Monday, January 17, 2011

Life in Albania - Week 15

Okay, Not fair! All of you are ripping me off! haha. One of my favorite things about P-day is reading your email's! You are all making them shorter so that I have more time to write! I would rather hear about you all then make longer emails haha. In fact, for some reason, typing has started to hurt my left hand really bad over the past few weeks. Anyways, I will start with the questions:

1. You mentioned that Elder Vans has really taught you what areas of missionary work are most important to put effort into. What are some of them?

I think one main thing is putting more time into members instead of tracting or street contacting as long as ALL of the work you do with the members leads to referrals. As Preach My Gospel says, anyone who has done tracting before knows that it is not an effective way of finding. The best way to find is through the members. Elder Vans does a really good job of that. We have been going around to all the families in the branch and giving them Preach My Gospels to keep and teaching them about how THEY can do missionary work. Every member is in fact a missionary.

Let me tell you a story real quick. The branch president’s wife, Sister Gjeferaj, was about to go to the Church Christmas party last year and she was walking outside of her house. Her neighbor ilva (a 9 year old girl) was outside playing and she asked Sister Gjeferaj where she was going. Sister Gjeferaj said, "I'm going to a church Christmas Party". Ilva said: "Can I come?" Sister Gjeferaj told her of course! But to go make sure it was okay with her mom. Her mom said yes and so Ilva went to the Christmas Party and LOVED It. Then afterwards, Sister gjeferaj asked Ilva if she wanted to come to Church on Sunday. Ilva came, asked for lessons from the missionaries and got baptized. Then Ilva's mom wanted to take lessons from the missionaries. She got baptized. Then Ilva's mom invited her sister and her family to an activity, now Ilva's mom's sister’s daughter Silvana is now baptized and we have a baptismal date set for her mother Lili and her son coming up here pretty soon. And now Lili's brother's wife is now getting interested in the church. ALL of this came from one woman who decided to tell a 9 year old girl that she was going to a church Christmas party. Pretty amazing. It is so cool to be able to be teaching Lili and her family.

2. Did you get your melatica (don’t know how to spell that) and have you used it yet?

I did! It is pretty awesome haha. Yeah Elder Vans and I use it a lot. It's kept us pretty occupied. Between the Melodica and throwing water balloons at the dumpster cats that look for food outside, we stay pretty busy! haha.

3. How is Lili and her family doing?

They are doing good. Lili didn't come to church yesterday because she didn't get back from a wedding until 6am but we have a lesson with her tonight so hopefully it will go well!

4. Have you ever passed out any of those rubber bracelets that are in the different shapes that we gave you a ton of to give to kids? If you have handed them out – do the kids like them? Do they have those over there or is that an American thing?

Yeah, I haven't passed any out in Elbasan yet but I did in Vlore and they think they are really awesome. I don't think they have them here in Albania.

5. You mentioned you had so many good stories last week but didn’t have time to tell any. Can you tell us any this week?

Maybe haha. I have it all in my journal though so don't worry, someday you will get to hear them :)

6. Do you do service weekly? Like you went to the hospital last week – do you do something like that every week?

We try to do service once a week but it is hard to find a place to do service at every week. This week we are going to try and go to the church and clean the baptismal font. Hopefully we can find more stuff in the community that we can do.

7. When there is a District Leader – is there only one person that is the District Leader, or is there another missionary that is a District Leader with Elder Vans?

There is only 1 district leader for every district.

8. How is the weather? Is it really cold like you were told it would be?

There have been some pretty cold days, but other days haven't been too bad. The gloves have been great though! Some mornings, it is FREEZING.

9. Do you have any idea like what type of mile radius would be the boundaries for your Branch there in Elbasan? Are they really big boundaries – or smaller?

They are really big because the closest church to Elbasan (besides the Elbasan church) is in Tirana. All of the suburbs of Elbasan are technically in our area. We try not to spend time teaching people in the surrounding cities because it is a lot harder for them to come to church and to have consistent lessons with them. We are teaching one boy right now from outside of Elbasan but he is AWESOME. I will talk more about him later.

10. Do you ever have to get on public transportation to get around – or do you only go as far as you can walk?

I wish I could explain this to you but you all will NEVER understand this haha. Elder Vans and I walk to church when we go to church on normal days but on Sundays, there is a Van Taxi that comes to the center of town and picks people up for church because if the members had to walk to the church, they quite frankly wouldn't come. I know that sounds hard to believe since from where the vans pick people up to the church is only a 10 minute walk but I promise you, NOBODY would come. I wouldn't have believed it either before I came here but It is truly a different world over here.


Sooooo yeah. Elbasan is awesome. I love it here. Just a few things I want to say real quick so that I make sure I have time for this. I want to first tell Kendy that I sent the Ensign so she can send hers whenever she wants to. I was only able to do 8 or 9 talks. Sorry. I also got 2 more packages! I got one from Grandma and Grandpa Martin! It was awesome! There was an Ohio state colored tie in it which happens to be the same colors as Albania's flag! I wore it the first day I got it and EVERYONE here loved it. It also had some really good candies and stuff. Thank you so much! I also got a package from the Bakers! Man, it was awesome. It had a mini football in it, which has been fun to play with in the apartment, and it had all of the usual baker candies in it! I think the last time I had a nerds rope was at the Baker's house! I loved the singing card and the family update and Evan's letter. hahaha Evan I loved how you put a sticker of Jasmin from Aladdin and said "she looks Albanian" haha cause she does!

Okay, I think that I have a parasite. But It's okay, I kinda like it! haha

I will tell you a little bit about this past week! But I technically only have another 15 minutes to write! AHH okay I will try to be fast.

So we are teaching this boy named Rimi and he is the boy from that village outside of Elbasan. He goes to college here in Elbasan and goes home on the weekends. He didn't come to church last week and so when we met with him on Monday, we got the real reason out of him of why he wasn't coming to church. We thought that it was because it was expensive to get a taxi to Elbasan but we found out it was because he was getting made fun of by the kids in his village. We were able to talk to him and I shared a lot of stories with him about how it was hard being one of the only members in the Church that went to my school and the spirit was really strong. Elder Vans grew up in Montana so we both were able to share some experiences we had back home. Rimi committed to coming to church for the next week and guess what?! Yesterday, he CAME! He stayed for ALL 3 hours and participated during Priesthood class. Then after church we had a lesson about the word of wisdom and he was totally cool with it. Man. He is a solid guy.

We taught the family that we found on that very poor road last week. Aisha is the mom's name and Gentiana is the little girls name. We think Gentiana is more interested than her mom. But still the mom seems kind of interested. We taught them this week but it was so hard to have the spirit there. Her little boy is a little crazy haha. He comes in and out of the house slamming doors, smacking his mom and his sister in the head, throwing the Book of Mormon and all sorts of other stuff (during our lesson). It makes it hard to be able to focus on what we are teaching. Oh well.. Hopefully things get better with their family. They are good people.

Oh Mom, I have a question, do you still have any of those glasses fixing kits (mini screw driver with the little screws) That would be awesome if you could send those over here. So many people have messed up glasses with tape holding them together. There is a man in our ward who is really awesome and he has a tooth pick holding his glasses together because he doesn't have a screw for it. I would also LOVE to get that talk you gave and to translate it because we are doing a HUGE push for member missionary work. That would be awesome to get that as soon as possible. If you could email it, that would be pretty amazing!

Alexis, keep talking to Sejdi and Alseda haha. They are pretty funny people. I heard that someone in Vlore said some really terrible things to Alseda from the missionaries that are there now and they said that she didn't come to church last week. Make sure she is doing good!

This week we went to an Orphanage and gave diapers and baby solution to these kids. It was a very cool experience. I have some pictures I am going to send on over. These kids never have anyone to play with them and we played with them for like 15 minutes. They all started crying when we left. It was really sad. Right when we got there I bent down to talk to the little kids and one came running up and gave me a huge hug! It was so cute haha. Anyways, I gotta get going.

Keep doing the little things and big things will happen. Keep doing missionary work. EVERYONE deserves to hear about the Plan that God has for them. I miss you and love you and pray for you all every day! Keep on keeping on!

-Elder Eckel

No comments: