Wednesday, May 27, 2015

WEEK #34 TIRANA, ALBANIA

Family and Friends,

Hello from hot and rainy Tirana. We have had a fun mixture of sweltering summer days and skies rumbling with lightening. The weather is in that fun mid-spring-summer stage.


A young man that I baptized in February of 2014 with Elder Bilodeau named Ersi has been living in Tirana and I have been able to work with him for the past couple of weeks. I love this young man very much and I have loved working with him again. He is moving down to Elbasan and I had to say goodbye for the second time. I am grieved but happy to have done that; I love him so much but I know that it will be better for him there.

We had a fun service opportunity on Wednesday. We helped the Tafili family move homes. They live in one of Tirana's suburbs called Instituti (or in English "Institute," I am sure none of you would have guessed that translation). We and the APs were able to help them move their stuff and we got to have fun with their great kids.

On Sunday we had a great and rather unexpected opportunity to go to Durrës to take part in a stake fireside for those who had callings (and the missionaries). President Mema, the stake president, passed on the counsel of the Brethren and we have new information as to how we should treat our ministration on the Sabbath and in teaching new members of the Church. The main part of the fireside was a discussion from a couple from BYU-Idaho, the Gibbons couple, who have performed scholarly work on the Book of Mormon and other topics touching Mormonism. I loved the discussion; they used the literary and scholarly vernacular that I love. It was a refreshing look on the Book of Mormon and was a great experience. I also was able to see many members with whom I have worked, laughed, and cried. I got to sit with Erlind and Qerime Dishnica and Sadush Malku. I got to see my people from Durrës, Fier, and Tirana. It was such a great experience from all aspects.


For this P-Day, we went to the Church of Laç. Some background: most Albanians, Muslim, Catholic, and Orthodox (not so much the Orthodox) hold the Church of Laç (Catholic) as a sacred sight. People from all around Albania make pilgrimage to the Church of Laç. Many miracles and healings have been done there. When we talk to people in the road about faith and religion, I would say that I have heard a reference to the Church of Laç at least 3 times a week. We finally went and visited the site. We as the 4th Ward missionaries went and had a great time. It was interesting to sit in the church with believers and to hear their prayers and to see their faith. It was a fun experience.


I have sad/exciting news: I got my flight itinerary. I am expected to land at SLC airport at 10:00 PM July 1st. I, as every missionary, have mixed feelings. I am sure I will talk about this in some later letter.

I love you all and hope that you have a great week.

Love,

Elder Açësoni I Madhërishëm

Monday, May 18, 2015

WEEK #33 IN TIRANA, ALBANIA

Family and Friends,
 
Elder Acheson at Goal

Hello from Tirana! it is getting hot here in Albania. The days are getting hotter and longer.

This has been an interesting week. We did an exchange with the APs in our district. Elder Stewart came to my area and Elder Greener went with Elder Bangerter in their area. It was very nice to be with Elder Stewart. He and I have served around each other longer than any other missionary that I have served with. He is a hard worker and is very sensitive to the Spirit.

We as a district have been doing district street contacting. It is a way that we have to improve our contacting methods and to provide a bigger, more noticeable appearance in the area. Since we have two wards we do street contacting twice a week switching in between 2nd and 4th Ward areas. I feel that this has helped our finding efforts and allows us to observe how other missionaries go about contact so as to improve our own efforts.

We found a new guy who has accepted a baptismal date named Halim. I met Halim while doing the group street contacting a couple of weeks ago. I saw him carrying a bag of bottles to be recycled (which is unfortunately a non-too-common activity). I saw him and it was not a usual thing for me to ask for phone numbers from people that I assume do not have phones. I am so glad that I did. He came to Church last week and came this week. We will be passing him off to other missionaries who are closer to his home in a different ward but I am so grateful that I could meet this very nice and great man.

President Weidmann in the heat of the game

For P-Day we played soccer with the Durrës district and members of the Tirana zone. We were all delighted to be joined by our Mission President, President Weidmann. As it turns out the man has got some moves. It was very nice to also spend time with Elder Richards, my former companion from my group. He and I are about to end our time here and it was nice to be with him. We also got to go in the the National Museum! Who knew that today was the international day of museums and that it would open on Monday, its

Celebrating Christmas with Elder Richards
holiday? I have wanted to do that since to beginning of my mission. It is the big museum with the grand communist-era mosaic.


I am reminded everyday of the tender mercies of the Lord while here in Tirana. I love this city and this people so much. While with Elder Stewart we had an opportunity to visit the Zela Family, the 3rd Ward Bishop and family who happen to live in our area. I love the simple spirit of love, concern, and support that I found there. Meeting with them makes me glad that I accepted the call to serve as a missionary. I hope every missionary has the opportunity to come across a family like them. There are many other people whom I consider long-lost mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, and even sons and daughters to me here. I cannot fathom the amount of love that God has for each and every one of us. If I love these people this much, how much more does God love them, love us?

I love you all. I hope to continue to report successes and uplifting experiences.

Love,

Elder Açësoni i Madhërishëm I




Monday, May 11, 2015

WEEK #32 IN TIRANA, ALBANIA

Monday May 11, 2015

Family and Friends,






Happy Mother’s Day from Tirana, Albania! This was the last time that I spoke with my family on Skype before I return home. I am very happy to report that I had the opportunity to see my brother. 
He is a missionary like me in the Lyon, France Mission of the Church. He is now in a city outside of Marseille. He is doing so well. I am so proud of my brother. He loves serving the people there. I don’t get to see my brother until December 2016. I am so proud of him.

This week has been interesting; we did a lot of finding a found a lot of great new people. A lot of our older investigators have kind of fallen off the bandwagon but we have faith that we can proceed and help them still. We will work hard to insure that everyone gets an equal and high quality shot at getting the Gospel.


This P-day was awesome. I have always wanted to do two things in Tirana since the beginning of my mission: to go inside [1] the National Art Gallery (which is closed on Mondays) and [2] the Pyramid (which is never open). 


This morning I took a group of missionaries on a ‘little sight-seeing’ trip and I decided to try the Art Gallery and it was closed. But a man came out and said “are you Americans?” and I answered “Why yes we are!” He brought us in and took us on a personal tour of the socialist-realist wing of the museum and we got a taste of the high-end propaganda that the communist regime commissioned. It was a great experienced that I have always wanted.



Later today after a service project fell through we found that the Pyramid was actually open! We went in and climbed around in dusty, abandoned corridors and rafters. There was a weird ‘modern’ film art exhibit inside that was just strange. I couldn’t give a comment in connection with that but the rest of the Pyramid was a grown-little boy’s dream: dirty, dark hallways and old broken stuff to be rummaged-through. It was a dream come true.




I love you all and I expect to have another great week here with Elder Greener.

Love,

Elder Açësoni i Madhërishëm

Monday, May 4, 2015

WEEK #31 IN TIRANA, ALBANIA



May 4, 2015



Family and Friends,

This week has been a good week for us. We have been working our tails off and we hit 20 lessons. We are working with a couple people and I would like to tell you about them.

We have 2 people on baptismal dates named Murat and Gentian. Murat is from a city called Skrapari and learned with missionaries about 8 years ago in Elbasan, the city where I was with Elder Price last year after New Year's. He actually found us. He had been out of Albania traveling around in different countries looking for work. He came back to Tirana to look for work and felt that he would like to track down the missionaries. He found the number of the Lushnjë missionaries and they referred him to us. We met with him and have been working with him. He is great and is absorbing the Gospel well, we just have to get him to come to Church because he travels to Skrapari, his home town (5 hours away), to be with his family during the weekend. We will be having a lesson with him and work with him to see if he can move visiting his family.


We are also working with a man named Gentian. I cannot remember where he is from exactly but he has come to Tirana to try and find work. We met him street contacting and brought him into the Church and had a lesson and invited him to be baptized and he accepted. The date we had chosen for him was beyond his planned date of return to his home city if he hadn't found work. We promised that if he exercised his faith and accepted the baptismal date and performed the other commitments that we extended, the Lord would bless him with a work opportunity. We heard just a couple of days ago that he will be interviewing in the next couple of days for a solid-looking job opportunity. We still have to help him with coming to Church.

We have another investigator who has not yet accepted a baptismal date named Papi. We have been working with him for the period of this transfer. He is very open to meeting and is very kind. He has been having a difficult time with (1) accepting the existence of God and (2) accepting that God is loving. We have been working with him to develop a testimony of the Book of Mormon and to test the truth of the things we have been teaching. He has not been very willing to pray but last week he began saying simple short prayers. He has been reading and pulling out good questions from the reading of the Book of Mormon. He came to a baptism that we had on Saturday and he felt the Spirit. We now have a reference point to indicate as to how the Spirit feels and what a manifestation should feel like. I am very excited to work with him this upcoming week.

We also have another investigator named Miti who has come to Tirana looking for work. He brought with himself the equivalent of $90 and has no place to sleep nor anything to eat. He has been sleeping on park benches and has nowhere to rest. He actually went to school in London, England but still has no work. We had a member join in that lesson who randomly had the same story in his life. We were able to testify of the love of God and that blessings come with living the commandments. He came to Church yesterday and would like to humble himself before God. We learned that tonight he now has a job interview and we pray that the Lord will grant him reward for his faith and acts.

Elder Greener and I have had a good week. We have been working hard and well together. I am very pleased with the progress of our district and I am excited to be here in Tirana. I know that the Lord has a great plan for us here and I am loving this evening phase of my mission. I hope to work myself to the bone until the last moment and then sleep comfortably on the plane ride back knowing that I have given my all.

I love you all,

Elder Açësoni