Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Albania Becomes a Stake!

This week was awesome! The excitement and energy was high. We became the first Albanian Stake. Elder Kearn and Elder Charles came to set it up. On Sunday morning we woke up and went to catch a bus to Tirane. The District had organized for a bus to bring in all of the Elbasan people. A ton of people turned out to head to Tirana. So many that we had to call in a second bus. We filled two buses with Elbasan people. Members, missionaries, less actives, and investigators were all very excited to be a part of the making of the first stake. The ride there went really fast! The road isn't great espescially on a bus so one person got sick, but other than that it was great. When we arrived we all walked over to the big congress building in the middle of Tirane. The church rented it out for stake conference! Elder Austin and I got stationed by some directing missionaries so that we could direct traffic. Team Elbasan beat most people to the building. Elder Austin and I stood out on the sidewalk. We were the first two missionaries from the bus station. It was a fun job. I met a lot of people from around Albania, Kosovo, and Macedonia. Buses came from all of the centers. I met a lot of members, a couple of investigators, a bunch of missionaries, and some RM's and their families here for the creation of the stake. The energy level was very high.

I missed the first part of the conference because I was out on the street. But President Mema (the District President) was called again as the stake president. I don't really know him, and I don't know his counsellors at all. The talks were all really good. The theme to them all was that this is just the beginning. Keep pressing forward, setting high goals and working for them. It was mentioned that they were hoping to maybe establish another stake at the end of the next mission presidents term. That would truly be amazing. Albania has progressed a long way from where it was. President and Sister Ford bore their testimonies in Albanian! Sister Ford was extremely impressive. After the conference everyone talked for a while inside the building. There were a lot of very happy people! We then drove home to Elbasan. Elbasan will stay a branch because we are very small. Tirane all turned wards I think. 1st 2nd 3rd and 4th branches. Durres and Vlore also went into wards I believe. Those are all the strongest centers. We heard you need 6 wards for a stake? That is the word on the street anyway.

This week was also Sister Tooley's and Elder Austin's Birthdays. Elder Austin didn't want to do much for his. I "gave" him some stuff from my packages at home. The quotations are cuz we share it all anyway! He chose where we went for lunch. He wanted bugace so that is what we did. The Tooleys made him some really good cookies. It was for the most part a pretty normal day. It was what he wanted though. He is now 20. Holy cow! He is an old man!

Sister Tooley's birthday was on Saturday! We called her bright and early in the morning to wish her a happy birthday. We also bought flowers off the boullivard, and made a card. As well we volunteered to cook Sunday dinner! She loved it! We did good! We cooked a really good pasta and some chicken for the Sunday dinner.

It is party central here in Elbasan. They had teachers day on the 7th so everyone partied. It was crazy. They had Mothers day on the 8th. Again everyone partied! Next week is their spring festival and ballakume (face cookie) festival. More parties! I am not sure why all of those days equate to massive parties, no school, and a ton of festivities but I think it is pretty cool! Mothers day saved us because there were flowers on the street. Otherwise we had nothing for sister Tooley.

Today we went exploring with Elder Tooley! He drove us out a ways up a mountain where we went exploring. We checked out an old cement factory (or rather series of factories) It was very cool. We hiked around a bit. At the top was a chute where they pushed big rocks down to become smaller. Then a factory. Then more stuff. Another factory. A long cable and bins to carry the rocks. It was cool!

The work is going good here. We are teaching lots of lessons. Elder Austin is doing good. Lots of our investigators came to stake conference which was great!

Have an excellent week and take Buddy on some walks!

I love you all lots! Missions are super cool!

Elder Stewart

Sister Tooley on her birthday.

Elder Stewart, Elder Austin and Elder Pierce. Three generations...Elder Austin is Elder Stewart's trainer and Elder Pierce was Elder Austin's trainer.

Elder Stewart and two of his new friends/investigators.

Elder Stewart and Elder Eliason from the MTC. They met up again in Tirane when the stake was created.

Elder Stewart and Elder Tooley on their PDay adventure and exploring trip.

Elbasan from the hilltop.


  1. Love it! I'm so glad he's having such wonderful experiences. It was so sweet of him to share with Joseph on his birthday. I LOVE hearing his side of the story ~ You are so blessed!

  2. I love this post! It is so fun to be able to read several of the missionaries experiences from their own perspectives! I love seeing the photo of Elder Stewart and Elder Eliason together too! :)