This past week has been pretty good, if a little crazy. Our area has now split (yes, in the middle of a transfer) and a Malagasy Elder who already served for a year and a half in the London South Mission who had visa problems (his name is Elder Nohaingoinaina) now has come back and is Elder Godfrey's new companion, so I am working full-time with Elder Bowler now. But, in all likeliness I am leaving Toamasina this next week for the new transfer, so we will see how this turns out.
But anyway, getting down to the meat of the email, we've got some good questions this week. I'm going to start with the third question, which is more wordly-based, and then get into the more spiritual aspects of the mission. So, the third question is about the political unrest that has been going on over the past few weeks here in Madagascar. This question takes a little bit of a background explanation. About five years ago, there was a military coup, in which a radio DJ-turned mayor of Antananarivo named Andry bought out the military, took over the government, and expelled the previous president (Marc Ravalomanana) from the country. But when no outside countries would recognize Madagascar unless they had an election, they did so and a man named Hery Vaovao (who was actually sponsored by Andry) won the election. But then, quickly after he was elected to office (which took place last year), he turned on Andry and started trying to get Marc Ravalomanana back into Madagascar, who had been living in South Arica for a while. And now, just last month, Marc finally returned to Madagascar. Now, the entire government has "resigned" for one reason or another, and the Air Force General has been named the new head of country. And now people are trying to throw Hery Vaovao into jail, as they say this appointment was unconstitutional. So, whether we like it or not, things might be getting a little crazy here in Madagascar politically speaking. We will just have to see how everything pans out with regards to the political situation.
Also, on a little side note, there have been some cyclones going around Madagascar as of late, so we've had a lot of rain, and a lot of flooding on paths. So, let's just say that more than one of my lessons in the past week have been taught barefoot with my pants rolled up to my knees. It's a pretty interesting and entertaining experience (especially when some of our investigators have never seen legs and feet with white skin before). You could say that I've been laughed at more than once in this past week... Ah well, izay ny fiainana (that's just life).
Now, onto more spiritual things, the second question is about when I felt the Spirit most this week. And I have to say that the times when I feel the Spirit the most is in lessons. I can't pick a certain lesson where I felt the Spirit more than another, but there is no doubt in my mind that the time inside of each lesson when the Spirit is felt the strongest is when a testimony is born. There was a general authority (whose name escapes me) who said that our testimonies are found in the bearing of them, and I honestly can't agree more. Yes, the Spirit is conveyed to the hearts of all those in a room when a testimony is born; however, it is my firm belief that the Spirit is felt most strongly by those who are doing the bearing. I believe this because I have felt it. When I have born my testimony in lessons, I have felt the Spirit so strongly there has been no doubt in my mind that what I was saying at the time was truth, whether it was in English or some language that I am only beginning to comprehend. The language of the Spirit is the same, as it communicates feelings to our hearts and souls, rather than specific words to our ears and minds. It is my promise aminareo tsirairay avy (to each and every one of you) that, if you bear your testimony, whether it is a feeling, a belief, a hope, or a knowledge of something, then the Spirit will confirm the truthfulness of your own words to your heart, and your feeling, belief, hope, or knowledge will grow because of it. I know that to be true.
Anyway, onto the third and final question of the day, which is about the times I have felt or seen the tender mercies of our Heavenly Father in my life here on the mission. In response to that, I honestly have no idea where to even begin. I have seen so many multitudes of little tender mercies here in my mission interspersed throughout my life. Different situations--such as finding a person we haven't taught in a while, or having another person be at home when we happen to stop by, or simply being able to communicate my thoughts and feelings fully in the Malagasy language--are tender mercies in and of themselves, sent from on high. That is, if I take the time to look at them that way. Because honestly, we go through our days sometimes, worrying about different things and this and that and all the different things that manahirana (cause to be busy/full/scattered) our lives. But, if we take the time to slow down and take in the small things, focus on the zavatra tafatranga (things that happen without influence of someone or being caused to happen, but happen naturally), then we will see that there are, in fact, hundreds of little tender mercies from the Lord each day. "Seek, and ye shall find". That applies to more than just answers to prayers. If we seek for the tender mercies of the Lord, then we will find that he blesses us abundantly with little tender mercies and blessings that just make things--if not easier--nicer and smoother. Of course life is still hard, as it wouldn't be life if it wasn't. But, the tender mercies of the Lord are always there for us, helping us, showing us that God loves each of us more than we can comprehend, if we but choose to look for them.
So, in closing, this is my challenge to all of you: firstly, please bear your testimony to someone in need of the Spirit and strengthen your own foundation in the bearing of it; and secondly, look for the tender mercies of the Lord that I know are in your lives.
Thank you all for being such an enormous blessing in my life, and for encouraging me beyond what you all can even know.
Am-pitiavana, araka ny mahazatra (with love, as usual)
Elder Hyrum Snell
|A fresh mango I pretty much ate off the tree. Quite delicious.|
|This is an investigator's kid named Frankie (there's already been a picture of him before, but he's adorable, so it's okay).|
|This is cute Elder Andrianaivo while on a split with me a couple days ago.|
|The beginning of the sunrise on the Indian Ocean, just behind the port.|
|Elder Andrianaivo with the sunrise behind. (He was the only one willing to get up early enough to go with me).|
|This is one of my personal favorites that I took of just the sunrise and the waves crashing onto the beach.|
|A selfie, which always has to be included.|
|A very bogosy be (very handsome) picture of Elder Andrianaivo looking off into the distance. And so, naturally, I had to follow suit and take a few of my own, which are the two following pictures.|
|FYI please ignore my hair in the dramatic shots I took. :) It was very windy, so my hair looks like a mess.|
|Another classic, beautiful sunrise shot from the distance.|