Hey, it's Elder Ostergaard again! It probably doesn't feel like it has been that long between installments...because it hasn't. It is way too short actually. However, this past week has had a bit of action, so that is good, mostly.
Last week I was able to tell you about a cool guy named Franc. He is still cool. Today I would like to tell you about 2 other cool guys named Adriatik and Mariglen. I mentioned a couple weeks ago that there were two guys in our English Course that we had big hopes for. Well, They have been coming to church almost every week (except for the times when they have to go home to their fshat (village) for the weekend). This week we had 3 cool experiences with them. The first was when we had a lesson with them about the Word of Wisdom. They totally understand that we aren't just another church and that truly the blessings of modern-day revelation are desirable. So, as we taught them about this law, though parts of it were a bit hard at first (really just the coffee, here in Albania people just sit around and drink little Turkish coffees all the time, so it requires a change for basically everyone), they understood why and were willing to live it. How cool is that? That is a life-changing thing and they did it because some 14-year-old said he saw God in a grove of trees.
Second, this week we organized a movie night at the church where we put on Ephraim's Rescue (with subtitles, that is how they watch just about everything here anyway) and brought popcorn. Probably about 15 people came, 3 of those being members, and though we were hoping for a bit more, it was fantastic! That film brought in a wonderful spirit and touched many people that watched. There are currently several solid investigators up here in the Shkoder Branch and we are excited for the strength that they will be to this area when they make that first covenant with God in the waters of baptism.
Third. On Sunday President Agalliu, the Second Counselor in the Stake Presidency came to visit Shkoder. Shkoder hasn't seen anyone from the stake in over 6 months (which is not bashing on the stake, they currently have way more on their plates than we can even understand, I guess that is what you get when you are in a brand new stake), but it was such a blessing for those up here to see someone who just knows what he is doing. He was able to set some wonderful expectations for Sunday dress, tithing, etc. During Sunday School when he talked about wearing a white shirt and tie Mariglen leaned over and asked me why we hadn't told him about that because he wanted to do it. He also asked me if he could help to give a talk during Church (I told him that once he was baptized that he sure could!). What a wonderful fire that is being kindled inside of his soul!
We had the opportunity to go see a bit of the opening of a shop/radio station. There was a visit from the Minister of Culture or something and a press conference. While we were there we talked to a couple people and were able to share a message about our Church. We also talked to a guy named Ezra who is from Peace Corps here. He told us about what we did and how he has been able to become effective at it here. He said that the way that he has been able to really become effective is by knowing people. It is so true. A robot can wear a missionary tag and talk to people all day...but the effectiveness would be minimal. We are called on missions at specific times to specific places because we are in fact people with personalities. It is so much easier to see now that the need for being real and being a friend is huge! The Savior was a perfect example of this. He loved and he wasn't afraid to give of himself. Oh, man, there are so many times that I look back at my mission and just wish that I could have learned things earlier...and then I have to take a step back and realize that the Lord does everything in His time. But if you are reading this and are going to go on a mission, heed my words! Don't get caught in the rut of being a robot, even if it seems like you are working crazy hard. Work hard, yes, but do it with a brain and do it with a heart that is willing to give.
I love you guys and hope that you won't freeze to death. However, you might be lucky, because maybe you will just freeze and then be in a sort of frozen coma and then just wake up when you thaw out. Good luck in swim Brigham and Grant!
(one's a little blurry, but cute expressions)