soon this blog will feature real people.  But going back to 90s windbreakers here, this whole nation is constantly on point. Clothes are mostly sold street side (everything is mostly sold street side, theres  whole street where people just sell bedframes and i saw a guy walking around selling toilet plungers yesterday) and i think the clothes mostly come from what america doesnt sell. Essentially the nations entire wardrobe is thrift shop ware, and the results are just as awesome as that sounds. I get to see 60 year old guys rocking denim on denim every day. also yesterday an investigator came to church wearing a white shirt and tie, both of which were embroidered with Chinese dragons. Gorgeous. (BTW, the word for Chinese here is Schnoo {thats not how its spelled, thats how it sounds} and that is definitely the superior way to refer to East Asians)

One last note on clothes: i saw a guy yesterday wearing an Olentangy Liberty High School sweatshirt the other day! what are the odds!? I wanted to get his picture so bad but he looked really grumpy so i was too nervous to talk to him. Also frankly i was intimidated. But then he walked past me and his head reached up to about nipple height. That happens a lot here. You see a guy whos a head above everyone else and think "i dont wanna make him angry" and then you remember hes like 5'6"


Actual picture of me coming down the streets of Tana

Something about malagasy newspaper comics really speak to me. By the way, i read this paper while Horspool got his hair cut. barbers here have in a 7ft by 7ft by 7ft tin shack and always cut your hair to look like Drake (NOTE: not Drake Bell)

Things Malagasies need to stop: carrying backpacks with working shoulder straps on their heads. also pretending like mangoes are good fruit. theyre not, in fact theyre almost objectively the worst. and the juice they make from it is even crummier. They have so many awesome fruits here and yet somehow theyre still pretending mangoes are edible. Corossol juice is way better, and lychees are absolutely amazing. i might upload a video of one cause you kind of have to see them to believe them, they look like something out of Super Mario Sunshine.

This entry felt disorganized but ill blame it on the parasitic brain eating worms that are almost surely inside me by now. Those are real here btw

Have some belated pictures of skymall magazine, certainly the best part of international travel




Monday, November 24, 2014

No Hors(pool)play In The (hors)Pool

Pictures arent working this week so the blog post is gonna be pretty lean this week. i dont like giving you walls of text (intentionally) without stimulating images.

so heres the haps:

Mostly pooping. sorry to make this a blog about intestinal issues, thatll stop when mine stop. im physically restraining myself from using any of the 2,000 poop jokes ive written over the last week, they just come easily when you spend so much time around it. every street has a trench in it here becuase when it rains the city turns into venice but instead of nice water its literally garbage+human feces water

by the way it started raining for real this week, and its nothing like you can even imagine. im struggling to think of how to describe it. think of Portlands annual rainfall coming down over the course of five minutes. its... vigorous. I've dripped my way through several lessons already and left a nice indoor pool in the investigators house after i left.

im officially immune to malaria as if this week! ive been on anti malarials for long enough for them to kick in. fun fax about doxycycline: 
dont lay down after you take it or youll get some nice esophageal burns. 
Even though its supposed to be less psychologically distressing than the alternative, larium, you still get some crazy dreams on it. i have been killed three successive nights in a row by giant insects, a man who could turn other people into copies of himself claiming to be satan, and my mother.
those arent the only positives, it also makes you immune to the bubonic plague, known on the streets as the black plague! by the way theres an  outbreak of that in madagascar/tana right now so yes that is a relevant fact

Starting to really dislike alchohol over here. this was the week that a drunk made the jump to actually hitting me. be thankful you live in a country where domestic violence isnt common or generally accepted, ive already had to see or hear about that too much over here. i cant think of a worse adjective to attach to domestic violence than "common". and alcohol is always involved, at least here.  

sorry to end like this, ill try to be cheerier and better planned next week.

This is a picture of Ian, his Mission President and his wife that was taken the day he arrived.  I'm including it here since Ian wasn't able to upload any other photos.  :-(


Monday, November 17, 2014

***WITTY OPENING SUPERCEDED IN FAVOR OF IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT***

Letters:                                                                     Packages:
Madagascar Antananarivo Mission                          Madagascar Antananarivo Mission
BP 5094                                                                   Dingana III 
101 Antananarivo                                                     101 Andrainariyo
Madagascar                                                              Madagascar

Take note real quick of my shiny new mailing adress, where it now only takes 3 weeks to get letters to me with a 95% success rate! if you ever decide to send me a package (i dont know why you would, but it would be awesome if you did) it takes longer than a month, and items might be removed #fun! BUUUUUT 90% of Madagascar is Christian and they love the missionaries so if put some pictures or stickers of Christ on the outside of the box/envelope the success rate goes way up. you can also send me mail much fast and for free at DearElder.com. COOL

***END OF WITTINESS SUPERCESSION***

So, believe it or not, but traveling to Madagascar nonstop for three days and then living there has been a fairly crazy experience so far.

First things first. I am OFFICIALLY moved out of the MTC (to be read in the voice of Mrs. Incredible, the Incredibles being unequivocally the best Pixar movie). have a look at some pictures of my three malagasy teachers, but not too long of a look cause i was having a bad everything day #ugly

I wish i could go in depth about each of my teachers like i have about people in the past, but email time is way more limited out in the field and the one thing worse in madagascar than in america is the computers (french keyboards + dial up internet speed = hell). Suffice it to say theure all really cool guys who know a ton about missionary work and malagasy, quite possibly the three most fluent at the language white people in the world, considering only .03% of the globe speaks malagasy. 

Brother Sell is the most reserved of the three, and i think ive only heard him speak around 5-ish english sentences, the rest its full time gasy. Hes also a pretty mean cook and athlete, if his sotries are to be believed. 


Brother Bingham's skills include ultimate frisbee and hitting on sister missionaries then claiming he thought they were teachers. Hes the sharpest dresser of the three and has a disturbing amount of interesting socks. i hold a fondness for bingham cause he said he liked my tie the best #HeWasCorrect 


Annnnd i told you about Burton last time. (sorry Bro Bur)



quick pic of all the malagasies at the MTC at the time of my leaving and a picture of my favorite couple in our Branch Presidency, President and Sister Mangum. President has a drawl worth of his last name and an email address Im certain his work gave him. Sister Mangum has a thick Maine accent, something i had no idea existed. they are living pieces of Americana and i love them dearly.


I also had to say goodbye to my two MTC companions, Elder Hieden and Cyusa. You gotta know im gonna miss them like crazy. Here they are on the Utah TRAX (fun fact: it took planes trains and automobiles to get us to Mada)


IM GONNA MISS IT

Travel facts section (TravFax) Mada is the farthest possible mission in the world from its MTC (no one speaks Malagasy in the Ghana MTC) and the church for understandable reasons, wants you there as quickly as possible. point is I traveled for around 56 hours straight with no showers, and despite meeting some super nice missionary loving people in every city and the fact that i love airports and airplanes, it was one of the most miserable experiences of my life. As I entered hour 30 of not showering i could feel all of my old anxieties and stresses returning and i still had decades to go of being trapped inside of cage of my own turgid pool of sweat and dirt. i think i clenched my fists until i cut my hands and i almost just started shouting at one point in Johannesburg. But all in all it was a really fun experience actually!



This part of the London airport really spoke to me on an aesthetic level. the most lonely, cold christmas tree ever. trever. 

I know the "brittish people are silly" jokes have been done to death but i have to say i think London is the most bizarre, surreal place ive ever been. Literally EVERYTHING is exactly like america, except never exactly. just an inch off. It was so disturbing to be trying to buy some food in a brittish starbucks, have everthing be in english, and yet have no idea what the sandwhich i was ordering was or how much it cost. it was also like theyre version of veterans day, which is exactly like americas but called like veterouns day or some crap and everyone wears these big silly flowers. even their bathrooms were somehow fancier but more stuck up and ineffectual. their stalls are huge and wood, but the toilet is tiny and weak and they pipe in classical music. they have sinks that are some how laid out different and mange to do nothing to your hands.

quotes from the brittish news in the airport "Sausage Warning: 1 in 10 sausages may be infected" and "Sausage Warning: Sausage meat should be cooked for 20 minutes"

Enough of that. 

MAD-TV-A-GASCAR  TIME

The gritty nitty: My trainer is named Elder Horspool. My area is Betongolo (Bay-toon-goo-loo), a section of da big city: Antananarivo. Betongolo literally means "lots of onions" (the green kind). i havent seen a ton but i eat alot with eggs for breakfast often. Everything here is superfresh, meaning the onions were probably grown within walking distance of our apartment and the eggs come with feathers still on them (delicious!)

I feel the need to talk about the chickens at this moment, cause they deserve special mention. the same way london is like a perverse bizarro version of america, madagascar is so completely and insanely different your much more surprised when something happens that feels familiar. Case in point: even their chickens are radically different, i swear theyre not the same beast. Theyre everywhere, theyre tall and thin and mangy and made of matted black feathers, they roam freely and im pretty sure each is a convicted felon. i swear i saw one wearing crips colors. theyre constantly making noise, and not clucking, its far more akin to the cry of a velociraptor. Malagasies are so hardcore they just grab these dinosaurs, still fighting, tie their feet up with scraps of rope and then break their neck when its breakfast time. then im pretty sure they squeeze a few last eggs out too. the sun rises here around 3:00 in the morning and i can hear the chickens and people eating each other until its time for me to get up at 6:30.

honestly i cant even talk about all the weird/cool/foreign things here cause its everything and its so much i can already feel myself getting used to it cause other wise i just curl up in the middle of a cobble stone street and stare into infinity mumbling in malagasy. i mean, in the last paragraph i just mentioned the sun rises at 3 and sets at 6 in passing and neglected to mention that one time while i was teaching a lesson one of the families chickens walkied right into their house and jumped on the table and started fighting with their kids/learning the restored gospel of Jesus Christ because it doesn't even seem strange anymore.
here, let me just describe a few images and maybe you can start to figure out what its like to serve a mission in Madagascar

the look of Tana summed up: a sixty year old malagasy wearing an "I ate my homework" T-shirt

two 4-8 year old kids under a butchers stall playing some sort checkers like game with cigarette butts

Jules, a deaf malagasy member of the church who invented his own sign language in order to talk with his family working with a few other missionaries who learned his language to skype a sister missionary in Washington DC in order to learn american sign language so he can get a better job and someday go to the temple in Johannesburg and understand it

Me, being so dehydrated on saturday i stumbled back into our apartment and peed yellow acrylic paint 

Countless shops claiming to sell PIZZ ' AS 


this, a typical malagasy roof

me, Elder Horspool, and about 7-9 malagasies crammed into a room about 10 feet by ten feet singing Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah and then having to explain to them that its not really a hymn and is in fact more about atheistic doubts and sex than praising God

a street fight breaking out over a motorcycle in front of me and Horspool, and a third malagasy breaking it up by telling the two combatants that "they cant fight in front of holy men"

Seeing stray dogs literally everywhere  and learning to run away from adorable puppies bounding towards you because you know theres a rabid momma close behind

in fact, let me go on one more animal tangent: Dokotras. imagine a turkey crossed with a duck. Now, instead of whatever silly thing you just pictured, imagine the nightmare version of it. that is dokotras, and the only animal ive never seen a malagasy brave enough to touch. even the biggest dogs keep theyre distance and i dont think malagasies eat their meat or their eggs and yet somehow theyve managed to enter the city and walk its streets freely, their only purpose to inflict suffering.

Its just Antananarivo, man. the city that goes to sleep at 8:30 cause the sun went down a few hours ago and they cant light it. the city where every taxi is a khaki 1920's Volkswagen beetle. the city where you walk through rice paddies to get to your neighbors and say hi to their hyper malnourished cow. the city where everyone greets you with a friendly "Salama tompko!" no matter how few teeth they have. the city where 4 year olds come up to you dressed in rags, carring and infant on their back and you can bond with them by singing the Dora the Explorah theme song (the words are different, but the do-do-do-do-dora is the same). the city where youre food is 50% the fruit flies that land on it as you raise the spoon to your mouth. The city where youre either never pooping, or always. 

Really, just the coolest city in the world. 

have a dumb video,

video


and some pictures. for a challenge, see if you can guess which are provo, and which are tana.
















Saturday, November 8, 2014

Malagasy McCrary's Madagascar Mission Malcontent Mission Murmurings - FINALE: Take care of yourself.



Im sorry MTC, but no matter how many vaporwave inspired 90's cybercore aesthetic gifs you use on me, my time approaches. MTC ya later.

Things really are getting serious though, i fly out in just 2 days as of writing this. its gonna be a huge anticlimax, cause even though i leave in 2 days, i arrive in 4. The whole goodbye process gets a little weird when you have these emotional farewells then sit in a plane/airports for 40 hours afterwards before reaching closure. Thanks Mada, for being the number 1 most distant destination coming out of the Provo MTC.


The first real upheaval came when it was time to say goodbye to the Indonesians. im so jealous of them, theyre probably already experiencing their first intestinal issues as the adjust to the local bacteria. awww



it was time to say goodbye to Gagarin and an angel appeared!


it was time to say goodbye to Gagarin and an angel appeared!


Cyusa and the other international missionaries got to visit temple square this week, which i think is a pretty awesome idea. this might be the only chance a lot of them ever have to see it. I've honestly never noticed just how huge/cool the Salt Lake Temple is, though if you gave me forty years id probably be that huge/cool


Actual to scale picture of cyusa/rest  of humanity


Also heart-wrenching was when we went to a devotional at BYU this week. being inside the Marriott Center just reminded me of being dragged to basketball games and watching the scores changed until they were all prime numbers and added up to a prime number. or trying to annoy the  crowd by cheering slightly too late and reminding the players to take breaks and drink plenty of water. there were also some good memories.

the other importance of this picture is that one my teachers, Brother Burton is sitting to the left of us. Burton's an awesome guy, and quite possibly the best non native Malagasy speaker in the america (thats not really an exaggeration). hes had a hand in writing the most of the english-Malagasy dictionaries I've heard of, and apparently has a reputation even among malagasies for talking fast. i think this is mostly a result of him being aggressively extroverted, hes the kind of guy who wants to be a motivational speaker and has already done so at EFY. i can only assume he went very native when he was serving in Antananarivo.  


"Vanity" ~Photograph, Emery Cyusa 2014


Elder Heiden and I took a 10 minute break from studying one day and tried to create a likeness of ours companionship on the chalkboard. See if you can guess who Elder Heiden drew!


Yet another awful bathroom-lit photo of me and someone you've never met, my good friend and college room-ate  Christopher McClellan. You cant tell because of the lighting, and because they made him cut his hair, and because he wears a very conservatively cut suit, but Chris is an absolutely gorgeous human specimen. By far the most attractive guy in our dorm, and also the one who left it least. To woe of human beings everywhere, Chris is eternally bound to his computer and his computer alone. he built it himself and it has some sort of space age casing on too so she always looks her best. Hes so perplexing, every shut-in I've ever met has no where near as good a sense of humor, social skills, of frankly face as our resident pretty boy. but instead of becoming President with his charisma, hed rather stick it out with League of Legends (which by the way, hes the best at). Chris also has an extremely juvenile sense of humor which you would never guess from his reserved/elegant demeanor, but which you might guess by his farts. His father and older brothers all went to Japan on their mission, and hes carrying on their tradition. His Zone Leader tells me that hes the best at Japanese by far in his class, but when i asked him flat out the day before he was too modest to say so. Chris also loves his dog almost as much as his computer, and i when i brought him up to the girls in our FHE group at the end of the semester they didnt know who i was talking about. The best thing Chris ever did for me was show me the video Mr. Ando of the Woods (look it up, i beg you)   


i have the pleasure of looking at these paintings of Joseph Smith and Jesus every day



Another weird thing that's happening: the new Malagasies got here before we left, which is almost unheard of. On top of that, since the Indonesians left our whole zone has just been Cyusa, Heiden and me. Remember, 3 people is insanely small for a district, and zones are supposed to be made of multiple districts. and then all of a sudden 24 new missionaries came in this week to our zone, and Heiden and i as zone leaders got to train all of them. As of right now i only have this bathroom-lit photo of me and Elder Tangarasi, a new Malagasy learning missionary from Vanuatu. if you don't know where that is, its just one of the Melanesian islands. If you don't know where Melanesia is, neither do i. According to this map i saw in the lobby, its to the west of Fiji. The pictures of the country look like paradise, and im almost certain it is because  Tangarasi confided in me he'd never worn pants before today. I absolutely love Tangarsi, hes so excited about everything, and he loves to challenge himself in Malagasy. he thinks of how he wants to say something in English, then keeps working at it until he got in gasy. by the third day he was here he was teaching me new words. Awesome guy, fantastic at English, and he speaks three other languages besides, but they're all Vanuatuan dialects. I kinda wish i could stay here and keep helping him, but ill probably get to see him in the field. I'm afraid he'll be better than me at Malagasy by then though.  

THAT FEEL WHEN YOUR VISA ARIVES AT THE LITERAL LAST SECOND AND KEEPS YOU FROM SERVING IN SANTA ROSA CALIFORNIA




Amin'ny rayko, misaotra. Amin'ny renyko, veloma. Ahy amin'ny zanaka rehetra, arahabaina!