Sunday, November 22, 2015

Baptisms, Apostles & My People

I cannot express to you the emotions I have had this past week.First of all my biggest take away from this week- God loves the Romanian and Moldovan people so much and He is working miracles here. He has a plan for these two small but strong countries.I am grateful that I am on His team because we are going to win. My new favorite President Ivory quote is we will never go undefeated but we will always be champions. This week has had lots of victories and some heavy losses but we gotta focus on the victories.
We did not email Monday because we were getting ready for Elder Ballard. We had this sign made with some of his quotes and set it up in Centru and just did our best to let all of Chisinau know that an apostle of Lord was coming to speak to us. It was CRAZY windy so one of us had to stand behind the poster to hold it while the others talked to people. Sora Black almost got blown away a couple of times and by the end of it I could not feel my hands. 
Then tuesday, Presient Ivory flew into Chisinau and we had interviews with him, I may have made a joke concerning the Utah Utes and the pride cycle from the Book of Mormon in my interview. Then that night there was a BAPTISM! It was this incredible couple Cristian and Inesa. They have been learing about the church since the summer and are literally the most together couple I know, I love them so much! Cris is a lawyer, he came straight to the baptism from a case where he had beat the best lawyer in all of Chisinau (can you say blessings) Inesa is a translator, she speaks russian, romanian, english and manderin chinese nbd. They are so so sweet and just love this gospel. We have had the opportunity to visit with Inesa and talk to her about her testimony of the gospel and why she  has chosen to make this decision to be baptized. She told us about the positive impact that this church has made in their lives and how she just knows the principals are true. Funny story one time we were out with Inesa talking about scripture study and I said before my mission I had a hard time reading the scriptures everyday adn I look at Sora Black and I was how were you? And Sora Black goes I read them everyday since I was 12 and I was just like wow thanks for showing me up, so then I told Ines to be like Sora Black not like me. Ines thought that was pretty funny. Their baptism was BEAUTIFUL no it wasn't in the black sea but there was a POWERFUL spirit! There were so many people there from both branches and there was investigators there too. President Ivory spoke about the first time he met Cris and Inesa in a park with the missionaries. Then Cris and Inesa both bore the most powerful testimonies about the truth of the gospel and how much happier they are and how they are ready to help build Moldova. I am just so grateful that I can call this amazing couple my friends, they are going to have a huge impact on the growth of the church here in Moldova.
      Wednesday we showed up at the church at 10 and Cris is sweeping the floor to get ready for Elder Ballard one of the best lawyers in all of Chisinau is at the church cleaning up! He is just so humble and so cool, he also got to drive Elder Ballard around which is way cool. We ended up cleaning all that morning, we were told that the bathrooms needed to be as clean as Marriot Hotel bathroom.
        Then HE CAME!!!! We were outside the church directing people inside and up pulls Cris and the Ivory's and the Kearons (the area president and his wife) and Elder Ballard. As soon as he got out of the car he walked right up to Sora Black and me and shakes our hand and asks us where we are from. He is seriously the cutest, fiestiest little guy. The meeting was incredible we fit over 100 people into our little vila (house converted to a church building) President Ivory and President Kearon and their wives spoke and they were all so BOLD they talked about how through baptism we can have the feelings that we were feeling all the time. The set up the spirit for Elder Ballard. Then Elder Ballard stands up and teaches the Plan of Salvation and the restoration intertwined into one talk. it was BEAUTIFUL. During the first part I was so so sad I had a super hard time feeling the spirit becuase NONE of our people were there. We had invited so many people and had contacted for hours and no one that we had talked to was there. I was sitting on the floor becuase there were no chairs left and I stood up for a little bit and I feel someone grab my hand and it is DINA! She had come in a little late. I went from almost crying out of sadness to almost crying out of joy. Then when Elder Ballard spoke I was so relieved, I could feel the spirit so strong. Elder Ballard had all the missionaries stand up after he taught about Joseph Smith and he said these yooung kids are servants of the Lord jesus Christ if you want to find out if what I am saying is true talk to them. He said then tonight go home and pray and ask God if what I am saying is true and when you get your answer be baptized and receive all of the blessings that are waiting for you. It was so so so POWERFUL AND BOLD and as I was standing there it just hit me, like WOW I am a servant of Jesus Christ this is HIS message. Elder Ballard was so bold about baptism, he would say stuff like "why did the missionaries come? because this gospel is true!" "The message that God calls prophets is not crazy he has been doing it since adam" Then after the meeting we all went out and took a picture with him and he shook hands with Sevghi who is preparing to go on a mission and I said Elder Ballard she is going to be the best missionary Moldova has ever seen and he said " No you're all the best missionaries ever now go baptize!" It was hilarious, he was just so blunt.
    Then we caught a flight to Bucuresti and made it to the last 30 minutes of his talk there. The best part about that was ythe fact that ALL MY PEOPLE WERE THERE. Okay not all of them BUT I got to see Familia Fotea and Musat I got to see Razvan who got baptized while I was in Ploiesti I got to see Alesea and Fratele Ciurdrea familia constantinescu and his mom. Radu simon, Anca Ghiman. It was AMAZING. OH AND LACRA too. Did I take any pictures no becuase I am an Idiot I was just SO EXCITED. I did not know I could ever feel this way about so many people, I was hugging people like crazy and almost crying out of joy again and the sprit was just so strong. Elder Ballard shook Lacra's hand and just told her to keep progressing in the gospel and that her life will be so blessed because of it. Then he told Alin Constantinescu's mom to just get baotized already and to have Alin do it. I told her I would be there if she did it. If you don't remember her we gave our heart and sould to her in Constanta and now she is progressing! Back to how much I love these people. I cannot put it into words but I would do anything for these people. It was so good to just refeel those connections especially people like the foteas and musats who I could barely communicate with. When I first got to Romania all I wanted was my home temecula ward I beeged Heavenly Father to change my heart to help me love these people and wow did he help me change my heart. I hope when I get home He will halp me love you guys agauin becuase I cannot imagine loving anymore people the way I love these people. haha jk I still love you guys. 
This is the longest email I have ever sent but my heart is just so full. Elder Ballard gave us a lot of instruction on what we need to do to help these people move towards baptism.
I know that God sent him to us at this time because He knows how much these people are sacrificing, he knows that these countries are ready to commit to this gospel and I am so humbled by the opportunity I had to witness that spirit, to see an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ interact with my favorite people. I am so grateful to be here. I know that the Lord Jesus Christ lives, that He is so vary aware of each one of us, that as we invite souls to come onto him and as sould come unto him it makes his atonement worth it. Elder Ballard said that. As we choose to utilize that incredible gift our Savior gave us, it makes all the pain he felt worth it. My friends and family Christ has called his apostles in the latter-days, no times are not easy, thay are having to make some very serious decisions that we may not always agree with BUT they are Christ's chosen servants the calls they make, the instructions they give are those that Chirst would have us receive. I testify to you that they are never wrong. I do not say this becuase Elder Ballard told me he is an apostle, I testify of this because I felt it, because I prayed to know if he is chosen of God and I found out that he is a living apostle of Jesus Christ. If you question their guidance, if you do not agree with how they choose to deal with the oppostion that is mounting I invite you, I beg you to ask God if they are his chosen servants and have a desire to receive an answer. 
I love you all to the moon and back, 
Sora Armstrong

The Latest Pictures from Moldova & Romania

Baptism in Moldova

P Day Planning Meeting

Brittany & Sora Black with Elder Ballard!!!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Stoked on the Plan

Hey fam bam,
Today has been a crazy pday! So this will be quick.
This week has been awesome! We had two activities the first one was on the book of mormon. I thought it would be a brilliant idea to make mexican food for about 60 people. The idea sounded great and then we realized that you cannot buy tortillas in Moldova so about 100 tortillas later I am writing you now to let you know that it was not a good idea. We did it though with the help of the other soras and sora cooley. We made a lot of tortillas a lot of salsa and a lot of meat. I also graded a ton of cheese and made the white sauce for the burritos. The members loved it! Watching the moldovans try and figure out how to eat the burritos was hilarious they did not want to do it with their hands so they all just kind of picked out the parts they liked but everyone was asking for more so I think it was all worth it. The activity went well. We had a speaker come from Bucharest one of the coolest things he said was that the Book of Mormon translated into romanian has mistakes because it was translated by men but the Book of Mormon in english because it was translated bu God through a man. SO COOL!! Every morning as I read from the Book of Mormon I just get more and more STOKED on the gospel. The other day we said our prayer for companionship study and Sora Black looks at me and goes what did you study and I looked at her and said I AM STOKED ON THE PLAN OF SALVATION!! She laughed for about 5 minutes. The gospel is incredible my friends, study it, use it, LOVE it!
Other fun things that happened this week. I translated yesterday in Sacrament meeting for fast and testimony meeting. I am always nervous translating for stuff like this because you never know what is going to be said. Sora Black and I were switching off. So the first guy that I start translating for, starts with "brother and sister" in english so I am like okay cool english I can chill then starts speaking in romanian about a ping pong tournament that happened at the church 10 years ago so I start translating again then he switches into russian and I was just like okay I have no idea what he is saying. So then it is Sora Black's turn she does an incredible job translating she gives the mic back to me the another stands up and starts going off in RUSSIAN and I was like okay we have an all russian branch people it starts at 11 not 9! Anyway that was fun.
Some awesome stuff has been happening here and we are working with the coolest people!
Yesterday we went and made soup with Dina and her mom. We met her dad and her younger brother also.Her family is great and her parents seem to like us. We also had an awesome lesson about the gospel of Jesus Christ. Dina is preparing to be baptized she feels like right now it is still far away but we were able to promise her that if she continues to come to church to study the book of mormon and to pray sincerely she will be ready. Getting to know her family was great because now we understand her situation a lot better and can really help her in all aspects of her life. She also informed me that I peel potatoes wrong. When I get home I am going to have a whole different style of cooking all these moldovans are always correcting me on my kitchen skills.
Okay then we had another miracle happen with Natalia Botnar. We have been working with her a lot and just have not been able to get her to church. We decided to really be bold with her and commit her to fasting with us. We fasted for her to be able to resolve the problems she is currently having with her son and husband. We called her and started our fast together and then she came to church on Sunday!!! She loved it and you could see how happy it made her. She was loving the lessons and when we called her to break the fast she was audibly doing so much better. She came to church and was rejuvenated by the spirit. And we could see it! So cool. AMAZING things are happening.

It really is incredible how the Lord is preparing these people for amazing things. I am so grateful that I have the chance to just get to know and interact with such amazing humans. Elder Ballard will be visiting us this month and he has challenged us missionaries to have 10 meaningful gospel conversations a day. So guess what my people? That is my challenge for you! The conversation does not have to include Joseph Smith or the Book of Mormon but as you talk with your friends and neighbors with the people you interact with each day, try to make your conversations MEANINGFUL. As baptized members of this church we have the Holy Ghost with us we will be guided and can become tools in God's hands if we are praying and searching for opportunities, take the time to ask how people are, let them know you care, my favorite quote from president Ivory this week is "love people, celebrate people, lift people." There is my challenge for you all. If I can have 10 of these conversations in romanian, you can all do it in english for sure!
Cu drag,
Sora Armstrong