Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Earth to Matilda,
I am here!
Okay, I promise that I had a letter written last week and everything, all ready to send, but as I wrote it the connection went out in all of Mahajanga. The entire town had no internet connection. Something happened somewhere in Maevatanana (the hottest place in Madagascar, and on the road to Antananarivo) which killed the whole connection here. Lucky for you now though, I saved that letter which I wrote last week, so here, enjoy my revived one-week-old letter:

Hello Snow-Dwellers,
From the look of those pictures, it seems all you guys got kissed by the snow gods. That is a figure of speech of course, for we do not believe in such pagan gods, but hey, it's all good. Seriously though, that's way cool. Those pictures are looking way nice; a nice blanket of love covering everything in sight. Sometimes I try to explain snow to Malagasies, but hey just don't understand. They don't know what real cold is. It's good though. Antsirabe gets pretty cold though, but they don't have snow falling down so they only know half of what is winter. I am glad that this winter is much nicer for you all that what last winter sounded like. I hope that next winter will be the gnarliest one yet.
As for life here, it is going well.
We had that baptism on Saturday, and that went well. All according to plan and what not, so no room to complain. I had the pleasure of baptizing the man, Claude. As I finished the baptism prayer I told him to plug his nose while he goes under. Right as we were ready to go down, he started leaning forward. At this point I realized that I should have practiced with him before we entered into the water, but it was too late. I had to just semi-awkwardly lead him by force down backward into the water. Don't worry though, we fully submerged on the first go, so no silly seconds over here. After I finished, I gave ol' Claude a pat on the back and we walked out onto the shore again. My companion, Elder Rasolofonirina, baptized his wife Marie. They both bore their testimonies yesterday at church, and they both did great. Marie wears a nose ring, which a lot of people do here in Mahajanga. I am not quite sure where exactly that trend came from, but I think it is the large Muslim influence here. Anywho, it's about as normal as wearing regular earrings pretty much. The people here in Mahajanga do another cool thing too, for they wear golden teeth. For the lack of dental care which I am sure you can imagine, there are a lot of people with missing teeth. Sure they could just go around with gapped and dangling teeth, OR you could just put some gold teeth in there are you are good to go. That's what the people do here. Gold teeth, baby. (but not gold baby teeth.) It's way cool. I am thinking I might get my two fake teeth replaced with two fake gold teeth. A smart move? I let you answer that.
Hm.. what else could I tell you about?
We have been making a bunch of good Malagasy food, for my comp is obviously good at that. I am trying to learn, but I am not yet learned in the art of Malagasy cuisine. In just this past week we have made both voanjobory AND kabaro, both with sausage. It's been nice.
As far as fitness goes, I got a little lazy there for a while, but alas, do not worry. We went running this morning and I am feeling great. I will have to take my camera with me running sometime so I can show you where we go. It's not every day that you get to go running by the indian ocean, so I'll try to get that going.
I would hate for you all to think that I am only having worldly experiences though, haha. All this talk of “cuisine and oceans, cuisine and oceans...” HA. That doesn't even measure up to all the undeniable spiritual experience I have had lately, but I don't know how to tell you about all those over email. It just doesn't seem fair, haha, to the experiences I mean. I don't think I could even explain in words the greatness of it all. It is all so great. For example, once the sacrament ended yesterday, we were immediately asked to teach the young men and young women’s class. We accepted of course, and we ended up teaching it. The point I am trying to get across is that we didn't hesitate or were even scared at all, we just did it. We just had put ourselves in that position for the Spirit to work through us, and once we did, it was out of our hands. That's how it works. It just mandeha ho azy.
All in all though, it has just been another great week of the mission. Time is still going on hyperdrive, and I can’t believe how long I have been out here already. Yes, it feels it has been an entire lifetime out here sometimes, but at the same time, I can’t believe I have been gone 15 months already.
Here’s to 9 more!
 Elder Austin “here’s looking at you kid” Bergera 

Okay, and there you have it. I am sorry if I caused you any worry or grief due to lack of communication on my part. I assure you that if was an eagle, I would've angelicly flown to Maevatanana and fixed whatever had broke just to get this email sent to you. "But behold, I am a man," (Alma 29:3).
As far as this last week has gone though.. it's gone well. The rain is a-coming still, but it's all right. It's not as big as a shock to me this time around as it was last time. I found a broken umbrella in our house which I have been using lately. It's not torn or anything, so it isn't broken that way, it just doesnt stay open by itself. I remedied this with a shoelace in which I wrapped around just right to where if I hold it, the umbrella will stay open. Umbrellas are really nice to have. I should've gone on more rainy walks before, because umbrellas are inventive. You could totally walk around in the rain and not get wet. It's crazy. I don't like wearing my rain jacket anymore, cause it doesn't really do anything. The way it protects from rain is by slowly absorbing it, which is to say, it doesn't protect from rain. '~'   I might as well wear a sponge.
I don't mean to complain though, for my new love for umbrellas has made me completely forget about my old jacket "friend." 
Oh yeah, and I found out something about myself yesterday. I don't like shark meat. It's potent. And perhaps 'potent'-ially dangerous. Okay, it's not dangerous, just gross. The way it was prepared for me was kind of weird, so that may be a good cause as to why I didn't like it so much, but still. Bleh. The flavor was very sharp, as millions of little shark teeth rested within the meat itself. The kind I ate was first dried into a long, odd strip. This was followed by it being deep fried, and then served with tsaramaso, a Malagasy favored local bean. I loved the tsaramaso, though the ankivy was quite mangidy.
All in all though, things are good. Life just keeps going on. 
Thank you again for the Conference New Ensign. I have been reading through it a lot lately, and I am really enjoying it. One quote I really like is in Elder Walter F. Gonzalez's talk 'Learning with Our Hearts" in which he shares a quote from a children's book. 
“Here is my secret … : It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."
I will end this letter now. I hope you enjoy getting two letters this week, and that the joy will replace whatever disappoint which came from no letter last week. 
I love y'all.
Elder Misionera Bergera

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