Monday, July 25, 2011

July 25, 2011

Hey everyone!
Can't believe another week has already gone by! Sounds like everyone is doing well, which is always great to hear. This past week has been really good. Really busy but really good. It was great getting new missionaries in Charentsavan this week. They got here Thursday and we have spent most of this second part of the week helping them get acquanted with the area and with some of the members. The two elders that got sent here are Elder Frye, he is from Elder Steglich's MTC group, and Elder Smith, from my MTC group! It was really cool seeing Elder Smith again. He had been serving up in the North Zone at the top of Armenia so I had only seen him once since we got here. But I think they are both going to do really well here in Charentsavan. But other than that everything has been rolling along.
As for our investigators, they're all doing really great! I'll start out by filling you all in on the family we are teaching. Lusine, Tadevos, and TIgran kind of had a rough week. Their land lord sold their apartment out from under them and they had until Sunday to be out of their place. It was really stressful for them and every time we went to visit them this week they just looked absolutely miserable. They are such a faithful and strong family but you could just tell how hard it was on them. Elder Steglich and I just kept promising them that if they pray together and read from the Book of Mormon as a family and have faith that everything would work out. It was tough seeing them struggle like that though. But finally they called us Saturday night and told us they found a place. We met with them shortly after they had got the place and it was so great to see how happy they were. I had forgotten what their smiles looked like! haha. We asked them during the meeting if they had read and prayed together the night before and they had! It just really showed me the importance of enduring. I know that we all face trials like that in our lives of different forms, but it just Ether 12:6 just kept coming to mind. Its so important that we endure our trials with a perspective of what does the Lord want me to learn from this or how can I improve from this. And then after that trial of your faith, will those promised blessings come. But all three of them are doing well and moving along. We are hoping for them to get baptized in August.

Also, we were able to pick up Knarik's sister as an investigator this last week. Her name is Ruzana and she is going to be in Charentsavan for a couple months taking care of her Grandma. Knarik actually called us this past week and told us that her sister was here and for us to go visit her. We asked her how her Book of Mormon reading was coming and she said she finished it like 2 weeks ago and that she is reading the Doctrine and Covenants now! haha. She also told us that she goes into Gyumri 4 times a week so she'll be able to meet with missionaries after all! We called the Gyumri elders and gave them the referral and they were so happy haha. We just handed them a dream investigator haha. But we just had our first meeting with her sister Ruzana yesterday and she seems just as solid. So we're both looking forward to working with her while we can as well.
And as for Silva, she is doing really great! Elder Steglich and I are hoping that she'll get baptized in the next week or two. I'll have to keep you all posted on that. We have a few other investigators that we are working hard to get them to be more serious investigators. So we are staying pretty busy with work which I am way happy about. Like you said in your email dad, some areas are more prepared than others. There are a lot of areas in Armenia that are struggling right now and I just consider myself really blessed to be here in this area. It has been such a great area to learn and gain experience from so early in my mission. I am very very blessed to be here!
Everything else is going really well also. The language is coming along, slowly but surely. I actually saw a lot of progress this last week. I decided to study patience a little bit this past week because I realized I was starting to be a little impatient with myself and the language. I realized that I had the mindset that if I just kept working harder and harder that it would just click one day. And as I was studying patience I came to the realization that this is an experience I'm meant to learn and grow from. I started to take the point of view that I talked about earlier in this email. I started looking for ways and things I can learn from this experience and portion of my mission. It's still so so important to keep working hard and pushing myself but I realized that I can't control when the language will come. It will come on the Lord's time and in his way. So I've really been focusing on relying on the Spirit and on the Lord. I'm still working really hard but there is such a better feeling about it. I don't feel like I'm running into a brick wall over and over again anymore hahaha. And I know that as I keep working hard and am obedient that it will come, not all at one, but line upon line and precept upon precept, as it says in Nephi.
I'm so thankful for this gospel. For the peace and comfort that it has brought and still brings in my life. And it is so amazing to help others feel that same peace and happiness as they move closer to Christ through this gospel. This truly is an amazing work and I am so grateful to be a part of it. I love everything about this church and our message. I know this church is true! Its been so amazing to see the strength that my testimony receives on a daily basis. I hope you all can be strengthening your testimony and sit back and look at the happiness that this church has brought into your lives. Its humbling to look at the blessings that our Heavenly Father has poured upon us and our family. I love you all and hope that you all find happiness this next week in all that you do! I am so thankful for our family and the great blessing that you all are in my life! Have a great week and I'll talk to you next week!

Elder Fairclough

Monday, July 18, 2011

July 18, 2011

Walking a dirt road
Larisa and Elder Fairclough
Elder Fairclough, Sister Carter, Larisa, President Carter, & Elder Steglich
Hey everyone! Bari Louis!How's everyone doing this week? From the emails it sounds like you are all doing amazing and loving life right now. Makes me really happy cause I am too! Things are going great here in Charentsavan. I've got a lot to fill you all in on from this week so this might be a long email. Just a forewarning haha. First of all...
Larisa was baptized this past week! It was such an amazing baptismal service. President Carter came to Charentsavan Tuesday for her interview which was a really cool experience. Normally the district leaders just interview baptismal candidates but since Larisa was a special case President Carter decided to come do it. I'm so glad he did too cause it meant so so much to her and her family. Elder Steglich translated for it and he said it was such an amazing experience. -Funny story, after she passed her interview President Carter asked her who she wanted to baptize her (she just calls us both Elder cause our names are too hard haha) and you want to know what she said? She said, "The small one" haha not cool. I mean I was flattered and happy she asked me to baptize her but there are so many other ways to describe me! haha. Plus I'm bigger than just about every Armenian here. I blame Elder Steglich cause he's like 6' 2 and making me look small haha. Anyways, the baptism was such a great experience. The Spirit was so strong and Larisa had such a huge smile on her face for the whole thing. I am so happy for her. She kept telling us that she feels really good which made us both so happy cause we know she was feeling the Spirit too. She has such a good heart. She got the Holy Ghost yesterday in Sacrament Meeting too which was a great experience as well!
Unfortunately, Ando wasn't able to pass the Sacrament. He didn't have a white shirt. I thought we had extras at our branch but we didn't. We are going to try to get him one from the mission office this next week though so he can pass next Sunday. I'll let you know how that goes.
Lusine, Tadevos, and Tigran are all doing great. We were able to meet with them about 4 times this week which was really great. They are just doing so amazing. Elder Steglich and I are so blessed to be able to teach this amazingly prepared family. They are all so needed in our branch as well. We don't really have any Priesthood holders that are serious in our branch right now. We have a lot of Priesthood holders but they don't quite get it. But Tadevos and Tigran are so serious about things and have already pointed out how they don't think its right how the other men and young men don't take it seriously. They are going to be such great examples in this branch once they are baptized. We are hoping for them to get baptized the first week of August. But they are all progressing really well and coming along great!
Now for some exciting news...
Since the work has been going so well here in Charentsavan, President Carter and the Lord have decided to send another set of missionaries here! Transfers aren't until Thursday but he filled us in about a week ago cause we needed to find another appartment for them and get things ready. We are way excited for it though. Charentsavan is a pretty small area, we can walk straight through the middle from end to end in about 30 minutes, so we will be seeing the other missionaries a good bit probably. But we are excited to see some new faces and have some help with the branch. Our branch is one of the biggest here in Armenia so it will definitely be good cause now we can help the members here a little bit more too.
Now for some other news...
After Larisa's baptism on Saturday President Carter called us into his office. I just figured he was going to talk to us about the new missionaries coming to Charentsavan or something. But then he started talking about all the changes that are about to be made in our mission with missionaries leaving and then with new missionaries not coming until August. (A group of missionaries go home this Thursday so that they can make it back for Fall semester of college. Normally they wouldn't go home until the new missionaries come. But that is why transfers were held off until this week). But he started talking about that kind of stuff and he turned to Elder Steglich and was like the Lord has told me this last week that you are supposed to be a zone leader once this group leaves. I wasn't surprised at all cause I figured he was going to leadership when we were done being companions. But then he turned to me and said that the Lord had also told him that I was to be the other zone leader and his companion. I think my jaw dropped to the ground. haha. I was definitely not expecting that. Especially cause I still have 3 weeks of my training left. But as he extended the call to us, President Carter just bore testimony that the assignment came from the Lord. I could feel the Spirit so strong. It was an amazing experience to be a part of. President Carter said the exact things that I needed to hear too. He told us both that the Lord qualifies those whom he calls. He then went on to tell me that even though I'm still being trained and I'm not satisfied with where I'm at with the language, that as I work hard and serve, the language will come. Seems simple and obvious but it really made an impact on me. We officially start being zone leaders this Thursday. This is going to be a great opportunity for both Elder Steglich and me. I'm way excited to work with other missionaries, even though I have a lot less experience than most, I know that as I rely on the Lord and just do my best I'll be able to know how to help and strengthen others. This is going to be a great opportunity for me to learn from other missionaries and learn how to become a better missionary myself. Not to meantion, I am way happy that I get to stay companions with Elder Steglich for however much longer. Usually you don't get to stay with your trainer for very long after your training but I think the Lord sees how well we work together and support one another. But we are both pretty excited to get to work and get the ball rolling. I'll have to let you know how it all transitions next week. I'm still not even quite sure what being a zone leader entails. haha. Thank goodness for training. But all in all it has been a very eventful week.
On a little bit of a lighter note, Elder Steglich and I went and played basketball before doing email today. Man am I out of shape. haha. I work out with dumbells every morning but that does absolutely nothing for trying to run around. Also Charentsavan has some crazy elavation. It felt like when I used to go to camps out in Utah and that first day I would just be sucking wind haha. We played a game to 11 and we were both about dead. It took us both like 15 minutes to catch our breath haha. It was so much fun though. I forgot how much fun I have playing basketball. I'm just hoping the new elders who come to Charentsavan this week know how to ball. haha.
I want you all to know how thankful I am to be a missionary. I am having the time of my life and enjoying every second of serving these amazing people and serving the Lord. I learn something new from the kindness and sincerity of these people everyday. I truly am so lucky to be here in Armenia for my mission. Besides our family, nothing has brought me more happiness than seeing some of these Armenian people change their lives and grow closer to Christ and their Father in Heaven. This is such a great work and I'm so grateful to be a part of it. I love you all very much and am so thankful for your support and love. I hope you all are doing great and know that you are in my prayers daily. I hope you all have great weeks and if you're lives start to get stressful or tiring, look to lift another who's hands are hanging low and remember that your Father in Heaven loves you and is watching out for you!

Elder Fairclough

Monday, July 11, 2011

July 11, 2011

Hey everyone! I think I say this every week but I can't believe it's Monday again already. It's crazy how fast weeks go by. You all sound like you are doing so good though! Things are going great here in Charentsavan still! It has been another great week of work and service. As for the investigator report...Some exciting news for this next upcoming week is that hopefully Larisa will be baptized this weekend. She is doing so well and has come such a long way and the Lord has really helped Elder Steglich and I with her through the teaching process. It is so fun to teach her. I'm not sure I've told you much about her yet but she is the sister of one of the members here in our branch. She is 28 but at some point in her life, I'm not quite sure when, she fell from a three story building which caused some complications with her memory and learning. But she is such an amazing person. She is so sweet and genuine. Like I said, the teaching process has been a little different with her from our other investigators. We've had to simplify some things and review a lot but I've truly been amazed at how fast she has progressed. Heavenly Father's hand truly has been in all of this. She always puts a big smile on Elder Steglich and my face and we are so happy for her. But yeah, we are hoping her baptism will be this weekend! It might not work out for this week though so I guess you'll all find out next week haha.
We've also had some really cool experiences with Silva and Tatevos this past week. Like you've read in previous emails, they are both doing so well and have really been prepared. But this week Elder Steglich and I needed to teach them the Word of Wisdom. And they've both been progressing really well so I was kind of worried that this might be a hold up for them, cause Silva drinks coffee and Tatevos smokes. Shows my lack of faith. Their lessons both went really well and at the end of both of their lessons they both committed to live the Word of Wisdom. I marveled at their answers though. When we went in to teach Tatevos and Tigran, Lusine had work unfortunately, the apartment smelled like smoke so we knew he had been smoking. And here in Armenia basically all men smoke. Women don't but its just kind of a social and cultural thing for men to smoke I guess. I'm not quite sure. But after we taught it and invited him to live the Word of Wisdom without hesitation he said ofcourse I will, its necessary. Didn't show any doubt that he couldn't do it but just talked about how it is necessary for him to stop and that he is going to stop that day. And then that same day we taught the Word of Wisdom to Silva and her response to our invitation was I drink coffee but I had no idea God didn't want me to. Now that I know I won't drink coffee anymore. What faith these people have! To be so willingly to give up things in their life and change the second they hear what God is asking of them. They are teaching me as much as I'm teaching them, if not more. They are such examples to me on following the Savior wholeheartedly. They are so great! Silva feeds us everytime we go to her place to teach, which is just about every day haha. She tells us that when we are in her house she is our mom cause we are so far away from our own. haha I thought you'd like that mom.
 Also, some really cool things happened at church yesterday. First off, Lusine came with Tatevos and Tigran which we were so so happy about. She has been working crazy hours this past week so we hadn't been able to meet with her, just Tatevos and Tigran. But all three of them were able to come to church yesterday and after Sacrament meeting Lusine came up to us and told us how much she missed us. Apparently she didn't get home from work until 4 am Sunday morning and she still came. I was so impressed. So many people would have just slept and said I'll go next week but she decided to come to church with her family. Like I said, these people are so amazing! And secondly, Ando was able to receive the Aaronic Priesthood yesterday! It was such a cool experience to be apart of. I can't wait to see him pass the Sacrament next week! I'll let you all know how it goes.
That should be it for investigators this week though. We are making good progress with everyone and still picking up new investigators too. I'll let you know about some of them as they start to progress a little bit. But we had to talk to Sister Carter this week and she told us something pretty cool. She told us that we are the busiest missionaries in the mission. I thought that was way cool. Just shows you how much the Lord is blessing this area right now. Especially because Elder Steglich and I are the youngest companionship in the mission. Just proves to me that this truly is the Lord's work and that he is leading the way. We are way excited about everything going on here in Charentsavan though and we are ready to start on out another great week!
I thought I'd tell you all about some of the food here. One thing they eat a lot here is something called Doma. Silva has fed it to us a couple times and so has Lusine and Tatevos. Its basically like ground up beef and rice wrapped in either cabbage leaves and grape leaves. Its really good. I'll have to take a picture of it and send it to you sometime so that you can have a visual. So that is really good. Now for something that I absolutely hate. They all eat this stuff called matsun. It is honestly the nastiest stuff I have ever put in my mouth. No joke. Its basically just natural yogurt and it has a real bitter and sour taste to it. Unfortunately, they LOVE it. Its like their cure all for everything. I've been able to avoid it for the most part but I'm not sure how much longer I can get away from it. One thing I love about Armenian's is there hospitality. There is really nothing like it. Take southern hospitality and times it by 10 haha. Everyone for the most part is really poor, but they still will go completely out of their way to feed you. And they get so preoccupied in making sure you have enough to eat and drink that sometimes its frustrating when you are trying to teach cause they are so focused on you. The only bad thing about it is when it comes to stuff like matsun they will just keep dishing it up. haha. So you have to be smart about eating in moderation and slowly haha. But I thought you might all be interested in some Armenian culture so there you go haha.
Everything is going well here though. I said last week that Elder Steglich and I survived transfers...not true haha. Apparently they just pushed it off until this next week because the oldest group of missionaries go home this next week. So hopefully we make it through this next week! haha. I'll let you know on that one as well. But I am really glad that you are all doing so well. I pray for you daily and hope that life is treating you all kindly haha. I love you and miss you all! Have a great week!

Elder Fairclough

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

More Pictures

Lida & Ando with the Mission President & his wife
Elder Steglich & Max at Elder Steglich's birthday party
Max had a heart scare while there....the doctors do a check-up on them and said his resting heart rate was too slow...turns out something was wrong with their machines and everything was okay, but Max had to wear this heart monitor for awhile

July 4th, 2011

Hey everyone! Can't believe another week has come and gone! How is everyone doing this week? It was great to read your emails and see that you are all doing well. Things are going really great here in Charentsavan. Elder Steglich and I survived together through our first transfer cycle so we were pretty happy about that haha. We were also pretty busy this week again which was also really nice. As always I'll start out by telling you about the work...
A bit of good news, Lida and Ando were baptized Saturday! It was such an amazing experience. Elder Steglich baptized Lida and I was able to baptize Ando. The baptism was held at the mission office in Yerevan because our building doesn't have a baptismal font. A good bit of members from our Branch were able to come which was good that they had some support. President and Sister Carter were there too which was pretty cool too. I'm really lucky to have been able to have this experience so early in my mission. Especially cause I was able to go through the entire teaching process with both of these investigators. I think we picked Ando up my first week here and Lida my second or third. They were both so happy though and it was so great to see them dressed in all white. A week or two ago one of our Zone Leaders was telling us that his favorite memories of his mission aren't the days of baptisms but the times afterwards when you see them passing the sacrament or giving a talk in sacrament meeting. I was thinking a lot about this and obviously I'm not to that point yet and I'm sure I will love seeing them in the enduring to the end phase but my favorite memories of my mission so far have been in the moments leading to baptism. The moments in lessons when you see them grow and beginning to gain a testimony. Those moments are what make the baptism special. I can't wait to see the both of them in the upcoming weeks and however long I'll be here. But, all in all it was a great day!
Other that that we are moving right along with our investigators. Silva is doing amazing. We had a couple cool experiences with her yesterday. First, she ended up bearing her testimony yesterday during testimony meeting and it was so good! We've only been teaching her for a little over a week and her testimony is already so strong. And then last night in our meeting Silva's sister in law was there and we were talking about religion with her and she was asking us all these questions about the difference in our church and what we believe and Silva was answering all the questions, telling her all about Joseph Smith and bearing testimony that the church is true. It was so cool to see! And at the beginning I didn't think the sister in law would be interested to meet with us again but when we asked her at the end she said she would love to! It was really cool to see how quickly Silva is growing. We ended up setting a baptismal date for her later in the month but she told us she'd be willing to be baptized tomorrow haha. We're really excited for her and how well she's doing. And then as for Tadevos, Lucine, and Tigran they are also doing well. We weren't really able to meet with them this week unfortunately because they both just got new jobs and their schedules are crazy but yesterday Tadevos and Tigran came to church an hour early because they were so anxious to come! haha. This branch needs Tadevos so bad. Other than branch president we don't really have any mature adult males so we are working really hard with them. Tigran also went to the youth conference that the church here in Armenia put on for all the youth. He apparently loved it and had a great time. He taught himself how to tie a tie and then wore it to church yesterday. haha. We are hoping that their schedules will sure up a little more this next week so we can start meeting with them regularly again. And then there is Larisa. Its so fun to teach her. She is progressing really well and is so excited to be baptized. She has a date for the week following this one so we'll see how that all shapes out. Other than that all of our other investigators are doing the same. Ashot and Geyvork both went to youth conference as well and had a great time. Unfortunately they went out of town this weekend though so we haven't been able to meet with them since. But, as usual, we've got big plans for this next week so hopefully things will work out! haha
The funny story of the week actually comes from the baptism haha. Lida is not a small woman and I'm just so thankful that Elder Steglich baptized her and not me haha. And for some reason Armenians are not very fond of water. I'm not exactly sure what thats all about but they just aren't. So the first time Elder Steglich went to baptize her head didn't go fully under. So he stopped and explained to her again that she had to go all the way under. The second time, she gave Elder Steglich absolutely NO help. haha. She just like flung her self back and when he pushed her under she freaked out and kicked her feet up. So they stopped and talked for a second and relaxed and finally on the third time it went smoothly. But after the whole ceremony she came up to Elder Steglich and was like you drownded me haha. Then we met with Silva later that night and we had a member there and she was like "Lida is telling everyone you drownded her" hahahaha. We were dying laughing. And then she came up to him again yesterday at church and told him that he drownded her again. You kind of have to know Lida but she's just kind of a crazy lady. And her baptism just completely fits her haha. But luckily both Elder Steglich and I have gotten a good laugh out of it.
Things are going really well here in Armenia though. Its starting to get hotter here in Charentsavan too. I'm just so thankful that its not as hot here as it is in Yerevan. We have to go to the mission office every Tuesday for district meeting and it is always miserably hot haha. But other than that everything is same old same old. We are both working hard and doing our best. The Lord is really blessing the work here and I'm just really thankful to be a part of it all. Thank you for all of your prayers and support. I love you all and hope you are all doing well! Have a great week!

Elder Fairclough

Here are a few pictures from the baptism. I'm going to send a lot more in a seperate email. Hope you like them!

Max and Elder Steglich
Elder Steglich, Lida, & Max
Max, Ando, & Elder Steglich (unsure who the little boy is)

Elder Steglich & Max at Mission office in Yerevan