Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A plethora of pictures


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:

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!


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! 


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. 


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.


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! 


Sister Kieffer

Hey Family Sep 1

So glad you all had a great week this week with the craziness of Swiss Days and everything. I'm so glad to hear that everyone had a good time. I'd love to see pictures! The ones you sent didn't work. I sure do love you all and i'm glad that you've been able to spend some quality time together. Tell the Williams clan hello from me and that I love them! 

Some crazy things coming up:
We found out last week that we're going to have a mini missionary with us starting Sept 14 for a couple dayts. She's from a different city here in Armenia and we're excited to get to serve with her.
We found out TODAY that there are some sisters coming from Ukraine that are serving there (we're not sure if they're coming from the MTC or Ukraine) but are from Utah and will be with us for a few days. It'll be interesting because things have really slowed down this week and a lot of our investigators have dropped us, or at least said they're busy for right now, so it'll be interesting to see what happenes when there's suddenly four of us doing the work.We don't know if we'll be splitting up yet or if we're going to go around chorsov (all four of us).
Two of my best friends from our branch got their mission calls on Saturday and they're going to Ukraine too! IT was so excited to hear them bear their testimonies of this church and how it's changed their family's life (they're sisters). Their faith with being sent to a place that's kind a crazy like Ukraine is right now was really cool to see too.

One quick story from this week:
Last Monday we were out in a village doing an  FHE with one of our investigators and a member family and we got out a little bit later than we had hoped to catch the one bus that went from that village nack to Center. We got to the top of the hill where the little path goes down to the bus stop and we can see the taillights of the bus. It wasn't moving yet, so Sister Thueson just look at each other and start booking it. My shoe fell off and we just kept running and running as this bus is pulling away from us.. In the end, it got away, and few Armenians that were out on the road were just looking at us like we were crazy.. Luckily a little ways down once we walked awhile, we found a tazi that could take us home. It was just a little funny experience,

I just wanted to that you all again for our wonderful family and how blessed I feel to have this gospel. It's really the thing that can bring us the most joy. Also I just wanted to thank Dad for the advice that he always gives me to not stress and to just enjoy the work. I've realized more and more the past couple weeks just how wound up I was after the MTC - and how I was setting expectations for myself that weren't neccasery (sorry spelled wrong). once I got outside myself and really just tried to focus on loving others, the work became a lot more enjoyable. Obviously, we need to work our hardnest, and do all we can, but we don't need to stress that it won't be enough. And I think that goes for all things in life. Sure do love you all and I hope you have the best week!

August 25

So many things this week! I feel like it's been a month long and an hour long at the same time. 

First up, we had two baptisms this week and it was so special. It was kind of crazy trying to get all of the details figured out because Armenians just have this thing where they don't plan anything. It's always "oh, we'll just talk about it later." But. Everything miraculously worked out and we pulled it off. 
When one of our investigators bore her testimony afterwards, she talked about how she had felt so alone after her husband and sister had passed away (yeah, I may have accidently said her daughter last week. Oops.), and that now she's not alone anymore, and how thankful she is to be part of a chuch now that helps her feel closer to God and be happier. We really have seen that change of countenance in her, and it's been so special. She's just a special lady, and I think she's going to be a strength to our branch as well.
We also got a new branch mission leader as well and he is just the most awesome person I've ever met. He's one of the few returned missionaries in our branch and he just got back from a study abroad thing in the Czech Republic for 10 months, and he's just excited about getting the missionary work done here in Armenia. He came with this huge powerpoint presentation with his ideas for how we can get the members involved and really strengthen our branch. The Lord's definitely got some special things planned for this area. 
Our biggest problem is inactivity in our ward. We have the biggest branch in the whole mission, but not a lot of people come every week. There's this massive list of the 600 members that are supposed to be part of our branch, and there are sooo many without phone numbers or addresses or anything. We're trying to work with the members to get some of that figured out too.
Speaking of finding less-active sheep, remember when I talked a few weeks ago about how we broke out that list and saw them during appointments? At one of the houses, we found an older tatik who hasn't been coming for a while, and she has an 11 year old granddaughter who is just the cutest. We've met with them a couple more times and the girl wants to be baptized. I just love her so much. We gave her her own Book of Mormon because her grandma only has a Russian one, and she's already in 2 Nephi, she just loves it. Our struggle with her is getting her to church because sometimes her grandma still doesn't come and sometimes she has tennis. But we're working on it, and hopefully she's going to baptized on the 15th. 
Also with my friends I talked about last week, the mom and daughter, we've been trying so hard to meet with them but they're so busy building a new house in Shenghavit. Their baptismal date is this Saturday, so we're hoping so bad that we can help them work out their schedules for they last lesson and interview. 

A few quick funny things:
Crazy things happen on metros. Last Monday right after emailing, Sister Thueson and I got some iceream at the metro and right as the man hands it to her, all of the icecream falls off the cone and hits the ground. She and I can't stop laughing, and the man just keeps looking at us like, "well, what am I supposed to do about it?" The bummer was that unlike in America, you don't get a second try without paying again. 
Also on the metro a few days later, there was a man that was sitting across from us that ended up getting off at the same stop. He talked to us on the escalator up, and asked about our church. After talking to him about it for a minute, he just interrupts us and says to Sister Thueson "hey (pointing to me), she's a pretty girl, can she be my hars?" Which is like daughter-in-law. So some old man on the metro asked me to marry his son. 
This week we were also trying to meet with one of our investigators out in a village and we had taken the marshutni out and then they were supposed to meet us but we ended up having to take a taxi to their house. Which is where we met our friend Martin. Which isn't his real rame but it's what he told us to call him so I feel okay saying it. We had to call Martin back to come get us after we did a lesson and some service there, so then we talked to him on the way back to Yerevan. He's the nicest old man. But now he calls us everyday asking if we need a right anywhere or if he can show us where the good restaurants are. Martin also talked about how he had heard about how our church is the really rich church that gives people money. I hate that. It's so hard because so many people think that and that's why they want to know more about the church and you have to try to figure out people's motives. It's so hard because you want people to be able to be baptized, but that's not how the church works. 

Sure do love being a missionary!


Sister Kieffer

August 18

It hit me yesterday that I've already been here in country for almost a month, which is so crazy and just really not fair. Time just flies by so quickly here. 

First, to answer the quiestion that everyone's asked: No, we didn't have a baptism this week, their family ended up randomly going to Sevan? But it's all good and has been rescheduled for this Saturday. We're really excited for her.

I was trying to think about what to tell you all about this week and decided I want to tell you about some of my favorite people here in Armenia. 

First off, we've been working this really sweet lady who's about 55 or 60, and she had her daughter and husband pass away during the past year. I met her my very first night with Sister Thueson, and the thing that I remember most about that meeting with her is that she prayed to be changed. As we've continued to work with her, we've really seen that change. She has always been the sweetest, kindest lady, but the added joy, happinness and peace that the gospel has given her has made such a difference in her demeanor. For her especially, the knowledge that she will see her family again has helped her have so much more peace in her life. I just feel so lucky to have been able to witness that change in her, and to be able to see the spirit work within her. She's also being baptized this saturday and she is SO excited, and we couldn't be happier for her. 

One of my other favorite people is a 29 year old girl that we're teaching (we're working with her and her mom), and she is just the funniest and I love it. She's actually probably my best Armenian friend Yesterday at church we just had the funnest time while we were waiting for Sunday school to start. The brach president's wife needed someone to help her put some eyedrops in her eyes and so she went to help her. After she helped, she was life "oh, well, that'llbe 1000 dram." It's really just hasbeen amazing to see how quickly that our investigators can become good firends with the members here - and it's also just another testimony of the divinity oif this work and how Christ's love can bond people together.

We have so many great members, but one family that's really dear to my heart lives out in Halbert, a village in our area. They are just the best little member missionaries. They are the ones who told us about the mom and daughter that we're teaching, and right now they're helping build our investigator's new house. And they're just spunky. Honestly Armenians remind me a lot of mom's family in the south, probably just because that's the closest parallel I can draw. But they'll just tell you how it is, and they.. I don't even know how to describe it. But they're just awesome. 

I also love our street friends. There's a lady who we always say hello to on our way to a new convert's house, and a man who sits on the corner down the street with his buddy who are always just happy to see us.

This is really long now but I sure do love being a missionary and being in Armenia. This really is the Lord's work and I'm so privileged to be a part of it. The gospel is so true, and it really does have the power to change people's lives. Christ is our Savior and He really is gathering His people. 


Sister Kieffer 

Sorry but it's too hot for a clever caption. - Aug 11

Everything's still good here in Armenia, this week Sister Thueson and I started going through the less active list for our branch and visitng them in between appointments - which resulted in quite a few stories with us getting sort of lost and having to ask Armenians for directions, and everyone tells you it's somewhere differen, and then you're just more lost.. but no worries. We found them. It was definitely a faith testing/building experience because with some people, we'd get doors slammed in our face, and with others, they'd be so excited that we came to visit. 

Sister Thueson and I also talked in church this week. That was scary. I don't know what it was this week, but Armenian was a lot more discouraging. But we made it through it and hopefully they understood something that I said. 

One little miracle that happened this week: We've been teaching the mom of one our Brnach Presidency members and the missionaries have been working with her for a really long time. She knows it's all true, but has been waiting to be baptized becuase she had prayed about it and felt like God was telling her she wasn't ready yet. It was really hard because she is so ready. She'd just the most humble,sweetest lady thatI've met and she just wants to do what's right. Anyway, we've really just been trying to love her and keep meeting with her, but she hasn't wamted to talk about her baptism for the past couple weeks. Then yesterday we met with her after church and with the way everything worked out, she just ended up bringing up on her own and wants to be baptized this Saturday. We're hoping and praying that everything works out with it, and we're so excited for her. I was also just so happy that she finally realized for herself that she's ready, and that's God's proud of her.

Other than that, everything's pretty much the same. We're so blessed to be so busy with missionary work here. It really is incredible. We went to Sevan this week with the branch too, so that was fun to get to know them more and to get to see more of Armenia. 

I've been thinking a lot this week about how easy it is to get discouraged when you're not as good at things as you want to be, or when you don't feel like you're measuring up. For me, it's been feeling like I'm either not good enough at the language or at being a missionary and that people might be missing out because of that. But I've realized that really, if we're doing everything we can and trying to improve always, the Spirit will be able to work through us and people will get what they need - because God's fair and won't let other people miss out on salvation because of our own imperfections. God's just so good and the church is true.


Sister Kieffer