This past week showed the Lord pouring His blessings out so much that we did not have room enough to receive it, pretty literally!
We started passing out English course fliers about a week and a half ago and we only had 3000 fliers and I am a fan of having a lot of fliers (advertising really is what it is all about, totally learned that on my mission) so we went and got another 3000. We got those fliers to anyone and everyone we could and by Tuesday we ended up with probably about 500 left over between the companionships. I knew that at least some people were going to come because we had been getting some calls about it. However, on Tuesday at 3:00 we showed up an hour early at a round-about close to the Church to make sure people were going to be able to find the Church (it is not in the most conspicuous place in the world). So as a couple of side notes, in Shkoder, to any kind of recent memory, they hadn't seen more than 15 people come to the course and the building has 4 rooms...the sacrament hall, the Sunday school room, the branch president's office/kitchen, and the bathroom. Well we stood there and people started coming. And they kept coming. We got a call from the elders in the Church saying that they were having troubles with space. Every seat was filled, people standing in the rooms, filling the hallway, and many people who couldn't even get into the Church. We couldn't get a good count that first day, but we have guesses of it being something around 120 or so. We ended up just telling everybody that we were going to get start the course on the Thursday with the different levels happening at different hours. On Thursday we did get a count of 122 and think that probably about 150 people totally had showed face between the first two days. Ridiculous. That is so cool. We ended up having to make the course a 3-hour deal with a total of 5 different classes. It is all about advertisement.
One really unexpected blessing from English Course was in the shape of a 20-year-old named Noj. Noj is one of the few members here in Shkoder and has been inactive for various reasons for a while. Well, his friends got fliers and told him about the course. He asked where it was and when they told him he was told them that that is where he went to church. He came to the course and to Church as well. I was talking to Elder Szabo about it, and if the only thing that comes out of English Course (passing out 5500 fliers and having 150 show up) is that one less-active member decided to come back, it would totally be worth it.
Other than that, we had 14 people in Church. So no record this week, but still pretty good and next week we are going to get that next record, count on it. Just for your knowledge, the Sacrament hall currently sits 27 people and if we stuffed it with chairs we could probably load it with 36. So that is what we are going for. Can you imagine the excitement if we stuffed church like we stuffed English course? That would be so amazing!
Do you remember that member named Franc who brought his friend to Church and referred several others to us as well? Well it looks like he will be staying here for good now which is going to be such a blessing for this branch! His friend that he brought came again and really enjoyed it and accepted to work to be baptized in February. Another blessing.
One thing that I have been thinking about is something that stems from another blessing. We we have had a previously unheard of (for two of us at least) amount of success tracting the last several weeks. However, as people have let us in and we have shared a message with them, it just feels like the message is getting to their inner ear...and then stopping. Enough so that they hear it but that is as far as it gets. I feel like the Gospel is something that, if understood correctly, should either make someone really excited, or terribly offended. With this message, there really isn't a whole lot of middle ground, and it kind of hurts to see these people that are essentially spiritually apathetic allowing for the blessings of true doctrine just pass them by. I guess all we can do is teach clearly (President Lee told us to teach not just so that we are understood, but so clearly that the message could not be misunderstood) and with the Spirit, and then let people's agency take over.
I got to give a talk in Church on Sunday (that is going to be a common thing here) and talked about the blessing of membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that was directed toward the investigators present. (Most of the talk was on welfare...just kidding)
I am so grateful to be a missionary. I am also so grateful for the new 2015 mutual album that can be found on www.lds.org/youth/music?lang=eng. Dad, it doesn't snow here, but there are mountains around Shkoder and we can see the snow on them. That is so wonderful that Brigham got his Patriarchal Blessing! That has been a really great thing in my life. Read it often. My prayers are also out for Brother Pennock and I sure pray for his quick recovery.
I love you guys,