Monday, October 17, 2016

October 17


Well this has definitely been an interesting week. I'm definitely settling in here. The language is still really hard and I still have a lot of work to do there, but I do feel like I'm improving. Yesterday we were contacting and Elder Mero decided that we should try solo contacting so he went to the other side of the road and I had to do it all by myself. That was super hard! But it ended up not being as bad as I though it would be.

So we've been talking to a lot of new people this week. We only have one real investigator, who is Lindis, so we've been doing a lot of contacting and we've set up a lot of lessons. We've had a lot of people where we've set up a lesson but they either never show up or they just end up having work or some other conflict and don't end up being able to come. But I do have a lot of faith that this will all turn out well, through our contacting we've met some more people and I think that some of them are very promising. 

Now onto Lindis. I'm sure you're all tired of hearing me say this but he's honestly the best! I've started understanding him a little better and that's been so much fun. He's super funny and it's so much fun teaching him. We teach him every day, and then he also has been coming to English Course and Institute, and he hasn't missed a Sunday yet. He even came yesterday in the storm. Quick story, so yesterday we were leaving to pick up Ersi to bring him to church and we got outside and it was just pouring rain, and then we realized that we had left our umbrellas at the center. So we went and picked up Ersi and we were just soaked, but that wasn't too bad, but then we were walking with Ersi to the center and lightning struck somewhere in the castle which was right next to us. It was one of the scariest things ever, it was so close that I felt the thunder at the same time we saw the flash. So that was fun, after that we got to the center and Lindis was already there! So we just sat inside and waited for Andiol (Ersi and Andiol are members here) to show up and then we all walked to church together which was a lot of fun. So now back to Lindis, he's progressing super well, he has such a desire to learn and it's so much fun seeing him learn more and more. We've gone over the baptismal interview questions with him twice and he's definitely ready to accept everything, his biggest problem is just remembering which rule goes with which name. His interview is coming up on Wednesday and then his baptism will be on Saturday! I'm so excited for him and he seems super excited as well!

Other than that things are going pretty normal here. We visited the Sadiku family twice this week which was great. They're so nice to us and their son is on a mission right now. They live at kind of the edge of the city so it's a bit of a walk but it's fun visiting them. Brother Sadiku talks really fast though and so every time we go there he ends up just talking for like two hours and I understand pretty much none of it. So that's not so much fun but I think I'm starting to get better, or at least better at pretending that I understand. But we visited them on Saturday and they fed us dinner and it was so much food! It started out with a big plate full of tomatoes (like three tomatoe's worth for each of us, my favorite), goat cheese, cooked peppers, french fries, a quarter of an onion, and a qofte (Albanian mystery sausage) with a huge bowl of soup and tons of bread. So I just started eating as much as I could and then like 20 minutes in Sister Sadiku brings in another plate full of rice and chicken for each of us. I didn't end up finishing everything but I still probably ate like a meal and a half worth of food. And yes I even ate most of the tomatoes. So that was a ton of fun and we were so grateful for them because they're definitely not the richest people. Then they even went to church the day after which was awesome because they hadn't been to church in a few weeks.

So on Sunday we had church again which was awesome. We didn't have a lot of people show up, and the Sunday School teachers didn't come so we only ended up having two hours of church. But it was still really good, Elder Mero spoke about keeping the Sabbath day holy and especially emphasizing church attendance. Then Elder Weidman spoke about the same thing and president Karanxha translated for him. Then president Karanxha spoke about the same thing. So that's something that really gets emphasized here because there are so many less actives, not only in Elbasan but in Albania as a whole. The stake has a goal of having 700 people in church by the end of the year and so far we still have a ways to go, but I think that we can do it!

So all in all things are still going great here and I'm still loving it! Elder Mero and I still get along fantastically! I'm really glad that I got put with him as my trainer. He knows so much about this mission and all the people in it, he knows the mission genealogy (who trained who and so on) like the back of his hand, and the music has definitely been a bonus. We listen to music a lot in the apartment and the music is way different than you'd think. Elder Mero and the other missionaries have found tons of music that follows all the rules and really focus on Christ without it having to be either MoTab or EFY music and that's been awesome. Also we work well together and we laugh a ton. He's taught me a lot of the old inside jokes and we've made some new ones so we can always get a laugh out of something. And by the way that picture on the nightstand is an old missionary that went home a while ago and a picture of Hillary Duff. I'm not completely sure why we have it but it's one of those things that just get passed around the mission as people come and go.

So far the food has been pretty normal. We eat a lot of byrek, crepes, suflaqe, qofte, and sandwiches. And that soup we made that I sent a picture of that you said looked frothy, so yeah that wasn't froth, we actually just ended up putting in way too much rice. We definitely cook like elders, we buy a lot of peppers and onions so whenever we cook things we basically just throw in peppers, onions, butter, and tabasco. Also they have cheesy hot dogs here so we've made a lot of things by just combining the usual ingredients and cheesy hot dogs, as well as Ketchup. We're lucky and we actually have Heinz Ketchup which only exists in one city in the mission so hopefully we don't use it all before we get a chance to go buy more.

The people are awesome here, but they're definitely different from back home. Our mission is different from others in that we actually are allowed to teach muslims. A lot of people here are muslim but they don't really practice. Also it's weird being away from all the stereotypes of Mormons, because here people just have no idea who we are. However, people here do hate Jehova's witnesses because there was some misunderstanding of their doctrine that made it seem like they encourage suicide, so whenever we're contacting we have to make sure to emphasize that we are not JWs.

All in all I'm loving it. The mountains here are so beautiful and there are so many of them. I'll make sure to go on a hike here sometime and send you all some pictures. Next week we are going to Korça so'll get some pictures of that as well. I haven't gotten any pictures recently because we aren't supposed to use them when we proselyte but I'll try to get some when I have time.

Lastly, for Christmas if it's not too late, if you could just send me one of those old Ipod nano's and a cord for it, and maybe a speaker that would be great. If you can't that's fine but if you can that would be awesome! Thank you!

Love you all so much!
Me dashuri, mirupafshim!
Elder Gardiner

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