Again, no transfer for Michael. He’s been in the same city for more than half a year now. But his experiences are always positive, except for that possible bubonic plague thing...
It appears Michael is now district leader in Sabotsy Namehana. The man is in charge!
Subject: "If the game gets bigger than three on three they have to take it outside."
So we've been teaching this couple named Toky and Natasha for about two weeks now, and they seem to be progressing decently well. Except for the last lesson when they had only read the introduction to the First Book of Nephi, and understood it completely wrong (their homework had been to read chapter 1). They thought it meant that Lehi had a dream, some of his sons didn't like it, and all of them got kicked out of Jerusalem because they rebelled against Lehi's dream.
That being said, they DID read, which is something. And they promised to do better before our next lesson (tonight). We are also pretty happy that they are not completely shutting down the idea of being baptized in the church.
There was a guy last night that we tracted into that shut us down pretty good though. We had knocked on the door and explained that we are missionaries, and right away they guy goes, "wow, all the work you're doing is just great. You are really working to push forward God's kingdom. I really respect that. But I'm a Protestant, and you won't be able to convert me to your church."
We talked with him for a few minutes, trying to explain that he should at least LISTEN first, and then he can choose to shut us down. But, as Christ said in Matthew 7:20, "Koa dia ny voany no ahafantaranareo azy". It's going to be pretty hard to know if the missionaries have good or bad fruit if you don't listen to them first.
At the end, the guy just said, "look, I would never deny Christ, but I am denying you," and shut the door. Ouch.
So we weren't too happy about that.
Anyway, we wiped the dust from our feet (metaphorically and literally. It's kind of a running joke that we have with Mamy, our Branch Mission Leader) and walked off. Free agency sucks sometimes, but apparently you can't force people to repent and follow God.
But we have had some pretty good experiences this week too, like finding Onja and Tolotra.
We had been trying to check in on Solo, whom some of you may remember to be a preacher in the FJKM church that was progressing really well for a while. Then he couldn't understand authority, and hasn't talked with us since. Anyway, we stopped at his house, and he wasn't there.
So, having a little time left over, we tracted into the first house that we came to. Onja (the man) opened the door and let us in right away, sat us down with his wife, mother and two of his children, and listened. That was a fantastic experience!
Onja and his wife Tolotra are currently learning to become partakers of the sacrament in some Protestant church in Antananarivo (because Christ TOTALLY taught that we have to learn the Bible before partaking the sacrament. Not.) but seem really interested in our message and really willing to talk to us and listen to us. We like them a lot.
Unfortunately, they seem to only have time to learn once per week, which isn't usually enough to keep a person progressing, from what I've seen. Two or three visits are much better. Still, we are planning to teach them once and visit a couple times throughout the week, just to make sure they are still reading and being diligent.
But they seem way cool.
Two last investigators. Tahiry is this lady that we've taught a couple times, but her husband is currently afraid of us, and doesn't want to learn. We'll work on that. We haven't done anything to him (yet), but I think he just doesn't want to change churches yet. We'll let the Holy Ghost take care of that.
But we were teaching Tahiry, and she has been asking some really good, deep questions. She's also reading through the Book of Mormon, having almost finished 1 Nephi in two or three weeks. She seems like a good investigator, and we think her husband will be too. When he starts listening to us. Fortunately though, Tahiry is good friends with Mamy, and he has been able to help her learn so far.
The last investigator family is that of Solo (not the preacher) and Bodo. They have been way diligent, Solo having read 1 Nephi - 2 Nephi 9 or so in a week. Bodo, his wife, has also been reading, but just the minimum that we give them, which is one chapter a day. But that's good. Their children are also reading, making it one big, happy, progressing, family. We've also been focusing on mentioning temples with them a lot, to help them understand the "big picture". They love learning so far, and we have really enjoyed teaching them. They have a baptism date for December 14th, which will be right before I probably transfer out of Sabotsy Namehana.
Which leads me to the transfer news that came out last night. I'm staying here in Sabotsy Namehana, with Elder Stokes, but one of the other elders in our house is moving out (the Malagasy one), to be replaced by... an Italian! That's exciting. Apparently Elder Carrius lived in California for a while, and speaks pretty much perfect English. He seems like a way good missionary too, so he and Elder Webb should have a great time working in Analamahitsy.
That being said, it means that when the next transfers come I will have been in Sabotsy Namehana for seven and a half months, which is a long time. I'm guessing that I'll move out then, probably to a province. Which will be awesome.
I am also the district leader now, which leaves me enough authority to collect my district's stats every week and send them to the zone leader. Yippee.
But enough about me. It sounds like most of you have been having some pretty good times back in the Land of the Free. Steven, I was especially proud to hear about your Hawkeye costume. You have made me one proud older (but apparently not bigger) brother.
I also got a kick out of Mom and Dad's costumes as "old people". Classic.
Stacey, I loved your comment about Darci helping other kids to pray, and her grand "Amen!" at the end. One of the big problems that I have noticed is that a lot of parents just don't teach their kids to pray, but figure that the kids will pick it up. I was very happy to hear that you, as a mother, understand and apply the fact that the home is the best place to teach and practice living the gospel. Keep up the good work.
Julie, it sounds like you've had one chunk-a-bunk of a time (whatever that means) raising your boys, including Dave. And I was sorry to hear about him getting his appendix removed. It doesn't sound like it was a pleasant experience.
Thank you all for writing and being the world's greatest family.
I love you all,
- Elder Arrington
PS: I was just reading our mission newsletter and apparently there is a strike of the bubonic plague here in Madagascar. So that's... not good. It doesn't sound too serious right now though, so no worries. It's just good to know, I guess.