How are you doing?! I hope that you are just wonderful even though I have heard it is nice and chilly back home. Today we were outside playing in the park in shorts. Albanian winters. They are a killer. (It actually is chillier than that generally and the rain is what really gets ya).
First of all, I am so grateful for new beginnings. In the mission I am especially grateful for two: the Sacrament everySunday and each new week beginning on Monday. Last week was definitely one of the those weeks where Elder Jorgensen and I were ready for a new start to come along. We set up a lot of things and people were just not deciding that learning about what we were teaching was one of their priorities I guess. After we got in last night and took a look back at our week I pulled out my Preach My Gospel and was reading in the very first couple of pages about how we can know if we are successful missionaries. We went through each point as a companionship and, not including the natural imperfection that we have within us as mortals, we were able to answer positively to all the points. After that we wrote up some ways that we can improve what we do both in obedience and the work itself so that we are no hindrance to the work here. In chemistry terms, we don't want to be the rate-determining step in this salvation equation. We are excited to get back out there and kill it this week though. We have been called of God to do His work here and we have not been called to fail but to rise to the call and succeed, so here we go!
So one great thing that we did learn this week was with our investigator Xhemal. We met with him and discussed more about what his situation was like and then talked to President Ford and we have been given the thumbs up to move forward! Now we just need him to exercise his agency and faith throughout the rest of the lesson process as we work to help him progress to baptism.
I have not done a whole lot of tracting on my mission as usually we try to find people on the street, but this last week we were giving it a try and had the fun experience of accidentally knocking into a recent convert and meeting with them a little bit. It got me thinking a little bit. Last night as Elder Jorgensen and I were looking through the White Handbook and thinking of ways we could be more obedient he came across the phrase that we need to be seen as servants of the Lord wherever we are. Whenever the Lord takes a second to check on what I am doing, I hope I am caught in the act of being busy in His work. We are not perfect, but we do have the capacity to stand up and try a little harder to do a little better. So I am trying to be better at keeping that part of my baptismal covenant that is found in Mosiah 18 where it says that we will be willing "to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in."
Oh before I forget, I heard a couple of crazy connections between the family and the world. Carley let me know that a member of Tirana 4th Branch (where I served my first 4 months) is now in her BYU student ward! My friend on a mission in Indonesia also just emailed me and asked if my borther's name is Alex and if he was getting married soon, because if so the sister missionary he was sitting next to was emailing his fiancee. So that was fun.
Something that I have been working on studying this last week a bit is the often asked question of if God exists and if He really does love us, why do so many people suffer? I have been looking in the scriptures, Preach My Gospel, and True to the Faith to get some help on answering that question. Some good thoughts were given in True to the Faith under the section of Adversity. I also think about Elder Eyring's talk where he asked for mountains to climb in order to try his faith. How I have tried to answer this question as of recent is by looking at the eternal nature of the Plan of Salvation and how God's perfect plan will try us in the exact way to help us reach the potential that He knows we can achieve. Whether that comes in a wonderful and loving family in Midland, Michigan or on the streets of Tirana to a gypsy family, there is a purpose there that will help us reach that point. In the end, I think that Preach My Gospel says it when it says that when it comes down to it, people are put up against the wall of faith and have to decide whether or not to take that leap and really seek for God's will to be made known to them. It is also important to note what Preach My Gospel says when it states that no matter what your problems are, the best help can be found through the message of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Oh, and also, probably a month or a month and a half ago I said that my one pair of shoes had developed cracks (eventually that extended across the whole width of my foot) in both of the shoes. I went and got the re-soled finally and he did it for 500 leke ($5) which was awesome.
Well, I love ya lots and hope you are having a beautiful day!
P.S. Mom, first of all, I feel kind of bad that you are sending a package already. It isn't even Christmas yet. Second of all, I love packages and that should not be taken as discouragement to send it if you don't want it to be. Third of all, I love peanut butter (especially chunky). Fourth of all, I love the idea of a companionship tie thing, but right now Elder Jorgensen already has one of those and I can get ties here, so don't worry about that too much. Fifth of all, I really like pictures. That family picture in the Christmas package was awesome and just any kind of pictures of the family would be awesome. Sixth of all, that is all of the "of all"s I can think of. I love you Mom!