My Missionary Commission


I am Called of God. My authority is above that of the kings of the earth. By revelation I have been selected as a personal representative of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is my Master and he has chosen me to represent him. To stand in his place, to say and do what he himself would say and do if he personally were ministering to the very people to whom he has sent me. My voice is his voice, and my acts are his acts; my words are his words, and my doctrine is his doctrine. My commission is to do what he wants done. To say what he wants said. To be a living modern witness in word and deed of the divinity of his great and marvelous latter-day work.
-Elder Bruce R McConkie
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Advice from a Returned Madgascar Missionary (6/10/2011)

So while waiting for Dylan’s email I emailed some questions to Elder XXXX, the missionary who just returned from Madagascar. I thought you all might get a kick out of this.

Q1. My son is currently on his way to Madagascar. In fact he is just leaving London, and he has only slept 3 hours in London, and thinks he will sleep on the way to Johannesburg. So how long does it take to get caught up from jet lag?

A1. oooooh i remember that flight. tough flight. Umm he'll be pretty tired for his first week or so, just being on the other side of the world and all. When i was first in country we went out to teach the day after i got there and worked the whole day, then i passed out on my bed while writing in my journal. It was like that for the kid i trained too, so its pretty normal to be tired, but by his first p-day he should be fine.

Q2. What happens when they (there are five of them going to Mada) get there. Do they stay at the Mission home or do they head out to an area they are assigned?

A2. Well here’s what normally happens, but this depenes on what time they get there. If they arrive in the afternoon they will go to the town hall to work out visa papers and do other legal document things that must be done, then in the evening they will go out with the missionaries who are in some of the closest areas. they will go in 3s, so one regular companionship + new kid. If they arrive in the evening, however, they will be taken straight to the Assistants(AP) house(and possibly the Presidents house if there isnt enough room in the APs house) and sleep there for the night. The following Morning will be depend on what they accomplished the previous day. If they got the visas done then they can stay in the house and study, but if they didnt then they're off o do that first thing. Later on in the day(for both situations now) they will have an orientation meeting with President, The APs, the couple Missionaries, and the people who will be their trainers. After the Orientation They have a late lunch with president and open their other call letters which tell them the area that they will be serving in and who their trainer will be. and thats it. then they're off to their area to complete any other times they have scheduled for the day.

Q3. How do you guys do your laundry?

A3. Each of the missionary houses have a washer installed in them. Some are lucky to have dryers, but most missionaries hang dry their clothes. Drying racks are provided, hangers however often are not. But your son can buy hangars from the store if they dont have any extras in the house.

Q4.Do you get your allowance weekly or monthly?

A4. It comes Monthly and it is his job to make sure he doesnt go broke. it comes on a debit card. Some missionaries leave their money in the bank and draw it out during the month when needed, but personally i draw it all out at once and keep it in my desk so i dont go second guessing myself on how much i have left.

Q5. Does everyone really get fleas?

A5. Hmmmmmm yes, everyone gets them, but they are easier to kill than you would think(if you can catch them, thats the hard part) the degree to which the missionary has them depends on the missionary and his diligence in looking for and killing the ones he has on his body or in his bed.

Q6. Do you really have to be in before dark because there is no electricity?

A6. Well yes and no. Curfew is 9:30 and you need to be in by then, but not because there is no electricity. Granted, most people don’t have electricity and your son will be teaching them by candle light, but that’s not the reason he has to be in. All missionary houses have electricity.

Q7. Is President Donnolly as cool as what every says he is?

A7. Cooler. Hands Down.

Q8. Does everyone or just certain areas get bicycles? I see that you have one in a photo.

A8. Most of the Provinces have bikes, but the missionaries in Tana don’t get bikes. All walking. All missionaries on bikes are now required to wear helmets due to a recent accident that involved one of my past companions, a malagasy missionary. He fell off his bike on a hill and cracked his skull and broke his collar bone. He is recovering well now.

Q9. Were you involved or affected by any of the hurricanes?

A9. I was not, but I do know missionaries who were in areas when they were hit by hurricanes.

Q10. Is the food really gross? Or is there some edible food?

A10. The food is edible, but it’s the taste, texture, look, and overall bony-ness of the food that makes some missionaries freak out. I will say that they have some VERY strange dishes, however most of their food is VERY VERY GOOD! But it will make him sick so I hope he’s ready! xD

Q11. How often do the missionaries get lucky enough to do baptisms in the Ocean.

A11. hmmmm, thats a soft subject for missionaries. Everyone wants to do one. Whether they are lucky enough to or not is not something they can directly control. First you have to be in a province that is next to the ocean (3 of the 6 provinces are next to the ocean so that’s a good chance). Second you have to have someone ready to be baptized (see that one they CAN directly control =) ), and third, the ward has to decide to do it. It normally happens when there are lots of people ready to be baptized. Those missionaries who ARE lucky enough to do one though have a sort of claim to fame among missionaries =) not that it really matters, but every missionary wants to do one. I didn’t get to, but I did one in a river, so i'll take that =)

Q12. Does anyone go to Nosy Be? (Nosy Be is like Hawaii, an exotic island where all the tourist vacation)

A12. No. No missionary, beside the couple missionaries, have gone there.............yet.

Q13.How often do you see they guys that were with you in the MTC?

A13. Hmmm depends on where they are. If they are all in the city, then once a week on p-day. If they are in the same district, twice a week, maybe up to 3-4. If they are unlucky and manage to stay out of the same city, then at least 2 times a year, for island conference.

Q14. How do you get pictures home. Or do you not and just upload them to the internet? What are the rules on that?

A14. The rules are like any other mission, except they are allowed to use an existing G-mail account for communication Purposes. Therefore no facebook, myspace, or photobucket. Heres the way i got pictures home. I bought a card reader and every p-day i took it to the e-mail cafe with me. I plugged my card and reader into the computer and copied the pictures on my card to the computer(so i didnt have to mess with the original files). Then i took the card out, just for safe keeping. After that, open the pictures you want to send home with paint if they are big. Then, once it is opened press ctrl+w and resize the picture to 20% by 20% and hit enter then save. do that for all the pictures. once that is done they are small enough to send them in an email, so do just that. Easy! Also when your card gets full, its good to take those pictures and put them either on a flash drive(if he has one or buys one) or he could put them on a DVD and keep that with him.

Q15.How long does it take to get packages/letters? Can we send fed ex or ups? I’ve heard that the missionaries we told not to send a specific way because it costs the elders money to pick it up.

15. For your letters to get there it will take about a week or week and a half. For his to get to you it will take about 3-4 weeks, maybe less if he's lucky. For your packages to get there it takes anywhere from 3-6 weeks sometimes even 2 months. i don’t know what makes it that way, sometimes it just is. ABOUT PACKAGES: If you send a package make sure you inventory everything that you send in that package. There are stories of missionaries having to pay huge overage fees because the things in the package were not inventoried correctly. They don’t check every one, but to the unfortunate soul who is the one and didn’t mark it down......well that’s what happens. Also NO ELECTRONICS IN PACKAGES. Your son will be horribly overcharged for them. He will most likely pay more to pick it up than you paid to buy that electronic item. Or if you are sending something small like a flash drive or other things, make sure to hide it well. My parents have good tips on how to hide things you don’t want them finding/taking.

If you send you Package by Fed Ex, your missionary wont pay to pick it up(at least i didn’t for the one I got) but it will cost a boat load more money than a simple flat rate box.

Q16.Do you know what happened to Elder XXXXX. I saw that he was sent home for medical reasons. (this was an elder who I was following his blog and just curious about as he up and stopped his letters)

A16. Elder XXXXX was in Madagascar for about 2 moths, then had to be sent to south africa because he was pooping and peeing blood. I was transferred in to take his spot. Then when he came back after a week and a half he stayed for another 2 weeks or so and then it started again. They didn’t know what it was at first, but when he got to America, I believe they found a hole in his heart. Personally, i don’t think that Madagascar had anything to do with that other than it flared it up, because no other missionary( to my knowledge) has turned up with those problems.

Q17.Have you ever met an Elder XXXX? (I was going to remove this question as it produces nothing, but I thought his answer was funny)

A17. Yes I have met Elder XXXX. He is a great missionary and a very fun person to be around. But be warned, sometimes when missionaries get together, stupid things happen. Nothing bad, but just stupid. Funny, of course, but still a bit stupid =)

Q18 I also heard that they are getting simple ipads to aid in the teaching of the people.

A18. Hmmmm about the IPads.......i doubt it, but that’s just my opinion. The tools they have are already very good. All missionaries get a picture book filled with pictures/paintings about Old/New testament, Book of Mormon, D&C, and Other pictures.

Q19. Do you know if you can transfer from the islands of Mauritius and Le Reunion to Madagascar? Same goes with French speaking areas to Malagasy speaking areas. My son heard that the mission president wanted the missionaries to learn both French and Malagasy regardless of where they are going.

A 19. Now about transferring to the other islands. It happens sometimes, but not all too often. They need missionaries in Mada, not so much in the other islands that are around it.

Q20.Is it really like an episode or Survivor there. You do what you have to too make it there?

A20. Ehhhhh kind of. In the sense that you do what you have to too make it, its the same. now in the setting, not so much. I mean, if you're walking on a road out to an appt and your person lives across a field that they use for making bricks and all of a sudden you get hit by the sudden urge to go to the bathroom, but there’s not one around, then I guess you have no other choice than to drop your pants and pop a squat. It happens sometimes, but none of that crazy building a shelter for the night thing or nothing like I have to go out hunting to get my food. It is far more advanced than that.

Q21.Is it true that you come home either one month before or one month after your 2 yr mark because of transfers?

A21. mmmmm not so much. You come home mostly when you left. if you need to go home a month early for school then you can. if you want to extend a month then you can, but otherwise you are scheduled to leave mada 2 years from the month you entered the MTC

Well I hope that helps. I apologize if anything in there was too straightforward, but you learn to just come out and say things there. Have a great day and i wish your son the best.

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