This past week has been amazing and I'm so excited to tell you all about it!
So.. It comes to me badly that I'm missing Canadian thanksgiving, however.. 3 of the 4 Canadians are currently serving here in Tirana.. So, we're having a party today!!! We're making waffles or something.. Why waffles? I don't know.. But that's the plan so whatever.
We all have so much to be grateful for! I especially feel that I have been so blessed by the Lord and I'm so thankful for the opportunity that I have to be a missionary.. Especially to be a missionary in the Adriatic South Mission. I LOVE where I serve. I absolutely adore the people, the place and the culture. And I'm convinced I have one of the best mission presidents ever. So, yeah. But seriously you guys.. I could not even begin to explain all of the things that I'm thankful for. Oh my goodness.
This past week was CRAZY though. Seriously. One day, we had 20 minutes for lunch. We are just so busy. But.. let me tell you about one of the greatest experiences ever. So, last week in weekly planning we were praying over the goals that we made for the week. We had originally planned a goal for 5 new investigators. After praying over the goals, Sister Coleman was like "I feel that something needs to be changed to 8." As I thought about that, I felt that it needed to be 8 new investigators. But.. my mind was like, yeah right. That's impossible. So, we prayed for a confirmation and we placed our trust in the Lord and set our goal for 8 new investigators.
Throughout the week we had successes in meeting with people and getting return appointments with them, but we also had people fall through. There were definitely times where Sister Coleman and I could not see how we were going to find 8 new investigators by the end of the week. So, it comes down to Sunday morning and we have 6 new investigators. In my mind I was like, alright.. it was close and we did our best. But then.. one of our potential investigators, Ledi, called us and told us she could meet. We met with her and had a good lesson and are going to meet with her again next week. So, our number was 7. Still really good.
It was like 7:30 at night and we had just finished watching the 2nd session of conference and we thought we'd go stop by some less active members' house. We called and asked them if they were in the house and they said yes, so we walked over there. I don't know why this is a thing.. but it ALWAYS happens that the members live on the top floor of the apartment building. So, we get up there.. and they're not in the house. What. We just called you!!! Haha, but nevermind it's okay.. So we're walking to go back to our house and then we remembered Matilda. Sister Coleman and her old companion had a lesson with her once but they didn't get a return appointment so she wasn't counted as a new investigator. So, we would have to get a solid time and day return appointment with her in order to count her as a new investigator. We started walking to her house and I just prayed in my heart the whole time, ensuring that the Lord knew that I had the faith that she would be there and that I had the faith in the goals that we set with Him. So, we knock on the door and she answers and she says that she'd love to meet with us next week and we set up a date and time.
8 new investigators. Seriously, when we set it I could not see how it was possible. I thought we were just being way too enthusiastic or something. But the Lord literally placed people in our paths.. It happens. This truly is the Lord's work. I know that when we place our faith in Him to guide us and when we confirm our ideas and our expectations with Him, we will achieve them. Anything is possible when it is in accordance with the will of the Lord. My testimony of this is SO strong.
We have a lot of really great investigators now. People that are really seeking for truth. But one of them is Gena. We met with her one of the first days that I was here and she's seriously one of the most repentant and prepared souls of I've ever met in my life. The first lesson that I had with her, I was like overwhelmed with the Spirit that she brought with her. She had met with Elders before meeting with us and so she had already been reading the Book of Mormon and stuff. But this last week, we had a lesson with her after not being able to meet with her for about a week. I called her and she sounded so sad on the phone and she told me that her Aunt had just died unexpectedly and I was waiting for her to say that she wouldn't be able to meet with us and stuff because Albanian traditions when someone dies are pretty intense.. But, then her sweet voice was like.. "Am I still ready to be baptized?" I just love her SO much. She's so amazing. She's getting baptized on Friday!!!! She passed her interview on Saturday and our District Leader came out of the interview with her and was like, "she's seriously amazing."
I can not express the privilege it is to be able to work with Gena. I would normally say the privilege it is to teach her.. But I feel like she always ends up teaching me. In the last lesson we had, she was telling us some of the experiences she had. And she showed us this huge scar she has on her head and apparently when she was 2 years old she quite literally almost died and the doctors had accepted the fact that she died, but her dad rushed in and put the oxygen mask back on her face and she came back to life and it was this amazing miracle. As a result of it, she spent her life looking for the truth and knowing that God was there. She knows that angels have looked out for her throughout her life. Anyway, she said that as a child she would spend the morning in the xhami.. or the mosque and then the afternoon she would spend in the Catholic church. She just wanted to know Christ and understand God. She told us that when she prayed for the first time with the missionaries, she knew that this Church was true. She knew that this was what she had been searching for all of her life. My eyes filled with tears as she bore her testimony of this gospel. She truly is one of the elect. I'm so thankful for her. She is a huge light in my life at this time.
So, as I hope you all can tell.. I'm extremely happy here. I love these people more than I could ever be able to express to you. They are incredible. They are so loving, generous and willing to help us with anything. Oh my goodness. I'm so happy to be working as much as we are. At the end of the day I'm just like.. okay.. bed. And I won't lie, sometimes in the morning I'm like.. can we just.. not? Can we just stay in sweats all day and do nothing? Haha, but as soon as I get out the door I know that I've been called to serve, I've been called to spend each day doing the Lord's work and being His instrument here in this part of the world. I hope that you can all sense my gratitude and love for our Savior and for His mercy.
I'll also add my thoughts on conference, I loved it. It was great. Watching it in a different language is definitely interesting. But, I think we all got the repeated message of sustaining and following our beloved Prophet. Truth is truth, and there will always be opposition to that truth. It might not be popular with the world, it might not get tons of 'likes' on Facebook or be 'moving with the times'.. But it is truth, and it is absolute. I love and sustain our Prophet, Thomas S. Monson and I know without a doubt that any counsel he gives to us are direct revelation from God. D&C 1:38.
I'm sorry this e-mail is so long.. but to prove my last point, I have a quick story. I was talking with one of the guys that do the translations for conference and I asked him if it was hard. He said that it's relatively pretty easy because they have the talks written out in front of them. But then he said, "It's hard to translate for President Monson because he always says things that are different from what is written." I know that when the Prophet stands up to speak, he speaks the very things that are placed in his mind through the Spirit of God and I know that when we follow his words we will never stray from the path of God.
I love you all, I am grateful for your love, support and your prayers. May you pass well.
With much love from Tirana,