SO much happened this week and it was arguably the best week ever. Definitely in the MTC, but maybe even outside it. Anyways. Here goes, hopefully this email will be slightly coherent.
First off, last Thursday we had SIX ARMENIANS at TRC for us to teach. It was incredible. And so so so so awesome. Zorab finally came back and he brought his wife and little baby with him. It was such a great experience to get to talk with them about the importance of revelation through the Book of Mormon. Zorab and his family live in Utah now (his wife is from here). We also met a man that was visiting them, with his daughter and mother (I believe she was his mother? She might've been unrelated). They live in Armenia! That lady's daughter (I think?) is a year or two older than me and she works for the language department doing German translation assessment or something along that line. She came too. It was so wonderful to get to meet them all - we were all even excited about Armenia after we got to see just how incredible the people are.
The next day, we watched that "The Gospel in Armenia" video.
library/video/2013-11-021- unto-all-the-world-the-gospel- in-armenia?lang=eng
The lady talking about going through the temple so many years after she was baptized was the one we got to teach! Also when the choir is singing behind Elder Nelson, the man on the far left was taught with his daughter during TRC by the Elders in our district. We all started freaking out when we saw them on the video. We're so lucky to be going to Armenia. Seriously. And we're going to get them that second stake and a temple. Apparently the mission has a goal to have another Stake in the next 3 years. And it is so possible, In fact, a city called Gyumri just had a branch turned into a ward! So I guess you could probably say we're all a little bit excited. Maybe just a little.
Dad! We saw that article about Eastern Europe! So cool, huh? I was actually going to send it to all of you. We have a sort of joke in our zone because in the article it shows this really pretty picture of Latvia with all the beautiful buildings, and then the next picture is of a water pump in Armenia with my little Armenian friends all around it. I wouldn't trade those Latvians places for anything though.
We had a "culture day" of sorts yesterday where we talked about a lot of the things that the people in Armenia have been through, and a lot of what has made their culture the way it is. The more I learn about Armenia the more I know how inspired this call was, and how blessed I am to get to serve these people who have such a devotion to Christ. We read the dedicatory prayer that Elder Oaks gave to dedicate Armenia for the preaching of the gospel, and talk about special, One thing he said that really struck me is that this land has been prepared by being sanctified by the worship of Christ for centuries. Isn't that incredible? I know everyone says their mission is the best mission in the world, but really, Armenia is. Sorry..
Oh! We also found out some of the logistics this week, and I thought you'd be interested to know, Mom. There are about 60 missionaries in the Armenia Yerevan mission, and there are 16 sisters. 6 of those sisters are in Georgia, and there are 10 of us in Armenia.
Another cool thing I've been meaning to mention is that we found out in Relief Society the other week that until a couple weeks ago when school got out and all of the newly out of high school elders started arriving, the lowest percentage of sisters in the MTC was 42% since January.
This week we had the mission president's seminar. The prophet and all of the apostles were here at some point during the week! Here were our encounters: President Uchtdorf (sorry to offend all Germans everywhere if that's spelled wrong) waved at my companions and I on our way to gym while he was driving away. His teeth are SO WHITE. We had a special devotionalwhere Elder Christofferson spoke and gave exactly the talk I needed to hear and it was so incredible and answered so many questions I had. I'll talk more about that in just a sec though. Sister Peatross, Sister Bertchtold, and I were on splits because our companions were all in the choir. Normally Sister Peatross gets to sit in the first few rows because her neighbor works in administration in the MTC, but we didn't know if we'd get to for this devotional. We went to check with him just in case though. On our way up to the front, a lady stopped us and asked where we were going on our missions and gave us all a hug. As I pulled back from hugging her, I looked at her name tag and it was LINDA K BURTON. We talked to her for a few minutes and she was just the sweetest. We went up to ask Sister Peatross' neighbor, and he took us over to where the ASL speakers normally sit and we got to sit there. We were on the front row... Naturally we were excited to get to sit so close to hear Elder Christofferson speak. However, I looked up at the stand once we sat down and realized I was sitting directly in front of Dallin H Oaks. Elder Nelson, Elder Anderson, and Elder Bednar were also there. The apostles really do have such a special spirit about them. I know that they are really, truly, prophets, seers, and revelators. Oh, and for the cherry on top, yesterday I had to go get a new key at 1M, and we saw them bring President Packer into the building on our way there. Also, as Sister Berchtold and I were walking out of the building, we hear a "hello sisters!" We turned around and it was Elder Anderson! We waved and kept walking but then realized they were walking right behind us. We ended up getting stopped by some of the MTC workers so that they could move a car and we wouldn't be in the way, and Elder Anderson and his wife caught up to us. He asked us where we were headed and if he could shake our hands. So that was SUPER awesome. We really did just luck out this week,
Oh, one other story. I told you about our lesson with Ժիրաիր and that he stormed out on us while we taught the word of wisdom. The next time we taught him, we were all prepped and ready to teach about how obeying the word of wisdom would be hard, but not impossible with God, because his problem was that he didn't think he could do it. However, we came back and the first thing he said to us was that he hadn't smoked, drinked (drunk? I don't know English grammar anymore), or had coffee or tea for 3 days. According to him, Jesus appeared to him in a dream and told him not to do those things and that the word of wisdom really was a commandment. We were shocked and didn't really know what to teach but taught something and committed him to come to church again, and it all worked out. And he hasn't touched any of those substances since. I asked Brother Wahl afterwards if that's what really happened with Ժիրաիր (because Ժիրաիր is one of Brother Wahl's investigators from his mission). That is what happened. The Armenian people have visions and dreams. and who are we to say they're not from God? The blood of Israel is literally in these people and I am so excited to get to teach them.
Also really quick tender mercy that testified to me that God really does care about little things for us too: I was hosting again yesterday and I hosted the cutest sister going to New York. For some, hosting is hard because it reminds them of saying goodbye to their families and makes them homesick. Honestly, I've never felt that way - I just love getting to get people pumped to be here. When I watched this sister say goodbye to her little brother who was about Bennett's age though, my heart did get pricked a little bit though. All I thought was Oh, I hope everything's going well for Bennett. Later that day we were walking to dinner and I heard a "Sister Kieffer?" I turned around and it was Sister Joanna Remund! Some of the first words out of her mouth were, "I just wanted to let you know that Bennett's doing so awesome. I worked with him at Timpfreeze, and he's got like a billion jobs, but he's doing really well." That was a little tender mercy for me. Also, let Sister Remund's parents know she's doing awesome and that she's already being a light to people around her here at the MTC.
Again, I'm just so thankful. For so many things. I've been blessed so much. We watched the Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration for the film, and I just realized how little (aka nothing) I've had to sacrifice for this gospel. I thought back to talking to Cici about that same sort of thing and just how blessed we've been to know the truth. (It's actually called the election of grace, as I found out this week. Look it up in the Bible Dictionary under "Election." I love how it says that election is an opportunity to serve. Because that really is what the Lord expects of us because we know what we know. And if we really know it, that's what we'll want anyway.
I'm also so thankful for the guidance and direction of such inspired people - and especially direction to always have our studies and efforts be turned toward other people and focused on the basic principles of the gospel. It's been amazing the way that the Lord has taught me as I've tried to do that. And I don't think that applies to just missionaries, either. It may not be studying to teach a lesson, but you can still study and pray that pray that your studies will be guided in a way that prepares you to help those around you come unto Christ.
OH AND MOM. TELL JOSEPH CECILWITZ'S FATHER THAT HE IS THE BEST. Everyone loved that cake. Haha I'm pretty sure it took my teachers back to their missions. and thank YOU so much for sending all the other things. We had a lot of fun as a district that evening. You made Elder Gierstch's week with that Mountain Dew. I'm really blessed with such great people to be serving with too. All of the missionaries in our district are just wonderful and each have different things that are needed for this work. I'm so thankful to be serving with all of them, and even with all of the people in our zone.
This is getting super long, but I'm so happy to be here and be a missionary. I'm truly, truly blessed with a knowledge of this gospel, and of who I am as a daughter of God, I'm so excited to be able to help others understand their true identity too. I love you all!
P.S. There are two sisters from Armenia that are in the MTC right now!
P.P.S. Mom, I know I didn't answer all of your questions, and that I haven't responded to you either Bennett, but I'll have some time during laundry to write you a quick physical letter. I'm so sorry! I want to be able to give you more than just a couple lines though.
I LOVE YOU ALL SO SO MUCH.