Happy Monday everybody wherever you may be!
This past week has just been a little bit better than last week, so bit by bit we are building up to where we eventually want to be here. Same old story here in Tirana as it has been everywhere else!
To give an overview of the work this week, I have decided to copy and paste the points that appear in the first chapter of Preach My Gospel that define what makes a successful missionary:
Feel the Spirit testify to people through you. - This week we met with this girl whose name is Eriona. She is Evangelical (they call them Ungjillore) and we met her at the beginning of the week and had a great lesson with her. She loves Jesus Christ and the Bible a lot, and that is always a great thing to see in others. We gave her a Book of Mormon and a pamphlet about Joseph Smith and invited her to read them that night. I gave her a call the next night and she told me that she had read the pamphlet and didn't think that we could meet again. It took a little bit, but I was able to convince her to meet us just once the next day. She came in and we listened to her concerns, answered her questions, and testified of Christ, His mission, and the role that Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon have. She ended up telling us that she didn't think that we would be able to meet again, but would pray about it. Agency is there for everybody to use, but all we can do as missionaries and witnesses of Jesus Christ is testify clearly and strongly.
Love people and desire their salvation. - Albanians are great. Sometimes they drive me a little nuts, but whenever I have just tried to continue on in love it always comes. This past week I have had good experiences street contacting. There have been a few really good times where I have been able to just talk to people and find out what makes them tick and then see how the Gospel can relate to them in their lives. I know that that love will just continue to grow too.
Obey with exactness. - On an exchange this week, there were two lessons in a row that we set up and traveled out to go to...and then it ended up that the man of the house wasn't there. It is a pain, but we just said we would set up a time to come back another day. However, even though we might not understand all the rules or want to follow them all the time, "[His] ways are not [our] ways" and we just need to trust that it'll all work out. We keep everything within the rules and trust the Lord to make everything else work out.
Live so that you can receive and know how to follow the Spirit, who will show you where to go, what to do, and what to say. - While in the lesson with Eriona, she made a point about how men are not able to see God (check out John 1:18 with the JST). I try so hard not to Bible bash or anything like unto it, but the story of Stephen came to my mind where he saw the Father and the Son before he was stoned to death. It was a good way to show God's connection to His children in a not bashing sort of way.
Develop Christlike attributes. - I am working on patiently trying to type an email that I think will end up being longer than I expected.
Work effectively every day, do your very best to bring souls to Christ, and seek earnestly to learn and improve. - I have recently (it was actually probably last week, but I am going to say it anyway) asked a recent convert who has taken part in a lot of lessons with missionaries how I can improve as a missionary. Her answer only had to do with how we worked inside lessons. I realized that most people's opinions of a missionary's ability and effectiveness revolved around what they did within the opening and closing prayers of a lesson. Most of my opinion on what makes an effective missionary actually has very little to do with that. So, I realized that need to not put any part of missionary work on the back burner. It is all important. Be obedient, work hard, love the people, love the Lord.
Help build up the Church (the ward) wherever you are assigned to work. - We have been working to help less-actives in our ward this transfer and help them discover that light that they once knew.
Warn people of the consequences of sin. Invite them to make and keep commitments. - Gerti, an investigator that I believe I have talked about before, was taught the Word of Wisdom this week. We went through the five main points that we teach investigators. Alcohol, good. Tobacco, good. Other drugs, good. Coffee, good. But then on the final one, tea, he was a bit shaky. He told us that he really liked his iced tea and he would do it...but could he start the next day because he just wanted to finish up the stuff he had. I was about to say yes, but then the member that was in the lesson with us pushed back a bit and I realized that we are indeed here to call people to repentance today and now. That was a good learning experience.
Teach and serve other missionaries. - On exchanges I definitely end up learning a whole lot more than I am sure other missionaries ever learn from me. I am not very big into telling someone how to live or work. I would much prefer leading by example. So, maybe some of the missionaries I was on exchanges with this week (we took part in two...we have to do a lot more as zone leaders than ever before) were able to learn something or other this week.
Go about doing good and serving people at every opportunity, whether or not they accept your message. - Our English Course is pretty small and the most frequent attender is this girl named Helena. We have tried several times to invite her to learn or go to institute, etc. She is not interested in any of that, but she is great and we are happy that she enjoys learning English from us. Hopefully some day she decides to see a little bit more about what we do, but until then we will just keep going.
So, I guess when it comes down to it, even though everything is not going according to Elder Ostergaard's plans, according to Heavenly Father's plans, I have been able to do some things that are helping me become a successful missionary and my mission become a successful and fruitful experience for all those involved. Congrats on the wedding reception and moving on from that stage of existence and best of luck at Trek!