Wednesday, 23 March 2016

March 7, 2016 ~ First Zone Conference


Hey guys! So happy to get an email from you, I love hearing about life at home, even though it seems like a different world. Last week on PDay we took the guys that help us teach all the time out to pizza (which is not even close to American pizza haha but still tastes good). An awards show was playing on the tv (I think it might have been the oscars?) and I looked over at it, saw the gaudy stage with about a million lights on it and thought "that's disgusting, how wasteful". Then I remembered that that's the region of the world I'm from. It was the weirdest feeling. It was like in the Hunger Games watching the Capitol from District 12. Same thing with white people. I'll see a white person and be like "ugh another French guy here to get a girlfriend". And then I'll have to remind myself that I'm white. Reaaaaally weird being one of the only only vazahas here.

Okay I've figured out that the best way to write my weekly email to you is by going through my journal. So here goes.
One really difficult thing I've found here is the fact that men will control women's freedom. We've already spoken to two women who say that they would love to be baptized and come to church but that their husband won't allow it (in one case he beats her pretty bad). It's just one of those things that I didn't expect to have to deal with on my mission. All we can do is tell them to have faith and that God will provide a way in this life or somehow after.
Sooooo big news from this week: we had a zone conference! Haha they actually almost forgot to tell us in Fianarantsoa about it! We got a call about it the day before we had to leave haha! It was in Antsirabe, which is about an 8 hour "taxi-be" ride to the north (a taxi-be is basically halfway between a bus and a van). Ugh. Not a fan of the taxi be. Because Elder Obioma is basically a giant, I got stuck with the middle seat there and back. Hahaha there's literally no foot room so I had to put my feet basically up above my waist. Plus the roads are awful. We think we have bad potholes in Edmonton... Antsirabe is pretty cool. It's like Fianarantsoa except for lower population, flatter, a lot cleaner and more spread out. The zone conference was great. Awesome to hear from a general authority (Elder Hamilton of the Seventy is in charge of the southern african missions) and meet a bunch of the other guys in our general area (even though Fian isn't part of an actual zone).
What was the coolest was getting to meet some families who Elder Obioma taught when he worked in Antsirabe. He's so well-liked everywhere we go. President Foote definitely set me up for success when he made him my trainer. It was the most amazing thing. As we were walking (a long walk I might add) to one of the family's houses Elder Obioma told me about how one of the daughters in the family is his favourite girl in Madagascar. We snuck up to the house and surprised the family. This little girl instantly started bawling when she saw my companion and ran into his arms. She cried for a good part of the night and didn't leave his arms for our entire stay. WHO IS MY TRAINER!? It was so cool to see a perfect example of the type of missionary/person I want to be. I'll attach some pictures of that visit.
Haha so right before we left Antsirabe we ran to the Shoprite and grabbed some stuff we can't buy in Fianarantsoa. We brought 8 boxes of cereal back to our area. Bloody vazahas. The funny part is that milk is pretty much impossible to find in Mad so we have to mix condensed milk with water.
We came back to our area and worked really hard on applying the principles we learned at zone conference and instantly saw a difference. I've really started to care about the people we teach. For example there's this one ooooold man we teach named Pierot. He lives in a small shack that isn't much bigger than his cage for his rabbits (he's a rabbit farmer). He lives alone and is extremely poor. He keeps trying to come to church but his boss/landlord keeps telling him to stay home and work while they go to church. I wanted to march up to his boss's house and sock him honestly. But he has great faith so I'm sure it will all work out.
Native's keep telling me I'm mahay at Malagasy. I don't want to brag or anything cause I still have a reaaaally long way to go, but the other missionaries in Antsirabe complemented me and told me I'm doing better than they were when they started. I've calculated and I should be able to be functionally fluent by the end of my 12 weeks with Elder Obioma (who is very mahay by the way).
Yesterday it rained a ton. Hah. I thought those other storms were cyclones. That was a cyclone. We had to wade to get around (THE MISSIONARIES STOP FOR NOTHING)! It was funny, the natives were taking videos on their phones of the crazy missionaries who wouldn't just wait for the rain to stop. We got some good pictures of that.

I'm so glad to hear that Aunt Alethia is doing well, she'll stay in my prayers.

There are about 72 people who attend the south branch in Fianarantsoa. A really solid number for Mad, and still growing.

Guess what Joey, the hot sauce here is SO EXPENSIVE! They sell a little bottle of tobasco sauce at the supermarche and it costs 12 000 Ar! which is actually only 4 dollars but outrageously expensive for here. Good luck on your talk!
We're super blessed here and we have a washing machine in the appartment. That's basically unheard of in Madagascar. Most people wash stuff in rivers or basins of rain or other water. I feel kind of guilty for how well we live here in comparison sometimes. Like I haven't met a single person back home that is poorer than a single Malagasy I've met here. Okay maybe other than homeless people. Even still. 

I'm glad that Matthew's sugery went well. Send him my best. I love hearing about how activities are going.

Okay I think that's all for today, I hope you like the pictures I send. I love this place and I love this work. I've never felt more exhausted, fulfilled or proud of myself.

Remember that:

"The more you sweat in times of peace, 
the less you bleed in times of war." 
Mazatoa Fianakaviana!
Elder Schnoor
Found a praying mantis/walking stick thing!


Elder Obioma and the little girl

I made a friend!

How men settle things.

At least I wasn't on that taxi-be.


My signature "its raining face"

Crazy vazaha

Malagasy pothole
I got my scriptures, dictionary and Jesus the Christ bound by a kid who's raising money to serve a mission!

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