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.