Monday, December 30, 2013

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas day.

Dear Family and Friends,

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas day. The food, the atmosphere, family, the music; I'm sure it was just like it always is.

Christmas Day at the Schwartz'.
We did way too much traveling this week back and forth between Balti and Chisinau. But the days when we were in Balti were really great. We got to meet with our investigators often. Nastia is still doing great. We had a lesson with her on Tuesday and we went over 1 Nephi 4. I KNEW that she would bring up the question, "Why did God command Nephi to kill? That's against the commandments!" So, we talked about how God has a righteous purpose behind every commandment. He commanded Nephi to kill Laban because they needed the plates of brass (which contained many writings of biblical prophets.) 

13 Behold the Lord aslayeth the bwicked to bring forth his righteous purposes. It is cbetter that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in dunbelief.

Then we all tried to figure out why God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son. Well. Honestly, we don't have the answers to everything. BUT the Doctrine and Covenants does: 

36 Abraham was commanded to offer his son Isaac; nevertheless, it was written: Thou shalt not kill. Abraham, however, did not refuse, and it was accounted unto him for righteousness.

She also prayed for the first time at the end of our lesson! It was great. She was so nervous because she had never prayed the way that we do, but she did really well. I love when people just go for it and do something that they've never done, especially when it's learning about Christ's true church. 

We received some sad news this week from Denis at one of our lessons. I asked him how life was and he said, "Well. I am leaving to Bulgaria.... and I'll be back on the 15th of January..... Is it possible to move the baptismal date?" He seemed really bummed, but we told him that it was very possible to move the date! We all, I guess you could say, felt relief that the baptism will still happen. Sadly, we just have to wait a little longer. It's okay though, because we were able to teach him all the lessons before he left. So when he gets back, we'll review them and keep preparing him for baptism.

Hot chocolate church tours haven't been going as well as we'd like them to, but something really great came out of the one we did on Saturday. A young member brought two of her friends (we gave them the names of Banana and Cheese), we invited them to come to church on Sunday and they came! They stayed for all three hours and it's because my companion did an awesome lesson on Lehi's Dream that all 7 of the kids really enjoyed. They told us that they want to come back tomorrow and the next day and the next day after that. Well. We'll see!

Sunday night we went to go finish knocking the building that we found Nastia in and we found someone else who told us to come back tomorrow (today)! We were also able to give a woman, who had heard about us before, a Book of Mormon. We have found around 5 potentials in this one building, and one of them is even an investigator! Building up an area is tough, but worth every second. I love finding, but I love teaching even more.

Funny experiences of the week: A beggar told Elder Monroe that he was going to marry him if he didn't give him money. Also, Elder Westover called Nastia to invite her to church, but she couldn't because her daughter was sick, so he asked if we could come by on Tuesday. "But that's New Years!" - Nastia. My companion was thinking "Okay, then Thursday?" but this is what came out of his mouth, "Okay, so Tuesday then?" We both laughed really hard. 

It was great to see all of your faces on Christmas and to see you open your presents. I really felt like I was in the room with you. As always, thanks for the emails and pictures, and I hope you have a happy new year! Love you!

-Elder Farnworth

 Laying on the floor at the Schwartz'.
A really fat duck.

Look! We got the whole family in the picture!

10 moldoveni, 1 întrebare: -Dacă toată lumea...

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas is just around the riverbend!

The Christmas tree decorated
Christmas is just around the riverbend!

This email will probably be pretty short due to the fact that I'll be seeing all of you in two days, but I'll do my best to include something worth reading.

Denis is still doing as great as ever. We were texting him last night because we didn't get the chance to ask him if he hasn't smoked still at, and his response was, "Without your help, I wouldn't have been able to handle quitting, so thank you for that." The thing is is that it wasn't us. It was us telling him that with Jesus Christ and the power of His Atonement it is POSSIBLE to quit. And he has! It's incredible to see people make these kinds of changes in their lives and to be a part of it. We also taught him about the Plan of Salvation earlier in the week and when we got to the Atonement part where Jesus prays of the Garden of Gethsemane, he asked if that was really in the Bible. So, we opened to Matthew 26:36-46 and the Spirit was strong while we read:
Rocky! We ran into each other while we were in Chisinau gettin Elder Westover's visa

36 ¶Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place calledaGethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and bpray yonder.
 37 And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, andabegan to be sorrowful and very heavy.
 38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is aexceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and bwatch with me.
 39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and aprayed, saying, O my bFather, if it be possible, let this ccup pass from me: nevertheless not as I dwill, but as ethou fwilt.
 40 And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them aasleep, and saith unto Peter, What, bcould ye not watch with me one hour?
 41 aWatch and bpray, that ye enter not into ctemptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
 42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy awill be done.
 43 And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy.
 44 And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.
 45 Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is abetrayed into the hands of sinners.
 46 Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me.

Nastia, our other investigator, is still interested in learning more. Having a two year old daughter makes it hard for her to come to church, but we enjoyed reading the Book of Mormon with her and answering the questions she had. She kept telling us, "I can't promise you that I'll become a member of your church right now, but maybe someday I will if I feel that this is all true." Well, now we just need to help her get to that point! That's all for this past week. We were really busy preparing for the branch Christmas party, but we're still working as hard as we can to find and teach. I love this quote by the prophet so I thought I would share it with all of you to end my email.
“When we keep the spirit of Christmas, we keep the Spirit of Christ, for the Christmas spirit is the Christ Spirit. It will block out all the distractions around us which can diminish Christmas and swallow up its true meaning." - President Thomas S. Monson

I love you all and have a very Merry Christmas!
Sister Nelli (The Chief) at the branch Christmas party displaying the wonderful food

-Elder Farnworth

Monday, December 16, 2013

"Happy First Snowfall!"

Dear Family and Friends,

We finally received our first snowfall! Everyone was wishing one another a "happy first snowfall" all over Balti. Sadly, it only lasted a day and now it's all mud, but we cherished those couple of days with a blanket of fresh, white snow on the ground.

As I mentioned in my last email, we started off our week with the Christmas Zone Conference. Before everything started, Elder Monroe and I were walking up the stairs to the second floor of the Chisinau branch building and guess who walked through the door? Aba! It was, in no way, a coincidence that he decided to stop by the only day Elder Monroe and I would be in Chisinau at the same time. We were really happy to see him and ask him how he's doing. He'll be in Chisinau for two more years and hopefully I'll be able to see him one last time before I go home. I loved having the opportunity to teach him and get to know him earlier in the year. He's a great guy! Also, I got to meet the new Russian elder. Elder Streletski is his name and he's 6'4" 240 lbs!! He's a big guy. He drove tanks for the Russian army and boxed for 6 years. Him and his family could only go to church once a month, but his testimony and knowledge of the gospel is strong. He knows a tiny bit of English, but it's a lot of fun talking to him in Russian because I probably sound like a child.

Me and Elder Streletski


We had a really cool experience with finding this week. Last Sunday we knocked into a woman with a child who told us to come back on Tuesday. Unfortunately, we were in Chisinau on Tuesday so we had to stop by on Wednesday. At first I was thinking, "Well. Maybe she is just gonna be one of those people that are going to open the door, say that they changed their mind and then slam the door." But I was totally wrong. Right as she saw us she said, "Come in! Come in! I thought you were going to come yesterday, so I waited, but I'm glad you came today so please have a seat." The lesson went as follows: SHE SET ALL OF THE EXPECTATION FOR US. Baptism, reading, coming to church, praying, recognizing answers that come from the Holy Ghost, taking time to learn our message, and having members be present on lessons. She was really friendly and we talked a lot about the differences between The Church of Jesus Christ and the Orthodox Church, how we know what Jesus looks like (answer = Joseph Smith saw him face to face), the rules we have to follow as missionaries, and the Restoration. At the end of the lesson, she looked at us and said, "I want you to know that as I learn more about your message, I'm going to go on how I feel and if it makes sense." Our response was, "That is EXACTLY what we want you to do!" We set a return appointment for Friday with a member, but when we went back, she wasn't home. SO, we're going to go back as soon as possible because this lady is prepared.

Denis is making REALLY good progress towards his baptism. He came to church for the second week in a row, and we were able to the start the Quit Smoking Program on Thursday. He is already well on his way to fully quit smoking. Every day that we met with him, we asked him how his day went, his response was always, "Well. I haven't smoked!" There was also a day when we were cleaning the church and he randomly called and asked if we were at the church and if he could come by. We told him we were, so he came by, we sat down and talked about one of the most important things we teach people: the promises we make when we are baptized. We take upon ourselves the name of Christ and promise to follow Him for the rest of our lives AND we receive a remission of our sins. He's really quiet, but he has very good questions and makes sure that he understands our answers. After we finished cleaning, a member called Elder Westover and asked, "Do you Elders want to eat?!" This member had made some Red Borsh, she was bored, and didn't want to eat it all by herself. The whole time we were there she told us all sorts of stories about how she met the missionaries, how her parents thought she was a boy when she was born, how grateful she is for Elder Holt, and what she tells people about the church. At one point I tried saying something, but she just looked at me and said, "You eat. I'll talk." So I continued eating and let her talk! I just love the members here, they're so great.

Elder Fingerlee from the quorum of the 70 visited Chisinau on Saturday and left us with a message, "The church WILL grow here in Moldova, but it only will if you start inviting people to church to learn more about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ from the missionaries." This country will need 4 or 5 stakes before they can start building a temple, but I strongly believe that it will happen during my lifetime. I really do. As they all say in the Prince of Egypt, "There can be miracles, when you believe."

I hope you're all enjoying the break from school, and this special time of the year to remember Christ's birth and what He has done for every single one of us. Take time to out of your busy holiday schedules to ponder and reflect upon what a blessing it is to have a Savior who died for our sins and provided the only way to find true happiness. I love you and I can't wait to see all of you on Skype in 9 days! Happy Holidays!
Puttin' up the Christmas tree!

-Elder Farnworth

Monday, December 9, 2013

Denis accepted a baptismal date for the 4th of January!

Dear family and friends,

We have our zone conference today (on our P-day) so I'm in Chisinau right now getting my email time in (after a 4 hour train ride) so I apologize if it ends up being a shorter email than usual.
Blurry picture of us in the train we took two hours ago

WELL. It has finally snowed (not as much as it has there) and so Elder Westover and I bought a small Christmas tree and lights for our apartment. I just love this time of the year! Especially as a missionary because almost everybody is thinking about Christ is some way or another. A recent convert gave us a 25 Days of Christmas book with all sorts of Christmas stories,  Even though it gets dark at 4, and we rarely see the sun, we get to go around and tell people about how Christ is the only source of true happiness and light and we can all partake of it. Almost everybody has a belief in Christ here in Balti, but they just show it in different ways than we do.
Our Christmas setup
Our investigator, Denis, accepted a baptismal date for the 4th of January! It was actually a pretty funny experience because my companion extended the invitation and he simply answered, "Yeah." But for some reason, I didn't think that he really understood what we were asking him to do. So I repeated the commitment and he said, "Yes. I understood what he said and I'll be baptized." We all looked at each other and said, "Well great!" We invited him to church, he came, really enjoyed it, and the members really welcomed him in. Preparing someone for baptism is a great experience. The last time I was able to do this was actually with Elder Westover with Anya. This branch NEEDS a young priesthood holder, and he has been prepared.

There's a member who has been having some trouble believing that she will be able to see her two sons, and husband after she dies, so it was the perfect opportunity to show her the wooden Plan of Salvation visual aid that I have. It was probably the best Plan of Salvation lesson I've had on my mission. Testimony adds so much power to what we teach and when we told her that we knew that her two sons and husband are in the Spiritual World right now, she looked down to the ground and took a moment to take it in and she seemed to realize that they really are still alive and closer than she thinks. We WILL see all of our loved ones again.

I wanted to end by sharing a scripture with you that really stuck out to me this week. It can apply to all of us: Jacob 5:21-23:

21And it came to pass that the servant said unto his master: How comest thou hither to plant this tree, or this branch of the tree? For behold, it was the poorest spot in all the land of thy vineyard. 
22And the Lord of the vineyard said unto him: Counsel me not; I knew that it was a poor spot of ground; wherefore, I said unto thee, I have nourished it this long time, and thou beholdest that it hath brought forth much fruit. 
23And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard said unto his servant: Look hither; behold I have planted another branch of the tree also; and thou knowest that this spot of ground was poorer than the first. But, behold the tree...

Thanks for all the pictures, and have fun with all that snow! Love you!

-Elder Farnworth 

P.S. Transfers came...... Elder Monroe is training the Native from Rustov, Russia and I'm...................................................................................................................................................................................................................... still with Elder Westover! We were the only companionship that didn't change, and we're excited to spend another 6 weeks together.

Smokestack. There are TONS of them

Monday, December 2, 2013

My companion knits ALL THE TIME.

Dear Friends and Family,

It's O degrees Celsius and it hasn't even snowed yet..... Now what's up with that?! We're actually grateful for that though because it's supposed to be the worst winter ever here so hopefully we don't get icicles hanging from our nostrils in a couple weeks. Which reminds me, we're getting TWO NATIVES on the 10th. I may or may not be training one of them..... President hasn't really told us what's going to happen. Our second Thanksgiving was wonderful! We got to go down to Chisinau and eat a huge meal at the Schwartz apartment with all the Moldova missionaries. After we stuffed ourselves, with the approval of President Hill, we got to watch Fiddler on the Roof (One of Dad's favorite movies!) But of course, Thanksgiving isn't all about the food and relaxation, it's about our countless blessings that we have received from our loving Heavenly Father and it's a time to spend with family and let them know how much we love them. So, I want you all to know how much I love you and how grateful I am for your examples to me.
Thanksgiving at the Schwartz apartment in Chisinau.

Anyway! English has really been an effective finding tool for us. We actually got a new investigator from it this week. His name is Denis, he's an 18 year old young man who really wants to quit smoking and has been meeting with us often. We are going to start helping him to make reading the Book of Mormon a daily thing and hopefully he will recognize the feelings from the Spirit that our message is true. At one of our lessons, right as we sat down he asked, "What do you guys think is the worst sin?" Well, we told him about denying the Holy Ghost, but the answer he was thinking of was smoking. This helped us to know that he's wanting to make some major changes in his life. We told him, "You know, us teaching people English is a great thing, but there's more to what we do. We're here to help people change their lives and come unto Christ." So we went over the Word of Wisdom with him and promised that with Christ and God, quitting smoking is possible. The next student was a woman named Cristina and she has a child and a husband who knows English pretty well. We went over the Plan of Salvation pamphlet with her and at the end she asked a question that I had been waiting for, "What separates your church from all the other churches in the world?" It was a time where I got to testify of a living Prophet who speaks with God today, the fullness of the gospel and the keys of the Priesthood which were restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith, non-paid leaders, and that Jesus Christ is at the head of this church. She simply nodded her head and said, "Yeah. Well. Thanks for the lesson." We invited her to church, but she didn't come. People have their agency.... As missionaries, we invite and help. So now we just have to keep inviting and helping the people we teach come to church.
Our church..... Next to Babylon Cafe.

We visited some really great members this week too. The first one was a man whose wife is a Baptist. His name is Brother Valentin. We had a lesson outside in the cold, but right when I pulled my Bible out to share some scriptures, he looked at it and asked, "Where did you get such a beautiful, small Bible?" We asked him if he wanted one, and he did. (So when we were down in Chisinau we got one for him.) I read Proverbs 3:5-6 and when we finished reading, he looked up and said, "You read my mind. Never have these verses been so applicable to me than today. Thank you." On Sunday, we wrote a little note in his new Bible and he was like a child on Christmas when we told him that it was a gift from us. He put it in his suit jacket pocket and said, "Look, I'll put it here and every morning when I wake up I'll read a verse out of it." I love the members here! I would do anything for them. 

There are a million other things I could tell you, but I don't have all the time in the world. I hope this is sufficient for this week. I love you all and I hope the transition from the holiday break back into school and work isn't too painful. 

-Elder Farnworth

My companion knits ALL THE TIME.