Monday, January 12, 2015


Hello Family Dearest,

We started up another week and everything, though it is pretty similar to what it was before in the work, is really different. President Weidmann has been in contact with us and been talking a lot about getting missionary work going on here in Shkoder on a more public front. That is something that I feel like he is a huge fan of. It is a really great idea, and a fairly terrifying reality. I was talking to him on the phone yesterday and he requested that we go and set up a meeting with the mayor of Shkoder as well as with as many important people here in Shkoder as we can. That is not exactly something I am super familiar with doing (I am much more comfortable stopping random people in the street and starting a conversation from scratch. This whole idea about knowing someone's name before meeting with them is just alien.). So, though we have no idea what we are doing, we are going to try to make this 4-member church get known by the head honchos of Shkoder.

Well, other than that, we have been doing a lot of that other, more spontaneous, work which is street contacting and tracting. It is pretty crazy, I have never had so much success in tracting as we have had in the past week and a half in Shkoder. We have gotten into several houses and shared a message about the Savior...but none of them have led to any real success (with one possible exception...we'll see what happens). However, in general, I feel like the work here is pretty similar to the work in Tirana or Fier. Some people listen, a lot of people don't, some girls look at you and see a passport, some boys look at you and say things that make their friends laugh. Same old paradise of missionary work. It is just baffling how a place that seems so similar in the most part to other places has had such little success in the past. This city was opened at the same time as Vlore, a city in the south that has an average church attendance of over 70 or 80. I think that a huge thing is the attitude of missionaries. I feel like, as a general rule, the Lord will not bring miracles to pass to those who are not preparing themselves to receive them. We need to be prepared to receive those miracles by being in the right places with the right Spirit and a willingness to open up your mouth as did Peter (Acts 10:34).

I love the example that Alma the Younger gives to us (when he probably isn't quite so young) after he talks to his son Corianton. He tells Corianton at the end of Chapter 42 that he has been called again by the Lord on a mission. At the beginning of 43 we see this father send his sons out on missions, and then it says that "Alma, also, himself, could not rest, and he also went forth."(verse 1) Alma had just sent out some incredible missionaries and as a father had done his work, especially as he was the High Priest and I am sure had his hands full in that capacity, but regardless of the current medals of service that he wore around his neck, he could not rest. He could not sit and fulfill just part of his calling and potential as a member of the Church/lifelong missionary, but continually was a witness of Christ. Pretty cool. Somewhat daunting when relating that to our calling as representatives of Jesus Christ. In an MTC talk entitled "Feed My Sheep" which preceded a talk of similar message given in General Conference, Elder Holland stated it this way:

Right here, face-to-face, again from the honesty of his heart he {Peter} said, “I do love you, more than anything.”
And to that, the Savior of the world said, “Then feed my sheep! I have asked you before to leave your nets. And I’m asking you again, and I don’t want to ask you a third time. When I said, ‘Leave your nets,’ it was forever. When I asked you to follow me, it was forever. When I asked you to be an apostle, it was forever. When I asked you to be a Missionary, it was forever. When I asked you to see this through to the end, it was because it’s not over ’til it’s over. Now forget your nets, and forget the fish, and jettison your boat, and throw those oars away for the second time, and feed my sheep. We’re in this ’til the end.”

This past week we had Zone Training. Our Zone Leaders let us know of the new mission goal that President Weidmann set with the Lord. It is for each companionship to have 4 baptisms per 3 month transfer. What an incredible goal! The effectiveness of our mission will go up and so many people will be able to come closer to their Savior. So, it you are doing some kind of praying for the people of Albania, I guess my suggestion would be to focus it on this new mission focus.

So, my companion is great. He is pretty young in the mission (but I remember how much I despised people expecting less of me simply because I was a younger missionary, so I won't focus on that). He really wants to do what is expected of him by the Lord and the mission president. He isn't the most naturally extroverted of people, but there has been a huge change over the last week and a half. He is becoming more extroverted in missionary ways meaning that he is so much more open to talking to strangers and overcoming the fear of others. That is such a hard thing to do for just about everyone, and he is taking massive strides. Bravo i qofte!

Well hey family, you guys are great. Brigham and Grant, Dad sent me some of your recent swim times and pictures and you guys are ripping it up in the water there! Bej te fala Elder Sponseller (give him my regards), I can't believe that he is coming home already! Absolutely ridiculous.

Elder Ostergaard

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