Monday, August 29, 2016

August 29th

Përshëndetje familja! Ju dua shumë! 
So just one quick thing to clear up first, my departure date is September 27, not the 28th so Saturday was both my one month mark and my halfway point. So that's why we all have the 1 finger in one of the pictures I sent. The other one of my district is all of us making the Albanian hand signal of an eagle, which is apparently something that all Albanians know and do.
Thank you so much for keeping me updated on everything back at home, it's so much fun to hear. I'm so excited for Adam to get here and I will be hosting Wednesday so I'll try to host him. I'm glad school is going better for you, and I hope things are going well for everyone else as well!
For my favorite scripture I'll go with Ether 12:27. I love that scripture so much and I feel like that has been so important for me here. I've found that if I ever get even the least bit prideful here there's always been something that comes around to humble me real quick. I also love the promise in there that if we are humble our weaknesses can become strong. I've felt that so much here and I can tell that I'm getting so much stronger in all aspects of my life.
I love the Albanian hymn book you sent me so much!! It's so cool and we've used it a ton. 
And yes, C. Haggard is probably Motra Haggard's mom. I'm glad you found that because I actually forgot to get a picture of pink tie Sunday.
So this week has been awesome. We got a new Dutch district because the old ones left. It's crazy though because we had 22 people leave but we only ended up getting 6 new ones, only one of which is an Elder. So now we have a solo missionary in our branch and he's so cool. His name is Elder Robinson and he's from Jamaica. He's going to the Netherlands speaking Dutch and he's the only person from Jamaica to ever get called to that mission. I sent a picture of Elder Schneider and I with him in the email. We've become such good friends with him, and he's so amazing. 
Also I got to talk a lot with Elder Mazzei this week. He's the Argentinian Elder in our zone who is going to Turkey. He's by far the hardest worker out of any of us, and when I was talking with him last night he shared something that stood out to me. He said something along the lines of "I know that I only get one chance at the mission so there's no time to be tired, there's no time to be sad, I just have to work." I can't even imagine how hard it would be to have to learn both English and Turkish here, but he's doing it so well. He's also so funny, and he took martial arts before his mission.
The language is coming really well and it's been so fun learning. I'm starting to be able to talk pretty well just from the words I know, as long as I'm only talking about gospel things. I feel like every lesson we go into with our investigators there ends up being some huge twist that completely changes what we need to teach but it's so awesome seeing how well it goes when we're able to follow the spirit! We still have a long way to go but we're making great progress.
Before my mission I started the Book of Mormon from the beginning and I finished this week. That was such an awesome experience for me and personally studying the Book of Mormon here in the MTC has helped my testimony grow so much. I noticed so many things this time that I've never seen or paid attention to before. The Book of Mormon is so critical in our testimonies and without it investigators can't grow either. 

Also this week we had something called TRC. For TRC Albanian speakers, mostly returned missionaries, come to the MTC and we teach them. Except unlike our investigators in class, they are just being themselves. It's such an awesome experience teaching them, and after we teach they let us know how we did, some things we can do to improve, and some things about the mission. It's so cool and fun, but it's also crazy! We were so nervous going into our first lesson and then we started teaching and at first it was a total shock. In our first lesson one of the people we taught spoke super fast and apparently he switched into gheg(a different dialect of Albanian that we can't understand, spoken in the north and Kosovo) although we didn't actually notice. But by the end we were able to understand them both a lot better and it ended up going pretty well. I'm also excited because the last three weeks we're here for TRC we're actually teaching people in Albania through Skype!

One thing that has been fun to talk about this week is how we'll probably get to serve with at least one of the people here now. That's one thing I've loved so much about being the zone leader is that I've gotten to know all the other Albanian elders so well. They are all such amazing people and I would love to serve with any of them. But for now Elder Schneider and I are still working our hardest together. We get along so well and that has been such a blessing. We teach kind of differently and sometimes it's hard to know where he's taking the lesson sometimes but usually that's a great thing. It's awesome how we both are good at different things and we both know different vocab and phrases so between the two of us we are at the point where we can cover the basics pretty well. Also outside of class we are getting along so great. Elder Schneider is so funny and he's really good at doing impressions and voices. Every night our whole district ends up just rolling on the floor laughing, and that's partly because of all our inside jokes, but mostly just because we've all pretty much lost it. It's such amazing work here and we're doing our best to give it one hundred percent all the time so by the time we can go back to the dorm at 9:30 we've pretty much lost all sanity. But it's ok because we always say a prayer with our whole district each night before going back to the residences, and then from 10:15-10:30 it's quiet time where we write in our journals and pray so we can end each day with the spirit.
We've made some ambitious goals this week. First off we want to speak no more English in class time, and our other goal is to make every Saturday a consecration day where we speak nothing but Shqip and work even harder. It'll definitely be hard but I think we can do it, and I think it will help us a lot with the language. 

I can't think of anything else for now but if you have any other questions be sure to send them to me and I'll try to answer them.
Elder Gardiner

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