#83 Stake Conference, Soccer & Soiree With “The Boys”

Week 83.5This week was the most teaching-filled program I’ve had in my entire mission.  We have been running for the entire past week.  In weekly planning we counted and organized our teaching pool with potential investigators and we have 58 total people!  The missionary work here in Manakambahiny is stellar.

Week 83.9We had Stake Conference yesterday which consisted of 7 wards other than ours and 980 attended.  It was at our building and we had a lot of success getting investigators at church.  There were some really good talks by the members and some as well by someone in our ward named Fr. Amede.  On the Saturday session we had two investigators attend, which was quite surprising.  One of them was Laza.  Prior, we had previously dropped Laza because he didn’t have glasses and couldn’t read, therefore couldn’t progress and didn’t come to church, but last week he decided to go buy some glasses and has been reading the Book of Mormon every day!  He has completely flipped around and came to both of the sessions of Stake Conference.  Yesterday we taught him with a member that lived on the floor above him, Fr. Jean-Louis.  We taught Laza about God’s Plan of Salvation for him and shared 2 Nephi 31: 10-12, focusing on God’s plan for him and how he can follow Jesus Christ.  Fr. Jean-Louis extended the baptismal commitment to him and it was so powerful.  The spirit was so strong as our member asked Laza if his goal was to follow Jesus Christ and be baptized.  As he answered positively, he was resounding with the spirit, and I saw more light in his eyes during that lesson than I had seen the past two months.  His baptismal date is for April 14th.

Week 83.8Last Wednesday we started an activity for the Ward Missionaries and investigators by playing soccer at 6am in the cultural hall.  It was super fun and we had two investigators come – Bawan and Guy de Laf (The Boys).  Altogether it was really successful and an opportunity for our members to bond and create friendships with our investigators.

Wednesday night we had our lesson with The Boys – Bawan, Guy de Laf, and Fahazotoa.  However, Fahazotoa wasn’t able to be there because he was working.  We taught them about the Plan of Salvation and focused on our goal here on earth and invited them to be baptized on April 14th and they all accepted.  Before we taught them again on Saturday, we had them pray fervently about their baptism and when they came back they said that they were ready to get baptized and then asked if they could see the baptismal font at the church.  At the end of our lesson on Wednesday, we had dinner with their family and ended with a really fun game.  Bawan got so into the game, it was hilarious.  I’ll try and send some videos.

Vincent sy Hanitra.  Vincent had a fever yesterday and was pretty sick because of a tough week at both of his jobs and just totally tired so he didn’t come to church.  Tonight we have a soiree with a member that lives close by them and we are going to do a family home evening with Fr. Christian and Sr. Bakoly.  Hopefully it will be uplifting for them!

Faly, Charlina, sy Mampionona.  We taught them yesterday and finished up their final lesson. We are getting them ready for their baptism on the 31st of March and they all came to Stake Conference, it was so great.  Charlina also brought a friend to church and we are going to start teaching her friend and her husband!  Getting referrals from investigators, it doesn’t get much better than that.  This was a result of us applying some of the things that Elder Palmer talked about in zone conference–asking investigators or members at the beginning of the lesson if there is anyone else that is nearby that could also join us for the lesson, then after the lesson is finished, asking if there is anyone else that we could share this message with or anyone that they know that could use the blessings of the gospel in their life.

Week 83.3Miary sy Lova.  We had a great lesson with them yesterday right after Stake Conference and then we finished up the second to last lesson before their baptismal interview in preparation to be baptized on the 31st of March.  They are so ready!

Mamy.  He is getting baptized on the 24th of March and we did a practice baptismal interview yesterday in preparation for his actual interview this Saturday.  He’s well beyond prepared for baptism and has already gotten to 2 Nephi 20 in his personal reading.

I love Manakambahiny, Madagascar is the greatest, Elder Christensen is awesome, have a great week!

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#82 3 Boys, MLC & Bird Slayers

Week 82.2
L-R Guy de Laf, Fahazotoa, Bawan, Fr. Soja, Sr. Mihaja, Fr. Mbola, Elder Chris

So this week was incredible and better than the last.

Last week at church, one of our members brought three guys to church, Bawan, Guy de Laf, and Fahazotoa.  They were super participative in the gospel principles class and between Priesthood meeting we set up a time to meet them this week.  On Wednesday evening we taught all of them and it was such a great lesson.  They were all focused so well at our teachings and love the message of the Restoration.  They had some good questions and Fahazotoa doesn’t have a super solid Christian background, but caught the enthusiasm of his peers and has been learning and embracing God and Jesus Christ in his life. All three of them live in one of our strongest members’ house Sr. Mihaja and Fr. Soja(about 40 years old).  When we returned on Saturday for our return lesson, we decided to bring a less-active member Mbola to help us teach him, and he’s about their same age.  Well it was more than successful, as Mbola taught his new-friends about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith, he was grinning so much.  You could tell he loved sharing the gospel in his life and it was probably the most recent time in a while that he felt the spirit and it brought him happiness.  Fr. Soja and Sr. Mihaja also bore powerful testimonies in how the Book of Mormon had blessed their lives and shared their conversion stories.  When we pulled out three branch new Books of Mormon, one for each of them, they were beyond excited to have it and said “We give you thanks for bringing this light and knowledge into our lives.”  It was the best lesson of the week.  Bawan, Fahazotoa, Guy de Laf, Fr. Mbola and the others all came to church yesterday and we greeted them as they came in.  It was super incredible to see them so happy at church.

Week 82.1We had MLC (missionary leadership council) on Friday night for a couple of hours.  Elder Wolfgramm and Hunter flew up from Ft. Dauphin and the zone leaders in Tamatave also caught a bus down to be here for the meeting.  Elder S. Mark Palmer, the Seventy, came to give us instruction and counsel about being leaders in life.  He spoke in April 2017 general conference “Then Jesus Beholding Him Loved Him.”  He had us read it in preparation and it talks about leading with love.  Some of my favorite things he said were: “In a council, it’s not about who’s right, but what’s right” “Leadership is an opportunity to serve, love, and learn” “Praise in public, correct in private” “When you gossip and label someone as a bad missionary or whatever, you don’t all them to repent.”  We ended with a great lasagna dinner and got to ask questions to President Foote and Elder Palmer for an hour or so concerning his calling and doctrinal questions.  It was really incredible and inspiring.

Week 82.3Last week we were walking through a rice patty and saw a kid running with a sling shot on the side of the small path.  He was looking up in the sky and we followed his eyes to see a bird flying about 80 feet above the rice fields.  Like a sharp shooter, he pulled back his sling shot, launched a unripe lime and nailed this bird.  Injured, it managed to glide to a tree about a football field away.  They ran over to the bottom of the tree and started launching more limes until they hit the bird, dazed it, and it fell out of the tree.  They came back to the path feeling victorious and they said that they were going to cook him for dinner and it was going to be their food.  Malagasy kids are ballers.

Faly and Charlina are progressing well, we haven’t been able to meet with Vincent and Hanitra this week, but we’ve visited and they and the new baby are doing well.  Have a great week!

Week 82.8

Week 82.5

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#81 New Baby, Faly & Charlina, and Soukril

Week 81.9
Hanitra, Vincent, new baby & Clarita

Dear beloveds,  This week was incredible.  The first part of the week was pretty slow, but when it hit the weekend, we were running the whole time!  It was incredible.  I’ll update you a little bit on what’s been going on:

Vaoteraka (translation to ‘just barely born/birthed’).  Vincent and Hanitra had their baby and it was definitely time for her to have her child.  She had been 9 months plus pregnant.  The crazy thing that happened, is when she was about to go into labor, she had a prompting to head to the hospital.  It was on Friday at mid day and her husband Vincent was working.  Their house lives at the middle of a hillside and the nearest hospital was at the top of the hill.  Week 81.4Picture this, she, being ‘big with child’ hiked 10 minutes up a strenuous hill to the hospital alone.  Madagascar doesn’t really have accessible roads and ambulances are only very rare to use.  A little bit after checking into the hospital she gave birth and it was super easy.  In her words it just ‘slid out’.  I’m way glad that she didn’t have any problems, because they really don’t have any money to afford problems right now.  It was a beautiful little girl.  They are so happy!  We went and visited her Saturday and she will check today hopefully.  It’s funny because our last lesson with them on Wednesday was about the Plan of Salvation and we focused on the Pre earth life and our life on earth.  In hindsight, it was some foreshadowing.  I love them.  Their bapt date is for Mar. 31st and if Vincent gets his job before that, they will totally catch it.  What a new miracle for them and their family to feel God’s love more.

Week 81.5 (1024x750)
Faly & Charlena (parents), son Mampionona & 2 daughters

Faly & Charlina.  So following some of our Bishop’s advice in our meeting with him a few and a half ago, we brought a member and his wife to help us teach them.  Faly and Charlina have three kids, Mampionona, Nampoina, and the last little girl.  They are my favorites!  In the past, only Faly and Mampionona have learned and Charlina was not participative at all.  It’s not like she was mean, but she just didn’t have any interest to learn until… We brought Fr. Jean Louis and his wife Sr. Olivia.  They live just five minutes away and in our lesson last Monday night, the spirit was so powerful.  Without us asking, Sr. Olivia bore testimony about all the joy and happiness this gospel has brought into their family and how it has given them meaning in their life.  She shared their conversion story and it was incredibly powerful.  Since that lesson we’ve had two more lessons and Charlina’s countenance has completely changed.  She is technically illiterate, but her husband has been helping her read because she wants to read the pamphlets and the book of mormon now.  She read the introduction to the Book of Mormon and the first paragraph in the Gospel of Jesus Christ pamphlet.  She came to our English club we do every Saturday with all their kids.  Last night in our lesson, we brought Fr. Jean Louis over again and our lesson we talked about the first two principles of the gospel–Faith and Repentance.  Last lesson, we extended the baptismal commitment and told them to pray about it as a family.  Following up on that commitment last night, we asked Faly then Mampionona and then the decider, Charlina, if she had the desire to get baptized.  Then she said:  Hatao batisa izahay telo mianaka (Us three will be baptized together because we are family).  If any of you know that Movie the Martian with Matt Damon, there’s an intense scene where he is trying to get on the space station and everyone on earth is watching from a camera and when they find out that he made it safely everyone in NASA Headquarters errupts in joy as a sense of accomplishment.  That’s pretty much the same thing we felt when she said that she has the desire to be baptized.  One of the great things about them is they are already married so they will totally get baptized on Mar. 31st.  All five of them came to church yesterday and the picture below is with them.  Faly (left), Mampionona (middle), and Charlina (right).

Week 81.12
yes, it’s a bull’s tally wacker

Soukril.  So on Friday we had a soiree with a member in another ward.  Elder Shoemaker, Mshweshwe, Christensen, and I went.  This guy is a returned missionary from South Africa.  The dinner we had was not normal to eat.  If you want you can look up the definition of it on the internet, but it is the part of a cow that you shouldn’t eat and it’s not the Rocky Mountain Oysters part of the reproductive system either.  We all ate it dry heavingly, but it was worth the experience.  I’ll send you some of the pictures.  Madagascar doesn’t disappoint in the slightest.  Have a great week!

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#80 Rainstorms, Honore sy Eliza & Zone Conference

Faly & Mampionona

It was a great week again and they seem to go by even quicker.  We’ll work backwards from the title.

So, Wednesday morning we have had an MLC (missionary leadership council) meeting a few hours before zone conference.  It was really fun to listen to President Foote and the other missionaries talk about ways of leadership.  With the influx of missionaries and the restoration, we have an incredible opportunity to set the spirit of the Madagascar Mission.  Most of which was discussed in MLC was about how we can start right and stay right.  During zone conference, Elder Shoemaker and Elder Mshweshwe (the new APs) gave a great discussion on obedience and how we can set the standard now for future missionaries and the next wave that will be coming soon.  Elder Miller, one of the senior couples, gave a great talk and quoted a General Authority that visited their stake while they were in Arizona: “In the universe, there are no disobedient Gods.”  So, as we are in this life preparing for eternity, it’s great to keep that in mind.  Zone conferences always give me a boost in my missionary work and give important insights as to what I can do to improve missionary work in myself and in my area.

Soiree with Fr. Joseph & Sr. Olivia

Last Monday evening, we did a Family Home Evening at Fr. Joseph and Sr. Olivia’s house. Since we’ve been gone due to the Bubonic Plage in October, they’ve brought their neighbors to church, Honoré and Eliza and their entire family.  We’ve been teaching them ever since and yesterday at church they all came.  They love coming to church because they have friends there and all the lessons we have with them are just great.  Today we are going to teach them about temples and the importance of eternal families.  They still aren’t married legally and the lesson we are going to bring to them about eternal marriage will hopefully give them further motivation and reason to get married.  Other than getting them married, they are perfect investigators.  If they have any questions about things they don’t understand, they just walk 10 feet over to their neighbors house and they answer them.Week 80.2

So almost every day we’ve gotten rained on in the evening, which is normal because it’s the rainy season.  Unfortunately I left my rain jacket in Mauritius so I haven’t had one here.  But it really wouldn’t do much anyways, because it’s still hot and I’d still be wet on the inside because I’d be sweating.  Don’t worry mom, I’m doing alright.  Well, on Saturday evening we headed over to a lesson at 7pm with Laza and Jasmin.  About half way through, it started to rain, then it got harder, and then it came flying downs in massive drops pelting the roof or our investigator.  When we had finished the lesson, the rain hadn’t ceased and we had another appointment just 5 minutes away at 8pm.  We thought we could just wait it out and so we tried for about 10 minutes.  Unfortunately, our wisdom didn’t work because it just started raining harder.  So, we decided that we couldn’t wait and asked Laza and a member that lived in the house above Fr Jean Louis, if we could borrow some of their flip flops.  After they generously gave us some of their spare flip flops and some plastic bags to put our books and cameras in, we rolled our pants up in preparation to leave their door.  His house is at the bottom of this massive hill and Madagascar has open sewage.  So we treaded up a thigh high river to get to our next investigators house.  At one point Elder Christensen hit a hole and went a little past his bellybutton in water.

Week 80.5
Vincent & Elder Chris

It was really crazy, but we were determined to get to our last lesson because it was with one of our best investigators Faly and Mampionona.  We had a great lesson and when we showed up he was absolutely amazed.  He didn’t think we’d come.  Later in the lesson he bore testimony that our efforts to make it to his house for a lesson about the Book of Mormon meant to him that what we were teaching was true.  He said that up until that point he wasn’t 100% certain that everything we had been teaching him was true, until we showed up soaked head to toe in water to make it to our visit.  He’s already in 1 Nephi 21 in his reading and his son is in 1 Nephi 4.  They are so awesome, there’s a picture attached.

It has been some of the best weeks of my mission just being back here in Madagascar.  So many prayers were answered and since then we’ve been having a lot of success.  I love being a missionary and preaching about truth and peace.  Have a great week!

Best,   Elder Jacob Stromberg

Antananarivo, Madagascar Mission

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints


Week 80.4
Getting my hair cut at a member’s salon

#79 Tsimbazaza Lemur Park & Elder Chris

Week 79.3Well this week was incredible.  We have finally gotten back to teaching tons of lessons every day and man is it great to be back in Madagascar.  I love the people, their culture, their kindness, and the way that they see life.  Just to update you on a few people.  Vincent and Hanitra are doing great.  Vincent just got a confirm on a new job in the Military, so he will be working for the government by the end of this month.  Which also means that because he has a stable job he will be getting married the week after he starts working.  Hanitra is 8 1/2 months pregnant and will probably have her baby this week.  Their baptism is setup for March 3rd and we are shooting for that.  If you would keep them in your prayers, that would be great.  In Madagascar, you never know when some random problem could come up.

Week 79.9On Thursday evening as Elder Juchau and I exited our last lesson of the night, we received unexpected transfer news.  Elder Juchau is now working in Mahamasina and Elder Christensen became my new companion in Manakambahiny.  He got a nametag that says Elder Chris because no Malagasies can try and pronounce Christensen.  He’s a great guy.  He’s from Utah, but has lived in Saudi Arabia for 9 of his teenage years.  Really cool guy.

Week 79.4Today we went to the Tsimbazaza Lemur Park and as we were rounding the corner heading towards the lemur exhibits, a zookeeper came around the corner, saw us and then motioned for us to come quickly over.  He took us through the back door and told us to sit down, then he opened the lemur cage from the back and the lemurs started jumping all over us!  He grabbed some honey and then started putting it all over our faces and they started licking us.  It was so awesome!  Kinda like puppies, except with softer fur and weirdly cool hands.  He whispered in a quiet fashion and told us we couldn’t stay too long because they would get in trouble if their leader saw them.  In change of his great deed, we gave him some money and then hopped out of the exhibit.  Nice guy.  I’ll send a video next week of me, but the power has gone out twice since we’ve been here and we are out of time.

Week 79.8Love you all so much, have a great week!  —

Elder Jacob Stromberg

Antananarivo, Madagascar Mission

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints


MOM:  Yeah, I’m pretty sure this is how you get diseases….feeding lemurs from your own  mouth!  Also, he has his official release date of July 18th.  I don’t know if that includes the 2 days to travel home.  Time is passing a little too fast….Week 79.1

Week 79.2



#78 MADAGASCAR, Manakambahiny, and Elder Juchau

Week 78.13This week has been one of the greatest weeks of my mission!  For those of you who don’t know yet, I got back to Madagascar last Monday and it’s never felt better to be back.  I love Madagascar so much!  The people, the culture, the environment, everything!  Including the pungent smell that I used to complain about.  It all is nostalgic to be back to.  Those three months that I was in La Reunion and Mauritius felt like a blur after I came back and started visiting all those investigators that I left behind.

Week 78.10

I’m back in Manakambahiny with Elder Juchau, we’ve been following each other around since we got evacuated from Madagascar.  He was only here a few weeks before we got evacuated, so he still isn’t very good at the language and so I’m kinda training him.  He’s a great guy that comes from good ol’ American Fork, Utah.  Greener than the grass there, he’s 18 years old and still single (hopefully he stays that way, at least until the end of his mission).

Week 78.6There is no greater face than randomly knocking on the doors of the investigators and having them show up in the door way more than excited and shocked to see us!  Some people thought we were dead, or went home, but after we explained, it was a wonderful reunion.  Especially with Vincent sy Hanitra, Alfred, and Fetra.  Vincent and Hanitra, were the most powerful investigators that I’ve had in Manakambahiny.  They’ve still come to church frequently since I’ve been gone and they have been reading the gospel principles book together every night.  Vincent told me that his wife has been changed even more by the gospel of Jesus Christ and that she loves reading the Book of Mormon and is now outreading him.  We visited them last night and talked about some of the things that had changed recently in the church that they hadn’t heard about.  They love Russell M. Nelson, but haven’t known too much about him.  They asked if we could get them an Ensign from General Conference so they can study his talks.  They are just the best.  They still aren’t married yet, but hopefully are going to this month.  Pray for them, because they really need help getting married.  That is the only thing that is stopping them from getting baptized.

Alfred, was a legendary investigator in Ambohibao.  He was supposed to get baptized, but his wife got really sick, and he had to go down to the south of Madagascar at a place called Toliara.  He had been down there since August and came back a few weeks after his wife died in December.  Very sad, but when we surprised him and came to his house for a visit, he was electric with happiness and joy.  When he first saw me he said “Missionera Stromberg, faly mahita anao indray, noheverko fa efa nody ianao” (translates to Missionary Stromberg, I am happy to see you again, I thought you had gone home) and then gave me a hug.  For our visit we shared with him about the resurrection and God’s plan for eternal families and he was comforted completely.  It empowered his desire even more to get baptized, go to the temple and get sealed with his wife although she is not with him.  I have attached a picture of his well-used Book of Mormon.

Week 78.1Another member from Ambohibao, Fetra left on his mission on Wednesday.  After booking it on a taxibe from our area in Manakambahiny, we made it to his house just a half hour after his setting apart, which was sad to miss, but it was so good to see him.  We talked for a couple of hours, caught up on each other’s lives, laughed together, and then had to part ways.  It was just as rough the second time as it was the first time.  He helped us almost every day that we were in Ambohibao and we have just a great relationship.  He left Thursday morning at 3am to the Ghana MTC.  He will be serving in the Cote d’Ivoire Mission.  He’s going to be a great and powerful missionary.  I gave him a couple of ties of remembrance to take with him, what a powerful experience it was.

Week 78.5One of my most favorite attributes I’ve gained on mission is the ability to love people.  Seeing investigators, and missionaries after a long time just brings so much happiness into my heart.  I never thought than anyone could love someone so much as I do the people that I am surrounded by.  The Savior Jesus Christ knew this love, because all of this type of love comes from Him and what He did in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross of Calvary.  Have a great week, enjoy the pictures and videos!

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Week 78.14
Farewell Mauritius


Week 77.1This was all we received on Monday morning 😊.  We couldn’t wipe the smiles off our faces all day! 

From: Jacob Sean Stromberg [mailto:jacob.stromberg@myldsmail.net]
Sent: Monday, January 29, 2018 7:51 AM


Week 77.3Week 77.5Then on Tuesday we got a tiny bit more information….

I will be serving in Manakambahiny with Elder Juchau.  We are going to our house tomorrow and will then begin working.  Since this morning, I grabbed our old Manakambahiny phone from the office and called Vincent and Hanitra!  After a few failed attempts, they send an appele to have us call them (common in Madagascar).  Hanitra picked up the phone and asked who it was, overcome with excitement I told her who it was and she just started laughing out of happiness – she said that she knew we would come back.  They’ve missed us, and they haven’t missed a day of church yet.  It was super incredible to talk to them.  They are just the happiest people in the world.  They still haven’t gotten baptized, because they were waiting for us. They asked when we were coming over to visit them and, if possible, we might go over this morning/noonish.  8 more missionaries are coming in to Madagascar today and we are going to pick them up at the airport.  It’s going to be another sweet reunion.  Elder Allen (my mtc comp) and Christensen were waiting at the airport to pick us up along with Elder Boyle and Elder Miller (both senior couples).  It was incredible, I’ll explain more in my big email, but I can’t keep the details from coming out!

Alas, we didn’t get his “big” email.  We will wait until next week for all the juicy reunion moments of pure joy….

Week 77.9

Week 77.10
These were from Sis Foote’s Instagram

Oh yeah, he said he finally got his Christmas package on the day he left for Mauritius…

Week 77.6


#76 Shoemaker Leaves, President Caine, Grand Bassin, Phoenix, & Cyclone

Week 76.17Dear Loved Ones,  This week has been great and full of a lot of crazy moments.

First off, Elder Shoemaker, Wolfgramm, Smith, and the Senior Couple Boyles left back to Madagascar Saturday morning.  It was really fun driving to the airport, but felt really weird when they left and I wasn’t going with them.  Elder Wolfgramm, Shoemaker and I have been through this entire transition together and I thought we still would be, but when they left, it was pretty sad.  Nothing that brought me to tears, but I just felt empty when they left.  Week 76.1They arrived safely in Madagascar Saturday evening, I believe, and all the members in Madagascar are super excited for their return.  I imagine when Elder Shoemaker and the other elders just showed up to sacrament meeting in the Ambohimanarina Branch, all of the members were super surprised and excited.  Hardly any members knew that we were coming back and it must have been a blessing to see them.  I don’t know when I’m going back to Madagascar, but it looks like a couple of weeks.  President Foote flies in on Tuesday and we will have Zone Conference on Wednesday and hopefully we will find out more information.  I’m certain that if we didn’t have President Foote, we wouldn’t be getting back to Madagascar so quickly.  He’s worked so hard with the missionary committee and council and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to make this happen as quickly as possible.  We were estimated to get back in March or April, but it’s still January and the goal is to get everyone back on the island in several weeks.  President Foote is the best!

Week 76.2Small story.  The visas here in Mauritius are ridiculous.  You have to go renew your visa every two months if you are American and every three months if you are a French citizen.  We have this awesome Elder Teriitahi, he’s Tahitian so he has French citizenship.  Well it’s been easy in the past to get visa extensions so we gave him all the papers he needed and went to the bureau.  They don’t like missionaries here in Mauritius because they think that we get paid.  Also a few years ago, some anti-Hindu missionaries came and tried to destroy the Hindu’s beliefs here.  So ever since then, the people in Mauritius haven’t like Christian missionaries and whenever we land in the airport we take our nametags off and when we go into the visa place we wear p-day clothes and tell them that we are a tourist.  Outside of the immigration offices and the airport, people absolutely love us!  Week 76.5The Mauritian people are extremely kind.  So, Elder Teriitahi got rejected at the visa office on Friday and his visa expired Saturday.  When we found out that he got rejected, we called the mission office and they booked a flight for him the next morning and he was deported legally on Saturday along with the other Madagascar elders.  It’s been a little bit stressful organizing all of these things and being a zone leader here is like being a senior couple, AP and everything else combined.  We’ve had to do a bunch of stuff.

This past Friday before Elder Shoemaker and the others left for Madagascar, President Caine (the District President) had us over for a dinner and meeting to discuss some things that he wants to do to help the district in Mauritius prepare to make new branches and be more effective missionaries.  Week 76.19The district was recently made in July 2017 and he’s the first District President.  Him, his wife, and his kids are all from South Africa.  I love their English accent, it’s very proper.  We had a nice Lasagna meal and then talked about how we can be more effective missionaries as to where we focus our efforts in finding future church leaders.  We’ve been talking and are going to tract in the middle-class neighborhoods and trying to find younger couples.  We’ve also got some members that help us with referrals and they are really cool.  Some areas where we are going to be working is Curepipe and Vacaos-Phoenix (mom you can look this up on the map).

In the Phoenix branch we have about 35 French speakers and about 16 English speakers.  On the English speakers side, a lot of them don’t speak French at all.  We have 3 families from South Africa (President Caine, his brother, and his son), 1 family from American Fork, twin sisters from somewhere that I don’t know, a woman from Zimbabwe, a Ukrainian woman who’s married to a Mauritian, and 1 girl from Tooele (the wife of President Caine’s son) and then with all their kids included.  They are split up for sacrament meeting, but combined for Sunday School and Priesthood/Relief Society.  It’s definitely the best branch in Mauritius.  Week 76.18We have a few cities that are just English speakers and last night we went to visit President Caine’s brother, Russell, to get his signature for a check.  We chatted for a little bit and it felt so weird because I haven’t spoken English to anyone other than missionaries in quite a while.  They are really incredible people and such strengths in leadership to the church here in Mauritius.

Last p-day after we sent emails, we all headed over to this touristy place called Grand Bassin.  It’s in a National Park, but it’s a sanctuary for Hindus and they built some massive Hindu statues of their gods.  We learned a lot about them as we went into the temples there.  When we went into one of the temples, this hippy looking monk guy ran up to me with a stick looking thing and with a red tip said “You want?”  I didn’t respond quick enough, and he drew one of those Hindu things on our forehead.  It symbolizes peace, happiness, and love.

The Hindu people are really open to any new ideas and we’ve taught a bunch of them, but they don’t really feel obliged to keeping commitments as in their religion everything is less-required and more if-you-would-like-to.  It’s a very interesting religion with positive energy and their many gods.

We were on lock down in our houses for 2 days as cyclone Berguitta hit us.  Honestly it wasn’t bad, but it was supposed to be a class 3 cyclone.  Really we should have worked, but we were put on lock down and members kept calling us to make sure that we were safe and in the house, they are very kind.  We wrestled, watched the testaments, played some house games, and studied the scriptures.  It was pretty fun.  We went out once during the cyclone and went to the beach just for a few minutes.

Week 76.25
Elder Haslam & Itema

From other letters:  Right as I sent out the email I forgot to tell you but Itema got BAPTIZED!!!  He was baptized and confirmed a member last Saturday and Sunday and hopefully received the Aaronic Priesthood yesterday at church.  Elder Haslam has been so happy and I’m very excited that he made this big step in his life.

From Former Elder Soper:  Way to go with the French! And btw, I love your fam. They came to my homecoming, and they’re hilarious. Sorry I didn’t respond earlier, but my Google account got disabled shortly after I got home because I used the wrong password a few times apparently, and it still thought I was in Madagascar, so they disabled it because of the irregular activity :/ I finally got a hold of some admins, and they unlocked it on Saturday!

I’ve kept in touch with Aina, Jose and Andie a lot over Facebook. Aina honestly hasn’t been all that helpful, but Andie helped Rawel and his wife get baptized, Laza, Jasmin, Landry, Faly and his son, but no friggin’ word on Vincent and Hanitra.. Apparently Menja still goes, but Caesar is nowhere to be seen.. He might have gotten really sick.. Also, Nina still goes, and Sidoniah moved back to Morondava I heard, but all of them brought tripdecks. It’s been going well apparently.


Week 76.22
View from their apartment in Mauritius




#75 Mauritius Island Paradise, Phoenix and RETURN TO MADAGASCAR!

Week 75.12
Elders Wolfgramm, Stromberg & Shoemaker

SO, big news!  President Foote called us Thursday night, the first day that I got here in Mauritius, and gave us the most incredible phone call.  As he was on speaker and Elder Shoemaker and I crowded around the telephone, he told us that the Quorum of the Twelve officially cleared the return of the missionaries to Madagascar.  Elder Shoemaker, Wolfgramm and Smith are the first three on the island of La Reunion and Mauritius to go back and they will return to Madagascar on Wednesday.  It is expected that all missionaries will be back in Madagascar in the next few weeks from all the missions around the world.  I’ll admit I’m kinda bummed, but Mauritius is really awesome and I’m glad that I get to spend at least a few weeks on this paradise island.  By mid February, I should be back and I’m super excited!  This first wave is all going to Fort Dauphin which is where Elder Shoemaker was serving when he got evacuated.  That’s the most exciting news of the week!

I got to Maritius on Thursday evening after a long 45 minutes airplane right.  Literally the announcer said that we were at cruising altitude and then 30 seconds later we began our descent, it was pretty funny.  I heard that you can see the lights of Mauritius from the summit of Piton des Neiges, that’s how close it is.  Anyways here it’s a totally different vibe.  La Reunion is like a tropical France and Mauritius is like a tropical India.  There are so many Indians and Hindu people here.  The religious predictions are 60% Hindu, 20% Muslim, and 20% Catholic/Christians.  In other words, we’ve got a lot of work to do.

Week 75.20
I wonder what the story is…

As zone leaders Elder Shoemaker and I have been running around the entire island without a GPS.  Every day we’ve gone to the airport to pick up new elders coming in and the airport is about an hour and a half away from where we stay.  Also, because of a lack of apartments, we are living in Flacq and commuting to Phoenix which is about an hour drive.  We’ve been running and transporting elders to different places, been trying to learn a little bit about our area as well and we’ve only really had a total of 3 hours to actually do missionary work, but in those three hours, we’ve taught three lessons and got 6 new investigators.  We’ve taught 2 Hindu couples and 1 Christian mother and a daughter.  The Hindu people are really open to ideas, but some of their beliefs are really wierd.  There are tons of their temples here and they are very intriguing.  Later today we are going to this place called Grand Bassin and there are a bunch of Hindu temples there and I hear it is just beautiful.  Also, there are tons of wild monkeys that live there and it’s a common place to go to see monkeys.  In the middle of the island, it’s just a bunch of sugar cane fields and then on the edges there are incredible steep mountains and cliffs and then at the beach it’s beautiful white sand with a super fine grain.

Week 75.17
Church in Mauritius

We went to church yesterday in the Phoenix Branch which was half English and half French.  Their sacrament meetings are separate, but the other classes are together. We went and attended the French meeting because that’s where our investigators are and there are only a few South African families in the English Branch.  Included in that is the District President, President Caine.  He’s really cool and one of his sons married a girl from Tooele, so it was pretty weird talking to a person from Utah, but quite refreshing.  Also a girl from Ukraine lives here with her husband and they both speak perfect French.  The investigator’s class was taught in Mauritian Creole which was pretty difficult to understand, but we participated often enough to make them think that we understood when we really were just following along in the gospel principles book 😉  This Sunday was the first time in 18 months that I’ve spoken more English at church than either French or Malagasy.  We have a meeting with President Caine at his house this Thursday and are going to discuss some things to help the district of Mauritius grow quicker in numbers and figure out how we can help them best.

I’m really sad that I don’t get to be with Elder Shoemaker for longer, but I’m really excited for them to get back to Madagascar and start working again.  Once they leave on Wednesday, Elder Shelby will be my new companion as zone leader.  He’s a great guy from Skyline High School and he hit is year mark a few weeks ago.  He’s also really good at French and was with us in the group that got evacuated from Madagascar.

Week 75.18That’s all I’ve got for you guys, the cybers here are great and I love Mauritius.  We drank real milk the other day that came from cows.  It’s way better than that boxed milk that they have in Madagascar and Reunion.

Love y’all tons!  —  Elder Jacob Stromberg, Antananarivo, Madagascar Mission, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

I asked Jake a ton of questions and so these are excerpts from his personal response:  

Do you have a car?  Who is the designated driver?  Elder Shoemaker and I shift off driving.  We have our own car because we are the zone leaders, but it honestly feels like a curse because we are in it all the time going from city to city.  Driving is really weird here because it’s all on the left side of the road and there isn’t much organization.  There are two-lane roads that are pretty small and then some gas powered bicycles that take up a lane and you are constantly trying to peak around them and pass them when there is space.  Simply, driving is insane here.  We’ve been trying to be more careful driving.

It seems more concentrated population, do you use public transport too?  Walk? We used a bus today, Flacq, where we are staying, is pretty countryside feel so we don’t walk too much.

How big is the entire branch?  What percentage is in the English portion? Our branch is about 40% english and we have about 40 people attending church.  

Tell us about your new companion…. Hahaha, I forgot you are with Schyler.  You two be good boys now.  Don’t have too much fun together.  Actually, you guys have the formula to really make some big splashes and a huge impact on the people in the short time you will have.  Give it your ALL and let the Spirit be your guide.  Be meek and humble and don’t forget to serve him secretly. ~~ Elder Shoemaker’s one of my best friends along with Elder Wolfgramm, it’s a party here and we are working hard.  This is the first time that I’ll be able to just RUN the entire time.  Unfortunately our time is getting cut because he goes back Wednesday, but I’ll run with Elder Shelby.

What are the most obvious differences between Mauritius and Reunion? Everything is Indian and people are Indian looking.  It’s between Reunion and Madagascar as far as wealthiness.  It’s definitely not as poor as Mada, but not as rich as Reunion.

Can you kind-of understand creole?  Yeah, about 30%

On the map it looks like there is a lot of farming.  Are the people pretty self-sustaining?  Or are a lot of products shipped in?  I think so, they grow a lot of sugar cane.  They have a few malls here, KFC, Pizza Hut, Subway, and McDonalds

Do they have real French patisseries?  No, bummer

How long does it take to get between the two chapels?  Rosehill and Phoenix branches are about 15 minutes away, but the Flacq branch is 1 hour from each of them.

What is President Foote up to? Getting all the missionaries back to Madagascar.  He’ll be here in Maritius in two weeks I believe.

Week 75.21
Itema with picture of his Elders

Is Elder Haslan allowed to send you pictures of Itema’s baptism?  Itema did get baptized, but their p-day isn’t until tomorrow so I won’t have the pictures until next week.  All missionaries will be back within a few weeks.

How many Elders are in your apartment?  Who?  Elder Shoemaker, Wolfgramm, Alvarez, and Teritaahi.  Elder Teritaahi is from Tahiti.  He’s super cool and he asked me if I knew where Bora Bora is.  Yeah, it’s the place where people dream of, and that’s where he was born and raised.  He hunts fish, climbs trees for coconuts and loves missionary work.  Mom, we’ve got to visit him there.  It’s absolutely beautiful.

Did you walk into a branch with investigators already in place?  Or are you starting from square one?  We had 1 investigator at church, but practically starting from square one again.  So the Flacq Branch was created about a year ago and is booming.  They had 26 ish baptisms this past year and just had another baptism yesterday.

I love you tons and I’m glad that dad said you should write me on Sunday because p-day is on Monday as long as I am in Maritius or Madagascar.  Only in La Reunion is it on Tuesday.  I prefer p-days on Monday for sure.  Love you!!!Week 75.14Week 75.11Week 75.10Week 75.13Week 75.4Week 75.9


#74 Itema Is Getting Baptized, Transfers & Volcano

Week 74.13Dear Loved Ones,  So, this week has been awesome!  The highlights were all equally incredible and great to be a part of.

First off, Itema is getting baptized this Saturday at 6:00 pm.  He passed his baptismal interview on Saturday and everyone in the ward is excited for him to get baptized.  Ever since he was first found by the missionaries in November, he has come to church (a total of 7 times).  We’ve been taking members with us to teach him and he’s getting a really solid testimony and is ready to make those sacred baptismal covenants that will bless his life.  He’s happier than he’s ever been and it’s very evident that our teaching and his application of the gospel principles has helped him find purpose in his life.  I’m really excited!  It’s been a while since I’ve had a baptism and I’m excited for this experience.  Elder Haslam is going to be doing the baptism and we fulfilled our goal that we made at the first of the transfer that he was going to baptize this transfer.  It’s been an incredible transfer and I love Elder Haslam.  It’s been great to set goals and then work hard to achieve them.  This was a big goal to accomplish this Saturday.

Week 74.4
I don’t know who this guy is, but it’s not Itema

Unfortunately, however, transfers came a little bit early.  I won’t be able to attend Itema’s baptism because I’m going to be on a flight to the island & country of Mauritius Thursday afternoon.  Our travel visa is up here and we are getting bounced to the other island.  Despite the relationships that I’ve developed and people that I’ve grown to love here in St. Pierre, I’m equally excited to start again in the Phoenix Branch in Mauritius.  I’m going to be zone leader with Elder Shoemaker!  It’s going to be so great.  Elder Shoemaker is one of my good friends and we came into the mission in the same group and have lived in the same house for many transfers.  Elder Wolfgramm and Elder Leishmann are going to be in our house.  We are all going to be serving in something they call a split branch (French/English) and we will be serving in the English side.  I’ll explain more next week.  Another important thing to know is that we only have a 2 month visa there so the maximum time that we can spend there will be eaten up in just a transfer and a half.  Hopefully we can get back to Madagascar after that!

Thomas & Lili
Thomas & Lili

Thomas came to church and he has read all the way to 1 Nephi 9.  He kept his commitment to read a chapter every day and will hopefully have a baptismal date set on Saturday.  We haven’t been able to visit Roger in a while, but we are visiting with him tonight.  Hopefully on his vacation he read the Book of Mormon.  He took it with him so I hope he did.

This morning we woke up at 2:30 am and got in our car to hike up to an active volcano here in La Reunion.  It was absolutely stunning and we took some really cool pictures.  It was a lot easier than Piton des Neiges and we got all the way up in less than two hours (it was estimated 3 hours).  I’ll let you look at the pictures, because I can’t describe it enough.

Love you all, sorry I don’t have a ton of time!

Week 74.9Week 74.11Week 74.7Week 74.10Week 74.8

Week 74.16