Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Looks like Gjakova for Christmas!

This week has been a most eventful week. Sister Tooley said she filled
you in on most of it so I will just take the week right from the top.

Last Monday after leaving internet we walked down the Boulivard only
to see 200+ American flags strung up down the boulivard. There were 10
strands of 20, and then some. They were blasting American country
music, and there were people everywhere. None of my pictures from the
night really did it justice, but you can see how big it was in the one
picture that I snapped. It was quite the event. The signs all said
"Thank you USA." The people here are all super grateful to the US for
saving them. We didn't end up contacting much on the Boulivard on
Monday because it was crazy there! We decided to contact at another
place closer to the church. We ended up finding a really cool guy who
had been taught two lessons about a year ago. He had a great
personality, and said he was ready to learn more. He is a photographer
and studies agriculture. I am really hoping for him!

On Tuesday we had a slightly compressed District Meeting because the
Zone leaders were away on some special buisness and because we had a
mission conference this week so we only had to cover the bare minimum
to make sure Prishtina was doing well, and ready to hear from
President Weidmann! It took under an hour, and then we did road
cleanup service until lunch. Apparently the reason a lot of people
littler here is because it is a sign of freedom and not being
controlled. We met our super cool 60 year old investigator in the
afternoon, as well as met with another man for a second lesson, as
well as the poorer man who committed to baptism. It was an amazing
afternoon and evening.

We spent most of Wednesday contacting on the boulivard. Hopefully you
get to see it and experience it in person sometime because a picture
just can't do it justice. I really like it. I don't know why walking
boulivards aren't really a thing in North America. We got two cool new
investigators on Wednesday too. We cooked our cake for mission
conference on Wednesday as well, and ran through our Talent\Skit for
mission conference at lunch. Elder McGrath did a good job on the cake.
He did pretty well all of it. I was getting some of our other stuff
ready for mission conference.

We woke up at 2:15 on Thursday morning for mission conference. We were
all ready by 2:50, and then caught a taxi to the bus. We were plenty
early for the 4am bus. I slept pretty well, and we made it to Tirana
in about 4 hours. We then jumped on a city bus to the mission home,
and met all of the missionaries. It was good to see everyone. 2 times
in 1 month! Score! Elder Baldwin is doing good in Elbasan, Elder
Austin is doing good in Shkodër, Elder Gray likes Vlorë, Elder Rasband
is great in Durrës, and all of my other friends are doing good. They
are scattered around the mission.

President and Sister Weidmann gave great trainings. President Weidmann
filled us in on the Christmas initiative. The church put out a new
video so we watched it. Elder and Sister White filled us in on some
daily stuff (Health and finances). They are the new office couple
because the Andrews went home.

After the training it was time for Thanksgiving Lunch. We had a ton of
food there. All of the Senior couples got into Tirana a day early to
start preparing things. Following dinner we had my favourite part..
the Talent Show. The acts were great. We put on a morning excercise
thing. The Sisters woke up and did their morning workout. They
pretended to be lazy missionaries, and to go to the TV with a new
workout video. They had a bunch of chocloate and stuff, and pressed
play on the video. We were the Book of Mormon workout video. I can't
send it because it is too big, but maybe you can have Sister Tooley
get it to you or else I could maybe get it on a disk and send it. I
thought it was pretty funny. We had everyone laughing really well. We
won! So that was really cool. There were some other hilarious ones
though too. Gjakova did a Hypnotist act where Elder Tooley
"Hypnotized" the Elders. First ward was hilarious. Third ward did that
on land synchronized swimming thing. Durrës did well with a funny
telephone thing. It was a telephone call, but it was like that Harry
Potter Harry Potter.. Duuuuumbledore... Ron ron ron Weasley thing. It
was super funny! There were a lot of other great ones. Those were just
a few of my favourites. I hope I can find a way for you to see all of
them. Apparently the mission home is going to compile the video and
make everyone a copy of the whole thing. The hosts Elder Holm and
Elder Price were pretty funny as well.

After that they judged the Desserts. Ours got best cake! There were
some good foods there. We then went back to the main room and listened
to the testimonies of the missionaries who will be leaving in the New
Year. We then took off. I drove with the Macedonians back to
Prishtina. They are some funny fellas. Elder Barber and Elder Prince
stayed at our house for the night so that they didn't have to do the
full drive in one night.

As we got ready for bed on Thursday night the phone rang. I picked it
up, and it was President. He said "Thanks so much for your great work
in Prishtina" I said.. "Thanks President.." He said " I need your
help, and I will be moving you to a different area. You will now be
serving in Gjakova." I was pretty shocked. I didn't see that coming at
all. I was definitely sad to leave, but I am pumped to be serving here
in Gjakova now. Apparently some stuff happened and President had to
shuffle some things around. I know it will be great here though!

My new companion is Elder Schramm. He is from New Mexico. He is a
really nice and funny guy. I think we will have a great time! So far
we have been together for about 3 days and things are going great.

Gjakova means "I Bled." These people have been through a ton. There
are some terrifying stories from the war around here. They had some
terrible things done to them. Many of them had families slaughtered.
There are monuments and memorials all over the city. They have first
hand experienced a lot of things that I can't even imagine.

The branch here in Gjakova is pretty small, but I really like them. I
met a lot of them at an activity on Saturday night where we watched
the full Joseph Smith movie, and then again on Sunday at church. I
gave a talk in church on Tithing. I like small branches because we get
to know the members really well! I know I am going to have a great
time here. Elder Schramm and I have already taught a couple of lessons
together, and it is going great. After church the Tooleys fed us
leftover dinner from Tirana. It was great.

Today we have already had a really cool day. This morning we hit up
the big grocery store and got a small Christmas tree for 8 Euro. We
got some little lights as well. Last night while contacting we met a
man on the road who told us to meet him at the Catholic church at 11am
in the morning. We went there, and we met his friend inside of the
church. He was the Head Priest. He brought into a lounge area in the
back. We talked about who we were with him for about half an hour. We
didn't have a full lesson with him, but it was really cool to sit down
with a Catholic Priest. He had seen Elder Eyering at the convention on
marriage a few weeks ago that you told me about so that was a cool way to be able to relate to eachother.

My mind explodes daily when I think about how awesome serving a
mission is. I am loving it!

Hope you have a great week! Thanks so much for the prayers, and
support, and packages! Have a great week, and take Buddy on Walks!

Love Elder Stewart

This is what a 2:15 wake up looks like before heading to Mission Conference. :)
Ironically, with all the ping pong we've had around our home these past weeks, Elder Stewart has been partaking of a little pong too with some of the members.

The American flags dis[played in gratitude for Americans.

The winning cake!

En route to Mission Conference on the bus.

Downtown Tirana

American Thanksgiving dinner thanks to the Sr Couples.

Elder Stewart and Elder Austin

Elder Ashler, Sister Favero and Sister White

Elder Holm and Elder Price - MC's Extraordinaire!

Elder Baldwin and Elder Stewart - former MTC companions (Love the Christmas ties - not sure where they came from!)

Flags in Prishtina

So long to Elder McGrath...

Dishes of welcome in Gjakova. :) He laughed and said he went to work cleaning up. How about that stove????

Elder Stewart and Elder Schramm in Gjakova

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