Monday, October 28, 2013


     Manahoana everyone!! It's that time again! Man I love P-Days. Mondays are the new Friday for me!
       Anyways, it's been another good week. I guess I'll start with the baptisms! It was a way cool experience! We ended up having 4 for our branch. Originally it was supposed to be 5, but the father ended up having to go out of town for work... Which was kind of a bummer, but he's still planning to get it done. Maybe this week! Two of the baptisms were kids of one of the counselors to the Branch President. He asked us to teach them before they got baptized. The couple that I was talking about earlier is Mami and Laurence. Laurence and her son were baptized too. I even got to do one of the baptisms! It was for Laurence's son, Rahirinantenaina Gidio Aime (say that ten times fast!). It was so cool to do my first baptism! Well, I mean I've done baptisms for the dead, but to actually be the one baptizing was pretty special. I didn't even mess up on the prayer! Oh and we had the baptism in this little pool thing, you'll see it when I send pictures in a little bit. But yeah, everything went well! And I hope I can be a part of a many baptisms to come. It reminded me about my own baptism 11 years ago and having McWayne baptize me and how special that was. And now I can help people have that same experience. It's amazing to see people take that step of faith.
       The language is still going alright. This week I was having a little bit more break throughs with it. Like for one of the lessons we were going over the 6 don't dos in the Word of Wisdom and I was able to help the person understand and remember all of them without really having to think too much about the language. It was pretty cool! The sparks are getting a little bigger. Still can't really understand a whole lot, but I'm able to piece things together more. The whole language learning has been a humbling experience so far. It's weird how back home I kind of just took being able to communicate with people easily for granted, and now I'm in a place where that was taken away from me in a sense and I have to work to get it back. It's a bit of a struggle, but it's also fun learning this crazy language! I can't wait til I'm at the magical point where I realize that I speak Malagasy. Just gotta keep working hard and doing the best I can to get there!
       There have been a few lingering animal questions, so hopefully I can clear some things up! Still haven't seen lemurs here. And I probably won't while I'm here in Tamatave. But if I get transferred to Tana in a few months then these emails will flood with pictures of lemurs, I promise! Haha. There's a couple things I forgot to mention before about the animals here. There's stray dogs everywhere. And people here hate dogs.. It's kinda sad! There's a lot of goofy looking chickens around here. People will randomly have geese on their little lots too. We saw a big chameleon the other day! We don't see too many of them here, but they look way cool. It happened to be the one day I forgot to pack my camera... But I'll be prepared next time!
       The elections are done! At least as far as we know.. Now everyone is just waiting for the results to come in, which will probably be sometime this week. That's when things might get a little bit interesting... Hopefully things don't get too crazy around here, but if they do we might be on lockdown for a few days. Or worst case be evacuated, but I'm doubting that. We'll just see what happens! But whatever does happen, I know that we'll be safe.
       I realized I haven't really talked about the Elders that are in our house! There's six of us. We've got Elder Austin and Elder Jensen who are the zone leaders for Tamatave, Elder Razafamandimby who's almost at the end of his mission, and Elder Morley who was in our MTC group. And my companion, Elder Moulton, of course. Moulton, Austin, and Jensen were all in the same MTC group together and they have about 8 months left. We've got a great bunch of guys and it's fun living with them! It's fun talking with them after getting home from a long day. But yeah, we're all getting along just fine!
       Well I don't have much else to say this week. Every day kinda feels the same. Get up and go teach the gospel! That's pretty much what we do. But I'm loving the work here. And all is still well with everything! Anyways, I'll get some pics up. Thanks to all of you for keeping in touch with me! Sorry if I don't get to respond to everyone, but I do read all of them and feel your support. I love you all! Have an awesome week! Tiako ianareo!!!

-Elder Mumford

       So... I'm using a different computer this week and it's been weird and I can't find where the SD card shows up in the files on the computer. So they'll probably just have to wait til next week. So I'm sorry! Next week there will be a LOT of pictures, so stay tuned! Love you all!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Another week, more adventures!

       Bonjour everyone!! Another P-day is here! I can't get enough of them. But things here are still going well. It's weird thinking I've officially been in country for a month. I can remember walking off that plane and thinking what a cool place this is. Man, it feels like that was forever ago! Haha but at the same time it feels like it was yesterday.
       Nothing incredibly new or exciting happened this week. But I'll just start with some random things. We had our first encounter with a drunk guy since we've been here, that was interesting! Haha. I couldn't understand at least half the things he said, but he shook our hands like 10 times each. Then he started running his hand through Elder Moulton's hair commenting on how beautiful and brown it was. Haha! I was just trying not to lose it. So funny. But then, the real reason why he came up to talk to us came out. To try to get money from us. It's kinda sad seeing people here begging for money, but there's not much we can do except tell them to come to church on Sunday. We had lunch at a member's house yesterday, and it was probably the grossest thing I've ever had. We had rice with what's called Henom'by, which is beef. It looked really good, but turned out to be pure animal fat. Yuck, I cringe thinking about it still. But I was mazotoa and got through that stuff. I thought I was going to lose it, but somehow I was able to keep it down. Oh and one thing I've learned is that when eating at someone's house and you don't really like it, eat it slower. When I first got here I would just try to get it down as fast as I could and get it over with, but then they will just pile more on your plate. So that's helped. Still getting used to the food a little, but I've done alright so far! 
       This past week we had an investigator couple get their vita soratra's!(America's equivalent of a marriage certificate). It was the first wedding ceremony I'd ever been to and it was interesting. There were some words said, the couple signed some papers, and voila! Legally married. One of the biggest things standing in the way of people getting baptized in the church is that they live with someone of the opposite sex and aren't legally married. They have families and everything, but they just don't see the point in going to a government building for a legal document. I've heard also that it's a little pricy to get legally married, so they just use the money for other things. But it was so cool watching this couple take that step so that they could be baptized this coming Saturday! And they plan on going to the temple in about a year to get sealed too. Way cool. Apparently they've been learning from missionaries for 4 years. Even though I haven't played a huge role in their decision, I'm looking forward to their baptism. I get to baptize one of their kids too! Booyah. We don't get to have the baptisms in the ocean, just in a big plastic pool type thing. But regardless, it's all the same really. Same ordinance, same blessings :) I can't wait. Plus there's two other kids of a member getting baptized too. So sweet!!
       We finally got to watch conference this week! I absolutely loved it. Plus we got to watch in English! How it worked was all the Malagasy speaking people watched downstairs in the chapel and all the English speaking missionaries got to watch it in the stake president's office upstairs. We had a nice little setup too, and watched it from a projector. I loved all the talks, but a few stood out to me. Elder Bednar's talk about tithing was very powerful. I guess Madagascar actually has enough members for a temple, just not enough full-tithe payers. So I hope they all heard that talk! I loved how he talked about how when we ask for success, like finding a job for example, how the Lord doesn't always just provide someone or something that'll change our circumstances for us, but rather helps us be more able to change our own circumstances ourselves. Uchtorf is always one of my favorites! I read this quote before in an email, but I loved how he said, "Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith." I liked how he invited all to come and join us. The most entertaining talk award goes to Elder S. Gifford Nelson. He must've said "exclamation point" 10 times! Haha. I also loved Elder Holland's talk when he spoke about those with disabilities. He said, "I don't know if we'll be more happy ourselves by seeing their perfection, or if we will be more happy for them." It made me think about Claudia and how amazing and perfect she'll be in the next life. She already is both though!
       Well, not much else to share this week. Very hot. Haha I don't think I could emphasize that enough. Anyways, I'll get on to pictures and other things. I love you all!
      Tiako ianareo!!

-Elder Mumford

Us after the wedding ceremony! Awful picture of me.. Haha but oh well!

In all my notetaking I was still able to squeeze in some drawing. Guess who this is!


 I kind of failed at documenting conference... I forgot to take a pic while it was going. But this is our setup! Nice office and a projector. And Elder Austin's incredibly sweaty armpits! Haha ;)

Conference notes! I was a good little boy ;)

 Nothing like a nice warm bowl of soup and some delicious juice to finish a long day!

This is what a typical malagasy house looks like out here. It's like what you see in movies!

Monday, October 14, 2013


       Another week down! Seems like just a minute ago I was here typing my email for last week. Crazy stuff! Just in case anyone is wondering, we do email at what's called a Cyber Cafe. It's way nice, just a bunch of computers in a building. 
       This week has been way busy! It's so nice to have a full schedule and not have people dropping out of their times at the last minute. That's definitely made the days go by faster. Haha not that I'm in a hurry to get out of here, it's just so nice to come home after being out in the hot weather all day. And especially on sunday nights. It is such a liberating feeling coming home on P-day eve! Haha. But it's been fun teaching. I've been playing more of a role in the lessons, which has kinda forced me to come out of my shell a little bit. The language barrier is still there like a big wall, but with every lesson I'm making strides to beat it down. I'm not as afraid to say things even if I make a fool out of myself like I was the first day. I've found that things stick better when I just try. And when I make mistakes, I know for next time the way to say it! Plus I've been reading Ny Bokin'i Mormon which helps a ton with the pronunciation. The big words that seemed daunting to me at first are nothing now. All in all, I'm making some strides amin' ny teny malagasy.
       I got a request to talk a little bit more about the culture. So here it goes! The houses here are very very small. I'd say the average house is about the size of the standard living room back home, with beds and all. But it's nice and cozy at least! The people are very nice. I've heard they're a little unforgiving when it comes to vazahas learning the language as opposed to Tana. But they still appreciate that I'm trying. One weird thing. Breastfeeding. Perfectly acceptable in any social situation to them. Sometimes in lessons, a baby will be crying and so the mom will just start breastfeeding. So strange! Let's see... Everyday I get at least a hundred "Bonjour vazaha!"s. Kindof annoying, but I'll just have to get used to it. Other things.. At meals, the oldest always eats first. It's very impolite to express gratitude for food, cause I guess when you say thanks it's implying that you weren't expecting to get food or something. Weird! So sometimes I say 'misaotra' out of habit. Need to stop that! The streets are pretty crowded with people trying to sell random stuff. The people here stare at us hardcore. It's kinda fun to catch people looking at you and then staring them down and making them feel awkward. Haha! Sad what becomes entertaining out here. If I think of any other cultural things, I'll be sure to write them in other emails, but that's about all I have for now. As for animals we see here, not much actually. Still haven't gone and seen any lemurs. Funny story, we walk in one night and there's a giant spider, and three geckos on the wall. So we tried to scare the geckos to go by the spider and to eat it! Haha, it didn't work and the spider got loose in the house. Everyone was loosing their minds! We will catch that spider one of these days. I've seen some huge cockroaches here. They're not the hissing ones that are usually associated with Mada, just big normal ones. It's so stress relieving to get a lighter and some kind of flammable spray and to torch them outside! Haha, don't worry, we're careful with that kind of stuff. But it's way fun, I'll have to get a video!
       Not much else to share about this week. I'm sorry if I'm kinda lame with these emails... But it's kinda the same story every day. Go out in the hot, teach all day, and come home and sleep. Haha. I'll put on some pics and get to some personal emails. Thank you all for your love and support for me! My pday emailing time is packed thanks to all of you! Haha I love y'all!

Tiako ianareo!

-Elder Mumford
I will go, I will do!

The busy streets of Tamatave!

 They have Nesquik here! The milk is a little different here, but still way good. 

The BEST vanilla icecream I've ever had. I'm craving it now.

A random turtle we found in front of our house! We named him Jeff :)

A little complex in Tamatave that looks almost like Hollywood! Haha I thought it looked kinda cool.

Monday, October 7, 2013

2 Months in!

       It's weird to think I've been gone 2 months! On one hand, it feels like I've been in country for 2 months, but at the same time it's gone by pretty fast. I tried to explain it earlier, but there isn't a logical way. Time on a mission is just weird like that I guess!
       The word of the week is 'lena' (wet). Very lena this week, especially on Tuesday and Wednesday where it just rained all day. And I don't think I mentioned this earlier, but I left my rain jacket in one of my bags in Tana right before they shipped us off to Tamatave. We were so rushed to get all of our stuff together in one bag that somehow I took off without it! So by the end of Tuesday it looked like I had just hopped in a swimming pool! Haha. Luckily since then, Elder Jensen from our group has been letting me use his until the office can get mine back to me. He doesn't ride a bike, so he just uses his umbrella anyways. So that worked out nicely!
       The week has been interesting as far as teaching goes. About 70% of our times have been falling through where nobody's home. We even call them the day of to confirm the visit with them and they still don't keep them. Malagasies. Kindest people you will ever meet, but they're not the most punctual! Haha. Oh well, it usually isn't that bad, just one of those weeks. We got to do some contacting and got a return appointment from tracting, so that was good!
       I've heard things with the government back home aren't doing so hot. Haven't heard much, just that things are shutting down? Anyways, if any of you have looked up news about Madagascar lately there's an election coming up on the 25th. It's been pushed back several times, but it looks like it's actually gonna happen this time. Propaganda everywhere. Busses go around and just boom music advertising for their candidates. It's interesting to be here during it. One of the Malagasy Elders, Elder Razafimandimby, says that when the results come out things are going to get crazy. There could be riots and stuff, so we could be on lockdown for a couple weeks in our house. Hope not! But whatever happens I know I'll be perfectly safe. I don't bring all this up to scare anyone, just something to talk about I guess!
       Enough of crazy government talk. Haha! The language is still coming along. Slowly but surely! Still not really able to communicate with anyone very well, but every once and a while in lessons I'll have sparks where I understand everything for a minute or two. I've heard that's where it all starts, understanding things here and there and just filling in those gaps over time. I know that if I just put some toilet paper and some kindling with those sparks, that over time they'll grow and begin to turn into embers of warmth and the flame of understanding who's brightness overcomes the void and darkness of confusion. And then I'll roast some Spam on it! Mwahaha! I hope all of you enjoyed that incredibly tacky metaphor. I should write a book. ;)
       There's not really much else to say about this week. Today we just went to a field and played some soccer, but didn't go to the beach this week so that we could actually get some things done. I'll put some pictures up! Hope everyone is doing well! Tiako ianareo!!

-Elder Mumford

What Ariarys look like! Pretty cool.

There's the chapel!

Giant spiders outside our house! This one is about the size of my hand stretched out. 

Every once and a while we'll get these in the house. A little lizard! Or gecko? I dunno, but they look cool! Crazy fast too.

So... One of our investigators wasn't feeling well and asked if one of us could give him a full back massage. Elder Moulton passed, so I had no choice. So I just went for it. Coconut oil and all! The things we do for investigators.

Just rockin my bike helmet!

A cute malagasy kid!