Friday, March 23, 2012

From Armenia with Love

Privet family!
To start this email off, I'm sorry that I wasn't able to send you guys anything until now. We didn't have a P-day in Armenia and we just got back last night around 8 PM so things have been a little crazy haha. You're probably wondering how my trip was and everything so I'm just going to jump right into that. I'll start from last Saturday. So I went on a split with Elder Moss last Saturday so that we could do our last minute Armenia things. We had to pull lots of money off and then change it into American dollars and stuff. The office messed up and put my money on a different elder's card because there was a mix-up with our names (first name Taylor, his last name is Taylor) so I had to end up pulling off $200 from my account. I wasn't very happy about this. I got it reimbursed to me but there's no way for me to put it back into my account that I know of so I think what I'm going to do is change it into US dollars and just keep it throughout my mission or something. Or I might sneak it in a package I send home to you soon with Armenia souvenirs. I'll tell you what I end up doing. So anyway, Saturday we had to do all this money stuff and pack a bag and then we got on a train and traveled from Kharkov to Donetsk. It left at 10:06 PM and got in around 6 AM. We're lucky that we caught it because we got halfway there and I realized that I forgot the tickets so we had to beeline back to Elder Moss' apartment, grab the tickets, then catch a taxi and ride to the train station. It was crazy! But we got there alright and caught it. We rode down with another elder in our group from Kharkov named Elder Mika. He's from Alpine I think. So it was just us three on the train. It was an absolutely miserable ride. It was like 90 degrees and our window was broken and we were all just sweating the whole ride. Elder Moss had Settlers of Catan sent to him from home so we settled catan for a while and then tried to sleep but we hardly slept at all. When our train got in we left and then stayed with the elders in Center Donetsk (which is where I went for a week when I went to Donetsk if you remember). We went to church with the center elders. The branch there is doing awesome. It was like going to church in the US kind of. Not as many people of course but the members just understood how to do their callings and stuff. Then after Church we came home and just crashed haha. I felt guilty for taking a Sunday nap but it felt so good though! We were just dead tired. After this we went to the office and filled out our paperwork then called it a night. The next morning at like 5 we got up and got a taxi then drove to the Donetsk airport. We first flew to Kiev, then to Armenia from there. We got to Kiev around 8:30 in the morning and we found out that our flight to Armenia got delayed by several hours, so we decided to pool our money and take a taxi through Center Kiev instead of waiting like 4 hours at the airport. On our way there, our driver took us to the Kiev Temple!!! It was amazing!! We were only there like 15 minutes but it was so cool to just be on the grounds. We took lots of pictures there and then continued on our tour of Center Kiev. I can't wait to go back to the Kiev Temple but really go there at the end of my mission. It's gonna be awesome. Center Kiev was beautiful. It was kind of the same as Center Kharkov, but just with nicer buildings and stuff. We came back from this and then caught our plane to Armenia. We flew to the capital city, Yerevan. It was pretty cool flying over the Caspian Sea and seeing it frozen and with snow and then landing in Armenia and seeing like a middle-eastern desert. As soon as we entered the airport there we had to convert some money into Armenian Dram and buy passports to be there. Then after this we met the driver for the mission there. His name was Ruben and he was the best driver in Europe haha. We all went to this Georgian restaurant and ate dinner. It was pretty good food. Some of it was nasty but most of it was good. After this he drove us to the mission home and we met the mission president and his wife there, President and Sister Carter. They gave us an outline of our schedule and just talked about the mission in Armenia and stuff. There was a group from this mission that went to Armenia last week and there were 2 elders. They had to proselyte for their trip. But we found out that because our group was so big (7 elders and 1 sister) that we didn't have to split up with their missionaries and that we could just break off into two groups and explore Yerevan while we got new visas. So we just split into our MTC rooms and I was with Elders Moss, Lewis, and Groothuyzen. Yerevan was an amazing place! I can't really describe it with words, it was kind of similar to Ukraine just because people talked Russian and there were the same apartment buildings but other than this it was completely different. It was very clean and the people were super nice. Many people spoke English that we talked to on the streets and were very helpful. And everyone knew Russian and were always happy to hear Russian and speak with us. I don't really know how missionary work is done there because proselyting isn't allowed, but the Church is growing there. So basically for my trip we just got to walk around Yerevan and take tons of pictures and go sight-seeing. I took lots of pictures but I'll send you a lot on Monday when I have more time. There is an elder here in this mission now from Armenia. He is getting trained right now. His brother is in charge of all the visas for missionaries in Armenia so we got to meet him and he helped us get everything in order. He's also a branch president there. So when we weren't doing visa things we were just walking around and sight-seeing. There was a KFC and Pizza Hut so of course we stopped by there haha. Everyone told us that they wouldn't taste the same but they tasted almost exactly like America, it was awesome! I don't really know what else to say about Armenia now, other than it's probably the coolest place I've ever been. I doubt I'll ever go back there but I wouldnt've minded staying longer there haha. When I send you pictures you can just see for yourself. Our last day there was Wednesday and we just went souvenir shopping, picked up our visas, then went to the airport. I'll be sending some things home for you. We then flew back to Kiev Wednesday night and then to Donetsk from there. We got in around 10:30 PM. We stayed the night with the center elders again, then we left yesterday afternoon around 1 PM back to Kharkov by train. Lots of traveling but it was an awesome experience and trip! I'm grateful that I got to go and that we all stayed safe throughout it. And now I'm back and trying to get adjusted to missionary life again haha.
So this was my trip and week! I'll email you again on Monday and get back on schedule with emails and such. Sorry I didn't send any pictures with this. I was going to send a few but this computer won't let me. I'll send tons on Monday. If you have certain questions that I didn't answer in this then email me and I'll answer them. I'm short on time now so I've got to wrap this up. I love you all very much and hope that all is well with you. Everyone just keep on keepin on! Have a great week!

с любовью,
старейшина каун
украинская донецкая миссия

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