Tuesday, May 27, 2014

#15 WEEK IN DURRES, ALBANIA





Family and Friends,

We have had another great week here in Durrës.

The week began with our scheduled interviews for this with President Ford. It was a great opportunity I had to speak with him in that setting for the last time. He will be leaving the mission this upcoming month and I will greatly miss my interactions with President and Sister Ford. Accompanying each visit from President Ford is a discussion with Sister Ford. I feel a great love for Sister Ford and have enjoyed every conversation I have shared with her. I intend on connecting with the Ford as soon as we return from our missions.

Today for Preparation Day we went to a city about two and an half hours south of Durrës. Berat is a beautiful city that was built around the base of a mountain upon which sits a castle overlooking the range of mountains where the remnants of "ENVER HOXHA" can be seen. We took to travel and made it down as a district. We first visited the Church of St. Demetrius and enjoyed our time there. Afterwards we went to the Xhami (Mosque) of the Sultan where I was able to speak to the curator and assist in translating for some French tourists (unfortunately for them, my French has died with the birth of my Albanian; luckily for me, they also spoke English). Elder Ašler and Elder Clawson were able to get a hold of copies of the Quran and then we proceeded to the castle upon the hill.


The hike up through the streets of Berat was one of the more picturesque  things I have experienced. The streets have been untouched by the engine of communist concrete and capitalist glass and remain in their feudal cobble stone.
 The buildings have endured equally as well retaining their wooden doors and personal vineyards. The castle was one of the more well-maintained things that I have seen here. It could have still been a functional bastion of security and preserved within a collection of homes still inhabited by the descendants of those who built them. I was breath-taken.


This week we have a good list of items to accomplish and we are excited to enter the final month of this transfer. I am very proud with the progress and growth that Elder Ašler has experienced. This week he began speaking independently and freely with people before, during, and after our lessons. He has made exceptional growth and I am very excited to see where he is in one year's time.

I love you all and wish you a Happy Memorial Day!

Love,

Elder Açësoni

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

#14 WEEK IN DURRES, ALBANIA

May 20, 2014


Family and Friends,

We have had quite the week here in Durrës.
Elder Acheson by the beautiful Adriatic Sea

I am sending my weekly update a day late because yesterday the city of Durrës was without electrical power. We did have an earthquake two nights ago around 3 AM. I woke up in the night and felt the bed shaking and I could hear objects moving in the next room. I realized that it was an earthquake, said a quick prayer, and returned to sleep. I didn't have control over the situation so I decided not to worry about it.
 TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Seismologists say an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.2 has rattled central Albania, causing minor damage to buildings but no injury.
Albania's Seismological Department says the quake, which occurred at 2:59 a.m. (0059 GMT) Monday, had its epicenter 6 kilometers (about 4 miles) southeast of Belsh commune, 44 kilometers (27 miles) south of the capital, Tirana.
I am surprised that there was no damage anywhere in the city. Most buildings in Albania are not built on sturdy foundations and are constructed out of stacked bricks held in place by an outer layer of spray concrete. To give my honest assessment, if there was a considerable earthquake, most building in Albania would fall.


On the topic of events taking place in the night, my companion reports (along with all of my former companions) that I speak in my sleep. The most recent happening was this past evening where Elder Ašler reported that he woke in the night to hear the Restoration lesson delivered in Albanian. Elder Ašler continued to listen until I asked him (while asleep) to bear his testimony as the concluding part of the lesson. He waited for the next conversation point until he gratefully heard the indications that I had resumed sleeping quietly.

Ersi Myrtollari, Elder Acheson and Suzana Biçaku
In other happenings Suzana Biçaku, my Elbasan Success Story, came to Durrës for family reasons this past week. We were able to spend some lunch time with her and Ersi Myrtollari, my Durrës Success Story, and go grab an ice cream together down along the shore. That was a very happy moment for me, having the fruits of my labor with me together. I was a very happy person that day.
Mr. Myrtollari and Elder Bilodeau

I also had a very great exchange with my former companion Elder Bilodeau in a zone leader function on Wednesday. He came and we shared a wonderful day together eating seafood, visiting the Myrtollari Family, and getting our baptismal candidate interviewed. The exchange went very well and I very much admire the growth that Elder Bilodeau has gone through with his new mantle.

Additionally on Tuesday we had the "Training of Trainers of Trainee who become Trainees along with their Trainees." It was a good opportunity to receive training on how we might be able to improve the way in which we proceed about out work as trainer and trainee. I am very impressed with the group of trainees that we have in the mission. There is a general excellent report for the quality of trainees.
Elder Acheson teaching the spiritual thought at a youth soccer game

Well I love you all and I am excited to report on the developments of this upcoming week. Except to hear about a baptism soon.

With great love,

Elder Açësoni





Elder Acheson and Elder Watson on an exchange

Monday, May 12, 2014

#13 WEEKS IN DURRES, ALBANIA

May 12, 2014

Family and Friends,

Happy Mother's Day from Durrës!


I am very pleased to say that I had a rather wonderful conversation with my beautiful mother yesterday in the United States.  She, my aunt, my sister, my father, my brother, my cousin, and a dear friend were able to get on Skype with me yesterday.
We had a very nice conversation and was a good opportunity to learn that my cousin Mitchell is going on his mission to Gilbert, Arizona July 9th! I am very happy for him and wish him the best in his preparation and service.

This week has been a full one for us. We had an exchange this week with Elder Stewart and Elder Gray. I went to their area with Elder Stewart and Elder Gray came to mine with Elder Ašler. It was a good experience that I could see how their area was doing. I was and am impressed with the high quality work that Elder Stewart and Gray are producing. This upcoming week we have planned to have an exchange with Elder Clawson and Elder Watson.

One of the things I was able to do with Elder Stewart on our exchange was help the families of two Albanian missionaries, Elder Vërushi and Sister Tengu, so that they could be set up with Skype. It was a wonderful opportunity to help our brother and sister ensure that they could get that Mother's Day boost.

A fun note that happened Sunday was that a former missionary, Elder Asquith, came back to visit people in Albania. He spent a large part of his mission in Durrës and became very close to the members here. It was refreshing to see that he had retained a good control of the language and that there is a potential that I, with work and care, may retain my language well after my mission.


Well I love you all and hope that you  mothers had a wonderful experience and that you children of mothers had an opportunity to pay your love and respect to your mother. President Monson shared a wonderful message on mother hood and I suggest that you all have an opportunity to watch it!  https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1973/10/behold-thy-mother?cid=HPTH050814200&lang=eng 

With great love,

 Elder Açësoni





Monday, May 5, 2014

#12 WEEK IN DURRES, ALBANIA

May 5, 2014

Family and Friends,

Another week in Durrës has passed beautifully!

The Durres District
Elder Ašler and I have had a great week. We finished our English course. We had been working on persuasion as a focus in our advanced English. One of the members of the course gave a "speech" as to why I should sing for their class on the last day.
Elder Acheson and Asler
They asked me to sing Michael Bublè for them. I sang some Frank Sinatra for them and said it was Michael, I am not that well versed on Michael's work and seeing as he takes after Frank... I figured that would do fine. They loved it.

Elder Acheson and the Ballallari girls
On Tuesday I recieved a visit from my 3rd Branch (Ward now) mother and sister Motra and Ana Ballallari. They stopped by because Ana was preparing to shoot a commercial and to bring me soup, chicken fileto, and cake. Ah!!! Motra Ballallari is a professional cook and my stomach was professionally pleased. But it was so nice to see them and spend some short time with them.

Our investigator Silva is progressing very well towards her baptism. We meet with her on a frequent basis and she has accepted the commitments we have offered. This week we taught he the 10 Commandment (taught via hand signs) and the Law of Tithing.
Elder Acheson, Ani Cani (member), and Silva Doda (investigator)
She loved both and asked if there were other ways that she could help people. Well the funny thing is that in Albanian, the Relief Society translates into the Helping Society. We are having a lesson with her at a members home this evening coupled with American-Mexican food.

We also had a funny experience finding on Sunday afternoon. We were looking for a family of former investigators. We had their last name and the neighborhood where they lived. We went and asked around for the family and people told us something that was different from what the documents said; we proceeded anyway. We first found a girl outside her home and asked if they had met with missionaries before. She said no and said she had no interest to meet. We asked if there was anyone else with the last name. She directed us to a house two doors down. We went there and they didn't receive the missionaries before either but they welcomed us in. Within 5 minutes, the girl who had sent us away came in and took part in the lesson. The mother of the family and that girl both took the Book of Mormon and promised to read. The girl actually has connections to members of the Church and there is potential.

Well I love you all and I hope that you have a great week!

Love,

Elder Açësoni