Well, this past week has been a bit interesting in that we have been trying to become accustomed to the new parameters set last week by our mission president still. We have been working really hard to do everything for the good of the investigator and not just for us and our own personal glory. That, along with some other factors has made quite an impact on our weekly results. However, I have been learning in the past couple months that my mission is for so much more than personal recognition. That shouldn't be any of it. If everybody thought that we weren't doing any kind of good work, but we knew that it was what the Lord wanted us to do, that is still what we should be doing.
One time this week, kind of randomly, I saw a picture from the Bible Videos on Lds.org of Jesus Christ. I told my companion that one thing that I have noticed in the past couple of months is that my love for my Savior has grown. The first several months of my mission that was something that I wanted to see happen more. I was trying to do everything that I could and did have a love for the Savior, but I have seen my love grow more than ever over the past little while. What a wonderful blessing and mercy! I sure hope that as I study more, pray more fervently, and serve with more of my heart that that love can deepen and spread.
Gerti got baptized this week! How awesome is that, the very first person that showed interest enough to give us their phone number when I first entered 2nd ward has entered in at the gate that leads to eternal life! He has grown a lot, and though is definitely not a General Authority yet or anything, baptism doesn't mean perfection in knowledge. He has made that step and now he will grow even more every week in church and every day on his knees and in the scriptures. He brought his brother to the baptism which was cool and after we got out of the water he grabbed me in a hug and said he felt like he was reborn. He was right.
We had a good learning experience at the baptism too. We asked Eni, an investigator that Elder Rawlings and I had both taught a few months ago to speak at the baptism. She is still an investigator and has been having some deep and difficult questions challenging her faith and we thought that she could really use the spiritual strength that came from testifying to others of what she knew. So we asked her to speak about the Holy Ghost. She did great (she is very smart and though she has her doubts, those things she knows, she knows) but afterwards both Bishop Gjini and President Weidmann pulled us aside and let us know that we were not allowed to do it again (though President agreed that perhaps the Lord had allowed it to happen this time innocently for the spiritual well-being of Eni). Well, you live and you learn!
We actually have been finally able to start listening to conference this week during our companionship studies. It is wonderful! My favorite so far is Elder Christofferson's talk about agency and belief. It rang so true with so many people that we meet here. Here is maybe my favorite part:
"To those who believe anything or everything could be true, the declaration of objective, fixed, and universal truth feels like coercion—“I shouldn’t be forced to believe something is true that I don’t like.” But that does not change reality. Resenting the law of gravity won’t keep a person from falling if he steps off a cliff."
We don't just share the Gospel because it is a nice thing to think or believe, but because it is the truth and others need to know about it! And it needs to be done boldly because universal laws aren't exactly subtle (take a look at the gravity example). It rips me to shreds when I see people here get a taste of the goodness that it entails and then turn it away, but their agency is their own. We just have to make sure we are doing everything possible to allow them to use that agency in the right way.
I love you everybody and I hope that you are doing some things in your life right now to love your Heavenly Father and Savior a little bit more every day!
P.S. I bought a suit today. I wasn't really sure if I should, but I was thinking about my situation on suits (one was bought for me by my lovely parents for my 16th birthday and the other bought from Salvation Army and then tailored by my lovely sister...the first one seeming to be very bulky right now- weird because I don't think that I have lost weight or anything- and the second having been worn away between the legs, fixed out here, and then wearing down again) and about how often we need to wear suits here with our winter season for dress starting up yesterday. Okay, that is a lot of explanation, but Elder Rawlings and I got one and it was $100 which I guess is supposed to be really good. Whoo, well it feels to good to get that off my chest!
Hey Mom, I realized that I didn't answer you at all about your question on the influence of pornography here in Albania. I would pretty comfortably say that the problem of pornography is even more prevalent here than in America. It just isn't recognized by society as being as bad as what I remember noticing from those I knew at school, but then again I was in a pretty sheltered group of friends (thank goodness). As for church leaders addressing it, I really haven't heard anything on the subject here outside of teaching the Law of Chastity to investigators, so I am sure that it could be much better guarded against.
I don't really have any ideas for Christmas, but only a hippopotamus will do.
Last week Kimball sent a link to a Dropbox of pictures that a Sister missionary had taken on a Preparation day excursion. Here are a few: