Monday, June 2, 2014

Week 1 in Betongolo

So, now Michael is in the office, doing office stuff.  But it sounds like by early afternoon he’s out and about in the field doing traditional work.  And he’s getting a few laughs…

Subject:  "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming swimming swimming..."

First things first. I'm in the mission office right now, using a mission computer for emailing. Benefits of working in the office!

We had a party with Sr. Vero in Mahajanga on Monday evening, which was way fun. She and her two daughters have been members forever, but her husband never joined the church because he was "too busy" to learn from the missionaries. But he made it to the party and it turns out that he's way cool! A way nice guy. I think he could be a really cool member one day. We just need to help him desire to join the church.

Actually, Elder Hamm and his new companion need to help him do that, because I have moved on to a new place.

Saying goodbye to people was sad, and it only got worse when Florent, one of our best investigators, had to drag the goodbye on for like twenty minutes. We kept trying to say that I would call him sometime and catch up with him then, but as soon as we tried to turn to walk away he'd start thanking us for all the awesome work that we do, saying that we're such good people, God will be with us... he did that like four times. I love the guy to death, but I am definitely not a fan of long goodbyes.

The bus ride here was a nightmare and a half. We were supposed to leave the bus station at 7:30am and show up around 7:30pm, but the bus got delayed for an hour and a half and then just decided to not go at all, because there weren't enough people in the bus (and thus, not enough money for the driver). Another bus driver volunteered to take us, and we set out at 9am.

We then stopped for the longest gas stop of my life, no joke. The worker shot about 40 liters of gas in the tank right away, but took fifteen minutes filling up another 12 liters. Agonizing.

But we started out again after that. Assuming the bus travels at a decent speed the whole time, we should have shown up at our destination around 9pm. Late, but no biggy.

The worst thing happened at exactly 2:35, when we had to stop for a bridge that was closed down for repairs. It looked pretty strong to me, but they closed it. Apparently they shut the bridge down every day from 2:30 to 5:30, so we just missed it. Thanks a lot, gas station guy.

So we waited for three hours. I wandered out onto the bridge and took a couple pictures of the scenery, which was some awesome streams/waterfalls and the setting sun. That was nice. I also read some conference talks that I had brought with me, and talked with a couple people. In fact, I met a lady that was 75% Arab and 25% Malagasy, born in Mahajanga, and speaks Malagasy, French, and English. So we talked for a little bit. Apparently she lives in Manchester, England and was visiting her family. There's a cultural mosh for you!

After that we didn't have any more stops or problems on the bus ride, and showed up in Tana just after 1:00am. Good thing the office elders had been sleeping in their car waiting for me since 8pm!

I was also super tired because of this overly-polite Muslim guy in front of me that kept poking me while I was trying to sleep, asking if I was comfortable enough. For the fiftieth time, I'm fine, now let me sleep! But I guess he was trying to help, so kudos to him.

That bus ride was on Wednesday, and Thursday the office elders were invited to attend the lunch that President holds for new missionaries that just showed up in country and their trainers. Usually only the assistants attend that, but they made an exception for some reason that I don't know (maybe because it would have been lonely without us? There were only two new missionaries this transfer).

Anyway, during that luncheon (fancy word) I got laughing harder than I probably have through my entire mission. It turns out that President has an awesome sense of humor, which I didn't know about before.

Add that to the fun (and work) that we've been having in the office for the last couple days, and this has been a great start to my last three months here. The senior couples are awesome, and I actually enjoy doing some office work. Who'd of thought?

We also live in an apartment right above the assistants, one of whom was in my MTC group and the other is the trainee of my second companion. Small world, huh?

But they are both way fun, so this is going to be a great time!

Somebody mentioned that Elder Naef, who just got home, is moving into Brookwood ward. I've met him a couple times, and it'll be great to see him soon!

Mom also mentioned Oregon strawberries. I admit, I didn't like strawberries before my mission (and I can't eat them here because they can cause serious problems), but I will love them when I get home! I've grown an appreciation for fruits and vegetables. I guess all those old people were right about telling me to eat healthy foods!

I guess that's just about my whole week. My new companion is named Elder Turner, and he's definitely a new kind of companion for me. I don't want to say that he's a nerd... but he's definitely a smart kid. And a licensed pilot. Since he just got finished training, he's also the youngest missionary that I've ever worked with.

But life is good. Elder Turner is a good missionary and got to baptize a kid that he had been teaching for a while on Saturday. We've also been doing a lot of contacting trying to build up a good investigator pool.

And that's pretty much been my week. Thank you all for your emails! I love you all!

- Elder Arrington

PS: for those of you that are wondering about the office elder schedule, we do studies like normal, work in the office until two or three, and then go out to teach like a normal missionary. So we still get to teach a little bit!

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