Monday, April 29, 2013

Times Running Out!

With my email time and with this transfer. Idk if ill stay here or what, or who ill be with, but one fact is certain- I will not be being trained. And thats a bit terrifying to be honest. But im anxious to really get into the work for mysef and grow more. 
  About mothers day- we basically have three options. my sunday evening, which is you're during church or after church, depending. my monday morning, which is your late Sunday  (my 6am, your 10pm) or my monday evening. Let me know what works out, and be sure to keep a sharp eye on email during those times because I prob wont be able to call if its not working out, but i will email. 
  quick logistics question- we have ACBA Credit Agricole, Ameribank, and Converse Bank. Can you look up if the foreign/ other bank fees are different at all for using my Wells Fargo card? Please and thank you. 
  No pictures :( Elder Maughan said these computers can be dangerous (were just at an internet place) and missionaries have had their memory cards wiped just from plugging in. Im going to work on a plan to having things backed up. If nothing else I'll be sending a package home in the next month or so with bday presents, and ill be sure to print plenty then. As for the plaque pic, im still not sure. But im thinking. 
   Not a lot happened this week, It was kinda slow. The main thing was I learned a lo about the need to focus everything we do on baptism in our work. I learned so much about it, with one big example. We had a woman come to church and say she wanted to be baptized. Awesome. We went to meet. Not so awesome. She's been coming for three years with her less active daughter, but wants to be baptized now because she likes Armen, the man who just got put back in as branch pres (thats red flag 1) she refused to get baptized in May- apparently its a bad luck month. All Armenians refuse to get married in May (thankfully we have over 30 people in the country that arent being ridiculous and have baptisms planned in May) anyway, that was red flag 2. then she refused to read the Book of Mormon, because her eyes are bad and she doesnt want glasses, but also because she's taken the lessons before and "already knows everything" and says coming on sunday and hearing talks is good enough. That was red flag 3, time to leave and find more prepared people. We tried to explain those were not good reasons to do what she was doing, and that it was going to require more effort, but her less active daughter kept yelling at us that she already knew everything and was ready to be baptized April 30th (not happening) anyway what E Maughan and I talked about all week is that baptism is extremely hard, and it should be. Elder Holland said missionary work is hard, because conversion is hard, BECAUSE SALVATION IS HARD. And salvation is hard because LOOK WHAT CHRIST WENT THROUGH. He's not going to make it easy for us after what He went through, He's just going to make it possible. And He will help every step of the way, but on His terms- humility is basically the key there. Trusting He knows better than us and agreeing to do it on His terms. 
 The other big thing, very related, is that conversion is not dependent upon time, but on effort. We're trying for a lot of baptisms in May, but we havent found new people yet. But that doesnt mean it isnt possible to baptize more people in May, that just means we need to find the people who are prepared to put in a lot more effort very soon. 
  thats honesty all I have, I hope everyone has a good week. let me know about Mother's day plans (and you know, email me about the rest of life :) ) I love you all!

Monday, April 22, 2013


Dear Family and Friends, 
  WE HAD A SURPRISE BAPTISM! Normally when you're weekly baptism goals don't match your actuals, you're disappointed that something happened and they didn't get baptized. OPPOSITE! haha this week was so great. Let me explain, 
 Caren was set for the 27th this month. He quit smoking sunday, which gave him 2 good weeks to be fully prepared. Then monday night we heard about a baptism happening in Yerevan the next day. We invited Caren and went down Tues morning. It was an awesome service, Caren loved it. Then Pres Carter who was there said he wanted to meet with him and Serjik, who was baptized about a month and a half ago. He told Serjik he would be interviewed and if all went well he would receive the Melchezidek Priesthood this sunday (yesterday) for a special reason- expanation to follow. Then he asked Caren what was needed for his baptism. Caren told him we was pretty ready, just that he had only been off smoking for 3 days. Pres Carter then asked him if he could be ready THIS WEEK and then Pres Carter would confirm him that Sunday (yesterday) when he was there for Branch Conference. Caren agreed. We were shocked. but so stoked. So wed thurs fri we had 2 meetings a day to teach him the few things he had left, extend the last few commitments (he was fine with chastity, tithing, fasting, sabbath day) and just support him. It went well, we fasted with him friday, etc, etc, and he got baptized Saturday in Yerevan (we have a font in Char but it's pretty small and lame and Caren loved the service in Yerevan, so he chose there- we werent shocked) the service was awesome, after the baptism he bore a powerful testimony, which was awesome cause he's a super quiet guy. 
  So Sunday Caren got confirmed, then the branch presidency got a shake up. Armen, the strongest member by far in Char, was put back in as Pres (he served for 5 years until about a year ago) with Serjik as his 1st counselor- Elder Maughan stayed 2nd. Basically the plan is for Caren to be the 2nd when Elder Maughan goes home next month, then for Armen to train them both for 7 or 8 months, and get the branch back on its feet and in a position for Serjik to take the reins, with Caren and hopefully somone we'll baptize next month as counselors. Everyone was super excited. I felt a little bad for the president that was released, but the fact is he has an actual learning disability and wasn't willing to find out the way that he could learn. He's only been a member for two years, a lot was asked of him, and he just didnt rise. He saw the calling as one of power that he didnt use well, and he offended a lot of members. I dont mean to bash him, but the branch was in a really bad state and he had his opportunity. He's been called to the district high council, so hopefully he stays active and isnt offended. Anyway we're 100% focused on the future and its an exciting one. Armen already has a lot of plans in place to repair the branch, get the right people the right callings, bring people back, etc. We got a ton of new referrals this week from members and even investigators inviting friends to a branch conference that went really well. So we have a lot of new people with lots of potential, and we're going to aim for 4 or 5 baptisms in May. The future really is exciting for Char, and as long as Armen, Serjik, Caren, and the 4 elders dont let off the gas the members will be brought back, and new converts will come in, and Charentsavan will be headed for a ward when Armenia becomes a stake. Thats the most exciting thing- this sort of stuff is happening country wide, and if it continues there will be a stake in Armenia before the year's end. To be a ward we need 10 more active tithe paying Melchezidek Priesthood holders in Char, that are NOT smoking. It will be hard, but if the branch continues to improve it will be in a better position to help new men stay on the right path. I AM SO EXCITED. I CANT TYPE IT. honestly I want to stay in Char for months. This next transfer will be Pres Carter's last, so it will be his last opportunity to leave the mission in the strongest postion possible for when Pres Carlson comes. I have no clue what that means for me. It could mean I go elsewhere with another experienced missionary. But the fact is our mission is YOUNG- my group and the group ahead of us make up half the missionaries. A lot of that group are now serving with each other already. Only 4 go home this transfer, then 4 more, then 3 after that. The bulk of us have been out less than a year. So like i said Idk what it means for me. My dream is to stay here with Elder Marco, but i dont have to worry about it for another month. 
  Lanes- how many times have you done Drop Zone this year? you should save your cash money and do the Xtreme Skyflier- sooo worth it. i think it was like 30$ 
Alex- Who you be goin to da prom prom wit? What did you think of splits with the sisters? Sister missionaries are seriously the best. They solve all the problems we have here. Not like temporal problems, like member problems. and they do all the baptizing. theyre the best. 
As for the language, i've gotten a lot better at understanding what people are saying, and im slowly imrpoving at chatting with them. when i teach i can usually say what i want to. the thing i think is my strength is talking to Armenians the way they talk to you, not just translating English to Armenian. Its kinda hard to explain, but they talk very differently than we do, and that has nothing to do with the alphabet, accent, etc. Its just a diff style. anyway Ive improved on that a lot since getting here and the Armenians love it. the bane of my existenst continues to be memorizing 10 words a day. and without that I cant progress. so its been a point of concern/ extra effort lately. ill hopefully improve. 
 the food is hard to explain, because we dont eat a ton of it. we have a small supermarket with enough of the amenities of home. plus the members are told not to feed us, since they cant afford too. Armenian fast food and pizza is super good, but you will guaruntee pay for it later. Anyway they use a lot of meats with a lottt of oil, pork and lamb a lot. lots of plants. AND LOTS OF BREAD. oh my gosh the bread is incredible. I think I'll save one suitcase for bringing home all the different types of bread. thin bread, like paper thin, called Lavash is what we use a lot. But they also have lots of different very thick, very yummy breads. mmmm. bread. 
  Im gunna try to send pics this week, but i dont have one for the plaque yet, i'm trying to get one in Yerevan with Ararat. Ill hopefully get one this week. If the plaque has been engraved, thats totally fine, if not I think i want 2Ne 2:8. Tell Sandy thanks for the thoughts and prayers, and very thankful for the ring. a few other missionaries have em, the Armenians love them. 
 I love you all, and cant wait to skype (is it in 2 short weeks? ah!) I think we can only use skype so try to figure out how we'll get Tyler in there. Be good, do the basics, act in faith, and trust God with the rest. 
Love Jerm

Monday, April 15, 2013

One Month

Dear Fam and Friends, 
  Crazy to think its been a month just about in country. Its flown. kinda. Elder Maughan goes home in 6 short weeks, and our mission is super young, like over half of us have been out less than a year, so once he leaves this could get very very real for me. 
  Investigators first- we're still goin strong with the usual three. Gohar and her daughter Anahit are progressing well towards the 27th but they werent at conference this weekend, and missed church last week. They're fine as far as like the "requirements" meaning in Armenia its strongly encouraged that they come to atleast 5 weeks of church and show consistency. Gohar had 2 crazy work weekends, so its fine, but we're going to talk about taking the Sabbath more seriously. they should be set for the 27th though we're stoked.
Caren is also progressing well, he came back to Char and quick smoking yesterday, we hope for good. We're doing daily meetings and we're gunna fast with him, we're confident he can make the 26th. 
We didnt get to meet with our other investigator this week. boo. but this week our focus is on finding. i refuse to let Elder Maughan baptize those 3 and then ditch, which he doesnt want to do, but he did catch himself gettting complacent with finding new people. so i whipped him into shape. i actually kinda did. We fell far short of our OYM goal this week, so he wanted to set the same goal, but i refused. our mission didnt reach the baptism goal last year but they upped it anyway because we have faith and confidence in our elders and sisters and in the Lord. Anyway I demanded we up it slightly, along with our new investigators. i got my way. and now we tell God that we're going to throw ourselves at contacting with everything, and we know we can find when we do. We'll see what happens this week. 
  I finally did see conference. We watched it Saturday and Sunday in the branch pres's office while they watched in Armenian in the chapel. It was awesome, so inspired. We watched all three sat sessiosn with about an hour break, then watched the sunday sessions straight through. so it felt too fast, but i took a ton of notes to review and the Ensign will hopefully get to us soon. it was awesome though. 
 We also had zone conference friday which was really good, got to see everyone and learn a bunch of new ideas/ inspiring thoughts on how we can keep the mission success going, or atleast how we can stay as worthy of it as possible and leave it in the Lord's hands. 
  I got bad news this week though, two of my group members went home this weekend. One is cleaning stuff up and getting square, but intends to be back and has been told it shoud be possible in about 6 months. the other is going home for anxiety and depression they cant shake. its not like worst case, but the possibility of returning is still shaky. that was tough for me, they're two good friends and awesome missionaries. i was looking forward to the culture of this mission and responsibility kinda falling on us young guns and us just carrying through the president change and staying strong. we still have tons of potential here and lots of awesome missionaries to do that, but those two will be sorely missed. But im determined to be an awesome missionary and finish the one's training when he gets himself back here. 
  I finally got the right info for packages. It needs to come through USPS, or the national postal service if anyone's not in teh US for whatever reason. DO NOT use Fedex, UPS, or anything else but United States Postal Service, cause I'll have to pay hundreds to claim it if you do. Also it shouldnt be insured for over 100$, idk why it would be, and make sure to reinforce the corners of any box, cause it'll get hammered. Anyway my birthday will be here before we know it but all i can think of to ask for is food right now. ill ponder this week and then make requests next week. 
  Lanie, YOU should convert your friend! study Preach My Gospel, then teach correct doctrine but apply it to needs. just kidding I cant even do that yet. just be a good example and dont say anything weird. Alex make sure to lemme know how the ACT scores go and keep working hard when all the seniors become useless objects sitting in desks, you need good grades for the year to be strong. 
When people ask how I'm doing, just tell them its the most fulfilling work I've ever experienced, and Im gunna be a super weird person when i get back. Not like weird missionary crazy rules dont hang out with girls, but like weird culturally. The Armenians are so different from Americans, they just act differently. Its hard to explain. They even speak differently, like with a different rhytm and candor. A good Armenian accent is created by doing things very differently then you do to have a good American accent. So anyway, in two years Im just gunna be actin weirder then people even remember. 
 Im sorry to hear about Brother Aldriges mom. I didnt know her or Sister Hill I dont think. Sister Warnick mentioned Brother Bethel was dying, He'll be very missed. I  always loved his stories but especially his testimony. 
This week you should watch the new Bible videos on I suggest "For God So Loved the World" or "He is Risen" both awesome ones. The LDS film organization whatever you call it has really improved. 
I love you all. Be good

Monday, April 8, 2013

Happy April

Dear family and friends. 
  yes i know last week was april but i had nothing else to put. and it was also april fools. i meant to tell you guys i was being transferred to the border with Iran, would prob pick up Arabic, but should be safe if i watch out of landmines, etc etc but i got caught up with Easter and forgot. oh well. 
  I havent seen conference yet! stop tormenting me all of you. Armenia gets it this next weekend after translation finishes, and we dont have a place to all gather and watch it in english till they send us the tapes this week. well get to watch it with our district and Hrazdan will prob join us. so ill talk to you all about it hopefully next week. 
  This week was rough. i went to Yerevan to get my physical/blood work etc to make sure im healthy and then we had a training meeting. so it was a good meeting but we did zero work in Char. then we had a zone meeting in Yerevan and a member said they were going to be in Yerevan and would take us all back but they took longer than we thought so that day was also not productive in Char. so it didnt go as well as we hoped. and when we did meet with our investigators who are getting baptized next, we had bad news. one of the daughters moved to yerevan to be a hars for her husbands family. he left her and went to russia, hes now there living with other women, and isnt coming back for a while, but she still decided to live with his family. the hars is the daughter in law- the culture is that the oldest son gets married and they live with the parents, the hars is now basically the slave. thats not an exaggeration either. theyre not even legally married and the guy is garbage, but she loves him for whatever reason. and her new fam wont let her listen to the missionaries there. so that was hard to take, and really hard on her mom, but her mom is still continuing to read and learn and has a strong testimony even though she doesnt undestand why this is happening. she was supposed to be baptized this friday but she isnt porgressing as fast  as needed so we'll probably end up giving her another 2 weeks to gain a stronger witness. were confident she can make it though. 
  our other serious investigator is still in Dilijan with family so we havent set a date. and we dont know if hes been reading and praying. we hope. were also confident he can make the 27th if he can quit smoking. 
  so that was our week. it was disappointing. but thurs fri sat we set big goals for OYMs- we just wanted to talk to everyone. i was confident that if we met our big goals on the shortened week that that would show God we were serious about finding new people, and we would find atleast one new serious investigator. Sunday evening we were both exhausted from church- just absolutely beat. it was hard to get out the door, and we still needed 13 OYMs which is kinda a lot, esp here. but we went out. 50 feet later we met 4 men really curious about our message, work, why we were here, etc. we sat down outside and talked to them all for an hour, we worked together really well. it went nowhere. not all of it was focused on the gospel, some of it was about money and how young we were, but we kept pshing through and teaching them. after an hour they kinda laughed and walked away, but we felt good that we had given it our best. we went to the church and Armen called a new referal, who's awesome. he accepted a baptismal date in May. he still has everything to learn but i feel good. We didnt meet our goal, but those goals are only there to push us to convert people. we showed our willingness to work and God rewarded us with someone new. i feel good about him. 
   I dont have any crazy stories, except a mom yelled at us not to talk to kids in the street that had come up to us and started talking. and someone made a point of driving super close and fast near us. i think if they actually wanted to run us over they couldve so no worries there. Oh! haha i forgot. we were going to yerevan, so we go to a circle where all the taxies go. we wait for one thats half full, when you split a ride to yerevan its like a dollar per person. we waited for a long time and finaly got one, but 50 feet later the drivers boss stopped him and wanted to "talk". he and the two other guys got out and walked over to a desk. when we looked back 5 min later, the boss and his crew of like 5 were beating up the 3 guys. they tried to get back to the car, so then the fight was surrounding the car and E Maughan and I had no clue what to do. finally it cleared away like 10 feet and we left quickly that was exciting. were not in any danger here though, everyones nice. the only ones crazy enough to want to be violent are the priests, and we stay far away from them. and the drunks, who we also avoid. 
  Good to hear everyones spring break stories, except for the deer that got hit. atleast he died fast. the van being smashed is a sign that were no longer a family that needs a van. were small and none of us but dad want to drive anywhere farther than georgia. alexs beach house sounds amazing, but id rather be at KD with lanie. if someone gave me a day off, i wouldnt even relax, id go skydiving. i miss being reckless and getting adrenaline rushes. but the baptisms we have coming are even more fulfilling. although i will go skydiving when i get back. 
  Im with alex about another dog. get a pug. something so cute you dont care how dumb it is. if Alex gets a bomb score on the ACT that should be the reward. study hard!
i love you all, and pray for you every night. i have lots of prayers for me between everyone at home and the temple people that pray for the missionaries and etc. my investigators need more prayers. anyway have a great week everyone. 

Monday, April 1, 2013


Dear Family and Friends,
   That's a rough english version of the word for baptism! We had an awesome baptism this week. I say awesome describing the investigator, now member, Armik, and not the actual service itself. The service went okay, apparently pretty good for Armenian standards. But there were kids running around screaming and it was all we could do to keep them out of the chapel, the branch president was chasing after 20 yr old children like he was one of them, and people were just overall irreverant. But that didnt stop Armik. she was so happy. after she came out of the water she paused for a minute with her eyes closed- we thought she mightve been mid vision (she's had two during her time being taught) but then she just put her hands in the air and rejoiced. ah i cant even describe how happy she was. i dont know her very well, and i still cant talk to her much cause she doesnt have many teeth, but she's an awesome lady. and we had 4 of our serious investigators there and it had a good effect on all of them. Caren, the man with a serious testimony but an equally serious smoking problem, is currently in Yerevan for a few days. but he called us and said he wants to set a baptismal date when he gets back. So were stoked. Baptismal dates have to be approached thoughtfully and prayerfully though- Caren's already had 2 but then he went to Dilijan for a month to see family and stopped reading and praying. but he shoudnt be leaving for a while. anyway apparently people used to push baptismal dates back a lot but Pres Carter has changed that culture. So we need to give a date thats not super far away but enough time to make sure he's quit smoking, not just "fasting" from it. Im so excited for him though, he's a great man. 
   Anyway on to secondary news. I forgot to mention that we do email around noon here, so like 4 am VA time i think. But if you send an email sunday night we'll be fine. As for my non blood brothers that are emailing me- you know i love you. And our mission is changing the email regulations tomorrow at zone conference, so hang tight. i wouldnt care but our mission is so intensely focused on consecration right now, so im just gunna wait the one week. Esp here in Charentsavan it becomes clear quickly that if you dont have the Lord's full support you cant do anything. the past few days have gone by really without any progress. part of that was planning for Armiks baptism and another childs baptism but its still been slow, and i feel its because i havent been sacrficing enough of my heart. the other elders in our district are also struggling a lot with consecration, but were gunna try to turn it around. 
   I forgot to say Happy Easter! Armenians love Easter, its a good opportunity to show people on the street that we are Christian. I missed mom a lot this week. friday wa hard like the 29th always is but I think she wouldve been happy that I was trying to focus on missionary work. And we had the baptism that day so that was nice. I love that this year Easter was 3 days after she died. I think that's fitting. I love the scripture Mosiah 16 7-8. Read! 
   Im trying to think of other news. I got insulted a couple times this week but nothing terribly offensive. Our apartments not bad at all. my beds a little small, the kitchens cramped, but whatever. the funny one is our bathroom. when you wanna flush you have to reach into the back and pull the chain. it always makes me laugh for some reason. but we have hot pressurized water in the shower usually and good study space which is kinda all you could want in an apartment here. the water comes on around 7am and sometimes it turns off for a few hours during the day but its usually there when we want it. Im gunna send pictures of the apartment and the city next  week. its all old soviet buildings- concrete 9 story apartments are what essentially everyone lives in, were no different. the roads are all shot and everythings dirty. theres a constant smell of cigarette smoke or natural gas- thats what everyone uses and the lines are above ground. but im happy here. next time i ride in the car with a member im gunna take a video of how people drive here- theyre crazy. im gunna get home and drive like a maniac. Also interesting is theres no rules against tinting windows here in Armenia, so a lot of cars have just straight black windows, like not possible to see through.
  the branch were in needs a lot of work, and the members can be pretty frustrating. after 3 days (2 baptisms, church) of being around all of them i was really worn out patience wise. we had to deal with a shouting match in sunday school, etc etc. but i cant get angry at them, cause that wont get us anywhere. but it is discouraging when you look at the awesome investigators you have and then at the branch youre bringing them to. but the other elders here in Char are here to focus on member work, bringing people back and training people to do their callings right and trying to increase reverence, etc. so i know we can get this branch back where it needs to be if we sacrifice and have faith. 
  I think that's all i have this week. i love you all. before you know it we'll be skyping for mothers day! Be good