“Measuring Blessings in Madagascar,” Ensign, April 2016, 16–17
After his wife suffered a heartbreaking miscarriage during their first pregnancy, Solofo Ravelojaona felt that their prayers were answered a year later with their second pregnancy. He and his wife, Hary Martine, consider the birth of their daughter to be one of their greatest blessings. Solofo explains, “Because we asked God and He gave her to us, we gave her a name that, in Malagasy, means ‘God’s answer.’”
Solofo, a young adult from Madagascar, holds to the knowledge that God answers prayers and in time blesses the faithful. “Life is hard,” says Solofo, “and when people don’t get what they want, some start asking, ‘Why did this happen to me?’ They might leave the Church or question their belief in God. But when we live the gospel and read the scriptures, it’s easier. When you really live the gospel, you can really see the blessings.”
Living in a country with serious challenges, such as extreme poverty, instability within the government, a weak infrastructure, and natural disasters, it’s clear why Solofo says life is hard. But for him, the blessings that living the gospel brings outweigh any hardships. “I cannot even count the blessings I receive, as long as I live the gospel,” he says.
Because the Church is relatively new in Madagascar (the first branch was organized in 1990), Solofo says the hardest part about being a member is the rumors and misconceptions about the Church. Solofo comments that, just as in Lehi’s vision of the tree of life, “people may not fully embrace the gospel because they feel ashamed in front of their friends and scared that they’ll be rejected by their family.” What makes Solofo different, he suggests, is that “I have never been ashamed. I live the gospel, and I always want to share it with my colleagues, even though some of them aren’t really interested.” He often shares his simple testimony, so much so that his co-workers nicknamed him “pastor.”
In the midst of economic and political turmoil, Solofo and Hary Martine rely on the blessings of their temple covenants (they were married in the Johannesburg South Africa Temple one year after their missions—his in Uganda, hers in Madagascar), as well as their trust in the Lord. “I have the gospel, and I just put my life in God’s hands,” Solofo explains. He can rely on his solid testimony because he already has faith in “God’s answers.”