Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Close to the Sea...

This week has gone very well. My favourite part of the week was the
ward party that we had at the church on Saturday night. It was a show
put on by the youth. They had practiced a lot for it in the weeks
leading up to it. It was the "Don't sleep through the Restoration"
talk brought to life with a whole lot of other entertainment
throughout. There was acting, singing, dancing, scripture quoting, and
a fashion show. It was incredibly entertaining, and it was so good to
see the whole ward come together. The whole thing started with the
youth singing as a gospel choir "Halleluia."  They had a violin and
piano as well. Quite impressive. They acted out the story of the
sleeping man. They had a couple other of quick acting clips that
applied more to implementing the talk in everyday life. They had a
seminary fashion show. At first they walked across the stage one at a
time yawning and doing the groggy early morning seminary student, and
then they walked across again rejuvenated and with the scriptures in
hand. It was so funny, made even more funny if you knew the youth.
They also danced to the 2014 World cup song. It was all choreographed.
There were quite a few scriptures quoted.. and they weren't just
quoted they were very well presented. Nana would have been impressed.
It was a great show and our investigators loved it. I was wishing more
of them would have come because of how well done it was.

This week we have really tried to work more with the Bishop. He has
been a tough man to understand. He keeps to himself a lot, and as a
result there hasn't been a lot of clear communication, so we decided
to set up a visit to his house. His son E is 9, and we get along
very well with him. He also has a teenage daughter, and a teenage
niece and nephew that are with them at their house. We had a really
great visit. They really opened up when we were with them in their
home. We had a really great conversation, and they fed us fruit salad.
They told us their conversion story. It was quite fascinating. He was
a prepared investigator. He met missionaries, and was baptized a month
later because he was loving learning, and keeping commitments, and he
and his wife both got an answer to their prayers almost immediately.
It is quite the story. They have been members for 9 years now. They
joke that E got baptized twice!

We had a surprise around the mission last night. President Weidmann
moved a ton of people around. The mini or half transfer wasn't
supposed to be for a couple of weeks so it came as quite a shock.
Elder Austin will now be serving with Elder Ashler in Durrës. So I
will see him again! Elder Linderman from Durrës is the new AP. Elder
Clawson is the new north zone leader. That is about all you would

Elder Rasband and I are getting good at cooking. We made stuffed
peppers and chicken for dinner last night. They were a hit! We have
leftovers too, so that is always good. Elder Rasband is really into
trying new cooking adventures. I have to admit that often I would
rather just cook something really fast and easy a lot of the time, but
it is worth eating the good food we are making when we finish cooking

Right now we are redeveloping our investigator pool. There is a lot of
sifting that goes on out here. A is going the distance. One of
these days he will get baptized. He is a great part of the ward!

It has been really fun working with Elder Rasband! We are having a
good time out here! There is a saying in Albania. Close to the sea,
close to the King. It basically means that it is awesome being by the
sea! It is beautiful out here!

Take Buddy on Walks now that you are home!

Love Elder Stewart

This week Elder Stewart and Elder Rasband got stuck in an elevator for a few hours. This is a picture of the elevator door open, looking at the cement wall.

This is a picture of the computer screen during the show at the ward party. Dave Stewart was singing!!

The harbour.

Close to the sea, close to the King. He looks so happy!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Many Great Investigators!

We had a fun opportunity to go tabling with the youth last week. I
really enjoy working with them. We set up a stand with Book of Mormons
from all around the world, and an Albanian flag. We stood off to the
side and talked top people as they walked by. It was great to have the
youth because it made people realize that we are all real people. We
had a really fun time, and we managed to get a lot of phone numbers.
We called through  them, and one of them was willing to meet with us.
We met with X (18) and E (12). Apparently they have tried out
some other religions before, but they are still looking. Ersi helped
us out with the lesson. He is a fantastic help. The lesson went
fantastic. We hope to have more of the youth there for the next
lesson. We hope to meet with their whole family!

Guess who I saw in the road this week?? K! Well actually he saw
me.. and he yelled across the street in English "I finally found you!"
Well that sure made me feel good. He is the coolest kid. We would
honestly be great friends if we had lived lives close to each other. I
was so happy to see him. We reunited in the street and talked for a
bit. He said we can start meeting again. Hopefully the K story
has a good ending.

This week we were talking with E, and he had been down for the last
few days it seemed. We decided it was probably best to sit down and
talk to him, and see what is up. Life has been tough for him. He gets
bullied and stuff. He is a reporter, and had been 30 straight hours
without sleep. His parents are always at work. He lives a wild life.
He had a lot of reasons to be down, and what did he tell us... He told
us that to remedy it he was trying to develope charity. It was mind
blowing. Not the reg response from a 15 year old boy. He is so cool.
He gets bullied a lot, but he gets all of the ladies. It is pretty

A is still the man. This has been a long haul with him. We hope
baptism is close! I am sure it is. he continues to come to church
faithfully. This week we had a pretty cool experience with him. One
night he didn't show up to an appointment. We hadn't been able to
contact him at all that day or the day before. It was really weird,
and we were a little bit worries about him. We decided to go find him.
We said a prayer, and took off looking for him. We found him within 10
minutes. That is proof that prayer works. We didn't just find him, we
found him within 10 minutes. It turns out his phone had been broken.

This week we went finding out in the private house section of Durrës.
It was my favourite night this week I think. We got out there and had
one arranged appointment with a man named F. We found him one
night. He has very strong family beliefs, and is happy to learn. It
was our second lesson. We were talking about the Plan of Salvation. We
have talked a lot about prayer. He understands prayer, but he is
asking for signs. He told us if they happen he will come to church
every week for the rest of his life. I am still unsure as to what to
do. We told him God answers prayers, but we can only get things in
line with his will. Anyway it is an interesting case.

That night though we continued the contacting tracting approach. Most
people are out in their yards on summer evenings. We had a gang of
youth helping us out. At first they were kind of laughing and giggling
at us, but then we went up and started to talk to them in Albania, and
got to know them for about five minutes. They were all super nice
after that. We explained whet we were doing, and they loved it. They
came with us from house to house talking with their neighbours. We
didn't get any lessons, but we had a lot of great conversations. A few
times one of the kids would run into opn house doors and bring out the
owner of the house. Everyone thought it was hilarious. We got a good
reputation in that neighbourhood. At the end of the night we said
goodbye to everyone, and the kids were begging us to come back another
day. It was so much fun.

I think I told you that one of the ways we are getting closer with the
ward is by being in the choir. I love it. Not all of the missionaries
stay, but the few of us who do have a great time. As a rule we do not
sound great, but it is so much fun, and the ward loves it.

The work goes on! I also got back in contact with B and X
this week. We saw B in the road, and she was very happy to see
us. We also saw their dad/grandpa, and before he was against us, but
this time he talked to us for quite a while, and it was very nice. E
and G showed up at English course this week. E was the one who
said an amazing first prayer. They aren't in Greece. We aren't going
to press to hard, but they were very open and happy. I am kind of
realizing now that there are a lot of open ended stories.
unfortunately I don't have a ton of control over if and when they wrap
up. I am also realizing that I have had a ton of great times out here.
Hopefully some of these people will come to realize that all of this
stuff is true.  We have faith!

It was great to hear from all of you today! I hope things continue to go great!

Walk Buddy somebody!

Love Elder Stewart
Elder Rasband's idea for P Day activity this week. They had a great time! Elder Stewart said he is pretty rusty!!

Fruit, Figs and Fantastic Adventures

So it has been a crazy week, but for the most part a good one!

It started with a bit of a downer. Elder Befus (Elder Gray's new companion) went home on Tuesday.
That was a hit to our district. It was obviously toughest on him, but
it was a rough go for Elder Gray too. Obviously it will all work out
for the best. Elder Gray is up in Gjakova, Kosovo now. There was a mini
missionary serving up there so the mini went home, and now Elder Gray
is there. He was excited, but nervous for the language change. It is
harder to understand people up there. He will be fine though. It was
tough to see him go. we are really good friends, and were looking
forward to training together, and serving together in the same
district. Life goes on though and Elder Befus will be back in 6

The Weidmanns (New mission president and his wife) were in Durrës on Saturday, and they came to our
house with the AP's and we had an hour long get to know thing. It was
really nice. I think it is great of them to try to get to know all of
the missionaries.

I have failed to mention in my emails just how awesome I think the
fruit market is here. We stop by weekly and stock up on good stuff.
The thing that blows my mind is the seasons of fruit. In Canada if we
wnt strawberries we just go to the store and get them. It is the same
way with every fruit. Here we can only buy certain fruits at certain
times. Every week there is something new, and something missing. Elder
Rasband is huge into figs. I didn't even know what a fig looked like,
but they are super good. Personally I think they are natures
equivalent of a big mac.They taste similar in my opinion. No one else
thinks so but... I am right and you should all try a fig. This week at
the market they have grapes and pinapples and lemons. They didn't
really have those last week. Strawberries are over. Lemon season is on
and there are lemons everywhere. The watermelon here is so good! There
is just something about the fruit market that I think is awesome.
Anyway.. end of rant.

We have been blessed with people to tech this week! Brother Farrici
introduced us to a family this week. He brought the son E to church
last week. This week we had a lesson with him and his dad, and then
another one with their whole family. They all committed to be
baptized! Right now they are on track for August 23. We will work with
them a lot. They have a lot of desire. They are from very humble
circumstances. Their house is euivalent to my bedroom at home with a
cupboard kitchen/entry way off of the side. We are so looking forward
to working with them. At church we learned about the Sabbath day. He
asked the techer about it and explained that he has to work on the
Sunday or his family won't eat. I had no idea what the teacher was
going to say, but she said try it once and you will see. The Lord will
provide a way. After church he did not work. We saw them that night,
and he was all smiles. I am confident the Lord will uphold his end of
the Sabbath day promise. That took a ton of faith for him not to work

We are now working with A. He is the greatest.. EVER. I  don't
know what to say more. He quit smoking! He has been a full week
without smokes. He did it all through prayer and sheer willpower. He
says he is never going back. He is now moving through the Book of
Mormon at lightning speed. It is weird to think that just a few months
ago Elder Gray and I were walking out of a very unconvincing first
lesson. We weren't sure it was going anywhere, but man... he is

Joani is often with drugs and alcohol. It is so sad. He has potential.
We will keep trying. We have some other investigators, but those are
the highlights.

Elder Rasband and I started what we are calling the "Milka quest". We
set up a bracket of milka chocolate bars, and we are trying them two
at a time to see which one is best. So far Oreo is the predicted
winner. It is weird they have oreo chocolate bars here, but not oreos!
Thanks to Mom I have Oreos though! The "Milka quest" is fun. Milka
makes some really good chocolate!

I have heard from many people that Buddy has been walked so I
congratulate and thank you! Keep up the good work throughout the
summer! Happy travels!

Love Elder Stewart
Elder Stewart's shirt after being pooped on by a bird. His third time while in Durres. Elder Gray especially got a laugh out of this as he was with Elder Stewart all three times and avoided getting hit each time! :)

Elder Stewart and Elder Rasband at the end of a day when they got rained on all day. They look a little wet! They both think their ties are wrecked now!

Elder Stewart, Elder Rasband and Pres and Sis Weidmann.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Canada Day and Mission Conference with his New President

Well it looks and sounds like you all had a great week. I have as well!

This week we had our zone conference, and we met our mission
president! He is a great guy, and his wife seems very cool as well.
They had a great powerpoint presentation. They speak great English.
Sister Weidmann knows 5 languages. They told us about themselves. Me
and my shy self didn't really talk to them. They had us all stand up
row by row and give them a handshake at the start of the meeting
though so I kind of met him.

We had a lunch afterwards where we saw all of the other missionaries.
I am really starting to enjoy them. I am getting to know all of the
missionaries fairly well so it is fun to see them all every onve and a
while. i take quite the beating every once and a while for being from
Canada so they all quite enjoyed it when I had plates, napkins, and
flags to give away and eat with. Thanks mom!!

Elder Rasband is a really cool guy. We are having a fun time serving
together. He is pretty good at Albanian! I am pretty sure he is better
than I was when I left the MTC. He really likes to talk. He is very
good at trying to connect with people. He is into music.

This week we have been super blessed. Currently we have 3 referrals.
We came into the transfer with one (B), and then this week E
brought his friend J to us, and then on Sunday the Farrici family
brought a 14 year old boy named E to church. I have never had this
many referrals in my life. It is so great!

B is rapidly progressing. She is still on for her baptism on the 19
of this month. She has been learning for just over a year, but now she
has finally got serious about it. She is keeping commitments. The ward
really likes her. The Cani family is great. They have done a great job
opening up their home for her to learn. Her older brother is very
against us so we can't meet in her home. The Cani family has fed us a
little bit of traditional albanian too. They have done a great job
making Elder Rasband feel welcome in the country. Henry Cani is 11. We
are buds. He gets a kick out of the fact that my last name is Stewart
and I am small. We are pretty tight.

J is 19. He is a super nice kid. He is looking for direction. He
has been searching for a while. When he was 13 he started smoking, and
turned gay. He has been living the party life. He moved out of his
parents house and has his own apartment. He has seen something missing
in his life, and he is amazed by the change in E (his good friend). He is curious. He
is smart. I can see him having a ton of potential. We have met with
him twice. He came to church too. It was a really cool story. We got
him to commit to come to church on Saturday. On Sunday morning we went
to meet him for church, but he wasn't outside waiting for us, so we
knocked on his door. We each knocked about 3 times. We were there for
just over 5 min waiting and knocking. Finally we decided to leave and
were walking away from the door when we had a pretty strong prompting
to pray. We prayed and knocked on the door one more time, and he
answered. That was one of the most direct most easy to see spiritual
prompting/God answers prayers stories of my life. He came to church
and everyone was nice to him. He participated well in the second and
third hours of church.

We don't know much about E, but last week we went to the Farrici
house and challenged them to each invite a friend to hear the gospel
in the next week. We followed up a week later on Saturday night, and
then on Sunday they had E in church. I guess working through the
members does work! haha

I currently have a very large number of 7-14 year old boys who know my
name. I joke around with some of them sometimes. Every once and a
while I hear someone yell Stewart and I turn around to see a couple of
boys. They are pretty cool. Fun to talk to. There are a lot of them! I
am getting famous.

I hope you continue to have a great summer!

Walk Buddy!

Love Elder Stewart
Elder Stewart and the other trainers. He says he's actually tall compared to most people but all the other trainers are "giants". :) So, he looks a little short here!

Elder Stewart and Elder Rasband when they first met and became companions.

An old amphitheater in Durres. It looks like ones we saw in Italy!

Canada Day was celebrated for him at a Mission Conference. We were so glad the supplies got there in time!

Elder Aper and Sister Boettinger - other fellow Canadians in the Adriatic South Mission

This sign says that the restaurant is closed for Ramadan. Lots of things shut down.

A mother and her daughter that Elder Stewart visits quite often and he says they are the nicest people.  Sis Halluli's son, Genaldi, was in the MTC with Parker.

Dinner they cooked at the Institute building on Sunday. IT was Fast Sunday so everyone was VERY hungry. Elder Stewart said they all descended on the food very quickly!!