Monday, February 24, 2014

#2 WEEK IN DURRES, ALBANIA



February 24, 2014

Durres beach on the Adriatic Sea



Dear Family and Friends,

Hello from Sunny Durrës!

This week has been a wonderful full week in the city on the sea. We have been busy from start to finish and it has been a wonderful experience.

The Durrës Branch is the strongest branch of the church in Albania and it still surprises me to realize that missionaries do not need to teach classes on Sunday and other functions like that. The members here are strong and vibrant. I love it and it is exciting.
Durres Chapel

One of the families that we are working with, the Pjetri Family, was originally taught by my MTC teacher Sister Atkin and the family is absolutely wonderful. The father was recently baptized and is working to receive the Aaronic Priesthood and gives us an opportunity to visit the family. The children are so delightful, particularly the precocious 6 year-old Ana. She is the light in the room wherever she goes. She loves to share her favorite scriptures on keeping the Sabbath Day holy and insists on sharing her testimony. They are one of the foundational families that we 


I, thus far, have had an excellent time in Durrës. Forgive me for my brevity this week but we have been working non-stop and we don’t intend on slowing down.

I love you all and I wish that all you have an excellent week.

Elder Açësoni 







This is as close to the Adriatic Sea that Elder Acheson will get to experience as a missionary

Monday, February 17, 2014

#1 WEEK IN DURRES, ALBANIA



Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you to everyone for the birthday well wishes. They have all played into the formation of an excellent 20th birthday.
Today is my 20th birthday! 

My new city Durres Albania
Well to mark a new year of life I am in a new city. Durrës, Albania is a wonderful seaside city with an incredibly strong branch of the church. Durrës is arguably the strongest bastion for the church in the country. It qualified for a church building and will be one of the wards created with the new stake in March. Durrës is also one of the oldest cities in the country dating back some 3,000 years. The city is big and one of the more economically flourishing parts of Albania.

My new companion is Elder Bilodeau who has been in the field for one year and one month. Incidentally, he has served in the same exact places I have beginning in the Tirana 3rd Branch, Elbasan, and then afterwards Durrës. He is the trainer of my former companion Elder Price and just an awesome missionary.



Elder Acheson and Elder Bilodeau
There are happy aspect and sad aspects for me to be here in Durrës. I am sad to leave all the people that have touched my life in Elbasan such as Suzana, the Toromani sisters, Little Denis, and many others but I know that the Lord needs me here in Durrës.

Instead of being 100% male missionary district as we were in Elbasan, Durrës is made up of my companionship (Elders Bilodeau and Acheson) and two sister companionshps (Sisters Heathcote and Russell and Sisters Smith and Singer). I am very excited to working with our fine missionary sisters and I am confident that we will be accomplishing a great work together here.

For an excellent birthday outing, we took a little hike and found a relativly private beach, took lunch, and spent a couple hours basking in the sun, skipping rocks, and getting to know one another. The sisters produced a wonderful birthday doughnut and they all sang "Happy Birthday." It was an excellent way to begin my time here in Durrës and to begin a new year in my life.

The beautiful beach at Durres


I thank you all for the love and support you send my way and I hope you are experiencing blessing and happiness.

I love you all,

Elder Açësoni

P.S. Suzana's baptism is scheduled to take place Saturday 9:30 AM in Elbasan 

Monday, February 10, 2014

#7 WEEK IN ELBASAN, ALBANIA

February 10, 2014

Family and Friends,

If you were to read an letter from Elder Acheson, I suggestion this one.

Shiny New Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  A Beautiful day!
Elder Price and I had the honor of baptizing and confirming Elona and Florida Toromani. I performed Elona’s baptism and Elder Price did it for Florida and then we switched for the confirmation. It was so wonderful to see the growth from first contact to pronounce the blessing of confirmation. I haven’t been more proud in my life.

After the confirmation and after church on Sunday, we witnessed a miracle. I have included a journal entry of Sister Tooley, a sister missionary who serves with us in Elbasan. Her journal entry is as follows. 


Monday February 10, 2014

Suzanna is a 16 year old ball of fire. We love her to pieces. She was taught the gospel in July of 2013. It didn't take her long to know that the church was true, but her father, a Muslim, would not let her be baptized. She loves her father a lot and apparently he loves her. For the last couple of months we would see her crying at church, especially during and after a baptism. A month ago she asked us to fast for her because she was going to ask her father again to let her be baptized. She was suppose to call us Sunday night if her father said she could be, but none of us received a call, so we knew that the answer was no.

Suzanna, her parents and the missionaries
Then, Saturday Elder Price told Suzanna that he was going to call her mother to see if we could come and visit her Sunday at 4:30. Suzanna said to go for it but made Elder Price promise that while he was there he would ask her father or mother if she could be baptized. Elder Price agreed to this.

At 4:30 the mother warmly welcomed us into the home (the Elders said that she has always been warm to the church. She had been at a baptismal service months ago and was in tears). The father was not yet home so, we Suzanna and the Elders sat and visited for a few minutes with her mother, Lejta. Then at one point Lejta got up and began bringing in the meal she had prepared. It was a good sized meal which consisted of a byrek, French fries, soda and various snacks. We had taken over some mint brownies. When we finished the dinner we were served the mint brownies. At this point the father came into the house. We finished our meal and began visiting for awhile. Because of how the conversation was going, Elder Price asked Suzanna, should we just cancel our plan of talking to your parents about being baptized at which point she said NO, do it. So then Elder Price and I asked if they could visit with the mother and the father in another room. The parents agreed to it and while they were in there, Elder Acheson and Elder Tooley tried to comfort a worrying Suzanna.

A week or two previous to this day, Elder Tooley and I gave Suzanna a nickname. The name was Esther after Queen Esther in the Old Testament and we told her to read the story and she would then understand why we gave her that name. So while the discussion was going on in the other room, Elder Tooley asked Suzanna if she had read the story. She said she had and Elder Tooley said that we gave her the name of Esther because Esther had demonstrated great courage in talking to the King and just like the courage she was demonstrating in asking Elder Price to speak to her parents about baptism. Elder Price and Motra Tulli were now representing her (Suzanna’s) wishes in going before the parents. Elder Tooley further told her that if the parents do not give her permission to be baptized that she can in time be baptized and that she still needed to show love and respect to her parents.

The Elbasan Branch Young Women
Elder Price and I came back into the room and immediately Suzanna knew that the answer was not a yes. She immediately got up and left the room crying. The discussion went on about Suzanna being baptized. Elder Tooley tried to appeal the father about him being a father himself and knew of a father’s love and care for his daughter and tried to assure him that his daughter would only be better from being baptized. All of this talking was to no avail and at one point Suzanna came back into the room and tried pleading with her father to be baptized. We could not understand what the father was saying but he kept on interrupting her and laughing. We asked Suzanna to bear her testimony and as she was bearing her testimony the father kept interrupting and continued to laugh which only infuriated Suzanna as he would not be serious or quiet long enough for her to speak. He held his position and would not budge from it. This conversation/arguing went on for a long time. At one point Elder Price asked the mother is she would sign the permission form. The mother said she would. Suzanna then told her father that she wanted him to sign it as she wanted his approval but still he would not budge. Then at one point Elder Acheson stood up and bore a powerful testimony and sat down, then Elder Tooley stood up and bore a powerful testimony with emotion and sat down, then I stood up and with tears in my eyes, bore my testimony, then Elder Price stood up and bore his testimony, then Suzanna stood up and began bearing her testimony at which time the father started interrupting again and chuckled. Then Elder Acheson shouted loudly to tell him to be quiet and listen to his daughter. He did.


Teaching the Senior Missionary Couple
When Suzanna was finished Elder Price asked Suzanna about getting the signature on another day and Suzanna said no as things could change tomorrow and we needed to get the mother’s signature today. So while Elder Price and Acheson stayed in the home, Elder Tooley and I drove back to the other Elders apt to pick up the permission form. By the time we got back to the home, the atmosphere in the room had changed for the good. The spirit of the Adversary which was in this man had changed and he now was friendly. While we were gone he agreed that he would sign the permission form. The Elders handed him the permission form and they had to translate the word baptism on the form. They got out their dictionary and showed it to him that the word next to his signature was baptism. It seemed like it was forever before he finally put the pen to the paper. When he did all we could do was rejoice inside. Suzanna leaped upon her father and kissed and kissed him to death. She was so happy and thrilled.

We were then told that the mother was fixing ANOTHER meal and this one proved to be much bigger than the first. We were all filled already from the first meal. While the mother is fixing the meal, the father begins asking Elder Tooley about what he had done for a living. For me, it was like looking at a totally different person, one that was respectful, courteous, kind and friendly. In the beginning it was like we were all dealing with Satan himself who was laughing and mocking our testimonies. What a change this was to witness the adversary truly in action that night. Suzanna and all of us missionaries saw this clearly as a miracle.

The meal was soon brought to us and we all looked at each other with a very concerned look. The meal this time, would be comparable to a Thanksgiving meal. First off, I had fed the Elders a big meal, which I do every Sunday, then straight from there to Suzanna’s for a 2nd meal, then later that evening a 3rdmeal. She brought out more snacks, more soda, 2 huge mounding plates of cut and peeled apples, mounds of French fries, lots of meat, homemade bread, sweet peppers which she had canned, pickled green tomatoes and each place setting had their own large bowl of rice, then they offered more brownies, since we provided them, was an easy thing to refuse. Elder Acheson and Price told us that we had to eat it and not offend them, that it is a sacrifice that we had to make for Suzanna’s baptism. The Elders also told us that this meal was only one of many more mores in the future. Oh my goodness that is hard to take, just thinking about that! It also shows just how strong the adversary really was there that there could be such an amazing turnaround. We could not believe how good the elders were in downing all of this food. They have become legendary Heros to us. We gave it our best effort but at some point we simply could not eat anymore and so we asked them if they would pack it up and we would eat it the next day. They didn’t seem to have a problem with that and so we think that Elders Price and Acheson were having fun with us at our expense. However we seriously felt that it had to be done.

When we finally left, it had been 6 hours all total that we were there. We were able to give the father and the mother a big hug when we left and I was able to give the mother a big hug and she kissed me on the cheek several times and I kissed her several times on the cheek.

Suzanna had her baptismal interview today and we called her to see if she passed and of course she did. She has told everybody about it as she is so excited. I told her that the heavens are smiling because of her baptism, but not only because of that, her ancestors are smiling because they too are now affected by this choice of Suzanna to be baptized.

[End of entry]

I know that the Lord has seen fit to extend an invitation to one of his choice daughters. Suzana is special and chosen. She has taught me that to have a testimony, a true testimony, we need to endure the purifying furnace of trial and adversity. She could teach a lesson to each and every one of the girls and boys with whom I grew up, including myself, what it means to fight for what you believe in. She did it, she fought, she trusted in God, and by her faith and works, she has received a witness that miracles do happen and that God answers prayers.

I know that miracles happen. I know that if we are obedient towards the commandments of God and if we manifest by our works to the Lord that we have faith unto him, he will bless us. I know that. I say that in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

I love you all and hope to report on Suzana’s baptism next week. I may or may not be sending out an email next Monday because it is my birthday and I may just be partying all day long. If you would like to drop a much-appreciated birthday well wish my email is tacheson@myldsmail.net

With great love,

Elder Açësoni  

Birthday Week for Elder Acheson


Monday, February 3, 2014

#6 WEEK IN ELBASAN, ALBANIA


A Missionary in the field
Monday, February 3, 2014

Family and Friends,


The work progresses at a tremendous rate here in Elbasan.

The Proi Family with the Missionaries
This week has been a week of miracles and blessings from God. We found a darling family who have all committed to baptism. The Proi Family is made up of Fadil and his wife, Fabio, Fabiana (twins), Ryjnia, Esmeralda (the cousin), and the Nënë (grandma). We first met Fabiana (11) when she came to our Advanced English class. Despite being half the age of the rest of the participants in the class she reads and comprehends just as much if not more English than the rest. She and Ryjnia (10) came to one of Sister Tooley’s Young Women’s activities and made an impression on them there. Sister Tooley, basing her activity off of a talk given by Elder Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve, had all the young women bring their purses with objects that identify who the girls are and how they want others to see them. It was reported to me that the two sisters were very talkative and actively participating. When it was Ryjnia’s turn, she pulled out her favorite bow to wear in her hair; as it turns out, the bow belonged to Fabiana. Fabiana, as the graceful older sister she is, granted Ryjnia’s usage of the bow.

When the Proi family came to church, they were the star participants in Young Women and Young Men. Apparently, Ryjnia astounded everyone with her deep understanding of the Doctrine of Christ. In the discussion of the pre-earth life she asked “What else has Christ done that requires use to do something?” The question so profoundly struck Sister Tooley that she had all the members of the class think about that and write in their journal about it. Ryjnia’s answer was repentance. I am so excited to teach this family.

Elder "Lumber Jack" Acheson
We had a great opportunity to serve a sister in the branch move wood. Motra Shahini is a member that has been a part of the branch since its creation 15 years ago. Every so often the elders get a call to come and serve her by moving the cord of wood she has her nephew and his son cut. It was a fun change of pace to take care of Sister Shahini’s wood.

Watch out!
So I don’t mean to make everyone jealous, but we keep bears as pets here. We were driving with the Tooley’s through Elbasan and Elder Price and I spotted a man walking down the street with a bear on a chain. We had actually heard about the man with the bear in the MTC but we were told that it was so rare that he showed up that we would probably never see it. When we saw it, Elder Price and I yelled simultaneously “THE BEAR!!!” We quickly got out of the car and made our moment. I carry the Polaroid where e’er I go as a trophy.
 
The Bear!
Well my beloved family and friends, I wish you all another wonderful week and success in all that you are doing I hope that you may recognize all the moments throughout the day when the Lord extends his blessings so that you can act accordingly to receive the blessings.

All my love and well wishes,

Elder Açësoni