Thursday, March 6, 2014

#34 March 3, 2014 I am basically talking in Aramaic over here.

Knocking doors in dwarfville

Beso means believe in command form. It is basically the coolest Albanian graffiti around and you can find it here and there

Hey Fam,

This last week I was reading in Jesus the Christ and it mentioned a man named Bartimeus and had a note that that meant the son of Timeus, same thing with Simon Bar Jona. In Albanian the word for son is "bir", which is basically "bar", so if you carry the ten and apply the principles of horseshoes and hand grenades, I am speaking Aramaic. That is pretty sweet.

It has been another week out here in paradise, and well, we ain't dead yet! There have been a couple noteworthy things going on over here. One pretty crazy one happened because of one of our investigators named Banush. Banush is this really connected old xhaxhi that , due to his presence in both government and university positions knows a crazy ton of people. He is really hard to meet with, but really likes the idea of Joseph Smith and "new prophets" (we are very much in a agreement on that) and told us a couple weeks ago that we can't just be teaching one or two people about this at a time. We need to be meeting with ten, fifteen, or more. We told him that we agreed, but that first of all we needed to find those people. He said that he would bring people and we were very okay with that. It finally happened this last Wednesday when he brought 9 others with him to learn about this Joseph Smith guy and it was pretty cool. The outcomes of the meeting are still up in the air, but even just that fact that it happened is super cool. This is not missionary missionary work or even member missionary work, this is investigator missionary work. It was a real testimony to me of the possibility of sharing the Gospel with your friends.

Something similar happened with Dodona. We went over to her house this last week with the Homers and when we got their, she had also invited two friends and her son to come and hear what we had to say. That was also super cool. However, we have to give her over to First Branch because of where she lives, so we are praying that they can help Dodona and all of her friends down the path of the Gospel of Christ.

We met a guy named Aleksander a couple months ago and had tried to met with him before, but due to everything he had not been able to until this past week. (We actually had an interesting mess-up of thinking another guy was him and teaching him a really short lesson before Aleksander got to the church. Oops. Kinda.) We sat down with him and taught him a lesson about the Book of Mormon and just watching him was an experience. The guy loves Jesus Christ a lot, but doesn't know a ton about this Bible or anything. However, as we explained about this Bible and the Book of Mormon and how they build each other up and strengthen each other, he was just excited. We read through the Introduction with him and he would stop every now and then and tell us how much sense it made. He was then able to come to part of church yesterday and, well, he is just a great guy. We are excited to help him progress in his knowledge of the Savior and His Gospel.

Last night we had a movie night at the church. The sisters had popped up some popcorn (kokoshka), and we watched the Restoration film. While Elder Jorgensen and I were waiting for someone to show up so that we could show them where the church was, two guys walked by and we invited them to come and watch the movie with us. They said yes so we took them and it was really good. Something that I have been figuring out on my mission is how easy and good it is to just ask. A lot more times than I would ever think people have responded is more positive ways than expected, so I have come to know that I never know what people will say or what all is going on for them.

I had an opportunity to study some of this past General Conference this last week (I know that it has almost been six months, but finding time to study everything is tough). One of the really big things that has kicked me in the rear end and said "listen up" was Edward Dube's talk. He quoted President Packer in a story about an ox-pulling contest (go check it out). I thought about myself as a missionary and how I often try to "bulk-up" and become the biggest, best missionary that I can be. I don't think that this is a bad thing, but it is not the only thing. We are here two-by-two and as such it is important that I am pulling in time and rhythm with the other ox in the yoke (my companion). Only in completely unity can the biggest loads be pulled. Only together and with the Spirit as a third member can the impossible be possible and our potential as missionaries of the Lord Jesus Christ be expanded and fulfilled.

On an unrelated note, I was talking to Elder Jorgensen this morning about opportunities that we had to serve in the Church before the mission. It really hit me how much magnifying your calling makes a difference. There were definite times were I did not try (either because I did not know how or didn't put forth the effort) to magnify my position and truly lift where I stood. However, when I did, it made all the difference in the world. The same deal has made itself manifest. When we work to magnify our calling, the Lord magnifies us to fill the newly created view that we take. However, when we do not try to do that, the Lord has no need to magnify us as our own purpose and view is minimal. If you can do a bit more to help progress the work, do it!

So this week is Stake Conference, and we are really excited to see this next mile-marker of growth in Albania. How all the current District and branches will be affected is right now up in the air. However, one big thing is going to be who is where here in Tirana. There are a lot of people who are living within other branches' borders and with the creation of a stake this will be a more enforced thing. Third branch will see several people leave (including the Elder's Quorum President, Relief Society President, and 2nd couneslor in the District Presidency) and we are hoping to see several people enter as well. For number of units, I am not totally positive right now (there are currently 10 branches and 2 groups in the district). Some members are excited about the change, some aren't really sure how anything is going to change.

In a typical day we don't walk a crazy ton as we are often either sitting in lessons or standing on the street and contacting. Probably a couple miles. Public transportation is only used if we are going out of the branch which isn't very often. Actually just a couple weeks ago the government closed down the use of unlicensed forgons (vans that drive from city to city). That changes the transportation from city to city pretty significantly, but I have only ever been on 2.

In our English classes we use this book that was put together for missionaries as the base line, but then we will do other things too. However, a lot of the times missionaries will just make stuff up. Whatever it is, they are learning English I guess.

Alright, well I hope that this next week is just the bomb diggity for you and that you learn something knew and do something great!

Elder Ostergaard

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