Monday, March 30, 2015

Leaving Gjakova and the "Dream Team"...

This week has been quite the week.

Gjakova had two baptisms this week. The Sisters are doing great! Two
sisters (14 and 15) got baptized this week. They are super awesome.
They come to everything! They are a great addition to the branch! They
add a ton of life. Elder Tooley was commenting that it is pretty cool
that 3 of the few active and punctual members are very recent converts
from this transfer. It is great to see! Elder Lesi baptised one of
them, and Elder Baker baptised the other one. Elder Fowles and I did
the confirmations. Gjakova is doing well.

Elder Lesi and I have been working a lot with a less active man. He
has a problem with coffee and cigarrets, and lacks a lot of self
confidence because it has been hard for him to get and keep a job due.
He is 32, and a really great guy who would love to be married, but it
just hasn't happened yet. We have been working hard over the last
months to get him to come back to church. He knows it is right, and he
faithfully pays his tithing, but I guess it has just been hard for
him. Up until this point he has been pretty resistant to invitiations
to begin living the Word of Wisdom, but this week we felt prompted to
invite him to fast with us. We explained fasting, and its powerful
effects. He admitted that he really wanted to stop smoking and
drinking coffee. We met him on Saturday afternoon, and started the
fast with him. He was nervous because he hadn't fasted before, but he
was very excited. After church on Sunday we ended the fast together.
He said a fantastic prayer. He pleaded for the Lords help and
expressed his desire to change his life. Up until this week he has
kind of been 'whatever' about it all, but this week something changed!

We met with one of the part member families this week. They have been
incredibly difficult to meet with, but we got a visit there this week.
It was very hard to keep them under control. There were 1000
conversations, internet, facebook, selfies, and a zillion other things
happening. At the end we left, and we were happy to have seen them,
but we weren't really sure it we gained any ground. Two of them came
to church the nest day, and then they brought their brother to our
devotional last night. Apparently something got through because they
have not been to church in a very long time. They also got to see the
confirmations, and they really liked meeting the new girls.

Our main man, the barber, received a lot of anti-Mormon and
anti-Jehovahs Witness material this week. It was very unfortunate to
see. We felt pretty good about it though. We think it is actually a
compliment to the gospel. Other people have quit trying to fight their
case, and are now just trying to break ours. The man said he felt
terrible when he read it, and quit reading it. Instead he read the
gospel pamphlet, and is almost to fourth Nephi. We really hope he will
be baptised soon!

We had a cool tracting experience this week. Elder Tooley was with us
as well. We knocked on a door, and they let us right in. It was a lady
and her mid-20 year old son. Her shirt said "Religion- A Weapon on
Mass Destruction." They were very interested to hear our message. They
had about 1000 questions, and they were all quickly answered with the
story of the Restoration. I think they were quite shocked. She said
she believes in God, but nit in religion. He said he was Atheist. It
was a great lesson, and we testified a lot. Elder Tooley did a
fantastic job as well. The man ended up coming to sacrament meeting.
We will see. He is committed to read the Book of Mormon. We will see
how it goes.

This week was our last week together as a district here in Gjakova. We
have tried to get as much out of it as possible. We have eaten lunch
together quite a few times, and played a couple of card and dice
games. We really do have a fantastic district, and it is going to be
tough splitting up. Sister Tooley calls it the dream team because we
have been through quite a lot this transfer. We have worked hard, and
had a lot of fun. Elder Lesi will be staying here with Elder Kreins
from Macedonia. Elder Kreins speaks Slovenian, English, and Macedonian
so they will be speaking English for the most part. Elder Baker will
also be here with Elder Rawlings (That really tall guy in those photos
a few weeks ago). Elder Fowles is going to Prishtina to the area I was
in. Sister Davis is staying here training. Sister Boettinger catches a
plane on Wednesday. The Tooley's are here until the end of April. I am
heading to the Tirana 4th ward to serve with Elder Bangerter, and help
President Weidmann. As far as others go... Elder Austin heads home,
Elder Baldwin is in Vlorë, Elder Gray went to Lushnjë to be a Zone
leader, Elder Rasband is a Zone leader in Prishtina, Elder McGrath
takes off, and I haven't heard about Elder Schramm yet. It will be really
fun! I was very surprised!

Well that is my week! Goodbyes in Gjakova are very tough, but I have a new
adventure ahead of me!

Have a great week! Good luck to all of the Japan travelers! That will
be awesome.

Make sure Buddy is well taken care of!

Love Elder Stewart

Cards with his district at the Tooley's. :)

Members in Gjakova

Some of the children from Gjakova Branch

The "Dream Team" District

Elder Stewart and the Tooley's. (Not sure what he's holding...)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Life is BUSY in Gjakova

This week we had a cool experience when on monday night we tracted
into a family. They let us in, and we got to know them, and then
started into the lesson. As we were talking they said "We have that
book." They sent the little girl to go grab it. It was a Book of
Mormon. The grandpa had founf it on the street, and took it home
because it said Jesus on the cover! I thought that was amazing. They
were interested to hear about what book they had stumbled upon. So far
we have only managed to have two lessons with them. As a family they
have been through a lot. It is easy to see they have suffered a lot,
and as a result they seem a little hollow, and without life. They were
supposed to be at church this week, but in the end they went to some
family out of town. The gospel will really help them. We both feel
that the fact that they had a Book of Mormon in their house is proof
that they are being prepared.

Our main man the barber is doing well. He needs to decide for himself.
He is just having a very hard time committing himself. He keeps all of
our little commitments, but he is is still just unsure about baptism.
He goes to a local church where he says they all believe, but are not
a part of any faith. He has read all the way to Alma. We were hoping
to see him baptised right away, but it may just make time. We can't
force him to do anything he doesn't want to do. He just has to do it
on his own. I have heard a lot of stories of people who took quite a
while of just reading, and pondering, and praying before they got
baptised. Almost without exception the ones that take their time end
up being the strongest. When this man gets his answer and decides for
himself I know he will be a fantastic priesthood holder here in

I had two exchanges this week. The first was with Elder Fowles. He is
a cool guy. We worked really hard. We did a lot of street contacting,
and met a lot of really cool people. We also tracted quite a bit, and
got in one house. It was a fun exchange! it was Wednesday night to
Thursday night. I got home Thursday night, we weekly planned Friday
morning, and then I left for Prishtina with Elder Temple. It was cool
to be back in Prishtina. I tried to meet with Arber (the man you sent
the number for) but it didn't work out. I am going to call him again,
and try and get something set up. The exchange with Elder temple was
good to. I saw Elders McGrath and Rasband there. They are both doing
well. It was great serving with both of them. I also saw my bakery
friends. They remembered my name, and of course I remembered them.
They are doing great. It was awesome to see them. I hope they are
interested in the Gospel one day. I also saw my Albi Market friends. I
was super tight with the one guy there. I was so excited to see him.
Same thing for him. I hope he decides to check out our church one day!
I have become very good friends with the grocery store and bakery
people here in Gjakova as well. i have tried to make it  goal to get
to know the people that I see often. Some of the grocery store people
might come to church this next week!

We are beginning to gear up for the Easter Season. The church is
launching a new program right away. It is called Because He Lives. One
thing they encouraged us to do is to hold devotionals. We have started
doing Wednesday and Sunday night devotionals at the church for all who
can attend. We started yesterday, and had a fantastic turnout! We met
with a family right before it, and then they agreed to come to the
devotional, and they really liked it. We had a short video called
Because of Him, and then there were a a couple songsand quick
talks/testimonies. It went really well.

There are two girls getting baptized this weekend. The sisters have
been teaching them. They are 14 and 15 years old. They are doing
great. They love the church, and are good friends with a girl in the
branch. It is fantastic! We are still working on finding the male
members haha. We know the Lord sees our efforts!

President Weidmann came to our District Metting this week. We have a
great district so it was fun to have him and Sister Weidmann there. He
is a really nice guy. He had great things to say! It all went well.

I love serving as a missionary. It is a real blessing to be able to
work  and share the Gospel. It is certainly challenging, but it is
worthwhile very enjoyable. I am very grateful for the opportunity that
I have to serve, and I am so excited to be serving alongside Matt 3
months from now!! The world won't know what hit it when Matt puts on
that missionary badge! Look out Winnipeg!

Have a great week! Glad Buddy is feeling better! Take him on walks!

Love Elder Stewart

Monday, March 16, 2015

Going Great in Gjakova!

This week has been a very good one.

I would say that there are two main stories for this week. President
Weidmann challenged us to meet with our investigators daily starting
this week, and for the month of March. We have tried really hard. We
have one main investigator. We have had contact with him in person
every single day for the last week. 7 out of 8 days we had a lesson
with him. He is the one in the white jacket from last week. He is
doing great. He came to church, and we fasted with him for him to get
his answer. He is so happy.The fasting was really cool. He was pretty
nervous to do it. We started it with him on Sunday morning before
church. He didn't know if he could do it, but we sent him a text in
the evening and encouraged him. We met him this morning. He had done
it. We had a quick lesson with him, and then ate breakfast together.
It was really fun!

The other guy that we have been meeting with is a member of the
branch, but is less active. He is doing great right now though. We
watched the Current Bush Mormon Message with him. He understood enough
English to know what was going on, and then we reexplained it to him.
He is a good guy.

We had a big activity this weekend in Prishtina. We got all three
Kosovo Branches together. In the beginning everyone just socialized
and got to know each other. We had snacks and stuff. Afterwards we
split up into two groups. 25 and above went with the Prishtina
district, and we had the youth and kids. We played some fun games for
about an hour, and then we had Albanian Traditional dancing. It was
awesome! Everyone loved it. It was great for our members and
investigators to get to see the church on a slightly larger scale.
Elder Lesi and I rode up to Prishtina in a van filled with members and
investigators. The other two sets of missionaries took a car because
we ran out of room on the van. On the way back from the activity the
van was very loud because everyone was so excited and happy. Both the
investigator, and that other guy came to the activity!

As a district we have been playing a lot of "Liars Dice." It is a
Tooley game. We get together at lunch time a few times a week and play
it for a little while. It is a good game! I really like playing games!
Our district is really fun.

We went and saw a waterfall today. It is in Peja. It was beautiful. We
explored a lot, and then we went to a fish farm for lunch. The fish
farm was super cool. There were rivers and pools and ponds of fish. It
was crazy.

English course is going well! Thanks for those ideas Dad! We have been
doing quite a lot of tracting. The mission made up some new visit
cards. One is of the saviour right after his resurrection,  one is of
someone getting baptised, and the other is a family in front of a
temple. We have been able to have some good conversations with a lot
of people. It is easy to see that a lot of people really do feel what
we say, but it is hard for us to get them to commit and to listen to
us. Gjakova is a pretty small city. It seems to me that people are
getting a pretty good idea of who we are. There are a lot of really
nice people here. Elder Lesi and I have had a good time together. We
have a lot of time to talk as we go through appartment buildings. He
is a hard worker, and has a super solid convert testimony. He is a
nice guy to work with!

Our Gjakova district is really great. The branch is doing well. They
all loved the activity. The weather warmed up. I don't think we will
have any more snow at this point!

I am very happy to hear that Buddy is doing better!

Have a great week, and keep taking Buddy on walks. Good luck to Matt
and his provincial basketball team! It is a great time to open a
mission call! :) I am sure it will all go great!!

Love Elder Stewart

Elder Stewart

Some of the ruins in Gjakova

The "heart attack" on Sis Tooley's door for her birthday.

Elder Lesi and Elder Stewart in Bondsteel

Elder Fowles and Elder Baker with Elder Stewart

The feast at the Tri Ward party. Those are bigger than Costco hotdogs!

Great attendance at the party!

Waterfall near Peja with Elder Lesi

Beautiful! Looks like Waterton!

At the fish farm

Not sure I could eat this!

The meal at the fish farm...some of it looks delicious!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

English Classes Start Again!

O family!

Tuesday was a funny day. We were at the church for a lesson, and Elder
Lesi's bishop was there fixing some stuff at the church. He was so
excted to see him. They had a cool little reunion. Personally I think
that would be hard to serve in such close proximity to home. He loved
it though! Someone should tell my bishop to aspire to Albania and
Kosovo building maintenance! On Friday we went out to lunch with Elder
Lesi's stake president because he was up here doing institute. His
people are everywhere.  :) He loves it though so it is good!

I am back to teaching Beginners English *sighofrelief* I really like
this class. The kids are awesome, and we have two ladies in there
sixties. It was really funny. We were going through the alphabet, and
Me: What starts with J?
Lady 1: Justin Bieber
Me: G?
Lady 2: Gangster
S was Silvester Stalon, and R was Rambo. They are both very young at
heart. I had a pretty good laugh about that for the rest of the night.

On Wednesday I went to Tirana with the sisters, and Elder Rawlings.
There was a meeting there for missionary leadership. It was good.
President Weidmann is  a very inspired person, and he has great ideas.
His training was great. Dad had already told me a lot of it so that
was pretty cool. Pres Weidmann said stuff like praying for District
members by name, taking interest in their lives, offering priesthood
blessings, praising members of the district often, prayerfully
preparing for meetings and exchanges, taking accountability, setting
meaningful goals. Those are just a few things. It was well worth the
drive down there.

On the way back up to Kosovo everyone was pretty tired, and so we took
a quick break. There was a church on the hill right beside the road
and we decided to go check it out. We got some good pictures. In
Kosovo I got pulled over again. I don't even drive crazy. It was a
back road and paved, had no road signs. I was going 80 and then he got
me. Apparently it was 50, but I think there is no way. He talked with
me for a while I just accepted it, and he got ready to write me a
ticket. He then asked who all of the other people were. I explained to
him and had the sisters in the back role down the windows. They talked
to him for like 10 seconds and then he said drive safe and have a good
night. I guess the sisters charmed him. They got pulled over today and
got out of it as well. Elder Rawlings jokingly said we need to drive
with sister missionaries all of the time.

We had a training in Prishtina on Thursday. It went really well. They
had a good training, and some good commitments.

We have had some really good lessons this week. The man that works as
a barber is doing really well. He wasn't reading from the Book of
Mormon, and so we had a lesson on reading. He read 34 pages in between
teaching appointments. It was awesome! We were so excited, and so was
he. He had a lot of questions, and wanted to read part of it again
with us. He is doing very well. Hopefully he will get baptised here in
the near future. He is a good guy!

We had a man at church last week, and he is looking very promising. He
is always so happy. He is well knowledged in history. He works a lot,
and is hard to meet, but he is great, and he comes with questions.

The branch here is doing well. We had good attendance as far as
members go this week.

Sister Tooleys birthday was yesterday. We decorated her door and
brought her gifts and a cake. The sisters planned it all. Sister
Tooley was so surprised! She loved it. It was also Albanian Mothers
day. Elder Lesi skyped his family while we were at the Tooleys house.
Happy Albanian Mothers day Mom!

Last night we had a few lessons fall through consecutively so we went
out finding, and Elder Lesi felt like we should go meet a guy who we
hadn't met in a while. We caught him home, and it was just what he
needed. He has been divorced for 40 years. He has had a rough life,
and it was just what he needed. He was so happy to have visitors. Life
has just been really hard on him, and he is very aged. He is a great
guy though. It was awesome to see him. We taught the first principle
in the Restoration lesson. God is our loving heavenly father. He was
so happy, and he loved the prayers.

We are very excited for this week. We set some high goals, and we hope
to see a lot of great things continue to happen.

Have a good week! Take extra good care of Buddy! I am sure he will heal up!

Love Elder Stewart

Elder Stewart and a man from church.

Out for lunch with his district. Those look like delicious cinnamon buns!!

Elder Rasband, Elder Stewart and Elder Austin. "Son, Father and Grandfather" in missionary terms.

Elder Baldwin and Elder Stewart

Elder Stewart

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A Bigger District in Gjakova!

We got our two new Elders here this week. Elder Baker was in Peja, and
Elder Fowles was in Vlorë. It is great to have them both here. It
should be a lot of fun, and it should help keep the balance as the
branch prepares for the Tooleys departure next month.

We printed and handed out 3000 English course flyers this week.
English Course starts again tomorrow. It will be good to be started
again. Elder Lesi and I will be teaching the beginners class. Elder
Lesi is going to get his first English Course teaching experience.
That should be fun for him. His English is coming along pretty well.
One of the missionaries that got moved from Peja knew him in Durrës
right before he left, and he was blown away by how well he is
speaking. He is doing great!

Our investigator that jumped down the stairs after the lesson is a
really great guy, but he just isn't getting it quite yet. It is tough
because I don't think he is putting in the effort that he needs to.
The branch could really use him, and he could really use the church.
We are going to continue to try and work closely with him. Our most
recent lesson with him went great. He said that if he receives an
answer he will be baptised on April 4. We are trying our best to help
him help himself. He has great potential, and he really does have real

We have been eating lunch with our district almost every day if its
possible. We have a really good district, and with two more it just
gets better. We make sandwiches or cook pasta. Everyone is a pretty
good sport about it. We have a vegetarian in the district so meat is
strictly prohibited. Elder Tooley made some super good peanut butter
though so I have been chowing down on peanut butter sandwiches. We
also eat a lot of greek salads. The produce is pretty good here.

We had a branch activity this week, and we watched Ephraims Rescue.
Everybody loved it, and we had a significant amount of investigators
there. We also had a less active man there. It was great! We think we
might make "Movie Night" a monthly thing. A family that we are
teaching came. They are the ones that live a few floors above the
Tooleys. They all really liked it.

We have had some really good lessons this week. In total 3 people
committed to baptism this week. It is still very early on, but it is a
start. We are supposed to try and commit people to baptism on the
first lesson. We have been promised a lot of blessings for doing it.
We had really tried to take the challenge, and we are going to work
our tails off to get people to really mean it and to become converted.

Elder Tooley was in with us for a lesson this week. He has done a
fantastic job of trying to learn Albanian. He is phenomenal. Easily
the best of any of the senior missionaries. Usually he prays and bears
his testimony. This time I looked at him and was and asked if he could
explain the role of Jesus Christ. I was ready to translate for him,
but nope he did it in Albanian. I was shocked. It was way good. Then
in church for fast Sunday he stood up and gave a very good testimony
that wasn't memorized. It was pretty cool. SIster Tooley is great to
have in lessons as well. We had a lesson with a man that was not
taking it very seriously, and she bore a super strong testimony, and
told him off right there on the spot. It was great. I called him the
nest day and he acted a lot more mature.

Fast Sunday was good here. Peja is a group so they all come here for
fast Sunday because they are still connected with our branch. They
have one active member so they drive him up here in their vehicle.
There were lots of good testimonies. Everyone was very reverent this
week. I think good things are happening here. We all ate dinner at the
Tooleys house that day. It was a lot of people in a small house, but
it was really fun.

Tracting continues to be the go to. We have done a lot of tracting.
There are a lot of really nice people here. We do a lot of finding! It
is good. We are racking in the new investigators. It is hard work, and
it isn't necessarily the most rewarding immediately, but I am sure we
will see the fruit of our efforts eventually! 
Today we had a good p-day. We went to a waterfall just outside of
Gjakova. It was a really cool area. We had a good time there. I will
send some pictures.

That's my week. It has been great. I am loving it here in Gjakova!

Take Buddy on some walks! Have a good week! Do something good for someone else!

Love Elder Stewart

This is the Gjakova District minus the Tooley's

Elder Stewart and the Tooley's

The waterfall just outside Gjakova that they visited on their P-Day

Elder Stewart and Elder Lesi

Elder Stewart

Elder Stewart- always looking for adventure!