Monday, May 26, 2014

#46 Missionary Life is a highway, but like an Albanian highway with lots of potholes and sufflaqe stands

Alright, Shqiptar highways don't have sufllaqe stands, but it kind of completed the simile.

Dearest Family,

What is going down in the land of chocolate milk and honey? I hope it has been a fantastic week with enough downs to make the ups count. This week has certainly been a roller coaster with my stomach flying into my throat every now and then but then settling back down again (in the most spiritual of ways, I feel great, Mom).

Have you ever had a point in your life where you just look around you and think about how blessed you are, and then feel incredibly spoiled by all of the blessings that have come your way? That is something that I have felt this past week. It seems like all of our investigators are going through some really difficult times in their lives and it is tough for 'em. One had a member of their family killed, one is seriously worried about a stalker, etc... I remember one day my senior year sitting in my Calculus class in the fetal position because I just didn't know what to do. I was worried about not getting an A, and as much as grades are important (keep studying Brigham and Grant), I have definitely been blessed with a whole lot of things. Whether or not that was because I needed to be in a position to help others out, or they knew that I wasn't gonna make it any other way when they sent me to earth I am not sure.

However, one really cool thing that we have been able to see is growth. Pamela reads everything. She finished up the Book of Mormon, a General Conference Liahona, and a few different pamphlets. She was told this week (as was Ema) that the appropriate attire for church for women was a skirt or a dress, and they both wore them! On Sunday we told her that she needed to decide by the CES fireside that night if she was going to get baptized on the 31st of May. We talked to her later on and she accepted! We are excited for this Saturday, so keep praying for her throughout this week. She has a strong testimony, but well, she is a teenage girl. We just need to help her go through with it.

Ema has also been a cool, but difficult story. The girl has faith, a lot of it. She also has serious desires to be baptized. The problem is that her parents don't really see eye to eye on that subject. I guess the family has enough of a Christian tradition to create a push-back from the dad especially on the matter of baptism. She is into the book of Mosiah in the Book of Mormon and we are helping her to grow in faith as well as to pray for help so that she can follow through with this desire to follow Christ. We have offered to go over and talk with the family as well as to send the sisters over, but right now it looks like we might have to be treading water a bit.

Another wonderful thing that is developing is with 3 sisters: Jona(19), Alda(14), and Xheni(20). We met Jona on the road about a week and a half ago and invited her to hear about both the Gospel as well as to come to English course. She showed up that day with her little sister and after English course we shared the message of the Restoration with them. We have continued to teach them and invited them to be baptized about a week ago. They told us that they would talk to their families and let us know. They came back and said that their mom, dad, and sister were all okay with it. Jona came to the CES fireside with her older sister Xheni and we talked to them afterwards learning that Xheni had actually been to this church 2 years ago or so and had not been able to come back since. They are progressing really well and we are excited to see them continue in the faith.

We continue to have similar problems with reverence and the such in Fier. We actually had to ask one of the young men this morning not to come during the week at all except for to church for the next few weeks. A lot of prayers are going into how to help these kids out. I shared that talk "I Love Loud Boys" that Dad sent to me in District Meeting and it made me pretty emotional. Really, I do love these loud boys. They have so much potential and they truly can be the future of the Church here. We just need to help them see that.

We also met this really cool guy named T Funa (a Tongan from Alberta, Canada) who spends every other month here as a manager of an oil rig. His son is also on a mission right now in Halifax, Canada. He took us to dinner a few days ago which was a really good up to a pretty low day. The Lord knows how to help us out when it is necessary.

Hey people, love stuff. It makes a difference. I have been trying to develop my love for Albania, Albanians, the Lord, and His church since I have been out here on my mission. I feel a closer connection to all of it and the work in general right now than I ever have before. If you love then you can make a difference. True story.

I know that my Savior lives. He loves you, He loves those I am serving right now, and He even finds enough in Him to love me. He called a prophet named Joseph Smith to restore in perfect fullness the truths that He taught personally when he was on the earth. Thomas S. Monson is a modern prophet and truly testifies of Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon is a testament of Jesus Christ that allows us to develop a perfect faith in the Redeemer of Mankind. I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Elder Ostergaard

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