For Christmas, we taught a single lesson at about noon, and then went to the big new church building for a missionary activity, where we played some games and then cleaned the church as well as a bit of a service project. Then we went back to our house and made homemade hamburgers for dinner, all the while drinking some home-brewed eggnog (non-alcoholic, mazava ho avy), which I made and turned out AMAZING. (All Hyrum said he REALLY wanted in his Christmas package was nutmeg so he could make eggnog. His request humbled me.) So that was about it for what we did for Christmas. It was nice, and I really enjoyed it.
Secondly, with regards to my area: things are going pretty well out here, and the work has so much great potential here. But some of the problems are due to the fact that it is a recently opened area again, and we are starting with literally no investigators, and therefore have to find everyone on our own, which is a bit challenging. But it's okay, I know that if we work hard, the investigators will follow. So we will just keep working.
As far as stories go from this past week, there's not a whole lot to say, but we did have one really great lesson yesterday that I felt went really well. It was with a man named Lambert and his wife, and the thing that surprised me about them was just the fact that he was so willing to follow God's will. In our lesson, Elder Randrianavalona and I were teaching in unity pretty well, and we laid out the concept of the restoration very simply for them to understand. Then, at the end of the lesson, we asked them if they would follow God's will for them once they got the answer to their prayers with regards to the Restoration, and they just opened right up and said that of course they would, even if it meant getting baptized again. And for those others who are out there that are missionaries, you know that that very rarely happens. So I just really enjoyed that lesson time and Lambert's simple willingness to follow God's will for him.
Lastly, my mom asked me about my thoughts with regards to worldly possessions and how they have changed during my time here in Madagascar. And I would say that they have changed completely! To talk about that, I'm going to tell a little story. I hope my mom doesn't mind. (I don't mind at all. :) I continue to be taught by Hyrum in countless ways.) During our skype call this last Saturday morning for me, my mom made a comment about how we as a family had lived a pretty simple life, despite financial blessings that we have received. But for me personally, I didn't feel like that was an accurate statement. Yes, if compared to other middle class American families, my family life could possibly be described as simple. But I've been living in one of the top ten poorest countries for the past year plus. I have taught perfectly happy people who live in houses that are about five feet by five feet, which includes a bed and a few chairs. That's it. They have never been on vacation, they have never left their town. We are currently teaching the son of some members, who has been--up until this point--living in the deep countryside with his grandmother. They told me that when he came here to Tamatave for the first time, which isn't even an incredibly nice city to begin with, he grabbed his dad's phone and ran out to the road and spent an ENTIRE DAY taking pictures of the bicycles, cars, motorcycles, and building, which up until that point, he had never seen in his entire life. This young man is so grateful simply for nice things such as being able to SEE cars, even though his family doesn't have one. He is amazed by these things, and yet the house he currently lives in is only about ten feet by ten feet in area, which includes a bed, a table, a few chairs, and a dresser.
Do worldly things matter? No. Does having a nice house matter? No. Does even having new clothes matter? besides the fact whether they are the current style or not. No. I have met some of the greatest, happiest, and most content people in my life here in Madagascar, and none of them have a house bigger than the combined area of my front room and living room back home. So, here's the question: what matters most? And this, for me, is what matters most: family. Relationships. Time spent with those you love. Togetherness. And most of all, the gospel. The love of Christ. Our desire and willingness to follow Him. The people who have and feel those things in their lives will find peace, happiness, and lasting joy here in this life and in the life to come. I know that that is true, and I know that those are the things that matter the most.
This Christmas season, let us all remember what really matters. Not money. Not clothes. Not social status. Not how many friends you have on Facebook or followers on Twitter or Instagram. That doesn't matter. So just forget about it. Now, don't get me wrong, that doesn't mean you have to give those things up. But it means that you should use those technological tools in order to make the most of what truly matters in life.
I love you all and thank you for everything you do. I hope this Christmas was great, and hope that you make the most of the blessings you all have.
|Some guys we had a great lesson with on Christmas Day. I have a lot of great hope for them in the future.|
|The Malagasy "Santa Claus" which I personally think is kind of creepy.|
|I had a fun time picking coconuts out of a tree at one of our less active's houses.|
|The eggnog I made for Christmas which turned out way well.|