Monday April 21, 2014
Family and Friends,
Happy Easter from Durrës!
We have had a wonderful Easter week here in Albania. We had a wonderful Sunday service and in the last quarter of the 3rd hour, we received a visit from Elder Charles a member of the Seventy and President Mema, our Stake President, and they shared a wonderful Easter message.
|Elder Ashler and Elder Acheson|
21 years ago yesterday, Elder Oaks came to Albania and dedicated it for missionary work. He gave the dedicatory prayer at the Varreza e Deshmorëve or the Veterans' Cemetery, which has a beautiful view overlooking the city of Tirana. When a new batch of missionaries comes into the country, one of the first locations to which they are taken is to that hill and they are each given a copy of the dedicatory prayer.
I was fortunate to begin my mission in 3rd Branch (now 3rd Ward). Varreza e Deshmorëve is in 3rd Branch and my trainer, Elder Wagstaff, took me there and we had an opportunity to walk around a little more and think about the area. The second time I had there was a blessing to further reflect on how things have grown and developed in this country.
I have grown to love some members here in Durrës very deeply. Four families, with whom I have had contact with this week are the Cani, Pallogu, Prenga, and Risto Families.
|The Durres Disctrict: L to R Elders Stewart, Grey, Ashler and Acheson|
The Cani Family is a beautiful family that have been members of the Church for a number of years. They have 3 children Ani, Ana, and Henri. They are preparing to go to the Temple in Germany this next month to be sealed together for eternity. Ana has her mission call to serve in London, England on July 31st. I have extended the commitment to help her prepare to be a missionary. The commitment is that if she works with us right now, that her first convert baptism can take place before her mission. She has delivered and now we are working together with two investigators that they have brought as a family.
The Pallogu Family is made of Sister Pallogu and her brother Anastas. Sister Pallogu is a physics teacher who has lived in Greece for a considerable amount of time. Anastas is an engineer and is investigating the Church. We have come to be very close to them. They both are vast resources of wisdom and deep understandings of the scriptures. We had the honor of eating Easter dinner with them and it was a wonderfully pleasant experience to spend that evening with them.
The Prenga Family is particularly exemplary. Arben is about 18 years old and despite an accident a few years ago which has slowed his capacity, is a beacon of Christ-like love. Arben, this past week was hospitalized with appendicitis. We gave him a blessing last Sunday. When we returned yesterday, we found him surrounded by his family smiling and expressing his love. Arben told us that he had been counseling his fellow patients to not give up, Jesus Christ loves them. He had shared his testimony with the sister of an invalid in the bed next to him and gave her our phone number. When we showed up, he tried to get out of bed (despite having a gaping hole in his side) and give us hugs. He, during our message, gave a beautiful testimony that stopped everyone in their tracks in the busy hospital room. He radiated with love and a willingness to serve despite his pain and discomfort.
The Risto Family is a family with whom we are working. They have been away from Church for quite some time. They still have a great love for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and for the Missionaries. This morning, Sister Risto spent some time with us and helped us look for a couch. She was our judge of quality and our bargainer. It was her expression of service and love for us and I am impressed by her example of service. I am very excited for the opportunity to help them back to full activity.
Elder Ašler and I have been doing some great work together. I am more convinced with each passing day that he and I were meant to be put together. I love him and am thankful everyday that I get to be with him.
I love Durrës. I love Albania. I love my mission. I love my companion. I love the Lord. Happy Easter and know that I am praying that all those among my family, friends, and acquaintances may receive every blessings that they deserve.
Love you all,