Hey hey hey,
This week definitely had its ups and downs! On Wednesday we had the opportunity to have Zone Conference which was great, but definitely like a big humbling sledge hammer that hit me right between the eyes and crushed my phylacteries (I just read about those in Jesus the Christ today so I thought that I would throw that in there). President talked to us about location of lessons (they should be preferably in the investigator's home, than in a member's home, and then in the church if necessary) and about how this priority of location choices will improve our investigator retention rate and will allow us to see more success. I was going nuts for about 48 hours after that feeling like I had let the Lord down with the missionary work that has been performed in our areas over the last 6 months and like I had just been marking time here the whole time. But, why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves back up. At least that is what Alfred says in Batman. We are really trying to implement the counsel of our key-holding leader and having faith that as we work to not only work with our all strength but also bit by bit with all our minds and hearts that we will see the Hand of the Lord do what is in the will of the Lord. I feel like there is a lot of ground that needs to be made up, and am stoked to go in and do that.
We have had the opportunity to meet a bit more with the new Bishop (Bishop Zela) of 3rd Ward and he is fantastic (I was going to describe him using words such as tight, ballin', a bro, etc. but the White Handbook asks us to refrain from slang or casual language, so I am working on that). It was great to see that even as we are here to support and back up his work and the ward's work, he was also very much behind our work. I am excited to so the new changes that are going to gradually shape this stake into what it truly can become.
The work here in Albania definitely has hot spots and cooler spots for the present moment, though that definitely doesn't mean that is how it is going to stay! Most of our finding is done through street contacting though we recently have been trying to do some more tracting, as it leads directly into someone's house. Due to the nature of Tirana (it is the only city with more than one unit in the Stake, having four wards), a good percentage of the finding that we do actually leads to work for other areas rather than for us, so that is another plus for tracting. Neither of my companionships have seen success with referrals, but we will still keep going for those and hopefully become more effective member workers. There are definitely some members here that are very excited about the Gospel and will share it, bring friends to church, etc. There are also members that have not caught that wave, as Elder Nelson would say. Definitely makes me wish that I had been a ton better as a member missionary before the mission. There are some people that are either ostracized by their family for joining or are under age and forbidden by their parents to be baptized. However, a good amount of the time I feel like Albanians just do not have the religious zeal to care if somebody else does. I guess that is kinda good in a way for us. There are not a ton of people that have been sealed to their families in the temple, especially since the young nature of the Church here lends to a good portion of the members being the only members in their family. However, with Albanians out on missions and coming back that definitely opens up a pathway to more people being sealed in the temple in the upcoming years. We are also excited for the Rome Temple to open up (in hopefully about a year) because the closest temple now is in Frankfurt, which is a bit of a haul.
We have been able to find some cool people this week and work to help them receive the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. One of them was Agron. He came and picked us up and drove us out to his house. He is originally Muslim, but believes in Jesus Christ and is actually engaged to a Catholic girl who lives in Shkoder. He said he was going to read the book as a present for his fiancée (we decided not to tell him that Catholics don't really accept the Book of Mormon). When we asked him if he would be baptized he said no, he is just learning. We'll see about that. We are just really going on faith right now that the Lord will lead us to the right people and help us know what to do with them.
An interesting conversation I had this week was with a girl named Irma. She had been to church about a year ago and came for quite a while. I was talking to her about the reasons she had stopped coming and investigating the church and really just pleading with her to come back. She listed off a couple things including problems with someone in the ward, but I think the biggest thing was when she told me she didn't have a testimony the Book of Mormon was true. That is a stinking massive deal and really all of the other reasons were just footnotes in my mind. For a person to stay forever they need to be converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For a person to be converted, they need to start out with a testimony. The reasons for staying cannot just be the social scene, some member, and definitely not just some missionary. It has gotta come from the doctrines of the Gospel. It was interesting because I asked her if she would say a prayer before she left, she said no but that she would tell me some things that I could pray for. One of those things was that she said I could pray for her to come to church, even though she wouldn't. I definitely did and will though.
I actually just picked up my package this week and loved it! Thank you so much for the flash drive, candy, and for Grandpa Ostergaard's addition there. Especially the MoTab though. MoTab is great.
Love you so much and hope you have a great week!