Sunday, January 1, 2012

What is our assignment here?

Well, Christmas may be over there but not here.  People are frantically running around trying to get ready for the celebration that they have this time of year.  They exchange presents on January 6th.  That is when they believe Christ was born.  But, at midnight on New Year's eve they begin a celebration that lasts for about 13 days.  Because today is New Year's eve and it all hasn't started yet, I cannot fully comment on what happens.  So that will be for another time!  I can just tell you that the super markets are full of people and there is meat, produce and bread being bought everywhere.

They don't just have big super markets here and there like in America, but rather they have meat markets, fish markets, vegetable markets, variety markets EVERYWHERE.  As you walk down the streets of the city of Yerevan, you will pass by many many stores of those kind.  In the meat markets you will see piles of cow legs, which is very popular here for making a traditional winter meal for celebration time.  I will explain that later also.  I didn't buy one, in case you want to know.  In fact, I didn't spend very much time looking at it!

So, on this blog, we want to spend time letting you know what our specific assignments are here in this mission.  We will also share some pictures of the Christmas and New Year's activities that we had here in the mission.  So, here goes:

On Christmas Eve, we met together as a mission gathering (at least for all missionaries in Armenia).  We were unable to get the Georgian missionaries to meet at the same time.  They have to travel 11 hours by train to get here.  The Mission President went up to Georgia the week before and had a Christmas party with them then.

At our gathering we first sang Christmas carols together and in groups:

 Elder Eyre loves singing, as is evident by the fact that he wasn't moving his mouth!  
The Elder second from the right is singing from words on his iPhone, he is NOT texting.  From the left is the Mission President - President Carter, Elder Eyre, Elder Griffiths (who is MLS missionaries which means Mission Leader Support), a young missionary - Elder Hall, Elder Rich (Humanitarian missionary), Elder Loveridge (Area Auditor).

Here is evident that Sister Eyre loves singing!  From left is Sister Griffiths, Sister Carter, Sister Rich, ME (with my mouth open, which you do when you sing), Sister Watkins (Employment missionary), Sister Loveridge.

After singing, we had some Armenian food that was catered by a branch member who works at a restaurant.  They eat a lot of meat on skewers, eggplant, potatoes, etc.  It was interesting.  The senior couples brought dessert.  Because it is difficult to find brown sugar, no cake mixes, chocolate chips, spices you would normally use for desserts, it is hard to make desserts you are use to.  I decided to make apple crisp (I do have some brown sugar in the cupboard that the lady I replaced had here that was shipped from home).

We then sat around in a big circle and exchanged white elephant gifts.  After that we had a talent show:

 This is Sister Burnham and Sister Bailey doing a take on Paul Deen.  It was hilarious!!
 This is Elder and Elder doing a skit from Abbot & Costello "Who's on second".  They did great!

 Here is a picture of all sister missionaries in our mission.  Young and not quite young!  They are all so wonderful!

Here are some Elders having fun!

 Two days before the Assistants to the President (who were in charge of the Christmas party) asked what we were doing.  I said, well I would love to but I didn't bring my ukelele.  They lit up and said, "we can get one" - and they did!  One of the elder's mother sent one to him!  I was shocked!  I told Elder Eyre I would sing if he would dance and he did!  We had fun.  Here are some pictures:
I sang a fun Samoan song and then a couple of Maori songs and Larry did a Maori dance, then called up the Assistants to the President to help him!

 On Christmas day it was Elder Eyre and myself with three sets of missionaries (our District)- the Assistants to the President are one of the sets.  One other set joined us later. The sisters fixed the potato and chicken soup.  One of the Elders made the twist rolls. We brought the dessert.  Here we are eating:

 After eating, we sat around the Christmas tree (which is in the Mission office) and they opened their Christmas presents that they received from home!
 The cutie sisters gave us this box of chocolates

Here they are opening presents.  We felt like we were home with all of our children, watching them open presents.  The only thing different is we didn't buy the presents and they weren't our children!  But it was enjoyable for us.  It was fun!

 Here is Sister Tolman (one of my "daughters") and Sister Eyre
 This is Elder Gerber (one of the Assistants) who is from.......drum roll........Othello!
 One of the Elders received a fun gift from home, which he shared!!
 This is Sister Boyle!!
 Opening presents!
We gave them a copy of "The Man Who Missed Christmas" and they were reading it while I was reading it to them!  Just like I have through the years for my kids!

That was our Christmas.  We missed home and our families but we got to Skype them and see our children and grandkids and that was very special to us.  More than that, the occasion that we celebrate was very special to us this year.  We didn't have decorations or exchange gifts but rather we tried to make it a different year than any other and celebrate fully the reason that we remember the Savior and why He came to earth and what He did for mankind.  We love Him and we are happy to serve his missionaries here as they spread the gospel throughout this land.

Lastly, we want to share with you what we do every day in the Mission here.  Sister Eyre speaking here:

I have a room next to the Mission President's office.  These two chairs is the view from my desk.

Here I am at my desk....

First thing in the morning I read the mission emails first to see if there is emails that I need to address.  Like from the President, with an assignment or project to do.  There are other emails that pertain to what I do that I also have to read and do something with. 

I keep track of all the missionaries, the transfers, phone numbers and addresses, incoming and outgoing missionaries and all the paperwork that goes with that. (Welcome letters when Salt Lake lets us know who has just been called), I have to assemble booklets for them to take home or receive when they arrive.  Get out supplies for missionaries, order supplies for missionaries.  I do mission calendars for all the missionaries, type up Newsletters each month for all the missionaries, make appointments for the President sometimes (he does a lot of those himself), monthly reports, yearly reports, baptism logs, phone and address directories for all missionaries after transfers.  I email water filter schedules (for all missionary apartments) and reminders, log and prepare all paperwork for Armenian missionaries that leave from here, order and dispense garments for the Armenian branch members, order badges for all missionaries, contact the MTC with flight instructions within the week that a  missionary will be arriving in Armenia.  I am sure it is getting boring and so I must stop, but I could go on and on.  I am extremely busy each day, but I love it!

Here is the missionary board in my office:

Elder Eyre speaking here:  I am the Mission Financial Secretary which carries with it the responsibilities of keeping the young Elders and Sister funded so they can pay their rent and utilities and other expenses. Here I am at my desk:

As this is a cash only economy I deal with a cash box as well as funding their debit cards.  We must draw cash through the ATM machines and so I have lots of bookkeeping and by me, not being much of a financial person.  It has been a steep learning curve and when I'm not dealing with money I also handle all keys for all of the church buildings throughout Armenia, all of the missionary apartments as well as for the Mission office building.  I am the answer man for anything and everything that comes up with the missionaries and I don't even speak Armenian.  Fortunately there are a couple of Armenian church employees in the mission office who I can call upon for translation.  I also dispatch the one and only mission van we have to assist in transfers and moving the missionaries between the cities and villages.  I still have a lot to learn but this gives you an idea of what I do each day.

Here is another picture in the main part of the office.  This couch and the two chairs in my office are a matching set we just bought.  We are upgrading and so sooner or later you will see new carpet and new desks in our offices.

We just finished celebrating New Years.  Here are a few photos of our Arabkir District missionaries which we are a part of who celebrated at our apartment today after church.  We ate dinner and by suggestion and approval from the Mission President we watched "It's a Wonderful Life" with Jimmy Stewart.  What a great message.  It was fun.  Here is our group minus the photography who happens to be happier at taking the picture than being in it:

One of the Elders made this pot of soup which is Russian Borsch.  It was good unless you don't like beets!

Guess what?  We are getting a new missionary in July who is from Kennewick.  Her name is Sharlee Robles.  Anyone know her or the family?  Cool!

We want you to know that we love you all.  We appreciate the prayers and thoughts and messages that are sent on behalf of us.  We really do!  May the Lord bless each of you throughout this new year.  We are happy to serve the Lord here and we want especially our families and grandchildren to know that being here away and so far is not easy.  But, we love the Lord and we choose to serve Him in whatever capacity that we can and wherever He needs us to.  We realize more and more just how important the work is that we are doing and that the mission could not function well without the work that we do.  It is important so that the Elders and Sisters can do the work they are called to do.  We love the opportunities to testify of the Savior and of the truthfulness of this Church and the gospel of Jesus Christ and what it has done for us in our lives.  The Spirit that accompanies the missionaries as they teach and testify is a sweet experience that we treasure.

Again, we love you and we wish you a Happy New Year for 2012!

Elder and Sister Eyre

1 comment:

  1. Hi Guys! So good to hear from you. I keep thinking I will start a blog - just not today. How complicated is it?

    I love your pictures and comments. I'm glad we can keep track of each other. Take care. Jody Packard