Te dashur vellezer dhe motra,
Hey everybody, it's good to be back. Stuff just keeps moving right along and we are keeping on trying to finds those people that are ready to make a binding covenant with God. Never a dull moment. (On that note, if you happen to know anyone in Albania that would be interested, preferably in the south western corner of Tirana, shoot me an email or something).
We have had some good stuff happen this week. I was able to go on an exchange up in Shkoder with Elder Jorgensen (just like old times). It is a place that has always had a really difficult time with the church. Hearing people talk about it for a long time I figured that it was some small little town where everyone just didn't care about anything. Going up there I was surprised to see that it was probably about the size of Fier and the people were just like regular Albanians. It is amazing how the attitude of a missionary changes the opinion of a place. I was talking to Elder Jorgensen about why missionaries have such a hard time finding investigators and success up there and he said that a lot of it probably comes with boldness. Assuming that a missionary is doing his best to be obedient and do the things he should be doing, one of the biggest obstacles that he has to face is probably being bold. Looking at some of the missionaries who are just awesome members of the Church and just love the Lord, it is not infrequent to see the have a really hard time getting the work going because they are not being bold. So, I think this is especially for Brigham right here who is really starting on his last big go-around before his mission, use this year to get rid of all the un-boldness that you have in you that you can. It is something I am still really working on being better at, and more preparation in that area would have made it that much better.
I have the feeling that my writing in English right now is pretty unintelligible. At least I can communicate unintelligibly in two languages though, that's pretty good.
The spiritual highlight of the week was on Thursday at Mission Leadership Council. Elder Charles of the Seventy visited and trained us. What a spiritual experience. It was a really good chance to re-evaluate my personal dedication to the work and try to find ways to be better. One of the big things that he talked about was when missionaries came to their home for the first time. They felt such a spirit that they made the missionaries teach them the second discussion before they left. I really want the missionary work that is done in my area to have that much Spirit. I really see the need to sanctify myself and be more focused on the promptings of the Spirit. He also emphasized the need of talking to everyone. One way of doing that is to talk only in Albanian outside so that we are not putting up an kind of walls between us and potential investigators. So, we are doing that now. With few exceptions, Elder Lee and I have started talking in only Albanian outside. I have faith that as we try to take these steps towards being the missionaries that the Lord knows that we can be, that our efforts will be sanctified and magnified.
On Saturday, Elder Lee and I were able to spend the morning with Elder Smith ( the Smiths are the senior couple in 4th ward). We tried to go find the house of a lady that was given as a referral from mormon.org. In the eventually unfruitful process of doing this we were really trying to continually apply the principle of talk to everyone that we had just learned more about. What a great way of doing missionary work! Who are we to think that we know who is prepared and who isn't? This is the Lord's work and He might be putting people in our path at any second. So while we did that we got to talk to a few people for a bit, but then we had to go over to a lesson that we had planned with a new investigator that was just met the previous day. When we met him, he also had his wife with him which was wonderful. Elder Smith made the point that maybe him bringing his wife was a tender mercy given to us by the Lord for trying to talk to everyone. I often forget to see the bigger picture of blessings from the Lord and it was good for me to step back and be a little more grateful.
At Sunday we were grateful to see Ali Ylli (I wrote about a visit we made to him after church last Sunday) as well as some other less-actives at Church. I love it when people talk steps in the right direction! Repentance, it's so great.
I was recently reading in the Book of Mormon (it's a book comparable with the Bible that contains the fullness of the Everlasting Gospel. If you would like to hear more about it, contact the boys in white shirts and ties.) in Alma 32. In verse 40 it refers to the plant that emerges from the seed of faith discussed throughout the chapter as the tree of life. So that got me thinking about 1 Nephi 8&11, and I made an interesting though not doctrinal combination of the vision of the Tree of Life and Alma's sermon to the Zoramites. I tried to think of the tree in Lehi's vision as being, rather than a fixed stage, in constant variance depending upon the person looking at it. For example, for someone that was full of faith, the tree would be big, beautiful, and glorious. For one that had no desire to follow Christ and zero faith, the tree would be yet a dormant seed sitting in the middle of the dormant field. So think about those people that sit in the great and spacious building looking and laughing at those pressing forward on the iron rod. It must look ridiculous to them for people to go through such a difficult journey to reach a field where all there is is a seed...and they can't even see that probably due to the mists of darkness. Kind of a sad thing. They really don't even know what they are missing. For those pressing forward on the straight and narrow path, they here the taunts and don't totally understand why there are so many make fun when their destination is so grand. What we need to do as missionaries is to try and help those that are in the building to try and grow their faith just a bit so that they can start to see that tree and come into the fold of God. With those that are going on the path, they need to be reminded that their destination really is worth going to.
Well, I hope you have a wonderful day and an even better tomorrow, cause well, that's how we do.
Love you so much,