By they way, I did get to meet President Foote when I was at the mission office. He is a way cool dude and we sat down and talked for a while. He has a vision for this mission, and he has plans as to what he wants to accomplish especially when there are more missionaries coming soon. He seems to have a lot of energy and is trying to motivate the missionaries and get all of us on the same page. He will be here on Tuesday and Wednesday.
I am having a great week, for all who are wondering. I was sad to leave Fort Dauphin, but I am almost accustomed to life here in Fianarantsoa. There are many hills here with a ton of buildings on them and it gets really cold, probably mid 40's in the mornings. The apartment here is the nicest one I have lived in since being here in Mada. There are more reasonably priced restaurants here too! The dialect is different than in Ft. Dauphin, but all the missionaries say it is easier, and I have understood the people a lot easier, especially after the crazy, hard dialect of Ft Dauphin. My companion, Elder Anderson is way cool, and we share an apartment with Elders Koncurat and Godfry, who are also cool! A lot of times it amazes me how many miles I am from South Carolina, so transferring from one place to another here should not be that big of a deal, even though I thought the van (washing machine on tumble mode) ride from Antananarivo to here would never end.
Because most of my week was saying goodbyes and traveling, there is not too much to teaching-wise mention. There is one cool story from this week. There is a white couple from South Africa, who are living here in Madagascar for a while. They apparently met missionaries a while ago, and they treat the missionaries here as their children. They are strictly Adventist and ask us that we don't proselyte to them. That is sort of sad because our purpose is to preach the gospel, but it is nice to see that there are good people from all religions and backgrounds. Anyway, they made us some waffles and bread, with something that resembled chicken-pot pie (even though it was all vegetarian), and ice cream. We talked for a while with them. Apparently they invite the missionaries to dinner every week, so it will be nice to learn more about them in future visits.
I am still a little sad because of having to leave Fort Dauphin so soon, so I have been thinking about the personal strides that I have made as a missionary and as a child of God, especially the fact that now challenges seem to affect me less. Or maybe I let them affect me less. I am reminded of the scripture that talks about Jesus being right alongside us, bearing our burdens. He does not take them away but he makes them easier to handle. I have learned and gained a testimony of that as a missionary.
Never would I have thought or imagined that I would be able to learn such a difficult language, let alone teach other people the fulness of the everlasting gospel of salvation in that language, all the while living miles away from all that I am familiar with. No one can tell me or try to convince me that what I am doing is not important, or that my purpose here is anything less than to build the kingdom of God and to save His children. If I did not know why I was here, then I would not be here. Simple as that. For those who doubt, for those who are not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or for those who are searching for more in life, allow me to share with you an account of my faith, based off of what I have seen and lived. I have witnessed lives changed. I have met people who have escaped from the pit of addiction to rise to a higher, blessed life. I have met people who, without hope or anyone left to turn to, turned to Jesus Christ and His Gospel. I have been blessed to know families whose powerful love will not be overcome by death, pain or the trials of this world, but will rather transcend greater heights, even to eternity, as God has intended. I am grateful to be a part of one of those families. I can say with all honesty that God lives and that His Church is upon the earth today. What a great opportunity and privilege it is to carry that light and knowledge to the people of Madagascar.
My hope is that all of us will seek for and run to that light.