Sunday, November 30, 2014

Pictures from the adventures of Sora Armstrong

Sora Armstrong LOVES peanut butter

Brittany went to Bucharest for Thanksgiving and got into the Turkey Bowl...of course. See red sweater & BYU sweat pants

This is a candid shot of Brittany emailing everyone....

Sora Armstrong preaching the Gospel

Brittany on exchanges in Sibiu, Romania

Sora Armstrong & Sora Barrera

Brittany and her companion, Sora Barrera, with two members of the Ploiesti Branch

Brittany isn't sad in this picture. We always joked that she was "Grumpy" from Snow White, so she is just playing the part....very well.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Week

Happy 50th Anniversary Gma and Grandpa!
Okay so our investigator that gave up coffee does not have a baptism date because she is waiting for the man that she has been living with for 25 years and has two children with to get back from Germany where he is working. But she is incredible. Her faith just makes me smile, that is really the only way I can describe it. She has questions and does her research but in her heart she knows it is true and she is willing to do whatever it takes to prepare for baptism. It is a humbling path to walk with someone sometimes I just ask Heavenly Father "are you sure you want me to be the one doing this?" I just feel like I don't even understand the atonement and yet that is what I have to help this woman understand. Heavenly Father loves his missionaries and he knows my inadequacies. I know that I am not the one doing the actual teaching so even if I do mess up the Holy Ghost has my back. 
Okay yesterday was probably one of the best days of my mission. We left the apartment a little early to print out some conference talks at the church then we headed for Roberta's home, our thirteen year old  investigator that we are doing personal progress with. Roberta has this dog it is a mix of all the mean dog breeds like Rottweiler etc all put into one dog so basically it is evil. It is normally changed to a heavy object and everytime we walk past I think wow i am glad that dog is chained up. yesterday it was not. We walk into thier yard thing don't think american front yard think lots of mud and trash and stuff and the dog is roaming around. I was terrified Sora Barrera and I just stopped in our tracts. Well it must thought I was a threat because it starts sniffing towards and JUMPS!!! It attacked me from my left side I went to kind of hit it away and bit 
my wrist. The bite just left some marks on my skin 
though nothing crazy and then it walks away like no big deal so I'm like okay now I will just book it for the building so I sprint towards the door not looking at the dog and the dog sprints at me. Sora Barrera screams and I go sprinting into Roberta's apartment type home I beat the dog to the door and Roberta's grandma went out and tied it up. Sora Barrera told me to never do that ever again. I though it was hilarious. Then we had an incredible lesson with Roberta about the power of prayer and faith. Then we headed for Sora Violeta's villa. She is a less active that we visit every week that has actually been coming to church which is awesome she just lives kind of far. So my feet froze literally I lost feeling in them at 11:30 in the morning and did not regain feeling until we were on the train to Bucharest at 6:00 that night. Anyway as we were leaving Sora Violeta's I ate it on a patch of ice. There is ice all over Ploiesti now which is sad 
because it means no more running... except from dogs. Anyway I have never really experienced ice on the ground so I fell right on my bum and I have a gnarly bruise. Then we went and taught another super cute investigator that is 26 and works in bakery she is awesome but terrified of church so we are working through that. Then we went to Sora Chirela's home and she showed us how to make apple pie and she feed us dinner and she gave us two desserts. Basically I never want to leave Ploesti and here is why my day was amazing. Yes I got bit by a dog, yes I slipped on ice, yes I couldn't feel my feet for the majority of the day but I was so HAPPY. I felt this joy that nothing could quench. That joy is Christ our Savior. I am his representative right now and no amount of ice or dogs can take the joy that comes from serving him away. The church is doing some INCREDIBLE campaigns starting tomorrow. SHARE them!!!! Share it through facebbok share it 
through the hash tag on insta share it with your words and ACTIONS!!! And I promise this holiday season will take on a whole new meaning for you.
FAM BAM you are incredible I am so grateful for each and everyone of your examples. Thank you and thank Heavenly Father for our family. 
I love you all. 
Sora Armstrong

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

What is up my peoplesssss?!

This week was so packed and crazy and amazing I am going to break it down day by day for you.

We went and visited the first family ever to be baptized in Ploiesti. She is incredible she fed us gogosi which is basically donuts. We got fed so much this week just lots of little Romanian sweets. Seriously I think they sent the wrong Armstrong to Romania this is Luke's spot it has delicious apples and everyone feeds you donuts. There are also always people playing basketball. President Ivory told an Elder in my district to join a local league. Maybe you should start working on your Romanian Luke. Anyway back to Tuesday we visited a less active too she lives in this gypsy area so that was fun and very interesting to see. it is a bunch of random rooms connected by tin roofs. She asked us to sing hymns with her. There was a little six year old in the room with us and she was laughing at us because we were so bad. It was rough I cannot sing to save my life and I didn't even know what we were singing because it was in Romanian and then Sora Barrera forgot the tune and the lady we were visiting didn't know what a half note was so it was just great and super funny but she liked it so ce se fac?
I ate chicken hearts. Yes I am still alive my stomach has been upset with me the last couple of days but we are working through it. We stopped by another less active member's home, the people that came to church last week, the Pasols. I think I told you about them she has a daughter and me and her daughter held hands on the way to primary. Anyway we stopped by their apartment just to give a quick message and we ended up having lunch. There was a lot of bread as there always is with Romanians and then Ciorba. Which is basically broth noodles sometimes vegetables and then meet. This time the meet was chicken hearts. The bread is what got me through. Then we later on that day we met with Ana and Roberta. I always get super excited with Ana and Roberta because they remind me of the Young Women back home. I can just feel how much God loves these two incredible girls and I just want them to know how much this gospel can bless their lives. Here's the problem when I get excited my Romanian makes no sense what so ever. So I will say something with a big ol' smile and both their heads just turn to Sora Barrera then she clarifies and we laugh so it's all good. I have such an amazing trainer.
Okay now the week really starts getting good! We had Zone Conference in Bucharest. It was so freaking incredible. The Elder in our district that goes home after this transfer looked at me and said I was so lucky I had my whole mission ahead of me and man do I know it. Elder Kearon came and spoke to us. He is a member of the 70 with the sweetest British accent. I felt like I was listening to my Harry Potter tapes. It also kept on using the word Glorious and now it is my favorite word. 
I learned so much from him. First off we could just feel the love he has for us. Even when he was kind of being strict and getting on us about certain things we could still feel his love. Some of my favorite quotes were when talking about the morning and how we can utilize that time "If you drift into the day, you will drift through it." I loved that I do not have time to be drifting through my day none of us do. Heavenly Father has things that he needs you and me to accomplish and if we are just drifting we cannot accomplish those things! The other quote was when he was complimenting us on rising the numbers of this mission "Be proud, but for goodness sake do not be satisfied." I love, love, love, that quote. It is so easy to get into the mindset of "I'm here aren't I isn't that enough?" No it is not enough! We have got to attack each day with vigor, just like a practice or a work out just showing up to the gym is not going to make us stronger, it is when we push ourselves and fight through the resistance that we begin to become who our Heavenly Father needs us to be. 
Afterwards as Elder Kearon was leaving I thanked him for taking the time from his family to come council us. He asked us how long I had been here and when I said three weeks tears came to his eyes and then to mine he took my hand and just said "Bless your heart, thank you, thank you so much" It was a really tender, cool experience.
ANNNND to make the day even more amazing I got to see Sora Trebas and Sora Routson! The MTC peeps it was kind of like seeing family after a long time it was so much fun to hang out with them annnnd the senior couples made Texas Sheet Cake for dessert so basically I have already had my Christmas. It was a wonderful wonderful day.
I felt that missionary joy that people try to describe but never can. That joy that makes it so missionaries never want to go home. We had our last lesson with Mirela because she is moving to London to find a job. We watched the Joseph Smith restoration video. After Mirela sat very close to both of us and said in English I feel like Joseph, this video was an answer to my prayers, I will read the Book of Mormon and now I know that i just need to pray to receive an answer! I had no doubt in my mind that Mirela will be baptized. Unfortunately, it will be in London but when she said that it was just like "yes this is why I am here, there are people ready for this gospel" It was such a peaceful beautiful feeling. I plan feeling that way a lot here in Romania because people are ready to hear the gospel so I might not come home mom sorry this feeling is way too good to leave behind.
We had English class today, it was hilarious. We tried to play charades but Romanians cannot grasp the concept of charades at all. At one one point I was acting out running and one of our eternal English students a cute older mad named Ioan started chasing me around the table because he thought that was part of the game. It was super funny. 
Then we went and helped a little nine year old boy with his homework, I felt like I was back home helping Owen it was weird. They live in this way cool house that looks unfinished from the outside but is all tiled and warm and colorful and the inside. It is kind of like a fortress way cool. His grandma made us these chocolate cake things. Here is the problem with Romanians. You cannot say no if all of the sweet things are not eaten off the plate they will not let you say a closing prayer so I have to run extra hard in the mornings. Then Saturday night Irina called us and said she prayed and she received an answer that she needs to be BAPTIZED!!!!! WOOOHOOOO Irina is so incredible. She said she knows there is a lot of preparation she has to do and she knows she needs to figure out her marriage situation but she knows that Baptism is very important.
Okay so I got to meet two general authorities in one week no big deal. President Ivory and his family brought Elder Fingerly to the Ploiesti branch on Sunday. Elder Fingerly is an area 70 I think. Ellis Ivory spoke about Jabari Parker and integrity. When Ellis said "drafted to the Milwaukee Bucks" his translator was not quite sure how to say that but it was cute talk. Then Sora Ivory gave an incredible talk about things Elder Kearon had spoken to us about. Sora Ivory is one of the most charitable I know she is so incredible. I am so blessed to have her as an example. She also had advent calendars made for the entire mission not with chocolate but with little activities to do each day. So cute. Then President Ivory spoke without a translator in Romanian. He is an incredible human being. He spoke about member missionary work then Elder Fingerly spoke about how a temple was built in East germany before west because of the diligence and hard work of the members. Then President Ivory met with Sora Barrera and I and Irina again he taught her a lesson all in Romanian. He answered her questions he showed her pictures from his own mission he basically geared her up to set a date it was wow I cannot even describe it. Watching a man like President Ivory preach the gospel was such a cool experience. I am so so blessed to have the leadership I do. President I vory expects a lot out of us but he walks the walk, he works right along with us.

Amazing things are happening here in Romania. This week has gotten me so pumped about missionary work. I know that God loves his children here on earth and that He knows each of us individually.
Va iubesc!!!!!
Sora Armstrong

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Halloween in Ploiesti

My Fellow Americans
How is everything in the States? Is everybody still eating Halloween candy? Romania is wow. That is really all I have to say. I have truly began to develop a love for the people here. Each day, I try and find and find one interesting thing about the culture here. One of them is that Romanians are very passionate and have absolutely no qualms about P.D.A so that keeps things interesting.
This week I saw the hand of God work in my life so visibly. I learned two very important lessons the first is about fear. Fear is the Devil's strongest tool. We have an investigator that has read the entire Book of Mormon, that has the felt the spirit and love of God but will not get baptized because she is afraid of being rejected by friends, and family. She is afraid of trying to quit smoking, she is afraid of change. I understand that these are all very real fears but these fears are keeping here from eternal happiness. These fears are keeping here from experiencing the power of the atonement. The Devil knows that and he uses fear to paralyze us. I know that fear is not of God it is a tool of the Devil that will keep us from accomplishing our divine potential. I need to work on eliminating fear from my life because we do not have to fear when God is on our side. So many times in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John does Christ say "Fear not" or "be still". I know that when we are following our Savior fear does not have to be apart of our lives. 
Okay now for my second lesson God answers prayers and He is preparing people for this work. I don't know if I mentioned it but last week Sora B told me about this lady that had a baptismal date but then stopped progressing because her husband wouldn't let her. We decided to pray for her in every single one of our prayers this week (and we pray a lot) that her heart would be softened and she would meet with us again. On Friday night, we had this long pray on our knees for her and we called her. Her phone was off super anti-climatic. BUT we called her on Saturday and she was super happy, we met with her on Sunday and she is now preparing for baptism!!!!!!! She told us she had started reading from the Book of Mormon again earlier this month and her husband who is actually her boyfriend of 25 years (Sora B forgot that small detail) is in Germany working. So yes we have some things we have to work through with her but wow was the spirit strong in that lesson. We are super pumped about that. I know that God is working miracles in each of our lives. Sometimes we are too high up to see them, but is when we brought down into humility that the miracles are sweetest.
Okay one more awesome story, we met with this member on Saturday night in her home. She lives with her daughter and granddaughter and they are way strong and active super great. Their home is literally a room. They have a bathroom and a room with two beds, a desk, a fridge, and a shelf with pots & pans. Then they have a community oven and stove for their whole floor. I was so humbled. She made us this delicious yellow cake with apples in it and gave us half to take home. The members are so so strong here. We have some inactive members that we are working with but wow is this branch in Ploiesti incredible. It was one of the strongest in Romania and we are going to make it even stronger.
Okay so random thoughts
We have gone for a run every morning, it isn't super cold yet. We found a great park with an 800 meter pathway going around it so I run about 3 miles every morning. I just really miss my running buddy Sister Allen
Oh funny story Irina (the one getting ready for baptism) calls her missionaries by their first name. When I told her my first name she said " ühhhhh okay Bertney!" hahaha I literally almost started looking around for Graham Allen. More funny stories I almost got maimed by a bus door the other day and these two Romanian dudes thought it was the funniest thing in the world. It like swung open and nailed me in the back, but all is good. 
The food here is great. The fruit and vegetables are incredible! I have had the best apples I have ever eaten in my whole life here. So Luke you better get pumped to serve in Romania! Life is good. Everyday I am amazed by the circumstances of the people here. But even more amazed at the love that God has for each and every one of them. 
Hope everyone is doing well back in the States!
Sora Armstrong


Monday, November 3, 2014

Ploiesti, Romania

I am in Romania HOLY WOW. It is hard to believe I am finally in the field. Okay so here is the play by play. We left at Provo at 3:30am, Monday morning we did not sleep at all that night so that was my first ever all nighter! We got to the Salt Lake airport and headed for Atlanta. In Atlanta, we had our last meal in the states ever which was Pei Wei for me pretty sweet. Then we headed for Amsterdam. In Amsterdam we met a cool guy from Scotland and an awesome Romanian couple it was then that I realized that I do not know Romanian but it's okay. Elder Soelberg got us through the conversation. They were pretty hardcore baptists which is really random for Romania but yeah and when we pulled out the Book fo Mormon they got super uncomfortable it was great. Anyway, we got to Bucharest we slept on the planes and stuff but we were all pretty out of it me and Sora Trebas were super giggly. Everybody's suitcases got to Bucharest Elder Soelberg's bag exploded so it was all wrapped in plastic when we picked it up. He was not happy about that. Then we met the Ivory's they were awesome! So cool. We had lunch at Ikea haha it was way good. We went to this park in Bucharest called chisamagu and read the Romanian and Moldovan dedicatory prayers. Let me tell you there are some INCREDIBLE things in store for these people. Moldova was promised stakes. Because of Moldova's population that means that eventually majority of the country will be active members of the church. In the Romanian dedicatory prayer it talks about having creative courage, I love that phrase and so does President Ivory, it is part of our mission statement. The park was FREEZING but beautiful. From there we went back to the mission home which is gorgeous and had our interviews. Then we went to a senior couples home for some sandwiches then Sora Routson and I (we traded companions went to another senior couples house and slept. We went for a run with President Ivory the next morning in another beautiful park I loved that and then we had training at his house in the morning. we all did a pretty good job at staying awake. Then we met our trainers!
My trainer is Sora Barrera and we are serving in Ploiesti (ployest) Wow I love it here the branch is so strong we even have a real church building! We have two families with a mom a dad and kids. The rest are older couples or singles. My goal for this branch is to find a family so in the next 12 weeks I will find and commit a family with a mom, dad and kids to baptism. Which brings me to my first point. This mission is the most positive mission on the planet I love that. Before I came everyone told me how I won't have a lot of baptisms and how hard this will be. Well guess what homies, Sora B and I have 7 investigators right now and the mission has baptisms lined up for the next six weeks. If we want and believe we can baptize we will. So please never ever tell anyone that they won't baptize because of their mission. It isn't the mission it is the missionary that decides the baptisms. That principle of believing you can do something applies to more than just baptisms it applies to every situation in life. Through the gospel of Jesus Christ we can do all that our Father in Heaven wants us to. We can overcome any challenge, and deal with any trial I have a very strong testimony of that.
Okay so yes I did bear my testimony in church, the Elder's said it was one of the best one's they have heard from a "boboaca" it means little duckling or new missionary. So that was nice. In my district I have the Zone Leaders and another set of elders one of them goes home in 6 weeks the other one played basketball at Lone peak so that's cool.
We brought three 13 year old girls with us to church I sent some pictures with them. There is no young women's program because they are no baptized girls that are 12-18 in the branch yet so we did our little lesson with them third hour on faith we gave them personal progress books and told them to do the first faith experience. Talking with them is so fun. They are so patient with my Romanian and love to help me out. They also have such a thirst to know about God which is way cool. We also started talking to one of Sora B's old investigators she works at a store near the church so we see her almost everyday. She has already read the Cartea Lui Mormon and knows it is true we just gotta get her to come to church she is the sweetest lady. She always yells at me for not wearing boots. No one here can say Armstrong it is kind of funny so she calls me Sora Sara. I'm not sure where it came from but that's what she calls me. haha
So Romanian is hard I have no clue what is going on all the time but Sora B helps me out. She is originally from El Salvador so she speaks Spanish and Romanian and English. She hasn't made me make any phone calls yet but I might need someone to send me Austin's breathing techniques if she does. She baptized at 20 year old girl last transfer so we work with her about three times a week. She wants to go on a mission so right now we are working through Preach My Gospel with her. We do a lot of teaching at the church building which is cool. We also teach a lot of 30/30 lessons which is 30 minutes of English 30 minutes of gospel. Those are fun because Sora B is already forgetting little English phrases so I get to help out. We are teaching this one awesome lady that already speaks Russian, french, and Romanian. This lady reminds me so much of Amy Brown it is crazy. She fed us water with tghese rock mineral things in it and she teaches yoga, she is also crazy intelligent. I'm pretty sure Ella will look exactly liker her when she gets older too.
So we are staying for busy here in Ploiesti. I am so grateful for that. People here are looking for happiness, and we have it! Please, please pray for the families of Romania and Ploiesti. I want so badly to find a family right now we are only teaching young women aged girls or single older women. I know that God is preparing a family for us I just have to find them. Our branch is already one of the strongest branches in Romania but it needs more active families.
My first couple of days here were a little rough but I have literally felt my burdens lifted off my shoulders. Our Heavenly Father will push us and push us but He knows how far we can go. For the first time in my life I gave everything to Him through pray I just said "I will do whatever you want me to and I will learn whatever you need me to" I felt complete peace after that, I know that my Heavenly Father is looking out for me and knows me and expects a lot out of my but I can do it, only through the atonement of Jesus Christ.
Okay so funny stories from Romania:
The very first day I was here we went down this ally way and this row of houses came out of no where, I was looking for the front door when my companion said oh you just knock on the window that is totally normal, I looked at her and I said you know that isn't how you do it in the states right? She goes oh yeah I guess that is weird to do in the states. She's been here for 8 months and she thinks knocking on windows is normal I cannot wait to get to that point. Also in that same alleyway we were with the elders and this dog came out of nowhere and started growling at us and jumped on one of the elders! It bit his jacket! Yeah that was all on my first day in the field.
Then just now I am sitting here starting to email and this guy leans over and asks me where I'm from I say the states, ten minutes later how old I am I say 19, twenty minutes later in broken English "later will you go get coffee with me" me: uhhhhhhh no I can't I'm a missionary, him: so? me: uhhhh no I can't hahaha I am not sure how to explain why I can't in Romanian so I just kept on saying nu, imi pare rau (no,sorry) yeah it was great.
So that is my first week in Romania! This church is true, the spirit is the same whether or not you understand what is being said! I love you all thank you for all the prayers!
Te Iubesc
Sora Armstrong