Where did that week go? Even while being this close to the end, the time has only gone by faster. This next one will probably go by like it didn't even happen. Time has done some pretty weird things to me...
So the branch president here in Andranomanelatra went to South Africa this week with his wife and daughter and they got sealed in the Joberg Temple. When they got back I asked how it was and they said it was amazing. I then asked about the food there and they said it was so awful because there was no rice. Haha! But I think it was all worth the suffering to get in the Temple. Yesterday they were up bearing powerful testimonies. You have to understand that someone going to South Africa from a small town like Andranomanelatra is almost unheard of. Nobody in the branch had ever done it before. So they were like the pioneers blazing the trail for the rest of the members. A lot of people were saying before things like, "Ah, I could never make it out there to South Africa" but now I think a lot of they're attitude has changed to more of an "Okay, what do I need to do to get there too. I'm going!" I think that was huge for the branch. I just realized too... I get to go to the Temple soon! And after seeing what people have to do here to go, I think I'll be able to make the 10 minute drive and go often. I don't think we can even comprehend the importance of temple ordinances we do in this life. So if you haven't been in a while... then GO NOW!
The work here has been going well. We've bee doing a lot more contacting lately and finding new people. It's a challenge here sometimes because the FLM (Lutheran) church basically has Andranomanelatra covered. If they're not FLM, they're catholic or members from our own church. Some people pretty much straight up tell us to go away from the start and others will let us in because they'd feel bad to reject someone bringing the word of God, and then they reject us. Haha. I suppose I've gotten a very very small taste of what Paul and some of those other missionaries in the scriptures went through. It's not easy. But it's worth it when you find good people. Like a man named Gilibert, a very friendly FLM man who welcomed us in. We taught about the church of Jesus Christ and its restoration through the prophet Joseph Smith. They thanked us for what we were doing and began to tell us that they had their own faith and they weren't looking to move. I looked at him straight in the eye and asked that if he came to know from God that this were true and that this is his restored church if he wouldn't join then. It was one of those questions that really made him realize that he's gonna have to study this out more before he rejects it. And that's when we talked about the importance of prayer and getting answers from the Holy Ghost. So hopefully we'll see some progress with him and his family. There's another man named Jimmy that we taught, and the lesson was on the Book of Mormon. Before I could begin to explain it, he grabbed the book and was basically teaching himself about it with small interjections made by us. He said he'd have it read in 3 months. So cool seeing people like that SO thirsty for knowledge about what we have. I think sometimes we get so into the Mormon lifestyle that we loose sight of the reality of what we have, and that's the truth. Haven't picked up a Bokin' i Mormona in a while? DO IT. READ IT. LOVE IT.
Another thing we got to do is attend a fahoriana. Haha aza matahotra now, I'll explain what that means. It's a Malagasy custom, much like what we do for viewings. We heard about one happening close by to someone we were teaching, and in malagasy culture whether you knew the deceased and the family or not, you go. I think people would've understood a couple of vazahas not going, but we did anyways! It was me and String along with 2 of the members in the branch. We went in the house of the family and there was a bunch of people sitting all around the room and there was the body of the one who had passed away, an old man. We got in and stood in the middle of the room. Dead silence. All eyes on us. And I got to be our 'spokesman'. With things like fahorianas or deeply cultural things like that, there's specific things you say or 'kabary'. Luckily I had studied some of it earlier in the mission and it was still stuck in the brain. So I broke the silence and the words started flowing like that of the waters of Niagra. In those 5 minutes I felt in every way like a malagasy and it was an indescribable thing being part of something that means so much to these people. I think we surprised a lot of people. A lot of malagasies don't even know what they're supposed to say in situations like that. I'm just way glad I had been prepared! I feel like I've not only learned the language, but I've come to learn much of their culture. I probably haven't even scratched the surface in my short 2 years, but I feel like I've done my best and it's payed off. I love these people and this culture!!
I don't really know what else to talk about. I love this place. The members here are my favorite! By far my favorite area. It's heaven out here. I'm so glad that I've been able to work here as well as get 2 more weeks! I'm still living it up out here. Elder Stringfellow has been great and he's already ready to go when I'm gone. We're pretty dang sure he'll be training. We went to lake Tritriva again today and also Lake Adraikiba, so that's where all those pictures are from. Also a lot of pictures with members that I gotta print off to them before I leave. Haha so enjoy! As for now, I'll be going and getting an ice cream and relax a little the rest of pday. Love you all so much! Have an awesome week!!! Tiako ianareo.