Monday, July 26, 2010

the one about a wheelchair

Ahh, finally a break from the heat. It rained pretty hard yesterday and today is nice and cloudy.

Yesterday we had the first baptism that I've been a part of! Her name is Vanina, and she'd been an investigator for about 4 years. When I got here a few weeks ago, she came to the point where she had to really decide whether she wanted to be a part of this great work or not. Good thing she chose to get baptized. She's a very smart 18 year old and she knows a lot about many churches.

I'm kind of tickled with myself; I now have a cheesy story about helping someone in a wheelchair. I think everyone secretly wants a wheelchair story. Anyway, it all started a few weeks ago when one of the missionary couples were recognized by another couple who'd recieved a wheelchair from the church for their son. The church gave these wheelchairs to the community as a humanitarian thing, not a proselyting tool. But the people who got the wheelchair wanted missionaries over anyway to talk with them, so that was cool. We went to their house and met them and their son who uses the wheelchair. They adopted him as a baby after his mother died in labor. He was born parylyzed from the thighs down, so he can get around the house on his knees well enough, but the wheelchair really helps to go out and about. He's in his late 30's and is a bit slow mentally, but not too much. Yesterday we took him to church, and I piloted him from the bus to the church, then at church, I took him to the investigator's class after sacrament meeting. He's no lightweight and I had to haul him up 2 flights of stairs. Good thing I'm so buff. It's just a small sacrifice to help my fellow man to be fed spiritually.

Well, that's about it. Things are going great. Bye!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Quarter way

Huh, tomorrow is the 25% mark. That went fast.

Man, I am so glad the weather supposedly hit it's hottest point last week. Just yesterday, it was 40 degrees Celsius. Now, if my math is right, that's 108 Fahrenheit. When you add the humidity, I make for one drenched missionary. I sweat so much it just looks like I poured water on myself. Luckily I use military-grade deodorant. A few of these Albanians should take a hint from me and use some. Buses are miserable with the heat and the smell and the people packed in like sardines. But at least the buses are cheap: 30 cents a person. Very useful when we're running a bit late.

We're doing pretty well, but a lot of our work is going to disappear. We're teaching some kids whose mom is a member, but their school will start up again soon, so we won't be able to meet as often. A recently-baptized member who we have retention lessons with will be attending university in France, and a few other people we teach are going to be going on long vacations. And Adam will be returning to England in a week. Hopefully with all of these people, we've helped them have a desire enough to continue being taught with us after they get back, or to contact the missionaries where they'll be living. We'll be starting to have less-active lessons with a really, really strong member. The problem is, he's starting work at 2 jobs, 15 hours a day, to get out of a rough spot. It will only be for a few months, but he won't be able to attend church, and technically, he'll be a "less-active" member. So we're going to be visiting him on a few of his lunch breaks at work, to see how he's doing and lift his spirits. He's the guy who learned English in England and sounds like an Irishman. He's hilarious.

Not much else to say. I'm gonna go sweat somewhere.

Elder Weaver

Monday, July 12, 2010

Hello there

Ahh, back in Tirana!

I must not lie... I love it here. I've missed the big city feel with the big city people. Everyone here is more open to new ideas and such than in smaller towns. One thing I like about being here is that we're always busy. Mostly with teaching, and when we have an hour or two once a week that we don't have a lesson scheduled, we try a little finding.

Friday we had mission conference, and we were trained by Elder Causse, a counselor in the presidency of the 70 over Europe. He taught us many things, but mostly that all we do comes from our desires. Scripture after scripture illustrates that it was the person's desires that guided them to do certain things, whether they be good or bad. We were also taught to look for specific people when we find, not just sift through random masses and hope we strike it lucky. So we tried it.

We went to the artificial lake on Saturday to find a man in his 20's or 30's. Well, we went around one side of the lake, found nobody, went back and started on another path, and it took a bit of courage, but we finally walked up to a black man (pretty dang rare here) stretching his hamstrings. He started talking to us in English, which we were expecting, but we weren't expecting the Jamaican accent! We found out that Sisi here was living in Dubai, and he came here to play soccer for one of the small cities to kind of take a break for awhile. He's half Nigerian and half Jamaican, and he seemed interested, so we're going to hook him up with the Elders in the area he's living in.

We went out and had a "coffee" with an investigator of ours. We do this a lot here. Once people get more comfortable with us, they take us out to a cafe to chat. We usually sit at the outside tables. I get a Fanta Exotic (mmm), and we just talk about them and get to know them more and teach a few principles of the gospel. I got to know Fatione better on Saturday. He speaks English pretty well, so it wasn't as hard to have a good conversation. Turns out, he likes a lot of the same comedians we do, and like me, loves electronic music. We talked about our favorite DJs and genres and stuff and it was really great!

The language is coming along full steam ahead. A lot of things we learned in the MTC about the grammar is making sense now, and I'm seeing how it all fits together. Constantly when my mind is wandering, thinking random phrases, it's also trying to translate those phrases without my permission. This happened with German, and its happening now. In passive listening, I can understand most words and what's going on 96% of the time, but when people talk directly at me, it goes down to like 64.6%, which I hear is pretty normal for everyone.

We visited a man named Adam for the first time yesterday. He's from England and married a less-active member, and she wanted us to teach him a bit to see if he's interested. I like Adam. He's a pretty laid-back guy, likes electronic music also, and loves to read. He was discernably excited when we gave him his own copy of the Book of Mormon and wants to read it as soon as he can.

Speaking of English speakers with non-American accents, there's a member named Mario who spent a few years in England and speaks to us in English with an Irish accent, which I think is pretty dang cool-sounding. He's a very strong member, and we've had great discussions with him. He's great to have in a lesson because he's great at connecting with people, making them feel at ease with his warm sense of humor.

Sunday we didn't have normal church meetings, instead all the members in Albania met at the Palace of Congress (really just a big auditorium) here in Tirana. There were sadly only about 200 people there, but that's ok. We heard a great talk by Elder Causse about covenants and he urged the members to get a temple recommend, and then make every effort to go to the temple in Switzerland. If they couldn't get to the temple, then at least they would have a recommend and be living worthy of it. We also heard President Niel, our mission president, describe how he was blessed to be one of the first missionaries in Italy. He remembers thinking "How could the church ever grow here?", and now, 40 or 50 years later, there are 7 stakes and a temple soon to be built. He said the same thing could happen here.

Goodbye, I'm going to go enjoy my special treat now.
My very own Mountain Salami. From Austria!
Elder Weaver

Monday, July 5, 2010

Hey there

Another week comes to a close, and the hot season is that much closer to ending... though I fear it hasn't hit it's max yet. I think I'm getting used to the heat because I don't even notice when I start sweating and when I stop. Today we went to a caged in football (soccer) pitch and played a game with us 4 missionaries and about 5 of the 12-30 year-old members. I wasn't expecting to have much fun, but surprisingly, I did! Maybe I just haven't been running around in so long I've missed it. By the end of the game, I think I'd lost about 2 kilos in sweat, but I was sure to drink it back.

The mustachioed beret-man came to church again, but he left before the meetings started. It may have been because the elder he was obsessed with finally took a hard stance against the borderline groping. Elder Asquith smacked beret-man's hands away and said "Mos më prek!" (Don't touch me!). I would have done the same.

It's kind of sad, but the baptism we had scheduled for yesterday didn't happen at all. The two girls who committed to baptism haven't come to church or activities or anything since we last talked to them over 3 weeks ago. Oh well, people have their agency, I just wish they could see how great the Gospel is and how it can help them.

Well, Fier has been interesting and a good experience for me, but I found out Saturday night that I'm being transferred back up to Tirana! *quiet "yay"s are heard* I'll be going to 2nd branch, and I get to be companions with Elder Moyes, of whom I have heard much good about.

Well, uhh... bye!