Monday, July 14, 2014

#53 July 14, 2014

Hey everybody, Ku jeni me lali?

I am super grateful to be able to be here writing you today. It is always crazy coming to the end of another week and trying to express some of the feelings and experiences that have happened over the last 7 days. It never really works out. But still I will sit down and try at the keyboard of this remarkably smoke-free and music-less lokal.

This last week we have been trying to dig out an investigator pool. The work, as usual, is not going nearly as quickly as I would have wanted it to, so I guess it is always good to remember that it in fact is not me that gets to make those calls. There were a lot of good things though, and we were able to invite others to come unto Christ, so it was indeed a success.

We have been continuing on with our English course and it has been going well. We get a pretty constant 7 people or so (though there are almost always new people and people that aren't there...whaddya do?). I have also seen some good progression in my mission-long struggle of talking too much (especially during lessons). It helps that Elder Lee is good at the language and is not afraid to get his ideas out there. It is a good thing for me. I think that we are a pretty effective team (not anywhere near perfect) but just like I have seen coming into every other companionship, we have different strengths that help support each other in the work. I would definitely say that he is the most similar to me out of all my companions thus far though (I have been pretty blessed on my mission with companions).

So this week I think that the most exciting thing that happened (if by exciting you mean terrifying) was while we were tracting. We had about 15 minutes before an appointment in an area next to Tirana called Kombinat and decided to go tract a little bit. We got into a pallat (an apartment building) and were about to walk to the top when I thought about it, and if we were able to get into one house it would be enough time, so we decided to show our faith and just knock on the first door. We knocked and a twenty or so year-old guy opened up the door and without asking any questions just said "hello guys, come on in". I was pretty impressed with how easy that was. We walked in and this place was super ghetto, all that I saw at first was unpainted walls and racks of shelves with papers strewn on them. We came in a little bit more and saw a guy with tattoos all up his arms sitting at a computer and a girl sitting on this table thing with her shirt rolled up over her stomach. It took a second, but we realized that we had just walked into a make-shift tattoo parlor. They started asking us about what we were doing in Albania and stuff. Then the girl's friends walked in and she started asking questions about if we were dating anyone and saying that the tattoo on her rib area was in english and that I should read it. At the same time the guy was trying to get Elder Lee to get a tattoo of a cross. I don't know how to explain all of what happened very well on paper, so you will just have to ask me in person sometime. All in all, it was a terrifying and scarring experience. I wasn't okay for about 3, 3.5 hours. Missions are great.

Another crazy thing that happened this week was a Cinnabon opening up here close to us in Tirana! The guy who is in charge of it is working hard to promote through us American he gave us a few free boxes of cinnamon rolls. That was fantastic.

2nd ward is doing just great as a ward unit. They function very well and it is great to be around people that are so capable in the Gospel and Church leadership. Far from the weak point in Fier, One of the weaker points in 2nd Ward is that it is too old. Nothing against old people or anything, but we need some more youth here. We will see what we can do.

I have been studying Faith a bit this week and had a question. Can faith be perfect? If you read in 2 Nephi 9:23 and James 2:21, the scriptures definitely show that faith in deed can be perfect. However, if faith is sort of by definition a predecessor, something still in it's beginning stages, how can that be? I drew up a sort of Venn diagram based on Alma 32:21. I attached a quick sketch that I threw on the back of a pass-a-long card (the only paper I have around right now). Even though knowledge is really a further-along part of the process in seeking truth, we know that both faith and knowledge are attributes of Christ. It is almost like how we as missionaries strive to both have new investigators as well as help people be baptized. God is not a God of shortcuts. How would we learn that way? So here is what I came up with: a perfect faith does not really mean that you are at this certain point in how much you believe something. Rather, to have perfect faith means that you are going in the right direction. James tells us that to have perfect faith requires works, so do something. In the diagram I drew up, faith exists in the overlap between truth and things not seen, but that overlap means hope (such as the "perfect brightness of hope" we read about in 2 Nephi 31:20). So how do we get that perfect faith? We just keep going I guess.

Well, I love you all and wish you the very best.

Elder Ostergaard

Some of the Elder in Tirana. The other redhead is a new missionary in my distract named Elder Right. He is way cool. If we are ever companions I am going to give him one of my name tags and we are going to go around as brothers.

This was a day we played basketball to find new investigators.

My snowglobe.

Figs and Plums. Figs are crazy. Elder Lee doesn't like them. They are a weird purpley color and look like alien guts when you eat them. Everyone has been giving us figs and plums (they can either be like normal plums or small and orange like you see here).

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