Welcome to the Elder Ostergaard minute. I recognize that for the next few seconds you will be thinking mainly about me. I'll try not to let it go to my head.
So I would actually like to do this letter based primarily, if not completely, upon some questions asked to me (something I usually forget to do entirely).
What did you do today for preparation day? -- So today we woke up to a lot of rain. We had been planning to go hike up behind the large artificial lake here in Tirana, but our plans changed. We ended up just kind of walking around and looking at a couple different stores (specifically some perfume/cologne stores -- we learned that you could get some cologne for 500 leke (about $5), so that was really exciting and I decided to help myself smell better).
What kind of funny or impressive experiences have you had with your companion, as you've learned to adapt to his personality or style? -- So this is going to be my last week with Elder Lee (unless President Weidmann decides to change the transfer norms). He, probably a lot like me, is probably one of the most "Utah boy not from Utah"'s that I have ever met. He is very much so one to speak what is on his mind and likes to know if anything is bothering me or what my thoughts are on something. I think that is probably a pretty normal thing and it has kind of shook me a little bit out of my own my-thoughts world (kind of, I am still not very good at it).
I've been following your weather patterns and it looks like things aren't as intensely warm as they have been. How is that affecting your dress and your activities? Are you enjoying the weather? -- The weather here has been rather lovely the last while. We still wear the exact same thing that we have been wearing the last several months (still lookin' fly in our short-sleeved white shirts and ties!). Usually hot weather means that Elder Lee carries around a water bottle...and I think about drinking more...but that is usually as far as it gets. We have both been blessed with pretty solid health though which is great.
Do Albanians spend much time outside in neighborhoods or mostly just in the marketplace? -- Albanians spend a whole lot of time sitting in coffee bars usually drinking little cups of Turkish coffee. Kind of ridiculous actually that they can spend so much time on such a small little beverage (they are almost always toddler-sized cups, whatever floats their boats I guess). Young people don't usually spend a ton of time inside the walls of their own homes, a lot of the time they are doing xhiros (talking walks) on the streets of Tirona.
Who are you currently teaching? What has encouraged them to investigate the gospel? -- We are teaching a few people a couple of whose names are Suleman, Qamir, and Gerti. All three of them have a long way to walk down on the road towards conversion still. We do sometimes have worries about interest having too firm a root in just the investigators liking us, but I think that that is one wonderful side-effect of transfers: they help root out those that are not as anchored in the message. We have also had the wonderful opportunity of meeting several different people that seem very promising as investigators of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ that have ended up living in another area of Tirona that we are then able to allow other missionaries to teach and take part in seeing the hand of God in their lives. We also had a couple tender mercy unexpected investigators this past week which has been cool.
What was the funniest thing that happened to you this past week? -- I don't know if there has been anything too funny that has happened, however, this just yesterday the Pope made an appearance here in Tirana. We were actually told to be very careful and to stay away from groups of people because of a terrorist group called Isis. Nothing at all happened, but it was kind of cool to be in the same city where a massive world figure made an appearance.
Tell us about the ward. Are you playing the piano? -- Second ward is such a wonderful place to be. There are a lot of strong members (except that yesterday there was no bus system because of the Pope which meant that many fewer people were in church) as well as a good amount of members that need a lot of help. It definitely helps out that our bishop served a mission which means he understands that much more of how to help the members and non-members here in Tirona. I am indeed playing the piano. I am afraid that I am going to come to the end of my mission and not know any hymns in Albanian. I guess that is not the most important part of the mission!
When they sing the hymns, do they sing well? -- They sing better in Second Ward than anywhere else I have been, but well, that doesn't mean a ton. The chorister here is an old member named Sister Kashari and she is ridiculuos, but I no longer laugh very much while I am playing because of her exciting way of really getting into leading the music.
How is your new Mission President? What areas of missionary work is he having missionaries focus on that are different from your previous President? -- President Weidmann is wonderful. We just recently had zone conference on Wednesday, something that turned out to be abut twice as long as any other zone conference I had ever been to. He we in charge of the whole thing and what he does he does with a purpose. Rather than the frazzled approach to missionary work that I used to have where I would fight to get every second outside, he focuses so much on us being prepared by the Spirit and it has started to change me. There is much more that I can improve on, but I see much more the process of how to get there.
So there is a bit of my missionary life. Hope your week is wonderful!