Rakotomalala Alphonse: Sarodroa, Madagascar
April 2018

“Rakotomalala Alphonse: Sarodroa, Madagascar,” Ensign, April 2018

Portraits of Faith

Rakotomalala Alphonse: Sarodroa, Madagascar

When Rakotomalala became interested in the gospel, the nearest church was in Antsirabe, a city 30 miles (50 km) from his village in Sarodroa. Rakotomalala and a friend found a way to make the journey each Sunday.

Today, Sarodroa has a small meetinghouse where over 100 members attend every Sunday. Rakotomalala has seen his village embrace the gospel. Four missionaries have served from Sarodroa and the Church continues to grow.

Cody Bell, photographer

When my grandpa became sick, I travelled to Antsirabe to be with him. The missionaries visited his home several times. Grandpa and I were not members of the Church, but he liked visiting with the missionaries. One night, they gave grandpa a blessing, and after a family home evening, they handed us the Book of Mormon.

“Please read this book and ask God if it is true,” they said.

When I returned to Sarodroa, I didn’t want to read the Book of Mormon because I thought it was not true. Then, one day I became so sick that I was stuck in my house for several days. As I looked for something to do, I found the Book of Mormon and started to read.

Later, I returned to Antsirabe and met the missionaries. They taught me more about the Book of Mormon and about the Prophet Joseph Smith. I told them that we didn’t need prophets and that there was no prophet today. The missionaries asked me to pray to God and ask if there is a prophet now. They promised that God would answer me. I prayed and felt that what the missionaries said was true.

I wanted to attend church, but I had no money for the bus. I talked to my friend, Razafindravaonasolo, and she said we could ride my bike. We rode two hours one way from Sarodroa to Antsirabe every Sunday. When I would get tired of pedaling, I would ride on the back and she would start pedaling. Then when she got tired, we would switch places again.

Eventually, Razafindravaonasolo’s family and I joined the Church. We attended church in Antsirabe until a branch opened in Sarodroa. We were so happy when we could attend church in our own village!

Razafindravaonasolo’s father was called as the branch president. One day he met with me and encouraged me to prepare for a mission. I didn’t think I could serve, but he reassured me that I could. I accepted the call to serve in the Madagascar Antananarivo Mission. I am married now and I have two kids. I am grateful for my family, and I have had more experiences than I can share that have helped me know that this Church is true.

Rakotomalala and friend

After joining the Church, Rakotomalala (right) served in the Madagascar Antananarivo Mission, and Razafindravaonasolo (left) served in the Democratic Republic of the Congo Kinshasa Mission.

sitting inside the chapel

In 2013, members in Sarodroa built this small wooden chapel to worship in. Rakotomalala is happy to help make needed changes to the building.

rice fields

Rice is a staple crop in Madagascar. Nearly everyone in Sarodroa works in the rice fields to support their families.

constructing a chapel

As the Church continued to grow, the members in Sarodroa needed a new chapel. With a new chapel next door, Rakotomalala and others work to transform the old wooden chapel into classrooms and a bishop’s office.

sitting outside the chapel

Since the days they rode two hours one way to church every Sunday, Rakotomalala and Razafindravaonasolo have remained good friends. They are grateful for the blessings the gospel has brought to them and their families.

standing in front of a new chapel

Rakotomalala and Razafindravaonasolo stand in front of the new chapel in Sarodroa. This chapel, made of concrete and brick, was built by the members.