Monday, January 6, 2014

#26 First New Companion and District News

Hey Momma,

Look how good our family looks! (referring to this photo:)

Did you get your hair shorter than usual, Mom? Maybe it isn't any different, I am not very good at that whole haircut noticing thing. You look good either way!

Before I forget, here is the picture of me. Sorry that the resolution isn't awesome, that is the highest resolution that the camera can do. (Photo requested by family to make full size poster to use at upcoming weddings.)

But wow, it sounds like the Christmas break was awesome! The new missionaries got into the country on the 3rd (there are 8 Elders and 8 Sisters) so that is pretty cool. My new district is just the Tirana 3rd branch which means that it is the Zone Leaders (Elders Pierce and Harvey), the Sisters (Sister Hawkins and Defriez) and us. Sister Defriez is right out of the MTC from Grand Blanc, so it was really cool to find that Michigan connection!

So with Elder Jorgensen, we are assigned as co-senior companions rather than having a junior and senior companion. He is a pretty passive guy, so I tend to be a bit more of the voice, but I am really trying to back off a bit sometimes with that. I think we are so far doing a pretty good job of our missionary work without the experience in the field that other missionaries have. I am a really firm believer that energy and desire to do missionary work trumps experience when the experienced one doesn't want to do anything. My language might be just a little bit better, but we are both continuing in that field that is for sure. One of the coolest things about the language is hearing people randomly "start" to say words or phrases all of a sudden that you had never noticed before. Most of language study consists of reading out loud from the Book of Mormon in Albanian, so if any foreign language speakers had any other great ideas I would love to hear them.

But, the work has been starting to roll a little bit more here. We were able to get a lot of numbers and first lessons in the last couple days of this past week, so fingers crossed that those individuals will continue to show forth that interest and grow in their faith. One thing that I have seen more than really ever before on the mission is people that don't really believe in God. Here in Albania, almost everyone has some sort of a belief in God even if they don't really act on that faith. I think maybe it is the "hip" thing or something now because within 3 days we had conversations with three 18-20-year-old girls that don't believe in God. The thing that I could really see though as we talked to them is that either they had some sort of a desire to believe or at least are not against the idea that there could indeed exist a Supreme Being. This led to several discussions on faith and hope generally stemming from Alma 32. I love how in Alma it talks about how even if we have but a desire to believe, we need to let that desire work within us and that desire can grow to a hope which can then become faith and then a sure knowledge. The Gospel isn't just a message for some people, it is a message for everyone. Heavenly Father has created ways for anyone, no matter what their state in belief is, to progress and come closer to Him. All we have to do is start where we are. Look forward to the future and consistently nourish your growth and progression will come. It is a pretty cool thing. Some of the names of these new investigators are Iris, Linda, Deni, and Elsela. A prayer in their direction would be greatly appreciated.

3rd branch is indeed a different place than 4th branch. First of all, it is much more of a suburb feel than the more big city aura of 4th branch. It isn't Midland, Michigan by any means, but it is a bit smaller. The members here seem really solid. There are several members that are really willing to help out with lessons, but so far we have not really utilized that as we don't really have many (or any) solid, planned lessons yet. However, as we develop the work a bit more, I am excited to have those awesome members help out in this awesome work.

Well, hey, have an awesome week this week! Keep it real and whatever you do, do it well. There is no other way to do it!

Elder Ostergaard

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