Monday, November 28, 2016

WEEK 65 Nankalaza Thanksgiving Izahay

Another Week in Paradise
This week was a little slow... sadly a lot of people were not home for their appointments so we showed up at a lot of empty houses this week. We still had some awesome times! So first off the highlight was the investigators at church. We had all investigators expected there last week, plus Vaoavy's wife! way nice! but other highlights go as follows.

Salohy and Miora are attending church and they have signed up to learn seminary! They are both doing great and the branch is super awesome with helping them and inviting them to activities and stuff.

Lala is really interested now. Last time we visited her she had a lot of questions. We taught her about the Plan of Salvation and she had questions on questions and the best part is that she got answers! Sadly she is quite busy with her school program but we hope to visit her twice this next week.

Norianne and Noeline are still doing great. I don't think they have missed a day of church since I've been here. Sadly we are still waiting on Norianne to get legally married so she can get baptized.

Fitiavana hasn't been at church in a while but we saw him on Saturday at the activities. He says that he has been kind of busy and that his mom doesn't really like him coming to church. He still wants to come but he says he needs to respect his mother.

Clemantine is doing good. He is kind of a new investigator but he learned before from the missionaries. He is a little slower with the lessons but he ends up understanding. Last time we visited him and his mom was there and she is the nicest lady. She always gives us fruits of all kinds and is amazed we speak Malagasy. She was making fun of her son because he was asking me what words mean in malagasy because he didn't understand. But he is doing good and he loves the missionaries visiting him and always asks us to come back the next day. Awesome dude.

Well some sad news this week as we went to Christian's house last Friday to find out that he died. He has been sick for a while and the last time we visited we could see he was on the final stretch. We stopped by and the lady that takes care of him was outside and I asked her if he was there and she said no, not anymore. She said he died last Wednesday and his family came and got his body. Very sad but the lady said that he was very grateful for our visits and that he is in a better place now.

Oh and for Thanksgiving we went on SPLITS! I went into the north area with Elder Wilson and then at night we went and ate at this nice hotel in our area. Since it was Thanksgiving we got two main dishes. No one understands Thanksgiving so they just looked at us like two crazy foreigners. But I hope everyone else had a great Thanksgiving! Transfers are next week and I am staying to continue training Elder Passey.  Today is Pday and we are playing basketball then haircuts. 

Elder Bowen
Elder Wilson and I looking over the rice fields


Young Money Ryan - my friend

The "Sword of God" Translation of a Rainbow


Monday, November 21, 2016

WEEK 64 Investigators-Baptism-Happy Thanksgiving!

Tena Marina ity Fiangonana ity!
Another great week!

So I'll just jump to the highlight of the week was having three new investigators show up at church yesterday! Jerry's sister showed up, one of our new investigators showed up, and Vaoavy showed up! It was great. And we also had a Baptism this last Saturday.  So we had two boys that recently turned eight and we helped the branch out with getting their baptisms done. It was way awesome too because they called me and asked me to baptize them so that was an honor to do for those two families. Besides that the week was pretty normal.

Norianne and Noeline are doing great. Still attending church and they are on track to get baptized on the 17 of December. Vaoavy is also doing great as we taught him the Word of Wisdom this past week and he has already been living in harmony with it. He has been prepared. But we had some very good lessons with Salohy this week. We are starting to get Jerry very involved with the lessons. So we visited them twice this last week and we taught them the Word of Wisdom and the law of chastity. We mainly talked about the answer to prayer. That seemed to be the subject of the week this week. She said that she hasn't received an answer from God yet to know the Book of Mormon is true. So we continued to talk about answers to prayer, how she felt at church, how she felt reading the Book of Mormon and things like that. Elder Passey and I have seen a lot of improvement throughout the past weeks. She is now actively engaged in the lessons and she has questions. She also has a baptismal date for the 17 of December and she reminded us of her baptismal date last night! We were talking and she said that she is still getting baptized on the 17th so that was a great thing to hear from her.

But besides that we had a great week of finding some new people. We tracted into some areas closer to the church and we contacted some referrals. Looking forward to another awesome week ahead.

Oh and we celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday! So we have this South African family that loves the missionaries. They will have us over for a meal sometimes and the other day they called us up and they wanted to have a Thanksgiving meal with us. We had some of the greatest food ever. They aren't members of the church but they are strong in their faith and believe in doing good things for other people. We have had very good talks about the church and about Christ and I have seen that they have an absolute love for our Savior. It is always a fun time visiting them.

But that's about it this week! Have a Great Week and Happy Birthday to the #1 Mom in the World! Susie Bowen!!!!

Elder Bowen

Monday, November 14, 2016

WEEK 63 Tselatra! Kotrokorana!-lightening storm!

Salama dahole!
Another great week! So this week had some great lessons and time and some slower days but it all added up to be a great week. We are continuing to teach Adonis(our recent convert) and his two sisters, Noeline and Norianne. We taught them the Plan of Salvation this last week and we came to find out that is Adonis's favorite lesson as he kept telling us that and kept bearing testimony of it. But it was a great time talking to them about it. We had a point in the lesson where I asked them to tell us the things that made them happy in this life. Adonis went first and he said that he loved this church. He loved praying and reading the scriptures. Then Norianne went and told us how she loved her parents, how they brought her joy when she was with them. She tied that into the scripture and said that Heaven would be a happy place for her because she is with her Eternal Father. Awesome lesson.
Then this week we went and visited Lala. She is still a little bit new but we have had some great lessons with her. We taught her about the Book of Mormon this week. She had many questions and she was very interested in the book. We took Angelo with us and he was a stallion at explaining the Book of Mormon. We taught her and committed her to reading it every day and she was down for it. Then we went and taught one of our new families. Emma and Diary are the parents names and we also taught them about the Book of Mormon. That lesson was a little more difficult than the one before. They had a harder time accepting it as scripture but they had a harder time accepting that they needed to pray about it to get the answer. We ended up having a very long discussion about it. They were asking question after question not even giving us time to answer but in the middle of the lessons I stopped them. I had them read the writing underneath the title of the Book of Mormon. Testamenta Iray Hafa Momba An' I Jesoa Kristy. Then they got quiet. I told them that yes they have a lot of questions that we may not be able to answer right now but the thing they needed to know was written right there. The book is another testament of Christ along with the bible. All the questions they had could be answered if they read and prayed about the book. Now the lesson changed for a bit as we testified, but after a while they jumped back into the asking questions thing. After a while we closed up and got them to commit to reading the book and praying about it. We are really hoping that they will humble themselves and read the book, even if it's just a little and pray about it. God will answer them. We are very exited to go to them this next week.

So, sadly this week we didn't get to visit all of the investigators and some weren't home, but those were basically the high lights of the lessons this week.

So cool story time! So last night there was a little storm. It was really windy and we could see the lightening in the distance. We went out onto the balcony and watched the lightning. Way cool to watch as it would light up the sky in the distance. But as we were watching it, we realized it was getting a little closer every minute. Then we eventually saw a really bright lightening and it wiped out all the power where we were. So everything went dark, the thunder that followed was nice and loud. So we were sitting there just talking, oh and it was Elder Wilson and I, when lightning struck. It struck the hill right across from us and Elder Wilson and I both saw two huge bolts. But it was a huge flash of light and then darkness and then the thunder came. It was so loud that we couldn't hear each other and we were freaking out. Everything seemed to be shaking and Elder Wilson dove into the house with me following. We were running around the house when we realized that the power had come back on. Then everything stopped and the noise was filled with us yelling about how cool and crazy that was. Way scary but so cool to see the lightning strike so close.

But that's about it for this week. We are looking forward to another great work week ahead!

Mazotoa e!

Elder Bowen

Monday, November 7, 2016

WEEK 62 Commitments assigned-baptisms coming- The Sacrament PEACE

Another Great Week!
So we had another awesome week here in Fianarantsoa. The first full work week with the new son, Elder Passey and he did pretty well. But we had a great week this week of giving out Baptism Dates!

So we started out this week going to Noeline and Noriana. They are Adonis's sisters and they have been attending church for a while. Noriana has had a baptism date but still isn't married. When we visited them, we set a new baptism date for them in December and her husband accepted it too! It was great and Noeline will be getting baptized in December most likely, hopefully with Noriana. Then the next day we went and visited Vaoavy, the parents of one of our members that just recently left for a mission. While we talked with them we talked about baptisms and Vaoavy reminded us that he was getting baptised on the 19th of November. He definitely wants to be baptized but it is hard for him to leave the house due to old age. So we set a goal for them to start attending church and then there would be a baptism in December for him, his wife, and their son. Sadly, they didn't come to church yesterday but hopefully this next week they will make it. Then the last one was Jerry's sisters. We went up to visit them and talked with them about baptism as well. His sisters started to have a lot of questions which led us into talking about the Book of Mormon. We talked about how it is the keystone of our religion. How all the lessons and everything we teach depends on the Book of Mormon. We talked about how they could receive a witness of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. Then we committed them to read and pray about the book, to really set aside some time this week and read the book. Then we committed all of them to coming to church this week. We made a deal that whoever doesn't come to church has to dance in front of everyone. But, if everyone comes then we will all be dancing so lets hope that we will all be dancing this next week haha. 
So that has been the focus of this week and the weeks to come. Commitments! Giving investigators the opportunities to keep a commitment with the missionaries to teach them how to keep covenants and promises with God. So this week we made a goal to give everyone we met with a commitment; members, recent converts, less actives, new investigators, all received commitments this week, or homework. And this next week we look forward to following up on those commitments!

This week strengthened my testimony about Church attendance. I always took it for granted as we are always teaching with the Spirit, reading the scriptures, and doing the things to keep the Spirit in our lives. But as I have been attending church here, I have always noticed a different sense of peace. A time to sit down and relax and feel the Spirit in the church. In that comes the opportunity to partake of the sacrament, but even before it comes, right as I sit down in the sacrament room after greeting everyone, I always feel a great feeling of peace come over me. It has happened so many times that I cannot deny it now. It is a for sure thing that we can only FEEL in holy places such as the Church. Every Sunday is an exciting day as we get to go to church, see all our members, and get to feel that loving, peaceful feeling that church has to offer. I know and I testify every day that this Church is the true Church on the earth today. That Christ established it and it was restored through Joseph Smith and currently led by living prophets and apostles today. I love my mission and I love Madagascar.

Elder Bowen
Elder Passey

More pictures of canoe day