Monday, August 25, 2014

WEEK #9 IN GJAKOVA, KOSOVO

Monday August 25, 2014

Family and Friends,
This week was great in Gjakova. On Saturday, we had the baptism of Shkumbin Vorfi!
Shkumbin Vorfi's baptism at the Hotel Pashtriku Swimming Pool
Elders Harvey and Gray have been teaching him for a couple of weeks and finally on Saturday, Elder Harvey baptized him in the Hotel Pashtriku swimming pool. Shkumbin is a fantastic father of 2 daughters: Anila and Elda. His wife passed away in an accident about 14 years ago and he has stayed a true and loyal protector and provider for his girls. Shkumbin had to fight to give up smoking but was able to quit completely. He is an amazing person and a solid new member. Elder Gray was able to confirm him in church on Sunday.
On Friday the missionaries helped out Liz, an American member living in Gjakova running a humanitarian program teaching children affected by the war music.

Liz held a carnival for the children and the missionaries along with the BYU-Hawaii students staffed the carnival games and acted as 'muscle' in controlling the children. I manned the blowing a ping pong ball through a masking tape obstacle course. It was a lot of fun and very interesting to hear the Gheg Albanian versions of "Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree" and "In the Jungle, the Might Jungle, the Lion Sleeps Tonight." Liz has a talent for teaching and helping this children
Today for P-Day we took our district to Prizren. Elders Schramm and Gray had never been there and it was a great opportunity for them to see that city.


Again we were unable to wear our name tags out of the unfriendly situation. But we still had a great time there. We visited Afrim, too-friendly Islamic items shop-keeper. Elder Schramm got to experience the quick, close, and friendly experience of talking to him. It is always fun going to Prizren and I am excited for the day that we can walk the streets and spread the word again there.
I love you all and hope you have a great week.
Love, Elder Aqësoni



Monday, August 18, 2014

#8 WEEK IN GJAKOVA, KOSOVO

August 17, 2014

Family and Friends,


Hello from Gjakova! But the biggest news comes from the US: my brother Race just got his mission call to the Lyon, France Mission!
The newest Elder Acheson and little sister Grace
He will be entering the MTC learning French December 17, 2014. I am so excited for my brother to be in France! I saw the video of him opening up his mission call and he first read Adriatic South Mission… I was genuinely excited and surprised for 3 three seconds and then… well, he may need to speak to his Bishop to working on his lying problem before he leaves. It’s a good thing he has 4 months to repent.

This Saturday I had Part II of my Gjakovar root canal. I am pleased to say that I emerged from under the drill successfully. I don’t suggest coming to Gjakova, Kosovo only for the purpose of getting a root canal but if you are stuck there and need a quick fix, ask the missionaries where to go.

QB of the Gjakova Branch
For our Branch’s activity this week, we taught the members how to play real American Football (we just played the Ultimate version). It was a great opportunity to relax with the members and a couple investigators. We also were able to share Sister Tooley’s wonderful whipping cream topped cake.

For P-Day today we made Samun Suxhuk, a Gjakovar specialty. What you do is you first go to a butcher and buy the suxhuk (or sausage) and then you get some eggs and spreadable cheese.
Then you go to a special bakery and they put all of the ingredients together and they produce a Samun Suxhuk, or as Elder Harvey described “The best thing your taste buds will experience.” I would like to add my resounding concurrence to that statement.

Another wonderful and beautiful piece of news happened on Saturday evening. My dear friend Elder Baker brought the rest of his district to our building and we had the honor of watching his father be baptized.
Elders Aqësoni and Baker directly after Elder Baker's Father's Baptism
President Weidmann gave him permission to watch the baptism on Skype. It was a beautiful reminder of the blessings that come from honorable missionary service. His father has met with missionaries for many times throughout the years. It just took his son’s service to bring to pass those extra spiritual pushes that finally lead to that wonderful gateway event.
Elder Aqësoni and his hair stylist Delila Duraku (5)--supervised by Sister Tooley




Getting pretty


I know that those who follow the commandment, keep their rules, and are faithful to their covenants are blessed beyond measure. I saw a miracle this week for which I may not speak. But I can share my witness that God cares for and ensures that his children are protected even in the dark.

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

Love,

Elder Aqësoni






Monday, August 11, 2014

WEEK #7 in GJAKOVA, KOSOVO

Monday August 11th


Family and Friends,
Elders Acheson and Elder Schramm

Hello from Gjakova!

This week has been packed with many activities and events. On Tuesday we headed to Prishtina for Zone Training. There we met with our missionaries from Kosovo and Macedonia. We drove up there with the Tooleys and Elders Harvey and Gray. We received a wonderful training from Elders Price and Clawson. Some wonderful ideas were presented which we have tried to apply in our work this week. Elder Schramm and I desired to return to Gjakova because we wanted to return to our work. We had lunch at our local Viva Fresh.

The next morning we woke up and found that Elder Schramm had gotten a bad cold. Unfortunately we were not able to go out of the house. Fortunately I have a large collection of Hugh Nibley mp3 files. A day that could have been spent in sloth and boredom was spent in mental enriching and figurative mind blowing. I have developed a great love for Brother Nibley’s works.
Mirlind and Mirlinda (twins) Demaj making funny faces with Elder Aqësoni's face


The next day, Thursday, it was my turn to experience an unfortunate turn of health. I woke up and felt sharp pain in my top right molars. I knew that I needed to go to a dentist that day and as soon as possible. I got a hold of an appointment and the dentist explained that my back right molar had need or a root canal. He performed the first phase and we set an appointment for this upcoming Saturday for phase two. He told me that in spite of the molar issue, my teeth were surprisingly beautiful. I believe I may have been his first American.

On Friday we began the implementation of one of the finding ideas that we received from Zone Training. We created and began distributing fliers for a “Stop Smoking” Class. Elder Schramm had a brilliant idea, to go to the pharmacies and ask them to place our fliers on display for their customers and to offer them to people who asked for help to stop smoking. I hope that this might lead to something amazing. An aspect of the program we use is essentially these people become “golden investigators.”
Elders Harvey, Gray, Acheson and Schramm at the gate of the Monastery

We had the great opportunity to return to Fort Bondsteel on Sunday to share sacrament meeting with the soldiers. We set apart a new group leader there and I am very excited for the things that will happen there now. I love going over there and I love the spirit of the soldiers.

Today, for P-Day, we went to a Serbian Monastery near a city called Deçan. The land upon with the Monastery stood is Serbian land within Kosovo. It is a piece of Serbia that KFOR left for the Serbs. It is in fact a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was very cool to go there and learn a bit more about the Serbs and see a positive side instead of the typical things which we are told.

I love you all and I thank you, those who send a short message every once and a while. I love those letters.

Love,
 
Elder Aqësoni 


Monday, August 4, 2014

#6 WEEK IN GJAVOKA, KOSOVO

Monday August 4, 2014


Family and Friends,

Hello from Gjakova and I would like to wish President Barack Obama a Happy Birthday and would like to express my sincere gratitude for his work and service for my country. I hope that all of you can join me in adding him in our prayers that he may lead our country in wisdom and righteousness. I hope that all of us can lend our support as much as we can rather than try and tear him down.

This week has been marked by a lot of traveling for me. We learned last Sunday that Elder Anderson would be changed with Elder Curtis Schramm.
Elder Schramm, Sister Tooley and Elder Acheson
On Tuesday, Elder Anderson and I rode the 6 AM bus to Tirana. We got in around 11 AM and I picked up Elder Schramm. We had about 5 hours before we needed to catch the 4 PM bus to Gjakova and so we went and had lunch with the Ballallari family in 3rd Ward. It was wonderful to see them again and was especially wonderful to eat Sister Ballallari’s food. Afterwards, Elder Schramm and I made our way to the bus and began the trip that got us back to our home in Kosovo 5 hours later.

Elder Schramm is an awesome elder from New Mexico.
Acheson and Schamm ready to work in Kosovo
He was actually my trainee’s, Elder Ašler, companion in the MTC. He was trained in my former area in Elbasan by Elder Richards in my group. Elder Schramm worked with many people that I taught including Suzana, the Toromani sisters, and little Denis Zhurda. I am very excited to be working with Elder Schramm here in Kosovo.

On Wednesday we had our Branch activity, which was Elder Schramm’s introduction to the members of the branch. We went to a field by the other elder’s apartment and played ultimate Frisbee with the members. It was a lot of fun and a great opportunity to have our investigators interact with the membership.

On Thursday, we the missionaries had a special treat. A member of the branch, Burim the 1st Counselor in the Branch Presidency, was married on Thursday.
The Gjakova Missionaries at Durim's wedding
We went to the wedding party together and had a blast. The food was great and the Albanian traditional wedding dancing was fun as well. The only problem we Americans had was the bombastic volume of the music. It was so loud that you could not carry on a conversation with the person sitting next to you. But aside from the lack of conversation, the evening was very nice. Burim and his new wife looked wonderful and I am sure that they are going to be very happy together.

On Saturday, Elder Schramm and I traveled to Prishtina so that I could take part in a District Leader Training given by our zone leaders. It was great because Elder Bilodeau and Elder Price, my former companions are now in Kosovo and I had an opportunity to speak with them again. We also had that wonderful Prishtina Thai food. It was a great experience that we had together.

Then on Sunday, we left after church to go to Fort Bondsteel to join the servicemen’s fast and testimony service. They were very gracious to invite us back. We drove the two hours there, all four of us junior missionaries in the back of the Tooley’s car. I would have thought that my legs had gotten used to being shoved in small places but I guess they still protested. The time we spent on the base was excellent and I am glad that this has been made a regular thing; President Wiedmann has asked the Tooleys to go every week and alternate between taking the sets of Elders in Gjakova. It is great to have the interaction with the members on the base, and not to mention the American food!

Cutting it close in Kosovo
Today for P-Day, Elder Schramm and I walked around Gjakova and became more familiarized with the ambient. I got a haircut and a shave and we bought some qebap in a samun, Kosovar food is great! We also happened upon a taxidermist’s shop and he let us watch him skin a fox, all the things that happen in Kosovo!

Well I love you all and I am loving it here in Kosovo. I miss Albania and America but I know that someday I will return to both.

Love,

Elder Aqësoni