Saturday, October 22, 2011

the one about home

Elder Mitchell Weaver returned home from his mission on Friday, October 21 with a Medical Release. We are glad to have him home and hope to have him diagnosed and on the road to recovery soon.

Monday, October 17, 2011

the one about a little

Things are going great here in Lushnjë. When I really sit back and look at the big picture, it's a beautiful picture. Seminary is going well, the kids are learning, church meetings are good, we're doing lots of retention work, and we had one of our investigators in church.

I'll tell about our investigator: His name is Xhani (Johnny), and he's about 65 years old. That's getting up there by Albanian standards. He's a really nice guy, and very sharp. He works as a French teacher, and he's really interested in learning English, so we teach him English and the Gospel. The thing that's great about him, is that he reads the Book of Mormon by himself! Most people we have to pester and poke and prod to get them to read, but Xhani does it gladly. I'm really happy for him, and I hope he will get a testimony soon.

Cool, that's it. I love you all, in a family way!

Elder Weaver

Monday, October 10, 2011

the one about hope

So, I got a new companion! His name is Elder Kay, from Calgary, Alberta. He's only got three months under his belt but already speaks like he's been here for nine months. We're having a great time here in the branch.

Last Monday, seminary started. It looked kind of sad having just us, the teacher, and two students. But slowly, more and more people came during the week and on Thursday we had nine kids there! It's great to see them learning from the scriptures, and especially learning that the scriptures have a lot of real-life application if you just pay attention.

And finally, yesterday we walked Rajmond (rye-moaned) all the way to his house after church. I have an even greater respect for this faithful man. The walk from the church to his house takes two hours. He does this twice every Sunday. We met him at his small plot of land with his cows and had a little lesson on hope. He says the only thing that keeps him going is a firm hope for a better future, which he gets from reading the scriptures at night by the light of his cell phone. This man is an inspiration to me, and if he doesn't get into the celestial kingdom, I sure as heck won't.

I sincerely hope the best for all of you!

Elder Weaver

Monday, October 3, 2011

the one about continued success

Woot woot, we got another baptism!

From left to right:  Elder Weaver, Florida (flow-REED-uh),
Nedi (neddy), Elder Ireland
She's from a member family that sadly went less-active when she turned eight, so now she's 14 and just getting baptized. We're slowly reactivating her family, and it's great!

Also, we got a picture of the branch yesterday!

I really like Lushnjë!

Allës gut!

Elder Weaver

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

the one about victory

And another two investigators make it to the finish line! Well, the finish line as far as us missionaries are concerned. Now we just need to make sure they don't stray off the strait and narrow path. The baptism happened on Saturday in Durrës, and for a moment there, we were worried that we wouldn't make it on time, but we did! And only one person threw up during the ride! (most Albanians aren't used to riding in a car). Here's some pictures! Of the ride, not the vomit ;)

There's my companion on the right and the district leader's companion on the left.
Elder Anderson and I sat up front. It was packed.

And here are pictures taken at the chapel:

From left to right: Me, Ambra (om-bra), Xhina (jee-nuh), and Elder Ireland (el-durr ay-ur-land)

The guy on the left is Joni (yo-knee) and the guy on the right is Nedi (neddy)
That was definitely the highlight of the week. Another fun thing that happened was that we lured a wild cat into the house and then shut the door. It tried to get out, and we let it out eventually, but not after posing for some pictures:

Aww, he's trying to escape!
He scratched me and I've been feeling kind of weird lately. I have an intense craving for meat and I've been foaming at the mouth a bit. Just kidding.
Qofshit mirë!

Elder Weaver

Monday, September 19, 2011

another one about baptismal dates

This week has been great! Our two baptismal candidates will get baptized on Saturday, and I'm really excited about it. It'll be "my" second and third baptisms in the mission, and I hope there's at least a couple more in store before I leave.

Last night we tracted into a lady who was evangelical. She said she'd heard about us before, and she just had a few questions that involved additional scripture. My companion tried to explain how her argument was invalid, but she just dodged the answer. Then I said, "Hey, we don't like to debate, we just invite people to find out for themselves. If we give you this book, will you read it?" and she said yes, so that was a net positive experience. I hope she reads it and gives it a fair chance.

We also had an activity on Saturday about holding to the iron rod. We set up a string throughout the yard and into the house and posted quotes from 1 Nephi chapter 8, and had some "temptations" to try and get them to let go of the rod. I was in the club here, ready to mark the hands of any club-goers:

Aaand, to top it all off, just this morning we went to Apollonia, just outside of Fier. I heard it's also called "Gylaceia". Apollonia is a site with a few Greek ruins. And that's about all I can say about it. There wasn't too much there, just a few column tops (forgot what they were called) supported by some good old Communist Cement.

Hey, at least they tried to make it look like it was still standing
There were also a few other interesting things around there, but I highly doubt the authenticity of some of the column pieces (I tapped some of them with a rock and they sounded metal and hollow).

But then, we explored the area around more, and found some cool vistas. Albania's had some wildfires lately, and that explains the burnedness of some stuff.

I kept hoping for a flaming bird to burst out of the ground.
Then, we ran into some... interesting constructions...

There be bats here. One flew at my face. I screamed. I mean, yelled very manly in order to warn my fellows of a possible rabies risk.

And finally, I found a place to make a cool jumping picture. I then made a cool jumping picture.

Hah, take that, bats! I'll just jump away from you!
That's all. I honestly and sincerely hope and pray every one of you back home is doing well with your health, family and work.

Elder Weaver

Monday, September 12, 2011

the one about baptismal dates

Whew, today has been tiring. Sorry if this e-mail is not up to the caliber or powder charge as previous loads. We spent pretty much all day going to, in and coming back from Tirana for some business up there. Problem is, today is the first day of school, and after walking 30 minutes out to the roundabout at the freeway to grab a van to Tirana, there were about 12 other people there too, needing to get to the various universities there. So we waited, and finally decided to take a slow, bumpy, unnecessarily time-consuming bus.

We still have three baptismal dates, and it looks good for them! They've so far shown a pretty strong desire to get baptized, and I'm looking forward to it. It's good to see them developing habits early in life that will help them now and forever.

In miscellaneous news, I made a fruit smoothie out of milk, sugar, a banana, and a kiwi. Except that the kiwi was kind of not ripe. It added a sensation to the concoction. Mostly, a painful, burning sensation on the lips. Interesting. Also, I decided to buy an ear of corn from a person off the street, but I bought a raw one because I wanted to boil it instead of get it grilled from them. I broke the cob in half then put it in water and turned on the burner. A few minutes later I come back to find this little guy:

Your cozy little home just became a death-filled cave, didn't it?
Also, yesterday, I found something amazing at the store:

Yes, those are bacon-wrapped Vienna sausages. Yes, that is ketchup. Yes, it was perfect.
 I hope everyone is doing not just well, but amazingly! And hold on to your amazing moments, they're rare!

Elder Weaver

Monday, September 5, 2011

the one about gauntlets

Now, the title of the blog post doesn't have anything to do with the silver and gold gauntlets that allow Link to throw boulders many times his weight and toss aside the giant columns in Ganondorf's castle, but rather it refers to a very testing challenge, or a very challenging test. As in, we positively threw down the gauntlet this past week with two of our investigators.

Their names are Ambra (OM-bra) and Xhina (GEE-nuh). They are two close friends who both went to EFY. When they returned they expressed a desire to get baptized ASAP, and so we made sure that they knew what baptism entailed and all they would have to do. Then we set a date of September 24th for both of them to get baptized. This requires us to meet with them 3 times a week, not including church. So far, they've come to all the meetings. I really hope they make it through; they would be great members.
Yesterday, another prospective member brought her father to church. He was the reason she couldn't get baptized, and hopefully after his experience yesterday he'll see that we're a perfectly normal church. It was a good fast and testimony meeting, to boot!
Also, last Monday the Fier elders came for exchanges. We had a little bit of fun on the bumper cars:
That's me with Chief Anderson (actually District Leader Anderson, but Chief has a nicer ring to it).
I hope everyone is doing well and remembering the Lord in all they do.
Elder Weaver

Monday, August 29, 2011

the one about EFY

Alrighty then, what events will I pull out of last week's hat? Well (I think I overuse the word 'well' as a sentence starter), we met with the nice young couple who gave us the salty yogurt drink. They gave it to us again! Rejoice! But this time I was prepared with some Pepto-Bismol® tablets in my pocket. They helped the battle in my stomach after we left. Something about that drink just doesn't sit well with the body. But the lesson itself was good; I really hope they progress.

We also had the kids return from EFY. I was kind of worried that they wouldn't be able to control that many teenagers, especially because it was the first time for EFY here in Albania. But my worries died without being fulfilled! Everyone loved it! One girl said that she and her friends cried the first night because they weren't expecting it to be so churchy. I asked if they cried the last day, and she said they did because they didn't want to go home. In sacrament meeting yesterday I asked the kids who went to bear their testimony about how EFY helped them. One girl jumped up quickly and described how she'd never felt that kind of happiness before, and how she really wants to dedicate herself to God. We'll hopefully get a baptismal date with her soon.

So I guess that doesn't look like a very long post, but trust me, this week was very good. I hope everyone back home is doing well, and since I've been studying the Old Testament lately, I hope everyone is following the basics to having a good life.

Elder Weaver

Monday, August 22, 2011

the one about new tastes

Holy COW. I thought the latter half of August would be a bit cooler, not Hot-Pocket-hot like it has been. Seriously, I think my body chemistry has changed over these last 2 summers to adapt to the heat/moisture combination. I smell weird now. It's not necessarily bad, just different. Hopefully the clouds of deodorant I use will keep things settled down. 

This morning, we sent 9 kids off to Especially for Youth, which is cool because this is the first year they are trying it in Albania. Only one of the kids was a member, the rest were not, so hopefully they have good experiences and want to learn more. I'm super-relieved that my part is over, because as branch president I had to register the kids online, collect payment from them, and generally herd them. But, they're good kids, and I think they'll have the time of their lives.

Yesterday we tracted into a family who let us in, and we had a good first lesson. The thing that was not cool about it was they served us a drink called dhallë (th- [as in "the"]-all). You can experience it, too! To make this drink, take some plain yogurt. Now dump salt in it. Now water it down until it has the consistency of lumpy milk. Enjoy! I had to go home afterwards and be near a bathroom.

Also, in church we had one of our investigators come. He's a really cool guy named Jetmir (yet-meer). He's a really humble and funny guy, and I have high hopes for him. It was his first time in church yesterday, but he sang just like everyone else!

I wish the best for everyone back home, and all that stuff. I say that every week, but I really do mean it. If I could, I'd accompany my words with a song, but that would take too long.

Elder Weaver

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

the one about pain

This week, and especially the last few days have been kind of trying.

At some time during the week, I forget which day, I just couldn't sleep. Not at all. I tried everything I could think of and even went out on the balcony to take pictures of the moon (they didn't turn out well, by the way). Finally, at 4:30 AM, I fell asleep, only to wake up a few hours later to go to a branch president's training in Tirana.

Then we went again on Monday (yesterday) to the greek hospital in Tirana. Let's just say I'll have to give my future children a good time-out, because they've been causing me lots of pain recently. But I woke up Monday morning at 4:30 and couldn't get back to sleep (of course), and had a miserable time in the bathroom. I don't know why, but I felt like I had just eaten a bucket of coagulated lard and it wanted to come back up. I fought the urge to throw up the whole day, which is hard when you're riding on a hot, slow bus on a bumpy road. But I made it there without making a mess! It also helps that my companion gave me a blessing that I'd be able to make it there in one piece.

At the hospital, they did some tests and exams and couldn't find anything wrong, so that's good. I guess I'll just tough it out.

As far as people other than myself (sorry for talking so much about me), we haven't had much time to meet with them :( It just seemed like people were so busy they could only meet in a very narrow window of time, and that window happened to open up to a brick wall of something we had already planned. But at least we can still contact them! Also, we still might have a baptism in September, so that's something to rejoice about!

Today, we went to Berat (bay-ROT) for our district trip. I've been there before, but the rest of the district hadn't, so we went. Here are some pictures. They've all been taken inside the castle walls, where people still live.

I wish all the best for everyone and everything!

Elder Weaver

Monday, August 8, 2011

the one about motives

Let's see, what has happened in the last 168 hours or so? Well, we met a few cool people while tracting. One guy was totally chill and let us sit down on stools right at his door and teach him a first lesson. We gave him a Book of Mormon to read, but sadly, they didn't answer the door when we went for a follow-up visit.

Another guy was just sitting outside at a table when he said he wanted to talk to us. Again,  I thought it wouldn't go anywhere, but it turns out he lived in England for a few years and wanted to practice his English. He seemed OK, kind of not interested in the Gospel, but we'll give him one last shot.

Also, we tracted into a woman whose sister happened to live in America many years ago. We did our usual speil when a neighbor lady opened her door and asked if we could get her to America. We said absolutely not, we have no ties whatsoever to the embassy, we're only here to talk to people about God, and that we cannot help her get to America. Of course, neighbor lady persisted and kind of ruined the discussion we were having with the first lady, but we'll go back sometime and see if she actually still wants to learn about God.

Other than that, it was a great 168 hours! Yesterday we had 12 people in church for fast and testimony meeting. I hope the best for all you good people back home!

Elder Weaver

Monday, August 1, 2011

the one about prepared people

So, first off, here's a picture of my new (actually 3-week-old) companion, Elder Ireland from Mesa, Arizona.

And now, down to business: This week was tiring! It started out early on with us helping our landlord with a bit of home improvement. He's going to lay cement and floor tiles on the roof (the roof is flat, so it's not as weird as you might think). He had a truck come with bags of cement and a big pile of sand. We unloaded the cement bags then the guy dumped the sand in the yard. Then, we had a big job to do. We carried these bags of cement up about 3 flights of stairs. By the way, they weighed 110 lbs. The only way to carry them was to give them the Heimlich maneuver. Then, later that day, we got 3-gallon buckets and filled them with the sand and carried them one at a time up to the roof. We made about 12 trips each until we tired out, then he said we'd work on it more another day. We probably only got a fifth of it done, and that's just hauling the sand up to the roof. There'll be a lot more work when we get it all up there.

We were walking next to a building one day and a lady turned the tables by stopping and talking to us. Usually, that's a sign they're crazy, but this lady was cool! She actually met with missionaries a few years before but lost contact. She works in a little insurance office and says that she and her friend read the Book of Mormon when they have free time, and she reads it to her daughter. That's crazy! I've never encountered that before. It's awesome how the Lord prepares people to receive the gospel. We have high hopes for her!

On Friday we went to Tirana to do some business up there and get me a 6-month dental checkup (no problems, woot!). But on the way to the Tirana vans in Lushnjë, we were stopped by a reporter/radio person on the street. They wanted a little shout-out to Lushnjë, and after some persuading, I agreed to say a few things into the microphone. They just asked how I thought the weather was, what we were doing and such. A fun little distraction to an otherwise boring day.

Yesterday we made Hawaiian pizzas! Man, I think that's going to be one of my favorite Sunday lunches from now on. But we overestimated the amount of toppings we'd need, so later that night, I had myself a little ham-pineapple salad!

I want to congratulate whoever thought up of the pineapple/ham combination.

That's all. I wish everyone all the best.

Elder Weaver

Monday, July 25, 2011

the one about people

Alright, here's the sit-rep: Work here is amazing! We've been hunting though the member records and seeing who still has a valid phone number and hasn't moved to Greece/Italy. We've also been asking members whom they think should be visited, and it's been a great success!

We visited at least 4 less-active people and had great lessons with them all. We also have met with a few active members doing turbo visits. The sad thing is, even though these people are active, some of them haven't had missionaries in their homes in months. It would be a shame if missionaries just thought "Oh, that person comes to church, therefore we don't have to worry about them" We're glad to sit with them and drink a cola while finding out more about their lives. Why, just last night, we met with some members who have two sons who are both in school in Bucharest, Romania. It's interesting to talk to everyone because they all have a different story.

Also yesterday, we got a surprise call from President Ford. "Ah, hello, President! Oh, you're in Fier, and you'll be in Lushnjë in 15 minutes? Well, sure you can swing by! We'd be glad to see you!" Enter panic mode cleaning the bathroom and straightening up clutter. Not really; I wasn't worried at all. They came by with a special guest: Elder Fingerly of the Area Seventy! They just came by to see the church/house combination. It was kind of cool to have a Seventy in the house, and I got to try out my rusty German with him! He said it sounded good, but I think he was just being nice.

That's about all. I hope you all have a great, safe week!

Elder Weaver

Monday, July 18, 2011

the one about potential

So here I am in Lushnjë, one of the smallest "cities" in Albania. I'm the branch president, which is fun, and I have a new, full-of-energy companion. Not that he's hyperactive or anything, but that he knows how to work hard. I'm pretty happy in this situation! Lushnjë has a lot of potential; there are 50 people on the record, but only about 4 come each week. We're gonna do a lot of reactivation work.

We met with a few new people we found on the street. One guy sat with us and talked with us for a good hour and a half. He's pretty strong Catholic, and apparently has family high up in the church. That's cool! But he also thinks the Book of Mormon is another publication of the Bible, no matter how many times we try to explain otherwise. But no worries; he says he'll have it read in a week. After he left, elder Ireland was like, "Man, he was drunk". I just thought he was a bit slow. I need to get better at that; I can't tell when people are slow or just drunk. Knowing the difference could help a lot.

We tracted into another guy with no shirt on, but you know what? That's totally fine. I wish I could've had my shirt off, too, because it is SO... umm... darn... HOT!!!!!! I carry a handkerchief around in my back pocket to sop up the gallons of swear per minute that I spill, and let me tell you, that handkerchief isn't white anymore. I can only hope the weather changes soon. If I remember correctly, this was the hottest transfer of the year. I just need to endure a little bit longer, maybe a week or two.

Well, I hope people at home are enjoying their nice air-conditioned air and frozen treats of deliciousness.

Elder Weaver

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

the one about zoos

Hey everyone! I'm reporting here from Fier, although I'm tempted to call it Fire. Man, it is extremely hot. I don't think the temperature is that much higher than in Utah, but the humidity is what kills you. The instant you step outside you can feel the air around you like an unwanted hug from a fur coat. Then you start sweating. Ugh. 

But, not all is miserable! Yesterday was my first Sunday as branch president, and it went better than expected! We had a good sacrament meeting and good lessons after that. I think I'll be able to handle it all. I'm really hoping to baptize a few more people in the next few months, and maybe reactivate some families.

Also, we went to the zoo. It was... interesting.

We saw such creatures as:

The Carnivorous Canine!

The deceptively ferocious sheep!

The dead snake!
But seriously, they had legit animals there, too. Like the monkey and the lion.

Man. That lion must have committed armed robbery or something to be in that small of a cell.  Wait a minute... Lions can't commit armed robbery! This isn't a prison?!?

I hope everyone is doing better than these animals. Enjoy your freedom and your families! Drive safe!

Elder Weaver

Monday, July 4, 2011

the one about beaches

Whew, that was fun. Saturday morning we piled into a van with most of the branch and our investigators and headed out to the beach! About half an hour away is a small town called Divjak (deev-yawk), and they had a nice little beach:

There were surprisingly nice chairs to lounge on, and I collected a few shells! The temperature was perfect. But, the sun was still strong:

Is it bad when my legs are as white as my socks?
And yesterday, I had the great opportunity to give confirm Klidi (clee-dee) as a member of the church and give him the gift of the Holy Ghost. It's cool to think that now, if he's worthy, he can have constant help and guidance throughout his life. I hope he endures well.

After church, we got a pleasant surprise from Rajmond (rye-moaned). A kilogram of skinned, gutted FROGS! :D

It isn't easy being green, is it Kermit?
We covered them with flour, salt, and a bit of pepper then fried them. It was the first time I'd had them, and I have to be honest, they were great! There wasn't a lot of meat on the bones, but it had a good taste. Kind of like chewy pork.

That's all to report. I hope everyone's doing well and all that.

Elder Weaver

Monday, June 27, 2011

another one about baptism

Hey all. This was kind of a slow week, what with my companion's group's trip at the beginning of the week and an outside zone training that was cancelled due to sickness. There wasn't much going on throughout the week, but yesterday was awesome!

Klidi (clee-dee) was baptized! After church, we all piled into a van and went to the Durrës (durr-us) chapel. I conducted the meeting, which was fun. It was the shortest baptism I've ever been to, about 35 minutes. It had to be short because Klidi had a test in Tirana the same day. After the meeting, he went and found a van to Tirana and the rest of us went back to Lushnjë (loosh-knee-uh).

Here's a picture of lots of people we meet with. I don't know why I'm not in there.

Clockwise from guy in red tie: Rajmond (rye-moaned), Elder Eckel (el-durr eck-el), Klea (clay-uh), Migena (me-gain-uh), Irida (ee-ree-duh), Florida (flow-reed-uh), Franko (fronk-oh), Klidi (clee-dee), and Lazar (la-zarr)

That's all for this week. Here's hoping there'll be more good news next week! And, same wishes of health and happiness and everything.

Elder Weaver

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

the one about trials

So, this week has been kind of tiring. On Thursday, we went out to Rajmond's (rye-moaned's) little village and talked to a friend of his while Rajmond went to get some gas for his car. He was totally out, so he took a big jug to put the gas in. About 45 minutes later, he came back with pretty bad news. The gas was bad, and he was driving when the engine caught fire. Man, this guy has very little to begin with, and the car he was planning on selling goes up in smoke and he has to leave it on the side of the road. He said he might try to sell it for scrap metal, if thieves haven't stolen it before then. I'm totally amazed by this guy's faith. He's already been shunned by his family because of converting to Christianity, so he has no help from them, and yet he continues on. Even after his car is kaput, he still comes to church. That's about an hour and a half walk, one way. My theory is that either things will start improving, or he'll die soon and just go straight to heaven. His example really shows me that I have no room to complain about my life.

Klidi (clee-dee) is getting baptized this Sunday, so that's great! I'm really happy for him, and I think he'll be a great new addition to the branch.

I just recently got back from an unexpected district trip to Krujë (crewy), and even though I've been there before, I had a mildly good time. We went into the museum and saw tons of stuff about Albania's national hero, George Kastrioti Skanderbeg (that's the angli-... anglisize-... English-fied version of his name. I don't feel like doing pronunciation tips for his real name). It's a pretty cool story, look him up on wikipedia if you have a minute. I snapped this picture in the museum:

Yeah, that's a goat's head on his helmet. Maybe it nibbled on his favorite boots or something.

I hope everyone is doing well and appreciating what they have, whether it be family, good friends, food, or just the fact they're alive.

Elder Weaver

Monday, June 13, 2011

the one about a baptism

So yesterday, we were a small congregation again. There were only 8 of us, but it was still a good meeting. After the meeting, Klidi (clee-dee) requested a blessing because he was taking big tests in college today. So, we had the only active priesthood holding member give him the blesing. It was short, sweet, and cool. Afterward, Klidi said he felt a warmness in his chest, but it didn't hurt, and that it was nice. Now that's cool, because as far as I know, he hasn't ever heard before that that's how the spirit is sometimes felt. Therefore, he wasn't faking it. I didn't think he was that kind of guy in the first place, but sometimes you get people who try to say dramatic things to make us missionaries happy, and it's not good.

Also yesterday, Sidorela (see-do-rell-uh) got baptized! She's that girl in Fier who's almost always angry. Her being baptized is a miracle in itself, and the icing on the cake is that she was happy the whole time I saw her; not even a frown was on her face. So, I know that you don't go on a mission to rack up your score on baptisms, but just FYI, she's kind of my first baptism. It's been a year and 2 months coming, but it was worth it!

So here's me and my companion, elder Mugleston from Tacoma, Washington.

And I also made a video tour of the house. Hope you like it!

Monday, June 6, 2011

the one about small groups

So yesterday was an interesting experience. We usually have the church room packed with people; we had 18 last week. But yesterday, we had us two missionaries, two members and two investigators. It was kinda weird. But, it was fast and testimony meeting, and even though it lasted about 10 minutes, the spirit was still there as the members expressed simple statements of their belief.

We have three baptismal dates! One is with Klidi (clee-dee), the young man with an honest heart, and the other two are girls who are best friends and want to get baptized together. If these people get baptized, it'll be my first! Yay!

On Friday we went with a man to a little village and helped him teach his english class. We met in a tiny, run-down schoolhouse in the middle of nowhere, but it was still a good experience. Then we visited his uncle nearby. They had one of the nicest houses I've seen in Albania, which corresponds roughly to an upper-middle class American house. We asked what he did for a living and he said he was a truck driver. Oh yeah, and the whole time he was asking us if we wanted a shot of his liquor. We said we don't drink alcohol about three times, then he offered wine. Again, we don't drink alcohol. "At all!?!" "At all". Then he went on and said how he drinks a whole bottle of liquor by himself. Every day. "Uhh... Even while driving?" "Yep!". I felt a little scared for my safety after that. I do not want to be on the same road he is. I hope for everyone's sake he has a hollow leg.

We are safe and healthy, and I can only hope the same for everyone back home. Take luck!

Elder Weaver

Monday, May 30, 2011

the one about young blood

So I'm here in Lushnjë (loosh-knee-uh) now. It's the smallest city that missionaries live in. You can walk across the whole city in 10 minutes, but there's seemingly more work here than in bigger cities. My new companion is named elder Mugleston, and he's from Tacoma, Washington. He can also cook amazingly. We've already had spaghetti, cookies, and teriyaki chicken with rice. I think I'm going to like this transfer.

The branch only has about a dozen active members, and it seems like they never all come at the same time. But that's OK, because we have plenty of investigators! Why, just yesterday in church, we had 18 people stuffed in the big room in our house. Church was only about an hour and 15 minutes, but it was all quality time. Most of our investigators are kids who are in our English course, and it makes me happy that they want to come to church of their own accord; they honestly like it! Now those are some smart kids.

One of the promising people we're meeting with is named Klidi (clee-dee). He only met the missionaries last week but he already loves us. He comes every time to English course and every week to church. His appetite for learning the Gospel is huge, and he learns quickly. I'm looking forward to getting him baptized.

One of the awesome members we have is named Rajmond (rye-moaned). He takes us out to his little village in his car every week or so and introduces us to his family and friends and we have lessons with them. His zeal for missionary work is awe-inspiring, and it makes me want to be a better missionary.

Also last week, we went with one of the senior couples and delivered a wheelchair to a man who has multiple sclerosis. The chair will help him get around much better, and I can't even imagine how much it will relieve his pain after having to use crutches to move around.

That's about all there is to report. Pictures next week of our house! I hope and pray everyone is well back home!

Elder Weaver

Monday, May 23, 2011

the one about emergency food

So here's the lowdown on staying down-low:

Because the election results in the capitol have been so... questionable... some groups of people had the bright idea to stack old tires on different parts of the highway around the country, light them on fire and throw rocks at the firefighters when they tried to put out the tires, because apparently, that's how you fix a problem.

Because of this violence, we were asked to stay inside our houses on multiple occasions this week, and as a result, the week was slower than usual. But that gave me time to experiment with the food I found in the house! :D

Pasta with tuna, hot-dog-like-tubular-meat (you can never be sure here), and TWO types of gourmet sauce! On the left, BBQ sauce, on the right, ketchup! It was one of the best lunches I've ever had.

Because of all this, there is not much else to report. I hope everyone is happy, healthy, and grateful. Grateful for the things they have and not being ungrateful for the things they don't.

Elder Weaver

Thursday, May 19, 2011

the one about protests


We received the following email from Mitch's mission president this morning. It's nice he keeps us updated because if I had seen on the news about the protests and road blocks, I might have been more than a little worried.

Dear Parents of Albania Tirana Missionaries,

Below you’ll find the latest information about protests in Albania over recent elections in the country (if this is the first you’ve heard of the recent unrest, I’m sorry to alarm you). As a precaution, I’ve asked all our missionaries to stay in their apartments until further notice. Please don’t worry. Everyone is fine, and no one is in danger. I feel that everything will resolve itself over the next few days. I’ll keep you updated as things unfold. Thank you for sending us such extraordinary young men and young women to serve here!! We love them as our own …Much love,

President & Sister Neil

Link to the Albanian US Embassy: 

Monday, May 16, 2011

the one about sweet rolls


We visited with Mitch on Skype Saturday (for Mother's Day) and he was doing great and he looked great! He loves what he's doing. This is a screenshot from our visit.

Below is his weekly email:

It's raining outside right now, and that lifts my spirits like nothing else! I'd been getting tired of the hot, muggy weather we've been having lately. It looks like one of our long-time investigators is finally going to get baptized. It's been really interesting seeing how preparing for baptism has changed her. You see, her default mood is "angry" with a side of "annoyed". Many times, the lesson would end with her making sarcastic remarks then storming out of the room. For the past month, though, she's been much, much less angry! She even apologized for her occasional outbursts! I know that it's because she's making a real effort to change her life by obeying the commandments that God has given us, which are the blueprints to a truly happy life. 

Also, I have discovered something amazing: There's a store about 10 minutes from our house that carries these slabs of heaven:

What lies inside?

They come in like, seven flavors, but strawberry is my favorite.

It's a dense, sugary taste-bud-party! Also, kind of squished under it's own weight. Like a star experiencing core collapse.

And they're only 80 cents!

I hope things are going good, and people with problems are enduring them well.

Elder Weaver

Monday, May 9, 2011

the one about...

Uhh... I don't know what to say. There really hasn't been much happening here. It's raining as I type this, which I am grateful for, because I do NOT like the hot sunshine. Yesterday we went to church then had to stay inside the rest of the day because of the elections happening the same day. It's more of a precaution than anything; there weren't grenades going off in the streets or mobs looting businesses, but there have been some firefights and bombings. Whatever, it looks like things have calmed down already.

We still visit with members, trying to encourage them to come back to church. Still doing what missionaries do, talking to people, trying to find those who are ready.

Man, I hope next week there's more to report. Although I am glad to be here helping out in any way I can, however small or behind-the-scenes it might be.

Elder Weaver

Monday, May 2, 2011

the one about castles

Things here in Fier (fee-air) are slow like always. On an interesting note, someone is shooting off fireworks very close to the place we're at right now. It's a bit annoying, but whatever.

We have a baptismal date with a long-time investigator, and I hope it comes to fruition. Interestingly, we have about 3 people we're meeting with who've been investigating for years and years. I guess we just need to keep having patience and work on the Lord's schedule.

On another note, we went to Berat (bay-rot) for our district trip today. It was an hour-long ride on a very bumpy road, but it was pretty worth it in the end. Most of the city is on slopes, and there's a big castle on the top of the mountain. An annoyingly long hike brought us to it, and I have to say, I was impressed. That's all for this week. I leave you with pictures:

Monday, April 25, 2011

the one about activities

As always, it's slow going here. We meet with less-active people all the time and see if we can't figure out why they're not coming. It usually results in hours-long talks that ultimately make little progress.

So, we have activities! On Friday we had an Easter celebration, and about 20 people came, most of whom were less-active. We read the story of Christ's resurrection, and had an easter-egg hunt for the kids, then dancing for everyone. Of course, I didn't dance. I told everyone I had a bone in my leg. It seems like everyone had a good time.

Then, on Saturday, 10 of us got together and played soccer. I love playing soccer here because we play on small, enclosed fields, so you don't have to run as much and you don't get tired very quickly. We had a few investigators come, and it was good to just get to know them better in a relaxed, no-pressure setting.

That's about all. I hope stuff is good and things aren't bad.

Elder Weaver

Monday, April 18, 2011

another one about patience

I'm here in Fier, and being the small city it is, nothing really exciting is happening.

We did have an interesting experience when a man named Edi (eddy) called us up and wanted to meet with us. We said sure, and it turns out he's been a kind of eternal investigator for over six years. He's come to church a lot and the members know and like him, but he just can't quit smoking. Hopefully we can help him muster up enough willpower to quit so that God can help him do so. He seems like a very humble man and I'm excited to work with him.

We also met with an interesting man in his shop. We call Roni (roney) the crazy commie cobbler. He's a pretty funny guy who's convinced that we're working for the CIA. He's communist, and he repairs shoes in his little shop. It's funny to see him use humor to deflect people who come in and wonder why he's taking so long on the repairs. Whenever a pretty woman comes in he drops what he's doing and grabs the shoes they left and says, "See, I'm almost done!", then when they leave he throws them back on the pile and works on whatever pair he feels like at the moment. Maybe he'll become an investigator someday, but for now we just pay him a short, weekly visit.

That's about all. Best wishes to all!

Elder Weaver

Monday, April 11, 2011

the one about returns

I'm back! I never thought I'd be back, but I am! It's both weird and kind of cool. On one hand, I feel like my 7.5 months in third branch were like a really long break, and now I'm back to my second area. On the other hand, I have different fingers. I don't really know what to expect from being branch president, though. It looks like there's a lot of working with members and doing meetings and stuff. I know that the Lord didn't call me here to fail, so if I do my part, I don't need to worry. One thing is for certain: I've never been this tired at the end of the day.

One assignment brought us to the other elders' apartment building before they arrived, to check on the house and regulate some things. The whole building was randomly out of power, which is not uncommon for new buildings (or, come to think of it, any building). Therefore, we had to hike up about 8 flights of stairs. One other negative aspect: The stairwell was very, very dark, so we had to use our cell phones to stumble our way up. On the way we met a lady who was going up and had no light whatsoever, so we escorted her to her place. She invited us in. It was a bit weird. Her and her old mother kept asking us the same questions many times, like they had a short memory. Then the daughter poured us drinks, orange soda for us (yay!) and energy drink for her 80-something year-old mother. That was a bit weird. Anyway, they invited us over for dinner another night, which we might do one of these days. You never know.

My new companion (and currently the branch president) is Elder Anderson, from Roy, Utah. He's pretty dang cool. We're both very relaxed, not getting angry or annoyed easily, which is good for this kind of assignment.

I'm looking forward to helping these people out as much as I can! I think after I leave this area, I'll have a much better appreciation for the leaders in the church. I hope you all realize how much time and true effort they put into their assignments.

As always, I wish you all the best, and remember, Mos e ha sapunin për djath!

Elder Weaver

Monday, April 4, 2011

the one about curveballs

How I love General Conference! And I was lucky/blessed to be in Tirana this session, because we all got to go to the mission home and watch the Saturday and Sunday morning sessions. We only saw about 68% of the Sunday morning session because of technical difficulties, but it was still a great experience. Watching conference on your mission is much more satisfying, it seems. You're not watching the clock waiting for it to be over, and you soak up every word. I really liked the emphasis on helping out those less fortunate; there really are "opportunities right in our way".

Well, transfer calls were on Saturday night, and elder Seevers and I got a curveball we weren't expecting. We're both being transferred out of Tirana and into Fier. He's going to re-open an area and also train a new missionary, and I'm going to be companions with elder Anderson, the branch president of Fier. I'll get trained on how stuff works, then I'll become the branch president. It's kind of weird, since I was in the same area my second transfer in the country. I look forward to helping these people out as much as I can, and relying on the Lord the whole way, because there's not a snowball's chance in a really hot place that I could do this on my own.

I really hope things are going well back home, and that people are healthy, wealthy and wise!

Elder Weaver

Monday, March 28, 2011

the one about basketball

Ah, I am feeling very happy lately. Maybe it's the brighter days (even though I hate the sun), or maybe it's the happier people, but I am on cloud nine.

We have a meeting scheduled tonight with Fatjon and it'll be the first meeting in about 3 or 4 months, so I'm stoked about that. The other elders are still meeting with Kladjan (claw-dee-on), and they've started meeting with a man named Bujar (boo-yar). He's a pretty smart man, and he's very accepting of all we teach him. Also, we've started meeting again with Reni (renny). I first met Reni when I was in this branch almost a year ago. He's happy as ever, and we've committed him to read the Book of Mormon again. He's read it about 3 times already, and thinks it's true, but he still needs to change a bit in order to get baptized.

On Saturday, we had a pretty fun activity with some of the youth. Sometimes the young people in the church get overlooked here, and we wanted to have an activity to hopefully keep them active. We played basketball.

The guy in the wheelchair owned the basketball court; he didn't actually play with us. Nice guy.

Well, that's about all I have to report this week. I wish you all well!

Elder Weaver

P.S. I've completed my "european" look.

In Europe, this is the embodiment of suave.