Monday, February 27, 2017

Nine Month Mark

Hey guys,

Another good week down here in Noida where we work hard all day and then come home and I wear Lungi's, make Indian food, and spend my night trying to learn Hindi and Tellegu while beating everyone in my apartment in chess. Transfers are coming up this week. This has been probably the fastest transfer since the start of my mission, even though it has easily been the toughest. They always said if you want your mission to go fast then get to work, but I don't want it to go this fast. Ha-ha. I just wish so much you could all be here with me and experience the things I am experiencing. I have been surprised, grossed out, scared, and happy, over and over again for 9 months. And it never gets old, I really don't want to come home, I just want home to come here sometimes. 

This week I don’t have much crazy news or anything. I sent some pictures home finally, so I hope you can all see those on the blog. We gave Meenuka the Holy Ghost yesterday and she gave us a referral this week and they are now on date for baptism. Noida is really coming a long way and we are excited for our small branch that hasn't had many baptisms in the past year.

I just want you all to know that Love is an amazing thing.  That's a life lesson I still need to understand better, but have learned so much about here in India. The Love that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have for us, the love our leaders have for us, and the love our family and friends have for us, and in all of those cases the love we have for them, is an amazing thing. Love is something that makes everything better and true love never fails. My favorite scripture about love is the entire chapter of 1 John Chapter 4. And my favorite verse in that chapter is verse 18, it says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that hath fear is not made perfect in love.”

Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have perfect love, it is unfailing and Eternal. And if we have perfect love no matter what, we will not fear, but we will be Faithful and full of hope because perfect love casts fear away. 

This week I was walking and doing some street contacting and I noticed this one particular homeless woman. She was different, but obviously homeless and in need of help in any way. She had her infant baby, completely naked lying on her lap on a small blanket in the hot sun. But that's not why she was different, she was different because she was happy. She wasn't begging and I wouldn't have been able to give anything if she was. But she was playing with her baby and smiling, and laughing when the baby laughed, just like any good mother. I don't know if she had perfect love, I doubt it because no one is perfect, but she was pretty dang close. Given her circumstances, she could have been bitter and upset.  She could have neglected her baby, or maybe even been fearful of her future, but she wasn't. She was loving and hopeful, and she was caring no matter what the condition. And it touched me pretty deeply. I need to be more loving no matter the occasion or trial, no matter the problem or unwelcomed difficulty. I can be more loving. I want perfect love, and it may take us all until Eternity to get that perfect love, but the time to start trying is today. 

I love you!

Elder Armstrong

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Week Thirty-Eight

Hello Family,

Hello from the craziest place in the world, where another week just seemed to go bye in the blink of an eye. I usually start with the craziest things that happened in my life during the here goes nothing. 

I just ran through a misty waterfall coming from an unknown destination about five stories up when walking through the alley way that gets you to the cyber. I don't know what was in that water, but I want to go home and shower as fast as possible because I smell like you wouldn't believe, but even my water smells bad. I don't know what to do. Then we had a baptism yesterday that was almost postponed! The font is on the roof of the building and the trees next to the church had a bunch of baby monkeys in them.  The mother was very angry when she saw us close by. Never thought I would say that happened on my mission. Then the funniest thing ever happened. We were coming home one night at like 9:45pm from an appointment and we got an auto ride, but the driver was way more drunk than we initially thought. They are always drunk, but this guy was hammered. Anyways he couldn't believe he was driving an American in his auto and we eventually had to take the wheel from him because our lives were in danger. Then as we were driving we convinced him that I would dance at his wedding!  It was hilarious and I haven't laughed so hard in a long time. Anyways, he was a good guy!  We gave him his money and handed him over to some other auto drivers that wouldn’t let him drive anymore that night. I love India.

Anyways the biggest news from this week was the baptism of Meenuka. She is seriously so great. She has been my first investigator that you could just tell wanted to find the truth. She has searched her whole life and after two baptisms and hours of studying the Bible and other literature, she found us. She had her 3rd and final baptism yesterday and now has everything she has ever wanted. She is already in Mosiah in the Book of Mormon and calls us every day with questions and we love to answer them. She was freaking out when she downloaded the Gospel Library App so she can read the scriptures in the metro on the way to University. She just has such a desire to learn about the gospel, I've never seen anything like it. In her testimony yesterday she simply said "I've searched for a long time for the truth, because it's important to know the truth, and I found it”. You can't imagine how happy my companions and I were...this is huge for Noida and for her and us. Extremely excited! 

This week I was thinking about how fast time has gone on my mission. I was thinking about how much I've experienced in such a short time, how much I've learned and how much I've grown. The Savior doesn't need me for this work, he could do it all himself. I'm useless honestly. But he has given me this opportunity to serve a mission, help others, and feel the joy of the gospel. In a bigger picture Heavenly Father has given us this Plan of Happiness.  He has given us something so special. Time! Everyone has time, but how we spend that time depends on us, and how much time we get is up to God. Are we using our time wisely? Are we doing good? Are we trying to become closer to our Savior? We only have so much time to do the things we need to do. I say all the time that I have 2 years...and it's less than that now. I don't want to go home and regret for the rest of my life that I didn't use my time wisely, and in the bigger picture I don't want to be in the next life looking back with regrets of how I took advantage of my opportunities. The Lord said "Cease to be idle". So I hope we don't miss our chances here on Earth to do good. You can change and you can do things that will change your life.

Do something worthwhile this week. Set goals and beat them. Read the Book of Mormon. Be a good person. It always pays off in the end.

Love Elder Armstrong (Go Jazz!) 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Week Thirty-Seven

Hello from Noida!

This week was a good one and we have a lot of good things going for us here! Like at the shop outside of our apartment you can get milk in the unpasteurized bag like I usually get or you can pull a lever and it comes out into a bucket like a soda fountain, both are great options! This week we stayed out until 10:00pm like our schedule allows us to and when we were walking home we got yelled at by people in some alley way, so we decided we better only stay out and go to appointments that late in safer areas, which is anywhere within 20 feet of the apartment haha;) Oh, and Doritos are now in India, but are a $1.50 for a small bag, so that's a sacrifice, but sacrifice does bring blessings, so I'll be buying some! 

We will also be having a baptism this week for Meenuka! We are really excited for her and so is she. She had everything she needed when she found out baptisms for the dead and eternal families are possible through the temple. She lost her father and is excited to learn more about the Restored Gospel and what it means for families. She is great and I will get you a picture sometime this week! The gospel has really changed her life and you can see how happy she is at church. We are teaching a family, but I can't pronounce their last name so I don't dare spell it. They are awesome and if we can help them get to church they will definitely be baptized.  They have great testimonies and are such wonderful people, just difficulties getting to church. Their two kids are 13 and 16 and they are so fun to teach and be with. I have high hopes for them and they are very good friends.

We also had our Mission Conference with the General Authorities. I really liked President Funk and Sister Burton, they were awesome and they gave great training. I got to see Elder Openshaw again which was great after living with only Indians. I love the Indians and they love me, but I need someone who can talk football and sports with me. Also, he had a football and we got to toss it a little at lunch, such a blessing.

Sister Burton gave such a great training this week and I feel I should relay the message. She had a missionary cut an apple up and count the seeds. There were 12. And she said, "You can count the seeds in an apple, but you can't count the apples in a seed." Then she asked how many of the missionaries were first generation saints. And almost everyone raised their hands, 76% of our missionaries in the entire mission being first generation saints. She said "You are so important. You have no idea how much we are praying and hoping for you to stay strong." You see, my companions and missionary friends are the pioneers of India, and they are the seeds in that apple. They have a very important future. It's because of people like them that I have such a blessed life. My ancestors way back when, did the exact same thing my friends in India are doing today. And without those people who first made those choices and stayed strong, generations can be changed. But we are important too, even if we aren't first generation Saints taking those first crucial steps of faith.

There was a study done by the church and family history people and they realized that when one member in the past fell off the straight and narrow and became inactive, about 6 generations later his entire posterity was lost, about 3 thousand people. 

Our decisions impact our families and our future, we impact the lives of others by the choices we make today. Make good choices. Stay strong in the gospel. It will bring so much happiness and help your family for generations. You are important to our Heavenly Father, don't lose sight of that.

Love Elder Armstrong

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Recent Pictures


Preston was able to email a few pictures because he was at the church and could email them without sending any viruses that normally would come from the Internet Cafe.

BYU Idaho students visiting India emailed this picture to the Elders with the message:

Hey  Elders, Thanks for letting us come out with you! We really enjoyed it. You are doing the greatest work there is. It was a privilege to join you for a short few hours!

Elder Openshaw received a football for Christmas

Looking out from an underpass!
He has no idea who the Cowboys are but I will take it!

Our P-Day trip to Akshardham.  No cameras are allowed any closer than this.  Way Awesome!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Week Thirty-Six

Hey Family,

This week was a crazy one. It was very hard and I have a lot of work to do. Noida is a great branch and there are great people here, but there are things they just need help with. Yesterday they forgot to say an opening prayer in Sacrament meeting and the Sacrament hymn wasn't a Sacrament hymn, it was "Love at Home", so there are things that still need to be fixed and little improvements we are trying to make. Our boom box that we play the hymns from (no one knows piano) is broken and so we held a smart phone up to the microphone, but then the power went out so we went acapella in the dark. It was an unreal Sacrament meeting. 

This place is extremely dirty and I think I’ll probably come back with a tapeworm or some foreign disease where they won’t let me back in the States. But my stomach is adapting and I haven't been sick in a while which is really nice. The food here is my favorite and Fast Sunday is always hard, but the blessings are real! This week one of my companions fell in the shower and dislocated his shoulder, so I went into full doctor mode and popped it back into place, I just remembered what the trainers used to do to Big T Hood on the sidelines when he always had his shoulder problems. So that was cool and he has had a rough few days, but we are pushing on in the work. Right now we have one progressing investigator named Meenuka Lama, she is from West Bengal India and is seriously the coolest. She knows the Bible better than me and this will be her third baptism, and she hopes her last. She thinks she found her path and the true church of Jesus Christ, and I know she did. We also are working with a small family of four who are excited about the Book of Mormon and I hope to see them get baptized soon.

We are so close to having enough members and all the requirements to become a stake here in Delhi and we as missionaries are so excited!! The work has been hard and we are so close to reaching our goal of a stake finally in Delhi. The General Authorities are coming this week to train the members and leaders here, and we get to see them as well. When it becomes a stake there will most likely be an apostle here, but until then Elder Funk, Elder Evans and Sisters Cordon and Burton are going to be so cool to meet. Lots of cool things happening in the Delhi Mission. Extremely grateful to be a part of the building of the Kingdom of God here on the Earth. 

This week, you may have heard, because India is on the other side of the planet, we were delayed a week, but there are big changes that came from Salt Lake City for missionaries. We have new key indicators and everything is focused to stay strong in our Purpose of Teaching Repentance and Baptizing Converts. We also had a change in schedule that allows us a little more agency and accountability where we as missionaries choose when to study and train and do all those things. It's no longer an hour for everything set apart, it's more a set time period where we get to choose how to fit everything in our schedule, which is cool. Also the timings for our mission have changed, due to India having a very late night culture. We now wake up at 7:30 and go to bed at 11:30, and we don’t have to be in the apartment until 10:30 which is a full hour change. Most Indian families eat dinner at about 10 p.m. It's just their culture, so we adapted to get the best use of our day and 7:30 feels like sleeping in. It’s crazy. 

Anyways lots of news and it's been a good time, I love Noida even though it is very hard I know I am here for a reason. The Church is small and sometimes I feel very alone in this big giant world and crazy city, but the scripture that comforts me the most is, "Where two or three are gathered in my name, there will I be in the midst of them." It's so true, there may only be 20 of us in Sacrament meeting, but the Savior is there with us, and I may feel alone as we gather in a small cement home on the floor and everyone is speaking a language I don't know, but when we teach, I know He is there watching over us, The Spirit is there comforting us, and Our Heavenly Father is proud of Us. I want you to know that no matter where you are, you're being watched over, and loved. It's a very real thing, and if you stand as a witness of Christ, you will never be alone.

Love you, and dang Patriots...gross.

Elder Armstrong