Monday, January 26, 2015

Picnics in the garden of eden, Drinking the sweet nectar of Ft D - 1/26/15

If one ever wants to know what it was in the days of Adam to live in the Garden of Eden...They need only look to Besoa. Every Tuesday is our Besoa day, and we decided last week to bring a sack lunch and to have a picnic right outside the borders of the cherubum and the flaming sword. Such sweet, sweet peace as we drank in the sweet nectar of Ft Dona.
Teaching the allegory of the olive tree, visiting Brother Richard and his family, going 4 wheeling up the mountains in order to partake of such an experience.....What more can a man ask for?
On the other hand of such a week, we went to Ibity and taught our dear dadabe Parssen. That guy is crazy! hehe We feel that every time we try to teach by the spirit...We end up just fighting with him....We literally feel that it is almost useless to go since every time he tells us "I am never going to go back to church" And then on Sunday he comes......Question mark????
We have been teaching learning classes every Wednesday and Saturday in Manandona, and it has been awesome. We teach reading, writing, math, English, and if someone wants to learn French.....I teach them Bonjour.. We just want these people to learn. Even if it's secular learning because it is SO NEEDED in the gospel to know how to read. It's been really cool to feel the Holy Ghost guide us into knowing how we can better help the branch and the people here in Manandona. It's fun, it's hard, and it's worth it.
On Saturday, we also played football with the zone leaders and the elders in Andranomanelatra, and it was SO FUN! The best part of playing sports with other missionaries is that even if you are horrible, we have a blast and make it fun. So we had this one play where Elder Christiansen throws the ball to Elder Rice, and he pitches it to me, and it then becomes almost like rugby where we start pitching it back and forth. I don't even know it was just SO SWAG! We are going to play rugby today, and I am so scared since one of the elders here (Elder Gariki) Is from Tahiti, and was on the national rugby team and won.........He is going to lay us out so bad haha
Yesterday was Way awesome. We had 97 people at church! WAHOO! It was super exciting and we had a bunch of less actives come (about 87 people) and I have also been given the andraikatra (Responsibility) to teach the young men. I love the Come Follow Me program. I wish we could just teach it in all the Sunday School classes and to the Elders Quorum. We have this one recent convert who is the most adorable thing ever. We go to visit him, and ask about the story of Joseph Smith, and the only problem with him is that he can;t remember things very well. So Elder Christiansen drew a picture for him and it had 3 churches, and some trees, and then on the part where God the Father and Jesus Christ appears to Joseph, he also drew a tree. Then we asked him to study the picture EVERY Day before he goes to bed for about 10 minutes. So we asked him "Who were the people that appeared to Joseph Smith?" And he was like "Ny HAZO! (Or Tree)" We just died laughing. He is such a sweet spirit. Haha I think we might need to draw a new picture for him but he is the best. :)
Sorry there is not a lot of stuff right now....Not much happened this week, but I love you all and I will talk to you all soon.

Elder Lehr

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The week of....Miracles :) - 1/19/15

I have had some strange weeks here in Madagascar......But this is definitely up there in the way of "What the garglemesh just happened this week?"

The story begins on the 13th of January 2015. When we had one of the best days in our entire program because we get to go to the promised land of Besoa. What an absolutely amazing beautiful place. I love the people there, and it was awesome because we got to teach a lot of people, and one of our investigators was like "So I have been reading Jacob chapter 5 in the Book of Mormon. What does all of it mean? We just laughed and were like "I barely understand this in English and now you want me to explain in Malagasy!?" Haha it was way funny, but this girl is one of our golden investigators in Besoa. She will definitely be a needed strength here in Manandona. After all of our lessons it was pretty dark, but because of the rain we found out that the river was like flooding, and there are also no bridges to get across to the other side. So Elder Christiansen and I get our pockets unpacked, and become giddy with excitement as we realize that we are going to cross a river so that we can get back to our car. It was NUTS! As we were wading through the river it came up to our belt line, and we were just soaked. So we took some swag pics and had a blast.

Tuesday January 13th part 2: After wading through the river and getting into the car, we start going home. On our path home there are 2 checkpoints where there are 2 separate sets of cops. The 1st one is no problem, and the 2nd one isn't either, but of all the days, this was the day that we get pulled over and policeman Eli, started to interrogate us for our papers and permits. After going through all the papers, he finally asked the dreaded question. "Do you guys have your Drivers Licenses?" Now we must understand that we have been trying to get people to send up our permits (drivers licenses) for all the time that we have been here in Manandona, but no one has actually done so. We said that we didn't have it today.  So he tells us that The sister misisonaries were teaching him and that because of that he would leave us with a warning, but if we didn't send missionaries to his house then he would write us up and throw us in jail. WOW!

Wednesday (Happened to be Elder Lehr's birthday): Well.....We can't drive the car since our permits are in Tana.....We shall go on an immediate split - the split with the zone leaders! Yea! Yep, This day I had the awesome opportunity to go with Elder Fox to the Dona, and we had a blast and some way good conversation, and then to top everything off, we went to this vaza restaurant and I got these chicken fajitas, with a brownie and it was SO GOOD! :) Then I talked to these people from Finland, England and another France. IT was a lot of fun. :)

Thursday: We took bikes! It was way swag, we went out and almost died a couple of times, but we had a couple of miracles. 1st miracle is that we tried to stop by this less active who was not home and out of the blue this guy ran up to us and was telling us to come to his house right then. So we did, and they are the most balling family ever. They learned before in Ambositra from some elders, but then they moved to Tana and then moved here. SO WE GET TO TEACH THEM! And they actually understand what is being taught to them which is a great miracle.
The 2nd miracle of the day is that we went to a less active that was never home and we were able to catch them and we have set up a program with them. Thus so far we have seen the work of the Lord in preparing us to meet these families. If we had not been stopped on Tuesday, then we never would have rode our bikes to Vaninkarena and if we had never done that we never would have received those miracles. Thus we saw the hand of the Lord in our week....even though it was crazy.

Friday: Still rode out on our miracle bikes and found another miracle family, then returned and got our permits, from Tana. Then we went on splits with Ambohimena, and we got to teach this super Betsileo family from Ambositra. That was way awesome cause I got to speak Betsileo with them :)

Saturday, and Sunday: We had some good times, and I got to attend a meeting with the branch presidents and the district president.......And then some problems happened in Manandona. It is so much fun dealing with Old church history type problems :)....... But the work is going going going, and I love it here in Manandona. It's the BEST!

Love Elder Lehr

P.S. Oh! Btw on Saturday we got hit with my first Cyclone. It was AWESOME! All night I felt like the house was going to be destroyed, but the Lord was looking out for us.....and frankly I was so tired that I was like "CYCLONE! Well thats cool....zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz" SO TIRED! But everything is ok. Haha President Adams was in Mahajanga and we gave him a call about something and he was telling us that they were in the 2nd story of this hotel. Super high up, but the water was so high that they were still getting buckets to try and get water out.

That makes me so grateful to be in Antsirabe :) haha But now our lake dona is now covering all the rice's SO COOL! :)
Well keep strong and don't die guys

Monday, January 12, 2015

The last supper - 1/12/15

Lake Tratriva

Elder Andriamanganoro is officially going to be going home tomorrow due to the ending of his mission of 2 years and 1 month. What an awesome time it has been to be with him as he has helped us in Manandona. 

We have had a week of some awesome soires. On Friday we went to the district president's house and had an awesome dinner of chicken and peas, and then this amazing lasary. I was very content and very happy with the way that things were done. We also had a great discussion there about the millenium and some of the questions were like....SUPER DEEP.... I was like "How in the heck did that thought come to you?" But it was way good.

Yesterday we made another roast dinner, and kind of had it as the last meal. It was way good, and I feel very confident now before god and mammon in the ability to cook a roast with just about any type of gravy. haha!

Today we went to a place called Lake Tratriva. It is a beautiful lake in the middle of a volcano and it is SO AWESOME! We saw these amazing blue flowers that were just beautiful and just crystal blue water with these caverns coming up around. So incredible.

Well....Sorry guys I am super tired today due to the hike and what not, but I will tell one more thing about what happened this week.

There were about 4 families that we taught this week that all had very similar problems. All of them had gone inactive due to something that had happened where they misunderstood the branch president, took offense and then say that even though the church is true... They will not come back because of the leaders. It was a really interesting thing that was discussed between all of them. As we looked at all of the individual circumstances. We started to ask about what they thought about the church as a whole, and its comparison to other churches. They all started to relate that it was the most true of all the churches, but that in other churches you could still receive salvation since there is just one God, and we all pray to him. So we began teaching about Joseph Smith and the Restoration, and it was amazing that as understanding of that happened.....They were able to let go of some of the things that were troubling them. 

I know that Joseph Smith saw God the Father, and Jesus Christ. THEY LIVE! With all my heart and soul I know that this church is the Only true church because it has the authority needed from God do you say that in to complete the ordinances necessary to return to Him. We are Literally in every sencs of the word his children. He loves us, and he does exist. We have a living prophet that continues to receive revelation to guide us and help us to know God's will. There can be no doubt about that. A life without a God literally makes no sense. BUT The greatest thing about this entire subject is that YOU Don't have to take MY WORD for it! You can literally ask God to find out through prayer! Though just like I have found out here in the mission... If we want to find out truth....we can't just sit....We have to work for it. You can not get a college diploma by sitting at home and not going to class and doing the homework and learning. It is impossible. Just like that we have to do things. We have to 1. Keep the commandments (Even if we don't know they are true yet). 2. Continually pray, and ask, and 3. We have to read and learn about God by reading the Bible and the Book of Mormon. As these things are done by seekers of truth, they WILL receive light and knowledge and will know for themselves that what I say is true.

Well I will talk to you all later.

Elder Lehr

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

O this week :) - 1/5/15

Pics of the "dona"

Helping out during the soaking rain storm

Elder Lehr in Fianarantsoa

Haha the only way that I can truly describe this week is by going in a sequential order of things. O my giddy aunt.
Monday: We played some wonderful american football for about 3 hours, and then at the very end...I tore my right adducter. (I think that is spelled right, but if not and you don't know what I am talking about, then it is the muscle nearest the groin area.) But it was all worth it because we got to play football :) We then went to work and I got to do an awesome soire with Felix and his family. (Felix and his wife are active and way swag) And me and the branch president taught them how to do a family home evening, and as we were preparing guess what!? This guy named Manampy knocks on the door and he is like "Oh! You are a missionary! I have been to scared to ask you guys but do you think I can learn?!" So I was like "Well heck ya you can!" So he joined us for family home evening and then we talked about Joseph Smith, and the restoration, and it was so cool that he was relating to the entire thing, just like ' Ya my mom is catholic and then my dad is protestant so I have no idea where the true church is.' The spirit was way strong and I know that Felix will do a good job in helping Manampy grow and to learn more.
Tuesday: This was supposed to be my day to drive the truck out to the dona......But according to what my body told me due to the above mentioned adductor tearing......I was not able to even get in the car without help from my companions.....It was one of the most humiliating things to have. To go out to lunch and to have Elder Christiansen grab me by the shoulder and help me into the truck....Though luckily I found a metal rod in the house that I used for a cane, and then had the wonderful opportunity to go out to the land of Ibity where there is a bunch of less actives. SO! We went on the long journey to Ibity, and talked to "Dadabe Parssen" (Dadaba is grandfather) who is the president of the Elders quorum, and he proceeded to tell us for 2 hours that his bike tire was flat and that he was going to go less active because he wasn't going to be able to go to church, and then he was telling us on how the lutheran church was also true......;"Palm slap in the face" So we told him that we were going to talk to him some other time, and walked away depressed by the above mentioned Resaka (Talk). After the dadabe we went to an investigator named Voangy who literally lived in the middle of a valley in the middle of nowhere......And Ibity is already the middle of nowhere.....So if you catch what is going on.....1. We go to the middle of nowhere, and hike in the mountain of nowhere, and rock climb over the cliffs of insanity in the valley of nowhere.....All while having a metal cane for me to walk on as my right leg is on fire due to the injury from Monday.......And 2 very very needed companions. Once we got to Voangy through sweat, and tears....She was not there.....And so we descended back into the valley of nowhere, through the river of rocks, and back up the cliffs of insanity, through the woods and back to our car we went. After that we then taught a guy named Bernard about God and our relationship with him.
Dang Tuesday... :)
Wednesday: My leg feels a little bit better and I can actually walk a bit without having to use the cane anymore. So we go over to the church, teach a family who lives about 30 minutes away from church in the OTHER Direction and proceed to have a wonderful new years eve lesson with them. After teaching Emmanuel and his family we went over to Felix to see if we could teach Manampy. So we go and find him not there. (Bummer) On our returning to the car, we find this mob chasing a very very angry cow down the path , when all of a sudden it goes onto a rice pattie wherein lies a helpless old woman with a basket full of clothes on her head and an umbrella, and she is running for her life to get away from the cow that is chasing her. When the cow is almost upon her she jumps into the rice pattie and everything that she has goes flying in all directions. It was nuts. Finally the people get the cow under control and it's about 10 feet from us. Again all of a sudden the cow kind of bucks, and starts charging toward me and Elder Noro. Elder Christiansen jumps towards a nearby garden, and looks back to see Elder Noro going toward the edge of a cliff to jump to a garden and sees me limping along trying to do the same, but the said cow was only 2 feet away from me. So I barely make it and jump about 5 feet to get to the nearby garden of mangahazo. When I land I feel a little tear in my adductor again, and I realize that within a period of 3 days I had torn my adductor twice because of football and then because of a stinkin’ omby (or cow). What a week so far!
Thursday: We have a wonderful schedule for new years day. We have an activity with the branch and once we get there around 2 o clock, we get rained on hard core par core. So our job becomes the emergency rescue squad for all the subwoofers and people in Ibity and Besoa. And after a soaking day and our business done.......We have no more time to teach and go straight home.....Haha well at least we are still alive.
Friday: Elder Christiansen goes with Elder Noro and does MLS Stuff the entire day, and I go with Filho Risa and Frere Max in order to teach some members. It was a good day, and we were able to teach this ridiculously old dadabe and bebe. After our lessons we got Elder Christiansen and Noro and proceeded on our journey home, having done a good work.
Saturday: We go to the chruch at 8:00 in order to help this very very old bebe cut her rice....or harvest? anyway we went to (mijinja) the rice, and spent about 3 hours cutting and cutting rice. It was SO COOL! The old bebe was crazy too because we had 2 people from the elders quorum and she was like "Where is all the rest of the help!" And they were like "Look bebe, we have 5 people here that are going to harvest your rice." But then she responded by saying " Ya! But 3 of them don't know what the heck they are doing!?" We were just like "What the garglemesh!? We are trying to do service for ya! You could at least be grateful for that!" Haha old bebes are the best! Oh! While we were harvesting the rice we saw the biggest spiders I have ever seen, and then I also cut my hand with the sickle....Adventures in the dona :)
Sunday: Everything, just worked out. We got Elder Randrianantenaina (Jonny) to help us, and we just did a bunch of teaching. IT was awesome! We taught bebe Nety, and Her grandson Lova, and then we taught soure Emil, and we just had a blast yesterday. We taught about covenants and had a really great time teaching on how covenants work in our lives and why we need them. I am so grateful for this church. And I know that it is true with all my heart. It is the best thing to see peoples lives changed and their hearts softened. I love this work.
Elder Lehr
P.S I think I am healed and we are planning on playing football again today. WAHOO!

P.S.S. I wanted to talk to you guys about what happened for zone meeting on Thursday.
So the zone leaders gave a wonderful lesson about coming before the throne of god with confidence, and we talked about how if we want to be able to be in the celestial room and to know the lord is pleased with us then we are going to want to give all that we have to this work.
Like 1. Taking ownership of the area, and to really make it "Your vineyard" and to not make excuses for others, but to really try to do all you can.
2. Make a commitment with god to be able to do all you can to grow your area and to leave it off better then it was.
I don't know it was a way good zone conference and made me really want to do my best. I love this work.
Anywhos, Have a wonderful time with your freezing cold weather! haha while its about 90 degrees here, or when it rains it gets down to like.....60 ish or 70. yeye yeye :)