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

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