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

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