Well, wow, it is Monday once again. That is pretty crazy! I guess in every stage of life it just seems like things get faster and faster, but that is definitely true here! In fact, yesterday was the 3rd which made it my 4-month mark in the mission and my 2-month mark in the field. Though it doesn't seem I am the missionary I should be for having been here for that long (along with the 19 years that were spent preparing for it beforehand) I think that there is some amount of growth that has happened, and I really do hope so because the work is far too important for that not to be the case.
Well, whether or not there has been any improvement for this guy, that doesn't matter that much, it is the Albanian people that I am hoping see that growth in! I have definitely been able to see some and am always always always hoping to see more of that! It is such an awesome feeling when an investigator or less active member comes into a lesson and has read or comes to church or institute and wants to return! Aaaaah! Po, ashtu eshte (Yeah, that's how it is). But, when an investigator comes in that you can see great potential in and they didn't do anything or didn't seek for that answer that you know they need....Aaaaah! (I understand that it looks, in fact, exactly the same between the good and the bad reactions, however I assure you that it is in fact a very very different reaction. The similarity is drawn from Alma where Alma the Younger is relating the story of his conversion and said that he was "filled with joy as was [his] pain", so they were similar, but really very different, like really different). The day-to-day dropped lessons or unaccepting person on the street is a sad thing, but when I see someone that has received some light and knows some of what there is to gain just not move forward with it, well, it makes me feel like the Lord of the vineyard where he cries "What could I have done more for my vineyard?"
This week was Halloween! That is not a very celebrated thing here actually. There are some kids that dress up and stuff and actually the district put on a party for both the youth and the YSA, but they were very heavily American influenced, and you don't even see Halloween candy on sale here ( I know, right?) We did go over to the Lakaj's who lived in America for 10 years and had a little Halloween party which was fun. Another crazy thing, there aren't any Christmas things up yet here. That is a news flash I am not in Midland, Michigan anymore! Do to the fact that the culture is very much so Musliman and that just a rather unreligious culture in general, Christmas here I guess is not a very big thing. Good thing there a a lot of American missionaries around who can help fill that part of my heart as it comes closer. And Mom, I don't believe that we have anything like Thanksgiving here, however, the mission all gets together and celebrates it, so it's all good. The only holiday that I have really seen celebrated here is Bairam (a Muslim holiday) and all that really happened that I saw was people going around saying Gezuar Bairam ( literally meaning "rejoiced Bairam")
Well, tomorrow at Zone Training Elder Austin and I have to give a training on finding because that is an area of missionary work where we have found a bit of success as of late, so I hope that goes well! Here are some thoughts that I have had while preparing for it that really relate to all of missionary work:
1. Francis of Assis said "Preach the Gospel at all times and if necessary use words." What an awesome look at the simpleness of missionary work! All it might take is a smile and looking like you care (and hopefully to accompany that with actually caring). It is amazing how much this is forgotten though! If any missionaries are reading this, hear you me, if you think that mumbling hellos and considering your time well spent if you are just outside, that is so wrong! Be preaching the Gospel in every single thing that you do!
2. Have the Spirit. I guess that this should have probably been written first because it is the most important. "If ye receive not the Spirit, ye shall not teach." Yep.
3. Care. This was mentioned in bullet one, but it is huge. These people are children of God and have real futures in and past this life. They will not receive a fullness of joy without the Gospel. You have the gospel. 1+1= Do everything within your power to help them get that message!
4. It isn't going to always work. Christ was rejected, the only perfect being that has ever lived or will ever live on this earth. He is the Master Teacher and always had that right thing to say that would just have to make people understand that they needed to get baptized and have beautiful in-the-covenant babies with their eternal companion....but they didn't always.
5. We are called to teach those that will accept us, which in turn means those that will repent and hence those that will meet with us and keep commitments. Search for those elect. However, in the midst of searching for the quality, you will have to wade through the quantity. I remember Dad saying that Abinadi was the greatest missionary in the Book of Mormon other than Christ himself. He had one known convert. One. But in order to find that awesome golden one that was Alma the Elder, he preached to the masses! There is a section heading in PMG that says "Talk to Everyone." Do it.
So yeah, those are some of the thoughts that I have been having about missionary work lately. I hope everything is going just awesome at home and that the entire city of Midland ( though especially you Mom) gets over that whooping cough. Love you so much and hoping to do you proud out here!