Sunday, 7 February 2016

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.

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