Hello everyone! Za dia salama tsara amin'izao, ary enga anie mbola salama tsara ianareo koa, ary mandeha tsara ny fiainanareo. (I am in good health now, and hopefully you all are in good health as well, and that your lives are going well.) As always, good to hear from you all. I got a few handwritten letters this week, and that was a nice, pleasant surprise. Thank you to all those who write me, I really appreciate it!
Anyway, got a few questions this week, which I will take time to answer right now. First off, Mom, I would enjoy some of my friends emails to read, and would appreciate it if you sent some of them occasionally. Secondly, yes, mom, I am taking my vitamins everyday and am trying to drink enough water. :) Also, I am trying to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, and try to get the nutrients I need. No need to worry about that, Mom. ;) Next, yes, I have gotten your Christmas packages, and some of your letters too, as well as some letters from other people. I figure a written letter takes about a month to arrive, and packages about two. Next, as far as feeling the Spirit strongly, it was during my personal study time in the mornings. Just the feelings of comfort and peace and joy that I feel when reading the scriptures help confirm every day that what I am reading is true, and the church that I am serving for is truly God's kingdom here on earth once again, restored through the authority of God (the priesthood) to organize His church here on this world. I know that is true. There is no doubt in my mind about it. Now, that doesn't mean I never have doubts that come into my mind, or thoughts of "what if..." that bounce around in my head. No, that happens everyday. But the difference is that I know where those thoughts come from, and I will tell you: they're not from God. They are Satan's attempts to try and destroy the testimony that I have. The problem is, those thoughts only increase my testimony of this gospel, because why would Satan waste his time trying to direct me away from something if that thing wasn't of God, true, and right? He wouldn't. And so, because I feel doubts about this gospel, I know for a fact that it is true. The fact that Satan strives everyday to make me doubt it only confirms its truth more in my mind. Anyway, that was a long tangent. Sorry about that.
Now, onto the stories of the week. There are two big ones, both entertaining and the second being slightly unnerving. Before I begin, allow me to set forth this qualifier: Mom (and all other concerned family/friends), don't worry about me after hearing the second story. I'm fine, healthy, and everything is going well now.
On that note, here we go with the first story. Elder Christiansen and I had some extra time between lessons, so we went tracting (knocking on every door we see and spreading the message). Anyway, we get to this ladies house, and she just tells us to go away, because she says her husband is "marary" or sick. As we start walking away, her husband comes out. Turns out he's a middle-aged French man who is drunk out of his mind (hence the label of marary). As he comes out, he starts swearing like a sailor at us in French (for whatever reason, Elder Christiansen knows all the French curse words...weird...). So, we just start walking away from him, but he continues to follow us, and then grabs Elder Christiansen's bike's handlebars. We don't think much of it though, and just try to keep walking away. But, then he mounts Elder Christiansen's bike and says he won't get off until we give the bike to a couple of small Malagasy kids watching the exchange. So then, in Malagasy, we plan with the kids that if they take the bike, we'll leave and meet up with them in five minutes down the path so we can get it again. So we leave, they take the bike from the French guy, and we meet up down the path. And all's well that ends well.
Now, for the second and more interesting story of the week. First, I'll need to start of with some background information. One of the old elders who recently left our house was a Malagasy, and not very clean. He showered about twice a week, and for like ten seconds each time. Consequentially, he bred a colony of bed bugs in his mattress. So, when Elder Turner (the new elder in our house, who's been out about a year) came, he found a lot of roommates living with him, instead of just his companion. So, we started searching for permethrin, the usual chemical we use to kill bugs, because it's super dangerous for insects but does absolutely nothing to people once dry. But, sadly, we could not find it ANYWHERE. We looked all over Tamatave, to no avail. So, in desperation, we asked one of the workers at the store we were currently at if there was any sort of safe pesticide that we could buy. He quickly directed us to some small bottles on a nearby counter, which we found would kill the bed bugs. So we purchased a few bottles and went on our way back to the house. We diluted it in a spray bottle of water, and then continued to spray about every piece of fabric in our house (besides our clothes). Then we quickly leave, as we wanted to get out to work and teach some lessons. After our second or third time, we get a call from one of the elderly couples who work in the office, telling us to check what the chemical actually is before we spray it around our house. A little peeved at the interruption to our teaching schedule, we go to the cyber (internet cafe) to look up the chemical. Turns out, it was a good idea... We found out that the active chemical--named Dichlorvos--is a fairly dangerous pesticide that was banned by the EPA back in the 70's or so, and is actually derived from neurotoxins used in World War II... So, that came as a bit of a surprise. Long story short, we ran quickly back to our house, put on some towels over our faces, and--looking like members of Al Qaeda--ran back into the house to quickly open up the windows and air it out. Then, taking some essentials, we went over to the other missionary house in Tamatave to sleep there for the night. It was a bit of a restless night, but that's okay and fairly understandable considering the situation. Anyway, we headed back home the next morning to a home that was safer than the previous day, and proceeded to do our best to clean the house of all the chemical and clean all of our bedding and furniture. It took a while, but our house is now clean and back to normal. Now, after reading that story, my disclaimer previously given is probably now somewhat more understandable. But I would again reiterate what I said, that we are completely fine, and there are no long-term effects from the chemical, so I am completely fine. Mom, please do not get an ulcer over this. :) I am in absolutely no danger. But, I figure while I'm giving slightly alarming news, I might as well mention the fact that there has been a slight outbreak of the bubonic plague in Antananarivo. Nothing to worry about yet though, because that disease has actually been alive and well in 'Tana for quite some time. Anyway, Mom, this is specifically to you: DO NOT WORRY. I am telling you this against my better judgement, and the only reason I am mentioning these things is because you made me promise to do so. There really is nothing to worry about. I promise.
Anyway, quick update on our investigators: things are still going well, but we have had to let a few less-than-diligent investigators go, so we will be doing a fair amount of tracting the next while to try and find some new investigators. Our most solid investigators right now are Aldo and Jean Pierre. Aldo comes to church every week, we have yet to get Jean Pierre to church, but that's okay; we'll take what we can get.
So, that's been this past week. Pretty eventful, and kind of crazy, but everything is all okay now. At least I'm not sick anymore. :) This is Elder Snell, signing off until next week!
Veloma ny namako malalako!
|Here’s a picture of a chameleon I found.|
|This is a picture of me posing with another chameleon I found. He was feisty, and constantly trying to bite me. So that was fun!|
|This is my new proselyting outfit (compliments of Elder Mack.)|
|Elder Christiansen and I in a pousse-pousse.|
|This is a picture of a WC (water closet, aka bathroom) that I used the other day. Yes, that little hole in the wood in the middle is where you go. And no, there is no seat. You squat. Quite interesting and hard to use, but we make do… :)|
|This is my lunch yesterday, which consisted of a bag of litchis. Quite good, but also quite messy.|
Anyway, that's all the pictures for this week! Thanks for tuning in, and I hope to hear from all of y'all again next week!