This week was crazy because we were on Church History Tour—something Michael did with us just a couple years back. Trying to write to him while travelling on a bus was a challenge, but due to rather amazing technology, we were glad to hear from him the minute his email came in!
No pictures this week.
Subject: "He's trying to lead you down the path of righteousness. I'll take you down the path that rocks!"
This is the third week in a row that I have tried to type in dad's email in the "Send To" bar, and I just type "Dad" instead of the email address. I keep telling myself to get it right, and then don't. So that's odd.
The Old People and Not-So-Much-Baby of the Family are off on a bus, discovering distant lands on the church history tour. Now there's an experience for you. There's not I really have to add to that, other than to make the best of it. I guess it's almost over by now, but stay focused on the church and history that you see. That's what it's all about, right?
Apparently there's lots of people from Evergreen Ward on the bus, including three Arringtons and two Nathan Bennetts (I'm guessing that was a typo in dad's email). Way to represent!
I just tried to sign into the LDS website for missionaries, and it came out in French. So I clicked on the language bar, and happened to see that one of the options for the website is "American Sign Language". I was not aware that you could actually TYPE sign language. I guess you learn something new every day.
We've taught two people this week that insist that God's name is Jehovah. It's been kind of fun teaching them, just because of how ridiculous they get. First we'll clarify that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are three separate beings, and then ask who the Savior is. Both of them say that it is Jesus Christ. Correct. Now let's read Isaiah 43:11, which says: "I am JEHOVAH. There is no Savior other than Me." After reading that to them I just started laughing to myself. Just a great feeling of "I win". Of course they still rejected it, trying to think of ways to warp the scripture to their belief. But I hope it at least got their minds moving a little bit, and that they'll be humble enough to recognize the truth that we have given them.
People have some really funny ideas about God and his gospel. Here's one more of them.
We had found this family a while ago, and are teaching them really slowly. Elder Andriamanganoro and I think that they could be way cool members, so we're trying to teach them really well. As we do with everybody. But you get the point. Yesterday we talked about prophets and how God always works through prophets (Amos 3:7). However, the wife had a problem with that, and started beating around the bush about why we don't need prophets today. In the end, she explained her big issue: "In the Catholic church, they have 'prophets' and you have to confess your sins to them. I don't think I need to confess my sins to anybody but God, so I don't need a prophet. I can do my repenting business directly with God."
After she said that my first thought was "WE ARE NOT THE CATHOLIC CHURCH." But we explained that that is not what a true prophet is for, and he does not replace our personal line with God. I believe there is a Dallin H. Oaks talk that explains about our personal line with God, and our priesthood line. They are separate, but both are needed. We encouraged them to pray about it, and hopefully they'll be diligent in that.
Our teaching has generally been getting better, and we've been teaching more. A good combination. We also met these two guys named Tojo and Njara who seem like they could be way cool.
I don't know if I mentioned this before, but my companion's family owns a house in our area. It's really just a shack out in the middle of nowhere, and most Malagasies have a second home like that. Because of that house though, we found out that there is a less-active member that lives out in that area, and we decided to stop by. And he is the coolest member ever.
He was baptized a few years ago in a different ward, and became less-active after moving to where he is now. But he still reads the Book of Mormon every day! Not a very common thing to see in people that don't come to church anymore.
However, the real reason that he hasn't been coming to church is that he only has one leg, and it's really hard for him to climb into the bus that would take him to the church. But his explanation was a great example of his attitude. He didn't point at his missing leg and say "I'm missing a leg". Instead he pointed to his one good leg and said "I've got one good leg, and I can go about 500 meters before it really wears out". Just one of those "glass is half full" kind of guys. And even better, he actually came to church last Sunday. So that's one less-active member reactivated. As long as he, Bruno, keeps up the good work. He's a good old guy.
One more new investigator that we've found is... our branch president's son. For those who may not know, any person who is nine years or older and not already baptized has to learn from the missionaries. It's pretty common here in Mada for people to just put of baptizing their child until it's too late, and they come to the missionaries, expecting us to teach them. What the heck, people? Just dunk 'em when they're young and we won't have to teach them! And if anybody shouldn't have had that problem, it's our branch president!
It turns out that it's actually his son from his first marriage, which didn't turn out too well, and the kid (Anselmo, pronounced like Hansel-Moo) had been staying with his mom until now. But hey, it's one more person we get to count as an investigator, right? Plus he's a pretty smart kid, and we have a really fun time when we teach him.
I feel like this email has been a lot of babbling, but I guess that's all it is normally.
And it sounds like everybody back home is having a good time. And what's this about Steven having "a better communication device"? Did he inherit an iPhone while my back was turned? Well done kid. And it sounds like he's being responsible with it. Good job kiddo. O, be wise. What can I say more?
As for the rest of you, life still seems to include a lot of jobs, kids, and in Emily's case, more kids. I've just skimmed through your email so far, but I hope your kids are mingling with them French Fries and Spanish Salsa's too. That will give your kids the bragging rights of being that much cooler than all the other kids that don't hang out with foreigners. And maybe some language skills too, because those always come in handy.
Mom, Dad, and Stacey, thank you for your reports on the Missionary Challenge. Keep up the good work. And to those of you who have yet to start, I repeat my letter from last week: "Now get off your butts and Just Do It!"
And if it helps, read D+C 4 right before talking to the missionaries, remembering that it applies to YOU just as much as it does to them.
Thank you all for your support and love. It's great to be remembered somewhere out there.
I love you all,
- Elder Arrington