Monday, September 21, 2015

Finally...a Baptism!

On tuesday we had a small minitransfer. Elder Prince and Elder
Gierisch from Macedonia went home so we had to do a little
rearranging. On transfer days Elder Greener and I are the ones that
coordinate the transfer. Elder and Sister White usually have a lot of
business to take care of, and President always has interviews with
missionaries as they are passing through. Elder Greener and I
coordinate the times of the transfer, where it takes place, and who
comes in to it. Knowing that the transfer would be happening Elder and
Sister Smith booked a choir practice. There is a missionary choir that
consists mainly of Tirana missionaries with just a few extra ones. Our
main song is a special edition of Praise to the Man. For the most part
it is written in 4 parts, but at a few places it splits into 8. It
sounds really good now. Elder Bangerter is a really good singer so he
came up from Berat to the practice. It was cool to see him again. Our
performance is on Saturday night. We are putting on a song night. It
consists of the missionary choir, our stake choir (which we are also a
part of), and there is an opera singer from Durrës. He is amazing.

We had a really interesting meeting with President on Tuesday in the
middle of the day. It is always quite the experience sitting down with
President Weidmann. The purpose of the meeting was to plan the
Missionary leadership meeting, but we ended up talking a lot about a
lot of different things. He always shows us cool things in the
scriptures. One of the things I like that he showed us in one of our
last meetings had to do with Enos. He asked me.. Elder Stewart, what
kind of a man was Enos? I said he was a wicked man who wanted to
repent. He explained that Enos actually wasn't a wicked man. He was
just Jacobs' son, and he felt unqualified for the task at hand. He was
pleading God for his enabling power. President went on to say.. how do
you think you would feel if you were called as a prophet right after a
fantastic prophet passed away. I answered that I would feel
unqualified. I really like the way President analyzes the scriptures.
I could tell he had spent a lot of time thinking about Enos, and
applying it to his life and the lives of others. He does that kind of
thing all of the time. Every time I am around President or Sister
Weidmann I can tell how much they care about each of the missionaries.
President has said a lot of times that the most terrible thing for him
would be to see any of the missionaries from our mission go inactive.
It sounds pretty cliche, but when he says it I can tell how much he
means it.

Tuesday night was the farewell dinner for Elders Prince and Gierisch.
Whenever missionaries leave Sister Weidmann puts on a dinner for them.
We go to it as well as Elder and Sister White. I love Elder Prince and
Geirisch. I got to know them when we were part of the same zone for 6
months when I was in Kosovo. I have been on exchanges with both of
them. One of my favourite moments with Elder Geirisch was in Macedonia
while contacting. An American man came up to us, and he was being
really rude. We just stood there and kind of took it. He was saying
all kinds of stuff against us. Eventually he said.. You believe that
Jesus is Satans brother. Elder Geirisch said.. We believe that he is
your brother as well. Elder Geirisch just stood there and smiled. It
was pretty witty. Elder Prince and Elder Geirisch built a lot of
Macedonia from the ground so they both had very interesting missions.
At the dinner we ate tacos, and had a good time talking about
different experiences we have had. We then had the opportunity to do a
testimony meeting. I love the farewell testimony meetings because the
Spirit is always very strong. It went great. We took some pictures
right afterwards, and then went home to sleep.

We woke up at 2 to take them to the airport. We got to the airport and
everything was going smoothly. We checked their bags and sent them
through the scanner. They then called us back over and we had to walk
back behind the ropes and open the bags one at a time. Two other
security guards came back to us, as well as two police officers. They
informed us that we had very illegal things. As it turns out it was a
few pairs of brass knuckes and night sticks that they were taking
home. It all got confiscated, and they got a police escort through
security. I thought it was pretty funny. They were freaking out.

Wednesday was MLC. All of the Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders
came in. MLC usually goes from about 10-1.  Our training was on the
Higher Law. We talked about missionary activities, and how we can take
them up to the next level. It went very smoothly. We did a little bit
of role-play and a little bit of brainstorming. President did
fantastic. I don't think I have ever seen him cry, but he choked up a
few times while talking about the importance of this work, and giving
it our all. He definitely has an increased understanding of the
importance of this work. He cares a lot about it!

We met Dashamir on Wednesday. Brother Sula helped us. We reviewed
baptism, and what it means. Brother Sula did a great job testifying.
Dashamir has been on cloud 9 all week. Following that lesson we met
with some other investigators that we have named Mateu and Miranda. It
is a mother and son.

On Friday we went to Korca with President and Sister Weidmann. There
is a man named Sotiri that they work with a lot. He has connections
all around the country, and he helps us find opportunities for
humanitarian service here Albania. We had a pretty big group. The
Weidmanns had their son and his wife, and Elder and Sister Orton the
humanitarian couple came along. The drive to Korca is beautiful. Elder
Greener and I were just there for translating. We went out for lunch
when we first got there, and then we went to an orphanage for kids
0-6. They are doing a few renovations and need some sponsors. I feel
bad for the kids that have to live there. I realize how fortunate I am
when I go to places like that. It is a real eye opener. We also went
to a facility for the mentally handicapped. It was a very sad center
to see. Most of them had been completely abandoned from their
families. They needed washing machines because theres were broken, and
all clothes were being washed by had. I think the church will for sure
help with that one. korca is a very special city. It still is not open
to missionary work however. We did teach a lesson while we were there.
It was an internet referral for a man that met with missionaries in
Greece. He was a great man with a huge testimony of God and his hand
in our lives. When the church opens in Korca I would not be surprised
if he is one of the first members. We had a lot of testimonies given
because of the size of our group. The Spirit was strong!

Dashamir. It happened. Saturday was amazing. At 3:30 on Saturday
afternoon Dashamir arrived to the church for his baptismal service! I
was so happy. We told him that he needed to pick a member and he had
picked Martin. Martin is a recent convert from January, and Dashamir
and he get along well. Martin had known since Wednesday that he was
baptising Dashamir, and he was so excited. We had a lesson with  the
two of them before the service.

The service went great. There were a lot of small miracles that
happend. On Saturday morning Sister Shehu (one of my favourite
members) was ticked off at a few members and missionaries. It happens
every once and a while. Elder Greener and I tried to talk her down,
but she said there was no way she was coming to the baptism. We tried
to convince her to come, but she said no. She said she was
undervalues, and she left. We told her we wanted her to say the
opening prayer, but she said she was not coming. It has happened
before, but Elder Greener and I had a feeling she would come to the
baptism anyways. We wrote her down for the opening prayer and printed
all of the programs. Right before the baptism started she walked into
the room. She still wasn't smiling, but then she saw the program. I
don't think she stopped smiling for the rest of the night! The second
miracle was the speakers. Our first speaker was our 2nd hour
investigator teacher. The second speaker was Brother Sula. Brother
Sula pretty much walked in the door right as his turn to talk came up.
He just walked from the back to the front, and nailed it. I was
getting scared we has going to miss it. The third miracle was the
witnesses. We were able to get more priesthood out by telling two of
them that we needed them to come to the baptism to be the witnesses.
Neither of them had ties, but I had one and another member had another
so that they could stand as witnesses. The looked so happy to do it!
They had to redo the baptism twice. The first mess-up was that Martin
forgot to say AMEN. The second time Dashamirs elbow didn't go under.
It went well though. He and Martin both did great.

Dashamirs testimony was very powerful. He has a very strong testimony
of Gods love, and of the power of prayer. He got to the pulpit and
said he was so happy and grateful, and would be ungrateful if he
didn't pray. So he prayed for us all, and then he gave his testimony.
At the start right before he said the prayer I think everyone was
really confused, but as he prayed the Spirit came, and no one even
thought to question it. I don't know how that works as far as being
allowed goes, but I thought it was amazing. It was a mission

Dashamir was confirmed yesterday. Bishop gave him a beautiful
blessing. We set up lessons at both his house and Martins house for
Sunday night. Dashamir lives a ways out of town so it took quite a
while to get to his house. We finally found it. He was so excited to
present us to all of his friends from around his neighbourhood. He
then took us to his house. We sat at a table out front of his house,
and were just talking. His mom then came out and talked to us. She is
a very practicing muslim, and was a little bit hostile toewards us.
She made a lot of really mean comments, and made fun of Dashamir for
listening to us. She went on for a couple of minutes. Finally Dashamir
stopped her with his testimony. She kept on going and making mean
comments as we talked, but I was super impressed that Dashamir very
politely stood up for what he believed. He sure respects his mom, and
hopes that one day she will come around. Dashamirs wife is also
muslim. She wouldn't even talk to us. She brought us a thing to drink,
and then left. I felt really bad for Dashamir. I saw how strong he
really is though.

The lesson with Martin went really well. He is very firm in the faith.
It is pretty hard here for YSA because the people all around them are
so not into religious things. Martin said he doesn't have many friends
for now so he stays in his house and studies and reads the Book of
Mormon and Bible. He is a really cool guy to so I was sad to hear
that. HE plans on serving a mission when he completes his year as a
member of the church so that will be very exciting for him!

It is really great to be able to serve! We have been extremely busy
lately. I feel really bad about how bad I have been at writing
everyone. Meaning how I have hardly even writtena big letter these
last few weeks. I haven't really had a p-day in a while. Elder Greener
and I broke down and decided just to write today because we haven't. I
miss you all a lot! Thanks for all of your letters and prayers! I love
reading your letters. Lately I have been printing them off and reading
them on Monday night.
Good luck in school Sara, Hannah, and all cousins! Keep tearing it up
in Thompson Matt!

Take Buddy on lots of walks!

Love Elder P. Stewart

Elders Wright, Greener and Stewart

Elder Rasband and Elder Stewart

Elder Stewart and Elder Griffiths

Note The Book of Mormon on the top shelf beside the Vodka in a restaurant. :)

Elder Clemans and Elder Stewart

Elder Waters and Elder Stewart

Elder Stewart and Elder Dahl

Kurt Koci and Elder Stewart

Sis Weidmann, Elder Stewart, Pres Weidmann

Elder Stewart and Elder Prince

Elder Geirisch and Elder Stewart

A man in Korca

A stadium in Korca



A man they met in Korca who was very friendly.

Martin and Dashamir

Elder Stewart, Martin, Dashamir, Elder Greener, Bro Lezo

Elder Stewart, Dashamir, Elder Greener

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