Armenian Time

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving 11-30-09

Sounds like you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I'm way glad. I was hoping you would. Guess what, we have actually seen "Up." It was way good, I agree. That'd be fun to see.
That's nice you got to see everyone. I'd love to see Matt's speech if I get a chance. That's so wonderful they are praying for us, I know it helps. I feel so blessed.
I'm glad Dad gets to do fun things with Gary, that makes me so happy. We've got such a wonderful family!
Our Thanksgiving was simple, but nice too. Our dinner was actually very interesting, I quite enjoyed it. The sisters wanted to have a "P" day for "Pilgrims." I think sister Fager just wanted to have pickles, though:) So since it was P-day, everything we ate started with a "P," either in Armenian or English. We had pizza (with tons of crazy toppings), peace juice, pickles, pudding, persimmons, and all sorts of "P" things. It was fun, and I was way stuffed, as it should be. While we were eating, we went around and all said what we were thankful for. Some of the things I said were: my wonderful twin brother, a world that is beautiful, relaxing music, friends that help me be better, imagination and creativity, fire and warmth, my mind, all the freedoms from living in America, and then some other silly things. Some of the other things said were: senses of humor, bright colors, sports, good parents, families, and a bunch of things I can't remember. I also said a special prayer to Heavenly Father to thank him for all the wonderful things he's blessed me with. I can't even come close to thanking Him enough, but it helps me recognize how blessed I really am.
Other than that, it was a pretty normal week. Sako's trying to quit smoking again, so we'll have to call him tonight and see how he's doing. He's a great guy. I love his nephew that's staying with him too. Well, I'm off, but I hope everything else is well with you. I agree with Bryce, that Bishops and Branch Presidents have a lot of responsibility that I never realized. I'm so grateful for this church though, and for all the good that can be done. Are you getting ready for Christmas yet? People here are starting to buy little things for their 5 day New Year's feast. That'll be interesting. Well, talk to you later. I love you so much, thanks for everything. I did get that Dear Elder in the mail you sent a while ago. Priority boxes make it pretty well. I also got a nice letter from Janet the other week, and a dear elder from Tasia, so that was nice. See ya later, Love, Elder Bruce Wainwright
Hey Mom,
It's so wonderful how Heavenly Father watches out for us. I really think he knows what he's doing:) It's so wonderful we have the spirit too, I really think we can communicate in a way through our spirits, if you know what I mean.
I've heard there's another couple coming in, I'll have to see if that's the Blaunks. We're really getting a lot here, it's great. The VanDyke couple really want to do a lot for our branch, and I think they will. One thing that I have been surprised by on my mission is how much work it is to keep everything running and functioning. Salvation is not an easy goal, I guess. We really have a good branch though, there's a lot of great people.
I keep forgetting to answer your question about piano. So far, I haven't had to play. I try and practice every once in a while though. We have a pretty self functioning branch and there's at least one pianist. Sister Fager did play once though. She's leaving this Friday, it's crazy. She's a way good missionary.
I've had one haircut here, but I might do my own next time. They have a weird style with a short cut, but longer bangs, and I'm not sure I like it:)
Here's something funny about this week: I told you about our bak, right? Where our water is stored? Every night we have to turn on the heater, so it's hot in the morning. Well, a few times we have forgot to do that, so the water was still cold in the morning. Instead of taking a cold shower, I decided to boil some water and take a sponge bath! It wasn't too bad. We have this little electric water boiler that is way nice for tea and things. It's about three times as fast as boiling water on the stove, so that's nice. It was a good experience. I've been pretty forgetful this week, though, it's not good.
Today we're in Yerevan again, but for the whole day. We get to have a sleepover at Elder White's and Lowe's place, which will be fun. I love Elder Lowe. He was in my MTC group.
Well, I hope everyone is doing all right. I'll talk to you later.

Elder Bruce Wainwright

Monday, November 23, 2009


Hey Mom,
Thanks for the letter and for everything you are thankful for. I feel so grateful, especially being away from home and being able to see how blessed my life has been. I'll do a thankful prayer this week. Besides that, I think we'll have a dinner with the sisters and senior couple on Thursday, like for Halloween. The senior couple are really great. They're trying to learn the language, which is way impressive. They can already say a couple things.

Sako hasn't been baptized. Quiting smoking was harder than he thought, as we expected. I think he'll be able to make it though. These last three days he was working to see if he could get a job. I hope it worked out for him. He's an intense man, but he's way great. He knows so much.

As far as food, there will always be something. Elder King wants to start eating more meat, chili and things. He just got over a little fever. Everyone in Gyumri seems like they're sick. It's kinda sad. We like to play Star Wars Monopoly when we get sick. It is getting pretty cold, though, and it starting snowing today! We're so excited for snow. I just got a nice looking fedora hat, or a full brimmed hat like the ones we have at home. I also got a knee lengthened wool jacket from an elder that left, and it's way warm and way classy. It was actually a little big, so I took in the back, adjusted the buttons, and am still working on fixing the pockets that the elder had ripped up. I love it though. I'll have to get a picture in it. I also have a scarf, gloves, boots, and sweaters, so I should be all set. Tell Megan thanks, for sure. Jonathan also gave me some money as well, and everyone else. I've only spent 15000 dram, or about $45. 1 dollar = 387 dram(Armenian money) right now. I'll probably have someone make me mittens and another sweater or something as well. I don't know about a Santa hat, but we actually did randomly see someone wearing one the other day.

Elder King is from Massachusetts. He's about an inch or two taller than me with blonde hair and glasses. He loves chopping wood, which we have been doing a lot lately. He also has a good imagination and dreams of doing crazy things like living underground in Alaska with elder White, his good friend.

A little about our apartment and things, we heat our apartment with a pedge, or gas heater like our fireplace. We have three big rooms, so we have to close it all off in order to heat it up our room faster. A lot of people do that here, is pretty much live in one room in the winter because it's easier to heat. Water only comes for a couple of hours every day, so we fill up a big tank called a bak (pronounced like J.S. "Bach") that looks like a fish tank and sits above our tub. There's electrical things that go into the water that we turn on every night to heat it for a shower in the morning. Then that water lasts the whole day. It's pretty neat.

Another interesting thing is our transportation. We can either walk, take a taxi (500 - 1000 dram), take a marshutni which we usually do (100 dram), or a big old slow bus (70 dram). Marshutnis are funny. They are like a skinny Astro van with about ten or eleven seats, however, we can fit about twenty people in. It's pretty squished sometimes. It's nice, though, people are really good about letting the elderly sit down. Sometimes it's hard to find something to grab and you get jostled around a little.

Anyway, I hope you have a wonderful thanksgiving. Mine will be fine. Who's all getting together? Thanks for your list of things your grateful for, it was really nice. We've got such a wonderful family. I love you. Have a great week. Let me know if you have any other questions, it's hard to know what you don't know. Talk to you later.

Elder Bruce Wainwright
Jnl 11/16/09 Mon
I am so glad that Zhirar wants to come to church with us. (Elder King has been teaching him English for three or four months. He used to be a runner. He's super nice. A great man, especially for Armenians). He really is our friend and doesn't want to lose this good friendship. He is worried about when elder King will leave. That's one thing that Elder King is really good at, is making people feel special, and being a good friend. Hamlet and Sako both feel very close to Elder King as well. That is something I need to work on, is expressing and showing how much I care about people.

Jnl 11/18/09 Wed
I've decided that one thing I want to work on in my mission is my relationship with God and the Savior. If I can go home knowing that I made those two relationships stronger than before my mission, I will feel content. I want to always be able to trust the Lord, and I want Him to always be able to trust me.
I also hope I can have a positive, productive relationship with every one of my companions as well. We should motivate each other to be better.

Jnl 11/22/09 Sun
I just had a thought yesterday. It seems like so much in my life I want to be somewhere else than where I am. I wonder why that is? It seems like no matter what I'm doing, there could be something even better that I could do. I don't want it to be that way. I want to be content. I want to always be able to make the most out of whatever situation I'm in. I also want to be able to always appreciate who I am with and try to build a good relationship with them. It's so important to cherish the moments we're given by God every day. I know he's watching over us, and every single experience we have in this life can be for our good if we let it. I'm so grateful for the life God has given to me.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A couple of journal entries

Jnl 11/11/09 Wed.

Wow, these last two days went by so fast. It really feels like our Tuesday District Meeting was this morning. I really liked our last Dist. Meeting, it was interesting. We talked about how the best way to help someone is not necesarily by simply giving them something, but by supporting them in their personal growth and work. It's better to teach a man to fish than to give him one. WE really do treasure the things we work hard for. I believe that's one reason why it's so hard to achieve salvation. I also know that it fills my soul to work hard for something and see it achieved.
We had cereal this morning! Gyumri had Russian milk for the first time in 4 months, at least our store did. It just comes in randomely and the Armenian milk tastes like the trash the cows eat, says Elder King.
The streets are so dusty right now from the dried mud after the rain. I hope it snows soon, but it doesn't seem like it will for a while. It seems like winter is so hard for people here. I don't know how they do it. Armenia is in such a bad condition. It will be wierd to go back to America where life is really so much easier to live. It seems like Armenia needs a revolution or something. They at least need to know that peace will only come through righteous living.

Jnl 11/12/09 Thurs.
What a day. I wish I was as cool as Sako. Satan really doesn't want him to go through with this baptism. He has learned so much lately, and I can see the growth and change. I really do so little in this work, it's interesting. I want to do all I can to help Sako make it through this. He said he wants to meet up sometime and show us Armenia after our missions. He has really come so far. I feel so good right now for being able to help him.

Jnl 11/14/09 Sat.
I need to remember how special a message we have for people. When I have street conversations, I should remember why I'm here and talk to them as a caring friend, and not just do it to accomplish some number or goal.

I'm so glad we are teaching Yervand the guitar (He's a blind man). That will be so great for him. It will add color to his life of darkness.


Hey Mom,
Thanks for all your letters! I liked your movie insights. [cw: from movie "Living Hope" about Dr. Slamon who did cancer research] It's so wonderful to learn from the good examples of other people. I miss watching good movies and things for that reason, because of what you can learn from them. Guess what, I hear we get to watch movies for New Years:) Everyone is drunk, pretty much, and so there's not much point in going out. Elder King and I want to see if we can watch the old Star Wars movies. We'll see how that goes. They don't have much of a Christmas here, it's mostly New Years. It's like a week of cooking frenzy. They get a ton of food ready, and at midnight they start cooking. They have a table full of food the whole week, and they go around visiting friends and eating food. The first day sounds great, but I hear the food gets old by the end of the week. At the end is Christmas, and no one has anymore money, so they don't really give gifts. That's too bad. It'll be interresting to see. It's actually coming pretty quick, that's strange.
I wanted to tell you a little about the food we eat. There's a lot of simple flour bread. It's way good, but I actually really miss wheat bread. Eggs are cheap, so we eat a lot of those, and vegetables are too. Everything has to be in season, though, so soon there will be no more vegetables. Peppers already cost like four times as much as normal, which is about quarter per kilo. I miss milk too, only every once in a while does it come here from Russia. They have really good cow bobs wrapped in lavash, which is like a huge tortilla. those are good, it's just ground beef with veggies. They're also way proud of their barbecue which is always smoked. I've had smoked pork once and it was amazing. For breakfast, I've also had a lot of oatmeal and mint tea. Besides that, they make little cole slaws, soups, and great potatoes cooked in fat. They always make you eat something when you go to their house, and tea is the cure to everything. They're funny people.
I am so glad I am starting to understand more. I've still got so far to go, but I don't feel as helpless anymore. We've started reading from the Book of Mormon together for a chapter or two without stopping to learn words, and it has been very nice. I already read so much better than before.
Besides that, I'm doing alright. Our teaching pool is still pretty small, but I got my first baptismal date this week! Sako, the preacher, has committed to be baptized, and the great thing is that his goal is marraige and recieving the priesthood. He doesn't fully understand everything, but he has learned so many precious truths from his personal study. He's really a great guy, especially as far as Armenian men go. He tried to stop smoking, but got the shakes and now he's sick. He's really got it rough right now, he almost wanted to give up his life of spirituality, but I think he'll be alright.
It rained again yesterday, which is great. It's super muddy though. What a dusty place. It's sad, there used to be lots of forests, but they have all been cut down for the old factories and things. There are actually not a lot of running factories anymore, which is too bad. It'd put a lot of people to work. Anyway, I kind of hope it snows soon. It'll be great to see everything so white. I got an amazing warm jacket from an old elder that goes to my knees. I'll be so warm this winter. Plus, I'm going to have a member make me a sweater and scarf or something.
Well, that's whats going on with me right now. A mission is not an easy thing, but I'm grateful to be here. I keep getting little flashes of memories from home, or something that would be fun to do. I'm guessing that's what home-sickness is, but it's not too bad. It actually reminds me of working long days, I would get these great ideas of fun things to do. Anyway, better go. I wanted to write more letters, but I might have to wait a week.
I got your little dear elder message, it just came through this email, actually. I don't know how or even if the pouch works anymore. I heard it didn't. Anyway, I love you so much Mom, Dad, and everyone else. I'm doing great, but I miss everyone. Have a great week.

Monday, November 9, 2009

11-5-09 through 11-9-09

Jnl 11/5/09
I just got back from splits! I went across to Vanadsor (Von-ah-d-soar) with Elder Lystrup, it was nice. I learned some good things. It feels a lot more like a city than Gyumri, even though there might be less people there than here. It's crazy, people do really talk different here than in the rest of Armenia. It felt a lot easier to understand people in Vanadsor because they use so much less slang. They do say "ah" instead of "eh" everywhere else, which is actually less correct, but it is still easier to understand. I like the feel of that city, though, I'll probably serve there someday. I also got to eat a wonderful chicken sandwich at MaxBurger. I really liked the meeting that I went to with Elder Jonas. I loved how hard he tried to talk to everyone. He seems like a great elder and tool for the Lord.

Jnl 11/7/09
The last couple of days were a little strange for me. I was starting to have little spurts of homesickness, and I just felt a little unsettled or incomplete. I was starting to feel a little helpless, like I couldn't really communicate my feelings and I wasn't helping these people change and accept Christ's gospel. While talking to Elder King, he said that this mission is really for me, and my shortcomings and weaknesses won't damn anyone else. Then, today in our meeting with Surik, I realized what my problem was. I think I was feeling stressed because I was trying to make someone else's decision for them. When I realized that, it made me feel so much better. Obviously, I can't make someone else's decision for them. My responsibility right now is just to help them make those important decisions and changes in their life by being a special witness that Christ lives and His gospel is real and works. My life experiences have proven that to me and now I need to share that with others, so they can learn the same thing for themselves.
I do know that this Gospel is true and real. I am grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who answers my prayers and who wants us all to be happy.

P.S. - We got to go see some fireworks last night at the Celebration of Gyumri Day party, or whatever it was. Almost the whole city was down there. There was actually some cool fireworks. It was nice.

Jnl 11/8/09
Well, I threw up for my first time in Armenia:) That was a rough night. I had a nice thought, though. When I am doing things for the Lord, I really have no need to fear. I really didn't want to throw up, but it wasn't that big of a deal and I really had no reason to fear. It was a stinker virus, though, I had to stay home from church and tried to sleep but wasn't too successful. I did get to play a fun game of Star Wars Monopoly with Elder King, though. That was great. I won:) It was a good game, and we got in some good abacus work. Elder King has been teaching me to count and do math on a homemade abacus. He's funny. I love Elder King, he's a wise and caring guy.
Another cool thing is that when I woke up from my stomach ache, I knew it was going to happen, so I got ready, but nothing happened. It's possible that my reluctance to throw up was keeping my body from doing so. Anyway, I simply offered a little prayer to let my body do what it needed to in order to take care of itself, and right then my throat started watering up and everything came on out. It was nice to have a simple prayer answered and to be reminded that God is aware of my needs (D&C 84:79-83). Love ya, Bruce
(In response to me asking him if he could scan in his journal entires so he didn't have to spend the time typing them--I would like I have done previous to last week) His response: "I'm not sure how I would scan my journals in. I think this is probably the simplest way for me. I think Bryce probably has only a half hour or so whereas I have about two hrs, so maybe that's why he can't write much. It does take some time for me, but it's alright. That just means my other letters will be a little skimpier. Sorry I didn't get to write you too much last time. We actually drove down to Yerevan to have dinner with the elders down there. That was nice to meet them. There really seem to be some choice missionaries serving here.
It was nice to see a little of Yerevan. It feels a lot more like America there, but I really like the people up here in Gyumri better. Elder King says they live less in a "lie" here. As in, they don't all have nice clothes and phones, but no happiness in their homes and things, if that makes sense.
Anyway, I'll write up some of my other journal entries. I love you. I hope everything is well at home and you have a nice Sabbath. Talk to you later.
(I sent Bruce a picture Lisa had emailed me where some missionaries drew pictures depicting the plan of salvation on the sidewalk with chalk in Australia (I think), any way it was called sidewalk preaching or something)Bruce's response:
Ha ha, that was an awesome picture. That's so cool. I think one purpose of this mission is to find out what skills and gifts we have, and then use them to help others come closer to Christ and to build God's kingdom on earth.
I have to tell you this, I am so excited. Elder King and I have been trying to think of how we can help the people in Gyumri develop some of their talents and skills, including problem solving skills. English class is a good service and provides a valuable skill for people here, but we have decided to start a class that will help people develop their problem solving skills. This will be done first through the construction of bottle rockets! How cool will that be? I really think it will be good for whoever comes and it will be quite fun. I hope it works out alright. It's already been approved and everything, so we're going to see if we can build a launcher today. I'll bet Bryce isn't building bottle rockets in Alaska:) Anyway, it's going to be great. What if we started a mini Science Olympiad Competition over here? Ha ha, anyway, we'll see how it goes. Thanks for your letters and thoughts. See ya.
Elder Wainwright

Monday, November 2, 2009

Journal entries 10-20- through 11-1-2009

Journal entries
Jnl 10/20/09
Today's mission conference was so great. I felt the spirit so strong. I also feel very refreshed, renewed, and ready to work for the next six weeks. I've got plenty to work on too. I'm excited. I have such a great companion to be with.

Jnl 10/21/09
This morning I had a really good personal study. I read something out of Preach My Gospel that really made me think. It said that I should leave my area better than when I found it. I really want to try and do that. It's like when Dad would tell us to leave our campsites looking better and cleaner than when we found it. Sometimes we don't really know who we help or how much we help people with things we do in our lives, but I can always put my confidence in Christ. If I build my foundation on Christ, I cannot fail.

Jnl 10/22/09
Sako (used to be a preacher in Russia) seemed to be doing pretty well today. He understands what he needs to do, I think, and he really likes the Book of Mormon. I feel such a strong spirit with him, and I really want to help him find Christ's true gospel. He already knows so much.
The work was very enjoyable for me today. We had some nice conversations, and everything worked out well. It was very spiritual. I still want to know how I can make my area better than when I found it, though.

Jnl 10/23/09
Today was really nice as well. I feel like I grow and learn a little bit every day. We are starting to get a lot of investigators it seems like. I felt a very strong spirit at old Surik's house today. He seems so prepared to be taught. I hope we can help him come closer to Christ. I was able to understand so much more as I simply focused on him and didn't worry about what I was going to say. Reminds me of D & C 88:85. I know that the promise in there is real, and the spirit will guide me in the right direction if I have charity and am sincere in my teaching.

Jnl 10/26/09
Today was crazy, but I really feel like I learned a lot. Because of today and this week, I have decided I want to try and share my love, excitement, and joy that I get from learning and creating. It really fills my heart to learn new things, and experiment with creating things. I feel like that is actually an important part of this life. We need to learn problem solving skills, for example, in order to govern our families well. I love to learn so much.
I am really excited to work with Elder King. He feels the same way I do. I think we can do much good if we put our heads together.
There is also a lot of hidden treasures in the gospel, similar to this idea, that really make life understandable and worth while. I hope I can gain a strong desire for treasuring up the words of life continually and for studying the words that ancient prophets wrote about Christ and their own life experiences.
Even though we didn't do much missionary work today while sitting waiting for the plumber to come, I feel like I learned a lot.

Jnl 10/28/09
Today was alright. It was really good to help Hasmik today, through the priesthood. I hope all works out well with her and her baby [She was sent home from her mission. Apparently she was pregnant before she left.] I love Sako so much as well. I hope he is able to accept this gospel. I know he has been prepared. I hope i can be prepared myself to be able to help him.
Today Elder King asked me how I want to be remembered in the mission. Really, I don't care. Although, I really would like to be able to make a difference in these people's lives. I want to be strong enough to always be able to make the right choice, independently if needs be. I also really want people to know that I care about them. That is something that I need to work on being able to show and express. I don't want to be lazy either. When there is a lot to do, I need to prioritize and work hard when it's hardest to.
Two other traits that I would like to have is being funny and creative. I love making people laugh, and I know how important that can be in a relationship. God wants us all to be happy. As I have said before, something that fills my soul is learning and creating new things. I would really like to develop those talents, so that I can help be more resourceful and more fully enjoy life. There are so many things that can fill my soul.
I am so grateful for my life, and I want other people to be able to feel grateful for their lives as well.

Jnl 10/30/09
People have life so hard up here. It was so sad yesterday, to help Melsida cut down her trees for firewood. She has to practically starve to support her son in the army. I hope she does alright.
Sako is having such a hard time as well, his debt is stressing him out. He is so close to being ready to be baptized, I can see the Lord has prepared him and I hope he has the courage to take this big step.
Life is just not an easy thing, but it's not supposed to be. I know that's because the gift of eternal life is so precious to Heavenly Father, and He wants us to be prepared to receive that.
The devil is so good at turning something good into a stumbling block as well, and he can really get people confused. I hope I always stay worthy of the Holy Ghost and hang on the the iron rod of the Word of God. That's the only way I'll be able to be safe in this world, and be able to stand still amongst the storms of the last days.
I'm so grateful for a loving Savior and Heavenly Father who have led me to where I am now, despite all of my weaknesses.

Jnl 10/31/09
Happy Halloween! We had a nice pumpkin dinner tonight that the sisters made. No scary stories, though, that's too bad. I did dress up as a vampire, though. It was awesome, and it only took 5 minutes to dress up. I put on my hair cutting cape backwards, ruffled up my hair, made a couple fangs out of Q-tips, and drew a little blood drip from my mouth. Then I snuck out and trick-or-treated Elder King. It was quite fun.

Jnl 11/1/09
Today was a very nice Fast Sunday. Everyone bore really nice testimonies. I really have felt a strong love for these people. I'm so grateful for that. These people live and think quite different than we do, and it could be easy to not like them for their quirks and things, but I have been blessed to have a strong love for them. I know it comes from God. There is so much to love about them as well. Their lives are quite difficult here. It is such a worry and stress just to survive for many of them, yet they are still so willing to give. I just wish they could have something to live for, like some desires or dreams in life. I think some of them do, but most of those have to do with leaving Armenia. I have been so very blessed in my life.