Monday, November 30, 2015

Baptism in the Indian Ocean....

Tsisy vorontsiloza tamin'ny Alakamisy....

Hey Everyone!

I hope that everyone had a great Thanksgiving and that ya'll stuffed yourselves full of Turkey! Thanksgiving was a little different here but Elder Coleman and I sure made it worthwhile. We started off the day by working our tails off and then on Thanksgiving night we went to this insane beach resort down in the main part of town. The food there was really expensive but it was so good. I got this really good shrimp and then topped it off with some chocolate mousse. I never thought in a million years that I would be eating seafood on Thanksgiving but it sure was good!

Anyways, the next day Elder Coleman left and I got my new companion Elder Wootan. He is such a baller and he's got great ideas for this branch. He and I have been talking for the past couple of days and we have come to the conclusion that the leaders in this branch need help.  It's not that they're not doing a good job, they just don't know how to do their job. Elder Wootan and I are going to be doing lots of training with Branch Members to see if we can bring this place back to life. Mahajanga can be an area of strength here in the mission, but we first need to help the branch get back on their feet.

We had 3 baptisms this week! Victor, his wife, and Mercelline all got baptized on Saturday and I had the privilege of performing all 3 ordinances. To make matters even better, we did the baptisms in the Indian Ocean! Literally, the coolest experience of my life. There were a couple of times, however, where I thought I was going to die because the waves were so big, but in the end, we got everyone baptized and it was a great way to spend our Saturday afternoon. The next day, they all received the Gift of the Holy Ghost and I have a little story to go along with that.

On Sunday morning, Elder Wootan and I walked into the Chapel to make sure everything was in order for Sacrament meeting to start especially for those who would be receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Every thing seemed to be in order until our 2nd counselor came up to me, literally 5 minutes before the meeting started, and said, "You ready?" I replied, "Ready for what?" He then went on to tell me that my name had been written down as the one who would be giving Mercelline the gift of the Holy Ghost! Talk about panic attack! I started freaking out a little bit because I literally had no idea how to do it in Malagasy and I only had 5 minutes to prepare. In the end, I figured out what to do and the nerves eventually went away. Mercelline received the Gift of the Holy Ghost, along with the other two, and now all 3 are members of the church.

Well, that's about it for the week. We saw a lot of amazing things happen this week and I sure am thankful for our 3 new recent converts. I love you all so much and I hope everyone has a great week!

Love, Elder Stringfellow

Baptism Pics! The last pic is the best, haha! Really thankful the waves didn't kill me!


Monday, November 23, 2015

Getting a new companion....

Tena malahelo be aho satria nahazo ny vaovaon'ny transfer izahay taminy sabotsy teo ary handeha Elder Colman! Elder Wootan no namako vaovao!

Hey Everyone! Hope that everyone had a good week and that your all preparing for Thanksgiving on Thursday! Life is tena milamina tsara here in Mahajanga and we keep working harder and harder every day!

The big news of the week is that we received transfer news on Saturday and it looks like Elder Coleman will be leaving....Ahh man, I'm way sad! Elder Coleman and I have had such a good time working here together and we don't want it to come to an end. Elder Coleman is heading back to Tana to be a zone leader in the place were I was born, Ambohimanarina! Lucky duck! Anyways, my new companion is going to be Elder Wootan! I am so pumped to get him! I already know who he is and I can't wait to start working with him! It just looks like the Lord is still blessing me with awesome companions!

This week was pretty quiet work wise....We still taught around 30 lessons but it felt like it was just the same old same old. I guess the problem wasn't necessarily the lessons we taught but our investigators not following up on our committments. It's sometimes really frustrating when that happens but I have to remember that there's nothing we can do about it. Everyone has their Agency and if they want learn more about this gospel then they can choose to do so.  It's one of the greatest gifts we have received from our Heavenly Father and I need to respect it.

I actually did have the opportunity to conduct a baptismal interview with one of our investigators yesterday, Mercien. We had a great one on one interview and she ended up passing the interview. She'll be getting baptized this Saturday hopefully with Victor and his wife. I still need to do their Bap Interviews on Tuesday so please cross your fingers that they pass!

Other than that, I don't have a whole lot more to say. I'm sad that Elder Coleman is leaving but I'm way excited to be getting Elder Wootan. He and I are going to put in some major work up here! Anyways, that's all I have for the week! I love you all so much and I hope that everyone has a great week!

Love, Elder Stringfellow


Monday, November 16, 2015

Another Week Down...

Manahoana Daholo!

How is it that another week has come and gone? Time is just flying by and it really does seem that the weeks are getting shorter. Anyways, life is just great out here in the mission field and the Lord sure knows how to keep us busy.

Tuesday was just another typical work day. We literally contacted all day and got some new people on our program. It was great to meet some people who are willing to give up there time to hear our message and I sure hope that it all works out this week. We also had the opportunity to teach Victor and his wife. They're doing great and are still preparing for their baptisms.

Wednesday seemed to be the complete opposite of Tuesday. We taught seven solid times and didn't have any time to contact. Days like this are my favorite types of days because you really feel accomplished at the end of day. Wednesday was a great day.

Thursday was somewhat disappointing because our Branch Fireside fell through. Elder Coleman and I had an idea to restart beach side firesides that missionaries had done in the past and we really thought that the branch was going to follow through with it. We talked about in Branch Presidency meeting and we announced in sacrament meeting, but, in the end, nobody came...A little bit of a let down but we'll try and do it again this week.

Friday was really just another typical work day. We taught Victor again but this time we took Stephano and our Branch President with us.  Now people know where he lives and hopefully the members will start visiting him and his family. That's one problem that this branch has.  No one does their home teaching or visiting teaching. It's something we're trying to fix and hopefully we made it clear to our Branch President.

Saturday was a pretty good day. It started off by going the church in the morning to teach English. We had a really good English class and then after that we had a really good work day. We taught a really cool family who we believe could be a really good asset to the church. They're still new to the gospel but hopefully we can get some type of flame started with them here in the next little while.

And finally, Sunday. We ended off the week with a bang. We had 6 investigators come to church which included Cece as on of the them. I don't know if ya'll remember who he is but he's our investigator with the pet lemurs. It was great to seem him at church and actually stay for all 3 hours. We're going to get a bap. date set with him this week and hopefully we can get something going with him. Also, 3 of 6 investigators who attended church yesterday should be getting baptized next week and I get to conduct their baptismal interviews this week.  Should be fun!

Well, that was my week. Elder Coleman and I had a great week this week and we really do enjoy working together. We should be having a new transfer next week and Elder Coleman has a really good shot of leaving. I sure hope we stay together! Anyways, love you all so much and I hope everyone has a great week!

Elder Stringfellow

Pics! Tena vitsivitsy ny sary avy amin' ity herinandro ity! Miala Tsiny! That's our chapel!


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Lac Sacre

Hey everyone!

I hope everyone had a good week and that life is going well. Things are just great here in Mahajanga and the missionary work is going. We worked our tails off again this week and saw many blessings from the lord!

To start off, on Tuesday we tracted for about 5 hours which was awesome! We literally went from door to door and set up a whole bunch of new programs. This upcoming week should be packed full with return appointments and we are excited to be teaching some new people.

On Wednesday, we continued with our tracting efforts and then ended the day with a Soiree. We had our soiree with a return missionary named Taylor Moulton who was here in Mahajanga this past week on vacation. He was staying with some members and they thought it would be fun to invite the missionaries over for dinner. We shared a spiritual message, played games, and then ended the night with dinner. It was so much fun and it was great to see another American again, haha!

Thursday and Friday were just regular work days but we did have a lesson with Victor on Friday. Holy Cow! He is so ready to be baptized it's insane! He just get's it! Plain and simple! We have his baptismal date set for Nov. 28 so please keep your fingers crossed that everything works out! We already found out that he's vita soratra so we don't have to worry about that. He's doing great and we can't wait for him to be baptized!

The rest of the week was great and President Lalary, from the mission presidency, stopped by the make sure things were going well with the Branch! That man is amazing and I wouldn't be surprised if he is the first Malagasy General Authority. It was great to have him up here because now we have a lot more things organized.

Okay, here's something cool! Today Elder Coleman and I woke up at 4:30am to go Lac Sacre. Lac Sacre is like a sacred pond here in Mahajanga and we really wanted to go see it. We went with one of our members, Stephano, and eventually found ourselves standing at this pond with the biggest fish I have ever seen! They were huge. Our guide was telling us that because of their size they are not afraid to eat people. Kinda scary but kinda cool. After we saw the fish we went down this trail which lead to a massive Baobab Tree. It was a way cool tree and after looking at it for a while our guide started making weird noises. It was so weird but we soon realized what he was doing, he was calling LEMURS! Before we new it 3 lemurs came flying out of the trees! We had some cookies with us and eventually started feeding them! It was so coool! Lemurs are now my favorite animals and everytime I see them I just wanna mess around with them! After our time with the lemurs, we finished our tour by seeing some crocodile. Those things are scary and our guide thought it was funny to make them mad by poking them with a stick trough the fence. They were not happy with us and we got out of there pretty quick! All in all, today was an awesome day and I got so way good pics and videos.

Anyways, that's my weekly report! Things are just going great here in Mada and I love being a missionary. I miss you all and love you all so much and I hope that everyone has a great week!

Love, Elder Stringfellow

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Hot Hot Hot...

Hey everyone!

I hope that everyone is doing great and that you all had an awesome week because we sure did. The work is just going right now and it's great to see the fruits from our labors. The days are getting hotter (35 degrees Celsius) but we still go out everyday and give it our all. I sure do love this work and I love being a missionary!

This week I feel like we did a lot of contacting and searching. We had a lot of times this week that feel through so we spent most of our time looking for some new people to teach. It took a lot of effort on our part but we found some new people and we now have programs set up with them.

Our investigators are all doing well and we have a few who are progressing towards baptism. One in particular is Victor. Victor has been learning from the missionaries for a little while now and he has been coming church every week even though he lives very far away.  He understands our teachings very well and lately he has been bringing his wife to church. Not only is he progressing but he is also helping his wife progress. She is now learning from us and it would be great to see them both baptized together.

Some other progressing investigators, who we just recently found, are Marie and Joseph. We found them about 2 weeks ago and they're already reading the Book of Mormon. They seemed really interested in it and they always have really good questions about it. Yesterday, we taught them about the Plan of Salvation and they seemed to really enjoy our teachings on the eternal family. They haven't come to church yet but hopefully we'll see them come here in the next little while.

CONFERENCE! Yes, we were finally able to watch conference and it was incredible. I really enjoyed Elder Holland's and Elder Nelson's talks on the importance of women in the church. It really made me appreciate all the women in my life who have helped me get to this point in my life today. To them I say, Thank You! I also really enjoyed President Eyring's talk on the Holy Ghost and how his dad taught him to always follow his promptings. The talk I probably loved the most, however, was Devin G. Durrant's. Let us all ponderize the scriptures each week and apply their teachings into our lives. All in all conference was great and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Anyways, that's about all I got for the week! Life is just great here in Madagascar and I'm loving my mission more and more everyday. I love you all so much and I hope that everyone has a great week!

Love, Elder Stringfellow

P.S. Good luck to the Brave's Football team this week!