Thursday, June 26, 2014


And yes, we are still alive and happy. 

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. 

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 on Saturday! 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 devotional on Tuesday where 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 filmthis Sunday, 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.



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FOUR weeks?? How?

I know I say it every time, but I cannot believe it has been almost a whole month since I've been here! Time flies so fast. I won't spend any more time talking about that though, because you get that update every week.
Alrighty.. This week.
These are not in order of how they happened, I'm just typing them as I think of them:

SHERI DEW CAME ON SUNDAY!!!!! I was SOOOO excited. I just love her. She gave the most amazing talk on the enabling power of Christ's grace. It was wonderful, and I learned so much from that. I wish I could share all that she said about it. Just let it be said that I know that we really can do things that we are not capable of alone by relying on Christ. I get to see that here everyday.
Sunday was a.. [lacking fitting adjective] day, and such a good day. I have no doubt that God loves us, and chastises/humbles those He loves so that we can better serve Him and grow closer to His Son. I learned so much through the Spirit that day, including a fuller realization of how much I've taken the guidance/teaching from the Holy Ghost for granted in my life.
M. Russell Ballard came on Tuesday, and we were lucky enough to hear from him. He spoke about the importance of sticking to and really understanding the doctrine of Christ and how that connects with - or dictates - everything else we believe. He also spoke about how we should keep our eyes on the apostles, and to not be swayed by the media opinion of the church. So um, I'm guessing something big is coming/has come?
This next week is the mission presidents' seminar and almost all of the quorum of the 12 and first presidency will be here, so that's going to be terrific too. A bunch of the missionaries in our zone are part of a special choir that gets to sing for them! Unfortunately we chose to study instead of going to choir the Sunday they held auditions for that. You win some, you lose some, I guess.
Overall, I really do just feel so very blessed to be a part of this wonderful work. That's not to say that there aren't difficult moments, but I can honestly say that I go to bed every night happy, and wake up every morning excited to get going.
OH! We got to watch The Character of Christ, which is a devotional that Elder Bednar gave a couple Christmases back here at the MTC. He spoke about how the character of Christ is turning outward (focusing on others) whenever the natural man would turn inward(focusing on self). It's by developing that character that we can really be changed by the Atonement and help bless other peoples' lives. It's been so wonderful to see the truth of that this week as we've tried to implement that individually and as a companionship.
I taught in English yesterday! Sister Peatross and I taught a "gold tag investigator" (they're employed by the MTC to roleplay their previous selves before they became members of the church. It went well, and was such a learning experience. I realized how thankful I am for a language barrier. I know that sounds weird, but when you have to really simplify and get down to the core of the doctrine because you have a limited vocabulary, it really helps you focus your studies and lessons on what the investigator really needs to understand to help them draw closer to Christ I don't know if that makes sense.. but yeah. I'm thankful to be able to build off of that core foundation of doctrine and eventually be able to explain things with more detail. 
Oh, anyway, our investigator was from Japan and he was the sweetest man ever. He wanted us to sing for him, and he took a video and some pictures that I believe he's going to send to mom.
Dad: I loved hearing about your experience in China. I know that experience will stay in that lady's heart and mind. Sister Peatross did a study abroad in China last year, and just said how ready the people of China are for the gospel. We'll get there, I know it.
Mom: Thanks so much for all you do with our family. I loved seeing those pictures of you all.
Bennett: I hope FBLA training has been great! Let me know how everything goes for you.
Claire Bear: You are the best, sweet girl! I hope you had fun at your camp this week. You sure look beautiful. Thank you for your prayers
Catherine: I want to hear from you, Roonage! YOUR SWISS MISS COSTUMES ARE SO CUTE. And you just look adorable. I'm excited for you to get to do that. You'll definitely have opportunities to be the good example that you are, and I know you'll do a wonderful job with it.
Noah: Hey buddy!! I hope you've been getting to be outside a lot, and that you've been having so much fun.
I love you all. I'm so blessed to be a part of our family and to have this gospel. I realize that more and more everyday.
Love you!!
Sister Kieffer

P.S. I FORGOT THE FUNNIEST PART OF THIS WEEK!!! We taught the Word of Wisdom to our investigator Jyryar, and well.. it may or may not have ended up with him storming out of our lesson. Which shouldn't be funny.. except that Brother Wahl (who was playing the investigator) definitely played it up as much as he could. But, teaching the word of wisdom was really great practice because we learned this week that almost all of the people in armenia have issues with one or more of the substances mentioned in the word of wisdom. So yes, that happened too.

How has it been 3 weeks already?

This is coming to you live from the MTC... And currently Sister Kieffer is very, very, very, very, very numb in the mouth. Yay for dentists. It's actually really good though - because I literally can't speak and my companions will get to/have to speak more in TRC tonight. It'll force me to be quiet, so that's good. 

It feels like it was just barely Thursday, I can't figure out how it is already Thursday again... Holy cow. This week was SO busy. and SO good. 

Some quick things that I wanted to be sure I mentioned: 

Cici - I did get the chance to meet Sister Dowdle this week! She and her husband were so sweet. Like I told her, I really am loving every minute here. I'm excited for all of the fun stuff you're going to get to do with the fam. And I'm SO glad your lesson went well and that Elder Oak's talk helped you out. Glad I could tell you about it :) Love you!

Dad- HOW WAS CHINA???? I want to hear all about it! I'm so glad that you got to spend some time with Kira and the Josephsons. Those pictures at the great wall of china were awesome!

Mom- Thanks so much for your letter the other day. It came right when I needed it. *The real deal* Sometimes a trio is hard. Girls are just hard. Sometimes I feel like I'm mediating more than I missionarying. If that makes sense. But it's all good- it always gets worked out. I did have a moment this week when I did get overwhelmed because I just didn't know how to help everyone stay motivated in learning and focused on what we need to be doing, especially while making sure that Sister Wiederholt has the opportunity to lead out. That's honestly been my biggest challenge - I'm learning how to be a good follower, and sometimes the little efficient person inside me just wants to take over instead of figuring out how to motivate people to be assertive and confident. But I'm working on it, and it's good. :) 

Bennett - I'm so proud of you for preparing yourself and working on good goals. The scriptures are so wonderful! You can learn so much through the Spirit when you read God's word. I'd love to hear some of what you're learning and about your experiences with FBLA training and everything. I wish you the best of luck in everything! I'm praying for you. Oh also for scholarships use, and the high school actually has a really good list. 

Alrighty... Some of the other highlights of this week:

We taught a tree. Named Aspen. Except it's a pine tree. When we do roleplays, it's a little awkward to have a trio - the elders teach each other's companionships, but we can't do that so we teach a tree. Anyways. It's good though.

We had our first TRC last Thursday! It was so great!! I LOVE TRC. And honestly, I just love teaching. I love Armenian and this gospel. 

Oh.. haha here's the funniest mess-up of this week: We were inviting one of our investigators to be baptized, right? Sister Long was extending the invitation and she messed up a few of the vowels... So instead of asking if he would be baptized, she apparently asked him something else. Our investigator (who was being played by our teacher) got a very panicked expression on his face and his eyes got huge. Haha he had to try soooo hard to stay in character. We didn't find out what she had said until after the lesson, so we were confused and fixed and he said yes to baptism, so that was really really reeeeally awesome.  But apparently the root of the word she accidentally used was the verb "to undress." Yes, that really did happen. We couldn't stop laughing. And it was poor Sister Long... who just a few lessons earlier asked the same investigator to read the whole book of mormon in a month, except she asked him to read it in an hour... So great though. We have some funny experiences, that's for sure. 

OH!! I got to host the new missionaries yesterday! How exciting is that?? It was perfect timing too. I was struggling more than I have the whole time here yesterday morning because I just don't know sometimes how to help people get excited and motivated.. I'm so happy to be here, and I love what we're doing and working toward.. and I think sometimes that rubs people the wrong way. I dunno why - they should be excited too.. BUT ANYWAY. during language study I had to just stop and say a prayer to ask for help in that area, and to not let other missionaries' bad attitudes rub off on my.. Almost right after that we got to go host as a district. It was SO fun to get the new missionaries pumped to be here. I hosted 4 different sisters yesterday, and the last one was going to the Czech Republic. She was the cutest sister ever, just so happy to be here and to get going. She unwittingly helped me realize that I don't need to be worried about "rubbing people the wrong way" with being excited. Anyways. She was just fun. And she's companions with Sister Angerhofer from my Fall Semester ward. I also hosted a sister who was in tears, but she was excited by the time we got her to class, so hopefully I did my job right. 

More important than any of that though, I have realized even more just how much I have to be thankful for. I don't know why I've been so blessed in so many ways - with my family, with the gospel, with the experiences I've had that have prepared me for this mission, just everything. Even being blessed to be born in this dispensation of time. I don't think we realize how huge that is. So many prophets for so many dispensations looked forward to our day because they knew that their dispensations would eventually end in apostasy. It's mind-blowing to think about. We always here about how "we must've done something great in heaven," and while I'm sure we tried to pull our weight, I don't think that I offered anything more or anything close to what prophets like Mormon or Moroni did. So while I don't know why I got lucky to be here, I do know what I have to do because of it. Anyway, I don't want to get to preachy at you, but I've been thinking about that a lot. We have a lot of responsibilities to fulfill as the saints preparing the world for the second coming. 

the last little spiritual thing I've been thinking about a lot is how much God really loves us. That's the reason for everything. Everything. The reason that we have the plan of salvation, the reason that the gospel was restored, the reason that we have wonderful times on earth, and the reason we have hard times on earth. There's so much that God wants to teach us - we just have to listen and look for it. going along with that, I'm so excited to get to share with people how much God loves them, and help them discover who they really are as children of God. That's one of my goals - for my mission and for the rest of my life. That anytime I interact with anyone, as short or long of a time that may be, that they will understand more of who they are as God's child and feel His love for them through my love for them. 

Elder Quentin L Cook came on Tuesday, and I was up on the second row with Sister Peatross, so that was really fantastic. I really loved his words, and they were definitely what so many missionaries needed to hear. He spoke about not getting discouraged and not thinking that we aren't capable. Realizing that we really can do anything with God's help. He also spoke about how we should be happy, smiling, and dynamic as missionaries, and as disciples of Christ. I love that. The gospel really is the best news, and the happiest news.

I love you all! You're always in my prayers. I love my Savior, I love the gospel, and I love this work. 


Sister Kieffer 

(P.s. Sorry for all the "I love this, and this, and this, and this, and oh yeah, I love this too." I really do though.)

P.P.S. Today Sister Long and I auditioned for Sister Nally (the MTC president's wife) for a special musical number at one of the devotionals. We sang "Come Thou Fount."  ...and, we got a yes! so we'll be performing that sometime before we leave :) 

P.P.P.S. Have the best week!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

WEEK 2, PEEPS. (Sorry.. Slang. Oops)

Hello my wonderful family!!

This week has been just as fast and eventful as last week. Here are some quick highlights:

-Sister Long accidentally dropped her flashlight down the hollow bedpost right as we were turning out the light at 10:29 (yeah, we're that good). And it was on, shining a very large circle of light on the ceiling. Sister Weiderholt tried to fashion a lasso out of floss - which didn't work. We ended up having to take her bunk, remove the mattress, and flip it over to get the flashlight out. It was probably one of the funniest things I have ever experienced. Especially that Sister Weiderholt was sooo set on her floss lasso. But we got it out. 

-We played kickball as a zone this week during one of our gym times.. I forget which day it was. And I may or may not have accidentally taken out Elder Nevans. He actually ran into me but somehow I was the one left standing... Oops. But everyone was alright, so it's all good. 

-Also we were trying to find the little gym in the basement of the bookstore building and we had been down there once before. I lost the outside battle that day. We confidently walked into the elevator, and pushed the button to the basement. However, when the door opened on the other side, instead of the gym, there was a deep, dark abyss. Apparently we took the wrong elevator. We got a good laugh out of that one though.

As for spiritual highlights, this week has been incredible. On Sunday we had our mission conference, which was terrific. The MTC Presidency and their wives spoke, and it was so incredible. They're such awesome people. Sister Nally's talk was probably my favorite though. She had this beautiful analogy with mountains and perspective that's really helped me out this week (plus any talk that mentions mountains is obviously going to be a favorite of mine). Perspective is something that I've definitely been working on this week though. Sometimes I get frustrated with myself - especially when we're doing role plays with our teachers as investigators and I can understand their questions and comments, and I know what I want to say but I can't say it yet. BUT. I'm learning to be patient with myself and realizing that if I'm working as hard as I can, that's enough. No stress, as dad would say. 

That being said though, we are still learning so much (language-wise and spiritually) and I'm amazed with how much of the language we already know. Along with that, it's amazing to see the miracles (yes, I do consider a miracle when I can suddenly remember a word I haven't been able to remember all day) that happen as we try our best to focus on the investigator we're teaching. 

We had some awesome devotionals this week as well - especially when we got to hear from Elder and Sister Schwitzer. He was the Area President over the Europe East Area and the mission president of one of the Russia missions, I believe. It's kind of cool that we've been getting to hear from so many people who have experience in that area of the world. I learned so much from them though. It's crazy how much the Spirit can teach you when you're willing to be taught. And their stories made me so excited to go to Armenia and meet all of the Armenians! Even if they were just talking about Russians. and as if I'm not already excited enough...Did I mention I'm SO excited?

ummm... oh! We had our first interviews with our instructors this week and that was awesome. We have still yet to meet our last instructor, Sister Boyle, but we should in the next little while though.

I'm doing super well, and just as excited to be here as I was last week. We met a sister from Armenia this week - she's going to the Oakland/San Francisco mission (do the Longsons live in that mission?)! She's in that picture I sent of our district in our classroom. Her name is Sister Tadevosyan, and she is terrific. Haha I know it's probably not the best thing to love people just because they're Armenian (and I love her for other reasons too), but she is just so great. Speaking of Armenians, we get to see Zorab again at TRC tonight - and he's bringing his wife and adorable little girl. That'll be so great. this is our first TRC, so it's going to be an adventure! 

Mom and Dad, thanks so much for teaching me to be a hard worker and not give up when things get hard. And also just for all the love you've always shown me. As I've gotten to know the stories of some of the people I'm serving with, I'm realizing more and more how lucky I am. You're the best! Be safe in China, dad! And have fun!

Bennett - my favorite 17 year old. I'm SO proud of you for answering that lady's questions. Working up at UVU was a great missionary experience for me as well. Oh - also there's this talk by Elder Bednar called Becoming a Missionary. It's on Read it, it's SO good. And keep sharing the gospel, and pray about what to do. Pray for her, even You're so awesome. Also I want pictures of the wisdom teeth aftermath! Sorry it wasn't very fun.

Claire- thanks for being so sweet. I'll try to let you know what my companions like. You're the best. I love you!

Catherine - Your note gave me a great laugh - it was exactly what I needed. And I loooved the reindeer cow.

Noah - Thank you so much for the letter you sent on DearElder, I hope everything is going great for you! I love you!

You are all so amazing. I love you!!


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