Monday, April 25, 2011
Dear Mom and Dad and family,
I had a very nice Easter. Church was very spiritual for me. During personal study, I read from Jesus the Christ about Christ's death and resurrection, which helped me be prepared to remember Him throughout the day. There were nice talks in church and good lessons. What was most memerable, however, was the Easter fireside we had afterword. Right after church, we all had an easter meal together while we got ready for the fireside. It was a simple fireside, but powerful. We watched the Lamb of God video in Russian and then read portions of The Living Christ with five songs in between by our choir and missionaries. Sister Blunck and the sisters made it all happen. I was honored to conduct it and thoroughly enjoyed it but sort of messed up the last phrase, but it was very nice. The Alaverdi Branch came down to Vanadzor (which is where I have been since right after new years) to participate, so there was plenty of people. Elder Blunck invited the Vanadzor Orchestra director, Rudolf Grigorich, to come and he came. He also tuned our piano, which I found out takes about four hours! And I thought the violin was hard to tune. Speaking of, I don't even get to really use the piano because Elder Crawford and I finally got put together, so I will be going to the other Vanadzor area. He goes home in less than a month and I only have three months! That's crazy. I'm excited to serve with him. I'll miss Elder Peterson and our investigators. Ohan should be baptized soon. His interview is in two weeks. I didn't think he'd make it, but I think he will. Gevorg finally came to church. We haven't seen him for two weeks because of work. He has changed so much as well, I hope he can keep going. We found a cool family who live below our new apartment. They all have diabetes and Arakel, the dad, hasn't left the house in three years, but he got really excited when we started teaching him about Christ. We went over to wish them Happy Easter and he wants us to come back. Our land lady feeds us cake every time we go over. It's so hard to refuse Armenians. You almost have to be rude to say no. Elder Peterson and I are working on how to say no to cake:)
I love you so much. I hope you have a great week.
Elder Bruce Wainwright
Monday, April 18, 2011
Elder Peterson and I have had a pretty good week. We moved into a new apartment for its location and it's really nice. It's the nicest one I've been in, except for a few days at one in Yerevan. I'll probably stay here until the end of my mission.
We had to do some translating today for our Branch President and Senior elder Elder Blunck (He's from Santa Clara by the way), so we don't have much time. I love our Branch President. He is trying so hard to do things the right way and to help this branch go forward. He is far from perfect, as we all are, but I can see how the Lord is working through him to help this branch go forward. I love that the church is living and growing and changing all the time. We should be as well. Elder Peterson and I have some good things to work on this week, which should be good, having more efficient meetings, opening our mouths and testifying more, eating less sweets and things like that. As of right now I don't know if anyone is super close to being baptized. A less active mother of a large family of 7 kids came back to church, which was wonderful. The branch president is teaching her how the welfare system is supposed to work, and I think it will help her. Taking care of the poor in the Lord's way takes a lot of work. It's not just as simple as giving them what they need, but trying to help them become independent so they can continue to help others. Actually, I feel like that same principle applies to the gospel and our spiritual welfare. Anyway, I have gained a lot of respect for our Branch President and am grateful to be serving with him. Elder Peterson and I decided to make him some cookies and bring them to his house. When we went, his sister-in-law was there and we were able to help invite her to church. That was a nice little blessing, even though she didn't make it. Hopefully we can give her and her family another opportunity soon and invite them better.
Well, I love you. Thank you so much for caring for me and always writing. Thank you for your good examples and good advice. I hope that you have a great week. Tell dad and the family that I love them so much.
Elder Bruce Wainwright
Monday, April 11, 2011
Thank you for the nice letter. I love hearing your thoughts. I can also always feel your love in your letters. Thank you for the pictures of all the kids, too. It looks like it probably is a little chaotic. I'm sure they will love those memories of times they were together, though. I'm grateful I was able to have close contact with all of our cousins. They are some of my best friends. I agree with you in that I have at least four good examples of good parents in our immediate family, besides both grandparents and everyone else in our family.
Conference was amazing, as always. I feel like there is so much more to the talks than I was actually understanding, but I learned a lot and feel like I have found some things to work on. I actually like Elder Christofferson's talk on chastisement (if I am remembering correctly). He said that we should be looking for correction. I like that way of thinking. I think repentance should be like that, us asking for help to overcome something we don't understand or are having a hard time with. I don't know what my favorite talk would be. I also loved Elder Scott's like dad did. I think dad is a good example of a lot of the things he was talking about. Elder Scott sure loved his wife. I like how he said he will be even more in love after this time they have been seperated. Some of the focuses I saw in conference were the closeness of the second coming and need to prepare and share, the family of course, and caring for the poor. In my mind, I see caring for the poor as similar to sharing the gospel. In sharing the gospel, we teach people how to improve their relationship with heavenly father so that they can follow him for themselves and then take care of other people, but they rely on the faith of others in the beginning. In caring for the poor, we share with them something that we have (time, talents, physical labor, money) and help them learn to take care of themselves so that they can take care of their family and others as well. It's like "one eternal round." Things seem so clear while listening to the prophets.
We're moving into a smaller, but nicer apartment this week. It's closer to our area but still in the city part, so that should be nice. Elder Peterson is amazing. He's doing very well with the language. I'm trying to continue to focus on improving my language as well. It's easy to get laxed with an alright ability. I would describe Elder Peterson in one word with "bubbly." He has a kind lighthearted personality and is a hard worker. Good man. We're working on getting on time and having shorter meetings. It's hard, but I think it will make a big difference. We're also working on opening our mouths more and testifying to people more. I realized a big part of that is just being friendly so that people have an opportunity to talk to us.
We haven't seen Gevorg all week. I'm worried about him. He had grown so much. I hope we don't lose him like this. Ohan isn't doing well either. Davit came to church and seems to be doing well, but he needs to get more into the Book of Mormon. We're working with our other investigators this week as well and we started teaching a family of old investigators. It's hard to tell how things are really going this week, it was a busy week.
I'll try to get a Khorovatz recipe. It's like smoked barbeque over some coals (the best smoke comes from dried grape vines), and it's very tasty. They marinate it not in juice like we do, but in chopped onion, garlic, greens (like parsley and sillantro), thyme, and other things. Maybe just a little vinegar. That's just what I observed, but I'll ask. My favorite Armenian food is the shaurma. I think it's actually a turkish or persian food originally, but they're very good. They cook usually pork and cut it into small pieces and then wrap greens, onion, tomatoe, cucumber, or pickled things with just some mayonaise and ketchup into lavash, which is like a tortilla. I love them. The best I've had are at a place here in Vanadzor and a place in Gyumri. It's like the only fast food here. I'll have to learn how to make them before I go.
Well I must be going. Love you all so much. Take care.
Elder Bruce Wainwright
Friday, April 1, 2011
Gevorg and Ohan are doing well. I wouldn't say there has been a ton of progress since last week, but we are trying to help them to have more spiritual experiences while reading, praying, and at church. That's something that doesn't come easy I've realized. You have to work for it and also know what you are looking for. I think a big focus of the selections from Preach My Gospel that we have been learning is how to help people have spiritual experiences. Davit wasn't able to come to church this week, but he wants to quit smoking and is coming to a lot of our meetings with us. I love his happy personality, despite the hard life he has lived. Or maybe it is partly because of that.
That's sad that Brother Payne passed away. He was a great home teacher and a wonderful man. I miss listening to and playing good music. I wish I could have had my violin here with me. I'm sure it would have been handy. One of the senior couples began learning the violin before he came, so he bought a violin here and tries to play a few minutes every night. I agree that music is a wonderful way to connect to the soul. Tell Christy shnorhavor with her marraige. Or as the Armenians would say: Bari bacht (Good luck!).
Elder Frye and I had a fun week this week. He's doing very good. We had a little companion exchange, and I think that was good for him. Elder Crawford and I have to travel so much! I don't know if there has been a week where we haven't either gone to Gyumri or Yerevan. I love Elder Crawford so much. He's a good example. He has a very fun personality and he is willing to be obedient and to work very hard. He is also a thinker and is always analyzing and trying to do things better. He's not a bad rhymer and rapper as well. I basically have two companions right now, which I kind of like.
We had an interesting experience at Armine's house this week. We are trying to work with her husband, but he drinks a bit and isn't sure what he believes about this life and God. We tried to have a family home evening with them, but he was drunk and it didn't work out. He wanted to dance with us, but we decided we'd better try another time. (That should explain the picture with the man hugging Elder Frye). Suren's a good guy. I hope he can overcome his problems soon. His family wants to help him so bad.
Well, that's all I have to say, except that you are so amazing. Thank you so much for praying for me and doing so much and for having done so much for me. I hope I can better realize how blessed I am. Say hi to all the kids for me. much love,
Elder Bruce Wainwright