Elder Hyrum Snell

Elder Hyrum Snell

Monday, February 29, 2016

02/29/16- Draw Closer to God by Serving Others

Dia ahoana pasy e! Tsisy raha amin'tanana e aty amin'ahy! Tegna teako be ianareo. Hey everyone, this week was really awesome, and the work out here is going really well. (NOTE FROM MOM: Elder Snell mentioned that they have 38 investigators with baptismal dates. I am surprised at how parts of Madagascar are accepting the gospel so quickly and how in other parts the work is moving VERY slowly. Elder Snell has now served in both types of areas.) As always, I am truly enjoying the work. Definitely the best part of a mission is the work you get to do and accomplish.

My mom asked about the "general characteristics [I] have noticed about most Malagasy children." Ummmmm...the biggest thing is they're just like normal kids. They love to play, and they come up with all sorts of random games to play with random things that they can find. For example, they will make kites out of random plastic bags and sticks. I've been way impressed with how well they can get those kites working. It's really impressive actually. Besides that, I love how all kids are ready to give you a "dona kely" or a fist bump. Every single person in Madagascar knows what that is and will give you one when prompted.

Second: what I mainly eat for breakfast. Usually my breakfast consists of a protein shake that I make from bananas, yoghurt, milk, some protein powder stuff, and peanut butter. Then I also have a cup of yoghurt to go along with that. It's not extremely filling, but I don't want to get way full in the morning. It's pretty cheap, tasty, and easy to make. So that's what I do.

Third question: The biggest thing that stood out to me this last week, especially teaching appointments was most definitely our time with Alain and Sarindra, a less active member who is currently living with a non-member and hadn't been to church since 2009. So we teach him (the less-active) and his non-member wife. When we first started teaching them, it seemed like they were really disinterested and everything. So we had a very straight-up talk with them last Saturday about church attendance, daily prayer, and daily scripture study and last Sunday and yesterday as well, they came to church. And starting with that, we have seen incredible progression in them. It has been a testimony building experience to me that the personal commitment someone shows to God through church attendance truly brings many blessings into their lives, as well as the commitment they show through daily scripture study and prayer. Because, like I said, when they first started learning from us, they seemed to be very disinterested and like they would not progress very far. But now, they have committed to pray as a family twice a day, and read the Book of Mormon each night together. They have come to church consecutively now for two weeks, whereas before that Alain hadn't come to church for years, and Sarindra had never been before in her life. I have truly seen changes in both of them already. Sarindra is now actively participating in the investigator class at church and answering questions with more confidence in lessons. The Spirit truly works in someone's heart when they are willing to open up to it.

Last question: What one thing has brought me closer to God than anything else on my mission. And I'll be honest with this question. Yes, I study the scriptures for hours a day. Yes, I pray many times throughout our daily routine. And yes, I have come to understand the gospel better than I ever have before, but the point in my day or week when I feel closest to God is when I am helping someone; when I'm serving them. Whether I'm walking to a time and I'm helping some Malagasy I don't know push a cart full of trash or bananas or cement or something, or whether I'm in a lesson with an investigator and the things I say are able to bring the Spirit into someone's life more powerfully than it ever has been before, then it is in those precious moments that I realize the importance of what I'm doing. It is humbling to realize when I am an instrument in God's hands to bring His Spirit more powerfully into the lives of His children, and it is at that point in time that I am closer to God than I ever have been in my entire life. When I am His instrument, and He is working through me to help someone else, then that is when I am closest to Him. That is when I am healed, strengthened, and empowered. And that is when God is with me. "When ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God."

Anyway, thanks again to all of you who are so awesome and great to support me as I am out here in Madagascar. Know that I love you and pray for you all.

Have a great week!
Elder Snell

Elder Francom and me at a restaurant on P-Day. Yeah, he's here in Tamatave now, in my zone!

Elder Francom, Band, and me in a tuc tuc ride last P-Day.

Elders Band, Rasmussen, Johnson and me walking home from a soiree (dinner appointment) with the first counselor in the District Presidency last night.
P-day Beach pictures

This is a sign that always makes me laugh. It says, "Only dogs pee here." It's trying to deter Malagasy people from using that area as their restroom.

Monday, February 22, 2016

02/22/16- This Life is the Time to Prepare to Meet God

Hey, how's everyone doing? My mom said that it was fifty degrees back in Utah this week! That sounds pretty freezing cold for me, personally. But I'll mention the weather later. This week was awesome. We didn't teach the most lessons, or get the most proselyting hours that I've ever gotten, but as far as actual fruits of our labors, this week was fantastic.

First off, about my new companion Elder Band. Elder Quincy Amadeus Band is from the eastern panhandle in West Virginia, an hour drive away from Washington D.C. He is a fifth-generation Eagle Scout, is the oldest in his family with two younger brothers, and went to a year of college before the mission to study a forestry major. He is currently twenty one, and things are going well between us!

Second question: progression of investigators with regards to coming to church. This is where we've really seen some great "fruits of our labors". Yesterday at church, we had 17 investigators come to church, as well as 5 less-active members that we have been visiting. Also, the attendance at sacrament meeting went up from 63 last week to 75 this week. So I was way stoked with that turnout.

Thirdly: no Mom, no problems with fleas. Every once in a while, I get mosquito bites, but nothing big.

Fourth question: The weather here in Tamatave is different from the rest of Madagascar. It has been very hot here as of late. Probably averaging high eighties to low nineties, even getting into the upper-nineties on occasion. That may seem decently hot, but then you factor in the 110% humidity (just kidding, it's still way high though) then it is scorching hot! So that's the weather here. Yup.

Fifth question: the thing that stands out most in my mind this week. That would be two things. First of all, this week I started working my hardest to ask God every day to help us find the elect that He has prepared for us in this area. In the past, I've been less than diligent at doing so. But when I started doing so diligently, this last week we have found nine new investigators, all of which are in very kind, receptive father-led families. So that has been an awesome miracle to see. Then secondly, I also finished the Book of Mormon in Malagasy yesterday during studies. And so I followed Moroni's counsel and asked God if the book is true. And I honestly didn't have some crazy ridiculous experience or anything. But just an incredible feeling of peace came over me as I prayed. I asked God, "Is this book yours? Is it your word?" And I just felt comfort and peace, and I can't help but say that I know that that was from God. The Spirit of peace that I felt was from God, and it was Him telling me that the Book of Mormon is His. It is His word. And I know that. So that was one of the biggest things that stood out to me this week.

Lastly, the purpose of this life, according to the teachings of my mission. Honestly, I've learned a lot about the purpose of this life from what I've seen on my mission. And the purpose of this life is quite simple really. As Alma says in chapter 34, it is a time for us to prepare to meet God as someone given agency and responsibility to choose for themselves. Before this life, we were like small children in his presence. But now we have been sent out to live in the world and decide for ourselves what course we want our life to take. If we choose to follow the counsel of our loving eternal parent, then we will return to Him and receive His inheritance and all He has for us, which is eternal life. If we follow Him, learn, grown, and do so until the end, then we will have progressed and followed His counsel to the point where we are able to live with Him again and with our families for eternity in eternal and perfect bliss. But it all depends on how much we are willing to sacrifice our will and follow His.

Anyway, that's about all for this week. Thanks for all you all do, and I hope this next week is absolutely awesome. Make it a great one, or not. The choice is yours!

Elder Snell

My African missionary buddies who got transferred out of Tamatave this last week.

Elder Band and me in a posiposy.


Monday, February 15, 2016

02/15/16- Charity-Ask, Work, and Ye Shall Receive

Dia ahoana pasy e! Tsy raha am-tanana! Hatrety ihany e! Hey, it was good to hear from everyone and see how everyone was doing. Also, just wishing everyone a happy late Valentine's Day. Hope it was great. This last week was pretty great, and we got a lot of work done. So I'll just do what I always do and both answer my mom's questions and talk about the week.

First off, they do celebrate Valentine's Day here (called ny fetim-pitiavagna here in Tamatave; they add a g in the word fitiavana with their accent and it sounds way cool). The way they celebrate is just being with people and having parties. That's about it. So, needless to say, not a whole lot of people were accepting yesterday, due to the fety. But on the bright side, yes Mom, I got the package you sent. Thank you so much!

Second: transfer news. I am going to be getting Elder Band and staying here in Ambolomadinika. I'm way happy because there is a lot of progression happening here and I want to be able to help it really get going. Also, the missionaries in my house aren't changing a whole lot, as only Elder Randrianavalona is going, but is going to Fianarantsoa to be in my old area! Sambatra be izy le ty e... But Elder Glazier, our zone leader, has gone to Tana to be the new AP, and Elder Rasmussen, also our zone leader, will be getting Elder Johnson to be the new zone leader with him. And Elder Nolan will be getting Elder Brown. It should be a very great house to be in.

Anyway, this last week was really great, and we saw some awesome progression in our investigators, especially Emmanuel and Sidonie, a husband and wife that we teach. Sidonie has always been very diligent and has come to church and baptismal services multiple times, but her husband has never been with her because he's "always working." But as we taught them last Friday, he said that he was going to ask his boss to let him have Sunday off so he could come to church with his wife. And then guess who shows up at church yesterday. Those two, a cute little couple, going to church together on Valentine's day. And they also have both expressed a desire to get baptized, so that is WAY awesome. Super excited about them and what their future progression will bring for their lives.

And now lastly, my mom asked me how we can learn to love others like the Savior does, which is unconditionally. And I know that my answer is going to be really un-inventive, but it really is the way to get that love. And that is just to try, and pray. Those two steps will get you far in life. First off, pray every day to receive what you seek. Then secondly, try your best to do it on your own. There's a quote I remember, but I'm not sure whose it is, but it goes something like this, "Pray like it all depends on Him, then work like it all depends on you." That's what I have tried to do here on the mission; pray like I can't do anything, then work like it's all I can do. I'm not perfect, but I have definitely seen an improvement in my capacity to love others unconditionally. Those who really try to apply the teachings of Christ and follow His example and guidelines, as well as ask God for that gift of charity, will gain that spiritual gift. Those who don't, won't. The gospel is honestly quite simple. Nothing too complicated. If we do our part and ask God for all the help we can, and we work with a conviction to follow whatever God's will is for us, then we will be blessed and accomplish what we are meant to do here on earth as well as in the future.

Anyway, that's about it for this week. Really great, enjoyed the week, and had a lot of fun teaching people about the gospel. I hope you all have an awesome week!

Elder Snell
The other day, before Elder Glazier left for Tana, we went to the beach and watched the sunrise. Prepare for lots of pictures, because I took a ton... And they are all GORGEOUS.

The flash of light in this picture is actually me taking a picture which the extended shutter on my camera caught.

These are a series that shows the sun rising on the horizon.

This is a view of the actual beach just after sunrise.

Pictures from our last P-Day in the town centre.

Tuc tuc ride and dinner with the other missionaries.

A massive burger that we got last P-Day.

Our investigators Don and Domoina.

They are so awesome, and are progressing like crazy. Way fun too.

My member help Stephane wanted to take some pictures with his new shades. So yeah.

My planner after six weeks of usage in Tamatave. Completely fallen apart.

Our lovely meat seller that we get meat from.

Monday, February 8, 2016

02/08/16- Adversity Means Opportunity

Akory aby sha! Tsara be famongtsafa! This week has been one awesome week! Things have been going great, and I love the improvement that I'm seeing in this area. Fingers crossed that I don't get transferred this next week. Anyway, lots to say, lots that my mom wants to hear, :) so I will just get on with it.

First off, no mom, I have not gotten my Valentine's day package yet. And why did you send one? I told you I don't need lots of packages! :P But, if it makes you feel better, (NOTE FROM MOM: It DOES make me feel better!) then i guess I'll be okay with it.

Second; yes, I am still flying solo. No companion, nothing. Just me and the area along with my member help, who I will tell you all more about later. The transfer is the end of this week though, so I'm sure we will all be sitting on the edge of our seats waiting to see where I'm going, since that is obviously the most important thing in all of your lives. But in all seriousness, I will be interested to see where I go. Whether you all are interested or not is your choice, so yeah. Enough on that.

Thirdly; my adventures this week. I feel like my ability at the Betsimisaraka dialect is getting better, because that's all I ever speak with my member help. So that's been an adventure, especially when someone from Tana has a hard time understanding me and my member help just stands there laughing because he understands me perfectly well. Also, we had a baptism this last Saturday, which was way awesome. Our investigators Richard and Sharline, who up until this point had not been legally married finally got married together this last Friday and then were baptized on Saturday, being confirmed as members yesterday. So that was definitely an awesome experience. It was great to see them so happy. They've been waiting a while to get baptized and it finally happened.

Anyway, fourth: the personal story I would like to share is not that of an investigator, but of my member help Stephane, who is a recent convert in our branch. Before he met the missionaries, he started out being Catholic, and went to church every week. But then, he felt like there were no changes or improvements being made in his life due to the church, so he left and joined the Madagascar only Apokalypsy church, which is an Adventist sect. There he felt like it was a change and helped him make some sort of improvement. But then he started seeing all sorts of corruption in the church, with members trying to get higher positions in the church in order to get money. So he left, feeling very disenchanted with the idea of church and religion in general. So he just stopped praying and going to church. Then the missionaries started teaching his family. But, being still very unattracted by the idea of religion, he would always duck out before the lesson started. But then one day, they caught him there because his entire family was all together and he didn't want to be the weird kid that leaves in the middle of the lesson. So he sat and listened. They taught the first lesson and invited him to pray about it, rather than trying to convince him of its truth. And so he did. And he felt like this church would help him change. So he started praying more, going to church, and learning more consistently with the missionaries. To make a long story short, he became converted, got baptized, and is now a VERY diligent member and is preparing to serve a mission. He helps me every single day (except for P-Days). So I am very grateful for his conviction and conversion to the gospel.

Lastly, my mom asked about my perspective on adversity. And honestly, that has changed for me over the course of my mission. If I could simplify it, I would say that adversity is what we make it. If we have trials, troubles, and afflictions, it is our choice on how to take it. We can say to ourselves that it is too hard, and then just give up. Or we can face the trial, and rely upon God for our strength. God may not remove the trial, but if we ask Him, then He will give us the strength that we require to overcome the challenges that we face. And we will become stronger, more capable children of God because of it. So the question is: what really is a trial? a trouble? or suffering? Because if we take those opportunities that God gives us to grow, and we rely upon Him, then we become stronger because of it. For instance, what person in their right mind would say that leaving their family, friends, schooling, opportunities, and entire life in general to go to the other side of the world and try to serve people that will reject them time and time again is a blessing? And yet that is exactly what I say my mission is to me. A blessing, a tender mercy from God, and exactly what I needed in my life, in order for me to improve and become better. It's exactly why Adam and Eve fell: if there is no opposition, then there is no improvement. If there is no conflict, then there is no progression. When we are tried, then we become strong. When we feel beaten down, denied, and forgotten, then it is in that moment of weakness that God will make us stronger. God can't teach someone who "already knows everything." Adversity makes us stronger, when we choose to let it do so. It's that simple. I know that I am stronger because of the trials and adversity I have faced here in Madagascar and on my mission. That's what adversity does. When we have trials and challenges, that's how we know God loves us. He wants us to grow and to improve. That's why we have trials.

Anyway, thanks to all of you for everything you all do. For Valentine's Day, I just wanted to say thank you to all of you that are supporting me. I love you all and thank you for your help.

Elder Snell

A member family that helps us out a lot!
Elder Nolan and Elder Randriananvalona and me in a posiposy.

The marriage of our investigators Richard and Sharline.

This is the place where the marriage was held.

The baptism!

Stephane and me at a restaurant

At the District President's house for dinner.

District President