This is the tan man from Madagascar!!! He says he literally tans thru his shirt. The winter season which is what he is going into is very very hot and this rainy season is almost gone. The summer season is very very very hot!
There are three much desired areas and they are beach areas. Everyone wants to go there. So when I was transferred to Mahajenga I was so excited as it is one of the 3 areas. It is not common to be transferred to this area so young in a mission but I was. Two Elders left soon after I arrived to return home which means I killed one...soon I will kill another in the mission field. That means when your companion leaves for home returning with honor.
The story goes, Elder Lake who was AP at the time gave me the phone while we were eating lunch one day. He said it was the President. This can mean something really good or something really bad. He said to get packed as he was coming to pick me up at 6 am the next morning. This was quick so we walked to say good byes. Next morning I was picked up by the two AP's, President and Sister Foote for a 12 hour car ride thru desert, green mountains, jungle, paved roads, dirt roads until we arrived in Mahajenga on the BEACH! This was a nice car ride as I learned President Foote is quite smart and really cool! This new place is a more successful area, my last area was the hardest, with members of the branch being very strong and accepting in the gospel. Not many white people here (and now Jaxson does not look so white anymore!) The language is harder here as Tana had the formal Malagasy language and here it is harder Malagasy. The branch consists of 70 members. They have great member help in missionary work.
Funny story is guy leading sacrament music, very badly, and I was playing the piano. No one told me they only knew 15 songs and nothing else. Guess who played a song no one knew...Jaxson did and the very badly leader led all four verses with Jaxson playing and NO ONE singing! Awkward!
Spiders, the big 3 inch ones, are everywhere! AND, two inch cockroaches are everywhere too! People here leave them alone . But the kids catch them and play with them. The kids either learn, work, or do nothing. Schools are weird here. The kids are happy and they have hardly nothing. They play with bottle cap cars that they make using nails pushed into a can. They make and fly kites too.
The rumor is that the missionaries take naughty children. If kids yell and scream being naughty, the adult parent will take them up to a missionary and say,"take my naughty child".
There is no fast food there. There is an African supermarket that has the fresh things also people on the streets selling. Jaxson wants us to send FOOD! Velveeta, water flavoring, Ramon noodle flavoring, anything!
Sr Hardy is so nice to us. She cooks for us once in a while and has made shark and sea turtle where we eat on the beach. Soon they will eat 'bat' as the season is coming. Her husband was the branch president but died in the ocean a few months back shocking everyone. She has a little baby she is now raising on her own and finds comfort in having us over and helping to feed us. When we get invited for dinner which is maybe once and if we are lucky, twice a week, we leave money for our meals. People here a quite racist but cool. It is not common to do a hand shake as a kind gesture or greeting but a 'fist bump' is popular.
The culture of the people wear ONLY these large sheets where it is just wrapped around their body. People walk down to the beach and take off their sheets and go into the ocean to swim. It is more clean here and kids wear shoes in their houses. Bare feet in a house is considered dirty. Not many members endowed due to no temple on island. Houses here are made out of tin so it is like a solar oven and you just start dripping! There are chickens and goats everywhere. We are in the HOTTEST area of the mission. We catch lizards in our room with dental floss making little traps. The kids pee in the streets. Some people do Chumba which is they wear red and white cloth and take on another spirit. Creepy as a few people walk around claiming to be a different spirit.
A district leader is in charge of baptism interviews, the pouch, and in charge of the apartment which is such a pain to deal with the electrical people. We work hard getting up at 6:30 am. No water in the mornings which is so annoying so we head out. We only have water at night to shower. Our house is newly painted bright yellow and is completely open to the outside except the bedroom and bathroom is walled in.
Jaxson loves the coconut juice, like to ride the Bajaja (taxi's) but not often, gets haircuts from Malagasy people who use a blade and a comb...the blade is the killer on the neck!
President Foote compliments by telling me to keep up my great attitude!
Miracle story shared.....Jaxson and his companion made the national news! Yikes! The story goes that in the evening around 8:30 pm on the main street 4 shady characters wait for Jaxson and his companion to walk by. One yells, "get the stalking one"...meaning Jaxson and sprays pepper spray in Jaxson's face. Immediately the burn takes over with such pain and blinding of the eyes as he tried punching anything near. They rip off Jaxson backpack( his good Book of Mormon and Bible) while holding his companion to the ground. They break free and run with Jaxson being led by his companion. The miracle is a man from no where drives up in his car and yells, "get into my car!" They jump in not knowing who this guy is yet trusting as they are driven to their place and let out. They have never seen this man before, and has not seen him since. There are not really many people here! Later it was on national news of the robbery of the two missionaries.
Well he saved ANOTHER big story for our Skype....what a treat! Yikes!!!! Jaxson says he feels protected when they follow all the rules. When they don't follow all inspiration, they are not safe. They have tested this.... Luckily they were following the rules and a miracle occurred bringing them to safety away from the 4 bad guys.
After 5 hours of Skyping....We now will wait until Christmas! Love you Elder Bowen!
|My native Elder!|
|Over 4 hours of Skyping.....Such treasured times!|
|LOOK CLOSE...See all the spiders....!|