It sounds like you had a great start to the new year! How neat to be able to listen to Colter-I also don't know him well, but so cool to hear of his strength and testimony! The gospel truly is the only foundation that will keep us strong!
Merry Christmas from Armenia! We ended our New Years week by celebrating Christmas-since here they celebrate it on Jan 6. New Years here is so wonderful! For the last week nearly every store has been closed, and people just go all over visiting their friends and family. Let me paint a picture of what it typically looks like when you go into an Armenian's home in the week following New Years. You walk in the door (normal everywhere, I know :) ), everyone greats you, says something about the New Year and they invite you to come into their main room. When you walk in, there is a table in the center of the room, filled (and I mean filled) with food and decorations (more filled than our typical Thanksgiving dinner...), there are always new plates out for the guests, and there is an array of typical Armenian food (mmmm, yum). As you sit, the host encourages you to dig in, and if you don't start taking something, they just put some of everything on your plate (and a lot of everything at that). If by chance your plate start to looks a little empty, the host will again invite you to take more or will again place more on your plate. Everyone, even in the most humble of circumstances has a table set something similar to this. And everywhere you go, whether a new acquaintance or someone you know well, they treat you like family and they give you the best they have. It is so humbling to be among these people! To learn from them and to feel of the immense love they have-I just love them so much!
With that in mind, we had a miracle for a week-there is no other way to explain it! I wish I could tell every detail about the miracles we had, but I'm afraid it would just take too long to try and tell you, so instead I'll tell you about the neatest experience we had with the Griffiths. We had gone to stop by an investigator's home, to take treats and wish her a Happy New Year, but we knew she was busy, so we didn't plan on staying. She ended up not being home when we went, so we headed to our other appointment, also with an investigator. She also wasn't home, but she said she would be home in about 15 minutes, so we sat outside, waiting for her to arrive. After 5 or 10 minutes of practicing some Armenian with the Griffiths, this man, along with his two grandsons came and invited us into their home. I love how these people just open their doors to us! We tried to politely refuse, but he insisted. Because of the New Year celebrations, their table was filled with food and they insisted on feeding us. I honestly felt a part of their family as we chatted with each other and as we explained our purpose and why we are here in the first place. It was truly a miracle-every minute of it. The day following this miracle, Sister Nelsen was able to taste for the first time some of the hardships and persecution that come with being a missionary. We had a couple of rather mean persecutors and then perhaps the saddest of all, the family we found a couple of weeks ago told us they didn't want to listen to us and didn't want us in their home. It's always so interesting to me how there are such extreme opposites within just a couple of days. I guess it's just more evidence that this truly is God's work and that Satan wants to do all in his power to ruin it.
I love you family (and friends)!! Thank you for all you do! I read this verse, Alma 44:4-5, and I thought of you all when I read about the "sacred support" of their wives and children. I can't help but feel so grateful and happy to have so much support behind me! Especially when I think of those who leave home without the support of anyone they know. Thank you for being you! Thank you for your prayers and support! I appreciate it so much!
I love you! I hope this week goes well! Be strong and remember who you are and whose you are!