I hope you all have had a great holiday season, and enjoyed spending time with those you love most. I'm not going to lie, but it has been hard this Christmas season for me, being so far away from the people I love most here on earth (a.k.a all of you), but it is okay, because I am serving the One who loves me most, and other children who He loves. I don't yet love them as He does, but that is what I am working for, and I know that--if I continue to pray and work towards that perfect love--then I will receive the ability to love and serve and sacrifice the way that He would want me to love and serve and sacrifice for His beloved children here in Madagascar.
But anyway, to the questions posed by my mom in her last email: Firstly, I spent my Christmas Day walking around our entire working area, showing Elder Bowler (my new companion who doesn't know the area yet) where our investigators are, because none of them were home or willing to learn, due to Christmas parties (which go on for several days here). So that was a little rough, and long, but it's okay. Christmas Eve was great, as I got to Skype with my family. Next, I'm going to answer the third question; no, we did not teach Aldo, but he did get back from Antananarivo last week, so we will be teaching him tomorrow. And now thirdly, what I have learned about how the Lord communicates to us through the Spirit; the biggest thing that I have learned with regards to the Spirit over the past few months is that God sends us His feelings of love, comfort, direction, and guidance--through the Spirit--when we are in need of those feelings. If we are on top of the world, doing great things, following God's vision for us in this life, and are feeling His love, He's going to let us go on our own, and continue to find our own way. Think about it with regards to an earthly parent and child. If the child is learning how to walk, and is walking fine, do you grab their hand and try to guide them? No. You let them go and give them an opportunity to learn on their own. You may call out encouraging words, but you don't lead them step by step. This is the same with our Heavenly Father and the guidance, comfort, and help He sends our way. If we don't feel His Spirit constantly, it may be that we aren't in need of it at the moment, and should simply continue with what we are doing. I've felt that a lot on my mission (seeing as the mission is obviously the path God wants me to take), and I've come to realize that, while I will get small, loving confirmations as I continue to do the things God wants me to do, the majority of the time I will simply feel peaceful with what I am doing. On the flip-side of this, though, there have been times where I really do need help, when my faith, strength, diligence, and heart were wavering. In those hard times--those times when I've felt down on myself, or like I couldn't continue--I always have felt direction and love from God. In my need, God sent me His love, His guidance, and His Spirit. That's the glorious thing about the love of God: it always comes to us when we need it. It will always be there, if we only but look for it. I promise all of you that whenever you are feeling down, weak, inadequate, or anything else, God will send you the Spirit and a confirmation of His love for you and His confidence in you and your abilities. "No one is destined to fail"--God, through the mouth of one of His modern-day prophets. Why would God take the time to create you if you couldn't do the things that are asked of you? He is God: perfect, infinitely powerful, and all-knowing. He doesn't make mistakes. We are no exception. Why would we be? We are His greatest creation, after all.
Anyway, that is what I have learned--and the testimony I have gained--about the characteristics of God's Spirit, and the way He works. Now that the Spirit has hopefully been brought into your lives (if it hasn't, read that last paragraph, you cheaters), I will tell the biggest story of the week. It actually occurred last Monday, though after I had already sent my email of the week. But, this story needs a little background. So, as most of you know from some of my previous letters, power outages are quite common here, and on this past Monday the power had been out for about two and a half to three days straight. On this last Monday evening, Elder Bowler, Godfrey, and I were sitting in a hotely waiting for our dinner when Elder Ahlstrom and his companion Elder Razafindretsetra come in from the nearby missionary house in the Mangarivotra. They then proceeded to tell us that the people were quite riled up about the power outages and were rioting a ways down the street. They had already thrown rocks through the windows of the power company's headquarter's building. They said that it would probably die down soon, but to just be on the lookout and be careful. So--a little on-edge--we proceeded to eat our dinner. Then, as we were in the middle of eating, we heard some yelling and screaming outside of the building we were in. As we look out the windows to see what is going on, the owners of the hotely quickly close the doors and windows, placing large bars on them to lock them in place. We talk to them and ask them what's going on, and they say that there is a big riot going on due to the power outages. After a while, the noises seemed to die down, so the owners opened the doors again. We quickly finished our food and looked out to see what was--or what had been--going on. As we go out, we see piles of tires the size of a car, all of which are on fire, set in about fifty yard intervals down the main road for about a kilometer, with lots of people who appeared to be quite angry and riled up standing around them. We decided we were not going home to our own house that night, and quickly slipped down a side path which led to the other missionary house. This was a good decision, because as soon as we got to the house, the police arrived to stop the riots. To make a long story short, let's just say that the gunshots and yelling continued until about one in the morning that night.
So yeah, that happened. Pretty crazy, pretty scary, but no one (at least no missionaries) got hurt. But we did have to head home early on Tuesday, due to rumors of more riots. Needless to say, our stats aren't too good this week due to riots, Christmas, and lots of drunk people who were not willing to learn about the gospel. Fa izay ny fiainana. But that's life. It's okay. And anyway, that's what my week has been like. Riots, Christmas, and drunks. :) There aren't really any stories about funny drunk people, but just a lot of people who were either unwilling to learn or passed out and therefore unABLE to learn. But it's not a big deal. Next week will hopefully be better.
But those are the things which took place this past week out here in good ol' Madagascar. I hope that this past week held much happiness, joy, and love for all of you.
Until next week,
Elder Hyrum Snell
|Picture of a bed being moved by pousse pousse.|
|Picture of a cop directing two-way traffic. Nice use of the law enforcement, right? :)|
|Picture of our filter after we changed it.|
|Elder Bowler taking a nice power-nap.|
|Elder Godfrey and a little Malagasy member.|
|An American guy we met who works on the mercy ship. He is an absolute stud, and I hope we can plant the seed of the gospel in him while here.|
|Picture of my new soap. Yes, it really is made of tobacco. And yes, it does a great job, smells good, and is WAY cheap (like five cents).|
|A little member boy wearing a tie and Elder Bowler's name-tag. So cute that they start missions so young nowadays.|
|Field of pretty flowers.|
|Picture of the guard at our church, who is looking very epic, looking off into the distance like that.|
|Picture of a truck in a very small path, which is the only exit from one of our times, so we ended up standing there for about twenty minutes, waiting for the truck to move.|