28 December 2016

Happy Easter

Hey guys so it isn't gonna be a long one this week cause I've already talked with my family and all of that. But everything is going well out here. 

Christmas was awesome we had a little party and after church on sunday we went to a member's house for lunch and ate some rabbit. It was good but we have an extra rabbit, so it's kind of just jumping around our house, no one's got the guts to kill it. 

Anyways nothing much happened this week, so Merry Christmas everyone!
Elder St John

19 December 2016

Another Week Another Pastor

Well it was a pretty quiet week this week. No more bus problems which is good. We went to Amjoma yesterday for church and it was awesome. They have their own investigator class and it has about 8 people in it who we're going to try to baptize on January 14th! They're all way cool people and it's awesome to see what a big impact that member missionary work can have. Get to it everyone. 

But yeah bus ride home everything turned out well. No Gendarmie or drunk people so maybe the curse has been broken. We'll see though cause on Friday we're going to a city called Fianarantsoa for Christmas cause me and Elder Olsen don't wanna spend it alone haha. But Fianarantsoa (means good learning in Malagasy) is about a 4 hour bus ride from Ambositra (means land of castration in Malagasy)... 

No crazy stories this week, but we had some way cool lessons. First; we were tracting earlier this week and we ran into a lady who's husband wasn't home so we set a time for sunday to meet with them. We showed up and met the husband and he's seriously soooo prepared for the gospel. His name is Justa. The first thing I always do is ask them what ny famerenanan amin'ny laoniny means (the restoration). Most people just say something is broken then it is fixed, but this guy went on for like 15 minutes about how the gospel of Jesus Christ has become so lost and scattered and how there needs to be a church who has the same structure as Christ's church. Well bud, we've got some news for you. 

So we started sharing the importance of the gospel and then we got to the Joseph Smith story and it made so much sense to him. After we explained that to him he told us his religious background and how he's been to so many different churches but he doens't feel that any of them are true cause they've all just been established by people based on their own interpretations of the Bible, or they're just made by people who are looking for money. The second part is actually super common here in Madagascar. He told us a story of how a pastor came to his house once and legit said that he was teacing the gospel just to make money (that's a good way to convert people). After the lesson he just said he was coming to our church. We didn't even ask him or tell him anything about it but he said that he's been looking for the true church for so long and he wants to compare ours to the others. 

Another fun investigator story is that while we were tracting we ran into another Pastor!!!! This guy is part of the Shine church that was started here in Madagascar. So now we're teaching 3 pastors of 3 different faiths!! I like to daydream that we'll convert them and then their whole congregation. So if my dreams come true then we'll have about 300 new members coming up!! I doubt that any of them will progress though, but it is interesting to realize how simple and pure our gospel is.

That's it for this week! Love you all!

Elder St. John

12 December 2016

Another Week - Another Bus Problem

Well just another average week in Mada. I started out in Tana and went on splits with a missionary named Elder Boer on Tuesday. On Wednesday we started on our way back to Ambositra. First off we had to wait for like 2 hours at the bus stop because the busses won't leave until they have the whole bus full. After that we were just going on our way when all of the sudden a huge semi truck is just driving in the middle of the road swerving around. Our bus driver makes a quick manuever and we have to fly to the side of the road where there's a 10 foot cliff into small river. We were litterally less that a foot from falling into the river. #savedbyangels. We hit some major turbulance and everyone in the bus got thrown around. Me and Elder Olsen were sitting shotgun (yes they fit 2 people in every seat and their busses are just like big minivans so not much room) so we got to see everything going down. The semi truck driver was smiling like way big as he was coming for us which was creepy. After we stopped the bus this one guy in our car who got kindof hurt jumped out and ran over to the semi pulled him out of the truck and beat the crap out of him haha. Well of course we had to wait about and hour until the gendarmie (police) could make it to us A.K.A. it took them an hour to walk like 5 miles. Then they conducted a little investigation where they drew some lines on the road with rocks and stuff. They came to the conclusion that the semi driver was drunk out of his mind. So at this point it has already been about 2 hours and it's not looking like we're gonna get out of there anytime soon. The cops need to take the drunk driver to a city called Antsirabe, but they don't have a car to take him in, and they won't let him go with us cause they think we'll kill him. So we just waited... while we were waiting the AP's drove by and looked and saw two white people dressed up on the side of the road. They stopped and gave us a ride to Antsirabe that night. Then the next day we got a ride to Ambositra with a mission driver. So I think I'm done taking busses for a while. I'm just gonna walk or something... 

That's my only fun story this week, but the lessons are going along pretty well. We're teaching two pastors right now. One of them is FJKM (Christ's church on Madagascar) and the other one is a 7th day Adventist... Seriously these guys are nuts man. Logan talks a little about them in his letter, but seriously no matter what you talk about these guys will try to bible bash you. But it's funny cause this guy is actually starting to progress haha. He's just starting to realize that our docterine is true and that two eighteen year old kids have more answers to life than he even though he's been a pastor for 40 years. It's most likely he won't progress any more, but me and elder Olsen have big dreams of converting him then baptizing his whole congregation. So yeah I guess the spiritual message this week is just about how simple and easy to understand the doctorine of our gospel is. It has been amamzing to how true and plain the teachings of the plan of salvation and other doctorine in our gospel are. There are 8 year old kids who have a better understanding of our where we're from, what we're doing here, and where we're going than people who've been studying for 50 years. The gospel of Jesus Christ is simple and pure. It's not hard to understand, but it can be very hard to find this truth. Missionary work is so amazing cause we're able to bring an amazing amount of truth and light to these people's lives who have been searching their whole lives. I love this gospel and I know that it is true. It is plain and it is clear, it shows us the path to eternal life. Not only eternal life, but eternal joy. Don't take for granted the knowledge that you have. Most of you reading this already know and understand the gospel so please remember how amazing and wonderful the truths that we have are. Love you all.

Elder St John

05 December 2016

The Army Stole Our Bus

So I'm in Antananarivo right now cause I have to do some Visa stuff, so I'm just painting the setting for this right now. 

This week was pretty normal... I'll start off by telling you all a quick tale of our journey home from Amjoma yesterday. So we went to Amjoma for church yesterday and it was awesome cause they pretty much do all of their own mission work. They have like 10 people who are all about ready for baptism. We just have to teach them a few more times and fill in the gaps of what the members haven't taught. But we had to take a bus home cause we don't have a car. 

First off Amjoma is a tiny town in the middle of nowhere so we had to wait for about 1 1/2 hours to catch a bus. Then after we caught our bus we drove for about 5 miles and then the police stopped us so that they could check our paperwork. Turns out the bus driver didn't have the right paperwork. But in reality no one here has the right paperwork and the only problem was that we had a military guy in our bus and the cops have a beef with the military for some reason. So when the cop saw that military guy he wouldn't accept the bus driver's bribe (everyone bribes the cops here). So the police stole the bus driver's keys and made us wait for like another hour in the middle of nowhere. THANK GOODNESS THERE WAS A HOLY PERSON WITH US!!! There was a nun in the bus with us and she schmoozed the police to let us take the bus to a small town called Ivato where another bus would come and get us then they could arrest the bus driver and stuff. 

So we all loaded up and got on our way to Ivato. When we got to Ivato we had to wait like another 45 minutes for the other bus to come and get us. Turns out the only bus that they had was half the size of the other bus. So we fit 18 people into a tiny car that can probably usually fit six. It was so stuffed that they couldn't shut the trunk and Elder Olsen had to pretty much hang on for dear life out of the back. The people in the bus were wayyy funny though. They were all cracking jokes about having two white guys in a bus with them and all of that classic immature Malagasy stuff. It was really funny cause no one was mad at the bus driver... everyone was mad at the Gendarmie (the "police") for not accepting the bribe. It's such a culture change here cause in America everyone would be angry at the bus driver for not having the paperwork, but here everyone gets mad at the army for not accepting a bribe. 

Other than that it was a normal week. Another funny thing  happened though that'll help you guys realize how different the culture here is. We were at a lesson with a less active family and they were asking about pets and this one lady asked us what we fed our animals... How the heck am I supposed to explain to a lady who probably makes less than 1000000 Ariary (like 350 bucks) a year, that we BUY SPECIAL FOOD FOR OUR DOGS. Like it was such a crazy concept in her mind that Americans have different food just for dogs. She seriously couldn't understand that. It was a huge eye opener. 

So yeah way good week. All the people here call me Joana Panao Batiza (John the Baptist) So I mean they're not really wrong as long as they let me baptize them. But yeah, Christmas music is sounding through the streets. Mostly Mariah Carrey and Penatonix... 

The lessons are coming along well. Nothing new really to report. People here learn slow so it takes a while to get people to progress. I just gotta have patience and move at their speed. It has been really awesome these last few weeks to see the amazing light and joy that this gospel can bring into people's lives. Even people with basically nothing are able to still have everything. They are able to have the knowledge of eternal life and eternal happiness. God doesn't look at them and judge them based on the amount of money that they make, but he judges them with a perfect and merciful judgement based on the character of their heart. It's like the story of the widow's mite. Their world may say Ataovy betsaka (give a lot). The Lord just says give all you can and then the kingdom of heaven will be yours. So you can apply that to money or you can apply that to things of a more spiritual nature. Even if you don't feel like you have a lot to contribute to the lord's work, even if you see others contributing huge amounts of "gold" to the lord's work. Know that God doesn't ask for a lot, he only asks for what we can do. So keep that in mind. Don't compare your contribution to others. Just do all you can.

Love you all,
   Elder St. John  

P.S. Sorry for not having a lot of pictures. The computers here are all corrupt and will steal your pictures so I have to wait until I can back them up on a USB or something.

28 November 2016

Lazy Eyes Everywhere

Well let me paint a picture for you all... The beatufiul landscape of Madagascar, rice patties everywhere, cows grazing in the middle of the streets, free range chickens wandering in and out of houses, and FREAKING LAZY EYES EVERYWHERE. Litterally I've tried to go a day here without seeing someone with a lazy eye and it's impossible cause I think half the popoulation here has one. There are a few things that you can't go a day without seeing here. First is someone with a lazy eye, second is a woman just exposing herself to the world, and third is someone wearing a shirt with a really inappropriate or funny saying that makes no sense. Madagascar is pretty much the DI dumping ground of the world here so every once and a while you'll see a guy walking down the street in a BYU shirt or a shirt that just has the F word written all over it. Anyways that's my Madagascar cultural lesson for the week.

Life's going pretty good here in Ambositra. We finally got a water heater, the only problem is that it doesn't work... The electricity in our house ins't strong enough to support it so they're replacing the wiring in our house sometime this week. So yeah, still cold showers and hand washed clothes... I freakin love it though cause I'll like never have the opportunity to feel closer to the people of Madagascar. I bet 99 percent of the people here have never even heard of a water heater haha. But yeah the house is solid. We don't sleep with mosquito nets or anything cause it's not the mosquitos you need to worry about. The bed bugs and flees are getting more daring... The Malagasies are starting to make fun of me cause none of them get bit, so they think it's way funny that I'm covered in bites. They say it's cause I still have sweet American blood.

The work is coming along alright here. We got two baptismal dates this week, but here it's really easy to get baptismal dates. The hard thing is actually getting them to baptism. The culture here is that no one wants to offend you so they'll accept everything you say and act really excited and then the next time you teach them and ask them if they read the Book of Mormon or something they hardly ever will have. But it is really easy to tell the difference between diligent and not diligent investigators really quick. The only problem is finding the diligent ones. People like talking to white people here and they act really interested in our teachings so we have to keep coming back to them, but they don't want to get baptized which is such a bummer cause they're just wasting our time. It's never a waste of time though cause we're inviting people to come closer to Christ which is what this is all about. It's good practice for the first lessons though. I can understand and teach the first couple lessons no problem but the second we start talking about the plan of salvation I just get so lost haha. People here are either passive or extremely passionate about their religion. Really the only ones who are "passionate" are the 7th day Adventists and the Jehovah Witnesses. Most of the time they're not even passionate about their religion. They're just passionate about trying to make us look stupid. They're always trying to Bible bash us which is way funny. We never really bash back, but we do politely share scriptures that own them, and then invite them to study the scriptures and ask God.

Anyways that's about it for this week. Love you and miss you all!

Elder St John

21 November 2016


Well to start things off, this week I'll update all of you on my warfare witht he fleas. I found one and killed it but that's about it. It seems like it may have scared them off cause I haven't been getting bit quite so much, but I'm keeping my eyes peeled. I think they're scheeming something big cause this may just be the calm before the storm. I won't let my guard down and I will come at them with redoubled efforts. Wish me luck.

Anyways other than that it was a pretty uneventful week. It rained alot which is fun cause everyone here is terrified of the rain and all start runing for cover the second that they feel rain. Elder Olsen and I play chess alot before we go to bed and I finally won this week. Apparently I'm terrible at chess or something cause he's not even good.

Since everyone keeps begging me, I guess I'll talk a little about the food. Its rice... literally all we eat is rice out here with some beans or a mystery meat. I haven't eaten anything gross yet, but I really don't know what I've eaten haha. You just go with it and don't ask.

The work is coming along. It's been 4 weeks and we still haven't taught anything other than restoration and Book of Mormon haha. I've got high hopes for this week though. The people here are really nice and accepting, it is just impossible for us to get them to keep commitments so we have to keep reviewing lessons and all of that. I'm getting pretty good at tracting though haha.  Anyways that's about if for this week. 

Love you and miss you all.

14 November 2016

I Have Fleas

Well to start things off I'm gonna write about some bugs cause I know that's what you all wanna hear. The bugs here are insane. I probably have about 1000 flea bites, no joke. There's no getting rid of them, you've just gotta endure the pain. I always thought fleas and bedbugs were a myth. The people who say that the most real monsters are inside of your head have apparently never been harrassed by bed bugs/fleas cause those things make a grown man wanna cry. 

Another fun fact about Madagascar is that apparently there is such a thing as flying spiders. I was just sitting there at the top of this mountain after a hike we went on this morning and I was watching a spider and all of the sudden it started floating straight up.  No Joke. Like it didnt have a web, nothing. It just started floating straight up. I asked the ward members we were with what just happened and at first they told me it was dead and going to heaven, but then they told me that it's just a normal spider here and apparently they can fly haha so that's pretty cool. 

Those aren't even the worst spiders though. There are ones that are, probably as big as my hand, everywhere. They don't bite which is cool they're just freaky as heck and not the good kind of freaky either. Except there is one spider that lives right outside of our apartment and if you tap his web he starts shaking his butt really fast so as of now he's the only good freaky spider that I know. When we leave we tap his web and sing the wiggle song by Jason Dueruelo or whatever and man that spider gets FREAKY. Well that's enough about bugs for this week stay tuned for more cool bug facts.

Well on to the important stuff... All the weird stuff that happened this week!!! First thing first is that drunk people here love white people and since we're the only white people here most of the time we're like a magnet. So this week this guy that was wayyy too far gone came up and kissed my and my companion so that's new. 

We also met this guy who claims to be 125 years old. I thought that was impossible, but the members say that it's not really uncommon. Apparently there's some guy who's 200 who lives in a village like 45 minutes outside of Ambositra so they said they'd take us there one day. I don't belive them at all cause nobody here has proof of when they were born really so you've just gotta go by word. I wanna beleive though so I'll just go with it.

The actual work though is going along slow still. We have a lot of investagators, but only two are progressing and one of them is moving. The other one lives with a member family so at least we've got one who's stuck haha. Finding people is pretty easy here. We can tract for an hour and teach three first lessons and get return dates.  The hard thing is actually getting them to show up to their return dates. They also never keep commitments and never wanna come to church either so that's frustrating, but it is easy to weed out the weak from the strong pretty quick. We went to another branch that is in our zone on Sunday in the city of Amjomakana (Amzoma for short/white people). Its a city that is way tiny and pretty much as ambonyboitra (farmland) as it gets. It was way cool though cause everyone there was ready to learn about the gospel. It was funny though cause the branch president was teaching some false doctrine   The first councelor straigtened it out at the end though so that's all good. Anyways that's it for this week! Love you all and miss you!

Elder St John

07 November 2016

Naked People Everywhere

Hayden at Church in Ambositra

Hey everybody! Things are going great here! The area is still way tough and I still have no idea what I'm doing but I'm getting used to it! 

I'm gonna give you guys a little bit more detail of my area cause I didn't write much last week, but my area is called Ambositra. There haven't been missionaries here in like a year and a half so we're pretty much starting from scratch. Every once in awhile we will run into someone who was taking the lessons before they closed it, but not very often. 

The house is pretty nice. It doesnt have hot water so what I do is boil a pot of water and pretty much give myself a warm spongebath cause I'm too big of a baby to handle a cold shower. I bet all of you think that I'm probably dying of heat over here but you're WRONG! It's soooo cold haha. I wake up every morning and have to like force myself to get rid of the blanket. We also didn't have a working phone until yesterday so they literally just droped us off here without hot water, no phone, and no washing machines. We have to wash all of our clothes by hand because the washing machine doesn't work. 

But yeah, it's a pretty nice house, probably one of the nicest in the city. A majority of the people here live in pretty much a 10 square foot cement room in a complex of like 20 other houses. Some people have nicer houses but that's pretty much average. 

Ambositra is a pretty cool city. It is famous for its wood working so I'm gonna get some pretty cool souveniers. It is also a huge farming town so there's a lot of people who are farmers here.  But most people just sell stuff on the side of the road or are carpenters here. The people are all really nice here. A lot of times you just knock on a door and hear "mondroso" which means come in, so that is pretty awesome. What isn't awesome is how often you get a return appointment and they aren't there. Pretty much 50 percent of the time they're not going to be there which is really dissapointing. It also feels like I have been tracting for the last 500,000 years. I've taught the first lesson 29 times this week and we've only taught about the Book of Mormon twice haha. I'm way good at the first lesson though haha.

Something else that is funny is that they've got a huge problem with modesty here haha. Like we'll be sitting in a lesson with an investigator and they'll just start breastfeeding without batting an eye. The first ten times I saw it I was a little taken back but by now I'm pretty used to it. One time we were trackting and this lady answers the door with half her chest hanging out and she didn't even realize it for like 5 minutes haha. But yeah that's just Madagascar for ya. 

Me and Elder Olsen are getting along way well and the work is coming along. We're finally starting to get a little bit of a program so we don't have to keep tracting all day every day, but still we've got a long way to go haha. The members here are awesome. They gave us a list of like fifteen referrals so that'll keep us busy for awhile. They're way excited to have missionaries here again which is soo cool.

But Yeah that's about it for this week. I love you all and miss you a ton! 

31 October 2016

I Know Nothing

Well as most of you can tell I made it to Madagascar! It is freaking insane here! I see a ton of stuff that you would never see in America. (I wanna apologize now for spelling errors because I am trying to type on some weird keyboard.) But yeah the flight was good but way long! Im going to have jet lag for the next year but it'll be alright. 

This place is soon weird.  Like people just let their cows roam everywhere, people pee wherever they want, there are naked people everywhere. Wow what a place! 

I don't understand what anyone is saying which sucks sooo bad haha. I'm serving in an area called Ambositra. Me and my companion, Elder Olsen, are re-opening it after it has been empty for over a year. It is a way cool opportunity but it is super hard. We still don't have any progressing investigators because we haven't been able to tract really cause we've been talking with members trying to figure out what the area is like. It has been pretty discouraging but things will get better. 

The language is way hard haha. I still can't understand what anyone is saying which is super stressful. Other than that everything is going Way well. The people are super nice and we are like the only white peoople in the whole city so people always call us vazahs which is just foreigner. So yeah not much to talk about this week.  I'll have a lot more next time.

[A note from Hayden's Grandmother:  Hayden's Mission President's wife, Sister Foote, posted lots of photos.  I thought you might be interested in the following photos of a baptism in Madagascar.]

[If you are interested you can follow her on Instagram.]

26 October 2016

Elder St. John Arrives in Madagascar

He is there - after a 48 hour trip.
Love that he is still smiling.

Hayden with President and Sister Foote
They are very loving leaders.

Hayden with the rest of the arriving missionaries.  
Sister Foote is on Instagram as "momfoote" and she posts pictures of the missionaries often.

21 October 2016

The Lemurs are Calling

Manahoana everyone!

So this week was pretty much normal. Nothing important really happened except I got my travel plans!!! I leave Monday morning and we first go to Texas then London then South Africa and then we finally head on another flight to MADAGASCAR. So in total that travel time is around 48 hours which would be hard if I wasn't a man.

Apparently it's flooding season right now in Mada so when we get there it'll probably be covered in about 2 feet of water but really I'm so excited to get out there and teach some people. At this point I'm pretty much where I'm gonna be with the language in the beginning of the field so that's a terrifying thought. The teachers say I'm doing pretty good and that we're ready so that's cool. But I don't know if I feel ready haha. I don't think I ever will.

But lately my dreams have been filled with the beautiful images of lemurs calling my name, chameleons tending to my every need, and the screams of thousand of investigators begging me to baptize them. Too bad a mission's not like that at all haha. But seriously I'm so excited to get out there and hit the ground running. I just wanna get to work.

Anyways that's about it for this week! Next time you all hear from me I'll be in MADAGASCAR!!

Elder St John

P.S. Sorry I haven't sent picures yet here's some. ​

14 October 2016

10 Days Left

So to kick things off, this week was pretty amazing! We had David A. Bednar come and speak to us this week for a devotional and it was awesome, the spirit in the room was amazing and it was an awesome talk about how to better learn and use the teachings of General Conference. Other than that it was a pretty normal week. We did our first skype TRC (teach real converts) yesterday and that was pretty awesome. It was funny because the lady in charge came to our classroom and said we'd be having it at 7 pm, which is weird because we thought we'd be skyping with people in Madagascar and 7 pm here is 4 am over there. Well we didn't skype people in Madagascar :(   Actually half of our disctrict didn't even get to skype at all haha. They couldn't find enough people so only 2 companionships were able to skype. Me and Elder Passey got to but the guy that we skyped was a returned missionary who lives in Provo (classic). So we were just skyping this white dude while he was driving in his car to go shop for groceries or something so the whole time we were skyping him he was just driving (please don't skype and drive with a week old baby) and in a grocery store. It was still an awesome experience.

The language is coming along pretty well. It's still hard but I'm starting to be able to get a grasp on all of the new concepts and stuff. There's three different types of verbs in Malagasy, active, passive, and circumstantial. In English we only have active so it takes a little getting used to. But class time is awesome, Brother Evans has been teaching us some cool stuff about the culture of Mada. Apparently pirates are still a problem in the south which I mean I wouldn't mind being accosted by some pirates just for the experience. They are land pirates that pretty much just rob busses on the way to a city called Fotofana which is on the very south tip. It's not a problem anymore because missionaries fly to different areas now becuase the travel took so long. If you were going from Antananarivo to one of the cities on the coast it would take about a 16 hour bus ride, and flying down there is almost as cheap as taking the bus haha. So unless the pirates figure out how to hijack planes I'm pretty safe. Another funny thing about pirates is that aparently if there's civil unrest in Mada, we all get sent to Somalia which sounds much safer.

Another fun Malagasy culture fact is that apparently black magic is a pretty common practice over there. So our teacher told us that if anyone asks to take a picture of you and you alone in a creepy way DO NOT DO IT because they're most likely trying to use the picture to cast a love spell on you so that you'll fall in love with their daughter and give their family a white baby or something. This is one of the major reasons that white sister missionaries aren't allowed over their anymore... So apparently too many sister missionaries were being cursed or something.

Hearing about all of this makes me so excited to get out there. Not only the culture but the people. Our teacher told us that on an average day missionaries have around 8-12 lessons which sounds pretty insane. He also said that an hour of street contacting or tracting will result in about 55 new investigators (that includes their families) so wish me luck. 

We get our flight plans today so I'm so excited to get into the field but I'm going to miss the MTC. It's a once in a lifetime experience being so immersed in learning not only the language but the gospel. I've been able to be immersed in the gospel day and night and it's amazing seeing how strong the spirit can influence your life. Please everybody read the Book of Mormon every day. I promise it'll bless your life. Even if you only read for like 5 min. so what harm can come from it (nothing) seriously only the promise of eternal happiness will come from reading the scriptures and discovering the truth of it, and that sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

Here's a short testimony in Malagasy

Fantatro fa marina ny Bokin'i Mormona
Satria Fantatro ity, fantatro fa mpaminany marina Joseph Smith
Fantatro fa afaka mipetraka miraka ny fianakaviansika isika
Fantatro fa mitondra fifaliana ny filazantsara
Ny fomba iverinananstika amin Andriamaniatra dia amin'ny alalan'ny fivavahan sy mamaky ny Bokiní Mormon
Fantatro fa Tian' Andriamanitra Ianareo

Miss you all and love you!

   Elder St. John

07 October 2016

Kubb for Dayz

​​Manahoana everyone!

Well I made it to the halfway point of my MTC experience which is such a relief. It's all good here but I've got a sickness... and the only cure is the sweet embrace of a lemur. I think I'm slowly starting to go crazy here cause last night we had a study and planning session for like 45 min. for a day that's already been planned out. Of course I spent that whole planning session trying to convince my district that the world is flat... I drew diagrams and did some convincing math for them, but still some of the hard of heart and close minded weren't convinced. Maybe one day their eyes will be opened. 

This place gets to you. When you are with the same eight people 24 hours a day with no real source of entertainment outside of the gospel, you'll do anything to entertain yourselves. For some reason this one elder in my district named Elder Salmond has like 30 minutes of recordings of "big foot" noises. Apparently his family hunts big foot in their spare time and the sounds attract it. So while I was convincing them that the earth was flat we were able to listen to the soothing sounds of what sounds like a 80 year old smoker yelling at the top of his lungs for 45 min. Not gonna lie though it was probably the most fun I've had all week. Well except for Kubb (kooooob). It's the game that my whole district plays every gym time, aka the viking game. Pretty much all you do is throw wood at other wood. There's little pins and you have to throw them and knock them over. It sounds stupid but really it's the best game ever. 

This week has actually been awesome.  On Sunday BYU Vocal Point came for our devotional. Conference was cool. It was weird not being home but other than that it was really cool. The talks were really inspiring and made me wanna work harder to be a better missionary. 

The language is coming along pretty well. I can finally understand a majority of what's being said which is cool. It's an awesome language. A lot more poetic than English. I think that it has to be because they have like half as many words as English so most of their words are just other words squished together. For example: the word for agency is fahafahana misafidy, which literally translates to the opportunity or freedom to choose. The word for the gospel is ny filizantsara which means the good words or good message. The words for cross is hazo fijaliana which means the tree of suffering which is pretty cool. There's a ton more like that but I can't remember any of them haha.

It's been amazing being able to see how the gift of tongues works. Like seriously I can't even remember how to say my name is elder St. John, but I'm able to give a thirty minute lesson to an investigator 100 percent in Malagasy. I don't know how much of it actually makes sense but we're able to get the message across.

I miss and love you.

Elder St. John

PS: I'm trying to send videos but I don't know if they'll send (They're of us playing kubb.)​

30 September 2016

Full On Survival Mode

Manahoana Fianakavian sy namana!

So to kick things off I just wanna say that I got a cell phone so if anyone wants to call me or something the number is 911. Just kidding but I really did get a phone cause I got called as zone leader!!!!  Which I'm terrified now haha. We have one of the biggest zones in the MTC with just about 100 Elders and Sisters. We also have 7 different languages which is pretty cool. We have Malagasy, Tongan, Samoan, Marshalese, Kirabati, Fijian, and American Sign Language (I have no idea why they're in our branch but we love them). Anyways, this week the Tongan, Samoan, Fijian, and Kiribati districts are all leaving which means we're losing about 50. On Wednesday though, 65 new missionaries are coming into the MTC which is insane. So me and Elder Passey get the opportunity to take all of these missionaries through orientation and all of the getting-to-know-you stuff so wish me luck! 

Our investigator, Jacques, turned into our teacher. His real name is Brother Evans which is a real surprise since I was convinced that he was really from Madagascar and not a 24-year-old white returned missionary. Really the whole district was shocked... but we got a new investigator who's name is Solo (o's are pronounced like oo). She's been our teacher for the last two weeks so it's kind of weird teaching our teacher but she's a way better investigator than Jacques! We never got anywhere with Jacques but after the 2nd Lesson Solo already committed to come to church with us and stuff which is awesome especially considering that we're not allowed to use any notes so our whole lesson consists of a lot of hand motions and ummmmms. 

Brother Evans got really sick this week and is in the hospital for a few days but we've had some good teachers come in and teach us. The ASL teacher came in yesterday and taught us some good stuff. He taught us how to sign "I'm stupid" and since I'm like the first person all the new missionaries meet I'm going to tell them that it means hello. It's ok because their teacher told me to do it.

I'm getting so sick of the food here but I've gotta force it down because at this point I need every pound I can get. At lunch I turn onto full-on survival mode because every pound I gain will make it so I can survive that much longer out in the harsh wild of Madagascar. I'm not planning on dying out there so I'll need as much of a fat reserve as possible... So far it's not working though cause I haven't gained weight yet... Hopefully when I leave I'll be fat and ready to take on the world. 

That's it for this week so thanks for all the packages and stuff! If you want me to survive please send me fattening foods. It's for my survival I promise...

Tiako Ianareo. 

23 September 2016

Week 300290239409


So it's only been a week and a half but it feels like I've been here forever! The MTC's been pretty good to me. it's been tough but I'll get over it. This last week we really started to crack down on the whole language learning thing. It's pretty crazy trying to cram all of this info into your head in such a short amount of time. The language is coming though. 

We teach an investigator named Jacques every day and he's the most difficult investigator ever. He's a Catholic pastor from Madagascar. AKA a 25-year-old white dude who probably went on his mission there. But he just makes the discussions so hard! For example, the first few lessons went pretty well and he seemed to like the idea of eternal families and stuff but when we got into the restoration of the preisthood and the whole idea of three distinct beings in the Godhead, he started throwing scripture refrences and trying to disprove our preisthood line of authority saying that the priesthood line was never lost and that the priesthood power never left the earth. 

Now this wouldn't necessarily be a problem if, 1. we knew how to talk about all of that stuff in Malagasy; 2. If we could actually understand and address his concerns. And to make matters worse when we start talking about the Word of Wisdom, of course he drinks and isn't willing to give it up. He also won't come to church because he has to teach his own congregation on Sunday. But I think he'll come around. He's just giving us a tough time and trying to help us deal with stuff we're going to encounter all the time out there in the field. Funny story is that the first time we taught him he asked me if I was married, but I thought that he said how many other kids are in my family so I said 3. Turns out I may have just fueled the whole Mormon polygamist thing haha. 

The actual language itself is coming along pretty well. I'm starting to understand and respond to the teacher while she's teaching which is cool. Everyone in my district makes fun of me because I have so many flash cards to memorize the vocab, but we'll see who's laughing when Jacques commits to baptism. The language itself is pretty simple but the words are insane. One word can have 2 or 3 meanings based on where the accent is placed so the word lalana can mean path or law and the word Masina can mean holy or salty, which is funny cause the teacher didn't tell us that we were putting the accent in the wrong place so this whole time all of us have been asking Jacques if he's felt the Salty Ghost touch his heart. The language just takes a lot of practice and a lot of listening. Because a word can be spelled one way and sound completely different. In a lot of words you just drop off the whole last syllable or two. A tr makes a tch sound and a dr makes a dch sound and a j makes a dz sound so that's a little odd. 

The teacher is hilarious though.  She's from Madagascar I think but she speaks French, Portuguese, Spanish, English, and Malagasy. One day we were talking about what it'll be like on Madagascar and she starts joking around with this pretty heavy kid in my distract saying how when he gets back he'll be skinny or "Kelly" which is small in Malagasy. Then she looks at this pretty buff kid and says he'll lose all his muscle. Then she gets completely serious and looks at this super skinny kid and stares him directly in the eye and says, "You'll be dead." It was the funniest thing in the world cause it was the first time any of us had ever heard her speak English. She just really wanted to make sure that we all understood it or something hahaha. 

But anyways that's pretty much it for this week! I'm gonna start writing my testimony a little in Malagasy at the end of my letters so that you guys can see what the language looks like and how I'm progressing!

Fantatro Fa marina ny Bokin'i Mormona
Fantatro fa velonampaminany Thomas S. Monson
Tsapako fa Tia Andriamantra Aho
Tsara ny filazantsara
Fantatro Fa velona Andriamantra sy Jesoa Kristy

Veloma! Tiako Ianareo!

Elder St. John

16 September 2016

First Couple Days in the MTC

I'm doing way good! My companion's name is Elder Passey, he's from Bear Lake, Idaho. If you wanna know what he looks like just imagine an 18 year old Spock from Star Trek. He's a cool guy but he's way quiet which has its perks. He's starting to open up a little bit.

We've got eight missionaries in our district. They're all guys cause I don't think that they have any Malagasy speaking sisters. I have a roomate who's this huge guy and he snores way loud but at this point it's starting to be comforting. Kind of like white noise or something. We never really get any quiet around here cause we're on the same floor as all of the island missionaries so we've got a lot of Polynesians singing and playing their ukes. It could be worse haha. But the other elders in my district are awesome. They're all solid guys with good testimonies who are willing to work hard on the language which is awesome.

The language is insane. The teacher only speaks in Malagasy which can be a little overwhelming when you don't understand much of it. It's coming along though. We've only had two lessons and we have to teach our first investigator all in Malagasy. I'm pretty pumped to make a fool of myself but you never learn if you don't try. The language sounds really cool. Its' got a lot of influence from island languages, but it also sounds a little French and somtimes middle eastern haha. 

A little language info is that all verbs start with M which is awesome until you start realizing that every single verb sounds the same. If you wanna change it to past tense all you've gotta do is change the M for an N and if you wanna make it future switch it to an H. Other than that everything's going awesome! 

I decided missionaries are the weirdest people on earth and it'll take a little while to get used to all of it but it's starting to grow on me. We still haven't really even started a normal schedule yet so I'm sure when all of this orientation and introduction stuff is over things'll feel a little more normal.

Elder St. John

14 September 2016

Hayden Enters the Missionary Training Center

We had our traditional last supper before a missionary enters the MTC.
We will miss him but wouldn't have it any other way. 

13 September 2016

He is Now Elder St. John

Hayden was set apart as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to serve in the Madagascar Antananarivo Mission by President Lake.  President Foote is lucky to get this fine young man.

His brother has set a great example.  

So glad Spencer and Hayden were able to spend a few weeks together between their missions.

02 September 2016

Bountiful Temple with Friends

Chris Schmidt will serve in the England Leeds Mission.
Logan Cook will serve in the Puerto Rico Mission.
Johnny Schmidt will serve in the Scotland-Ireland Mission.
And of course, Hayden will serve in the Madagascar Antananarivo Mission.

I love that Hayden has such great friends and love how he chooses to spend his time.

Logan's mother, Kim Cook posted this with a great caption:  Perfect Day! #brothers #armiesofhelaman #england  #ireland #puertorico#madagascar #gonnamissthem

21 August 2016

Celebration of Hayden Prior to His Departure

This may be overkill, but here are some of the pictures taken at Hayden's home after his talk in the Bountiful Heights Ward.  

Evan Martin, Hayden, Logan Cook

St. John's

Kim Cook talking with Julie
It was super nice of Luke's parents, Mark & Ann Maeser, to come up from Lindon to attend.

Ryan Butters has been Spencer's friend forever.  Jordan is a new friend going to USU.

Ellie Mott

Dave, Chantel and Tanner came up from St. George and Kim and Jordan from Henderson, NV.

Beautiful friends of Hayden's

Zayha and Ammon, soon to be missionaries also.

Grandma Bonnie St. John worked so hard and did so very much.

Becky, Wendy and Cami

Melissa Mott, Chase and Mason Paxman

Luke and Katelyn Maeser

Lauren Bailey

Kim and Jordan Parker

Madi Mott and Sunny Cherie St. John (named after Hayden's Mom)

Spencer was not lacking for friends.

Grandpa and Grandma Cable with Hayden, Chantel, Julie and Kim

Beautiful Paige.  This sister will truly miss Elder St. John.

Tom and Julie Uriona

These two.  Hayden and Logan Cook.  Friends forever off to do great things.

Farewell to My Ward, My Friends and My Family

I, along with many others, thought Hayden's talk in Sacrament Meeting was one of the best talks ever given by a departing missionary.  Many who heard it have asked for a copy.  Hayden has given his permission to have it printed here.  

Hayden James St. John
Sacrament Meeting Talk Prior to Leaving on His Mission
21 August 2016

Brothers and sisters welcome, and to my family and friends I thank you for your support here today. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Hayden St. John and I’ve been called to serve in the Madagascar Antananarivo mission speaking Malagasy. And I am so excited to get out there and share this wonderful gospel.

Today I have been asked to talk on the power and importance of faith. Ether 12:6 states “And now, I Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of faith.” I love that scripture for two reasons the first being the definition of faith that he uses. He states that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen. I love how he used the word hope. He doesn’t say that faith is things which are KNOWN and not seen. He says hope. Moroni tells us that faith is not an absolute surety of the things which are not seen, but says that faith can be as small as a little bit of hope. In a talk in the April 2013 General Conference Elder Jeffery R. Holland shares the story of a young kid who tells him, “Brother Holland, I can’t say that I know the Church is true, but I believe it is.” Elder Holland then hugged the boy until his eyes bulged out and proceeded to tell him that only believing is nothing to be ashamed of.

Faith must always start somewhere and it will never start out with an absolute knowledge that the gospel is truth. Like it says in the children’s song, “Faith is like a little seed, if planted it will grow”. But constant nourishment is needed in order for a seed to grow. So where do we receive this constant nourishment from? Of course scripture study, prayer, and church attendance are all sure ways to grow your faith; however, sometimes more is needed. This is where the second part of Ether 12:6 comes in. It states, “dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of faith.” In this scripture Moroni is telling us that in order to receive a true witness we must endure our trials of faith.

Every one of us is in a personal storm of whirlwinds threatening our faith. We all have the opportunity to let these storms help to grow and build our testimony or we can let those same storms tear us down. In an April 2014 General Conference talk, Elder Neil L. Anderson compares these storms in life to trees. He states, “In nature, trees that grow up in a windy environment become stronger. As winds whip around a young sapling, forces inside the tree do two things. First, they stimulate the roots to grow faster and spread farther. Second, the forces in the tree start creating cell structures that actually make the trunk and branches thicker and more flexible to the pressure of the wind. These stronger roots and branches protect the tree from winds that are sure to return.” Later on in his talk he goes on to say, “I promise you that if you are faithful you will see these whirlwinds for what they are.... tests, temptations, distractions and challenges that will help you grow. And as you live righteously year after year, I assure you that your experiences will confirm to you again and again that Jesus is the Christ. The spiritual rock under your feet will be solid and secure. You will rejoice that God has placed you here to be a part of the final preparations for Christ’s glorious return.” Trials in life will always come. No one can escape temptation, pain, or challenges. These tests are the reason why we are on this earth. Like Elder Anderson says, these whirlwinds will make our roots of faith grow; however, even if our roots are deep and strong they can still fall if we haven’t anchored them in a sure foundation. Like in the children’s song, a house who’s foundation is built upon sand will not stand the test of time. Just as a foolish man builds his house upon the sand, foolish men now build their foundation of faith upon the knowledge of men, and when their faith is truly tested will surely fall. I know this because even as a young man, I have had experiences where I have had my faith tested and I have seen how some great storms in life can shake my faith but how those same stormy winds can also bless my life.

When my mom was first diagnosed with cancer I had confidence that the doctors and their knowledge of modern medicine in combination with fasting and prayer would provide a cure her. My heart was broken when I discovered that there was no more that the knowledge of men could do for my mom, and that Heavenly Father had a plan that was different than what I wanted it to be. After my mom passed away my foundation of faith had been shaken and I felt confused. Thankfully, unlike the man who had built his house upon the sand, I had the solid foundation of the Gospel. Even with the shallow roots of a 15-year-old I managed to stay faithful and anchored to the gospel and with the support of amazing family and friends, what could’ve turned out to be a loss of faith turned into a trial that strengthened my foundation of belief. At this point in my life I had never truly had a test of faith to this degree. I didn’t know God had a plan for me and I didn’t know whether or not my mom was just gone or if I’d ever be able to see her again. I may not have known, but I had hope.

I decided to root my faith in the gospel and study it’s teachings. My faith in the plan of salvation did not come to me through a huge miracle; rather it came through study and the fervent prayers of a broken heart. I still do not understand why everything happened. I do not know God’s plan, but I have faith and I trust in Him. I trust that even though something will be difficult and that I may not want to go through a trial or challenge, I trust that He knows more than I do and His plan is perfect. Even though I look back and still feel sadness because of this trial, I will never trade that experience. I know that my foundation of faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ will never fail me and I know that this and several other trials that came afterwards made it possible for me to grow my roots deeper and stronger allowing me to have the faith to leave my family and serve the Lord for two years.

The experiences and challenges that Heavenly Father has blessed me with to this point in my life will give me the ability to go and bear a testimony that is built through personally having to put my faith to the test. In order to have a testimony that will persist and even thrive in the strongest of storms we must anchor ourselves in the Savior Jesus Christ. If we anchor our faith in Christ and diligently study the scriptures and pray, we will be able to come out triumphant over all adversity.

Not only should we set a foundation of faith in Christ, we should use the faith and testimony of others to strengthen and uplift us. In the October 1999 General Conference Elder Winkle of the 70 uses an analogy to the redwood tree. And I know by now you’re probably all wondering what’s up with this kid and trees, but all I can say is that I love trees. Anyways he says that these trees are the tallest in the world growing up to over 350 feet, yet their roots only go down about 3-6 feet which in no way should support a tree that size. However these trees’ shallow roots intertwine with neighboring trees using each other to support. So brothers and sisters I challenge you to spread out your roots and support all those who are in need of it. A new convert or a struggling member with no supports from others can certainly use the support and strength of all of those around them. And if you are struggling in faith, please listen to the testimonies of all those surrounding you. Please do not give up hope.

Yet no matter how strong and faithful a member is the winds will come and some may fall. Their roots of faith uprooted from where they have based their whole life. My heart and prayers go out to all of you who have lost your faith. And I’d like too direct the remainder of my talk to you.

In the April 2016 General Conference, Deiter F.Uchtdorf says. ”It matters not how completely ruined our lives may seem. It matters not how scarlet our sins, how deep our bitterness, how lonely, abandoned, or broken our hearts may be. Even those who are without hope, who live in despair, who have betrayed trust, surrendered their integrity, or turned away from God can be rebuilt.” He continues to relate this message to the parable of the lost sheep. He says that

Christ is the good Shepherd and will leave the 99 to go find the one lost sheep. He says, “It matters not how you became lost—whether because of your own poor choices or because of circumstances beyond your control. What matters is that you are His child. And He loves you. He loves His children. Because He loves you, He will find you. He will place you upon His shoulders, rejoicing. And when He brings you home, He will say to one and all, “Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.”

But, you might be thinking, what is the catch? Surely I have to do more than simply wait to be rescued. While our loving Father desires that all of His children return to Him, He will force no one to heaven. God will not rescue us against our will. So what must we do? His invitation is simple:

“Turn ... to me.”
“Come unto me.”
“Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you.”

This is how we show Him that we want to be rescued.
It requires a little faith. But do not despair. If you cannot muster faith right now, begin with hope.

If you cannot say you know God is there, you can hope that He is. You can desire to believe. That is enough to start. Then, acting on that hope, reach out to Heavenly Father. God will extend His love toward you, and His work of rescue and transformation will begin.”

In another talk by president Uchtdorf He says “ doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.” Now many of you have already doubted your faith, but it is not to late to doubt your doubts. Brothers and sisters I hope that all of you who have lost faith will follow President Uchtdorf’s challenge and act on hope. I pray that all of you who have lost faith will open your hearts. In D&C 88:62-63 it reads “And again, verily I say unto you, my friends, I leave these sayings with you to ponder in your hearts, with this commandment which I give unto you, that ye shall call upon me while I am near.” “Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”

I’d like to leave you with my testimony that I know that if you ask the Lord, He will grow your faith. I know that this Church is true and that the Book of Mormon is true. I know that this gospel brings a joy and understanding that can be found nowhere else. I know that the gospel has changed my life for the better and I hope that all of you may be able to feel that same joy (say more if impressed). I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.