Monday, September 30, 2013

Week 23 in Sabotsy Namehana

Here’s Michael’s letter for today.  Some people may not have received it for some reason (working on resolving).

Imagine the frustration of every day people not understanding that truth is limited to, well, truth.  I know many missionaries (including me) experience that frustration….

Subject:  “They’re DANCING!”

This past week has actually been pretty good! I had been feeling like things haven't been going too well here, but our stats are finally starting to pick up. Apparently last week we (in Sabotsy Namehana) had the best stats in our district. When you put it like that, I guess we're not doing too shabby, eh?

That being said, I'm having a really hard time thinking of anything to write about right now, so don't be surprised if this is just a lot of rambling.

We had been teaching this couple named Landy and Lanto for a while, but recently the disappeared off the map. They officially live in a different area, but they where staying with a friend. The saddest part is that they were really good investigators, and one of them had already come to church and a church activity. But they have since vanished, and they don't answer their phone anymore. We stopped by their friend's house to see if they had any news, but they didn't. However, the friend now wants to learn from us!

The friend, a couple named Jim and Anjarisoa, have no concept of "the ONE true church". We brought up baptism to them, asking them if they would prepare themselves to be baptized in December. Both of them said, "that's nice, but we're already baptized!" Really now. In what church? The husband was dunked in some random church I've never heard of, and the wife was baptized (with a little water on the forehead) in the Protestant church. They have both ditched their old churches and are now members in the "Miara-Manompo" ("Serve Together") church. So basically, my companion and I have a lot to do with them, explaining authority and why it is so important.

To their credit, they are not the only ones that think that any church can save you. I'm pretty sure I've mentioned it before, ALL of Madagascar thinks that. We'll try to blow their faces off with the Restoration, how God's church DIDN'T EXIST during the Great Apostasy, but was restored in this church. And they'll just say, "that's cool! So your church is true. So is the Protestant church, the Catholic, the Apocalypsy, the 7th Day Adventist, the Lutheran church, and everything else out there that preaches about Jesus". That just isn't possible!

And I keep asking them, "then when do doctrine's disagree?" Why do some people teach that God has a body, and some teach that He is a spirit? Why do some people teach that infants need to be baptized and others teach otherwise?

And their response is always the same. "It just depends on the person! Some people think that children need baptism, others don't. Some people think God has a body, others don't. But none of that matters, because it's not your church that saves you, but your faith."

"Faith in what? Faith in actual eternal truths, or faith in whatever I feel like believing?"

I'm not really sure how to overcome this idea. I've started using a new example, that seems to be helping a bit, but they still just have a really hard time separating from what they have been taught their whole lives. I've even asked Malagasy members and missionaries how to help people understand that, and they just laugh and say that they have no idea either. Members of the church get it, but even they don't know how to help others get it.

But enough of that. Suffice it to say, we have a lot of people that we are teaching that fall into that category. Hopefully we can bring the Holy Ghost into the lessons so that He can do the heavy lifting.

Josoa, for those of you that may remember him, came to church again yesterday, without his wife, Nirine. She had told us the day before that she had some work to do at their church, but she will come next week. Hopefully. Josoa also says that he likes our church, and just wants to learn a bit more about it before he gets baptized. His wife is more hesitant, but hopefully we'll get her in the end.

One last note about our investigators. There has been this guy named Faniry that is learning from us, and he has learned on and off from missionaries for the past two years or so. He just refuses to progress. Recently, we were about to give him our drop talk, but when we asked him why he isn't reading the Book of Mormon or praying, he said that he has done it before and never got an answer. Now there's something we can work with! So we're still teaching him, trying to help him get an answer.

Even more interesting, his mom wouldn't talk to us for a while. I kept asking her why she doesn't learn from us, and she says, "I'm not ready." Well, you won't just wake up one day and suddenly realize that you're ready! You have to learn first! But this last week we finally convinced her to sit down and talk with us, so that we can at least know what her real problem is.

In short, she believes that her church is true and doesn't want to leave it. But that's not the real news here. The REAL news is that she let us in and was finally willing to talk with us. Even better, she accepted a return appointment and we'll go back there later this week to help her out some more. Awesome. The church is true.

We also have a baptism coming up this week. The son of our branch president is getting dunked, and since the kid is already nine, he had to learn from the missionaries. But he's a way cool kid, and has been learning very effectively. He apparently had some trouble remembering who Joseph Smith was during his baptism interview, but nothing serious. We'll just have to make sure that he learns about Joseph Smith more... thoroughly next time.

Anyway, that's probably all I have to say for now. The work here is going great, and Elder Stokes is a stud. He's never afraid to try teaching, and is working really hard to be more effective in the language and his teaching abilities.

Thank you all, especially Mom and Dad for writing double this week. It's great to hear about your lives back at home, and how much you are all trying to balance your lives.

I love you all!

- Elder Arrington

PS: Lindsay, you mentioned that you're having trouble finding time to do some missionary work. Have you considered holding a ward activity at Arbor Mansion? On a day when you have no events planned, just a dinner or something, as a "non-threatening way" to help nonmembers interact with members. I guess they have actual church buildings for that, but it could be worth a shot, right?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Week 22 in Sabotsy Namehana

In a fit of senioritis, mom and I got so caught up in our trip to Utah (BYU vs. Utah game, Grandpa Arrington’s birthday, and other distractions) that we were late writing to Michael this week.  Oops.  That can’t happen again….

Michael on the other hand, sounds really good!  Great things going on, and a new experience with a new (and I mean NEW) companion. 

And pictures!

Subject:  "Soup. Or... bowl. Okay, soup."

Time flies. Really fast.

Other than that, things are going pretty well here. Elder Ranomenjanahary officially left for Mahajunga, and got there safely. Apparently the water where he lives got cut off somehow, so he's been calling me trying to get me to tell the mission to help. It seems that my work with that man is not yet done.

P1040719Which brings me to our next, exciting development. My trainee! There were 15 new missionaries in this new group, including two sisters. Keep in mind, my MTC group has four missionaries, so this is a pretty big strength to our force. About half of the trainers right now have only been in country about three months, just long enough to have finished the "12 Week Program". New elders training new elders.

Anyway, it's a big group. After lots of meetings in the morning, we got to the point where all the new missionaries go up, one at a time, and read a letter that tells them where they will serve, and who their trainer is.

P1040721Right when they called up the first new elder to read his letter, I sat back and thought,"I should be safe for now. There will probably be at least six or seven before my name is called." And what did that first elder read?

"Elder Stokes, after prayerful consideration the Lord requires you to serve in the Sabotsy Namehana Branch, with your trainer, Elder Arrington."

Say what?

So that took me by surprise. But Elder Stokes is a great companion. So far he has shown himself to be diligent and outgoing, even trying to talk to somebody on his first bus ride. The guy turned out to be drunk and refused to speak anything but French, but hey, it's the thought that counts.

I feel like the only thing really holding Elder Stokes back right now is... me. I keep dominating our lessons, which makes it really hard for him to participate. I just feel like I can teach better than he can. But he needs to learn just as I did. So he and I have a plan, and soon, we will execute it.

P1040722But it's good. We're studying well, and trying to help him develop his teaching skills. So far the only thing he's done in a lesson is give a spiritual thought about 1 Nephi 3:7 (multiple times), but hey, I did exactly the same thing when I first came in country. Teaching is hard when you start out, most especially when it's teaching in a new language.

As for our actual teaching, things seem to be going pretty well. We taught Josoa and Nirine once again, and I'm not quite sure how to deal with Josoa. He keeps talking about baptism, pretty much telling us that once he understands that, he'll be willing to get dunked. Interesting! His wife seems less enthusiastic though, so we're trying to help her be more diligent.

We also brought Josoa to church yesterday. We came to his house a little early in the morning with our branch mission leader, trying to help them get to know each other. And it seems to have worked. Josoa had a good time at church, and we'll be stopping by his house again on Tuesday to teach him again. But now we've got him a friend in the church.

P1040723Looking through Wednesday, we taught two women, both of whose husbands don't learn. The one is just out of town usually, but the other one has told his wife that he is just fine in the FJKM church, and doesn't need to learn from the missionaries. Well, my good man, you actually do!

We taught him once when we first found them, but never since then. I just want to talk to the dang guy so that we can sort this out, but he is never there when we come by! Honestly, I think he is there some of the time, but runs away when we show up. I mean, our whole goal as missionaries is to help you grow closer to Christ! Why is that not something you want??

We've set up a couple lessons with him, but always get dogged. I think we'll just focus on the wife (Brigitte) and their kids. Hopefully the family will set a good example and the dad will want to follow.

P1040724We also taught a guy named Faniry, who we were planning to drop talk. To make a long story short, he opened up to us during the lesson and could turn into a really good investigator.

We also have some pictures this week. There's all the new missionaries with President and Sister Adams, a family that we teach (the two little kids had started running circles around Elder Stokes for some reason, which was pretty cute), and then Elder Stokes, me, Elder Razafimandimby (my old companion), and Elder Morley, another of the new missionaries. Elder Morley is HUGE.

Anyway, a big thank you to everybody that had a chance to write this week. And to those of you that didn't, I'm sure that you have VERY good excuses (which you will explain in next week's letter).

I love you all,

- Elder Arrington

Monday, September 16, 2013

Week 21 in Sabotsy Namehana

How about a trip to the zoo!  Well, sort of.And of course a lot of great missionary work.  And a new companion is coming.  And we have pictures!

Subject:  "I thought you were all tied up." "That's because you are stupid."

P1040556As we all seem to realize, the days are going by fast. For me personally, I keep going through the week thinking things like "I can't believe I still have four days before I can tell the family what's happening here!" And then Monday comes and I'm like "wait...

what was I going to tell them again?" Mondays through Sundays fly by, but that Sunday-Monday gap seems to erase all the interesting things from my brain.

Fortunately, we did something interesting today! Elder Ranomenjanahary is going home this week, and really wanted to stop by a lemur park before he left. So we talked to the other elders in our house, and all four of us went to a place called Ambohimanga.

P1040569To skip past the ridiculously long bus-ride, we got to the final stop on the bus and started walking through this FANTASTIC scenery. It was a half hour walk to the park, but I still loved every second of it.

Just rolling hills, trees, rice patties, and random old guys scuttling by. Awesome.

Anyway, we showed up, and found out that it was the most ghetto zoo ever. Guard rails: no. Guards: no. Locks on the exhibits: no. They did slap on a stick to hold each of the doors shut, but still. It was ghetto.

P1040560Which was actually a plus. Because of how ghetto this park was, we not only got to feed lemurs by hand (again) but I also got one of them to climb on my back! That was a pretty interesting feeling. I imagine that it's something like what Emily feels whenever she carries Marie.

Actually, Marie is probably walking by now, now that I think about it.

Or at least crawling at a professional level.

P1040674Another plus of the ghetto-ness was their crocodile "exhibit". Again, a stick held the door shut, keeping the two medium sized beasts at bay.

And I was pretty surprised when our guide grabbed a stick and started slapping the crocs, trying to make them more interesting for us.

Then, he opened up the afore mentioned "stick-locked" door, and let each of us walk INTO the cage and wack away at live crocodiles' faces.

Cuz there's NO WAY that could end badly.

P1040681Basically, we had a great time. And we took pictures.

Other than that, things have been going pretty well here. Kind of. We have a bunch of cool investigators lined up, but everytime we go to their houses they have some kind of meeting to get off to or something. So we set up another return appointment. Hopefully we have a pretty awesome week ahead of us.

And we're also trying to fill our time up by hunting down some less-active members. We found (through member help) a 17 year old guy named Rindra, who is the only member in his family. Apparently he went inactive because one of his friends, named Giovani, is also a member, but stopped coming to church. Rindra says that he's totally willing to come back to church, but he wants to get his friend back to.

P1040691So we stopped by Rindra's house this last week, to get to know him a little bit. After we asked him to pray, he prayed. Straight to Jesus.

Which means that we still have some work to do. Elder Ranomenjanahary and I explained how we are supposed to pray, and had Rindra try again.

Once again, straight to Jesus. We gave him 3 Nephi 18 to read, and decided to come back later to help him out more.

We also (through member help) found another less-active member named Eugene. He's a decently old guy, but his mind is still sharp as a #2 pencil. And he seems to still be a pretty good member. The only reason that he is inactive right now is some problems that he has with his legs. When we first stopped by two weeks ago, he was lying his bed, unable to slide over to a chair. But we shared a spiritual thought, and he asked for a priesthood blessing, which we then gave, and went on our way.

P1040571A week later, we came back to find Eugene not only sitting, but standing! He still has trouble going long distances, but he's planning to start going back to church. Way to be, Eugene.

One last story. There's been this investigator named Joely since I first came here. Her daughter has been baptized, but Joely can't because of a marriage problem. And honestly, her husband hasn't really been helping her. Or progressing as an investigator. Or being helpful at all. But in our last lesson, he (Hery) was totally different.

Being drunk probably contributed to him being different, but it also helped us figure out how to help him. Hery usually just doesn't talk when we come over, which makes it really hard to help him. However, after a few drinks, he opened up and started asking about the Plan of Salvation. It seems that he really wants to know about what's coming to us after we die. Well, we can answer that!

P1040561So there you go. Sometimes God sends the Holy Ghost to help you understand your investigators, and sometimes He just has the investigator get drunk and tell you for himself. God works in mysterious ways, right?

So things could possibly be looking much better here in Sabotsy Namehana. Investigators are looking more diligent, members are making plans to come back to church, and I'm watching the District (Preach My Gospel training videos) when I get a chance. I doubt many of you have seen it (I wouldn't either, if not for being on a mission) but the missionaries in it are WAY good teachers. Just one hundred percent by the book, Preach My Gospel. One thing that Elder Ranomenjanahary and I have been focusing on is NOT teaching about the Restoration the first time that we meet with people.

P1040564The way I was trained was usually "teach them as fast as you can". And that's pretty much stuck with me so far. But studying Preach My Gospel and the District (and the talk by Elder Alvin R. Dyer that Mom and Dad sent me) has helped me understand that that might not be the best way to teach. Avoid overloading them with doctrine on the first meeting.

Get to know them, explain your purpose, share a spiritual thought to slap them with a little Holy Ghost and help them make a commitment, and bounce out. As Elder Dyer explains it, a person's salvation will not depend on how well a missionary presents facts and explains scriptures. It WILL depend on that investigator feeling the Spirit so that they will want to make commitments and progress.

I'm not sure why I told you all of that. Just rambling, I suppose. But there you go. When a chance comes up for you to teach investigators, now you'll know how to do it.

P1040552And we have some other interesting news. As some of you may recall, Elder Ranomenjanahary (my current companion) is a mini missionary, which pretty much means that transfers will leave me with a new companion. We got the transfer news yesterday morning, and found out that I will not only be getting a new companion, but I will be getting a NEW companion. Elder Arrington will officially be training a new missionary, starting this Thursday. This means two things for us:

first, I'm scared out of my socks. Second, I'm going to email my trainer and ask for help. And anybody else out there with advice, I'm always ready to listen.

Anyway, thank you all for your love and support. I'm doing my best out here to represent you all.

Thanks again,

- Elder Arrington

PS: If you send any missionary advice, type "Missionary Advice" right above it. It will make it easier for me to find later on.

PPS: Emily, this is a totally random note, but I seem to recall you joining a Bible study group a while ago. How's that going?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Week 20 in Sabotsy Namehana

Ah, the trials of a missionary.  Finding people to truly progress in the gospel really is a challenge after all.  But it does happen.  And, as Michael says, no missionary work is wasted.

And here’s a link to the Brad Wilcox talk he’s referring to.  This is the Ensign version.  I also recommend the video.

Subject:  "I believe he turns his head." "Sounds exhausting."

It's amazing how fast the work here can flip one direction or another. Two examples.

A week from yesterday, there was an investigator named Mamitiana at church. It was her first time coming, and we had never met her before. It turns out that one of her co-workers is an RM and they got started talking about the church; and thus, she begun to want to learn. Anyway, we set up a lesson with her (and her husband, who at the time had no idea of the "goings on") for Wednesday.

Come Wednesday, we pop into their house and introduce ourselves. The husband was off in the other room (actually behind a curtain in the SAME room) and didn't want to talk to us. Okay. So we talked to Mamitiana for a little bit, trying to learn why she was investigating the church, explaining our purpose, just a basic first meet-up. After a while, the husband (Florent) waltzes in. I try to include him by introducing myself, and he responds with, "yeah, I don't know who you are, and yet I walk in to find you just talking to my wife about some church." Well, we had actually invited you to join at the very beginning, but you didn't want to.

To make a fairly long story short, we actually had a really good talk, and it turns out that he could be a really interesting investigator. He ended the time by saying, "feel free to come back whenever you want". Well that's cool!

So we called back on Saturday morning to confirm our appointment (for later that day), and Mamitiana told us that she couldn't learn anymore. Apparently her husband had forbidden her from learning. One week, and two golden investigators were found and gone. We're still trying to contact the husband and figure out what brought this up, but my head is still spinning at just how fast everything flipped around.

Second example: on Tuesday we tracted into this couple named Josoa and Nirine, and they were WAY nice. After our talk with them I wrote a description of the two in my planner, lest I forget who they are: "Way smiley, nice people." We left them with a pamphlet about the gospel of Jesus Christ for them to read, and set up a return appointment for Saturday.

Saturday rolls around, and they didn't answer their phone. Okay, no big deal. We stop by their house at the appointed time, and Josoa is gone, leaving his wife to face off with us. And she leads out by saying that the pamphlet that we gave them "wasn't convincing". Okay, I can live with that. But did you pray about it? No. Well there's your problem. She almost tried to brush us off, but we set up another return appointment with them so that we could talk more about the gospel.

Side note: it turns out that they didn't answer their phone because Josoa was gone, and Nirine doesn't know how to use the phone.

When I first came to this area, it seemed that we didn't have very many good investigators. A couple, but not many. But now, even when we are finding some, they either shut us down, keep dogging us, or refuse to progress.

That last one has a lot to do with prayer. A lot of people (whether it's isolated to Madagascar or common to everywhere) actually have a problem with praying. Nobody answers when you ask them why they won't ask God for an answer or help, but every time that we come back, they still haven't done it. Even people that are diligent at reading often won't ask God to know the truth.

And when people refuse to pray to God for an answer, they are probably not going to get one. Which makes it really hard to help them.

I actually just realized something about this area. If I had to put our biggest problem in one word, I would say: consistency. People flip from wanting to learn to not wanting to at the drop of a hat, and with no apparent reason. Even those who are nice enough to set up a time for us missionaries to come back and teach them just aren't home when we come back. Or the next day. Or the next week. I mean, if you don't want to learn, just shut me down. I can deal with rejection. But acting like you want to and then just wasting the missionaries time (God's time, really) doesn't really strike me as a useful activity.

And because of that, we've been cycling through a ton of people, but we simply don't have a lot of investigators to talk about because none of them are learning consistently enough to really be progressing.

But, we keep working. From a lot of work, we are starting to see some progress in the right direction. Especially in getting help from our branch. Each week they hand out assignments to go visit with less active members. They're starting to understand the importance of strengthening each other, rather than depending on the white guys!

Sorry, I know I've recently been sounding really negative about all of this. Realize that we are still thrusting in our sickle with our might, and praying for success. My companion turned to me a day or two ago and said something very interesting: "I feel like even though these people won't listen to us, one day, they'll accept the gospel. Even the people that die hard REFUSE, I feel like they will just walk into church one day, ready to learn. Whether it's after one year, two years, or twenty, one day these people will be ready to learn." And if that's what God wants, who am I to demand anything else?

So I really like what he said. According to Preach My Gospel, no missionary effort is wasted. We're putting in our effort, and whether Elder Ranomenjanahary and I see the fruits of it or not, we're doing our best to bring other unto God. And God will not let that go to waste.

Okay, major subject change.

Dad mentioned that BYU not only won their game against a team who "absolutely tromped the team they played last week", but BYU is the one that did the tromping this time. Thus, the tromper becomes the tromp-ed. How about that.

It seems that there is also a new seminary teacher in town. I suggest that somebody finds his house and starts breaking him in as the new "guy that gets TPed by all the seminary students" guy. After all, we Hillsboro-ites have traditions to care for.

Speaking of traditions, I just remembered that my companion and I got to attend a wake this last week. We (as a mission) are trying to be more respectful of Malagasy culture. There's a lot of things that we didn't know about for a while, and we come off as way offensive. But we're trying to improve now. And step one is: going to a wake. There are all kinds of little phrases and tricks and such that you are supposed to follow during those, but it seems that neither I nor my companion (who, I might add, is a Malagasy) didn't know. But we got somebody to help us out, and they said that we did pretty well. Honestly, just SHOWING UP is showing a lot of respect.

(In a less respectful way, this was also my first time actually seeing a dead body. Even while we were standing there trying to be nice and proper, my mind was wondering if I should start inspecting the body for clues about who killed him! That's what I get for all those episodes of Psych and NCIS)

Back to Dad's letter. Steven also seems to be enjoying one of the coolest jobs ever, for which I congratulate him. I know that I keep giving "advice", but here's a last little tidbit. Try to act as nice and happy and just excited as you can. I think I mentioned last week that people (especially new people meeting for the first time) tend to mirror emotions. If you feel awkward or something at them, they probably won't enjoy it, and won't come back. Which makes your job more difficult. Just focus on making it a good experience for the other people, and you're bound to do well. Have an awesome time kid.

Not so exciting is this news about "the Abel". Just be aware (and I'm sure you've already heard this) that even though the class sucks, it makes you that much smarter and better as a student. But really Ms. Abel somehow gets formulas and ideas into your brain and sticks them there with Gorilla Glue. The class is rough, but coming out of it is good.

And with any luck, she'll keep calling you David, like she did with me, and you'll get some candy for that. There's always an upside.

And it seems that Steven has figured out how awesome piano lessons are. A lesson that didn't enter my brain until I wormed my way OUT of them. You don't know what you got 'til it's gone, right?

Finally, Dad mentioned that the Brad Wilcox talk that I sent to you all slid into this month's Ensign. Because "it's that good". Just let it be known, I was a fan of that talk BEFORE it was popular.

Actually, Dad's mentioning of that reminded me of something that I heard in the MTC: "the average person has to hear something seven times before they actually remember it". Interestingly, the guy that said that repeated it at least seven times during my MTC stay. But my point with that is that I've told you about it, now it's in the Ensign... how many more times do you need to be told! Read the article! As Dad said, "It absolutely changes the way I think about repentance and self-improvement."

As for the rest of you, keep the letters coming. I love hearing about Mom's work and projects that she's doing, Julie raising her kids and trying to juggle school and work in there, the progress that Stacey is making in so many directions, and everything else that you all send me.
Life is good. Live it well.


- Elder Arrington

PS: Read the talk by Brad Wilcox! I promise that it won't hurt! (I believe that makes four times you've all been told that, if you include the Ensign as one)

Monday, September 2, 2013

Week 19 in Sabotsy Namehana

More musings this week about investigators who are unwilling to make changes for whatever reason.  Apparently they all have reasons.  And there’s a follow-up to the meaningful and critical question of: what is the pleural of Book of Mormon?

Subject:  "I sell cheap books. That's what I do. So sue me."

"That's what you said?"

Our work here in Sabotsy Namehana. We went on splits with the assistants last Wednesday, trying to hunt down less active members and old investigators. We found a couple that seem way cool, and we're excited to start teaching them.

Sundays are officially the worst days of work for us. We started Sunday with twenty-one names on our schedule, and ended it having taught twice. And one of those was from tracting. I don't know what it is, but EVERYBODY in Madagascar says that they can only learn on Sundays. Then Sunday rolls around, and they're not there. Kind of annoying. But we got some tracting done and found some people that had learned from missionaries before, but stopped. Rather an interesting family, actually. We were explaining about answers to prayer, and the husband goes, "we're not going to leave the Catholic church, no matter what". Really now? I asked him that if Jesus Christ Himself came to him, and said that the Catholic church is not true, and he needs to join the Protestant church to be saved, then would he join the Protestant or not? "Well that's a tough question!" he said.

Sorry, but how is that a tough question? You either follow Christ, or you don't. He threw out a couple other thoughts, but we ended it really well, telling them that they can know the true church through prayer, and giving them some homework to read in 3 Nephi. Hopefully they'll be diligent.
There was one other guy whose door we bumped into, and he seems really smart. He asked us what we meant by "the church of Christ has been restored", and why it needed to be restored. Golden!

Our branch members are also starting to hunt down less actives, which is awesome. We devote most of our Thursdays to going out with them in those efforts. Mostly we are just happy to see them doing SOMETHING. Diligent members are an awesome help.

Speaking of which, I want to alter the "missionary challenge" that I gave you all. If you can't go out teaching with them for some reason, but you invite them to your house, give them a referral. The whole point of missionaries coming to your house is to strengthen you as a member and get referrals. So when the missionaries come in, have a couple people in mind that they could teach. Heck, you could even invite your investigator-to-be to dinner with the missionaries! Just read Preach My Gospel, and do what you can to help the work progress.

But back to the investigators. One of the most depressing people that we talked to this last week was Fano. He had seemed like a way diligent guy, and way ready for the gospel. However, two lessons ago we challenged him to pray about the Book of Mormon, and he refused. His reason? "God knows what I need, so I don't have to ask for it." We showed him all kinds of scriptures, saying "ASK and ye shall receive" and things like that, bearing testimony of prayer. But he would just reinturpret (that's probably spelled way wrong) it to agree with his own view. Fano even shut down our presentation of James 1:5, saying that we can ask for wisdom, but not knowledge. Part of that misunderstanding comes from the Malagasy translation, but still!

That's one crazy thing about the Bible. People say that it's everything we need, but they can't even agree on what it says. And many of them don't find it necessary to pray for the truth.

Which is one reason that I love the talk that Mom and Dad sent about the "Challenging and Testifying Missionary". I had an awesome time studying that. And I would pass on the recommendation to anybody that is planning to go on a mission, or teach with missionaries, or just wants to learn some awesome stuff.

Elder Alvin R. Dyer explains that we have to testify and challenge people to improve their lives through baptism, but not just present facts. Especially since not even the missionary knew most of those facts before his mission. Way good stuff.

Anyway, it sounds like you are all still having a great time now, and Dad has been taking quite the plethora of pictures. Well done. I'm sorry I can't return the favor, but I left the card reader that mom sent me back at home. But next week for sure.

Steven, have an awesome time at the rock wall. It's a great job, so respect it and work as subtly as possible to make your boss like you. Also, try to make other people feel as welcome as possible when they come to climb. If you act awkward, they'll feel awkward, and you'll feel awkward. Which is awkward. And I repeat my old advice about asking questions. Everybody, when they get a new job, goes through a time when they don't know everything. It's just a fact. Be the person that is smart enough to ask for help.

And with that, I bid ye all farewell until next week. Keep working hard everybody, and have a great time.

- Elder Arrington

PS: Dad, you asked about our proselyting schedule. According to Preach My Gospel we are supposed to have 2.5 - 3 hours of studying (starting at eight in the morning), and then work until 9pm (with two hours of breaks for lunch and dinner). But for us that has turned into "go out at eight in the morning and work until five, and study at night". Even then, we usually don't make it home until seven or eight, so our studies are suffering a bit. We've been talking with President, trying to sort out the best way to work here. We basically work by the motto, "Work, and study when there is no work to do". We're still trying to sort out the program a bit, but some people can only learn at ridiculous times.

PSS: It sounds like everybody has been getting lost in Lost recently. Let it be known that I was Lost long ago. But I never did get around to watching the last season, so somebody let me know how that goes (in a year).

I love you all!


Really quick,

Dave makes a good point that you would never mention "Family Guys", but "episodes of Family Guy". Or just "let's go watch some Family Guy", non-specific of the amount.

Stacey makes an interesting point that there is a difference between written and spoken English. But since both are used and accepted, they can both be called correct, regardless of what a dictionary or grammar book says (for sources on this phenomenon, please read "Frindle", by whatever person thought that would make a good story).

All that aside, I would call all of your attention to the Bible. Nobody every calls it "copies of the Bible," but "Bibles". Just as you could say "computers" (instead of "several computing devices"), the ITEM gets pluralized. In the case of the Book of Mormon, "the Book of Mormon" is the item. Slap an "s" on there and call it a day.

And of course "Books of Mormon" just sounds weird. You might as well just follow Brian Regan and pluralize it "Book of Mormon-en" (I saw a flock of moose-en!).

Just one more person's thoughts.

- Elder Arrington