Well, this week was a good week in the field! It is one of those ones where it feels like the work is really progressing and we are inviting more people to come unto Christ. And since that is really what the work is all about, I would say that that made it a pretty solid week.
We are still having our struggles getting people to church, but they aren't as bad of struggles as they previously were so that is a huge blessing! Actually the investigator who we are most excited about kind of showed up last week at church. We had talked to him on the road and I guess invited him to come, but neither of us had gotten his number. However, after that he just showed up last week. He is a guy named Ernest and he is really cool. He is 21, so it is a bit easier to connect with him too which is great. He told us that he is really looking for some more faith in his life and we gladly told him that that is something that we specialize in. He has been coming to English course too. He said that he was baptized in the Orthodox church, but when we explained the reason for him to be baptized again and he understood and excepted, so woo! We also met these two girls contacting on Saturday night and invited them to church and they came all three hours which was really awesome! We actually just set up a lesson with them for later on today, so we are hoping that that will go someplace! For our other investigators, we have some that are making progress, but I guess just not as much as we would have hoped. However, If you could keep some of these names in your prayers that would be great: Ernest, Dodona, Drita, Zaura, Monda, Banush, and every other Albanian ever. Thanks!
This week we have been continuing on in our English course and we have seen more people coming which is just awesome! Teaching English is pretty fun and it gives a whole different feel to communicating with Albanians. Suddenly I can communicate with them in their language a whole lot better than they can communicate with me. We taught them how to say "see you later alligator."
We have gotten an interesting question from one of our new investigators recently that I guess I had never really thought about before. She has a muslim background, and though I don't think she practices that much, she still has beliefs in correlation with that faith. She told us that she didn't understand why we prayed in the name of Jesus Christ rather than simply praying to God. I have been reading my missionary library and some conference talks as well as asking some others about what they thought in order to come up with a good answer to this question. I would love your thoughts, but here are a couple of the things I have found:
1. We do indeed pray directly to Heavenly Father. We are simply told to pray to the Father in the name of Christ (Doctrine and Covenants 10:5).
2. There is a certain power in the name of Christ that we ourselves do not possess (for example see the story of Moses' encounter with Satan in Moses 1:12-22).
3. This is not completely answering the same question, however it is along the same lines. The plan of our Heavenly Father includes both perfect justice as well as perfect mercy. The Father must be just and hold to the commandments and guidelines He has set (see Alma 42). However, He has also created away for mercy to save us, and that way is through His Son. To say that we need Christ in order to return to the Father is not to diminish the omnipotence of the Father, but to show in more detail how His power is extended.
Those are some thoughts, but please feel more than free to shoot some others my way.
To answer some questions:
Do the Albanians celebrate Valentine's Day? I guess kinda. You could see people walking around with flowers and either the government or phone companies put up some decorative stuff here and there.
Today we, along with 6 other missionaries, went down to the artificial lake. It is this really big lake in the south of Tirana and we walked around and ate a bit of a sack lunch there. It was really nice!
Our laundry is done in our apartment with a washer that we have right there and then hung up on some drying racks (I think I sent a picture of those way back when).
Our apartment could be cleaner, but it isn't that bad.
For breakfast it is either eggs and hot sauce (from the American dollar store), cereal (I usually mix together corn flakes and this granola-ish stuff called muesli), or bread and nucream (a nutella-ish thing but better and cheaper). Then for lunch we are inside a good amount of the days. The zone leaders usually come over and we make pasta, or other stuff).
Grocery shopping is not crazy different here, just not as big of a selection of things. You can also go get produce from little fruit stands. The groceries aren't crazy different in price (except for peanut butter and stuff which are really expensive), but the fruits and vegetables and such are really cheap (I think so at least, a kilo of oranges is about 60 cents).
And my package is not yet here, but maybe soon.
Hey Mom, here are a couple pictures that I just got from Elder Austin. These are from Nertila's baptism and one of Sister Andrews wearing Elder Austin's fuzzy hat. Elder Austin actually just got on a plane this morning for America. He has been having continuing problems with his stomach in Kosovo and the area doctor in Germany told him to go home and get it fixed. Hoping and praying everything goes all right.
Hello Mother Dearest,
How did you pass? Are you tired. Are you bored? With health? From the house? Are you good? (then you just need to say good after every single one of those questions and that is an Albanian greeting)
These are some pictures. The first one is of a "pod racer". The gypsies here will attach the back half of a bike or a motorcycle to a big box with wheels on it and drive it around yelling really loudly for people to give them their old scrap metal and appliances.
The second is of Brother Alushi, this awesome member in 3rd branch that helps us out with a ton of lessons. He had us over and played the guitar for us and sang. It was awesome.
The third was actually taken last night after Elder Jorgensen and I talked with this guy from Taiwan. He spoke no English and really really broken Albanian. It was a good time!