Anyway, this week has been filled with ups and downs and goods and bads, but that's just how the mission is. All in all, it's been pretty good. June 27, this last Friday, was the Madagascar Independence Day, which was quite interesting, and we had to go home earlier than usual as well. But I'll talk more about that later.
To answer my mom's questions, first off, the weather here is pretty unpredictable. It really just depends on the day. Some days are fairly chilly, so I will wear a sweater on those days. But then you've also got days like today, which are quite hot, and I've been sweating even with my P-day shorts and t-shirt. So, Madagascar is pretty crazy when it comes to weather. But, good thing is that it is the dry season right now, so now massive rain storms (knock on wood) yet.
Secondly, my new apartment is quite nice. It's pretty small, but I like it, and it's big enough for us two to live in. It has a GLORIOUSLY hot shower, that I have enjoyed time and time again, every single day. But yeah, I'll have to send pictures next week of our apartment, as I didn't take any this week.
For the third question, my mom asked about the VERY nice four to five-star restaurants that they have here in Tana. As for that, they are very expensive for the missionary allotment, and so we hardly ever go to those places. Only maybe once or twice a transfer. But then we can compare the price to American dollars and a good American restaurant of similar quality. For instance, the nicest and most expensive restaurant that I've heard of here in Tana is called Carnivore, which is a great meat place that does all-you-can-eat meat, somewhat similar to what they do at Rodizio Grill, without the limeade though. But, from what I've heard, Carnivore is very very good, and measures up to its four or five-star rating. That all-you-can-eat meal is about 44,000 Ariary, which sounds like a lot. But then, compare it to the American dollar. That's less than $15, and that will buy you an all-you-can-eat meal of five-star quality meat here in Madagascar. And that's the most expensive place I've heard of. But, the more usual restaurant that you'd go to that is still way nice would be around 12,000 to 15,000 Ariary for a great steak and fries, pizza, or something of the like. And that's less than $3. So, needless to say, Madagascar is the place to be as far as vacationing goes. The only problem is getting here... That $3,000 plane ticket does present a problem. Ah well.
Anyway, fourth and final question. My mom asked about standing as a witness of Jesus Christ in all times, places, situations, etc. etc, and what that means to us all as missionaries and members. As far as that goes, the biggest thing that comes to my mind is the baptismal covenant, where we all promise to bear Christ's name, to be examples of him. In Malagasy, it says that we must "mitondra ny anaran'i Jesoa Kristy" which literally translates to "bring the name of Jesus Christ." And that is what is really means to be His witness. We must bring His name with us, wherever we go, whatever the situation is, and whenever we may be presented with situations to leave that covenant. God has trusted us with His Son's name. It is still our choice though, whether or not we bring His name with us to certain places, situations, or events. We are members of Christ's Church. When we joined this church, we chose to bring Christ's name with us at all times. Those who see us may not know Christ, but they know us. Let them see Christ in us. Let us act and do what Christ would want us to do, because we always have His name with us. We might choose not to bring His name along with us to a party, but others there may still see His name branded into us, and therefore judge Him by OUR actions. This reminds me of a quote that I absolutely love which goes like this hoe "Live so that those that don't know Him will want to know Him, because they know YOU." People may not believe in God. They may not believe in Christ. But whether that is true or not, they will judge Them by the things we do. I have especially seen that here as a missionary. For instance, last Friday on the Malagasy Independence Day, Elder Walker and I were walking innocently along down some train tracks when a random Malagasy man just runs up to me, totally ignoring Elder Walker (as most people, like this guy, assume that he is Malagasy), and starts screaming and spitting in my face. And over the next couple of seconds, he let off some of the worst profanity known to the Malagasy language, calling me a dead dog (the worst insult possible in Malagasy culture), and commanding me to leave Madagascar, all of this just because of my skin being white. I could've responded. I easily could have laid the guy out, as I was at least a head taller than he was. Or I could've gone off at him, stringing together a long list of Malagasy profanity right back at him (probably a longer list of profanity than I should know :P). But I'm a messenger and example of Christ. Would Christ want me doing that? No. Would Christ want me wrecking this drunk guy right then and there and satisfying my natural man? No. What would that mean for Christ's name that I am always bringing with me? Definitely nothing good, that's for sure... Now, I'm not saying I'm perfect, as I am nowhere near so, but I try. And in this situation, my trying paid off. I didn't engage him; I didn't respond. I just said a respectful "I'm sorry" in Malagasy and continued walking. It was hard, but I can't betray Christ. I can't betray the trust that Him and His Father--OUR Father in Heaven--has placed in me. And to me, that is the real meaning of being a true witness of Christ in all times, places, and things. We need to always have Christ in mind: what He would do, say, or maybe not do, in the situations that we are presented with on a daily basis. The colloquial saying "What would Jesus do?" is actually very applicable. What would He do? Or maybe, rather, what should WE do to respect His name that we carry? Let us ALL think on that a bit.
Anyway, that's about all for this week. I invite you all to be a witness of Christ in everything you do, and that invitation is extended to myself as well. Let us all try a little harder to bring Christ's name with us wherever we may go.
Thank you all for the many emails this week and all the love, support, and encouragement that you send each and every week, without fail. You all are so wonderful, and I appreciate all you do.
Have a great week, and enjoy the summer!
|In a boat on our way to a recent convert's house.|
|Which shoes are old and which shoes are new? :)|
|President Philibert and his family from Anjoma made it onto the back of this month's Liahona (maybe Ensign as well)! He is the branch president. They're so awesome!|
|Me with some Malagasy kids.|
|Me in the background with some Malagasy kids after playing some soccer for a little break mixed in with contacting time.|
|A picture with some friends today (Elder Ralaivao and the one and only Elder Andrianaivo from Tamatave!).|
|President Adams and I|