Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Antsirabe Rainstorm

Hey Fam!!!

First full week in Country!! This place is great. Elder Koplin is actually the Zone Leader here in Antsirabe which really means that we have a lot of splits to go on. Tuesday I went with Elder Lake in his area and he has actually only been here like 6 weeks longer than me so that was interesting. He's really Mahay though so it went pretty well. We even taught a Deaf man named Joseph! That was really hard actually but he was really, really excited to learn and he can read so we managed. I even picked up a little bit of Malagasy sign language!! It was pretty awesome. Wednesday we taught Rolondo again and gave him a Book of Mormon so he could really start progressing. He was in Tana on Sunday though so he couldn't come to church. We usually don't have much of a problem finding people or talking to them, the problem is that the men in this country are never home and we can't teach unless there is a man present but, it's all good. Thursday I went on a split with Elder Nelsen who's been here a year and it was fun! His companion was the last one who worked in our area so he showed Koplin all of the investigators in our area right now. I still don't actually know most of them but I'm learning. And yesterday we taught the coolest guy ever!! I don't actually even know his name we never asked. We taught his whole family about a week ago and started teaching them but he was in Tana. He's a police man, and we were shocked because right after we walked in he went and got his Book of Mormon. In French and Malagasy. We never gave him either of them. Apparently he has already been taught. In 1997 he met the very first missionaries here in Madagascar. He learned from them for a while but then had to move for his job so he never actually got baptized. Now he has to go back to Tana on Wednesday but hopefully we can meet up with him again before then. The language is coming pretty well I think. I can teach the whole first lesson fairly fluently. The people here all talk with their hands so it's not super hard to understand them. The problem is that I understand when they say it I just don't know how to say anything back! It's ok though that's by far the hardest part. The weather here is perfect. Antsirabe is the coldest place in Madagascar and the elevation is about the same as Provo, ha, ha.  Elder Koplin just came from the hottest province here so he has been freezing! We got caught in our first rainstorm last P-day after I emailed and had to take shelter under some people’s roof for like an hour. I personally think it was one of the top 3 rainstorms I've ever seen but apparently it wasn't even bad. Go figure. One thing about Madagascar is that every area we're in is completely different. Antsirabe is a pretty big city but our area is like a 5 minute walk away and it is rural farm country. I have actually taken some really cool pictures but I kinda, sorta left my cord in our house so I'll have to send some next week. Hope all is well! Love you guys! 
Elder Jensen

Saturday, October 24, 2015

First Week in Antsirabe

Hi family!! So crazy being here in Madagascar! I've only been here for four days but I love it. The flights were insanely long and at the same time they went so fast. President and sister Foote picked us up at the airport with the APs and we stopped at an ice cream shop on the way back to the mission office. Then we had to get our permanent visas which wasn't actually hard. They usually are but I guess the Goverment was being super chill that day. The government here is crap they basically just enforce whatever laws they feel like at the moment. And Tana was insane!!! That's the capitol city. There are cars and motorcycles everywhere but there aren't actually any traffic laws so its just nuts. \it was a cool city but I'm glad i'm not there anymore. That night we met with president and had dinner and the next day we met the trainers. they didn't actually know who was going to be comps with who until later though so we just went through training as a big group. My comp is Elder Koplin and he's a really great guy. He's been out about a year and a half so he's way Mahay at the language and he's helped me a lot. He's actually from idaho falls and he actually has family in fielding! so weird to go half way around the world and find someone who actually knows where Tremonton is. He's a really cool guy too he thinks exactly like me. We are  in a town called Antsirabe right now, which is pretty much awesome. I was the only one in my group not getting trained in Tana which I am extremely grateful for because that city honestly kind of scared me. Antsirabe is really more of a farming community which suits me just fine. But I am getting off topic. after the training and after we got our assignments we dropped all the other new guys off at their houses and me and Elder Koplin went to the bus station. That's where I had my first real close up encounter with the poverty here. You can obviously see it everywhere but this was the first time I actually saw it really. We're not allowed to give money here or they'd throw us out of the country but we were standing by our bus waiting to leave and this little boy walked up, maybe 5 years old. His clothes were all tattered and he was filthy and just looked so sad and he walked up and he touched my hand and he looked at me with those big brown eyes and asked in a real quiet voice if I could give him some money, and I had to tell him no. He didn't leave though he just stood there holding my hand until the bus left. I think I died a little inside that day. Our bus ride was about five hours south of Tana so we didn't actually get to Antsirabe until late at night. And by bus I mean it was really a little tiny van. And there was like 25 people piled into it. That was a somewhat uncomfortable 5 hours. Anyways we have been whitewashing this area so we got here and basically have no idea what is going on here. We didn't know any of the members and there were 0 investigators so we basically have had to just tract. We tract out most of our area the first couple of days. One thing about the people here they're super laid back and super faithful and have nothing to do. Basically what I'm saying is that everybody has time for a message about Christ. We almost always get in the door. Not that I'm a lot of help with the lessons but I do what I can. Elder Koplin is really good though so we've taught the first lesson maybe 10 or 12 times in 3 days to probably 30 people. We actually met one really cool guy yesterday!! His name was Rolando, and his story is awesome. I thought I understood a lot of it when he was talking but it sounded too crazy to me so I asked Elder Koplin after the lesson and it turns out I got it right. Rolando is a pastor from another church so we figured great, he's just gonna bible bash with us. NOPE!!! He wanted to learn. He said that if he finds something more true than his church then he will join. And it gets better!!! Apparently he talked to the missionaries a few months ago! They taught him about Joseph Smith and then found out that he was a pastor and just kinda got scared and left him alone. Anyways we taught him again and now he says he wants to learn more about Joseph Smith!! We're going back wednesday and we're going to give him a Book of Mormon. Then at the end of the lesson he told us not to be surprised if we see him at church next week!!! I'm super excited about him. We have return appointments with about everyone we've taught so Things are going pretty good. And the food actually isn't bad!!! They literally eat rice with everything. I think I am going to developed  a Coke addiction here. But things in Antsirabe are great. The people are so happy and I love it here in Madagascar. Love you all so much!! I'll talk to you all next week!!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Last Letter from the MTC!!!

Finally out of here can I get a HALLELUJAH!!!!! Haha no the MTC has been really great But I can't wait to get out of here. Everybody from our whole zone was gone by Monday. We were the only people in the entire zone tuesday, there was only one other group even on the same floor as us in residence and classroom. It was a little lonely not gonna lie. But Wednesday we got a bunch of new missionaries in. There were 14 of them, 9 elders and five sisters. They all seem super excited to be here and they're a lot of fun already. I feel kinda bad that we're leaving them alone to fend for themselves after just four days but then I remember that I'm gonna be in Madagascar and I'm just like nah they're fine. In case you haven't seen them yet we got our flight plans on Monday! Only 53 hours of travel!! It's gonna be awesome.
I have set a goal to try to read the entire Book of Mormon on the way there. Not sure if that's even possible but I'll give it my best shot. Oh! And it was Conference this week! General Conference in the MTC was pretty great. We all gathered up in the big main building where they do devotionals and it was really cool. So much easier to stay awake than back home in my pajamas on the couch. Some of the talks were really great.
I'm not sure I've seen so many people crying in one room than when Elder Holland talked about mothers. I promise I was super tough though;) I honestly don't even remember much else from this week, it all just goes by so fast.
I can't believe that it's already P-day again. And my next email will be from Madagascar!! I'll be sure to send plenty of pictures of the coolest mission in the world, and hopefully I'll have better stories to tell. Love you all so much!!
Elder Jensen

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Almost There!

October 1, 2015
Hey there fam!
This week has been another great one in the MTC! Loving every second of it! I still can't believe how fast time flies here. I am just getting ready to send out a packet of letters so they should be there soon. Sorry its taken so long they actually don't give us any time at all to write we just have to use free time, and they really don't give us any of that. Plus I wanted to send one to everybody so it has taken even longer. Almost done though! Sorry about the pictures to, my cord doesn't work from the MTC,  but it will in the field and my comp just got an adapter so I will try to send some today. 
I don't really know what the deal will be in Madagascar but I will do what I can. The food here has gotten really old the last week or so. We kinda realized that its almost the exact same meals every day, and so its just not as good after 4 weeks. Class is going great though!! We're really starting to get the hang of the language. The hardest part has been the different sentence structures because it changes between active, passive, and circumstantial sentences. Other than that though it really isn't too bad. 
The words are really easy to pronounce, way easier than English. It is easier to spell in Malagasy too. All of the letters sound the same no matter how they are used so you can basically just sound everything out. We've started to talk some about the culture in Madagascar too, which is really fun. Apparently instead of pointing with their fingers they point with their lips. I laughed extremely hard the first time that I saw my teacher do it. He has been home for a whole year and he still does it all the time. It makes me excited to get there and see all this cool stuff. 
Apparently the fruit juice there is amazing. Do you think I could just live off of that for two years? I just might try it out. He also said we should prepare a couple of lessons before we go. He basically had to teach a lesson all by himself the 3rd day there. His trainer had only been there  2 months, so he had picked up some of the language but was no where near fluent yet. Apparently young trainers is a thing in Madagascar because he was a trainer after six months. We talked about a couple of areas he was in too, mostly Fianarantsoa and Antananarivo. It seems like a really great place and I just can't wait to get out of here. 11 Days left!! Can't wait! The Malays leave on Monday so it will be just 5 of us in the whole zone for two days. Next Wednesday we get 14 new people, and since we are Zone Leaders we will have to train them. Then we get to go!!! I really can't wait.
Love you guys so much
Elder Jensen

MTC 110%

September 23, 2015
Dear Fam, 
Have you ever heard the expression "Days turn to weeks and weeks turn to days."? Well it applies to the MTC 110%. Every day seems so long, just because we are busy the whole time. But then we look back and a week has gone by and we don't have a clue where it went. I feel like just yesterday I was sending you all an email, and here I am again. 
It's the craziest thing in the world. I honestly don't remember what happens most days. If I wasn't keeping a journal I don't think I'd remember any of it. It has been so great though! The last of the Lithuanians left on Tuesday, so now our whole zone is made up of our Malagasy district and the Malay district. That totals up to 11 people, which is crazy because our zone covers 8 different languages. We have all gotten really close though, as a district and with the Malays. 
Their classroom is right next to ours and their bedrooms are too, so we see a lot of them. They're really great guys. We play stupid games with them at night when we're bored. Last night I ate a spoonfull of hotsauce because I lost at clothes hamper basketball. It was awful. OH! And I finally accomplished my lifelong goal. I.Solved. A. Rubix. Cube. I can now basically die in peace with no regrets. Not really but yeah I'm pretty proud of myself. The language is coming along great! We get better and better every day. I know its still gonna be quite the shock when I get to Madagascar though, but I know I'll figure it out. Our lessons are going great. We started this thing called TRC last week and it was good. It's where they bring in some old malagasy missionaries and we teach them a lesson. Starting on Monday we Skype to members in Madagascar so thats gonna be a little bit scary. It'll work out though. Our teacher showed us more pictures from Madagascar the other day. It rains so much. We'll be getting there just in time for the rainy season too. He told us that when it rains there they are walking knee deep in water after like 45 minutes. So no dad, I will not be laughing at you from warm Madagascar. Hahaha. I'm excited so excited though I can't wait to get out there. 
As of yesterday we are over the MTC hump. I believe we only have 18 more days to go. Oh! and thank you to everyone who has been sending me things, whether it be letters or dear elder messages or packages, you have no idea how good it is to hear from home. Sorry I can't write more, ya'll know I'm a slow typer. Love you all so much!! Can't wait to hear from you!! 
Elder Jensen