Monday, August 9, 2010

Really Cool Story

Hey Mom!

Okay okay okay! I’ll answer you’re questions first and then I have a really cool story to tell you. About the package, yes I did get both of them! I thought you were just talking about the first one. I had no idea there was a second one coming and so when it came on Saturday I was blown away! Thank you for all the stuff! Those are some pretty serious shoes. I’m going to save those ones for winter since they have huge soles. I really like these Rockports you sent me by the way. At first I didn’t know if they were going to work out because they were a little big, but they are awesome. Thank you so much for all the candy, too. That’s gonna take me a while to take that all down. But we’re both working on it so don’t worry.

Also, things are going well with Vasil. He is unbelievably talkative which makes the lessons really hard. It’s to the point where we almost can’t ask him questions or else he will just talk at us for a good ten or fifteen minutes about the churches in his village or just random things about famous characters in the time of communism and stuff like that. We’re working with him. He understands the fact that he’s getting baptized and I am pretty sure he understands why, but we might have to push his date back a little bit. Vëllai Saraçi has been really amazing. He’s Vasil’s friend and he has been helping us a ton and we’re very grateful to him. We’re going to have to make him some cookies or something. Oh, one more thing. How do you pronounce Vasil’s name? I just want to hear it cause I think it would be hilarious. ;) In Albanian, you pronounce it Vah-seal.

Alright it’s really cool story time now.
Last night was probably the best night of my entire mission. I have seriously never run into a more prepared person in my entire time here. We had no meetings set up after lunch and so we did as missionaries do and went tracting. A couple weeks ago we had enlisted the help of the spirit to show us where we should go tracting to find the elect and were directed to a place called Allias (All-ee-oss). It’s about a half hour walk from our house but since we had nothing else to do we decided we might as well just go for it. So we made the journey and went to our first shkallë. In the stairways, we always go all the way to the top and tract down. At the very top of this shkallë there was a girl sitting out on the stairs just playing with her phone or something. We went up to her, smiled, and introduced ourselves as representatives of Jesus Christ. We told her that we had a special message that would bless her life. She interrupted us and said, in Albanian, “I don’t understand Albanian very well. One second,” and she called her mom out from the house. Her mom came out and we smiled and greeted her. She asked us where we were from and we replied that we were American. She looked surprised and asked us kind of harshly, “Well why aren’t you speaking to my daughter in English?!” We answered, “We didn’t know she understood English!”

We talked a little bit to the girl and then, because we’re dumb, started talking to the mom again. We started talking about the Book of Mormon and how it could bless their family’s life. As we were talking to the mother, the girl said something to her in Greek that we didn’t understand. The mom relayed the message just kind of in passing that the girl wanted to hear what we had to say. So we asked the mom if we could sit down and talk with her daughter for a minute. They were so excited to let us in! It was kind of awkward cause the daughter, Jenny, was the only one who understood English, but she was the one who wanted to hear the message so we taught her while everyone else just kinda sat around and watched.

Jenny is amazing. She is 18 years old and has lived in Greece for the last 13 years of her life. We talked a little bit about how she learned English and why she was in Albania and what not. Then we asked her the big one. “Jenny, do you believe in God?” In response to that question, she told us that she used to believe in God, but now she is pretty doubtful about it. We asked her why. She told us about an experience she had that was extremely hard for her to go through. She had lost someone very close to her when she had been praying and praying for God to not let her die. And after that she said that she just doesn’t feel like God hears her. Like she’s talking to herself when she prays. She even said that sometimes it feels like God hates her. This happened six months ago and ever since then, she’s had a small prayer in her heart that God would send her some people that could talk to her about God. After six months, we showed up and she knew it was a small answer to her prayers.

We talked to her a little about that experience and about prayer. She asked us what happened in our lives that made us believe that God was there. We shared our simple testimonies that through reading the Book of Mormon and praying to God to know if He was there and if these were his words, that we felt the answer. We read Moroni 10:4-5 and explained that if she would pray to God with a sincere heart, with real intent, and with faith, that God would answer her. There was a spirit there in the lesson that I have not felt for a long time. I don’t know why, but she trusted us and felt like she could ask us questions. It was about 7:00 when we finished teaching her and the only copies of the Book of Mormon we had were in Albanian. We told her that because she was so awesome, we were going to go run and grab one in English and one in Greek and bring them back to her. So we went back to the church all the way from Allias and got two copies of the Book of Mormon for her and went all the way back to give them to her. It was the happiest hour of walking in my entire life. When we got back, she was waiting at the bottom of the stairs, still with her mom and grandma and a couple other friends. We gave them all a book and we’re going back on Tuesday. I am so excited.

I am so grateful to the Lord for the experience we had last night. Honestly I have never met anyone on my mission like Jenny before. I have never so literally been a part of an answer to somebody’s prayer before and it was awesome. We hadn’t even knocked one door. There’s no one else that could have communicated with her cause she doesn’t speak Albanian. She was so ready and now I am praying so hard that she gets an answer to her prayers. If you can, pray for her as well. God is there and He loves us. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it, but then there are those moments that are undeniable. Last night was one of those for me. I don’t feel like I deserved that. God loves me way too much.
This was super long and I’m sorry and now I am completely out of time. I’m sorry you all get the same e-mail this week, but you have to understand that this was literally the best story of my entire mission. I feel so blessed right now and I hope this story makes you happy!

I love you all! Thanks for everything in the packages. By the way, Lindsey, those bracelets were SUPER cool. Especially the black and white one. Much appreciated.

-Elder Swenson

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