Elder Hyrum Snell

Elder Hyrum Snell

Monday, May 30, 2016

05/30/31- Ask God and Act on the Answer You Receive

Hey everyone! It's been a great week out here in Madagascar, and the work has been going incredibly. I am really enjoying these times and memories I am making out here in this amazing corner of the world. It was good to hear from those who wrote me, and I want to give a special shout-out to my Dad who just turned a whopping 44 years old! Just kidding, that's not that old. Don't worry Dad. You're still young and can probably still beat me at basketball (even though that's not saying much, as I'm WAY out of practice now).

First off, the happiest times on my mission are honestly when I see someone who humbly desires to change and come unto God. We honestly don't see a whole lot of that out here in the world, as most people are happy (accustomed, really) with where they are in life. But that is one of the happiest times of my mission and my life in general, really. And that is when I see someone taking the steps and putting forth the effort needed to come unto God and Christ and to have a change of heart in order to change their life around. The reason this is one of the happiest times of my mission is because I know that when someone does so, an innumerable amount of blessings will begin to enter their life and help them in their journey towards eternal life.

Secondly, the hardest times of my mission. and that would have to be the opposite of what I just said. And that is when someone I care about and have grown to love decides that they don't want to change, they don't want to put forth the effort to change, grow, and come unto Christ. It's so sad seeing certain people just falling away into unbelief, darkness, and apathy due to their unwillingness or pride or any other reason. For example, one thing that happened this week which was very saddening to me was with regards to our investigator Hery, who has been "trying" to quit cigarettes for the past while. Turns out, he hasn't been trying at all. He told us that he smoked only seven cigarettes a day, but his wife Tiana told us that he smokes about three packs (20 cigarettes each) a day. He also told us in our last lesson that he has decided that he doesn't want to learn anymore. His reasoning was that he didn't want to waste our time because he feels he'll never get off cigarettes, but the real reason, we felt, was that he was unwilling to give cigarettes up and was unwilling to make necessary changes in his life. But it turns out that things were/are worse than we thought. After our last time with him, his wife sent us a text telling us all about what had happened as of late. Hery currently has no job, and so they are struggling for money. But they occasionally get money sent in from his younger sibling who lives in France. His wife told us that the day before our last time with him, he had received money from his sibling, but he did not give a single Ariary to his wife and one-year-old child. Instead he used ALL of the money to buy alcohol and some new shoes... And yes, he has learned about the Word of Wisdom. It is so hard for me, seeing people with so much potential just throwing it all away from some menial, worldly comforts. That would be the hardest time on my mission, is whenever I see someone making the decision to retrogress rather than progress.

Thirdly, about some things that happened this week. Well, one thing that is a milestone worth mentioning is the fact that I've started running in the mornings now. Yeah, yeah, I know, you all that know me can pick your jaws up off of the floor. I know you know that I hate running, but I want to be in good shape before I get home. The four of us who live in the same house have been really diligent and getting up and working out every morning. We get up at 5:45 and go to a gym across the street from 6 to 7, and then get home and clean up and get ready for the day and such. It's been way nice, and I've really enjoyed it.

Other noteworthy things from the week include my split with Elder Bassett in the area of Ampefiloha. Elder Bassett is a missionary at about his year-mark in the mission who is from Katy, Texas. It was way good and it was fun to work with him. Also, we have a baptism coming up this Saturday! Our investigator Francine, the daughter of a recent convert, is getting baptized. We are so excited for her and know that she will be an awesome member. It's been incredible to see the change of heart that has come over her over the past few months. Because from what members and past missionaries have said, she wouldn't even learn from the missionaries, let alone join the church. And yet, she is now incredibly converted. When we were conducting a practice baptismal interview and I asked her if she had prayed about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon and everything. She nodded. I asked her if she could bear her testimony of it. At that point her eyes began to water, and she said that she knew it was all true, and that she wanted to get baptized so she could start on the path to being with her family for eternity. Her mom actually died just last year or so, so that especially had extra meaning for her. It was really great for me to see the testimony and conversion that her humble pleadings to God produced.

And on that note, that would be my message/challenge that I would like to end with. I would like to invite everyone who has doubts and fears to humbly swallow your doubts and fears and just try that. Just try asking God if these things are true. Please just humbly and truthfully ask Him to know what is true, and to know whether or not these things (or whatsoever thing you have doubts about) are true. He will answer. And that answer will change your life. It has changed our investigator Francine's life forever. It has changed my life forever. And so I know that it will do the same for you. So, swallow your pride. Put aside all fears, doubts, and concerns, and humbly ask God for the knowledge you desire. And then be willing to follow whatsoever answer you receive, no matter what. Because it will change your life.

Thanks for all you do. I hope it's been a great week for everyone, and I hope you have a wonderful time in the upcoming week.

Elder Snell

These are two pictures of a blanket I got made by some members here. WAY comfortable. I really like it.

No, my hair isn't really that tall. It's a shadow on the ceiling!

This is a picture of my weekly workout schedule, along with a ten to fifteen minute run beforehand.

Pictures of Ampefiloha on my split with Elder Bassett.


This picture is a selfie that Lalaina took, who is in member's family who I did the baptismal interview for. I slipped in some mud right outside their house and my camera fell out of my pocket, which I didn't realize till later on. Luckily, the members found it, and I found this selfie he took on my camera after they gave it back to me. It made me laugh, so I decided to keep it.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

05/23/16- "Do I Believe This For Me?"

Hey everyone! Not a whole lot of time this week, but I'll try and tell you about my week. It was a pretty great week, and we did a lot of good work out here. We found a whole ton of new investigators and we are excited where a lot of them can go this next upcoming week.

First off, the politics here in Madagascar aren't good, but still decently stable. The leaders of the government don't do a whole lot, and there is a lot of corruption, bribes, and the like. The Malagasy people like to complain to us about how much the government stinks here in Madagascar, but we can't talk a whole lot about that so we usually try to change the subject fairly quickly, though some people go on a long tirade about the government, and we just kind of have to sit there and listen. Ah well. Language practice, right?

Secondly: about one of our investigators or lessons that we had. That would probably be a lesson that we had with our newer investigators Hery and Anta. In the lesson, we were going to cover the Book of Mormon, but some neighbors came in and crashed the lesson, wanting to do nothing more than Bible bash. I'll admit I was a bit upset with the rude interruption of the lesson that would have been great. But, the reason I choose this lesson to talk about is that it actually turned out great. See, the spirit of contention and argument that the neighbors brought in served as a perfect contrast for the real Spirit of truth and power which we later brought into the lesson by refusing to Bible bash with them and simply bear testimony of the truthfulness of the Restoration and of how they all can know for themselves as well, through diligent prayer and the Spirit bearing witness to them of the truthfulness of what we taught. Because that's exactly what we did, and the room just went dead silent, and the Spirit was so strong. I know that they felt it, and felt that what we said was true. And from that point on, there was not a word from the neighbors, but we finished the lesson, Hery and Anta accepted a baptismal invitation, and then we left. And honestly, on the way to our next appointment, I was absolutely giddy with the power of the Spirit we had felt in that lesson. I know that what we bore witness of was true.

Third: the most memorable part of the week. That would either be a split I went on with Elder Tambula from Uganda last Tuesday, which was memorable just because it was a good split and had a lot of good learning/teaching experiences. So, most memorable experience was either that or the Zone Meeting we had this last Thursday. It was great that we were able to focus solely upon honing and improving the work we already are doing in the zone rather than teaching another lesson on obedience to try to help disobedient missionaries straighten their ways. So that was way great, as we focused on teaching effectively and focusing on the goal, rather than just teaching for the heck of it (which, believe it or not, is possible here in Madagascar). So that was also memorable.

Lastly, something that I studied this week. This last week, my studies have been really great. One thing that I really studied into was having faith and a knowledge of its personal application. What I mean by that is this: sometimes we as humans will believe something, like the fact that Christ can cleanse us and help us change. We believe that He can do that for every single person here on earth, and yet we will doubt that for ourselves. So I studied and tried to apply that in my own personal life. I said to myself, "I know and believe that Christ can help all people change, be forgiven, and overcome trials. But do I believe that He can help ME?" This goes right along with the conference talk about the mother flying in a helicopter with her pneumonia-stricken son to the hospital. She asked herself the same question. And I think that every once in a while, we need to ask ourselves that exact question: "Do I believe this for ME?" If we do so on a consistent basis, along with diligent prayer and meditation, then I know that our belief and faith in the miracles God and Christ can perform will be deepened, strengthened, and made personal. I know this to be true because I've done so in my personal life, and have done so even here on the mission. I know this gospel applies to EVERYONE, and that includes me. And you.

Anyway, that's all for this week. I typed fast, so it should be satisfactory to my mom's desires (you're welcome, Mom). :) I hope you all have a wonderful week! Stick to what you feel and believe, and always strive to strengthen that.

Elder Snell

Some kids from our area

A Korean restaurant that we went to, which was WAY good. We had sweet and sour pork, which was one of the best meals I've had in a while. 

A Taiwanese member who was working here in Madagascar for the weekend and showed up for sacrament meeting. He's from Taichung, and also went on a mission. He's also very very good at English.

Pictures from the split with Elder Tambula. This is his area (Manakambahiny).

Elder Tamula's house
Elder Tambula

Monday, May 16, 2016

05/16/16- You Cannot Serve Two Masters

Akory aby ianareo e! Things are going quite swimmingly out here in Madagascar (not literally obviously, as we're not allowed to swim). The work is progressing, we are picking up some great new investigators with our searching efforts, and we are also increasing our relations with the ward in order to build unity and not two separate churches: the church of the members and the church of the missionaries. But, all in all, I would say things are going great.

So, this week, my dear mother worked incredibly hard on extracurricular activities, and thus did not send me any questions to answer. So, as my mom said in her email, I will attempt to "shoot from the hip" and see how my email writing skills have developed (or decreased) over time. So, just note that if there are any complaints about the quality of my current email, please direct them to my mom (love you mom! ;). So today I will cover two experiences from the week--one humorous, the other spiritual.

First off, our tracting experience of the week. So, we were tracting down the glorious banks of the 67 Ha river, basking in the sun and taking in the gamma rays wafting up from the congealed water to our side, when we decided to go down a small side path and see what houses and people we could find. We talked with a few people who didn't want anything to do with the lessons when we all of a sudden found ourselves in this weird garden in front of a very haunted-mansion-looking house. But we thought, "ah, why not?" and knocked. The occupant then called and invited us in. So we stepped in and found an older lady sitting there. Since she was the only one home, we couldn't really talk to her inside for a long time, but we tried to strike up a small conversation about the restored gospel. But as soon as we do that, she starts going off. Not yelling, but talking about how she is the greatest prophet and also talking about the church that she established in the name of her family. She then started talking about her twin sons, who apparently I reminded her of. At that point we politely asked to leave. Well, she then got all quiet, then said something in French, and promptly started to weep. Yes, by weep I mean cry. Come to find out, afterwards (because Elder Reynolds is somewhat good at French) I discovered what she said. She said, "You are so beautiful (referring to me!). I wish I had children like you." And at that point, she began to cry...... Long story short...what a crazy experience!

Now for a more serious, spiritual experience. Or rather, experiences. I have found that now with Elder Reynolds, we have been having incredibly spiritually uplifting companionship studies, talking about gospel doctrine that will help us progress and thereby help our investigators gain a greater understanding of the restored gospel. Just the other day, Elder Reynolds shared some scriptures from the Isaiah chapters in Nephi, and I really enjoyed them, because of their boldness and clarity, as well as doctrinal importance. The scriptures were 2 Nephi 13:16-26, in which Isaiah calls the people of the church to repentance, due to their focus upon worldly lusts and wants. Please read those scriptures at this point.

All right, did you read the scriptures? If you didn't, you're lazy ha. But really, read them. But, having read those scriptures, some may think that it is a little harsh. But this has relation with the way for our obtaining eternal life, as outlined in Matthew 16:25, which reads, "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it." How can we truly lose our lives for Christ's sake if we aren't willing to give up our lusts, worldly wants, fads, and personal desires, for Him? It is literally impossible to do so. "A man cannot serve two masters." Why would we even think that God would give us everything HE has, if we are not willing to give Him all that we have? This is one thing that I have truly gained a testimony of out here on the mission field: self-sacrifice is essential for exaltation. And included in that self-sacrifice is sacrifice of wants, lusts, desires, and EVERY SINGLE THING that is not in harmony with God's will. So, my question is, are you willing to do so?

This teaching should not make us depressed or discouraged. But it should push us to work harder to get to that point of discipleship to Christ, where we truly are willing to give Him all we have. And I know for a fact that the blessings that will come if we do so FAR outweigh those things that we give up.

Anyway, that's about it this week. Thank you all for your love, support, and prayers. I love you and pray for you, and hope you have an awesome week.

Elder Snell

Cute kids!

Lots of kids!
Picture of our area
Picture in our area

A picture of Elder Reynolds next to the glorious river of 67 Ha.

Pictures of our house

 This is a taxi be that said "Urim and Thummim" on the front of it, but in Malagasy spelling. Thought that was kind of an interesting scripture reference to put on a public bus...

Monday, May 9, 2016

05/15/16- God Guides His Children

Manahoana daholo e! Tafita soa aman-tsara le fanaovana Skype tamin'ny fianakaviako tamin'ny afak'omaly, ka faly be aho niresaka tamin'izy ireo. I really loved the opportunity I had to skype my family the day before yesterday. It's such a great rejuvenating experience for me, and it helps me commit myself to work harder out here on my mission and make not only my Father in Heaven proud, but my family here on earth proud as well, and be worthy of their trust in me.

Anyway, we've got some great questions this week. First of all, the weather. The weather here in Tana is pretty much like Antsirabe. It goes back and forth from hot and cold. In the mornings and nights, it's kind of chilly, but in the middle of the day it's still pretty hot. Not a whole lot of rain, although I did get soaked yesterday in a surprise rainstorm.

Second question: Sunday in my new ward here in 67ha was great. It's soooo nice to work in a fairly solid ward right now. It was great yesterday. They had some pretty great talks given in sacrament meeting. The teacher didn't show up for the investigator/recent-convert class, but they didn't ask the missionaries to jump in and teach it, but had another member step up to the responsibility instead. WAY nice. And then they had a somewhat effective ward council meeting after church, which was something new to me. It did not consist of the branch president or bishop talking the entire time, like most others do, but had a lot of participation from the other auxiliary leaders.

Third question: my mom asked about my observance of how the gospel has helped people become better parents and whatnot. Honestly, though, I think it goes two ways. If you follow the gospel, it will help you become a better, more effective parent. But, being a parent will also help you become a more effective disciple of Christ's gospel. The more we work hard to follow Christ's example in our lives, the more we will become like Him, and every aspect of our lives will improve and progress. Like President Packer has said, "A study of the gospel will change behavior more quickly than a study of behavior will change behavior." So, if you want to improve as a parent, study and apply the gospel. If you want to improve as a disciple of Christ, study and apply the gospel. If you want to become a better person in general or simply improve some aspect of your life, then study and apply the gospel. Some may think that a "one-size-fits-all" answer does not exist, but those who say that don't know God. The gospel is the carefully crafted process for ALL of God's children to improve their lives and become more like Him.

And now, lastly, an awesome experience we had this last week. One night, as Elder Reynolds and I were planning, we came to somewhat of a dead end with some less-actives we were going to teach. Elder Reynolds and his previous companion had already taught them many things to try and reactivate them, but nothing seemed to have worked. So, even though we had already prayed to open the planning session, Elder Reynolds and I knelt down once more to ask God for the revelation we needed. Elder Reynolds offered the prayer, and throughout the entire thing I was contemplating what sort of lesson we could do. My mind went through many topics, such as obedience, Sabbath Day, etc. But the problem was, none of them felt right, and my mind never really settled on one single lesson plan we could teach. But then, right at the end of the prayer, my mind came to the topic of the temple and of eternal families. And right then, it was like my mind was opened up, and not closed down anymore. It was almost like a light came into my mind, telling me that that was the lesson these less-actives needed and were supposed to hear. So then Elder Reynolds finished the prayer, and we sat back up. For a second, I just sat there in silence, grateful for the answer I had received, and about to share it with Elder Reynolds, when out of the blue, he said, "I think we should teach them about the temple and eternal families." And I just felt the Spirit so strongly at that point, and I couldn't stop smiling. I told Elder Reynolds that that was exactly the answer I had received as well, even before he had said anything. And so that's what we planned to teach. When we taught them the lesson, it went great, and the Spirit was there. But, in the end, they did not come to church yesterday. However, there is a great sense of peace and the Spirit, knowing that we taught them a lesson that was planned directly by divine revelation, and I know that God guided us in that planning session. God guides His missionaries, when they are willing to listen.

Anyway, thank you for all supporting me in this mission. Believe me, I've felt your prayers and support. I hope you all have an awesome week!

Elder Snell

The following pictures are of our area here in 67ha. Some of them reflect the dirtiness of the area.

This is me with Elder Obioma  and the picture below is me with Elder Elder Yeagley. They are both going home Wednesday morning. WAY weird, now that some of my good, close friends in the mission are heading home.
Beautiful Rainbows

Our church building here in Tana. WAY nice, and it is MASSIVE. It's actually the stake center for the Manakambahiny Stake here in Tana.
The area map in our house. Note some of the names that missionaries have given the areas on the map.

A selfie Elder Hammer took while I wasn't looking.

05/15/16- Mother's Day Skype Call Home


Yesterday's call will be our last from Madagascar. This moment made my whole Mother's Day! It was great to be "together" as a family and to see Elder Snell's excitement about doing the Lord's work. It is hard to believe he will be home in 3 months. What a wonderful blessing it will be to have him back in August, but I also feel a touch of sadness to see this incredible mission experience come to an end.  

Monday, May 2, 2016

05/02/16- The Restoration

Manahoana daholo e! Things are going great here in Madagascar, even though there have been a bunch of changes that have happened as of late. But I don't have a whole lot of time today, so i will go ahead and start into the questions of the week.

First off, the thing that I will always have in my mind of Madagascar is probably the images of the people's houses, especially those of some members in particular. The Gospel is truly for all people, and I have seen it work wonders in the lives of people here, despite incredibly painful trials that they are faced with on a day to day basis. I have met and taught families who literally live in a house made of mud, and live off of less than 3000 Ariary a day (that's less than a dollar). It is ridiculously humbling to live in a situation as this, and those memories will always be imprinted in my mind forever.

Second: our investigators Tiana and Laura are doing great. They didn't come to church last Sunday, which was disappointing, but they have accepted baptismal dates and really understand the importance of our message. Also, when I left this week, they gave me a picture of Christ from their home as a souvenir, even though I only taught them like three times.

That brings me to the third question, with regards to what the most memorable thing was this week. And that would be the fact that I have been transferred already, and I am now working in the 67 Ha area here in the center of Antananarivo. Yeah, it was way unexpected, but that's what President Foote has asked me to do, and so I must obey. I was only in Ambohimena for about four full weeks, which was disappointing, yes, but I'm sure I'll enjoy the work here in the 67 ward (pronounced swahs-on-set, which is sixty-seven in French) with my new companion, Elder Reynolds, who is from New Zealand.

Fourth and final question: my favorite thing to teach people and why. That is, by far, the Restoration and the story of Joseph Smith. When people understand the significance of that event (like our investigators Tiana and Laura), you can see it in their faces, and feel it in the Spirit that enters the room. Whether the investigators feel the Spirit or not, the Spirit is always there when the Restoration and story of Joseph Smith is told and taught. And I love that Spirit and the feeling that comes with it. Also, without the Restoration, I would have no reason to be a missionary, preaching the good news to all the world. The Restoration IS the good news. We are no longer lost, but God has once again established his true, full, and organized church here on earth once again, so that we may be saved and receive eternal life.

Anyway, that's about it for this week. It's been a good one, filled with new stuff and new areas. I'm excited for the new stories that I will have here. Thank you all for being great family and friends, and I hope that you all have a fantastic week!

Elder Snell

Pretty picture of our area in Antsirabe

These two pictures are of n incredible member family I know and love in the Ambohimena Branch.

Cute kids

Zone meeting in Antsirabe

These next three pictures are of Do, Evalynne, Fenosoa, and Eric, who are all recent converts. (Look at Fenosoa, she cracks me up.)

Two pictures of the Carlton Hotel, where we ate lunch today. WAY NICE...

Our awesome investigators, Tiana and Laura, our the next three pictures.

This series of pictures is an awesome family who we would eat dinner with about once a week. They're way nice and funny and great to talk with.

Our way cool investigators Najoro and Hery, who are on tract to get baptized.

Najoro and Hery's daughter
Manana and Vola, a great progressing couple

Victorine and Rabearison, a hilarious old couple we teach
The kids who work at the small hotely where we always eat lunch in Antsirabe. It's good food, and you can get a filling meal for one dollar. So that's why we go. :P