Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Moving Forward in Tirana

So I realize I wrote you on Tuesday, but I didn't include anything from
this week. I will take it right from the top.

Mondays are always busy for us, but this last Monday morning for our
excercise we met some other missionaries at a soccer place, and played
soccer. It was a blast. There were about 16 missionaries there, and
President came along as well. That was definitely one of the funner
P-days I have had in quite a while! There were some pretty good
players, and President showed us how they do it in Switzerland! It was
great! On Monday night FHE went well.

Tuesday there was a halfway training for trainers and trainees. We
went there and helped President Weidmann present the training. It went
great. We have a ton of great missionaries in our mission! Tuesday
night we had a lot of sucess. We were able to meet Sister Bjeshku and
teach her the 10 Commandments. She will be baptised because she has
her family backing her. She reads a lot, and has a lot of faith. she
is great! Also on Tuesday night we met the Cara family. Brother Cara
is our main investigator there, but he wasn't there on Tuesday night
so we met Soni [the member] and his Mom and brother. They all love the
lessons, and his mom has read a lot of the Book of Mormon. Her main
concern with baptism at the moment is that she won't be able to keep
her covenants after baptism. We are looking to overcome that concern
with her. Her other son is 11 and he is really cool. Brother Cara is
the greatest.

Wednasday was a crazy day. One of the best parts of the day was
helping a recently baptised family move their house. They are poor,
and their living situation was not great. They got kicked out of their
house, and we got to help them move into their new one. It was sure an
eyeopener. We moved them completely in under an hour and a half. They
moved about the distance that we did when we moved. It took one run
with a small truck and 2 with the Opel Corsa to move absolutely
everything they had. Elder Acheson and Elder Greener came with us to
help them. It went great. After the move we had a lesson with Edmond.
He is the Muslim investigator that is just a few years older than us.
Originally the plan was to drop him and explain why we could not meet,
but we couldn't do it. We both feel we haven't given him enough of a
chance. We want him to see the truth so bad. I explained to President
Weidmann last week in my letter just how hard it is for me to drop
investigators. I want them all to accept it, and I don't want to go
find others until I have finished the job. He set a good response back
this week.

Dear Elder Stewart
thank you for your testimony and for your Christ-like care. I am
wondering if Christ ever dropped someone, but He was dropped by many.
Just as a thought, I quote Mark 10:"21 Then Jesus beholding him LOVED
HIM, and said unto him, nne thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell
whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have
treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. 22 And
he was sad at that saying, and WENT AWAY (dropped Jesus) grieved: for
he had great possessions." The invitation to follow Christ should be
very powerful in order to help the investigators or less actives to
choose to follow Christ or not; but they have to know. And yes it is
all about His infinite, incomprehensible touchable love of His: 1 John
4:" And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God
is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in
him." Thank you for your efforts to fulfill your calling as
missionary. Thank you for your prayers and your work and for
faithfully invite others to come unto Christ. Thank you for sharing
your testimony often and for sharing your love for the Savior
frequently and thank you for acting accordingly.
Love President Weidmann

I thought that was quite the insight. Jesus was dropped many times.
Jesus always made the invitation very clear as to make it their
decision. E still wants to meet with us, and although his
progress is very limited right now he is feeling something. He is
always astounded as he learns more about our church. He is great! I
usually don't ask any questions in my letters to President Weidmann,
but when I do he always sends back a good response!

Thursday started with District Meeting. I have been blessed with great
Districts throughout my mission. For the record my District is our
ward Elders Acheson and Greener, Sisters Cheshire and White, us, and
Second Ward.. Elders Verushi and Guymon, and Sisters Zollinger and
Johansen. Following district meeting we went out to a wheelchair
thing. The church sent in a shipload of 600 wheelchairs to Albania,
and there was a conference thing right by Tirana. We went and
represented the missionaries. It is great to see the Humanitarian work
of the church as well. The church has a lot of very big projects.

Thursday night we had lots of lessons. We street contacted a lady on
the road and met her family. We also got to see the B family.
Sister B was not there so we had the opportunity to talk with
the rest of the family about what they have to do to get their family
ready to go to the temple. It went well. They have made that a goal as
a family.

We had a good weekend with lots of lessons. We had 7 new people show
interest this week, and begin investigating. It was great. We stopped
by the C's house on Saturday night. We hadn't seen Brother C. He
is great though. He has just been really busy. He works with the
police, and elections are coming up, and they have been working like

We had a good Sunday. Brother C was busy. Brother S, our other
investigator, came to the church late and without his family because
they weren't in town. He was nervous to walk in so he went home. I
wish he would have called so we could have ran and grabbed him, but it
is alright! Sister B had a cousin die so she couldn't make it to
church, but her kids came. So our investigator turnout was
non-existent, but we had two less actives there, and the family that
we helped move came!

Last night President Weidmann had all of the Tirana and Durres
missionaries go to a devotional put on by a couple from America about
the Book of Mormon. It was all about how the Bof M and the Bible
support eachother, and some ancient evidence of the Book of Mormon. It
was really interesting!

One cool thing I read in personal study this week was Helaman 4. I
took from it.."the way to prosper" It is a great chapter!

Take good care of Buddy! I love you all!

Love, Elder Stewart

Elder Stewart finally got the package we mailed him while we were in Japan. Better late than never!

The move.

Looks like they had a little helper!

I think everyone has had a move like this at some point. Just stuff it all in!

Elder Stewart and a young friend from his ward.

Beautiful Albania

A very old, remarkable church.

Elder Bangarter and Elder Stewart

Thursday, May 21, 2015

So busy...but Still got a Letter Off...One Day Late!

This last week has been quite busy. I am sorry I did not get a chance
to email you yesterday. We were running a ton of errands, and then we
had meetings and family home evening from 5-9. President gave us
permission to send off a letter home today!

Mini transfers happened on Tuesday. Some of the missionaries were
moving around. It all went really well though. We took two
missionaries to the airport to fly home. It is crazy seeing people end
their missions. On Tuesday afternoon we had some lessons. We are
teaching a family just outside of Tirana. We also had a lesson with a
man who we met on the street. He had a wheel chair with the churches
name on the back. He is very nice.

I went on an exchange with Elder Acheson on Wednesday. I was in his
area. We had District meeting in the morning, and taught some lessons
throughout the rest of the day. We also got to meet with Ersi. He has
been having a tough time, and I really feel bad for him. He is an
awesome kid. He is living here in Tirana at a shelter. We met one of
the ladies that works at the shelter and talked out a set of rules so
that we can get Ersi to come to church, and to come for activities. It
was a huge blessing. The lady was really nice to us, and
accommodating. Elder Acheson still wants to be President of the United
States so he took a very diplomatic approach. It was funny! It worked!
The whole exchange was good.

We have realized that there are a ton of less actives here in Tirana.
We got a list of some people from our bishop, and our ward mission
leader. We decided to go out and find a lot of them on Wednesday
morning. We took the list and went out finding them. Addresses don't
really exist here so we got in the general area, and then were
looking. We prayed that we would be able to find some. In the end we
met a man there who was happy to help us find a few of them. With his
help we were able to find two houses with less active members. One of
which was very nice to us. She just said that she had no interest
anymore. She married a Muslim man, and has been less active for the
last 7 years. It was good to meet her though. Maybe the sisters will
be able to go there and just sit with her for a little while. the
second house was a little harder to find. The man who was finding with
us thought it might be one of the stairwells so he went up to the
house he thought it might be, and knocked. It wasn't them, but it was
a man and his wife who had two children who live in the States, and
are both baptized members. They gave us their phone number, and we
will have to go back there. That was really cool! They have been to
our church. That is the second person in two weeks that we have met
that has baptised children in America. While I do think it is great
that they are members it is sad to me that they don't stay with their
families and help build the church here in Albania. The Church, and
their country need them very badly. That is one of the reasons I have
so much respect fro President Mema (the Stake President here). He
could be working anywhere in the world that he wanted, but he is
living here, and directing the church. Following that house we found
the other house with members. They wouldn't let us in, but they gave
us phone numbers so we can go back. We thanked our helper friend a
lot. We invited him to meet with us. He was not interested, but we
gave him a pass-along card with our website so that he can check it
out on his own time. We then set out to find one more family. We found
them after a lot of looking. It is a mom and daughter. The daughter
was called on a mission to Albania, and since then they have gone
inactive. That is a very hard thing I think. We really would like to
get her and her mom to come back to church. Apparently they were very
strong in the church before.

Following that less-active finding session we took off to meet the
Vlore Zone Leaders in Durres to do an exchange. I came back to Tiana
with Elder Squire, and Elder Bangerter went to Lushnje with Elder
Gray. We came back for a lesson with Brother Shehu. The man that has
not received the Holy Ghost. He wasn't home and so his Mom Sister
Shehu and his daughter Rezi went out with us to find some less active
houses. We found two more. Neither let us it, but it was great to meet
them. We hope to get into their houses this week. We went to teach
Sister Bjeshku with the promise that we would be back in an hour to
teach Brother Shehu. We tought Sister Bjeshku. She is doing great, and
I think she will make her baptism. On the return Brother Shehu was
still not there. We were a little dissapointed, but we went out to
tract. We prayed and walked and picked a building. We tracted for an
hour and got absolutely nothing. With 9 o'clock quickly approaching we
decided we had to go. We stared walking down the stairs, and all of a
sudded Elder Squire said that he needed to knock the door right in
front of him. So we knocked it and a man answered. As it turns out he
is a Melchizedek Priesthood holder and has not been to church in 2
years. He was happy to see us, and we got his number and we met with
him the next morming. On Sunday he came to church, and he loved it. He
stayed for 3 hours and said he will continue to come week per week.

Another less active success was on Thursday morning. We went to the
Second Counselor in the bishopric and had a lesson with him and his
family. His family comes pretty regularly, but he hadn't been to
church once while I have been here in Tirana. He told us he would come
to church, and he kept his word and he came.

Thursday night we met an active member family. Their last name in
Bala, and they are "Bala-ng". They are great! We had a new idea to do
role plays with members. We did a role play with them on inviting
their friends to learn more about the Gospel through casual
conversataion. just normal real life stuff. We practiced with them.
They have an 11 year old son and a 4 year old son. They started doing
it, and they did great. At the end they asked their friends if they
wanted church materials. Then they were giving them stuff. It seemed
pretty real to me up until that point. I kind of questioned them a
little bit. So if you are just talking at the store, or in the road
you are going to have a pamphlet or a Book of Mormon. Is this a
realistic situation for you? Of course they replied. I then learned
that their backpacks and purses and carrying bags always have church
materials to give away. I was shocked to say the least. We shouldn't
have been teaching them. They should have been teaching us. How many
of you carry around pamphlets and Books of Mormon?? If you don't I
challenge you to start, and to try and use them The take member
missionary work seriously.

Saturday we had Futboll in the morning. It was really good. It is good
to be out there in the community playing with a lot of people. many
have been found through simple stuff like that. We had lessons in the

Sunday was quite the day. We had 3 less actives, and an investigator
at church. It was awesome! The attendance was the highest it has been
since I got here. We had 92. After church we had back to back lunch
language study with the other 4th ward Elders. We study Albanian
together on Sundays and teach each other new things. It works really
well. On Sunday afternoon we had choir practice.  Our choir is a work
in progress. The members really like it, and it is a good opportunity
to help them. The Stake President has set it up. We could use a
chorister like Mom.

Sunday night we had some good lessons. My favourite was one with a
recent convert and 2 active member men. they were supposed to have
investigators for us, but they didn't. The recent convert is still a
little bit Catholic. He believes Joseph Smith was a prophet, and that
the Book of Mormon is true, but he also believes the the Catholic
church is true. it is a little confusing, but in the end Elder
Bangerter read Ezekiel 37 to him and he said ok. It all made sense.
One of his arguments was that if the authority was really restored by
Peter, James, and John then that would mean we have the same church as
in olden times... he looked puzzled, and we all yelled yes. We think
it is all cleared up now, because he really is a pretty smart guy. He
is just a few months older than me.

The week went well. Good luck with graduation this weekend. I love the
air band thing!

Love you all! Take care of Buddy!

Elder Stewart

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Creative Zone Conferences!

Happy Mothers Day!!

That was so great to talk with you yesterday. I really enjoyed that. I
don't really remember a lot of it. It flew by really fast, but it was
great to see you all!

This week has been great. We have had another busy week. Last Monday
we drove to Prishtina for the Prishtina Zone conference. The
conference took place on Tuesday, but we had a meeting and a family
home evening with President up in Prishtina. On Tuesday we had the
conference. Elder Bangerter and I had 45 minutes. We decided to change
things a little bit. Instead of giving a training we had a full group
role play. We had previously thought out a few scenarios of finding.
The first was inside of an elevator. We had two Districts go out into
the hall and the other District stayed inside the main room, and we
quickly set up the elevators (Folded up ping-pong tables and white
boards). The missionaries then came in, and entered the elevators, and
had about a minute to create a gospel conversation, and to try and get
the people interested. We had them switch elevators, and then we
evaluated it. We then did it again. We did the same thing in the store
situation. They were at a check out counter with a few small snacks,
and we had the check out people with aprons, and other people in line.
We then did it with people stopped at a crosswalk. Everyone loved it.
I will send you the powerpoint that we used. I thought it went really
well. Elder Bangerter is a really creative guy so it all came together
great. We are really trying to get better as a whole mission at
finding new investigators. President does a great job motivating us,
and he gave a fantastic training. He does a really good job at just
teaching by the Spirit. It looks to me that he goes in with a plan,
and then just teaches by the Spirit only using his set plan if he
feels that that is right. He knows his scriptures really well. As a
mission we have been focusing on using Christ more in our lessons. We
are trying to use more of his attributes and stories about him as we
teach. A few weeks ago it dawned on us that it is really hard to
"invite others to come unto Christ" when they just don't know who he
is. President Weidmann did a great job of using scriptures about
Christ all throughout his training. After hearing him speak I always
feel so energized. He is a great leader. Another highlight of the
Prishtina Zone Conference was that we had invited one of the members
there to bare his testimony. He did a fantastic job. Elder Bangerter
recorded it, and I am so glad he did. It was powerful! Muslim to
Christian. The struggle. One thing he said was how disappointed his
parents were with him. He said they were devastated, and that they
made it clear to him he was bringing the whole family shame. He said
that hurt a ton, but that he knows these things are true, and that he
knows that he will make his parents proud. He is such a great a guy!
He said that when he first came to the church he had no interest, but
as he saw the pictures of Jesus Christ, and heard of the things he did
he wanted to learn more about him. He will be a fantastic leader of
the church in Kosovo. His fiance has a really great conversion story
as well. It was great for all of us to hear that. Miracles happen, and
conversion is a powerful thing.

Wednesday was a great day. We were back in Tirana. We met with a less
active man and his family. We had planned to meet with them two time a
week, and to help him on his way back. One thing that we felt was
really important was to get him reading from the Book of Mormon again.
When we got to  his house we asked his daughter where they had read
to. She loves to read, and has been reading on and off with her dad.
She said they were at 2 Nephi 32. We congratulated them, and asked to
read a chapter together. At the end of the chapter we began talking
about the Holy Ghost. We then asked him how he felt when he received
promptings from the Holy Ghost. His answer was that he was sick that
day. What we said? At that point his family told us that he had never
received the Gift of the Holy Ghost. The Sunday right after his
baptism he was sick and he never went to receive the Gift of the Holy
Ghost. We were quite surprised. We hope to help him get rebaptised,
and to become an active priesthood holder.

Also on Wednesday night we saw Sister Bjeshku and her family. She is
great! Their whole family is awesome. It had been a while between our
last teaching appointments, and so we wanted to review everything with
her. We talked about the steps of the Gospel that are necessary to
make the Celestial Kingdom. She totally understands it, and her whole
family is very excited that she is learning. It will be great for her
husband as well. He seems to have a really strong testimony, and a lot
of knowledge, but her works on Sunday and it is hard for him to come
to church. We hope to get him coming back to church as well. Their
children are very strong members. Brother Bjeshku is a very supportive
husband and father as well so that is great.

Some other stuff happened on Wednesday as well, but the other really
cool thing that happened is that we felt like we should go and visit
one of the recent converts in our ward. We went to his house, and he
wasn't home.. but his parents let us in, and we talked with them for
about 20 minutes. They were really nice. They then started asking a
lot of questions about the Book of Mormon. The mom had learned before,
but is not baptised. The Dad had never sat in on a lesson before. We
taught the Restoration and it went fantastic. I love the dad. He is a
really big funny guy. I think that is the best way to describe him. I
loved it. They loved it. They invited us to come back and teach them.
We went back a few days ago and had another lesson with them. this
time their son was there. He is super solid. They have huge potential
as a family. We will be meeting with them again this week. The Spirit
has been super strong in both of our lessons with them.

Tirana Zone Conference was on Thursday. In many ways it was a lot like
the one in Prishtina. It was a tri-Zone conference however. We had all
of the Albania Zones there. Things went great. We did the elevator
scene with them as well as public transportation (Busses and Vans). I
think people were happy with how it all went.

I don't have time to finish this letter. We had a lot of things come
up with mini transfers.

Love you all! Take care of Buddy!

Elder Stewart

Our most current family pic!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Busy Times in Tirana!

This week has been very busy. We have had a lot of stuff.

On Tuesday we had our District meeting as usual. It went very well. We
have been doing quite a few role plays. We met a cool man that
afternoon. He is the one that we met by the elevator last week while
tracting. He still seems promising. The Restoration seemed to make
sense to him. He is a pretty smart guy, and he knew a fair amount
about the Bible.

Wednesday was crazy we ran around Tirana with Elder Lesi and to other
missionaries getting papers filled out so that they can get their
Macedonian Visas. It was quite the chase. We ended up all over Tirana.
The Embassy closed at 1, and so at 20 to 1 we had everything done, and
ready for the embassy. When we got to the Embassy they said that it
was incomplete. They said it had to be translated. Elder Bangerter
left the other missionaries there, took the papers, and ran to the
translator to get it all translated. It took quite a while, but
because the other missionaries were at the Embassy they waited for us.
When we got back they told us we had to pay a bill at a nearby bank.
We ran to the bank to pay the bill, and at the bank we met a long time
investigator who the ward missionary leader told us to visit. It was
quite miraculous actually. We got the bill paid, and the embassy took
it all. Elder Lesi was able to go back to Gjakova and didn't have to
stay the night. That was fantastic because everything was already
worked out for him to get back to Gjakova with the new Senior Couple
and another missionary. Looking back on it there were people on the
other side helping us a ton all morning. Everything worked out a lot
better than we ever could have planned. That long time investigator
invited us to his house. He hasn't met with missionaries for quite a
few months so this will be a great opportunity.

Wednesday night we took Edmond our investigator to Institute. His
heart is not softening. It is very tough to see. He has a lot of
doubts. His progress has halted completely. He is a really nice guy,
but he stopped. We will see what happens. He has a lot of potential.

On Wednesday we received a call from someone named Kurt who had found
our number on a bus. We met with him on Thursday, and he was
fantastic. He is about 60. He is married. He has gone to quite a few
churches. He would really like to be baptised, but he has not decided
where at yet. He is Muslim by background, but he has always felt a
special relation to Christ. His parents are not for it, but he wants
to and fells he needs to. Tradition is a really big thing here. It is
toughgoing against old tradtions. It makes me think of those
scriptures in the Book of Mormon where they are brought to the truth
contrary to what they have been taught their whole lives. We met him
again on Friday as well. He is great. It turns out he lives in the
other Elders area so we had to hand him off, but he shows a lot of

On Friday we also met with a man named Spartak Shehu. He is married
with two kids, and they take care of his mom. His mom is very funny.
She is super active at church, and Spartak is innactive so she was
very exctited that we came to make the visit. It sounds like Spartak
wants to come back to church. His son just turned 8, and we presented
the idea that he could baptise him. I think he liked that idea. It is
very obvious that his kids really look up to him. He seems like a
great dad. We are going to meet with him twice a week and get him
coming back to church. Our ward mission leader was the one who
suggested meeting with him. He was very exctied when he heard that we
had had an appointment. Everything went fantastic. When we left
Spartak seemd happy. His wife was thrilled. The kids were very
excited. His daughter is 12.

On Saturday we had a meeting with President Weidmann in the morning.
We talked about a lot of upcoming events and transfers. It was very
interesting to be a part of. The Spirit was very strong. We took care
of a lot of things. Elder Bangerter have been putting in a lot of time
on the side getting stuff ready. President does a ton. If Stake
President is anything like mission President I would imagine Dad has a
ton to do. President Weidmann does a great job! We say a lot of
prayers at those meetings. The power of prayer is eveident. There were
many time where we would pray and then remember or change something. I
learned a lot just listening to President Weidmann talk. I realized I
should probably be writing more of this stuff down.

Saturday afternoon we made a trip out to a village to visit a new
family that was contacted in Tirana. we met Fatos and his niece
Alexandra. They were great. They come from very humble conditions, but
thwy were very open. At first the lesson was just with him. He is
around 40, but life really wears at some people so it was tought to
get it going or to get him to tie it all together. We were just
talking about the importance of God, and how he talked with us. As we
talked about Prophets all of a sudden a light just popped on, and he
got it. A class with a teacher. We are the class, and we need a
teacher. I really liked it, and so we took off with that. His niece
then came, and she had read the bible, and was really smart. She is
14. From there on the lesson took of. We explained the Restoration
well. They were very anxious to take the book and read it. We
explained the power of reading combined with prayer. It was a great
lesson. They want us to come back. They were supposed to be at church,
but a few things came up and weren't able to make it. We have very
high hopes for them.

On our way back from that lesson we had the feeling to stop in with a
Recent Convert who has not been coming. We stopped by his house, and
he wasn't there. They invited us in though. His non-member parents
were both there. We met with them. We talked for about 20 minutes and
got to know them. They are super nice. We then had a lesson and
explained the Restoration. The mom has learned before. She knows a
lot. She actually received a wheelchair from the church when she broke
her leg so her son took her to church to say thank you. He ended up
being the one getting baptised. Her hand her husband were great
though. He told us at the end that it was the first time he had ever
sat in on a missionary lesson. That was quite amazing. He invited us
to come back. He is a great guy. He is one one the top dogs with the
Tirana Police Service. He has traveled all over the world getting

Running from their house we made it to the baptism. The sisters in our
ward had a lady get baptised. Overall I would say it was the smoothest
and best baptismal service that I have been to here. Everything went

Fast Sunday was good. There were a few highlights. The first was that
Ersi is in fourth ward now! He came to church, and we met him there.
That kid has had quite the last few months. I am very lucky to have
the support system that i have. I am realizing that more and more. He
was there though, and we had a very happy reunion. He gave his
testimony too. What a guy. He is the best. Sunday night our lessons
fell through so we went out to recontact some old contacts. they
turned out not being home so we tracted. We went into one appartment
prayed and weren't feeling it so we left. We left and walked for a
little bit, and picked a new one. We always tract from the top to the
bottom so we went to the top, prayed, and started making our way down.
We were pretty sure that we were at the right place, but the people
were treating us pretty bad. On the last door person asked who we
were. We presented ourselves. Nothing. We told her through the door
that we were going to be leaving a pass-along card, and then we
started to place it in the door. She opened the door. We talked for a
little bit. She got super interested. We explained, and as Elder
Bangerter was testifying to finish the door approach she started
crying, asked for the book and told us she wanted to come to church.
It was amazing. She seems super awesome.

This whole week has been great. I have gained a very strong testimony
of prayer this week. I know there are a lot of times when God is
probably trying to tell me something and I just don't listen. We
really tried to listen this week.

Have a fantastic week! Happy Birthday Matt! See you all on Sunday!

Take Buddy on walks!

Love you all!

Elder Stewart