Family and Friends,
This week has been an interesting week for us here in Tirana.
|at the Cave of Pellëumbs with Elder Wagstaff|
After a beautiful hike to the Cave of Pellëumbs mentioned last letter, I had a noticeable increase of back pain I had been experiencing as a result of tracting. Never fear, the problem is being addressed. I set up an appointment with an American physical therapist working with the ABC Clinic here in Tirana. I set the appointment on Wednesday, the funny part of the story happens on Tuesday.
An Elder in my district, Elder Lee, while we were eating lunch after district meeting on Tuesday, bit on a piece of bread and broke his tooth. It is not that bread here in Albania is rock hard (it’s not, it is wonderful) but Elder Lee broke his tooth while doing pull-ups in the MTC and got a temporary fix done in the States. The repair expired just then. The combination of my physical therapy appointment and his emergency tooth repair warranted an unexpected exchange. Elder Lee came to my area and I got to be the senior companion for a day of medical needs. It was an excellent opportunity to lead in our lesson planning how we go about our day as missionaries. Additionally it was a great opportunity to get to know Elder Lee. Elder Lee is from Minnesota and just one of my most favorite people ever. He is one of the most sincere pray-ers I have heard. When he prays, he is communicating with his Father in Heaven. I learned a lot from my short time with him.
As missionaries we have a couple of hours set aside everyday for studies. We have 1 hour of personal study used for scripture study, Preach My Gospel study, and other things that help us prepare spiritually to best serve our investigators. We have 1 hour of language study so that we can better communicate with the people here and better address our investigators’ needs. We have 1 hour of companionship study so we can prepare for lessons with investigators and so that we can improve as a companionship. Then as a trainee missionary, I have 1 hour of training where we have topic-specific study out of Preach My Gospel or watch specific segments of The District.
The thing I want to share is that I have had some wonderful experiences in my personal study. My companion Elder Wagstaff gave me some guidance for a way I can go about my study that has really opened my eyes to a whole new horizon of study. Elder Wagstaff suggested that I take my patriarchal blessing and go through and annotate it, looking up items mentioned in the scriptures and writing references down and essentially expanding the blessing. I have had some completely revelatory experiences that have opened my eyes to things I had missed. I would give my full recommendation to using your patriarchal as a guide for personal scripture study.
I had an opportunity to reconnect with my MTC group this week. We got our Leje Qendrimi (Permission to Stay) affidavit from the US Embassy. We got to chat for a brief moment and I learned that everyone is having tremendous success. I am so proud of everyone in our group. They are some of the best.
|Members of my MTC group on our way to get our Leje Qendrimi (Permission to Stay)|
affidavit from the US Embassy.
Our fledgling English course is picking up speed. We had 6 potential investigators show up. They are all with-it and willing to learn. They all stay when we share a spiritual thought at the end of class and we plan on placing copies of the Book of Mormon in their hands next time so they can have that contact and hopefully they will take them home and read. We pray always for their growth.
We had a great branch success this week. Every once in a while, a “Golden Investigator” shows up and streamlines through the conversion process and is a solid convert. Our zone leaders Elders Ferguson and Pierce just baptized this past week a girl named Tefta. Tefta is about 25 and is as golden as they come. She is a real flirt but has developed a solid testimony of the Book of Mormon and the Church within the first two lessons the Elders had with her. She reads the Book of Mormon out loud with her sister in the apartment and she will be getting baptized soon. When Ferguson and Pierce took her to Institute after they started meeting with her, she would say things like “we, as members of the church, need to…” before she had even had her baptismal interview. But Tefta had her baptism on Friday and she was radiant. She was confirmed on Sunday and is going ahead at full speed. She is already pumping out referrals and has been bringing her sister to church.
We have had some tough times this week. We are no longer teaching our investigators Krenar or Pëllumb. Pëllumb told us he is headed back to England which is great because that is where he feels safe and happy. Krenar had to leave Tirana because he does not have work and his family situation is not conducive to stay any more. We pray for them and hope for their success.
We have been doing some hardcore finding this past week. We have been talking to everyone and knocking on all the doors we can get at. Luckily, we live in one the more densely populated parts of Tirana and have access to a lot of doors. The communist regime likes building Pilats or apartment buildings that can accommodate a lot of people. Thank you to them, we don’t have to travel very far to reach a lot of people.
In my mission, we are so blessed because we have met with everyone from all walks of life. We talk with hardcore communists, diligent Muslims, faithful Orthodox believers, solid Catholics, impoverished Roman gypsies, and dirty money mafia types every day. We actually got “escorted out” of a really nice pilat after coming to a floor with badge-less men in suits standing guard out of a door. The whole situation was screaming mafia with the man sitting outside of the door reading the newspaper and everything. Even though there are some problems, Albania is growing positively and is doing better every day. I am just grateful to have the opportunity to speak with so many people and have a taste of their lives and learn how I can grow and help them. There are so many good people here and are ready to be happy.
I thank you for your support and prayers. I feel you love all the way over here and I thank you all. I wish you all the best.
Your brief Albanian thing for the week is how you say I am sick in Albanian. “Jam pa qef” which literally translates to “I am without fun.” I think that is awesome because when I am sick, I am totally without fun. :)
Love you all,
PS I am pleased to report that as of today, I have lost 10 lbs. At this rate I should lose 120 lbs over the course of my mission. Keep your fingers crossed :)
|Elder Thomas Chase Acheson|