Sunday, July 31, 2016

Week Nine

Dear family and friends,

The weeks are rolling by. Two months down today and I'm now done with my first transfer. The time is going by so much faster than I ever thought and it's because I am so busy. We are always on the go. It's such a good thing though because I can stay busy and keep my mind on the work.  It’s hard not to think about football though.  I'm having withdrawals from not holding a football. I used to sleep with one every night and now I haven't seen a football in months, let alone played some catch. That's hard. 

With football I'll share with you how the Lord tested my patience this week. I saw a guy here in India with a Dallas Cowboys Rugby T-Shirt on, it was Red and Black and had the Green Bay Packers players on the front and then it said American Federation of Football 1789. There is so much wrongness on that t-shirt that I almost cried. I miss Sports Center and I need some people who know what real American Football is. 

But this week was a harder week. I now know what it feels like to lose investigators and to have people cancel appointments every single day. Shiv stopped meeting with us and blocked our phone number, I guess the incident with the crazy guy last week was too much for him and it might have been for his best interest to stop meeting with us. Still he's a great guy and I know he'll have another chance to accept the gospel in a better time. The rest of our investigators are all busy during the week and can never meet with us. It's hard because the week is slow and the weekend is crazy full with people who want to meet. The biggest struggle in Dwarka right now is the less active members. The branch would be double the size it is now if everyone came too church, but people either have to work or don't want to come. It's sad because the Sabbath day is such an important day where we can find the strength to endure another week in this crazy life.
So we have been working with a lot of less active members trying to rekindle that fire they once had. The other problem we have is everyone feeds us. Everyone! They feel like they have to feed us because we are Americans and we are guests in their homes. They say that it's "their honor and duty." Sometimes the food is amazing and really good and other times it's pretty bad. The flies here are something else too. But when we eat at one house 20 minutes later we are at another eating and we try to turn them down, but they are so persistent. Good thing I'm going to the gym. I actually want to bulk up while I'm out and am trying to gain some more muscle, but that's another story.

Last night we were at Bobby's house and he wasn't there at first, but then he showed up later with a bandage on his face. The whole family said that he and his dad were "playing around and he got a cut and that his face is now swollen" but I knew in my heart and still do that his dad hit him. I feel awful for the situation he is in everyday. He is still working nonstop to provide for the family and he goes home and his dad hits him, all while he tries to go to school and meet with us to prepare for his mission. The faith that this kid has is awesome. He's definitely a lifelong friend. I'm hoping to find a way we can help their family resolve the problems that they have, when I found this out I shared with them the scripture Mosiah 18:21. It hopefully can help them become closer as a family and be knit together having love one towards another.

The spiritual message I have been pondering on sharing with you and have felt inspired to share is this. I hope it can help just one person. 

Heavenly Father knows you. He loves you and he wants you back home. I have witnessed this over and over again here in India. There are 1.2 billion people here in India. Everywhere I go I see thousands and thousands. The place is crowded, some are rich, others poor, and many absolutely homeless. But every single one of them, good or bad, is a child of God. And so are all of you. How? I can't tell you, but I know it's true. I've felt it in my heart and every time I testify of this message to my investigators and friends here in India I feel that love that the Savior has for them. It is an unreal feeling and I am so blessed to be able to share such wonderful news with these people. In a world where everyone seems to be lost and they are trying to find their way, the refuge and comfort that comes from being a Child of God is needed. Everyone needs that peace and that hope that there is something better ahead, and that without a doubt no matter how hard life gets, that someone loves them. That someone is our perfect Brother, Jesus Christ. He will never fail. There is a reason he is called Wonderful. There is a reason he is called Redeemer. Find out that reason for yourself through prayer. Ask to feel His love and then ask for the help to know that you're a Child of God. It's our most simple primary song, and it's our most simple truth. Never forget who you are, never forget your purpose, and be a good person. 

The mind cannot comprehend the things that the soul can feel. Everyone is someone special to our Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ.

Now I'm off to do some tourist stuff and go to India gate and eat nasty street food. Party! Google India Gate it should be pretty cool today.

Love you all. 

Elder Neil Armstrong

My best friends in India: Ramu, Abishek, Surya, and Sowmya
 At the gym
 Monsoon Season
Daily Smog
Water Buffalo Milk

Monday, July 25, 2016

Week Eight

Dear Family, 

Ap Kesa Ho? (How are you in Hindi) 

My new investigator Vishesh the wrestler, on the left with the red necklace and my sunburned face and nose!!!
I had a really good week and am still out here loving the mission field. The rain went away this week and I think it will be coming back sometime soon, I hope so at least. I hate the heat and I hear it's just as hot in Idaho. I am so sunburned and I can't do anything about it, the sunscreen isn't really helping. I got blisters on my nose this week and I'm trying to heal them right now because I don't want my nose looking bad my entire life. Hats are okay here so I may get an Indiana Jones hat;) Actually right after this I'm going to get some souvenirs...A Muslim prayer rug and the caps that they wear. It's going to be legit ha-ha and they're really cheap and most of the missionaries here get them just for fun. I figured I could get a prayer rug and pray on it the right way for once, maybe do some Book of Mormon study on it. I haven't had any problems with the Muslims this week, but I did find out that the relations between Muslims and Hindus wasn't like I thought. I figured they got along well but no. They hate each other. The world is seriously so against Muslims. And for the most part Hindu people really like Christians. But I guess this week somewhere in Delhi, Muslims killed a Cow and threw it in a Hindu Temple. That's a big no-no. So to get back at the Muslims, the Hindus killed a pig and threw it one of their mosques. Also a huge no-no. 

So the only problem or crazy interesting thing that happened this week was this. We got a new investigator named Shiv, and he came to English class and Church and wanted to meet last night. So after a few lessons we were waiting for him in Najafgarh at a bus stand and we were doing some invitations. We went up to a teenage kid and invited him to English class and I kid you not within a minute there were 50 to 60 people surrounding us. Some wanted to know about English class and others were just listening. Then it started creating a huge scene on the side of the road and we wanted no part of that because all of a sudden it looks like something bad is happening and it takes away from our message. Soon people were coming up and asking what the problem was. Some asked if we needed help or were being given issues, others asked if we were causing issues. So we just started to walk away and then our investigator Shiv came. We got on a E-Rickshaw and left and hoped that would be the end of it. It wasn't. One guy, who belongs to a political activist group here in India called the RSS followed us about 6 kilometers to Shiv's house. The group he belongs to is huge, especially in Mumbai and they hate both Christians and Muslims. At least that's what I've heard from other missionaries here. So he followed us so far and we knew he was going to be trouble, so I was prepared if it went down, especially after half way to Shiv's house he picked up another guy to come with him. Then at Shiv's house he stopped us and yelled at us and was saying that we were here illegally and that missionaries aren't allowed in India and he kept asking for our ID. He even got so mad and was saying that if he found us illegal that he would hold Shiv responsible. He's not going to find anything bad, but I am worried for Shiv's safety, so maybe pray for him.  He's a great guy. But the problem peaked when the guy pushed me and almost hit my companion. I about lost my cool, but I was mostly calm and trying to be a good representative of Christ. So I pointed right at his face and I told him not to dare lay his hands on me or my companion in a very stern voice. He knew I meant business. Ha-ha. We showed him all of our identification and then just walked away which is probably what we should've done in the first place, but he was determined to ruin our day. By this time it was 8 pm and we had to be home as fast as possible, especially for being a in a dangerous farm community that we had no idea was dangerous until Shiv told us. Cool. So we taught a five minute Restoration lesson, politely turned down his offer of Tea and his brother’s offer of whiskey and left. We did our best to get home on time.  It was a crazy night, but a very successful day and something to write in my journal. 

So with that I had a couple good experiences this week. We have another new investigator called Vishesh. He is the man. He is a wrestler, and that's so hard to find in India. Most of them think wrestling is WWE. We have already taught him the first three lessons and he accepted baptism, but he's waiting for his parent’s approval because he's only 17. But the guy is huge and is built like a truck. Varun got really sick this week and we couldn't meet with him it was sad. They call it the "eye flu" but I don't know how correct that is, basically both of his eyes are swollen shut and he can barely see. I feel bad for him, but he keeps praying, and he tries to read the Book of Mormon but it's too hard with being blind. Such a good kid. Bobby turned 17 on Sunday and we are going over tonight or tomorrow night to have cake with their family. 

One day this week we had some completely solid plans, but as soon as we walked out the door they all disappeared and everyone cancelled on us. It was tough and for the moment it ruined our day. But we did a lot of finding and invitations and then at the last second we got a member to have a lesson with us. Her name is Sister Angelie, she is 16 and she and her mom are members, but her dad is not. He has a solid testimony of the gospel, but for years has been trying to overcome a tobacco and alcohol addiction. When we got there he was sick with a fever, which a lot of people are having right now. We sat down on their blanketed floor and right as we were about to start the lesson the power went out which is common here.  We always have power outages, so we went up on the roof of the building with our flashlights, and shared a message about the Book of Mormon and its importance in our lives. We shared the story of the Tree of Life and the Iron rod. We used the building next to us as reference to the great and spacious building. It was awesome. We were under the stars and overlooking much of the Delhi area. It was like nothing else and the spirit was strong. At the end the father asked for a blessing, and for the third time on my mission and in my life I was able to exercise the power of the Priesthood and give a blessing for the sick and afflicted. He came to church yesterday and we are getting him the copies of the addiction recovery program the church has and hopefully we can help him. He has such strong faith, that's something that has proved to be in the majority of people here in India, is Faith. Many of them have a knowledge of Jesus Christ and they believe he was a good man, but they don't know any more than that. They believe in 1200 Gods in their religion so believing in Heavenly Father as One God who loves them, and in His Son Jesus Christ who is their brother and also loves them, naturally comes pretty easily when the Holy Ghost testifies of the Truth.

I love you guys, so much. I miss you, but the weeks are going by so fast and before I know it I'll be seeing you again soon. I've already been in India for one month and almost through my first transfer. Crazy. 

Love You All 

Helaman 5:12

Elder Neil Armstrong Out


Monday, July 18, 2016

Week Seven

Dear Mom and Dad and Family:

Sorry for emailing late today and I hope you weren't stressing about me. I'm doing great. We had a zone activity all day today. We found a basketball and tennis and soccer complex and we got the whole zone together to play and it was so fun. This week Monsoon season came and so it has been storming all week. With that comes lots and lots running sewage down the streets of India. How well must Heavenly Father know me to send me to a place that has every challenge I needed to work on in my life? I think he knows me a little too well. So yes patience has been a tough one, but I'm loving it. The grossness of this place is ridiculous. I just want to wear a hazmat suit for proselyting. Ha-ha.  

But yeah the monsoon has brought more water than I have ever seen in my life. Literally flooding the streets. And the sewage just runs with it and people bathe in it and are swimming because it's been pretty much a year since it rained last. It's a different experience. So today at the sports complex, which is outside, it was sunny and that brought so much humidity, I was drenched all day. I got sunburned and I look like a wet tomato with blonde hair at the moment. But man do I love playing basketball, I just wish it was with friends from home. But I have Elder Dusara and Elder Basil and Elder Chand. I love playing with them and we have such a good time together. They all can talk to me about my favorite sports and teams and we always can have a good time. Too bad Dusara and Basil are outside of my district. But Elder Basil is from Australia and is half Indian and is so cool. He is only one transfer ahead of me. His older brother is serving in the Bangalore mission right now and is going to be playing for BYU's basketball team when he gets home this fall. And he even at one point played against none other than Dante Exum from the Utah Jazz. So his little brother and my new friend Elder Basil is really good at basketball and is way cool. He even has the whole Aussie accent from Down Under. 

No problems at all this week with Muslims or with any crazy people. We are just doing our best to stay away from them. If we can hear them praying on their loud speakers throughout the community, or if you can see the top of the Muslim mosque we have decided that we're too close. So hopefully there won't be any problems for awhile. Sounds like everything at home seems to be going good as well. I pray for you all. I found out that if I'm not praying like 100 times a day I'm doing it wrong. So you're all included in those, and I hope that the health of all of my family gets better. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help or anyone I can pray extra for. It's the least I can do with all of the prayers I know I'm getting from home. So thank you. 

Man is the time going by fast. I can't believe I'm almost out 8 weeks or something like that. The time is seriously so blurry, but it's only because I'm having so much fun and staying so busy. I just want one hamburger and a clean glass of water from the greatest place on Earth, Marsh Valley. 

This email is going to answer a lot of questions that my grandma Norma had asked in the last letter I received from her. So grandma I hope I can answer your questions and everyone else's as well. I am receiving your letters every week, they come a little late, but that's okay because I love getting them and being able to read them before bed each night. They update me about the family and I feel so much love from them. My only problem is that I don't want you spending so much money sending them to me. I know you love me so if it ever becomes a problem you can email me and I'll be happy with that as well. And no sending money I'm a big boy I can survive here in India with only 9000 rupees! 

So yes I am keeping a journal. I haven't missed a single day yet and I don't plan on it. I love writing down my memories. I have already looked back on it and was reading about stuff in the MTC that I had already forgotten. So yeah in 50 years I'm going to love that journal. I also want to inform you about the people I'm teaching. We have two investigators on baptismal dates. I absolutely love teaching them. The first is Shiva. He is 20 years old and wants to learn so much, his drive to share the gospel is unreal. He even got us in trouble because he loves our message so much. We finished a lesson with him and he said he had some friends he wanted us to teach. We said "That's great!" and followed him down the road a ways. When he took us to the top of some building we walked into a room full of fourth graders that his brother was teaching. He wanted us to teach all of them the Restoration lesson. That was a crazy experience and we could have gotten in so much trouble teaching all those little kids about Christ in that school with all of the religions present and no parents anywhere. So we kindly invited them all to our English class and left as fast as possible. Shiva just really wants to share the messages we have shared with him and everyone loves him so he is a great referral machine. 

The second kid we have on baptismal date is Varun. He is 16 years old and loves to learn. He is an only child of a family with a deep Hindi background. He is the only one in the family who speaks English. He is taking our English course and comes with Shiva to church as well. He loves Karate and is a green belt (he even let me wear it.) and he likes to watch WWE from America and thinks that I'm John Cena. Which is crazy and that's another nickname I have. He loves to go to school and wants to become an engineer. He says that "Jesus Christ is all good things." I agree with him. He reminds me of Parker as a little brother and he is always willing to go with us to teach other people and to help us in finding. He and Shiva both found us an entire area of Roman Catholics which is absolutely unheard of here. He's a great kid and I care for him so much. I'm glad his parents trusted us and gave him permission to be baptized and to pursue what he knows is right. 

Then we have Vijay. Vijay is the man we met at the MoMo stand and has been coming to church with us. He is in his mid thirties and has a wife and a baby girl that is about 2 months old. Their family is wonderful. He should be on date for baptism very soon and I would not be surprised that once he is a member he will be the Elders Quorum President here in Dwarka. Our current Elders Quorum President and first counselor are inactive and have been for about 5 or 6 months and there still hasn't been a change. It's so bad and each week we missionaries have to teach priesthood classes and doctrine classes and if someone just doesn't show up to church we fill their place, even the sacrament meeting speakers. So we hope to get Vijay baptized because he loves the gospel and is a very responsible man who would do well with a calling. 

We also are teaching Bobby like I told you in the first couple emails. He is a less active member, but he wants to serve a mission. He finally started coming back to church lately and his family is so nice to us. His dad the "Angry Man" has been so good to us and I think he has been working to stop drinking. His mom is such a kind lady and wanted me to tell my mom that I'm in good hands. His older sister Seema has still been sick and was in the hospital a couple days this week. We gave her a blessing and it was my first time. It was a stutter filled blessing, but the spirit was so strong. She has been recovering and has resumed working two very hard jobs to help provide for the family. Then the baby girl who I know her name but couldn't spell it right if I wanted to, is awesome and is so funny when we go over for dinner. I love their family and I hope we can build a trust to be able to teach the father. It would bless their family with so much peace. 

We teach many others and the days are busy, but those are the main people who have really filled my heart. I hope you enjoyed hearing about them and I hope, for you and for them, that in the coming weeks you will see us in pure white, as they choose to follow Christ. The people here are absolutely wonderful. I was sent here for a reason. I look back on the day I opened my call and I think it may be the happiest day of my life so far. I know I am exactly where the Lord wants me. What a blessing. I have been thinking a lot lately about my opportunity to serve a mission. I kept thinking this week that I want to be changed when I get home. That I want to be a different person in two years. But that's so silly of me to think like that. I realized that that way of thinking is wrong. I want to be changed tomorrow. I want to be a different person tomorrow. I want to change continuously every day of my life until I'm the best I could possibly become. We are to repent every day of our shortcomings, it's a commandment. So if we have that many shortcomings we have plenty to change. Pick a thing each day to change and do your best to change it forever. Even if it's small. By doing this continually throughout our lives we can become the Disciples of Christ that God wants us to be. It's never too late to change, and the Atonement has been paid in full. If we were to think we could pay our own way to the Celestial Kingdom without accepting the help of our Savior that would be absolutely horrible to do with all of the love he has for us. So the way we show our acceptance of His love, is by accepting the Atonement and changing every day. Watch the video if you can find it, "His grace is sufficient" by Brad Wilcox. 

I love you all. The Savior loves you all. Please stay safe and have a good week. I'll be emailing you in 20 minutes, or at least it feels like that.

Love Elder Armstrong