Elder Hyrum Snell

Elder Hyrum Snell

Monday, March 23, 2015

03/23/15- Honesty and Integrity

Manakory aby! Enga anie ka salama tsara ianareo izao! Raha tsy ohatra izany anefa kosa, dia mirary fahasalamana ary fotoana soa amin'ny ho avinareo! (Hey all/how are you? Hopefully you are all in good health at the moment. But, on the other hand, if that's not the case, then I wish you good health and easy times in the future!) Don't judge the English translation, FYI, some of the fomba fiteny (colloquial phrases) don't translate over to English well, so I gave it my best shot. And so, aza mitsara ahy (don't judge me). ;)

Anyway, things are going really well here in Ambositra, and the work is progressing pretty well. We actually are planning on there being a baptism this upcoming Saturday, so we are very excited for that! Our investigators Rauphin and Julie will be getting baptized (if all goes well). Also, one of our newer investigators--named Nahary--came to church this last Sunday, which was awesome! He is the brother of one of our stronger members, and is a young married man with a great wife and three cute little daughters. They would be an incredible addition to the branch, and a great pillar of strength as well. As far as other updates regarding the missionary work, that's about all at this point in time. I will be sure to update you all if anything major happens. Aza manahy! (Don't worry!)

With regards to the questions that were posted by my incredibly awesome mother: the first one is with regards to our eating situation, and the marketplace that we usually go to. As far as that is concerned, we mostly get just meat and produce from the marketplace, and you can get bread and other such things from most every epicerie or little shop that you find evenly spaced about every ten to twenty meters on the streets. I haven't really eaten anything new or interesting as of late, but I have seen some hotelys that have advertised the fact that they have tongotr'omby there to eat (that is cow feet, in case you were wondering), and that's been interesting me, so I may or may not be trying that sometime in the future. Hohitantsika! (We will see!)

Second question, which asks in regards to the Zone Conference that took place last week and as to what I learned from it. As far as that is concerned, the biggest single thing that I learned from Zone Conference would have to be the need for absolute, complete and one hundred percent honesty. That includes every facet of our lives, whether we are conducting business with a another person, talking with parents, or are simply alone in a certain situation, then there is still--and always will be--a need for intergrity and honesty. Our Zone Conference was focused on a talk given by Elder Tad R. Callister which covered the definition, need, and blessings of integrity. Elder Callister stated that integrity is the foundation of our character, and thus everything that we do is founded upon the integrity of our mind and actions. Elder Callister told the story of a man driving home from somewhere, and became thirsty. He drove into a gas  station, went up to a soda machine, and put in some money for the soda. But, to his surprise, out of the machine came the soda AND the money. Thinking to himself that the soda was "too expensive anyway" he quickly pocketed the change and drove off. But then, no sooner had he done so than the thought popped into his head, "Would you sell your soul for some change?" The man immediately thought that his soul was not worth some cheap change (obviously) and thus returned to the gas station, presenting the change to the current worker and explaining what had happened. Now, this story may seem extreme to use, and may cause us to think that keeping a little bit of change is not a big deal. I certainly thought the same thing when I first read the story. But then--and I am sure it was the Spirit prompting these thoughts to enter my mind--the scripture came to mind that "no unclean thing can enter the kingdom of God." I know that this scripture is true, and I also know that taking money from a defective soda dispenser is--as little and inconsequential of a sin it may be--still wrong. How many sins would have kept Christ from being a worthy Savior for us? One. How many sins can keep us from inheriting the Fanjakana Selestialy (Celestial Kingdom)? One. Let us just say that integrity is important. Our integrity can make or break our eternal salvation. So, let us be full of integrity, and have our lives and actions founded upon a solid foundation of integrity and honesty, rather than founding our lives upon rationalizations. I personally don't want to achieve anything lower than my full potential in respect to the eternities (and anything for that matter). I doubt anyone in their right mind would settle for something less than what is their absolute best, and what is the greatest possible outcome. Who would shoot for a C grade when they know they can very well get a perfect A? So, I ask all of you this week to make the most of your potential and begin building a foundation of integrity in your lives.
 I thank you all so much for everything you do for me, especially the encouraging words and thoughts you send me each week. You are all the best friends and family I could ever ask for!!!

Elder Snell

Two adorable girls at one of our investigator's houses.

The woodshop where I got the marketeurie temple pictures made of wood.

Two of our less-active members. The guy on the right is the most adorable old man ever, and has not one tooth in his mouth.

A waitress lady at one of the restaurants we eat at who always jokes around with us.

Selfies of me in a taxi brousse on the way to Anjoma. The Malagasies really know how to pack their cars full. In one of the pictures, the fifteen-seated car was carrying twenty-three people. So, yes, it was a little stuffy and cramped.

A picture with some friends at the restaurant, who like using props in their pictures (such as cake).

A cool picture of the misty mornings we have here in Ambositra.
The church in Anjoma.

Anjoma's washing machine.

Some artistic flowers that I like.

The cave that we went spelunking in (don't worry, it was completely safe).

Views from the mountain we climbed.

Monday, March 16, 2015

03/16/15- Life is Beautiful!

Hello friends and family! I hope you are all doing well. I know that we all have trials that are going on constantly, but we can choose what we focus on: the many blessings we have, or the trials that we are going through. I see people here in Madagascar constantly doing that: choosing to focus on the things they DO have, their family, their friends, their lives, a house (as small as it may be). I see people in absolute poverty struggling to simply make ends meet and get enough rice to feed their kids for a day. And yet they are incredibly happy, and that just amazes me. I know for a fact that none of us lives in a house that consists of one room that is about six feet by eight feet in area. I know that we all eat more than simply rice every day. There are many things that we can be grateful for, but we just need to look for them.

Anyway, this past week has been quite good, very enjoyable. I had two awesome opportunities this past week, the first being the chance to attend Zone Conference and learn from President Adams and the AP's how I can be a better missionary. We also got to watch the movie Meet the Mormons, which was a nice treat (and which I heartily recommend to those of you which have not yet viewed it). The second opportunity was to go to a Fisoratana (or legal wedding) for one of our members in Anjoma. He has been in some of the past weeks' pictures. His name is Ranjato, and he served in Johannesburg, South Africa. His wife is named Nirina, and she actually is returned missionary as well and served here in Madagascar, actually finishing her mission the day that I arrived here. But this last Saturday, when we went to Anjoma, we got to go to their legal wedding, and that was a cool opportunity to see what a Malagasy wedding is like. Don't worry, pictures are on their way. :) Also, this last week was the last week of the transfer, so we received transfer news last night. But Elder Delbar and I are staying here in Ambositra together for another transfer, so nothing too special there. It'll be a good transfer though, lots of good stuff planned for the future.

And now onto the questions that my mom poses every week. The first one asks what one of my favorite things about Madagascar is, whether it is the culture, the people, or na inona na inona (whatever). And that is a very hard question, as there are many things I absolutely love about the Malagasy people. But, as far as things that I truly love go, the biggest thing would be the fact that everyone is religious. And when I say that everyone is religious, I mean EVERYONE. Thus far, I have not found one person who does not believe in the existence of God and Jesus Christ. That makes our job here as missionaries much easier, as we do not have to try and convince people that God does exist and that He is our Father in Heaven and everything like that. They already believe that. We just need to add to their previous knowledge. But it just truly amazes me that the people here in Madagascar all feel the need for there to be a God. They literally all know that there needs to be a Creator and someone who is in charge. Even before Christianity came here to Madagascar, the people still believed in a God and that there were things that needed to be done here on earth. Fun fact: when the French came to colonize Madagascar, they found that the people were living several important parts of the Law of Moses. Weird... It makes one wonder where that came from. But anyway, to officially answer the question, that would be my favorite thing about the people in Madagascar: their faith. Their belief in God, Jesus Christ, and the fact that He loves us, and that He is our Father in Heaven, and wants us to return to him and receive eternal life. I have yet to meet a Malagasy that does not believe that. And believe me, I've met a lot of Malagasies! :)

Anyway, onto the second question which asks about my best lesson this past week, and why I consider it as such. And that is another hard question, because this last week, Elder Delbar hasn't been feeling so good, so we've been taking it easy and only taught about fifteen lessons in total, which is a lot less than our normal twenty-five to thirty lessons, so I don't really have a lot of options to pick from this week. :P But, I would have to say that my favorite lesson this last week was with our investigator Jean Paul last Tuesday while I was on splits with Elder Weber (one of the AP's). The reason for this is the fact that he told us that he actually has no problems anymore that are keeping him from attending church and getting baptized. He said that his cousin has completely changed now and, though he still doesn't like the church, has no problem now with the thought of changing faith and baptism. Also (and I can't remember if I already mentioned this), Jean Paul's Catholic father was signing him up for "priest school" in Fianarantsoa, even though Jean Paul didn't really want to go. But, last week, Jean Paul went in and stood up to his Catholic father and told him that he has found out for himself through prayer that our church is true and that he is going to switch religions. I thought I didn't hear him right when he first told me that. But, it turns out that his testimony of the truthfulness of the Church is stronger than we originally thought, and he made an incredibly hard decision by standing up to his Catholic father and telling him that he is getting baptized into the Church. So, that is my favorite lesson this past week, as it was very incredible and significant, as well as impressive that Jean Paul made that decision to stand up to his Catholic father. So, needless to say, Elder Delbar and I were quite happy when we learned that he can now get baptized (which is currently planned for the 25th of April). That was an incredible miracle that happened to us this past week, and I am so grateful for it.

And now, onto the third question, which asks what habits--or other things done on a daily basis--help me feel closest to God throughout the day. And honestly, the biggest thing may be more simple than expected. The two things that stick out to me and truly bring the Spirit and bring me closer to God every day would be a sincere morning and evening personal prayer to Him, and then reading at least a chapter of the Book of Mormon every day. Those two things, as simple as they may be, truly bring the Spirit into my life, and I can teach and preach more effectively because of it. Yes, other things like a good personal study bring the Spirit. But those two things are the simplest, most effective ways to invite the Spirit into my day. I have seen that time and time again, day in and day out. I promise each and every one of you that if you do those two, simple things--read the Book of Mormon, and then have a SINCERE morning and evening personal prayer to your Father in Heaven--then you will see blessings that you can't even comprehend begin to fill your life, inviting the Spirit and bringing the joy, peace, and comfort that comes with it. So I guess that's my invitation for the week that I want to extend to all of you: read the Book of Mormon, even if it is just a chapter a day, and then pray. Pray with all sincerity of heart twice a day. Both God, His prophets on earth today, and I personally promise all of you that, if you do those things, then there will be countless blessings that will enter your life and make your life a better, happier, and more enjoyable experience. Yes, we need to endure our trials here on earth, but we are also supposed to enjoy it. Life is beautiful! So please, take these small steps and make your life better. I know that it will become a more enjoyable experience if you do those things, and you will also receive the strength to endure the trials that you are going through. I know I have, and I couldn't have made it this far without God's help. So, always remember: God is knocking on our doors. We just have to follow His counsel and let Him in. So, please; let God into your life. You will be blessed because of it. I know that to be true, and so do countless others who all bear testimony with me of the truthfulness of that promise.

Anyway, that's all for this week. Have a great next week, and make the most of it! Most importantly, remember that I love you all, God loves you all, and that life is beautiful and meant to be enjoyed. So, enjoy this next week!

Hatramin'ny herin'andro amin'ny manaraka! (Until next week!)
Am-pitiavana mandrakizay ho anareo, (With eternal love for you all)

Elder Snell
Ambositra, Amoron'i Mania, Madagasikara

The marketplace where we get most of our food to cook with each week.

Cute kittens that I found.

A picture of me and the APs after our splits this week.

These are two temple wooden mosaics I had made (yes, they are literally wooden mosaics, and not painted or anything). One is for you and Dad and Mom. Take your pick. :)

This is the restaurant that President took us to after the Zone conference, which was EXTREMELY good. I got some ravioli which was fantastic! Too bad, it's in Fianarantsoa and VERY expensive, so, that was kind of a one-time thing.

Pictures with Elder Mack (ry namako malalako!) at the Zone Conference.

Smiling with Elder Mack!

Elder Delbar and I together with the newly weds.

The newly weds with their families and the mayor and secretary who performed the wedding.
These next pictures are all from the Fisoratana (wedding) in Anjoma, which was a really cool experience. I took a lot of pictures, so I hope you all don't get bored.

Party at Ranjato's house after the Fisoratana.

Party at Ranjato's house after the Fisoratana.

An adorable little girl at the wedding party.  I just had to take a picture of her.

More party at Ranjato's house after the Fisoratana

Monday, March 9, 2015

03/09/15- The Sign of True Conversion...SACRIFICE

Ahoana ny fandehana aminareo? Enga anie ka vita soa ny herin'andro, ary ianareo aby dia salama tsara ary mbola sambatra. (How's it going with all of you? Hopefully this week has been good and you all are still in good health and fortune (I know that sounds weird, but it's the best English approximation)).

Anyway, it was good to hear that things are still going very well for all y'all back in the States. As for me out here in ilay Madagasikara (the one and only Madagascar) things are going quite well. It was a very good week last week, and I'm excited to see where the future leads. Anyway, as a very good song (that I am not really allowed to listen to) states: "Let's get down to business and answer my mom's questions!" Wait, not quite sure if that's the right lyrics, but it's lose enough, and fitting for what I'm trying to say. Anyway, let's start with questions.

First off, as for sister missionaries serving here in Madagascar: yes, there are sister missionaries here, but they only send non-Caucasian sisters to the actual island of Madagascar due to the amount of abuse that past American and other Caucasian sisters have received. There are a lot on the island of La Reunion though, and some are Caucasian.

Second question, about flooding and cyclones here in Madagascar. I've heard about a lot of cyclones coming here or on their way, but have yet to see anything. There's no flooding here, and the weather's just been its normal, dreary, drizzly self (kind of like what I imagine Seattle to be like, though I've never been there). This is probably due to the fact that Ambositra is just a little town nestled into a small valley in the middle of the mountains, so I imagine the mountains have some impact on blocking the cyclones and the brunt of the bad weather from reaching us. Plus, we are a ways south of Antananarivo, so the weather is usually pretty different as well.

Thirdly, as far as home and visiting teaching goes, I always hear the branch council talk about it, and they do actually make assignments but I'm not sure how well the actual execution of the assignments goes. Here in Ambositra, if everyone fulfills their assignments that they are given, then that would be absolutely wonderful and it would be a very successful self-support system within the church. But, the members are far from perfect (as well as experienced, as the first missionaries came here to Ambositra in 2010, so the most experienced member has been a member for a mere four years). But things seem to be going decently well.

Anyway, that's all for questions this week, so I will continue on to stories. The biggest thing that went down this past week was the fact that yesterday (Sunday) was a holiday antsoina hoe Valo Mars (called the eighth of March) which is a holiday for the celebration of equal rights for women here in Madagascar. There was a very big party up at the main "commune"  area in the center of Ambositra, and Elder Delbar and I stopped by there for a bit yesterday afternoon to see what the party was all about. It was pretty cool, and some videos/pictures will be included later on. There was only one problem with Valo Mars though: literally like no one came to church yesterday. Our church attendance is normally around like sixty people. Yesterday, it was forty.  And literally only four women came. The rest were up at the commune partying or parading around the streets yelling about womens' rights. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE womens' rights. Very important. But, when it interferes with the progression of God's kingdom, I usually am not very happy with it. Also, another fact was reiterated yesterday, and that is that Anjoma is so much more converted than Ambositra is, for whatever reason. Remember, Anjoma is a small town that is literally the size of the Kays Ward (to give you a picture, you can walk from one end to the other in five minutes). But, yesterday in Anjoma, there were seventy nine people at church, which is very impressive compared to the meagerly forty one that attended church here in Ambositra. A little frustrating. People will only sacrifice as much as they are converted. And I guess that's something that's been a lot on my mind lately: true conversion. When people are truly converted to a cause, a religion, or a belief, they will do almost anything to follow it. For instance, if there is a party that is important to the country, but it conflicts with church, those who are truly converted will forgo the party for something more important. They will make sacrifices. They will forgo something now for the promise of something better in the future. And that's one thing that I've seen with religion. The promise we receive from this religion is literally eternal life, eternal happiness, and everything included in that. Yes, a womens' rights party is nice, but if you truly believe that eternal life is possible through this church, then you will put aside everything in order to simply attend the church meetings. Those who are truly converted would never put their eternal life on the line for the sake of a small party, a sports game, or anything of that sort. The sign of true conversion truly is SACRIFICE. Those who are truly converted to this cause will forgo all other things for the sake of this church, because they know what is at stake. Now, I am not trying to say that I am truly converted to the church and to this faith because I chose to serve a mission. That's not what I'm trying to say at all. But what I have found is that true conversion and sacrifice are two inseparably intertwined topics, one feeding off of the other. That literally is the way that we become more converted: sacrifice. And that is the way we gain the capability to make more sacrifices: we become converted. The more you sacrifice your time, efforts, and thoughts to something, the more converted you become. And the more converted you become, then the greater your capacity is to sacrifice everything you have for the cause. So, I guess what I am trying to say is this; I am definitely not truly and 100% converted. But the important thing is, I'm getting there. I am trying to stretch myself and sacrifice my time, talents, and efforts for this cause, and I have found that the more and more I do that, then the more and more I become truly converted to this cause, this church, this faith. True and absolute conversion doesn't come through a single, miraculous experience where God appears to you or you hear a voice telling you the truth of this belief. Laman and Lemuel from the Book of Mormon are excellent examples of this. But no, true conversion comes from experiences, effort, and the small, silent, but special confirmations of truth that are interspersed throughout the time you spend sacrificing for the belief. In other words, conversion comes from sacrifice. Hopefully that is mazava tsara ho anareo (very clear for you all) by now. So, I guess that is my invitation for all of you this week: make a sacrifice for this faith. Whether that means actually read the Book of Mormon and pray about it, do home/visiting teaching, miss a big football game for church, or something along those lines, I invite you to make those sacrifices. Out here in the mission field, I do my best to sacrifice my time everyday for God and for the people I teach, and I can promise you that there are incomprehensible blessings awaiting those who take the time to make sacrifices for the Lord. So, please, let's get our priorities straight and go to church. ;) Let's do the things that God wants us to do. If we do that; that is, if we make those sacrifices for the Lord and for His work here on earth, we will be blessed because of it. "Tsy ireo rehetra izay manao hoe Tompoko! Tompoko! dia hiditra amin'ny fanjakan'ny lanitra, fa ireo izay manao ny sitrapon'ny Raiko izay any an-danitra." Matio 7:7 Those all who say My Lord! My Lord! will not enter into the kingdom of heaven, but those who do the will of my Father who is in heaven. (Not sure how accurate that English translation is, but it makes sense in my head.) But anyway, that is my invitation to all of you. Do the Lord's will: make some sacrifices for this cause. I know that you will be blessed because of it, and I know that true conversion will come of it.

Hatramin'ny herin'andro amin'ny manaraka! Until next week!

Elder Hyrum Snell

Pictures from the Valo Mars Party

Valo Mars Party

My shoes before and after shining.

A stairway to nowhere.

Rice paddies in Anjoma

Rice paddies in Anjoma

Rice paddies in Anjoma

A picutre of me and returned missionary Ranjato who is from Anjoma.

Two pictures of me with Ranjato's mom, who is the branch president's wife. She is awesome, and VERY converted to the gospel.

I've been getting destroyed by fleas lately. Turns out they've developed an immunity to permethrin, so looks like I'll just have to deal with it. :)

Monday, March 2, 2015

03/02/15- Baptism in a River and a Living Prophet

Hello everyone!

Another week gone to who knows where, and here I am again sitting in the cyber thinking about creative ways to start my email to all of you, and yes, this current sentence is the best I could come up with. :) Learning Malagasy really saps my creative abilities (not that there was much to begin with, but oh well). Anyway, this past week was VERY very cool, and I am excited to tell you all about it. As my mom's questions effectively cover everything that I want to convey, I will dive right into the aforementioned questions.

First off, our baptism this last Saturday and details about it. We had a baptism for two investigators in the small town of Anjoma, and since the actual church is just a couple of small wood buildings, there is no font, not even a portable one. So, instead, we made a four kilometer trek over a mountain to a river and waterfall, where we did the baptism. And that spot was absolutely GORGEOUS. Wow, I don't think I'll ever forget that place and the accompanying experience. As far as the eye could see (and you could see pretty darn far) there was no signs of civilization: no houses, no roads, nothing. Just rolling hills, mountainous forests, and green as far as the eye can see. Because of that, I feel like the baptism had a very special spirit to it. You're just so far away from everything, and just in the moment, with a bunch of branch members gathered around singing hymns by a mountain river, about to help a few people enter into the gate that leads to eternal life; there's nothing quite like it. Probably one of the coolest experiences of my life. And don't worry, there are many pictures that are on their way, and will be attached momentarily.

Second question, as for investigators that need prayers, there are two families in particular that come to mind. The first are two "eternigators" as they are called in the mission. They are investigators who have been learning for over five years now (they are more experienced in church matters than most of our actual members, since they've been coming to church longer). Their names are Annika and Arline, and the reason they haven't been baptized yet is because Arline is currently still married to another woman besides Annika, and the woman will not sign for a divorce. It's possible to get a divorce without his old wife's consent, but it is very difficult and very very expensive. So, they are very much in need of some prayers and help sent their way. And so, if I may, I'd like to ask all of you to pray for them if you can. It would mean the world to me and to them if you all would do that. Also, there is a new family that we found while street contacting that has been progressing very, very quickly. In fact, they came to church after just the first week of teaching them, which is pretty much unheard of out here. Their names are Liva and Olga, with their two little kids being a girl who is four years old and a boy who is eleven. I would also appreciate it if they could receive some added spiritual help from you all. I understand if you all are busy, but anything is appreciated, for both Annika and Arline and Liva and Olga. Thank you all for your support! You are all truly the best ever.

Third question; we do not ride bikes, but just walk everywhere. I have to say that my legs are getting pretty darn toned from all the walking up and down and over hills and whatnot. It's a nice workout.

Anyway, before I answer the last question, which is of spiritual content, there's a few small stories I wanted to tell. First of all, we met two Peace Corps members last Monday during dinner. They were way cool, and I really enjoyed talking to them. They were atheists, so we had some pretty good discussions on religion and whatnot. The man there actually used to be a member of our church, but then left for several personal reasons. It was a very interesting conversation, and I especially felt kind of sad because of their perspective that there's no life after death. I've expressed before that sad fact, and last Monday just reaffirmed my feelings about it. But anyway, that was kind of cool, especially since they learn Malagasy as well, so it was pretty weird talking to two other white people who aren't missionaries in Malagasy. We certainly got some weird looks from the Malagasy people passing by.

Anyway, second story was just kind of a funny side note, but last Wednesday we had a drunk man stop by our church while we were there at a small branch party. He said that he wanted to learn how to play the piano. We told him to come to church and then we could talk then (when he wasn't drunk) and then we could talk more. He told us thank you many times over, and then went to shake our hands. As we did that, he leaned down and kissed our hands. Not like the old-fashioned way, being all proper and whatnot, but like planted a big sloppy kiss on the back of my hand. Let me just say that I quickly went and dumped half a bottle of hand sanitizer on my hand. Not sure it was enough, but let's hope so for the sake of my good health. It was pretty gross, but at least I haven't fallen into sewage yet. There have been some missionaries which have experienced that, and I do not envy them. We'll hope for the best for my future, but we will see.

Anyway, onto the next question, and more spiritual matters; more specifically, about the gospel topic that seems to touch the Malagasy people more than others. And honestly, the answer probably isn't what you'd think. The thing that tends to stick out most to people is the fact that we have a modern, living, breathing prophet in these latter days. It's interesting that that sticks out to them so much, but they are always quite interested when we tell them that there is a modern prophet who has the authority directly from God to receive and relay revelation directly from God to all of mankind, just like in the Bible. They are always gaga be (amazed) when we tell them that. And then they get suspicious and ask how that can be, and then when we teach them about The Restoration through Joseph Smith and how the Priesthood was restored as well, it is always very clear to them, but they are still a little hesitant. But then we share Matthew 7:15-20 about how we can know whether a prophet is true by their fruits--that is to say, their teachings, the things they do, sns (etc. in Malagasy)--and then teach them about the Book of Mormon, as well as invite them to church. Because honestly, that's the only way that they can know whether our message is true or not. If they  try and experience the "fruits" of the prophet Joseph Smith and ask God about their truthfulness (manandrana ny voaktry ny mpaminany Joseph Smith ary mangataka amin'Andriamanitra momba ny fahamarinanythen) they will receive the answer to their prayers that it is true. It's so simple, but sometimes it's the most frustrating aspect of the mission. People will just believe what we say and not even follow our counsel to ask God whether it is true or not. A lot of the time, the Church gets a lot of criticism for blind following (the Peace Corps guy actually brought that up) but the problem is, we don't want people to blindly follow our beliefs. We want them to sincerely question it and ask of God whether it is true. That way they will actually find out for themselves whether our church is true or not.

But anyway, the fact that there is a living prophet is the thing that most amazes and interests Malagasies. I just wish they were more diligent in finding out for themselves whether that is true or not. Because, honestly, it's so simple. You ask, and then you receive. Matthew 7:7 "Ask, and ye shall receive; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." It's that simple. And I know that it is true. How? Because I've already done it. I truly asked and searched for the answer for myself, rather than simply blindly following. And so that's what I ask all of you to do. Don't just follow the crowd. Ask. Pray. And then receive. It is a very simple equation, so I think you all can handle it. ;) Even the Malagasies can handle it, and some of them have less than a fifth grade education. I promise each and every one of you that the answer WILL come, if you all but only look for it. So, please... ask. That is it. I know that to be true, because I have seen it change the lives of those who followed that counsel, the most special and personal being my own. I have received countless blessings and unexplainable happiness because of the answer I received. There is literally nothing that could make searching for the answer negative. The only things that can come from it are good. So, please, take that step, and ask your Father in Heaven. I know He will answer you.

That's it for this week's email, so, until next time!

Elder Hyrum Snell

Elder Delbar and I with the people who got baptized. Sorry, my eyes are closed. :P

This is me with one of the men getting baptized and his family.

This is  Elder Delbar and a Dadabe who came to the baptism. I am very proud of this picture, so I hope you all enjoy its incredible artistic-ness.

This is where we did the baptism
A lesson with some recent converts in Anjoma. Such kind people, and always wanting to take pictures.

Those getting baptized

A very good view of Ambositra. Yes, that is pretty much the entire town in the background there.

This is a picture of Anjoma and the surrounding mountains. Yes, those little houses make up all of Anjoma.

Andry and me. He actually just left for a mission in Cote d'Ivoire yesterday evening. He'll be a stud, but he really didn't want to smile for the camera. 

Two pictures of us doing some stereotypical tracting (completely staged of course). :) It was still fun though.

These are the mountains as we were walking up to the mountain river for the baptism in Anjoma.

Our church building on the inside.

This is our branch president singing karaoke at a branch party.

These are two pictures of the small group of people who came to the branch party, with me being obviously front and center, being the only white boy. Ah well. :)

A cute puppy.