Monday, January 30, 2017

8th Month Mark

Hello Family!!

This week was such a good week and we got so much work done here in Noida! I am beginning to like serving here and there is a lot of potential for me to work with. The families are amazing and the investigators we have gained this week are great and I have high hopes for them. We have a recent convert named Priska who comes from the most humble of circumstances I have ever seen in all my time in India.  It is absolutely amazing that she knows English with very little schooling in her life.  Living in the conditions she does, at age 15 she is our most faithful girl in Young Women’s.  She always helps point us in the right direction when we are confused with addresses. We have a less active named Mary who lives about an hour outside of Noida.  We go on a wild auto ride for 30 cents to see her. She is a home chef for some big shot guy in Delhi working at an embassy and she makes the most amazing food...her favorite is Italian and promised to make us some sometime. She can't come to church due to her husband’s age and ability to get around. Joseph is his name and he speaks no English while Mary speaks multiple languages.  He tried accepting the gospel a few years ago, but he couldn’t give up smoking, so I'll be working with him to see how I can help them. Such amazing people. 

There aren’t many crazy stories from this week. Life in India is just exactly opposite from the way we live back home. Every day we go to the shop to get the food we need for breakfast and then back again for dinner. There is no bulk shopping or Costco mega deals. I miss Costco muffins. Anyways we do everything and survive day by day, which is a change. Also the days of cooking American food is just about over.  Being the only American, I kindly submit to the will of 7 other people who don’t exactly crave pizza, milkshakes, burgers, or taco bell. So it's all rice and veggies for me, but somehow they find a way to make the rice and veggies much salt, spices, and oil. 

This week was full of great experiences including taking some college kids from BYUI on exchanges with us and letting them see how the missionary work is here. They are here for scholarships or something and are having a good time. The coolest moment I think from this week was it rained! First time since August that I have felt rain or anything that wasn’t a sunny day, I miss the weather changes. In Idaho the only thing you can count on is the wind, the rest all changes every day. Here it's the same almost all year around so rain was a nice surprise. But the power went out with the rain and so all of our appointments were cancelled and nobody was outside in the rain, so we couldn't do much finding. It was a rough day and at the end I just wanted it to be over.

That night at the market we ran into a guy who of course wanted to know what the heck I was doing in India. (The Indians call me the show piece that brings others unto Christ with my white skin.) Anyways he wasn't interested at all, but he said something equally complementary and scary. He said "Wow! You paid for your own way to come to India to live for two years and help people learn English and teach about God? Glad to know there are people still like you in this world." That hit me pretty hard because I could feel how frustrated he was with the world and how terrible things have become. I just want to remind you that the world is a big scary place! There is a lot of sin and a lot of really selfish people in the world. It's sad that it's a surprise to find someone trying to do well. These truly are the last days, but we can’t give up. Just like Mother Teresa said when her good works went by with people doubting her effectiveness. She said, "What we do is just a drop in the ocean, but if we didn't do what we do, the ocean would be one drop less." 

Don't ever stop striving to be good. Do your best to help the world and those around you. And please with all of my heart; do not let the Patriots get another Super Bowl win. 

Also a big shout out to my parents for hitting their 24 year anniversary. Amazing examples and you both mean so much to me. I love you guys and I am excited for the next 24. Also, Happy Birthday to my dad, still the greatest coach in the world! Love you!


 Elder Armstrong a.k.a. Paleface a.k.a. White skin a.k.a. Captain with Indians is crazy.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Week Thirty-Four & My 1st Transfer

Hey family, I'm in India. It was more apparent than ever this week. So many crazy things to tell you. 

So this week I was transferred to a place called Noida, the hardest area to serve in the Delhi mission. Noida is just across the Yamuna River, which is just like the difference of Baltimore and Washington D.C. So I'm technically out of Delhi and I was called to be the District Leader. My new companions are Elder Sigamani and Elder Sirimisetti, they are 21 and 26 years old and between the two of them they speak 12 languages. They are both pretty cool and I am the only American in our apartment with 6 Indian missionaries. We serve in a tri-companionship when we go out.  Everyone in the apartment combined speaks 19 different languages. The bathroom is gross, the kitchen is worse, but I have no choice I guess. The water here is extremely bad. It's so bad that one of my responsibilities is to order clean water each week that a kid on a mo-ped brings to our door. The mission had to change the filters on our purifiers too many times and this is the cheaper option. But we still get the wonderful experience of showering in that dirty water. But it doesn't look dirty, it looks pretty clean. The thing that gets me is the smell...the water smells bad...I don't know where it's coming from...but it's not a happy place. 

Noida is a tough place to serve though mostly because of the missionary work here being slightly impossible. Everyone we talk to on the streets yells at us or rejects us and it's been that way for a long time. They haven't had a baptism in months and even when President Hodges came on an exchange here they went "finding" and when he invited a guy to learn more, he put his finger in President Hodges face and was threatening him. The crime rate here is higher because it's not as protected as Delhi because Delhi is the capital city. I don't wear a nametag when I'm out proselyting in the streets and the Indians take theirs off at night time. They even made me throw on one of their sweaters my first day here because they said, "Hey macha, your white American skin is going to get us in trouble, put this on rah." Apparently my farmer tan arms draw too much bad attention. Some elders got robbed at 11:00am in the morning...and they were Indian. 

The branch here had 18 members show up on Sunday and we also had some Americans here for the weekend on business. To be an actual branch you need to have 15 Melchizidek Priesthood holders. So we have that, but we are only able to contact 8 of them and only 5 of those 8 are active members. Each week one missionary speaks in sacrament. I spoke yesterday.  I teach Sunday school and once a month I will teach Elders Quorum. There are no young men so we do the entire sacrament and basically we do everything, but the people who are active work hard to help and they have amazing faith. I would have never wanted to come to church if it only had 10 other people and I had no friends there, so to stay active in a branch this small is a testimony builder to me and a reminder that I have it so lucky back in Idaho.  I am the District Leader of the seven Elders in my apartment and the branch...if anything goes bad at the branch I'm the acting leader...if one week no one shows up to sacrament...i have to conduct the meeting. About 3 months ago a missionary was the first counselor in the branch we're trying to make sure that doesn't happen again.

One experience that I would like to share with you. My first night here we went to get chicken and after walking to the shop and asking for 2 kg's of chicken we sat there watching a Tamil movie on a small little 8 inch TV. The guy grabbed a chicken out of a large 55 gallon burn barrel type of thing and slit its throat and dropped it back in to bleed out. Then we watched him strip the feathers off and cut it up and I got blood everywhere on my clothes because he was chopping it like some kind of ninja. Then as we took the steaming fresh chicken home to eat, I grabbed myself a fresh apple from the market and a bottle of Thums Up (Indian Pepsi) we witnessed a lady get robbed and before we could do anything the guy was gone into the crowd of people. 

Sorry for the crazy email...I hope you like it. Life here is crazy and everyday I think it can't get any crazier...and then it does. My right hand is my fork and my left hand is my toilet paper. It's gross but it's true. BUT the craziest thing ever, I love it here. I absolutely love it AND I think I'll always be surprised by that feeling, because that's not regular Preston. The Lord definitely has helped me so much!  I don't feel like a good enough missionary to be here, but the Lord doesn't call the qualified, he qualifies the called. For the next 16 months this is my home, and it's going to kill me to leave. 

All I have to share for today is that I've learned to not be selfish more than anything on my mission. I remember my first week here I was Skype teaching a Nepali family with the assistants and all I could do was look at the small picture of me in the bottom corner of the screen to check my hair. It's seven months later and all I can say is that it's bigger than me. It's bigger than any one of us. We can't be selfish when others need help, that's not how the gospel works. 

I love you all and would send some pictures but these computers have so many viruses I have to find another way to send them or else I'll lose them all. 

Elder Armstrong

Monday, January 16, 2017

Week Thirty-Three

Hello Family,

I'm really sad right now because I just got the news about the Cowboys game. There's always another year I guess...maybe they’re waiting for me to get back home. A last second field goal loss in the playoffs isn't a bad way to end your season when you’re being led by rookies. Proud of my team, now I'm looking forward to a Jazz Championship run. Never Doubt. 

This week was a normal week of proselyting and teaching and helping. We are doing so much work trying to finalize everything here in Delhi to become a stake here in the next few months. We received some great news that Elder Funk and Elder Evans of the Asia Area Presidency, Linda K. Burton the General Relief Society President, and Bonnie H. Cordon, second counselor of the General Primary Presidency will be here next month. They will be here to provide training for the members to strengthen them before we have a stake, but we will be helping them do that and we will also have a missionary meeting with them which will be so cool. We are excited for everything happening here in Delhi. 

Transfers are this week and more likely than not I will be in a new area next week. Dwarka has been great and I love it here, I love the branch and the people, but a new area will be an exciting thing to see. I wanted to leave every area I served better than the way I found it, and there have been many hours put into helping, so I think I accomplished my goal. And if I stay, I'm ready to put in more work. 

This week I was thinking a lot about Discipline. You can't really find a good scripture with Discipline in it but it's a very important in anyone’s life. Discipline is the ability to control yourself and do the things that aren't the easiest, but are for your own good. It's never easy to get over bad habits, or fulfill a calling in church, or to work out and exercise. There are things in life that are a struggle to do, even when they are for our own best interest. We want to do them, we want to be that person, but we have to discipline ourselves, because it is not easy. Growing up I had to discipline myself to be better every day at my sports. Killing myself in wrestling season to get every ounce of weight off of me. Running in the mornings with hoodies on and running all night at the school because I was trying to drop an entire weight class over night before a tournament the next day. I lived for wrestling and I wanted to win so bad, but it took discipline to get there. I want to be a good missionary, and in the future a good father and husband, but it takes discipline to get there. Every good disciple is disciplined. Whatever you want in life that is good for you doesn't always come easy, but the pain of Discipline is far less than the pain of regret. 
Armstrong in PunJabi

Love you all. Cowboys Forever. 

Elder Armstrong

Monday, January 9, 2017

Week Thirty-two

Dear Family? What's up??

This week was great and there was a lot that was going on. I just got back from a zone activity where we played soccer and that was pretty fun and Elder Dusara showed up with an American football that was shipped to him. It was the first time I have touched a football in 8 months, which was pretty amazing for a kid who used to sleep with one in his arms every night. All the Indians called it a papaya and didn't understand what we were doing, but we had the time of our lives. It's been exactly 2 years since my elbow surgery to the day. And today I threw a football with absolutely no pain and no problem and it felt so good. Such a blessing to have that surgery and thanks again to my parents for making it possible for me to throw a football. 

This week we had a baptism, but you haven't heard of him. His name is Rahul Kerala, but he wasn't taught by us. He lives about two hours outside of Delhi and was taught over the internet by on-line missionaries because where he lives there is no church. He will travel as often as possible to church but to make the trip every week will be a challenge. The gospel never seizes to amaze me, even where there is no church, the church is finding the souls who are prepared to receive the gospel. There is a lot of faith in a man like that, I had a five minute drive to church and I didn't want to go most days growing up. 

Sounds like there is a lot of snow and a lot of cold in Idaho just stay safe and warm and watch the Cowboys beat the Packers this week. I will be excited to hear the news about the game. I hope you all cheer extremely loud for me, I mean it's America's Team;) You gotta love the Cowboys.

This week I wanted to share something that I have learned on my mission that has been life changing. It is extremely important not to judge someone. Too often in life we judge people unrighteously and we get the wrong impression. We are commanded to not judge people and to accept them as they are. We are supposed to make righteous judgments. So what is the difference? I'll give an example of both. A father has every right to not let his daughter go on a date with a guy who shows up at the door and is smoking a cigarette and is being disrespectful or doing any other thing that makes the father uncomfortable. Not that the person is bad, his actions are just not the influence he wants for his daughter. That's a righteous judgment. An unrighteous judgment is being in India and assuming that every Muslim is a terrorists or a bad person, or if a man has a turban on his head he is some kind of animal that is responsible for 9-11. When in reality if he has a turban on his head he is from the Sikh religion and is most likely the most intelligent and genuine person you will ever meet. I love Sikh people, they easily are my favorite people in India and if I was acting like a child and judging them off of what twitter said then I would never truly know who they are. Too often in life we judge a book by its cover. The Savior took everyone in and he will always love us. We need to do a better job of following his example and judging righteously, and loving everyone.
Rahul Karela, taught by online missionaries

"Pure Christ like love, flowing from true righteousness can change the world."-Jeffery R. Holland

How bout them Cowboys! 

Love your favorite,

Elder Armstrong