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,