We had a wonderful call with Michael Christmas morning. We even put off opening presents until after the call. Of course, the call was really early in the morning….
Here’s a picture of Michael on the big screen—looking as great as ever.
Ok, now, back to Michael, and some good spiritual lessons!
Subject: “Extra chocolate!”
"... on the side."
We had a pretty good Christmas here, and life has been going pretty good. I also got Mom and Dad's package on Friday, so we've been eating a lot of that. I also found a Christmas Rubix Cube, which has been causing me many a headache. I can only solve one side completely, and then all of another side except for a corner, and then I get stuck. But I shall solve it!
I also got the Brazilian candy that y'all sent, and it's way good. I might add though that Gabby's last name sounds like an advanced school for extra smart kids. Like, "the Pribil Academy for the More Talented and Superior".
Anyway, things here are going really great. We are doing very well here, and it seems like there is even greater potential for the church here in Mahajanga. So now there's a lot of streamlining to do.
Here's a random thought for you all. A lot of people (basically everybody) consider the Fall of Adam to be a terrible thing that we need to repent for. But members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints know better.
First of all, if I commit a crime, is my son going to prison for it? No. I would. We are not guilty because of the sins of our parents or others. Only for our own.
Second, what happened from the Fall of Adam? It basically breaks down as follows:
Good: 1) We receive bodies, and 2) we can be tested and show our desires to follow God.
Bad: 1) We all must die, and 2) we are separated from God.
We learn however, from that Brad Wilcox talk that I have now probably listened to at least thirty times, that Jesus Christ erased the effects of the Fall of Adam for everybody. "We will ALL be resurrected, we will ALL be brought into God's presence".
So the only thing that happens to us because of the Fall, in the long run, is the good stuff. We are not born into this world as sinners that need to repent, but as children of God that can progress.
Long story short: Fall of Adam = Good.
Side note: understanding this helps us understand that God is truly all-knowing. God is not some thirsty little child that found a water balloon and thought, "I'll pop this a get a drink!", only to find that popping it would lose him the contents. He already knew, from the very beginning, before the water balloon was even filled up (or created, for that matter) that the only way to drink from it would be to pop it. And He provided a solution to the problem BEFORE the problem existed. What I'm trying to get at here is that Latter-Day Saints believe in a more omnipotent God, than those with opposing ideas. And I would rather believe in and follow a smart, perfect person than someone who is less than that.
Anyway, I'm sure most of you already knew that, and probably drilled it into my head since the day I was born, but it's finally starting to sink in. And about time.
But that's what a mission is for, right?
Things are still going pretty well with the people that we are teaching here. Especially yesterday. We taught that yelling lady again, and she was much more quiet, and listened. We talked about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the member with us was very helpful.
That member showed up in Mahajanga at the same time that I did, except that he was coming back from his mission in Congo. He's also SUPER good at English, which I think is awesome. I have great respect for people that care enough about English (and themselves, for that matter) to learn a language that can help them in life. Coincidentally, he also said that I'm pretty good at Malagasy, so... *confidence boost!*
We also taught this guy named Donna, who is really cool. He met the missionaries as they were walking by, and he asked them about the church. HE asked THEM. Why can't more people be like that?? Anyway, he now has a pretty good understanding of the Plan of Salvation, and he's just a stud.
For those of you that are wondering about Madagascar's customs for Christmas and New Years, here's a little info:
The Malagasy Christmas is celebrated by going to church for a while, whether one or two hours, or longer, and then they go home and have a big meal as a family. They also might dance around or have a party in or near their house, just enjoying the vacation.
New Years is a little weird. First of all, they DON'T watch the ball drop in Times Square. How weird is that??
But they do just have a big party, mainly in their homes and mostly with their families. Some of the people in our English class were telling me that you can just wander from one house to another and party it up with all the people that you don't know.
So it boils down to partying with family, or friends, or strangers. They just like to party.
I predict that New Years will be much less exciting for Elder Rakotonjanahary and me. Going out to teach, coming home in the evening, maybe eating a cheesecake. It is noteworthy, however, that our new year will come nine or ten hours before all of yours, so... perhaps it's not that noteworthy. Just a fact.
Anyway, life here is going great, and we are enjoying life. And I hope you all are too, wherever you may be, and whatever you may be doing.
"Where ere thou art, act well thy part"
Merry Christmas, and happy New Years!
- Elder Arrington
PS: Mom and Lindsay, thank you for your missionary efforts. Keep up the good work!