Elder Hyrum Snell

Elder Hyrum Snell

Monday, December 28, 2015

12/28/15- The Things That Matter Most...Aren't Things

Hey y'all! Tratry ny fetin'ny Krismasy, ary samy tratry ny ho avy e! I hope you all have had a beautiful and Christ-centered Christmas this past week, as I most certainly have. I have truly felt Christ's love this past week, even through the hard times. But anyway, let's talk about this past week.

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.

Elder Snell

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.

Monday, December 21, 2015

12/21/15- What Christ Means to Me

Hello everyone! As usual, this week has been pretty crazy, to be honest. I'll just start off by saying that I have officially worked in over FOUR areas in this single transfer alone. It's very weird getting bounced around so much, and it's hard to really put down some roots and work, but I'm doing my best.

Like last week, I'm still here in Tamatave, but things have changed up a bit. At the beginning of last week from about Tuesday to Friday, I worked with Elders Hammer and Nolan in their area of Morarano. But we got a surprise last Friday in the form of a new Malagasy Elder being sent in from South Africa. And since that made the number of missionaries even again here in Tamatave, I get to open a new area with a new companion. So now I will be working with Elder Randrianavalona, who was sent in from South Africa last Friday. Also, fun little fact: I am also working in my first area of Andranomadio. Again. Yeah, it's way weird seeing all the same people again, but it's fun now being able to communicate more effectively with them.

But anyway, I'll go ahead and start answering questions now. First off, I am pretty nice and settled into this area, seeing as I already know where almost everything is. Also, I have enjoyed working with a Malagasy Elder for a bit, as I get to speak Malagasy a lot more and have to explain lots of things differently than I normally would in English. So that's interesting and fun.

Second question kind of ties in with that as well, as those are some of the things I've experienced this week. Things like working with a Malagasy companion and working in my same area as I was in the training program, and other things that go along with that.

Thirdly, with regards to how church went: it was pretty good, as we had a lot of people show up, compared to how many people usually come to church. We had a whopping 118 people at church (don't judge, those of you in massive wards back in America who get many times that each week). It was also nice not having to really do a whole lot with regards to participation in lessons and talks and whatnot.

Now for the last question: what Christ means to me and to all of us. As far as that goes, this is how I would put it: for all of us, Christ is life. Christ is an opportunity for second chances. Christ, for us, means change. And that is what we remember at Christmastime. Christ didn't come into this world simply to erase our sins, but to change us and to make us better, and help us become worthy and willing to live in the presence of God our Father. Christ is called our Savior for a reason; He saves us from a fallen state and, if we are willing, He will bring us to a higher state of perfection, little by little, until we can become like Him. For me, I feel like Christmas is the time where we renew our willingness and desire to give our hearts and wills to Him, to allow Him to change us. Christmas is the time where we can remember what he did for us, and what that truly means for us. Because Christmas, for us, means that we can change, and become better, and overcome all challenges that we face, no matter how hard. And we are not consigned to be imperfect people for eternity, but rather, we have an eternal and unlimited potential for growth and progression. And that is all because of Jesus Christ, because He chose to come to this earth, be born, live, and then suffer and die for each and every one of us. And because He, of His own free will and choice, decided to go through all of that for you and me, we all are free to choose. We are now free to choose perfection, life, and progression, or choose the other path that leads to the opposite result. Like it says in 2 Nephi 2:26-27, man is free according to the flesh, to choose eternal life through the Great Mediator, or choose death and damnation according to the captivity of the devil. All of that, because of Him.

So, this Christmas, let us all give eternal thanks and show our gratitude for Him and for what He did for all of us, and commit ourselves once again to be more diligent in giving our hearts and wills to Him, so He can make us new. I know that He lives. I know that He loves each and every one of us, and I know that because of Him, we all can live again, have second chances, start over, change, grow, and fulfill our eternal potential.

"Joy to the world, the Lord has come." Let us rejoice, and all give thanks for the incredible gift we all have be given. 2 Corinthians 9:15 "Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift."

Until next week,
Am-pitiavana ho anareo sy ho an'ilay Kristy Velona (with love for you all and for the Living Christ),
Elder Snell

A nice view of the beach in Morarano where I worked for a few days this week. Also, in the one sideways picture, see all those little brown spots in the sand? Yeah, that's...well...a bunch of feces. Not animal, but human. Yeah, the nickname for that beach is called "Poop Beach". Very fitting.

A view of the port at nighttime when we went to the beach for dinner one night.

A centipede we found. Way big and gross.

A picture of me with a bunch of kids

One of the Morarano members with my badge "on" him. You know it's hot when plastic sticks to your skin. :P

My new companion Elder Randrianavalona.

Here's our "Christmas Card" coming straight to you from the beach province of Toamasina Madagascar!

Monday, December 14, 2015

12/14/15- Land of the Lemurs!

I think I have mentioned this before, but when Hyrum was about 2 years old he had a fascination with lemurs. This lasted for years! He loved everything about lemurs and I was constantly trying to buy every lemur thing I could find. Imagine our surprise when Hyrum opened his mission call to Madagascar, The Land of the Lemurs! I think his spirit was always loved the people and the land of Madagascar. His experience this week was a dream come true. Hard to believe it actually happened! Prepare for a picture overload! :)

Akory aby! Tsara be akory aby o! Hey all. It has been a bit of a crazy time this past week for me, as I have been going all over the place. Also, FYI, turns out I'm staying here in Tamatave until the end of the transfer. Wooo! But, despite it being very crazy, it has also come with several blessings and special opportunities though. For example, on the road to Tamatave, which I was traveling one week ago, there is a wonderful place called Andasibe. This is one of the most famous lemur parks in all of Madagascar, and President Foote gave us (the AP's and me) permission to stop there and check it out for a few hours. And that was SO AMAZING! Definitely WAY better than the zoo in Tana. I will for sure send pictures. Don't worry.

Also, blessings have just been coming from all over. Just last Saturday, I was out to lunch with the AP's on their last day here in Tamatave. And as we go up to pay, the lady says it's already been paid. And then she points to a random white guy who was sitting on the other side of the restaurant and said that he had paid for all of our lunches. So we went up to thank him and then all walked out, amazed at what just happened, because that NEVER happens in a third world country.

But anyway, now on to my mother's questions.
Firstly, I live in Tamatave now, in the Mangarivotra missionary house, which is not the one I lived in last time. I will probably be moving though at the end of the transfer, and will be getting an actual area at that point.

Second: I do not actually have a companion at this point, but they may just put me in a trio with a companionship so I can lend support. We will see, and I will probably tell you all next week.

Third question: my schedule will either be what I just previously said, which would be me working with a companionship of missionaries that could need some help, or I could just do splits for the rest of my time here in Tamatave, which would be pretty crazy. So I don't know, we will see.

Four. Actually, I kind of just answered this question already, sooooo... Yeah. I'll just continue

Five. My feelings about this weird change of pace and direction in my mission are a bit mixed, but mostly are with regards to one thing in general, and that is a feeling of gratitude for the opportunity. Please don't misunderstand me though, it's not a big assignment. It's already over. I was just paired up with the AP's for a week, going on splits with the missionaries, and even then I didn't have any authority or anything. And now that's over, so all I do now is chill here, working in Tamatave for the next three weeks, and then I'll get an actual area and companion. But anyway, besides that, I was grateful to President Foote for giving me that opportunity to work with several missionaries and help them in any way I could, as well as have them help me improve personally.

Anyway, that's about it for this week. I really did enjoy the opportunity I had to work with the missionaries here in Tamatave, and I had an awesome time doing so. The missionaries I specifically worked with are Elders Hammer (Orem, Utah), Monsen (Salt Lake), Rasmussen (American Fork), Maluleka (South Africa), Cyusa (Rwanda), and Maleka (Uganda), all of which are awesome missionaries in their own regard. It was good to see so many different personal styles of teaching.

But anyway, that's all for this week. Thanks to you all for being so awesome! Love you!
Elder Snell

The beach in Tamatave

New chapel in Tamatave
Elder Covey (one of the APs) and me in a posiposy

Cute kids in Tamatave

On the road to Tamatave, which I was traveling one week ago, there is a wonderful place called Andasibe. This is one of the most famous lemur parks in all of Madagascar, and President Foote gave us (the AP's and me) permission to stop there and check it out for a few hours. Here are some pictures from that experience below:

My shirt after the lemurs!