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

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