Sunday, 28 February 2016

February 22, 2016 ~ First area is Fianaranstoa and companion is Elder Obioma.


Okay my typing may suck a little because this is an awful old computer with a bad connection in an internet cafe. Also, the keyboard is different here and the keys are all in the wrong spots.

I love it here!

I'm going to have to break it up into days because so much has happened that I would like to share.

I got here and was warmly welcomed by President and Sister Foote. They're awesome! It's kind of weird, they're a combination of traits from you <my parents> and Sophie's parents. Its okay I love all 4 people so they're great.

haha the power just went out. thank goodness google saves drafts. I swear I just saw a woman trading bananas to use the cpu. Welcome to Madagascar Elder.

Anyways, my leaders are great, the mission home/mission office/one of the chapels is very cool. A very nice building for Mad. It's a few storeys high so it has a great view. I also got to meet the APs Elder Covvy and Glazier. They're great too. I stayed at their apartment with Elder Soper until I left for my area. I'm assigned to <and currently serving in> Fianarantsoa! But more on that later. I got to go out with my new companion Elder Obioma to one of his old areas in Antanarivo before we left. Tana is amazing. I think the best way to describe it is Rio in Brazil but poorer. It's a sprawling city where people build shacks wherever they can find room and with whatever materials they can find. It is very poor and very dirty. It's really heartbreaking to see kids sometimes. The people are very happy though. Honestly some of the most witty people I know are Malagasies. We visited one woman who lives in a shack in a neighbourhood of shacks set in a pit of mud. She's always wanted to be baptized but her husband beats her if she tries. Oh she also has deformed feet and walks on crutches. The people are amazing. We visited another family who live in an 8' x 5' "house" which is basically a closet of a bigger house that you can enter into from the outside. We went inside and the little girl who is adorable by the way opens this big bottle of nail polish remover and almost killed us all with the fumes. Haha it was funny after the fact.

On Friday we were driven to Fianarantsoa by one of the mission's drivers. Ugh. I don't want to talk about it. 11 hours of the windiest, worst potholed streets you can imagine. And our driver wasn't slowing down for anything. Beautiful scenery of Rice Paddies and country though. This place is unreal.

Fianarantsoa is amazing. It is the second biggest city in Mad. It's a lot like Tana but set in the mountains, cleaner and more spread out. I love it here. We honestly live like kings compared to the Malagasies. We have toilets and running water (still can't drink it but it's nice to be able to wash things). I didn't get any pictures of our apartment but I'll send some next time. There are 4 missionaries in Fianarantsoa (one for the north and one for the south branches). I stand out here. The other companionship is two Malagasies and my companion is African-American. I hear "vazahe" (vah-zah which is basically a rude term for white person) about a hundred times a day. A lot of these people can count the number of caucasians they've seen on their fingers so I'm definitely a weird sight. Malagasies don't really like white people because they're strongly connected to French colonial times, which the Malagasies understandably didn't appreciate. They think it's really hilarious to go up to me and say "bonjour" really sarcastically and I just kind of smile and say salama o. It's kind of demeaning and annoying honestly, but I'm sure I'll get used to it. Makes me glad I have a 6'3" black companion haha. It's not a particularly safe place for white people, but as long as we follow mission rules and stay with our companions we're safe. The mission takes good care of us.

The work is very cool here. It is a very teaching oriented mission. I teach about the gospel, I teach English (every saturday and it's my favourite thing so far, they asked us what boycott and imperious meant and we're like where are you learning these words!?) and I teach people to read. We just generally try to improve the quality of people's lives and I love it. We can't bring people out of poverty, but we can do things that are even better.

We got swarmed by a bunch of kids working in the area we're focusing on and it was amazing. okay the italics are an accident and i don't know how to turn them off and i don't have much time. I wish I could send the video of them dancing and singing for us.

Not going to lie, this mission feels like it's going to be extremely difficult. We walk a million km a day, two days we've been soaked by cyclones and had to walk home in the pitch black, but I can also already tell that this is the sort of stuff that makes one into a man. I love these people and I love living among them. I can't wait til I can relate to them more, joke around in Malagasy and convey how much I want to be their friend.
I'm sorry, that's all the time I have. I'll send more information next week. I love you all and miss you.
Elder Schnoor

Elder Schnoor in Antananarivo, Madagascar
The streets of Antananarivo.

Adorable Malagasy children. (Fianaranstoa)

Elder Schnoor is actually standing,
the children love to build stilts to play. (Fianaranstoa)
Elder Schnoor found a chameleon, he's pretty stoked! (Fianaranstoa)

Elder Schnoor and his new companion Elder Obioma (who he loves) after Elder Schnoors first cyclone. A little wet!!
The faces say it all, Elder Schnoor isn't sure what hit him and Elder Obioma thinks its pretty funny! Love it!

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

February 17, 2016 ~ After over 50 hours of travel Elder Schnoor has arrived in Madagascar. Our hearts are full.

Brother and Sister Schnoor-
We wanted to let you know Elder Schnoor arrived in the Madagascar, Antananarivo Mission safely this afternoon.  I have attached a photo of him taken with President and Sister Foote at the mission home.  We have been looking forward to his arrival and are delighted to have him serving with us.  As Sister Foote travels around the mission she takes photos of the missionaries and posts them on Instagram.  You can follow her at momfoote.
I promise we will take good care of your son.
Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.  

Sister Woolley
Madagascar Antananarivo Mission Secretary

President and Sister Foote

Elder Schnoor, Elder Emor and Elder Soper

Okay actually I want to give you a little more of a backstory on that picture of Elder Soper, Emor and I. Elder Emor is from an island called Chuuk. He's about 5'4" but he's got a lot of bark and a lot of bite. He barely speaks any English but is learning Marshallese. He left a few days ago. We got to know him pretty well actually. One day he came into our res asking for a sewing kit in broken English. Because I have a rather wonderful sewing kit (thanks to Mom and Grandma) I told him hey don't worry about it man, just drop off your stuff that needs sewing and I'll do it for you (I've done it for a few elders, it's a good way to get to know them). This Micronesian gangster (he actually is a gangster, he has the tattoos for his gang all over his arms and he jokingly let Elder Moala join the gang before he left) was so appreciative, but all he knew how to say was "thank you brother" and he gave me a hug. He bore his testimony before he left and, though it was in simple English, you could tell he meant it. He got really frustrated sometimes and was a frustrating companion for those that he was assigned to, but this guy truly believes in the gospel. I was glad to get to know him and I can't wait to get to know more people like him in Mad.

February 12, 2016 ~ Last letter from the MTC!

Friends and Family,

Alright guys, in the interest of time I'm doing a group email. Sorry, I don't like to do it this way but that's just how it's going to work out this time (and probably a few other times).

I leave on Monday! I'm so excited to begin serving the people of Madagascar! My Malagasy isn't great, but I'll be able to get by until I learn by immersion. I've loved the MTC and I've learned so much about my purpose as a missionary, the type of missionary and person I want to be and how to teach. Through learning Malagasy I've begun to love the people of Madagascar and I can't wait to meet them. I will miss all of you at home (and those of you serving missions around the world) more than I can express in this email, but my focus for the next 23 months will be serving the Malagasy people. Thank you so much for your support to get me here, I'm so glad that I made the choice to serve.

Remember that there is a danger in the word "someday" when it means "not today" (Eyering). My challenge to all of you is to think about who you would like to be and then become that person. No excuses. 

Next time I write you, it'll be from beautiful Madagascar! But first I have over 50 hours of travel ahead of me...

Elder Schnoor

P.S. I like this picture because I think Elder Soper looks like a missionary version of Uncle Sam (note the waving US flag in the background)

For my thought today I want you guys to study John 6. I'll share verses 66-68.

 66 ¶From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
 67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?
 68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.

Remember that our gospel is the most important thing in our lives. We shouldn't go a day without thinking about our ultimate purposes in life multiple times a day. You are responding to the Lord's question "Will ye also go away?" in the way that you live your lives. Simon Peter understood life well when he responded. He kept the big picture in mind. The apostles realized that no matter what happened to them in this life, the most worthwhile thing for them to do was to follow the Saviour. We can and should come to that same conclusion.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

February 5, 2016 ~ MTC

We love that they have a lemur on the back of his church manual!!
Elder Soper and Elder Schnoor ~ We love he has a companion who is challenging Tylers personal space. :)
Elder Schnoor and The Island District. (can you find him?)
Elder Moala (who is going to Tonga) is 6'8 and stole Tylers camera to get a great shot


February 5, 2016 ~ Package arrived!



I'll tell you what, the way to a Polynesian's heart is through sharing a bag of hamburger flavoured potato chips. Haha I could barely carry that box back to the residence but it was so worth it. Thank you so much! Everything is so great and I'm sharing it all (although I have to hide the unopened stuff now haha). The first day everyone left our room saying "Canada is sick man, I'ma find me a Canadian girl" hahaha it was great. I'm now kind of known as the Canadian and I love it.

You'll never go back after putting the Glerups on your feet.

It's so nice that the Gibbs are thinking about me! I loved being Brother Gibbs' home-teaching companion and being in Asia's seminary class. They're great. Tell them I'm doing great and that I can feel the love all the way at the MTC.

Oh let Madelyn and anyone else who's planning on serving soon know how to contact me if they have any questions. It was really useful for me to talk to Rocco and Braden and Branden before I left and I'd love to attest to how great it is being a missionary (yes I realize I'm still at the MTC).

That's so cool about getting to thin out some coyotes, and maybe getting a foot in the door for deer season. I miss fishing and camping and stuff even though it's only been like a month. There are a lot of Utah kids here who don't do any of that stuff. I'm going a little stir crazy.  Our teachers keep telling us stories about Mad (supposedly we're going to be walking all the time) and it sounds pretty appealing right now.

Okay on to my week.

We got to do our first Skype TRC session! We skyped a member from Madagascar and talked to her for half an hour in Malagasy. Navofaly (NAH-FAH-LEE) was her name I believe. She was so nice and smiled all the time. She explained stuff that we didn't quite catch the first time she said it. It was just cool to actually meet a Malagasy! We talked about favourite ny Bokin'i Mormona stories and how we should share our fijoro ho vavalombelona (testimonies). Our language skills are improving faster and faster and our teachers say that we're ahead of the curve (sure doesn't feel like it sometimes).

Okay so Elder Soper lost his retainer (or Elder Timotao (sp.?) stole it or something - it's a long story haha) so we went off campus twice to an orthodontist.  The orthodontists here are like theme parks!!! It was honestly Hawaiian themed! They had two x-boxes (don't worry we didn't use them), we sat in beach chairs, they had half of a Jeep to play in for the kids in the lobby, they sold candy and snacks and they give missionaries free slurpees after (which were actually really good!). What is this magical place called Utah!? Oh and the lady that fitted Elder Soper's retainer was like a supermodel too so all around a good orthodontist visit.

Sacrament meetings are really cool at the MTC. It's the only sacrament meeting where you can go and not have anyone on their phone, no babies crying or kids fussing. It's really cool to be able to just focus on the sacrament and feeling the spirit. It's also really cool to hear missionaries give talks in the language they're learning. We all have to prepare talks on a specific topic beforehand and then they choose someone but you don't know if you're chosen before they call your name. Haha I've been pretty lucky so far. It's all good if I get called though. Elder Soper will be the only one who can understand what I'm saying so I can pretty much talk about whatever I want.

So some information that I've gotten since coming here. Madagascar doesn't require us to have a visa before entering the country, but as soon as we get there they start the process of getting it all sorted out. It's kind of nice to know that my visa can't really be delayed, so I can't be sent to somewhere other than Mad.

I heard from a little bird that there aren't any more missionaries heading to MAD-ANT for 20 weeks! That's a pretty long gap compared to other missions. It's a rare calling. That means we'll be the "greenies" for a long time.

I've been singing in the MTC choir (most of the zone joins because all the Polynesians love to sing) and it's quite an experience to sing with all the other missionaries.  We've sung Joseph Smith's First Prayer, Remember the Lillies, Hurrah for Israel and Precious Saviour, Dear Redeemer. That last one was my favourite. Try to find a video of the MTC choir singing it.

Thank you for the card and picture from Brady. They're taped up beside my mirror right now. I love that sort of stuff.

Okay to end this off I want to talk a little bit about Matthew Cowley. The building that has our classroom in it is named after him and he's a pretty inspiring figure. He was called to New Zealand in the Maori language in the early 1900's. He proceeded to go out into a field by himself in New Zealand (they didn't have companions back then), fast all day, and study a English-Maori dictionary and scriptures everyday for three weeks. When he came out people said he spoke the language fluently and he was able to teach the gospel. People like that are unheard of today, but I don't think that's because they don't exist. I believe that if we have enough faith and diligence, we can overcome anything. I want so badly to be a missionary like Matthew Cowley and I'm determined to have the diligence necessary to get me there. 

Elder Schnoor

January 29, 2016

Dear Family,

This week was good! Difficult, but good. 

First off, our Fijian district left. It was really hard to say goodbye to a lot of them. There were about 9 of them and we had gotten really close with all of them. Especially Elders Hamon and Simiskey. They're going to be great missionaries and Fiji is lucky to have them. Our room is so empty now. Haha we have 6 beds (3 bunks) for only Elder Soper and I. We even got a whole bunch of new missionaries in the zone (a bunch of Fijians and some ASL Elders and Sisters) and none of them got placed in our room. So lonely.... haha. It's cool to have some American Sign Language missionaries but they probably feel so out of place. They're the only ones who aren't going to an island (they're all serving in the states) or learning an island language. They're probably weirded out by all the hugging too haha.

We had our first TRC lesson. It's basically an opportunity (typically) to speak to volunteers who are native speakers of the language. In our case, we teach RM who went to Madagascar. It's really cool even though there don't exist any natives to talk to. Whoa that's weird, I just structured that sentence kind of like a Malagasy sentence. Maybe there's hope for me yet! .

Because the Fijians left, we engaged in the tradition of singing a hymn in each of the languages in the zone. The Tongan one is sick. The Tongans can sing. And all of their songs are so epic. The spirit's always strong when we sing as a zone.
Ugh I've been struggling a little bit with speaking French by accident sometimes. And sometimes I think the phrase in French and then translate it to Malagasy in my head. Yeah, not helpful. I'm getting better at thinking in Malagasy though.

I got to host this week! Hosting is just when you welcome the new arrivals to the MTC (like they get out of their car and you stand there as they get 2 minutes to hug their parents and you have to tear them away) and then show them to get their study materials and residence key and show them to their classroom. It's cool. You're able to be a good first impression of the MTC for some pretty shaken up Elders and Sisters. We're doing it again this week.

I learned some new things about Madagascar! Supposedly the kids are all scared of white people (greeeeeeaaaaaat). Our teachers told us stories of kids literally running away from them in swarms when they'd walk around. I guess I need to work on how threatening my demeanour is before I get there haha. 

Also, our ability to email might be pretty sketchy. The teachers said they could email "sometimes". What exactly does that mean? I don't know. They were speaking Malagasy. Supposedly the power is unreliable and can be really unreliable depending on where you are. I might be sending some nicely handwritten letters.

Okay I'm going to try to answer all the questions. I got most of the Elder's "dotnets" (email addresses) so I'll be able to communicate with them. Having a companion with me all the time can be weird and frustrating, but it's also kind of cool. I think my people skills are improving. Probably because I interact with people 24/7 now.  Yikes. I'm keeping in touch with a lot of my friends. Aaron, Sophie, Emily, Katelyn, Rocco, Branden and others. I love getting messages. Apologize for my short responses to them, limited time to respond is rough. There are thousands of missionaries at a time at the MTC. It's crazy busy here. You could probably find a stat on a church website. I haven't gained any weight. But I'm actually probably getting in better shape from the daily exercise and Elder Jumonville's workouts haha. 

Okay I'm just going to end this off with a couple thoughts.

First off, for the first time in my life I've realized that I'm no longer smart enough to coast.  I'm not saying that to "gas" myself (learned that term from Danny), but it's true. Like I didn't really have to throw everything I had at school or violin or sports or anything. I could have, but I wasn't motivated or focused enough. Missionary work is different. The only way to be effective at this work is to be devoted to this work. Right now the people of Madagascar come before anything in my life, and that's kind of cool.
Second off, I've realized that there is no one in the world who couldn't benefit from our message. Everyone wants to be carried "beyond the vale of sorrow" (Alma 37:45). There's only one way to do that effectively and eternally.
I love all of you so much. I miss all of you. Keep the missionaries in your prayers!

Elder Schnoor

P.S. Sorry, no pictures this week. I'll send some next week.