Monday, January 27, 2014

People can change, and it's all because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Dear Family and Friends,

Don't worry. I am still alive. We are getting a lot more snow than we expected and it has been freezing ALL week. -10 celcius was the lowest it got, but despite the cold temperatures we were still able to do a lot of finding and teaching.

Denis is finally out of the hospital! So we got to see him a lot this week. After we went knocking one day (where we found 4 potential investigators and got 2 return appointments all in the same building) he gave us a call and was waiting at the bus stop with SIX cakes. We asked him why in the world he had six cakes and his reponse was, "Well, someone had a birthday and we need to celebrate it." He was talking about himself, and so after sports night, we all ate cake and sang happy birthday to him. He's so funny. On Saturday we had a lesson with him about how he could have his mom see his baptism through Skype and then receive the Priesthood when she gets back to Moldova in the summer. He's still not quite sure what to do, but we'll keep working with him. 
Makin' some red borscht with Nastia, Denis, Natasha, Other Nastia, Paul, Antone, and little Ksusha!

Delicious красный борщ.
We have established a routine with visiting Nastia every Tuesday and Thursday, and then seeing her at English on Saturday then church on Sunday. Just before we were gonna go to Nastia's on Tuesday, Elder Westover and I talked about how we should bring up baptism right away, but Nastia was able to do that for us. That was the first thing she brought up when we got to her apartment and she asked us all kinds of questions about how baptism works and what happens. We told her how it's free, we provide everything, she chooses who comes, who speaks, who baptizes her, and who gives her the gift of the Holy Ghost, and she just thought it was the coolest thing ever. We tried setting a date, but she just told us that she wants to read the entire Book of Mormon first, and know for sure that this is Christ's true church. Good thing we had a great Restoration lesson where me, my companion, and a member got to testify about our conversions and how we received answers. On Thursday, we taught about the Plan of Salvation. She zoned in when we started to talk about the Atonement and how if Christ had never come to earth and did what He had done, then we would never have been able to return to our Father in Heaven, receive forgiveness of sins, and feel peace and comfort in our hard times. I want to share something that I read during personal study this past week that explains the Atonement better than I could ever explain it:

Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926–2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles referred to the suffering experienced by Jesus Christ as “the awful arithmetic of the Atonement”:
“Imagine, Jehovah, the Creator of this and other worlds, ‘astonished’! Jesus knew cognitively what He must do, but not experientially. He had never personally known the exquisite and exacting process of an atonement before. Thus, when the agony came in its fulness, it was so much, much worse than even He with his unique intellect had ever imagined! No wonder an angel appeared to strengthen him! 
“The cumulative weight of all mortal sins—past, present, and future—pressed upon that perfect, sinless, and sensitive Soul! All our infirmities and sicknesses were somehow, too, a part of the awful arithmetic of the Atonement. (See Alma 7:11–12Isaiah 53:3–5;Matthew 8:17.) The anguished Jesus not only pled with the Father that the hour and cup might pass from Him, but with this relevant citation. ‘And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me’ (Mark 14:35–36).
“Had not Jesus, as Jehovah, said to Abraham, ‘Is any thing too hard for the Lord?’ (Genesis 18:14). Had not His angel told a perplexed Mary, ‘For with God nothing shall be impossible’? (Luke 1:37; see alsoMatthew 19:28Mark 10:27Luke 18:27).
“Jesus’ request was not theater!
“In this extremity, did He, perchance, hope for a rescuing ram in the thicket? I do not know. His suffering—as it were, enormity multiplied by infinity—evoked His later soul-cry on the cross, and it was a cry of forsakenness. (See Matthew 27:46.)
“Even so, Jesus maintained this sublime submissiveness, as He had in Gethsemane: ‘Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt’ (Matthew 26:39)” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1985, 92; or Ensign, May 1985, 72–73).
One commentator wrote that the Savior’s suffering was the total weight of the consequence of the Fall: “Jesus knew that the awful hour of His deepest humiliation had arrived—that from this moment till the utterance of that great cry with which He expired, nothing remained for Him on earth but the torture of physical pain and the poignancy of mental anguish. All that the human frame can tolerate of suffering was to be heaped upon His shrinking body; every misery that cruel and crushing insult can inflict was to weigh heavy upon His soul; and in this torment of body and agony of soul even the high and radiant serenity of His divine spirit was to suffer a short but terrible eclipse. Pain in its acutest sting, shame in its most overwhelming brutality, all the burden of the sin and mystery of man’s existence in its apostasy and fall—this was what He must now face in all its most inexplicable accumulation”

People can change, and it's all because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We're very lucky, as missionaries, to help people understand this. Christ suffered more than any of us could ever imagine, and I am personally very grateful for what He did for me, you, and these people that we get to teach. Nastia and Denis are both making significant changes in their lives and it's because they're accepting this message and applying it. 

As for finding, we're having a ton of fun knocking and meeting all sorts of different people who are showing interest in what we have to say. We hope to get some new investigators this week, and starting the same process that we are using with Nastia and Denis! I love you all very much, and I think about you every day. Have a great week!

-Elder Farnworth
A member's cat. We all thought it was really funny so I hurried and took a picture.

It has finally snowed!

It's January 20th and it has finally snowed!

We spent a lot of time in New Balti this week. Sister Valea's 2nd of 3 homes is there and it's the only one NOT made of concrete. She built it with her own bare hands a long time ago. Anyway, we cut wood, moved rocks around, burned trash, and put firewood into bags and took them to a member who didn't have any heat at his home. It was really peaceful out there too. It's at the edge of the city and we basically just did a lot of service.

We also had zone training meeting this week. "The Book of Mormon is blue (water), and it's going to FLOOD the entire earth." Our zone leaders pointed that out to all of us and I had never thought of that before, so I also wanted to share it with you.

Russian transfers again. Everyone changed except for Balti. President is really pleased with what we're doing up here, so we'll keep doing the best we can!

New Balti! 
We had only one lesson with Nastia this week, but it went really well. We read 3 Nephi 11 and Moroni 10 and talked about how we don't need to know everything before we ask to get answers from God. Even though there is an effort required on both parts, He will answer in His own time. I told her to read 3 nephi 11 again and think about what it really means to her, and she said that she would and write her feelings down on paper and share them with us the next time we come by. Our English classes have been struggling a little lately, but Nastia has really boosted them up for us. It's great to have her as one of our students because she is not afraid to say what she wants to learn. AND she even came to church the next day with her daughter! It was great to see her there and she sat right next to the member I was hoping she would sit by. Nastia asked this member if she had been baptized and she told her yes, then the member asked her the same question. Well, she's not baptized yet, but the member told her, "You should give it a try. It will be a miracle for you." Perfect! I was praying that this would happen, and it did!

Denis' Birthday at the hospital.
Denis has been in the hospital because of a sinus infection, so we've been visiting him a lot. His birthday was this past week, so we made him a cake, sang happy birthday and talked for a little bit. He told us that he is going to wait until summer to be baptized because he wants his mom to be there. She's working in Italy until then so we'll see how everything turns out. It's hard to wait, but we do the best we can with what God gives us! In the meantime, we're still finding and working with our current investigators, who just happen to be really golden and great! 

That's it for the week. I love you all and have a great week!

-Elder Farnworth

Funny experience of the week: My name is now Elder Fourchette. Everyone has a really hard time remembering my last name, but Fourchette is a well-known grocery store here, so it's easier to remember! .....I cannot tell you how many different ways I've heard people say my name here.....

A beautiful sunset. In New Balti.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The holidays are FINALLY over

Dear Family and Friends,

The holidays are FINALLY over. And what does that mean for us? People are back from the villages for school and work, and so our work has improved a lot.

A lot of great things happened this week. On Tuesday we went over to Nastia's with a member and on the bus we realized that we forgot the restoration video. So we sent the member to Nastia's apartment by herself so she could keep her busy until we got back. Right as we got to our apartment, we got a call from the member telling us that Nastia had to leave in 30 minutes so we didn't need to go back. Later in the day we asked her what happened and she said that they started and ended their "girl talk" with a prayer. Setting expectations at it's best! Luckily, Elder Streletski and Elder Westover were able to go back while they were on an exchange and teach her about the restoration. They told me that she said, "Well if Joseph Smith saw God and Jesus, then he must be a prophet." Well, yeah, of course! Just like every other prophet. She also said that she was seriously going to come to church this week and how she needs to be there 15 minutes early. Sadly, she was unable to come but she made sure to let us know that she was sorry she couldn't make it. We have such great investigators!

Us and Ion. We visited a place where they house invalids and they were really funny people. We enjoyed talking to them and giving them backpacks from a member who lives in Italy.
The next day..... We put up.... A window. Yes, all four of the elders, with the direction from Sister Valea, put up a large window on one of her friend's houses. "такое бред!" Elder Streletski kept saying this as all 7 of us were attempting to put up a window. And none of us had any previous experience with this kind of stuff. But in all seriousness, these people really needed the window. Before, it was just a piece of plastic and so it made it really cold inside. Now, a window is beautifully placed and it is helping them to stay warm. After we finished, Sister Valea invited the couple to go see the church and so we all walked there. They expressed their gratitude for what we had done and how much it meant to them. We are here to help each other because that's what Christ did, and if we are to be members of His church, then we need to remember to always serve those around us. 

 17 And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn awisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the bservice of your cfellowbeings ye are only in the service of your God.

I also had an exchange with Elder Monroe the same day and it was great to be back with an elder I had served with for 6 months. We did a lot of stop-by's to potentials and a lot of them were nice, but we weren't able to teach them more about our message. At the end of our exchange we went back to the church for sports night and I saw that the other elders were teaching a young man that I recognized. After a few seconds I realized, "What the... That's Denis!" He came back from Bulgaria early and surprised us all. It was so good to see him again and he's such a happy guy.

Speaking of Denis, we had a lesson with him a few days later and he seemed really down about something. We taught the rest of the commandments, he accepted them, and then when we asked him if he would obey the laws of God he said, "Well. It will be kind of hard if my parents are against me being baptized." He had called them the night before and apparently they weren't too happy about it. At one point it seemed like he was about to cry, which almost made me and my companion tear up. Elder Westover was able to share a great experience that I think helped him a lot. We also told him that there have been many members, especially in Moldova, who have gone through the same thing. We testified that God would provide a way for him to be baptized, and that everything would turn out the way it's supposed to. Each of us offering silent prayers at the end of the lesson was a powerful experience for me of how prayer really is a two-way communication between us and our loving Heavenly Father. As we were walking home, I got a prompting that a member from Orhei, who went through the exact same thing, should call Denis and tell him his thoughts and feelings about his own baptism. The Orhei elders just happened to be going to this members house when we called and they said that it went really well. If it's God's plan for him to be a bishop, or a stake president in Moldova later on in his life, then He will provide a way for Denis to become a member.

There's a mission home in Balti!
Sister Valea is such a golden recent convert! She gave her first talk as a member on Sunday and the congregation loved it. She told some really funny stories, but at the same time shared her testimony about how grateful she is for a church that focuses so much on serving others. She is helping us SO MUCH with our missionary work and she has such a high energy for it. And she's not the only one. There are so many members here who are doing the work together with us. In fact, we gave her a visit Sunday night and told her how another member didn't have any wood for his furnace, so she gave us the keys to her other house (which has lots of wood) and told us to go over and take as much wood as he needs. The best part is is that she doesn't want him to know that it's from her. "It's our little secret, okay?" Gee, being around her makes me want to be a much better person! 

I couldn't ask for a better place to serve in the entire world. I'm loving it here, and a lot of exciting things are happening. We were hoping that Denis would be baptized this Friday, but we'll just have to wait a little longer. That's okay though because we're not in charge, God is. Thank you all for your emails, pictures, and prayers. 

Love you!

-Elder Farnworth 

Funny experience of the week: We decided to stop by one of our potential investigators that lived in the same building as Nastia, and this is how it went: "Who's there?" - Little brother of potential. "The missionaries. Is саша home?" "No." "Well. When will she be home?" "Um. She's on the toilet...........саша!" Right as he started calling for her my companion turned to me and said, "This is awkward, let's get out of here! We'll come back in 30 minutes." It was so funny that I couldn't stop laughing. We went back after thirty minutes, but she was still "busy." 

A reception place. It was really foggy and it looked cool, so we took a picture.


"Dear Elder Farnworth,

It looks like the closest release date to your two-year anniversary of entering the MTC is July 9. Let's plan on that date, OK? I have changed it in the system." - President Hill

I'll be home on July 9th! Just wanted to let you all know.



Monday, January 6, 2014

С НОВЫМ ГОДОМ! (Happy New Year!)

Dear Family and Friends,

С НОВЫМ ГОДОМ! It's now 2014 and I'm sure almost all of us have made at least ONE new years resolution. Mine is to finish these last 6/7 months of my mission strong, to sprint to the end and do the best I can to bring people unto Christ. I always like to think of the Utah Jazz and how they folded way too often in the fourth quarter and end up losing, but that will not be the case for me! I am determined to give all I got in the fourth quarter of my mission. 

Santa and his helpers in center.
Last P-day just before we went to go email, we had to stop by the church and one of the members was there waiting for us. "I had been waiting here for you since 7 am." (We were there around 10) I don't know why everyone here thinks we live at the church.... But he told us that he had left his scarf and jacket (which had his wallet) in the library and that he hadn't eaten for a long time. So we helped him get all his stuff and when we got off at the same bus stop he turned to us and said, "Я хочу проповедовать с вами." (Google translate translates it wrong. It means I want to preach with you.) Now keep in mind that this is a man in his late 70's. Our response was, "Okay. We'll come by your home sometime during the week and we'll talk more about how you can help us preach." I love how the members really want to help us out with missionary work!

The very next day we were getting ready to go to district meeting and we got a call from Elder Monroe, "You guys ready to meet at Sister Valea's for district meeting?" She's the most recent convert and she calls us ALL THE TIME. She is a huge blessing to the branch and she's always got something for us to do. Remember the really heavy bags of coal that she had us move? Well, they made her wall look like it's about to fall down. So, we had to move them again. We cleaned out this area that looked like a hoarder had lived in it and we turned it into a "Russian tank". Not really, but that's what Elder Streletski said it looked like. Now all of her coal bags are safely secured under a large pile of wood.

New Years Eve!
New Years was fun. We spent it in Chisinau. Our mission president let us stay up till a little past midnight so we could watch the fireworks and celebrate with the people of Moldova. Oh I wish that all of you could listen to the beautiful Moldovan music while watching them do a traditional dance. Last year I wasn't the biggest fan, but it has grown on me since that time and I actually enjoy it now! 

We were exhausted when we got back to Balti. In fact we were so tired that we almost forgot about our appointment with Nastia! So we hurried over to her apartment and had a pretty good lesson. We wanted to show the restoration video but it didn't work again, so we read about Lehi's Dream. Once again she asked us a lot of questions, but we somehow kept the focus on what we were reading. We talked about how the fruit of the tree represents the love of God and she asked, "Not everyone can partake of that love, right?" We told her that EVERYONE has the opportunity to partake of the love of God if they want to and have a desire to. God loves every one of us no matter what we do; it's just up to us to accept and cherish that love. I wish I could have known the location of this verse when we were teaching but it's John 4:16

 16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that adwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

 She seemed to really take that to heart. The Spirit in the room seemed to change when we started to talk about the love that God has for us. I'll never know perfectly of the love that God has for us, but I do know that it's boundless.

Despite the holiday season, church attendance was great, and testimony meeting was even better. A little girl in the branch asked the branch president if she could give her testimony first, so she went up and gave the sweetest little testimony I've ever heard. It almost brought tears to my eyes! Every single member in this branch have such strong testimonies of their Savior Jesus Christ and His restored gospel and I always really enjoy listening to them share what they know to be true. Sunday night we decided to go stop by Sister Valea's again and she is a recent convert powerhouse! "Through me, with you Elders, we can help those who have fallen away or never heard about the church." And right after she said that, she called 2 sisters and invited them to a relief society lunch (which is today). Then she called one of them back and asked if we could go over and help her with remodeling that night. The member said that we could, so we all went over and helped. It was a great way to end the week.

This email ended up being longer than I thought it would, but that's a good thing I guess. I hope you all had a fun-filled New Years and thank you for the pictures, emails, and prayers. Love you!

-Elder Farnworth

Yes. You see that beautiful thing on the wall? We put that up.