Monday, January 25, 2016

Catching the Vision....

Araka ny fahitako azy, vao nanombaka nahatakatra tsara ny tanjona ho an'ny fiangonana eto Mahajanga ny mpikambana rehetra ao anatin'ny sampana!

Hey Everyone! How how was everyone's week? We had an incredible work week this past week and we think that the branch is finally starting to catch the vision! We had some good things happen this past week within the branch that could highly impact what happens in the future. It's good to finally see some fivoarana (progression) in the branch but I'll talk about all that stuff later. Let's talk about investigators!

First off, our number one investigator right now, Hanja, is doing great and she's going to talk to her parents this week to get their input on whether or not they're okay with her getting baptized. Hanja has been coming to church for the longest time now and the only thing holding her back are her parents. She's 19 years old so she technically has the decision on whether or not she wants to get baptized. She doesn't need permission from her parents because she's considered an adult but she thinks that if she gets baptized her parents will completely cut her off. She's nervous to talk to her parents but she's confident and we have faith that she's going to do it. We'll be stopping by her house tomorrow to see whether or not she talked to them so keep her in your prayers!

The second investigator I want to talk about is Jean Chris. I don't know if you guys remember who he is but he's the man who stopped us last week on the path to find out more about our church. Well, we now have a program set up with him twice a week and he's already finished reading the 1st pamphlet. He keeps telling us that he's "mangetaheta ny fahamarinana" which literally translates into "thirsty for the truth." He's now got his wife learning with us and they've told us that they're highly interested in knowing what our church has to offer. We've asked him and his wife to pray to know if the Joseph Smith story is true and they've accepted the challenge. We'll follow up with him next week to see where he and his wife are at.

Do ya'll remember Saholy and here family? Well, we gave them all baptismal dates for March and one of Saholy's daughters came to church yesterday. The main goal now is to get them all to come to church, especially Saholy! They're a great family and it's good to finally see some progress out of them!

Okay, now the branch! To start off, we had 92 people come to church yesterday! That's the most we've had since I've been here! There weren't any special events, no special speakers, just members and investigators wanting to come to church. To cap that off, we had a really good Branch Council. Basically, our second counselor threw down on how each auxiliary should be meeting each week before Branch Council on Sunday. They also talked about branch goals for this upcoming year and how they're going to accomplish them! We also now have 2 couples in the branch who are designated as "couple missionaries" who are going to help us with our work. That pretty much means we should be getting referrals left and right from them! Things are just going great right now and I can't wait to see where we are in the future.

Well, that's all I got for this week! Things are going really well right now and I can only imagine that they're going to get better. I love you all so much and I hope everyone has a great week!

Love, Elder Stringfellow

P.S. Mom, this is the little girl who always draws pictures in my planner. There are also pics of me having fun in the rain and an ocean sunset.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Work, Work, Work....

Karakory ma! Efa sitrana ny namako ary manomboka miasa mafy indray izahay!

Hey, how's everyone doing? I sure hope that everyone had a great week because we sure did here. Elder Anderson is all better and we are now back in the swing of things!

To start off the week we had something pretty cool happen to us on Tuesday. Elder Anderson and I were just contacting down one of the paths when a pretty interesting man called us over to the place where he was sitting. Me first thoughts were, "Oh boy, he's drunk" but when we went over to him he was perfectly sober. He told us that he has often seen us walking down the paths and talking to people about our church. He politely asked us if we could explain what our church is and we gladly did so. He eventually invited us into his home were Elder Anderson and I decided to share a little message with him. We didn't go directly into the Restoration of the Gospel because for some reason I felt that we should share John 13: 34-35. We talked to him about how to simply love one another and that it is one principle that this church follows. He seemed to really like it and at the end of the short message he asked us if we could come back and share another
message with him. We now have an appointment set up with him tomorrow and we'll be sharing the message of the Restoration with him. His name is Jean Chris and we'll see how the lessons goes tomorrow!

On Wednesday, we taught one of our progressing investigators, Saholy, and her family more about the Book of Mormon. We read first Nephi 1 with them and assigned them to read chapter 2. They've already read the introduction and the testimonies of three and eight witnesses but now it's time to get them reading from the actual Book of Mormon. We thoroughly explained the story of Lehi and his family to them and now all that has to be done is to read. We'll keep praying for them to have the desire to read and to know the truth.

Thursday was a pretty normal work day as most of the day was spent tracting and setting up return appointments. We did, however, have a really good district meeting. Usually, the district leader is supposed to plan a lesson each and every week but I didn't have to worry about it this week because we had an activity to plan for. Yep, the missionaries were in charge of the activity this month and what we came up with was genius but also really fun.

Saturday eventually rolled around and after working for a few hours we headed over to the church around 3 o'clock to kick off the activity. What we had planned to do on the previous Thursday was to teach members how they can become missionaries. They way we portrayed this idea was through a handful of skits we created that showed how effectively present this gospel in ways that would help people better understand our church. It was a lot of fun and I think the members got a lot out of it.

Yesterday we had a great day at church and we had 81 people show up! Attendance is slowly coming back up and it's something awesome to see. Other than seeing some progress from the branch, Elder Anderson and I had a pretty good talk last night on principles we have learned throughout our missions. One principle we talked about was the concept of time and how precious it is, especially as a missionary. The mission literally goes by so fast and it's sometimes pretty scary to think about. I have noticed how this crucial concept has played a huge role in how I conduct myself as a missionary and how I decide to use my time. When you think about it, two years really isn't that long and you have to make the most of it. The Lord has given you two years of his own time and all he expects you to do is to pick it up and run with it. It's plain and simple. Put your time aside and focus on those things the lord wants you to do. I feel like sometimes missionaries forget about this key concept and it is definitely something I need to work on. Maybe we all can think about those things that would be more fulfilling towards our time and put aside those things that are less,important. I don't know, I guess that's Elder Stringfellow's little spiritual message of the week.

Anyways, that's my weekly report. I sure do love you all and I hope everyone has a great week!

Love, Elder Stringfellow

P.S. Awesome pics are coming!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Feeling Better......

Tadidianareo ve ny aretina notratrako tamin'ny herinandro lasa? Vao tratran'ny namako izany aretina izany!

Hey Everyone! How was everyone's week? Things we're pretty crazy here but we are slowly getting back to normal. Most of you probably already know that I was pretty sick a couple of weeks ago but now I'm healthy and doing fine. My companion, however, Elder Anderson, is a different story...

On Friday morning, Elder Anderson woke up with a nasty migraine which eventually led into a fever peaking at around 102 degrees. We took care of him throughout the day and eventually got his fever down to a reasonable 99 degrees. We thought we had everything undercontrol and that by the next day he'd be able to work again, but boy were we wrong...

On Saturday morning, the fever had gone back up and the intensity of his migraine had increased. We took turns taking care of him throughout the day and while one was with him the other two were out trying to work both areas. As it turned out, I took the last shift in taking care of Elder Anderson and at this point he was really sick. Let's just say he was in the bathroom for pretty much the whole night and ya'll can probably imagine why. Yep, it was not pretty.

Elder Anderson is doing a lot better now and it looks like he'll be okay to work this week. We just got back from the health clinic and got him some medicine for him. As of right now, it looks like everytihing is going to be all right for this week.

Since Elder Anderson was pretty sick last week we had a hard time getting a lot of work done. We are, however, teaching this lady named Saholy and her family and this last week we had an awesome lesson with them about the Book of Mormon. They seem really interested and they are excited to start reading the Book of Mormon! Hopefully we can get some thing started with them here in the next few weeks. We also taught one of the highest judges in the Malagasy government this week. His name and Antoine and he lives in an incredibly large house. He seems like a really cool guy and we'll wait and see where our teachings go with him.

Well, that's about all I have to say for this week. I sure am glad that Elder Anderson is feeling a lot better and that we'll be able to get some good work done this week. I love you all so much and I hope that everyone has a great week!

Love, Elder Stringfellow

1. Contacting down by the Shipyard
2. I had to get my clothes shrunk, they were a litte too baggy haha


Monday, January 4, 2016

Happy New Year....

Tratra ny taona vaovao!

HAPPY NEW YEAR! I sure hope that everyone had a great New Years and that we're all ready for 2016! This New Years is definetely one that I'll never forget and and ya'll will probably laugh when you find out why.

The story begins on the night of New Year's Eve. Elder Anderson and I had just finished work and had decided to meet up with Elder Wootan and Elder Reynolds for dinner. We went to this really nice resturant in the main part of town to celebrate the new year and up until that point everything was going great. I got some really good spaghetti for dinner and then we headed home to wait for the new year. This is were things started to go down hill....As soon as we got home, I started getting some pretty bad stomach cramps and eventually found myself in the bathroom all night. I don't think I need to go into much detail but ya'll can imagine what happend. Yep, I was sick!

The next day, New Years, I stayed home all day and didn't have the opportunity to go out and work. It was a pretty rough day and I spent most of the day in bed. Literally, the last thing I wanted to do to start off the New Year. The next day wasn't much better....I tried working but ended up coming home midway through the day still pretty sick. Another crumby day. I'm glad to say that I'm all better now but those 2 days were pretty rough.

Anyways, besides my New Years story, we had an awesome day at church yesterday! We had 91 people attend sacrament meeting and then we capped of the day with an awesome Branch Council meeting. We got some new goals set up for 2016 and we're ready to get things done here in Mahajanga. This branch sure has come a long way since I've been here and I can't wait to see what this branch can do in 2016!

Well, that's my weekly report! I'm glad I'm healthy again and that I can continue on with this work! Today I went and weighed myself out on the street and found out that I'm now down to 76 kg (167 lbs). Not really sure if the scale was accurate but if it was boy did I loose a lot of weight, haha! Don't think I've ever been that sick in my life before but now it's all over and I continue on with my missionary life! I sure do love this work and I love being a missionary!

Love you all so much and I hope everyone has a great week!

Elder Stringfellow
The Island House
Skinny Boy...
Sting Ray and Rice