Monday, June 4, 2018

Final Week: Week One Hundred and Four

Well, here it is. My last email. And I have no idea how to explain my feelings.

A little over two years ago, I opened up my mission call at my grandma's house. I had a ton of friends over, my close family nearby me, all excited to see where in the world I would go. We guessed on a map and no one even came close. When I opened my call, my mom was videoing it...and when I read the words India New Delhi Mission everyone lost their minds, my mom even dropped the Ipad. I couldn't believe what I had read. When the camera was lifted back up to me, my hand was on my chest...I still remember I could barely breathe right. As I think about that time as one of the happiest moments of my life, I think that everyone there was pretty excited, nervous, or amazed about the place I was going to serve. But I didn't grab my chest, or lose my breath out of excitement. I was literally shaken by the Spirit. At that moment I knew that I was called to serve in the Lord's greatest work by God Himself and he had sent me to India, and I knew that was exactly where I needed to be. 

Later that night my parents asked me if I was ready to go to India, I said yes and I haven't looked back since. I love this country. I love the people, oh the people, they're my family...the missionaries I have served with, the people I have taught, and the members I have met and loved. I love the food, the curries, the naan's and roti's, the dosa and sambhar. I love the smells and the sights and the culture. I love the languages and the traditions and the festivals. I have loved every minute of being here, no matter how hard or challenging it has been. I have loved it! And this week I will be in tears as I lift up off of Indian soil, not exactly sure when I will return. 

In two years I have changed a lot. I have learned and grown as a man and as a disciple of the Savior. I know that the gospel is true. I know that there is a God, and that He loves us so very much. He wants us to be happy, to live good lives, to reach out and bless others, and to eventually return home to Him when He needs us there. I believe wholeheartedly in the Plan of Salvation and in this Gospel. I know that the Savior overcame both spiritual and physical death to lift us up to eternal life. I know that when we use our agency to do good, to love, and to serve each other, the Holy Ghost can be by our side to help us in our journey home. 

I'm so thankful for everything I have been given, I am thankful for this mission and how life changing it has been. I am thankful for your prayers during these two years, and I love all of you so much. 

I love you and will see you soon...

Elder Armstrong

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Week One Hundred Three

Hey guys!!

What a great week we have had here in Mumbai, India. Last night we set a family of four on a baptismal date for next month, I am so excited for them and cannot wait to see the pictures. On my mission I have had a good amount of baptisms, but I have had more experiences where I found someone on the streets, referred them to different Elders, and then they eventually got baptized. That will happen again this Sunday as a young college kid named Satyanarayan will be baptized here in Mumbai. I found him while eating dinner on the streets one night.  He was interested in learning English, but was unavailable for our weekly class each Thursday night. I asked him when he had a night off and he replied Sundays. Problem solved, you can learn English by coming to church, listening to people who speak English and are reading the Book of Mormon in English. It took him less than a week to feel something more important than learning English and he's getting baptized into a branch that already loves him. The amount of baptisms a missionary has isn't a measure of their success at all, everyone should know and understand that, but it is what we are here to do, and I love seeing people act on the gospel message of repentance. 

I have loved every minute of being a missionary and I will continue to love it in my final week as a missionary. I have one more email to write...and I will make it a good one. But I have to go to a zone activity now and eat some more vada pavs...time is running short in India...and I'm pretty sad about it.


Elder Armstrong
Trip to the Taj Mahal

Monday, May 21, 2018

Week One Hundred Two

Hello Family and Friends,

I hope and pray that all of you are doing okay and that life is treating you well. I am enjoying the last few weeks of my mission and I cannot get enough of India. I am eating as much Indian food as I can and enjoying all the sights, smells, and blessings of being in this wonderful country. 

I'm sorry I wasn't able to write last week, we had the Taj Mahal trip and I got to Skype home, but there was just no time to catch up and write a letter. The Taj Mahal was amazing and I really enjoyed it. At first it's just kind of a big marble structure, but then you walk inside and you're like "wow this is a giant marble structure!" The inside is really amazing, they have these marble flowers carved into the walls that are all multicolored and really intricate. It is way cooler when you learn the history of the building, how old it is, how long it took to build, and then that the entire thing was built just to be a tomb for the guy's wife. Pretty impressive. We had a lot of fun as a group, it's so weird to think that I met these Elders 2 years ago and now here we are, finishing strong together. 

This week as I have been pondering and thinking about my future I've also had the opportunity to think about the past. I am so extremely grateful for the wonderful people that God has placed in my life. I look at every turn of my life I have always been around the best people. From my family, especially my mom and dad, my brothers, to my best friends that I grew up with. I think of church leaders and my mission president, and all of the wonderful people here in India that have blessed my life so much. Life is tough, and one thing that makes it easier is being around people who lift you up and make it easier. You can learn a lesson from everyone you meet, whether it be good or bad. You can also be a blessing to everyone you meet, if you choose to be so. I know I would be nowhere close to this happy if I didn't have the friends and family that I do. I hope that all of us will do our best to thank those who have blessed our lives and helped us when we needed them the most, and that we will try to be that person who reaches out in love towards others. It's kinda crazy how paths cross in this earthly life, but recognizing that we all are children of our heavenly father will help us to take the time to help each other out and push each other forward.

I love this gospel, I love this church, and I know without a doubt it's true. 


Elder Armstrong

Monday, May 7, 2018

Week One Hundred One

Dear Family and Friends,

How is everyone? Things in Mumbai are going really well. The work is good and we are finding some really interested people. This week we taught a Reverend of another Christian faith, he was from Kerala, a very Christian populated place in India. He really liked the Book of Mormon and he had heard of Joseph Smith before, so we will see how it goes. 

This week I get to go back to Delhi for Stake Conference, that will be so awesome and it will be the last time I see the members I love so much in Delhi. Next Monday I will be at the Taj Mahal, and so my letter may come later next week. I am very excited for the Taj Mahal, I've been waiting for so long to go and see it and it's finally my chance. 

I don't have much time to write this week like I did last week. I have very few P days left and I have a lot of fun stuff to do. I hope everyone is doing well and that you all stay healthy. Every day I get the opportunity to teach someone about the Restoration and I can't even begin to tell you how much my testimony has grown since starting my mission. The restoration is still happening, we are apart of the dispensation of the fullness of times. I hope we all treasure our knowledge of that and do what we can to share it with others. Where much is given, much is required. Share the gospel, do family history work, be a friend, reach out, and God will bless you. We all have talents and abilities that help us bring others unto Christ in this earthly life, I invite all of you to think of your talents and abilities and use them to bless others lives.


Elder Armstrong

Monday, April 30, 2018

Twenty-Three Month Mark

Hello family and friends, 

This week was full of exciting things, just as it always has been here in India. By now I'm sure you all know that India is filled with billions of people. If you somehow still don't know that, I'll tell you as an eye-witness. It is filled with billions of people. Now you know:) This week, and every day I get to experience that while traveling to our proselyting area. In Mumbai, the traffic is very bad.  Small roads, lots of cars, and no rules. You do the math, and I end up sitting in an auto in the sun for 45 minutes just to get passed one stop light. Whether it's green, red or yellow, you can't tell because the lights are burnt out. And if by some chance they are working, Rajeev is color blind and doesn't care if you are late to an appointment. To fix this problem, we take the local trains. The advantage here is that they are always coming and going. They are also really cheap, allowing me and my companion to go halfway across the city and back for 50 cents. Sounds great, right? Well, kind of great. Because of these factors, most of the city uses the local trains. This time, no traffic as with the vehicles, but keep your bag close and your hand on your wallet, because you are literally walking through a sea of people. You thought Disneyland at Christmas was bad, try Ghatkopar local station at 6 p.m. on any given Wednesday. I always had dreams of going to play college football somewhere, but this is the closest I will ever get to the real deal. I literally duck my shoulder and storm into these trains as fast as I can, with everyone around me doing the same thing. There are no lines, or any other form of civility. We often start jumping (mostly being pushed) on and off the trains while they are still moving. At times like these, you almost have to forget the wonderful virtues of patience, humility, and kindness. It truly is very difficult to "seek after things which are praiseworthy and of good report", especially when Pradeep puts his elbow in your back and accidentally spits chewing tobacco on your shirt. After all, the work must go on, and it 's the only way to get to our area. One might say, wait for the next train. You do that, you wait all night. Each train is filled to the max for hours at a time. 

If you are really lucky you get to hang off from the side of the train out of the doors. It's cooler in the wind than the hot and sweaty inside, but you do have to dodge the other trains passing by within feet of you. Inside the train you are face to face, back to shoulder, leg to knee and mouth to ankle with everyone. This week I was so smashed into the train that my feet actually came off the ground and I was just suspended there, being held up and supported by two random old men. I almost lost my favorite shoes. Nice people they were, invited them to church as my sweat dripped onto them, and theirs onto me. It's not as bad as it sounds, we're all brothers aren't we? 

Anyways, to finally get to the point of my letter this week, one day we were traveling on these horrid trains and I looked down and my name tag was gone. My MTC name tag, the tag I have had since day one about 23 months back. I hurried and looked towards the ground to see if I could see the tag among all the feet. My companion and I, with the help of a few others looked to see if we could find it, but nothing. We finally approached our stop and I had accepted defeat, there was no possible way of finding something so small in that train full of people. We got off and went finding or tracting. As we walked I thought of all the memories of my mission associated with my tag. From the first day I had it with an orange "dork dot" on it, to the time it fell off my shirt and down a bunch of stairs and made so much noise as Elder Basil and I were trying to sneak into a building to knock doors. I thought of the times I had been scolded for wearing the Savior's name on my chest, and how proudly I would take that scolding any day. I had another tag back at the apartment, one I never wear because it's too white and pretty, I prefer the one that has roughed India from the beginning. I also have a few of my grandpa's tags, but I didn't want them to see the same fate.

So as I walked, I was sad.  My shirt felt lighter, and it seemed to be a fore shadow of things to come.   I wasn't excited. We continued to walk and talk to people, my companion having a tag that people could read and me just pointing to my shirt pocket only to nothing there. We eventually got back on those trains and made our way back to Ghatkopar later that night. I had almost come to terms with it being gone. I made fun of many of my friends here on the mission who lost their first tags, because we all know the second just isn't the same. I was guessing it was Karma, something people in India believe and have taught me all too well. But as we got off the train and started walking to get an auto, my companion Elder Ravi who I have learned to love, yelled, "Your tag!!" In one motion he jumped down onto the tracks from the platform without even looking both ways, as a silly American would have done. The tracks of the trains are almost as nasty as you can imagine. Chewing tobacco spit, and big ole rats crawling everywhere. There is trash everywhere and it is smelly, mostly because the ditches between the tracks that are supposed to be for water drainage, are filled with trash and sewage. And through all of this my companion runs and jumps over multiple tracks and picks up a name tag that reads, "Elder Armstrong The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints" As he ran back I lifted him up to the platform in amazement. He handed me my tag and I hugged him laughing as he told me "Elder, I prayed we would find it." 

To anyone who reads this letter, God is good and he is a God of miracles. Even something so small that is seemingly unimportant, as a name tag, can be found with Faith in Him and his Son. I had given up, after all, it's just a name tag, in this giant of a city, but God knew I valued it, and that made it important to Him. And thanks to a very faithful companion, who not even until the last second stopped looking, it was found. I'll never forget my time here in Mumbai, or this wonderful testimony builder. Miracles are wrought by Faith, and Miracles will never cease, unless people cease to have Faith. 

Thanks for reading my letters, I hope they help you in any way. Go Jazz. Go Jazz. Go Jazz.

Love Elder Armstrong

Monday, April 23, 2018

Week Ninety-Nine

Last Transfer of my mission is this week!  Staying in Mumbai with Elder Ravi. 

Hello family,

This week had a lot of great things happen for us here in India. But I'll start with the bad. I fell down a flight of stairs. Yes, I actually fell and tumbled down an entire flight of stairs of about 20 steps. Hurt like you can't believe. My back still hurts and I whacked my elbow about 15 times, it's my bad elbow too. We were just finding and door knocking in some building and all of a sudden my feet were no longer underneath me, but above my head. Really slippery stairs and my shoes are basically flip flops after two years of being destroyed day by day. This Indian auntie came running out so fast yelling "Bhabu bhabu bhabu" She thought it was her son that fell, but as she saw it was me you could see the sigh of relief, and then she turned around and walked away. I think that hurt more than the fall itself. No one cared, my companion laughed, and the day went on. Missionary life is awesome. 

This week we had a Prophet of God visit India. President Nelson, along with Elder Holland were wonderful to listen to. I think many of you may have heard, but they told us that the India temple was not planned until the night before. Saturday night President Nelson received the impression that India should have a temple, and the Twelve didn't even know it yet. What a powerful man who listens to every prompting. Elder Holland was awesome as always, he called us " A real mission" and said he was jealous of the experiences we were having. He should be, India is the best place on Earth. 

It was good to be back in Delhi, even for just a short day. I was able to see some friends and say goodbye to Elder Basil. I will miss him, what a great companion he was and he will do awesome things in Australia. I also got to see Bishop Massey from the Munirka ward, he is one of my favorite people I met on my mission. It was also good to have some of my favorite street food again. Mumbai doesn't have momo's or kathi rolls, so I had to gorge myself while I could. Mumbai is wonderful, and I love it more each day. But Delhi is home. That's where family is. 

Each day goes by faster than the last. The work is good and God is great, I really wish I was a better servant for Him. No matter how much I give I can never give enough and repay Him, because whenever I give He gives back more. That's His character, that's what he does. I feel closer to Him now than I ever have, and yet I have so much more to do. I hope to spend every last second trying to share this feeling with others. I am so thankful for India.

Elder Armstrong

Even India knows America is a great Country!
Saying Goodbye to Elder Basil.  Such a great companion.  
Me and Elder Basil in Delhi before he goes home to Australia 
Aakash, who we taught by Skype from Kolkatta when I was an AP was baptized by Elder Basil

Monday, April 16, 2018

Week Ninety-Eight

Hello family and friends,

This week I finally decided to give up on trying to create an American Style Hamburger. We had some pretty bad meat, and it wasn't nice to me. I am finally deciding to throw in the towel and just accept that it cannot be done. I will now wait patiently for a real American Cheeseburger. But that's pretty much how my week went, well besides finding for so many hours in the Indian sunshine. It is so hot, and humid, and I am covered in sweat from the second I get outside each morning. It's hard to even dry off after a shower, I'm just always wet. 

This week our finding efforts were very successful, but we are struggling to get people to attend sacrament meeting. For some it's a pretty big sacrifice to give up the time and money to travel to church for 3 hours on a Sunday morning, we just have to keep looking with faith for those Heavenly Father has prepared. 

Life is good here in India. This week we get to hear from the Prophet and Elder Holland who are visiting Bangalore. They will visit Bangalore and Skype all of us here in the Delhi mission. We will travel from Mumbai to Delhi to have a mission conference and then listen to President Nelson and then come back. I love being here in Mumbai, it's such a great experience, but since coming here I have realized how much I loved Delhi. It really is my home. I am excited to go back even for just a day. 

I have learned from my mission that it is so important to follow the teachings of the prophets. What a miracle it is to have a prophet in our day and to be able to receive guidance and counsel from him so easily, at the blink of an eye we can access all of their teachings and apply them in our lives. I am excited to do that this week and I hope we all make following the Prophet a pattern in our lives. President Nelson is called of God, and is the Lord's chosen servant to lead us to safety in these days. I promise you will never go astray if you follow his counsels.


Elder Armstrong