Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Avash avash, pak nga pak - Slowly, slowly, little by little.

This week has been interesting. Here is how it went. 

"M".. is off the face of the planet. She was super strong, and actively participating, and excited for a baptismal date this saturday. She was almost ready as well. Anyway she is gone. Kinda weird.

"J" is going strong. He was at church. He has a lot of potential, but won't commit too fast. He is hesitant. To be honest if I were a convert (thank goodness I am not) It would take me a really long time to make a decision. He is reading and praying. he has felt the spirit in lessons, at church, and on his own. He has acknowledged it to us! That on its own is fantastic. He wants to finish reading the Book of Mormon before he commits. I think that is a very noble goal. His parents have both passed away so he has recognized for a long time long before us that something is missing in his life.

"M" dropped us. "A" is going through the lessons but not to much action.

"I" is doing great. She is already a super good missionary for her family. She shares the gospel like crazy. She has a lot of extended family there right now so we aren't allowed to teach lessons in the home. We have taught her and some cousins of hers a few times. Their family will join the church. It is a matter of time I am convinced.

Anyway.. I tried doing emails with investigator updates but I feel like it is pretty boring. Some Elders do it this way so I tried it out, but I don't like it. I will just tell stories instead.

At the end of this week, and the majority of this week we have been making a huge push to get male investigators. 90 percent (honest percentage) of our lessons this week have been with males. And it isn't as though we have't been teaching lessons. We have been finding males. The problem with male investigators is that we get dogged often and have to hunt people down. I am getting pretty good at emphasizing the importance of our message though haha. As soon as we have had one or two lessons and they have heard the truth I give it to em. The soft way wasn't working so I am trying the more straightforward approach. (They will thank me later) It hasn't worked all that great either to be honest, but they hear a very straight forward testimony and hopefully it will eat away at them for a little while.

We have had some great lessons though. Preach my Gospel states pretty clearly that we are to teach by the spirit so that is what we have been trying to do. Although almost all first lessons are the B of M, Restoration, Prophets, and God loves you we teach it differently, and sometimes different parts and angles to our investigators. Lessons are like puzzles, and we have to put it together to meet their needs. It is fun. This morning we had a young guy (20s) come up and ask us for a lesson. That never happens. The Lord is blessing us. It hasn't turnued into baptisms or priesthood holders, or eternal families yet, but as the Albanians say. "Avash avash, pak nga pak" We will keep pushing them, but things don't happen in an instant.

This week we have been tracting a few times. Usually we don't, but this week we decided to try it out! We take the elevator to the top of huge appartment buildings, say a prayer and get all of the doors on the way down teaching lessons along the way. Many people here say they are Muslim, but the reality is most of them aren't practicing and they don't know what they are talking about haha. It is kinda funny. Sometimes when teaching we talk about Jesus being the Son of God and they agree with us. That most certainly is not Muslim doctrine. They are just kinda confused, and we are here to help them.

I had my first home cooked Albanian meal last night. Us the other Elders and the Tooleys were invited to go to the house of two member girls, and their non-member parents. The Tooleys wanted to go and give them condolences because their grandmother (who lived with them) passed away. They are both very close to Sister Tooley. We had a great visit with them, and the fed us a feast of Greek and Albanian. It was very good. I haven't experienced much liver or kidney before, but we had it for the first course and it was good. We also had chicken and deep fried potatoe things kinda like french fries. We then had a pizza thing, and black bread, and a greek salad, and a traditional chocolate cake brownie thing. I was stuffed. It was my second big meal yesterday because the Tooleys fed us after church. The night went well though.

We went to Tirane one day this week to get me all legalized! They told Sister Boettinger that we had to behave and be nice to the police men. Good thing too because we are pretty crazy and probably would have been thrown out of the country. Jokes!  Anyway.. It was pretty easy. I took all of the documents that Mom put together. The mission home has them all. We didn't have to do anything at all actually. We just walked up to the table, and they said that everything was good. We will be here for a year for sure, and then I do it again. Not much to it! Bro and Sister Andrews take care of things from here.

We drove into Tirane with the Tooley's, and they had to get their car inspected so we went with them to do that. It was a good thing we were with them because they wouldn't have made it without translation. Here is how the fun part went. A guy asked us for the 200 lek initial fee so Brother Tooley pulled out a loaded wallet and handed him a 1000 lek expecting change. The guy ran away with it, and then came back and said some stuff to Elder Austin. Anyway I guess it wasn't clear or something. A miscommunication between him Elder Tooley and the man happened. The man ended up with 2000 lek due to a second 1000. I am not sure what happened. Anyway that was ridiculous but Elder Austin and Bro Tooley thought it was the right amount. So we kept going. We went into the building and the real lady who actually is the one who we are supposed to pay informed us we were robbed. So I was mad about that, and Elder and Sister Tooley were flustered, and Elder Austin was feeling down because of the mistake. Elder Austin and I went out there to make things right. We told the security guard, pointed out the guy who was probably stealing from more people. The security guard hustled him down, and drug him in by the collar. We got our money back. Elder Austin then took us to a traditional Albanian place on our way back out of town to Elbasan. 

In March they have a festival here. It is either the 14th or 15th. i can't remember. Anyway for the festival they make these huge sugar cookies. They are the size of my face! And like two inches thick. They are everywhere right now. Everyone is making them and trying to sell them. They are certainly at an excess. But they are kind of cool.

This weekend we are getting together as a branch and being bused into Tirane for the creation of the stake. It will be a two hour meeting and then we will be bussed back. It is being held at a large rented center in Tirane. Everyone is very excited. The church is certainly progressing in Albania!

Anyway life here is still awesome! I love teaching the Gospel, and I hope you are all doing well.

Take Buddy on some walks!

Love, Elder Stewart

An electrical pole near their apartment building. Safe?

P Day adventure in the forest.

Selfie...caught on film by Elder Richards???

A train in Elbasan

Old Military tunnels

A lizard!

An Albanian village

Elder Stewart and Elder Richards on P Day overlooking part of the village.

The thinker??? :)

Albanian Countryside

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