So this week was great! Many great things happened. First we had a pretty good showing of investigators at church. Sundays really feel like judgement day because you are just waiting for your investigators to show up and it’s pretty stressful at times. However, we had 7 investigators at church. A lot of the others were working or visiting family in the countryside. It’s really sad because a lot of people have been dying in the families that we’ve been with and they haven’t been able to be as committed as they want to be.
Vola Vaovao = New money. Just this past week Madagascar had created a brand new set of money. They just came out a few days ago and it looks really cool, however, they look kinda like monopoly money. I’ll send you guys a picture when I get a good collection. They also came out with a bigger bill. Previously the largest bill was 10,000 (about $3.10 USD). The new bill is a 20,000 Ariary (about $6.20 USD). With the new money coming out it has been a topic of interest and people often ask me what the largest bill is in America. I feel really sad when I say $100 (about 300,000 Ariary) and when you put that in perspective to Malagasies, it is 600 ariary for a cup of rice off the street and 3 cups feed a family of 5 for a whole day. It’s very sad because of the poverty here and I love giving and helping where I can.
This past week we were guest speakers at an English class at one of the schools. The kids presented recipes in English and did a little cooking activity for each of their recipes. We ate fruit salad, Malagasy Bread (not very good), and juice. At the conclusion, we just broke up into groups and talked in English and helped them develop a better accent. It was really fun and the teacher was a returned missionary that served in Uganda.
Our investigators are progressing very well and Vincent had read the first 5 chapters of the Bokin’ I Mormona when we returned. He loved the story of Laban and the brass plates. He retold that story in his own words and he really understands it super well. He is growing so much.
I love Madagascar and it’s absolutely great! Elder Soper is still hilarious and a great missionary and Manakambahiny is the best area! Have a great week, God bless.
From a personal letter regarding funerals: I’ve already been to two and they are quite unique. The person is usually laying on the table in their living room and people just walk in, in a single-file line, shaking the loved ones hands and giving them your condolences. It usually smells bad because the body stays there for multiple days and isn’t touched. However, I haven’t been to an actual burial yet, so that is an experience yet to come.
Date: Mon, Jul 17, 2017 at 11:48 AM
To: Brock Thomas Coleman <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I read your quick little email and you’ll see this in about 72 hours, but helping people and losing yourself in the service of other is a lot better. What a great opportunity you have to serve so many people. There are a lot of people in need of help and I’m sure that it was a day well spent and helped you grow closer to your fellow Japanese. On your questions about what has changed, I will respond in the order that you presented to me.
A few new things is that I am humbled a lot more because of the poverty. I’ve become grateful for the blessings that we have in America and a lot more frugal and thrifty. Through this change of mindset from 1st world to 3rd world, I’ve really discovered and understood what has the most meaning in life. Seeing people work from 7am to 7pm and only earn 10,000AR which is about $3.25 per day has been humbling. Especially because they are just as happy, if not happier than most Americans. They truly know that God is the most important thing out of any worldly thing.
In short, I’ve developed humility and stripped myself of pride, become kinder and more giving to those in need and always being ready to lend a hand of service even when it isn’t convenient or might make us late for an appointment.
I’ve left behind a lot of the fowl speech and have overall cleansed myself. Truly the scripture in D&C 121:45 (I think) is a better description of myself now: “Let virture garnish thy thoughts unceasingly…”.
One of the things I’ve started is an adventure of a lifetime of reading the scriptures and truly pondering them. I’ve developed incredible study habits that would have been useful if I had them in High School. Personal and Language study really have enveloped my mind and they are some of the funnest hours of the morning! I’ve truly grown in the knowledge of the gospel and a personal, deep love for the scriptures. I’ve never really studied like this before my mission and I realize how spiritually immature I was.
I’ve finished the Book of Mormon once (3 months) and I started reading it a second time and going through very deeply (I’ve been studying it for 8 months and I’m only in Alma 45). I’ll hopefully finish it for a second time on my mission in November. I was just talking with my companion just a few days ago about this and a common question was posed, ‘What is your favorite book?’ I think every time for the rest of my life I will be saying the Book of Mormon. I know it sounds too goody-too-shoes, but it really is true. There is no better story, to me, than the family of Lehi and their descendants. It is pretty difficult to answer otherwise. I’ve never become so attached to a book as I have with the Book of Mormon.
This answer is somewhat out of order, but I’ve also been changing my mindset about almost everything. Education is going to be a fun adventure and I’m excited to go to college after the mission. Another weird thing about the mission is that I feel that I’ve gotten closer to some of my family and friends (like you) even though we are so far
away from each other.
I absolutely love Madagascar man and I know that you love Japan. We are coming up on your year mark and it’s very exciting and sad at the same time. We only have a year left to be in full service to the Lord. Kinda scary to think about. Anyways man, we’ve had some great spiritual adventures and I too am curious to see how you have changed. So my question to you is this… what’s changed? What’s new? What things have you developed since we last saw each other? What things have you left behind? What things have you started? What things have you finished?
Have a great week in the service of the Lord!
Love ya tons buddy!