Monday, August 14, 2017

August 14th

Përshëndetje familja!

First order of business, Kristi passed his baptismal interview!!!! This week we taught him all the commandment lessons. We started by teaching him the word of wisdom, which he had already learned and was already living, so we decided to read D&C 89 and he said that he felt the spirit testify to him that the word of wisdom is from God and that it really will bless us. I can honestly say that's the first time I've heard an investigator say that. Then later when we taught him about tithing he said that he isn't in work, but that he had 2000 leke with him and wanted to give us 200 right then. Of course we can't do that, but now we showed him how to pay tithing and he's really excited to pay that every month. Then after his interview we played a round of chess and talked about the gospel, he made a super cool analogy about how we're like the pawns in chess. At first look they aren't really that dangerous, but as they get closer and closer to the other side they progress and then when they hit the back they transform into exactly the piece you need and become really powerful. So that's like how we progress in this life, and then if we've done all we need to do one day we will all be resurrected and become like our Father in Heaven. We've invited a ton of people for his baptism on Saturday, and I'm super excited!

Then yesterday we had the scariest phone call of my mission. President Anderson called us while we were in a lesson and we totally thought he was calling to transfer one of us out of Durrës. So we called him back and he said "this is a transfer call" and we were both devastated, but turns out what will actually be happening is that Elder Harris will be transferred into a trio with us. Right now he's serving in Shkodër with Elder Mero, but Elder Mero goes home this week. So he'll come down with us for the next two weeks. Now our area technically covers Durrës, Shkodër, Lezhë, and Laç, which is like a quarter of Albania. It's going to be super fun though, Elder Harris is super awesome and we'll be super busy.

We met with Zubide again. We read the Book of Mormon with her and helped her understand the basic story of it with her. She loves meeting with us and has a ton of faith, but it's going to be really hard to get her to come to church. But we'll keep working with her and just try our best. 

This week we also had a lesson with the bishop and his family. They're super strong members and they're an awesome family. We talked about being a light for the world and how we can share the gospel in a ll times and places. They're super funny and really good at testifying to other people and sharing the gospel through service.

Then we also met with Vëllai Paja this week. He's such an amazing member. He was baptized in Italy and has a super cool conversion story, then he decided to come to Albania to help grow the church here. He was doing super well in Italy, he had a great job and didn't have to worry about money, but he had a prompting that he needed to come back to Albania even though it would be harder because the church needs him. Now he's trying to get his sons ready to serve a mission and trying to be a good example for them. They're a great family and it's awesome having such strong members that just really understand the gospel. 

I got my dental work done. They did a good job, and it was probably one of the nicest buildings I've been in on my mission. It felt like an actual American dentist office. Also, the new car looks super nice. And the package came this week, it was super good, I really liked it! I really like the new tie!

It's been so hot here in Albania. We're in the middle of a heatwave called heatwave lucifer. Here in Durres it got up to 110 degrees and in Tirana it was even hotter. But then it rained yesterday! So now things are a little better

Well that's about it for me, it's been a great week and it went by super fast.
Love you all! Have a great week!
Mirupafshim, Zoti ju bekoftë!
Elder Gardiner

PS One cool thing about Kristi, he was taught by missionaries about 2 years ago but he wasn't ready and ended up going to Italy. One of them was named Elder Stewart, so it would be really cool if we can find him and let him know about Kristi. 

Also, I've started getting really good about taking care of my teeth. I brush twice a day, every day, floss every night, and have even started using mouthwash. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

August 7th

Përshëndetje familja!

Well, it's been another great week here in Durrës. 

To get right into it, Kristi's back! We were able to meet with him last Friday and we had an amazing lesson. We had Vëllai Cani(ex Elder Cani) help us in the lesson and the two of them got along great. It had been a while since we had met so we decided to go over the plan of salvation again and he understood super well. In the lesson Cani asked him why he keeps meeting with us, and he immediately responded that it was because he knows that our church is the only true church and the only one he could even consider joining. So that was really cool, I really felt the spirit when he said that. So now we have a baptismal date set for him for the 19th of August, and he'll totally be ready. He also came to church on Sunday and really participated and enjoyed church. He made a super good impression on all the members and is starting to have friends at church, which is so important. He's basically the perfect example of a golden investigator.

Then we've also had a couple lessons with Zubide this week. We went back on Tuesday and she was super excited to have us back over. Her daughter has had a big scab on her head ever since she got in the accident 6 years ago, but this time when we went over it was completely healed. Also she rents out part of her house to people visiting for vacation every year, but this year no one had come, then this Saturday we came back over and 3 families had come and were renting from her. So that was really cool to see that as she took the initiative to learn about the restored gospel that God has blessed her in all aspects of her life. When we went over on Saturday we brought Klaudia and Motra Agaliu to help her have friends from the church so she feels more welcome. They did a great job and they also really helped us teach, their testimonies are so strong and they're able to relate to the people so well.

We also were able to start teaching a family this week. We've been meeting with a guy named Selim for a little bit and then this week we asked if we could teach him in his home and teach his family with him. He said we could come and we had a good lesson with them. They've had some cool religious experiences in their lives but they don't really practice any religion, like most Albanians, so we decided to talk about prayer and the Book of Mormon. They all accepted a Book of Mormon and said they'd read it. We should be going back some time this week, so hopefully they've actually read.

We met with Artur again last night and talked about the church's self reliance program. He's a really nice guy, but he just has no hope in his life and for the moment he doesn't really want to look for it. He's had a really hard life so I understand that it's hard for him to believe that there really is hope, but it's still so sad when we give people the one thing that can truly change their lives and they just choose not to accept it. So hopefully one day his heart will be ready to accept the gospel.

Normally we play soccer once a week as a finding/ward bonding activity, but recently no one has been coming so we decided to play ping pong and card games instead. And this week we had Kristi, Artur, and one of the members, Norikson, all come. It was a lot of fun and now Kristi and Norikson are friends, so that was awesome. It's great how even simple activities that aren't necessarily spiritual can be used to share the gospel. 
It's been super hot here in Albania. Durres isn't quite as bad, but it's still been about 100 degrees every day. It's pretty funny, the first year of my mission has been both the coldest winter and hottest summer Albania's had in over 30 years. I guess the Utah weather must just be following me.

But other than that everything's been great. Normally in the summer there is very little success in missionary work because people just don't want to go outside, but we've actually been keeping pretty busy. We have some great investigators, and we've even finally had a little success working with less actives.

That's about it for me this week, love you all!
Mirupafshim, Zoti ju bekoftë!
Elder Gardiner