Mission Map

Mission Map
Central Eurasian Mission: Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, and Uzbekistan


February 5, 2018


My three (kind of) greenies: Yasli Kanongata'a, Yasli Heck, and Yasli Bennion 
Some good old acik ayran

With Yasli Rasmussen

February 5, 2018

Week 102

Ne ekersen onu bicersin

(You reap what you sow)

*Weren't able to go to the public bath last week-- The Izmir volunteers had some really bad issues to deal with, "since they couldn't come, we didn't go, instead we had a foosball tournament at the church haha. Turkish baths are pretty much spas, but not nearly as formal. Some are coed, but most are not."
*"This week went by so fast, mostly because of zone conference and it was great. Sister Davis taught how God literally knows everyone of His billions of spirit children perfectly, and how divine our calling is to help bring them back into the fold. President Davis talked about many topics, and one of them I think I will mention in my homecoming talk--having high love and high expectations. Volunteer Johnson, Sister Vail and I gave our departing testimonies and that was rough.  I really loved Volunteer Johnson's."
*"Also a couple of weeks ago, President Davis invited the entire mission(volunteers and members) to fast yesterday for our upcoming harvest day, which will be Wednesday.  We will be focusing on finding families and bringing less actives and part member families back! We truly believe we will see many miracles on Sunday from here on, as this will be our focus."
*Not able to meet with our chicken and rice guy--for some reason he quit his new job that he got last week. "We did meet with quite a few potentials! Volunteer Bennion has been getting quite a few phone numbers and we also got multiple referrals this past week--from the internet and past investigators that somehow found our numbers.  We were able to meet with some of them. AND Sunday morning a random guy called me asking where our church building was. He said that he'd been before and wanted to come.  I sent him the address and he showed up with a friend.  They loved church and both asked when they could get baptized!! That's like a story you would hear in South America!  The Lord's work is not different anywhere in the world and He touches hearts and prepares people everywhere in the world."
*"Dang! I can't believe the Eagles beat the Pats!  Yasli Johnson is an Eagles fan and is super upset he missed it haha."
* Going to the Grand Bazaar today for probably the last time
*"I'll be ready for homecoming fireside- I"ll be ready for them!"
*"Love you guys so much! Two weeks...it's starting to hit me!"
With the Huntingtons

With Yasli Earl (N.Ogden Utah)

With Yasli Heck (Alaska)

With Yasli LaMay (Idaho)

With Yasli Mazzei (Argentina)

Kebap dinner! Mine was of sheep heart!

Kokorec- intestine sandwich!

My breakfast I fixed this morning!


January 29, 2018

Week 101

*Talking about the Pure Love of Christ
*Tender mercy this week! "So we went to surprise our chicken and rice friend at his chicken and rice stand on Wednesday. But, when we got there, we found out that since it was super cold, he wan't working, we walked all the way there for nothing. So, instead we were going to find people to talk to and not even FIVE minutes later he calls us and says that he has work off and can we meet up tonight. Usually people don't ever call us first and say they want to meet up, we always have to make the "first move," But we were able to meet with him and it was such a good lesson! We had talked about fasting and why we do it. He told us on Wednesday that he had decided to fast. He fasted the night before and loved it. It was so cool to have him tell us that and to see what an impact it had on him."
*As of Friday, the chicken and rice friend has a new job! "We'll still call him the chicken and rice man, though."
*Thoughts and feelings about Alma 26
*Thinking about the airport and who will be there! "There's really no one that I don't want to see."
*"I'm grateful for the knowledge of The Fall and for Adam and Eve, as well as the entire Plan of Salvation."
*Today, Some of us volunteers are going to a hamam (public bath). I will try and take some good pictures because this is most likely my last time at one :( Tomorrow we will have zone conference (my last one) :( and probably the last time I will see the Izmir and Ankara volunteers. Maybe tomorrow will be when it kicks in that I'm going home soon, because for some reason it still hasn't yet."
*The first snow of the winter this week!, calm and warm winter so far this year.
* "Wish I could express my love and appreciation, but thank goodness for eternity, right?"

Meeting to announce the new mission boundaries and changes


January 22, 2018


*"I'm gonna start with a tender mercy!  Lately I've been frustrated and  I asked Heavenly Father to soften my heart and He did!  I was able to see such a difference in my heart.
*"Yesterday during Sunday School and Elders Quorum everyone was chiming in, giving such good insights and bearing testimony despite how little our numbers were. When our teacher asked a question there was never an awkward silence--there never is. The members here love talking about the Gospel and how it's changed their lives.  I know that I will miss them more than anyone when I go home. God helped open my eyes and see what a blessing that is."
*Quite a bit of finding this week.
*"I asked Yasli Bennion to help me not get trunky haha."
*Big news!  The mission is changing in July-- Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan will be part of a Russian mission and Bulgaria will be added to the Central Eurasian Mission!
*Electricity and gas running out are a norm here.  "Cold showers? haha"
*"I highly recommend the "Joseph" cd you sent me for Christmas, you should listen to it, it's seriously my favorite music to listen to out here."
* Mormon 9:27,"Scripture that I LOVED this week!"
"O then despise not, and wonder not, but hearken unto the words of the Lord, ans ask the Father in the name of Jesus for what things soever ye shall stand in need. Doubt not, but be believing, and begin as in times of old, and come unto the Lord with all your heart, and work out your own salvation with fear and trembling before him."


January 15, 2018

Week 99

Demirden korkan trene binmez

(The one who is scared of iron will never ride a train)

*'So Elder Bennion is my companion. He's from Oregon, has TWELVE siblings!  One of his older brothers actually served here from 2012-2014, so that is super SWEET! I really like working with him,  he enjoys the work, so I don't have to do much training haha. I've gotten pretty lucky with all of the volunteers I've been called to train."
*Will have the chance to watch the broadcast of President Nelson tomorrow--very excited!
* Commenting on news from home---
*"Thanks for sharing your experiences with me, they are true testimony builders."
*"Everything we go through, whether good or bad, is for our good; we probably can't see that in the near future."
*"We did quite a bit of hitting the streets and talking to people this week. It's pretty refreshing to doing normal volunteer work. We met a man on the metro who lived in Brooklyn for a couple of years, so he spoke fluent English and even had a Brooklyn accent. He explained that he went to so many churches and that they all confused him, so we explained the JS story to him and he was really impressed. He actually asked US if we could meet up.  We are going to try and meet with him this week! Miracles are REAL."
*Prayers for all friends who are investigating, that they will all progress
*God Speed and LOVE
Good ole Turkish greeting!

Ready to get to work!


January 8, 2018

Week 98
Peygamberimiz icin sukurler olsun Allah'imiza
(for the prophet's sake)

*"Since I've served in a place where the tought of a modern prophet and continuing revelation are looked at as ridiculous, I've had to gain a lot stronger testimony in that area. I know that because God loves us and because He will never stop loving us (as in every human to ever live), He will always provide a leader for His Church, and one to reveal His word to us. I'm very grateful for the example Thomas S. Monson set for all of us. I know he was a real man and a prophet of God."
*Still teaching the "chicken and rice man"
* Exchanges with the zone leaders--that went well
*"I get to meet my new companion on Wednesday and introduce him to Turkey. He will be one of the new volunteers coming from LA. The visas were banned but the US and Turkey skyped the problems out and it has all gotten better between them.."
*"I'm honestly so excited to train during my last six weeks!  I think that this is what I need; it'll help me stay focused and continue to work hard."
* Got the last of the packages!
* "Thank you for the insight from Job 5-don't think I've come across that one before. I really like that one."
*Explained Islam's Plan of Salvation--SOME similarities
*Lots of Love, "thank you for your endless love and support--I'm gonna give the Lord and the Turkish people all that I have these next 6 weeks!"


January 1, 2018

Week 97

* "Just like last year--we had to stay indoors starting at 6:30 p.m. for New Year's eve. It doesn't get too crazy here, but they just want to make sure we're safe."
* Good news that more guys from the ward are getting mission calls!
*Figuring out some logistics of coming home-- soon!
*Gave a talk in church yesterday about setting goals. "I invited everyone to set goals focused on helping other people, not just goals to help ourselves. So, I"ll definitely be focused on ways to help people this year, right there with ya!"
*Insights on Alma 26 (It is a family challenge that he gave to us)
* "It was great seeing you on Christmas Day, an hour was definitely better, but we still could have used more time."
*"We were able to meet with our doner friend (although now he has another job selling chicken and rice, so we'll call him "rice man."). He came to church for the second week in a row! He's a really cool guy and loves meeting with us.  He also loves the "Blue Book." We're super excited to see what happens with him!"
*Not too much to report, "this week flewwww by!"
*"We get new volunteers soon the visa ban was lifted! We'll get them on the 9th!"

Yasli Marusiak, a member, and me in Antep :)

Some Antep food

We were able to take a boat tour of the entire Bosphorus! It was way cool but it took 4 hours!

December 25, 2017

Week 96

Merry Christmas!

Skype is such a blessing!!!!


December 18, 2017

Dunyay Aydinlat

(Illuminate the World)

Week 95

*"Kedi" Documentary- "That's so funny that you found that, we'll watch it when I get home."
*Having a hard time finding (English) words lately haha
* "Thanks for sharing your insights about Alma--it didn't dampen my mood at all."
*"So, back in October President Dogan, the branch president in Antep, introduced us to his aunt and we've been teaching her since then. She and President Dogan's daughter were going to get baptized together on Saturday. The morning of the baptism, her children forbade it and stopped her from coming; it was really sad. She called President Dogan crying. Yasli Grover baptized the daughter and I confirmed her the next day.  I'm glad that President Dogan wanted us to do that."
*Next Saturday, there will be another "pool party" and I was asked to do the honors, so it will be the second person I've actually dunked, both in Antep."
*Wait til Christmas to open the packages "or can I when I get them?"
*This week flew by-3 day zone conference and another weekend in Antep. "Zone conference was great. It was, of course, centered around Christ and I definitely felt my relationship with Him strengthen. We played a game called "the left and right game" and then we had a while elephant gift exchange. We need to start making that a tradition every year. It is HILARIOUS. My gift was my wooden watch from Tony. Yaski LaMay opened it and then Yasli Johnson stole it. I ended up with a Turkish-Arabic Kuran, but I already have one, so I gave it a volunteer who didn't have one. We then decorated gingerbread men, had dinner, then had a devotional on the history of the Church in Turkey from Brother Cakir."
*Wednesday--displayed a Nativity. "We also sang for older people in a Catholic nursing home. It went really well and they appreciated it a lot."
*"Yasli Grover and I were able to meet with our doner friend and he has a desire to learn more and come to church when he can get off work. We're planning on meeting with him tonight. Please keep the people of Turkey in your prayers, that their work schedules will allow them to come to church on Sundays."
*Skype happens in a week "woooo!" This time it will be a whole hour!!!
*Love and miss and appreciate the support
Yasli Grover and me

The MoCollums had us over for their son's 14th birthday. They go back to America in a few days-we will miss them a TON

Helping decorate President's tree.

Helping decorate President's tree

Decorating the gingerbread men

Waiting for the white elephant exchange to begin


December 11, 2017

Week 94

* Better attitude this week--Able to get some things done. However, still struggling with a little bit of negativity in the companionship.
*Tender Mercy happened right when this email was being written! Definitely what was needed."Holy smokes, the Church is true!"
*"Our doner friend is super busy because of work. He hasn't read very much of the "blue book", but he still loves it when we stop by. He basically agrees with everything we have taught him and he wants to come to church an keep on learning.
*Haha, spelling Nephi like Nefi. "I'm just used to spelling it that way now."
*"This week we were able to "Light the World" almost every day. For example, I've tried not to be judgmental in Any circumstance. It's way harder than I though. It's something I need to get a lot better at, so I'm gonna keep at it."
*"Last week were a little late paying our monthly rent to our landlord. She seems like a lonely older lady, so we bought her some bakalava to apologize and be friends with her. We were kind of nervous to give it to her because we weren't sure how she'd react. BUT it did end up making er very happy and we were happy we did it."
*"Last night President Cakir and his family invited us to dinner. We were able to read the scriptures with them and have a spiritual conversation."
*Crazy night tonight! only 10 minutes before bed, and just now able to write."So many things popped up that prevented us from emailing earlier.  Sorry I can't make this longer.I  have a lot more to say. Just know that I love you, I love where I'm at and what I'm doing. I love my Savior Jesus Christ and the "blue book" has changed my life!"
We got your tree! I love how you put "Santa Cows" in there!



December 4, 2017

Week 93

*Pool party~that was E. Nattress siphoning the pool
*"Our friend who was progressing the most told us Friday that he wanted to take a break from meeting with us, it felt like a big slap in the face. He was progressing so well and was befriending a ton of people in the branch, then this happened. We are, however, meeting with a guy that works at a doner place close to our house. We went there one time. He asked what we do.  We told him and he asked for a "blue book".  We were actually so busy for quite a few days so we never had the chance to stop by and give him one. He waw us crossing his restaurant he called us over and asked for his book. We felt sooo bad so we gave him one right away the next day. We also sat down with him and explained what it was and everything.  He seemed very interested and promised us he would read it.  We'll see how he progresses."
*Appreciative of spiritual insight. "This week I learned how I need to have more faith when I talk to people and just let the Lord take over. I worry too much about what I'm gonna say/ask because I HATE awkward situation. BUT in Helaman 7 when Nefi (Nephi) is praying on the tower and all the people stopped an mocked him, he stood  up wnr in g45e4 13 it  he 'opened his mouth' If he would have just awkwardly stood there and let the people look at him, he wouldn't have changed their hearts like he did as well as tell of the prophecy of the murder of the chief judge. So it's important to have faith instead of fear.
*Tender mercies- They are ALWAYS there. "I will pay more attention and do better at remembering them so that I can share them with you."
*"The Light the World initiative is awesome. I can see it already strengthening our members and volunteers, our entire mission really."
*Personal study- still in Helaman
*President Davis found a service project. "We go to a retirement home run by foreign Catholic nuns. This week Yasli Grover and I got to go feed some elderly ladies (as in spoon feeding them). I was not excited, I was actually dreading it on our way. BUT once we got there, the patrons were so nice and they loved  us there."
*Zone conference in two weeks (already). The day after the whole Turkey zone is going back to the nursing home to do a big project.
*This coming Saturday, the Catholic church is hosting a huge fundraiser. All of the Istanbul volunteers will help with that "Way excited for that!!!!
I can actually put up with cats now, but this one can't put up with me!

#Light the World!  We helped this man feed all of these cats in this park that he runs

A really good quote from Elder Holland


November 27, 2017

Week 92

*"What people write to me is always beneficial and meaningful!"
*A TON happened this week!
*Were invited (along with another companionship) to an American family's house for Thanksgiving, "so we got to have two Thanksgivings, haha, don't worry, I'm not sad when you tell me you set a place for me at dinner, haha."
*"I always have a prayer in my heart, whether it's asking for motivation to talk to someone, asking to know who to talk to or what to say/ask. OR praying for my companion when he's teaching a lesson."
*Not much personal study this week--way too busy, and the studying was planning for lessons.
*The Book of Mormon question and what was learned will be revealed next week.
*The Davis's decided to host a family home evening for some investigators/members. "We brought a friend and a less active member, it went really well and I love that the Davis's did that!"
*Tuesday-"E.Grover and I had the opportunity to go with and translate for President and Sister Davis and the Bassetts (the humanitarian couple), at an American Protestant church. The purpose was to see if the volunteers could do service there. The pastor is such a nice man and the church is doing some amazing things. They take in so many Armenian kids who are living on the streets, and give them education, clothing, food, and a place to sleep. They do all of this even thought their church is pretty small. Going there and seeing all of the kids and what they have to go through was so humbling, just like when E. Nahle and I went to visit all of the Syrian kids and deliver hygiene kits to them."
*Tuesday night- A newer volunteer passed out three times in the same day and was sent home because of that. "He flew into Istanbul Wednesday. E. Grover and I spent the whole day with him and sent him home the next morning. It was pretty rough for him, but he still had a great spirit. Hopefully he'll get to return in a few months."
*Went with E. Johnson to Gaziantep "Antep"  "On Saturday right after we flew in, we went to the familiar village E. Grover and I had visited before to teach a lady who has a dunk date! She only has one or two more lessons left and we are so excited for her. We also taught two more people who have a ton of potential. We introduced the "Light the World" campaign and I hope you, dad and Alli do that, it's such a cool idea."
*Also spent a lot of time with E. Grover translating "Light the World" into Turkish so that the members could participate with the rest of the world.
*Love and always in prayers
Me-in a beautiful Istanbul view

More amazing Antep food

A picture I took 5 minutes ago--on the way back to Istanbul


November 20, 2017

Week 91

*Details about the Thanksgiving meal and what was eaten: a TON of turkey, pumpkin pie, stuffing, mashed potatoes, typical Thanksgiving stuff.
*Elder Christison's fireside last Saturday morning was "amazing"  "We learned so much about Joseph Smith and how much of a miracle the coming forth of the Book of Mormon was, I'll have to share some of it when I get back,  I wrote about it in my zone conference journal.'
*The theme of zone conference was The Holy Ghost and how we need to have him as our third companion at all times. "It was definitely the most spiritual zone conference and probably my favorite one." E. Heck and E. LaMay role played teaching the Restoration-- "It was so spiritual that almost everyone was crying." President and Sister Davis gave great insights, and the new zone leaders were able to teach for the first time! They talked about recognizing weaknesses through the Spirit and improving them. "E. Grover and I got everyone excited for the harvest day that happened the next day, by introducing new ways to go finding. We also talked about how we can improve our language skills, since most of the mission is really young."
*The recent challenge: To keep a MEANINGFUL prayer in our heart--"I always do have one, but I'm gonna have to try harder this next week because it wasn't as meaningful as it could have been."
*President Cakir's son got back from his mission this week (from Germany)! He gave his homecoming talk on Sunday. "I did an exchange with him in Germany, not sure if you remember that, but it was awesome to see him."
*New challenge: to write down a question before we start reading The Book of Mormon and to see if it can give us the answer.
*Personal study is in Helaman


November 13, 2017

Week 90

*Got package two weeks ago!
*One of the best preparation days in the whole mission today! "With zone conference coming up tomorrow, all of the volunteers came in from Izmir and Ankara last night. This morning we all got to play football and have a Turkey Bowl. Since we have an Argentine and an Italian, we also played a little soccer. Playing football today with all of the volunteers was probably the most fun I've ever had playing football. We all just laughed the entire time and it never got competitive. We then got showered and headed over to the mission home and had sooooo much good food."
*Made cheese spaghetti--Volunteer Grover helped and it turned out pretty good!
*Tonight will be a pre-zone conference devotional about Joseph Smith, given by E. Christinson, s senior volunteer in Ankara. Tomorrow- zone conference!
*"President Davis gave us a few really good and loving thoughts before we ate our Thanksgiving feast.. I was super sad to be gone for Thanksgiving, but I know that next year will be awesome with everybody."
*I'm so grateful for my Savior, not only the saving power that comes from His Atonement, but for the enabling power that comes as well (Alma 7:11-13) "And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people, and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities. Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me."
*Grateful to be on a mission, especially in Turkey and for all of the people
*"One of the greatest gifts we can receive is more light and knowledge, and I've been able to receive those from so many people I've met here."
*About President Davis: "He is very loving about anything he tells us, even when he's telling us when we need to do better--he does it in a very Christ-like way."
*"I love 2Timothy 1:7! For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.  And I also love your challenge. Fearing God over people is one of the hardest things to do, but it's because we (natural man) make it that way. Overcoming weakness is a huge step toward becoming like Christ."
*Tender mercies--keep on noticing and writing down!
*Love you, grateful for all!
The cheese spaghetti! :)

The gang playing football (real football)


November 7, 2017

Week 89

*"Please give Micky a hundred thank you's and tell him that I love him also. Will keep (family members) in my prayers."
*This past week was able to work with Volunteers Rasmussen and Johnson!  They are in a trio with Volunteer Nattress (Istanbul zone leader). Volunteer Grover did an exchange with him~ "We went to see a yogurt maker that an American family in the branch met, and told us to visit. He's really a nice guy but not as interested as we hoped, but we'll still go back and talk to his co-worker :)"
*"Volunteer Johnson is one of my best friends, and I got to work with Volunteer Kanongata'a again--I love that guy too! He's got one of those smiles that is so big it forces his eyes shut, he's a big teddy bear."
*With being in Izmir for preparation day, wanted to see if tickets could be changed in order to go to Ephesus, but it didn't work, maybe some other time.
*MLC was "great" Volunteers Nattress and Earl joined for the first time as zone leaders "and we were all inspired and uplifted by President Davis, I"m usually the scribe, and that's okay. haha"
*Will keep looking for and writing down tender mercies!
*Sure do love and appreciate, thank you so much for being you!
I can make a good breakfast every morning now!

Our view flying from Izmir a few hours ago

Cig Kofte

With Yasli Kanongata'a