Hey Michigan (as this basically-American-but-still-Albanian-lady-by-descent-and-current-residence tells me every time that she sees me)!
So this week...happened...and it sure happened in a very happening fashion. A couple interesting people that we met this week: Spartak Hamiti, the Guinness world record holder for juggling a soccer ball. He is a character. We were also street-contacting on Rr. Myslym Shyri -- a favorite past-time of ours -- and met this guy who apparently was the world weightlifting champion at one point. We are kind of a big deal now having met such famous people.
We tend to meet a whole lot of people. A good portion of that is that we go contact whenever people are late for or don't show up to their appointments which is not an uncommon thing. That is a statistic that we have been trying to raise (lesson attendance), but somewhere between missionary efforts and lessons/baptisms/church attendance is a line of personal agency. We have the guys in R&D looking at ways to poke some holes in that barrier, but until then I guess I will be grateful for the opportunity that these wonderful children of God have to make their own choices and learn and grow from their own experience.
One cool thing that we got to do this week is go rock babies at an orphanage. We have a set of missionaries go over every week and help out with this and it was great. While I was there and after I thought a bit about how those babies got were they were and what would happen to them afterward. I have definitely lived a life blessed by the Lord to raise me in a beautiful and ideal environment. Because I have in my life what I do (support, security, experiences), that has got to mean that there are people out there for me to help -- and by out there I mean right here in the Adriatic South Mission.
So I just saw a heading on LDS.org that said "Bloom Where You are Planted" and that is actually something that I have thought about a lot within the last several months. It is interesting to be a missionary out here surrounded by other missionaries and all be striving for the same purpose -- even though we are all so very different! I will hear sometimes things about other missionaries who have gone and done great things or are currently doing some awesome things, and that is great. However what really gets me is when they are put up on some untouchable stand of missionary-excellence. It is so important to remember that we are called to the work where we are called and when we are called for a reason. Though it might not be in the plan of Heavenly Father for everyone to have an incredibly number-filled mission (check out Abinadi), but He certainly called us to be where we are for the purpose of serving our Lord and Master with our utmost might and zeal and no language barrier or lack of being in a "golden" area can change that! This is not even just for missionary work at all. No matter who you are, remember who's you are and do your best to exemplify that. When the servant of the Lord of the vineyard in Zenos' allegory of the olive tree asked why a good and fruitful tree had been initially planted in such a poor spot of ground, the Lord of the vineyard responds, "Counsel me not, I knew that it was a poor spot of ground" . You are exactly in the right place and time in existence to fulfill the Lord's plan for you, so do it!
This week I was able to study a bit in Mosiah and I realized again how cool Gideon is. In this part of the Book of Mormon the Lamanites had come to war against the people of Limhi because some of their daughters had been kidnapped and ended getting driven back for the time being by Limhi's people. Gideon, when he learned that both the king of the Lamanites as well as Limhi suspected that the people of Limhi were suspected of this crime came forth and decided to put the record straight. He not only remembered the priests of Noah that were in the wilderness and proposed them as the probable suspects, but I think more than that he looked at their situation in relation to the words of the prophet Abinadi. It made me think about how I look at the world. Do I think about my surroundings and how to act based upon the words of prophets, apostles, and other church leaders? When I must make a big decision do I both study it out in my own mind and turn to the Lord's words to make that decision? I know that it is something that I can definitely improve on and I would really encourage you to turn to the words of the Lord's servants, that is why they are there! He loves you so much and wants to show you in every way that he can that that is true.
Well, I hope that you have a fantastic week and find some great ways to be a better disciple of Christ everyday! I love Elder Bednar's words "The Lord needs all of us...to be...good boys," and I think that relates to all genders.
Our Mission Conference held on US Thanksgiving Day 2013
Preparation day bowling outing with most of the Tirana Zone