Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May 1 - week 2 in Artashat, Armenia

Բարև ձեզ Family!   

It sounds like your week was great!  I'm excited to hear what Dad's new calling is and who the new 2nd counselor is.  Շատ լավ կլինի:  I can't believe that Derek is home already!  My, how time flies!  That means Sean must be getting home soon too....Վայ:  Technology is AMAZING!  Way cool that you can see where we are!  Crazy!  We actually live close to the church-our apartment is great!  Sis. Bailey and Sis. Kohler (sp?-the sis who was here before me) reopened the area and had a pretty rough time getting into an apartment-but it turned out well for us :)  Our church building is so wonderful-they built it a few years ago and it's one of the prettiest buildings in Artashat.  When we talk to people and invite them to come to church we can just say "That pretty building near the shooka-and they all know what we mean.  It even has it's own font.  And this last week the building just had wifi installed so the members can do their family history there.  We're pretty spoiled in that regard.  Speaking of family history and geneology work-yesterday we had a couple of members from the branch, along with other members, fly up to Kiev to go to the temple.  What a blessing for these people to have the new temple so much closer than other temples!  One of the members, Seda, is this dear little tatik (grandma)-her husband has already died and she had a son die when he was only a year.  Sis. Bailey and I helped her enter information for both of them, as well as her parents, a couple of siblings, grandparents, and husbands parents, so the work could be done for them.  So neat!  Մենկ շատ օրհնված ենկ: չեմ կարող պատկերացնել ավետարանը չունենալ:(We are so blessed.  I can't imagine not having the gospel) We were so excited for her to go!  

Maybe I am becoming more huggy :) ....The sisters are always hugging each other.  And the people here love giving hugs-they are so welcoming all the time.  Maybe by the time I get home I'll be so accustomed to hugs that I'll hug everyone all the time...we will see.  I've decided we have a lot to learn from them.  While they have their difficulties (as we all do)-guest loving is something they do not lack.  In that way-they are so Christlike-willing to give everything they have for us.  I have gained such a love and respect for these people already.  

Food....it's delicious!  For the most part...I did try this candied walnut-it's really hard to describe, but they do something to it that makes the shell soft and then can it in a sweet syrup-so when you eat it you eat the shell and the nut-it was not my favorite by any means.  It doesn't taste like walnut, but I still didn't like the flavor.  It was just weird.  We eat lots of hats-or bread (this is not pronounced like hat in english-its more like the vowel sound in hot) and lavash, which is kind of like a tortilla.  This last week I tried matsoon for the first time-its a fresh yogurt that is kind of sour and a lot of missionaries do no like it-but I thought it was pretty good, especially with hats and toma.  Toma (sp?) is this rice roll thing-its wrapped in cooked cabbage or grape leaves and fill with rice, meat, and spices. And you just eat it all.  Delicious.  We also ate this dish made from some cooked greens and eggs-and served with matsoon and hats-I don't know what it's called-but I think it's my favorite so far-and so easy to make. 

Oh, women's conference-it always sounds so wonderful!  And how fun for you to be able to stay with Susan, Joy, and to have Cathy there.  Joy's kids are adorable!  I'm excited to hear some from the new Presidency-I'm sure they were wonderful!  

Congrats to Carolyn and Craig, and Melanie and Brian!  That is so exciting!  I hope you'll send pictures when you get them!  Make sure you tell them congrats for me and give them hugs!  

Sis. Bailey and I were talking-we think Elder Menasyan is in the 2nd quorom of 70-but we really have no idea.

K-so I know last week I said I was going to write you, then write another email to be forwarded, and then whatever emails needed to be sent on (like I did for Callee).  But this week we received some new direction about email. So I'm allowed to email all of you (as my immediate family), but not anyone else.  You can forward on whatever you'd like from my email, but I don't think I'd be being fully obedient if I did it the other way.  We've also been told that we have about an hour to email, whereas before the missionaries have taken whatever time they've wanted.  So basically...it will be wonderful!  I'll try to make sure I tell you all the workings and such :)  Oh and people can still email me-I just can't email them-so make sure they include an address where I can write back.

I hope everything is going well at home!    I heard the Brigham temple has open house dates-how exciting!  Are you planning on going?  How are plans for trek coming?  Dad-there's a sister here whose parents are both from Ireland-and her mom served a mission in Scotland.  Her last name is Boyle (sp?) She guessed her parents both served their missions from about 79-81-her dad served in England.  And they're from Dundalk (sp?) I don't know if you'd know them and I don't know her mom's maiden name but we were both so excited to have the connection.  

I do fully attribute my language to the Lord-this is definitely His work.  While I feel that I don't speak well at all-I am still amazed by what I can understand and say-it is definitely only possible through our Father.  One thing I really love about that is it gives us another way to testify.  People always ask how we've learned the language so quickly, etc-so it's easy to say "Through God's help."  Funny story from this last week: we were out ման գալing (walking around) and talking with people-we stopped to talk with a man on the street-we exchanged typical greetings-he asked if I was Armenian (I've since come to find out, since several people, and not just members, have asked if I am Armenian, that it a very typical Armenian has dark hair and blue eyes....no wonder they ask), we talked about how we were from America, serving, that we're not married (lots of people think that is ամոտ or shameful), etc.  He then proceeded to ask if I would marry him and take him to America.....Sis. Bailey and I laughed pretty hard afterwards considering he was probably Dad's age :)  Not to mention that we had already said multiple times that we were representives of Christ and serving missions.  People are funny sometimes.  It's like they think that if they live elsewhere their life will suddenly become better-like living in the US is magical or something.  While I fully love and have come to appreciate more the many blessings, rights, and freedoms we have in the US, as we all know, real joy doesn't come from the money we make, the possessions we have, or where we live.  Joy comes through our Savior and living His gospel.  Through serving others and living righteously.  All over the world this single truth is evident.  Just this morning Sis. Bailey and I were talking about how there are some sins that cause diseases to come upon people.  Some pretty evident ones like smoking and lung cancer, and others that are maybe less evident.  I love what it says in the BD about faith-"Faith is kindled by hearing the testimony of those who have faith (Rom. 10:14–17). Miracles do not produce faith, but strong faith is developed by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ; in other words, faith comes by righteousness....Faith is a principle of action and of power, and by it one can command the elements and/or heal the sick, or influence any number of circumstances when occasion warrants (Jacob 4:4–7). Even more important, by faith one obtains a remission of sins and eventually can stand in the presence of God.... A lack of faith leads one to despair, which comes because of iniquity."  We talked about how often people are become depressed because of the choices they make.  I was reminded once more of the scripture in Mosiah 2:41 "I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and ahappy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are bblessed in all things" I know I say it every time-but we really are SO blessed!  To have the fullness of the Gospel-and everything we need to return back to our Father.  I feel so blessed to be able to share that message!  

So this last week was pretty good.  It was a little rough, but so good.  We did a lot of ման գալing-and some meetings-hoping to find some new investigators.  Friday we had this wonderful meeting with a family that is from here orginally, moved to Russia, where some of them joined the church, then moved back here.  Their daughter-in-law is not a member and some of the family isn't active.  So we went, anticipating to teach the family about the importance of the Book of Mormon and continuing to read it, etc.  When we got there, the mom, tatik, and daughter-in-law (I'm going to call her the hars....it's easier to type) were the only ones home.  The hars immediately ran up to us and gave us hugs-which has not been her usual reception of us-we were surprised.  So we taught about the Book of Mormon-what it means for each of them and why it's important to have a testimony of it.  The hars was SO receptive!  I guess in the past they've asked if she would read it and she never really said either way, but we asked if she would read it and she wholeheartedly committed to read it!  And the spirit was so strong!  We're praying she begins to read it and that she wants to continue to meet with us!  It was SO great!  Saturday and Sunday were a little more rough-but good.  Sunday we were hoping for at least 5 people to come to church and no one did :( I think the Lord must truly be so patient with us and how we use our agency, especially since He can see the many blessing we could receive if we would just use our agency to choose good.  Sometimes it's hard because no one seems to want to listen-but I know the Lord has prepared people to be taught!  And they are waiting for the truth!  We are working to find those who are ready!

I love feeling how much and seeing how much the Lord is aware of us!  And how much He trusts us with His work.  I was thinking about Nephi-in the book of Helamen-and how he was serving amongst such wicked people-but the Lord calls him blessed-because of His obedience and unwearingness in serving.  Then the Lord shows just how much He trust him and tells him that whatever he asks will be done because the Lord knows he will not ask anything amiss.  Can you imagine being at the point?  Where you want so much to do the Lord's will and have worked to do His will so much that the Lord knows, really knows that you will not ask anything that is not according to His will.  Are we praying in a way that shows the Lord that we only want His will?  Are we working to fulfill His will?  Are we using the Atonement in our lives the way Elder Bednar says we can? "Grace is the divine assistance or heavenly help each of us desperately needs to qualify for the celestial kingdom. Thus, the enabling power of the Atonementstrengthens us to do and be good and to serve beyond our own individual desire and natural capacity....The Savior has suffered not just for our iniquities but also for the inequality, the unfairness, the pain, the anguish, and the emotional distresses that so frequently beset us. There is no physical pain, no anguish of soul, no suffering of spirit, no infirmity or weakness that you or I ever experience during our mortal journey that the Savior did not experience first. You and I in a moment of weakness may cry out, “No one understands. No one knows.” No human being, perhaps, knows. But the Son of God perfectly knows and understands, for He felt and bore our burdens before we ever did. And because He paid the ultimate price and bore that burden, He has perfect empathy and can extend to us His arm of mercy in so many phases of our life. He can reach out, touch, succor—literally run to us—and strengthen us to be more than we could ever be and help us to do that which we could never do through relying upon only our own power."   Ես գիտեմ որ Հիսուս Քրիստոսն իրոկ մեր փրկիչն է և որ ինքը իրոկ գիտի բոլոր մեր զգացումներն ու մտահոգությունները: Քրիստոսի միջոցով մենք կարող ենք մակրվել: Ինքը և մեր Հայրը մեզ շատ են սիրում: 

Ձեզ շատ եմ սիում: Շատ շնորհակալ եմ Ձեզ համար:

Մեծ սիրով

Քույր Բրադբենթ     

ps-normally p-day is Monday....so I'll let you know when its not.  Also, we'll be working out when we can call/skype on Mother's day, so I'll be sure to let you know.  Love you all!  Have a great week!    

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