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.
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,
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