Monday, August 4, 2014

Armenian butter may or may not look like cheese

We've had so many miracles this week. So many. For the sake of not having to write it again, here's some of what I wrote to President Carlson:

This week has definitely been a week of miracles. Just a few of those experiences:

We've been trying our very best to "teach when we find and find when we teach," and try to talk to every single person we come in contact with on our way to meetings, so that we can find those who have been prepared. Everyone just seemed to shut us down. But we just kept trying. It was a little bit discouraging because we were trying our very hardest, and no one was really interested. We had prayed for 2 new investigators this week and just kept trying with the hopes of achieving that goal. When we were at a meeting with 2 of our investigators, some of their friends showed up right as we were about to start. We invited them to sit with us, and explained what we were doing. They ended up wanting to learn about it, and accepted a baptism date. It was a testimony builder to me that the Lord is with us, and if we show our faith in Him, miracles will happen, even if they're not in the way that we expect.

This Saturday, we had two meetings planned with investigators, and both of them fell through. Our back up plans and our back up plan's back up plan also fell through. We decided to start walking back toward our apartment and find someone to teach. I don't think I've ever talked to so many people in my life. One little family in particular was really special to me. It was a mom and her four children, two of which were mentally handicapped. When we started talking to her, she was jus so happy that someone was speaking with her. Her little boy, probably about 4 years old, just ran up to me and hugged me. Little children really do recognize truth. Regardless of what ends up happening with that little family, I was just so grateful that we were able to talk with them. It was probably the most I've ever felt like I've been able to show people God's love for them.

Sister Thueson and I are learning so much, and it amazes us everyday that we're able to actually carry out missionary work. I'm so thankful for this opportunity I've had to grow closer to the Lord the past few weeks by relying on His strength more than I have my entire life.

Also, with the title of this letter. We tried to make pizza this week. Sister Thueson grated the cheese for it, and it was really weird because it was all melty. That's when we realized it was butter, not cheese. Grocery shopping is hard because everything's half in Russian and half in Armenian and then we don't even really know Armenian grocery words yet.. The funniest part is that we ate that same "cheese" on our lavash with cucmbers and tomatoes a few days before and didn't think twice about it. 

One last little experience I wanted to write about: 
Last night we had a lesson with our investigators who are all good friends (the ones I mentioned earlier). It started out really well and we were talking to them about their church experience earlier that day. People just kept coming in and out and then some random man showed up and started "bearing his testimony" about some crazy dream he had, half in Russina and half in Armenian (we found out afterwards that no one really knew who this man was), meanwhile Sister Thueson and I are trying to bear our testimonies about the Book of Mormon, and it's just kind of chaos. Picture Kieffer FHE. Admist all of this, I looked over at one of our investiagors, and had the weirdest feeling like I should just go put my arm around her. When I did that, I just started crying. It was the most bizarre thing. I could just feel a little glimpse of how much God loved her. It was a tender mercy for me, and an answer to prayers for charity that I've said. God really does love all HIs children so much. So much. And I'm so thankful to have this opportunity to help people find that out for themselves.


Sister Kieffer


Armenia's the best! I don't even know where to begin, it'd probably be easier to tell you what didn't happen this week than what did happen this week. But I'll try. 

I'm serving in Center, which is in the middle of Yerevan, with Sister T, who's from Highland. She just got here in Armenia with the last group of missionaries from the MTC. She's awesome and I'm learning lots from her. We've joked a couple times that the church has to be true if they're putting two of the very newest sisters in the mission in the biggest area of the mission. We're quite literally the most un-Armenian-looking pair of blondes running around the middle of Armenia. All joking aside though, we've been working super hard and have definitely seen miracles even just this week. I have no doubt that God's been looking out for us. Especially with the people that He's put in our path and that we're teaching. 

There have been lots of ups and down this first week, we had a lesson our very first night with an investigator and I was so excited afterward because I had actually been able to understand almost everything and I could talk to her and she could understand me. Buuuut.... I soon found out that everyone has a different accent though and some people are easy to understand while others are sooo hard. I've done a lot of nodding and smiling. Hopefully not to anything I shouldn't have. 

One of the hardest things so far for me has been that I can't remember anyone's names. I'm trying so hard, but I swear everyone's name is the same. It'll come though. I've also definitely been humbled this week, in seeing people in situations that are incredibly hard, and they still have so much faith. 

Yesterday was my very first Sunday and it also happened to be water day. Talk about crazy. We didn't even make it to the bus stop outside our apartment before we were drenched by the little char kids that live downstairs. Church was good and hard at the same time. I don't think that my head has ever hurt that bad in forever. I met so many people and there was so much Armenian. some of the best moments were:
1. The second councilor (counselor? I don't know) coming up to me and saying, "do you want to meet my president?" (in English) I don't know why it was so funny but it was. Pretty sure he thinks I don't understand any Armenian. Later he came up to my companion and said, "we're having the missionary meeting on Wednesday, good?" and then pointing to me said "will you tell her?"
2. A little tatik came up and talked to me at church, and I had zero idea what she was saying because she was talking so quietly. Then she just starts pinching my cheeks and telling me how pretty I am. 
I love the members here so much. We had 5 of our investigators at our branch yesterday, which was a miracle in and of itself, but then just watching how people reached out to them was so amazing. I wish I could explain the little idiosyncrasies that I love here. 

One of my favorite experiences this week was meeting with a recent convert and his cousin who are both getting ready to serve missions. We taught the plan of salvation as a new member lesson and then had them practice teaching us. It was so cool to see the desire that they had to share the gospel because it had meant so much to them. Also funny because they totally mocked us American missionaries and how most of teach throughout. V (the new member) committed us to be baptized and then pretended to cry and just said "we're so happy for you! congratulations. We know you will be blessed." 

Oh other random miracle that happened on the way here - I kind of accidentally made a contact in the Paris airport. By accidentally I mean that I was walking out of the bathroom I heard someone talking in Armenian, saying "You know?" Without thinking, I just said "I know," and then this man turned around and looked at me and said, "you speak Armenian?" I told him I was learning and then it ended up that he was on the same flight as us. What's cool is that he ended up talking to all of us missionaries and now Elder W and his trainer are teaching him. So. Miracles happen everyday, folks.

Anyway, this is getting rather long, but I sure do love Armenia already. I'm so far behind the learning curve, but hopefully I can still help somebody. The work is so busy here and I know that's it's because the Lord is hastening His work. The church is true. 

Sister Kieffer


Բարև ձեզ!

Hello everybody! It's crazy how fast this week has flown and that it's already time to head out for Armenia on Tuesday! We got our flight plans on Friday, which was exciting because it was a day earlier than we expected them! We fly straight from Salt Lake City to Paris and then Paris to Yerevan. We really lucked out.
Noah, I just got your letter and I'm so glad things have been good for you this summer, and I hope lacrosse isn't beating you up too much. I hope you score another goal too! And yes, I'll definitely let you know how Armenia is. :)
Claire, let mom know that I got a haircut, no worries.
This week has been an interesting one. Everyone's starting to get excited and a little bit nervous to be leaving. My companions and I have been helping out with the new missionaries in our branch going to Indonesia and Madagascar, so it's also been interesting to have that contrast and think back to when I first came into the MTC too. It feels like yesterday and an eternity ago at the same time.

We went to the temple for the last time in quite a while today, and I sure am going to miss it. So make sure to go to the temple as much as you can! Not necessarily because I'm going to miss it, but because you can and it's so close! 

I know there were funny things that happened this week that I wanted to share, but I can't really think of them at the moment. So sorry 'bout that. I'll just jump to what I've been thinking about a lot this week.

We've been studying and working on teaching lessons 4 and 5 in PMG, so I've been thinking a lot about commandments, laws, and ordinances, believe it or not. The more I study and contemplate about it, I just realize more and more how merciful God is. Maybe that doesn't really seem connected at first, but I had a huge lightbulb moment the other day with how all God wants is for us to be able to have eternal life, the life He has, and how all of the things he has put into place for us in this life are to help us prepare for that. I was studying tithing the other day in Genesis and the Doctrine and Covenants and I realized that tithing is not only a way for us to show our faith in God and that we know He will provide for us, and it's not only a way to put the kingdom of God first, though it is both of those things. It's also a way for us to sanctify our lives too. And that makes so much sense to me. Plus it's just so merciful that God gives us a way to sanctify our lives too(and lots more than just tithing), because I don't know if I'd really be able to figure out how to sanctify my life on my own. Maybe that makes sense when I write it out, maybe it doesn't. But it makes sense in my head and I'm so thankful for that realization.  Anyway, I could go on and on about how merciful the law of tithing and other commandments are, but I'll stop there. 

It's been kinda interesting because I think it's been easy for a lot of missionaries to get kind of relaxed with little rules or using their study time wisely because we're leaving so soon. And then there's the other side of it where there are missionaries who are starting to freak out just a little bit because 9 weeks went by a lot faster than they thought. I've really been blessed with a great district that's stayed pretty on task. With how fast everything has seemed to go so far, it's made me realize even more how fast this mission is going to go by, and even how fast this whole life goes by. And just important every minute is. 

I thought I'd be a whole lot more nervous to be leaving, and while there is a little bit of nervousness about being somewhere I've never been before, I really do feel at peace, and excited. It's going to be a crazy, hard, and awesome adventure. 

Ձեզ սիրում եմ! 

Քույր Քիֆեր

P.S. I remembered a funny thing. Two days ago I woke up my companions at about 1:30 in the morning because I was praying aloud in my sleep. I was really bummed because it was in English and not in Armenian...

P.P.S. Our investigator had another "dream/vision" this week. This time though, not so great. He wanted to get baptized so quickly but now he's waiting because Christ came to him in a dream and told him to wait to be baptized until the second coming. And yep, that's what really happened to the real investigator too. 

P.P.P.S. I want to tell you more things about Armenia that I learned but I'm going to have to put it in a letter because it's too much to type right now.


P.P.P.P.P.S. I love being a missionary. 

P.P.P.P.P.P.S We had an awesome devotional this past Tuesday and the Sister speaking with her husband started out by quoting the Sound of Music. The "I Have Confidence" song. It was funny but also made me realize that we really can have confidence in ourselves and what we're doing if we're always trying to do what's right. Love you!

T-12 Days!

Well hello to you all, and I'm so excited to let you know that we get our flight plans this Saturday! and then we will be on our way to ARMENIA. 

So many things I wanted to make sure I told you this week:

I may or may not have accidentally wore 2 different colored shoes. A navy and a black one, to be exact. I also may or may not have explained the importance of keeping Saturday holy to one of our investigators. ..(Nicole shout out: no need to worry, I am embarrassing myself quite enough.) 

We had the most wonderful 4th of July, a bunch of the super musical people in our zone and some other missionaries performed for the MTC, and then we watched 17 miracles. I've seen that movie so many times, but it's never meant as much as it did to me until now. I thought about Bennett leaving on Trek too, and just how much those people gave up for this. I'm excited for him to be able to see just a tiny bit of how it was. 

On Sunday we had our mission conference and there were some changes made to missionary work! You may or may not have heard, I dunno. But the first presidency announced them while they were here at the mission president's seminar. Now we as missionaries will teach all 5 lessons (instead of just the first 4) before baptism and take the lead in teaching all 5 lessons again after baptism. In addition, we get to work closely with recent converts for 3-4 months after baptism, and have been asked to stay in contact for at least 1 year. It may not seem like that big of a deal at first, but I'm so excited for it. 

Brief little tangent - we had a devotional on Sunday that was ... I don't remember his name but he was a brilliant pianist and one of the songs he played was an arrangement of Clair de Lune and How Great Thou Art. You should try to find it and listen to it. Because it's wonderful. 

On a more spiritual note, this week has been full of miracles and answered prayers. One of the experiences I had with that was on Tuesday. We were sitting waiting for the devotional with Elder Andersen to start, and I was kind of just spiritually exhausted. We had just finished a group lesson with all 7 of us in our district teaching together in Armenian, and I was just beat afterwards. Anyway, I was waiting for the devotional to start and was thinking back to the lesson, and some questions I had about how to be a more effective vessel for the Spirit, etc, etc. I said a quick prayer before the devotional started to get some help in finding those answers. The devotional started and Sister Andersen talked about how concerned Elder Andersen had been to try to find out what he should say to us tonight, and then Elder Andersen gave the most perfect talk that answered my prayers and helped me understand that even though I may not see it all the time, if I'm worthy, obedient, and working hard, the Spirit will work through me. That's just one of the experiences, but I know that God is so full of mercy and answers our prayers. I loved hearing about your experience with that too mom.

I was feeling really inept at trying to meet people's needs and be able to help them because so many people have been through things that I can't even imagine going through. The past few days I've come to the realization that that's okay. Even if I don't know all the needs of others, as much as I try, the Lord does know their needs and will make sure they're met if I'm trying my best to do my part. Anyway, I wish I could explain to you the depth of the meaning that has to me, all the things I write home never seem to express just how much thing matter and mean, but I hope it can kind of explain it. 

Some quick other things,


CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR AP CALC TEST THAT IS SO SO SO SO AWESOME I'M SO PROUD OF YOU. I knew you had it in the bag. I'm willing to bet it was actually a 100%. I'm so proud of all your goals too, you're going to be such an awesome missionary. I'm sure you already are. How did things ever go with that lady you teach math?

Claire and Catherine: I'm so glad you've been able to have some fun experiences, I hope to get a letter out to both of you today. Love you! 

Noah: I hope you're having a good summer, and that lacrosse is going well! Sure do love you!

Mom and Dad: Thanks so much for your words this week, you said exactly what I needed to hear. I'm grateful for the perspective you help me have. Love you lots, I sure am grateful for you! Thanks for the 4th of July package too mom, we may have had too much fun with the little confetti poppers..

I hope you all have had the best week, and I'm so glad you've all gotten to spend some time with the Josephsons and the Longsons. 

I can't tell you enough how lucky we are. 


Sister Kieffer

Week 6!!

It's hard to believe it, but my first transfer of sorts is already over, and I've moved on to a second planner.. It's kind of not fair how fast this all goes!

This morning we had the most amazing privilege to spend 3 hours cleaning the Provo temple. We have seriously been so lucky with all of the opportunities we've had while being here. The sisters in our zone all got to clean the chandeliers in the sealing rooms. I just love how thorough everything is. Also, did you know that those chandeliers come apart piece by piece? We took all the crystals down and cleaned them one by one. I can't even describe how just wonderful (for lack of a better word) that experience was. It's so tedious that we didn't even get to put it back together during the 3 hours we were there.

Yesterday we got to skype with people from Armenia! It was so so so wonderful. We talked to Anoush, who is actually living in the Netherlands right now, but is from Armenia. It was so awesome to feel like we could actually kind of talk to people. Emphasis on the kind of, but still. Armenian people are awesome. Elder Gallardo and I also got to talk to Mama Susana from Armenia as well. She was harder to understand, but still so fun. I can't believe we're going to be headed to Armenia in just a few weeks time!
Just a few other things from this week:
We did our first marshutni contacting roleplays this week and I'm so excited for that. I don't know if anyone in Armenia will understand me when I try to talk to them, but I'm sure going to try. We also did some more street contacting roleplays and holy cow, talk about some funny experiences. Elder Gierstch was playing a potential investigator for Elder Williams, Sister Wiederholt, and me. We asked him about his family and he was trying to tell us that his mom had passed away but it was alright. But he couldn't remember the verb for "to die," only "to be killed," and then he put it in the simple present tense instead of the past perfect, so what he actually ended up saying was "my mom is being killed but it's whatever." We all pretty much hit the ground laughing.
Another great moment with that verb in our district: I don't remember if it was this week or a couple before. Elders Lunt and Gallardo may or may not have told an investigator that it was necessary to kill the Spirit to obtain eternal life (the verbs for to kill and to receive are kind of close). But at least we're getting the mistakes out of the way while we're here!
On a more serious note, I just want to say how much I know that there are tender mercies in this life. I mentioned one last week, but this past Sunday I had my first kind of really just rough day. Wow that was eloquent. I was just having a rough time because I just felt so inadequate. It's been kind of interesting because language -the thing I thought I'd feel the most inadequate in - hasn't really been a source of worry. It's dang hard and sure makes my head hurt sometimes, but I know I'm working my hardest and the Lord has definitely blessed me in learning this. Anyway, sometimes the Spirit will remind us of things that we know but need to be reminded of just at the right moment. I'm so thankful for that.
I've also been thinking about the work of salvation as a whole this week, along with what it means to be a disciple of Christ and how those things go hand in hand. I wish I could just explain half of how I feel and what I've learned. Suffice it to say that this work doesn't stop, and that everything - everything that God ever does - is for the purpose of the salvation of mankind. I loved what one of the speakers said in our devotional this week - that our roles may change, but the work never does, and the purpose never does. Bennett, I've been thinking about you with your calling right now, and just how important it is that the work for the dead gets done. I think about how hard missionaries are working right now help people come unto Christ, and I know that there are people on the other side of the veil doing the same thing. I was thinking about that quite a bit in the temple this morning. There are children of God waiting to be about to receive the blessings God has for them. Sometimes I wonder how I couldn't feel the urgency of this work before. I mean, I did, but not nearly in the same way. But it's urgent, people. But I'll stop preaching. Just know that all efforts toward the work of salvation are so so important - missionary work, temple work, raising-family work, and anything-else-that-God-asks-of-us work They're all the same work of God.
I know this is getting long-winded and I just wish I could express to you how much I love this gospel. I know I say it every week but I'm just so grateful. We have infinitely much to thank God for. 

I love you all so much, I hope every thing's going well. Have a fun and safe 4th of July! 
Sister Kieffer