Wednesday, 23 March 2016

February 29, 2016 ~ So happy.

Ry Fianakaiana,
Hey guys! I'm excited to tell you a little more about what Fianarantsoa is like!

First off I'd like to say that this is the best mission in the world. Not the most fun, not the most comfortable, or the easiest, but the best. Nothing we do here is easy. Dinner appt? Alright, let's hike through the jungle in a cyclone to go eat some rice with a family. Oh look at that, I just bit into a rock. But man I love it.

Our mission is extremely unique, because we're basically doing the missionary work that was done in the first 100 years of the churches existence. There are four Elders in a city of millions (Elder Obioma and I take the Southern half) and we don't have anyone checking up on us. We could honestly go off and party all day and no one would ever know. We report stats to the APs and write a letter to the MP weekly but other than that, it's us in this city. We decide what work needs to be done and what needs we will meet during the day and I'm learning a lot from it. Our bikes are broken, so we walk until we can find someone to fix our bikes. Haha it's real life here. Most everyone here is Christian but when we ask about doctrine, a lot of people are very confused about what that actually means. When we go contacting, we hike into an area and just start talking to people. People are carrying drinking water up a hill from a well? We help them and we're on our way. I love how we aren't some organization here to build a school or something. We live here. We love the people, so we help the people. I love how singular our purpose is.

We have one investigator named Patrick (or Rapa in Malgasy) and he reminds me so much of Danny, haha it's great. He pokes fun at me and I poke fun at him. It's weird, it kind of makes me feel closer to home when we teach him.

The members here are amazing. Imagine the most committed member you know back home, well I've met a lot of those. Here, if you're a member you're a member and you help the missionaries. The YM are especially great. I'll attach a picture of the guys we work with. There's one named Alain, and he helps us everyday for hours. He wants to serve a mission so bad and honestly, I think his time is better spent with us, preparing to serve and learning English than at school. You're very valuable if you can speak fluent English or French (more than just "Bonjour vazahe!" because everyone seems to know that haha).

We had one pretty hard experience this week. A great member in our branch named Valolona called us and asked us to give a blessing to her brother (a non-member) in the hospital. Didn't look good when we got there. We blessed him and everyone thanked us. He died early the next morning. They think that someone poisoned his drink or something. Crazy. It's hard to have a person that you blessed die. We went to his "fahorina" which is a Malagasy tradition where everyone comes and talks to the family of the deceased with the body in the middle of the room. There are special phrases that are supposed to be said and stuff. I didn't catch a lot of it. You guys should look them up, they're pretty interesting. Death isn't as big of a deal here in Madagascar. There's just a lot more of it.

I still love English class. I wish I could send you a video. We teach them an English pop song every week and we all sing it. This week was Sam Smith haha. Ugh they're all crack-ups. There was this one guy who was asking us how to say all of these romantic things and we died laughing. I'm pretty sure his only goal for learning English is to find an American girlfriend.

Okay. One big culture thing I have to get used to fast. Breastfeeding. Like I can be teaching a woman and baby, and we're knee to knee because their house is about 6'x6' and with no warning she'll just start wipping stuff off. All of a sudden the book I'm reading from becomes really interesting and I just try to either make eye contact or no contact. Haha when I got up to bear my testimony on my first Sunday the first person I looked at in the congregation was a woman breastfeeding. Welcome to Madagascar Elder.

Yesterday Elder Obioma and I had "date night". We made these great sandwiches with homemade bread and potatoes and all this other good stuff and sat out on our balcony overlooking the hillside of Fianarantsoa and talked. It was great. I love him. He's the perfect trainer for me. He pushes me really hard and is really diligent about obedience. He's quite a bit older at 25 and very mature. We was converted to the church at 18. He wants to be a painter when he gets back and he's reeeaeaaaaally good at basketball. He's half native-american half african, 6 foot 3 and in wicked shape (he's also very diligent about working out). Honestly, I think I might be in the best shape of my life here. With all of the exercise we get plus the workouts it's a lot. Thank goodness Elder Obioma is also a good cook and is teaching me well.

I honestly am way less ill here than I was at the MTC. My companion doesn't trust the street food here and neither do I. Trust me. Mom you would be gagging constantly hahaha. We mostly make our own food with all of the Malagasy ingredients. It's worth that time spent preparing because we don't have to take time off to recover from eating street food. The Malagasy food is good, but very plain normally. Rice or pasta with some meet and a fruit or vegetable. OH THE FRUIT IS INCREDIBLE HERE

woops didn't mean to send that haha. But yeah the fruit is soooo good. The bananas are incredible, we eat them all the time and with everything. It's nice because we don't have to bleach them because they are inside of a peel and protected.

We see the other Malagasy Elders quite a bit because we share a kitchen (they live in the top floor of our apartment and we have the bottom) but we don't do tons with them. We work all the time.

Tell Danny that I'm proud of him and his good grades. Everything will be just fine, trust me. I love all of you so much. I pray for you, keep me in your prayers.
Elder Schnoor

"A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog when you are just as hungry as the dog."
-Jack London

Did someone order a strapping young shepherd who also teaches about the gospel?

Oh Madagascar did.(I love this boys sense of humour) 
Anjelo, Alain and Rapa. I love these guys.
The two on the left are preparing to serve 
and Rapa is an investigator.

Those same chameleons from last time. Or "tanala"

Tiny gecko I found in the appt

There are some big spiders here 💚

These same Malagasy kids come and 
dance for us every time we see them.

They are some of the most adorable little kids you've ever seen. Look at that girl's smile. Ugh.

Cute kid.

Okay I found this weird mole. It has porcupine quills. It stabbed me. Can you find out whether I'm going to die an awful painful death soon? What is it?

Of course I picked it up. (I checked and he won't die. Its a Lowland Streaked Tenrec)

The chapel
 The rain is crazy here.

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