If there is one word to describe my two years as a representative of Jesus Christ, it would be the word: change. Change in every sense of the word. Change that is only possible through Jesus Christ. I have loved every day of my mission, and I will forever be grateful for the people that I've been able to meet, teach, and love. This country and these people will always have a special place in my heart. Just know that true happiness only comes from living the gospel. There really is no other way. I've seen it in myself and in the Moldovan people who have accepted it and lived it. What can I say about two years as a missionary? It's been worth it, and I'll miss it a lot. See you on Wednesday!
Monday, July 7, 2014
Monday, June 30, 2014
This next week is my last week in Moldova. I cannot begin to describe the feelings I have knowing that my time here is coming to an end. I'll be leaving on a train next Monday from Chisinau so I can be in Bucharest on Tuesday for my exit interview with the NEW mission president. Yes, President Ivory and his family have arrived, and he now presides over this mission. We haven't really been able to formally welcome them, but I'm excited to meet him and let him know how much we love and support him even though we haven't even met yet. We will dearly miss President and Sister Hill. They have been around for almost my entire 2 years as a missionary, and I will never forget them. They have done so much for this mission and for me.
What a huge privilege it has been to serve the Lord in Chisinau and Balti. Really. Inviting and helping these people come unto Christ has been the most satisfying thing I've ever done in my life. I've had many memorable times, and many difficult times; but, no matter what kind of "time" I was having, God was always there to teach me, comfort me, help me understand my trials, and give me the strength needed to preach the gospel. I've seen so many people make incredible changes in their lives in order to follow Christ, and I have been so lucky to be a part of it. And through doing what a missionary does, I have been able to see myself be converted. I honestly did not have a testimony of my own before my mission. People have always said, "I know FOR MYSELF that this is true" but I didn't really understand what they did in order to know for themselves. Now I understand. We taught others that they needed to read the Book of Mormon with a sincere heart, ponder the things that we taught them, and pray about it's truthfulness, but what was I doing? Was I doing those same things that we invited others to do? Was I sincerely reading, pondering, and praying to know for myself? The answer is yes, and that is what I am still doing/will keep doing for the rest of my life. We have to know for ourselves of the truthfulness of the restoration every single day. I'm grateful to my Heavenly Father for helping me to gain the testimony that I now have, and for showing others through me that anything is possible with God. Christ lives, His atonement is real, the church and gospel are true and always will be, and miracles still exist in our day.
Shoot. I took too long writing that. Sorry. Well. I'll quickly go through what happened this week. We did some more service at Valeas. Her roof was leaking, so we hopped on her roof and filled holes with foam when we found them. When we went finding, we found a man named Vladimir who has an 8 year old daughter. The first time we met him, he was drunk, but we still gave him a Book of Mormon and our number. Two days later he called and wanted us to come over and teach him more, but he never answered his phone when we called back to set up a time. We called him back around 18 times, not even joking, and he never answered. We thought that something bad might have happened, but as we were on our way to church on Sunday we got another call from him. He said that he had been reading and that he had a problem about the Angel Moroni appearing to Joseph Smith. He wanted to talk about it all right then, but we told him that we would come over after church to talk about it. He agreed on 3 pm and said that he would be waiting for us. So after church we hurried over and there's this grandma that lives with him that wouldn't let us in even though he told us to come over. How frustrating it was to know that Satan was working through that lady so we couldn't teach this man and his daughter the gospel! And even then he didn't answer his phone....... Anyway, we also had another combined institute in Chisinau. It was a great turn out. Elder Westover and I also got to buy a birthday present for Dima and give it to him while we were there. It was so good to see him. I'm really going to miss all these people that I've become so close with.
Even though I'm finishing my service as a full-time missionary, my responsibilities as member-missionary will continue after my mission. There's work to do no matter what situation we find ourselves in. This is probably my last long letter from my mission, but we'll see. I love you and cannot wait to see all of you in 10 days.
|Waterfall in Saharna (Our P-day last week)|
|Saharna. Pretty nice, huh?|
|Our combined institute group (and some missionaries from Orhei/Chisinau)|
|Dima and his new shirt|
Monday, June 23, 2014
Dear Family and Friends,
I wonder how my times I've used that. Probably a lot. Anyway! This week was a great one. My companion has recovered....I hope.... and so we've been able to go out, find, and teach. I wanted to start this weekly letter out with how wonderfully simple True to The Faith is. I've been studying it a lot during personal study lately, and It has helped me to more clearly explain doctrine to people. Here's a secret: missionaries don't know everything. We seek and receive answers just like the rest of you! I hope none of you are shocked by this fact. The book is FILLED with precious truths that we ALL knew before we came to this earth, and it touches my soul when people we teach are reminded of those precious truths they once knew. You see their eyes light up and sometimes tears fill those eyes. It's something I've seen over and over and over throughout these two years.
When we went over to Nastia's for her recent convert lessons, she made a comment that really stuck with me. These aren't her exact words, but you'll get the main idea. She said, "I've noticed how much my prayers have changed. They've become more sincere. They've become more from the heart." I hope we can all say that as we move along in life. Because I remember when I was little I would be way too repetitive in my prayers; but, as I've tried to be more sincere and specific, I've seen blessings come more abundantly into my life. You're never talking to a ceiling when you pray, you're communicating with a loving Father in Heaven who has a body and spirit just like we do. That "precious truth" was restored through the prophet Joseph Smith. People thought and still think that God is just a powerful spirit, but because of the First Vision, we know that God has a body of flesh and bones. A young, 14 year old boy saw Him and Jesus Christ standing next to one another. And through prayer we can know this for ourselves.
Tamara is someone who is struggling to know for herself if our message is true. We had a great lesson this past week about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon and how she needs to read and pray sincerely to receive those answers she's looking for. She's been having a problem with these two things, but I think this lesson helped her a lot. Well. It wasn't the lesson, it was the Holy Ghost helping her while we simply shared what we know to be true. Basically, Joseph Smith's situation is what Tamara's situation is. She sees all these churches, but doesn't know which path to take/which church to join. So we read James 1:5, and I think that in that moment she realized what she needs to do: ASK GOD. Before we left she told us, "I have a good jealously for you two. You firmly know you're on the right path and I hope to be like that someday." I really do believe that she will be like that someday, and only God knows when. In the meantime, we continue to invite and help her (and the people of Moldova) to come unto Christ. Or as I like to say, "Come closer to Christ."
Just for your information, my son, Elder Westover, has been on his mission for a year. He's growing up so fast! He's been a great example to me and to the missionaries around him, and he's done so much for these people. I'm grateful for the time I had to serve with him (and my other 10 companions) these past two years. Shoot. I forgot to write about a baptist lady that we met. Oh well. I'll have to tell you that story in two weeks! Anyway, I've said this a million times too, but I'll keep saying it until the day that I die: I LOVE YOU AND HAVE A HAPPY WEEK!
Monday, June 16, 2014
Dear family and friends,
We had a pretty crazy week this week. Monday and Tuesday were spent in Chisinau, and I was lucky enough to have my birthday be on a P-day AGAIN. I spent the day buying souvenirs, and received many phone calls throughout the day from investigators, friends, members, and President and Sister Hill to wish me a happy birthday. I felt so loved! Getting back to Balti after four days in Chisinau was nice because Balti is my second home. And plus we were really tired from all the running around and traveling. On Wednesday we did some productive finding and while we were contacting on our way to lunch, I got a prompting to talk to a lady who was just about to pass us. We were in the middle of a conversation about the MTC, so my companion kept walking and talking while I tried to stop the lady. I feel bad that I didn't tell him, but it was a last second thing. Her name was Надежда and she had just moved to Balti and was doing some remodeling on her apartment which just happened to be not far from where we stood. She took a Book of Mormon, and we asked her for her number; but, she said that since she was doing remodeling, her phone wasn't set up yet. The good thing is is that we know where she lives. She told us that she's interested in learning more about any religion, so meeting with her shouldn't be a problem. Later in the day we went knocking, and oh boy did we get rejected a lot. When we walked out of the apartment block, I turned to my companion and said, "Much rejection cometh before acceptance!" Prepared people are behind these doors in Balti.... I mean, Nastia was behind one of them!
When we walked into the church Wednesday night, I could hear people in the kitchen as I walked by the closed door. I was really suspicious as to who was in there, but right as I was about to open the door, the door swung open and a birthday cake with firework candles came out to greet me. It was a surprise birthday party!!! It was a sight for sore eyes to see members and friends and the other elders in the kitchen singing Happy Birthday in English. I instantly got this huge smile on my face and started thanking everyone for being there. Dad, guess what kind of cake they made? Red Velvet! How did they know? It was so nice of all of them to put that surprise party together. These people are such a blessing in my life!
Thursday afternoon after we got done with our lesson with Nastia, my companion was feeling pretty sick and felt like he needed to call our mission president's wife and tell her how he feels. She told him that he should probably go to the hospital in Chisinau and get checked out. So, we went down to Chisinau again. To make a long story short, my companion has pneumonia. We have no idea how we got it, but he has it, and now he's on the road to recovery. The doctor told him that it was a good thing we went down to get it checked out because if we hadn't, his pneumonia could've gotten worse. So because of this, we spent the rest of our week mostly inside. I almost went insane because I'm not used to sitting inside for long periods of time, but we're doing the best we can with the situation that we have.
Here's something that I wanted to share with all of you. It's something that came to my mind during one of my personal studies. It's about commandments, and how each commandment has a blessing attached to it. What does this mean for us? If we don't try our best to follow EVERY commandment, then God cannot bless us. Can we afford not to have these blessings? I don't think so. Especially in our days when we really need these blessings. So if something is not right in your life, think of how well you're following God's commandments and then make a commitment to do better. Because the atonement is all about change and being better. It's a lifelong process!
Well. Once again, I'm running out of time. But I hope you all know how much I love you and look forward to seeing you soon. Have a fantastic week!
Monday, June 9, 2014
I am writing this email from Chisinau because we just finished our zone conference, and it was the last time we would get to see our beloved mission president and his wife. I sure will miss those two! They've been like my grandparents away from home for the past two years, and I cannot begin to tell you how much they've taught me. I also gave my "dying testimony" where the missionaries, who won't get to be at the next zone conference, have an opportunity to share their testimony about their missions and what they've learned in front of everyone. Tears didn't burst from my eyes, but my heart was full and my eyes watered as I shared with them what my mission means to me. I've never been the best at speaking/testifying in front of a large group of people, but I will treasure that moment for the rest of my life.
Well. I usually like to look through my journal and write down experiences I had during the week to share in my weekly email, but I forgot to do that before we headed to Chisinau for 3 days. I'll try and remember as much as I can.
Tuesday we had a lesson with Nastia where our focus was getting her mom to start investigating. That was the goal of our lesson, and it worked out perfectly. We said, "Well. Nastia. We want to start doing discussions with your Mom. What do you think?" Her answer: "I've had a plan in my mind about doing that for a long time!" Great! What she wants to do is have us "casually" meet her and be like "Oh, the missionaries! I want you guys to meet my mom." And then work from there. Hopefully we can set that up on Wednesday. Also, as we were doing some park contacting one day, we took a little break on a bench and the thought came to my mind to call Baba Tamara. So I had my companion call her, and I could hear her yell, "Where are you!? Come over!" Typical Tamara. We ended up having a pretty great lesson with her on the Priesthood. She likes to say, "Show me where it is written in the Bible!" And this time she even said, "What are you here to prove?" We simply told her that we are not here to prove anything, but to inspire, lift, encourage, help, and invite others to know for themselves if our message is true. But that doesn't mean that answers aren't in the Bible. We read Hebrews 5 and showed her how God CALLS men to the priesthood, and how we have that same preisthood that Jesus gave to His apostles. There is nothing mores pleasing to my ears than to hear someone say, "Oh..... That answers my question. Thank you." The Holy Ghost is real, and He can bring a peaceful feeling into the room when people are reminded of the truths they were taught in the Pre-Mortal Existence. After we finished our little lesson, she turned to me and asked when I was leaving. I told her 4 weeks...... she responded with, "You know what, I am going to be very sad when you leave. You and Elder Streletski were the first ones to regularly come over to my home and it won't be the same with you gone." There is nothing better than the feelings that fill the soul when doing missionary work. I love these people a lot. I cannot begin to describe the love I have developed for these people of the past two years. They're my second family, and Moldova is my second home. They'll always have a special place in my heart. My favorite thing was what she said after our closing prayer. "You can't leave until my Katia knows English!" Oh, what a teaser she is!
Let me quickly explain why we were in Chisinau for 3 days. On Saturday all the branches in Moldova got together on the hill where M. Russell Ballard dedicated Moldova for the preaching of the Gospel. We took pictures, played games, and listened to a member re-tell his experience about the day Moldova was dedicated. I'd say about 100 people came, and it was great to see members/investigators/friends that I haven't seen for a long time. On Sunday we had our District Conference where a member of the Seventy came to speak to us. And of course today we had our zone conference. Pretty busy weekend. It will be nice to be in Balti tomorrow. Which is my birthday. Thanks for all the birthday wishes by the way and I'll see you all in four weeks!
With much love,
P.s. I would send pictures, but I forgot my cord..... Sorry!
Monday, June 2, 2014
Dear Family and Friends,
New companion = new energy for missionary work, and recommiting ourselves to fulfilling our purpose as missionaries. Every day we have to be commited to what we were called to do, and that doesn't just go for us missionaries, it goes for anyone who made the covenant to be baptized!
Okay, I'll share with you what I call our "Sunday Miracle". So yesterday (Sunday), Our Branch President had me conduct sacrament meeting again, and of course it was Fast Sunday. So, as I was sitting at the piano playing the sacrament hymn, I got the prompting that I needed to bear my testimony because that's what we need to do as the branch presidency every Fast Sunday. And as we all know perfectly well, we usually like to brush off those promptings because we're usually too nervous (or there's some other reason) to go up and share our testimony. As soon as I started telling everyone that they now had the opportunity to share their testimonies, these words just came out of my mouth: "I would like to start by bearing my own testimony, and sharing something that I read in the Book of Mormon this morning." At this point there was no turning back! I continued by telling them about Helaman 3:27-29:
27 Thus we may see that the Lord is merciful unto all who will, in the sincerity of their hearts, call upon his holy name.
28 Yea, thus we see that the gate of heaven is open unto all, even to those who will believe on the name of Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God.
29 Yea, we see that whosoever will may lay hold upon the word of God, which is quick and powerful, which shall divide asunder all the cunning and the snares and the wiles of the devil, and lead the man of Christ in a strait and narrow course across that everlastinggulf of misery which is prepared to engulf the wicked—
28 Yea, thus we see that the gate of heaven is open unto all, even to those who will believe on the name of Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God.
29 Yea, we see that whosoever will may lay hold upon the word of God, which is quick and powerful, which shall divide asunder all the cunning and the snares and the wiles of the devil, and lead the man of Christ in a strait and narrow course across that everlastinggulf of misery which is prepared to engulf the wicked—
In verse 27 it talks about prayer, in verse 28 it talks about going to church (well, that's how I understood it), and in verse 29 it talks about reading the scriptures. The point of my testimony was to share how through following these simple steps we can gain a testimony of our own. I was/am grateful for the opportunity that I had to share my testimony with the members, but this wasn't our "Sunday Miracle". That happened later in the day. First I just wanted to share with you how great our church meetings were. Anyway, Denis passed the sacrament for the first time, he did it perfectly, and he didn't even look nervous! After church we had a meeting with the Branch President and the Relief Society President and they asked us if there were any copies of the Book of Mormon they could give to people. I have no idea how they didn't know this, but we let them know that there were, and the Branch President's response was great, "Ok, good. Because I have some people that I want to give the Book of Mormon to." This branch amazes me more and more every week. Okay, now we'll get to the "Sunday Miracle". Around 6 pm we got a call from Denis asking if we could meet him in center. So we went to center and found him sitting on a bench. We sat down with him and he talked with us for a little bit. Then comes a person on rollerblades we know to tell us hi. She was with a friend who had the exact same name as her. We had met her before, but only briefly. I had a Book of Mormon laying down next to me on the bench, and this girl pointed to it and asked if she could take a look at it. "Можно" (my favorite word in the Russian language) we said, and handed it to her. We took this opportunity to explain what it was and then told her that it was a gift from us. She looked really surprised, but took it and thanked us. She continued rollerblading, and then after 10 minutes she came back, sat on the bench with us and asked, "Okay, so you guys are missionaries/believers. I have dreams that happen very often. They scare me sometimes. Is this a gift from God?" Honestly, we didn't have an answer for her right then, but we got her number, and went right to our apartment to find the answer in the sciprtures. We found the answer pretty quickly in Alma and Moroni, then sent her a text saying that we had an answer for her and that we'd like to meet to talk more about it. Ten minutes later we got a text from her saying that she would like to. Great! And the cool thing was was that Denis helped us out and we're hoping he can be there on the lesson with us tonight. There ya have it, our "Sunday Miracle"!
Park contacting has been pretty interesting. We walked past this one lady three times before we realized that we needed to talk to her. She let us sit down and we taught her about the restoration. She took a Book of Mormon and we got her number. She said she had heard about the Book of Mormon before but had never been able to get a hold of one. We tried calling her two or three times on Saturday to invite her to church, but her phone was off. These things happen sometimes. We hope she answers her phone today.
Oh! We also met a couple on the bus. The man was from New Jersey and his wife was actually from Balti. They met on the internet in 2002, and then got married pretty quickly in Moscow. They were really nice and we had a pleasant conversation with them before we had to part ways.
Well. There are some other things I wanted to write down, but I don't have enough time. Just know that I'm doing well and I'm still loving every day of my mission.
Quote of the week: "Man may deceive his fellow-men, deception may follow deception, and the children of the wicked one may have power to seduce the foolish and untaught, till naught but fiction feeds the many, and the fruit of falsehood carries in its current the giddy to the grave; but one touch with the finger of his love, yes, one ray of glory from the upper world, or one word from the mouth of the Savior, from the bosom of eternity, strikes it all into insignificance, and blots it forever from the mind." - Oliver Cowdery
Monday, May 26, 2014
I'll start off with the news: I have a new companion! His name is Elder Chapman: he was born in Chisinau, lived in Ukraine for a while, then moved to America and that's where he was baptized. He knows Russian and English fluently, and I'm excited to work with him and see what we can do together for the last transfer of my mission. Elder Streletski is now with Elder Westover, and I'll miss that big teddy bear! (He's not going to be very happy that I wrote that). I'm just glad that we're all still in the same district.
Well. I guess I'll explain a little bit about our fun P-day last week. We went to Old Orhei (a place that I went to towards the beginning of my mission) and spent the day there. We forgot to bring water with us and by the end of our excursion we were very sun burnt, tired, and dehydrated. It was beautiful there though. It's a big U-shaped hill with a river running along the side of it. There were some cave-like places, and a monastery inside the hill that we got to explore. I'll send some pictures.
|A church there.|
On Tuesday we were in Chisinau for our Zone Training Meeting, and before we headed back to Balti we waited in the center park to give some "congratulation" notes to a someone that was just baptized in the Chisinau branch. While we waited, the other elders noticed a guy walk by and said, "Hey Elder Farnworth, isn't that Aba?" I quickly turned my head and sure enough it was! We yelled his name to get his attention but he had some earphones in, so they told me to get up and run after him. So I got up, ran up from behind him, and tapped him on the shoulder. He was very surprised/happy to see me, and offered to walk me back to the bench where we were all sitting. He was heading to a meeting, but took some time to talk to all of us and see how we were doing. I don't know why, but I see him almost every time I am in Chisinau. I'll have to call the elders serving there and have them give him a call so they can start meeting again.
The next day while the other elders were at the church in the morning (they had to open it so a member from Germany, who checks the buildings, could use the internet for a conference call) a lady came in and asked if they could help her. Her name was Aleona. She went to the mayor of the city to ask for some pampers for her bed-ridden mother, but they refused and told her to either go to our church, or a church down the street from us for help. She obviously decided to go to our church. Her husband had died recently from cancer and needed some help because she has been taking care of her mother and 5-year old daughter. This is when Elder Westover gave me a call and told me about the situation. Luckily we had some pampers that were donated from a member in Italy in our building, so we gave her those. She couldn't carry them by herself, so Elder Streletski and I helped her carry them back to her apartment. When we got there she introduced us to her mother and gave us some apples and candy before we left. While we were on the bus headed back to the church, we got a call from her saying that her mother broke down in tears after we left and wanted to thank us for helping her. I really like what it says in the For the Strength of You, "Service to others is an important characteristic of a disciple of Jesus Christ. A disciple is willing to bear other people’s burdens and to comfort those who need comfort. Often Heavenly Father will meet the needs of others through you." She ended up coming to the third hour of church on Sunday and talked to our branch president to thank him personally. Can you imagine how uplifted Christ felt when He served everyone around him? Being a missionary has given me a little taste of how Christ felt when He went about serving others. It's a feeling you just can't get enough of!
Balti's birthday was also this past week and literally EVERYONE was in center celebrating the entire day. There's a member I've mentioned in previous emails, Sister Anna, who is stuck at home all the time, so right after studies we went over to her apartment to see how she was doing. We got there the same time that her sister did, so she opened the door for us and the first view we had of Sister Anna was her using her walker to walk around with a big smile on her face. She sat down on her couch, I sat on her left, and Elder Streletski sat on her right. We spent around 45 minutes sharing our thoughts, and feelings about the Plan of Salvation and the whole time there was just a good spirit in the room. She's been having a lot of health issues, but you know what she told us? "I'm not afraid to die because of the knowledge that I have." We're not sure how much more time she has left on earth, but we enjoy every minute we get to spend with talking to her. It's a good thing we went over the degrees of glory because she said, "I don't want to stay in Heaven, I want to be on Earth! Because I love Earth!" She thought that there was just going to be only people dressed in white in heaven, but we assured her that everything that is here will be there, but much better. She was happy to hear that.
Guess who received the Priesthood? Denis! We finally have a new priesthood holder in the branch and it will be so great to see him passing/blessing the sacrament each week. We are so blessed up here right now, and we pray and hope that the blessings will keep coming for this branch. Thank you all for the support you've given me throughout these two years. Love you!
"God's number is always in our hearts. We don't need a money or a phone to call him." - Natasha (Our institute teacher)
P.s. The guy who owns our building told us this, "Every Elder should have my number. If you ever have any problems with people, give me a call and I'll handle the situation." Well that's nice of him! I wonder what would happen if we called....
|Elder Streletskii's favorite car.|
|A small town nearby|
|Another group picture|
|My "senior picture".|
|One more group picture where only Elder Westover and I are looking|
|Group picture in the "caves"|
|We found a Hobbit Hole. With "clean" water inside.|
|Walkin' through a herd of goats/sheep.|
|.... A cow.....|
|The staircase down to the monastery built inside the hill.|
|Yes, these are the Elders I serve around.|
Remember the window that I talked about a long time ago? I finally got a picture of it.
Monday, May 19, 2014
|Welcome to Balti sign at the edge of the city.|
Don't have a ton of time today because we planned a fun P-day, but I'll try and get in as much as I can.
Monday, May 12, 2014
It feels like just five minutes ago I was talking to you on Skype. It sure was nice to see all of you!
|All of you from my screen. Looking good!|
So it was our turn this week to go over to Nastia's, and BOTH days when we got together for companion study I said, "Hey, so this is what I studied, and I feel like we should teach about this." And my companions response each time was, "I studied the exact same thing!" It sure is nice when that happens because then we know it's exactly what we need to teach. We taught her about the Last Supper, the Garden of Gethsemane, and read The Living Christ together. Our focus was on one line from The Living Christ: "He Lives." And in True to The Faith it says, "But because the Savior lives, we do not use the symbol of His death as the symbol of our faith. Your life must be the expression of your faith." Nastia's life definitely is an expressions of her faith. She had the opportunity to go work in Moscow, which would have made her take a plane there this past Friday; but, because she chose to pray with sincerity and fast with faith, she received the answer not to go. The Lord has a special purpose for her here in Balti, and she knew exactly what to do in order to receive an answer of whether or not to leave AND she acted upon that answer. Because of this we were able to meet her mom, she's planning on sharing the Book of Mormon with another one of her friends, and she still gets to teach primary and bless the lives of the children we have in the branch. The Lord knows what He's doing, and we're very grateful that she is still here!
Lessons with Denis have taken me back to the days when Elder Westover and I taught him during the cold winter months at the branch building. His baptism is coming up and so we got to teach him about enduring to the end. Probably one of the most important lessons if taught right. Each elder shared why enduring to the end is so important, and I told him about an experience I had in high school when I decided to skip seminary and one of my friends told me, "You know, Satan wants you to skip seminary (or church) because he knows perfectly well that you'll learn something that will help you in your life, or spiritually strengthen you if you go. So when Satan tells you it would be better not to go, remember what I told you." I have never forgotten what that friend said to me, and I hope Denis understands that this is the reason why members go less-active. When it comes down to it, don't listen to Satan and everything will be alright. I knew he'll be fine though. He's a good kid!
Playin' volleyball with the youth.
Calling Tamara has been not so productive for us because she tells us that she's busy every time. So, what did we do? We stopped by without calling her. And it worked out great! She just happened to be home, was really glad that we stopped by, and sat us down in her kitchen (she sits us down in her kitchen a lot) to tell us stories about her family from wars in the past. She holds these memories so close to her heart that it made her cry a couple times. It was the perfect opportunity for us to talk about family history, and how we have a website where she can write down everything that she knows about her family so that future generations can know about it too. Unfortunately, we don't have those My Family pamphlets, but hopefully we can get them soon. She seemed really interested, and I think it would be a lot of fun to help her fill out her family chart and write down what she knows about them. Right before we left she invited us to be in a parade (which turned out to be a long line of people walking to a memorial) with them the next day. To make a long story short, she literally introduced us to everyone that was close by. I even got to talk to a guy I was walking next to about the church. He wasn't very interested but shook my hand and said that it was nice to meet me. We also got to meet her daughter's family, and eat dinner with them. This lead to us finally being able to teach her granddaughter English and giving her a Book of Mormon in Romanian and in English. We'll see how it all turns out.
I already told you a little about the branch picnic, but I didn't mention how members invited friends and we had some less-actives come! I consider it a successful activity, even if a lot of things didn't go the way we wanted them to. It also bonded us closer together, and we got to eat some tasty food. I love this branch!
|Our picnic area that we almost used, but then it decided to rain.|
I think that's about it for the week. I can't get every little detail in, but just know that I love you all! Have a wonderful week.
Quote of the week: "Truth will always be opposed." - Lawrence E. Corbridge
Our friendly neighborhood bull.
|Elder Westover made me put my hand inside it's mouth.|
Elder Streletski and I in the "parade".
Monday, May 5, 2014
Happy cinco de mayo!
Is anybody else wondering where April went? It feels like we skipped a month this year! I can't believe it's already May, but it's good that it's finally here because the weather is warming up, everything is green, everyone is happier, AND I get to see all of you on Skype! That's the last time I'll see your faces before I'm home. I look forward to it!
We started off our week with teaching our newest recent convert about Mosiah 18:8-9, and how there's a lot of things required of us after we are baptized; but, with these requirements come great blessings. Recent converts can help a ton with the growth of the church. Missionaries (and members) are like training wheels for the "recent convert bike," and with our help we can help them eventually be able to ride on their own. This skill will bless them and the church for years to come. Recent converts are a huge blessing for this branch.
|Almost every sign in Moldova has Romanian and Russian on it.|
You may remember how in past emails from when I was in Chisinau, I talked a lot about street-boarding. Well, here we started something called book-tabling (which has been used in the past by previous missionaries). We put a stand out in front of the church with copies of the Book of Mormon, pamphlets, and other materials, and then talked to people when they walk by. Since it was the first day that we had done it, it didn't work out as well as we would've like it to, but there was one lady that tried to avoid us, then stopped, turned around, and came up to ask us what we were doing. She ended up taking a Book of Mormon in Russian AND Romanian and gave us her number. Unfortunately when we called her and told her who we were and if she was interested in learning more, she didn't say anything and hung up. These kinds of things we just have to shrug off our shoulders and keep going because there are other people to find!
Baba Tamara..... I just love saying that...... We got to talk to her and her neighbors for a little bit when we stopped by (they were all outside sitting on a bench.) I think it was good for them see us as normal people and not "robots" from America (and Russia.) It was pretty funny what Tamara said when we walked up though. She got at us for wearing black jackets in hot weather. I honestly don't know why we were wearing black jackets either but she's our Moldovan Grandma and Grandma knows best! Eventually she took us inside and sat us down in her living room to talk more about the restoration pamphlet. It was like she was testing us to see if we know our stuff. The question she had was, "Why do we need prophets?" Every missionary should have a good answer to this question. My companion whipped out his Bible and turned right to Amos 3:7. She said, "Okay, now show me where in the Bible it is written how God calls prophets." The scriptures that popped into my mind were scriptures that we had shared with a recent convert the previous week from Matthew 10:1-10. We told her how many times in the Bible Jesus says that He does the will of the Father; so, when he called the Twelve Apostles, God was calling Apostles through His Son Jesus Christ. We continued by saying that it's basically the same process. God chooses His prophets, not men. After that she didn't say anything, so we figured that it had answered her questions. Or maybe her question was already answered and wanted to see what we believe. But nonetheless, she agreed with what we believe! After our little lesson she crammed us into her cozy kitchen, fed us a meal (even though we had eaten just before that), and when we finished she looked at me and said, "You done eating? Okay, get outta here." Don't worry, she said that in the most loving way possible. We tried meeting with her later in the week, but every time she called she was busy with something. She still wants to meet with us though, and that's a good sign!
Lately the other elders have also been asking if we would like to teach Denis with them and so all four of us got to teach him about the Priesthood, missionary work, and service. I would go more into detail with how the lessons went but I don't have a ton of time. Just know that they were powerful lessons, and he is definitely ready for baptism. One night after we finished an activity he even took a Book of Mormon and said that he was going to give it to his grandma - Missionary work!
Interviews were also this week and it was the last time I would have an interview with President Hill. Sad, but it's a good thing he lives in Utah. Well. I can't wait to see all of you on Saturday. Love you!
|Two great men! Our branch president and mission president.|
Quote of the week: "Knowledge without feeling is nothing."
P.S. I made cookies for the first time in a long time because we had a cookie competition with the members and.... I won! It was a miracle. I'll attach a picture.
|Our cookie competition. In case your wondering, I made raspberry cream cookies.|
Monday, April 28, 2014
Remember that groundskeeper guy, Micheal, that I mentioned in my last email? Well, we went back to that same park this past week and as we were walking we saw a man, and I said to my companion, "No way... It's him!" He just happened to be walking around when we walked by; so, we talked to him, asked him if he had read the Book of Mormon, and if he had any questions. He had read some of it, but had no questions. We said that we would like to share more and teach him about our message, but he said he was busy with work. Darn it. We'll need to stop by one more time to show him that we're serious about what we have because it's for everyone!
Usually members take over after investigators are baptized, but since we have such a small branch here, that responsibility is placed upon our shoulders. So, we switch off with the other Elders every week with teaching Nastia the recent convert lessons. Going over to teach Nastia is always a great experience because every time we go over she shares with us something new she learned, a scripture she found, or a question she has about a gospel principle. In turn, we get to answer her questions, share experiences, and learn together. This week we talked about the Saul-Paul conversion and related it to Isaiah 1:18. Towards the end of the chapter, it talked about Peter and how he performed miracles in the name of Jesus Christ. This concept lead to our next lesson where we talked about the sacred calling of Apostles, and how Christ calls Apostles today the same way He did in the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine and Covenants. Really. Study it for yourself and you'll find the same pattern. It's neat to know that Christ still leads His church today through a living prophet and a quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
|Us and Sevghi at the combined institute activity!|
Remember what happened when we had a combined Institute for all Moldova in Chisinau? Well. We had another one and this time we tried to invite as many people as possible from Balti. We called, and called, and called, and ended up having 6 young people come with us. Of course, we would've liked everyone that we invited to come, but the group that came with us was a good group. President Iachimov (I hope I spelled his name right) presented to us about why the Book of Mormon is named the way it is, and how because of the Book of Mormon we can draw one line from the Bible and connect it with the Book of Mormon to establish one truth for everyone. He's an amazing teacher! Also, while I was there I got to see a member that I haven't seen since I served in Chisinau. It was Sevghi! And we gave each other a big handshake when we crossed paths in the church. I played the piano and she lead the opening hymn for this combined institute activity, and before we started she to turned to me and said, "Hey! This is just like the good old days!" It sure was, and it made me think about how much I'll miss it all when I leave.
Galina, Vitali, and Tamara are our investigators right now. Galina is the lady that has had missionaries over in the past, and we were finally able to go over and see how she is doing. She said that she wanted to come to the baptisms/church, but "things" came up. As we started our lessons she told us to wait a minute while she got her copies of the Book of Mormon. She came back with FOUR old translations. I don't know why in the world she had that many, but she did! We gave her a new translation, and then she said something that really surprised me, "This is the same New Testament that the Jehovah's Witnesses gave to me." Wait, what? We were really confused as to why she thought that the Book of Mormon was the Bible; so, it was the perfect opportunity to go over what the Book of Mormon is and read the introduction together. We gave her homework to read 3 Nephi 11 and really pray about it with a sincere heart. Her birthday was on Sunday so we didn't get to go over a second time during the week, but hopefully she does her homework!
With Vitali we're taking baby steps. He is a great man with a very strong belief in God, but has a hard time understanding that there's only one true church. As for Tamara, when we called her she told us to hurry and come over so we could talk about the Restoration pamphlet. She had a great question that went something like this, "If Christ suffered for all the sins of people who have lived, are living, and will live, then why does He require something from us?" My companion explained it very well to her, but she just wouldn't listen to him. Thank goodness for the Holy Ghost because it told me to use the Brad Wilcox Piano Analogy from his talk His Grace is Sufficient:
"Christ’s arrangement with us is similar to a mom providing music lessons for her child. Mom pays the piano teacher. How many know what I am talking about? Because Mom pays the debt in full, she can turn to her child and ask for something. What is it? Practice! Does the child’s practice pay the piano teacher? No. Does the child’s practice repay Mom for paying the piano teacher? No. Practicing is how the child shows appreciation for Mom’s incredible gift. It is how he takes advantage of the amazing opportunity Mom is giving him to live his life at a higher level. Mom’s joy is found not in getting repaid but in seeing her gift used—seeing her child improve. And so she continues to call for practice, practice, practice."
|Random parade outside our apartment during studies.|
Obviously I wasn't able to explain it like that in Russian, but she got the point and it answered her question. I'm so glad I read that talk because a member of the Godhead knew that I had read it many times and that it could answer her question. Well. That's it for the week. I love you all and you're in my prayers! Have a good week.
P.S. Great news! Denis told us all yesterday after Sacrament Meeting that he wants to get baptized for sure in May!
|Nice view of a little part of Balti from the lake.|
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Sorry for the day-late email! We were out in a village visiting a less-active family all day yesterday and we got back late and had no time to email, so our mission president gave us permission to write to all of you today.
|With that family out in a village 40 minutes away from Balti|
To start off, the other Elders have been working really hard with a lot of their investigators and were able to bring one of them unto the waters of baptism this past Saturday. It was a lady found through a recent convert, and she'll be a great addition to the branch. We've got a lot of really awesome recent converts that are helping the branch out a lot!
Also, the clouds filled with unlimited water have finally decided to stop pouring rain this past week, and on one of the days that it rained we stopped by Vitali (a former investigator who is now an investigator again), and realized that his number was at our apartment. Even though we were unable to call him, we banged a rock on his front gate (don't worry, we didn't damage anything) and yelled his name hoping that he would hear us. Unfortunately, he did not hear us and so we went back to the apartment, called him, and he told us how he doesn't want us to come over when it rains. Odd. But it's not our house, so what can we do? We also invited him to the baptism and he came! It's the third baptism he has been too, and hopefully it helped. Now that the sun is out, we can stop by and see how he's doing.
|Hittin' carpets for Baba Tamara!|
On Thursday, Baba Tamara called and said that she wanted us to see her granddaughter's piano recital. So went with her and her husband to a music school close to our apartment and for most of the time we talked about how we celebrate Easter in America. When we sat down to listen to the students play, she turned to me and said, "Preach to me! I'm a person you just met on the street. What do you say to them?" I've been through this situation a million times, so I just started telling her how we tell people about the Book of Mormon and how it's another testament of Jesus Christ. As I gave her a brief overview of the Book of Mormon, I could tell people around us were listening. Of course, this was a piano recital so I had to be quiet when they started to play, but never did I think I'd proselyte in a music school. Pretty cool! The next day she had us come over and do some service for her. We hit carpets with a bat-looking thing, and combed off the hair that had probably been on there for a long time.That was the job I got stuck with and it wasn't very pleasant. After we finished she had us come in and fed us a delicious meal. Right before we were about to start eating she got a phone call, so each of us looked at each other and said, "Let's pray so we can eat." So we prayed, and before we left she mentioned how she really liked that we prayed before we ate. "Show us how you pray!" she continued, and Elder Streletski prayed. She also really liked how we pray! Great! There's already a lot of things she likes about the church, so that puts us on the right track.
Survey contacting in parks = a lot of fun. Especially when people answer the questions and get really interested in what we have to say. We actually met the groundskeeper of a park near the church and he took a Book of Mormon. We also met a lot of "other" people where it didn't turn out so well. Nevertheless, we really enjoy survey contacting, especially since the weather is nice.
For Easter our mission president gave us permission to stay up and see how the Orthodox church celebrates Easter. At 2:30 am Sunday morning, we went with Nastia to her old church and she showed us what they do. Everyone had candles and as we stood outside, we listened to the choir that was singing inside. To be honest, I love my sleep and staying up wasn't my favorite thing but it was for the memories!
Христос воскрес! Воистину воскрес! Love you!
Cool experience of the week: For district meeting, Elder Westover had us ask each other random questions then open up to a random page in the Book of Mormon to answer the question. It worked every time! You should all try it out for Family Home Evening or something.
|We found this little bear while we were out contacting. Just wanted to take a picture with him.|
|I just love Balti!|
Monday, April 14, 2014
Dear Family and Friends,
I would just like to inform everyone that I did that "P.S." last week because Elder Feil and Elder Westover thought it would be funny to give their mothers a shout-out. So I hope no one thought it was odd! But in all seriousness, thank you for reading my weekly emails.
Anyway, this week was a pretty bad one for us because all the sicknesses that should've come earlier in my mission decided to come all at once for these past 5 days. A fever, pink eye, a nasal infection, strep throat, and the most painful headache I've ever had in my life. My poor companion has had to deal with me getting a lot of rest, and recovering for almost the entire week. However, we still got out and did what we could!
|Elders Westover and Streletskii cuttin' down a tree in New Balti|
On Tuesday we were in Chisinau for Zone Training Meeting all day, and Wednesday was spent doing some more service for a recent convert out in New Balti. The weather was beautiful, it was 75 degrees, and we did a lot of yard work. She had us prune trees, gather and throw away trash, plant plants, chop wood, and many other chores. The lunch break was interesting. We made a salad out of the plants she had in her garden and she made eggs on her old school stove which she had inside her home. She always likes to tell us when we finish up how she could never do this kind of work without our help. The lyrics to Have I Done Any Good? always pop into my mind at the end of each day when I kneel down and give a report to my Heavenly Father:
|Elder Westover and Sister Valea startin' the fire in the old school stove|
- 1. Have I done any good in the world today?
Have I helped anyone in need?
Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad?
If not, I have failed indeed.
Has anyone's burden been lighter today
Because I was willing to share?
Have the sick and the weary been helped on their way?
When they needed my help was I there?
Then wake up and do something more
Than dream of your mansion above.
Doing good is a pleasure, a joy beyond measure,
A blessing of duty and love.
- 2. There are chances for work all around just now,
Opportunities right in our way.
Do not let them pass by, saying, "Sometime I'll try,"
But go and do something today.
'Tis noble of man to work and to give;
Love's labor has merit alone.
Only he who does something helps others to live.
To God each good work will be known.
Doing good REALLY is a "joy beyond measure", and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the greatest good we can do for those around us. It's good news that a surprisingly large number of people don't know about, so I hope that you can find someone you know (even if you live in Utah where almost everyone you know is Mormon) and share what the Gospel of Jesus Christ has done for you in your life.
And even though it was a week later, we got to watch General Conference with all the members on Saturday and Sunday. It was so nice to watch it at the normal times! My favorite talk was probably Elder Holland's talk. All the talks were very memorable, but his talk was the one that stood out to me the most. I also got to see Lindsay which was really cool! Hopefully next conference I can be there in person ;)
Anyway, I wish I had more to tell, but me being sick made it difficult to be out all week. Next week should have some pretty neat experiences though! Love you all and hope you have a wonderful week!
|The salad we made for our lunch break|
Tuesday, April 8, 2014
To start off this email, I just want to thank the Empty Nester's group back home for what they sent me in the mail. I really appreciate it, and it was great to hear from all of them!
I cannot begin to tell you how many times a day I sneeze. In Russian we say, "будь здоров!" and my companion has probably said it a million times already. Yes, allergy season has arrived, and it's much worse here than it was back in Orem, Utah. But that's okay, because it will pass hopefully before July.
Raisa is back! Last Monday the other Elders saw her on the bus so that was great news to hear. Unfortunately, we had no time to stop by. Next week for sure. Thursday was a pretty great day for us. We had about 6 straight hours of contacting which actually turned into about 2 of those hours doing area book work. I sat down, opened our extremely organized and well-kept area book (you may think I'm joking, but I'm not), and started looking through former investigators and organizing them into groups. When I found someone that I felt would be good, Elder Streletski would call them, see if they remembered us, and if they're interested in having the discussions again. To make a long story short, we were able to set up 2 lessons the next day, and ended up finding 2 new investigators! One of them even came to church! God has given us area books for a reason and these people have had seeds planted in their hearts that need some water (the Book of Mormon) and sun (the Love of God/Gospel of Jesus Christ) to help them progress more and more until they decide to make that baptismal covenant with their Heavenly Father. So, if we give them the right amount of sun and water, they'll start to make changes (growth) in their lives and turn into a beautiful flower! *Sorry for the cheesy example, Alma 32 kept popping into my head as I was writing this*
Anton is doing great. We were able to have a lesson about Priesthood with him, and he's pretty excited to receive it next Sunday. We showed him how to pass the Sacrament, and he said, "I already know what to do because I watched Elder Westover pass it every Sunday!" See what examples can do? Recent converts are such a blessing to the church!
Testimony meeting yesterday (yes, we had church while the rest of the world watched General Conference) was easily one of the best testimony meetings I've ever been to. Nastia, Anton, a non-member, and almost all of the members got up and bore powerful testimonies. Here's a great quote from a member that I wrote down, "After I joined the church, satan started to tempt me a lot. Then I knew that I joined the true church because in other churches, everything was great." She is so right! satan goes after the Church of Jesus Christ because he knows it's the only true church on earth, so stay strong everybody!
I decided to end my email with a scripture that Elder Feil shared with me just now, 2 John 1:12:
12 Having many things to write unto you, I would not awrite with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full.
Have a great week! Love you!
P.S. I'd like to thank all of those who read my blog. Especially my number one fans: Jill Feil and Kathy Westover.
|We really wanted to go to Odessa|
|The Engine of a Moldovan train|
|Wall graffiti in Chisinau|