Armenian Time

Monday, October 26, 2009

Funny Days

Hey Mom and Dad,
Yes, I do my emails in an internet cafe. It is actually really nice, with individual stalls and things. I'll figure out something with my journal entries. I might just be only able to give you a few though.
Thanks for all of your letters and updates. Gary is such a good boy. It sounds like he is doing so great. Every time I see a little kid, I think of all my neices and nephews. It will be so great to see them again. It seems like there are some pretty good fathers here. So many men drink, though, it's sad. I think the saddest thing about this place is how many people have nothing to live for. They always say how there's no work, but that's largely because they don't try. Almost everyone gets money from the government, and a lot of them seem to just have no motivation to work. Elder King says one of their greatest aspirations in life is to be a taxi driver. It's pretty strange to me.
This week was really nice, though. We had some very nice meetings with people. Right now we are focusing on two investigators, a few less actives, and helping some of the members. One of our investigators is Sako (saw-k-oh). He used to be a preacher for a church in Russia, but now he is mid-thirties, which means it's about time to get married. He has decided he wants to get married to a mormon girl. He is such a great guy. He can be a little intense, but he's very smart and really nice. He walked about four or five miles to come to church yesterday, because he doesn't have any money right now. I feel the spirit so strong in our meetings. I'm really confident that he will be able to accept this gospel and have a change of heart. It's not going to be easy for him though. But I love teaching him so much.
We also started visiting with an older man named Surik (soo-reek) who had been taught about a year ago. He is so wonderful. He's also very wise and loves the Savior. He really feels stuck in life, it seems like, both physically and spiritually. We have really enjoyed visiting with him, though, and I'm looking forward to meeting with him some more. We're pretty much going to start from the beginning and slowly go through the lessons. I also felt the spirit very strong at his home as well, even as we sat and listened to the news on the radio with him for a couple minutes. It was actually a really nice bonding experience. Elder King said he could have sat there with him all day:)
Elder King and I are really doing well together, and we've been having some fun as well. These last two days were really interesting. On Saturday we played some basketball with Zhirar (ha ha, we actually don't have the "zh" sound in our language, except maybe in the color "beige"). He's our english learning investigator. He is such a nice guy. He's probably about thirty. He gets so excited to learn, and wants to be our friends so bad. He's going to Europe some day, and can't wait to go. Some other guys played were supposed to play with us as well but had to leave, so some little kids played us. It was way fun. It felt good to get some nice exercise. The cool thing, though, was one of the boys' father was there watching, and he was so grateful to us afterwords. That was really nice.
Church was so wonderful yesterday. It was so spiritual and so good for our investigators that were there. Then all our appointments were falling through, except for two, with Surik and a less active named Artur. They were both so wonderful.
Ha ha, then this morning was crazy. We went on a morning run, which was new and really fun. I'm way out of shape though. Then we ate some amazing deep fried potatoe things for breakfast. On our way back, the neighbors keep complaining of a water leak. We're still not exactly sure if it's coming from us, but we tried to fix this drip in our bathroom and it was crazy! The hose came off and our days supply of water began dumping out of the hose. We were going to let it just drain into the tub, but then water started coming up the drain in the floor, so we started freaking out and tried to plug it up and re-attach the hose. We finally got it reduced back to the slow drip and fortunately the neighbors didn't come back up. We quickly wiped down the walls and I changed out of my sopping wet church clothes. It was crazy... But way fun. We're going to let a plumber take care of it now:) Ha ha, I also hid from Elder King under the couch this morning. He was talking about how he used to do that to one of his old companians. It was way fun:) It reminded me of all the times I used to scare you, mom:) Good memories.
Well I better go. I love you. I hope things are all well with you at home. I am really growing to love some of these people here in good old Gyumri. It's a funny place. I understand a little more everyday, so in a month, or year, I should be doing pretty good. It's hard not being able to fully communicate with people, but I'm quite blessed. I love being a missionary. There are so many opportunities to help and serve people. I am also learning so much every day. I love learning new things. There are so many things I want to learn. Even besides the gospel, there's so much.
Well, I took up a lot of time, so I don't think I'll get to write to anyone else. I do love you though. Thank youk for sending me those things from Bryce. I'm glad he's doing well. He's going to be such a great missionary. I am so grateful for all of the many relationships I have with people. I love how every one is different. I'm so glad it's that way. I really want to be able to find out who I am, and who I can become on my mission. I will never have opportunities like I have here. Well, talk to you later.
Elder Bruce Wainwright

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Elder Wainwright with Pres. & Sister Dunn

Elder Bruce Wainwright
Armenian Yerevan POUCH Mail
P.O. Box 30150
SLC, UT 84130-0150

Friday, October 23, 2009

11 hours different

So, I believe our time here is 11 hours ahead of you, which is weird, which means you'll get this late Sunday night. That's funny. I just woke up and you are just going to bed.
They don't let us drive. That's probably a good thing for a couple reasons. For one thing, it would be dangerous. It's funny, a lot of the manholes are just left uncovered, and so it'd be really bad to fall, or drive into one. Also, I think it would be easy for missionaries to get some bad driving habits, like driving on the wrong side of the road, driving very fast on little roads, swerving around people, things like that. It's a funny system they have.
The people here are very interesting. They have a lot of good traits, as well as some not so good traits. It is really easy to make friends with them, for one thing. They like to invite us in and always offer us to eat some crackers, drink tea and things. One sad thing, is that probably 3 in 5 men have drunk in the day and you can smell it in their breath. The women, however, are rarely seen smoking or drinking. They also rarely drive as well. There are a lot of really nice dadiks and papiks (gma's & gpa's). You can just call anyone older woman "Dadik," which is just like saying grandma. A lot of people don't do a whole lot, and so they are not super happy, but they get so excited to see Americans.
Sunday was nice, sacrament meeting was really spiritual for me. I got pretty sleepy later though. Trying to translate everything in my head didn't really help. There are some really strong members, though, and the branch president is a really happy, nice guy. There's not a ton that go to church, though, which is sad. Most of the work we are doing right now is to strengthen less actives. I actually don't think we were able to meet with our three investigators this week. It was a little hectic of a week. We got a new senior couple, who are way awesome and are hard workers and pretty independent. They're finally all settled in, so we should have a more productive week this week. I learned a lot though, and I think I am becoming a little better missionary every day, which I am really just becoming a little better of a person. I know the things I learn here will affect me for the rest of my life. I really want to be able to serve the Lord and give up myself to Him always. Only as I do that am I really happy.
I finally felt like I could start to understand some of what people are saying yesterday! It's really difficult, especially because they talk pretty strange up here in Gyumri. I'm doing better though, and I'm excited to keep learning.
I got a little fever earlier this week, accompanied with an episode of the squirts. I think it was from some delicious strawberries that a family gave us after we helped them pull potatoes. I'm functioning normal now, but I'll have to watch out. It's a great place. We're probably going to visit a church or something today, so I'm excited. Thanks for all of the letters. I love you all so much. I'll talk to you later.
Elder Bruce Wainwright

I made it!

Hey Mom and Dad,
Well, I made it. It was a fun trip. A little exhausting, but I had a few nice conversations with people. I got to sit next to an Armenian family, but only really talked to them in English. My father/trainer/senior companion is way awesome. His name is Elder King. He is very funny and likes to joke around with the Armenians, which is cool. It helps me feel relaxed. He is also incredibly smart, and loves learning from grammar books, etc. It'll be awesome to learn from him, he's very helpful and positive. I'm serving in Gyumri right now with just us two and a sister companionship. The branch has some great members that we got to meet while watching conference. I am already beginning to understand these people, but they do think and act very different than we do. There is still a lot of communist influence in their culture, and many of them actually want to go back because a lot were better off. Gyumri is so amazing. This city I think was hit by the earthquake the worst, so there is a lot of destruction. Almost all the buildings are newish, but the living conditions are very poor. Our apartment is actually quite large, and there is only two of us, so it's really nice. I'm excited to learn to get to know these people better. I can surprisingly understand quite a bit for how little I know. I think. Well, I guess I am starting to be able to catch some of what is going on, and that makes it hard to participate in the lessons. I've met a few investigators already, and they're really nice. A lot of what we are doing right now is trying to strengthen the less actives and work on retention. The baptisms per month were dropped from 40 to 10 ish, so that is interesting. But, that actually helped a little with retention. There were too many new members for the branch presidents to watch over before. About 40 members show up to sacrament and there are hundreds of in actives. So the work will be a little different than normal here. I am so excited though. I am doing great. So far all the food I have eaten is amazing, but there is also some iffy things. It's fun though. The missionaries are all great. The other day we met some Jehovah’s witnesses, which was cool. Their transportations, called a mar-shoot-nee is like a van with seats in it, but sometimes there are at least twenty people inside. It's so awesome :) I don't really know what else to tell you. Today we are going to buy a few things and play around a little bit probably. Elder King loves Chess and this other game Armenians play that's like mancala. Anyway, I am doing so good. I am going to love Gyumri, I think. It's really not that bad of a place. It is very humbling, though, and I hope I can share with people the joy, peace, strength, and all the other blessings that come from this gospel. I love you. Don't have too much fun. I'll talk to you later. I don't think I'll really mail letters, they said that's quite unreliable for me. It's not bad for you, though, if you want. It did sound like we don't have pouch anymore, though, so I'm not sure about the dear elder thing. Email is really the best, though, because it's quick and reliable. Alright, talk to you later.
Elder Bruce Wainwright