Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Week 5 in the MTC

So, Michael is past half way in his duration in the MTC!  Just 4 weeks left, so it may seem.  Still, his sense of humor is as good as always.  I do think it is cool that Malagasy has two ways of saying “ours”, both including and excluding the person you’re talking to.  How many times do we have to clarify that in English?  Oh, and did anyone get the words to that Mulan song?

Two emails again today, although the second was pretty short. 

Subject:  "An A? But all you can read is my name and the date" "I saw where you were going with it"

Well, it's been another week. As if you didn't know that. I've got some fun stories for you today, but perhaps we should start with a language lesson. Let's see...

Let's go over making an object possessive! Take a noun like... karavate (referring to a neck-tie, and yes, they get it from the French word). To possess it, you have to always add "ny" in from of the word you want to possess. And so it becomes "ny karavate". Then you must add a possessive ending to show who is possessing it. For most words, these are -ko, -nao, -ny, -ntsika, -nay, -nareo, and -n'izy ireo. Respectively, they mean of me, of you, of him/her/it, of ours (inclusive of the person you're talking to), ours (excluding the person you're talking to), all o' y'all, and of theirs. Add it to the end and you'll have "ny karavateko". Directly, it translates to something like "the tie of mine". Pretty simple stuff. There is also something called a weak ending (when a word ends with -na, -tra, -ka) which means you just chop off that ending and the possessive endings change a little bit. But it's not too bad.

The language is actually coming along pretty well. Or so I thought. We prepared a lesson for Miandry again (one of our progressing investigators), and I felt totally ready to teach the Creation and Adam and Eve. Seriously. And then we walked in to give the lesson, and walking through the door was like being baptized. Except instead of all the sins washing away, it was all of my preparation. Everything was just gone. So that kind of sucked. Elder Hamm did most of the teaching, and (kind of fortunately) Miandry told us he had to leave right when we reached my part of the Forgotten Lesson. Unfortunately, I didn't understand him, so I kept talking (saying nothing useful) until Elder Hamm started poking me and explained what he had said. We offered to close with a prayer, and he gestured to me. I folded my arms, bowed my head, and starting praying. What I didn't realize for about a minute, is that I was actually bearing my testimony. Not saying a prayer. So that was pretty sad. But I caught it, and life went on. Suffice it to say, it was not our best lesson. Sadly, it was also not our worst.

So I hope that got everyone laughing a bit. And if that didn't work, remember what Julie said about milk and cookies and the last email. I definitely got a good chuckle out of that.

Sorry I still can't send you any pictures yet, but I can't get to the website Dad told me about, and I don't have my camera with me anyway. So that's not helpful. Hopefully once I get out in the actual field (only four weeks left!) I'll be able to send them all. There's also a couple of "MTC" pictures that one of my teachers has been telling me about, so I'll see if I can take some of those. They should be rather stylish.

Looking over the last week (how did I ever survive without a planner?), we had some pretty good times. And taught some pretty good lessons. I don't know why, but Miandry seems to suck out any ability I once had with the language as soon I walk through the door. It's weird. With everyone else I teach, we have a grand old time. One of them has a couple problems, mainly that his wife wants to separate, and that's the main reason he sought out the missionaries. He wants us to help keep them together. So that could be interesting.

I've also made a few other slips-of-the-tongue regarding Malagasy. Most of them aren't even my fault! Okay, yes they are. But they're really close to the word I meant! I don't think I'll explain them now though. Some were pretty bad. Basically, there's room to improve.

And now I have something of a sad story to share with you. Since I'm a district leader now, I am privileged to sit in on a great many fantastic meetings. Soooo enjoyable. Anyway, we sit there and talk about the problems that we've been having with our group. Fortunately, my people are awesome, and so I have basically nothing to report. Recently though, an Elder got very homesick. Not one of mine, but I heard about it. He was so homesick that he spent most if his day throwing up. So that's not a good sign. In short, he ended up going home. The moral of this story is, thank you everyone, for not making me homesick. That would have been no bueno. Or rather, tsy tsara. So yeah.
I feel like I've killed the mood a bit, so I'll share a story about one of my teachers (the funny one). But it takes some background. A while ago, my teacher (who shall remain nameless) had left his car in a parking lot. When he returned, it had been towed. But it hadn't been posted as a towing zone! Not even a no park area! Anyway, he was pretty mad. So he went to the guy that towed it to contest it, and eventually threatened to bring in a lawyer (his uncle was one and he had already learned that he was right in not having to pay for it). The guy at the towing place explained that someone had done just that before, and won. The problem was that the ticket had cost $250, and the lawyer the guy had paid for had cost $500. The poor sap ended up doubling his price, just to avoid the ticket. So my teacher was right that he shouldn't have to pay for the ticket, but proving his point in court would cost twice as much. So he just paid for the tow and moved on.

Or DID he move on? A short while later, his car was found in that same parking lot, all by its itty bitty self. When the tow truck came around, the driver saw Nameless Teacher's car and made his move to snag it. What he hadn't realized (much like the wolf that tried to attack Jeremy Renner in the Bourne Legacy), was that a devious trap had been lain. Right as the truck pulled up to tow Teacher's car, my teacher revved the car and sped off yelling, and I quote, "sucka!!" Turns out he had been sitting in the car the whole time, with the seat leaned down. Sneaky.

Anyway, I hope that leaves you all a little happier. I should probably go now, but as usual, I'll be back. Terminator.

And I'll give you one more movie quote for now. "Great, she brings home a sword. If you ask me, she should have brought home a ma-" and I'll let y'all finish that off. OH! And for the love of Pete, will somebody PLEASE send me the lyrics to "I'll Make a Man Out of You" from Mulan. I need to prove to my companion that they don't say "tranquil as the forest, we'll fight fire with wind". I mean, how does that even make sense!? Clearly the words are "tranquil as the forest, but a fire withIN"! Also, Elder Horne thinks that they say "we must be swift as a raging fire". Poor kid. I mean, did these people even HAVE a childhood?? Honestly, it's sad.

Time to go, keep it real, and please write back whenever you can,

-Elder Arrington

Second Letter (subject was the same):

Well I'm not really sure what else I can say today... oh! So you remember how I mentioned that Mr. Incredible was here? Well he left yesterday and I had missed my chance to take a picture with him! But what am I saying? If you want to see him, just go watch the Incredibles. He's the tall, strong guy. He looks like that.

Anyway, I spent most of today trying (with little success) to sleep. I don't know what it is, but I seem to lack the ability to take a nap. It seems I did fall asleep eventually, just in time to be woken up for dinner. So that was interesting.

Um... yeah... so how has life been for all of you? Everyone staying busy? I know Mom and Dad have... and it sounds like Steven's almost doing well in football. But most of that doesn't seem to be his fault.

Anyway, keep up the good work everyone, and PLEASE right back any time,

Thank you!

-Elder Arrington

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Week 4 in the MTC

This week we get some pictures!  And two emails again!  Here we go first letter:

Subject:  "Better a silly girl with a flower, than a silly boy with a horse and a stick"

Well, it's another Tuesday. As if you didn't know that. I think we can all agree that these emails are the greatest part of everyone's week.

P1010937Now I realize that some of you have gotten very complainy regarding pictures. Dad you left some very good instructions on how to send them using Internet Explorer. Unfortunately, the browser here at the MTC allows us access to LDS.org and mormon.org, and that's about it. Which is still pretty fun. I watched the CES fireside by Elder Holland a couple days ago, and that was fantastic. That and the celebration of President Monson's birthday are awesome. Definitely watch them at LDS.org.

Where was I? Australia. Yes, Australia! (from the Princess Bride, since it seemed kind of unclear) Anyway, the point I'm making there is that I can't send pictures to the thing. But I'll try to get a few off in this email. And I'll give some... descriptions? Of the pictures? Yeah. That should work.

I don't know why, but words have started to just not look right anymore. I tried to write "we rely on the Lord" a while ago, but I couldn't figure out how to spell "rely". So that's sad. I had to change it to "depend".

P1010936Hm... I never know what to send in these things. Why, you ask? Well, hear a lot of people saying things like "I can't wait for you to get to Madagascar!" or "It should be great once you get out in the field!" People never really wonder that much about the MTC, mainly because it's learning for like a million hours a day and then sleeping two. If you're lucky.

I think I've figured out the pictures, so there's five or so on their way. They should be: a chalkboard picture of my group riding a T-rex drawn by Elder Evans (starting from the left, it's Elder Evans, Elder Horne, myself, and Elder Hamm. I'm holding a spear. Also, remember that the whole picture is about ten inches across, so it's pretty tiny), a couple pictures of me at the temple (pondering deeply), and they have pictures of other Madagascar missionaries doing their work in some of the buildings around here, so there's a couple pictures of those pictures. That should be fun. And then the last one is a white board drawing of one of Elder Hamm's and my battles (we see who wins the most. Usually he does). He got a bunch of twinkies in a care package and didn't want them, so in the drawing he's running to them. Unbeknownst to him, I've laid a trap for him to fall onto pointed traffic cones. (I'm EA, he's EHM). We've also made a bunch of stop-motion video things, and some are pretty awesome. Unfortunately, there's a lot of pictures, so I can't send them right now. And mom, I'll try to get some of the group and significant things like that.

Oh yes! I just remembered apostles and celebrities (I just had to ask my comp how to spell that. Weird). Basically, my district has been playing this game to see who can find the most people that look like celebrities, and the most elders with apostles names. So I've seen Elders Monson (I know he's actually a prophet, but bear with me), Nelson, Cook, Holland, Ballard... and a bunch more. I think Bednar and Christoffersen will be the toughest ones. As for celebrities, there's a guy who looks EXACTLY like Mr. Incredible. Spot on. And another that looks exactly like Tom Hardy. For those of you that don't know who that is, go watch Inception or the Dark Knight Rises again. He's awesome. Anyway, I'm going to see if I can get pictures with both of them.

Well, other than that... a language lesson? Here's a fun fact (that I hope I haven't given you already). Take the word "mianatra" (meaning "to learn"). In Malagasy, most (if not all) active verb forms start with the letter M. You can add the letter P after the M, and it is defined as "someone who does that". "Mianatra" becomes "mpianatra" (student). Fun right? But wait, there's more. From here, you can add "ma" to the beginning, making it a verb again. The "ma" turns it into "to cause it to occur". Therefore, "mpianatra" becomes "mampianatra" (to teach). But that's still not all! Remember the first thing I said in this? Since this is now an active verb starting with M, you can add a P just after the M, making it "someone who does that" yet again. "Mampianatra" becomes "mpampianatra" (teacher). From learning, to student, to teaching, to teacher. Think about that. Another example is "maminany" meaning "to prophesy". Add a P and it becomes "mpaminany" meaning "prophet". It's fun. Right now they're focusing a lot on teaching us rules like this so that we can learn to make our own words. We just learned how to make transitive and intransitive verbs from a root verb yesterday, and maybe I'll send that to you another week.

Anyway, I should really be going now. I'll try to get on again later today, send me questions and things if you have any, peace out, and stay awesome,

-Elder Arrington

Second Letter.  Now he’s a district leader!

Subject:    "This is an '81 Honda! How DARE you??"

Well it's been another few hours. I like sending off two emails, because it gives me a chance to address things that I've probably missed in the first one.

First off, Mom, yes, I did get your DearElder messages (the one that said it was a test and the one that talked about the stake day of service fiasco, and maybe another one). So DearElder is pretty solid on getting the messages to us, even though it might not send back the confirmation emails sometimes.

As for life at the MTC, it's been pretty much the same. A few changes have been made, the most significant of which is probably that I am now the district leader for the four Malagasy missionaries. Since we're about halfway through our stay, the branch presidency figured it was time for a change. You may recall that Elder Evans was the previous district leader, and now he and his companion (Elder Horne) are the zone leaders. As fun as all these responsibilities sound, it basically just means that we go to more meetings and talk about how our district (or zone) is doing. It's been really weird. As the district leader I'm supposed to interview all of my district, one by one, and then report to the zone leaders on how everybody is doing. So I interview Elders Hamm, Evans, and Horne, and then report to Elders Evans and Horne. Odd. It's also been kind of annoying. Since I'm the district leader, Elder Evans suggested that I let Elder Hamm make most of the calls for our companionship (he IS the senior companion now anyway). He has no other real leadership thing, and we don't want him to feel... suppressed or anything. Which is stupid because when ever I try to talk to the district or make an announcement or something, the zone leaders try to act like they can trump me. Which they could under other circumstances, but not in district meetings. It's just really stupid. Hopefully we'll be able to figure it out.

I earlier mentioned that I work with the "Malagasy" missionaries for a reason. We met another missionary that's going to Madagascar, but speaking French. So that's fun. We'll probably never see him after the MTC, but it's fun to meet people that you can relate to.
Relating to people with which we can relate, there is a sister here FROM MADAGASCAR. I might have already told you about her. Basically, she's from Madagascar, learning English here (although she's already pretty good), and serving her mission in Salt Lake City. So that's fun. We've been learning some Malagasy games and things that we might play with her sometime, since she doesn't really get to socialize with anyone around here. It turns out not being able to talk to anyone is something of a barrier. Go figure.

Let's see... oh yes! I talked about Elder Evans earlier, and here's another kind of fun story. I've been parting my hair (with style) for a while now, and while I was sitting there studying, he walked by and asked "what, did Moses part your hair?" and I was like "ooh!". It was pretty fun.

I've also learned that if anybody brings up Dobby from Harry Potter, I can't stop myself from crying. I don't know what that's all about, but it's kind of freaking me out.

But seriously! Isn't it just awful! I mean that scene when *censored censored censored censored censored censored censored censored censored* (I refuse to give away a scene) is just so sad! Just watch Harry Potter 7 Part 1 and you'll understand.

On a happier note, I feel like Brian Regan around here, and not for the reason you might think. I'll be sitting at lunch or something and ask where they're going. And they're all "yeah I'm going to Ohio!" or something sad like that. And I get to be all "I'm going to Madagscar" (I walked on the moon). So in your face. It's like, I'm sure their missions will be very spiritual and all that, buuuutttttt... Madagascar rools. And I say it like that because they don't use "U" in Malagasy. So take that.

On a languagey note, I realize I sent something earlier, but let me add in the alphabet. It's the same as the American alphabet (take that England), but they don't use C, Q, U, X, or... V? Something like that. It's weird trying to remember which ones to not use. Basically they just took out the really obnoxious letters. I mean, have you ever really looked at an X? It's just a wannabe E-K-S. It's stealing jobs from Es, Ks, and Ss everywhere. The little jerk.

Another obnoxious thing is the word "the". Say it out loud. The. That stupid little E thinks it can be said like "uh". Well I'm going to start pronouncing it "thee". Take that.

Well I should be going now, so everyone enjoy your time and PLEASE write back! Time seems to go by really fast now but going a week without a letter from each and every one of you is like looking in the mirror and realizing that you've had something stuck in your teeth all day and nobody told you. Which is not a good thing.

Anyway, please write back, I promise to do my best to respond to everyone (and remember that DearElder is probably the best since it's easier for me to respond to instead of having to check emails during computer time), and keep living the gospel. God loves each and every one of you.

-Elder Arrington

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Week 3 in the MTC

Three emails from Michael today.  And may I say that we just crack up at his letters.  I do think we need to get some pictures soon…. 

Here are the letters in the order they showed up:

Subject:  "and heaven, and heaven, and nature siiiiiiiiiiiiing!!" ... "you're conceited."

Prize to anyone who can tell me what that's from. "Prize" being a good, lucky feeling. And the satisfaction of being awesome. Your hint is that we used to watch it every year around Christmas time (it's not the Santa Claus).

Anyway, life here has been just a little bit crazy. We got up at 4:30 this morning to try to beat the rush to the laundry room, only to find out that it was locked, and they had just decided to open it at 6:30 instead. So that was disappointing. So we went back to bed for a while and when we came back I just happened upon two open washers right away. A blessing of diligence and fortune I suppose.

To all of you who sent me hate mail for not commenting on your DearElder letters, CHILL. Mainly because it's not actually my fault. The mail wasn't delivered Saturday through Monday (for some holiday that's apparently more important than ME) and my district leader thought it would be funny to hide my mail for that day and say I hadn't gotten any. But no worries, we've caused him to repent since then. It actually was pretty funny for a while, because he was like "oh, Elder Arrington got no mail..." and we all joked about it for a while. Then it turned out I had five. So there.

Really quick, Dad, I need you to send me email addresses and normal house addresses for the family. I have a couple letters I'd like to send off, but I don't know where anyone lives. I'll be back on later today, and I'll have more instructions and comments then.

Until then, try not to cry that I'm not there. Mom.

-Elder Arrington

Letter #2

Subject:  "We are men..." *music*

And the correct answer was... Johnny Bravo. Well done Stacey.
In the course of having read the mail that was sent by all of you, I made a list of items to address in this email.

First off, the parents. You've been asking about what I would want for a care package, and honestly, all I can think of is some trail mix. That stuff is good. That being said, I trust you to make the right decision. Mwaha.

I'd also like to thank Dad (the whole family?) for the contribution of cinnamon rolls, which my companions and I have enjoyed to the fullest. (Julie, your moment is coming) Dad, I hear you're off of your sabbatical now. That should be fun. But it also sounds like you have a pretty good time at work. Or a reasonably good time at work? Something like that.

Mom, good work on the couches. They really have needed to be restuffed for a while (I mean, I wasn't going to say anything, but...). Anyway, I look forward to seeing them in two years. The same couches. In the same house. So no moving.

For those of you who may not know, Lindsay recently sent me a message stating that Elder Evans' (my district leader) father seems to have been Mike's mission president. I asked Elder Evans about it, and he confirmed said suspicions. Excellent detective work.
Stacey, mainly, keep up the good work, raise Darci to be a little monster, but a good little monster. There's also a letter coming your way with further instructions. Use them well.

I'd like everybody to know now, that Julie sent an apple pie. The deliciousness thereof was desirable above all other pies, and it brought happiness to all those who partook. So thanks for the pie kid. Mmm... good.

David, keep the messages coming. Details are great to hear, and it's just fantastic getting mail. So keep it up.

Oh, and do well in school and stuff like that. I hear that's helpful to people.

Steven, congrats on your football games. I'm sure the quarterback will actually manage to get the ball to you one of these days. Until then, play hard, work harder, knock down some kids (only in football though. It's bad to knock them down at other times), and enjoy it. Also do well in school. For serious, if you don't get straight A's, I'll build a giant catapult and send a volley of lemurs at your face. Ye be warned.

Generally, thanks to everybody. I love getting mail, and I promise you we missionaries can never have to much mail. I'll do my best to respond to everything, but obviously I'll miss some things. Know that I read through everything I get, and I'm glad you guys care enough to send things. It's a good thing.

And now, back to me. I think I already mentioned the laundry situation, so you know all about that.

Um... here's a sad story. So I be walking about in the residence hall, and I hear someone singing "I'll Make a Man Out of You" from Mulan. Of course, my first thought was "this guy is awesome, I should join him!" But then right as I'm about to begin a rousing "WE ARE MEN" I realize he's singing THE WRONG WORDS. Seriously, I almost threw my bunk bed at him. He dishonored me.

Sunday night we had a fireside in which some guy gave a talk. Named Richard I. Heaton. And he invited up these two Elders and asked them where they were from - Australia. Naturally, the had the coolest accents that have ever lived. Anyway, it turns out that one of the Elders had CONVERTED the other one earlier, and now they both get to go serve missions. So that's pretty awesome.

Speaking of accents, I stood in line at the wrap line today (for food. A wrap.) right next to a guy who was from Portugal, but knew perfect English after living in England for a few years, and now he's on his way to Spain. Portugese, English, and Spanish. Delicious.
Todays language lesson is the words "eto" and "any", meaning "here" and "there". To give you a little direction in life. Ha.

Anyway, life here has been much of the same. I'm learning a lot about the language and the Gospel. And about teaching people. Apparently it's not easy. We're learning slowly, but definitely learning. Our lessons are improving and hopefully we'll be ready to serve when the time comes.

Thanks to everyone,

-Elder Arrington

And finally, Letter #3

Subject:  "The water there is pristine, and I don't usually use the word pristine"

I realize that my earlier emails may have been... shall we say, less than useful. I'll take this time to add just a few clarifying points, and maybe some insight about the MTC.

But before I get to that, I want you all to know that there's a kid at the MTC right now who looks EXACTLY like the kid from the Pagemaster. Glasses, crazy blond hair, the whole shebang.

And now, to business. My earlier language lesson was kind of rushed, so I'll add a few thoughts. For one, every word in Malagasy ends with a vowel (I'm sorry if I repeat things to y'all, but it's hard to keep track). For two, they have three types (or forms) of verbs. Each type has its own imperative and indicative form. The three main types are active, passive, and circumstantial. I bring this up because all active verbs start with "M". That should help identify some things. Another couple words that come in handy are "iza" (ee-zah), "aiza" (eye-zah), and "maninona" (mah-nih-new-nah, but try to connect the N's. Still say the vowels, but try keeping your mouth formed like you're saying the N. It's weird). You can say these by themselves to clarify something like if someone says "go over there" you could say "aiza?" and they would point it out again.

That should be enough of the language lessons for a while. On a more spiritual note, yesterday we did a workshop where half of the Elders went in one room and the other half went to another. Both groups watched a video about a woman named Milna Castella, and the Elders in one room were told to prepare a lesson for her, while the other room (including myself) was told to pretend to be her. It was really interesting being the investigator for once, and seeing how little things, like having them read a verse in the Book of Mormon can make such a big difference. I also learned that it can be kind of frustrating for the investigator if you take something back from them. For instance, the elder who taught me (and also happened to be one of my zone leaders) handed me the Book of Mormon, indicated a verse, and had me read. As soon as I was done, he took it back, and I didn't really have time to think it over. If any of you find yourselves teaching somebody, don't be afraid to let them sit and ponder what you're telling them. It might seem awkward for you, but they're deciding what to do with the rest of their LIFE. Give them that moment. And ask questions frequently. Apparently it's a big problem in Madagascar for missionaries that don't ask enough questions. The people there are fairly simple-minded (and I say that not to be rude or anything, they just don't really care about big fancy concepts. They enjoy the simple things), and if you don't ask questions to make sure your message is clear, they might misunderstand. Or it could blow completely over their head. Neither is good.

Fun story for all of you (not so much for others), we have a temple session every P-day, and this is where our glorious tale begins. We took our time getting up for once, since all we had to go to was breakfast, and when it came time to leave for the temple, we were feeling very prepared. So we grabbed our suits (we're required to wear them to the temple) and headed out. A nice, sunny day. Very warm. In a suit. Anyway, we walked the quarter mile or so to the temple, and as soon as we walked in the door, Elder Hamm (my companion, for those of you who haven't been paying attention) realized that he had forgotten his temple recommend. So we ran back to our residence hall, up three flights of stairs, grabbed the card, and ran the 40 miles (or so it seemed) back to the temple. All in our suits. So that was nice.

Anyway, I have a devotional thing to go to now, but everyone stay happy, PLEASE keep writing, and... be good.

Thank you all,

- Elder Arrington

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Week 2 in the MTC

Michaels seems a little concerned about the lack of mail this week.  We’ve primarily been using DearElder to send mail (since he says it works better), but this week it didn’t work so well.  Turns out that since Monday was a holiday, anything written after 11:00PST on Friday would not have arrived there until AFTER his PDay on Tuesday.  At least that’s our explanation…. 

This week’s email comes in two parts.  The first arrived at like 5:15am our time, 6:15am his time.

Subject:  "No... It's because I'm a prop! You always cast me as the broom, the pole, the stick! A splinter...

I guess I should realize that the family probably isn't awake yet. Oh well. Basically, after our last P-Day and the two hours it took to get our laundry done, we decided it would be a good idea to get up at 5 to just get laundry out of the way and free up a bunch of time for ourselves later. Unfortunately, it seems that the rest of the MTC had the same idea, because it's just as busy at five in the morning as it is the rest of the day. Oh well.

Anyway, it's been an interesting week. We learned a crazy lot about the language. For instance, in English, we have two types of sentence structure: active and passive. An active sentence could be "I ride the bike" while a passive could be "the bike was ridden by me". It sounds a little weird to talk with passive, since most English speakers just use active.

In Malagasy however, they have active, passive, and circumstantial. Active and passive are essentially the same, although Malagasy sentences are pretty much always structured with the Verb first and the Subject last. So "I ride the bike" becomes "ride the bike I" and so on. Passive follows the same crazy idea, as does circumstantial. Circumstantial is basically a clarifying sentence whose subject is defined as the concept or object that is clarifying the overall idea of the conversation or story. Try keeping that straight in your head. And structuring the sentences correctly. And translating them to another language. Needless to say, we're working hard.

But enough of the language. Almost. Today's message is brought to you by the word "akoho" (ah-koohoo) which is Malagasy for "chicken". I couldn't think of anything else right now, so enjoy your word. Also, with words like akoho, try to connect the two "o"s into the same syllable. But also pronounce the "H" to separate them. It's weird.

Last thing about the language: every stinking word in Malagasy ends with a vowel. Every. Stinking. One. Just so you know.

But aside from all that, life has been pretty good. About 8 or 9 hours of study per day for Malagasy and for spiritual things does a man some good. A little mail wouldn't be looked down upon... but I've been pretty busy anyway. Elder Hamm and I committed our investigator to baptism! Of course, it turns out that Miandry is not only NOT a real investigator, but yesterday we found out he is one of our teachers, really called Bro. Sender. But it was still good to teach him. Now that we're apparently doing well with the language, our teachers have decided that we'll be teaching ALL of them, separately. So where once we had one investigator, we now have three. We'll be teaching all three tomorrow, so we really need to get some lessons planned out.

It's also kind of crazy with some of the names that people have here. For instance, the other night we were at a fireside and the guy in charge of the meeting was like "we'd like to ask Elder Ballard to bear his testimony". Of course we all perk up thinking "NO WAY". And it turns out to be just another Elder. Not JUST another Elder, but a fine, gentlemanly scholar, who turned out to not be a member of the Quorum of the Twelve.

On the note of the Quorum of the Twelve, we realized that we have their pictures on our classroom wall, and they were out of order. Just a mess. So we took them down, and as we were putting them up, in order, from left to right, Elder Horne was like "NO!! You don't put them in order from left to right! Then 6 and 7 will be right next to the Presidency! You have to start with the first one right next to the Presidency, the second next to them on the other side, and just alternating". And we were all "um... no." So we've had something of a falling out thanks to that. But we're going to ask some official people about their opinion. Not that it really matters that much, but it would be nice to have it all sorted out.

Still, it's been good. I'm sorry I never know what to write about, but it would be good to have some *mail* feedback *mail* so I know how things are going back at home *mail*. Thank you Lindsay and Dad for your contributions. To everyone, remember that a DearElder is best, since they deliver them almost every day and I don't have to spend so much time on the computer just reading.

Life has been great here. You'll never feel the Spirit as strongly or as often as on your mission. Even in the two weeks I've been here, it's been amazing how much I've been able to learn.

-Elder Arrington

PS: I have to go move my laundry, but I'll see if I can send something later today.

And here comes part two:

You should have the original first email by now, so I'll see if I can just add a little bit. Since I don't really remember what I've written about at all, I'll try to cover everything briefly.

For one, the language is going great. I'll try to include a phrase or something every week so you guys can get a feel for the language... or something. It just helps to use it whenever I can. Today's message is brought to you by the word: Sorompanavotana. Meaning: Atonement. We use that one a lot.

Our investigator "Miandry" finally came out and admitted that he was our third teacher, and explained the basics of a circumstantial sentence (which I think I talked about before). We now have three investigators to teach, some days we'll work with all of them, other days just one or two. However, planning the lessons is getting easier, even though they're not allowing us to use notes any more. So that's been interesting.

The food here has actually been pretty good! Everyone talks sass about it, but really they're just glad to be eating. Gym times have been getting better, as have I at volleyball. I've spiked a few times, and when the line gets too long I go running. So that's good...

But you don't care about that! Elder Hamm (my companion) and I have had the best time ever here, and we're working hard to make sure we always improve.

In our class yesterday, Brother Burton taught a game that I call "akoho" (which means chicken), not because it applies to the game, we just needed some kind of name for it. And we've been playing that whenever we get spare time, and we all enjoy it.

As far as the rest of you, Mom and Dad, I don't think I've gotten mail at all this week. It was actually kind of depressing. Elder Evans met up with Elder Hamm and me and announced that he had some good news and some bad news. The bad news turned out to be that one of us wouldn't be getting any mail today. The good news: everyone else would. It turns out I was the one this time, and we've been joking around about that. Mom, I did get your message that I think you wrote at the same time the nieces wrote me, but I'm not sure if I've gotten anything else from you. Maybe one other letter. Definitely nothing in the last four or five days though.

Emily, I instruct you to... do... stuff... I don't know. Just keep raising those kids right. And that goes for you other girls too.

Lindsay, thank you for your email, and good luck on Arbor Manor. They say that working hard is good for you, and having seen you working there, you should be pretty good... or however that makes sense. Keep it up.

Stacey. Stacey, Stacey, Stacey... I expected better. Two weeks I've been gone and you haven't sent a single message. Neither has Darci. You should have a talkin' to with her. Anyway, I assign you to read all the things we discussed before, watch everything we talked about before, and get back to me on it with at least a weekly update. Also, make sure you're starting the list of fantastic movies I'll have to watch when I get back.

Julie, you keep raising that little James to be the same spunky little punk he's always been. And see if you can fatten up his cheeks again. Those were good times.

David. Thank you for your letter. I'm sure you of all people in this family understand the value of getting mail whenever possible. It always helps raise your Spirits. Usually. Also, feel free to work with Stacey on the movie list. "The future of the Faa family, rests in your claws". Good movie.

Steven, while I doubt you'll actually read this (not that I blame you), just stay busy, keep working hard, and never quit because the grass seems greener somewhere else.

Generally you're all fantastic, and Dad, see if you can post my mission mail address somewhere, thank you all,

-Elder Arrington

Week 1 in the MTC: The Sequel

Last week’s letter’s from Michael seemed to be missing the very first letter.  After some coaxing, he finally sent it!  Here it is—the very first letter from Michael.  He seems to be following in his brother’s footsteps using movie quotes for his subject lines:

Subject:  "You are destined for-" "I didn't quite hear that last part, but it sounded important."

The first email home. Basically, the time here has been awesome. We started off with a bunch of conferences and meetings to welcome the new elders (and I mean a BUNCH. Like our last one might have been yesterday, if we're lucky). I also think it should be clear that you will never sleep as little or as badly as when you're at the MTC. The first night I was sleeping like a baby in a cradle with "rock-a-bye-baby" playing somewhere in the background, but I think ever since that night my bed has had it out for me. It's actually pretty comfortable, but I don't think I've gotten more than four hours of sleep each night for the last few nights. Ironically though, I still feel reasonably well rested, so I guess that's a blessing somewhere.

Hopefully on a lighter note, the language. For those of you who have taken language classes in school (i.e. everyone) you may recall having fun or even enjoying it from time to time. We do that a lot. No, but seriously, we have two teachers who try to make us talk as much Malagasy as possible, which means THEY talk as much Malagasy as possible, so we understand roughly nothing. We are getting better though, probably because they have us teaching an "investigator" five days a week, although we found a picture of him in our room from when he (who calls himself Miandry) was on his mission, baptizing some people. So that makes me suspicious. Anyway, each day we have to plan a lesson out, work it with our companions, and then translate everything to Malagasy. Sounds easy right? WRONG. You try learning a new language and trying to give someone a spiritual experience when you can't even pronounce the words. And you can't make sentences. And you have to keep reading off of your notes because you have no idea what you're saying. And then Miandry has the AUDACITY to start asking questions! So we're sitting there like... *bluh...* with our brains kind of oozing out. But I guess that's why they have us learn the language and practice here, instead of in the field.
It's also probably worth mentioning that we started teaching him on Friday, which was a day and a half after we started learning the dang language. And this Friday we have to give the lesson without any notes, so we'll see how that goes.

Also, I must say I'm fairly disappointed in a good many of you, considering how I've only gotten mail from Dad, Mom, and Kathryn and Danielle Frogley. And David. Good man. The rest of you that are older than 7 should work harder. But don't actually worry about it. It's just a great feeling to get more mail than the other elders. And to be able to read all of that.

I guess I should mention that when I say "we" I usually mean my district, which consists of myself and the three other elders that will be going to Madagascar. There's Elders Hamm (my comp), Horne, and Evans. Elder Evans is our district leader. And all three of the other guys are from Utah. So I'm kind of the odd one. But Oregon is better.

I kind of need to be going now... but I just remembered a story. Elder Horne was giving a lesson to Miandry, and was trying to ask "what is faith". But he pronounced the word for faith wrong and it came out as "what is breast-feeding"? We all got a good chuckle over that.

Anyway, keep writing everyone, and remember that DearElder works better (Dad, yours have been coming through) since I can read them throughout the week and be able to spend more time responding than reading since I only get a half hour on the computer.
Mom, you also might like to know that my comp and I went to get some laundry soap, and he grabbed fabric softener instead, so now our clothes will be downy soft, but still smell like sweaty mission juice. Fun.

Finally, ta-ta for now, and I'll talk to you all next week!

    Elder Arrington