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

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