Another week has indeed come and passed. Crazy stuff. I know. I am living it in fast forward out here.
So the work here in Tirona continues! We are still finding a lot of new investigators to try and build up our teaching pool. I really like finding. I think that that is a pretty rare thing as a missionary, but I think that it is great. There is no other time where you get to meet so many different people or just see the crazy quirkiness of Albanians more so than finding. That, and I just feel super kot (lazy, useless) whenever we aren't in a lesson or finding.
One thing that I had decided to do at the end of last transfer and that Elder Jorgensen and I have tried to here is do more member work. We did basically straight investigator work last transfer which allowed us to work hard, but this might be a way to work a bit smarter. We split up the branch list between the 3 different companionships in 3rd Branch and have been working on finding those less actives on our list. This is a fairly daunting task actually. But in a really exciting way. If you are lucky, the member will have a full address on the list which includes a road name, a pallat (apartment building) number, what stariwell they live in, and the room number. So when you get that information you first try to call the phone number that might be there too -- but usually they don't exist anymore. So, you go to the road that they live on -- often un-labeled -- and start to find the pallat. Most of the pallats aren't numbered anywhere visible and so you kinda just ask xhaxhis (old guys) if they know where pallat 14 (or whatever) is. Most of the time it is a no because there are so many of them, so we ask if they know what one of the pallats close by is to which they will say something like "that one over there is 68" -- but in Albanian (ai pallat andej eshte pallati gjashtedhjetetete). So you walk down a little bit and do the same thing until someone says a number that is pretty close to the one you are looking for. (I think that the way these pallats were built really was starting from 1 and then continuing on sequentially, but they just kind of built them wherever there was extra space somewhere in the general proximity of the road and made it the next one...which leads to a somewhat without-rhyme-or-reason feel, but not completely). So then you go and start doing the exciting part. You go to all of the pallats near-ish by and try to find what one they are. This might be spray-painted on the wall somewhere or otherwise marked, but probably not. Then you try and find the water or electricity bills that are usually laying at the bottom of the stairs (this is one really good thing about no one paying their bills) and those will usually say what the address of the pallat is. This is repeated until the pallat is found. Then you start tracting to see if anyone knows this person (and if they don't you try to see if they are interested to hear a message about the Gospel).
That has been a big part of my excitement for the week. We have some investigators that I am pretty excited about. Xhemaj was found street contacting and he is awesome. We have been able to meet with him a few times and put him on a baptismal date. He also came to church which was awesome! We are really hoping to see him keep on progressing. Altin was also found street-contacting. He was wearing a security uniform so I thought he was on-duty, but said hi anyway...and he stopped! We were supposed to meet him a half-hour before church. Then he didn't answer is phone -- but called us back about 15 minutes later and said he would be there in 20 minutes, so Elder Jorgensen and Elder Harvi stayed at the church with our investigators and Elder Pierce and I went out to go get him. After 20 minutes he said he would be there in 10. After 10 he said he would be there is 5. So then 10 minutes later he came! It was pretty amazing how fast the anxiety and frustration that I had had vanished once he showed up! He came to the last half of Sacrament meeting and then had to go because his two-year old was sick. He and his family need the Gospel! I mean, everyone does, but he does especially right now!
That is awesome about the new ward mission plan! If everyone here were giving us 4 referrals a year we would be really busy! Also having member-lessons be part of the ward mission plan is really cool because it really gets the members to be part of the missionary work when they are in on lessons with the missionaries and watching someone receive the Gospel. So, way to go.
But a little more about my companion. He is quirky. He sings in the shower and likes to talk with people he knows (if he doesn't know them he is a bit more quiet). But yeah, that's all I got. Vetem kaq.
Something funny that happened this week was while we were contacting and we stopped this couple and started talking to them. We asked if they were besimtare (basically if they believe in God). They said yes and then the woman turned to her husband and said "si quhemi ne?" or 'what are we called?'. He thought for a second and said muslim and she turned back to us and said 'yes, we are Muslim'. That is not they way we should live our beliefs by the way. If someone ever asks what you believe, I hope there is no hesitation or asking they person next to you to remind you.
Well, keep it real back there state-side! Love ya tons and am trying hard to make you proud and be a good boy out here in Albania!