Elder Hyrum Snell

Elder Hyrum Snell

Monday, March 21, 2016

03/21/16- Follow Every Prompting to Do Good

Akory aby! Tsara be fagmotsafa akory aby samy tahin'Andriamanitra e! I hope you all have had an awesome week this past week and are ready for Easter coming up this next Sunday. It's such an awesome time of the year, remembering what Christ has done for each and every one of us.

Anyway, things, as always, are going great out here in Tamatamave, and I'm really enjoying this area. But, sadly, this Saturday or so we will be getting transfer news and I will probably be leaving. At least, most likely. But we will see.

But, first off, something funny that happened to us this last week. Yesterday, actually. We had tracted into this family that accepted a return appointment from us for yesterday at 4:30 or so (it didn't turn into much of an actual teaching appointment, but that's beside the point). So when we get back there, some of the people are ready and waiting, and we sit down in their little tokantany (yard). As we sit down, this guy who is absolutely wasted comes walking up to us and sits right in front of us and tries to start talking to us. We were about to start talking with him, but then the people we were about to teach just cut us off and started telling the guy that we weren't good at Malagasy and were waiting for some translators to come. He got this way confused look on his face, and I'll admit that I was confused for a bit there. But then I realized they were trying to get the guy to leave so we could start teaching. I started laughing on the inside as they continued for about five minutes or so telling him and trying to convince him that we aren't good at Malagasy so he would leave. Eventually he did, and we started the lesson. I know that may not seem that funny, but I personally was pretty entertained listening to them trying and trying to convince him that we aren't good at Malagasy, especially since we spend half our time trying to convince people that we are. :)

Secondly, what I love most about President and Sister Foote. First and foremost, I love how personal they are with all the missionaries. They really, truly care about you personally and are willing to help you and take care of you. That's the biggest thing for me in an effective leader: they show you that they care, and thereby gain your trust and diligence in following them. I also love their relationship as a couple. They're so fun with each other, and just work well together in everything they do.

Third question: my favorite meal thus far on my mission. That's way hard. As far as meal in a restaurant goes, I would say Carnivore in Tana. But as far as a member-made meal would go, I would say President Paul (the District President here in Tamatave) takes the cake. Their consistency with regards to quality of the loaka as well as the jus they serve puts them on top. I'm really going to miss them when I leave here (not just because of their food though!).

Fourth question: updated info on our investigators. Don and Domoina are doing great, as well as their two sons. They will be getting baptized most likely on the 2nd of April, which is awesome. We are way excited for them. They have really shown true conversion, especially with some recent conflict and resistance from Don's parents and entire family really. They do not want him or his family to get baptized, and have literally laughed at them when Don and Domoina tried to give them a Book of Mormon. Way sad, but it's just a great confirmation to me that they are ready to be baptized. Also, we had kind of a heart to heart talk with our investigator Andronic last night. He is very diligent when it comes to reading the Book of Mormon, praying, and everything. The only problem is that he will not accept that this church might bring him closer to God. He has yet to attend church, and the rest of his family has just dropped out of the lessons. None of them are interested anymore. Andronic is very active in his current church. And even though he has said that his church's teachings are not sufficient, he will not accept the invitation to attend our church. And so we told him that our goal for him is just to help him come closer to God, and we know that by coming to church, he will do just that. So we bore testimony to him of the truth of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and of the power of coming to church, and how he will come closer to God because of it. The Spirit was very strong, and he seemed to accept the invitation. But, if you all could pray for him to feel the spirit and act on that by coming to church, then that would be much appreciated.

Updates on investigators besides that would just be the upcoming baptism, where we will also baptize the mother of a current missionary, and another investigator, so that's six altogether coming up a week from this Saturday. Way excited for them, and they will all be great.

Last question: things I have learned about recognizing the Spirit. Honestly, people complicate this way too much. Here's my counsel, as well as the counsel that Elder Bednar gives a lot, from some of his talks I've heard. This is what you need to do: follow God's commandments, and when you get a thought to do something good, and something that feels right, then do it. That's the Spirit telling you to do something. That doesn't mean that some miracle is waiting at the other end of the action; God may just be testing you to see if you'll follow a prompting. But that's it. Just follow what you feel is right, and what you feel is good, and as you do so you will become more accustomed to recognizing those small promptings to do good, and will gain a greater ability to follow through on them.That's what I've tried to do out here, and it's worked out pretty good for me thus far. God guides our actions, if we are willing to keep His commandments and do what He tells us to do, even if it doesn't seem important.

Anyway, thank you all for your support and love. I love you all and hope you all have a fantastic week!

Elder Snell

These are some bandys at our English class. All of the guys in this picture are pretty fluent.
Playing Pool on P-day

Elder Brown and Elder Nolan studying.

A tired Elder Nolan :)

Monday, March 14, 2016

03/14/16- God Can Change Us

Hello everyone! It was good to hear from all of you this last week, and it has been quite the week. Things are going well out here in Madagascar, and the work is progressing.
First off, P-Day activities. Today, we will probably go play basketball as a zone, and then maybe play pool at a restaurant we were going to go to for lunch. Next week though we have a plan to go to a lemur park just outside of Tamatave, so that should be fun.
Second: Zone Conference. We had Zone Conference this last week with Elder Hamilton from the seventy, which was awesome! We learned a lot, especially about focusing on the final goal. Before, in past times, it seems like missionaries were focused on baptism, baptism, baptism! But now, it's not baptism. Baptism is A goal, not THE goal. The final goal is celestial exaltation. And that must always be the goal that we keep in mind as we do everything in this work. That was one of the biggest things that Elder Hamilton focused on, was just the way, the path, that brings us to eternal life. And I have already felt a difference with the increased focus on eternal life in the lessons that I have taught. As missionaries, we are called to preach repentance unto all people in order for them to follow the gospel and thus obtain exaltation. So we must always focus on that in order to bring the Spirit into the lives of those we teach.
Third question: In the leadership meeting with Elder Hamilton, the biggest thing he focused on was that the calling of a leader, anywhere in the church, is the calling to be a servant. The leaders are not above the rest, but as Christ did when he washed the feet of the Apostles, the leaders are called to serve and not to be better. An Assistant to the President in the mission field is no better than a junior companion. And so, the best leaders are those who serve. And that's what his main focus in that meeting was.
Fourth: Our best lesson this week. That would probably be, for me personally, our last lesson yesterday. We taught for the first time a young man named Jean Jacque who is the non-member husband of a less-active member. He came to church yesterday morning and asked to meet with us, so we set up a time with him for that night. We were planning on just teaching a first lesson on the Restoration, but then at the beginning of the time, he came out and just started telling us how he, before, had been living a pretty bad life. He had been unfaithful to his wife, and they had split up. But recently, he felt something pushing him to change, and to ask forgiveness from his wife. So he did, and now he came to church and to us, asking for help, so he can change and, as he said "miala ny toetra ratsy" (leave his bad characteristics). And so we had an incredible Spirit-filled lesson on the Atonement and the grace of God and how He can change us, talking about scriptures like Mosiah 3:19, Moroni 10:32, and the like. I could tell that he really felt the Spirit, and I feel like his conviction to change will help him change and become a better person and leave behind the person he was before.
Last question: As of late, I have been thinking about how people can change, how they can truly become a new person, rather than just changing single actions in their day to day life. And the answer that has come to my mind is honestly very simple, and that is to simply try. If we try our best, and work hard to "deny ourselves of all ungodliness", then the grace of God, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, will change us. Yes, we must use our agency to choose to try and deny those ungodly traits and characteristics, but we must do so and use our agency in order to truly allow God to change who we are. I know that God's grace can change us, as it says in Moroni 10:32, and will change us, if we choose to use our agency and exercise our self-mastery to truly deny ourselves of all ungodliness, as the scriptures say. If we do so, then God will change us.

Anyway, that's all for this week. Thank you all for everything you do. Love you lots, and hope you all have an incredible week!

Elder Snell

This is a classic cloudy day in Tamatave in our area.

The next two pictures are from lunch after Zone Conference, where you can see Elder Hamilton and President Foote in the background.

Also, I almost forgot. Last little story. Last Wednesday when Elder Hamilton first got here to Tamatave, he wanted to visit some members, so we took him to our member Arsene with his wife. So it was kind of a cool experience, but I got to translate for Elder Hamilton and our members. At the end, we all knelt down and Elder Hamilton said a prayer, blessing their home, and I had the opportunity to translate the prayer for our members. The Spirit was very strong, and it was a very nice experience for me personally, to feel that type of Spirit in their home.

Monday, March 7, 2016

03/07/16- Mission Prep...Study Preach My Gospel

Hey everyone!

It is absolutely crazy how the time flies, and I cannot believe that it is March already! It is ridiculous how fast the time goes by. I am very grateful for my opportunity here in Madagascar, but it seems like the rest of it is just going to slip through my fingers and then be gone. Little word of counsel from me: don't take opportunities for granted. Make the most of them. They don't last forever.

First off, my mom asked how I'm feeling health-wise as of late. Honestly, I feel great. I'm doing great, still take my vitamins and malaria pill daily, and everything. Of course I'm tired a lot, but that comes with going non-stop, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. But other than that, I'd say I'm doing really well. Still doing my best to work out every morning, and that helps me feel good. So yeah! I'll definitely need to do some running and aerobic stuff when I get home though, because my metabolism isn't as high as it used to be. :P

Fanontaniana faha-roa (second question): things I took for granted in the US that I will be more grateful for upon returning home. Here's a list of some of the things on my mind: sink disposals, dish washers, clean tap water, carpet, weather applications on phones, cars, sidewalks, grass, well-built asphalt, no potholes, closets, central heating and air conditioning, insulation, stoplights, traffic laws, and many more. I love Madagascar, but it is very true that the United States is much more progressed and ahead in life than it is here.

Thirdly, about teaching appointments that stood out this last week. One time we taught stands out in my mind, which was to a less-active member and his non-member wife. I haven't talked about them yet in my emails, and that is because we are not going to still be teaching them. You see, the less-active got baptized in Antsirabe back in like 2005 or so, then moved to Toliara where there was no church at the time. So he joined another church and became a pastor of that church. He doesn't remember any of the commandments, and has become very indoctrinated with the "teachings of man" as it says in the scriptures. When we were teaching them the Restoration lesson, they kept interrupting and asking random questions about things they thought would prove our message wrong (which was very weird, because he said he wanted to come back to the church). So anyway, as that progressed on, I felt the Spirit slowly leaving the room as they tried to "stump" us with their worldly doctrine. And so I just ended it. I asked them, "Raha Andriamanitra no miteny amin'ny mpaminany velona fa ny zavatra ampianarinay anareo dia marina, moa ve handa izany ianareo?" (If God says to a living prophet that the things we teach you are true, would you deny that?) And then I told them to pray about what we had said, and what the first pamphlet said, and they could call us when they were ready to talk. And then we left. The thing was, I had been getting really heated and frustrated with them, and that wasn't okay. I felt that it wasn't okay, and so right in the middle of the lesson I prayed and asked God to help me say what He wanted said. And so that's what I did. And we left with the Spirit, and I could tell they were actually thinking about what we said. So that was a testimony building experience for me personally about the power of prayer and the guidance of the Spirit and how God is willing and ready to send the Holy Ghost to help us, if we but ask in faith.

And last but not least: mission prep. My mom asked what young men and women can do to prepare for a mission. I will give very simple and straightforward advice. Read and study Preach My Gospel every single day. If you do so, you will know everything you need to know in order to be a successful, effective missionary. Some missionaries try to come up with their own style of teaching and try to do what they personally feel is best. But if you study PMG, follow it, and teach the people as it tells you how, then you will see greater success than those who choose to follow their own ways. I'll be honest that in the past, I have tried to follow my own way of teaching and whatnot. But I have seen that the results in the work are few and far between. But when I do my absolute best to follow PMG, like I do now, then I truly see people's lives change daily, due to the Spirit that it brings into their lives. So, my counsel to all of you preparing to serve missions: read it. Study PMG daily, and do your best to follow it and apply it in your mission.

Anyway, I thank you all for everything you do and the support you send my way on a daily/weekly basis. I love you all and hope you all have a great week!

Elder Snell

Little birthday party for Darrell, our investigators Don and Domoin's kid. Way cute kid, and better at French than he is at Malagasy.

Here are some fried frog legs we made for dinner last P-Day. WAY good and it is true what they say: tasted like chicken.

Meal on our rooftop that the Zone Leaders made. Missionaries in the last picture going left to right: me, Elder Band, Elder Brown, Elder Nolan, Elder Johnson, and Elder Rasmussen. And yeah, we all were wearing hats. Why? Cuz we can. :)

A classic picture of Tamatave.

The baptism we had last Saturday of our investigator Olga, who is kind of the adopted daughter of one of our best members, Jean Claude and his family.