Biggest thing of the week was definitely the big step taken for Albania, Kosovo, and Macedonia over the weekend -- we are a stake! Though there are few visible differences in the actual set up (the Stake President is the same, all of the units retained their respective areas, and all except for our unit the became a ward had the previous branch president remain as Bishop) it is a step forward for the Church here. Here in 3rd Ward our bishop is now Bishop Zela (he was recently in the District Presidency) and we are excited to be able to work with him here as missionaries. We are supposed to be more separated from the workings of the membership now, but that might be a bit of a process.
I have actually been thinking a lot as of recent about what has happened in the last long while and the impact my mission has had. Really, it is hard to see one most of the time. The number-wise results of the work that has been done here is not very comparable to Wilford Woodruff or Alma. I have been here for a long time and it often seems like the fruits of my labors have led only to changes within myself. As much as it is great that my mission makes me a better person, that makes it seem almost selfish. However, this last weekend as we met with the entire stake, I was able to talk to those from both areas in which I have had the opportunity to serve, and maybe a difference has been made. Nertila (who we baptized at the end of December) was at both the main meeting on Sunday as well as a cool cultural event the happened Saturday night. Maybe one of the most important things that I will have to learn here is how to recognize the hand of the Lord, because I think that more often that not, it is there and I am just way too thick to see the fruits of His influence. Thing to do #398.
One of the really cool things that was said during the meeting was by Elder Kearon of the Seventy (he was the presiding authority here) and gave the concluding remarks at the meeting. He talked about a rose and said that a rose is incredibly beautiful. However, under a microscope it is really very ugly. He then referenced the recently sustained leaders and counseled the Albanian people to respect them and heed them, but to not look at them or their families under a microscope. They cannot stand that and neither can anyone else. I thought that this was definitely inspired counsel that, if taken to heart, could really help the work here progress and grow.
Probably about a week and a half ago Elder Jorgensen and I were contacting and got the number of this lady after telling her that we wanted to share a message with her about Jesus Christ and the Book of Mormon. She showed up to walk with us to church last Sunday with her husband under the impression that we were going to come with them to their house right then. We said we couldn't, but that we were willing to come another day for sure (they didn't want to come to the meeting). So we called a couple days later and on Tuesday we took a bus out to her house (about 10 minutes). We got there and we came inside were I was surprised at the lack of furnishings for as nice of a house as it was. They showed us around a bit and we started sensing that our purpose for being their might not have matched their purpose for us being their. Somewhere in mis-translation she thought that we were there to buy their house. We told them that we were there talking about our church and they told us that had no interest in that sort of thing. We ended up telling them that if we decided we had interest in the house we would call back soon and then took the bus back.
Investigator-wise we have some people that are really cool that just need to continue to learn and work towards baptism. Enxhi had been out of contact with us for about a week and a half, but she came to Stake Conference and later on that day we saw her, her mom, and her sister in the road and talked to them for a bit. She is still not sure if she wanted to be baptized, but we were able to commit her to continue to read and then to pray about if she should. Aleksander also came to the Stake Conference and had a great time. We haven't been able to meet with him as much as we would have liked, but are hoping to see his continuing progression. Jurida is on a baptismal date, but we haven't been able to meet with her for a while. She is really cool and right now she just needs to let the message of the restored Gospel really penetrate her heart. A couple other awesome people are Esmeralda, Vjollca, and Eva. Really hoping that we can help them to continue in their Gospel progression!
Other than that, it has been the same old same old over here. We are hoping that as we keep doing our part the Lord will take care of the rest so that those who are in need of and prepared for the Gospel will receive it.
Elder Jorgensen and I are doing well and are always trying to improve in our work. The language is definitely improved. Elder Harvey put it this way: English is like skiing in that just about everyone can stand up and get around a bit without too much difficulty -- but mastering it is very difficult. Albanian is like snowboarding in that getting up can be very difficult, but the beginning is the hardest part. Communicating with people is much much better than it was, and I think the improvement is mostly seen only over long periods of time.
Alright, well, I love you lots family and hope that this is just a fantastic week for you. might as well be the best week ever, I mean why not right?