Monday, November 4, 2013

#9 WEEK IN TIRANA, ALBANIA


Elder Lee and Elder Acheson grinning for the camera


Elder Acheson looking dapper in his wax mustache he got for Halloween 


Dear Family and Friends,

An awesome week here in the Adriatic South Mission.

This past week we had “mini transfers” meaning that a small amount of missionaries were transferred around the mission. The transfers’ primary reason was to move “dying” missionaries in leadership out of leadership. This meant that Elder Ferguson, the zone leader in my branch who is ending his mission at New Year’s, is gone. That is sad because he is one of the best guys in our mission. We got Elder Palmer up from a city called Lushnjë.  Elder Palmer is absolutely hilarious and I am very excited to be with him. Additionally, the APs Webb and Anderson (there were 3 APs) are dying as well and President Ford moved Elder Hanks up from Vlorë as the new AP. Elder Hanks is solid as a rock. I am very excited to have him in our district.

So something that I did not know about myself has become apparent. According to my companion, I talk in my sleep… a lot. Elder Wagstaff described my most recent outburst like this “Hello… hello… hello… (Mumbled Albanian) ah… Flas Anglisht…” He said that he felt as though I was having a telephone conversation in Albanian and I gave up and said “Speak English” in Albanian. Apparently I have been giving speeches and chatting for quite some time. Elder Wagstaff said that he has tried engaging me in a conversation but to little avail.

Elder Wagstaff  taking his turn babysitting. Looks like he is a natural.
This week our mission president gave us permission to go to the baby hospital and hold the new babies! They are the children born to single mothers or children with disabilities. In Albania, single mothers don’t have babies. If they do… they don’t if you can follow my meaning. The hospital had a couple rooms filled with parent-less babies and we went and helped the staff by rocking and feeding the new babies. I am a little ashamed to admit, but not very ashamed to admit that I love babies! They were so cute and just so smiley and so happy and so clean and so adorable. I got to play with a little girl named Ella who is about 5 months old. She and I stood and we played and we sang and we danced and we had a bottle and then she went down for a 10 minute nap and then came back for some more fun. Oh my goodness. I love babies. We get to go back in December and play some more. I can’t wait.

It is finally beginning to almost cool down in Albania. Suit coats are still sort of intolerable. Despite it being the 4th of November we have roses about a week away from blooming, oranges to ripen in the next couple weeks, and mosquitoes continue to assault my companion (his blood is just sweeter than mine. He gets these huge allergic spots from the bites that have sent members running for the Albanian remedies [Albanian Raki or Vodka]). Our “pronari” or landlord, Dulla, had to cut down two fig trees in our yard because he is a diabetic and they were just too tempting. Someday soon the temperature will cool down… hopefully.

Ester, Sara and Jozefi Volgi with Elder Acheson
I want to talk briefly about a couple more members in the branch. The Vogli family consisting of the Arben (the dad), Violet (the mom), Ester (12), Sara (10), and Jozefi (9) are some of my favorite people in the world. They have been solid members since the existence of the church in Albania. Brother and sister Volgi have been sealed in the temple and their children were born in the covenant. They are willing to join in missionary work and have a powerful spirit about them. The kids are spot on with the doctrine and just fun as can be. Brother Volgi will come will us knocking on less-actives’ doors in the evening and has a vast mental library of gospel information. He is a professional sculptor and makes a living working with stone. He has learned English to better understand gospel literature and is solid as the stone he cuts. The kids are the life of the branch and vibrant. I love the Vogli family.

Another member who has stood out is Indrit Zeli. Indrit is 14 and the first time I met him I thought he was American. He has seen so many American movies and films that he has even the accent down. I thought he was from the Northeast of the US when I first spoke to him. He and his sister Ledi are the only members in their family. Indrit is such an inspiring example of standing for your values amongst a sea of opposition. I love Indrit and I know that he will be a bright light in the future of the church here in Albania.

We had a missionary training meeting this past week with all of the missionaries in training (my MTC group) and their trainers at the mission home. One of the things brought up by President Ford is the goal to have a Stake Organized in Albania. At this moment, the church is a District. If we reached the required number of Melchisedek Priesthood holders by the due date, we could have the Tirana, Albania Stake by the 8th or 9th of March 2014. It gives us missionaries a drive to get more investigators and more worthy men ordained as Elders. The idea is exciting that I might be able to see this dramatic growth of the church in this region of the world coupled with the completion of the Rome, Italy Temple. At the moment, Albania is in the Frankfurt, Germany Temple District. When the Rome Temple opens, it will only take a couple of hours instead of several days to go to the temple from our country. The Rome, Italy Temple is scheduled to be dedicated in 2015 before my mission is completed. Exciting events are taking place in this area of the world.

I want to share a brief spiritual experience with you. While Elder Wagstaff and I were street contacting last night along the “Unazë” or Ring (a main thoroughfare of Tirana) and we both felt that we needed to stop what we were doing and turn around. When we had turned around, we still didn’t feel right. Confused, we looked around and tried to find what we were prompted to look for. I saw a table in an incomplete restaurant with chairs and I decided to go over and sit down with my companion. As soon as we sat down, a man came around the corner and started coming toward us. I saw that he was working on the construction of this restaurant and I thought he was coming to kick us out but I decided to give it a shot and go for it. After expressing his shock that I had only been in Albanian for 2 months, he told me that he had read the Book of Mormon. I grabbed the conversation and we are meeting with him in one half hour from the moment I am writing the words.

I have to run off to meet with him but I love you all and I hope that you are all well. I am praying for you and hope that you are all well.

As we say in Albania,

Ju puth forte!

-Elder Açësoni

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