Tuesday, May 31, 2011

May 30, 2011

Hey everyone! How has everyones weeks been? I really enjoyed reading all of your emails. Sounds like you all are doing great. I'm so glad you had a great birthday mom! I love you so much! Things are going awesome here in Armenia and Charentsavan! It was another great week here. The Lord is really blessing the work in Charentsavan and I'm just happy I can be apart of it all. I'll start by telling you about our investigators. Well, we currently have 4 investigators with a baptismal date so I'll start with them. Ashot and Gayvork, the two 16 year olds, both went to a village for the week and said they would come to church Sunday but they didn't show unfortunately. They don't have cell phones or their address so we are really praying that we can get back into contact with them this week because they were so solid but there isn't much we can do. Then there is Armeek. We got here Tuesday of this week when she came up to the church one night with a member. Apparently, she was going to be baptized 5 years ago but then she became bed ridden so she didn't end up being baptized. We ended up meeting with her that same night that she came up to the church and just went over what she remembered about the Restoration and kinda retaught the first lesson to her. It was really cool cause we were following the lesson plan, Elder Steglich was teaching the parts of the lesson that I don't know very well but I was following along, and then I started to get a feeling that we needed to go a different direction and talk about baptism and at that very second Elder Steglich changed the subject and turned to the Book of Mormon and started talking about baptism. After we read a couple scriptures he turned to me and I gave her the baptismal invitation and she accepted. Pretty cool huh?! We actually went over the baptismal invitation earlier that day, thankfully. It was a real testimony building experience for me though. The fact that Elder Steglich had the same impression to change the direction of the meeting just showed me that we were in tune with the Spirit and made me feel good that we were doing exactly what the Lord wanted us to do. In that moment especially, we were being instruments in the Lord's hands, and theres not a better feeling. Unfortunately, she called us yesterday and told us she is bed ridden again. We are going to go meet with her this next week and try to give her a blessing. Again, hopefully things work out! I've learned that theres a point when there is just nothing more you can do, and its in that moment that you just have to have faith and turn it over to the Lord. And then there is Ando. He is 17 years old and he went to an institute class at the branch Saturday and said he wanted to learn more afterwards and so the branch president called us up. We met with him Saturday night and it went really well. He actually came to church yesterday and stayed all 3 hours which we were super excited about. We then met with him last night and watched the Restoration video. It went really well. There is such power in talking about Joseph Smith and the Restoration. He comitted to baptism and offered a prayer at the end of the meeting which was way good. He prayed to know if the things we talked about were true and he said in his opinion they are. We are way excited to continue to teach him. We are going to work really hard with him this next week. We also have another investigator who is doing really well. Her name is Knareek (I don't know how to spell these names in English haha) and I think I told you a little about her last week but she is an 18 year old girl. She is doing so so so so well. We had about 4 meetings with her this week and they were all so great. She is a solid investigator. She lives in Gyumri though and is leaving to go back June 11 so we were talking about her meeting with the missionaries there when she goes back. We also invited her to baptism earlier in the week and she said she wanted to but she didn't think her mom would approve. So we spent the rest of the week talking about faith and the importance of baptism and what not. She told us in every lesson that she really really really wants to be baptized. Those words literally, just in Armenian. And she told us that she knows Joseph Smith is a prophet and she knows this church is true. How awesome is that! She is already into 2nd Nephi chapter 8 after 6 days. She is going to talk to her mom today so we are really hoping and praying that that goes over well. She is really nice though. She made Elder Steglich and me these cards and she even laminated them. She said in both of ours just how much she appreciates us and how she will never forget us and that she is thankful for us. It was one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me. I was just surprised she remembered my name hahaha. Also, a way funny story came from a meeting we had with her and her grandma this week (she is staying with her grandma who is a member). Her grandma, Ofeek, is at all of our lessons and she is way funny. I can't understand what she is saying but the way she says things and her facial expressions are funny. Well, she went off on a tangent during our lesson, I didn't understand a word haha, and so I asked Elder Steglich about it afterwards. Apparently, some guy last October came up to her and told her the Second Coming of Jesus Christ was going to be the next day. So she and a couple of her friends went to this place and sat and waited. And waited. And waited. And waited all day. (This is how she told the story, I didn't understand but she told it just like Grandpa Fairclough would, just to paint you a better picture) And she was so angry that this man had lied to her and what kind of man does that. Hahahahahahahaha! It was so funny. I can't wait until I can actually enjoy these stories as they happen and not 20 minutes later hahaha. But those are all of our solid investigators and we are excited for this next week and to work with them all. Well, as for other things from this week, everything has gone pretty well. I ate a lot of Armenian food this last week and I got really sick the other night. The food is way good though. They eat a lot of this bread called lavash, which is kind of like a tortilla but much more sturdy and strong. They put like all there food inside of it and eat it like that. Sounds like me right? haha. Well, unfortunately all the food didn't set that great. I woke up thursday or friday night with the worst stomach cramps and then a threw up a couple times. It was pretty rough haha. Elder Steglich gave me a blessing though and I'm doing a ton better. Its going to take a little bit for my body to adjust to their food. I talked to Elder Smith today and he said that he got pretty sick to so its not just me haha. I never really thought I had a sweet tooth until now but I think I do haha. Elder Steglich eats pretty healthy and every night when we get back from planning he has like a bowl of cereal with bananas and I have either a snickers or a bowl of ice cream. haha. The way I look at it, gotta treat yourself after a long day of work haha. I finally understand you dad and why you always had a bowl of ice cream when you got hom haha. Well, every couple of months we get invited to spend P-day in Yerevan at the mission home with President and Sister Carter and this week is our week so my time is a little limited. I'm actually at an internet cafe in Yerevan emailing you all. I love you all and hope you have a great week and know how very much I love you all!

Elder Fairclough

Scripture of the week- 3rd Nephi 5:13
I love you all!

May 23, 2011

Hey everyone! How is everyone doing? Things are going great here in Armenia! So this is going to be a long email, just a warning haha. There's a lot to fill you in on. So we arrived in Yerevan at about 4:30 am. It was way cool. President Carter, Sister Carter, and the 3 AP's picked us up from the airport. From there we went to the mission home and President Carter let us catch up on some sleep. That was way nice. When we woke up we each had our personal interviews where President and Sister Carter got to know us. We then just did a little bit of training with President Carter and the AP's on the expectations of the mission. Sister Carter made authentic Armenian food for lunch, it was pretty good. Its definitely going to take some getting used to haha. After that we went to the Genocide Memorial site in the city. It was way sad and kinda gave us some insight to why it weighs so heavily on all of them. We then went to the Mother Armenia statue where the mission was dedicated. A huge statue of Stalin used to stand in its place but when they became a democratic republic they took it down and put the Mother Armenia statue up. Its kind of like there Statue of Liberty. We read the dedicatory prayer that Elder Oaks and Elder Nelson gave. It was really great and spiritual. I'm so lucky to be able to serve here. After that we went to this huge Armenian Apostolic Church in downtown Yerevan. It reminded me of all the churches we go to on all our big family trips haha. We then went to a really nice restaurant in downtown Yerevan called Old Yerevan. Thats the picture that President Carter sent you guys. It was pretty good. haha. They played Armenian music there as we ate which was way sweet. After that we went and got donuts at this place called Yum-Yums, this was your kind of place dad haha. Then we went back to the mission home and went to bed. It was really an amazing day. One that I will never forget, thats for sure. The city is pretty nice. They've done a lot to make the city really nice so that when tourists come they'll want to come back and what not. The AP's just kept telling us that the rest of Armenian is nothing like that haha. We found out who are trainers are and what areas we would be serving in on Thursday afternoon. I was so excited haha. The anticipation was killing me all day Wednesday and Thursday morning. So, my trainer is Elder Steglich. He is from Hurrican(?)(down by St. George), Utah. He's really an amazing elder. He's only been in country for 5 months. President Carter told me that he thinks he is the youngest trainer ever in this mission. Pretty crazy huh? I can't tell a difference haha. He speaks really well and has been helping me a ton. We are serving in a tiny city called Charentsavan. Its a really small area. We can walk it all in about 2 hours. Its basically just a bunch of old soviet housing buildings and a few small stores. I love it here though. Its definitely been tough so far but I really like it here. Its about 30ish minutes from Yerevan. We only had one appointment for Thursday and no investigators haha. Elder Steglich and his previous companion had 4 or 5 baptisms right before I came haha. So we've basically had to start from scratch. The branch president here is great. He's paralyzed from the waste down so hes in a wheelchair. He's super devoted though. He's up at the church everyday for several hours. Elder Steglich and I have to take him home from the church just about every night. Our branch has very very very little priesthood. There are 4 priesthood holders that come to church and are active and that is including the branch president. Its very different from our wards back home. This is one of the branches that lost a ton of members when President Carter cut the welfare program here in Armenia. Its really good that he did cause he weeded out the people who weren't coming for the right reasons. This branch has struggled a bit since then though so we are working on strengthening that aspect of it. So, like I said we had 0 investigators that we were in contact with so we focused the first couple days on finding. Since there were so many recent converts we focused on teaching them. You have to reteach all the lessons after they are baptized. It was great practice for me because they are a little more patient and helpful haha. We made a goal to ask each of them for referrals as well in hopes to pick up some new investigators. We also met with one of the strongest families in the branch and asked them for a referral at the end. Elder Steglich had me prepare the spiritual thought and share it by myself. It went pretty well haha. They were way patient and helpful which made it easier. I talked for a couple minutes about the Atonement. They didn't have any referrals but said they'd think about it. Well, fast forward to Sunday and we still didn't have any investigators. Sunday was definitely interesting, but also my favorite day here so far. About 70 people showed up for sacrament meeting but about 50 of them left afterward... haha yeah we are going to work on that. I had to bless the sacrament and bare my testimony. I was nervous for both but they went pretty well. Elder Steglich said I didn't make any mistakes with my testimony which I was pretty pleased with haha. It was a really great experience though. Elder Steglich and his previous companion had picked up two 16 year olds the previous week but they didnt have a phone and Elder Steglich didn't have an address. So, we were hoping they would show up. One of the boys showed up, the other broke his wrist so he couldn't make it. But we set up an appointment with them for Sunday night. Then a girl about my age who is a nonmember came to church with someone she is living with for now. We met with her last night too. The meeting with the girl went really well and she seemed like she was really receptive and willing to listen. We have another appointment with her on Wednesday. Then the meeting with the two boys went really well also. We met at the church and watched the Restoration video. The branch president was there which was nice. In the middle of the video another teenage boy walked in and started watching with us haha. We committed the two boys to be baptized at the end of next month if they find this church to be true! Hopefully things work out. We meet with them on Tuesday. We had the other boy stay behind and we talked with him for a minute and tried to find out why he was there and kind of told him about our church. He said he wants to meet with us too. We are meeting with him Tuesday night. Haha I thought that was pretty sweet. After church we met with a recent convert and she told us about a friend she has and how she bore her testimony to her and that she is going to see if she wants to meet with us. So by the end of the day we had 4 investigators and potentially 5. Pretty cool huh? We were both way excited. I love it here so far. Its way challenging but I'm trying to just look at the bright points. I don't really understand anyone. I can pick out words I know but I can't connect it all in time. They all talk fast and with accents. I'm working hard and trying though. I'm progressing everyday though. I can understand a little more everyday, not a lot but still I'll take what I can get haha. Speaking it is coming along as well. President Carter told us all that even though we are new, we need to take half the lesson and say what we can. Then our trainers will come in as a second witness to what we've said and clear up anything that wasn't completely covered. Its worked really well for us so far. I can't wait until I can understand whats being said and be able to speak back! haha. We had one of our Priesthood holders come to a meeting with a recent convert who is a girl. They guy is in his 70s or something and Elder Steglich said hes kinda losing it in his head but we needed a priesthood holder and hes all we had haha. Apparently at the end of our lesson he told us all that he has the healing powers of Jesus, he just doesn't use it... haha. Man I wish I could have understood that one. But I know it will come in time though. For now I'm just staying patient, working hard, and trying to recognize the things I am improving on. I've been so blessed with a great trainer and with a great area. I'm so thankful to be here in Armenia and serving the Lord. These people are great and I am so glad that I can serve them and help them come closer to Christ. Thank you all for your support and love. You're all in my prayers. I love you all so much! I hope you have a great week!
Elder Fairclough

Thursday, May 19, 2011

May 17, 2011

Max is in Armenia!!!!!!!

Max was able to call each of us (mom/dad, Rachel/Isaiah, and Mike/me) in all the many airports he was in on his way to Armenia. It took Max 2 days to get to Armenia because he had so many layovers all over the U.S. and Europe. It was so cool to talk to Max, and we were extrememly grateful for the opportunity..especially my parents. Max wasn't able to call on Mother's Day (missionaries get to make 2 phone calls a year on Mother's Day and Christmas). He was still in the MTC and they don't let you call on Mother's Day there. My mom was really bummed. So luckily Max got to call us all on his way to Armenia. 

Max is doing really well. He loves being a missionary. He is truly happy. It makes it easier for all of us who miss him so much that he just loves loves loves it. He works extremely hard at the language. And let me tell you it is the CRAZIEST language in the world. It sounds pretty much Arabic and we had Max say some stuff and read some scriptures to us in Armenian and it kinda freaked me out. My ears just had never heard those sounds before (except for on TV in a terrorist movie!) Which duh..Armenia is considered the Middle East...I guess being American we are brain washed into thinking ANYTHING middle eastern is bad and horrible, and I didn't expect my little brother to ever sound Middle Eastern! I just couldn't believe the words/sounds coming out of my little brother's mouth. My ears have heard Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, German, even Chinese, but this was just crazy to me.  It's just so unbelievable how much they learn in such a short period of time. The Lord is truly blessing them.

A little bit about Max's mission: It's a small mission.  The missionaries stay in mostly the northern cities and villages of Armenia. Armenia borders Iran in the south. There is just one small branch in southern Armenia and they only send zone leaders there and only if there is a baptism. There aren't very many members in Armenia. They struggle most with finding priesthood holders. They are able to baptize women a lot easier than men over there. Most of it is due to culture. Men are praised and kind of spoiled. Women are more humble/ willing to learn. Missionaries over there aren't allowed to proselyte. They can't knock on doors or even go up to people to talk about the gospel. They can only engage in conversation once they are spoken to first. So if they are walking in the streets or on a bus, and someone asks them what they are doing or why they are here, then they can answer and that is how they can find investigators.  

Max would love to hear from loved ones. He loves mail. You can write him letters..it just takes awhile to get to him, but he love love loves mail. He loves hearing about life back here! He misses us all! And would love to share with you his experiences!

May 11, 2011

Hey! How is everyone doing this week?! Its been another great week here in the MTC. Mom, did you get my package that I sent you? I sent it to Rachel Saturday morning hoping that it would get to you that day but you did mention it in your dearelder the other day... I hope you got it! haha. I love you mom and I am so thankful for you and for all that you do/have done for me. Happy late Mother's day! So, I got my flight plans last Thursday. It made me laugh that you called trying to figure out where all I was flying to. They probably thought you were some crazy parents trying to meet me at the airport! haha. But here it goes (*All the times for these are for the specific time zone of that place. I wasn't able to figure out what times it would all be for you in Georgia and Utah cause I don't know all the time changes but you can check it out and work it all out.: Elder Hall, Elder Smith, and myself are flying out of SLC airport at 11:11 am Monday morning. We are leaving for the airport at around 8 so I should be able to call around 10ish. We fly from SLC to O'Hare in Chicago. We land there around 3:12 pm and have a long layover. We don't fly out of O Hare until 8:50 so I've got another 5 hourish time block that I can call. We then fly from O Hare to Munich at 8:50 pm and land in Munich at 12:30 pm (Not sure the time differences here so you'll have to let me know haha). We then have about a 3 hour layover. We fly from Munich to Vienna next. We fly out of Munich at 3:25 pm and land in Vienna at 4:30 pm. We then have a 6 hour layover haha. We fly out of Vienna at 10:20 pm and get to Armenia at 4:35 am. What a long trip! haha. I'm going to be exhausted but I am way excited. You'll all have to plan out what times those layovers are for you all. Its up to you how we do it as well. I'm allowed to call immediate family. So we can do big conference calls or I can call people individually. You all work it out and just let me know! haha. I was planning on calling during each layover and atleast just let you know I'm there and what not. I'm way excited to talk to you all and see how you all are doing. I'm so excited to go to Armenia. I have never been this excited for anything in my life haha. I am definitely nervous about the language but I've worked hard and done my best here in the MTC and I know that as I continue to put in my end, that the Lord will help with the rest. I'm doing my best to just stay faithful and trust in my preparations. Easier said than done but I'm doing my best. All that I aside, I am extremely ready and pumped to be in Armenia. I'm ready to teach actual investigators and play a role in changing lives and bringing them to that same happiness that this gospel has offered me. Last night at our devotional Elder Anderson of the Quorum of the 12 apostles came and spoke to us. It was so great! I've heard 3 apostles in the past 4 weeks haha. He talked about the Atonement and the importance of it in our lives and the importance that it can have in our investigators lives. He said something that really touched me, that God's goodness doesn't keep us from worldly sorrows. And that no matter what we are going through, we have the assurance and the comfort of knowing that Christ descended bellow all things so that he could comprehend all things. I know that Christ is with us in our lives and that no matter what, we are never alone. I am so thankful for this great truth! I know that Christ is with me and he is with all of you! He loves you and knows you by name. I love you all and hope you all have a great week. I can't wait to talk to you Monday. DearElder me let me know what you come up with about how to go about calling! haha. Thanks for all of you love and support!
Elder Fairclough

Sunday, May 8, 2011

May 4th, 2011

Hey! I hope everyone has been having a good week so far. Dad you better watch out, mom is going to just be living part time in Utah before you know it with all these grandchildren! haha. I got the package you sent mom and dad. Thanks so much! Claire is so beautiful! Keep sending me pics! haha. We aren't allowed to listen to music here in the MTC but I will definitely be putting that to use once I am in country. I was very disappointed when I found out that you can't listen to music here. Apparently, some elders brought Bob Marley and Jack Johnson a couple of years ago and thought that was uplifting music... haha. Anyways, thank you for that and all the cd's you've sent me! It has been another great week here in the MTC. I am loving life and even more, I love being a missionary! I get my flight plans tomorrow I think so next week I will be able to give you specifics on exactly what times I leave and what airports I will be going through. I am so excited! I have never been more anxious for anything in my entire life! haha. Something really cool that has happened this past week... another sister from Armenia got here last Wednesday. Her name is Sister Manukyan. Only thing is, she doesn't speak ANY english. haha. So the four of us Armenian speaking elders have been trying to sit by here at all of our meals. Its been such an amazing experience to talk to her. The other sister (Sister Harutsyunyan) spoke english so well that we would resort to english when we couldn't say anything but you can't do that with Sister Manukyan. I've had a couple funny experiences with her. The first time I met here, I walked up to her to say hi and after I said hey, I completely blanked! haha. I was like, oh crap. haha. She was speaking so fast and it was going in one ear and out the other. Luckily, I redeemed myself after that experience haha. Like I said, we try to sit with her at all of our meals and just talk to her. She is the only one here that speaks Armenian and her companion is Korean so we try to look out for her and make sure she is doing well. From what we can tell and what she has told us, she is loving it! I've been surprised at how much I understand her now and how much I can actually say to her. I'm so glad that I've had this wonderful opportunity. Its really helped me and blessed me a lot. Before she came I was nervous about getting to Armenia and about being able to speak once I get there. But I have come to realize that I need to stop worrying about the language. It was a good reminder that I haven't been called to speak the Armenian language, but I have been called to serve and to teach the Armenian people. I know that I have been called to Armenia for a reason. There is no doubt in my mind. And I know that God would never ask me to do anything He knew I wouldn't be able to do. At our devotional last night, Elder Ellis of the Seventy talked about faith. He had talked about all these stories from the scriptures about faith such as Ammon, Peter walking on water, and several others. But then he shared the story Elder Neilson told in Conference a couple years ago about the heart surgery he performed that had never been done before. And after he told it he looked at us and said, God knows the most advanced forms of heart surgery. Do you think he knows missionary? Do you think he knows your language? It was great. I've been thinking about that a lot. I know that God is well aware of all that is going on in each and every one of our lives. Like you have said dad, He IS in the details of our lives. And there is nothing that is placed before us that cannot be accomplished, so long as we have faith and trust in God. I know these things are true. You all are in my thoughts and prayers. Let me know how you all are doing! I love you all so much and I hope you all have an amazing week!
Elder Fairclough