I am doing quite well today, and how are you? My stomach keeps making weird noises and turning around on itself, but I can't say that's is much too out of the usual.
I am stuck here yet again using the french keyboard formatting, but I would quite say that I am doing really well at getting used to it. The only one that still sort of tricks me is that the 'q' is in the 'a' place. I am already used to going up for the 'a,' but I use to 'q' so seldomly that when it is q time that i forget and go back up to the top row. Sometimes the mission is just so stinking hard, haha, just jokes just jokes.
I've said it before and i'll say it again; i hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the package has not come yet. They picked up packages last week and I guess it didn't quite make it in time for that cut, and the next time they'll be doing a package run is not until next week. That's not too long though, but let's just hope it made it in there though. I wouldn't worry if I were you though; it'll all turn out well.
Besides, General Conference is coming in hot! You all will have it in a week from Saturday, which is way close! We will get it a solid two weeks after that, so on the 20th and the 21st, which is still coming in hot. I am getting way excited about this, especially since it will all be in English here at the mission home. I think that'll really help me to focus more. It's pretty crazy too that i am just getting so excited about conference. I expect that this excitement for simple church things like this will last longer than the mission; that is at least my hope. No, yeah, i am sure it will.
As far as skyping for mother's day... I don't have any news on that yet. I mean, we will definitely be doing it, but other than that I don't know. We will definitely talk about that more as the time comes closer, but I don't have much to say on that yet.
Easter shouldn't be a problem this year as far as finding a computer to use just for that exact fact. I could just do it in the office it I really needed to, so no worries there. I still don't understand 'easter monday' yet. It just doesn't feel like a real holiday. If we were really to celebrate Christ's ressurection then monday would have nothing to do with it.. just another excuse to party. Don't get me wrong though, I love to party, I mean, I'm not laaame, but "come on!"
Anywho though, I just want to tell you that I am super proud of you for finishing your first term for your masters degree. That is a huge accomplishment, and now you only have three more to go! You can do it!
Just to answer you questions, Comorians are from the island Comoros, a large island country to the northwest side of Madagascar. Most of them are Muslim. 'za tzy mahay teny gasy' means i can't speak malagasy. I have met some who are way good at malagasy, but some just go around speak french, or even speak comorian to each other. Comorian sounds NUTS.
Anyways though, I think that might be a rap for now. I am loving my companion, Elder Mocellin. He's a way good guy. I am trying to learn french little by little; but I can't make any guarantees. Languages are hard, haha.
First and foremostly, I have not received your package yet. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there could have been much worse news than that so I don't feel too bad, haha. They may be going to pick up packages tomorrow, so if that happens to work out, and if it happens to be there, then I will let you know. Packages don't actually get directly sent here, but to a mail station, then we must pick them up from there. It's all complicated and whathaveyou but don't worry. We'll get the package.
I'm doing well though! I had the opportunity to have a meeting with ol' Mr. Clutchy several times this past week, and I would say we are in business! The mastery of the shift will take some times, sure, but I think we have pretty much got the jist of things in the bag. It feels good. This narrow roaded, zero traffic ruled, windy laned streets of Antananarivo weren't the most ideal place to learn, but hey, it trained me well. As far as any other 'Office Duties' I have had.. well, I would say that was it. Not much else going on besides that.
You asked if I had been learning any French, which I would pretty much say no, not really. We talk about our languages a lot and I pick up little facts and tips here and there, but I would say he has learned more from me than I from him. We were talking today though and I am convinced that I need to seriously take advantage of this time of being with some who speaks french and try to learn a little bit. We have a basic french understanding book at the house, so I suppose I'll give that a read through. I don't know how fluent I will be, but I suppose a little crash course wouldn't hurt; and I would say now is the best time to do it. Yes, it is starting to slightly depress me that I will never be able to use what I have learned in Malagasy when I get home (on a serious level), but hey, it is way fun. I would be way down to stop by at the MTC and help the new elders to teach and speak, but I don't know if I would ever want to work there.
I am really excited for the upcoming General Conference! This may be the first time I will be watching it in English, so that sure is something to get excited about. The prospect of not getting a headache sounds nice, haha. As much as I love Malagasy, I think General Conference is something you need to watch in your native tongue.
Speaking of tongues, we sort of taught some people from Comoros this last week. We contacted into them while I was on spilts with one of the A.P.s, and then we came back for a follow-up this last Saturday. The thing is, they don't speak Malagasy at all. I mean one wasn't bad, but the majority couldn't say more than 'za tsy mahay teny gasy' for the life of them. My companion talked to them for a bit in French, and scheduled a better time to come back. They were actually having a big crazy Comorian party with all the Comorians living around here. The Comorian language is way crazy too. I don't understand any of it. I learned how to greet in Comorian while I was in Mahajanga though, so I totally pulled that out on them and they loved it. So sick.
All righty, so we've got three pictures in the mix:
The first is me on my last night in Mahajanga. I am looking way tan and almost black, which I think is just my mark of serving in a heat pot for so long. I think I've already lost a lot of that nice bronze skin, but we can always look back and remember.... aaaah.
The second is me on my last p-day in Mahajanga. We went to a place called the 'Red Circus' which included such natural beauties as these babies you can see. Real nice. You can see our tour guide sitting right next to me as well. She really knew where she was going.
The third (and last) is of me and my old companion Elder Andrianjarasoa. We were companions one whole year ago, and I saw him for the first time in eleven months at a Zone Conference last week. Seeing him again just reminded me of being so new back in Antsirabe a year ago.. haha.. oh the memories.
I think that'll about do it for this time.
I'll get a nice photo of me and my current companion this week for you to all see.
Okay, so I am stuck in that one cyber I wrote to you from about a year ago now when I first came up here to Tana from Antsirabe, and it's all weird and I can't change the keyboard settings from French to English, so this letter is being filled with the process of backspacing all over the place, so please excuse me if it is not terribly long.
To tell you the truth though, this cyber is a 'gaming' cyber so everyone is all playing their different computer games of all the differents sorts. I have definitely changed on my mission so far, haha, cause all these games being played doesn't make me trunky at all; but rather i only think about how much time these dudes are wasting just clicking their days away. I can't promise i'll never play video games again, ha, but there is definitely more important things to do.
I have not yet email in the office though, no, for we are usually out and about all day so we just go around and email at different cybers and places. I imagine I'll do it sometime before too long; but whatevs. Who knows? This guy sitting next to me is totally reading this letter as I type it, so we'll see if he's good at English even.
We had another radical week out here on the mission though. We are trying hard to work with members and build nice strong relationships with them and really get the work going well that way. We found a half less active member family this last week who we will actually be helping them hold perhaps their first family home evening, so i'm pretty stoked on that. This work only really goes as well as the members are willing to put into it, so we are excited for this great potential.
As far as things with my new french companion, things are awesome. Elder Mocellin is such a good guy, and he's way funny too. I already told you about that thing he said last week, and so here's something new. we actually just finished eating at a really nice american style restaurant called Cookie Shop (which they actually raised their price and lowered their quality since i've been in mahajanga... bummer). He ordered a sandwich with chips, and when the chips came he said, ''i forgot, i don't like chips.'' hahaha he's such a goof! Then when his apple cinnamon muffin came for dessert, he said again, ''oh i forgot, I don't like cinnamon.'' Talk about LOL!
We had a stake conference this past weekend too! I work in the same stake I was in when I worked back in Sabotsy Namehana, so I got the grteat blessing of seeing some of the sweet members i worked with while I was down there. I got to see Gino, my third companion here in madagascar, and one lady i had taught the entire time i worked there. I hadn't thought it had been all that long since I had worked there, but once i saw all these people again, the six months that had passed felt like it had actually been a while. I felt way loved by all the people and I felt really good about the work I had done there. The whole time I looked for Kong Yen and Etienne though, just really hoping I could see them again. After the Conference ended I got my wish! They held a little fifteen minute program for all the Recent Converts who had been baptized in the past year, and sure enough they showed up! The actually conference was held on all three floors of the church building we met in, so I couldn't see them at the beginning. The minute I saw ol' Kong Yen he just said with big shock on his face, ''Ahhh!! Bergera!!!'' haha I loved it so much! They are soooo cool! During the program Elder Cook asked who had callings and I carefully looked back to where they were sitting. Sure enough they both had their arms raised high and I felt so good that they were still doing well and staying strong.
Elder Cook (from the Seventy) gave such an awesome talk though. I think I told you about him right before I left for Mahajanga when he came here and talked to all of us missionaries. He's such a good guy. He just makes the gospel seem so happy you can't help but just smile as you listened to him.
All right, I was really planning to send y'alls some pictures, but this cyber is all weird and they have the CPUs tucked away in this remote weird box so I can't connect the usb to it, but we'll get some pictures sent soon.
These gamer dudes have some metal playing upstairs and it's the gnarliest music i've heard in a long time, haha.
I think this letter is quite juicy though, albeit no pictures.
I have had a pretty good week this week. It's been one of those long ones again. Not so much that it dragged on and on, but more that I just feel like thinking back a week ago feels like a long time. One week ago I was up in Mahajanga, and like you already know now I am in Antananarivo. It's just a whole different world. Same Madagascar, but so different..
I left Mahajanga at around 7AM on Tuesday Morning, and I arrive here in Tana at 8PM. The ride went well enough though.. just long. The road was clear of any rain or storms, so that was quite the blessing. I don't think distance is really the reason it takes so long to get from one place to the other, but rather the roads. There are no really good straight highways. The entire ride is doing snake turns up and down hills. This is a very hill-y place. So for about thirteen hours that is what we did. Back and forth, back and forth. I never become car sick though, so aight. I felt way weird as we weasled our way back into Tana though. I felt like it had only been a few weeks since I had left. Being away seemed long while I was still away, yet once I got back it all came back way fast. I started to recognize all sorts of places I had been to before, and it felt way weird. I was only away for six months, and now it felt like six days. I didn't really like it at first, haha. I liked the 'island feel' that Mahajanga has, but I got used to it and now I am doing waaay good. Just rippin' up the ol' Tana again. After I got out of the taxi bus I was to wait for the office elders to come and pick me up. I waited and waited. They sure took a long time, but they eventually came. They pulled over to the side of the street in their car, and we put all my luggage all up in there. The elder who I replaced handed me the keys to drive back to our new house. I told him that i don't know how to drive stick.
"Well, now you are going to learn," is all he could muster.
Needless to say, I drove back that night. I stalled it a good ten times probably, and many more times during the next few days.
The transfers all went well though. I came down to Tana early just so that I could help them transport elders to their new areas. It went very well. I took 'Elder Barclay's Driving School' or a.k.a. I drove while he sat in shotgun telling me what do to. I am not going to lie, it has been hard. I don't know who thought to put the third friend down there, "Mr. Clutchy," but they really just complicated everything. Definitely un-needed. I was way worried the first few days for fear that I would never get the hang of it honestly, but it's all right now. I actually haven't driven since thursday, but we were doing pretty well thursday. I feel like we had a good breakthrough that day. I am going to come home from this experience so much wiser, and with a pretty awesome skill. I have still got a way to go until I master it like my sensei Coach Barclay, but we've got high hopes.
Apparently the main duty of office elders before was to take sick missionaries to the hospital, but since the new 'figure it out yourself' policy, we haven't had many office elder duties. Transfers was crazy, but that all went fine. Right now we just do regular old proselyting missionary duties. Don't get me wrong, I love to teach and preach and do what missionaries do, but as office elders you have to have your perks, right? One of which you already mentioned though, if you send any packages I will get them really quickly. hint hint. But yeah. Seriously. We also get to go to 'Office Meetings,' which is basically a secret guild of us office missionaries (elders and couples) who meet with Pres. & Sister Adams and discuss all the secrets of the mission. I would love to tell you more, but I am afraid I must keep my mouth closed on this. It is waaaay too confidential. Only us Office Elders can know such matters. It's a pretty big deal.
I met a RM from 10 years ago at church yesterday. I walked into the Chapel (I'll tell you more about this later) and I saw a big white guy with beard. I spoke to him after the church meeting, and apparently he worked here in Tana over 10 years ago on his mission. I am not exactly sure what he is doing now, but he was sitting next to a Malagasy women the whole time so we can only guess. Pretty cool though. I definitely want to come back here someday. I bore my testimony as always happens when you get into a new area. This ward seems way cool. I still have a lot of people to meet, but from what I have seen so far, it's looking good. We go to church in the same building as the Mission Home, so it's all nice and official. it's the first church built building I have worked in. It actually has a nice classic chapel we are all used to (though not quite as big. just as nice though). I am pretty sure it even has a baptismal font, so we'll just have to see about that. At first I though balancing office elder duties and a ward to help would be hard, but now I am seeing that we really don't do much in the office.
Getting used to a new area is always weird, but it's going well. It's crazy that I have already almost been here a week though. I goes so fast.
I feel like I left to Mahajanga, lived there for a while, and now I came back and suddenly I am one of the 'older' missionaries now. I know it'll just get more so, but it's weird. We saw one group go home five weeks early last week. I guess that's just how it worked out best for everything, so that's what happened. I've heard that Chase got his date to go home already sometime in October, but I don't have mine yet. I imagine it'll be a good handful of months before we get any info like that for us, but I'll let you know. In a while.
Conference is coming up again. In a month. I am stoked on that.
I totally didn't take any pictures this last week, but I will try to do better this week I swear.
My new companion is way cool though. Elder Mocellin can most definitely speak English. He has pretty much learned all the english he knows since he has been on the mission (December 2011, two months behind me). He's way good though, honestly. He has learned a lot of american words and phrases and it's way funny when he says them. He is as skinny as a bean pole and is picky with his food, which I think is way cool cause that means we eat nice food all the time. He's seriously one of the funniest guys ever. Yesterday we were walking around the hillside maze of small, stacked houses that is Antananarivo for a good while. We were trying to find a house, and we weren't doing too good. I was completely following him because I have no grip on the area at all yet. He looks to me and says, "Do you like pokemon?"
"Me too! I used to play for hours. Do you know why?"
"Because I would get lost."
Haha, these were very comforting words coming from my guide, haha.
Anyway though, this letter seems way long to me. The area is good, and just pray that we can find some awesome new investigators, if you will. We are really looking hard.