Monday, May 26, 2014

I have a new companion!

Hello everyone!

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.

Orhei Vechi
 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)

-Elder Farnworth

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.

City Day.

Remember the window that I talked about a long time ago? I finally got a picture of it.

Monday, May 19, 2014

I got this distinct impression...

Welcome to Balti sign at the edge of the city.
Dear Family and Friends,

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.

Denis's baptism was this past week and it sure is nice when everything goes smoothly and people are there to support him in his special day. I remember mentioning in a previous email that if God has a plan for Denis to be a future branch president/bishop/stake president, then He will provide a way for him for be baptized. Well. God provided a way and he'll be getting the Priesthood next Sunday! When he was bearing his testimony and said, "I know this church is true" I sat there at the piano and imagined him as a bishop saying that to a ward. Denis has a great potential in life and in the Church of Jesus Christ in Balti, and I am so grateful that I was able to see his conversion and be there for his baptism. But as we all know this is just the beginning of his journey to Eternal Life!
Unfortunately this week, our investigators decided that they don't want to continue meeting. Yes, that includes Baba Tamara. To be honest it's devastating! But God gave them agency and there are more people here in Balti for us to find and teach. This gave us more time to find and so one night after doing some drop-by's to potential investigators and having no success, we sat at a bus stop waiting to go home and I got this distinct impression that I needed to leave  my Book of Mormon on the bench and put our information inside. At first I kind of shrugged it off, then it came again and I immediately thought of what happens when we ignore impressions. So I put it on the bench and we hopped on the bus. Who knows what will happen, but maybe we'll receive a call this week from a person who found it, took it home, and read it. Anyway, on the bus a tall, thin man got on and sat across from us and stared at us the entire way home. Right as we were about to get off, he got up and asked if we were Americans. We took this opportunity to tell him that we were missionaries and give him a Book of Mormon. Later my companion told me how he had been praying (I was also praying) that we would find someone, and our prayers were answered.
This wasn't everything that happened this week, but it's everything I can fit into this email before I run out of time on my computer. I love you all and hope you have a great week!
-Elder Farnworth

The weather for the first half of the week. The rain just wouldn't stop.

Denis' baptism!

Monday, May 12, 2014

"I studied the exact same thing!"

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.

-Elder Farnworth

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

"recent convert bike"

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."

-Elder Farnworth

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.