Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Last night is Madagascar.....Last supper!

How do I focus words on what my heart feels!? Thank you President and Sister Foote for leading my son and inspiring him to work hard, make a difference, build a solid testimony foundation, and mentor him to be the BEST and obedient while serving the Lord! The pictures were all such a treasured gift that our family has cherished and learned by your example to perhaps one day do the same.  One day may we meet so I can truly say, a heartfelt THANK YOU for loving
 my Elder Bowen!!!
Susie Bowen
Elder Bowen's mom

Monday, August 14, 2017

WEEK 102-Dying (going home from Paradise)-TESTIMONY

Well another great week! For those who don't know I am dying!!! Term missionaries use for going home. so I have already left my area. I left last Saturday instead of Thursday due to the unbeatable planning skills of the aps. I got into Tana and Elder Nelson was there to pick me up and we were taken straight to Ankorandrano. We both worked there before, so we went back to visit members and we had a dinner set up with an old member. I got to see my son Elder Passey who is currently working there. Then on Sunday we went to the Ankorandrano church and then zipped on over to the Ambohimanarina branch to get some final goodbies. I walked in about 10 minutes after they started and all the heads turned my way and everyone started smiling. Then we went and sat down after I shook a couple of hands and the first 10 minutes of sitting there was turning around and making eye contact with everyone haha. It was great. Then it ended and we went around and visited members. So that was done and we worked our way back to Ankorandrano where we had a final dinner with Bishop Olivie. HE MADE US FRIED CHICKEN. Yeah let's just say I ate a lot haha. and now we are here. We are going to go play soccer today and get some last minute goodies and then Tuesday we have interviews and then we are taking off for the long flights to get me back to America!

Well, I've had a lot of time to think about my time here in Madagascar and I've had plenty of times to give goodbye testimonies. I have learned a lot on my mission. Random life skills, a new language, how to get rid of bed bugs, etc. I've seen that families that are centered on the gospel of Jesus Christ see success and have peace in the home. I have had many confirmations that the Book of Mormon is true. I know Joseph Smith was a prophet called of God and that he saw Him and His son Jesus Christ. I learned that scriptures have to be read and actually can be applied to real life circumstances. I know and am a part of the true church that was restored on the earth today. However, all of these things that I know to be true emphasize the strongest point of my testimony. That Christ Lives. A true, perfect, resurrected being with an almighty love for all mankind. He knows all of us one by one....and that is my testimony. 

I look forward to seeing everyone coming up here! I'll get in on Thursday in the evening Fresno Airport 4:45 pm. See you all then! Mandra-pihaona!

Elder Bowen
                                               Bishop Oliviera and his wife and daughter

                                  Elder Nelson, Elder Heo, Elder Passey are some in this picture

                                                                Best Fried chicken!!!

Monday, August 7, 2017

WEEK 101 herinandro 6

Well another great week in PARADISE! So I have started saying my goodbys to everyone which has been pretty sad. Unlike past areas I actually know for a fact that I'm leaving haha, so I can get a goodbye in to everyone. We have had the normal schedule with a picture at the end of them. My plans are to fly up to Tana on Thursday where I'll be on splits with Elder Nelson. We don't have a set area so we are going to go around Tana and visit members for a couple of days and probably go on a couple of splits with Elders. Then the next Wednesday, I get on the plane to take me home to America. Flight plans from there are pretty crazy; Tana(Madagascar) to Johannesburg(Africa), Johannesburg to Atlanta(United States). Atlanta to Salt Lake. Salt Lake to Fresno. I think it's a total of 25 or 26 hours of flying! So we have that to look forward to. But, until then, we are still rockin it here in Paradise. We had a baptism this week. Two people got baptized and everything went great!

So then we had a big meeting with our dmb(District Mission Branch) and all the branch missionaries and it was great, haha. They are all so pumped for their callings and they know that we have a lot of work and they are all willing to help out the missionaries. Then at the end of all that they gave me the floor to give my dying speech to them all. Then we took a dope picture as you will see, haha. Well it is sad that I'm leaving but heading onto bigger and better things. I had my last Sunday here so I feel like I have already said goodbye to everyone and now I'm just waiting to leave, hahaha.

My favorite lesson of the week was yesterday. We went to teach this recent convert family and they had a friend that is kind of visiting here. We taught her last week and she was the one asking all the questions whether God answers prayers or not, and stuff. She came to church! We went and taught them again and we gave her a Book of Mormon. She accepted it and eventually committed to reading it and praying about it. Now the cool part was that the recent convert family is still learning and, they were also helping us teach so it was a really good time. They had very interesting ideas on how the devil answers prayers but we will leave that story to another time. 

Well I'll probably shoot another email out next week to warn you all of the coming of Elder Bowen. But for now, I'm loving my last days in Paradise. Usually when I tell people I'm leaving, I tell them I'm going to America. I am going home but I am also leaving my home. I love Madagascar. It is my home away from home. 

Enjoy the pics! Also we went to a huge waterfall last week so here are some pics from that!


Monday, July 31, 2017

WEEK 100 Aleo very tsikalakalam-bola toy izay very tsikalakalam-pihavanana

Another great lesson packed week. Elder Allen and I are killing it lately! So not a whole lot of news this week. We got some new investigators this week due to referrals which makes a full program, a jam packed program. It's been great! We are flying from time to time to try and keep up with everything going on. The most eventful days were probably Saturday and Sunday.

On Saturday we started out the day by going and teaching English in the morning. Let me tell you teaching English makes me realize that I'm horrible at it. If someone asks me a word, I'll understand it and then the more I say it, the more it starts to sound like another language I don't speak. When that was over we went and ate lunch and then got out to work. We started out teaching the normal scheduled people but sometimes took a little longer than they should have, which was alright as they were great lessons. So we were going to attend a baptism for the other area but since we were late we decided to just stay in our area and keep the program going. We went to this one guy that we haven't been able to catch lately and he was there. We taught him and his sister who was there and she was super interested. So that was great! Then Elder Allen and I went on a quest to find these old investigators. The wife came to church and told us to go back to them. We went looking for them last week and didn't find them and the number she gave us didn't work. Then some time this week we were walking to an appointment and a member rolls up in his car (car for work) and offers to take us to the path that leads to their house so we can stop by them to visit sometime. So we saw it the location and this last Sunday we went looking for them. We went up the path and literally it just lead to a thousand other paths. So we were about to turn back and this little girl came up and asked what we were looking for. We told her the name of the investigator and she said ok follow me. She took us right to the house where we had a great time with them. Then after that we were going to make our way to our usual Saturday night time, and instead of taking the normal path our investigator told us there was another faster way and he offered to take us. Well, he was wrong. It actually was longer and we had to perform some American ninja warrior stuff to get there. But it was a good time.There was a spot where we had to climb through a fence, stand on a little stick and jump a solid 6 foot gap over a river. I made it, it wasn't the cleanest landing but hey I made it. Elder Allen got close... he jumped but didn't have the kangaroo legs of Elder Bowen so he got his leg dipped in water hahaha. We eventually made it to the time to where we played some fun games with the kids asking them gospel questions. Let's just say it took them a while to answer right to get the candy...

Then onto Sunday! It started out as having a great day at church. Lots of investigators came, I taught Sunday School to the youth, then we had priesthood. Following that, we had some baptismal interviews for the upcoming baptism on Saturday. They both passed so there will be a baptism this Saturday! Then we had a meeting with DMB and with the branch missionaries. Now we have a great schedule for getting help from the branch missionaries. So after that we went and ate lunch. On our way out we saw this one lady we talked to at this restaurant. We talked with her on Saturday and I told her I would find her, then boom the next day she is hanging out right around our house!!! And, turns out she lives right by us and she had taken lessons before. That was awesome! We went out teaching some of the normal people and then we ran into a rut. So we basically had to choose out of our four times left, the two that we could make it to. Then I realized we were right next to some super awesome members that are also branch missionaries. We stopped by and they were more that willing to help. We went on member splits and ended up catching all of the times and they were defintally times that we needed to stop by.  

In a lot of those lessons I saw a lot of the time we were talking about prayer and the answer to prayer. We had a lady talking to us about trials. Why God sends them, why we need them and so forth. We had some good answers for her thanks to the Book of Mormon. Then she asked how long her trials will last. It got kind of personal for her right there but then it turned to a really good discussion about personal prayer. She said that she gave up on God a while ago because he wasn't answering. I told her he was answering but maybe she wasnt listening. She then committed to learning with us again this next week and she might even come to church this next week. The power of the Spirit was very present in the lesson and you can tell that she felt it. 

Well that's about it for this week. Today for P day, we are going to a waterfall so I'll send some pics of that next week! but for now...

                                                            Beautiful Sunset

                                                      The rope swing we built!

Monday, July 24, 2017

WEEK 99 Surprise baptism!!!

Well we had a great week this week... and by the title I'm guessing you all want to know what the surprise baptism was...

So two weeks ago we found out that one of our investigator couples split up. They were never legally married so they were just a boyfriend and girlfriend living together. The plan was to wait a year for the girl to turn 18 and then they would get married and could get baptized. Now the guy is named Solo and he was a very diligent investigator and he had been learning for a while. When they split up we were walking to his new house and he told us right there that he wanted to get baptized. He said that he knew that since he wasn't living with his girlfriend anymore that he could get baptized. We talked with him about it for a bit and decided to set the date in August. Then we went over to his house on Thursday and he said that he wanted to get baptized as soon as possible. He wanted to get baptized that Saturday. So it was a little close but I told him I would call President and ask if we could have a baptism on Saturday. Luckily the other branch was having a baptism and President Danielson gave us the green light to baptize him. Well he passed the interview on Friday, got baptized on Saturday, and received the Holy Ghost on Sunday. So Solo is now one of the newest members in Fort Dauphin! 

So that is the story of the week. I have pictures too so you'll see those. 

So down here in Fort Dauphin there is a big exam going on right now. It's basically the equivalent of graduating high school but there are a lot of people who don't pass and retake it so this year there are a lot of people taking it. Some of which are investigators and members. So we have this one investigator that has been coming to church on and off for a while and he has been pretty good about coming these past couple of weeks.  Well after church he received a priesthood blessing to prepare for the big exam. We didn't get to see him after as we were pulled aside for something else but we stopped by his house later that day. We talked to him about the blessing and about preparing for the big exam. He said the blessing was awesome and he feels calm and ready to take this big exam. It was so great to hear that he felt the power of the priesthood. We hope that he will continue to remember that and we hope that it will continue to help him recognize this is the true church. 

Well that's about it for this week. There is currently a screaming baby in here right now and every time the dad turns her to look at us she stops crying. Then she turns away and starts crying again. Either she is so afraid of us or we look very friendly. Either way we are the cure to a crying baby. 

Enjoy the pics! 


Monday, July 17, 2017

WEEK 98 kely sisa...work is insane, 29 investigators at church!

So another great week comes and goes! We had some great times this week. It seems like we are starting to get our program figured out now which makes for a lot of teaching times in a little amount of time which is great! This last week we had some awesome stuff happen.

We had these investigators that we hadn't seen in a while. Every time we went to stop by they weren't home until this last week when I stopped by and talked to the wife. She said that the husband has been really busy with his work. We made an appointment time with them and visited them. We talked to the husband and he said he has been wanting to go to church and take the lessons from the missionaries but he couldn't due to his work. He said the task that they were doing is completed and they can learn by coming to church now. Well we were at church and we didnt see them... so we didn't think they were there until I went to their house to talk to them and they said church was awesome! I was way surprised! They said they came in with the huge amount of people that come in after the sacrament and then they left after sacrament meeting and that's why we didn't see them. But they were so happy they could make it to church yesterday! Then we visited them and we have a set program to visit and teach them. Awesome people!

This week in finding investigators we found an awesome new family. Talking to them last night we figured out the guy is good friends with our branch president! Perfect! They were way nice and we plan on teaching them this upcoming week. 

Also we have this one guy who we have been teaching for a while and we talked to him about baptisms this last week. He said that he and his buddy, that we have been teaching, both want to get baptized. We found out that he isn't legally married to his wife so he needs to take care of that but we found out that he has his birth certificate here and so does his wife, so it should be pretty easy to get that done but we will see... 

Things are going great here. The work is insane! ...and it just keeps getting better and better! Our program is packed and yesterday we had a whole 29 investigators at church... quite a lot to keep track of but we manage it haha. This church is so great for these people and their faith in Christ is changing them as it is changing me. I love it here!

The picture this week was from this morning. I didn't have any pictures to send home until I looked out the window this morning... enjoy... !!!
Elder Bowen

Monday, July 10, 2017

WEEK 97 Tsisy Vaovao-baptiam-transfers

Well another great week has come and gone. For those that didn't see the pictures, President Foote came down to Fort D this week. We had an awesome conference with him and I gave my dying testimony (while still on my mission). I still have the rest of the transfer to get to work so I guess it isn't really the end yet.  But, we had some great times this week

This last Saturday we had a baptism. Two from our branch and three from the other branch. The ones from our branch were two kids that weren't baptized when their parents were baptized. One is 17 years old and the other is 11 years old and we had the dad baptize them. It was way nice. Then I got to hop in the water and baptize someone from the other branch haha. Water wasn't too cold but it was a windy day and yes it was freezing when we got out. Oh and the guy that was supposed to give a talk at the baptism didn't show up so I had to whip one together really quick and give it. But besides that it all went smoothly.

The news with one of our couples waiting for the marriage papers, they are really close and might have it done this month! We have another couple that has to go all the way to Diego (north tip of Madagascar) but there is a member that is going up there from Antananarivo so we might see if he can grab her birth certificate for us. I think if that all works out we will be having some more baptisms coming up here. 

Well that's about it for this week. So my card actually just got wiped clean thanks to these beautiful viruses on these computers so these will be the only pics this week!



Monday, July 3, 2017

WEEK 96 vita ny fety

Another great week! So this week was pretty busy since it was our first week together. It took a lot of planning to be able to merge together our two programs but we seemed to get it done. It made for a quick and busy week walking to and from times, we were like olympic speed walkers. But we did see some awesome miracles this week.

There is this one guy named Fridais who lives in Elder Allens old part of the area. I guess that he had connected them and wanted them to come teach him. He caught on right away and was talked to about coming to church. He wanted to but the only problem was that he had to work on Sundays. But he said that if it's the true church, then God will help him find new work. When Elder Allen and I went back to him yesterday he said he received an answer to his prayer. He found a new job! It's not all set in stone but he says he thinks it will work out. We taught him about the Book of Mormon and he is very exited to get one as soon as we get more down here in Fort D. 

In other news we have a baptism coming up! We had the baptismal interviews done yesterday and the baptismal service will be held this Saturday. We have a brother and sister getting baptized and their father will be baptizing them. Awesome stuff!

Well this week we found a couple more new investigators. We keep finding some awesome people but a lot of them aren't married according to the law. Some of them aren't even married according to the culture, so for some families we have to wait for the cultural thing to be done and then they will get it legally. Sadly, the cultural way requires so much money to get it done so that's why no one does it! We are still waiting for a lot of our investigators to get married and then as soon as that is done they are ready to get baptized. That's about it for this week. another great one to look forward to! 

pics from the chicken fight we saw...

Monday, June 26, 2017

WEEK 95 - ndao isika manao fety

Another great one! So we got some early transfer news today. For my last transfer we are combining two areas. My old area and another Fort D area. Let me tell you it is a work load. Both areas had pretty full programs and now we have to merge them together somehow! But it will be a good time!

Oh and today is the Madagascar Independence Day so we are hopefully going to go see some cool things today. Last night we watched the fireworks from our house and today we are going to see them march and later hopefully hit up the surf competition. 

We were pretty busy this week trying to get everything together and saying goodbye to Elder Francom who just went home. We actually had a pretty packed program just due to everyone wanting to feed us but it was a good time having some interesting dinners... but the work is going better than ever. We have quite a few couple that are getting their papers all in order so they can get legally married so we are just waiting for that. Most of them are coming to church and the ones that don't usually can't attend due to work but everything is getting worked out. 

We actually have this one family that we always mess around with because we walk by them many times a day and they are sellers on the street. We found out they are related to some members and have been trying to get them to come to church for a while and they finally came yesterday! It was awesome! 

So a lot of the work recently has been Elder Allen (new comp) and I trying to figure out ways to put our programs together so we can fit everyone in. Also trying to figure out who people are at church haha. We have a long list of recent converts we have to keep track of but luckily there is a dope member that is preparing for a mission and he helped us out a lot. This week should be a fun week packed full of many many lessons. 

The highlight of the week was sitting in church during the sacrament. It was quiet and I got to watch the deacons pass the sacrament while listening to the wave's crash on the beach right behind me as the cool breeze came in from the open window right behind my head. To top it off it's during the sacrament so the spirit is stronger than ever. You ever want to find Paradise, come on down to
Fort D. 
Elder Bowen


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

WEEK 94 Nandeha lakana izahay!

Well another great week has come and gone here in Paradise. We had a great week this week. So highlights of the week were as follows.

So Elder Allen and I had a split this last Saturday. I took him into my area and we had a great day. So we have this family that has really been progressing. The only thing holding them back from baptism is that they aren't legally married. They are working on that and are getting close to having it done. We had a great lesson reviewing the Plan of Salvation. We talked about our purpose here on earth and the Atonement and it just clicked for them. It was great! 

We have this other family. They were contacted right before I got here and the lessons have been going great until about two weeks ago. They have dogged us a couple of times and when I was with Allen we got dogged by someone else and I got the impression we should go stop by this family. So we did and we got to talk to the mom. She told us that she has been really busy with work lately and that the kids are preparing for a big exam and they haven't been able to learn lately. I asked her if we could stop by Sunday night and talk. She didn't seem to really like that so she said no but then I told her we would help out with their work (grading papers and what not) so then she said yes. We (Elder Hunter and I) stopped by Sunday night just with the intention of dropping by really quick so we wouldn't bother. We came in and they sat us down and we had a nice discussion. We ended up teaching them a lesson on the Word of Wisdom. We came to find out that the daughters had been reading the whole time and they have kept up on their commitments. We had a great lesson and they had plenty of questions but it ended with them commiting to try and start living the Word of Wisdom. 

Pictures this week are from the little zone activity we took. President Foote approved a little canoe trip up a shallow river to these four mountains. I have sent some pics of the mountains before so you may remember them... so we got this guy to take us. He shows up at our house like 30 minutes after he was supposed to meet us and he is just hammered. So drunk that he couldn't walk strait. Luckily a drunk man doesn't have a whole lot of influence on a canoe, especially if he is fighting to stay awake. But we rode out, walked around and saw some beautiful blue water, awesome beaches, and then headed on back.
Elder Bowen


Monday, June 12, 2017

WEEK 93 Dadi Love-Splits-Fresh tracting

Another great week in Paradise. This week flew by. At the end of the week we had a famous Malagasy singer named Dadi Love come to Fort D with another guy named Willy. There were all other kinds of activities for Malagasies to do so it slowed the work down slightly... we went from house to house for some of our scheduled times to find out that people were at the concert or were at one of the other things. then come Sunday we had a crazy low attendance. Talking to people we found out that due to the rain and Dadi Love, they couldn't come to church... pretty valid. But, regardless of the party weekend, we had a pretty good week.

We decided to drop a couple of people this week which opened up the program to get some fresh meat. So we went tracting and actually found some awesome new families.

We also went on splits with Elders Blatter and Parraga and I got to go into another area with Elder Parraga! Work is going great in all the areas here in Fort D so it was a great split to get to see how awesome the work is going in another area.

Sadly, we got dogged by some of the people I've kept you updated on so no news from them but next week Indray! Here are some awesome pics from the week! 

The view from a restaurant

                                                                         Our hike!
  Incredible View