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

Week 9

Hello again!
I got message saying that not all of your email addresses are working, so if you have changed them or something PLEASE let me know. Emmy, I tried sending you an email last week and it didn't send. SAD!

Alright, well I have lots to share so I will try to plough through. Most importantly I got my travel plans. We are leaving on Feb 16th (this wednesday). We fly from the Salt Lake City airport and 10:30am and arrive in Chicago at 2:42pm (their time). We have like a 6 hour layover thre so I will call you from Chicago. I am going to plan on just calling the home phone. I believe Chicago is an hour ahead, and since I will have so long there I can pretty much call any time, so just let me know what time will be most convenient for you all and I will call then (or try my best to). Tell me in both your time and Chicago time so there is no confusion! I don't even know what I am going to say to you! The thought of talking on the phone is kinda the weirdest thing ever. Anyway. We leave Chicago at 8:45 and fly to Munich Germany where we have another 5 hour layover, and then to Vienna for a 4 hour layover and then to YEREVAN ARMENIA!!!! We will arrive at 4:30 am (their time) and promptly collapse at the mission home.

I am so excited to go! I am so scared too, but thats normal. I am excited to get started and to see what its really like there. People can tell you all about it, but I just can't picture it until I get there. It just is too foreign. I am excited to go and really start learning and using the language, and I pray that I will have a deep and sincere love for the people. Love isn't something that you just have. It is a gift from God that sometimes (especially for me) has to be earned, so I am going to work my hardest to earn it.

Okay, news. I am in a tripanionship now with Sister Bailey and Sister Burnham. Sister Huntington went home on Friday. I love her and I am going to miss her, but I am happy for her too. We are actually having a ton of fun together. I didn't expect us to all get along so well, but I am loving it. On Friday I got to go to Temple Square and we get to do sessions there now too. That was really cool. I learned a lot from that session and actually stayed really awak and focused. Probably cause I slept the whole bus ride there and back. That was great. I also got to go with my friends from Calgary! Sister Mirielle Hudson and Elder Brad Peterson. We were in the same little tour group too. It was awesome. We also found another Calgarian there too. One of ouy temple sisters was from Pakistan! She was so amazing. She talked about how her parents died when she was young and so the message the missionaries brought gave her so much peace so she joined the church and decided to serve a mission. She said she has seen so many miracles in her life since, and has been able to be sealed to her parents in the Provo temple. She was so sweet and her story really touched me. That is what I am doing here! It's for people like her that I am serving! The only bad part of the day was when I  got back because SisterHuntington had left a day earlier than she was supposed to so I didn't even get to say goodbye. That kind of broke my heart, but its okay. I will get to talk to her and see her again.

I told you about how the Smiths in my branch presidency are related to us right? Well on Sunday Sister Smith brought her mom, Aunt Alberta to chruch. This was the amazing woman who was jumping rope at the family reunion! When I went to talk to her, I don't know what was wrong with me, but I just started sobbing haha. I just feel such a connection to her. It is so amazing seeing family even if you don't know them well. She gave me a small package and said it was from Uncle Al. It contained a talk that he gave to his missionaries when he was a mission president, and $50. That talk is on obedience and is amazing. I will try to photocopy it and send it home or something. Anyway, I just felt a greater connection to our extended family, even those beyond the veil and it was really cool.

Mom, I am not sure if I am allowed to hand a package over to Hannah, but there is a pickup service thing so I will look into doing that and then let you know somehow. Probably through Hannah, but I haven't seen her lately, so you should try to get in contact with her (or Andrew, that would work too) and sort things out for me. My hands a little tied here. If all else fails, I will just send it home. No biggie.

Well, we are on our week of lasts now! Last night was our last TRC. We had 3 guys this time and they were a little but harsher on us (probably because they were being more realistic), but I loved it. At one point they asked us if we eat babies ( it is a common misconception there because some people think that for the sacrament we literally eat flech and drink blood... crazy), and at first we didn't understand the question and so Sister Bailey sais aiyo.... which means yes. LIke a strong yes. hahaha. I figured it out quick and tried to remedy the situation.  It was pretty hilarious though. They were also convinced that I was Joseph Smith's wife or relation or something. Too funnny. OTher than that it went super well thought.

Sister Smith!

Week 8

Hello again from Sunny Provo, Utah! Even though it is sunny it is still pretty cold. Nothing compared to Canada though. The people here are wimps about weather. haha, jk... kinda. Oh, we have a new district of English-speaking elders 4 of whom are going to Toronto. I like them mostly for that fact... haha, and they are hilarious. They are always SYLing too... in Canadian. I'm getting used to being made fun of all the time for being "America's hat" as Elder Strader from my district always tells me. Oh, I am working on a nice long letter describing all the people that I know and love here with pictures included, so you will soon have a better idea  of who I am talking about. I am planning on finishing and sending that today.

Alright, well this week was a little tough again because of things that I can't really mention, but everything is resolved/resolving, so it's all good. It was a good opportunity to learn and grow some more patience and humility. It is amazing; I think I have plenty, and that is when I realize I don't. Go figure.

Thank you all so much for fasting for my knee to heal. I think it is. It won't be holding me back from going on time, and it hurts much less often. It's really when I am sitting that its the worst, and soon I won't be doing much of that so its all good. I am so grateful for your faith and prayers!

Oh, so because I am "foreign" I get to go to SLC to temple square tomorrow. I am pretty excited to go do a session in the temple there and to just do something different! Its funny because plenty of the Americans here haven't ever been there and don't get to go, whereas I have been several times and I get to go. Oh well... lucky me!

What else is new.... Oh, so yesterday I started my SYL all the time goal. I am going to continue it until we leave. It was slightly interrupted yesterday because I was hosting new sisters again, which was fun. I couldn't do it this morning at the temple either... obviously... but its back on now. By the end of the day yesterday my head hurt so much from thinking so much and I couldn't put thoughts and sentences together anymore, but I feel like I learned a lot. I just don't have enough time to review absolutely everything we've learned just in my MDT, so this way I will just learn it by trial and error. Its kinda fun too once you get past the frustration of it. Its better to get used to it here than if I didn't start till I got to Armenia.

Armenia. Again I leave on the 16th, but I don't have my travel plans so I don't know what time or anything. I can still call home from the airport though, so I will give you the details probably next thursday. It is going to be weird talking to you again! I am excited, but honestly more excited to go to Armenia. I love you all so much, but I am so grateful that, like Irena, I am not missing you too much. That would be so hard.

Ok, I don't know what else to share. We have spiritual and uplifting things going on every day, but I just don't know what to share. The most important one is that Christ really is our Saviour. He literally has opened the doors for us to live with God again. Without Him and this amazing Plan of Salvation we wouldn't be able to live as a family again, which would break my heart. I love you all so much. As Elder Bednar says, "Be a good girl, be a good boy, honour your covenants, keep the commandments and the Lord with guide your footsteps. Open your mouth and He will fill it with inspired words..." That isn't the exact quote, it is just the way I remember it. But we have made covenants and promises to God. Know what they mean and keep them. If you haven't yet made covenants with the Lord (such as baptism), then go do it! (acts 22:6 or 16 I don't remember which) What in the world are you waiting for? You can't have full joy and full peace without them.

I love you all and I love hearing from you all!
Kooyr Smeet!
ps here are some fun phrases!
ayd kezee bahn (=oh my goodness... kinda)
staved tahnem (literally means I will carry your burdens or pains, but is used like "Oh my gosh")
There are many others but I am running out of time. Ahjorrhuoostyoon (I don't know how else to write that word in english, but it means goodbye)