Anyway, there was no New Years celebration, unfortunately. Just a lot of drunk people. There was a lady who, when she saw my companion and I walking down the path, ran over and latched onto my arm like a banchee. I think this same lady followed us about a mile to our home last week. But this is no surprise. Anything is possible in Madagascar.
I have heard of almost all of those names you mentioned, but the elders I actually know fairly well are: Elder Gaul (he's already finished, good friend, my first zone leader in Tamatave), Elder Snell (we lived in the same house), Elder Hammer (MTC group), and Elder Ahlstrom (there are two, I lived with one, and the other was from my MTC group).
This past Sunday, in Elders' Quorum, the lesson was about the life of Ezra Taft Benson as well. It was cool to see one of the old Malagasy men nod his head in approval, as President Benson's accomplishments were read. It reminded me that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the same wherever you go, and that a prophet of God is a prophet for all the saints, no matter where they are.
I have had plenty of opportunities to step back and realize how blessed I am with all I have been given. I am amazed everyday by the conditions many of the people are in, even the members; yet, they never seem to complain. I could learn a lesson from many of them. Everyone is making New Years' resolutions. My resolution is somewhat vague, but I have gotten the idea from a talk by President Uchtdorf. Enjoying the journey, instead of waiting for the end. He stated that we don't listen to music only to hear the last note fade away, but we listen to appreciate all that happens before. I know I can apply that ideal to my time here in Madagascar as a missionary. Not focusing on the end, as it is so easy to do, but to live in the moment, embrace the culture, make new friends, magnify my calling, and bring others closer to our Savior, Jesus Christ. That is what I am here to do, and that is what I know I must do, though there may be challenges and obstacles along the way. Have a great week everyone.