Adriatic South Mission
P.O. Box 2984
Bulevardi "Gjergj Fishta"
Qendra "ALPAS", Shkalla NR. 5,
Tirana 00355, Albania
Really quick before I forget, this is the new mission home address.
Happy Monday and late Pi Day! Sad to say, it does not get celebrated here in Albania at all...and I totally forgot about it until I read some emails. I am guessing one of the big reasons for that is that dates are written day-month-year in this corner of the universe (as well as just about everyone else in the world I think).
Well, this past week we had an opportunity to see two brethren baptized and confirmed! Mariglen and Franc are now the newest members of the Shkoder Branch, a much anticipated occasion. It was wonderful being able to talk with these two the day before their baptisms about their feelings on all of this. They practiced bearing their testimonies to us (there is an opportunity for them to bear their testimonies after the ordinance and there were some nerves on Franc's side) and it was great to hear them talk about Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and the changes that they have made and seen in their lives since first meeting with us.
We were able to share the story of Abish with Mariglen. It is a pretty important story for me in recognizing the role of the member in missionary work. After Ammon and the King's house dropped like flies because of the influence of the Spirit, Abish (a previous believer aka a member) runs around and tells everyone about this wonderful and incredible miracle. They all come running and...much to Abish's dismay begin to argue with one of them actually attempting to kill Ammon. In the midst of her distress however, she takes the Queen's hand and she rises and preaches followed by the others. In the end, a huge amount of people were converted and baptized. Ammon did great work and was able to service his way into the King's house and help in his conversion...but unless Abish had gone out and told all of her friends (and everyone else too), only the King's house would have been converted that day. Thank goodness for members that see in them the ability to help others. Elder Bednar made the statement that full-time missionaries are full-time teachers and that members are full-time finders. Crazy, huh? I actually did the math, and starting with 1 member, supposing that Shkoder is 200,000 people big, if each month each member would bring 1 friend into the the fold of the Gospel, this entire city would be baptized in a little over 17 months. That's crazy. We just need to open our mouths.
One thing that I have had the privilege of seeing this weakness is a clearer view of some of my weaknesses. It is a really difficult pill to swallow that we have points that truly must be changed. However, as I considered some of the things that I learned about myself, I was so grateful that these particular challenges are brought into my view right now. What better place to learn to be better than on a mission? I recognized a little bit about how a father must feel when he makes a mistake and fears for the consequences that could come from it and just hopes to not make that mistake with the next child. The Lord truly knows our weaknesses and allows us to walk through that refiner's fire. I pray that we will always have the courage to accept those weaknesses when we see them and lay them at the Savior's feet. The Atonement of Jesus Christ does not only provide redemptive power that changes bad men to good, but also an enabling power which helps good men become better. It is truly a blessing that these short-comings that we find within ourselves do not need to be overcome by ourselves, but that we can call upon heavenly powers to both "[put] off the natural man" as well as to "[become] a saint" (Mosiah 3:19). Elder Bednar gave some thoughts on this subject...somewhere, but I can't remember when.
Thank you so much everybody for loving the Savior and desiring to serve Him! I am so grateful that I have these 2 years to wear His name upon my chest and that, as Philip of the New Testament,"[open my] mouth... and [preach] unto [Albania] Jesus." (Acts 8:35)
Love you everybody!
#1 This is from us mopping ;out the flooded church a couple weeks ago.
#2 This is from when we made taffy two weeks ago for FHE. As you can tell from the smoke, it boiled over onto the stove. Franc that just got baptized is the one in the middle with his thumb up.