Monday, April 24, 2017

Week Forty-Seven

Dear Family, 

I hope all of you had a good week, mine was pretty good. Just working and enjoying each day because my year mark is coming up fast and after that I hear it only goes by faster. This week I literally turned down buying food at a street stand because it was 40 rupees (60 cents) and then walked about a mile in the heat to eat at a street food stand that cost 30 rupees (45 cents). The meal filled me up completely and I bought a liter bottle of water for another 30 cents. It is unreal how cheap things are here, I will come back home and die because I won't want to spend a single penny. Plus all my rupees look like monopoly money; I have purple, green, red, white, and orange, but instead of the monopoly man with a mustache and a top hat it has Mahatma Gandhi. India is a pretty cool place.

Noida is a great place and I have changed so much since coming here, it's amazing to see the church at such a small beginning and to know that someday Noida will have 4 wards. It's faith in that future, that helps all of us keep going. We as a district are pushing continual improvement here in Noida and trying to have zero setbacks. Even if we make a tiny amount of progress, we want that over any type of setback. We always want to be climbing. 

This week we found a new investigator which was a miracle. We have been on a drought of investigators this last month. His name is Shiva Ji. He is an awesome kid who just moved to Delhi from a small farm community in Maharastra. He wants to study here in Delhi and was looking for a job when we found him. He let us in and we taught the restoration and he even accepted baptism. He is awesome and is keeping commitments so far. We were praying for him to get a job and he did, but he works on Sundays during church, so that is a challenge we are trying to overcome. We have high hopes for him and I hope he can be baptized before the end of this transfer. He could turn into a great leader to help our branch. 

In English class this week I was able to give the Gospel Message at the end of class, and I chose to share my favorite Mormon Message. "Bearing Our Burdens with Hope" It's such a good video and I hope you will all take some time to watch it, even if you already have. It's only 8 minutes guys;)

But I love the message because truly hope is a necessary part of our spiritual life. The Book of Mormon teaches that if ye have Faith, Hope, and Charity, then ye shall always abound in good works. Hope is so important because it gets us through the tough days. Hope helps us understand that it won't always be bad, that it won't always be hard, that someday all will be well and we will no longer suffer. Whether the situation is your child going in a direction you had otherwise planned, or a loss of a job, or walking all day in the heat and dirt of Noida, someday all will be well. We can either wait for that happy day to come, or we can build our Hope and enjoy the tough and sometimes heart breaking journey. I promise if you weigh your burdens down with Hope, you will get the traction you need to push through another day. Rely on our Savior and his Redeeming Power, there is no other who can help you like He can.

Let's Go Jazz! I'm cheering from India, and I can hear that arena from here. Jazz fans are the best fans. 

Love Elder Armstrong

Monday, April 17, 2017

Week Forty-Six

Hello Family!! 

This week brought transfers and I am still in Noida with Elder Mani and I am still the District Leader. Noida is tough still and there are a lot of downsides to being here, but we focus on the positives. Yesterday we set a goal to have 25 people at Sacrament meeting every week, we have high hopes to reach our goals. Transfers happened and we lost some good missionaries. Elder Dusara went home and he will be missed, but I'm excited for him to be back in Seattle watching the Seahawks. If we have counted correctly we now have 39 missionaries in Delhi, 6 in Mumbai, and 7 in Pakistan. So that's my entire mission if you didn't know. We are really low and all the news from the mission office points to no new missionaries for a few months. Satan is doing everything possible to stop the India New Delhi stake from forming, but we know who will win. 

Things are going great here for the most part, I have no complaints. Wait, yes I do, it hit 108 degrees this week. I will gladly complain about that.  I'm as Indian as ever and I speak awful English unless I actually try to speak like a normal person. But if I'm naturally just flowing, I speak like an Indian. I haven't lived with an American for over 6 months, and after this transfer and the shortage of missionaries it could be 6 months or so until I live with a white person again. 

Yessssssss JAZZZZZZ!!!!! Oh man do I miss them. I am so happy they are having success and especially getting some wins in the playoffs, I hope you are watching for me.  Yell real loud, I miss it so much. 

This week I was actually going through my wallet where I have kept my old Jazz tickets from the games I went to last season with friends. I was remembering those great nights (beating Kobe by 40) and all the fun we had, I also had tickets from the BYU football game me and my family went to. I had such a blessed life and I am so thankful for the things I was able to do and see growing up, but in my wallet was something else that I hold tightly and that was my temple recommend. 
In India we have no temple...the closest being Hong Kong and soon the Thailand temple. And the theme lately that keeps coming up is temples. Pocatello is getting a temple, there was a lesson in church about temples, we teach families about temples, and then in the midst of day dreaming about my Jazz winning 10 championships in a row, I saw my temple recommend. I am so grateful for it, and it means so much to me. 

The temple is such a special place, and it seriously is the House of the Lord. I cannot wait to go back to the temple, and I am amazed at how many families here save everything they have to fly to Hong Kong and get sealed together. They simply can't wait until a temple comes to India. But even if they cannot go to the temple, we teach them how important it is to have a valid temple recommend anyways, always on hand. It is so important to know that you are worthy to enter the temple, even if you cannot go often or at all. I promise if you live by the standards of holding a temple recommend you will never fall of the straight and narrow. Always have it with you, always live worthy of it, and always strive to attend the temple. The blessings are real, the power is real, and living worthy to be there, is something we can't treat lightly.

Go Jazz, or #TakeNote I guess is the slogan, I like it. 
It's good to be in the playoffs, it's better to be in India. 

Elder Armstrong
Helping the family move and riding on top of their belongings.
Lovely Canal

Monday, April 10, 2017

Week Forty-Five

Namaste from Hindustan, 

What a great week in India! We had a lot of exciting days with a lot of new things. It was one of those weeks that felt like it was the start of my mission where everything was new and crazy! Last night we ate at a member's home, and I have no idea how, but they fed us Pork. It was okay, not my mom’s pork chops, but it was a nice surprise. I will admit though, it was tough eating some of it, I haven't eaten anything like that in 10 or 11 months, if you don't count the dog and the one time me and Elder Openshaw got beef from the nice Muslim guy. But it really was hard to eat, the texture, everything was different and felt's scaring me that in a year I won't be able to eat normal in America. 

Then in the middle of the week we had another sketchy moment where things could have went really bad. We went to a member's home, the Aryan's, to teach a lesson and eat dinner, they are our most active family and are our favorites;) They are so nice and seriously would do anything for any missionary and we are teaching one of the sisters who lives there. The problem is they don't live in a nice neighborhood, the things you see around their home is stuff I could never take pictures of, because I would feel awful and disrespectful, and I could get stabbed.  Anyways dinner went later than expected so we tried to get a quick auto ride or rickshaw home, but no one came by, then at 10:30 the metro shut down and we couldn't travel by metro. So here I was in Trilokpuri trying to get home late at night in a bad area. The family then decided the best option would be to walk me through the neighborhood to the main road, this whole time not worrying one bit about my companion. (white kids with backpacks are the target for criminals I guess.) So I take off my tie, untuck my shirt, and basically they tell me to not look at anyone. So I was escorted through town by Brother Sumit and 4 of his close family members and friends...all pretty big guys. It was awesome, I wasn't worried for a second, and neither was Elder Mani, but we would have been if it weren't for the members. 

Then we got a call last night that Sumit was robbed as he left an ATM withdrawing money to help pay for his sons tuition. 5000 rupees gone, and now his kid has to wait until next year to start 1st grade. So who knows how many more visits we will be making to the Aryan family. It's sad. 

Not much other news. Transfers are this week and we are waiting to see if I will be staying or leaving Noida. I have no idea what will happen so I guess you will hear about it next week. This week we watched General Conference and I loved it. I loved President Monson's short but wonderful talks. Usually I feel like some talks are boring and some are great, but this time I felt as if just about every single one of them was really good. I had a lot of questions answered and I felt the Spirit, especially as the choir sang...they're good. 

This week I just wanted to share some thoughts about Humility. The same crazy night we were in Trilokpuri we had just shared the scripture Luke 18:10-14. I hope you will read and mark that. It was later shared in conference with us this weekend. I love it and I know that it applies to us so much today. It is very easy to think of ourselves as higher than another person. Or to think lowly of another, but we know better. In the scripture the Pharisee exclaims in prayer that he fasts twice a week and that he does so many great and wonderful things, and then he says that he is thankful that he is not as the Publican who is right next to him. But the best part of the scripture reads "for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." What a scripture. If we are as the Pharisee trying to talk our way into heaven, we will not get there. It's about actions, and it's about understanding who you are. The publican understood he wasn't perfect, saying "God be merciful to me, a sinner." No one is perfect, we have heard that over and over since forever. But sometimes we forget and still think that we are. Try and work on Humility, even if you are already good at it, because no one is perfect, and we should all be striving to be perfect. Do it because God, will bless you. Those who are humble by choice will be more blessed than those who are compelled to be. It brings peace and happiness, to us and to others. 

Love you guys, Go Jazz

Elder Armstrong

Monday, April 3, 2017

Week Forty-Four

What. The. Heck. A temple?? In Poky?? I'm blown away. That's the best thing that's happened to Pocatello since Kiwi Loco and Buffalo Wild Wings. So many blessings in Pocatello, now we just need a winning ISU football team. I don't get to see conference until next week, but I have heard good things! 

This week was great so I'll just give you a little bit of my news. It's ridiculously hot. I cannot explain’s like a dry desert heat in this concrete jungle that's full of metal and millions of people.  The worst is yet to come, but luckily we have lots of McDonald's Ice cream and I can buy 20 cent 500 ml bottles of Thumbs Up on every street corner. My chicken is being taken away here in Noida, our...well, their, new Chief Minister is an interesting guy. He is a strict Hindu and is banning all chicken shops that aren't certified, which is almost all of them, and no more street stands are selling chicken. It's really sad because that's my only source of meat. And there is this food stand by our apartment where these two Muslim guys make unbelievable chicken egg kathi rolls. They are so good. Look that up on YouTube you might be able to see how they make them, it's really cool.

Work here in Noida is going great! We have some new investigators this week. We will see if they can keep commitments and read and pray about the Book of Mormon. When the work comes to India in Hindi and all the different languages, it will blow up.  Once we get this Stake accomplished and things get rolling, it will never stop or slow down. The work in Pakistan is growing very quickly.  I looked at a map a little closer this week and I'm a lot closer to Pakistan, China, and Nepal than I thought. Literally like Marsh Valley to Provo I'm guessing. 

We had a zone conference this week and it was great. One of the many blessings of my mission has been President and Sister Hodges. They were exactly what I needed to have as a Mission President and wife, they are awesome. The training they gave us was on Obedience, and we have never been a mission that pushes "Obedience, Obedience, Obedience." Instead, the Hodges usually talk about Love and how we are a love the Lord mission, because if we love the Lord, obedience is natural. It comes because we want to be obedient, not because we have to be. I have never really talked much about obedience, but it is so important. It's hard to understand sometimes, so I of course have to put it into a sports analogy. So here goes nothing.

My dad is a football coach and as a coach he has to get the team to follow the plays to become successful. That can be a struggle because sometimes kids get lazy, sometimes they want to think about girls during practice, and sometimes it's just "too hot" to be at football practice. I know, because I've been there. It's not easy to be obedient to the coach and to make the right blocks or reads of the defense, especially if you feel like you're doing it because you have to do it. It works a lot better when you want to do it. My dad is the best coach ever because he has a way of showing the team he loves them, and if they do what he says they will be successful. This was very apparent my freshman year when our JV team was almost unstoppable, we loved the game, we loved following Coach Armstrong. We would have done anything he asked, without question, because we loved him and we knew he loved us. And that made us winners. His rules or commandments, or play calls, were not restrictions. Were they tough? Absolutely. But they made us better and helped us win.

Now imagine our Heavenly Father, who has the perfect plays, the perfect reads, the perfect blocks. In all, the perfect playbook. All he asks of us is obedience, to show our love of the Savior, by following the plays. No formation or play in football that exists, doesn't work. If it didn't work we wouldn't have that play. Just like our commandments, if they didn't work, Heavenly Father wouldn't give them to us. We need to trust in our Heavenly Coach, he knows how to help us win. We just have to do as he has asked. It's hard, it always will be, and as our opponent gets better on defense, following our Heavenly Father’s plays will get harder, but not if we start practicing today. Because if we do as he has asked, out of love, we will enjoy the game. We won't complain about the heat during practice, or the lack of water breaks, we will thank Him for the rules he gave us that helped us become winners. We will thank Him for his commandments. If we love the Savior and our Heavenly Father we will keep their commandments.  We will want to play for the winning team, no matter how hard the rules or expectations given to us. We need to trust their playbook because sometimes the world wants us to run a big flashy NFL type offense, but in the end, the best thing for us is an old school Power I that brings stability and happiness, in a world worried about looking cool. 

“The FUTURE of this world has long been DECLARED; the final outcome between GOOD and evil is already KNOWN. There is absolutely no question as to who WINS because the VICTORY has already been posted on the SCOREBOARD. The only really strange thing in all of this is that we are still down here on the FIELD trying to decide which TEAM’S JERSEY we want to wear!”

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

Love you, Go Jazz.

Elder Armstrong

Mission Training with Elder Funk, Sister Linda K. Burton Former General Relief Society President, Sister Cordon, and  Elder Evans, of the Seventy and their spouses.