Monday, September 22, 2014

WEEK #13 IN GJAKOVA, KOSOVO

Family and Friends

Hello from rainy, sunny, foggy, burning Gjakova. This week has shown us some very thick fog in the mornings and some very great rain storms which cause rivers to run in the roads. 
The weather has been rather violently indecisive here.

Our big piece of news is that Elder Harvey was moved down to Elbasan last Monday and we now have Elder Dorian Sadiku with us. He is an Albanian mini-missionary from Elbasan with whom I would work in Elbasan. He is 18 years old and has received his call to serve as a missionary in the Adriatic South Mission, our mission. He begins sometime within the next couple of months and we are excited to have him join our ranks.

This week was accented by the finding of a new investigator named Nori. We were standing outside of the Church we waved to him as he passed on his bicycle and he turned around and came to speak to us. He speaks 5 languages fluently: English, German, Italian, Turkish, and Albanian including their various dialects. We had a fun conversation about how the Scottish people speak compared to Americans, the apt comparison between Northern Gheg Albanian and South Tosk Albanian was drawn.



Nori joined us in church on Sunday and he had the opportunity to speak to our mission president, President Wiedmann in the Swish dialect of German.  I had the honor of translating both President and Sister Weidmann's sacrament addresses. I surely felt the spirit of their talks and I know that the members were able to as well. Elder Schramm prepared a beautiful Sunday School lesson and I gave an on-the-fly Priesthood lesson (the teacher did not show up).
I have particularly felt tangible blessings this week. I know that the things we have been doing this week have been directed according to the dictates of the Holy Ghost. I have really felt that this week and I know that Elder Schramm would concur.






I hope that you all have a wonderful week and I pray that we all can have the opportunity to draw nearer unto God this week. My brother Race, soon to be Elder Acheson in France received his endowment on my mother's birthday on the 17th. I am so excited for my brother and I know that he will be a fantastic missionary.

Love to all,

Elder Aqësoni




Monday, September 15, 2014

WEEK #12 IN GJAKOVA, KOSOVO

September 15, 2014






Family and Friends,

I would like to focus more on the spiritual side of my experience rather than on a report of the natural aspects.

As a missionary you are endowed with great spiritual power and in the eyes of some, great worldly opportunity. We are "set loose" in a portion of the world where being an 18-21 year-young American means you could be as irresponsible as you want and the people here could still worship the ground upon which you walk. We are given enough money to do dumb things and still eat well. We are in a place far enough from any authority or judging eye that it would be easy to spend a day playing computer games or seeing sites, or worse: doing nothing. Where the law could be thwarted by flashing a clean, straight American smile and feigning a broken local tongue. These are the natural advantages of serving a mission for the Lord where I serve and I believe may be characteristic of other areas of the world. These are the grand spectacles and fine clothing of the great and spacious building, distracting the righteous and leading them off of the straight and narrow.

The power that is in obedience cannot be eclipsed by the vain things of the world. Being covenant-honoring and commandment-keeping is essential in enjoying the direction and companionship of the Holy Ghost. I have experienced the power of the Holy Ghost and how in acting in accordance with its promptings the Lord displays his hand.

I have been working on listening more when I pray. I try and spend almost as much time listening and being silent as I do speaking or addressing My Father. Especially in companionship prayers, it has been manifested to me that we receive as much as we hear in our prayers. 

The fruits of obedience and allowing the guidance of God to permeate missionary life is the success we seek as missionaries. Our purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ through developing faith in Him and His Atonement, repenting, being baptized, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. This week we found more investigators and have more people committed to develop their faith, to repent, and to be baptized than we have had throughout this transfer. 

Nderrim, the father of Jasemin (the girl we baptized in July) has committed to be baptized. We have promised him that we will stand with him, teach him, and support him as he comes unto Christ. Jasemin has set the example for her family and now that their father has decided to take upon himself the name of Christ, he can help ensure that his family may become an eternal family, destined for eternal happiness and joy everlasting in the world to come. I know that this could only have been done if we had been listening and acting upon the counsel of the Holy Ghost.

I promise you other missionaries, you future missionaries, and you member missionaries that the Gift of the Holy Ghost is real. You can receive revelation. God loves you enough that he will show you what to do for your salvation and the salvation of others.

Translations "Don't become sheep"


I love you all. I pray for many of you. Many of your names get remembered to me while I pray and I know that Heavenly Father sends you a special blessing every time.

I know you are the best,

Elder Aqësoni

P.S. If you have missed any emails or would like to see many more pictures, visit my blog atbarbyacheson.blogspot.com

Monday, September 8, 2014

WEEK #11 IN GJAKOVA, KOSOVO

September 8, 2014

Family and Friends,

Hello from rainy Gjakova, Kosovo!

My companion and I were both sick for a couple of days this week and we have been unable to do a great quantity of work. We have ensured that we have made it up in quality.

 Suzana and Esiona from Elbasan, Albania with Elders Acheson and Schramm
On Monday we said our final goodbyes to Suzana and Esiona from Elbasan and they left early Tuesday morning. Tuesday was the first day of mine and Elder Schramm’s days of sickness.
We tried to go out and work and did our best. Wednesday andThursday were spent inside coughing, sleeping, coughing, listening to talks, coughing, language study, coughing, and scripture study. A fortunate aspect about being held up in our apartment was that I could complete the section on Verbs and Verbal Phrases in my study of Standard Albanian, the Stanford University dissection of the Albanian language. I was very excited to move on to Nouns and Noun Phrases.

Friday, we had interviews with President Weidmann. That was a wonderful experience. President Weidmann and I have been discussing the ancient missionaries in our weekly letters.
He asked me to prepare a comparative study of Abraham and Noah and to answer the question why was Abram changed to Abraham? It was a sweet experience to know that my mission president knows me and prays for me by name and he knows my needs.

On Saturday I was invited up to Prishtina for District Leader Training from the Zone Leaders. There they presented to us the zone goals and challenges extended to us from President Weidmann. We have been given the ambitious goal to get a new baptismal date every week and 4 baptisms until the end of the year. I, admittedly, had some doubt in my mind about the baptismal date goal. I feel that we work a lot and a lot more with people here in Gjakova and they don’t seem to progress very well. But I told the Zone Leaders yes that it would happen and then a miracle happened.

Rainy Gjakova, Kosovo
Later that day we had a lesson with a young man named Lirian Merturi. To make a long story short: a powerful Elder Schramm Testimony plus Elder Tooley wisdom equals one new baptismal date for us that week. Lirian has accepted to work and learn to be baptized. He is a young musician who has competed on the X-Factor (or the Voice, not sure which one) Albania. I understand he has a popular YouTube Channel if you would like to check and see who he is.

On Sunday we had the members, missionaries, and their investigators from Peja in our Fast and Testimony meeting and they participated in our services and it was very nice to have them with us. After church, Elder Schramm and I grabbed a ride with the Tooleys and went to US Military Base Fort Bondsteel and we took part in their worship services over there as well. It is great to interact with the soldiers and to be enlightened by their testimonies. The American food… a sweet and welcome treat every time.

Today for P-Day, Elder Schramm and I tried a new knock-off American chain: TFC ‘Texas Fried Chicken,’ let us leave it at it lacked something. We also got haircuts. Note: If you would like a professional, clean hair cut from a Kosovar barber, tell them you would like it like Bill Clinton.


Well I love you. I hope you are doing great and are healthier than I have been this week.

Love,

Elder Aqësoni 



Tuesday, September 2, 2014

WEEK # 10 IN GJAKOVA, KOSOVO


September 1, 2014

Family and Friends,
Elder Acheson


Elder Schramm


This week has been full and fulfilling week here in hot Kosovo.

 Esiona Alushaj and Suzana Biçaku  from Elbasan 
The main feature of this week has been the presence of Suzana Biçaku and Esiona Alushaj from Elbasan here in Gjakova, Kosovo. They have come for the week and have been helping us out with missionary work before school begins. Suzana and Esiona have been staying at Vlora Hajdari's house and have been joining us in lessons. 

The Gjakova Branch YSA Conference
They fortunately were here to join part in the Gjakova Branch's YSA Conference. The new YSA President, Jasemin Morina (my recent convert), did a wonderful job in organizing activities for the younger members of the branch. 
The beloved bowling trophy held hostage by Elder Schramm

On Thursday we bowled for a couple of hours at a mall in Gjakova called Nertili. Elder Gray swept the floor and the missionary bowling trophy (a bowling pin that has been in my apartment since the days of Elder Peterson last year) with 194 points. The activity was concluded that day with the consumption of root beer floats with root beer attained from the military base. Europeans in general do not consume root beer because it has been likened to cough medicine for them. The root beer floats were received mildly by the Albanians but were quickly consumed by the nostalgic Americans.

Mirusha, a secluded waterfall 

Elder Acheson called this waterfall a "little slice of heaven"
On Friday we joined the weekly branch activity to the YSA Conference and we all went to Mirusha, a secluded waterfall about 45 minutes outside of Gjakova. It was a beautiful sight that, in the words of recent convert Shkumbin Vorfi, "was as though God had taken a drill and carved for us our private resort." It was a trully wonderful opportunity with swimming, watermelon, and something apparently called the "Ice Bucket Challenge."
The ALS Bucket Challenge reached Elder Acheson
Hopefully we will get to you Elder Acheson's version of the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Then on Saturday, the YSA went and had a picnic (which we were not able to attend) that ending in a testimony meeting that, according to all reports, was simply wonderful. It was held on top of a hill that over looks the valleys surrounding Gjakova and was apparently very conducive for the spirit.

This Monday we decided to take Suzana and Esiona to see Elder Bilodeau (who baptized both of them) in Peja.
Elders Baker, Acheson and Bilodeau
We met up with Elder Bilodeau and ELDER BAKER!!! Elder Baker, Elder Schramm, Elder Gray, and I grabbed a bite of breakfast at a beautiful hotel while Elder Bilodeau, Elder Harvey, Elder Tooley, Suzana, and Esiona taught a lesson to a member in Peja.
We are handsome!


After we got all got back together and joined with Elder Myers and Elder Simons and went to another beautiful waterfall (this week was waterfall week) to the north of Peja. It was breathtakingly beautiful and was a great opportunity to hang out with Elder Baker and Elder Bilodeau (Elder Bilodeau finishes his mission in 30 days).
Both Elder Acheson and Baker reached the 1 year mark in the mission field this week
Add caption

Well I love you all and I hope that you all are doing well. I pray that you are in good health and are doing very well.

This next Thursday, the 4th of September, marks my 1 year mark in the field. Looking over this year, many changes have happened: some difficult and some miraculously easy. I counsel and encourage you that if you have an aspect of yourself, your character, or your life that you wish to change, you can change it through the enabling and ennobling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Remember what President McKay said: "The purpose of this Gospel is to make bad men good, and good men better: to change human nature." You, for the most part, are good men (and women). It is our goal to become better, to improve and to be the person that the Father wants us to be. Those changes to our very nature may be wrought through the enabling and ennobling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Life is much easier when you allow the Lord to direct you. You learn faster and your road is easier. I promise you that you will be happier, more intelligent, and will have the blessings of God upon you if you are obedient to whatever covenants you have taken upon yourselves and keep the commandments. Do that and I promise you that you shall see God, His hand in your life, and you shall be happy.

I love you and I am glad to be here. Kosovo needs your prayers.

Love,

Elder Aqësoni

P.P.S. If you want to send my any letter or package, the ADDRESS MUST BE EXACTLY AS FOLLOWS. There have been many mailing problems (derivatives of the following including: Tirana Albania Mission, Adriatic Mission, [ommiting the P.O. Box 2984], do not make it to the mission office)


Elder Thomas Chase Acheson

Adriatic South Mission

P.O. Box 2984


Rruga Qemal Stafa, Vila 1

Përballë Postës Nr. 22

Tirana, Albania