Elder Hyrum Snell

Elder Hyrum Snell

Monday, June 27, 2016

06/27/16- Love Those You Teach

Hey everyone! I hope you are all doing well and enjoying your time during the summer. Make the most of the opportunities that you have! Time truly will fly by if you're not careful. So, be careful, use your time, and make the most of it! But this week was a great one out here in Madagascar, despite some bumps and bruises along the way. But I will tell you all about it and answer my mom's great questions this week.

First off, this last week was transfer week, and my mom assumed correctly in that I am staying in the same area with Elder Reynolds. Looks like I'll be finishing my mission here in the dirtiest place on the planet missionaries are allowed to work. Wooooo! :P But in all seriousness, I love it here. Definitely one of my favorite areas. Gonna miss it when I'm gone.

Second question: my favorite part of this week. One of my favorite parts was most definitely the split I was able to go on with my old trainee, Elder Leo. He has grown immensely on his mission out here, and is doing great with the language. I really loved working with him and seeing his progress. But also, I really loved some of the lessons we taught this week, as we saw some great progress in our investigators. For instance, our investigator Gege, who has been addicted to cigarettes for most of his life has now officially been off of cigarettes for the good part of two weeks and is preparing to get baptized on the 9th of July with his nephew, Nasolo, and two other investigators. So the progress I saw with them is probably my favorite part of this week.

Third question: least favorite part of the week. That would have to be the Independence Day Festival that took place this weekend. Honestly, I dislike the way that Malagasies celebrate holidays. This is because they celebrate in the way that the world celebrates, and that is by drinking, partying, and all in all going crazy. It especially hurts when people put their holiday festivities above God in importance on their priority list. For instance, we texted one of our investigators to remind them to read the Book of Mormon, pray about it, and come to church.. Their response was as follows: "Sorry, but we have no time at all to read the book because we are preparing for the holiday. Also, we can't go to church on Sunday." So, things like that are a little frustrating. And that was my least favorite part of the week.

Fourth: other thoughts from the week. One cool experience I had today was when I was getting a haircut, we had already talked to the lady about the Restoration and eternal families, but today I literally was able to teach her the entire first lesson while she cut my hair. And now, when we invited her to come to church, she said that she really wants to come, so she'll talk to her husband tonight and try to convince him to go with her to church this Sunday so she can learn more about the Restoration and eternal families. I really thought and felt like it was a cool experience, and loved the Spirit it brought into the day. We're going to try and get her to learn from the missionaries in the area where she lives, which she said is something that she would like. So I thought that was a cool story that I thought I'd share.

Lastly, my mom asked about teaching how the Savior taught. And that is simply this: have charity for the person you are teaching. We must truly have love--pure and unfeigned--for those that we teach, and if we do so, then every single thing that comes out of our mouth will be for their benefit, and their good. That is the biggest thing that I have learned about teaching how the Savior taught. I must truly love those that I teach, and if I do so, then I will be able to teach with the Spirit and teach according to the needs of those that I teach. And everything I say will be for their eternal and spiritual benefit. Actually, that's what we must do in everything that we do. We must have charity for those that we come across in every thing that we do. Because charity is the greatest of all (see 1 Corinthians 13).

Anyway, I hope you all have a great week! Thanks for all your love, support, and encouragement throughout the almost two years I've been here. I love you all and wish the best for you!
Elder Snell

Reunion with Elder Leo

Good to be back with old friends

Monday, June 20, 2016

06/20/16- Look to Christ and Live

Karaha kory ity raha e! Tegna teako ny fivolanantsikana, fa tsaroako foagna ny fanohananareo aho. I felt like busting out a little bit of the northern dialects, so there ya go in that opening statement. FYI that won't really work on Google Translate, but only part will come out. But you can try if you want. :)

Anyway, this is a pretty big landmark as far as my mission goes. Last week was great and everything, our baptism is vita soa aman-tsara, but today marks the start of the last transfer of my mission... Yeah... I officially have six weeks left, which is literally like nothing. I feel like the time is just slipping away from my, like trying to hold water in my bare hands. No matter how hard I squeeze, it just keeps getting through and going away, little by little. For all of you starting a mission, don't let a moment go by without making the most of it. Take advantage of the time you have! It's shorter than you think it is.

But anyway, we've got some good questions from my mom this week, which is awesome. First off, the reason why the Malagasy people are so happy when they have so little. To first answer that, I think some of them might not fully realize just how poor they are. That could be why. But here's an example to see the real reason: the rich Malagasy class are some of the snobbiest, most stuck-up and constantly angry people I have ever met. It seems like they are never happy (in general, that is). But then if you give a dona to one of the beggar kids, the entire group of beggars will just light up and smile from ear to ear. They are so happy it's ridiculous. There are also two great examples in the Ampefiloha (neighboring) Ward, where there are two severely handicapped members, who also have very little as far as worldly comforts go. And yet, they are literally two of the happiest people I have ever met. Here is the reason, according to my thinking: Malagasy people, in general, believe in God, and believe that He loves them. I feel that it is a belief in God that makes them so happy. Those who lack that belief lack that infectious happiness.

Second question: the baptism went great. I realize I kind of already answered this, but it was good. The girl we baptized had learned from missionaries for a long time and had just kind of fallen under the radar when there were some changes in the missionaries working here. So all we really did was complete the baptism. But it was good!

Third: something fun I ate this week. The thing that stands out most was that we ate at the Carlton Hotel this last week, which is really nice and pretty good food, but it made me way uncomfortable, just because of how nice it was and how expensive some of the food is. It was delicious, don't get me wrong, but I feel uncomfortable going there because of how nice it is. I feel like it's offensive to the people we teach almost, by how nice it is. But, despite all that, I did enjoy the lasagna that I got there.

Fourth: yes it is pretty cold right now, and getting colder. It varies though, depending on the day. Today, for example, is a wonderful 65 degrees or so with sunshine. But other days it gets down to like low forties or so, and that's why I got the coat (don't worry Mom, I didn't just buy stuff I didn't need; you taught me well). :)

Fifth question: this week was FULL of the Spirit. But it was especially strong in our last lesson yesterday (Sunday) with our investigator Bary. In that lesson, he said that he wanted to stop learning because he felt like it would increase the tension that is already to the breaking point in his family, because of their not accepting his learning from us and his desire to get baptized. But, we talked with him about that and had our member couple who were helping us give their testimonies of how following Christ is what we need to do, despite the trials we face in life. Then we read the story of Christ and Peter walking on the water, and talked about what it meant for him. When we applied it to him, and how he must look to Christ in everything he does, rather than look at the wind, waves, and storm, he got really quiet. Then he agreed to continue meeting with us an prepare for baptism, and I could tell that his faith grew in just that small meeting. I testified to him that we all go through trials, and that even I, as a missionary, have been and am still going through trials that threaten to bring me to the breaking point at times. And yet I told him that I know that if we look to Christ, we will not sink. We will not fall, because of the rock upon which we are founded (Helaman 5:12). I know that's true, and the Spirit once again witnessed to me and to my heart yesterday that that is true. If we look to Christ, we are supported even as Peter was supported through the storm, wind, and waves.

Last and final question: Father's day thoughts about our Father in Heaven. My thoughts are very simple: He is our perfect example as a father and caretaker. He loves us, no matter what we do. He supports us when we succeed, and He helps us up when we fall down. He is eternally patient, and never gives up on us. We, as His children, must strive more each and every day to be like Him in all that we do, and in everything that we say. So that is my Father's Day testimony: God loves you. He knows you, is cheering for you, and is helping you through every step of your life, especially through the trials and troubles which you face. Don't give up, because He is there for you. He is infinite, and yet He is personal as well. He is YOUR Father, not just our Father in Heaven. He knows you personally and wants to help you become better. So let Him. He's there for you. I know that to be true, because I have seen that in my personal life. And God does not discriminate. Never forget that He loves you.

Anyway, thank you all for being so awesome and enduring to the end of this mission with me. I feel your support and love each and every day. So, I hope this week is incredible for you, filled with God's love.

Elder Snell

Here are some pictures of a member family of recent converts which we taught and visited with last Monday. They are awesome, and their kids are adorable.

A really funny picture of a door. Look carefully to see what's funny about the picture.
Pictures of the people who attended the baptism last Saturday.

Then a picture with Andersie and Rita, some cool members I met a while back here in Tana who came to English class last Saturday. Elder Schroedter's the one in the background.
Pictures with Elder Covey and Elder Schroedter, who are going home the day after tomorrow.
Pictures of the places we went today during P-Day. :)

Sunday, June 19, 2016

06/13/16- Focus on Keeping Your Covenants

Hey everyone! Things are going great out here in Madagascar, and I am really enjoying the mission, even as it winds down to the "final stretch" and some of you have been so caring to remind me of in your emails. ;) But really, this mission has been such an incredible experience. Thanks to you all who supported me from the beginning until now.

Anyway, no questions for this week, so I will just talk about how it went and some stories that we had. First and foremost probably, we had a multi-zone basketball tournament this morning, with the Tana North and South Zones competing. We came up with teams of three and then went head to head. I was paired with Elder Sweeten (from Orem), and my trainee malalako Elder Leo. And, not to be prideful or anything, we won it all. So yeah yeah, we're pretty good, you could say.

Haha anyway, in all seriousness, this week was great. We got to know a missionaries' previous investigator who comes to church every week, and for whatever reason just never got baptized. But, as of last week, they passed their baptismal interview, and I will baptize them this upcoming Saturday. So that's fun news.

And also, with regards to news, there was some bad news this last week. Elder Leo's father in Samoa passed away last Friday or so. I could tell it was very hard for him, especially since it was mainly his father who was funding his mission, even though he was a non-member. So, when the payments stop or when his now widowed mother needs him, Elder Leo will go home. So it's been pretty rough with regards to that. Everyone's prayers in their behalf would be appreciated and would help immensely.
On a lighter note, I went on a companion exchange last week with Elder Razafindretsetra, one of my good friends out here. We worked here in 67Ha, and it was a great day.

On a final spiritual note, we've been doing some work with less-actives as of late, as that is a problem that runs rampant all over Madagascar. So this last week, we visited Frere Simon and his family, who have been members since the early days of the church here in Madagascar, and yet are currently less-active. The reason for this is that they had a family member in the position of the bishop last year who was removed early from his place for reasons unknown. And there was a bit of backlash and gossip about their entire family from some members, and they thus went into less activity. Frere Simon seems pretty ready to return now though, but his wife is not coming back. But what's incredible is that we have some recent converts, Frere Jocelyn and his wife Hanitra, who are very active, and yet Jocelyn and Simon are brothers, and got the exact same backlash and gossip. And even simply walking into their homes, you can feel the difference. There is a peace and happiness in the home of Jocelyn and Hanitra that just isn't present in that of Simon and his family. But what made the difference? The difference is simply willingness and conversion: a willingness to follow and do what they know is right, and the conversion to look beyond what they have endured and instead focus on the keeping of their covenant with God. Those who keep the covenant have the Spirit, and those who don't have a very apparent lack of that Spirit. So, as a little encouragement, let us all have the courage and willingness to keep our covenants and follow what God would have us do, no matter what trials and problems come into our life.

Anyway, that's all for this week. Not a whole lot of time for great details or anything, but I hope you all have a fantastic week! Trust in God, love Him, and follow Him. You WILL see the blessings from doing so.

Am-pitiavana, ka mandra-pihaontsika indray,
Elder Snell

Picture of the Rova from our church, as well as the "Antananarivo" sign

Pictures from our basketball activity this morning

Here is the winning team standing triumpantly

The church where we had the basketball games

A new jacket I got. I realize my pose is exactly the same in the two pictures. Just humor me. :P

Elder Razafindretsetra and me

Monday, June 6, 2016

06/06/16- "I Love You More or Less"

Manahoana daholo e a! It sounds like this last week was SUPER eventful and busy for lots of people, with graduation for everyone and whatnot. But I'm glad that it was a good week, from what it sounded like. Out here in 67 Ha,  Antananarivo, Madagasikara, our week was great. Got a lot of good work done, and I am very very excited for what the future may bring.

First off, with regards to Zone Conference. Yes, we did have Zone Conference this past week, which was incredible. The Spirit was so strong throughout it. President and Sister Foote and the AP's all gave talks, which were all incredible. But it was mostly the central topic that caught my attention, and that was about being and becoming, rather than just doing. Out here in the mission field, there are missionaries who just "do missionary" for two years, go home, and continue on with life. But there are others who truly become a missionary throughout their two years in the field, and actually experience a "mighty change of heart" which serves as a take-off platform for higher and greater spiritual achievements throughout their entire lives. There were many different topics covered which all kind of centered on being and acting how missionaries should be and act. But the thing that most impressed me were some of President Foote's comments, especially about prayer. I know that we believe that prayer is communication with God, but sometimes we get in a rut of addressing God, thanking, asking, and ending in the name of Christ. Don't get me wrong though, that's a good form to follow. But, as our spirituality deepens, so should the personal aspect of our prayers deepen and become more personal and like a real conversation with God. He wants to talk with us. He doesn't really want a pre-recorded greeting, thank-you note, asking for a favor, or whatnot. He wants to TALK with you. And He is ready to do so, if you are ready to talk with Him. So those are my thoughts from Zone Conference.

Secondly, our investigators are doing pretty great. We had a pretty good turnout of 14 investigators at church yesterday, which we were way happy with, even though some people who said they would come didn't... But that's life in the mission field. We have some great progressing investigators, like Nasolo, Stephanie, and Frankie, a father and his two kids, who are also family of some part-member family recent converts. They are preparing to get baptized on July 9, and should catch that date if they come consistently to church at this point. So, we are praying for them to come.

Third question: our baptism last Saturday turned out great. Francine got baptized, and is now officially a full member of the church. She was smiling so much all Saturday and Sunday, it just made me so happy. I can't wait to see who else we can help make that covenant with God to put them on the road and path to eternal life.

Lastly, my thoughts and impressions from this last week. One thing that has been sticking out to me (besides my thoughts from Zone Conference), is with regards to charity. Charity, as we know, is "the pure love of Christ," which is limitless, unconditional, and knows no bounds. Charity is true love. Charity means that you will do anything for someone or something, no matter what they do to you, and no matter the circumstance. Christ had charity because He was willing to sacrifice and give up His entire life and suffer endless sufferings for each and every one of us. Charity is probably the most important characteristic that we must adopt in this life, for, as Paul says, no matter what we do, and "have not charity, [we] are nothing." If we truly have charity, everything else in our lives will fall into place, no matter the cost, circumstance, or situation. I know that's true. I have felt, at times, the charity and pure love of God and Christ for the people here in Madagascar. And I, as a missionary and representative of Them, has tried to emulate and convey that love to those who I come across. Obviously, I'm not perfect, and there are times when love is not the message that others get from me. And I know that I must repent because of that. But, I can try to change and become better every day. And that is my challenge for all of us; to try harder each and every day to love more, and have charity. President Foote in Zone Conference talked about a necklace he saw in France that said "love you more or less" which he thought was odd. But then when he asked the true meaning, it really brings out a great lesson for all of us. It's meaning is this: I love you more today than I did yesterday, but less than I will tomorrow. That has become one of my personal goals from now on: to love others more today than I did yesterday, but less than I will love them tomorrow. So I encourage each and every one of you to do so as well, in order to bring more love and charity into this world that is desperately in need of that pure, unconditional love.

Anyway, that's all for this week. Thank you all for everything, and for the wonderful encouragement and words you send my way. I love you all and hope you have a great week!

Elder Snell

A picture from our baptism last Saturday, with Francine and her family.

Some of our investigator's kids. WAY cute.

Elder Leo and I re-united at Zone Conference!

Some American soldiers who came to church yesterday. The one in the middle is an ex-missionary, and the one on the right is his Catholic friend. The lesson was about baptism, and I think his Catholic friend had a lot of thoughts and questions afterwards, by the look on his face...

Splits with the APs yesterday, Elder Glazier and Elder Rasmussen.

Pictures from our lunch today and the Tana Water Front, after playing ultimate frisbee with our zone.

Another lunch pic
Some sushi that we had the other day, which was also way good.
We found a Mexican Restaurant in our area. WAY good, but a little bit pricey... :P

Our silly stove which only has three settings: warm, hot, and above or bottom...

But, as you see, the French Toast Casserole I made the other day turned out lovely.

Our schedule last day which was AWESOME. It consisted of a father-led part-member family, a referral, a recent convert, and then father-led families until the end of the day. Way grateful for God giving us that day.