Family and Friends,
|Elder Acheson in Durres, Albania|
It has been an historic week here in Albania as well in Durrës and I am excited to share some details with you.
While I have been in the country since September there was talk about the possible formation of a Stake of the Church here in Albania. As missionaries, we were given certain goals to move along the formation of the Stake by our mission president. We received confirmation a couple of months that the formation of the Tirana, Albania Stake was approved and would be established March 9th 2014. Yesterday just happened to be that day.
|[Elder Acheson with Hekuran Seçi, an investigator scheduled to be baptized, riding to Stake Conference in Tirana from Durrës]|
Members and Missionaries were bused in from all corners of the mission covering Albania, Kosovo, and Macedonia to Tirana's Congressional Palace which was reserved for this occasion. Elder Patrick Kearon and Elder Christopher Charles were sent to be the presiding authority and to represent the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve in the formation of the Stake with former District President Medlir Mema as the new Tirana Albania Stake President with Presidents Kashari and Agalliu as his counselors. There are 6 full-fledged wards in the Stake: the 4 Tirana Wards, the Vlorë Ward, and the Durrës Ward. I am familiar with 2 new Peshkop[s] (bishops): Peshkop Zela in 3rd Ward and Peshkop Dodaj here in Durrës.
|Elder Bilodeau with some LDS youth|
|Elders Biladeau and Acheson with a new member|
|Sister Heathcote, Tefta Demiri, Elder Palmer, Elder Acheson, and Denisa Demiri in the Congressional Palace|
It was so wonderful to be Stake Conference because I was able to see people from Tirana and Elbasan that I had gotten close to. I got to see Alfred Abdullari, Alfred and Deko Allushi, Tefta and Denisa Demiri, Agron Bukaçi, the Vogli Family, and Nënë and Ana Ballallari from 3rd Ward and Suzana Biçaku (the newest member of the Elbasan Branch), Esisona Allushaj, President Kashari and his family, Elona and Florida Toromani, and little Denis Zhurda. My heart was beginning to pop seeing all of these wonderful members I had grown to love and then came my fellow missionaries. I got to see my former companions Elders Ostergaard, Wagstaff, and Price and others from my group like Elders Baker, Rawlings, Clawson, Linderman, Richards, Jorgenson, and Sister Leblow. Everyone was so happy and I felt so wonderful just being back in Tirana.
|[Elder Acheson in Durrës' Roman Era Amphitheater]|
I am so happy to have seen the growth of Albania in the Church. It motivates me to want to achieve the goal set by Elder Kearon for Albania within 3 years, to have another stake of Zion. It may seem like a huge feat but I am willing to put in my part.
I rejoice with you and send my love to all who read this. This is truly wonderful news and I am so happy to be in the Adriatic South Mission.