Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Skype!!!

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!

Love,

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!

Love,

Sister Kieffer

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A plethora of pictures
















THE BEST WEEK EVER

Well folks, I really wish you all could just be here in Armenia because it's the best place, with the best people, and where the most miracles are happening. 

The highlight of the week, and so that I don't have to retype it:
I think that the crowning moment of this week for me was yesterday during our ward conference - our Branch President said during his remarks that he could feel the love that has grown between our members, and I too could feel that yesterday. As I looked around at the people present at our meeting, I caught a little glimpse of just how much the Lord's hand has been in the work here in our branch. There was a mother and daughter present who hadn't been coming for quite some time, that have started coming again after we "randomly" ran into them in the street on the way to an appointment. I could on and on with more examples of individuals and families that were there and that served as a witness to me that the Lord is truly leading this work. However, I'll just say that so many of our prayers as a companionship and my personal prayers were answered yesterday during church. Our new convert S was baptized and confirmed this week - and I wish I could adequately describe how much joy and happiness that brought her, me, and her friends who introduced her to the gospel. Some little tender mercies during the past few days with that: After the baptismal ordinance, I ran back to see if I could help S with anything, and she turned to me - she was just glowing - and said "I'm so thankful to you all, I've been waiting for this day for such a long time." S is a testament to me that the Lord really does pour out his spirit to prepare the hearts of the children of men to receive his gospel. When she was confirmed by President H on Sunday, he blessed her that she would be a light to her family and that through her example, her family would be brought to the knowledge and joy that she had. I callled her last night to see how she was doing and feeling about everything, and one of the first things she said to me was "I talked to A (her daughter) and asked if she would like for you two to come over so that she and her family can hear God's word, and she said yes!" She acted so quickly on the blessing that she had been promised from the Stake President, and I know that we will see the fruits of that faith very soon. 

I spent some time reflecting this week on the journey that's it's been to get this investigator to baptism. I was thinking back to when I was on splits with Sister Morreal before she left to go back to America, and how she said that she felt that she had been called to Armenia because there were specific people here for her to learn from, teach. amd love. This investigator is definitely one of those people for me. Two others who I am so happy I've met are leaving on their missions to Ukraine this week! These girls (sisters?) were some of my very first friends here in Armenia. and on one side, I'm really sad to see them go, and on the other, I know that they are going to be such a blessing to the people in Ukraine. We had a little dance party as a branch for them, so that was pretty great too. 
One other person I wanted to mention is a recent convert that was baptized when Sister Bowen was still here in Center, who we're going to see tongiht. She's really, really sick with cancer - and she is the sweetest, most faithful woman. Today I was studying the plan of salvation a little bit for her, and as a was reading and thinking about how much I wish that I could've been here when she was healthy and could do more of the things that she wants to, the reality of the fact that she really will receive a perfectly healthy body at the time of resurrection was pressed into my heart. And I know we'll be friends then too. 

I can't tell you how happy I've been the past few days. Pictures are coming really soon, promise. 

Because the fam wants more "large plates" items and not just the small plates:
Our CO2/smoke alarms have been going off for the past couple of weeks every few nights, and hopefully we won't have to move because of it. There's not a gas leak or anything in our apartment - our landlord make sure to check for that last week with a lighter.. yes, a lighter... Last week I was exhausted because we hadn't slept through the night for most of the week. Along with that, I was on and off the phone with our mission president, our landlord, and the Armenian that helps with all of the housing contracts to try to figure it out. Honestly we think it's because there are a lot of individual homes outside our apartment that have their smoke stacks pointed straight up, which makes the smoke travel directly up to our window. But once we moved the detectors out of the windowsill (is that how you spell that?), it hasn't been a problem. I've learned lots of really obscure words in Armenian because of it, that's for sure. Rest assured that all is well now though, because it's been 5 days (maybe 6, I don't remember) since it's gone off. 

One little spiritual thing I've been thinking about today to end off this letter:
This morning I was studying in the 62nd chapter of Alma, where Captain Moroni is on his way to go to battle against the kingmen who had overthrown Pahoran from the judgment seat. As he's going, it says in the 4th verse that "he did raise the standard of liberty in whatsoever plave he did enter, and gained whatsoever force he could in all his march towards the land of Gideon." In essence here, Captain Moroni is fighting the same battle for liberty that we all as disciples of Christ fight each day. As he went about doing that, he did all he could in all places that he was in to gather people to join in that cause. It hit me this morning that Captain Moroni was keeping his baptismal covenant by doing this - he was standing as a witness of God at all time, and in all things, and in all places. I know that as we do that as missionaries, members, and disciples of Christ, we will see as Moroni did, that "thousands [will] flock to [that] standard" and can have the same joy, peace, and perspective that we enjoy. 

Love you all, have the best week!

Remember how I said two weeks ago was the craziest week of my life? I was mistaken.

Hello there all!

Starting out with the big news of the week:

MY ARMENIAN MOTHER PASSED HER BAPTISMAL INTERVIEW!!!!!!!!
I can't tell you how happy I am. She's going to be baptized this Saturday at 2. And it's so wonderful. She's the one I was talking about last week with the son who's so awesome too. He's the next Stake President. It's gonna happen. 

To answer some questions:
Training is the best. Sister Bekmezian is so wonderful, and we've been killing it. (sorry for the slang...) Sometimes it can be daunting to look at our weekly planning whiteboard and see the names and needs of all of the people that the Lord has trusted us with, but I just have to rely on the fact that God has trusted us with these people, and knows that we can do all that we need to with his help. 

A proud moment for me (also a little bit funny):
We were in a marshunti this week, and we had started talking with the man sitting across from us. As we talked with him, he was very cordial and nice, but wasn't intereseted in learning about the gospel. Sister Bekmezian leaned over and whispered "I don't know what else to say to him." Half jokingly, I said "well, you could ask him for a referral." We went over how to ask if there was anyone he knew who might be interested, and then she couragously went for it. However, the man didn't understand what she was sayin, but the lady next to us did, and was trying to help her ask the man. As all of this is happening, we're apporiaching our marshutni stop, and the door opens. Another man across the marshutni figures out whats Sister Bekmezian is trying to say and just ends up saying to the whole marshutni, "She's preaching and she wants to know if you know anyone she can teach." It was the best. unofrtunately, no referrals received, but we sure did try. 

Church yesterday was crazy. Crazy. We have six missionaries in our branch, Sister Bekmezian, me, Elder Powell, Elder Miller, and Sister and Elder Larson, a senior missionary couple. Elder Miller and Elder Powell are the assistants and because of that. they spent most of the week (including yesterday) in Georgia doing some exchanges and training with the missionaries there. Since they weren't there yesterday, I translated for all 3 blocks of meetings for the Larsons, and one of the Elders' investigators who speaks English. When we arrived at church at 10:30, there was a big group sitting out on the steps because no one had a key, so luckily we did and let everyone in. After that, we couldn't get the air conditioner to turn off so it was freezing. The pianist didn't show up on time, so Sister Bekmezian ended up playing. It was five minutes to 11 and not a single person from the branch presidency was there yet, so Elder Larson, as the Elders' Quorum President, was going to have to conduct, which meant I was going to need to translate for him as he conducted. Luckily our first counselor showed up just in time. Throughout all 3 blocks of meetings, and especially inbetween, I was being physically pulled and dragged by people to translate so that they could talk to the Larsons, or to the Elders' investigator, or to see if I could fix the air conditioner. It was crazy. We also had a beggar woman show up in relief society and then a member from our branch introduced us to her friend who wanted to teach us about how her brother is a prophet and the Christ is knowledge. I know that this paragraph isn't coherent, but that pretty arcurately decribes church. Everything ended up working out well though, so all is well!

As always, there were so many tender mercies this week, one of them being the day that our investigator passed her interview. President and Sister Carlson came out to the village they live in to do her interview with her, and while we were there, the Malatsia Elders were doing some service with one of the other senior missionaries, Elder Rindlessbacker, at our members' greenhouse. anyway, we were doing a lesson with our investigators son, Sister Carlson, and our member down the street duing our investigator's interview, and we had felt like we should teach about the priesthood. Sister Bekmezian realized that there were four Elders there in the village that day and that they could give our investigator a priesthood blessing to help him quit smoking - something we've been trying to organize for weeks. It was incredible and the spirit was so strong. The gospel is true. 

Anyway, there is so much more I could say, but this is already long enough. Suffice it to say that I know that miracles are still happened in this day and age. I love being a missionary and it's the best decision I've made. I love everything about it, even the challenges. And I also love all of you!

Love,

Sisiter Kieffer

Oct 13

I know I've piled up a debt of owing you all some stories and letting you know what goes on in everyday life, so I'll let you know what's gone on and then there have been some things that I've been thinking about after listening to General Conference this past weekend. We're so blessed to have prophets of God on this earth to guide us.

This past week Sister Thueson and I went on splits with Sister Morreal and Sister Bowen, which was  great. Sister Morreal came down from Agapniak to Center with me, and Sister Thueson went to Agapniak with Sister Bowen. A quick expereince from that:

Sister Morreal and I went to visit with one of the familes that we're teaching - a part member family that we've been struggling to get to church. We actually hadn't been planning on meeting with them that day - but they had been a back up plan that we had (100 points to having back up plans). Right after we had walked in, said hello, and sat down, the grandma (the member) looked at us and told us "I'm never coming to church again," which is always our favorite way to start a lesson. I won't go into to all of the details about reasons why she felt that way, but it was heartbreaking - especially to see it affect the rest of her family who had just started accepting the gospel. We talked through it with her, and bore testimony of making and renewing covenants with our Savior, and the Spirit was there. And if no one else knows from that meeting, I know that the sacramental ordinance is of eternal importance. It was so hard to watch this woman that we love see her family having the spirit testify to them of the truthfulness of that principle, and then after having the spirit also remind her of that covenant that she has made, turn and say again "I know, buuut (insert any random excuse here)"

 
Some things I wanted to make sure I sent home after watching Gerenal Conference this weekend:
After hearing prohpet after prohpet remind us of the importance of following God's counsel as it comes through the mouths of his authorized servants (especially within our families), I was (and am) so grateful for a family that has always tried to put that first in our lives. I also know that the little, simple foundational things matter in our lives, and that truly small and simple things make a difference. I love this gospel, I know it's true, and I know that we have a loving Redeemer who knows us perfectly, and through whom we can become more than we can imagine. Serving Him is the biggest blessing we can have in our lives.

Love you all,

Sister Kieffer

Ode to Family

Hey there family!

Not much to report on this week as far as the missionary work - not much has changed since last week. We had Sister Fielding and Sister Belvedere from Vanadzor staying with us for a couple days this week - and I split and worked with Sister Fielding, which was fun. It's interesting to see how different people do the work, and I'm just so thankful that we are all so different - and that there are different uses and important uses for all of our different talents and abilities. 

This week I just wanted to write you all about how thankful I am for our family and for some little things that I may have never mentioned before:

I'm thankful that I shared a room with my two little sisters for almost all of high school and that we're such good friends. I remember being in college and hearing about other girls' relationships with their sisters and being so thankful that I have so much fun with my sisters and that we all love each other. I'm thankful for the dance parties we would have up in our room, singing broadway songs and just having fun together.

I'm thankful for parents that always put the gospel and our family first in their lives. I'm thankful for all of the times (and all of the attempts) we have had family night together. I was in the-every-transfer-interview with my mission president this last week after district meeting and he asked me if I had always had a strong testimony. After thinking about it for a minute, I said yes, and then he asked me where I think that came from. I really think that came from being in a home where I knew that my parents loved me and that they loved the gospel - and they encouraged me to act and recieve my own testimony. 

I'm thankful for the awesome examples that my siblings are to their friends and each other. I know sometimes it seems like our efforts to be good and to do the right things aren't making a difference, but I know that they are, even if that difference ends up just being the change that occurs in us as a result of doing what's right. 

I'm thankful we've always done things together and that we have fun together. I know that our memories as a family will be my favorites for the rest of my life. Keep on making them!

Most of all, I'm thankful for my Heavenly Father and the wonderful opportunity that he gave me to be part of our family. I'm thaknful that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, so that we can prepare ourselves to be eternal families and keep doing this wonderful work for the rest of forever!

I sure do love you all! 

Love,

Sister Kieffer

September 29

As I say every week, I sure do love these people here, and I love this gospel. Just some favorite moments and things I've been thinking about:

Sister Thueson and I were leaving a house of a little faimly we're teaching - we had timed our day jus right so that we could catch the one bus that heads back from their little village, and we were trying to book it back to the road to get there in time. As we're leaving, this family and their neighbors who introduced them to the church are really concrened that we're not going to make it in time, that we don't know where the stop is, and that we don't know how much to pay. We had started running down the road, and I just hear "Kieffer-Jan! hurry, or you won't make it !The stop's right at the end of the road!" We turn around and say "thanks! bye! see you soon!" and keep running then I hear "Kieffer-Jan! Make sure you only pay 100 dram!" That little process continued almost all the way down the road - I felt a little bit like my mom was calling after me while leaving for school. and maybe that doesn't seem like a big deal, and maybe it's not. But it's just one of those examples of how much these people love others and how quickly they are to become like family to each other. I remember when we taught them the Plan of Salvation, and you could literally see the change in their eyes. The mom of this family has always been religious, but has had questions that she's never been able to answer - and I'm so glad that we have the fulness of God's plan here on the earth today so that she could have those questions she's had all her life get answered. Her 22 year old son prayed at the end of that lesson, and as she was walking us back down the road, she just started crying and told us how much it mearnt to her to see him pray -and just how thankful she was for him. She went on to tell us about how he was beat up and teased in the banak (army) and how much happier he's beem and just what a differnce there's been. I hold on to that little memory when we have a harder time trying to help them keep their commitments. 

One other quick thing I've been thinking about with Armeniams and some of the people we serve with:
I also just wanted to say one more time how wonderful these Armenian people are that we get to serve. I think I learn more from them every day than I'll ever be able to teach them. Yes, there are imperfections as there are anywhere, and sometimes it's really noticable that the church is still kind of trying to get on it's feet here, but the more I get to know and love thses individuals, the more their strength and faith amazes me. Just one example - we visted a member in our brnach ths week who's in her 40s and lives with her brother and her parents. Her situation is really hard that way - her brother and parents don't like the church and she's suffered through some abuse by her alcoholic brother. But regardless of that, she just keeps moving forward in faith and trying to do what it right. This past week was really rough for her, and when we were in church on Sunday, she wouldn't let go of my hand for the whole sacrament meeting. She was called as a branch missionary, and after she was sustained, she just looked over at me with this big smile on her face and said "See? Things are already starting to work out for me." Sometimes I feel out of my depths to know how to help people through things I've never been though or never even imagined, but I find comfort in knowing that they have a Savior who knows them perfectly and can help them - and I'm privileged to get to be a part of that, and to see the ways that they choose everyday to follow Him. 

My heart's been a little bit heavy and really full this week as I've thought about trying to help people through things I've never experienced anything close to - I've never had to try to stop smoking, I've never had go through the repentance process for an abortion, I've never had to worry about my family hating me becuase I want to do the right thing, and I've never had to worry about not bring safe in my own home. I had a couple moments this week where I didn't know what to do for these people other than just cry for them and pray for them. I'm so grateful for the examples of faith and strenth that they are to me, and I sure do love them.

I hope you all have the best General Conference weekend! We're so blessed to have prophets to guide us today.

Love you all,

Sister Kieffer

9/14/14 - 9/21/14 aka, the best week ever

I don't even really know where to begin with this week, so I'll just start and hope it make sense. It'll probably be a little out of order, but hopefully it's understandable. 

Alrighty, so we had our mission missionary until Wednesday, which was really fun and she's the cutest - it was so awesome to see her get excited to be a missionary, and she was just fun to have with us too - it also made me realize how thankful I am for how happy we are as missionaries, and even espeically in our companionship - Sister Thueson and I are a good little team. 

On Wedensday, all of the sister missionaries serving in the Armenia region of our mission (haha all 16 of us), met at the mission office and split. I went to Charentsavan with Sister Barid, and it was really great there too. Nothing against other missions or anyting, but we have the best missionaores here. It was great to get to meet with some of their investigators and new members, and see just how much they mean to Sister Baird - I'm really thankful for that connection that we share with those we teach, and I know that it's a gift from a loving Heavenly Father, and a testament of the truthfulness of this work. Also Charensavan is up in the mountains, and I sure loved that. Armenian is just the best.

Other things this week:

The Elders baptized part of a family this week that actually dropped them last transfer, and things ended up working out later and it was just the best baptism. We took two of our investigators with us - a member of the family that we started teaching last week, and the girl we met on the street who randomly happened to be at the internet cafe that one time. Dang sometimes I wish I could just tell you names so it was more clear. Anyway, we go, and this girl (who is just the best) ends up knowing the girl who is getting baptized - they met at some camp thnig they both went to. It was so sweet to see the girl getting baptized come and talk to her before the baptism, and to see her show her the font and tell her what was going to happen, etc. There's a set of  little films that we play while the baptizees are changing, and I looked over at our investigator while we were watching them, and she was crying. It was so awesome to see the spirit working with her. We met with her last night too, and talked with her about the baptism and it was just so good. She also says the best prayers - she's just so sincere. I wish I could really expalin it, but I just love her. 

We were in a taxi coming back from the baptism with both of the investigatos that we took - I was sitting it the back with them, and Sister Thueson was sitting up front. We were just chatting iwth the taxi man, and when things came around to talking about the gospel, it was so cute to see the other investigator that we took start answering him in almost the exact words that we had taught with. We invited him to come to church the next day, and didn't think much else of it though. The next morning while walking to church we get a phone call from that investigator that he's not gonig to be able to make it to church because he's sick, but he was wondering the address of the church because he had talked to the taxi driver the rest of the way home (we got out at the church) and had gotten his number and the taxi man wanted to come to church. seriously, our investigators are just the best and already such great missionaries. 

There's so much more to say about this week, but this is already really long. I'll just share one more thing I've been thinking about this week. The group from our branch that went to temple came back this week, and talked about their experience in sacrament meeting. They went for  a week, and literally for a week straight did temple work all day. They loved it, and they felt the urgency of it too - our Relief Society president went for her fist time, and when she bore her tesimony of the importance of temple work, the spirit was so strong. Her testimony also really influenced our investigators who were there at sacrament meeting, and when we met with one of them after chuch, it was crazy to see the difference in her motivations to do all that she could to prepare for baptism so that she could prepare for the temple.

I sure love this work and I love Armenia. 

Love,

Sister Kieffer

P.S. There's this weird thing that happens to me that whenever I get on a marshutni or bus, people just give me things when I talk to them. One day last week, in every single marshutni that I got in, the person next to me or someone else in the marshutni gave me something. This last week I've recieved crackers, candy, a jelly-bracelet thing, a typical armenian-cross necklace, and four ears of corn. That's how they Armenian people are though - they are so giving and just want to give whatever they can. I sure love them.

HELLO FAMILY

Okay, I'm sorry I'm the worst writer. I've gathered some stories and just things I lvoe about Armenian for you. First here's a clip of the miracles we've seen this week:

I've been pretty excited to report on the miracles we've seen this week as we've tried to be more concious of finding in every aspect of our work. This week went out to Sipanik to do service for one of the counselors in our branch presidency. His mother is one of the members who was just baptized in our branch, and she's doing so well. She commented to us this week about how after her baptism, she had felt the Spiriit confirm to her even more that this really is Christ's true church. She said that when she reads the Book of Mormon now - after her baptism and recieving the Holy Ghost - it makes more sense to her and she has really grown to love it. While we were there doing service at her house, she invited one of her neighbors over and we taught her about the restoration, later that week we went back and taught her again, along with her son and husband. They're so wonderful, are really excited about finding out the truth for themselves, and they accepted a baptismal date! 

In the same sort of miraculous way, we met a girl on the streets a couple weeks ago and she was randomly (though I know it wasn't a coincidence) in the internet cafe when we went to fill out another investigator's online baptismal record. We've met with her a couple of times during this week and yesterday she told us that she'd like to have her friend learn about the gospel too. 

It's amazing to see the Spirit working with these people and it has been a real help to try to point that out more to them - point out to them how the spirit has worked with them in their lives and also pointing it out when we feel it while we're with them. I know without a doubt that the Lord is preparing people and we just need to find them and help them reaccquaint themselves with what they already learned in the premortal life. I love these Armenian people, and I'm so thankful to be here serving them. I know this is the greatest cause that we could be working for, and I'm thankful for all the help and guidance we recieve from our Savior along the way. He's gathering His people! 


This week some fun things that happened:
-Earlier this week we got a surprise mini missionary after district meeting on Tuesday - shewas just there and was supposed to go with us even though we hadn't heard about it yet. Butit was so fun, and Sister Thueson ended up splitting with her while I went with another member from our branch, and it was so much fun. The sister I went with is one of the ones who got her mission call to Ukraine - and it was so great to see how excited she was to serve, even though she was a little bit scared at first. It was good for me too to remember how I felt when I first got my mission call. She's in Ukraine this week going through the temple, so it was fun to get herexcited about that too. 

We also got our planned mini missionary yesterday, and she's so awesome! She's been a member for 4 years, and she served one other mini mission with my MTC teacher, Sister Boyle. She's from a city called Hrazdan, and she's going to be the best little missionary. It's been so much fun to speak just in Armenian all the time - I sure do love these people and this language. 

One story from last week when the Ukrainians were still here: We (Sister Summers and I) were headed out to a little village called Sipanik to meet with one of our recent converts. I'm sitting in the front of the taxi, and I'm just kind of chatting with the drive about our church, and when I start to tell him about the Book of Mormon, he loosk down and sees it in my hand and snatches it. I got a little bit worried that he was going to throw it out the open window or something, but instead he tried to start reading it while we're driving down the road, in the middle of Yerevan, on a street that's pretty dang busy. Luckily I got it back pretty fast and we just read a little bit together and talked about it. It ended up being a really cool experience, but I have to admit I was a little bit scared for a minute. 

Also this week I'm giong to Charentsavan - a city a little northeast of Yerevan - to do splits with Sister Baird, which will be super great. 

Also I played my first game of basketball in Armenia this week. There were a bunch of little neighbor kids - who are my best friends nows- outside our apartment playing when we were coming back to grab some food and do training, and I had to stop and play for a few minutes with them. Haha they loved it, and it was so fun. 

One last thing - I love church here. I love that our piano player lady will play "Can you feel the love tonight?" and "Let it be" as prelude music and I love that everyone wants to particpate in lessons. Speaking of which, Sister Thueson and I taught Relief Society this week because lots of people were gone with the temple group, and it was so fun. Armenians sure do love their Savior, and when we taught about baptism this week, it was so awesome to see everyone want to share about how that covenant to follow Christ has blessed their lives. 

WIsh I could tell you how much I love it here. I told our mini missionary today that sometimes I wish I could just stay here forever - and it's true. This is a choice place, and this is the Lord's work. Sure do love you all!

Claire Bear - I have your list of questions and I'll try to answer as many as I can today in an email to you, but some might have to wait until next week. Love you! Tell Catherine to email me! 

LOVE YOU.

Sister Kieffer