Monday, 2 May 2016

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.

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