Monday, April 25, 2016

March 28, 2016

So, I'll start out with the exciting news from this week. I received my transfer. I'm going to be serving in Ambohimanarana in Tana with Elder Yeagley. I'm very excited. I had actually gone on splits in this area back when I was in Betongolo, so it will be really neat to see it again. Plus I'll be able to see all those people that I knew when I lived in Tana. I work in the area where the American Embassy is located. And I'm right next to the airport in Northern Tana, so that should help you find it on a map if you want. It is not in the city at all, which is nice. It is mostly rice patties with hills coming out of the marshes. The hills have little towns on them which are connected by raised roads running over the rice patties. It's very beautiful and I"m very excited to get there. I take an airplane later today. I only found out like two days ago where i was officially going. Although I had known I was leaving for a little over a week. It's sad to leave Ft. Dauphin. I really don't like leaving everyone. I had the opportunity to give a talk in Church yesterday. It was very sad. However, I know that the Elders who will be working here are great, so that helps. Elder Coleman, who you know, was in my group. He will be working here in Tanambao after I Ieave.  So, that's what's going on here.

Other than that, this week has been crazy trying to help the new Elders figure out the area. I don't remember if i said this in my last email, but they took me and my companion out and sent the new Elders down early. I have been trying to teach them the area before I leave. I can't believe how well they're remembering everything. They're great. Yesterday was Easter, but for us it was a very calm day. Nothing really happened. We didn't really do anything. I guess that's most holidays in Madagascar. Today is lundi de paque so everything is closed. Therefore, I'm going to keep this short because there are more Elders than computers at the one cyber open in Ft. Dauphin. They need the opportunity to write their families too. I'll let you know more about my new area, etc. next week.

Elder Ahlstrom
March 21, 2016

Well, a couple of exciting things happened this week. I received two new companions this week. Not real companions but the people who will be replacing me and my current companion here in Ft Dauphin. We received news this week that two other Elders will be coming down. After that Elder Bassett will leave on Wednesday to have a minor medical procedure. I will stay here until next Thursday and then I'll head to my new area. I do not officially know where I will be going, so everything is still kind of up in the air. I just know I'll be leaving. It feels like the time I have been here in Ft. Dauphin was really short. I"m glad for the new experiences and opportunities, but also sad to be leaving already. It's been hard to start letting people know that you've worked with for so long that you won't be coming back. It's okay though, the new Elders are obviously wonderful and everything is in good hands. I'll still miss it down here though. Life is very good and I'm doing very well. Currently I'm incredibly tired because we went deep into the jungle today to attend a wedding for two families preparing to be baptized. It was very exciting and wonderful to see how ready and excited they were. They gave the missionaries a chicken for the occasion, which was a little strange. Obviously it's not the sort of thing that you can turn down - ha ha! Those were the two really big things that happened this week. I'll write you from here next preparation day and then after that I'll be gone to my new area! Weird, weird, weird. I'll let you know next week where exactly my real last area will be.
This week has mostly been spent getting the new Elders used to the area, showing them where everyone lives, etc. Other than that not a whole lot is new, although that's pretty big "news". I'm really tired, so I'm going to keep this a little shorter than usual. I love you all very much. Please have a wonderful day and week.
Elder Ahlstrom
March 14, 2016

I hope that you are all doing very well. I am excited to be able to write and share a few things. I'll start off which what we did today. I'm very tired because we just got back from walking/hiking the coast. It was really amazing. We walked out to the end of a long peninsula that juts into the ocean. It was beautiful. Then we climbed up to the top of it and could see for miles. After that we walked through a tiny little village at the edge of the world. As we came around the peninsula we saw a little cove with tons of fisherman getting ready to launch their boats to go to work; it was very cool. It's also fun because when you go out into the country like that you're going to places that few people have ever been. Most Malagasies don't even go out to little places like that, so being able to go there is pretty special. It just has a very different vibe from the city. In the city things are fast, there are computers, people drive cars, but out in the country there's nothing. People live in the home they built for their family when they got married. They eat what they provide, whether through growing or fishing. It's very very simple. Almost no one knows how to read. Most people don't even own a book. They live a life apart, something we can't really comprehend. It's hard even to talk to them, though we speak the same language. TThey don't really have anything to talk about other than basic stuff, like what's your name, where are you from, but much after that and our life experiences are just too different. Also the dialect that they speak is crazy. Just all very interesting.

The work went well this week. I got really sick, but I am not sure what happened. It wasn't from anything I ate. I just couldn't keep food in me, and I totally lost my appetite for like 4 days. I got it back by sipping boxed juice, then moving to soup, then rice, but it was miserable. Thankfully we didn't miss a ton of time because of it. It was just strange because Saturday we ate dinner with the mission president, Sunday we fasted, and then I got sick.I have no clue what brought it on, but it feels good to mostly be over it now. It was just really tiring. All the people we are teaching are doing very well. As I have said in past emails, we are working slowly with everyone because we are really trying to develop those with a strong leadership focus to help strengthen the branch.  It has been fun, here in Ft. Dauphin, to really work finding people who could become future leaders. Often they come from some very unique religious backgrounds. It's interesting that their concerns are always so varied and different. To an Adventist getting baptized again isn't nearly so strange as not praying on Saturday, to a Lutheran, they might accept prophets, but still not see why the truth would be exclusive. I really like seeing everyone's different world perspectives.

I got the package with the Mt. Dew and stuff, I don't need anything so don't send a birthday package, just a card. I'll get home before the package gets here and then I expect to be spoiled (at least a little bit). Plus I'll need stuff for school that will more than make up for it, so it's no problem at all and actually preferred. I don't need Milky Ways sent in the mail because I'll have them in person in three months! My return ticket is being purchased this week. I already put in my return location. I'll be flying in to Houston International. you should get my flight itinerary in a week or two, maybe three. You get it first, so please email it to me when you get it. I hope you all have a wonderful week, and I'll talk to you next week!

Elder Ahlstrom