Wednesday, March 9, 2011

“We rebounded this week"

Hey Mom!

Well, in the words of Elder Holmes, “We rebounded this week.” We actually did have a pretty good week. Like I said last week, I really wanted to start focusing on involving the members more in our missionary work and I believe we met that goal this week. Basically for any lesson that we had that wasn’t tracting we had a member with us. It made for some interesting moments, but there were also some really incredible moments.

Ha ha one of my personal favorites was with one of our investigators named Sajmir. We invited a member named Genti to come help us teach the lesson. Genti is a really good YSA in the Vlorë branch. We figured that he would be good for Sajmir because he’s around his age and he’s just a cool guy. He says it like it is and he’s not afraid or ashamed of what he believes. We had planned on talking about baptism with Sajmir and hopefully setting a baptismal date with him. As we were talking about baptism with him, he really wanted to know what you have to stop doing when you get baptized. Sajmir is a DJ and so I figured that he was worried that he might have to quit that and just study about church stuff all the time. Some people think that we’re asking them to become just like we are and preach the gospel all day every day. So I explained to him that back home I was a musician and it’s not like I can’t do that and still be a member of the church. He said, “Okay, but what else?” We told him that there were some commandments that we’d teach him in later appointments, but he was really insistent that he wanted to know them right then. And I could tell that Genti just wanted to tell him everything so finally we just let him do that. It was pretty funny. He started out with the Word of Wisdom and luckily Sajmir didn’t have a really big problem with that. But then he got to the Law of Chastity. After he had explained it, Sajmir was like, “Oh?. . . .that seems kinda weird to me.” You could tell that that was a hard one for him to take. We explained to him that we knew it seems weird, but if he would try it he would see the blessings of it. He still didn’t really like it and said again, “That just seems really weird to me. . .” Then Genti came back in and told him that if Genti could do it then so could he cause apparently Genti was a big smoker and drinker before he became a member. Then Sajmir said, “No, for the alcohol and cigarettes and stuff I don’t have a problem. It’s this other one that’s killing me!” We all had a pretty good laugh about that, but Genti was able to testify about the power of it in his life and how much prayer has helped him as he has tried to keep that law. It turned out to be kind of a crazy lesson, but because of the testimony of a member, Sajmir said he’s willing to do an experiment and give it a try. If it was just us teaching him that, there’s no way that he would have agreed to it. But since Genti was there, it became real for him and not something really out of this world.

Last night we had the opportunity to go visit Xhiovani’s family for the first time. It was awesome! We took Arti Hodaj, our young men’s president, with us to the lesson. It turns out that Arti is like 2nd or 3rd cousins with Xhiovani so his family already knew Arti. We had a short lesson about the doctrine of Christ and how we knew that the things that Xhiovani had been learning at church not only would strengthen him, but could strengthen their entire family. We committed them to baptism and they agreed! Now, I’m a retard and forgot to set a date or do basically anything else except for agree to be baptized so that will have to come in a later lesson, but hey, what can you do? But after we talked about baptism, we asked Arti to share his testimony about how the church and baptism has helped him in his family. As he shared his simple testimony, a different feeling was there. As foreigners and as missionaries, we can teach with the Spirit, but I’ll tell you what, when a member adds a simple but sincere testimony, it brings it to a whole new level. And I don’t know if the family even felt it or recognized it, but I sure did. I’m really grateful for the testimony of the members here in Vlorë. I’ve learned to appreciate them a lot more this week as we’ve strived to work with them.

I can’t forget Mrs. Potato Head. We brought a member named Ganjel to teach her this week. Ganjel is 18 or 19 years old and one of those people who is kinda the life of the branch. I was kind of nervous to bring him cause I was worried about how well he was going to get along with Liria, but when we got there and started teaching that feeling of worry just left. Liria loved him. She basically just wanted to talk to him instead of us. It was great! We really had a great lesson with her and I think Ganjel enjoyed it to. She had some questions that he was able to answer from the perspective of somebody who hasn’t been in the church their entire life. Like I’ve said before, she was baptized in 1944 into the Orthodox Church and she has a really hard time feeling like its okay to be baptized again. And we’ve explained everything we can about authority and the fact that there’s only one true church and all that good stuff, but she just reacted a lot better to someone that could relate to her.

Well I’ve definitely been blabbing for too long now. Holy cow. I hope things are going well over there. Sounds like you have some exciting things coming up! Man I bet Tim is looking forward to the Webelos thing. That’s right up his alley.

So was my room a beast to clean? It can’t have been easy after almost two years. Dad said that Bear was liking it. Bear’s not going to freak out at me, is he? He better not cause I’ll punch him right in the face. ;) You should tell him that. Sigh, I’m excited to come home, but at the same time not. There are definitely good things about home, but it’s just really hard to accept that I’m never going to be an Elder in Albania again. I’ve learned A TON while I’ve been here and it’s just weird that it’s ending. Really weird. I don’t like it. But I’ll try to focus on the positives when I get back. For right now, we’re just trying to work hard and get stuff done.

Anyway, I’m gonna go now! I love you!

-Elder Swenson

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