Monday, November 28, 2016

November 28th

Përshëndetje familja, ju dua shumë!

So this week I'll start with one thing that I will definitely be talking about in my next few emails, #NdriçojeBotën! So as I'm sure many of you know the church has released a new Christmas initiative and it's awesome! So it's called Light the World, or Ndriçoje Botën in albanian, and it focuses on things that normal members can do to share the light of Christ through the world. There is a new video that I'm sure you've either seen or will see soon but also there is an online calendar of simple activities that people can do to make the world a better place. Also one focus of it is missionary work, especially member missionary work, and it really focuses on being a good example to everyone around you and sharing the message with them. So I would really encourage all of you to participate in this initiative and I'm personally super excited for it!

Also today and tomorrow is Albanian independence day! That doesn't really change a lot for us but Elbasan is covered in Albanian flags which is awesome!

Now on to Thanksgiving. So we all got to go up to Tirana on Thursday and it was so much fun! It was so awesome getting to see all my friends from the MTC, especially Elder Schneider! So we basically just started with a big meeting where all the departing missionaries gave their dying testimonies which was really cool and the spirit was really strong in that. Then we had a briefing on Light the World which as I've already said is super awesome. Then we had the big Thanksgiving lunch, so we had the Steven's center in Tirana cater which was awesome because it was real American food and there was a lot of it. So then after the lunch every district had to perform a skit. So we were supposed to start working on that a while ago and have it all planned out long in advance, but as you can probably guess none of us had any ideas, so we ended up deciding what we were doing on the bus to Tirana that morning. However, Elder Maurer is really funny so it actually ended up being pretty good. There were some really good skits though, the Prishtina Elders performed traditional Albanian wedding dancing which was super cool, one group did Missionary Bop 2016 which was really funny, and then Elder Mero ended up telling the story of his banishment which was funny too. But the coolest thing was when President Weidmann came. He's been recovering from back surgery recently so he's been in Switzerland but he ended up being able to come for like a half an hour and he shared his testimony for us. He has one of the most powerful testimonies I have ever heard and whenever he speaks the spirit comes into the room so strongly. While we were in the MTC we listened to a talk from one of the twelve apostles, I can't remember which, and he said that often times the reason that a missionary gets assigned to a specific mission is because they need to be put with that mission president, and President Weidmann is definitely one of the mission presidents that people can really learn from. Every morning he sends out a text to all the missionaries with a Spiritual thought and it's always such an amazing and powerful thought. But yeah, Thanksgiving was so awesome! I didn't get any pictures with my camera but Elder Schneider got a ton of us and of the rest of the new missionaries so I'll send you those when he sends them to me. Just to end that, I just want to say that I'm so grateful for all of you and for everything that you've done for me!

Also we were up in Tirana the day before too getting my residency permits done, so hopefully we don't run into any problems with that again. 

Another fun thing is that the night before Thanksgiving and the night of Thanksgiving the Korça elders, Elder Wilson and Elder Holding, stayed at our house with us, and that was a party. 

So other than that it's been a pretty normal week. We had a lesson with Tauland on Monday and Tuesday and those were really good. He said that he had been reading the Restoration pamphlet over the weekend and we were able to finish the Restoration with him. Then we gave him a Book of Mormon and he read out of that too! We weren't able to have a lesson with him after that because we were in Tirana Wednesday and Thursday, and then Friday was Elbasan independence day so he ended up going to Librazhd early. But hopefully he's been reading and praying and we should have a lesson with him either tomorrow or Wednesday depending on when he gets back for school. But he does seem to be doing well and I have a lot of hope for him! Then we just have English course, we usually have 5 or 6 people, half of which are members because we teach the advanced course. We always end with a spiritual thought and that's usually really good!

Other than that we've mostly just been working with Lindis and other members and then doing a lot of finding. We had a meeting with President Karanxha and he went through the branch list with us and gave us advice for which members he thinks would be good to work with which was really helpful. We brought Vëllai Dhamo the Sacrament yesterday again which is always awesome! Then we've been working a lot with a member named Marvin who is super cool, he has a problem with smoking, but he's working super hard to conquer that and it's been really good working with him, he even came to church on Sunday!
So all in all things are going great here! Elder Maurer is super awesome and it's really fun working with him, but also really hard and I'm really working on wanting to work harder, especially when it comes to talking with other people, which is still hard for me, even without a language barrier. But there are so many really cool people here and I love it here! It started raining again here and I think it's going to be really cold here for a while, so I definitely need to buy a coat today.

Just to end, I love you all! Have a great week back at home and keep being awesome!
Also I know that we do get to do Skype, but I don't know any details other than that. And so today I'm emailing earlier but I might have a little more time later, we'll see.

Mirupafshim, ju dua!
Elder Gardiner

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