Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Surprise Slap, 19th Birthday and Transfer to Kosovo!

This week has been really good. I am in heaven out here serving these
people. It is definitely the hardest work I have ever done, but every
day is so worth it!

This week we had a cool experience when we found another new
investigator named E. We walked out into an area in Spitall. It
takes a while, and last minute the guy cancelled. We were pretty
dissappointed because it was a very promising family and he gave us a
pretty hard no. So we walked out into the street from his house and
ran into E. He was right there. He accepted our invitation to
learn and lead us to his house. We never would have gone to his house
if he hadn't found us. We had a good restoration lesson. Hopefully he
continues. It was pretty clear we were lead there though.

This week was my Birthday. The other Elders had a little surprise
thing at the center for me just before lunch. There was cake and stuff
so it was really cool! It was the same type of thing as we did with
Elder Ashler a while back. We all went to lunch together as well. It
was a good day. It was filled with teaching appointments, and I figure
that is the way a missionary birthday should be! It is crazy to be 19
now though! I am an old man!

This week we came to the end of our Milka Quest! The final matchup is
Oreo vs Smore. I will let you know. We have put many nights into the
Milka Quest. I will take a picture of the board and send it to you!
There are at least 20 participants.

This week I met a crazy kid. So there I was walking down the street.
We were talking with everyone trying to start up a conversation. We
had finished up our lessons for the day and it was almost time to head
inside. Three 16ish year old boys were walking towards us and I gave
them a smile and a whats up. The middle one backhanded me across the
face. It was a stinger. I was pretty surprised actually. I felt like
one of the apostles in the Bible being happy to get smacked for
representing Christ. I didn't know what to say so I just said
goodnight and kept walking.

Transfer calls came. It is always pretty nerve racking. Where? With
who? Doing what? Who keeps our area? I think it will all work out.
President Weidmann has proven to be a very inspired man. I will be
serving in Prishtina Kosovo. I will be with Elder McGrath. He has 6
months left. We will be with Elder Clawson and Elder Jorgenson. They
are the North Zone Leaders. We will also have two sisters, but I
haven't been able to figure out who yet. I am going to be a district
leader for my first time. I am excited to see how it all plays out.
Elder Austin was there and he loved it. I trust his opinion! Elder
Rasband will be staying here in Durrës with Elder Matsen. Dad and I
met his Aunt at the family history center the day before I reported
and I brought a letter over for him. Anyway, Elder Austin is off to
Shkoder. Elder Ashler it off to Tirana. Elder Muncy is staying here in
Durres. Elder Gray is going back to Vlore. Elder Baldwin is in Elbasan
with an Albanian companion. I feel like that is a pretty good report.

I am looking forward to some good times ahead and very grateful for my
time in Durrës, and for this transfer with Elder Rasband!

Good luck to all you marathoners!!

Take Buddy on walks.

Love Elder Stewart

The Youth in Durres - Elder Stewart loves the youth...and I think they love him.

Ward members in Durres. He will be so sad to leave them.

The Milka Challenge?

Elder Stewart and Elder Rasband

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Zone Conference was Awesome and Cool Texting Idea!

This week we had our Zone Conference. President and Sister Weidmann
are amazing! They are giving this assignment everything they have.
They are always looking for ways to refine our mission, and to make us
better than we are. They are also super loving and caring. There is no
doubt in my mind that they love Christ, and have a strong desire to
serve him. Since they have come the mission has had some changes
instituted. I can't remember who said it, but we saw a quote that said
something to the effect of that the Lord will always call the right
mission president at the right time. It is totally true. I loved
President and Sister Ford, and I love the Weidmanns, but they are very

At Zone conference they presented new mission objectives. The first is
that we are going to try harder to work with those that are prepared,
specifically looking to work with entire families rather than
individuals. The second was that we are going to try and work with the
Priesthood leadership. We have been encouraged to pick a leader in our
area and establish daily contact with them to keep them updated on the
work, and to receive advice. We are now a stake in Albania. Previously
missionaries have kind of run the church. We are now trying to have
the people here running the church with us as their helpers. As a
result every night Elder Rasband and I have been talking to a High
councilor from our ward daily. We fill him in, and pray on the phone.
He is the nicest guy, and he loves talking to us. We really enjoy
talking to him. Elder Foster and Muncy talk with the bishop every
night. Elder Austin and Ashler talk with the Ward Mission leader. We
set it up pretty well as to hit all levels of local leadership. We
still talk to the bishop and Ward Mission Leader quite often too
though. The third objective was to set a new baptismal date every
week. All three kind of seem like an "Oh of course I am trying to do
that", but I really like how he presented them. I am a huge fan of
check lists. I love the mission unity that the Weidmanns are bringing.
It has sure helped our companionship.

We had a really cool experience this last week that was in direct
correlation with those goals. We felt inspired to go to a family in
the ward. We went out to their house, and found that the ladies mom
had died recently, and they were in mourning. We had a really good
short spiritual lesson on eternal families. Before the lesson we met
the son, and one of his friends. His friend was very interested, and
actually sat in on the lesson. He enjoyed it and invited us to his
house. We met with he and his family last night, and he and his mom
accepted baptism. Outside their house we also met another very
interested man. We are visiting him tonight.

Another very cool thing that President Weidmann has been doing is he
sends us a text message every morning. They are a quick spiritual
thought, and they really direct our work for that day.

The Pope came to Albania this week. It was a huge event. I look
forward to the day that the Prophet gets as much publicity as the
Pope! I was very impressed that the Pope was well received! After all
a large percentage of these people consider themselves Muslim! Albania
is known for religious harmony though!

This week the Stake president addressed our ward. He talked about
living the celestial laws. He brought up Obediance, Sacrifice,
Consecration, and faithfulness. Something to think about anyway.

Have a great week, and take good care of Buddy!

Love Elder Stewart

The Farrici Family. They are a great member family who take good care of the missionaries. LAst week, they taught Elder Stewart how to make byrek.

Gramos - Their apartment security guy who is kind to them.

A young boy who they are pals with.

An interesting kind of fruit Elder Stewart didn't know the name of. It was not his favourite. :)

On their P-day, they went and explored Skenderbeus Castle. It is about 40 minutes from Durres.

Looks a little bit like the Rock Ramble by Georgian Bay that we have gone to many summers.

The "Great Wall" of Skenderbeus!

Ok...I want to go there...

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A New Investigator and Some Disappointment in Durres

I'll start this one off by some fun trivia. Did you know that if you
play basketball you get taller? It is totally true. Just look at any
basketball league. Take the NBA for example. Most of them are really
tall. It is because they played basket ball from when they were
little. The shorter ones probably didn't play as much basketball. It
is true! All of the Albanian boys told us so! :)

Another funky sporting fact. If you are sweating you need to put on a
long sleeve when you are outside regardless of temperature because
otherwise you get the flu. :)

There are a couple of things like that around here. I get a kick out
of hearing them!

The highlight of this week is a boy named M. When I first came
into Durrës about 5 months ago M was a very poorly behaved boy. He
used to go out of his way to try and offend us or make working in the
street hard for us. He knew we weren't Jehovahs Witnesses, but he used
to yell "Jehova qoftë me ju" and bow down to us in a mocking manner
just to try and get a reaction from us or from others in the road. It
is not unusual for Albanian boys to do things like that, but with all
of them we just try and be nice to them. It has worked. We say hi to
them, and talk to them every once and a while. We try to understand
their lives. They love it when we take about 5 minutes out of our day
to talk to them about theirs. The other day while talking with them we
gave M and all of his friends all english course flyers, and
invited them to English course. M came, and he was well behaved.
He has now been coming for two weeks. We invited him to come to soccer
with us on Saturday with the Young Men. He came, ad he loved it.
Afterwards we invited him to church. He said yes! We walked with him
to church and he stayed for all three hours. I sat by him in
sacrament, and the Book of Mormon fascinated him. He asked to buy it
from me promising me he would treat it nicely, and read it. Of course
I gave it to him. He had a great experience! It just goes to show that
anyone can change. M is an awesome kid! He has a bright future. He
complimented us on our standards, and our good behaviour. He
definitely felt the Spirit!

It was a tough week with A. We met with the Bishop and he allowed
us to set a baptismal date for A. He has learned everything, and
has been to church 17 times! It was so exciting. We set it for the
27th with A. Everything was looking great until we caught him
smoking. The worst part is that rather than fessing up to it he has
been keeping it a secret. We had a really straight forward lesson with
him on Saturday. I had no problem being "Devastated with my
investigator not keeping commitments." I pretty much told him that he
wasn't doing his part and he needed to shape up. He needed it. We have
been through a lot over the last 17 weeks. He took it pretty well. I
think he felt bad. Hopefully he pulls it together. He may still have a
while before baptism. It was super hard for me to see, and I think he
recognized that. I was like "A, we are literally doing everything
we can to get you baptised. You know this stuff. Lets get it done." We
gave him Alma 7 to read about the atonement and stuff. I still have
high hopes for A. He is a good guy, and we are good friends.

Today for p-day we went to "The Sports Palace." It is their sporting
center here in Durrës. It was way fun. We played 2 on 2 volleyball. We
could have used a lesson from Sara and Hannah! We also went to the
Mosque and got Elder Rasband a Kuran because he wanted one.

Last Monday we made that byrek. It is kind of like pie stuff. It is
oil with a little bit of flour in it. It tastes amazing! It was really
fun making it with the Dragotis!

Tomorrow we have Zone conference. I have never had one go past 1:30
before. This one is scheduled to go until 4. It could be quite the
conference. I feel big things coming!

Take Buddy on some walks!

Have a great week!

Love Elder Stewart
The Sports Palace

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Durres is becoming Home!

We have had a great week this week. We have had a lot of stuff coming together.

This week one of our English Course students talked to his parents and
they invited us to their house. His name is F. He is 10. We met
with him and his mom, and his aunt. They have relatives in Greece who
changed from Muslim to Christian. They are pretty open to the idea.
They are very nice people. We hope to meet with the whole family.
F is the man. We are pretty good friends.

This week we also got some other new investigators. One day while
street contacting a few weeks ago we met a girl named E. She is
30. She had met with missionaries before. We finally got an
appointment with her. It was a really funny story. The night before
her lesson we had a lesson with D. We taught about member
missionary work. We have had some very fun lessons at their house. At
the end D was dead set on the fact that there was no way she
could be a missionary yet. with a little bit of talking we showed her
how she already was being a missionary. She is a really good lady so
it wasn't hard to pick out specific examples. She came around and
eventually she agreed to walk a 9 year old girl (S) to church.
On top of that she then volunteered to help us with lessons. We had
our lesson with E the next day so we set that up. That night while
planning for the next day we needed to find a guy. We were having no
sucess. We ended up sending out a mass text to see if anyone would
respond. A responded and said he would help us. So that was
great. We all met at the center together. As soon as we sat down
another guy we had texted walked in. We then had three members! 2 is a
lot. 3 is a ton because Albanians by nature love to talk. D and
E got right into Albanian female talk. We got around to the
lesson. It was going great, and then Emiliano went off on a gospel
tangent. A has served a mini mission so he was sitting in the
corner like 'what the heck is going on?' We pulled it all back
together. Everyone bore their testimony.E loved it. it was
intense, but awesome. She is now on a baptismal date for the middle of
October. Yeah! We are meeting again tomorrow!

One of my favourite parts of missionary life is meeting all of the
locals, and just living the Albanian life. We get to become pretty
good friends with all kinds of people, and we can connect. There are
just those people. It is hard to explain. People we buy stuff from.
People we walk past every single day. People whos houses we have
tracted into. People who cut our hair. People with nearby buisnesses.
Kids we meet in the street. It is tough to explain, but it is awesome
to become so fully immersed in it. Especially now that I have been in
Durrës for quite a few months I have some really good friends.

Also I have become an expert power napper. I am fast asleep in a minute or less.

The work is awesome. It is always a great time!

Have a great week. Take Buddy on walks!

Love Elder Stewart

PS> Tonight we are being taught how to make byrek!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Cooking Competition, Poetry and lots of Investigators!

This week has been fun. We have been working a lot with less actives.
We had 4 come to church this week which was fantastic! D and her
son L came to church last week, and asked us to come to their house
and begin reteaching them. We have been to their house twice so far.
They are a blast. I love going there. They also came to church this
week. L is 10, and she really wants to raise him well. She is a
single mom. Another less active we have worked with a lot this week is
names G. He is super inactive. He owns a little alcohol and
cigarette booth close to the center. We see him every day. This week
we got pretty up in his face, and he ended up meeting with us...
awesome! On top of that he came to sacrament meeting this week. He
knows it is true, but now we may just have to help him make some
changes in his life. I have super high hopes for him. He is the nicest
guy! A is the last one we have been working with. She got baptized
earlier this year, but hasn't been coming to church. She came this
week though.

One really fun appointment we had this week was with the Ag.
family. They have been members since the 90's so they are some of the
oldest members in Albania..crazy. They are a great family. B
teaches our second hour class for investigators. She is about 28, and
is a great teacher. Sister Ag. is awesome. She made us a great
dinner, and gave a great family home evening lesson. She talked all
about less active work, and about missionary work. She is very
passionate about missionary work. She has a strong testimony. She is a
great support. They both talk about the gospel with people all of the
time. Brother Ag. isn't a member. Brother Ag. Jr is on the
High council. He is 33 I think. At the end of it all we had a cake
that was very good. We asked for the recipe, and they gave it to us.

As a result we have made 3 cakes this week. The first two were the
regular cake to figure it out. The third one was chocolate cake. We
are going to play around with it some more, and make a lot more cakes.
It should be good. We have brainstormed some pretty wild ideas.

This week we had another ward party. It was a blast. it was a master
chef competition. We heard from D that people would cook things,
and we decided to go for it. So we showed up, and apparently only the
relief society was cooking things. Anyway it turned out to be a bunch
of desserts made by the relief society... and then our cake. It was
super awkward, but pretty awesome. Everyone got a good kick out of it.
You can see a few plates of competition. We had to present our dish.
We stood up in front of everyone, and told them that we would try to
be as humble as possible, but that we wouldn't be surprised if they
all loved it. It was pretty great that the recipe was from the Ag.
family. We told them the main ingredient was love, and that we had
spent a week and a half putting it together. We won for the longest
time putting it together ;) There weren't actually any prizes, but it
was really fun. Albanians are pretty good cooks.

So we have been receiving a lot of poetry. We have received poetry
from three different people now. I guess you could say we are just
inspiring. It all started off when a less active man gave us a book of
poetry that he had written. Next we had an investigator who wrote us a
ton of poetry about Mormon missionaries. It was all really good. He is
a super nice guy. At the ward activity An. gave us a poem as well.
Poetry is a pretty big thing here, but I had never received any up
until this transfer. It is really fun to read! Albanian is quite

A has been without cigs for over 2 weeks now. A big baptism is
around the corner here right away.. for real this time. We should get
a date set here right away. It was pretty interesting because this
week for fifth Sunday we had a members as missionaries thing put on by
the bishop. A participated super well. He is officially what we
like to call a dry member.

We got to An. house this week We have a lot of faith that he will
accept baptism. We are pushing really hard for three baptisms. We have
a lot of faith, and we aren't afraid to work really hard for it!

Elder Rasband and I have had a pretty good time. As you can see from a
lot of the pics we have gotten pretty big into trying our hand at
cooking. Often we are in the kitchen right before bed trying to throw
something together. This morning we made p-day pancakes. We made them
from scratch without a recipe, and they weren't half bad! Check out my

Thats about it! Good luck with school! Walk Buddy!

Love Elder Stewart

A plate from the Master Chef competition.

Their cake from the competition.

Pancake batter from scratch

Nice selfie Elder Stewart

ES for Elder Stewart and the butterfly referred to in his letter

I wonder if it's as good as Taber corn?

Looks good though!

Suflage bought on the street. Tasty!