hello family and friends of mine! how yall doin!? feel free to let me know any time hahaha. just write me a letter. there always fun to get. things here in Madagascar havent changed much. its still really really hot and crowded. work has been a little slow lately but holidays tend to do that. everybody is to busy partying to learn about the gospel i guess... hahaha its unfortunate in some ways but i think work is going to start picking up again. its so hard for me to think of new things to tell you all but imma try my best so lets see. these past two weeks were christmas and new years. pretty big holidays all around the world. it is now 2012. it was 2012 here before it was 2012 there. BEAT YA! haha if its were a race that is. oh ya i got myself a haircut. its nice in this heat. i just buzzed my head haha. very refreshing.i havent been out to Ankazobe for a couple weeks cause of holidays but i have been calling there to check up on things and the group leaders wife sister fanza had a little baby girl Christmas day! which is way exciting cause she was pregnant for like 10 months hahaha. she was definatly ready to have the baby and they named her Israel. so i will go out there next weekend and meet this cute new baby! im pretty excited about that. i still havent gotten any Christmas parssels yet but im crossin my fingers praying they will be at the office today when we go there. if not its very likely that some malagasy was very blessed with some american Christmas things hahaha. im not to hurt if they dont come but it would be nice to get them. just know Mom that even if i dont get the packages i know you love me and im sorry you had to spend so much money on them if they dont get to me. hopefully they are just in snail mail. ill keep prayin. lets see. thats about it. i weighed myself recently and ive lost about 45 pounds. so thats new! probably keep goin down too. just they way life is here in good old madagascar! haha. oh and there is a very good chance that some of our members are going to feed us intestines and chicken feet on friday night............. wish me luck hahaha. imma need it. but ive got a steal stomach. thats for sure. its all food! kinda.... lol sorry this email isnt very long but thats all i really got for now i guess i could end with a spiritual thought. ive recently started reading in the old testemant and it has proven to be very interesting so far. i never realized many things that i am now understanding. and that is not because of Sister Jaffray not explaining it well enough in seminary. its my fault haha. but im in Leviticus right now and Leviticus and Exodus is pretty much all about sacrifices and the incredible detail in everything about the jews life. and at first i fould the sacrifices kinda boring and painful to read. very repaticious. and i still kinda feel that way haha but it has come to my attention that they had sacrifices for many many things in there life. there life was also very structured and they were told everything they needed to do. like everything. and God was very present physically in their life. now i look at our day and because of Christ our sacrifices in this day are very different. we are not told everything we have to do. its very much up to us to choose. but there has always been sacrifice in all things all throughout life. we must choose how we handle those sacrifices and need to decide to handle them the way God has provided for us or a diffrent way. the same as was of old. you look at the 2 sons of Aaron who died because they choose not to sacrifice the way God told them. a little extreme but i hope you get the picture hahha. so that is what i learned in these past couple weeks. i love you all and hope you can endure with all confidence in heart that God is with every single one of us.
be fitiavana mandrakizay
Elder Riley Bates
those grey buildings are tombs. they are called fasana and they are all over the country.