Wednesday, May 21, 2014

An Earthquake, New Investigators and Albanian Food

So we had an earthquake on Sunday night into Monday. I woke up, and was getting shaken all around in my bed. It was pretty cool, but we lost power for a whole day. So I am emailing tonight instead! (One day later than we usually get his letter. So, we were really relieved to get it! We had heard that there was an earthquake there...)
So this week has been another great week here in Albania. We have not had record breaking amounts of rain, but we have had a lot of rain none the less. It hasn't been cold though. It is just really wet.. you know that way it is when water falls from the sky. We have had some good times. I like contacting in the rain because we just stop under store roofs, and we have a contained audience. They have two options.. listen to us or get soaked.

We had a good lesson with X and her mom B this week. We were a little scared for it, but we prayed hard and went into it. We taught tithing. It was our first tithes and offerings lesson as a companionship. They accepted everything, and were extremely happy.. like the happiest they have ever been. Something has rung true to them. B still is not sure about baptism, but X is scheduled for the 31. B feels it so I think she will come around eventually. It may just take a little while.

A is awesome. He is Dads age. He has now been to church twice, and he came to the Priesthood activity. He has now interacted with members. In Elders quorum his comments outdid most of the members. The big challenge now is getting him to quit smoking. He has the testimony to do it. He just needs to stop. Our next lesson with him will be Word of Wisdom. We are using Vellai Balla again. He has the know how, experience, and a very powerful testimony. I am not worried.

A 19 year old guy who we met on the road came to church this week. He met with missionaries 5 years ago and wasn't ready then, but he has an unreal fire right now. I think he is the real deal. We have a lot of faith.

We have met some new investigators this week. We have contacted a lot of people. Elder Gray and I were talking about it, and we wish we had a counter that told us how many people we talked to in a day. It would be a lot!

We have done some fun things this week. Elder Gray and I really get along with the other Elders here. We have eaten lunch together a couple of times. We made Crepes one day. Elder Watson made an amazing shepherds pie this week. If you ever find easy and quick recipes I am in the market. (If you read this and have any for him, please send them!!)

I caught a lizard this week. That was pretty cool. Also I took a picture of Suflaqes so that you can see what they look like. 

Durrës is awesome. The work is going well. We had a district fast this week because as always we are trying to increase the harvest! Elder Gray and I get along very well, and we both have the same mindset. It consists of lots of work, sleep, and food.. and occasionally some other out of the ordinary things to keep life interesting. It is sweet though because he hates spending money too so we do well on funds! We both love playing soccer with the youth as well, and we brought an investigator this week so that was great!

Thanks you for taking Buddy on all of those walks!!

Love Elder Stewart 

A field of random stray dogs. This is a common sight.

Looks like a fair amount of rain!!! Guess he got a new umbrella.... :)


These are suflages that they buy on the street for very cheap. Looks like hardly any calories at all, don't you think?  Sara thinks they look delicious!

A ward dinner. Elder Stewart liked the sausages but was informed they were made from cat.

The lizard he caught. Elder Stewart has always had a love for catch and release of small critters. He has spent HOURS doing this in the past, so it's nice to see some things don't change! :)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

After Mother's Day in Durres

That was fun talking to you yesterday!  It was good to see you all doing well! Thanks for walking Buddy yesterday!

Well I filled you in on most of the details. Unfortunately K has dropped us. When God gives he can take away. Hopefully he helps K find his way back. If not for us for some missionaries in the future. The worst part was he just texted us. We haven't talked to him in person. Something must have happened. We know he went back to smoking, and was really disappointed in himself. We will keep trying to contact him!

M is going with her son to Italy next week, and will be gone for three months. She can't be baptized in that unstable situation so for the foreseeable future she will just have to try and keep her faith strong. We will vizit her right up until the day she leaves. We have found all of the churches near her house in Italy. Hopefully she will go there, and continue to read and pray.

X and Bu are doing well. They came to church again. Xh is around Saras age, and she loves learning. They are scheduled to be baptized on May 24. They have to continue to 'prove' themselves. They have to be strong in their testimonies before they get baptized. It looks like they are going to go the distance, but I have said that for a lot of investigators thus far. We have faith that they are the real deal!

Elder Gray and I street contacted a man named Astriti. He is 44. He is very nice. We have had two lessons with him. He is reading, and praying. He came to church for three hours. He is on a baptismal date for june 14. He really liked church, and is coming to the priesthood activity on saturday night. We will meet with him throughout the week.

While we worki like dogs we have a lot of fun here too! This week before Zone conference we got waffles and ice cream as a district! They were amazing. After Zone conference we found a street vender selling handguns that are actually cigarette lighters. Crazy.

This week we saw a car from Ontario! Crazy!!

This week to find some investigators Elder Gray and I went tabeling with Elders Watson and Clawson. It was very successful. We were able to talk with a lot of people, and it was a really fun activity. We had a pretty cool Book of Mormon display going on. It was a hit! It was good to switch up our finding methods a little bit.
I hope you have a great week! Thanks for your support!

Love you lots. Happy Mothers day to Mom, Nana, Grandma, and all of my Aunts! Happy Mothers day to all of the rest of the mothers!!

Take Buddy on walks!

Love, Elder Stewart

Before Zone Conference, they all stopped for street waffles. Amazing!!

Elder Gray, Elder Stewart, Elder Watson and Elder Clawson did some "tableing" this week. It was a good way to switch up their finding method.

While tableing, they met this artist who said he met the first ever Elders to serve in Albania He was very kind and wanted to do caricatures of them.

Lunchtime! Looks pretty good....They often buy lunch on the street. It's quite cheap and yummy. (And some of the meals sound very high in calories!!!:)  )

This is a very friendly couple who are not members but love the missionaries and even feed them sometimes!
This was the meal they fed them. Elder Stewart said it was delicious!!!

What morning study and prep time looks like every morning!

Comparing photos from everyone's skype session with family. President Ford let them all have 3 hours. WE were so happy!

This is the picture he took os us while skyping. This years Christmas photo???

The coastline on pday.

On P-day, they explored the coast. He's holding an Albanian Book of Mormon.

This is the picture we took of him while skyping. It was remarkable!!!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Durres Week 5

This week has been fantastic!! The first thing that made this week really great was serving the Telhaj family. I think I mentioned them before. They have been members for about a year and a half, but they have gone inactive. Finances and life just caught up to them. We have been trying so hard to get them to come back. This week we decided to serve them. We called them up and decided to try and help relieve the stress. THeir yard.. to be garden was a weed mess so we volunteered to clear it for them. I sent you the pics before and afters of one side of the yard. Elders Clawson and Watson came with us, and the four of us and Vellai Telhaj cleared their whole yard. It was hard work in the burning son. I can't imagine doing that by myself on top of trying to support a family without being able to find a job. He was so grateful, and he came to church on Sunday!! We will have them sealed as an eternal family yet!! Also at church he bore his testimony, and I could tell he felt something. So he has a testimony. It is sweet. His family wasn't at church, but we will keep at it.

K. is going the distance. So last week the smoking problem hit us like a train and we were scrambling. We did everything we could. We promised blessings, and in the end the Lord pulled through for us. He read the Word of Wisdom pamflet. He knew it was right. In the middle of the week he figured out his neighbour sells the gum to help with a smoking problem. He quit smoking on his own. We had a lesson with him in it on saturday night. He told us that and Elder Gray and I almost jumped out of our seats with excitement. We both agree that was the best part of our mission so far. He gave all credit to God. In his story he personally pointed out Gods hand throughout the week. He told us God led him to his neighbour. He said quitting smoking was a lot easier because he was able to pray to God on a daily basis. He said this is incredible. Are there any other commandments I should know about? He had the chance to drink with his friends at a party music this week, and he said no!! He had a chance to smoke with some friends this week and he didn't. He recognized that living the Word of Wisdom would not be easy, but he knows it is best. He said he knows his swimming and school will improve. I know they will. Also he decided to eat vegetables. That was the cherry on the cake! His baptism is set for the 17. We gave him two options. The 17 or the 24. He said the 17 but he needs to pray about it. He is a sweet kid. Elder Gray and I both love him! He came to church this week again so that was awesome. That is his third time!

This week we began teaching a Mom and a Daughter. We found them last week, and I think i may have mentioned them, but they are super awesome!! Their names are X. and B. X. is 13 I believe, and  B. is her mom. We had a fantastic first lesson on the restoration with them. Aida (a member) bore powerful testimony. They committed to baptism on the 24 of May, and are holding us to it. We also had a lesson on the Plan of Salvation. They came to church and brought their sister in-law. They are doing super well. We are being seriously blessed with people to teach.

M. and her family are doing well. They are on track for baptism on the 31. The Restored gospel is a very powerful message. Eternal families are a great thing. They live a long ways away from our house so it is a long walk, but it is always so worth it!

We have had a lot of fun here with our district. We played soccer with the Young Men, and it was really fun. We eat lunch together quite often. We all love pizza and suflaqes!

Elder Gray and I cooked this week for Sunday dinner for all of us. It turned out good. You have a picture. Noddles and sauce, and carrots. Also toast and nutella because of our recent purchase.

Take Buddy on walks!!

Love, Elder Stewart

Telhaj family's yard BEFORE

Telhaj family's yard AFTER

Pizza with his Zone!

The pizza box - Hannah wanted us to try calling the number. :)

Soccer with the YM

Noodles, carrots and sauce. Looks pretty edible!

Nice cookware! We were impressed!

The closest thing he could get to cake for Matt's birthday. If you look closely, it says, "Happy Bday Matt" in Nutella.

Their fast offering. Looks quite familiar - just a different language! 2000 lek equates to $21 Canadian.

PDay in the hills. Pretty green there!

His "Happy Mother's Day" photo. :)

Beautiful Coastline

The Elders in Durres

Look what he found in Durres! Guess I don't need to mail anymore of those!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Challenges and Blessings in Durres

This week has been really good. We have been working hard as always to get investigators.

K is doing well, but he has that smoking problem. We have pushed his baptismal date back into June because he needs to have it cleared up. Hopefully we can bring it forward again if he kicks it fast enough. We had a really great lesson with a member named Vellai(Brother) B. He used to have a terrible smoking problem. He said as soon as he finished with one he would start smoking the next. He went through tons of cigarettes, and he got to the point where normal stuff wasn't good enough so he started buying stuff that you roll yourself. He was great to have in on the lesson. He is a good story teller, and pretty motivational. K only smokes when he is stressed. A few a week so nothing in comparison, but still it is a trial he needs to overcome. He calls it one of Satans tricks. K came to church again though. Once again he had to leave early to meet a professor. His school schedule is not very accommodating for the Sabbath day, but hopefully he can do better in the fall. He liked it though!

This week we had our first official ward council here in Durrës. He was obviously brought up. They asked about the situation. We explained, and then almost immediately had questions flying at us from around the room. It got super stressful. I honestly never get stressed out in lessons and conversations here, but I got super stressed out. They picked us apart pretty good. I said a Jo when I should have said a Po because we got confused amidst all of the questions. Elder Gray just stopped talking because Albanians can be super pointed people. So I had to wrap stuff up on my own. We got our testimonies called into question by a member of the bishopric in front of the Ward council because he asked "Do you think not smoking will help him with exams?" but I thought he said "do you think smoking will help him with his exams?". Yeah it was kind of scary, but we made it out of there and Elder Acheson got torn to shreds too, and the third set of Elders don't have any investigators. So yeah I think the ward council thinks we are all incompetent. 

Vellai B was in on that meeting though! He is awesome. He is the Young Mens President. He is super respectful. This week on the street he stopped at the store and spent 200 lek that I know he doesn't have, to buy us a snack. We tried really hard to get away without anything, but he did it anyway. He is just that kind of person. He has done a lot of things that have really impressed me. He works like a dog all day as a postman, serves faithfully in his calling, and just serves others. He is a member highlight for the week!

This week while street contacting we found a family. They are really nice. We aren't exactly sure what the dynamics are for sure.. I has been hard to tell. But in the street contact she came up to us because our tags say Jesus on them. She told us that she had a really strong testimony of Jesus, but that she had never been baptized. She had been to a few churches, but never found the right one. We got her number, and all of the kids with her were super nice. Another couple was with her and they were awesome as well. We set up an appointment for the next day. We found their house and had a great lesson on the restoration. They ate it all up. There were about 6 people in on the lesson. In the end 6 of them came to church. They used to attend church every week in Italy, but haven't here. They said they will come every week. The kids liked primary too I think.

Another Street contact turned out good this week as well. We had a guy from Orthodox background pretty interested in the book. We set up a meeting with him. He came. He loved the restoration message. We gave him a Book of Mormon. He told us he would have it finished up in about 4 days. We showed him the promise. If he reads the Book of Mormon and prays about it he will get an answer. I saw his desire. I can't wait to meet with him again! It will either be tomorrow morning or Wednesday!

We are working with some Ward Members too! Two of the families we are working with have missionaries in the field, but the dads are not members. It blows my mind how that is possible, but we hope to help them see the light. Another girl we are working with is 9. Her two older brothers are in their 20s, but they are totally inactive. She has no way to get to church, and we can't figure out a way to get her there. We visited her once with the Primary President as well. She is looking into it also. The primary president here is fantastic as well! She helped us a ton at church with all of those kids!

Because everyone here loves Nutella, and because those little bottles eat money we decided to buy nutella in bulk, and save the Elders here in Durrës money for the next year. 10kgs for 28 dollars. It is a ton!! But it makes for a good decoration in our very empty house! Also it tastes pretty good on toast and other things! We will also be mission legends haha. When you do the math though it was actually a good money saver. It is awesome.

Today for Pday we played capture the flag by the sea with our whole zone. We got a picture. I don't have it yet but hopefully for next week. Those other ones I have are just us making teams and boundaries. South Zone is the best zone! The other ones are our district on the bus on the way to capture the flag. All of the Canadians in the mission are in the south Zone. The others thought it was hilarious every time we said Capture the FLAG. I have a lot of friends here now! We get to know each other pretty well because our mission is so small!

This week we have a very full week planned. We have lots of lessons planned. We have lots of investigators now thank goodness. The Lord has helped us out big time!! We have put in a lot of hours of finding! I just give you the highlights. One I forgot to mention though is two 20 year old cousins. Just thought they would be cool to mention for my cousins out there. Their names are Alteo and Albana. Guy and a girl.

Also, F. from Elbasan is now baptized!! That is very exciting for me!! He got everything in order. You have a picture of me with him. He is the one that was supposed to get baptized right before I left, but didn't.. But now he is!!

I am happy Arizona was so good! Thanks everyone for thoughts and prayers!! I appreciate it a ton!

Take Buddy on Walks! 
Love, Elder Stewart
Elder Gray, Elder Stewart and a 14 year old boy named E. He has a rock solid testimony and helps with lessons quite often.

On the bus on P-day on the way to play Capture the Flag.

Making teams for Capture the Flag

That's a lot of Nutella!!!

Elder Stewart's form of decorating. :) I may have to take him to Real Deals when he gets home to spritz up his  living space!

The church in Durres