Monday, February 3, 2014

Week 8 in Mahajunga

Already nearly 2 months in Mahajunga, with great stories of missionary work coming in every new letter!  I know that not everyone get’s Michael’s humorous references—some are just part of the family culture.  And Brian Regan.

Subject:  “What if that had been poop!?”

When I type out movie quotes, I search my emails first to make sure I'm not repeating a quote. Usually I don't find a repeat of any given quote, but parts of it will show up in the search as parts of people's emails. With this particular quote, the search results came up with one email from Grandma Arrington and eight from Julie. I guess Julie gets credit for the most "what if that had been poop" referenced emails. You'd think today's politically correctness would have prepared an award for such an achievement. But alas, the recognition is reserved for those who graduate from the fourth grade to the fifth grade, or get four wisdom teeth pulled.

In other news, we managed to go on splits with branch missionaries three days this last week, and taught nine more total lessons than last week. We also got a ton of contacting done. Of course, not all of that contacting has paid off yet. One person in particular, when we called them later on, told us that they actually don't want to learn from us.

Well, that's better than wasting the missionaries' time for two months and not progressing because you secretly never wanted to learn in the first place, right?

On two of those days that we were on splits, I was with Ulrich. Ulrich, as some of you may remember from last weeks email, is a stud. He is planning to go on a mission, and decided to go out teaching with us while he is preparing.

The poor kid is having some trouble with that though, considering some of the contacting that he went through.

There was one guy in particular that was just straight up mean. We walked by his house and decided to talk to him. Right away the man said that he was Catholic, and he didn't want a part of our "white people's church".

So we tried an old tactic, asking him why there even are so many churches, instead of just one. The man responded by saying that, "you white people did that! At first there was just the Catholic church, and then you white people started making other ones!" Why does it always come back to us white people?

The man also troubled himself to explain to us that white people had brought murder and thievery to Madagascar.


We tried to bear testimony, but he just yelled over us. Ulrich and I ended up just walking away while he kept ranting.

Incidentally, he failed to give white people credit for the sweet house that he lived in, cell phones, electricity, and even for the existence of his own Catholic church, but I digress.

In short, it may not have been the best experience for Ulrich. But he's a good kid, with a strong testimony.

But enough of that. This week has just been a little crazy in general. We also met this guy named Frederick, who might have been less than one-hundred percent in the head, if you know what I'm saying, but his friend, Florent, might turn out to be good. He wants to quiet smoking, which we can help with!

There's also this kid named Vitazara, who is super cool, and about to get married to his girlfriend so that they can get baptized, but they have been out of town for the last month or so, so I haven't gotten to teach them much yet. But I will soon!

Mission President is coming to visit Mahajanga this weekend, so we are kind of busy preparing that. Changes in the branches meeting schedule, interviews with him, and the like. Good stuff.

In short, this week has been a lot of work, and very tiring, but effective. So that's good, right?

I was about to end this email, but I realized how short it is. I'll add one more story.

There was, on our walk to church, an accident, involving a pouse-pouse (the cart thing, not the Salvadoran food). We checked to make sure nobody was hurt too bad, and continued on our walk.

Then, during sacrament meeting, a member pulled me out and asked if we could give a blessing to the people that had been hurt. I guess we can... but it might be better to check if they need it first. Some Malagasies have this thought that every toothache or headache needs a priesthood blessing, so I figured we would take this one with caution.

So the lady called the "injured" people over. A mother and her son, perhaps nine years old walked over. And I sat there waiting for the injured ones to come. It turns out, it was them.

I asked them who needed the blessing. Both. What for? Bruises.

Yeah... I don't think that needs a blessing. I gave the mom and the son little candies, and sent them on their way.

After this, the original lady started saying that what I was doing is really weird, and "the missionaries in La Reunion would have blessed them..." Well then take them to La Reunion! I told her that our bodies can heal from bruises without priesthood blessings, but if one of the injured people starts dying, they can call us.

This is the same lady, by the way, who showed up late to sacrament meeting and didn't catch the actual sacrament, and then asked the branch president to let her partake of it later. And he did.

The church is just so young here that they have a lot of misunderstandings. Most of these could be solved if the people would read the manuals that they have been given, but they don't. So it's up to the missionaries (as directed by the mission president) to solve problems.

But that's the mission. You live and you learn. Life is short and then you die.

As for all of your emails, just keep sending them as you can, and don't stress out about length. I print them out and read them when there is time, so being too long or too short isn't a problem.

Have a great week everybody!

- Elder Arrington

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