Monday, December 16, 2013

#15 WEEK IN TIRANA, ALBANIA

Family and Friends,

This has been a great week in Tirana. Merry Christmas!

Elder Wagstaff and I have a new investigator along with Zaim and Anxhela! Our new investigator is named Arian and he is a lawyer and political scientist from Vlorë. We originally met him through our apartment search; we investigated an ad that he placed in the newspaper for an apartment (which we did not end up choosing) and he wanted us to give him English lessons. We agreed to come under the understanding that we are primarily missionaries and that we, though glad to teach English, teach primarily the gospel. He agreed and we came back. The 1st portion, the Gospel portion of the lesson, really drew him in and ran over in to the English portion of his lesson. We are coming back 3 times a week and he has become more interested in the gospel portion each time.

This week we had the Albania District General Priesthood Meeting. The meeting was held at the 2nd/4th Branch building in Tirana and was broadcasted to the Durrës, Vlorë, Elbasan, Fierë, Prishtina, and Gjakova buildings. President Mema, the District President, and President Ford, our Mission President and the Presiding Priesthood Authority, gave wonderful talks that were very powerful and enlightening; they had to be because the power cut out and the lights went off during President Mema’s address. The meeting was beautiful in particular because they sustained and ordained all of those recent converts who had joined the church in the past year to the Melchizedek Priesthood. Three from 3rd Branch, Alfred Abdullari, Timo Koka, and Albion Jurasi received the Priesthood and I am so proud of them.

This week a member of our Branch, Agron Bukaçi, took all of the missionaries in our branch out to dinner on Tuesday to a great traditional Albanian place on Rruga Elbasanit on Thursday. The place is a missionary favorite and it was a great time. We had the Homer couple with us as well as our branch president, President Cuçi and it was a great experience all around.

This week has been a week of good hard missionary work and we expect to have an even better one next week. I will not be sending a letter this next week because of Christmas but I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Ju Dua Shumë!

Elder Açësoni



Monday, December 2, 2013

#14 Week in Tirana, Albania

Family and Friends,

This week has been a great week here in Tirana, Albania.

We have a pair of new investigators! Zaim and his granddaughter (or niece, I can’t tell yet because the word for niece and granddaughter are the same: mbesë) Anxhela or as it is pounced, Angela. They are neighbors of our member Alfred Abdulari and Alfred has been an absolute gem for us as far as missionary work. His home is open for lessons and even Lumtëria, Alfred’s communist-to-the-core mother will sit in on lessons. The only thing that could be considered a down side is that Anxhela speaks about as much Albanian as I do, she was raised in Greece but we gave her a Greek copy of the Book of Mormon. They are going to be great.

Elder Wagstaff street contacting
This past Tuesday we had Zone Training and Elder Wagstaff and I gave a training on the Adjusting to Missionary Life booklet distributed by the Church for Missionaries. It was a great experience and we were able to share in addition to that, the Wagstaff Way of annotating and studying one’s patriarchal blessing (see #8 Letter from Tirana, Albania Monday, October 28, 2013).  The training proceeded well and excellent numbers were reported for our Zone this past month.

After Zone Training, we headed to the restaurant Fiore which is where we always go after Zone Training. Last time I got goat tongue, this time I got goat brain. Trui is mildly described, quite nasty. The Albanian missionary in my District, Elder Vërushi ordered the same thing and I couldn’t quite handle it as well as he did.
Elder Acheson and Elder Vërushi  ordering goat brains. YUM!!!


So something that my companion and I have been working on this is week is finding a house for sister missionaries coming in this next transfer to 3rd Branch. Before the sisters were split between the 1st and 3rd Branches but with the large wave of sister missionaries this next transfer. We will have our own sisters and that will be nice. The sisters we have now just had a baptism this past week and are good at just about whatever they do. I am excited for the new success that is bound to come about with having new sisters in our branch.
Our Awesome Sister Missionaries 

Elder Wagstaff has been working on a charcoal depiction of the Nativity as requested by the Tooley couple down in Elbasan (the newest senior missionary couple) and the picture is beautiful. Elder Wagstaff is quite the artist and his fame has spread throughout the sphere of Albanian church membership. The picture was not very convenient for transpiration so Elder Wagstaff had to go to a carpenter and get the picture cut into sections for the convenience of transport but it is still a beautiful picture.
Elder Wagstaff's excellent charcoal Nativity

Christmas is coming to Albania and will be my first Christmas away from home. Since most people in Albania are not Christian (…yet) they don’t have a reason to celebrate Christmas. But since the US and most of Europe celebrate Christmas, Albania is following the trend with decorations and other cultural things like Santa Claus but those things are all connected with New Year’s. Santa comes on New Year’s here and all the conical trees with lights on them are New Year’s trees! It is a little off but they are trying. After we are done here, Santa will be coming on the 25th.


I very much appreciate the kind words that people have shared with me while I have been a missionary. I really love you all and am excited to hear from you. The DearElders I have gotten are all in my Missionary Communications Box and will be treasured forever.

I love you all and wish you all a great Christmas season.

Me shumë dashurië,

Elder Açësoni






Missionaries love going out for lunch



Elder Lee enjoying goat brains???




Decorating the chapel for Christmas







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#13 WEEK IN TIRANA, ALBANIA

Family and Friends,

Happy December and I hope you had an excellent Thanksgiving!

The Adriatic South Missionaries
We, in the Adriatic South Mission, had a wonderful Thanksgiving together in the Mission Home in Tirana. We held our Mission Conference on the same day and had a simply wonderful experience together.

 Andrew Ford, President of the Adriatic South Mission
During the conference we had a fun competition held amongst the districts on knowledge of the Missionary Handbook and Preach My Gospel. The lesson of course was that we need to be constantly studying out of and be checking up with the rules that we have been given.

This is President and Sister Ford’s last Thanksgiving in Albania and they both gave very wonderful testimonies and expressed their love and gratitude for the missionaries. It was very nice to hear what they had to say.
Our Missionary Thanksgiving Feast prepared by the Senior Missionaries

After conference we had a Thanksgiving feast in the basement of the Mission Home prepared by the senior couple missionaries. It was excellent! It was nice to have some good old American food. Aside from the excellent food, I had an opportunity to meet with missionaries from all around the mission. I was able to chat with a couple of the Macedonian Elders who arrived just a short time ago. They are the first Macedonian missionaries assigned specifically to learn that language. It was interesting to talk to them and feel their perspective.

After the feast we held a talent show and each district had an opportunity to do a talent. The Macedonians brought a box of Dominos Pizza and used it for their skit. We don’t have Dominos Pizza or any other American fast food chain in this country. They had fun shoving it in our faces.

Our skit consisted of the following song.

            (To the tune of Rudolf the Red nosed Reindeer)
You know Peterson and Anderson and Ferguson and Webb;
Brown and Racine and Knight and Hoover
But do you recall the Kotest missionary of all……Elder……    
(FYI Kote means worthless i.e. doesn’t work hard)

(To the tune of White Christmas)
I’m serving in a crazy mission
Not like the one I thought about
Where the nenas hobble and the xhaxhis play scrabble
To hear Dasmas late at night    (Dasmas are Albanian weddings)

I’m wishing for a better companion
Just like the one I had before
Who isn’t a bore and doesn’t snore
And who doesn’t…… (Acheson moment)[Where Elder Acheson complains about how his companion gets a whole ton of letters from his girl friend and Elder Acheson doesn’t get any]
(Oh boo-hoo)

Pierce moment (Oh I’m I’m I’m I’m hoping) [Highest of high falsetto]
……for better leaders
With every number I report
Where the zone leaders shut up [zone leaders shoved off stage]
And the AP’s grow up [APs shoved off stage]
So I can be the favorite of President Ford
(APs: [bursting through the line of the petty missionaries] wait a second!)

I’m dreaming of a clean office
With puppies playing everywhere
With lots of Leke and Euro’s (Leke is the Albanian currency)
Reimbursements in the plurals
And Leje Qendrimi’s will leave me with some hair. 
(Leje Qendrimis are foreign residence documents)       

I’m waiting for a golden contact
Just like the one they promised me
With no sign of perdition; with parents permission
To be all dressed up in……..WHITE (Palmer only)

I’m dreaming of a golden convert
Just like the one in District 2 (Not Jynx!  But German!)
May the water in your font be warm
And they never say ‘kismet’ evermore

(Kismet = Turkish for God willing, Albanians use it a lot to say ‘no’ in a nice way.)

Our skit was simply put: astoundingly amazing.
Tirana Missionaries Having Fun on P-day

During the Mission Talent Show
The other memorable skit was from the Shkodër District with Elder Brown the Magician. He was able to perform some pretty great tricks but his greatest consisted of bringing up the entirety of the dying group of missionaries and invoked a spell that will take 31 days to come about but all 8 dying missionaries will disappear. True magic.

On Friday I had a small personal success. In the evening around 6 PM, Elder Wagstaff and I had scheduled to meet with Angelo, the friend of one of our priests Hermes from 3rd Branch, and with a man named Banush with whom we have had one lesson. We scheduled them apart but because Hermes and Angelo were late, Elder Wagstaff and I had to do a split: he with Hermes and I with Alfred Abdulari who thankfully was at the church. I had the phone and called Banush. I still am working on understanding people on the telephone and I thought that Banush said that he was where we had originally met with him, at a place called Shtat Xhuxhat (the 7 Dwarves). As it turns out he was outside of the gate of the church and that because of the confusion on the telephone he was about to leave when Alfred and I found him. He was not happy but was willing to sit down in a café and talk about the Book of Mormon. He told us that he was planning on leaving when he had finished his cigarette, and there were mere centimeters left.

As it turns out Alfred was perfectly suited to help and understand Banush. Banush used to be a deputy in the parliament in the time of communism and Alfred was appointed to be a deputy but because of other circumstances he wasn’t able to take office. Banush was in addition the head of agricultural education in the time of communism and is currently an economist. He, as evidenced by his career, is an intellectual. Alfred has developed a very great intellectual testimony coupled with a spiritual one. Alfred was able to really talk to Banush on a deep level and Banush has resolved to read the entire Book of Mormon in the next couple of days. My success came in that I was able to direct the conversation so that we could get the commitments and have an opening and closing prayer while in the café.

My other success was that I translated fast and testimony meeting after the Sacrament on Sunday. That was so much fun. I probably got about 60% of what was said but I was able to successfully convey the message. I really enjoyed translating and it was an excellent language growth opportunity.

Elder Acheson Street Contacting in Tirana, Albania
I
Well my beloved people, I wish you all a great December and kick off to your Christmas season. I hope that you know that you are in my prayers and in my thoughts.

Love,

Elders Acheson and Vershui
Elder Açësoni



Elder Acheson perfecting his form for Bowling Olympics.