So as you all know by now, jam nëntëmbdhjetë! It doesn't feel any different but I mean it was a really fun birthday! We made brownies and I ate a lot of sufllaqe (I also had birthday krepës on Friday).
But definitely the craziest part of the day was transfer calls. So drumroll please... I'M STAYING IN ELBASAN!!! I honestly didn't think I would be but that's how it ended up. I'll be the district leader here and Elder Cani is my new companion! Elder Cani is actually an Albanian from Durres and he's super cool! I'm so excited to serve with him and I hope that I get a lot better at the language while I'm with him. Elder Maurer is going up to Shkodër now though. I was hoping that we would get to stay together but I guess that just wasn't the Lord's plan so that's fine with me.
This has been a bit of a crazy week here in Elbasan. We've met a lot of really cool people and then we've had a lot of people just dissapear. Recently we've been having a problem where we have really good lessons with people but then they just dissapear, but we're not letting that get us down and we're just doing our best to work our hardest. There's one saying that Elder Maurer told me that is so true about missionary work, it's "work harder and worry less". One thing that I've really learned from serving with Elder Maurer is that all we have to do is work our hardest and then if the people use their agency to not accept our message at least we can say that it wasn't because we didn't work hard enough. I've loved working with Elder Maurer and it's definitely been work. Now I just have to make sure not to slow it down, that and to make sure to not hold anything back as I serve. Shkodër is about to get one fantastic missionary!
So at the moment we don't really have any real investigators. Ervis did show up to church yesterday though and that was awesome(he's someone who we were teaching a while ago from English Course until he dissapeared.) Also church yesterday was awesome, we had more than 50 people in sacrament meeting which was the highest it's been since I got here! Also Ersi is the new Gospel Principles teacher for Sunday School and he's an amazing teacher! Also I've made one goal and I'm determined to accomplish it. I need to start teaching Lindis' family, they're so cool and the one family home evening we had with them was so awesome. The two little girls come to church almost every week and they even came to the church open house and the fireside that we had on Saturday. We gave them a Book of Mormon to share and they seemed like they really like reading it. Also it's awesome because when Lindis reads the Book of Mormon, which he's almost finished already, he reads out loud which is an awesome way to share the gospel. So hopefully that all works out!
As I mentioned a little bit above, we had an open house at the church on Friday! We had a short meeting where Bajame, Lindis, President Karanxha, Elder Maurer, and Sister Saldanja all gave short talks and then we took them around to all the rooms and explained what we do in church! We were hoping that more people would come but it still ended up being really cool! Then on Saturday we had a Christmas fireside where we talked about Christ being the light of the world and the true meaning of Christmas and that was awesome.
So another experience from this week. On Saturday we walked an old lady who is a member here home after the fireside. She has bad legs so she uses a crutch and her right hand is very broken and swollen and her house is really far away. She showed us her home and that was a very humbling experience. She has practically nothing, and unfortunately there's not really anything we can do about it other than just pray for her. It really makes me a lot more grateful for everything I do have.
Some other things that have happened this week though that were more fun. We visited Vëllai Dhamo with Lindis on Saturday for Ndriçoje Botën and that was a ton of fun. He loves that I'm from Utah and every time we go over he jokes about Utah being "fabrike misionarave" or "the missionary factory" It's super funny because of how hard he laughs every time he says it, I love it. Then also this week I got offered weed for the first time!
As you can all guess, we said no. Also I don't know why but pretty much daily we talk with someone for like 10 seconds and then they give us a handful of mandarin oranges and insist that we take them. It happens everywhere we go and I have no idea why they all feel the need to give us fruit, also I don't understand why they all have bags of oranges with them everywhere they go. But I figure things could be worse than getting free mandarins so I'm not complaining.
So I'm still loving things in Elbasan and I feel like my drive to get things done here have been redoubled. I love serving a mission and there's definitely no place I'd rather be! I love you all and I'm praying for you even harder now! I hope everything settles down and works out well with you all!
So until next week, mirupafshim!
Love, Elder Gardiner
Senior Missionary Terri Weidman posted this on Facebook with the photos: Omelets in a bag and saying goodbye to a couple of our Elbasan missionaries. Happy Birthday Elder G.