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.


  1. I need to read this email to my dogs so that they don't act so entitled and are a little more grateful ;-)

    Love you,


  2. Hahaha--funny Chantel! They'd be even more amazed at all the other money we spend on our pets in addition to food! I'm pretty sure my dogs have more toys than most kids there. Great letter today Hayden. What a different culture you are immersed in! I hope you have a very Merry Christmas season so far away! We sure miss you here.