Monday, August 29, 2016

Three Month Mark

Hello Family and Everyone:

Another awesome week in the mission field and I'm as happy as ever. I have so much to tell you that most of my experiences have to wait for when I get home, because I can't literally type as much as actually happens here in India. 

First, a few matters of business...

Happy Birthday today Mom. You have no idea how much I miss you, and wish I could be there for your day. Don't worry, I'm only going to miss one more of them. I miss being close with you and being able to talk to you every day, 7500 miles is quite the distance between a child and his mommy. I miss watching the Jazz games and our favorite TV shows together and eating your homemade salsa and all the other good food. I miss asking you how your day was at work and giving you the same answer of "it was okay" when you asked about my day. But most of all I miss laughing with you. I was always happy when I was laughing and joking around with you and we truly have a good friendship, I knew if I could make you laugh it would always make us both happy. The stress of everyday life was gone and we could just have a good time together. Thank you for all the sacrifices you have made for me to be here, thank you for your faith and thank you for your love. I love you mom, and I hope you have the very best day possible. Happy Birthday.

Now I want to say HECK YEAH to my Dad and my boys on the greatest football team on Earth. My Eagles whooped some Malad Dragon butt this last weekend and I couldn't be more proud of all of them. They are and always will be my brothers and family. Parker it sounds like you are playing like a stud. Keep it up man, you make me proud. Dad, you amaze me and you are doing everything you said you would do. You always taught me to have Integrity and you truly show how a man has integrity and sticks to his words. The defense sounds like they are playing well and I love that, keep running that ball. If you control the ball, you control the time, if you control the time you control the game. Coach smart, and love the kids as if they're your own family. No matter the result, if you're a family on and off the field you cannot lose. I'm still praying for the team and wearing my Eagle gear every day this season. 

Now I hope I can help you to understand something. I am so happy here in India, my life is already changing. Sooo much. But I firmly believe that I'm living in my own personal H-E-Double Hockey Sticks. Seriously everything in the world that I hate is in this giant city. It stinks like nothing else, there is dirt everywhere, there are millions of people everywhere who don't have a personal bubble. There is running sewage in the streets and sometimes dead dogs just lying around. There are just as many cows here as there are in Idaho, and they roam the streets and people treat them better than other people. There are bugs and mosquitoes and crazy things around every corner. And there are many more things I don't like, but can't remember all of them right now. And to top that all off I'm so far away from home, which was always a fear of mine. I love home. I'm positive that if I would have known two years ago I would be in India I would have passed out in fear. I would have never wanted to come. This place is everything I hate, but everything I needed. It's everything I needed in my life to become humble and understanding, to work at patience and charity, and to become a better disciple of Christ. I'm one hundred percent positive that I was called by God himself to be here in India. But not only that, to be called to the Dwarka area for my first area, and not only that, but I also believe one hundred percent that God wanted me to meet the families and people I have met. He didn't send me to India without a plan for me, he sent me with specific people I needed to come into contact with. Whether for their own benefit, or mine, or both, it doesn't matter. But I know that I was supposed to meet them and learn from them and teach them, and bring the spirit into their homes. 

I want to tell you about a family that has touched my heart completely. Last week I sent pictures with me in a home for Rahkshabandhan day, the girl in the pictures name is Sowmya. She is awesome and is preparing to serve a mission next year. She has been a completely active member ever since she was baptized and has a strong testimony. Her parents Brother and Sister Mathesu however are a little different story. Yes they were baptized and they had a testimony, but it fell hard when they got caught up in bad habits once again. The Word of Wisdom once again became a struggle, and whether they felt unworthy to go to church, or lost that fire in their hearts to follow the Savior, they fell away. They were one of the first families I met here in Dwarka, and they speak little to no English. Sowmya has been a great translator for us, but I noticed it wasn't the same when a translator was there, conveying my testimony for me, as it was in other lessons with English speakers. The spirit was there, but it wasn't the same. So I have been working hard to learn not only Hindi, but their native language of Tamil. Look it up. It's insane. I want to help them the best I can find that same desire in their hearts, and to share with them how this has changed my life. So I've had to do some work, but it's paying off. After a transfer and a half or working hard, visiting them multiple times a week, bearing testimonies and reading scriptures, bringing the spirit into their home as often as possible, to rekindle that fire that was once there to change them. Sister Mathesu started coming once again a couple weeks ago with Sowmya, and I was so happy to see her there. She calls us her kids and says we are welcome whenever we want to come. We have truly built such a strong relationship with them and it is awesome to have that when I'm so far away from my real family. Then to our surprise, we had both Brother and Sister Mathesu (Their first names are too hard to say, let alone spell) came walking in with a family. It was awesome. I was so happy to see all the hard work we put into, together as the Mathesu family and as Elders to start building that fire back up. I care for them and would do anything I needed to help this family, and many others that I have met here in Dwarka India. I know I was sent here by God to meet these people, because we needed each other. 

I just want to give you all a bit of advice. Don't ever take the temples for granted. Members here, and all of us Elders, all of the presidencies are working so hard to bring a stake to Delhi. And get on the track towards having a temple here. People save for multiple and multiple years to have money to travel to Hong Kong to see and go through the temple. In America the land is spotted with temples. In Utah there are so many and everyone, including you have such a privilege in being able to attend almost whenever it is convenient. In America we save money to go to Disneyland, and that's a sacrifice. Here in India they save so they can attend the temple, just once, in their entire lives. Don't take those blessings that others are dying to have, for granted. The temples are a Holy place, a place we need to attend more often. And always be worthy to attend. It will bless your life. 

Thanks for your love and your prayers. I'm still Always Happy. 

Go Eagles, I'm praying for you every day. 

And happy birthday mommy,

Your son Elder Armstrong
The Mathesu Family
Pollution is so bad you can look at the Sun

Monday, August 22, 2016

Week Twelve

Dear family..

Today I want to share a story with you about trials:)

Two years ago this week I went through the biggest trial of my life, I ruined my elbow and could no longer play football or wrestle the same. Yes, I know. I talk about this a lot. But none of you, except the Savior himself, and my parents, will ever know how deep the pain truly was. It wasn't elbow deep. It hit me right dead center in the heart, and everything I cared for seemed to be falling apart. I never realized at the time that this is what was leading me towards serving a mission, but it was. I now am in India, and the thought of being in India 7500 miles away preaching the gospel would have never been in my mind two years ago on that awful day, when I couldn't even push myself up off the ground. I was full of anger, as most of us are when something bad happens to us, because I was unable to see what Christ had in store for me..when I thought he was ruining my life.. he was truly giving me a chance to save it. Now I look back on those days with great love for the Savior, he saved me from falling away and choosing the wrong path. 

I was thinking about all of this while walking home one night this week. It was dark and dirty, and we had just left a less active family who fed us an amazing dinner. And the end of the lesson they shared their love for us missionaries in the best English they could pull together, and they said "please come anytime, this is your home". On the way home I couldn't help but smile. No one gets the opportunity I am getting. Very few missionaries have a mission like this one..and I love every second of it. The Savior gave me exactly the trial I needed to correct my course, and then for following Him..He has rewarded me with more joy than I ever thought would be heading my way. So on the long walk back home I hummed a few hymns in the noise of the city and thought of all the good memories in my extremely blessed life. And I realized the Savior gives us trials to help us learn and grow, it's apart of life. 

In 2 Nephi 2:2 Lehi tells his son that God will consecrate his afflictions for his gain, if we allow the Savior to help us in our trials and we aren't angry towards Him, He will make us stronger and better by allowing use to use His Endless Atonement.

These thoughts all came to me in just the right timing...when i was writing in my journal I got a phone call I had been waiting for the entire day. It was from Vishesh, my great friend and investigator. He had been with his family and was asking if he could be baptized that day. We were praying for him, the district was praying for him, and he was praying and exercising his faith stronger than ever. We all believed he was going to get a positive answer. So I was extremely excited to receive his phone call and hear the good news. But my heart completely sunk as he said hello and was in tears.. His parents not only told him no, but he was kicked out of their house and was sent back to Delhi where he has been living while he goes to school. His mom also slapped him. He was horribly upset, and I couldn't keep the tears was so sad to hear him cry over the phone and tell me that he was sorry he could not be a Mormon. 

The next day we met with him and just tried to be his friend and then we came back the next day and shared a message about having the name of Christ written on his heart. We shared with him that although he is going through a great struggle, the Savior loves him and will turn his struggles into happiness he can't imagine yet. He can still take the lessons and come to church and keep the commandments and feel the blessings, he just won't be baptized until the right timing. He seemed to respond well and after a Priesthood blessing of comfort he was determined to follow the Savior and set the example for his family. 

I love him and the people I am teaching here, we have a few people on date for baptism in the next couple of weeks and I really hope it goes as planned. This place has changed my entire life, and it all started with a bobbled snap, a scramble from the defense, and a nasty awkward landing on the football field. I couldn't lift myself up when I was down, and sometimes many of us can't. But His Redeeming Atonement and Love and Grace are always there to lift us higher than we ever thought we could go. We all have trials, its apart of life. It's apart of learning and growing and becoming like the Savior, who went through the hardest trial of all, to save us from ours. Maybe in the past we didn't get what we want, but if you notice now we are receiving many blessings from the Lord for our patience and faithfulness. He has given to us, now give back to Him. Follow Him. Use His Atonement. He will lift you higher than you thought possible...and it's a great view from up there;)

I love you all.  I love my family and friends and I love Marsh Valley.  Beat Malad this week dad.   When I wake up on Saturday morning, the first thing I will do is pray for you under those Friday night lights.  So at kickoff, know that there is a prayer being said especially for you and our team. 

Fight, fight, fight team fight.....Go Eagles Baby!!!!!!

Love Elder Armstrong

My favorite Mo Mo's

Rahkshabandhan Day in India

Monday, August 15, 2016

Week Eleven - India Independence Day

At Bobby's house with Elder Huskey 

Dear Friends and Family:

Sorry for the late email. Today is Independance Day in India and President Hodges received revelation that it was safest for our missionaries to stay in today and take it easy from the crazy city. So we have just been in our apartment all day reading scriptures and taking naps and eating food. I am loving every second of my mission and I cannot believe how fast it is going. All of my friends are now on missions and I never thought I would see this day. I actually had a pretty nice week and there wasn't anything too crazy that happened...

So with that I'll tell you some crazy stuff that has happened in the last weeks that I never told you;) The first of which is there are a ton of different people here. At a lot of the intersections there are homeless people, but of those homeless people there are what we missionaries call He/She's. Because it's a dude dressed up as a girl. So when you stop at the red light these people come up to you asking for money, and if you don't give them money they start to touch you until you get so uncomfortable that you give them money. I can't handle that. So of course my first experience with this was not cool. I wasn't about to give them money and I wasn't about to let them touch me either. So I tried not making eye contact and praying that they would leave me alone. That didn't work. This guy, or girl, whatever it prefers started to touch my leg and I lost it. I was so mad and wanted to start throwing down. But I had to keep myself together and I gave the person 10 rupees and they went on their way to the next rickshaw. Such an awful experience. It's hardest to try and remember that they are our brothers and sisters, and children of God. And to treat them in that way may be hard, but we'll be rewarded for being patient and understanding. 

Tomorrow is zone conference and Elder Funk from the Seventy Presidency is coming. I'm way excited to meet him and to learn from him. 

I don't have much time because we aren't supposed to email for very long today, but I do have a couple experiences from this week to share.

As we were walking in the heat and dust on our way to Bobby's home this week a fly about the size of a small pebble flew right into my eye. It hurt so bad and I literally could not see. Elder Huskey couldn't see where it was and didn't know how to help me. Then all of a sudden a man working in his shop on the side of the road had noticed what was happening. Without hesitation, I saw him with my good eye, run to the back of his shop to grab a mirror. He held up the mirror for me so I could get the fly out and relieve myself from awful pain. After many unsuccessful attempts and probably creating more of a problem he told me to stop and that he would get it out for me. He had really dirty hands and long finger nails, it was something I normally would not have been okay with. But being here in India I've grown to just deal with it. But anyways, he got the fly out and it was so nice. He was such a good guy and he was so willing to help me. He was waiting and looking for opportunities to serve.

Then just the other night I was at a potential investigators home and we were talking with him and his family. I complemented him on his shirt and he couldn't believe I liked his shirt. Then he proceeded to take it off and to try and give me his shirt, he seriously wanted me to have it. There is a tradition in India called "Remembrance", where you give someone one of your belongings so you will remember them. He wanted me to have his shirt and to remember him. I kindly told him that wasn't what I wanted and was just complimenting him, and he then understood. He told me that if I ever need a shirt he will give me his. 

My message this week is to be giving. Be the man with dirty hands and a mirror, ready to serve your neighbor. Be the man ready to take the shirt off your back for another in need. In Mosiah 2:17 we read that "When we are in the service of our fellow man, we are only in the service of our God" Serve the people around you and be a blessing not a burden. Make others' work light and help them feel your love. The Lord watches over us and many times cares and protects us through others actions, be the person ready to take action and help. The Savior also said "If ye have done it unto the least of these, ye have done it unto me"

Great blessings and happiness come to us as we serve, I have felt that so personally serving Him here in India. I am having the time of my life, so never worry about me. I was told before the mission to lose myself and go to work, and that's what I'm trying to do. I ask you the same thing, lose yourself and serve someone else. You'll be so happy and the Savior will bless you for blessing other peoples lives.

Love Elder Armstrong from a little Cyber Cafe in Dwarka India

 Giving certificates to some of my best students in English class. I teach so much English all the time it's like half of my calling I swear...I'm teaching two nights a week now in two different places.

Videos:  1st:  Trying to cross the street and its not rush hour.
2nd:  Walking to church, giving Elder Chand a hard time.  He will attend BYU Idaho in December.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Week Ten

Dear Family,

Another week has flown by and I hope all is well at home. I love you all.

Wow. Just wow. I absolutely am in love. I'm in love with the people. I'm in love with the country. I'm in love with the culture. I'm in love with being a missionary. I haven't been this happy in a long time. The happiest day of my life was when I opened my mission call, before that it was the football games I played the best in, or the pins I had in wrestling, or the days spent at Disneyland with family. Now it's every day. Every day is a happy day. I love it here, and I just wish you all could experience this lifestyle for a week, it changes you! Ha-ha.  

This week was good but I'll start out by telling you my struggles. Nothing too bad, at least there wasn't any crazy people this week we had to deal with. Our AC is broken and the apartment is extremely hot, last night we didn't fall asleep till about 3 am and we were literally drenched in sweat all night because it was so hot. Then we have a leak in the ceiling so water came in and now it’s humid in our apartment. This brought tons of mosquitoes and they ate me alive.  One night my feet were hanging out from under my blanket and they ate my feet alive. I ITCH EVERYWHERE. Then I got bed bugs, or some kind of bug in my mattress and I need to switch it out. My body is sunburned and itchy and bitten. Then when it rains the water is so high and we have to walk through it, and it's not just rain water, it’s also sewage. So that's like the best thing ever, but other than that it was a great week. :) 

This week we had great lessons with our investigators and they are progressing for the most part, but many of them won't come to church and it's really hard to see that because if they don't come they can't be baptized and grow. Vishesh is the most progressing and he is changing my life, I love teaching him and he would be baptized by now but his parents don't approve. So we are waiting till September 12th for him to turn 18 and then he will be able to be baptized without consent. He truly knows that this Church is for him and his faith, his prayers, and his willingness to follow Christ has changed my entire viewpoint on being a missionary. I'm so blessed. I think about all the Savior has done for us and in trying to serve Him there are struggles, but he loves us so much that even when we struggle He allows us to be blessed and changed and He allows us to grow.  

We also are teaching a girl named Shivani, I don't know if you know about her yet but she is a tough one. She's 22 and doesn't have to work at all because her family has money so she sleeps all day and skips out on appointments we have with her and doesn't really show much interest. But the lessons we have with her are amazing and the spirit is so strong I don't know how she hasn't dunked herself. Seriously though, but she is moving along faster and is really good to teach. We are teaching so many less active members, and if they would all come to church we would have a stake here so soon. 

We are getting new investigators like crazy. We did a lot of finding this week. We are meeting two Christian families in the next couple of days and that should be really good. When kids come to English class they love to learn and at the end of class when we share our optional spiritual message they love what we teach. So it's a really great way to get people to be interested and it is working so well and we help so many people learn English and then if they want, the Gospel. 

The only really big news I have this week is in November an apostle is coming, but we don't know which one. I hope it's Jeffrey R. Holland. I love that guy. 

This week went by fast and I'm not sure if there is anything that I absolutely need to share with you, but I'll share with you my current thoughts. I love the Book of Mormon, so much. It has helped me so much and it truly comes from God. I love being able to study it for hours every day and learn from it. I have witnessed multiple times people and myself praying for an answer to come from the Book of Mormon and it comes once they start reading. It brings so much peace to my life and I would ask you all at home to try and have scripture study for 5 minutes a day, by yourself and as a family. It will change your daily lives I promise. There is great power that comes from reading it and applying the things you learn from it into your daily lives. I know that because I have witnessed it first hand, people who never knew about Jesus Christ will read a page in first Nephi with us and when they say the closing prayer they are testifying of Christ. That's how powerful the Book of Mormon is. It was written for our day, and for every kindred, tongue, and people.

The Book of Mormon is more than a book. The prophets of old and Joseph Smith would not have died for a fake storybook. The pioneers would have not traveled thousands of miles, many of them dying, for a book. And I would NEVER be in India, for a book. The Book of Mormon changes lives, it helps people become closer to the Savior, and it is so true. Please read it. Please watch Jeffrey R. Holland's Testimony of The book of Mormon. Please pray to your Father in Heaven, and rely on the Atonement of Christ. 

It's a shorter email, but I love you all. I need to email some friends and family members. I hope you all have a great week.

As football season comes around, 
Go MV. Go Cougs. Go Cowboys. 

Love Elder Neil's catching on everywhere here.