Happy Monday dearest people! I hope that this week has been fantastic and that it wasn't exactly the same as the week before. Some lessons learned, maybe a couple hard things (just enough to get you moving forward even better), and even more wonderful things. This last week had a couple of pretty dramatic changes in the missionary work here in Albania (if you don't remember what that is, it borders on the Adriatic, is mainly mountainous, and exports chrome chiefly-- except I don't really know about that last part because I have never heard of any kind of chrome export here).
On Wednesday morning I got a call from Elder Rawlings (I was at the time on an exchange with some Elders in Shkoder) and he told me that President Weidmann had just put out a new regulation that Elders had to teach guys and Sisters had to teach girls. It was kind of a punch in the gut (I don't know if you have been reading my emails for the last year or not, but most of the success that has been found has been with girls). We knew that it was the right thing to do because President is in fact an inspired man, but it took about 12 hours for me and my companion (who has been in the same boat in regards to teaching girls mostly his whole mission) to really found out for ourselves that it truly was the will of the Lord not only for the President, but also for us personally. Even though we were always keeping the rules in teaching with another guy present and keeping within the regulations that the Brethren had set, we have discovered that there are in fact a ton of benefits to this new regulation:
1. The priesthood force here in Albania is minimal, and if more than 2/3 of the missionary force here can only be teaching potential Priesthood holders and their families, that number really has no way to go other than up.
2. It definitely makes finding members that match personalities easier. When we taught girls that meant that our pool of those to help us out was very limited and it is now so much larger.
3. It helps people be baptized for the right reasons. It is not unheard of for an investigator of the opposite sex to be baptized simply out of devotion to a missionary that taught them, and this should whittle that down.
4. It helps the work in the ward become more tightly linked as missionaries will be finding investigators for other missionaries and the whole feel will be for the good of the investigator rather than the good of the missionary.
We were also given new steps to incorporate into our daily planning that allow that time at the end of the day to become more Spirit-based and driven.
We had this powerful lesson with Gerti and told explained the covenant that he will be making at baptism entails attending church every week to partake of the Sacrament. It is hard for him because he works in Tirana during the week and then on the weekends he goes home to see his family. So on Sunday he actually brought his mom to church which was wonderful! We are shooting for him to be baptized this week, so keep him in your prayers as well as Qamil, Suleman, Andrit, Aurel, and Roland.
That also reminds me of a wonderful opportunity that we had to see the hand of the Lord during our week this week. We were out knocking down some doors on Friday and we get a call. It was another missionary telling us that a member would be bringing his friend to church that wanted to learn form the missionaries. His name is Aurel and he is now on a baptismal date. It was cool to see that when we were doing what we could, the Lord was willing to step in and do that which we couldn't.
The picture is of a brother and sister that Elder Rawlings and I were asked to baptize. Their mother was re-discovered after 12 years and decided to bring her family to church and the sisters had the wonderful opportunity to teach them. Their names are Frenkli and Armela and they are awesome.
Well everybody, I love your guts and all their coatings. Keep it real out there and don't do anything I wouldn't do.
Here are a couple pictures of some of the missionaries in our zone at a Canadian Thanksgiving Day waffle party last week.