Monday, February 17, 2014

Week 10 in Mahajunga

If you haven’t caught on, virtually all of Michael’s subject lines are quotes from movies.  Some of them are recognizable.  Many are not.  This one is in the latter category.

Subject:  “You play ball like a GIRL!!”

Best highlight of the week? Definitely teaching Justin.

Justin pulled us off the street one night and explained that he has seen a lot of missionaries, but never talked to them, and then asked what we are doing here in Mada. He also spoke to me in Malagasy and avoided calling me vazaha to my face, which was super nice. So we explained our business, and set up a return appointment with him for Saturday.

On Saturday he led us to his house (quite a large house, in fact), sat us down, and let out his real questions. He has been searching for the true church for some time now, reading and studying every religious book he can get his hands on, from the Bible to the Koran to other study helps from major religions. He set a goal for himself to find God's true church before July.

Wait, the true church? THE true church? That could seriously be the first person that has ever said that through my entire mission. People here just don't have a concept of false churches. They do, but they think that as long as you know the name of Jesus Christ then you'll be saved. No matter what you believe. But Justin understood without even having to be told!

Finally he stopped talking and asked if there was any solid way to know that ours is the true church, and how he could know. Well, my fine, golden investigator, let me introduce to you my good friend, the Book of Mormon.

We talked about that for a few minutes, promised to bring one for him at our next meeting, and invited him to church. He said that he might come, but might be late.

I walked out of that lesson almost squealing for joy. How much better could an investigator get!

And Justin WAS late to church. But he came! And had an awesome time. He met with a couple of members (that we more or less forced to talk to him) and enjoyed his time there. We also slid him a Book of Mormon, so he's looking good. Really good.

My only beef with him was that he lives super far away, so going to his house to teach him could be a problem. Then, right before we closed the first lesson, we asked if he could learn at the church. As a matter of fact, Justin said that he would prefer that, since he usually hangs out near there anyway! So we have a super cool investigator, ready to read the Book of Mormon, willing to attend church, and we won't have to travel crazy far to visit him! Can life get any better? I submit that it cannot!

We are also teaching this guy named Frank, who is just about as awesome as Justin. Frank is way polite (almost to a fault, actually), ready to read the Book of Mormon, reads pamphlets, and seems to understand everything that we talk about. So I'm loving teaching him too!

The problem with golden investigators (of which I have had a few already) is this: The people, such as Mario and Santatra, and Noel, back in Ambohimanarina, read the pamphlets, work hard, and study and pray. The missionaries pretty much just sit in auto-pilot while the investigator flies on. So I can never take credit for baptizing them!

Speaking of baptism, we have a couple of people that should be getting dunked (in the ocean!) on March 8th. Jean and Clementine, and Pascall have made the roster, with a couple of others working to get there.

Among those "less golden but still progressing" investigators are Edmond and Nirine, and two of their children. They are all progressing very well, but just not coming to church. We had a problem with Edmond not being here for a while because of his work, but he's back now. Which is good.

One thing that I have personally been working on is focusing on the Book of Mormon in my teaching. For a while, I would try to solve people's concerns with the Bible. Does God have a body, is he the same as Jesus, what do we have to do to be saved... if the Book of Mormon is true, then everything that this church claims as doctrine is true. It depends on the Book of Mormon, so just read that and find out!

And I think that it's paying off. People are reading more and arguing less, so... no downside.

I've also realized that pretty much anything other than focusing on the Book of Mormon is just a way of trying to convince others that the church is true. Teaching from the Bible is just going to become an argument over who is better at the Bible, and you'll both end up just mad and not closer to finding the truth than before.

So, it turns out that that "Book of Mormon" thing is pretty important. In fact, I would suggest that it would be important enough to place it as the keystone in the arch of our church! I wonder if anybody else has thought of that before...

And that's pretty much been our week.

Dad, it sounds like you've got me hooked up for all the good scenes at BYU-I. Housing I'm still not sure about, whether on or off campus. What would you say are the pros and cons of either one?

Concerning this rental car business, I was actually wondering what kind of car situation would exist up there. A rental sounds great! Much better than the bike I was imagining... in the snow...

Mom, you mentioned that Dad dropped you off in Silver Lake this last week. Did he leave you a life jacket?

...get it?

Lindsay, you mentioned an interesting situation. Your solution sounds as good as anything I could think of. Have you considered having a church dinner at Arbor Manor, having the the deacons and beehives (or someone else) serve so you can invite your normal staff to attend for a free dinner and a spiritual thought? Just a thought.

You might also try looking up something that other people did in a similar situation.

David, I loved your epiphany. That's actually a question that I've been thinking about asking people in lessons. What does God gain from giving us commandments? What purpose does that achieve? It makes a whole lot more sense when you realize the goal that he has for us.

You actually reminded me of a talk that mission president showed us a while ago. It's called "His Grace is Sufficient" by Brad Wilcox. I would highly recommend for further study of the Fall and the Atonement.

That's all for me this week, and I wish you all a great week. By the next time I email you all I'll have finished my chick mish! (or passed Slump Day, as some apparently call it)

I love you all!

- Elder Arrington

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