Yes, week 30. That’s pretty close to 7 months in the same city for Michael. But Michael remains diligent, as are many of his investigators. Some are not so diligent…. Michael got to interview several people for baptism in his district-leader role. Almost all of them passed. Almost all.
Subject: "I have been studying her comings and goings and find them most... sinister."
I don't know if I have mentioned Toky and Natasha to any of you yet, but they are an awesome couple. They have both been diligent at reading and following up on commitments, and we are really happy about them. The only problem is that they aren't coming to church yet, but hey, everybody has problems. In general, we are very happy with how they are progressing.
Especially since Toky used to be big into drinking and smoking weed. Then, right before he met us, he decided to quite, and he did. And he is very happy now because of that.
And Toky also told us some pretty interesting stories about himself and his family while we were over last night. Here's my favorite one.
Back when Toky smoked weed there was a man that came to his door to give him weed. This was odd because Toky believes that man to be a witch. Anyway, the guy gives the weed and walks away, and Toky sits down to roll one up.
Right as he is about to roll it the wind blows his door in, and blows all of the weed on the ground. So he didn't get to smoke it.
And that same thing happened a second time. Toky is given weed by the same guy, and as he gets ready to roll it, the wind blows it away.
Toky told us this story to describe that God was watching over him. Whereas Toky had smoked weed before, he figured that if he smoked this witch-guy's weed, it might have done some serious damage. Shortly thereafter, Toky quite smoking altogether. And drinking too.
I'm not so sure about this witchcraft business, but it very well could have been God's hand that was knocking Toky's weed to the ground. What happened there helped Toky decide to improve himself and his life, even before he met the missionaries.
Toky will also tell you that he used to fight with his wife all the time, but ever since he quite drinking and smoking (and gambling, for that matter) they have gotten along splendidly. Just living the Word of Wisdom helps families be happier.
He also mentioned that here in Madagascar, owls are considered "the birds of witches". So that's weird.
But enough of that. We also taught Josoa, who is pretty much progressing on his own now. His un-diligent wife is the only reason that he isn't baptized yet. In our last lesson with him, Josoa asked if he could go to seminary or institute, since he likes learning about the gospel so much.
Of course you can good sir!
Our kickboxer friend, who's name is Jaona, is also doing well. He came to the church on Saturday to watch the Restoration film, which we had forgotten to bring. But we'll be bringing the film to Jaona's house so that he and his family can watch it there.
As things went though, he and his daughter just learned English from us, since we had English class at that time anyway. So that was good too.
We stopped by this guy named Christian during this last week, since he keeps saying that he'll come to church, and then doesn't. But then, yesterday, there he was, at church! He left immediately after sacrament meeting though, and we found him smoking. But it's a start.
We also had to leave our church after sacrament meeting, because I, being a new district leader, had some baptism interviews to do. In three wards, at two different buildings. And Elder Stokes, as the Assistant (to the) District Leader, had to follow along.
The good news is that four out of the five people passed with flying colors. The bad news is that there was one that didn't pass. She is an 18 year old girl that just didn't seem ready. And I told her that. But don't worry, I did it kindly.
It turns out, however, that that girl is clinically depressed, and her baptism had been one of the things that had kept her going. So I guess that getting shut down in the interview didn't help things. But the missionaries will keep working with her and hopefully she'll be ready when the next interview comes.
Side note: the people that passed included a way diligent 18 year old girl, and 10 year old son of an active mother and inactive father, a 45 year old father/doctor, and a 25 year old named Tony. The last two did especially well. Tony also does this thing when he talks, where he'll answer a question and then say "mhm!" as if to verify his own answer. It's funny.
We also went on splits with the zone leader this week, who was in my MTC group. The zone leader, Elder Evans, worked with Elder Stokes in my old area, Ambohimanarina, while I stayed in Sabotsy Namehana with Elder Randriamamonjisoa, who is Malgasy but speaks WAY good English. Like, native-and-a-half. Way to be for him.
During those splits, we visited a less-active named Eugene. The guy is like 65, and has been having some problems with his legs. So Elder Randriamamonjisoa listened to the issue and said, "you know what? I'm actually a pretty good masseuse (person that does massages, right?). Do you want my to give you a massage?". And before I know it, there's a 65 year old dude taking his shirt off, and a missionary getting ready to massage him.
Apparently he did a pretty good job.
There was nothing too awkward, except for some other guy walking in during the massage that started talking to us and mentioned that he wants us to teach him the gospel. So that was pretty weird. But hey, it's another new investigator.
I've also started my own personal stat regarding contacts, that I call "GHB". That is to say "Guys Holding Babies". Mission president wants us to teach families, especially focusing on the fathers. So I figure that if you contact a bunch of men that are holding babies, you'll either find a loving father, or an infant kidnapper.
Speaking of which, apparently a French guy and an Italian guy were beaten to death and burned here in Madagascar because they were kidnapping babies and selling their organs on the black market. So um... don't do that kind of stuff.
Anyway, that's pretty much all I can think of to say right now. The mission is great.
I love you all,
- Elder Arrington