First off, there are not a whole lot of big bugs or spiders here in the main city. I don't think they can stand the smog. Just to give you an idea of what the smog and gunk in the air is like, when I blow my nose, the tissue is black. Yup.
Anyway, as far as things that I can't really get here in Madagascar that can be sent in my Christmas package, I would say send me some spices. I've started cooking more often as of late, and I have been feeling the lack of spices that are here in Madagascar. Especially nutmeg. Please send some nutmeg, so I can make a homemade eggnog recipe that I found. It would make Christmas so much better. So yeah, that would be much appreciated. But other than that, I can't really think of anything else. Except peanut butter m&m's. I have been craving some of those for some time now, so that would be fantastic. But yeah, other than that I can't really think of anything. Anything you would like to send though would be appreciated!
Now, with regards to reactivation efforts going in the ward, near the beginning of my work here, it wasn't going very well. Only about four or three less-actives were coming to church that we visited. But now, this past month (September), we have had thirteen less-active members who have come and are now considered active. So we are way excited about that. This ward needs help. I believe I mentioned in the last email that there are four hundred and ninety people listed in MLS and only one hundred coming to church, so we are seriously working hard on that. It needs help. So we are trying to work with members to find all of those people. Also, home teaching is currently nonexistent. So we will be working our tails off for the next while to get that going.
Now lastly, something that seemed hard at the beginning of my mission, and has now become easier... That's a hard question. But I would say that enjoying the mission would be the biggest thing. When I first got here, I will admit: I didn't like it too much. How could I? I was hot, sweaty, dead tired, and also sick and tired of being rejected, dogged, made fun of, and all of the above. But I have had an experience similar to that which happened to the men of the "Lift" video on lds.org. They started out helping a neighbor, which was fine. But then, as time went on, it began to feel like a burden. They had "better things to do" other than lift their neighbor into bed each night because she couldn't do it herself. But, the more they were willing to commit themselves to the job and to helping someone who needed it, then the more they began to enjoy the work. They put themselves into the job, rather than doing it simply because it was their duty. That's how it has been here for me on the mission. I didn't enjoy the missionary work right there at the start. I didn't enjoy being heckled, rejected, cursed at, or judged. But you know what? I have come to love it. I want to do the work now, because I know how important it is. And I actually do truly enjoy it. Of course I still don't enjoy the heckling and the rejection, but I have found reasons to love it. I love meeting new people, making friends, helping them see the truth in the gospel, and all sorts of other such things. I have found the silver lining, the diamond in the rough, as you might say. I have found what makes this work wonderful. But the biggest fact that makes it worth it is the fact that I get to teach people how they can become exalted. I teach people the way to their salvation. And that is incredible. Seeing the Spirit working in them, changing them, helping them come closer to God and to Jesus Christ... There's nothing like it. And the way I have been able to get to this point on my mission is dedicating myself to the work. If I put myself in the work, and place all my focus upon that--which I have tried my hardest to do--then I am able to see the maha tsara an'azy (what makes it good).
There are many things that follow this pattern. A testimony is found in the bearing of it. And the love for the work is found in the doing of it. Those who work, who focus on it, and who dedicate their hearts to it will most definitely find a love for it. There is a talk that a certain mission president gave called "The Fourth Missionary" which is absolutely incredible. The third missionary is the one who does everything he is supposed to, but for the wrong reason. The fourth missionary however, completes his mission out of a love of God and out of a desire to serve Him. The fourth missionary gives not only his actions to God, but also his heart, his will, and his all. And that is the missionary that I am trying to become. I am trying my best to give God my heart, my will, and my whole self in this work. It's not easy, but I have found that it is worth it. God has blessed me with the Spirit and with a love for the work. I know that blessings come from our turning our whole selves over to God. I have seen that on the mission time and time again, and it is true. This truly has been the hardest thing for me on the mission, but it has also been the thing most worth doing. I know it's hard to give up our pride and everything, but when we do, God blesses us.
Anyway, thank you all for being so great and always being willing to support me through emails and through prayers. You're all incredible, and I love you all!
|Here we've got a family of less actives that we are trying to reactivate that haven't come to church since 2007.|
|This is a quiche that I made yesterday for our lunch, which turned out really good. :)|
Here is the link to the video Elder Snell references: