We would like to share with you just how much this mission experience means to us. Not because of any of the country that we have been able to see and the rich history found therein, but because we are serving. No wonder Jesus taught us to serve. He taught by example and always by mandate. He knows what it will do for us and of course the benefits others derive from our efforts. It is all about LOVE.
We have been working with a couple since we first got here in Armenia. The father is one of the most humble men I have ever known in my life. From the first time we started teaching him he wanted to keep all of the commandments. Since November, he has not missed Sacrament Meeting but twice. One time was after his son was killed. He is so faithful and that allows the Lord to really bless him. He loves the Book of Mormon and knew it was true from the day he started to read it. He was so prepared to learn the truths of the gospel!
He had a problem with drinking and smoking, which is extremely prevalent here in this country. Nearly all men and young boys smoke. Unfortunately, in the supermarkets, (and none of them are really big) - there are rows and rows of alcoholic drinks and soft drinks and of course tons of cigarettes. The girls don’t really smoke to speak of here but the male population does. It is sad to see small boys smoking. I wonder about their lungs and health and know that it will only bring major health problems on down the road.
Back to the father - he was willing to stop smoking and drinking when told about the Word of Wisdom. He had some setbacks, but for the most part he did wonderfully. Can you imagine, with all of your families on both sides, and kids that live with them who smoke and drink and you are refusing to participate. They have many holidays and occasions where they toast and drink. When others realized he was serious, they would tempt him and tease him. But he remained strong!! We were so proud of him.
He was baptized and was so happy and felt so much peace and joy, it was so wonderful to see. His wife wasn’t quite ready and had started the lessons much later than him - and then a terrible thing happened:
I think there was mention in one of our earlier reports of the tragedy that took place in their family when they learned that their son who was just a couple of weeks from being released from the military, died from a shot in the head by another soldier - jealous over a girl. Their son was on the cell phone and not part of the argument. An unfortunate fact is that every male member of a family has to serve in the Army, and mental health or other reasons or risks for serving in an army are not determined insufficient or even check out!
It was very tragic and we mourned and cried with them. It became our tragedy too as we love this couple so much! It was so hard to witness and see their pain and not be able to speak their language, and not be able to do anything to make things better.
It was interesting to see the difference in how they were able to cope with this tribulation which was now theirs. Having been baptized and received the gift of the Holy Ghost, he was better able to find comfort and strength and a better understanding of the Plan of Salvation that gave him great comfort to draw from. The hard part for her was the fact that there is a custom here that when someone dies, you stay home by a “shrine” for forty days. It stifles efforts to try and move forward and put pieces of a broken puzzle back together again.
Elder Eyre knew how losing a loved one is and was better able to help her than I was. He knew the grieving steps that one goes through and he was able to better help the missionaries and myself try to stand beside her.
She has had a very hard time, but now that she is able to get out of the tiny little apt. they live in and get out in the sunshine etc. and come over to our house for the discussions she still needs to have, we are seeing her start to be able to smile and enjoy herself once again. She has lost some faith and trust in God she was starting to have, but we hope to help her once again realize where her son now is and how loving Heavenly Father is that he knows us, knows our pains and struggles intimately and will carry our burdens as we put them at His feet. She gave a beautiful prayer last night and stated she was happy to be with us and to feel the Spirit.
We love teaching the gospel and helping others find the truth and see the light in their eyes and the understanding that brings to them such happiness! It is a thrill. How very grateful we are for our testimonies and our increased understanding of the principles of the gospel that the Savior taught and lived!
I love my parents very much and are so grateful for the support and love they have always had for me and my children. Now as Larry and I serve here in Armenia, they are likewise supportive and know that we are sent to do an important work in building the Kingdom of God here in Armenia.
My mother just turned 90 years old June 6th. All of my siblings as well as my children and grandchildren and headed to Washington State to be there for the Open House my siblings are putting on for her. If only I could be that beautiful and gracious and loving and thoughtful and feminine and agile as she is, when I am 90! She still does aerobics three times a week. I am not talking about low impact stuff!!! She is amazing! I love her and dad immensely! It was hard to leave them but I want to share this with you - I can actually “feel” God’s protective hand over our loved ones while we are here serving and doing His work. What great “employment” with so many wonderful benefits!
We really enjoy our new office. The Church Area in Moscow told our Mission President that we needed to look like we were a Church office and not a fly-by-night organization, but that when local governments and dignitaries, reporters etc. come in they know we are not going anywhere.
Below is Elder Eyre in his old office:
The next three pictures show the workers taking down a wall between Elder Eyre's office and another little office next door to his.
Elder Eyre watching them tear down the wall and since the doors are closed to keep down the dust, the high windows allow him to still see what is going on! Maybe they closed the door so he wouldn't supervise! No, actually they were very proficient, just different than what you might see at home - not OSHA regulations...
The next three pictures, show the ALMOST finished office for Elder Eyre (so much bigger):
Here is the before and after for Sister Eyre:
We have really noticed a change since we got rid of the old and put in the new. The old mismatched furniture and worn carpet didn’t feel the same as it does now with new furniture. Even the missionaries come in and say, there is a different feel in here. It seems more like an office and it feels reverent. That is what they wanted us to achieve! I suppose it is like our homes - when we keep them up and keep them clean and orderly, there is a different “feel” to it!
These are some pictures of our sons and daughters here! At least we think of them as such and they say that we feel like their parents! At least they don't say grandparents even though we are old enough to be!! They are kind!
This was a birthday party for one of the Elders -can you tell which one is the birthday boy? He happens to be one of the Assistants to the President. He is from Othello. The Elder to his left is the other Assistant. He is from Hurricane, Utah. They both have been assistants since we have been here and have recently been assigned up north to teach and serve there. They are exceptional missionaries. We have had the privilege of teaching investigators with them many times.
We will miss them very much but also realize missionaries don't stay in the same place too long.
The other missionaries you see are wonderful missionaries whom we greatly admire! The sister on the right is from Salt Lake and is Armenian. She has such a bubbly personality and is so much fun! The sister on her left is the one that cuts my hair - she was a beautician before coming on a mission.She has just been such a fun sister to serve with. I have been on many teaching assignments with her and her companion. I have watched her grow, as she is a great missionary - learning and speaking the language very well!
We enjoy so much teaching with the missionaries. When you have to have someone translate what you are trying to say, there is a bit of trust and camaraderie that comes from that. It is not easy to say what you want to say by thinking in increments of simple language, especially when bearing testimony! But, it all works and the Lord helps all along the way.
The Elder on the right is just leaving to go home. He is from Texas. He was the tallest missionary in our mission standing at 6' 7". His new companion who has only been out a month is almost as tall. Can you imagine how that was for them in a country where the men are mostly small and less than six feet tall.
YEP, THAT'S RIGHT -
This picture shows the fun the missionaries have with each other, their personalities come out when the camera is turned on and it shows they are still boys at heart! They are so fun!
Here is a more serious picture of the four, excepting the one in the front who hardly has a serious picture. He is just so loving and so fun and is the best friend to everyone! He is also one of the best missionaries out here! He makes us laugh. He put some funny pictures on Elder Eyre's desktop of himself and his companion - the one in the yellow tie. They didn't want Elder Eyre to forget them when they got transferred. He just laughs when they come up on his screen!
We will leave you for now. We would like to share with you our experiences we had when we went to the country of Georgia for the Senior Conference. But that will have to wait until next time. But here is a hint of what was one of the neat things that happened on that trip:
IT LOOKS AND IS A BIG MAC!
I CAN'T BEGIN TO TELL YOU HOW WONDERFUL THAT WAS FOR ALL OF US TO GO THERE! EVEN THOUGH IN AMERICA MCDONALDS MAY NOT BE OUR FAVORITE - WE WERE SO VERY EXCITED TO EAT AMERICAN FOOD!!!!!
HERE WE ARE - ALL OF THE SENIOR'S HAVING A BALL!!!
AND THE PICTURE TAKER - JUST TO PROVE SHE WAS THERE TOO!:
FANCY LOOKING MCDONALDS WOULDN'T YOU SAY?
AGAIN, WE LEAVE YOU WITH WHAT WE STARTED WITH - THAT OUR EXPERIENCES HERE ARE SO MEANINGFUL TO US IN SO MANY WAYS. SURE THERE IS SOME ADVENTURE AND FUN AND THAT IS GOOD - BUT THE EVERLASTING EXPERIENCES ARE PRICELESS AND ETERNAL AND WE ARE THANKFUL EACH DAY FOR HEAVENLY FATHER SENDING US HERE TO TEACH AND TESTIFY TO THE WONDERFUL ARMENIAN PEOPLE!!!
ELDER & SISTER EYRE