Tuesday, December 30, 2014


We got to skype with Madi on Christmas Eve!! We will upload some pictures a little later!

Christmas miracles!

We're excited for the week of Christmas! 

So that I don't have to rewrite most of my thoughts from the week:

We've been blessed with so many tender mercies and miracles this past week. Our investigator  that is going to be baptized on Thursday (Christmas!) has been golden since day 1 that we met her and she accepted a baptismal date, and she continues to progress and surprise us at every turn with how ready she is to accept the gospel. Yesterday at church she decided that she wanted to be baptized on the 25th instead of the 27th because 1) there's a stake RS activity on the 27th, and 2) because she wanted it to be when most of the world celebrates Christmas. (Armenia's Christmas is on January 6th). She's very sensitive to the Spirit and says that all of this just feels right to her - which is such a proof to me that the Lord truly does prepare people to receive His message. As we taught her this week about the commandments, laws, and ordinances of the gospel, it was amazing to see how much of her life was already in accordance with the teachings of the gospel! She's been one of our miracles - and we love her so much.

Another miracle that we've had this week had to do with the family that we found a couple of weeks ago who live out in Harbert. This week three of the children came to church and are going to be part of our Christmas program at the activity on Friday! They're so wonderful - and we're praying and working very hard that the rest of their family will also be open to the gospel. We found out this week that this family is actually two families - and that the parents of the 3 girls who are the most interested (ages 9,12, and 14) are actually living in Russia, so we're praying for a miracle with that too. Their older brother is lives with them and is opening up to the gospel. It's been a bit hard trying to catch the whole family when they're all at home. 

We're also still trying to work with the son and husband of S, a recent convert. They both have had smoking issues that have been hard to get rid of, and they've just been going through some hard times. S might be headed to Russia for a little while because her sister there is really sick. We've had some good experiences with them this past week though - her son came to the Larsen's FHE with us last Monday and really enjoyed being with the other single adults - and the Rindlessbacker's lesson was exactly what Andranik needed. 

I don't know if you remember, but last transfer I wrote about a less active woman that we had been working with - whose granddaughter was an intvestigator at one time. There have been a lot of prayers and tears from the Center Sisters for that family the last 2 transfers. She finally came back to church this week, and it was nothing short of a Christmas miracle. Her whole family has so much potential - and things are finally coming together for them.

This week my faith has really been strengthened in the fact that the Lord is truly over everything in His work. We had an experience this week while talking on our way home one night with a woman who was out walking her dog. When we introduced ourselves as representatives of Jesus Christ, she said "You're young! Don't you have anything better to do? Shame on you!" and stormed off. Sister Bekmezian and I talked about that experience a little bit, and just how there is absolutely nothing better that we could be doing that what we are doing now. It reminded me of the scripture in Acts 5 when Peter and John have just been freed from prison, and a council who had - in a much more intense way than ours - given them the "shame on you" treatment. "And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ." We are truly so blessed to be counted worthy to be representatives of our Savior, and to have the opportunity every day to help others find out about the "good tidings of great joy" by testifying of the Savior and His restorted gospel every where that we are. He truly is the gift of Christmas and our message to the world. I love Him, and am so thankful that I get to spend this Christmas serving Him and watching a dear Armenian friend of mine make an eternal commitment to follow Him that will forever change her future. 

I'm sure that you have all seen the "He is the Gift" video on lds.org, but I love the part that describes the type of gift that Christ is for us - a gift of love, a gift of life, a gift of peace, and a gift of hope. Through the Savior's Atonement - we truly do receive a gift of love from our Father in Heaven, a gift that gives us hope and peace. A gift so that we can "have life and have it more abundantly." 

This is all just a hodge-podge of thoughts - but I hope that it communicates a little bit of how wonderful our Savior is, how much I love Him and am thankful for His birth, life, and Atonement, and how much He's doing for the people of Armenia right now. Love you all! 

Sister Kieffer

Miracle of the week!

Hello all!

Miracle of the week! Baptisms, baptisms, baptisms galore in the mission. It's been so wonderful. Our investigator who came back to church about a month ago after dropping us last transfer got baptized this Saturday! It was a terrific service. This woman is so wonderful. She's really, really shy. So she was pretty nervous to bear her testimony, and when she did it was really simple. She said "I know that Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten Son of God and that this church is the one true church on the earth. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen." I felt the Spirit so strongly when she said that - and just those are the things that are the fundamentals of the gospel. Christ is the Son of God (and everything that that entails), and that His church has been restored. There is so much meaning in those two simple statements. 

There have been so many miracles here in our mission during this Christmas season, and this last week we had 12-13 baptisms! (I'm not quite sure why President reported it to us as 12-13, it would seem that there could only be 12 or 13, but who knows...?) We met one of our other investigators at a baptism later that day, and it was really special to be there with her and see her get excited about her baptism in a couple weeks. She kept telling everyone whenher baptism was going to be.

I was reading through those letters you sent me as a family, and I'm so sorry I've been bad at answering all of your questions, but here are some answers to some of dad's questions in his letter:

Is there good chocolate in Armenia?
The best! They have lots of Kinder chocoloate, so we're pretty happy campers.
Christmas/Holiday foods/traditions:
Christmas is pretty much nonexistant, it's all about new years. They have christmas trees and things, but they are called holiday trees and everyone associates them with the week-long new years party. Everyone travels around from neighbor's to neighbor's houses and to their family members and eats food for about a week straight. We're looking forward to the adventure that is going to be!
Common Armenian names:
Female: Hasmik. Anahit. Lusine. Karine
Male: Ashot. Artak. Gagik. Grigor. Samvel. Karen

We had Sister Andrus and Sister Long come to our district meeting for Family History training here - and I loved it! (They're the missionaries up in the fmaily history center - a  thing they just started this transfer) The Lord's work is just amazing - especially how complete it is. As I was studying a little bit in D&C 138, I was really hit with how amazing it is that the greats of the greats are working on the other side of the veil to preach the gospel to the ancestors of those that we are serving, and our own ancestors. It truly is a miracle that we are now more about to do that work here in Armenia. (That's a long story for another day about all the miracles that happened to get a family history center here in Armenia with records from the Armenian Apostolic church that we're able to use to do family history work and temple ordinaces for the people here.)

I'm so grateful for my Savior and His love for each of us. We are so blessed to have His Atonement available to us in so many ways in our lives. This is truly His work, and it's happening on both sides of the veil, right now. 

Love you all so much!


Sister Kieffer

I have the best family.

Hey you all! I got the packages this week! You all are the best. I loved, loved, loved the cut out family and all of the memories! I didn't know if I was supposed to open that until Christmas, but I decided to play it safe and just put the wrapped things under our newly-dropped-off Christmas tree! We had interviews with President Carlson this week after we got back from splits (I was in Malatsia with Sister Tengurian and Sister Bekmezian stayed in Center with Sister Wiederholt), and Sister Carlson found out that we didn't have a Christmas tree. When we came home that night from appointments we had a little surprise on our table! ..Though Sister Carlson still won't admit it was her.. Anyway, as I read through those memories, and as I've been reading through the advent calander that Cici sent (brilliant idea, Cici!), I've realized just how blessed I've been to grow up in a family that has fun together, that loves each other, and that is working together to live the gospel. I definitely took that for granted, and probably still don't understand just how big of a blessing that is. So, I'm thankful for all of you! 

I'm sorry that I haven't been too good at the large plates deal, I've sort of been running around like crazy and have so many things to think about, that by the time I sit down at email, the past week is all just a blur. I've realized this past week that I need to slow down just a little bit so that I can more fully feel and recognize the spirit and so that I can better realize all that the Lord is doing here in Armenia. So hopefully my writing will also reflect that in the future. You all know me- I want to do all that I can, and offer all that I can to the Lord, but we have been told not to run faster than we have strength, and I need to be better at that, and be better at relying on the Lord instead of trying to take it all on my own. 

That being said, I am so excited for all of you and all the great things that you are doing at home. I wish I could tell you how much I look up to all of you and your wonderful examples of serving the Lord by the way you live your lives. Bennett - I can't believe all that you are doing and taking on, you are an inspiration! I know that the Lord is rewarding and will continue to reward all of your efforst to do good. I'm taking some time today to write some letter letters to each of you so that I can better explain just how proud I am of all of you, but just let it be known that I LOVE my family, and they mean the most in the world to me. 

Small plates:

We have a baptism this week! She has her interview today, and then is getting baptized on Saturday! We had Stake Conference yesterday and it was so amazing to see so many Armenian saints! They really are the pioneers here in Armenia. I have been so amazed at their examples of faith, tenacity, and love for our Savior. Honestly, if I can ever develop even a tiny, tiny portion of the faith that they have.. I don't know what. But they are amazing. 

I love you all, I love Armenia, I love missions, and I love my Savior. I know He lives and loves us, and understands us perfectly.

Love, Sister Kieffer

Birthday (week) Miracles! (and when dd everyone get so big??)

We've had a miraculous week in the area of investigators this week! Last Sunday, a former investigator of ours showed up at church and wanted to meet with us again. Sister Thueson and I were teaching her and her daughter the beginning of last transfer. We met with her on Tuesday and she told us that she had decided "that she wanted to live a life of faith." I remember when I saw her at church on Sunday, there had just been a change in her countenacne, that she seemed more burdened and weighed down than she had when we had previously taught her. As we taught that lesson with her on Tuesday, the opposite change in her countenance was visible. She was visibly less burdened as she talked about her desires to follow the Savior. We talked about how much God loves her and knows her and her circumstances, and testified of how much her Redeemer loves her and has His arms reached out toward her. She accepted a baptismal date that same meeting! For me, her being ready to take that step to be baptized is an answer to so many prayers. Christ's grace and power is real. 

This week we've really seen the fulfillment of the promise that the Lord will lead us to those who are ready, or he'll lead them to us. One of our members brought her sister to church last Sunday, and after church we met with her briefly and talked a little bit about the Restoration, the Book of Mormon, and how she could receive an answer for herself. She's only able to meet Sundays, so we didn't meet with her again until this next Sunday. After church, we had a lesson with her in which she told us that as she was reading the Book of Mormon and the Liahona, it just seemed right to her. In her words, as she read her thoughts were "right, that is how it is." She expressed that she felt good when she came to our church and wanted to join. We were a bit blown away with her preparedness, but I think we just didn't realize until that point just how much the Lord does really prepare people to accept His gospel. (Random borthday conincidence - the baptismal date that we extended to her happened to be the day before her birthday, so she'll be recieving thegreatest gift she can for her birthday this year - the gift of the Holy Ghost!)

I can't tell you all just how thankful I am to be here in Armenia. I was reflecting on some of the miracles we've seen this past week and past transfer and I have just realized how much the faith and desire of the Armenian people to follow Christ really has prepared them for the gospel. Especially with the experience above, Armenians are really gifted at paying attention to how they feel - and for that reason are really, really good at recognizing the spirit and accepting truth. I konw that this is the Lord's work and us missionaries here in Armenia (and all around the world - but especially in Armenia) are so blessed to be here. Thanksgiving this year was the best one I've had - there's nothing more rewarding - or more worth being thankful for -  than being in the service of our all-knowing, all-powerful God who knows each and every one of His children individually.

Thank you so much for all the pictures! I can't believe everyone is so big! I hope you all beat the turkey in the turkey trot this year! I promise I'll be better at sending pictures (the problem seems to be actually taking them... so we'll get better at that as well.)  
I love you all and I hope you have the best start to this monrth of Christmas!

...One funny thing from this week: 
Last night I'm on the phone..

less active woman from our branch: "Which sister am I speaking with?"

"This is Sister Kieffer."

"Wait, which one are you?"

"We saw you today at church, I was sitting on your row, I have (..I couldn't remember the word for blonde or  light-colored) ... uh... white hair." 

"What? How old are you??"

"Sorry, sorry, I don't have white hair, I couldn't remember the w--"

"no worries - you will dye it! see you this week, bye!"

*hangs up phone*

Also.. our new apartment has all wood floor, and it's been giving Sister Bekmezian some good laughs to watch me fall at least once or twice a day.. I just get in a hurry to do all the things and socks are slippery.. 

Love you!

Sister Kieffer

How is the transfer already halfway over???

I can't believe that it's already the end of another week! It's been such a good one! I can't believe it, but last Friday marked 6 months since I left for the MTC... Crazy. And I'm going to be 20 in a week.. yikes. It's flying by too fast! 

We had a zone conference this week with President Bennett from our Area Presidency. He and President Carlson both gave us some really great counsel in helping the Lord's work go forward here in Armenia. Some things from that to avoid retyping:

One fun thing that we were able to apply right off the bat from President Bennett's meeting was doing roleplays with those that we are asking for referrals. That night we had a meeting with a recent convert in our branch, who really wants her husband and family to learn about the gospel but they aren't very desirous at the moment. We roleplayed with her about how she could ask him to sit in with us. She loved it, and after practicing a couple times, she did just that. He didn't want to sit in with us at that time, but as we were leaving after the lesson, he promised us that would next time - which is a huge step from where he used to be just a few weeks ago and wouldn't even say hello to us. 

We were meeting with an investigator that we met on the streets that hasn't really been progressing, and were going to meet with her and let her know how much we loved her, and let her know that we want to keep meeting with her, but that she needed to do her part too in order for us to be able to do that. As we were reading with her from the Book of Mormon about when Christ came to America, there was a change in her countenance and after we had finished reading the verses we had chosen, she just kept reading quietly to herself and as then looked up at Sister Bekmezian and I and said the equivalent of "how is baptism performed?" We wanted to jump out of our seats we were so excited! We talked with her about baptism and tried to commit her to a baptismal date, which she didn't want to choose yet. She's coming around, and showed a lot more interest in finding out for herself, whereas with our few lessons before, we felt as is she mostly wanted to have us over as guests.

Another tender mercy this week is that our recent convert son and husband both accepted baptismal dates this week! It means so much for their family, and I couldn't be happy for them. This week when we were out in their village their daughter finally set up a time for us to meet with them as well! So many miracles are happening out there. We had a great lesson after church yesterday with her son  to finally kick the smoking in the bud. 

This week, espeically after President Bennett's meeting, I've been trying to focus on the Savior a lot more, which is only fitting as we are here as His servants. I'm so thankful for Him, His sacrifice for us, and this opporunity that we have to be set apart as His servants and help our Armenian brothers and sisters understand a little bit more about just how much He loves them how much He has done for them, and how much He is willing and wanting to do for them if they will come follow Him. I know He really is our Savior, and that He has so much in store for these wonderful Armenian people and the church here!

Oh! Other miracle! One of our old investigators showed up at church again this past week and wants to meet with us again! I can't tell you how happy I was! If you remember back to the very first weeks of last transfer (a feat that is almost impossible for me too..) she and her daughter are some of my very best friends.

The Large Plates:
This week I couldn't help but break everything. We were leaving our apartment for Zone Conference at 7:20ish Thursday morning, and I went to flip the lightswitch for the light in our stairwell - which resulted in the lightbulb breaking... The next day I was trying to grab an Armenian Liahona off the top shelf of our bookshelf and the the whole bookshelf ended up falling on me... 
We moved this morning! Our new apartment is really awesome, but I'm a little bit sad to leave my neighbor friends... We're really excited to be able to sleep through the night and get through studies without the co2 alarms going off though. 

I know this is really long, but I just wanted to share one thing that was a tender mercy for me this morning. Sometimes it can be frustrating when we don't feel as if we are measuring up to what the Lord needs us to be, or when we feel that we're not accomplishing all of the things that we need to, or (in the case of one of our investigators) we don't think we're good enough yet to take the next step in following our Savior. Sister Bekmezian was sharing with me some thoughts from a talk she read this morning and one of the quotes she read referred a little bit to this selection from the 93rd Section of the Doctrine and Covenants, which I went back and read. 

6 And John saw and bore record of the fulness of my glory, and the fulness of John’s record is hereafter to be revealed.

 7 And he bore record, saying: I saw his glory, that he was in the beginning, before the world was;

 8 Therefore, in the beginning the Word was, for he was the Word, even the messenger of salvation—

 9 The light and the Redeemer of the world; the Spirit of truth, who came into the world, because the world was made by him, and in him was the life of men and the light of men.

 10 The worlds were made by him; men were made by him; all things were made by him, and through him, and of him.

 11 And I, John, bear record that I beheld his glory, as the glory of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, even the Spirit of truth, which came and dwelt in the flesh, and dwelt among us.

 12 And I, John, saw that he received not of the fulness at the first, but received grace for grace;

 13 And he received not of the fulness at first, but continued from grace to grace, until he received a fulness;

 14 And thus he was called the Son of God, because he received not of the fulness at the first.

 15 And I, John, bear record, and lo, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Ghost descended upon him in the form of a dove, and sat upon him, and there came a voice out of heaven saying: This is mybeloved Son.

 16 And I, John, bear record that he received a fulness of the glory of the Father;

 17 And he received all power, both in heaven and on earth, and the glory of the Father was with him, for he dwelt in him.

 18 And it shall come to pass, that if you are faithful you shall receive the fulness of the record of John.

 19 I give unto you these sayings that you may understand and know how to worship, and know what you worship, that you may come unto the Father in my name, and in due time receive of his fulness.

 20 For if you keep my commandments you shall receive of his fulness, and be glorified in me as I am in the Father; therefore, I say unto you, you shall receive grace for grace.

I'll let you all draw what you will from those verses - but it reminded me that in this life we learn and receive "grace for grace" and that there's a process that we have to go through to receive the fulness and become the people that the Lord wants us to be. What's even more miraclulous is that the Lord has provided the way for us to do that because He already has received the fullness, and has all power. As we follow his commandments and his counsel, and are faithful to him, we too can be partakers of that fullness of joy - not only "in due time" but also "grace for grace" along the way with His help. It's been so rewarding to see that process taking place in peoples' lives as they come to "understand and know how to worship, and know what [they] worship." 

I'm so thankful to be here in Armenia. I love these people, I love my Savior, and I love this work. I know it's His. 

Love you all!

Sister Kieffer

Good morning EPEBAH.

Welcome back to Armenia and the best place on earth. 

This week I've been thinking a lot about the importance of eternal perspective, and just how blessed we are that the gospel gives us that. Yesterday after church we were teaching a woman that is a neighbor of 2 of our recent converts about the Restoration. We've met her a couple times when we've been out in that village, and she ended up coming to Yerevan with them today when they came to church. As we were teaching her about the Restoration, she pointed out the fact that all of these "American churches" had come into Armenia after the earthquake and their independence from the Soviet Union, and how to her that seemed as though there were a bunch of churches or businesses that were trying to take advantage of the Armenian people that were in need. In reality, God was preparing this people and this land to receive the restored gospel, and he opened the door to do that here in Armenia at that time. The same goes for the restoration of the church and the movement of religious excitement in America at that time. I'm just grateful for the perspective and insight that the gospel gives us into the happenings in history and in the world so that we really can have peace and assurance in the world that seems to be going.. well, just a tad bit crazy. 

Church this week - again - was another tender mercy for me. We had a little branch choir for the first time this week and it was so great. Haha I couldn't stop grinning from the our little conductor lady stamping her foot at people when they needed to step forward and sing. I wish I could just record some Armenian hymn singing for you. It's the best. Another tender mercy at church this week was when we were having a lesson about the plan of salvation and our recent convert just pulls the piece of paper out that we had drawn the plan of salvation on a couple of days previous when we were reviewing it with her. I was sitting on the back row with her because I was translating for Elder and Sister Larson, and it was really cute to watch her wait until no one knew the answer for something, and then she'd pipe up from the back row. She's terrific. 

This week has definitely had its fair share of disappointments as well, but they truly are all swallowed up in the joy of the big picture and knowing that we're a part of the Lord's work. 

After reading both Bennett's and Mom's letters that both mentioned the need to be positive and keep things simple in this life, I just wanted to add my testimony to that. Sometimes it can be a little bit overwhleming when it feels like there are so many things to do, especially when all those things are good things. That's definitely felt by me here sometimes. I told Sister Bekmezian yesterday that sometimes I wish that there were 6 pairs of us so that we could do all the things that would be good to do. But- I have to just trust in the fact that God called two of us here and has things that He wants us to accomplish. The same is true in all of our lives. God has things for us to accomplish, to learn, and to do, and has guided us to this point in our lives for us to accomplish them. 

I love you all and hope you have the best week!


Sister Kieffer