Monday, October 25, 2010

the one about patience

All right, cool. Important news first: Our investigator, Fatjon, now has a baptismal date for the 6th of November! Yay! We had two lessons with him this week, and they were both with an awesome member named Besmir Dishnica. He recently returned from a mission to Russia, so he knows how to teach pretty well. Lessons with a member are ALWAYS better, because they can explain things better than we can, and the investigator is much, much more apt to open up and ask more questions. I just hope we can continue to do that.

Less important news is that we went back to the eye place at the hospital and got my eye checked on again. They said it's healing and that I didn't need to come back again, but they still want me to do "not too much effort" for another two weeks. That means no soccer for two more weeks. I'm kind of tired of all this crippledness, not being able to even exercise. It's hard not to get impatient. But then President Neil came to the branch yesterday and gave a short talk encouraging the members to be patient and endure. He said he remembers back when he was a missionary in Italy in 1967. There were less than 100 members in the whole country and he only baptized one little old lady his whole mission. He thought, "How can the church ever grow here?" But then look at it today: thousands of members and a temple soon to be built (and he said President Monson broke ground for the temple on Saturday! Woot!). President Neil emphasized that all things will come to pass, but in the Lord's time. I guess I needed a reminder of that.

Cool, talk to you all later.

Elder Weaver

Monday, October 18, 2010

the one about eyes

This week's post'll be a short one. Not much to talk about. The best thing that's happened is that we got in contact with the investigator who had been missing for over a month. We had a good meeting with him and it turns out he's been in the hospital with an injured shoulder. His desire to learn is still strong, and he came to church yesterday. It's a very good outlook for Fatjon.

A member who has some friends in some places got some ballet tickets and wanted to invite the mission president and his wife and a senior couple to go along with them. For some reason, we were the middlemen for the message. None of them could go, but for a perplexing reason, president said we could go ourselves. So we did. It was my first ballet experience ever, and I have to say it wasn't as bad as I thought it might be. The ballet was one by Chopin, the albanian name was "Dhimbje dhe Dashuri", I don't know the name in English, it wasn't a straight translation. I didn't really know what to expect, but there was a lot of piano music and jumping people. I liked the music well enough, and most of the dancers were pretty talented. An enjoyable evening altogether.

We went to the hospital on Wednesday and got my eye checked out. They looked with the standard scope thingy and then laid me down and smeared goo on my eye. Then they grabbed a big black stick and rubbed it all over the goo. It took me a while until I realized they were doing an ultrasound-type scan on my eye. That was a relief. Then they knew where to look and put me in another room and took pictures of my retina with a camera-machine which I'm pretty sure would be loads of fun to mess around with. But anyways, they said I had some small hemorrhages on the retina. They said it wasn't too serious, but serious enough to have me come back in 10 days, so I'm going back on Saturday. Until then, I have to take it easy. Use the elevator, not lift heavy objects, stuff like that. I'm just grateful I can still eat. Don't worry, I'll keep an... eye... on it. (oh man, I've been waiting six days to make that joke. I was about to explode with anticipation just then. I love it.)

Elder Weaver

Monday, October 11, 2010

the one about sudden returns

Ah... It's kind of hard sometimes to get really excited about people's conversions when they vanish after showing great promise. Elvis, the super-psychologist who promised God that he would be ready for his baptismal date, has totally disappeared, as well as all of our other investigators. Sometimes it's really hard to put forth the personal effort to teach people and really care about them when most of them will just dog you the next week...

But you know who's saying that? Satan, that's who. And what do you say to Satan when he's trying to get you down? You say, "Get thee the heck hence, Satan!" and you care about the people anyway. Sometimes they're just temporarily gone, too. One of our very promising guys, Fatjon (formerly spelled "Fation"), ran into the other elders and gave them his new number. We're pretty dang happy that he's back. And the other day we went to try and give a less-active lesson to a less-active member, but she wasn't at home and we ended up talking to her non-member husband. We did the usual small-talk, then got into religion, and he did the usual light bashing of religion in general. We asked the usual "why?" questions and we got to explain our beliefs in more detail, and he was surprised and we ended up with more in common that we thought we had. That usually happens. When people are informed about exactly what we believe, they're surprised at how logical and normal our beliefs are. We invited him to read the Book of Mormon, and he said he would. We also left a talk we had printed off ("Safety for the Soul" by Jeffrey R Holland, Oct. 2009 General Conference) that we were originally going to leave with his wife, but he said he'd read that, too. So yeah, there's some hope there, too.

Other noteworthy events: We were walking through a park that has a nice restaurant with outdoor tables, and we heard our names called. We looked over and it was a pair of Elders from 4th branch sitting at a table with many other people. We went over and a man insisted on buying us lunch. I got pork chops. They were delicious. Turns out that John Hansen here is from Salt Lake City. His company goes around to many different places in the world training the local police forces how to use forensic computer tools. He has a son on a mission in New Mexico, and he himself served in the Manhattan mission. A very nice man, indeed.

The other morning, we were playing soccer and the ball got kicked very hard. Normally, that happens. But what doesn't usually happen is that someone's eye is in the path of the kicked ball. That eye was my left one. I was blinded for a few seconds, but then I was fine. I still have a slight blind spot in the bottom of my peripheral vision. I might get it looked at. At least I didn't lose my contact!

We were going to visit someone we had found while tracting. Now, a lot of names here are also nouns, like Ilir (freedom) and g√ęzim (joy). This man's name was Festim, which means, "party". The lights were out in the stairwell and we went to what we thought was the right door. When we knocked, a woman in a bathrobe with wet hair answered the door. She, not knowing a man named Festim, heard this from us: "Good day! Is party here?" She looked confused and said, "Uhh.... no." Then we asked, "Oh. When will it come back?" Thoroughly creeped out by now, she said there was no party here and closed the door. We, realizing our mistake, first felt sheepish, then laughed. Hard.

Remember to shirk Satan, and have a good week!

Elder Weaver

Monday, October 4, 2010

the one where things pick up

This week has definitely been good. First, we were walking down the street and a guy comes up and wants to talk to us. He's been investigating the church for four years over the internet, and wanted to meet with us. His name is Elvis, and he's as cool as his name implies (actually, there are a lot of Elvises here in Albania). This man is only 22, but he is a psychologist working for an organization that helps people quit addictions. He's met with over 2000 people; 1000 or so of them have just stopped meeting with him, 700 of them he's helped recover, and 300 have died from their habits (smoking, drinking). He's really, really cool. On our first meeting with him, he accepted an October 30th baptismal date, and when he said the closing prayer, he asked God to help him work towards that date and he promised God that he'd be ready. I'm looking forward to working with this man.

We were tracting the other day and a man let us in. He claimed he wouldn't be converted; that he only wants to learn about what we believe like he's done with lots of other religions. But he was very eager to read the Book of Mormon, and that book alone might convert him. It's exciting to wonder what changes will happen in his life.

We got to go to the mission home on Saturday and Sunday at 6:00 pm to watch the 10:00 am sessions of general conference. It truly is a miracle that we, who were 6000 miles away, got to see and hear the prophet and the apostles. You know when they welcome those who are joining them through TV, radio, internet, satellite and stuff? I never thought I'd apply to that "satellite" category. It was a great experience; I loved all of the talks (especially Elder Holland's talk thanking everyone. You could feel that it was extremely heartfelt). I'm glad we'll be able to read all the talks in a few weeks in the Liahona, too.

Well, the only other exciting thing that happened was that we went to the local McDonald's ripoff called Kolonat for lunch (pronounced "colon-ought", as in, "your colon ought to be made of steel before you try this"). It actually wasn't that bad. The fries tasted kind of like McDonald's fries and the burger was decent, even though the meat tasted more like a sausage than beef.

I'm grateful things are picking up, and I'm looking forward to cooler temperatures.

Elder Weaver