Monday, October 29, 2012

Week 1 in Ambohimanarina

Ok, are all city names in Madagascar that long?

With no idea how long it would be before we actually heard from Michael, we kind of figured the email would come Monday, but with Michael being 10 hours ahead of us (11 when the clocks change in a couple weeks) Monday might even be Sunday to us.

Though we expected to hear from him Monday, mom and I happened to be up chatting about some gospel topic when I heard my phone beep indicating an email just arrived.  Yep, that was it!  1:30AM.  We got to read it right then.  Next week we’ll wait until morning.

Yea, but this is a really fun letter….

Subject:  "Can I have your watch when you are dead?"

"What did he say?"

Yes, as many of you have guessed, they did in fact teach me the wrong language at the MTC. Which is stupid, because my companion speaks the same language that I learned, and they understand him just fine. But these people don't even know their own language. Come on people.

I also should probably mention that this email will be kind of short, since I have to work with a French keyboard, and those people CLEARLY had no idea what's going on.
But enough of that. Yes, Elder Landon is my companion. And my trainer. And right now he's talking like a redneck. It's been good. He's a great teacher, and we've been having a great time. We already have a bunch of investigators (or "friends of the church" as they call them here), and just yesterday I challenged someone to baptism! And he accepted! So that was pretty awesome.

They say that we should talk to the kids here, because they'll be about as good at the language as we greenies are. That's just a lie. Them kids is way better: Also, they call us white people "vazaha". And they think we're all French, so they like to yell out "bonjour!" to which I respond "Manahoana gasy kely!" Which means "hello little Malagasy!" in Malagasy. And they're like, you know Malagasy?? Heck yes I do. That's another lie, but they love it. Also, I was teaching a lesson with this family, and there was this little kid there, maybe 18 months old. I just looked at him for a minute, and he gave me the "bro-nod". You know that nod you give when you see your man walkin' down the street? The chin goes up, and it's basically like saying "what up homeslice"? This kid did that to me. And I was like, you're awesome. And he knew it. The bro-nod.

I can also officially say that I have shared a seat on a bus with a chicken. There's another life-goal fulfilled. And do you remember all those stories about how nice and safe the bus drivers are here? No? That's because there aren't any. Anybody on the road is considered a target, and although a sidewalk sometimes exists, people never use it. So I've basically just had to come to peace with the fact that I WILL die on a bus. There's just no way around it. And yes, we take at least four or five busses each day. Elder Landon and I actually live outside of our area, so we have about a 15 minute bus ride each day.

And so far we haven't actually had to do any contacting, since we already have about 18 investigators. But that will probably change soon. The people here like the missionaries and don't mind listening to us, but a lot of them just refuse to keep commitments like reading in the Book of Mormon or going to church. So that kind of sucks. And a lot of the ones that are super righteous, keep commitments, go to church, and are just awesome, have marriage problems. It's super hard for a Malagasy to get married, since they have to pay for it, and generally that means not eating for a while. And since they already have families or are living with someone, they can't be baptized until they get "vita soratra" (wedding certificate). So yeah. You can guess how good that's been for the work here in Mada.

I also rolled my ankle a couple days ago-thank you very much, cobblestone roads. I guess I'll learn to live with that.

On the saddest note of the day, I left my MTC journal on the plane to London. I talked to the airline later, and they said it had been thrown away already. There goes two months of MTCness. That's kind of okay though, because it was all pretty much the same thing every day anyway. I already sent all the interesting stuff in emails anyway. But suffice it to say, a lesson has been learned.

More about journals, you can get things bound here for super cheap, so I can actually have somebody make one for me that's awesome, and super cheap. We're talking 8 or 9 bucks here. Sweet. They'll also bind scriptures too, so pretty much every missionary comes home with awesome scriptures. Be ready.

And I just remembered, I saw the Malagasy version of baby Darci a couple days ago. She looked just the same, except this baby Jesus came in black. It was crazy. I'll see if I can get a picture later.

Which reminds me, sorry about no pictures still. There will be some next week.

Anyway, I'm getting kind of used to this keyboard, so hopefully I'll be able to send more next week. It's great to hear from you all, and I'll probably start printing these out so that I have more time to write, but still plenty of time to read your letters. Dad, yours is the only one I haven't gotten to yet, so I'll print that out and respond next time.

It sounds like Steven and Kyle have had some... interesting sports experiences, so keep working hard.

No, I haven't seen "the Madagascar animals", because most of them don't exist here. At least most of the ones from the movie. Pretty much just lemurs and fousa (the fousa are attacking!). I did see a chameleon though. Some kid was holding it. Weird. But fun. He said it's a toy. But yeah, lions, hippos, giraffes, and zebras all live on the main land of Africa. Not Madagascar. The biggest animals here are the fousa, followed closely by the people. It's been interesting to be 6 foot whatever and have to work through doorways and stairwells that are made to squish people that average maybe 5 feet tall. I'm considering wearing a helmet now, just for safety.

But yeah. So that's Madagascar in a French keyboard'd nutshell. It's been good. But I need to go now, so... peace out.

And keep writing!

-Elder Arrington

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Michael Arrives in Antananarivo

Michael left the MTC on Monday 10/22 and arrived in Antananarivo Madagascar on Wed the 24th.  The previous post shows his itinerary.  I tracked the flights pretty much the whole way.  Although he had a couple delays, he had enough layovers that he didn’t have any trouble getting there.  But we really had no way of knowing if he actually got ON the flights.

The trip took forever.  Salt Lake to Chicago, to London, to Johannesburg, to Antananarivo.  All with long layovers in London and Chicago.  That’s a lot of travel time with no sleep.

We received the following letter from his Mission President after he arrived.  Whew!  Now we know he arrived ok!  It also gives us information about his first assignment and his companion.

Arrington letter to parents_Page_1

Arrington letter to parents_Page_2

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Week 8 in the MTC

Michael will spend 9 weeks in the MTC, but this letter will be his last from there.  He leaves on Monday morning as you will see from the pictures below.  And yes, he did send pictures!  Not that they’re pictures of anything particularly interesting, but I’ll include some just because he described them.

This letter is particularly interesting because he describes his “investigators” who I believe are volunteers there just to help train the missionaries.  But he describes them as real as can be.  They have some successes, they have others that, well, not so good….

Next time we hear from Michael he will be in Madagascar.  Well, not really.  We get a phone call from him sometime while he is traveling there.  Maybe SLC, maybe Chicago.  We’ll have to wait and see….

Subject:  "Yes, you know, opposites attract? In this case, there was a library, that also sold beer."

P1020129Well I'll just describe the pictures quickly. And I have no idea what order they are in. And I just forgot which ones I put on.

One of them is Elder Hamm, my companion, sitting like a king on a chair. On a vent.
Another is a white board drawing that I made of Gaston, from Beauty and the Beast. Notice his large muscles and authentic jacket buttons.P1020093

I think there's also a picture of a chalk board. I drew Elder Horne's dad (the one on the left), Elder Hamm (more like the Joker), and what was supposed to be Catwoman riding the Bat-bike. Gladiator Chad was drawn by Elder Evans, and captures P1020092the essence of our main teacher. And then the far right is Elder Hamm trying to draw Elder Horne's dad. But I think it looks far too much like George Washington. I mean look at his hair!
There's also a picture of a painting of a bird. Which is awesome.

And Elder Evans has gotten extremely jealous of my mad "parting-the-hair-like-a-bosP1020127s" skills, so he drew a picture of Moses. Parting my hair. And P1020097the children of Israel walking through.

And there should be my flight plans in there somewhere. That's for you dad. It saves me some time having to write it.

I basically have to go now, so I'll get on again later.

Enjoy life everyone!

-Elder Arrington

P1020126Here’s the real letter.

Subject:  "What in our history together makes you think I'm capable of something like that?"

Well, I realize many of you have gotten very whiny, or as you may call it, "wanting pictures of people". Fine. But I don't think the computer I'm on will let me download them from the camera, and my time is running out.

So... I wrote a bunch of things that I wanted to talk about, but I'm not sure I'll get through them all. And there's no real order, so bear with me. Bear. Brother Bear.

First off, for those of you that were wondering, the bat that was doing laps in the gym DID in fact make a second appearance. But it was sleeping. On the ceiling. Which was awesome. But what you may find even slightly more interesting than that, is basically everything else that has happened.

For one, Elder Hamm told me that Elder Bednar would be coming to speak to us last Tuesday (two days after conference), and of course I didn't believe him. For one, we spend ever waking (and sleeping) moment together, and I hear pretty much everything that he does. So I was all, psh! To make a long story short, Elder Bednar came. Booyah.

He (Elder Bednar) also mentioned Elder Holland's talk. Which reminds me that one of our teachers showed us a meme (Julie, you're in charge of explaining what those are to those who don't know - i.e. the p-a-r-e-n-t-s) of Elder Holland. He was just sitting there smiling and the caption read "I don't always give the best conference talks... Oh wait, yes I do". It was pretty fun.

Dad, you've mentioned the "R" word in your most recent email home. Which is interesting. And in spite of the possible "new crops" that you mentioned from the idea of the "M" word (for those of you who are unaware, I am not referring to meat. Mmm... good. Meat), I still expect that to not have happened yet. Or basically ever. That is my expectation.

Yes, this is officially my last P-Day in the MTC. Thank goodness. I'll be leaving for the airport on Monday morning, and I'll be able to call home at least once. From an airport. I haven't decided which one yet, but it will probably be from SLC.

And it seems that Steven has been doing pretty well in his football awesomeness. And make sure he knows more songs to play on the piano than Praise to the Man!

And now, back to me. First off, lets talk about me investigators. Keep in mind that none of them are real (YET)

First we have Lalaina. He and his wife used to fight a lot, but we've been working that out pretty well. He also smoked, drank (drinked?), and chewed a ton of tobacco, but he started working himself off of those before we even knew about them. He's been doing pretty well, but he can't quite seem to quit smoking. So in our last lesson with him, we wrote out a plan for him. He told us that he smokes about 6 cigarettes per day, so now we've started to limit it to 5, then 4, 3, and so on. I'm going to guess that you all know how the rest of those numbers go.

Second up is Tojo. He's been progressing really well, with no real problems that he lets us know about. He basically just accepts everything without any issues. Which is kind of nice, but I also have to wonder if he's hiding something. That little Tojo.

And now Miandry. The Bane (BOOYAH) of my existence. I don't know why, but whenever I start a lesson with him, my brain falls out. Everything I've ever known goes away. Which is depressing. On a more depressing note, we received a letter from Miandry yesterday, just before we were supposed to teach him, that he had moved to take care of his grandma. He wasn't sure when or if he'd be back, but he said it was nice that we had been willing to teach him and we should have a good day and such. The little jerk. Not really. But seriously, apparently that actually happens in the field. Since pretty much the only thing the people own is what they wear (and sometimes their house) they'll just look around one day and say, "do you think we should move?" "Yeah, why not?" And within a day, they're gone, never to be seen again. Crazy.

So then we (Elder Hamm and I) went "tracting" and met a new investigator. His name is either Roja or Rajo. I'm not really sure. He makes tables and desks for the FJKM (Jehovah's Witness people), and only let us in when we explained that we would preach the from the Bible (don't even try mentioning the BOM). Anyway, we got inside, talked for a minute about Christ and his reign, the apostasy, and mentioned that we have living prophets on the Earth today. That peaked his interest. And then we left. Always leave them wanting more.

Anyway, I'm running pretty low on time, and I can't really think of a language lesson right now anyway. So... be excellent to each other!

Time for me to go, be ready for a phone call sometime between Monday and Wednesday of next week, and just keep working hard!

Until Madagascar,

- Elder Arrington

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Week 7 in the MTC

This letter follows General Conference.  My experience is that GC in the MTC is always an amazing experience.  I was there for GC, David was there for GC, and now Michael was there for GC.  Very cool.  Again, two letters!

Subject:  "How do I find her?" "It's easy. She's standing right next to you"

Well, needless to say, this has been a great week. Particularly the weekend. Let's all just agree right now that general conference was way more awesome in the MTC, especially when they announced the reduction of the missionary age. Let's just get that out there. Having all of the missionaries (except for the senior couples who were probably asleep anyway) in one giant auditorium and hearing that announcement... it was big.

Of course, after that, all of us started thinking and were like, "we could be halfway through our missions right now!" Or much more importantly, "we could have been out of the MTC right now!!". But, the Lord called us when he called us, because he needed us called when we was called. If that makes any sense. Basically, General Conference was all fantastic. Especially Elder Holland's talk. And Elder Bednar's. And President Monson's. Oh heck, they were all awesome.

Mom, you mentioned that it felt like there were a lot of talks about "serving others", but it seemed to me that it was a lot about "missionary work". I guess we all just hear what we need to hear. Which is another reason I want to, and would encourage you all to do the same, to watch or listen to them again. And not just in passing, while in the car or something. Really listen to them. There's some solid stuff in there. And if you haven't listened to Elder Holland's CES Fireside (or Devotional?) address, WATCH IT. It's probably the greatest talk ever given. For serious. It's all over And the labor which you have to perform is to look.

After conference, we had the BEST fireside I've ever heard of, by a certain little man, named Chad Lewis. Usually we get people with titles like "Elder" or at least "Brother". But this was just "Chad". So when I saw that I was all, "oh, this is going to be lame. Just some random dude off the street is going to teach us". Well apparently they need to get more random people off the street. (that's not actually where they found him, for the record)

Anyway, this guy played in the NFL for... 9 years? and was a BOSS for every one of them. He spent most of his time jumping over the other time. We're talking like Super Mario *boing* jumping. And he showed us some pictures and videos and things of him succeeding, and getting OWNED. Anyway, after that, he found himself in a group to support injured veterans, climbing Mount Kilaminjaro (yeah... that's probably spelled wrong. Live with it). There's some good stories there. One of my favorite parts (and this sounds really mean when I think about it) was that one of the vets had had his leg... removed during his time in combat, and had a prosthetic leg. As they climbed, his leg became inflamed and far too painful to walk on. So someone pulled out a stretcher and they carried him back down. Just before they carted him off, one of the other vets went up to him and said "you're a hero to us. And part of you reaching the top of the mountain with us. Give me your leg". And so the guy takes off his LEG, and they take it up. Fun stuff.

Anyway, back to Chad. He helped out covering the Super Bowl in China, since he knew Mandarin Chinese from his mission. Although he could only do things like "testify that Tom Brady threw true passes". Good stuff. And this Chad married a girl who looked EXACTLY like Maggie Lawson. It was weird.

After his fireside, we watched a talk by David A. Bednar. He gave this particular address at the MTC a while ago, and can only be found here. Or so they say. It's called the "Character of Christ" and is one of the best talks I've ever heard. And he gives some awesome study advice. I had seen it my first week here, but it was still awesome the second time.

Possibly more importantly, during that video (while we were sitting in the auditorium, which is also the gymnasium) we saw a BAT flying around!! I was sitting there like, "I'M BATMAN". It was awesome. But then we looked closer. It was flying around up above us, on the track, which is about three floors up from the gym floor itself. Upon said closer inspection, we realized that it was doing laps around the track. It went about a mile and a half during that time, clocking (according to my, very stylish watch) a five minute mile. Impressive. I just felt like Bruce Wayne though, sitting there, in a sweet sweet suit, watching this awesome bat flap around. Good times.

Now, I realize that there are no pictures attached to this email. Not my fault. Sort of. Some genius decided to take all the memory card readers out of the computers. Granted, there were only about ten that had them to begin with, but that should just mean that we need them all the more. So if you haven't sent the package already (Dad) a memory card reader of sorts would be delightful.

And don't think I've forgotten your language lesson! Well, I did, but I just remembered. Let's talk numbers.

1 - isa
2 - roa
3 - telo
4 - efatra
5 - dimy
6 - enina
7 - fito
8 - valo
9 - sivy
10 – folo

Make sense? It's actually pretty easy to count with Malagasy numbers except for one thing. Let's see if you can catch it. Here's a number:

47 - fito amby efapolo (meaning efatra - folo)

Did you see it? Yeah... I don't blame you. Basically, they say the number BACKWARDS. To say 47 I'd have to say "seven with forty". If there's a hundreds column, that would go next. And so when you're listening to somebody say a number, you have to remember the first part, hold it there, hear the second part, add it on, and just continue on until they stop saying things. Because you don't know if they're saying something with two, three, or ten digits. It can get frustrating. Imagine giving a phone number (123)456-7893. You'd have to say the phone number is "(321)654-3987" assuming that they know when you mean for it to break. More likely, you would have to say "3987-654(321)". Which is just confusing and stupid. And Malagasies know it. So a lot of the time they'll just use French numbers. But that just causes MORE issues.

One common deal is that you can bargain for almost anything in Madagascar. Let's say I'm buying a water bottle. I offer 2,000 aryary (about one dollar), and the guy says "no, I want 6,000". Three bucks. "Well," I respond with a dashing smile, "how about 3,000?". In French, he changes his price to 4,000, and I agree. How is this a problem? If you're talking in Malagasy numbers, it's usually agreed that you mean aryary. If you switch to French numbers, you're suddenly talking about Malagasy Francs. Which have a different value. By switching the numbering, and therefore paying, system, this guy just charged me... 20,000 aryary? Which is about ten US dollars. Rip off. I'll take my business elsewhere. I might have gotten the exchange rate backwards, but it's a thing you have to watch out for.

Anyway, time for me to go now. I'll try to send something after lunch (as usual), so if you have any questions for me or anything, be sure to send it before... 1PM. Your time.

Until next time,

-Elder Arrington

And the second letter, same day:

Subject:  "Deedee, where have you been all these years??" "Standing right behind you". "Oh Deedee, you know I never look there!"

So... I've decided that the other elders in my district have TERRIBLE taste in entertainment. We've been talking about TV shows, and I brought up Boy Meets World. And they had the NERVE to say it wasn't the most fantastic show ever to grow up on. Jerks. But whatever. God will judge them accordingly.

I also tried talking about Wicked, since we need some awesome tunes to sing as we're preparing for bed. What's better than Wicked? Oh yeah. Nothing. AND THEY SAID WICKED SUCKED. Good sir, YOU suck. So now I sing "Dancing Through Life" and such even louder. Although I'm the only one who's seen it. But still. They said it's only for girls. Curses.

Other than that, I feel like I covered pretty much everything earlier. Oooohhh... wait. We have investigators.

So we've started teaching each of our "progressing investigators" twice per week, plus we have the TRC where we hopefully get to teach at least one lesson. Last week, I made a goal to teach seven lessons, not because I'm a dork, but because they wanted us to get used to setting and attaining our goals. So I said seven lessons. Two for each of our investigators, plus one at the TRC. A comfortable guess. So we taught our first six lessons pretty well, and that was all good. We were finally prepared for the TRC, knew what lesson we were giving, how to give it, the whole shebang. And then NOBODY showed up for us to teach! Not only did all my fine work get thrown out the metaphorical window, but I didn't reach my teaching goal. THE FIRST GOAL I'VE EVER SET AS A MISSIONARY. So that was rather depressing. Not the best start.

Anyway, we've been doing better with that, and our lessons with our investigators have been getting way better. For one, Lalaina (aka Brother Burton), and his "family" are preparing very well for baptism. Going strong. And we had... probably the best lesson we've ever given, with him the other day. We got him involved, asked him solid questions, and basically just owned up a storm. For his critiquing afterward he asked, "who are you and what have you done with the other Elders?" We're talking like Olympic style teaching. Booyah.

And then Miandry... he never fails to make me fail. I was totally stoked for another lesson like our one with Lalaina, and completely prepared for it. And it was actually pretty good! We had a solid structure, used good examples, and even asked a couple good questions. But Miandry let us know afterward that we were "boring". Can you believe that? He called ME boring! I'll show you who's boring. Rahalahy Mpandefa. (that's the teacher's name in Malagasy. It actually has a real meaning! Weird)

And just like that, as so many of you are so fond of saying, I'm out of things to say. Not really sure how that happened. I know things happened, but I either forget about them or just figure that you had to be there.

OH! So Mom, you'll be happy to know that the hemming came out on one of my suit pant legs. Oh goodie. So I took it to the dry cleaning place (where they CLAIM that they also fix clothes) and asked what they could do. They said they would need two weeks notice (I can walk across this apartment in six seconds) and I'd have to pay for it. What the whaaaat? Nice try. But they have a different room where they do alterations for Sisters. I explained the problem. They said it be no problem, hemmed it up in about 14 seconds, and I was out on my jolly way feeling awesome. No charge. No two week bologna. Take that. That's what we call both smart shopping, and hemmed pants.

But it sounds like you're all having some good times too! Steven, hold out there for this Mini iPad (and don't lose this one). Or maybe just use a Gameboy. You can never go wrong with Pokemon Red. Or Paperboy. Oh man. Dad and Mom, you seem to be keeping busy, although I'm not sure if I like all this "big changes" business. As I told you when I left, I expect you to still be living in the same house when I come home. If I end up having to get kung fu'd but some naked ninja, I will hold you personally responsible (that was a reference to the RM, for anyone who thought I just got really creepy). Also, I think I got the packages that you sent. The one with the sweet little rocket launcher things? Oh yeah. There's no way we could use those to cause much mischief and mayhem. Hem. Hemming. Pants. And Dad, thanks for the care package. I've seriously had weeks at a time where I sit there wishing for chips and sweet melted Tillamook cheese. Would you believe that there are people who actually DON'T like cheese out here in Utah? I guess it's like not liking Wicked. You have to try the good stuff. Anyway, thanks for the package. It's awesome.

Emily, thank Danielle for the note, although I'm not sure why she and I are wearing boxing gloves. Hm. But thanks.

I'm running out of time, so the rest of you, keep up the good work, remember it will be much easier for you to write to me while I'm in the MTC, so use that opportunity well. And be grateful Anya.

Anyway, time to go, so peace out.

-Elder Arrington

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Week 6 in the MTC

Three messages from Michael today.  Of course the second was just a note saying he was there.  Well, you’ll read it below.

Subject:  "Maybe next time you'll think twice before you freeze someone's head!"

Well, I guess it's been another week. Not sure when that happened.

But it's been a good one, and I have written down a couple things I wanted to make sure I told y'all about. Which I left back at my residence hall. We'll see how well we do for now.

For one, thanks to those who have sent me letters and such. Always great hearing from you, and trying to get more mail than the other elders. But mostly hearing from fine people such as yourselves.

Second, I extend a warm thanks to all the people in the laundry room here at the MTC, who felt it would be a good idea to get up just before me and start their washers together, so the rest of us had to wait at least an hour before anyone could even think about starting a load. Thank you, jerk faces.

Thirdly, I'll throw out another language lesson. Let's try describing something. Take a sentence like "Joseph Smith is a true prophet". Now, to order it correctly according to Malagasy grammar, switch absolutely everything. Our simple sentence becomes "Prophet true Joseph Smith" (they don't have any form of the verb "to be". So no am, are, is, was, were, or obnoxious little will be). In Malagasy words, it's "Mpaminany marina i'Joseph Smith". The random "i" in there is used pretty much whenever you use a proper noun.

Anyway, to use adjectives to describe something, the easiest rule is just to do exactly the opposite of English. "The red ball" becomes "the ball red". Stupidly enough, you could take a sentence like "the car is green" and you STILL have to switch it to "green car". So there's not really a way to know whether the adjective goes before or after the noun, just remember that what you do in English is wrong in Malagasy.

On another fun language note, we taught Miandry again. We've started teaching our investigators here about two to three times per week (and we have three investigators). I don't remember if this happened before or after my last email home, but Miandry threatened to stop letting us come teach him, since he didn't feel that we were being very nice. He'd try to start a conversation with us, and mostly since we had no idea what he was saying, we would just move on, kind of ignoring what he'd said. So we were kind of being jerks, but it wasn't entirely our fault. There's something of a lack of communication.

Anyway, that wasn't good. Fortunately he let us come back and we explained why we were here. We want to (and you can find this in Preach My Gospel page 1) invite others to come unto Christ through the restored gospel, by faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. That was just from memory, so I could be off on some of it. So we explained that, and he got really excited when we brought up baptism. Apparently I had said (later in the lesson) that after he's baptized, he can receive the power of God. So then he REALLY wanted to be baptized. Good going Elder Arrington.

So I kind of blew that up. We took him from wanting to drop us to wanting to get God's power for himself, which, as you may know, isn't a very good reason to be baptized. He let us come back AGAIN to teach him, and we were able to straighten everything out. We re-explained everything, and told him that we want to take a moment to just step back and teach more thoroughly. He calmed down, and in our most recent lesson (yesterday) we went through the Ten Commandments. With some pretty awesome hand motions to remember each commandment. So that's been good.

Life in general has been pretty good around here, and for those of you who have been dying to know (aka, everyone), I was in fact right about the words to the Mulan song. Thanks for that David. And I was right about the capital of Georgia. Atlanta. Take that Elder Horne. But now he thinks that the song in Aladdin goes "a brand new world". What a noob. CLEARLY it's "a WHOLE new world". Hence the title "A Whole New World". But don't bother sending that song. Maybe. Every time I tell him the truth he's like, "I'm about 80% sure that it's 'a brand new world'", and I'm like, "the capital of Georgia is STILL Georgia". And then I feel awesome.

Anyway, it's time for me to go now, so keep it real everyone, and I'll try to get on later (with my notes).

-Elder Arrington

Here’s the second letter.  I told you it was short.

Subject:  Quick

I'm on right now, if anybody is there and wants to talk. I'm here for you man.

And here’s the follow up.

Subject:  "First of all, there IS a 'Whipped' magazine. I didn't subscribe, they just found me."

You'll be pleased to know that I actually brought my notes this time, although looking back over them I realize that I've been much less... thorough than I had thought. Meaning I wrote down like one thing. But it's a good story.

So you remember Miandry and that whole situation? Well we taught him the Ten Commandments, as I said before, and during the lesson (the First Commandment, Thou shalt have no other God before me) he said there's one God. Which is a problem. You see, in Madagascar, they have this belief that ALL religions are true, and they have a phrase that basically says "there is one God, but many roads that lead to him". So Malagasy people will just be going off on some tangent somewhere, talking about whatever, and then they'll say "there is one God", and you've got to stop them right there and explain that that isn't actually true. Which is difficult when you can barely understand what they're saying. Anyway, that's an area we should work on with that little punk of an investigator.

As for the rest of y'all, it sounds like things are going pretty well. Although Steven clearly hasn't learned that it's easier to "accidently" injure the player in your way than to wait for a chance to play, it sounds like he's been having some fun. And waiting for his chance to get an... iPad Mini? Maybe I've just been on the mission too long, but isn't that just an iPod Touch? Weird.

And as soon as I leave the house everyone gets an iPhone 5?? Low blow. I hope it crashes on you. Not really. But good luck with those. You especially, Mom. But ye be warned, iPhones can be very productive, if you're not careful. Be sure to add some games on there or something to balance it all out. I would suggest Jetpack Joyride and Fruit Ninja.

Yes, it's true, today marks six weeks that I've been in the MTC. And no, I don't know how you're all getting along without me either.  Good luck. Basically, everyone just stay busy, but find time to write if you can. Anyway, they finally gave us our travel plans (well, they gave Elder Evans his, but it's the same for all of us). We leave... October 22nd. Monday. Our plane leaves around 8AM and will take us to some other airport (go figure), from which we'll fly to London, try not to get lost, then somewhere else (I KNOW I had these memorized. Just not anymore), then South Africa, then we pop over to the Red Island. Did you know people call Madagascar that? Weird. The people there are black, not red.

So it all totals to about 35 hours of flight time in about three days, with time between flights. We'll be sitting in the London airport for about twelve hours, so that's enjoyable. Funny people with even funnier accents.

Another fun accent story. Today at lunch we was all chillaxin' all cool, when five elders walk up and sit down next to us. It's their first day here, and apparently three were from England, and the other two were very much from Ireland. We had a good time listening to them say things. I have no idea what they said, but it sounded cool.

I pulled out my family photo album yesterday for the first time in basically forever, and my teacher (Bro. Burton) took it. And I was all "dang it..." But he started looking through it, and eventually came across the picture of me, Mom, Dad, and I think Julie and Dave at the BYU @ Oregon State game and he was like "I love this. This is awesome". The man loves his football. So that was fun.

Which reminds me, he's basically the funniest teacher I've ever had. And he's shared a bunch of stories about his experience in Madagascar. That's one of the great things about Malagasy. You can have a Spanish teacher from anywhere (no offense David), but learning Malagasy, you KNOW they served in the Madagascar Antananarivo Mission. Anyway, he's told us some good stories, most of which I'm not at liberty to discuss. Very hush hush, don'tcha know. Maybe I'll recite some when I get home. Or I could just tell you all my own, far cooler and more spiritual, experiences.

Well, it's pretty much time for me to go. Plus there's a devotional I kind of have to go to at 7, and if we're not in line by... right now, we'll have to go to the "overflow". Which is a different building. And this could be the week that they finally have someone from the Quorum of the Twelve.

TTFN, tata for now!

-Elder Arrington