Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Transfer Week... Still in Durres but now a Trainer!

Happy Birthday to H!!!! I still can't believe you are 12!

This week has been eventful! It is funny that your week flew by as
well. I blinked and I almost missed this one.

The best part of the week is that A is officially almost done
smoking! He will be baptized on Saturday. I have told you twice that
we will have a baptism and it didn't happen so pray really hard that
this one actually happens. I am pretty sure it will. He has a solid
testimony. He has been to church every single week since we met him on
the road. He has progressed a long way! We had his stop smoking for
sure lesson on Saturday night. We had the super strict church "quit
smoking program" ready for him. We bought all of the stuff. He has
however decided to do it on his own. His willpower is incredible

The great part about it is that both Elder Gray and I will be staying
here in Durrës to see it happen. Neither of us got transferred from
Durrës. I am moving areas though. Both of us will be training new
missionaries starting on Thursday. We are excited, a little nervous,
but totally stoked. We both agree that it does not seem like very long
ago that we were put with our trainers. It makes us feel good that
President Ford trusts us enough to give us new missionaries. Elder
Austin is still in Prishtina. Elder Price from Elbasan is the new
North Zone leader with him. Elder Baldwin is still in Fier. He is
serving with Elder Webster. Here in Durrës we are going to have 8
Elders now. A new area in Durrës got opened. Elder Ashler will be
moving into it with Elder Linderman. Our district leader is Elder
Foster. This is his last transfer. He used to be my Zone leader. I
have been on two exchanges with him. I have told you a bit about him.
he reminds me of Uncle Mark. I really like him. He will also be
training. There are 6 Elders coming in, and 3 of them will be in
Durrës. Elder Holm from the MTC is training in Tiranë. Elder Eliason
from the MTC is training in Vlorë. The other is also being trained in
Tiranë with another missionary. Elder Acheson is leaving us to
Gjakova, Kosovo. Elder Clawson is heading to Shkodër. Elder Watson is
going to Prishtina, Kosovo.

We had our mission conference this week. It was so much fun. Everyone
was there! The thing about having such a small mission is that
everyone gets to know eachother, at least a little bit. I will end up
serving around or near most of the people in the mission so it is
really fun. They put on some really great trainings. Sister Ford is
fabulous. She makes us laugh all of the time. She put on a great
training for patience. She did a great job. She took the Preach My
Gospel paragraph, and broke it down with stories and quotes of her
own. "Patience isn't just waiting, it is what you do while you are
waiting." Obviously missionary work takes a lot of patience. Life in
general takes a lot of patience. Every once and a while things go a
little (or a lot). She is hilarious! The AP's gave us a great training
on the Book of Mormon. Apparently we should use it more in lessons
other than just explaining what it is at the end of the first lesson.
Who knew? ;) Really though it was a great reminder. We have to make
sure that people know that is they read and pray about the Book of
Mormon they will know that God has a plan for them. They will know
that God has called a prophet, and they will be ready to make
covenants with God! I thought they did a great job. President Ford
taught us about the numbers. We want to bring more people to Christ so
that means we go ahead and start with big baptismal goals right?
Wrong. We set goals on finding new investigators, and then
investigators in church, and then those on a baptismal date, and then
finally investigators getting baptized. That made Elder Gray and I
feel good! We have worked our tail off finding, and working with
investigators. President Ford showed us our mission effectiveness
report. It takes a lot of found new investigators to get a baptism so
he encouraged us to keep finding!

This week we have begun seriously working with an investigator named
Izmir. He originally found our free English course a few years ago. He
took pictures with some of the missionaries, and has had the pictures.
We met him on the road one day, and it kind of rekindled his fire. We
invited him to church, and he showed up. He has been to church 4
times, and has played soccer with us once. He also comes to English
course, and is in our advanced class because he can speak decent
English. In advanced English we do a lot of speaking because lets face
it we have no idea what we are doing in English. i can barely tell you
what a noun is. We just don't learn English that way ever so we talk
with the students and fix how they build their sentences and teach
them new words. Often we take turns asking questions, and then we all
answer it. His question was "If you had one question to ask God, what
would it be?" We all answered, and there were some fantastic
insightful answers. His was very deep, but oh so simple, and oh so
great. "Why are people here on Earth." We had a lesson with him on the
Plan of Salvation right after. We have also had a lesson with him on
the Restoration. He is a bit skeptical because he feels his prayers
have not been answered. I know he will get an answer if he wants it
bad enough though. God promises to answer all who seek him with faith.
The ball is kind of in Izmirs court now. He was at church again.

I feel like I haven't fully expressed how great our current district
is. I love serving with Elder Gray, but we also see and do things with
the other missionaries here as well. Often times we will eat lunch
together. Elder Gray, Elder Clawson, Elder Watson, and I have taken
the "thrifty and wise money use" thing to heart. We eat together most
days and have saved a ton of money. I am yet to withdraw my money for
the month. We still have some of Elder Grays. It blows my mind how
many times missionaries have run out of money for both elders in the
middle of the month. We have had a good time being thrifty though! All
of the missionaries here in Durrës are awesome!

I hope you all have a great week! This week we remember two of the
finest men to ever live. I hope we can all continue to live in a way
that makes Gerry and Brian proud! While it is very hard, I am very
grateful for the knowledge we have that we can all live together after
this life! The gospel is great, and the best part is that it is true.
Jesus truly did live and die for us so we can live again!

Have a fantastic week! Congrats on finishing exams! Take Buddy on
walks! Let Summer begin!

Love Elder Stewart

Elder Stewart is pointing at the date in his planner. It is June 18, Hannah's birthday, but he said he also realized as he looked at it that it was one year ago exactly that he opened his call. That went by so fast!

Mexican food in Albania. He loved it!

Elder Gray and Elder Stewart

Elder Stewart's "grandfather" at the top, his two "sons" (the Elders he trained, one of whom is Parker's trainer, Elder Austin), and then Elder Stewart, his "grandson".  This is mission lingo apparently!

Birthday wishes for Hannah!

One of Elder Stewart's investigators.

Elder Stewart's district in Durres. They are going many different directions this week. :( He is very grateful for the amazing experience it has been.

Adriatic South Mission Conference June 2014- Pres and Sister Ford will head home this week after completing their 3 year mission. It is a relatively small mission.

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