Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Life in Albania - Week 33

I LOVE SHKODER! The work is stressful, hard, tiring, but freaking amazing.

Okay, I will begin with the usual questions!

1. What is Shkoder like?

Shkoder is beautiful. It is a little bit bigger than Lushnje but still relatively small compared to the other cities I have served in. I absolutely love it here. Although I have heard that it is a "harder" area, I don't believe it. I love the people here. It's amazing. Tons of beautiful trees lining the roads and nice big parks with grass!

2. You mentioned it is the smallest branch in the country. How many members do they have? How many were at church on Sunday?

They have 20 members I think but there were 2 huge families that were only in it for the money and so once they stopped getting help from the church they stopped coming to church. The average number of people at church have been around 5 and 6. But you have to keep in mind that 4 of those people are missionaries. So 1 or 2 members. BUT, we had an AWESOME week this week and we worked super hard. It helps that me and Elder Roni and Elder Platt (I am in a threesome right now because of a lack of missionaries) all just came off of a transfer with companions that didn't work hard. Because now all three of us have fire in us to get working hard. We had 12 people at church on Sunday! It was a miracle. 5 investigators came! I guess it's the most that Shkoder has had in a while.

3. What are your responsibilities as a District Leader?

As a District Leader, I pretty much make sure that everyone in our District is doing well and I also keep in contact with the Zone leaders on our weekly numbers and the well being of our district. I am supposed to lead by example and work extra hard.

4. How long has Elder Roni been out and where is he from?

Elder Roni is from Provo Utah right by the Temple and he goes home in like 5 weeks! He is an awesome companion. He works hard and loves Albania as much as I do. He is super humble too (which is awesome) cause his Dad is the owner of Nuskin and you would have NO idea if you met him that he was from a family in that class. Elder Platt has 3 months more than me in the country and for right now we are working in a group of three. Elder Platt is from Utah and he is a really cool guy too.

5. Did your old companion – Elder Muglesten stay in Luschne?

Yes he is still in Lushnje. I heard all of our previous investigators are doing well so that is good.

6. Do you have any idea when Kosovo will open?

Yes ha. Kosovo is going to be opened on Wednesday! Elder Klein and Elder Norris will be opening Kosovo. I am SO excited for them! It is absolutely amazing that we are able to go into a whole new country with mission work. Unfortunately, missionaries will only be staying there for 3 months at a time because they are on a tourist visa while they are there. Elder Klein leaves at the same time as Elder Roney and so they will be needing another missionary up there by July. I am not sure whether or not I will stay here in Shkoder and train, or if I will be going up to Kosovo with Elder Norris. The way President talked to me about Kosovo last week makes me think that I will be going up there at some point but then again, he will be leaving soon and I'm not sure what the Ford's have in store for me. Either way, I LOVE Shkoder and I am actually glad that I won't be going to Kosovo right now because we have found some amazing people this week that I want to stay here with and teach. I would love to stay in Shkoder forever. It's amazing.

7. Since President Neil only has one more month left – what happens if he doesn’t send you there before he leaves?

Well I'm guessing he will leave notes for the Ford's but either way, I really don't care if I go there or not. I have loved all of my areas that I have served in so far and I'm guessing that is how it will always be.

8. Did they figure out the election results yet?

I think that Bosha won but I'm not sure. Shkoder is a Democratic city and so they all want Bosha to win. So if he did win, there won't be any riots up here ha.

9. Do you have any investigators in Shkoder?

We do! This week we were out street contacting and we had a lot of success. We also do 4 English Classes a week because now that we are a 3-some, we have both sets of missionaries English classes. But while we were street contacting we met a boy named Rudolf. He is such a stud. We set up a lesson with him and did the zero lesson. Afterwards, he asked if he could stay longer and talk more about it with us. We obviously agreed. We assigned him a chapter to read in the Book of Mormon and he did it. He loved it. You should have seen the way he held the Book of Mormon after we gave it to him. He held it as if it was the most precious gift he has ever been given. Little did he know, it probably is. In fact, when he went to tie his shoes, he was about to set the book on the ground and then you could tell that he didn't want to put it in the ground so he awkwardly tried to balance it on his leg as he tied his shoes. He is so humble and awesome. He is totally going to get baptized. He came to church yesterday and loved it! We also had another lesson with him yesterday! He wants to meet with us pretty much every day. We have a meeting with him tonight too! I'm super excited. We also have a couple other people who are semi interested. But for now our main focus is Rudolf. He is 20 years old and just absolutely prepared by God. This week in District Meeting I talked about how we needed to have faith that we would find an investigator this week. I talked about how although this is a "hard" area, we could find those who were prepared if we had faith. All of us prayed extra hard to have faith to find. We did it. Success!

10. How far is Shkoder from Tirana?

3 hours.


So yeah, as you can tell I LOVE Shkoder so much. The Language here is SO cool. It is way cooler than normal Albanian. It's taking a little bit of time to get used to but I love it. It feels so good to be a missionary again. You have no idea!! I got an Email from Brother Herd my teacher in the MTC! It was great. It made me think about how far I have come with the help of the Lord. His email to me was in Albanian and I was just thinking about how 1 year ago, I would have had NO idea what that said ha. But now I read it as if it is English. Crazy what the Lord can do when you are in his service on his time. It was great to hear from Brother Herd though. I am super excited for him to come to Albania. From what I hear he is coming next summer which still gives me one more year to perfect my Albanian ha. I need to make sure that he is not disappointed with our group ha. Brother Herd was an awesome example to me in the MTC and he got me so excited for Albania because you could tell how much he loved this place. It's not hard to find out why. The people here are absolutely amazing.

I also loved the pictures you sent of Alexis's graduation! That is so crazy. She grew up way too freaking fast. That isn't fair. Her and Evan should get married. They look so cute together hahaha. okay fine, I just want Evan as a Brother in Law. So anyways, this week we did tons of work but we also had a TON of stuff to do because we moved Churches. The old church here was absolutely terrible. We now have a new apartment and we also have church in the apartment. So we had to move tons of stuff to the apartment to make it look like a church. It looks beautiful now and everyone loved it yesterday. Tonight we have a lot of people coming over for family night too. I can't even explain to you how much I love Shkoder. It's so awesome. I can't wait for the Church to grow here.

Mom and Dad, I had a question for you. I started reading the Book of Mormon over again a few weeks ago. I am focusing on the Savior this time through the Book of Mormon. I have been highlighting all references to him and a bunch of other stuff about him but I have been having trouble figuring out when it is talking about God the Father and then when it is talking about God (as Jesus). It is unclear to me sometimes. Can you help me?

Kendra, I am the coolest Eagle Scout in this entire world. Period. ha Deal with it.

Ashley, I hope you find yourself a job! I'll be praying for you. Oh and it's pretty crazy. Elder Roni is seriously just like JD. They are pretty much carbon copies. Personality wise. Cause Roni isn't 6 foot 7 with blonde hair. But he is pretty much just like him besides that. Basically what I'm trying to say is that Roni is the man.

We had a Zone conference this past week. It was awesome I'll attach the photo of it to you guys. It got me pumped up to do missionary work. I am going to miss President Neil a ton! But I know that the Ford's will do an awesome job too.

I am about out of time but I hope you all have a great week. Live it up! Love you all.

Elder Eckel