Tuesday, January 7, 2014

First Email from the Field - Elbasan!

I made it to Albania, and dang it is awesome! Everything is great! it is so cool to finally be out in the field teaching the gospel to people who don't know much about Christ! The Jet lag was minimal due to Dads great plan! It's awesome that you got those pictures from sister Andrews. She said she really liked talking to you mom!

Imagine mongolia... and then imagine Italy... now mash them both together, and you are pretty darn close to Albania. It is definitely Europe, but it is dirtier. They are really trying to progress! People here are very friendly, but oh so poor. A lady we vizited last night works ten hour days 364 days a year for 58 cents an hour! Stuff is cheaper here, but not that cheap. It is very sad, but despite that all most Albanians are very happy. Many are very willing to talk! They live a much more relaxed lifestyle than over in America! One thing they do is every night everyone goes foe a long stroll. They meet up with friends and family, and everyone walks, and sits on benches, and talks! It is great for contacting! We have been able to find many people interested! We have a lot of telephone numbers, and some appointments! Albanians can be hard to pin down, and to find but so far we have been having sucess, and have been able to schedule lessons throughout the days! It is pretty amazing considering we are whitewashing an area, and the last missionaries didn't leave us with much! The Lord is helping us out!! The church is true! We have two baptismal dates set. That doesn't mean they will necessarily be baptized, but we are sure hoping. They need to come to church, and continue reading.

Church is great here! It was fast Sunday as you know, so they had the new missionaries share their testimonies! It went well I think! I told them how I was excited to be in their ward, and how I was really looking forward to working with them all! I think they understood most of it haha! I didn't have one of those huge mess up stories.. fortunately, but who knows it is likely still coming! President Kashari.. the branch president... is a super caring man! He holds the ward together! He has literally nothing. He works long days, and devoted a ton of time to the ward.  He liked my Albania and Canada pin!

Oh I didn't even explain! The town I am in is called Elbason! There are two sets of Elders here! You can see it on Google Maps. The majority of my MTC group is in Tirana. Elder Baldwin is serving in the Tirana second branch. Elder Holm, and Elder Gray are in Vlore. Sister Boettinger went to Lushnea. One or two sisters went to Duress, and everyone else is in one of the four Tirana branches. 
My conpanian Elder Austin is great! He is quite good at speaking the language. He has a strong testimony, and is willing to work! I am taller than him haha.. kinda cool... probably the only companion that will ever happen for! We get along well! I hope Elder Baldwin is doing well! I'm sure he is!  The other two missionaries here are very nice as well! They are both on their second transfer! Their names are Elder Acheson and Elders Price! Saying their names reminded me that we had to order new tags with our finetic names because Albanians can't read these weird English names. I am soon to be Elder Stjyart. Kinda different. j makes a y and y makes an eew.

President and Sister Ford are awesome! They are both quite the characters, espescially sister Ford! I don't know them too well yet, but I have talked to them a couple of times. I had an interview with President Ford! He asked about all of you! He is very nice! I think I get to see them tomorrow as it is zone training in lushnea. 
Being here is awesome! I now realize why everyone says their mission was a great experience. It has been interesting adjusting to missionary life. THe Last missionaries at our apartment didn't clean it at all so we spent about an hour this morning cleaning everything like you said mom! It went well! Another thing that I realize now, but that had never really occured to me before is that as missionaries you kind of have to work to make work! Coming into the mission I thought it was just a big long list of stuff to get done, but its not we rely on the Lord to help us make the list. I guess that is maybe why some people get stressed out and frustrated because they want to work they just feel like they aren't getting anywhere. Anyway I'm not sure if that makes any sense. It probably would not have to me before actually getting here! 

The church is true! The book here is still blue! I know that Heavenly father is looking out for all of us! I know President Monson directs the church! I encourage you all to keep being missionaries at home!

Take Buddy on some walks!!

Love, Elder Stewart

Elder Stewart in Vienna, Austria. En route to Albania. The ironic thing is that he'd been here before on his LCI Chamber Choir trip in Spring 2011.
Elder Koegler, Elder Francis and Elder Stewart just before they parted ways at the MTC.
The city of Elbasan - from the balcony of their apartment.
Another view of the city from the balcony.
Elder Stewart on a castle wall near their apartment. 
The skyline. The temperature in Elbasan today when we checked was 16 degrees celsius. Much warmer than home!!! Perhaps he won't need the balaclava and Ottawa Senators gloves we sent for Christmas this winter! :)

1 comment:

  1. He looks so good. I was thinking there would be snow...but I guess it's not really very northern, and it's close to the sea. Crazy!!