It was good to talk to you yesterday and see all of your smiling faces. You be a-lookin' great and it was awesome to be able to just talk for a little bit. There are so many things that I was not able to say, but that is okay. It is also interesting to see just how people have changed...and mostly how you haven't. You guys are still great!
This past week we have seen a bit of what you could call a lack of success I guess...if you didn't understand the principle of faith! We haven't been seeing a ton of countable success, but whatever it is, I am sure that the Lord has a plan for it all and we are excited to fulfill that. It was mentioned to me that maybe there was some frustration about the work, and I actually don't think so. I just really hope that even though we are not perfect that we are on that road that will allow the Lord to work through us. I guess if my faith about anything ever wavers, it isn't that the Lord can't do what he plans to do or that the work isn't right, it is that we somehow aren't doing what we need to be doing in order to receive the blessings of the Lord. The beautiful (and really difficult to understand) thing however is that the Lord doesn't wait on us to be perfect to bless us. If that was the case, He would be waiting an awful long time to bless us.
One thing that stuck out to me this week was actually at our multi-zone conference. President had asked a sister to stand up and share a success story from their companionship. When she stood up, I was expecting something about how 37 people were baptized or something, but instead she shared the story of one of their investigators (who wasn't even baptized yet) that they were watching experience a mighty change of heart. It hit me how the success and miracle stories that are all around us are simple and that we, if we keep our eyes and ears open will be able to see them. They are small, but they are there and they are important.
Crazy thing! Today while we were on our way to Lac (it is a city about an hour or so away that has a famous church) we walked past a store in Shkoder and a guy walked out and yelled "Elder Ostergaard!" It was Elder Brown, an elder who went home right when I came in to the field ( he extended for an extra 2 weeks so I got to know him just a bit). There were 4 other ex-missionaries with him including Elder Austin, my trainer! Because of his parasite and getting sent back state-side I haven't seen him since second transfer, so that was super cool. We also were able to see a couple of other ex-missionaries while at zone conference. It is weird to see that side of life.
This week, Tonini and his family didn't make it out to church. We will be going out and seeing them tomorrow and hope to help them continually realize the importance of constant and sincere devotion to the Lord and His gospel. As we tried to help his daughter Jona accept a baptismal date this week, we ran into a bit of a stumbling block as she expressed her difficulties in changing churches as she was Catholic and has been her whole life. I, though I have tried to imagine the difficulties that that would bring, can't really imagine what sort of difficulties that would bring. It requires an entirely different view on the most important things in life. It requires you to be recognized by a different title. You are automatically at least somewhat alienated from what used to be a major part of you. I guess all that we can do is teach pure doctrine powerfully and in that way show that it is not just worth it, it is a much better option. Needless to say, we have some prayers going up to heaven for that family.
We are pushing to make an extra effort to find leaders. This proves a bit of an added challenge to the whole missionary work thing. Not only do we look for those that will accept the message, but those that will be willing to lead others in the effort of this great cause afterwards. The tricky thing is that...we can't really tell who those people are. There were some "find-the-elect" sunglasses at the MTC that we could have gotten to make the whole distinguishing work easier, but they were $45, way out of my price range. So, that puts us back at normal led-by-the-Spirit missionary work. I guess all that we can do is talk to everyone and hope and pray that the Lord will put those chosen spirits in our paths. And He will.
Hey, I love you guys a lot! I hope that you are having a wonderful week and that Brigham's visa and everything is going smoothly. You should have just gone to Albania Brigham, it would have been a lot easier! Just kidding, if the prophet said Brazil, that is because you will be ripping it up down there and that is what is supposed to happen.