Church opens door to richer life

Joining the Church opened the door to a new and richer life for Araks Alvandi and her husband, Victor, who are part of this city's large Armenian population.

"I know that since we have been members of the Church, I feel with all my heart that we have been blessed," said Sister Alvandi."The Alvandi family were Christians for many years before they left their homeland in northern Africa and moved to Austria.

"We attended many churches in Austria, but my husband was very interested when he met the missionaries for the first time. He read the Book of Mormon and compared it with the Bible, and felt it was true. He prayed and talked about it with me and he was baptized Nov. 16, 1993. I was baptized two weeks after in December 1993; actually, he baptized me."

After their baptism they attended services at the International Branch in Vienna. It was there that they learned about the Armenian Branch in the Glendale California Stake. When they moved to the United States, they chose to live in Glendale.

They were welcomed by friendly members of the Armenian Branch and soon given callings, she said.

"At first my husband wanted to live in Salt Lake City, and we went to see Salt Lake, and it was very interesting to us but we preferred to stay here because we had callings in the Armenian Branch."

She was called as Primary president, and later as Relief Society president. He was called as as a counselor in the branch presidency.

"Moving to a new country for the first time is difficult," she said. "It doesn't matter if it is the United States or any other place."

The branch helped people adjust to the new land and helped them find work.

Despite the numbers of people moving in, the branch is growing very little.

She said her family has adjusted well to the new surroundings. "My children, Roni and Renatay, like this area, but the most important thing is for them to attend Church."

After being members of the Armenian Branch for four years, the Alvandi family took the next step and moved to the Glendale 2nd Ward where they could improve their English.

"In the International Branch in Vienna, I felt the real Spirit of the Church because they had so many members. When I moved to the Armenian Branch, there were very few members, 10 or 15, attending every Sunday. So it was a little bit odd for me, but now I understand that it is not the quantity of the people necessary to feel the Spirit."

"The Spirit is the same," she said. "No matter where you go, the Church doesn't change."

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