Tuesday, June 14, 2011

week 25

I decided to try to reverse the order that I write emails today. Normally I start off responding to peoples' emails first and then by the time I get to my big email I just don't want to write it at all. It takes a lot of effort to remember things from the week that felt eons long (but really short at the same time), and then filter those things to things that you actually want to share, and then get those things out of my head and on... computer.

That said, this week was a good week. Things are definitely starting to pick up in good old Shengavit. The last 2 weeks we picked up 3 new investigators each week (which may not sound like lots to people who served state-side or in South America), but that's pretty huge for us here. So, we have a big long list of people to teach now, but the real trick is actually getting up with them and planning up with them. We're trying to be better about setting up return appointments before we leave, but people are often so non-committal, it drives me crazy. They always just say "we'll be in touch". Bah! But, I guess that that is a good indicator of who is really interested and ready to change for the Gospel's sake and who is just along for the ride with the Americans (little do they know neither of us are American! Haha, suckers!). SO, I think this next week will be a week of sifting. We don't want to have people just to have people - we want to have people to have baptisms, or in other words to save!

We've had some eye-opening conversations this week that helped me to see more of the problems in the church here (the people), but also helped me to see what needs to be done. We spent a pretty good amount of time this week going through our branch list (from before the branches merged, so just our area) of over 200 people and trying to figure out who from that list is actually active. We discovered that probably only about 40 people are active - and even then I'm not so sure about that number. The majority of the people on that list joined the church when it first got here over 15 years ago and they joined for the welfare help, the fun, or just for something to do. As soon as they got bored, or the welfare got taken out, they were gone. But we still have all their names on our list because they didn't even think the church serious enough to have their names taken off the list. They were never converted to begin with. And that kinda depressed me a little. There are all these people who did all of the physical things they had to do to join the church - they participated in sacred covenants, some of them have even gone to the temple, but they were never there on a spiritual level. They were never committed to the gospel of Christ, and now we have to sift through their names and try to find those who were actually converted to try to strengthen them. So, I was a little sad about that for part of the week, but then I just realized that it all works out, and it all will work out. There are not many people from way back then who still come, but there are a few and they have been the foundation for the church. Now, the requirements for baptism are MUCH more strict - which is why we don't have a ton. But we're working to get to the point where those who join the church now actually have testimonies, are truly converted, have changed, and are willing to continue changing, and who will be a support to the church. The church is still SO young here, it's still in it's developing phases which is frustrating to work with at times, but it's exciting at the same time. Looking at the two women who we've helped to baptism I still worry because I'm scared they're going to follow so many others and just fall away, but they really are strong. They have testimonies and they are working through the struggles of change to become better and to devote themselves to the gospel. They joined the church for the right reasons, they are in the strait and narrow path - now they just need to stay there and keep moving forward. Knowing all of this also helps when trying to decide who to really work with - who is seriously investigating and could really be prepared for baptism. It's all about quality, not quantity. When you focus too much on quantity you end up with a list full of people that no one knows and no one knows how to help. That list is no fun to try to organize. It's a pain in the butt.

SO, that was part of our week. Haha. I am such a rambler. Sorry! On Monday night we had our last meeting with Karen before he left to got o Sevan for a month. It was a short meeting, but while we were waiting for our member present to show up we chatted with him and he told us that he has decided that he does want to get baptized, and he decided that because he received an actual answer from God as he was reading "The Gospel of Jesus Christ" pamphlet, the part about baptism. He also has been consistent with reading the Book of Mormon and whenever he could (AKA when he didn't have to work) was coming to church. He said that when he first saw us he decided to approach us and ask us about the church because he had heard bad things about it. But, he wanted to find out the truth for himself and not just take others' words for it. So he acted - he talked to us, and when we invited him to church the next day he actually came. Then he kept coming even though that first day was when the crazy lady freaked out on Mariam. So, we are really excited about Karen - he is one of those who is actually ready and has experienced the converting power of the Holy Ghost and is acting on it. But now we have to wait for him to come back. Bah! For our last lesson we bore powerful testimony though and we drilled that he needs to read from the Book of Mormon at least 30 minutes a day and pray so that he can continue to feel the spirit and learn. If he does that I know he is going to be ready when he comes back. Oh, also, another miracle, when I quickly taught the word of wisdom (he wanted to know what he had to do to prepare for baptism) he said that he already doesn't do any of those things. That is never the case with men here! We are staying in touch with him, and he has actually already called us. So good.

The rest of our investigators right now are pretty new or not really progressing too much, so I won't spend any more time there. We just need to see them and teach them so we can invite them to start making and keeping commitments.

Friday was Sister Brower's birthday (she just turned 22) and that day we had a specialized training meeting with the south and centre zones on planning. While planning can be really dull and teaching about it can become pretty mechanical as President Carter put it, it was actually a really really good meeting. Yes, parts of it were boring, but they did a really good job of incorporating the spiritual aspect of it too and I learned a lot and saw a lot of things that I need to change. They had a focus not only on planning, but also on repentance. They talked a lot about a talk called "The Fourth Missionary". I don't know if any of you have ever heard of it, but it is such a good talk. You should definitely look it up and read, study and apply it because it is not just about missionaries, but really its about us all. There is so much good stuff in that talk that I can't share it all, but it's all about how to become the best and happiest missionary/person you can be, and the only and easiest way of doing that is by completely submitting your will and heart to God. Reading the talk this week really made me think about what the source is for my desires - do I just want what I want, or do I want what the Lord wants? Why am I really serving a mission and what motivates me every day? Who am I becoming and who do I want to become? Even if we do what we're supposed to be doing, it won't be to our profit unless we really want to do those things. Just like it says in 1 Cor 13:1-3. Without Charity or pure love of men and God, nothing we do is worth anything - "it profiteth me nothing". The talk says "you can't be happy if you don't want to do the things that lead to happiness, even if you do those very things" He then goes on to say "You world is in your head. Get your head right and your heart will follow, and you will be right." The whole talk is about surrendering our will to God and giving up our desires to take up his. And then the promise is joy, peace, and exaltation. He says "Trust Him that He will make of you, immeasurable more than what you will ever, ever, in all eternity, make of yourself. He will create of you a masterpiece. You will create of you only a smudge. You will create an ordinary man. He will Create a God." So, I have been thinking about that a lot the last fews days, and I expect I will continue thinking about it a lot for the remainder of my mission and my life. I feel like I am on the right track, that I have surrendered some of my will to God, but definitely not all, and so that will continue to be my pursuit in life - to give up myself and in doing so find my true self.

Maybe I shouldn't write my big emails first, they turn out much longer :) For Sister Brower's birthday we went out for dinner with our senior couple, the Watkins. Oh, Dad, I keep forgetting to tell you this. Elder Watkins served in France 50 years ago! I am pretty sure the same mission as you, but I know you were there less than 50 years ago. The Watkins arrived here 3-4 weeks ago. They remind me a lot of Mom and Dad - they're great. I love having parents and family away from family. They found a restaurant with steak! And it was dang good steak too! Our members Samvel and Hasmik also helped to celebrate Sister Brower's birthday by surprising her with a dinner and cake on Saturday night, and then our investigators Serine and Arpine surprised us with more cake and icecream last night when we went over to teach them. I love those two so much. They're so cute and funny. I just wish they would start reading the Book of Mormon now! So we ate a lot the cake the last couple of days.... dericious.

I think that's all from this week. It looks as though I'm sticking around in Shengavit for at least another week. Which is good. Things are picking up and I just love this area and our branch and our apartment! haha. Have a beautiful spring week, stay safe and be good. Also, you should all read "The Fourth Missionary" by Lawrence E. Corbridge.

Also, thanks to those who have written me/sent messages through my dad to me. I'm sorry that I don't have time to respond to you all but I really appreciate the love and support!

Sister Smith

week 24

Alo family dearest!

As always I hope and pray that all is well. I feel so blessed to have such a loving, supportive, encouraging, caring, fun and varied family. My mind is at ease knowing that the blessings of the Lord will be with you because of your goodness. Keep getting better and better and I won't have to worry at all anymore!

This week I have been struggling with ... well I don't know what it is or how to phrase it. I think it's frustration, but I'm not sure with what. Probably mostly just with myself for not being perfect, and then with others for not being perfect. It really doesn't seem fair to be frustrated with them for having the same problems as me, but again, I'm just not perfect! We kept pretty busy this week and actually found 3 new people to teach which is really exciting. The key now is discerning their needs as well as their level of interest. All we can do is extend invitations to them according to their needs and where they're at, and pray that they will follow through. There is nothing we do until people are will to make and keep commitments. That's the part where I get frustrated with people - when they say they'll do something but they just don't. But I have to avoid and fight against discouragement because discouragement prevents you from feeling the Spirit and the Spirit is essential in this work. The Spirit is essential in all things actually - if we don't have the Spirit of the Lord with us then we can't progress or learn or receive the direction that we need to fulfill our purpose in this life. Every time I go off on tangents like this I am reminded of how the gospel just all makes so much sense.

Last P-day we went to President Carter's house for a "by invitation only" party for some of the missionaries. He hosts them every month I think to give us the chance to get to missionaries in other parts of the mission and see our friends who are far away. The Vanadzor sisters had also been invited so I got to hang out with Sister Deaver. It was great. She goes home in like 3 weeks! That's crazy! I'm going to miss her a lot. I also got to meet all of the 3 new elders in the course of the last week. I'm not the baby anymore! But that means that people expect me to be able to speak and stuff... thats scary. This week we also traveled VERY far to a town called Parakar to see a member of our ward who recently had heart surgery and so hadn't been to church for a long time until last week. Our zone leaders came with us to make sure we'd be safe or something because it was so far away and we didn't know him well.... but I think there were other reasons for their coming.... I'm not entirely sure. Either way, it was an interesting meeting. We picked up the man's wife as an investigator, but I don't know how sincere she really is. We'll see. It's so far away (it takes over and hour to get there) that if she's not really really golden then we probably won't continue with her. Her husband is pretty sweet though. He travels the far distance to come to church even though his health is not great. Later that night we had a meeting with two of our investigators, *S and A*. I love them SO much and I just want them to develop testimonies and start acting on the invitations we give them so bad. Every time we meet with them the Spirit is just so strong, it's thick. At that meeting we showed The Restoration video and bore testimony that Joseph Smith was a true prophet, and of the Book of Mormon. We explained yet again that the only way to know for themselves that it's true is to read and pray. I hope they start actually doing that! On Friday night we had a branch activity that was very long and kind of boring haha. They just planned too much, and wanted it to be all spiritually uplifting and what not. Not that that is bad, but it just resulted in sitting for a long time trying to focus which is not my forte apparently. We just wanted to dance! Haha. Church yesterday was pretty good actually. It was fast and testimony meeting, and since I am guessing I'm going to be transferred within the next couple of weeks I figured I should bear my testimony at least once (without being forced, like the other times I have done it). It was a really good meeting and I felt the spirit and so I bore my testimony on the Spirit and how I love having the opportunity to feel it so often as I testify to people of the reality of the atonement and the truthfulness of the gospel. Obviously my language was a little more simple than that, but that was the general message. After church we had a meeting with a lady who approached us this week and seems pretty interested so we're excited about her.

I'm going to send some pictures which takes some time, so that's all from me today. Remember, the church is true and is the only way to true joy!
Sister Smith

week 23 Flip People! We're just trying to help you work out your salvation!

This is what I wrote on our white board last night out of frustration haha. I think cumulatively I have spent hours in the last three months just staring at that board trying to figure out what it is we are supposed to do. This week during planning I was sitting staring at the board and Sister Brower was like "what are you doing?" and I said "I'm trying to receive revelation... it's not working". That's not to say it's been a bad week or anything, I just know it could be better and I want it to be better! I want to be busy teaching people! I love teaching, I love being in lessons and bearing my testimony (even though I can't always say things just how I want), I love seeing people change. I DON'T love wandering around having awkward conversations with people who don't want to talk to us. It's not the awkwardness that's the problem haha, that part is entertaining, but when they don't want to talk to us... then that's just no fun. Oh missionary work. We also made a list on the back of our white board listing the reasons why Armenia is harder than a states-side mission. We did it to try to make ourselves feel better after watching more of "The District 2" movies with their ridiculous numbers and helpful members and whatnot. I will send a pic of our board and you can read some of the things we put down. I'm not complaining, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else, but sometimes I just have to remind myself of the differences.

Anyway, this week... lets see. Highlights. We had a meeting on the side of the road on Tuesday with a group of like 6 people. We had a prayer and everything and ate sunflower seeds as we tried to teach something to these very ADD people. That was fun. We did service in one of our member's gardens with him. He is such a cool man, I love him. His name is Samvel (like Samuel, but Armenian) and he has baptized 65 people I think he said. He was the man who referred Mariam to us, and who baptized her. He's such a good missionary, one of the few. After his house we were supposed to go visit another member there (in Kharbert), but then we didn't think we'd have time, so we left to go catch the bus. On the way we saw our Branch president's wife and kids waiting for the marshutni. They had been waiting for an hour and were late for an appointment, so she had called a taxi to come get them. Since we were all going to about the same place we just shared the taxi. As it turned out, she didn't have enough change on her and so it was really good that we were there and able to help. I felt like the Lord and placed us there to help her, and was glad to be helpful to someone. Especially cause I don't usually feel like I am. You know those missionary stories where the missionary says something like "I didn't know why I was supposed to go down that road, but I felt like we should and then we found a golden investigator and they got baptized and now they're going to the temple etc."? Well...... that doesn't really happen for me. We're usually more like "hey.... where do you wanna go? I have no idea, lets just go this way" and then nothing happens. Haha. I guess the Lord just works differently with different people. But anyway, that one day we were able to help. The biggest highlight of the weeks happened at church yesterday. For about 2 weeks now we haven't seen Mariam and haven't been able to get a hold of her at all! We went out to Kharbert three times this week and she was never home. She wasn't answering her phone and none of her neighbours had seen/heard from her. SO, I was really worried. Really really worried. Either they had just gone to another gyoogh (village) or something was up. So,  yesterday we walked into church an hour early because we were going to practice some music that we're going to be performing in Sacrament Meeting soon. I walked in to have Annahit running at me and jumping at me. My heart was so happy! It turns out that Mariam has been working late, and she has a charitable organization that has been keeping her really busy. I think she has been having a hard time with some things lately too, but I couldn't understand her cause she talks so fast. Hopefully we'll be able to figure it out and help her out though. oh, and she had left her phone somewhere and doesn't have it which is why I could get in touch with her. Her girls seriously attacked me for like 30 minutes with love. I love those 2 so much. Oh, also, Mariam and Julietta both received callings yesterday. Mariam is a counselor in Young Womens and Julietta is a counselor in Primary. They are the PERFECT callings for them. I think they will both be forced to learn the gospel better at a good level and pace, and they are definitely needed in those callings so they will hopefully feel the responsibility and want to fill it. So, my ladies and doing alright. My goodness I love them. I am going to be so sad to say goodbye to them whenever I go, which I feel is going to be soon. You never can tell with President Carter though, so we'll see.

Alright, on to our investigators quickly. We met with *K* this week and he told us that he has been looking into another church too, which is fine, but I think he's kind of trying to back out of baptism. The real problem is that he still hasn't prayed and directly asked God if the church is true. He can't expect to know what God wants him to do if he doesn't ask. Another problem is that he is leaving in just over a week to go away for work for a month... soooo, we hope that he will keep up with reading and praying while he's gone and still be on track when he comes back. We'll see. He asked if we have a church close to where he is going (lake sevan) though, so thats a good sign. Unfortunately we don't. Too bad. Our newer investigator *J* we thought was doing well. We had a good meeting with her on Thursday and then again on Saturday. We gave her a baptismal date and committed her to come to church and promised her that if she came and prayed during the sacrament to find out if its all true that God would answer her.... and then she didn't come. Gah, these people are killing me. We still need to get a hold of her and find out what is going on. Our two other investigators have been out of town a lot this last week so we haven't seen them and don't know where they're at anymore. SO, we need more people! We need people who are ready! They have to exist in this huge area somewhere, the trick is just finding them!

OH another highlight of the week, Sister Brower was sent a ukelele, so we have been playing with that lots. It makes me miss the guitar, even though I wasn't any good at it and barely played it. I want to learn to play so many instruments when I come home... if only I had the discipline to actually do it.

Alright Family, I love you. I pray for you and hope you're doing well and that you're happy, healthy and wise! Have a joyous week!

Sister Smith

week 22 Sometimes nothing cleans it better than barf!

Thanks Emily for catching on to my subject title trend. I never know what to put for subject titles, but this way makes it easier.
Anyway, there is a cleaning brand here that everybody uses for everything, and it is called Barf. Thats right, barf. I love barf. I love this country. I'm pretty sure its actually from Russia, but its so good. I used it for a good couple of hours the other day to clean a less-active lady's windows. I had some good times with that barf. It smelled pretty good too, and left the windows streak-free haha.

Lets see..... This week started with Zone Conference on Tuesday. It was SO good. The theme was Christ-like attributes, and developing those attributes to better fulfill our purpose as missionaries. The whole day was just talks from the older missionaries on the attribute of their choice. It was a very spiritually up-lifting day, and as a result I want to be a better person. The attribute that I want to further develop (or really qualify for, as these are gifts from God and not something that can be learned), is Charity. I want to have more charity for these people so that I will be more motivated to talk to them, and so that I will recognize their divine potential and I will want to help them reach that. It is really discouraging when people reject we have to offer, especially because we know what a great blessing it will be to them, but as I have more charity, I feel like people will be able to see and sense that and be more open to hearing what we have to say and share. So, that is my goal and focus right now. Along with still improving with the language, and teaching clearly and in unity with my companion, and a whole long list. I'm tired. Haha. It's a lot of work being a missionary, and there is always so much more I could be doing and I could always be doing it so much better. This is the most humbling experience a person could ask for. So, zone conference was good, and now most of those missionaries that spoke have gone home. They left on Thursday or Friday (I don't remember) and we're all still surviving, but the mission is much different now. Three of the 5 of them had been assistants, and all but one had been zone leaders, so they were really the leadership of our mission. So, with them gone, younger elders are filling their positions, which is good, just a change. It's interesting to see people change as a result of different assignments though. You can almost see the weight physically weighing on them and changing them. They behave differently when they know more people are looking at them and to them.

I don't remember much else from this week.... We went to Ayntop and did service for a new member out there (unexpectedly I might add, so in skirts), and it was HOT out. By the time we finally came back to the city for our lunch my head was POUNDING. So, I took a good long nap before we went back out. Then on Thursday I woke up really sick. I had been a bit sick on Wednesday, but thursday was bad. I had woken up in the middle of the night now able to breathe cause my nose was so plugged and I had bad chills and just couldn't get warm. So I slept in a bit on Thursday morning. We had planning, so we got to stay in for the afternoon, and then it was pouring rain, we had no meetings set up and I felt like crap, so we stayed in and I slept hard. We still met with Julietta that night though cause she lives close and is easy to teach. Friday we went back out to Ayntop (this time on drugs :) ), and Saturday did said service with said barf. haha. We also tried to pick up a new investigator out past Ayntop. She wasn't interested, but she plays the piano AMAZING, so she played for us for like 20 minutes. By the time we went to leave it was pouring again, with crazy lightening, and our bus wouldn't come. So we started walking and it finally did come... and promptly broke down about 10 minutes later haha. So, we just took a taxi. Yesterday church was fine. I still wasn't feeling great, so it was tough staying in missionary mode, but I did, until I got home and then I died in my bed again. Today I am finally feeling much better, probably about 90-95%.

So... that was our week. We weren't able to meet with *K* again because his work schedule is weird, but he came to church again yesterday. We're thinking we're going to have to move back his date cause we still haven't been able to teach the word of wisdom and they have to live it for 2 weeks prior to their baptism. He is still reading the Book of Mormon too though, apparently he's almost done 2 Nephi, which is really awesome, especially because he isn't a strong reader. Other than him *A* and *S* are doing okay. *S* is more seriously investigating than *a*, but we'll see what happens. I have been at internet for a long time and I am sick of sitting and typing. SO, I love you all. The church is true. Keep the commandments and honour your covenants. That is what will bring the greatest joy and peace in your lives. I know you've heard it before, but seriously. I mean it.

Sister Smith

week 21 Sometimes you just have to interpret crazy people's dreams....

Howdy howdy howdy,
So the subject title is in reference to a lady that we triedto pick up as a new investigator this week. We met with her at the church andshowed her The Restoration video and then started trying to invite her to betaught. We didn’t get very far though before she started telling us about hercrazy dreams and asking us to interpret them for her. Needless to say, we didn’tpick her up haha. Too bad.
Well, last Monday we had Julietta’s baptism and it wasbeautiful. I pretty much had to plan the whole thing because Sister Deaver wasgone and Sister Brower doesn’t really know anyone yet. It was stressful tryingto find people to give the talks, but it worked out really well. It was a niceservice AND ALL of her kids came. It was a miracle! Haha. She has 5 boys andone daughter. They are all teens and older, so I thought there was no chance ofthem coming, but they did. Her sister and mom and nieces who were just baptizeda few weeks ago were also there. It was so nice to have so much of her familythere supporting her. President Carter then went to work and invited her familyto FHE at his house tonight. I don’t know if they’ll all come again, but we’regonna try! I was worried about Julietta waiting all week before she could receivethe Gift of the Holy Ghost, but we visited her several times, and she made itthrough. I didn’t understand a word of the blessing because our chapel is soecho-ey and I have a hard time understanding our branch president who did theblessing, but I assume that it was beautiful haha.
We did a lot of unproductive walking this week which was alittle depressing, but by yesterday we were busy again. Some days you just can’tmake anything work out, and then other days (like yesterday) you are running aroundso busy that you don’t even have time to take your lunch. I definitely preferthose days. I like to be busy and to be working. But sometimes I guess I needthe slow days to remind me that I like to be busy and working.
We are also working right now with a man. Ithink I’ve mentioned him before. He is doing really well. We have only met withhis twice, but he has come to church twice and is reading the Book of Mormon really well. This week when we met we asked how it was coming along and he saidhe had gotten to 1Ne 13. Then Sister Brower asked if he had a favourite part,not really expecting an answer cause usually there isn’t one. But he said yes, andthat it was the Tree of Life. He then went on to explain what the tree of lifeand the fruit mean. Sister Brower then asked about the Iron Rod and he was like“yeah, that’s the word of God” WHAT!? So good. You are probably not as excitedas we were because you just don’t know how little is usually understood.Anyway, from there we went to Moroni’s Challenge and invited him to continuepraying, and to pray in that way to know if it’s true. And then we went to 2 Ne31 where the Doctrine of Christ is explained. We read the invitation fromChrist to follow him and be baptized and then I invited him to be baptized andhe said yes! So, we should be having another baptism in a few weeks. I am superexcited. And he is really such a good guy – we need more of those in the churchhere.  The next step is to meet hisfamily!
Other than him, we just have 3 new investigators. One of them is **, ** daughter who is turning 8 in June. I LOVE thisgirl! When we asked her if she wanted to get baptized she said she didn’t knowso we told her to think about it. So at church yesterday we asked her again andshe said “ha”, which means yes. Haha. The other two are cousins who we receivedas referrals from a member from Vanadzor who Sister Brower is good friendswith. We went over last night and got to know them and played some uno withthem (uno…. Bringing people to the gospel, one round at a time), and then gotinto our lesson. They have questions about the necessity of the Book of Mormon,but I think they are genuinely interested and will give it all a fair chance. Ilove them both already. They are so cute. The lesson last night was coolbecause it was so focused on the Book of Mormon, and I just finished reading itagain a couple of days ago. When I finished I prayed and felt good about it andwas reassured that it is true. But then in the lesson as I was testifying of itI just felt the Spirit so strong bearing witness of it. I hope they felt thattoo and that they will act on those feelings. That is the ONLY way you can cometo know its true – by acting, aysinkn (in other words) reading and praying. 
The new group of elders from the MTC is coming in this week.There are just 3 elders, and 5 elders are going home , so there are going to besome big changes (closing of areas or something). I am pretty sad about theelders leaving. Most of them are in leadership positions and I look up to thema lot. They are really great missionaries. But it’s time to bring some newpeople in, and so goes the circle of life haha. Oh, I also had a verydepressing realization this week. When Sisters Deaver, Hallewell and Crego allleave in 7-10 weeks I will be the oldest person in the mission …. I’m only 22!That’s just not fair! L
I can’t think of any other news to share, so I guess I’llstop here!

Keep being the wonderful people that you are! I love you!
Sister Smith

week 20

Yo! Long time! hahaha
It was really awesome to get to talk to most of you! I didn't realize how much I missed you until I got to see you. I won't lie, it made me a little trunky, but it was good at the same time and very much needed. If I got to talk to you every week it would definitely be hard to focus, but twice a year is perfect. You all look the same (except for your hair haha) and I just feel so blessed that you're all in good health and that life is going well. It would be much more difficult for me to focus if I didn't feel assured that the Lord is taking care of you.

I don't have much to write cause we just talked, but I forgot to mention a couple of things. First, on Tuesday we got to go to my first dolphin show! It was pretty fun and we were VERY close to all the action haha. It was fun. my feet were in the sun and I definitely got a tan line on my feet from my shoes haha. And so being the tan lines! OH the joys of missionary work.

I don't really know what else to say. We picked up a few new investigators, which is good.... we still need more though. *J's* baptism is today, in like 1 1/2 hours! I am really excited, and I hope it all goes well. I had to pretty much do the planning and it was stressful because it was hard to find people to give talks, and Julietta doesn't really know anyone or really care haha. There were more transfers today. President Carter just does whatever he wants whenever he wants haha. None of us sisters were affected though. One of our elders is going up to Georgia to serve there Armenian speaking. There is a large Armenian population there. So cool! I am jealous. I want to go to Georgia! I might get to go up for a zone conference or something someday. We'll see.

That's all I got in me today, sorry it's so short! I love you, have a glorious week!

Sister Smith

week 19

Well, I think I have said this a hundred times already, but missions are such roller coasters! This week alone was a bit of an intense ride. The beginning of the week I was still with Sister Deaver and we were super busy with her seeing the people she wanted to see before leaving and trying to pack and take care of business. By the time we would get home at night we were super tired, but also wanted to spend as much time together as possible so we had a couple of late nights just talking and laughing and then feeling sad. Eugh. I hate saying goodbye. It wouldn't be so bad except that she goes home in 2 months and she will be in Vanadzor for the rest of her time here (most likely) so we will not really see each other again. Tear. Oh my heart. Missions.... they just tear your heart to pieces.
So, on Wednesday I spent the better part of the day in the transfer van driving to Vanadzor to drop Sister Deaver off and pick Sister Burnham up (she was transfered to yerevan and is serving with my current companion's old companion... if that makes sense). We also picked up Elders Strader and Peterson from Vanadzor because all us babies had to renew our visa stuff so we got to have a bit of a reunion. We finally got home by 4 or so (we left at 8:30am) and then went out so I could start showing Sister Brower around her new area. The first couple of days together were hard for me. Adjusting to change is not my forte and it was stressful and scary. But after a few days of not feeling 100% I finally got over myself and got over feeling sorry for myself and just decided to be happy. I am glad I did too. I feel so much better for it.
So far, together Sister Brower and I have done a lot of exploring in our area to get a feel for it. It is so big that there's no way to know it perfectly, but we're trying to know it as best we can. We started by wandering around in one of our villages, Kharbert when one of our appointments fell through. It's such a pretty little village so that was fun. Although, we discovered that it's not as little as I thought... we really need to find a map for that place. Haha. Then on Saturday we had *J's* baptismal interview!!! It went well. She hasn't for sure passed yet because she has some things that she has to clear up with President Carter (actually, she's there doing that right now!). If all goes well she will be baptized a week from today! We're working things out so that Sister Deaver will be able to come because she is supposed to be in Yerevan next pday. So! We're really excited about that! After that we had more meetings fall through, so we went to our backup plan which was looking for less actives and exploring! So we went to an area that I have been to only a couple of times, and then we went a little further to a place I have never been to before, called Karmir blur, which means red hill. We quickly discovered the origins of its name. There is a hill with poppies all over it! Along with other flowers too! It is an ancient ruins site from 700 BC! Gosh I love this country. SO, that was fun discovering.  Oh, when we were over in that area we started talking to a man about the Book of Mormon and stuff. Generally we don't give our number to men before we know for sure that they're not creepers, so we invited him to church for the next day. I couldn't remember the address so we got his number and called him that night to give him the address. I didn't expect for him to come at all and completely forgot about it, but he totally showed up at church! And he stayed for all 3 hours. He seems really cool, so we're excited to start teaching him.
I have lots more about church yesterday.... where to start? Well, to begin with there was an old member of the 70 visiting our branch (I actually have no idea why or what his name was or anything). It was fast Sunday so it was testimony meeting which is always a little bit interesting.... but it was going pretty well, pretty normal. Our Branch President called *M* our new baptizee up to give her her baptismal certificate so she stayed up to bear her testimony. As she was doing so this CRAZY woman in our branch started freaking out and yelling (I have no idea what) because for some unknown reason she has something against *M*. They finally got crazy lady out of there, but I could tell that *M* was pretty shaken up about it. She has had issues with crazy lady before -  like when her baptism was announced she freaked out then too. Its hard for *M* though because her husband told her not to go because of crazy lady, but *M* is just so solid and knows its true and doesn't want to let anything get in the way. Anyway, so she had a rough day yesterday, and yet she still volunteered to help clean the chapel next week, and then reminded me to show her how to pay her fast offering. I just love this woman so much! She is so awesome! She is going to make it through all of the difficulties she is facing and is going to be a great strength to the church here. I just know it!
After church yesterday we were waiting around to meet with the branch president when this 20 year old kid walked in and apparently told one of our elders that he wants to get baptized and that he lives in our area! Saweet. Apparently he was taught 5 years ago and was coming to church and stuff then. So, between him and the man that showed up unexpectedly at church, we were able to miraculously reach our goal of 2 new investigators this week, even though I thought it would be impossible. The Lord works in mysterious ways and I need to learn to not limit Him!

Well, this week we are anticipating to be busy. We need to find a lot more investigators and we want to continue getting our area organized really well and getting working more with less active members cause there are a lot! Oh, I just found out that Julietta has passed! So her baptism will be about this time next week!!! SWEET!

SO! Last item of business - next week is mothers' day! Shnorhavor to all my sisters and adopted sisters and my Mommy and all the women out there!
As part of that I will be calling home! SO, organize yourselves. I will be calling Saturday morning at 8:40 my time, which means Friday night at 9:40 for ya'll. Don't miss out by going out to do less important things!

I love you! Have a good week and enjoy the beginnings of spring!

Sister Smith