Monday, December 29, 2014

Kristmasy! - 12/29/14

Fianarantsoa North District prior to transfers. (Thanks to Robin Coleman for the picture)

Christmas has been awesome. We had great activities, translated a movie, and I got to skype the fam. What a better way to celebrate Christmas? 

Investigators have kind of been going through the poop right now, since almost all of them say, "We are lutheran, and our family is lutheran, and all of our ancestors are lutheran. As such we are obliged to have you come into our home to teach about the gospel, but even if Jesus himself were to come and tell us that your faith was the right one, then I would not change faiths because all of our family is lutheran.".......We had several people say this exact thing to us on Sunday.....Wow...... So our goals are basically helping the investigators that we have right now to progress toward baptism, and then to help as many Melchizedek priesthood holders come back, and to teach part member families.

Miracle of the week; So we went to Ibitty on Tuesday, and Besoa on Friday which are both about an hour and a half to 2 hours by biking to get to church. We visited a couple of families...AND THEY ALL CAME TO CHURCH! Wahoo! We have seen also that no matter how many spiritual thoughts you give to doesn't do anything. As we have started to teach doctrines to people, to help them understand what they believe to be true, and why it's so important, then the Holy Ghost comes in and takes the teaching into their hearts.

I received an email from a dear friend of mine, saying that when he got home from his mission...after a week or so, it feels that he never actually left for 2 years, but that only 2 weeks or so had passed....What a scary feeling! I don't know, it makes me want to really use the time that I have as wisely as I can, just wanting to give all that I can since time is about to run out. I think that will be my "New year" Resolution, to truly try to give all that I am every day to the Lord. And I invite everyone to try to use whatever time they have in the day to come unto Christ more fully. If the first things that we did in the morning were pray and scripture study....Then I cant help but feel that the world would be a better place because slowly we would have our hearts turn, and become new.

I love you all. and Happy new year :)

Elder Lehr

Monday, December 22, 2014

In the Dona of things - 12/22/14

If i were to give advise when one wants to ride in a taxibrus from fianarantsoa to antsirabe at 8:00 in the morning until 2:00pm this is what i would give to them............1. Do not put your right arm outside of the window for the entire 6 hour drive. You will look like me in the end....Which is to say half of you will look normal and the other half of your body will look like it went through a furnace. Haha my entire right side is now way tan, but the left side of my face is still normal. GWAHP! haha.
When i arrived i went on a split with Elder Morleys child (Elder Kelsh) and had a blast going through mahazoarivo. SO MUCH FUN! Then i met up with Elder Andriamanganoro and Elder Christiansen. We went home in our truck, and did some planning, when upon the morning Elder Christiansen had a horrible fever that lasted all of friday as well. So Me and Elder Noro, went on a split and got to visit the Dona. We taught this way old BEBE and her grandchild and then visited some less actives.
On Friday, Me and Elder Noro went to shopright and got some groceries to make some pot roast, and then on the way home i was like "Hey Elder Noro (Andriamanganoro for short) You want to drive home?" So he did, and right as we were about to get home....We crashed into a puspus... And at least the guy did not have any broken bones. Just a bruise. That was good.....So already having adventures in the DONA! What what!? :)
On saturday we had a meeting with the branch pres, and then taught some times which was way good and awesome. Then sunday we had an awesome church meeting where Elder Randrianantenaina came home from his mission and is in our branch now!!!! I love Jonny! He gave a great talk and it connected to the talk that i gave and the one that elder Christiansen gave. So much fun in the Dona.
So really quickly. In manandona we have 2 (Groups) That are in our area. the 1st. Being Beso, and the 2nd Ibity. They are super far away. Beso is over the mountain about an hour and a half and then ibity is about the same in the other direction. So we have alot of fun in our little area of madagascar. :)
Well christmas is coming up, and i am so excited. We are trying to translate the script of 17 miracles into malagasy and then we will watch that for christmas :) I will try to be albert or something so that i can be "Superb!" Haha but we shall see. I Know that this work is true. I love the people of manandona even though they can be a little crazy :)
Well Merry christmas, and don't drink like most people here do for christmas
Love Elder Lehr

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Its the most wonderful time of the year - 12/15/14

Elder Lehr saying goodbye to some families in Fianarantsoa

(Thanks to Elder Mack and his mom for the above pictures of our Elder Lehr)

Zone conference. Open house. And transfers. What an amazing thing to have in a week to set off a new change. My heart is so full of gratitude for the opportunity to have been in Fianarantsoa. Out of all the people in this world....I feel more connection with these beautiful betsileo people. I have several families here that are my family here in Madagascar. Jean Chrys, Frere Etiene, Frere Mario, The Couple missionaries (The Rakotoarisoas) and the missionaries here. As I look back on last 7 months I feel that my understanding of the gospel, my perspective on life, and many other things have changed. 

Yesterday we were going to visit a recent convert that I baptized, and we told here that I was going to be leaving and at that time I hadn't really thought that I had a real impact here in Fianarantsoa. As we were giving the spiritual thought, she just burst into tears, and was super sad that I was going to be leaving. I don't know....I guess....What I want to express right now is that in even making a difference in one person, or a couple of families in Fianarantsoa....I believe that I have been successful. I have grown and endured and I feel a great desire to continue my relationship with these people. Haha I definitely think that I have become a (Bobo Betsileo) :)
Elder Mack is going to get an awesome companion that was working in Ambohipo. His name is Elder Hammer. SUCH A STUD! He is going to have a lot of fun, and I think he will really grow in his Malagasy since they are both kind of at that beginning level.
One of the things that really touched me this week was in zone conference. President Adams was talking  alot about "Conversion" and how someone can keep the commandments all they want, but if they are doing it, just to do it and not doing it because they want to...Then they are not converted and will fall. We can not fake it in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Heavenly father wants us to sacrifice "ALL THAT WE HAVE!" That means our very hearts, desires, will, life, and soul. When we live like that...Then what are commandments? They are the way that we show our love for him. "If ye love me keep my commandments." But what if we dont have that desire inside of us? How can we change so that we can come unto Christ and receive TRUE REPENTANCE? According to the words of Alma:
"But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words." Thus even if the desire to change is there, to recieve a new heart and a new way, then that is enough, and the Atonement of jesus christ will take a hold on us as we exercise our faith by trying to keep the commandments, and trying to live like heavenly father would have us live. I know that to be true with all my heart. BUT! You dont have to take my word for it. In fact it is not ok if you do so, but i would invite you by saying "Will you try follow jesus christ by applying the strengthening power of the atonement in your life through faith in him?" I know that if you do so, you will recieve true conversion. NOt just a testimony of this truth, but you will be able to endure to the end with a "Mighty change of heart."
Oh! I guess I should tell where I am being transferred hehe.. I am going to be transferred to ANTSIRABE! To a place called Manandona. It is a beautiful countryside place where the members travel for I think about 2 hours to get to church. I am pretty stoked and my companions will be Elder Christianson And Elder Andriamanganoro. I am SO EXCITED :) I will be leaving in a taxibrus this Wednesday morning so that I can get to Antsirabe in the evening. Haha last Taxibrus ride from Fianarantsoa!!!! WHAO WHAOP! hehe

Well I love you all, sorry this is kind of a longer email.
I will talk to you all next time in the ambala of Antsirabe.
Mandrapihaona! (See you soon)
Elder Lehr

P.S. Hey dad... Was it this crazy for know when you were on your mission...To where when you leave an area you just feel that...You are leaving apart of who you are. You feel that you will never be the same because...For all things accounted for...You will never see them again maybe...I don't know...I would love to come back to Madagascar so that I could see the people here in Fianarantsoa. I love them so much. If only I could just take them all with me :)

Monday, December 8, 2014

.......ITS ALMOST CHRISTMAS!!! - 12/8/14

What the mahatrunky emails that you guys sent! Haha I miss being with family So much :)
Yesterday we actually had the beginning of a white christmas! We were coming home from church and we see this huge gigantic wall of rain coming toward us from the mountains. It was almost like "The Nothing" From the Neverending Story. It was SO COOL! As it was coming we could hear the sound of the rain getting closer and closer until all of a sudden we were getting pelted by hail and rain. YEP! We had little ice cubes hitting the house and causing flooding. I am going to count that as my white christmas here in madagascar :) Hehe
Elder Mack and I also ran into a.....Little problem....on Wednesday. So here is my back story: Someone started to gossip about us as missionaries because he got offended at us for kidding around. When we tried to apologize he wouldn't accept it, and we heard from some people that the trust that missionaries had with members was broken because of that one thing. So we became to say that in english...Discouraged? (Kivy) and it was just a fun week because of that....But here is the good part about everything... I talked to him again and now he is ok with everything! So now we are just trying to restore our relationship with members. Lesson learned. It's good to joke around, but you have to be careful with what you say. And also Gossip is one of the worst things I have ever seen in my life. Done.
We have also had a wonderful time trying to get people to go to church, But it's kind of hard right now. We are praying and really striving to help these people, but I also recognize that there is only so far that you can go, and then they need to choose to go.
This week is going to be way fun. We have an open house for the church this Thursday and Friday, and then we have the zone conference on Saturday. SO we have a way fun week ahead of us. :)
So a little bit of the plague that is going around madagascar right now. The missionaries here are supposed to take DOXI for malaria and bubonic plague prevention. In fact the Missionary Nurse is saying that we really need to not get lazy in taking it. SO! We have been trying to follow the guidance of our leaders, and we know that if we will obey then we will be blessed, and we don't have to worry about the plague or malaria. So moms don't need to worry but the mission is taking good care of us :)
OH! Here is a little vaovao!? So we might be getting a new branch president right as soon as President Adams gets here. :) So that is a little news.
And aminy farany dia farany, We were at frere Etiens house and his little kids are SO CUTE! I almost died and just went home right there. Dang those little mongrals make me want to have a family SO BAD! Haha but it's ok :) We are still being blessed with the strength to Mandà the Fakam-panahy (To reject the temptation) To take some of these kids home with us :)
Well I love you all. I hope you are having a merry old time preparing for the christmas season. I love this mission. I love madagascar, and I love the people so much.
Love Elder Lehr