Tuesday, June 28, 2011

June 27, 2011

Hey everyone! Thanks for all of your emails this week! I loved reading them as always. And congratulations London and Mike!!!!!!!!!!!! That is so amazing! I'm so happy for you both. I can't wait until I have two little neices I can play with! Well, its been another fantastic week here in Armenia. The work is going so incredibly well here. Elder Steglich and I have been blessed so much here in Charentsavan. We had our best and busiest week so far this past week. I'll start out as usual by telling you all about the work.
I'll start out by telling you about Lucine, Datevos, and Tigrane. They are the family we picked up this last week. They. Are. Amazing. They are such a good family and it is so fun to go and teach them. The spirit is always so strong in the meetings and they ask the questions that we usually have to pry out investigators. And after we taught them the Plan of Salvation lesson they asked us all these questions about temples and when they can go and how bad they want to go so that they can be together forever! It is so incredible to just see how prepared this family has been. They read The Book of Mormon together at night and pray as a family and they even came to church like 30 minutes early yesterday. Elder Steglich and I have no idea what we did to deserve this but we just keep praying that we don't mess things up haha.
We also picked up and investigator named Silva this past week. She was also a referral from a member and she is so great too. We went to teach her for the first time this past week and her daughter-in-law was there and one of her friends was there and they both just sat down with us and said they wanted to learn too. haha. We ended watched the restoration video and we could just see how it touched her. Then during the video, at the part where Joseph Smith's dad is baptized, she turned to all of us and said we all need to be baptized to her family that was in the room. haha. They were able to come to church yesterday too which we were way excited about.
And then Geyvork ended up bringing one of his friends to church yesterday and we picked him up as an investigator. We set an appointment to meet with him last night and when he came he brought his cousin who wanted to learn too! haha. So in all we picked up 6 new investigators this past week. And they all seem really solid so Elder Steglich and I are really pumped for this next week.
All our other investigators are doing well though. We are hoping to get Ando and Lida baptized this next week. We both feel like they are both ready. We've still got some things to work out but we'll see how things work out this week. Hopefully I'll have some good news of two new members here in Charentsavan next week! Other than that its just the same old, same old. We are really busy here. We have more work than we can handle sometimes. What a good problem to have! haha. We had 10 investigators at Sacrament yesterday which we were SO happy about. There were a total of 66 people at Sacrament so we felt like that was a pretty good ratio haha. There is no doubt that the Lord is in every detail of this work here. The Lord truly does qualify those whom He calls and the Lord qualifies us in our weaknesses. This doesn't apply to Elder Steglich nearly as much as me, because I have so many weaknesses and there is so much I need to improve with but I find it very comforting to know that as long as I'm doing my best the Lord will qualify me to do what he needs me to do. That is one thing that I have loved about my mission so far. Everyday is an opportunity to get better at something. I love setting goals and a way to accomplish them and then going out and working for it. But I've also learned that there is only so much we can do and just how necessary it is that we do our part and then turn it over to the Lord. That is when we are given the strength to improve ourselves, overcome struggles and trials, and accomplish what we've set out to do. And I know that this is true in every aspect of life, not just missionary work. This is something that has really helped me out so far and something I wished I had done before my mission.
This past week was Elder Steglich's birthday. He says thank you for wishing him a happy birthday mom. I tried to convince him that we needed to buy a cake but he wasn't having any of it. In the midst of me trying to persuade him to get a cake I realized that the only reason I was being so persistent was because I wanted to eat some cake. haha. So I gave up and we ended up going to a little shop and buying a ton of fruits and vegetables. I couldn't believe it. haha. Luckily, we celebrated at our district meeting the day before and our district leader brought a cake. I mean, what is a birthday without a cake. haha.
And probably the funniest thing of my entire life happened this past week. Remember a couple weeks ago when I told you about that older member who said he had the healing powers of Jesus Christ, he just doesn't use it? Well, this past week we asked him to come to a meeting with a woman because we needed another Priesthood holder present and he started talking about how he knows all these different languages. I mean he said he knew English, Russian, Latin, Spanis, Japanese, etc. And Elder Steglich took a little Japanese in high school so he told him to count to 10 in Japanese. Lets just say he was speaking a bunch of gibberish. haha. It was the funniest thing I've ever heard in my life. And then we asked him to speak English and he just started rambling off. When he was done he looked at us like we were supposed to understand him. He spoke a bunch of gibberish and through Armenia and just in there a couple times (the only two English words I think he knew haha). He then told Elder Steglich to say something to him in English and he would translate into Armenian. Elder Steglich said "how are you?" and he just shook his head and said "I can't understand you. You don't speak pure/clean English" haha. We were just like what in the world. And the best part is I caught it all on video. Its too big to send in an email but I'll show it to you all sometime in the future.
Well, that about does it for this week. Thank you for all your emails, prayers, and support! It really means alot to me. Know that you are all in my prayers and that I am so thankful for your love and to have you as my family. I hope you all have a great week and know that I love you all! Talk to you next week!
Elder Fairclough

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

June 20, 2011

Hello everyone! Sounds like everyone had a great week which is always great to hear. Its been another great week here in Armenia. Nothing really went according to plan, but then again when is that the case in missionary work? haha. I'll start out by telling you all about the work as usual and then go from there.
Lida didn't get baptized this week. It was kind of disappointing at first because Elder Steglich and I both thought she was so ready. But it actually turned out to be a great learning experience for us and it was just what Lida needed. She has really grown alot in this past week and its been great to see her desire to be baptized grow. I think she needed to prove that she really wants it and she is making the steps so we still have high hopes for her. We are going to hold off on doing another interview for another week. Theres still some stuff we want to work on her with. Elder Steglich and I took it as an opportunity to see what we can do better and as a result we've been able to help a lot of our other investigators be more prepared as well. Ando is doing really well and its so cool to see him reading The Book of Mormon every day. His testimony has really grown from it and he is itching to be baptized! We are really proud of him and happy with the progress he is making. David, Ashot, and Geyvork are all doing well also. We've had a hard time meeting with them this week. Things just haven't been working out but we really hope things will turn around more this week. As of right now all 5 of these investigators have a baptismal date for the first week of July so we are way excited for that. We have a lot of work do to this next week but we both feel this is going to be our best week yet. Knarik left for Gyumri this week which was sad but I know things will work out. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to teach her these past couple weeks. She was always so nice and patient with me which made things so much easier for me haha. It was so amazing to see her testimony grow and even though she can't be baptized now, I know she will some day. And probably the most exciting news of the week is that Elder Steglich and I picked up 3 new investigators. One of the investigators names is Rubik. He lives in a village about 15-20 minutes outside of Charentsavan. He's a great guy and is the husband of a member. It will be tough with him  because we don't really have to time to get out to the village during the week but we are going to teach him  on Sundays after church. Hopefully things will work out there. And the other 2 are Lucine and Datevos. They are so amazing. They were a referral from a member. They are exactly what this branch needs. You can just tell what kind of faith they have and they are such a solid family. There a basically like no families in our branch. Its mostly mothers with their kids or grandmas. The priesthood we do have are more teenagers. So we were way pumped about picking them up. They told there friend that gave us the referral to us that they really liked the message we shared with them and that they want to start meeting with us everyday. You can really tell that this family has been prepared. They have a 10 or 11 year old kid who is interested as well so things are looking really good there. I'll definitely let you all know how this next week turns out. By the way, all missionaries got an email from the church saying not to disclose details about your investigators. I know this was a little more brief but I hope it still gives you some insight on the people we're teaching.
Well, now for the interesting part of my week. Before you read all of this, I want you to know that I am perfectly healthy and that all is well. haha. Probably not a good start but I don't you to freak out while you're reading this. So Elder Hall, Elder Smith, I had to go to Yerevan Thursday to get our residential stuff taken care of. We went to a hospital (Its a really nice one by the way haha) and had all these tests done, just to make sure we are healthy and all. And everything was going well, until they checked my heart rate. First off, they checked it by having me lay down on this table and they hooked these suction cup things to my chest that were connected to wires. It was so weird haha. But it read my heart beat and when the test was done they started asking me all these questions about if I had ever had problems with my heart and stuff. They told me a normal persons heart beats 60 times per minute and that mine was only beating 40 times per minute. I was like what in the world. This is not good haha. Cause I knew I had never had any problems like that. So we spent basically most our day there Thursday. Then that night President Carter called and I was like crap this is really not good. haha. But he just wanted to figure out what tests they did and what not and then he told Elder Steglich to check my heart rate that night and then call him back. So when we got back he checked it and I was nervous. haha. But lone behold my rate was 63, 61, 64 the 3 times we checked it. I was SO relieved haha. But they still made me go back Friday so they could test it themselves. They hooked all these wires to my chest and had me wear this tiny computer thing around my waist that checked my heart rate every 5 minutes. I took a picture of it and I'll send it next week when I have a little more time. It was the most uncomfortable thing ever. I had to wear that all day Friday and we had to go back AGAIN Saturday to get it taken off and checked. They got the results and were like "yeah you are normal" and that was it. All that hassle just because their machine read it wrong haha. So yeah we weren't able to do as much missionary work this week unfortunately. We are hoping this next week will be a much better. We actually had to go back to the mission office in Yerevan today to give them all the paperwork. I'm writing this from the mission office actually. Elder Steglich and I because we had big plans to go play basketball. We had been talking about playing basketball this P-day all week so we were pretty disappointed. But there's always next week. Just gives us another week to talk smack to each other I guess haha.
Everything else is going great in Charentsavan. The weather is amazing, besides the days that it rains. Charentsavan is one of the coldest cities in Armenia so I really lucked out being there in the summer. Yerevan is really hot too so I'm glad I'm where I'm at. I had to give a talk in Sacrament Meeting yesterday in our branch. (Hello. This is Elder Steglich for a moment. About the talk that Elder Fairclough gave in sacrament meeting, I just want to make sure you all know how incredible it was. Because I know Elder Fairclough is modest enough not to tell you himself. But really, it was incredible. His Armenian was so clear, and the message was exactly what this branch needed. To give you a taste of what the members of the branch thought about the talk, after sacrament meeting the Branch President told Elder Fairclough and I that it was the best talk he had ever heard from a missionary being trained. And he has seen a lot of missionaries. Your son is incredible.) Okay, this is me again. I love that guy haha. We're sharing a computer here at the mission office at the moment so he wanted to come in and say something haha. I've been meeting a lot of the other missionaries in this mission the past couple weeks and I'm about 99% sure I started out with the best missionary here. I really am lucky to have started out with Elder Steglich as my trainer and first companion. And as for the talk, I was really worried that no one would understand what I was saying. Hopefully they got something from it!
Thats about it for this week. Thank you for emailing me and letting me know how you all are doing! I love hearing from you all and hearing that you are all doing so well. I hope all is well and that you all have great weeks. I love you all!

Elder Fairclough

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

June 13, 2011

Hey everyone!
Can't believe another week has flown by! It's good to here that everyone is doing well and enjoying life. It was really good to here that you all had a good time in St. George. I hope you sent everyone my love. Everything is going great here in Armenia. I feel like this week went by in such a blur but I'll do my best to fill you all in haha. I'll start out with investigators and we'll go from there:
-Lida is doing great and is still on track to be baptized this week! She has her baptismal interview tomorrow night, so we've just been doing our best to make sure she is prepared and ready. We are hoping to have her baptism on Friday down in Yerevan so we are really looking forward to that. Not really much else to say about her haha. I'll be sure to let you know how it all works out next week!
-Next is Ando. We had a tough time with him this week. We have been working really hard to get him into The Book of Mormon and make sure he is reading every day. It has been a bit of a struggle. We really focused on making sure he understands the importance of reading from The Book of Mormon. I've come to learn that you can't gain a true testimony and become truly converted to this gospel until you read from The Book of Mormon and pray about it. We had a really good talk with him yesterday about its importance and that we can't meet with him anymore unless he starts reading on his own. For the first time we really feel like he gets it. I've also learned that as a missionary there is no beating around the bush. haha. Before my mission I would have done my best to kind of skirt the edge and not make things awkward but I've learned that as a missionary, I've been called to be bold in proclaiming what God wants from his children. We meet with him tonight so hopefully he is doing well and he read!
-Next up is Ashot and Gayvork. They we were able to meet with them both again this week and they both are doing really well. We had them say the opening and closing prayers and they both did a great job. They also came to church yesterday. Elder Steglich and I are really looking forward to meeting with them next week and hopefully make some progress with them.
-Knarik is the next batter up. She is doing great as always. She leaves this week unfortunately. We did find out, however, that its not her mom that won't let her be baptized. It's actually her dad. She lives about an hour and a half away from the branch building in Gyumri which is why her dad won't let her be baptized. But apparently her sister took the discussions here in Charentsavan a couple of years ago and she still believes this church is true and wants to be baptized. So I'm really glad that she atleast won't be alone with all of this when she goes home. I'm really glad that I've had the opportunity to see her grow with all of this. Its the most amazing thig to watch someone gain a testimony. I'm so glad to be a missionary!
-Last but not least, David. Elder Steglich and I had the coolest experience with him this week. Up until the other day, David seemed not very interested. He loves our branch president and really looks up to him and he likes us a lot and his always nice but it seemed like he was only meeting with us because of his wife. We have tried really hard to stress to him the importance of families with him because he has a pretty young baby. Everytime we bring up the temple his wife's face just lights up and she becomes so happy. You can just tell that she wants to go there with him so bad. Well, he had been flaking on meetings alot and Elder Steglich and I decided that we were going to sit down with him and his wife and branch president and let him know whats up haha. So we prayed about it and we decided about what to do and afterwards we felt like we needed to give him a baptismal date. So in our meeting Saturday night we gave him a date and told him everything he needs to do in order to be ready for that. His wife was SO happy when we started to give the invitation, and even more importantly, he accepted! The Spirit was so strong. Then yesterday we were talking to his wife when he wasn't around and she told us that he was supposed to go to work but he got out of it so that he could come and he told her that there is just so much that he needs to do in order to be ready for his baptism! And that after they read The Book of Mormon together the night before that she got up to walk away and he called her back and told her that they still needed to pray! It is so cool to see people making these incredible changes in their lives! We are going to work really close with him this week so hopefully he can continue to progress!
That is it for now with our progressing investigators. It was really cool because we had all 7 investigators at church yesterday which we were both way happy about. The work is going so well here in Charentsavan. I'm so happy to be apart of it all! I had the opportunity to go on my first companionship exchange this week. I went over to Ashtarak with Elder Lush for Tuesday and Wednesday of this week and Elder Hall came here to Charentsavan with Elder Steglich. I was able to learn a lot of important and valuable things from Elder Lush and Ashtarak seems like a great place, but I really gained a testimony that I am exactly where the Lord wants me to be. I know that I am meant to serve the people of Charentsavan right now and to learn from Elder Steglich. I know that there are people here that I am supposed to help and that is such a blessing. Its hard to not question sometimes if you're making an impact or helping anyone and to look at all of your inabilities with the language, but then I just think of that simple testimony that I know where I am supposed to be and I am doing what I am supposed and all of the doubts go away. This simple truth also brings a lot of happiness. I'm as happy now as I have ever been in my life, because I know these things. I love being a missionary and serving these people and the Lord! It is truly a privelege and a blessing.
Well, funny story of the week comes at my expense this week. haha. Elder Steglich and I were reteaching a recent convert the Gospel of Jesus Christ lesson to a woman named Anahit. She is from Georgia and speaks Armenian but not very well. She reads The Book of Mormon and prays in Russian. And Elder Steglich was teaching the repentace part and I thought he was trying to lead into baptism. Anahit doesn't know alot of the gospel words in Armenian so sometimes it takes a minute to get on the same page. Well, I thought he was trying to lead into baptism and I thought he asked her something like what do we do after baptism? and I thought she just couldn't think of the word for baptism. So I put my arm to the square like you do when you are baptized (I couldn't think of how else to help her understand the word for baptism) and that just confused her more. She thought I was pointing to the Heavens hahaha. Elder Steglich couldn't stop laughing. Especially because he wasn't even trying to lead into baptism. I felt so stupid hahaha. Oh well haha. She has already been baptized so atleast I didn't ruin her salvation!
Thats about it for this week though. Nothing else has really happened. Just working hard and staying busy. I hope you all enjoy the letter this week. I'm glad you are all doing so well. Thank you so much for all of your love and support. I really appreciate it and it really strengthens me. Thank you for your prayers as well. They truly are felt. I love you all and hope you all have the best of weeks!
Elder Fairclough

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

June 7, 2011

Hello from Armenia! How's everyone doing? It seems like our family has had another good week, which is always great to hear. Thanks so much for writing me, I really look forward to reading all of your emails. People probably think I'm crazy cause I start laughing out loud sometimes haha. Oh well. I'm white and American and in Armenia so they already think that, so I'm not too worried. haha. It's been another great week here in Charentsavan! I'll start out by telling you all about the work this past week. Things were pretty slow at the beginning of the week. We had so many meetings cancel on us this week. What made it a little more rough is it rained a lot and everyone goes inside but can't knock on doors or anything, so we just had to walk around in the rain and look for people to talk to. haha. Its all good though. Things went uphill as the week went on. I think sometimes the Lord just wants to see you if you're willing to work, even when things aren't working out, and then if you do things start to fall in place. Well, I'll tell you about Lita first. She has 3 kids and 2 of them are members, one a 12 year old boy and the other like an 18 year old girl. They've been present at our meetings with her which really helps. I'm not sure if I told you about her last week, but I'm going to tell you again if I did haha. So, when I first got here we didn't have any investigators because all the ones they had had just gotten baptized, and Lida's 12 year old son was one of those recent converts. So when we met with and talked to him about missionary work and talking to his mom about the church and about meeting with us because she comes to church with him and his sister just about everyweek. We knelt down in prayer at the end of the lesson and it was really spiritual. Well, Sunday came around and she walked in the church, came right up to us and told us she didn't want to meet with us. Haha. But then this past Sunday she told the Branch President she wanted to meet with us and when we met last Sunday night she said she received an answer to a prayer and that she knew the church was true. A complete 180 degree change in her. It was so cool to see. So we've been trying to teach her everyday and she is accepting everything really well. She is even talking about wanting her to help her other son meet with us. She should be baptized in the next two weeks since shes already been to church so many times, so we are really excited for that! Then there is Ando. All of our meetings scheduled for earlier in the week fell through so we didn't get to meet with him until later on. He's doing really well though. He came to all 3 hours of church again yesterday and he's started to keep committments so he is progressing really well. We're just going to keep moving along with him. And then yesterday Geyvork came to church which was a miracle. Apparently he ended up staying in that village for the rest of the week. We were way happy when we saw him haha. I know that God answers prayers. He wasn't able to meet with him yesterday but we are going to meet with him Tuesday and he said he is going to bring Ashot so we were way happy about that too! We thought we were going to have to drop them. So Elder Steglich and I are excited to get to work with them again. And Knarik's mom still won't let her be baptized. She leaves to go back to Gyumri this week so we are going to try to meet with her as much as we can between now and then. We had a really cool experience with her in one of our meetings this week. We were teaching about the Word of Wisdom and we had to bring one of the Branch Priesthood holders along because she is a girl. And we were talking about it and the Priesthood holder wasn't taking it seriously and was kind of making a joke out of it and Knarik turned to him and basically said, "You're lucky enough to be baptized and you don't take this stuff seriously? What's wrong with you?" It was so amazing. It just shows you how prepared some people are. Even though she can't be baptized she still reads The Book of Mormon everyday. She writes down her favorite verses and then shares them with us when we come. And she's praying for things to work out. We just keep telling her that if she keeps doing these things that the Lord will provide a way. We are going to talk to her about missionary work this week and send her home with a ton of church material haha. Two lucky elders are going to stumble upon her in the future and be amazed at how ready she is haha. That's about it progressing investigators wise.

    Everything is coming along really well as far as the language goes. I still don't understand a whole lot but I am able to follow lessons better and catch the gist of what people are saying. I'm able to say a lot more in the lessons too. Its a slow process but things are coming along. A new thing the church is doing with missionary work in this 12 week training program and the goal is to have the elder getting trained to be able to train if he were called on at the end of the 12 weeks. Its not really a possibility for here because of the language but they told us in the MTC that they have started trying it out with English missions. I felt like it would be a good goal to have and that it would really push me and keep me motivated so I'm working really hard. I want to be able to teach any part of any of the lessons in Armenian by the end of my training. Elder Steglich and I are going to make a language study plan this week that should really help. He said he made one after he was trained because he felt like he needed to be able to teach any part of any lesson and he said he shot forward with his language. Then he got called to train me haha. I just want to be able to teach and understand these people! haha. Its coming along well though and I'm having a lot of fun with it.
    On Saturday, we went with Branch President, his 2 nephews, his girlfriend (who is a member), and her dad (who is not a member) to go eat authentic Armenian food haha. I took lots of pictures and I'm going to send them in an email. We ate khorovats, which is Armenian BBQ. It was way good. It was just pork, cooked tomatos, eggplants, and peppers, and then that lavash bread. I liked the pork and the lavash, but the other stuff...not so much. Haha you know me. I tried it all though. We went to this field just outside of Charentsavan and it was really pretty. We combined our lunch and dinner together so we wouldn't waste time haha. But we just ate and Elder Steglich played the guitar and sang and they showed us how Armenians dance. It was such a great experience to have so early in my mission. Armenians are so amazing. I love these people and this country! haha.
   Funny moments of the week: First, Elder Steglich and I went and visited a recent convert this week and taught a short lesson. I had never met her before though and whenever we meet with someone we don't know we show them our pictures. For some reason they LOVE pictures haha. So, this lady was flipping through the book, they ALWAYS say how pretty the girls and mom are, but she got to a picture with dad in it and she stopped and was like I've seen him from somewhere. She was convinced dad was a movie star haha. It was so funny. I was dying laughing. Thought dad might enjoy that story. Second, I'm not sure why I found this one so funny but I did haha. Elder Steglich and I were walking down the street and all of a sudden he was like you have got to be kidding me. While we were walking a bird flew by a pooped on him hahaha. He was so mad. I'm sure my laughing didn't help but I found it quite comical. Apparently theres some mission legend that if you get pooped on by a bird someone is going to give you money so you're not supposed to clean it until someone does. Yeah he didn't wait haha. I don't blame him either cause theres not a whole lot of money to go around here and I definitely wasn't paying up haha.
   Well, I hope everyone is having a great week and knows how much I love you all. Things are going great here and I hope you all know that I am doing well. It is such a privilege to be a missionary and to have the opportunity to serve these people. I'm so thankful! I've also been extremely blessed with such a wonderful family! I love you all and hope all is well!

Elder Fairclough

Saturday, June 4, 2011

How to Reach Max

So I made a mistake....I thought you couldn't write letters to Max but silly me...you can! It just takes a while...4 to 5 weeks to be exact...but don't let that discourage you because Max will love love love hearing from you and you will make his day. His email is to be used by family only, and he told me to email him rather than write letters, and so that is how I got confused. PLEASE write Max!! He will LOVE it and you will love hearing from him too! Here's his address:

Elder Max Fairclough
Vratsakan#5, Yerevan
Armenia 0051