Sunday, September 14, 2014

Week 72 (5/5-5/13)

Well a happy belated Mother's Day to everyone!! Sheesh this week has flown by fast and I can't believe it was mother's day Sunday and I got to talk to some of you back home. I've missed you all! But I know it was my last call and I don't have much time left out here! Such a sad thought but I know the Lord has me out at the time I am needed so I can only do my best and continue to make a difference out here in our Group. Not terribly much has happened this week. We taught a ton of lessons (11 actual lessons... yes I consider that a ton in Armenian work), we had zone conference yesterday (hence why i'm emailing today..), I got to call home Sunday and that is about it! But let me tell you all about it! 
     Last Monday we went golfing again but we actually played the first nine holes of this little par three course. It was a lot of fun and I was doing surprisingly well! Well enough to tie Nate who goes every now and again! It was a lot of fun.. the other elders need to work on some things but it was still fun to see them struggle. After that wonderful round we went down to Osaka and had some lunch. Only Nate, Elder Cook and I went while the other two went to in n out while we had scrumptous sushi. noms. Then we emailed. Always a party... at the end of p-day I went with Elders Cook and Tavoian to see Rita while Elder Twelves went with Brother Bradley to go knock some doors and try and go see Edwin. Rita was super happy to see Elder Cook since he was one of the original ones to teach her and he hadn't gone over since I started going to see her with Elder Twelves. So she was actually kind of mad at Elder Twelves and I for not letting them come over.. but she got it out of her system and it was super funny to try and see Elder Tavoian try to understand her... well more like us talking about him and seeing if he was understanding. He wasn't. But it happens to us all. Ashot came partway through to take us to go with the other Elders. We were planning on talking about the Gospel of Jesus Christ but she asked us a question about testimony meeting and why everyone says "I know this church is true" when they are talking to a congregation of member who know the same thing. I thought it was a great question! I pulled out Mosiah 18: 11-14 and explained that as we help people to gain a stronger testimony of the Church and bear our testimonies to others, our testimonies/conversion gets deeper. And compared it to Alma baptizing Helam in those verses and going under the water himself which is symbolic of his conversion deepening. I love that scripture. But anyways after that lesson Ashot dropped me off with Twelves and Bradley and we all went over to see Aylin and Zhorants who were both actually home!! I was super stoked because they are never home at the same time... we had a great visit with them and they were telling us that work was going hard, Zhorants said he was going to close his mechanic shop on Sundays so he can come to work, Aylin was talking about how she was sharing stuff on facebook and got some not so nice comments from others but that she enjoyed sharing her beliefs and then she had some great questions about repentance. Ah they are so solid. I can see now why Twleves doesn't want to drop them. They are really opening up because we are some of the few people they know here in the states. Love progress!
     Tuesday we went up to GCC and had some early lunch before we headed up to Tujunga to visit Vardon at his leather shop to see if he had finished our ipad cases... which he hadn't. But he had us skype one of his friends who was calling from Yerevan and had us talk to him and tell him how we learned Armenian. Then we were getting suffocated by the smoke in his shop so we left on to go visit more potentials we had there. Parkuhi, Craig, Emma and Vachik... all not home which was a bummer. AFter that big loop up there we came back and started doing our knocking for the day on Dryden but we didn't get too far. Sister Turley called as we got into this big apartment building and started talking to us for a good half hour about Christine H. Not sure if I've given you an update about her. She has been off the grid for a while and telling different members different reasons why she hasn't been coming to church and such and some she even told she wasn't going to come back. So Sister Turley had gone over there the day before and had a few hour visit with her and talked about it. The consensus was she was starting new work that was really stressful and busy and she just didn't have time and she felt offended by some of the leadership for not giving more input on some of the strange things she looks up online and thinks of it as doctrine and then she was complaining about other Armenian members stressing her out at church and talking down to her (namely some of the hayastancis). So that was stressful. Meanwhile the apartment manager was trying to tell me to leave the staircase that we were sitting in and that no one wanted to talk to us... People are just so lovely sometimes! Shortly after that we met this jewish couple that immediately invited us in (we thought they were just members) but it turns out the wife had just seen the play 'The Book of Mormon' and had never had missionaries knock on her door so she had some questions for us. She was an interesting person! Super educated. Went to some school back east and got her masters and now works testing ecstasy on alzheimer patients and whatnot. So unique is probably a better word. They said they'd love to have the sisters over and have a formal first lesson since we were just telling them what we do as missionaries. The rest of the night was kind of a dud. We didn't have many leadership show up but Townsend and Bradley so we just went out on our own and saw Vasgen down by our pad. He was glad to see us and apologetic for the few days prior when we had stopped by but he wasn't home. The funniest thing though. We go in, the wife offers coffee. we say no. then vasgen asks if we want coffee. we say no. then the daughter, who was in the back room and usually doesn't come out, comes out and asks if we want coffee. I thought it was humorous.  Then we had to explain why and Vasgen went into that Armenians have strong genetics and can handle a lot of coffee and alcohol and told us a story when he offered his hispanic gardener some Armenian coffee (they drink it straight up black) and then the next time he offered it too him he said no because he couldn't sleep that night he had it. So I now know how to talk about genetics in Armenian! He is a good guy though. Not quite ready to accept our message but he'll come around. 
     Wednesday. After studies we drove up to Alameda and started to knock around where Elder Twelves had found Margo and waited for the other Elders to get there so we could have a lesson with her but she ended up not being home. But we found this one girl, Celine, who was a student at GCC and said she would like to meet up today.. hence we are here at GCC instead of the church fhc in hopes she will show up and we can teach her and get free lunch! Yaaay free lunch! Then we got a referral all the way out in Glendora... so we drove all the way out there. And lately I've been letting Elder Twelves drive because next transfer he can't since it'll be his last one. And for the first time I fell asleep in the car on my mission. It was just that long of a car ride! But we drove all the way out there and the lady just opened her little door peephole, told us she was busy and to come back in June and then closed it on us... so we can't drop her and we don't know if she is interested... so lame. We were just all over the place that day. We went down to south pas to visit this potential Moses Mosesian (goes by Moses Moses) at his mechanic shop and talked to him for a bit and told him the next time we come by we will bring a member because he is one of the Armenians who is astounded that an Armenian would change religions. Then we made our way up to nothern pasadena and tried by some other members on record. one we met and he had stopped going to church about 7 years ago and his mom didn't know we spoke Armenian so we understood when she was telling him not to listen to us or let us in because we brainwash people because we are brainwashed. She wasn't very nice. I straight up told her very bluntly that we represent Christ and if she didn't want to listen to us then she was rejecting the words of Christ. She didn't like that very much and just walked away. The rest of the evening wasn't too eventful either. Ashot cancelled out lesson with Adrineh again. Typical. 
     Thursday was very long. We had zone training with the zone leaders and it was 3 HOURS LONG.... typically it is only supposed to go 2... but they took forever to say a whole lot of things that didn't really stick with anyone because they didn't tell us that they were going to be so long. Even the Assistants who came to the meeting left before it was over! After that grueling meeting we went to Jack in the Box and I got the munchie box which is approximately 1600 calories of deliciousness. more noms. And I felt sick afterwards. Not sure I'll do that again. It sure was tasty though. That afternoon we knocked over on Burchett where Elder Tyler and I had left off and we found some pretty good potential! This lady Clarise just moved here from Iran a few months ago and wants to learn English and have us over again! Gotta love the Iranians who just moved here! They are so open to the gospel! Also got another lesson set up for the sisters in G2 with the Chadsey's neighbor who, when we told them we had talked to them and set up a lesson, they were surprised and might get involved in teaching them! We finished up a bit later than expected and actually didn't have time to go up to Bradley's and he was going to try and get Edwin and his family up to dinner... but they couldn't. so we just headed straight up to NoHo to try by all the members we hadn't met yet. We stopped by Aghavni who wanted us to come in but we didn't have a third male to come with us... but she told us she had someone giving her rides to the ward out on Saticoy so probably won't come to the group. We talked to this nice security guard in the building who just walked up to Elder Twelves and started speaking to him in Armenian because I guess he had seen/met with missionaries in Armenia and knew that we spoke it somehow. Wasn't interested in having us come over though. Tried by this other member who was actually just russian and didn't speak Armenian.. same lady who Elder Twelves had to climb the fence and hurt his hand. he did it successfully this time. Armineh wasn't home but talked to either her husband or some other guest they had over. As we were driving around the block to leave we saw this ridiculously Armenian looking house with 4 mercedes in the driveway, pillars, the whole 9 yards. So I just HAD to have us go knock it. And sure enough! Armen answered the door and told us he had guests over but that he actually had a friend from Armenian who live in Utah now and is a member of our church... small world! I told him they'd have to have us over for a xorovac sometime. Then we had to head back to Glendale for our lesson with Adrineh but seriosly 12 minutes before we were supposed to have the lesson and AS we were driving to their house, we got a text from Ashot telling us he was at the airport and couldn't meet... so we had to head home and replan our night and decided to go down to Ragned's place and we ended up having a nice visit with Raymond and Rima. Rima's sister has cancer and lives in Canada and I guess she is going to move up there for a while and then after she wants to move back to Iran because she can't find work here nor learn the language well enough. Half way through Ragned got home and was her giggly quiet self as usual. It just breaks my heart to go over there and see this wonderful family and not have them progress and come to church. Just ugh. I hope the kids stay here in Glendale even if Rima goes to Iran. 
     Friday we kind of weekly planned. We were actually having a good streak of revelation for our investigators when the other Elders came in and started shooting us with nerf guns and then Nate came so we could teach his friend Sam on Facebook. It was a really good lesson, he was busy and wasn't able to read any more of the Book of Mormon but we got down to some of his main concerns which were he knew that it was true, the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, the Restored Church and the need to be baptized. But he just didn't want to leave his lifestyle of a 17year old. But we told him to pray about it and he said he would. After we finished up we headed to the office to drop off a scale that we used to weight Elder Tyler's bags and forgot to return... I'm down to about 160 by the way... and traffic was already bad so it took forever. So much that we weren't sure it was a good idea to drive down to Montebello like we had previously planned. So we decided to just go back to glendale, swing by MexiCali on the way and then go do some knocking before we had our appointment with Joey and Ella that night. While knocking we were able to teach Sako and Violet and they were very welcoming. They were short on time but we were able to introduce them to the Book of Mormon and they said they would read it. They are turning out to be a promising couple! We kept knocking. Elder Twelves kept getting on my nerves because he doesn't like when I talk to everyone that we can. He thinks it is a waste of time. I love him to death but we just think very, very differently and he is dead set on finishing out his mission the way he wants to. So he gets on my nerves. He's just not very optimistic about talking to people. Anyways... finally it was time to go up to Joey and Ella's so we got picked up by Brother Bradley and we went up to their house. Just in time to help them bring in some new outside furniture. We were over there for quite a while, Bradley was mostly talking with Joey about work and such while Ella was talking to us and asking us questions. They told us that she is pregnant and we showed them the new mother's day video the Church produced and she had questions for us about the cross, baptism and we told her to continue to pray. 
     Saturday. Right as we were finishing studies and about to head out down south glendale we got a call from a guy who had ran into the sister missionaries and wanted to see our church. So we went up there and gave him a tour. Andranik was his name. He had seen our church a few times and had never been able to get in since he tried by during the week. But he seemed to like it and hopefully we'll see him again in the future. That afternoon we went over to Burbank and knocked more with the NoHo zone leaders. I went with Elder Bertoch this time who was a stud. Out about a year. New zone leader but great teacher and personable. We had a pretty successful day for Armenian work. Most of the houses we visited were Armenian and we got in and taught one guy, Lau, from Iran and never seen missionaries. He was super open to listen and had great comments and questions during the lesson. The NoHo mission had just learned the new way of teaching and so we had a bomb lesson of that and the spirit was super strong. He said he'd pray about baptism and would like to continue to meet with us. Later I met these two sisters from Armenia who were visiting their Mom for her birthday. One was atheist but super friendly and the other was more agnostic and more willing to learn. I learned something important though. When someone gives you their name for Facebook, write their name how it appears on their profile. NOT in Armenian. It is very hard to know how they spell their names in English. We also met this other couple who live in Glendale and wanted to meet, Anahid and Armen, Nayra came out of her house and asked what we were doing and told us we could give her a call. It was just a great afternoon! After all that fun stuff we stopped by Margo's and had a lesson with her. Her husband was there and kept trying to interupt the lesson and he was being rather rude; asking us for money and telling us that if we didn't have money for him that we needed to get out of his house. But when he said that Margo stuck up for us and told him that she had called us over there and wanted us there and that she was able to choose for herself and didn't need security. She got very emotional and we moved the lesson outside. She got outside and told us that she missed her first husband, saying he would have let her learn from us if he were alive. She then said that she had made the decision to get a divorce from her current husband. It was super sad and I felt that she just needed to know she could be with her first husband again. We finished introducing the Book of Mormon and she said that she'd be at church the next day. We grabbed some dinner at Glendale market which always hits the spot and the family loves us. Tried by some people in Tujunga/Sunland again. No answers. Then stopped by Krikor (Greg) Derminjian before going home whom I had never met before in my time in the group but I've always hear about him. Less active husband. Nonmember wife who is super sweet and could be the stake relief society president of the Armenian stake when we have one here. But Greg is just super busy and went through a rough divorce and picked up smoking and drinking unfortunately. Hopefully we'll make some progress there. 
     Sunday was awesome. We had to translate a super awkward lesson in Relief society when Anoush was teaching about the talk 'of regrets and resolutions' and the first part of it she was just going around the room asking people what they regretted in life, including asking Deborah if she regretted not being married... which we all were shocked she would ask. Then Christine Andreasian came in and Anoush started asking her where she had been and telling her that she needed to be more active... when in reality she goes to the singles ward. it was awkward. ONe of the most i've had to be in! Sacrament meeting was awesome though. Zhorants and Margo came!!! I was so excited to see them both. they seemed to love it and be friendship by our members though which was super awesome. Ah I love our group so much! They have been so awesome lately, especially when we bring new people in. So awesome to see. After Church Sam's lesson cancelled and so did Lau's which was unfortunate. So we went up to Bradley's to call home which was nice to hear from everyone. Miss you all :) Had some dinner. Then went up to Northride where we met some more members who probably won't come to the group. Stopped by this referral out there, Annie who invited us in and had some questions about what we did and why we were different so we taught her the restoration. She still has a lot of questions about if we had the authority then why wasn't everyone in our church and why so many people hate us if we are true and such. Could be promising. She was quite wealthy though by the looks of the inside of her home. Very, very well off. Tried by Jora. wasn't home. Then went to Helga's to have dinner again and have a lesson which was actually pretty good, talked about mother's example for their children and tithing and such. It was good. Good day. 
     Monday we had zone conference! It was awesome. Sad that it was President Becerra's last zone conference... We talked a lot about planning, helping our investigators come to Church and finally my favorite was talking about the Hastening of the work. He said that during his mission president's seminar, either Elder Ballard or Bednar said "The Hastening of the work has a name" afterwhich we watched the 'because of him' video and then another about Elder Bednar when he was President of Rick's college and how he was able to fill up a certain special devotional where Elder Eyring was coming with every student from the college and they did it "one by one". I just loved that thought. The hastening of the Lord's work is done one by one. We need to find the one. By starting with just one, ourselves. He put it much better than I can but just think, if every member of the Church could truly become converted even deeper, and then go out and start by finding one other to help into the Gospel, the work would hasten. Just a cool thought. AFter zone conference we knocked on Dryden and ran into Simoon who was with some buddies drinking and he was telling us how everyone that came from England was actually Armenian and such..., had a delicious dinner at the Carlin's where they asked for some blessings for some illnesses and then taught Sako and Violet again. They started out telling us they wouldn't be able to meet anymore because of their busy schedule with english classes starting soon, but we got to their concern of why was life so hard and these difficulties in their life not getting any easier. We read with them the book of mormon and related lehi and his family how they had difficulites and trials but found it easier as they did the will of God. They said that if they had time we could stop by in the future. It was a really good lesson. I feel we are getting better at helping address people's concerns and not just teaching lessons. 

Well that was my long, eventful week! I love you all. Have a great rest of your week and I'll talk to you next Monday!

Elder DeBry

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