Monday, August 26, 2013

Heating Up

Dear Family and Friends, 
  Transfer time. Tuesday night President called us and informed Elder Marco and me that we'd both be leaving Charentsavan. Elder Marco went to Yerevan, and I am now reopening Artashat- there haven't been elders there for about 2 1/2 years now, but there's been sisters there. More explanation to follow. Anyway that's how it all shook out. We were sad to leave Char, but both ready. Ideally I wanted to stay another 6 weeks but I was excited to reopen Artashat, and I've already felt that it was supposed to work out this way. Char is in the hands of two very capable missionaries so Im excited for them.
  So Artashat- first things first, we dont live there. I think the decision we would go there was made late so they couldnt find an apartment in time, so we live with the sisters. Hopefully everyone knows immediately thats a joke and would never happen. We're living in Shengavit, which is an area in Yerevan that got closed.Artsahat is about 40 min south of Yerevan. We take a metro and sit a marshutni (passenger van) and it takes about an hour to get from place to place. Its been annoying traveling 2 hours a day, and its hard during the day when we dont have any place to go to take meals and sit down, but they said we should be in by Wednesday,so we're hopeful.We randomly met our landlord yesterday and got to see the place, it is TINYYY. Super small. We're a little unhappy, but theres nothing to be done about it. 
 Anyway like i said its about 40 min south of yerevan, its as far south as the mission goes right now, and closest to Iran! still plenty far though. Ararat takes up a good third of the skyline whenever you look east- you'll never see it clearer then you will from here. Ill send a pic but its just hard to describe how large the mountain is- i know its tall but certainly no everest, but its huge size wise. if you look at a map and see how far it actually is in Turkey, and then look at where Char is, and then realize on a clear day you can see it from Char and its still big, that might help.
  Being the farthest south means were also the hottesstt and dang its hot. we're melting. esp with no home and starting fresh,so not much to do besides walk around and get to know the city, we're dying.
 now all the imperfections aside, we're stoked to be here.Artashat is one of the 5 branches that became a ward when we became a stake and its the clear strongest ward in Armenia. Elder Minasyan, an area 70 lives here, we have a former branch president thats an amazing member, a full bishopric, and elders quorum presidency of all good men. we're really really excited, church went well yesterday. and the ward is really excited to have elders again, so we're stoked to get working and try to keep adding to the priesthood here. 
 im serving with Elder Chojnacki- super good missionary. he's starting his final 6 months but he's really excited to be here and we're excited to work together. 
  thats basically all the news there is. like i said we havent been able to do much yet, but we did meet a man saturday that came to church sunday for a half hour before he had to leave. sunday we ate dinner with elder minasyan and tied all his ties- i think even if an armenian man became the prophet he still wouldnt learn how. idk what it is. 
 anyway im tired, but excited to be here, excited about the trust pres carlson has put in me to help reopen an area, excited for the new district- two of them are from my group, good friends, and theres also a new sister being trained in Artashat. its funny to look back 5 months and realize how little i spoke and understood. plus when you live this far south you're allowed to visit the crazy cool old armenian churches,so thatll be exciting. 
 anyway i hope everyone has a good week. this one's been a stressful one for me,but im trying to embrace radical change, and the feeling of being overwhelmed and just getting stuff done. 
love you all
Elder Moore

ararat! from drive into Shat

elder shields and me- my group member, now in my district

elder marco, elder kopsa and me (theyre now my zone leaders)
oh and that first one is me pulling off horovats (barbeque) at our ward party- we got to Artashat the day before the annual ward bash,so that was awesome

a less awkward picture of the horotvats

classic armenian ticked off look
elevator picture with armen

setting up the camera in the middle of a cemetery at Bjni

me with my very fake Beat headphones and new weird shirt

mushegh and his family- wife Lara, mom Anahit, kids Arsen Edo and Anahit 
me and Armen

Monday, August 19, 2013

It's Party Time Chumps

Dear Fam and Friends, 
  Man I miss bad lip reading videos. It's not really party time in Armenia, but I did buy a super funny shirt and super fake Beats headphones for very little money, so that was exciting. 
  No news from transfers yet. We were kinda hoping to hear last night, but oh well. We'll be hearing tonight or tomorrow. I honestly have zero clue about what the future holds for me. But as hard as it will be to potentially leave Charentsavan, if I do I know itll be for the best, and I feel that I can leave the city in peace. 
  Yesterday in church Elder Marco gave a talk cause he's pretty sure he's leaving after just passing his 8 month mark in Char, but then I also had to give a talk because the person who had been assigned to speak on keeping the Sabbath day holy didn't come to church. So that was ironic. It went fine though. 
   Our investigators are doing better. The family we've been working with accepted the Word of Wisdom this week- Mushegh is the father who had been told by a doctor to smoke. Apparently the doctor also told his wife to drink coffeee to help her heart. I'm not sure if these doctor degrees just come in bags of Russian cocoa puffs or what, but its ridiculous. Next to our church is a dentists office, and the dentist is blind in one eye. Idk maybe Brother Anderson could still do good work with an eyepath, but it would def not instill confidence in patients. Anyway his wife said she'd quit though, she's doing super well. She reads the BoM from 2 to 3 AM every day cause its the only time she has time to, but she's loving it. Mushegh still doesnt think he can quit, but he has a month and he's down to a few a day. Not sure what the mix up from last week was, but he def has to quit to be baptized. So many people in our branch have gone back to smoking post baptism. Pres Carter had to do a crackdown to make sure none of them were being allowed to pass the sacrament. So he def has to quit, for a good 2 weeks so we can be confident he'll stay that way. 
  We met with the family who's son i danced with this week, they were accepting and liked the message. their mother died a few years ago so they loved learning about the temple. 
  we also met another new investigator this week, but i dont like her. Her names Emma, she's 18, and she's pretty. Shes the first girl ive worked with thats not under 10 or a mom. im not a fan of it. The first lesson was super awkward, i felt like elder marco and i were on a blind date with her and her member friend (which is not a good feeling when teaching about baptism) and our branch president laughed/ got mad at us for being so timid. elder marco was much worse. its gotten a little easier now that the get to know you is out of the way and i can just be an elder and teach about the gospel. shes doing pretty well, but the members she lives with are not very good examples so that makes us uneasy. 
   Hope everyone had a good day Saturday. We didnt get to have our baptisms, but it was a pretty good day. i was super grateful for sis andersons book she sent me, i read that for a bit at night. it was a hard day, especially with no one around to call or hang out with, but i ultimately think it was better cause i turned to the Lord. 
  Loving all the stories from home, especially the ones from driving school. Armenians are crazy as a people, not like legit insane but just so different from America. but its hard to find crazy people like you do in the US. no one has tatiks (grandmas) like we do here in Armenia though. Theyre seriously my favorite, theyre soo strange. its really hard to explain but ill talk about it for a few hours when i get home. here in Char i have names for my favorites- zombie tatik has no teeth and makes weeird noises at us, but shes always happy to see us. bearded tatik and praying mantis tatik need no explanation. stuff like that. they're great people though, so genuine and caring. 
  my final note for this week is patience. i studied about patience this morning, and read the stroy of the people of Alma the Older under bondage to Amulon for like the 60th time, but it was still awesome. they relied on the Lord constantly, and He didnt take their burdens away- He made them stronger to bear them. Then they had testimonies that the Lord takes care of His people, in His own timing yes, but He takes care of them. And then they could be examples to others about that fact. I feel that at home i would always hear about how people would run out of patience and snap, and i was no different. But I feel here its been the opposite, because I've relied on the Lord. The tests of my patience have gotten worse as the transfer has progress, and ive grown stronger to take them- God has given me what I could handle, if He gave me what I got yesterday at the start of the transfer, I wouldnt have been able to handle it. 
Yesterday I got spit on. Some punk teens followed us asking dumb questions and wanting money, nothing new. when we ignored them, they spit at us. nothing particulary horrible, but one caught me across the face from behind. it was one of the more unpleasant experiences ive dealt with, but i managed to still walk away silently. i honestly dont know if it was a trial meant for me, or just dumb people using their agency. Im not sure why i needed to learn to be able to take that and not react. but i know my patience has increased and my pride has dropped, a lot. and i know if nothing else i now have a stronger testimony that God will strengthen us through all the junk we endure, and that will be meaningful to me forever. and now hopefully i can help another missionary keep their cool and patiently endure. 
  I love you all so soo much and hope you have a great week in every way. 
Love Elder Moore

Monday, August 12, 2013

Winding Down. Or Maybe Just Getting Started

Dear Family and Friends and Creepers on My Blog, 
   Haha funny note about the blog- there's a man in Hrazdan, for his sake and privacy in general I'll call him Z. He's an amazing man with a great family, he was meeting with the missionaries for a while and reading the Book of Mormon but it just hasn't worked out yet, to the sadness of those elders and the rest of us who have been around Hrazdan and interacted with him. Anyway he came to a baptism a few weeks ago and asked me for my picutres from Sevan- he loves pictures with the missionaries (I think I gave him one of our family too at his request haha) but I wondered how he knew about Sevan- turns out he reads my blog. Idk how he found it, and Im assuming he just reads it in however decent Russian the internet can auto translate, but it was super funny. He was concerned when he read I was sick a while ago. Anyway, if he's reading this, I love you and your family, and pray often that you will be baptized. You will help many people to find God's church. Sirum em zez shat. (Idk what the translater will do with that english/armenian jumbo, but we'll see)
  Anyway we have a week and a half before this transfer ends, next week this time we should hopefully know our fates. Elder Marco's been in Char for 8 months and will bet thousands about his fate, but I really don't know mine. It's been a very long 3 months and made it a long 5 months in Char, but things could be picking up. Plus, we just found out they're sending new senior missionaries here to Char to do member leadership support. It probably doesnt affect me, but it would be tough to have a whitewash and 2 new senior missionaries that don't speak Armenian or know the city at all. So that's the sit. Im trying not to think about it much or make assumptions on what's up for me, which has been easy cause I honestly could see either way. Anyway. 
  The highlight of this week is the new family we met last Sunday, we met with them twice this week and they all came to church yesterday, which was super awesome. The dad came to a baptism on Saturday as well and it really impressed upon him. We're going to teach the Word of Wisdom tonight- some moron doctor has apparently told him he needs to smoke for his health. He's affirmed until now that he wants to quit but cant, and will just have to see how few he can smoke a day and still get baptized. So our focus is going to be on the BoM, so that he can gain a testimony that it really is a commandment not to smoke, and because the BoM is a pure vehicle of the Spirit.
  The other fun news this week- Armen, our BP, found us another family. The son is a very good singer that was touring Armenian with a group, and Armen apparently did a bunch of string pulling to bring it to Char, which made his family and everyone in general super happy. He told us we needed to go, so ultimaltey we decided we would. It was pretty basic, the room was like where the girls had their dance recitals, and they just sang. It was super Armenian (loud singing with kinda a wailing sound, hard to describe) anyway it was fun, the family was super happy we came. Then at the end the son was singing again and he went out into the aisles to sing. He was super close to us so we made sure we were smiling, clapping, etc, then he saw me, grabbed me by the hand and pulled me out to dance with him. As ridiculuos as it was, i was certainly not going to refuse, and it was super funny. neither of us dance well, but everyone loved it. so hopefully that increased our likeability in this tiny town. but that family also came to church this sunday and we'll be meeting this week, so we're super stoked about that. 
  This week I've been trying to dive deep into the doctrine of faith- its been talked about a lot in our mission lately. Pres Carlson arrived, and shortly after meeting everyone told our leaders
"this mission doesnt have enough faith" not to say we have none, after failing to reach last years baptism goal, they raised the goal in faith, and then by miracle after miracle we reached that goal in july, and it played a large role in the first stake coming to Armenia. But at the end of the day i think everyone was viewing that as our ceiling, happy about it in Eastern Europe in a country where the only legal proselyting is walking around outside. Anyway so with all the talk i've been studying hard and looking for ways to stop talking/writing about it and actually change the actions. In two stories, Ammon and King Lamoni's wife, and Christ and the centurion, the two are commended for having such great faith (as a Lamanite and Gentile), greater than ever seen in the Nephites or Israelites. Now I do not think that being raised in the church is bad for faith obviously, but it got me thinking about something pres carter sent out called "Try Not", where he quotes Yoda in saying "you have to unlearn what you have learned" I havent found answers unfortunately, but as great as being raised in the church is, I wonder what it is that we take for granted, that we have to unlearn, before we can have as great faith and these two who no literally nothing else than the few stories they've heard about Ammon and Christ. Food for thought, sorry I dont have an answer. 
  Anyway it sounds like summers winding down, I wish i could be there for Chipotle and puzzle time, mostly just fam time in general though. Make sure to read my emails to Linus and Livs, im sure Linus misses me and Livvie just needs a refresher on who I am. 
  As for Armenian religion- The main religions you run into are the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Hisunacans (I think the US equivalent is Pentecostal?) And us. I've met maybe 10 people who say they dont believe in God. But the thing is, the Armenian church, as great as it is being the first Christian nation in 301, doesn't do anything. They have really pretty buildings where you go and buy a candle to light, and thats it as far as i know, they dont preach or anything, it really is just a part of their culture. Its a huge part. But its kinda like a microcosm of the great apostasy, when no one actively preaches, people kinda believe what they want to. So most of the people say they go to the Armenian church, but in them you meet people who dont believe in life after death, the second coming, all sorts of stuff that just doesnt seem like normal Christianity. Its interesting. 
  Anyway that's all I got. We went to Sevan last week and Elder Marco and I went to Bjni this morning and saw a super cool church there, ill send some pictures in a few minutes. I love you all! So so much. Have a great one

ararat was super visible the other day in yerevan

we bought a 37 pound watermelon, but only ate about half before it went bad

elder marco and i at bjni

zone meeting- mega zone (called by others as south zone, but big)

sevan with the district

Monday, August 5, 2013

Crazy Bus

Dear Family and Friends, 
 Sorry I'm running out of titles for these things fast, especially when nothing super crazy happens during the week. We did handle the flies, the total count was near 100 and we stapled some netting to our window frames. And cleaned a little bit. This week I found an opportunity to get a nice suit from Turkey, that'll be exciting, and my pride got smashed! Haha many times. But that's what the Lord gives you when you're a prideful person at heart:
  This week I said hi on the street to someone and he told me never to say hi to him again, because I'm destroying the world. That was a little excessive in my mind, so I asked him if I was allowed to tell him goodbye (they say "success" in Armenian for goodbye) he didnt like that. . 
 We met a kid that tried to trip us up by speaking really fast (it worked, kinda) I told him he had to pray about the BoM- he asked "I have to pray to this book?" but I heard "I have to pray about this book?" (they sound kinda similar, and he was flyin) so i said yes and he went nuts saying we pray to books. I didnt feel bad about trying to speak fast with him, he wasnt looking for the truth and just tried to make us sound bad, but Elder Marco handled it like a pro (for one, he speaks better than I do) he asked him "are you actually wanting to find the truth" and the kid said "yeah, but i wont go to your church" . I got ready to basically condemn him and walk away but elder marco cut me off, asked the guys name, made a joke, and wished him a good night. I want to be more like that. 
 The final one was Sunday, we met with a new family and were super excited. Then theyre neighbor came in and we instantly could tell she was of another faith that hates Mormons (we'll talk more about it when Im at home and its not going on the internet) the dad was like "hey, these are the elders, get acquainted" and she said "es tsanot em nrants" and not "es tsanot em nrants het" theres a difference in armenian, you can only be familiar with people, you have to be familiar "to" objects that cant be familiar back, like a city, process, etc. So she basically called us objects, but it also meant "im familiar with their ways" and not "I know who these two guys are" get it? It was insulting anyway. but we tried to be nice, i tried to apply what id learned during the week, and eventually she just left. it was comforting to see the family didnt really care about what she said. But i've been trying to apply Christs words, so that people can recognize we're His disciples by our love towards others. Its not easy, but if we try to see where they're coming from, and see them how God does, we'll be better about loving the person and not hating the actions. 
  Anyway the other story from teh week is the family I just mentioned. We had a slow week, our 3 investigators closest to baptism were busy, sick, and out of town. But we worked hard and realized we can meet with Vazgen during his lunch hour if we bring him food. So we're gunna do that this week and next, and hope Alena, the sick one, gets better so we can have two baptisms on the 17th. i think mom would like that. anyway we worked hard and on sunday it still wasnt looking good. then a man named mushegh (gh denotes a throat letter, it kinda just drops away) came to meet with Armen, who told him to talk to us till he was free. we talked, he was kinda interested but not enough to make time for it, then we finished and went home. then Armen called and said he had mentioned the temple, and now Mushegh was waiting at home with his family for us to come over. so we did. and we quickly found out they dont believe in life after death. I've never met so many people who believe in God but not in life after death. more in a sec. anyway we taught about it a bit, they said obviously they would like for there to be one, and we talked about how they would come to know. then we talked about the temple- armenians are very visual, so every companionship has a "temple kit" with pictures of the temple and the celestial room and sealing room. and we write their names on paper slips, and show that a legal marriage will seperate with death, but when the man holding the sealing power staples the slips, its bound for eternity. it sounds a little silly, but you should have seen the mother's face light up when elder marco stapled her name to her kids name. Pres Carter always taught us to offer people something they actually want. thats a discussion for later comparing faiths, but the fact is we offered this family something they wanted, life after death with their family together. and its true! thats the best part. they accepted dates for sept 14th, which will give them a year membership before the temple trip next Sept. it was a great day, and a definite miracle from the Lord. Even though the week wasnt awesome, we worked harder, and therefore we felt better, and then we saw great things. 
  Lanes- i love how you only mentioned the durstchis and then said etc. hmm. but those tapes sound awesome lemme know how they go. 
  Alex- of the three options, the job is clearly the best. get a job gurl. 
  Dad- hope the summer goes well and not too hectic. i think i wanna come home my first summer and do lots of stuff, like shooting and learning to drive stick and going to six flags. but well see. as for normal report, i continue to learn tons every day, continue to try to improve the language, and wade through some tough times. but the times are tougher for the armenians that actually live here and dont get to go home to america where the church is awesome, so i'll never complain. is my placque set up? its been a while i feel bad if its not. 
 ask me the religion question next week, sorry im out of time but its an interesting discussion. 
i love you all, happy bday to tyler, have a great week and party safely
elder moore
 but thats what happens when the church you go to doesnt teach anything, you just show up to buy a candle to burn. its kinda like a microcosm of the great apostast