Monday, 2 May 2016

May 2, 2016 ~ On my own.

Surprise!! I'm still in Fianarantsoa. 

Plans changed and I'm staying here while he goes to Tana and then Antsirabe then Tana then home. It's just me and the Malagasy Elders in the apartment until my new companion gets here (don't know who it will be or when he'll get here). 

I'm here with Rapa at the cyber who will be my temporary member help/companion untill the new guy gets here. I won't be speaking any English until he arrives. This is kind of Elder Schnoor's trial by fire week. No fall backs at all. I have to keep working and hold stuff together. Time to separate the men from the boys I suppose. Hopefully I don't need to go too many days without a companion. It's hilarious, Rapa is basically Danny's long lost twin.

5 of our investigators were baptized this last Saturday! I got to baptize Eliane, one of Marcel's daughters who is about my age actually. It was an amazing experience. I'll let you know more and send pictures next Monday. 

Love you all, get well soon Joey! They sell pinned butterflies and moths at one place here, I'm going to get a case at some point.
Elder Schnoor
PS. Rapa and I are going to a place called Tanana Ambony today. It's kind of like Old Fianarantsoa. Should have some great pictures for you next week!

April 28, 2016 ~ Last week in Fianarantsoa with Elder Obioma

Hey! has been acting really strange. Couldn't email yesterday so we decided to shoot off an email to our families to let you know that we're doing well. 

Don't have much time to go into detail, but know that we're still working hard. We have 5 baptisms scheduled for this Saturday (none last Saturday). 

It's our last week serving in Fianarantsoa together. We're heading to Tana on Monday and we'll head to Antsirabe after and then back to Tana. It'll be crazy but lots of fun. 

Elder Obioma and I are both pretty sad that it's the end. I could serve my entire mission with him here in Fianarantsoa and be perfectly content. I'm glad I at least get to stay here in Fian. Haha my poor next companion. I can't help but think that it can only get worse from here. 

I'm sure my next companion will be great. I probably won't be able to email next week with all the travel, so don't worry about me. Love you all!
Elder Schnoor

April 18, 2016 ~ General Conference

Hey guys!

Another beautiful week in Madagascar (though it has actually been a little chilly). I'm going to talk about my week before addressing stuff from your email.

Poor Pierrot. 10 out of his 11 newest born bunnies died. He can't figure out why. It's kind of funny, I pray for his rabbits before I go to bed haha. He has another litter on the way and I'm hopeful. I want him to succeed because if he starts to make enough money he'll be able to provide a good enough life for his daughter to come live with him. Ugh, and we broke his bed. Again. We all sit on his bed during the lessons and it keeps collapsing. The struggles of being a giant in Madagascar. I wish I could tell you about all of the investigators we teach, but I just don't have enough time.

I'm trying to enjoy my last little bit of time with Elder Obioma. We just get along so well. We crack up everyday and just have a great time. We also work like the world is ending tomorrow and try to be exactly obedient. The combination makes for a very solid companionship. Time is flying.

Yesterday and the day before we got to watch conference! In poorly translated Malagasy! Haha sometimes the translators can't keep up with the talk and the people here get an awful translation. It was a little crazy actually. This is by far the most responsibility I've ever had. On top of trying to teach a branch presidency how to run a branch, we had to coordinate the delivery of the burned copies of general conference, bring all of the chairs and the box tv down from the top two floors of the church to the basement, bring the pews up to the middle floor, set up the amp, tell everyone what times the conference would be watched at, etc. Missionaries still pretty much run the church in some parts of Madagascar and we don't have any fallback. We're 10-12 hours from the church office by taxi-be so it's kind of up to us. Oh and here's the kicker. The APs who burned the disks accidentally cut off the last portions of the sessions, so we were scrambling around trying to get new copies burned at tiny computer shops. We couldn't do it so our branches had a fairly abrupt end to each session of conference and about one and a half less talks per session. Oh well. Good thing Malagasies are laid back. I'm not complaining about having responsibility either. It's an aspect of my mission that is very unique and obviously something God want's me to develop.

I love that you're building an ant farm Joey! Remember to find a queen!

I love the talk that you attached. The purpose of this life is to become greater than the natural state of man. In essence, to progress to the point of Godship in order to prepare to live in that state. If we take that purpose and apply it to daily life, we realize that if we aren't moving forward, we are acting contrary to God's will. Progress is a divine process. We have to be pretty bold when we extend commitments. For example, we invited a family (a very poor family, with 3 children and another on the way) to look for new work (their boss won't let them have sundays off). At first I felt guilty about extending that commitment. I thought "what kind of church would ask a family to risk their welfare for a church meeting?". As I thought more I realized that those sorts of invitations are not an indication of a false church, but are an testament of true religion. Any progress toward God is righteous action and will be rewarded.
Our church meetings are the typical 3 hour block. We teach one hour of it in gospel principles.
We drink mostly water but soda and juice are definitely available. Real juice is pretty expensive for missionary budget so we get powdered stuff that we add to water. It's actually pretty good! There's almost no canned pop here, everything is either in plastic or glass bottles (I love the glass bottles). They also use real cane sugar in the pop here so it's way better. Every once in a while we'll grab a coca cola or something on the way to a lesson. They also have this soda called bonbon anglais here which is great.

I love all of you so much! You're in my prayers! 
Elder Schnoor

This is the difference between an unused and a used filter. That's why you don't drink the tapwater kids.

Our little general conference.

April 11, 2016 ~ Malagasy Haircut

Hey guys!
Great to hear about life back home! I definitely miss all of you! Whenever I get here and sit down at the computer, I realize how much happens in a week! I can't write about all of it, but I'll try to get a few important things down. It's crazy how fast time seems to go on a mission when you forget yourself and go to work.

So a little background on the church in Fianarantsoa. Years ago, the missionaries had a pretty good program set up in this city. A branch or two were pretty steady. Then the branch presidency decided to steal money from the church. It led to a massive amount of people leaving the church, excommunications, etc. Bad stuff. Anyway, the church is now basically back to the point it was before and going strong although there are still a lot of really new members. Haha our entire branch presidency is made up of recent converts! Poor guys... Can you imagine that happening at home? On top of that, we were talking to the Branch President the other day (we go and teach him about the responsibilities of his calling, how to lead, etc.) and he told us that he hadn't been taught the lessons again after his family was baptized! Our branch president has received half the teaching of everyone else in the branch!  So we started teaching the lessons to him and his family. It's kind of funny to see the branch president have moments where he's like "oooooooh that's what that means" during pretty basic gospel discussions. Him and his presidency are so diligent and faithful, I really look up to them.

We have another recent convert that we teach who lives out in a little farming community named Jean de Dieu. If there is a person in this world who perfectly personifies the character of Winnie the Pooh, we found him. He is the most lovable, round Malagasy I know. One of my favourite things about him is that he has two jobs. The first is he delivers babies. He's also a masseuse. Anyway, what I wanted to say is that all of the kids know about me who live around his house, and whenever I start walking across the rice-paddies they start to gather on the other side screaming "ELDAH SHNOOAH!". I normally play around with them a little and take a couple pictures with them. Sometimes when we teach I can't fit inside Frere de Dieu's house, so I sit out in the doorway on a tiny stool and like 10 kids come and gather around me in the doorway and listen to the lesson.

I just want to take a little time and say I love Malagasies. Can you start scouting one out for me to marry when I get back? First of all, they are the most beautiful people on Earth. Perfect skin, perfect skin tone, no make-up (don't need/can't afford it), age with grace, and they live to about million years old. And they work until the day they die. They are a simple, wholesome and happy people. They don't sweat the small things. Money isn't the center of their universe. Their diet consists of basically the exact model that our best nutritionists in the west have come up with. A little meat, lots of vegetables, natural, fresh foods. I could go on for days. If you have any specific questions about local life here, ask away. I feel like I'm starting to grasp what life is for the natives.

We are very busy right now, which is great. I wouldn't have it any other way. Brothers: If you are called on a mission to a place where you don't get cars, and if you are working like you should, it is going to be a workout everyday. Haha especially if you have a 25 almost 26 year old basketball superstar as your companion. We have a lot of people with baptismal dates, it's going to be very cool if they all pull through. We have baptisms scheduled for the 23 (Pierrot is one of those, ugh I love that man) and 30 of April and the 14 and 28 of May. And multiple people for each of those days. That's a lot of lessons to teach and a fair amount of pressure on our schedule, especially because we walk everywhere and we are in charge of half of the second largest city in Madagascar. Oh, and we're also trying to teach our branch presidency and every other recent convert a couple times a week.

Yes, this is the end of Elder Obioma's mission. It's so sad. He gets sad every time he is reminded that it's coming to an end. We're in the last 4 weeks now of our companionship and his mission. Time flies. The last week is going to be really crazy because we're going to be travelling to Tana for his farewell dinner with President Foote and then going to Antsirabe because he want's to visit the family we visited before (remember the girl that started weeping because she loves him so much, he promised her that he'd return one last time before he left) and then we'll return to Tana for his flight out. Then I'll return here with my new companion!! Yikes. I'm just hoping for a nice, obedient, clean one. Hopefully one that's good at Malagasy.

Today I got my first Malagasy haircut. Sigh... The poor barber looked at me, kind of shrugged in a confused way and then gave me a buzz and a line up. YES I SAID LINE UP. HEAR THAT DANNY!? Yeah they don't cut many white people's hair here. Elder Obioma said I look really scary and compared me to Eminem. He calls me b rabbit now. Sigh...

So I was thinking that maybe because dad's the YM president now I could send a little snippet of advice for the YM that he could read every Sunday? I don't know, tell me what you think. Missions are such amazing things, I want all of them to serve. My advice for this week would be to start reading Preach My Gospel!! Seriously dad, whenever you can, teach out of it during Youth lessons.

Thank you for sending me a quote in your email! I love that sort of thing.

I haven't gotten your package yet, maybe it'll be at the office when we head to Tana in a few weeks.

I love you all so much. Can't wait to watch that documentary with you when I get back and tell you all about this beautiful place.

"In the tribulations and sufferings of mortality there is a divine ministry which only the godless soul can wholly fail to discern."
                                                                -James E. Talmage
Elder Schnoor

Bull Wrestling

My Fans

We woke up early and went hiking as our workout one day when it was really foggy.


We found this massive spider. It was so sick.
You guys would have loved it.

Just awesome.

Possibly my favourite picture in existence of me.

The real spiderman.

Rano Mafana

Rano Mafana


April 4, 2016 ~ Rainforest Adventure

We just got back from Rano Mafana and we figured we could slip into the Cyber to shoot our families an update.

Everything is going well! We've found some really amazing families in the main area we're trying to build up. It's amazing how much I've grown to love these people. It kind of makes it harder being a vazaha. I don't feel like an American in Madagascar anymore, I feel like a Malagasy who's really awful at the language. That probably sounds dumb. Like it's weird for me to see white people now. It's a weird thing to say, but I wish I was Malagasy, or at least black. Every other person on the street stares at me and half of them crack a joke for their friends. I don't know, it'll help when I'm good at Malagasy too. What I'm trying to say is that I don't want there to be any barriers between these people and me. I want to be their friend because I look up to them so much.

I had a dream where my mission was over haha. I was all depressed in the dream and then I woke up and said "whew, I'm still in Mad". My mission is the hardest thing I've ever done. Physically, mentally, emotionally. In every way. But that's also what makes it so great. That's what is making me a better person.

Today was kind of crazy, but I'm definitely glad I got to experience it. We woke up at about 5:00am and got on a taxi be. They crammed it full. There are about 15 seats in the average taxi be, and it doesn't seat those 15 comfortably. We had about 20 people in there. But the ride to Rano Mafana is only about an hour and a half so it wasn't too bad. So we get there and step out of the bus and we're in a rainforest. Like straight out of a nature documentary! It was kind of surreal. We already knew that we couldn't use the trails in the park without a guide so we brought some personal funds and started talking to the people. They told us it was going to cost 55 000 Ar per person plus a guide fee! We had been told by someone in Fianarantsoa that it would cost maybe 15 000 at the most. Haha we came to realize that they have an offical price for Malagasies and an official price for everyone else. Pretty sure that's racism? Haha jk. It cost's 2 000 Ar if you're Malagasy. So basically we didn't have enough money. So my companion and I were like "HAH, FINE!" and we started walking back to Fianarantsoa. Then when we were far enough away we ducked into the rainforest and started bushwacking. We got the real experience of the rainforest. It was cool but I'm sure you can see a lot more of the forest using the trails with a guide. So once we had had our fun we started trying to hitch hike back to Fianarantsoa (this was our plan all along). There were a lot of full vehicles. We walked for about 2 hours haha. I would have thought that was ridiculous before my mission. We actually saw some lemurs while we were walking!!! It was amazing. The way they jump from tree to tree is incredible. After we walked for a long time we realized we needed a little help so we said a prayer. A few cars later God sent a big ol pick up truck with some nice seats in the back that was willing to bring us back to Fianarantsoa for 20 000Ar. We got out of the truck and walked right to the cyber and here I am, safe and sound.

One more thing that I love about Madagascar is how modest people are. When girls want to impress guys here, they put their nicest clothes on, they don't start taking off clothes. It's an old fashioned way of doing things, and in my opinion far more attractive.

I miss my brothers big time. I didn't realize how much time I spent with them until I left. I love you all and can't wait to take all of my brothers out to do some fun stuff when I get back. I'm learning a lot about what really matters in life.

Finally, just a thought I had. Remember to let your mistakes build you up. If you are walking toward a light, a shadow is cast behind you. The shadow you cast reminds you where you stand. You can look back at that shadow and see where you've been, and therefore where you're going. The most important part is to make sure that you don't lose track of where that light is in your life. Your mistakes can only improve you when you leave them behind you and move toward light.
I love you all like crazy.
Elder Schnoor

PS Sorry, no pictures today, I'll send a bunch of good ones next week. And apologize to everyone on the blog AGAIN. I only sent one email to my family again this week.