So this last week was good! We were able to teach a good amount of people, had a good number of people in church, found a pretty good number of new investigators... the only problem is that I wasn't called to be a good missionary. Our companionship was not put together to do good work. We are here to be extraordinary and craze-ify the work out here in Albania! Oh gees. I guess that is why I have been blessed with many one-more-days out here, because I guess we have not found out how to do it right the first time! But really, it was a good week.
So this week. We have found a fairly solid ability with finding people (Tirona is a big city and that makes a wonderful avenue for talking to a whole lot o' people) and even teaching people (when they show up to the appointments that we set up, sadly on a significantly less frequent basis than we hope for), however, the third part of that equation, the baptism part, we have been working hard to breach that barrier. There was a baptism for the zone leaders this week and it was great to be able to get an investigator there and help them see a little bit more about the purpose behind the two American kids in suits on the road. Enxhi, a recent investigator, came to it and before the baptism started I was able to explain a bit about what was going down and the covenants behind the two boys getting wet. After the explanation about the internal cleansing that was going to happen, I asked her why she thought that they had decided to get baptized. She said that maybe they just felt guilty. I laughed and said that that was probably a big part of it. We all feel that yearning to be clean and it that can be a huge reason for some people to want to take that step into the waters of baptisms and the continual repentance that we are privileged to do.
On a similar topic, this week we are privileged to work with a recent convert named Pellumb right now. He was just baptized two weeks ago and then yesterday he received the Aaronic Priesthood and will have the opportunity to pass the Sacrament next week. As we went over all of the steps of what was going to happen last evening we took a few minutes at the end to sit down at the end and just really try to help him understand the purpose and meaning behind what he would be doing as a Priesthood holder as he would prepare, bless, and pass the Sacrament. John Bytheway gave a talk once where he mentioned how important the duty of Priesthood holders is. When your friend asks, "what are you doing this weekend?" and you say not much, you might want to rethink. A better answer would be that you are using authority, that in approximately 12 steps can be traced back to the Savior, in order to help put a congregation of people under a binding covenant with God. Suddenly you weekend seems a bit bigger. Helping to teach that and help someone see the importance was a wonderful refresher to me of my responsibilities as a Priesthood holder.
Yesterday one of the investigators that came to church with us let us know that his 1 and a half year-old daughter was in the hospital and asked us if we could help out. We told him that we were not able to help out financially, but that we did have a special way in which we could help out. We went over last night and gave his daughter, Xhoanna, a blessing. We are really hoping and praying for faith from the mom and dad to be exercised in the healing of their daughter.
How is your health doing? -- My health is doing well, I haven't even really had to pretend I am not sick!
Tell us a little about the weather. Have you had to use your raincoat at all? Does Albania ever get snow? -- So the weather has been for the most part really nice recently. It is actually usually colder in our house because the cement is not an incredible insulator for heat, but it does a rather fantastic job with the cold. My raincoat gets used a couple times a week and the waterproofing job that I put on it is holding up well. Snow. Nope. They will tell you yes but that is once in every however many billion years. Up north they do though (in Shkoder and Kosove).
Do you wear your suit coat much? -- We probably wear a suit coat every other day or so. The other days we wear sweaters.
And tell us a little about how your church building differs from ours. Do you have to have a key to get in to teach lessons? Is it an electronic key pad like ours? I bet the building is much smaller than our Stake Center. -- Our church building is three floors tall and the pronari (landlord) lives on the fourth. It has a gate in the front that locks and then all of the rooms lock (not electronically, we just have to carry around a billion keys). The Sacrament Hall is the first floor and then all of the teaching rooms are on the other two floors.
You'll be a Stake in Albania very soon! Tell us a little about that! -- The Stake should turn 3rd branch (as well as all of the other Tirana branches) into a ward. There are not a whole lot of options for a bishop, so that will be interesting. It is going to be a hard transition that will lead to a lot of blessings as more people will be taken to fill Stake callings, missionaries will be separated a lot more from the dealings of the units, and President Ford will no longer be the ecclesiastical leader for the area.
Can you tell me about a recent experience in which you felt you had been directed by the Spirit in your teaching or other activities as a missionary? -- I think that the most prominent for me this past week has been in our lesson with Pellumb. However, when I look back I can see little spiritual promptings that I have had to get out into the road and talk to someone, or whatever it may be.
Do you only speak Albanian with your companion or only with nationals? -- No...we should be better about that.
What is some of the most impressive things you have noticed about your companion? -- He is so chill. There are very few things that rattle his chains. I have found how tense of a person I am out on my mission. I have discovered many things that cause me to go out of my chill zone and I need to work on that.
And, finally, any package yet? -- Nope, not yet
Hey, I love you so much and I hope that you have a fantastic time in Utah, Mother! Get well Grandma, get wedding-ready siblings, get more jacked both of you Michael Phelps brothers, and Dad keep holding up the world, Atlas.