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

week 18


That is right. This weekend my heart was broken. Probably in about 100 pieces... maybe more, I can't tell. I will start at the beginning of the week just to keep you all on your toes and paying attention :)

So Monday we did a legit P-day and went to get Sister Deaver's hairs did. On our way home a man tried to kiss Sister Deaver and I was very prepared to hurt him. He's lucky he let go of her face when she pulled away and I approached. Freaking creep. Don't worry parents, we're totally safe here. Haha. But really, it was on a main street in the middle of the day so nothing would have happened and we don't talk to men alone at night when it's dark. Anyway, we gave that guy as a referral to the missionaries in his area who happened to be the assistants and he may or may not have yelled at them. Really I think they should have been the ones yelling at him.

A lot of this week was spent helping *Z* (a preparing missionary) get the rest of the things she needs for her mission and then ummm.... I don't even know what else. This week was a little rough. We had a hard time getting meetings and then the meetings we did have were not awesome.

In lighter news, our investigator *J* seems to be doing really well. We meet with her several times a week, and she ALWAYS feeds us so much way good food. I think she is probably the best cook in the country, that I have encountered so far at least. *J* is keeping the word of wisdom so far (which is a miracle because the norm is for people to drink wine over Easter), and should be ready for her baptism in a couple of weeks. We are excited for it and for her. Now we just want her to get further into the Book of Mormon. That will be our focus the next couple of weeks I think. *M* is still doing well. She was sick this weekend so she didn't make it to church, but we saw her yesterday and will see her again tonight and she's still doing well. I love her and her girls so much.

Alright, I guess we're getting to the big news now since I can't think of any other news. Ugh. So, on Saturday we had a rough day. We had a really hard time getting meetings, and then we had to go shopping again for *Z's* mission, but right before we left for that President Carter asked if he could talk to Sister Deaver at our church building for a few minutes later. So, we shopped in suspension, and then met with him. He told us that there is a bit of a surprise transfer and that Sister Deaver is getting transfered up to Vanadzor. My heart sunk and then the tears started flowing. We had all last week just been talking about how much we love each other, about how well we work together, and how we wanted to just stay together here in Shengavit until she goes home. We have finally got to the point where we can teach 50:50 because I can follow whats going on much better and because we just finally got into our groove with teaching together. So, of course things were too good to be true. I am still really really sad. Anyway, that was all we knew on Saturday night, and on Sunday morning we got the official transfer call. I will be staying in Shengavit and Sister Brower will be coming to me here. It is really overwhelming that I have to teach this HUGE area to her. Sometimes I feel like I can do it, but other times I feel like its going to be impossible. And its just going to be so weird teaching with someone else. And I want to make sure that our investigators are still well-taken care of. So, I am stressed and sad. Sister Deaver leaves tomorrow morning. So this is our last day.

Yesterday was a fun day though. We went with the Carters and the 4 other missionaries in our branch to our branch president's house out in Kharbert (a village south of Yerevan) to do yard work for him. It was a gorgeous day and he has baby bunnies.... sooo.... yeah. Even the elders were acting ridiculous about the bunnies. More so than us sisters. They were giving like eskimo kisses and rubbing them on their faces.... it was pretty entertaining. They also had a ton of chickens just hanging out in their yard so one of the elders was chasing them around all day. We had to break tiles at one point to make into concrete or something? (I'm not really sure how that works), so we were tossing those things around and punching them. I may or may not have broken one on my head. And punched a couple. I was successful at breaking one, but now my knuckle is a little bruised. Woops. It was fun though and now I have a bit of a tan/almost sun burn. I am going to die this summer, its already super nice out.

So, that was my week. Every one is a new adventure and a roller coaster. It is kind of exhausting. Actually, completely exhausting. Especially because we never want to go to bed at night because our time together is so short now so we just want to talk and play our Armenian Monopoly. Haha. That's right, we have an Armenian Monopoly board. It is so rad. (Mom have you noticed yet that I am trying to avoid the word amazing after you mom-burned me? haha. good one.) This next week should be really interesting too. I will have a new companion which will bring new challenges and experiences, but I am also hoping that I will learn a lot from her and that we will have fun together and do some really good work together.

So, the message for the week is, don't get too content with life, because then it will change. But when it does change, don't be a wimp and break down like me... be a champ and face it head-on. I just have to keep telling myself that I can do hard things. I can, and I will. That is why I am here.

I really am so grateful for this gospel. I know that Christ is our Saviour and that He atoned for us. I know that He was resurrected and that He lives again and can and will help you through each trial of your life as YOU make the effort to turn to Him and follow Him. That is why I am here!

I love you all!

Sister Smith

ps I am really really really sad that I missed out on Ukrainian easter eggs.... and that I'm gonna miss out again next year. Freak. When I get home (even though it'll be the middle of the summer) we are pulling that stuff out and I am doing an egg!

week 17

Barev Barev,

This week was crazy and busy but so good! Where to begin? I guess at the beginning. As you know I went up to Vanadzor on Monday. Sister Burnham and I have a great time up there. I understood SO much more than I usually do and I think it can be attributed to God's help, and the fact that speak more slowly up there. I wish that was the case here. So I feel pretty good about the work we did up there. We managed to make a few good contacts and we actually picked up a new investigator in our last meeting. So it was a cool experience and it taught me to trust in the Lord more and depend more on Him instead of on Sister Deaver haha. Usually I just let her deal with things when I am confused or tired or frustrated, but in Vanadzor I was kinda the person that was looked to... so I looked to God and it all worked out. Our lessons were not amazing. That I will openly admit to, and we had help from members and the senior couple for much of it, but it was still a good experience. The members there are so amazing! I love them already. The Branch President said that he received revelation that I will be serving there, so I guess I will be going back haha.
We came back to Yerevan on Wednesday evening. The drive down in the marshutni was really interesting. There was a guy that spoke perfect english on there, so we ended up talking to him about the gospel for the majority of the trip down, as well as some other people on there. It was really weird teaching the gospel in emglish actually. I jjust have a set way that I normally say things in Armenian, and they are comfortable for me to say in Armenian, so it was different doing it in english. It was really cool though having an intelligent discussion with a very intelligent person.
By the time we met back up with out mothers I was exhausted. Like as soon as I saw Sister Deaver I was felt like collapsing, but up till that point I had felt fine haha. I loved my splits, it was fun and I learned a lot and was pushed a lot, but I am so grateful to be back at home in my area and with my companion. Plus, the weather is just so much nicer here! It's already spring here and the trees are green and blooming, whereas it snowed a ton while I was in Vanadzor. It had all melted by 2 the next day, but still. I prefer green trees. It is super beautiful in Vanadzor though. I hope I will get to serve there in the summer or something. I don't want to be here in the hottest area for that.
Up until Saturday we were kept busy helping a girl, *Z*, prepare for her mission. She will be serving on Temple Square and needed help getting everything in order and getting her clothes and everything. So we had to go shopping. I hate shopping. But it wasn't too bad. We have to do it again this week though. But I am excited for her. Missions are so awesome. So if anyone is going to temple square relatively soon look for some Armenian sisters! There's *Z*, and then there's another one there named Sister Hart or Heart or something (her real last name is harootsyoonyan, but who wants to say that? slash who CAN say that? haha I mean other than Armenians and those of us that know Armenian... kinda).
Saturday!!! Saturday was so awesome. Mariam's baptism was amazing. Her husband came, which was awesome, but we're still not too sure how interested he is. When we asked what he thought about it he said it was just normal. IT WAS NOT NORMAL, haha. I think he just doesn't know how to recognize the spirit yet haha. Sister Deaver and I talked a little bit about Mariam for the baptismal service, which was terrifying, but one of my favourite children in the country, Benyamin (like Benjamin without the j) came and held my hand when I was nervous. He's about 2. It was so cute. I will send you a pic of him.
Sister Deaver and I watched Mariam's baptism from the side so we got to be facing her. She was nervous going in, but the Spirit was so strong. I got a little emotional... I just can't help it, I get it from Dad! When she came up out of the water she kept her eyes closed for a few seconds, just soaking it all up. It was SO GOOD! And then we got to get wet kisses on the cheek from her. I have been to a few baptisms since being here, but there is just something so different about having your own baptism. You are so much more invested in the person, and value their decision so much more. Mariam is SUCH and amazing woman and she really understood what she was doing. She is going to be such an awesome member of the church here! After her baptism her girls were supposed to sing I am a Child of God (we taught them... its so cute and so off key), but they got too nervous. Mariam bore her testimony at the baptismal service. She is so solid! Overall, it was just awesome. I got a better glimps at what I am doing here and the value of my work here. I did so little to help her prepare, but I did what was needed of me. And thats all we really can do. Its just a matter of finding the people who are ready and pointing the way. It's easy really, but so rewarding.
After Mariam's baptism there was another service for 4 women, who were the sister, mother and neices of our investigator *J*. She came for their baptisms and got to see her family enter the waters. Julietta still has some way to go, but she is definitely on the right path and we're excited for her baptism which should be in a few weeks.
Yesterday Mariam was confirmed and then was asked to bear her testimony again. She is seriously just so solid! I know I have said that a lot, but we are just so excited about her. And for her kids. They are going to get to be raised in the gospel. Her older daughter *A* is almost 8 so we're hoping to start teaching her soon. She and I are basically best friends. I will try to send pics of her too. (ps Irena I am not sure that I am allowed to put pics on the blog so you prob shouldn't if there are more than just missionaries in them). All the missionaries were also asked to bear their testimonies... so I got to speak in front of a huge group of people AGAIN. Its really just inevitable... I should really stop getting so nervous. No body booed at me or anything, so it couldn't have been too bad.
Overall it has been a crazy but amazing week. I feel so blessed to be here and so be involved in such amazing work and to be making friends with such amazing people. It took me a long time to finally feel at peace with my decision to serve a mission, but now that I am here I can't imagine not being here. Sometimes you have to just make a choice and then you find out after the trial of your faith that it was the right thing to do.
I love you all and I love this gospel!

Sister Smith

week 16


I am sitting in a basement internet cafe in the cute little mountain city, Vanadzor. There are picturesque snowy peaks surrounding us while huge, slushy snow flakes quickly rush down.... Sometimes I try being poetic but it just doesn't go over so well. Oh well. So, yeah. I am in Vanadzor with Sister Burnham. How President thought it was a good idea to put two new missionaries together for 3 days is beyond me, but here we are, and we have survived so far. The real test will be later on today though in our appointments. We had an appointment last night, and it was a little heinous (I finally learned how to spell that word! Go me go). We were teaching a less active woman but she wouldn't let us teach her because she already "knows everything". But then she didn't understand why Mormon wasn't in the bible. I did my best to clear that one up and leave a spiritual thought. In the end she said she wouldn't come back to church because she's going to another church and according to her there's no difference. But she did say she would read the Book of Mormon every day.... we'll see about that one haha. It was weird, I couldn't really understand her, but at the same time i could. Basically the Lord enables you to do what you have to do. I just pray that that will continue for the remainder of the day. And tomorrow. And my mission haha. It's kind of nice being motherless though. I am being pushed to say and do more than I would normally do. And I think it is really good for Sister Burnham too, to be in control of her area for a couple of days and to see that she is capable and a great missionary. She was awesome last night... I may or may not have started raising my voice a little in the appointment last night (not angrily, but just so that the lady would hear me over her own voice haha), and Sister Burnham reminded me who I was and brought the Spirit haha. My bad.

This last week has been really good. Having General Conference this weekend was so great. I needed it so much. I love the Prophet! And the apostles and general authorities! They are so inspiring and so inspiring. There were SO many amazing talks. Did you all notice the shoutout to Armenia? I believe someone told a story about an Armenian boy... I haven't heard that talk yet though, we had to go check on our investigator right then. I can't even remember what all I loved from conference. Elder Bednar's, E. Scott's, and then that one about taking correction were all so good. I am going to watch them all again cause we have them on DVD.

So, the big exciting news for this week is that out investigator, *M*, is getting baptized this Saturday!!!!!! I AM SO EXCITED! Her second baptismal interview went so well. Before hand we showed a short video called Healing Waters (Irena, I bet you know what that is), and I almost started bawling. We are so excited for her and we just keep praying that her husband will be ablet to follow in her footsteps. He is a good man, he just always has to work. We're hoping he'll be able to make it to the baptism though. We have a couple of other new investigators too. I will just tell you about one of them. When we first met with *J* we were very skeptical. I think she mostly just liked having two American (/Canadian) girls over to feed and talk to. It took us forever to get her to finally start reading the Book of Mormon on her own, but once she did she has just changed so much. It seriously is miraculous. The transformation that the gospel makes is so amazing. She just has a different light about her. She is less apathetic, she is happier. She came to conference this Sunday and then when we met with her that night she was like quoting it to us and applying it to our lesson! Ah! SO good! She also invited her friend over to learn from us too, so now they're both investigating! It's so cool!

Well, I can't think of anything else to tell you, so I guess that's it for today. I love you all! You are in my prayers! Samantha, Chelsea and Aleksandra ya'll better be sending me packages or something to make up for the SERIOUS lack of love in the form of emails lately.


Sister Smith

Week 15


How is everybody doing this fine day?! I am doing wonderfully. This week was good and busy and very eventful. I wish I could attach a video that we made cause it would explain the kinds of things that happen here. Basically, this place is crazy and some days are even more crazy. The week started off pretty normally, but then on Wednesday morning we got put into a threesome with Sister Ferguson (AKA Sister Fergie cause no Armenians can say Ferguson). She was finishing up her mission and had been serving with Sister Corny (Cornwell, but thats close to a BAD swear in Armenian haha) who was also finishing and whose parents had already come and met up with her. So SIster Fergie was waiting for her family to come a few days later and so we got her. She is hilarious and super fun to be with so it was a fun few days. We got a lot of good work done. And then on Saturday we had the busiest and craziest day ever. Sis Fergie's parents were supposed to come Friday night but their flight got cancelled so they were stuck in Paris and no one had any way of getting into contact with them. So Sister Fergie just had to stick with us until we found out what was going on. So Saturday we had to go to a blood lab to get Sister Deaver's blood drawn for some tests. On our way there at about noon Sis Fergie's parents called finally and said they were here. They had flown in at 4 that morning and had no idea where they were staying (they had rented an apartment for the time they will be here and the tourist company they went through get them there that morning). They promptly went to sleep and didn't bother calling until they woke up haha. So we had to go on a wild goose chase trying to find them. It was not easy. The street we were trying to find was called Tumanyan, but the way Sis Fergie's mom heard it was 2 manya, so then we were translating and saying yerkoo manya... it caused some problems until a genius taxi driver figured it out. Then we went to the wrong building, then to the wrong entrance, then to the wrong floor ( a couple of times) and then FINALLY we found her family with 5 minutes to get to our baptismal interview! It was crazy. But we made it. We literally ran to get a taxi. Good times.

The baptismal interview then didn't go so well. She didn't pass it, but she is totally ready. The Elders didn't feel about passing her because she hadn't read the Book of Mormon at all that week because she was so busy and in another village taking care of a friend who was sick. They said themselves that she is ready, but there has been SUCH a huge emphasis on reading the Book of Mormon daily lately that they just didn't feel good about passing her at that point. But she has another interview set up for this week and we are all pretty sure that she will pass, so we should have a baptism in a couple of weeks! My first one!!! I am so excited. I love this woman so much, she is so amazing. (It's Mariam if you are confused, but you can't put her name on the blog). We were kind of worried about her after the interview because she seemed really upset and didn't stay for the branch party after which she had said she would come to, but she came to church yesterday and we got to talk to her again and its going to all be ok.

SO, there was a branch activity on Saturday to celebrate the merging of the branches that occurred yesterday. It was so cool to be there for it. President Carter explained very well, but very simply the importance of the action that was being taken. Merging the branches is the first step to creating a ward in Armenia. Creating wards is the first step to creating a stake here. And a stake is necessary to be able to build a temple here! It is SO cool to be involved in laying the foundations for the church here. It is definitely still in the beginning phases, but there are steps being made. The branch members are still pretty unsure about it all, but I am so excited for the branch. So my branch is now called the Yerevan branch. It covers a HUGE area, the whole southern half of Yerevan and there are so many more people there now. Mind you more showed up this week because of the merge, but there were close to 100 people there.... that is quite the change from our usual 35-45 people. So it is exciting. I think it will help in the work a lot too. And our branch presidency is AWESOME. Also there are now 6 of us missionaries in the branch AND a senior couple. I think having elders in my branch will be a challenge, but it will be good too. President Carter talked us up a lot to the branch, so we're hoping to really get the members involved in missionary work. The missionaries had to teach combined priesthood/relief society... so I had to speak in front of a very large group of people. I didn't really do too much for it, but I showed a demonstration thing about reading the Book of Mormon every day and bore my testimony. I thought I was going to be more nervous than I was, so it was good.

Oh, so for April Fool's day I HAD to do something. So Sister Fergie and I got Sister Deaver. We woke her up and told her it was 10 and that she needed to hurry up and great ready because we had to leave in  30 minutes. I told her it was cloudy and thats why it was still a little dark out. She was like "oh crap!" So she hurried to the shower. When she came out she was like " Dang, I feel so good. Sleeping in until 10 is the best!" Baha. We were dying laughing so hard. I passed her the phone to call someone back and she was like "wait, why is the time wrong on here" haha. So good!

We haven't gotten to watch General conference yet, but we will get to next weekend. I am super excited for it. It sounds like it was pretty dang good. I read the Ensign and stuff way more than I ever used to, so I am excited to hear it from the mouths of the prophets. It is so important to watch/read general conference. Those who speak are saying what the Lord would say to us if He were in our midst. So basically.... listen up. It's important.

I love you all like crazy and I think about you here and there when I have spare moments. I am so blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life who support and love me. I feel your prayers and love.

Love, Sister Smith

Friday, April 1, 2011

week 14

I have already written most of you little emails of your own so now I don't have much time remaining to write a big letter so you get pictures instead, which are probably better anyway!
This week was a little slow owing to sickness (not mine) and hence a little discouraging. But its all good. We just keep working to find what we call our "Robles Family". That is a family that is on the PMG DVD's - they are just a golden family, so we are looking for our Golden Family. While we're out contacting and stuff we'll see a cute little family and say "Robles, dook ek?" which means Robles? is that you? We think we're funny. But really, that is our goal right now. To find a good, strong family to add to the church here. Its hard work, but so worthwhile.
So, one of our potential Robles' families is ********* and his family. He is the man that knocked on our door saying he wanted to be baptized. So we went and taught them this week.... it was a little hanous (I have no idea how to spell that word) to say the least. We're pretty sure that he was drunk, and he was continually smoking during our meeting until we asked him to stop and the tv was on until we asked them to turn it off and it took a good 30 min to even start teaching cause they kept giving us tea (don't worry, just mint tea) and things to eat. It was ridiculous. And then when we started trying to teach he kept interrupting. This man is from Iraq and speaks Western Armenian, which is really different from Eastern, so I just didn't understand much at all, and then he kept tryign to translate to english, but his english is great either, so overall, it was not our best meeting ever haha. It was stressful.... but we need to go back. His kids and wife were all so cute, so we're going to keep working. Hopefully he'll be sober next time and a little more chill. He is super nice, and he is always saying how much he loves Jesus, so hopefully it'll all work out.
Um, one other highlight from the week was the best marshutni ride ever. Actually, it wasn't even the ride that was good, it was waiting for it to start. Frist we were waiting on the street for the marshutni and these crazy old people kept coming up to us. One man took Sister Deaver's Book of Mormon and walked away to sit down and steal things from it (pamphlets and things) and the lady made sister deaver give her candy for her grandkids. Oh this country! So amazing. And then once the marshutni got there it emptied out and the driver parked it to wait for passengers with the music blaring. Sister Deaver and I were the only ones in there and the music was SO GOOD! I'm just saying, its not wrong to listen to it if you have no control over it. It was sweet Armenian music - some from California (like the mini Armenia of America) and some from here. So, we had a dance party. And then we did some service for a member in Kharbert in the beautiful sunshine.
Ok, transfer news. Transfers are this week, but sister deaver and I are staying put in Shengavit. Meanwhile almost everything is changing around us. They are making a new zone, changing our district and there are new assistants and zone leaders. It's crazy! It should be interesting to see how things go with all the changes.
I am out of time! I love you all. Sorry I have no uplifiting/spiritual thought for the day. Go read your scriptures and make up a thought of your own to share with a friend!
Sister Smith

week 13

Well, it has been an interesting week. It started off really good. We were excited for the week and the work ahead of us. We started planning last week a movie night for our branch to invite friends and family to and we were really pumped for that because we felt like it would be effective at getting people more involved in missionary work. We also spent some good quality time with members (one of whom made us the BEST dolma I have ever had and probably ever will have in my life). So, the week was going well, and we had one new investigator and then it all just came to an abrupt pause. On Wednesday night we had to go stay with 2 other sisters in Arabkir (Northern Yerevan) because there were going to be “demonstrations” close to our area the next day and so they just wanted to make extra sure we wouldn’t be around for those. So we had a “slumber party” (or as close to a slumber party as you can get on a mission) and the next day we had planning so we stayed in for hours to do that. In the afternoon/evening we went on splits and I went with Sister Cornwell and we visited a less-active lady and read the Book of Mormon with her for a bit and then we went to a sick member’s house and the Assistants came too to give her a blessing. She has the cutest grandkids – so I enjoyed the evening. It was weird being with someone else too.  I guess it wasn’t really that different, but just being in a different area threw me off a little. We thought we would be able to go home that night, but then we were advised to stay one more night there and go home after studies the next day. It was fun and all, but I was so happy to go home after. Back to Little America. And back to Shengavit. I appreciate my area more now and I am glad that I am in with the members and know where we’re going and where we are – more or less. So anyway, because we were gone from our area we didn’t get the chance to get meetings in with our investigators and potential investigators, and we didn’t get to visit the members as we had planned to really talk it up and get people there. We worked hard Friday and Saturday, but still didn’t get a ton of meetings in because we just have soooo far to travel to get to our meetings, and then Saturday night we had our movie night and 5 people came. Boo urns. And 2 of them were our branch presidency – but at least we know they support us I guess.  So that was pretty unfortunate and a bit of a let-down, but we are just gonna keep on trucking and keep working at getting members involved!

So, all was fine and well Saturday evening. Sister Deaver said she felt a little nauseous before we went to bed, but I didn’t really think too much of it because she often feels nauseous from her mono (ps did I tell you she had mono? She is pretty well recovered by now, but just gets tired and needs to sleep more and sometimes feels a little nauseous). Anyway, I should’ve been more concerned because we had eaten some sharmas (like the shwarmas we have in Calgary, but smaller and less-packed with stuff, but still really delicious) from a street vendor really quickly that evening. Anyway, I woke up at almost 3 and Sister Deaver was out of her bed and the bathroom light was on, so I knew something was wrong. She had been up really sick since around 12 and I hadn’t heard a thing. I sleep so deeply, it is ridiculous. Anyway, she was not doing well, so we called the Carters and President Carter came about an hour later with the Zone Leaders to give her a blessing. That helped, but she was still sick the rest of the night, and all day yesterday. She wasn’t as sick, but just really weak and tired with some residual problems haha. Poor girl! I felt so bad for her and wished I could do more to help her. She was still joking around about it all though – she was talking to president and said “She’s the new one, she’s the one that’s supposed to be sick, not me!” My bad. I didn’t know. And I don’t think it was from the food either cause we ate the same thing and I have felt fine. Hopefully I won’t catch whatever she had. It did not look like fun.

So, we got CRAZY news from President when he came over. Our branch, the Shengavit branch, and Yerevan branch are being merged! INSANE! We knew something was up because President had called a couple of times asking about priesthood in our branch, but we just thought that our branch presidency was going to change or something. But nope, in two weeks our branches our merging, which means that there we be 6 of us missionaries in the same branch. Yuck. We liked having it to ourselves. And the branch boundaries are huge! The whole southern half of Yerevan and some of the villages. I was talking to Sister Carter about it yesterday and she said that merging the branches is one of the steps to creating a ward eventually, so it’s really exciting. It makes sense too, we will have a much larger branch now, so that will help with missionary work and support within the branch and I just think it’s going to be great. Crazy, but great. Also, transfers are in two weeks, so maybe there won’t be 6 of us in there anymore…? Who knows? No one can ever really predict what will happen. President Carter said himself that he usually doesn’t really know either, until it’s time to find out. So that’s my exciting news of the week. Yesterday we stayed home all day and I did everything I could think of to keep from dying of boredom while Sister Deaver tried to get some much needed rest. I ended up reading and marking scriptures for a long time, and then I watched some church movies about Joseph Smith, and then these super old movies with biographies of the presidents of the church. They are really really cheesy, but pretty good. I didn’t really know anything about anyone other than Joseph Smith, Gordon B Hinckley and Thomas S Monson (and the only reason I know much about the last two is because we have two really good movies about them). So that was yesterday. Oh, I also had to make my first phone calls in Armenian to cancel our meetings. I didn’t really understand what they said, but I got my point across so it’s all good.

I’m in Alma in the book of Mormon right now, and I have been reading about Ammon and his brethren and their missions among the Lamanites. I was reading chapters 17-20 and on and it was so cool really being able to relate it to myself. Armenians are not as “wild and ferocious” as the Lamanites I don’t think, but there are definitely differences between how I am used to living and how they live. Ammon does such a great job of explaining the gospel (from the creation of the world and from Adam to the atonement of Christ) in a way that Lamoni would understand and relate to, and Lamoni was ready to learn and so the Spirit taught him powerfully. I hope I can become that good one day! And one day soon so that I can be a more effective tool in God’s hand. It’s just a matter of finding the people who are ready and then relying on the Spirit while teaching. Especially when I am still struggling understanding what is going on and expressing myself. I am talking more and more in lessons though. This week I gave my first baptismal invitation – she said yes, but then wouldn’t commit to coming to church every week… so that failed a little bit, but we gave her the opportunity to act, which is our job. That’s all we can do really. That’s all the Lord does too. He gives us commandments and then allows us to govern ourselves. We have the tools and ability to choose what’s right, and then it’s up to us to do with that what we want. If we choose what is right, we are blessed. If not, then we’re not. In fact, our knowledge and testimonies work against us if we choose what is wrong. That is why it is so vital to follow through with impressions from the Spirit – if you don’t then you lose the Spirit.   Look at me; I went off on another tangent again. I just can’t help myself sometimes.
Alright, it’s time to publicly call people out again for not writing to me.  Chelsea, Vicki, Aleks (I still haven’t heard from you once!) and Alex. It is time. Show me the love. It’s not hard. Just send me a quick little note. Vicki and Chelsea, I don’t even have your emails yet so I CAN’T write you, otherwise I would have already.

I love you all a ton. Keep being great. Keep being diligent and hard-working and charitable and all those other wonderful attributes that you possess.

Sister Smith

PS I forgot one other story. We were at home for our lunch break on Friday and someone knocked on our door – which is weird and scary every time. Anyway, we answered it and it was this man that Sister Deaver knew that used to own a falafel place near our house. He knew where we lived because a senior couple had lived there before us and he knew them. He basically just asked us if he could get baptized… so the Lord answers prayers. Sometimes He just sends contacts to you. Haha. We were supposed to meet with him yesterday, but couldn’t, so we hopefully will sometime this week

Friday, March 18, 2011

week 12

We all know I have a pretty small bladder, but these days its capacity to just wait a little bit longer is improving. When there is no where TO go, you just DON'T go. Haha. This is the case in the villages we go to. ps Irena maybe don't put this on the blog haha.

Lets see, where to begin? I guess at the beginning. On Wednesday we had my first zone conference. It was awesome. It was a really long one (from 9 till almost 4) but it was so good. It got me all pumped to do missionary work. Well, I was already pretty pumped, but I am even more so now! The main focus of the whole conference was using the Book of Mormon in every aspect of missionary work - in finding, teaching, re-enacting, everything. I wish I had brought my journal so I could share some things I wrote down, but I forgot it. What I remember right now that was super cool from President Carter (I think) was something along the lines of "the Bible brings people closer to God, the Book of Mormon is the key to getting into God's church, and the Doctrine of Covenants is the key to getting into God's temple." The Book of Mormon really has the fullness of the Gospel. In PMG there is a section on how the Book of Mormon answers the questions of the soul, and so they want us to start using that in our finding efforts. There is a list of common questions of the soul that they want us to use and then get right into the Book of Mormon where you can find the answers when we are contacting people or for a first meeting. I'm excited to learn the questions in Armenian so I can start using them haha. We also have them on small pieces of paper to hand out to people, so I will try to get started on using those. Over all, Zone conference just reminded me of my purpose (to invite others to come unto Christ... through baptism...pmg all over the place) and renewed my zeal and suppressed my lack of confidence in myself. I also got to meet more of the mission. There are 3 zones in the AYM (armenia yerevan mission): The Georgian zone, the North Zone and the South Zone. I am in the South Zone, which is the largest zone by a lot. So I got to see and meet most of the missionaries, especially because the Georgians came down and were in our zone conference. There are some really awesome people serving here. I haven't met anyone that I don't like yet. Our leadership is so awesome too. They are just spiritual giants. Especially our zone leaders, Elders Pulsipher and Lusk. They taught powerfully with the Spirit, and we could all feel that they really truly believe what they taught and that they really love the people here. It was great. Sister Burnham came down (from the North zone) that day so her comp could update her visa so we got to go for a quick dinner together which was really nice. I think we both needed it.
After the outpouring of the Spirit at zone conference we had a pretty killer week. We tired ourselves out with how busy we were. It was great. We had lots of meetings, we contacted more people and just feel really good about the week we had. It was so nice after having had a less successful week. I also had my first contact that I did all by myself. We were on a Marshutni going to Ayntap and we were sitting in different rows. I sat beside a woman and decided that I would try to read one of our pamphlets on the way and thought that I should read the Plan of Salvation one. I watched the lady's eyes following me and when I got the pamphlet out she was totally focused on it and reading it. As soon as she stopped looking at it and looked out the window or something I knew she was done reading the page so I would turn it. It was kinda funny actually. So finally, after a few pages I said hello to her and we had a short conversation. I asked her name, she asked mine, she asked where I was from. I said I was from Canada, she asked why I was here, and voila, I was in. So I offered to give her the pamphlet with our names and number on it, and then got her number. I asked about her family and stuff. She told me that I had kind eyes. I hear that SO often here. Anyway, I really want to  teach her! She seemed so genuinely interested! It was so cool finally doing that on my own! A little scary, but she was nice. The only bad part was that when we tried to call the number we were told we had the wrong one :( DANG IT! But thats ok. I want to try it again. I think it might have been her son or someone that didn't want us to talk to her or I don't know what. But either way, it totally boosted my confidence. I can do this! Haha. So, later this week when we saw the cutest girl ever on the metro who actually smiled back at us, I had the confidence to go say hi to her. That started up a conversation and now we're going to meet with her some day this week. She was super cool actually. She is Russian and moved here a year or so ago with her family and just learned Armenian. She speaks it super well though. She reminded me of Emily - she had short, funky, blond hair and a deep raspy voice. She was dressed all funky too. I like her a lot. I'm excited to go over there.

Our progressing investigator is still doing really well. She is just eating up everything we give to her. For example, last week we taught her the Word of Wisdom and committed her to keep it. She said right away that she could do it no problem. She said she only really drinks coffee socially anyway and that now that she knows its a commandment from God not to, it'll be easy to just say no. Later that week we called her and asked how things were going. She said that when she told her husband about the Word of Wisdom he kind of laughed at her a little for it. But then a few days later he got kidney stones and his doctor told him no drinking alcohol or coffee, and no smoking. So then she got to laugh at him. It was so often. When we put our trust in the Lord and just keep His commandments even if we don't understand them, He enables and blesses us and enlightens us so that we come to understand His reasons. She is seriously so solid. I love her and I am so excited for her baptism. The reason she is so solid is that she reads the Book of Mormon every day and prays. That is what makes all the difference. That was another thing from zone conference. President Carter wants us to start committing people to reading from the Book of Mormon for an hour every day! Even I think that's a lot, but it says in PMG that if an investigator is reading from the Book of Mormon seriously and praying, that all of the problems/concerns, etc keeping them from baptism disappear. The Book of Mormon seriously has so much power and is God's tool for restoring the church to the earth.
Well, I am pretty much out of time. I hope you all have a good week and I will keep praying for you! LOVE YOU!
Sister Smith

Week 11

Well, I will put all your worries and fears to rest. I am doing great! I apologize for the sort of negative email last week - the combination of jet-lag, bad dolma and culture shock was just too much for me. You must have all prayed for me right away, because after emailing last week everything just turned around. I feel SO much better now and I am so happy to be here. So thanks for the prayers. They worked! They always do. I am still amazed at how blessed we are and how much these people need the gospel - I don't think that will ever go away, but I am more used to the things that I see and hear and smell around me. I am picking up more and more on the language. It is still hard, and I imagine it will be for a while, but I recognize more words and am able to say a little bit more. Sister Deaver tells me I am doing well, so I guess I will just have to trust her. It was really funny actually. The other day we were at a less-active's house and the LA had stepped out of the room for a minute and it was just after I had been trying to say something. So Sister Deaver said good job and I was like "yeah, whatever. I am awful" or something along those lines and she said really intensely and almost frighteningly, but quietly "I am not a liar!" hahaha. We broke down laughing. So now I only say thanks when she says I have done something well and I try not to put myself down despite being frustrated or discouraged.

I guess I will tell you a little bit about our area and branch and what not. We are serving in Shengavit, which (we're pretty sure) is the largest area in the mission. We have our branch all to ourselves too - there are no other missionaries in it. It's really cool, but really daunting, being responsible for so many people. Sister Deaver was talking about a zone conference they once had where they talked about how we are the only ones in this whole area who have the full truths of the gospel - full access to salvation and the blessings of the atonement - and we are responsible for making these things available to everyone here. AH! That's scary, but it is also motivating. It helps keep me active and ready to talk to people and share what we have even though its sometimes awkward. Anyway, our branch is really great and pretty strong. I love everyone I have met so far. Right now we have 9 investigators, so we are busy busy! We also spend a lot of time strengthening the less-active members. The biggest issue in Armenia that I have noticed so far is that people don't fully realize the importance of attending church. People don't realize that they are considered less-active if they don't attend every week. So that is a big focus for us right now - trying to help people realize that going to church is a commandment, that is will bless our lives, and that when we keep the commandments and attend we are showing God our love for Him and our desires to do His will. It doesn't even matter that much what people talk about at church, what the lessons are on or whether or not you have friends there. What matters is that you take the sacrament and renew your covenants with God. Even if you aren't worthy to take the sacrament or haven't been baptized yet, it shows God the intent of your heart and that you want Him to be a part of your life. I didn't even realize how important it was before. People around the world: just go to church, ok? Oh me and my rants. I just can't help myself. Anyway, we a few small villages in our area too (seriously, this is a huge area). The two that we go to the most are Kharbert (the kh is a gutteral h) and Ayntop. Kharbert is pretty nice (compared to Ayntop). People in these villages live in like concrete buildings (well, everyone in the country does that) or old train cars or anything they can find and put together. It's crazy. I had one of the saddest moments in my life the other day in Ayntop. We were visiting a less-active family. The parents are pretty much just piles. The kids are so amazing though. I seriously fell in love with the youngest, a little boy, the moment I saw him. He is SO cute and just has such a beatiful spirit about him. 4 of the kids really want to come to church and the little boy is the only one that hasn't been baptized yet and wants to be. So we were meeting with them outside because their house is tiny and their dad was asleep inside, but he woke up and was yelling and ranting while we were trying to have a lesson and my heart just broke. These kids are so good and I love them so much and I can feel God's love for them, but they are just being tried so much. I wanted to just hug them and tell them how much I loved them, but it was my first time meeting them, so I thought it would be better if I didn't. So many people are just struggling. I am so grateful that I am doing SOMETHING to help them.

On a lighter note, we had a funny little situation the other night. We met a lady while mon galling (contacting). She invited us to her house right then to show her the Finding Faith in Christ video. Her two granddaughters were home too. They were so stinking cute and that was the NICEST place I have been in yet. It was nicer than our place, and we have a nice apartment. So, Sister Deaver was pretty sure right away that we were in a Cheeto's place (thats what we call the mafia... its not really safe to say the word mafia here haha). After showing her the video and inviting her to be taught she said she wasn't really a "free woman" to be learning from us. We were confused and asked her to explain and she said that her son-in-law (who she lives with) is like a master of the Armenian church.... sooo.... hahaha, he's like kinda a big deal in the church here. She really did want to learn from us though I think and wants a Russian copy of the Book of Mormon, so we're going to try to get that to her. Good times. Hmm... here's another funny experience. We went to do service for some members in Kharbert the other day with 2 elders in our district (our district leader Elder Zebli and his comp Elder Strader from my MTC group). The only way to get out there is by Marshootni (kinda like small buses... well more like vans) and lots of people use this one route. So, people here just pile into these things - its ridiculous. So we were in this marshootni, stuffed to capacity. Elder Strader and I had to share a seat while our comps stood so awkwardly and uncomfortably. I never in my life thought I would be so close to an elder. ugh. Sister Deaver still managed to get a contact while we were in there though. haha. And then doing service was super fun.

Ok, spiritual thought. In personal study during one of my first few days when I was struggling I was reading PMG and was reading some of the scriptures referred there when I came across D&C 15:6 and 16:6. Those verses brought so much peace to me and reassured me that I am meant to be here and that this is the best thing that I could be doing with my life at this time. So, if you are ever wondering if you are on the right track with your life or are having a hard time, just pray and open your scriptures. You will find the answers you need. As long as you are in constant communication with the Lord He will direct you to the things that will be the most worth to you in your life.

I love you all shat shat shat. Ganaser Erhek! (Be diligent)!

Sister Smith
ps. so Armenians often put 'jon' at the end of names as a term of endearment. So Sister Deaver is often calling me "queer jon" and the other day I was like.... hey, thats funny. K, love you!

Sunday, February 27, 2011


Hello family! I am just supposed to email you all to tell you that I have arrived safely in Armenia. It was a long, but thankfully uneventful trip. My mission President and his wife are wonderful, I love them already. Our AP's are awesome too. we got here just after 5 this morning and then we were allowed to sleep in till 11! We will be eating all together at a restaurant tonight, we'll be staying at the mission home again tonight and then tomorrow we will get separated and sent to our areas and our companions. I gotta go, but I love you all and I'm so excited to be here! And Elder Poulsen says hello.


Sister Smith
ps I had my first convo with a real armenian woman on the plane. It was short haha.

Then we had word a few days later on her p-day:

Oh my goodness. This is insane. I am in Armenia. This is the craziest place on earth I think. I guess I will just tell you everything about the last like 5 days of my life.

So, Wednesday morning we woke up at 4:30am and got all ready and finished packing and got out to the bus to drive to the airport. Joshua Matson was our bus driver which was pretty funny. I fell asleep for the bus ride there (thats right, I couldn't even stay awake for the first hour of the journey) and then we got to the airport and checked in and everything. All of us sisters were over weight (although I am proud to say that I was the least over, I think I was only 2 lbs over between the two bags) but they were so kind and didn't charge any of us extra. Then we waited at the SLC airport for hours cause we got there so early. So, I called mom and had a lovely conversation with her. If I was allowed, I would call home every week cause I miss you all so much. Then we flew to Chicago on a very small airplane. I tried to be a missionary with the kid sitting next to me, but it was way hard! I tried to figure out if he was already a member but I wasn't sure, I thought he might have been, so i stopped trying and fell asleep.

I guess I'll put a paragraph in here now. Why not. So we got to the Chicago airport, which is HUGE and we carried all our crap to the wrong gate, and then had to lug it all to the right gate. Then we ate and bought more phone cards cause the first ones we bought were crap. I called home several times somewhere in there, and it turns out that no phone cards are good. And then we flew to Munich which was the best flight we had - we were on a huge plane and I was with 3 of my elders and we just talked and hung out and then slept. So that was fun. At the Munich airport I fell asleep again for I don't even know how long and then it was time to go again. Oh and they had changed the gate without us knowing, so we had to book it over to the right gate and we just barely made it. Then we had a 1 hour flight to Vienna where we had our least comfortable and longest-feeling layover. We finally started meeting some Armenians though cause that was our flight to Armenia. They pretty much all spoke English, and were definitely wealthier if they were able to afford flying places. So we flew to Armenia and got there early in the morning. Oh, we met the dad of an Elder who was being released that day at the airport so we hung out with him for a while. He was way cool and from Sweden. So when we got to the airport we got to see their reunion and we were met by our mission president, his wife, the AP's, Ruben and his son Eric. Ruben is famous in the church here. He is the mission driver and just everybody knows him. We knew all about him before we got here just from stories from our teachers. So we got all piled up in the vehicles and drove to the mission home which is in one of the nicer areas in the city. Up until that point, it was the most desolate and run-down place I had ever seen. The mission home itself is way nice though and we got to sleep and have lessons at stuff there all day. We all tried so hard to stay awake so that we could get onto a normal schedule, but it was SOOO hard. And painful. So after going our for dinner for our first real Armenian food (dolma and fries) we went back and went to bed right away. I fell asleep at 9 and kept waking up all night, but by the morning I didn't want to wake up ever. But I did of course.

We got ready and packed up and drove to  Mother Armenia which is a statue overlooking the city and which has Mount Ararat in the background. It was a clear enough day that we could actually kind of see the mountain. There we read the dedicatory prayer for Armenia. It was really beautiful and actually mentions Alberta because the prophet was in Cardston at the time re-dedicating the temple. It was so cool to see my two worlds merging. After pictures and all that we drove to the mission home for some instruction and then we had a meeting to set us up with out companions. My trainer (or mentor as President Carter calls them) is Sister Deaver. She is from North Carolina and has been here for about a year I think, and this is her first time training. We are in Shengavit, which is in South Yerevan. We live pretty much right on Centre Square in an apartment that everybody calls Little America because it is so nice. It is the nicest apartment in the mission. Thank goodness. I didn't realize how spoiled I have been my whole life, so I don't know how I could handle having everything I am used to taken away from me, even decent living space. Anyway, we took a taxi to my new home and dumped my stuff and headed to a branch youth and ysa activity. Most of the people there were young girls. We played a game called signs and I played, but was completely confused the whole time because I just can't understand a word they say. I was so prideful and thought I would be at least good enough to kind get what was going on, but nay. It was not to be. We also played jeopardy.... yeah... I didn't understand a thing. Luckily there is a sister in the branch named Siranoush who JUST got back from her mission in Germany and she speaks perfect English and is super strong. So she was kind of my saving grace on Saturday and again on Sunday at church. After the activity we went home for a bit and then went to a meeting with an investigator Lucine (pronounced lucynae). I just don't understand how people live the way they do. They have this tiny, dirty, dark apartment (but they still have a nice tv and computer, everybody does, even if they can hardly feed themselves). Anyway, we taught her and her friend and showed the Together Forever video that the church made in the 80's. It is so corny and old, but apparently the people here just eat it up, cause that is what their tv is like - soap operas dubbed into Russian. Oh, everybody speaks Russian here too. Anyway. Lucine needed to come to church yesterday to be able to keep her baptism date on the 19th of March but she didn't come so that's gonna have to change. From what I understand we picked up her friend as an investigator so thats good. All I really did in that lesson was bear my testimony on families. That was fine, but I hate how nervous I was for it. Its so frustrating going from being confident in my language skills to being nervous about bearing a simple testimony. Anyway, while we were there they fed us some dolma which was no bueno, which made yesterday less than great.

So, yeah, Sunday we got up and got ready and I was feeling good, and we went to church. In Sacrament meeting they asked me to bear my testimony. That was frightening, but I did it and got it over with. The branch is pretty small, but apparently one of the stronger ones here. We are the only missionaries in our branch which is cool because that means we're doing a good job (or were until I got here, so I need to work hard to keep it up). Everybody is very friendly and kind, but I just don't understand them! Sacrament meeting was kinda nice because one of the senior missionary couples gave talks so they were in English and translated to Armenian. So I got a bit of a break. But then Sunday school... beouf. I started feeling sick. And the teacher made me answer questions and read. It was stressful. By the end of it I was in pain, but I think I kinda started understanding a bit more. I dunno. We went to Relief Society and I just sat in silence and stuck it out and then we had a missionary meeting which I couldn't really follow either, and then we were supposed to watch a video with a recent convert and her mom who is investigating, but I just couldn't. Well, I never said I couldn't, but sister Deaver recognized that I was really not doing well so we went home and she let me sleep. I woke up around 5 and we were going to go to another meeting, but I was still really not feeling well so we cancelled and stayed in and I slept more. I think that the dolma/jet lag combo would have killed me if she hadn't let me rest. Its a really good thing she isn't what I asked for. I wanted someone who would push me and not baby me... but I needed the babying a little and I needed the rest. So yeah, that has been my life the last few days. I am feeling better this morning, although still a little unsure as far as my stomach goes. I think its possible that I have lost weight already. I don't know cause we don't have a scale, but I feel smaller. Anyway, it has been hard. Really hard. I have thought several  times about how easy being home right now would be. That I would be comfortable, well-fed, well-rested, around people I can understand and people who know me and love me. So I have been a little disheartened, but I am really trying to stop feeling sorry for myself and just push through until I love being here and I love the people. A year and a half sounds like a really long time right now, but the only way its going to go fast is if I love what I am doing and the people I am serving. I think that is what I struggle the most with, is just loving people. So I am praying fervently to gain a deep love for these people and a desire to help and serve them. Once I get that, I think it will all just go up. I am already feeling much better today now that I am feeling better rested and now that I don't feel like het talling (which means giving back, or vomiting haha) all over the place. Also its Pday so I get to write this email to all of you and vent a little bit and we will be going and playing games for a bit with the elders in our district. Elder Strader (who was in my group at the MTC) is in my district so I will get to go and talk to him. I love my MTC district so much, so it feels like coming home seeing them (I saw Elder Strader yesterday too). He and I weren't even all that tight, but its just so nice to see a familiar face... even if all he does is make fun of Canada haha.

Well, that is pretty much all. I am sorry that this email isn't super up-lifting and happy, but its been a hard few days and I just want you to know how blessed we really are. We live in SUCH good conditions. We are so blessed to have the church so strong. It is amazing that it stays alive here despite what these people are living through. It is a testimony to its truthfulness that it is growing as fast as it is here. So, enjoy the ease and comfort in which you live. Enjoy the really good employment that you have. Enjoy the gospel that you have and do what it takes to really be a part of it. If the people here can do it, you can too. Seriously. Keep praying for me. I need your prayers, and I will keep praying for you too. I love you all and I'm so grateful for you all. If Sonia has had her baby by now, then let me know and congratulations! I love you all so much!

Sister Smith