Editor's Note: I asked him some specific questions and he answered many of them. His letter for the week is at the bottom. I think he's becoming a faster typist because their email time is very limited but we got quite a bit of detail this week. :)
Mom's questionsWhere do you tract or meet most of the people you talk to?We tract large appartment buildings called pattlats, and smaller buildings that are old communist pallats. Lots of people live in them. We tract all over Durrës. We pray and pick a group of buildings and then start at the top with a prayer and knock our way to the bottom.
Do you live with the other Elders or just the two of you?We have an apartment all to ourselves. It isn't much but it is great. We really don't spend to much time there anyway. In Elbasan our apartment was a little ways from the seniour couples apartment, and the other Elders apartment but here in Durrës we are in the same building.
How does this apartment compare with the last one?This apartment is very sparce compared to my last one. The last one had been lived in by a number of missionaries, but this one has only ever been lived in by one set of sisters. We have two bathrooms in this one though which is super nice for showering in the mornings. We have one bedroom, a drying\storage room, and a kitchen/living room. This apartment has blackout blinds which are super nice at night. My last apartment only had thin curtains.
How are your shoes holding up?My shoes are still going. They definitly have some wear and tear, but they are very comfortable. I usually wear that new pair of sketchers that we bought right before I came out. They fit my feet the best.
Are there many Albanian missionaries in your mission?Yes we do have some Albanians in our mission. In fact Elder Baldwin is currently serving with one, as is Sister Boettingger, and Sister Maxwell all from my MTC group. Albania actually has a lot of missionaries serving around the world. I think we have 4 full time ones serving from Albania here in the mission. There are two male Albanians, and I hope I get to serve with one eventually. Also we have mini missionaries sometimes. Mini missionaries are Albanians who are testing to see if a mission is right for them. Often we get them when the mission is at an uneven number.
What do you eat for breakfast most days?I used to eat muslie, but now I eat cornflakes, yogurt, toast, different fresh fruits. That kind of stuff. It is all pretty standard, cheap and good.
Do you find it quite warm?It is ver warm here, and rumour has it that Durrës is one of the hottest places in the summer. It cools off at nights, but the days are starting to get really hot.
Was it hard to say good bye to Elder Austin and the people you met in Elbasan?Yeah it was tough to say goodbye to a lot of people in Elbasan. There are a lot of really great people there. The branch is super great. With any luck i will be swinging back through there before the end of my mission. For some reason Elbasan has a really bad reputation with a lot of missionaries, but everyone who serves there loves it. Everyone always wants to go back! And I do as well.
Where is Elder Gray from?Elder Gray is from Utah. He likes sports. He is really good at soccer and has scholarship offers. His team took div 3 state and they are a div 2 size. He is a hard worker so we should get along really well.So this week I am in Durrës. The week has been quite the week. It has been crazy but awesome. We got dropped off in Durrës by a couple of other missionaries. Elder Acheson our district leader took off to Tirana for a few days to wait for his trainee. We got right to work like always but the problem was Elder Acheson had our Area book in his locked room. We didn't have any way of getting around Durrës and no one to tell us. So the first three days were spent tracting for the most part. We knocked a ton of doors. I have to admit it is pretty fun. We took turns doing the door contact. There are definitely more effective ways of finding, but it gets the job done more or less. Our knowledge just kind of limited us. We tried to get a hold of members from our phone, and we talked to Elder Acheson and got a few from him. We called them up, and a few of them helped us with lessons. Some of the members here are just fantastic. They love to help the missionaries with lessons. We used a few of the young men to help show us around to different recent converts. and a few investigators. The bishop here set a new rule here that if we have a lesson with a female investigator we have to bring a female member. It is pretty tough because on top of that we need a male member due to mission rules. So we are left coordinating our schedules with our investigators schedules with a female members schedule with a male members schedule. It has proven difficult. We hope to meet a fantastic couple or something haha. All of our investigators that we "inherited" are females, and most of them live out in crazy places. Needless to say we are still trying to figure out how to take down this monster.Tomorrow we start teaching an English course. We have passed out 900 flyers for it. We are hoping to find a lot of cool investigators through the course. We teach 45 min English, and 15 min spiritual thought. I think it has a lot of potential. We don't have a very deep investigator pool right now so we are both really looking forward to it. Also we will likely be starting up soccer on saturday mornings. There are some great young men who have some non-member friends. We are looking forward to it. Durrës is going to be awesome.The branch here is quite a bit stronger than Elbasan. They just have a little more depth. They have more families. It seems like a really nice ward. Apparently they get just under 100 out to sacrament on a regular basis. Elbasan was mid fifties. Our language skills have both jumped a lot in the last week as we no longer have our trainers to fall back on. Our area doesn't consist of a ton yet, but that is about to change. We are working with a few recent converts, less actives, and trying to find like crazy. The South Zone is going to be sweet I think. We have a lot of really great missionaries. Conference was really good. We got to see three sessions. Sat both and Sun Morning just because of time differences. It was in Albanian so I think I will probably learn more when the English magazine comes out haha.
We have definitly seen miracles. I think we have begun to realize that often they are a lot less obvious than we think when we hear the word 'miracle' but I think that maybe the little ones might just be the best kind. Some things have just worked this week.. a lot better than expected. For Example after conference we tried to teach some lessons to females, and everything just kind of worked. People fell into place. Times fell into place. We found and taught in peoples houses. People felt the spirit. Elder Gray and I were speaking good Albanian. One of our investigators fathers was convinced to prove us wrong, and somehow we clmed him down. We had Albanians with us that could relate to us and them. I don't know why but for some reason God has helped us a lot. Another miracle was at a door. We knocked. All we said was hello and we were immediately being ushered into a great couples house. They had seen missionaries about 4 years ago. They had a Book of Mormon. They knew about Joseph Smith, and the whole thing had just been to big for them back then, but they really wanted to learn more. We reviewed the first lesson. We reviewed our purpose as missionaries.They took it really well. We will be going back there either tomorrow or the next day.Durrës is great. We are going to give it absolutely everything. I am super pumped. Missionary work is great. This week has been good on me. I got through this one. I can get through anything. President Ford took a pretty big chance on us. Whitewash co-senior on a second transfer is pretty crazy, but it will be awesome.Have a great week. Take Buddy on lots of Walks!! Love You!!