Wednesday, January 1, 2014


January 1, 2014

Family and Friends,

Merry Christmas and Happy New Years!

Much has happened in the couple weeks that I haven’t been able to write.

First and foremost, I have been transferred and am in a new city with a new companion. I am in Elbasan, a city about an hour south of Tirana, with Elder Cameron Price from Saudi Arabia. More information will follow.

The Tirana Zone Christmas Missionary Choir
I want to talk about Christmas. As preparation for Christmas, the missionies in our district have been caroling in front of the New Year’s Tree in the center of Tirana to bring the Christmas Cheer. That may have not gone over as well as it could have… Albanians in general didn’t know why 12 Americans were standing in a circle singing songs they couldn’t understand. Oh well, it was fun.

Additionally, our Branch had a Christmas Party. The sad news is that Elder Açësoni wasn't there! His companion was, but Açësoni wasn't! I even heard that Baba Gjyshi (Santa Claus) showed up. I missed seeing Baba Gjyshi! I really wanted to see him but everyone said that he was great. The best Baba Gjyushi ever in the history of Baba Gjyshi. 

Santa Claus and some very pretty sisters
Christmas Eve I spent with the Arben and Violeta Vogli Family and we had a wonderful spiritual thought. Christmas morning, all the missionaries in our district went to the Andrews couple’s apartment above the mission home and we opened our Christmas gifts together along with a big breakfast.
Even Elders need toys
Elder Wagstaff with his twin cookie (by the way Elder Wagstaff really does have a twin serving in  Lithuania)
Elder Acheson with his twin cookie (even with blue eyes)

Afterward Elder Wagstaff and I visited Alfred Abdullari and then afterwards Alfred and Deko Alushi. Then we had dinner with the Andrews and Skyped our families. It was wonderful to speak with my family but it was even more wonderful doing what we did right afterwards. There is a family in 3rd Branch the Ali and Liliana Vogli family and they have a son Roi on a mission in Leeds, England. The Volgi family is not computer literate and they needed help to work Skype. They hadn’t communicated with Roi and didn’t know when he would call. They had both taken off work and had been sitting at the computer since 10 AM. We arrived at 8 PM to help them. We worked frantically to get a connection with Roi and with the help of 2 miracles, we connected them with their son and they were able to chat with him for about a half and hour. As a sign of gratitude, they filled our already filled stomachs with whatever food they had in the house until the minute we had to leave. That was an excellent Christmas.

Elder Palmer, our zone leader had a birthday and officially turned 21 on the 27th. To celebrate we went to one of 3rd Branch’s fanciest restaurants Juvenilja. It has been thought that the Juvenilja in 2nd Branch was good; this one blew it out of the water with service and quality of food. If anybody says that 3rd Branch doesn’t have any good food, tell them to get their nose out of 2nd Branch and turn back. Elder Palmer’s birthday was an excellent end of transfer party as well.

We said our goodbyes to people in the branch on Monday. That was very tough. I have become very close to many people in our branch and I wasn’t able to say goodbye to everyone that I loved. I am just glad that I can see them in the future for district of stake conferences.

Saying goodbye to my AWESOME trainer
am very sad to be leaving Elder Wagstaff. I have really come to love Elder Wagstaff and love working with him. I have appreciated the patience and love that he showed to me while I was learning to become a missionary. He is fun and easy to be with and smarter than smart. He and I have shared a lot of stories together and we have promised to spend time with each other after the mission. He now is in Gjakova, Kosovo with Elder Rawlings and I am sure that he will be making just as large of a splash there as he did with me in 3rd Branch.

I transferred down with Elder Price to Elbasan yesterday with Elder Austin. Elder Austin is in the group ahead of me and Elder Price and will be our district leader. He will also be responsible for training of the new missionaries coming into the country. We will be the youngest and most successful district in the mission.

After establishing ourselves, we taught a couple of lessons and familiarized ourselves with the city. We had to inside before 4:30 PM yesterday because the New Year’s Eve celebrations have been dangerous in the past. It is a good thing I got a Book of Mormon character version of the card game War. At 11:00 PM we got up on the roof of our apartment building and watched fireworks all around us in the city. The fireworks were crazy.

Elder Acheson and Elder Price "Tracking"
Around 11:50 the fireworks started popping up and the show began. People were shooting fireworks out of windows, at other buildings, and all over the city. Our view on the roof was amazing. We felt the heat from many of the nearby bursts and we had a wonderful New Year. Unfortunately, we have to wait a bit longer for our next New Year’s kiss.

New Year’s Day is our P-Day for this week and we went to a building we saw in the distance on a hill bordering Elbasan. The building turned out to be an old Fascist-era Italian mansion/office building. It was derelict and completely awesome. It bordered some sort of military installation built by the fascists.

I am very excited to be in Elbasan with Elder Price. I have a feeling that this transfer will be an excellent transfer and I am very excited to be a missionary here in this country. A piece of exciting news is that a friend from my high school, Sarah Coleman, just received her mission call to the Adriatic South Mission and will be entering the MTC April 30th. We are very excited to have such a great addition to our mission.

Welcome to Elbasan
I love you all very much and I hope that your new year will be better than all the rest. Gëzuar Vitin e Ri!

Me shumë dashuri,

Elder Açësoni 

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