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.
Thanks for all you do!
Elder Betongolo Bergera