Because its Lundi d'Pentocoste no cybers are open today, so I will write you tomorrow morning.
I am going to respond to your letter and write the main email all in one, because I feel a little lazy today. Mom note: This is why parts of the letter seem disjointed. He was answering the questions I had asked in my email.
Back - The back still hurts sometimes, but its not like the time where it hurt way bad. Now its just sometimes and is annoying. But this leads me to medical story for this week.
This week we had a big medical emergency in our mission. Elder Palmer, who was working in Ambositra, started having really bad headaches and started having fainting vision and other things. So he ends up in Antsirabe under a doctors care, and then they decide to send him to Tana, once in Tana with President Adams and other doctors, they decide to med-flight him to South Africa because there is bleeding in his brain for an emergency surgery. From what I have heard when I talked to the APs on Sunday is that the ordeal to get the medical evacuation took 23 hours from the time they decided until the plane took off. The plane got delayed several times for different reasons. They were calling the US Embassy and sounds like it was craziness for a while. Elder Palmer's surgery went perfectly and he is currently recovering in South Africa. We ask for prayers for him and his family. They said best case scenario he may return to Mada in a few weeks, or he may end up being re-assigned to a different mission, or who knows.
Update on Elder Palmer: Unfortunately, the bleeding in his brain continued and he is on a ventilator and it sounds like they are keeping him in an induced coma while they try to stop the bleeding. Elder Weber said the Dr's said that it was a defect in a blood vessel that had been there since birth. After some delays with getting passports and flights, his parents arrived in South Africa and he was able to squeeze their hands which was a miracle because of the drugged state they were keeping him in. Please remember Elder Palmer and his family in your prayers.
The transfer this month was a full transfer. I never tell you guys about the emergency transfers, they happen rather frequently. We had a missionary that was brand new, not even two weeks here already go home, so I never met him. In that transfer we ended up having most of my group being zone leaders. We already saw it coming but 6/9 of the elders in my group are currently Zone leaders or APs. Elder Christiansen is AP and then another 5 are zoneleaders. The other three of us are doing other things. I am here in Fort D, where there is no zone ;) hehe (we report straight to the APs) One is in Fianarantsoa a small city south of Antsirabe, and the last one Elder Roush, my MTC comp is training in Tamatave. So my group is very busy right now, and I don't think it is likely to change much until we finish. President is going to keep us very busy.
Weather - weather has been good, a little chilly at times, but pretty dang nice. Glad I'm not freezing up in Tana right now. All the missionaries are complaining.
This week we got our house lock replaced. We only had one key for the four of us elders, and then the other companionship lost it, so we spent a few days going in and out a window in our house.(yes, we know, security problem) and so then we ended up getting it replaced. The problem is that when we only had the one key we searched for a copier, but no one has a key machine here in Fort D. So now with the new keys we are sending one up to Tana with the next person that goes, and we are going to leave that one in the office, and so if someone loses a key again ,they can make extra copies up in tana and send them down for the missionaries.
We frequently have soirees with the two branch presidents. Yesterday we spent the day with our branch president playing dominoes, hanging out at his house, the kids were watching cartoons, eating good food, I taught them how to make cockroach bread. (brownies) and all around had a great time. And then last night we had a dinner soiree with the other branch's president, which is always fun as well. We play a bunch of games that always fun, and so now I have a bunch of new games to play when I get back.
Two weird things. One is these shells on the beach, ill send a pic next week. They are all identical in pattern. They have a swirl on the one side. They vary in size and color, but there are millions of them and they are all identical. Im not sure if it is some type of fossil, but we will see when I send home the picture. Someone can try and do the research.
The other thing for someone to do research on. There is this guy at one of the houses of our investigator who is mentally sick. He has a HUGE basket of notebooks that are all full of scribbles and he reads them all day long, and retraces them and things. The people say that he was normal as a kid, but he tried to study to much in school and this is what happened because he was too stressed about trying to study for school. So they warn against studying to much. I don't really believe them on the cause and effect there. Because if that is true, then I feel that all college students in the US would get that disease, because we study just as much or more than he did as a kid. But now he is like 50 years old and just sits all day and reads and writes incomprehensible things on the notebooks. So the question is, does that kind of disease really exist? The study to much disease?
Also I forgot to talk about Ascension last week. The people here really celebrate Ascension which they claim is a big religious holiday in the US as well, but I haven't heard of it before. Is it true? And also this Sunday was Pentacoste which is also a big deal here and so yesterday on Monday no businesses open and everyone parties. That is the reason for the email on Tuesday. People find every reason they can to throw parties here. We also have 26th coming up which is their independence day and so it is a pretty crazy party from what I understand.