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.