Monday, January 4, 2016

Letters from Paradise

November 9

ive really sucked at writing you guys recently, actually my whole mission, but i just want you and dad to know hàow thankful i am to you guys for supporting me in this and letting me do this. its been the bestexperience of my life. if you or dad or connor or anyone want to tlk to me on pdays, im always on at 8 in the morning and 12 nooon my time; sorry i dont know what is for you. i love my companion and my investigators and my area. i wrote a little to aunt sharon today about weather, ill copy paste that here.

As for mada, it has the climate like some sort of ancient jungle. theres only two seasons: dry and pretty hot in the summer and rainy and really hot in the winter. But mada is also huge, so it has tons of different climates. In the mountain highlands, like in the capital or Fianarantsoa, it gets pretty cold, like sweater weather during the dry cool season. from my experience tana is always too hot for long sleeves unless its raining, but it get way cold at night during dry season. Here in Toliara, its the hot rainy season but were on the southern west coast, which is a desert. So we actually get no rainfall, just dry oven heat. But we also got hit by a tropical storm last tuesday, and the city just couldnt handle it! no one knew what to do with water, the streets still havent drained from the flooding and all the water in the air actually kept the city cool for a few days. It was there first time in months i went 24 hours without sweating, so i loved that.
we working with the recent converts and less actives here and that been extremely rewarding. also, rumor has it the mission prez might expand the toliara area and add another companiàonship of missionaries down here. Im super excited for that.
if you looked at the pics, you can see one of our recent converts, luc, who day job is pulling a bike rick shaw, is an amatuer artist who loves spiderman, so we took some pics together.
thats really all i have time for now! I love you guys! tell dc good job on his costume, kyle too!

November 16

thanks for all the pics and info about the orlando trip! doesnt make me jealous or anything...
just living that toliara life down here, loving the work and my comp. Johnsons one of the coolest people ive ever met, hes got stories for everything and has essentially lived everywhere. went to school in new york on a volleyball schoolarship. hes an easy laugh and super open and honest, so i like him a lot. Not to toot my own horn, but we work really hard. (horn tooting sounds)
really nervous prez is gonna take me out of toliara. im not ready to leave. But it is hotter than satans counterfeit holy undergarments down here. it rained yesterday and so for the first time in forever theres humidity here and im sweating like a pig.
went to a young single adult activity this week, it was cray; hour bus ride, packed in like cattle. johnson was too tall and had to ride on the outside and got filthy. the beach was worth it. no pictures cause my camera ran out of bat, oops. we also went and toured a boabab forest, and our tour guide said not once but twice "this tree is famous for looking like a vagina" about two different tree. The forest was the hottest place ive ever been and was miserable. one of our members broker her sandals so i gave her mine and had to walk on the bare sand/cactus needles and i think i got something degree burns. jk, im fine.
also related to sandals, i bought kapa pire, or sandals made out of tires. theyre custom cut for me and cost 90 cents. worth it to be malagasy. also started growing out my thumbnails and painting them to fit in with the punk rick shaw puller crowd. again, worth it.
also we had three investigators at the activity, which was kind of a miracle because they were told they couldnt come because they didnt bring bus money but then we heard it was oaky but they had already left. had to bike throguh random streets looking for them but we found them! boring story but crazy if your there.
we didnt get back until 5 but we went on member splits and still pulled out 5 really great lessons so basically #dreamteam
just found out my year in country mark was last week, i forgot just like the year mark. i suck at anniversaires. weird that im "old" on the mission now but i like it. it means i can be confident.
thinking of you! love you! say hi to granma and the aunts and uncles and cousins!

November 23

transfer news is crazy. they sending two new elders down here (leo and liao) and were splitting the area. johnson and i are in charge of choosing boundaries and finding a new house and terminating the lease agreement with our current landlord. our whole pday is gonna be taken up cleaning house hunting and contract arguing. i probably wont even upload pics. theyre splitting the area because johnson and i are killing it down here, be proud of your boy.
im am incredibly physically exhausted. i have biked innummerable kilometers this week in ties in arizona hot wheather. we taught 40 something lessons this week.
I love all you guys! sorry for the crappy update.
i took almost no pics this week. theres no reason for the ones i took other than "waiting for bike repair guy"

this lady demanded her picture be taken. i dont know her. lots of people have really bad attituds towards white people over here. people think they shoud get free pictures, and the bike guy i was waiting for trid to charge me double the normal price. i had to argue really violently with him to get it down. felt bad afterwards. hard to represent christ cause you have not allow everyone to steal from the church through you, but you have to fight with everyone constantly to get anything anywhere near the right price. i hope i dont sound bitter, im just rushed

for real i love it here and i love all you guys! sorry for the sparse communication! ill try to write every week. tell me if you want to be taken off the list

November 30

hey-o, this is gonna be way bad cause no time and no pictures, i bought a sketchy sd card and it  wrecked my pics from this week, WHOOOPS
news: we found a new house, got out of our old contract, made new one with some nice yet intimidating muslims, spent all friday picking up the two new guys and moving all the stuff, split the area and now im working with elder liao (chinese american one transfer my senior), i got called as district leader which is lame, we all live in the same house and for the first time in my whole mission im livibng with more people than just my comp and its way fun, etc. life is great. i love everything. all of our bowels arent working right now and our new house is so convieniently located and has such nice toilets (nice toilets=existant toilets) we often end up visiting it several times a day and the house is just so much nicer and cleaner and has a shower than the one before it just makes me way happy; last house had guardian/beggars that were way annoying, no lighting, no shower, no runnning water, and a healthy population of hand sized spidzers and foot sized cockroaches. and it was filthy. new house is literally an american hotel (not really but it feels like it to me right now) and its for the same price. also, our old landlady was so uneager to do repairs on our house she lets us out of the contract, no fighting! blessed, i guess. with the area split, i am now officially the little lord of toliara south, or lowers as i like to call it. were doing a lot of tracting but its way fun because people are nice and i know vezo now! not fun is the heat which makes you thirsty which makes you drink unfiltered pump water, which brings us back to the toilet situation. trouble in paradise. love you all! next week!

December 7

hey i upload a bunch a pics every week to google drive, if yall want in on that send me a note and ill share the folder with you. in the meantime, my mom has access to al of them.
So lots of stuff is going on. Mission President Foote surprise visited us and gave us interveiws, it was great experience (not in the least cause he took us out to this fancy pants restaurant to eat for free... unrelated, barracuda tastes good but fishy)
While he was down here, we talked a lot about changing the way we find and teach based on toliaras special qualifications. for example, theres absolutely zero foundation or leadership for the church here, and no one whos from toliara knows how to run anything, so like all our leadership in the branch is people from tana. but on the other hand, when looking for investigators, we can easily teach 40 people a week, and if we dropped them all tommorow, we could get 40 again, no problem. so essentially it means we not teaching peole anymore unless they start progressing, and fast, and have the potential to bring leadership ability into the church. and that means teaching a lot of people and dropping a lot of people and finding again. were working with a lot of turnover but so far ive already seen huge success with our newer and more refined strategies. 

me and elder liao are continueing our work in lowers, its been more fun this week because its less cold starts with 24hour tracting and more return appoints. i think weve already found some cool people. We just met this lady, marsheline, who learned one lesson and then came to the church! who the heck does that? but because people are like that in toliara, were working on finding more people like her and working with less bums.
bowel update: i actually have reputaion for having a strong stomach in this mission which is apparently true? i was the only person who wasnt violently ill this past week so that was nice. im back to solids. I broke a paper weak muslim toilet seat this week, picture attached in the drive folder.
huge thanks to all you guys, especially mom for the package i just got! i love the ties and socks, im now officially the flyest dressed person in toliara (sorry elder johnson) im also really enjoying (not) sharing all the american candy i just got. i always think i like madagascar food, but then i eat the real thng...
oh and a big shoutout to my grandma who made some crazy missionary stockings for me and my companion! i gotta take some pictures of them when i hang them up for christmas!

next week everyone!

December 14

wat happened this week:
nothing to odd; was little frustrating cause were  really strugling to find time for cool people we meet in our program, but our program is *technically* full, which would normally be a good problem EXCEPT no one keeps their fricking appointments. so me and liao are contantly left high and dry in the middle of the day with nothing to do because we cant even tract because our programs full so we cant give them new times. frustrating and i find myself getting angrier at undilligent investigator more than i ever had, mostly because in tana its worthwhile to try and work with mediocre people but here they just waste our time we could be using to help someone else. focusing on the christlike attributes section of the PMG. 

other than that things are great, we working with about 40 kinda bummy people but in that there are some diamonds in the rough, theres this recent converts wife whos almost certainly gonna get married and complete the family, and i just went to the wedding of this other investigator who finally got legally married to his wife and he and his wife and theyre kid are getting baptized next saturday! its a huge deal because ive been working for a year now trying to baptize an FLF (father led family) and this is my first one. reveling in that.

other than that, i uploaded some pics and a vlog to the googledrive. remeber to send me a message if you that shared with you so you can see it. 

Thanks for all your emails! i love all you guys! Especially Mom§ cant wait to see yall in 10 days ish

January 4

hey yall, things are still going great down here in mada. this week with rough, with the aftereffects of the news years party still not wearing off. people are STILL drunk and asleep, at 12 in the morning on january 4th. whatever. other than that great week! transfer news is ill be staying with elder liao here for six more weeks, which im super happy about. ill almost certainly leave next transfer though. we saw a lot of success with our investigators recently, i have real confidence in all of them to make it. we have alot of people right now who really get it, but struggle with reading and coming to church consistently, but that light years ahead of everyone else ive ever taught on my mission, who dont get it and never come or read! theres really so much potential here. ive really watched my testimony grow these passsed couple weeks as ive fasted more intently and tried to focus oon bearing testimony in a powerful. there are concepts that i didnt think i understood or full knew that i do now. for a while i kinda felt like my prayers were ineffective but ive really seen them be answered a lot in the last little bit. we even had three investigators come to church this week whom ive never even met before, just decided to come by thereselves, and thats a miracle as far as im concerned.

i love you guys so much. thank you for making this mission thing possible for me. Mom, i really hope everything goes smooth and is relatively easy with your treatment! ill pray for you guys.