We had a first Branch Council in Macedonian, with Prend and Suzana joining us. It's such a big step forwards with the members running more things here. They were offering a lot of advice with members and investigators, since they have the inside scoop of what's going on. Sister Barch translated for Elder Nelson so he could know what's going on, since he's probably one of the most important at that meeting.
Sasho is a stud!! We went down to Kumanovo this week, invited by Sasho, to visit him. We had been talking for about half an hour, when he told us he's going to get his mom to make us lunch. She was apparently making a whole lot of food, because after we had been sitting there for 2 hours total, there was still nothing. Finally she came through and gave us HUGE plates of Kumanovski Sujuk, which was similar to meatloaf and sausage blended together, with a side of fries. It was soooo nice of them to do that. Sasho's mom is so adorable, probably one of the sweetest people I've ever met. We got full pretty fast since it was just straight meat, but Sasho saw to that we cleared both dishes. That's the first time I've had a member meal like that since I've gotten here!
It's awesome being able to stay in the same city for so long. Sasho and I have grown very close the past 7 months that he's been a member, and it brings me so much joy to see how he has changed, and how much more joy he has in his life with the gospel. He has said his life was hell before he was baptized, but now he feels like he's flying. I know the gospel changes lives whenever it is truly applied. Following the the gospel gives us a road map for the tricky course of life. God wants to help every one of us, and it's just on us whether we're going to let him or not.
Love you all! Hope you're enjoying the Christmas season. Remember to spend it with those that matter most.
Posted by Elder Rigby's Dad at 12/14/2015
1 Year in Македонија! I have been here in Macedonia one year! I've gotta say, it's been the most fast/slow moving time in my life. The thought that I'm winding down a little bit on my mission now is a weird thought, I still feel like I'm one of the new guys! I guess that's how most of life works.
Elder Dibble and I are getting pretty psyched for Christmas. We've got all our Christmas lights up around the apartment and a whole lot of Christmas music! Only 18 more days!!
Yesterday, we had the first Elder's Quorum and Relief Society. Suzana was set apart as the Relief Society President. Elder Dibble and I taught Elder's Quorum. The lesson was going pretty decently, and then it ended in an argument about whether reading the scriptures or getting experience is more important. The important stuff. Especially in a lesson about the priesthood. Prend has been doing great as the Elder's Quorum President though, his is already making a plan for how to prevent that from happening again.
New Missionary. We are supposed to be getting another new missionary soon. Apparently he flies into Albania on the 9th, but he won't be coming to Skopje until New Year's. I feel bad for him; he learned Bulgarian in the MTC, now is going to be surrounded by Albanian speakers for 3 weeks, then finally he will get here to start learning Macedonian. He's going to have quite the few months coming up!
Terrorism. Bro. Nelson was called by the Macedonian ministry of religion and they asked the LDS Church to sign a joint declaration against terrorism. It was approved by the higher ups and Bro. Nelson went to the ministry of religion and signed the document in behalf of the Church. I don’t know which is more unbelievable: religious people killing other people or believing God wants them to do it.
Baptism Goals. We've been working a lot with the Church’s “A Savior is Born” video. We went tabling with it this week, showing as many people as would watch the video. Sasho has been on fire about missionary work lately. He made a goal for us to have 15 baptisms by the end of the month. I don't want to let the guy down, so we're going to be working our butts off this month!
Love you all! I hope the Christmas season is treating you all well :)
Posted by Elder Rigby's Dad at 12/08/2015
I'd say Thanksgiving here was a definite success! We went down to Tirana (the 3rd time this month) and spent the night with the APs on Wednesday. The APs had to set everything up for our mission conference we were having that day, so they left real early, while the rest of us got to sleep in until 6:30 am. Elder Dibble and Bischoff left to go help the APs out with some work, then Elder Chingas and I left a bit after them to guide people to the venue where we were having the conference.
At the conference, the Christmas initiative was revealed to us, "A Savior is Born". We made plans about how we were going to use it, and then, most importantly, we had a pretty legit Thanksgiving feast! We had turkey, mashed potatoes, corn, peas, carrots cranberry sauce and stuffing. It was very good. Afterwards, each district presented a skit. For ours, we pretty much just ate Domino's and Burger King in front of everyone else because we have the only ones in the mission, and that's all the rest of the mission really knows about Macedonia.
Afterwards, we asked the APs for the key so we could grab out stuff and head back, but they said that they left the key on the table in their apartment for Elder Chingas and I to grab, even though they never told us... and the spare key was also in the apartment. The landlord, who had the only other key, refused to open the door for us, so then our only option was to try to break in. After taking folded pieces of paper and going at it for a while, it seemed pretty hopeless. Elder Dibble had been working on it for about 10 minutes, when suddenly, the door just popped open. It was one of those "I can't believe that actually happened" moments, but it was way awesome. So we ended up making it back that night, and the APs could sleep in their apartment!
Also this week, President Weidmann came down to our Skopje branch and created an Elder’s Quorum. The accompanying Relief Society will hopefully be made next week. Sasho also received the Melchizedek Priesthood!!
I included the links for a “Savior is Born” below. We're lucky this year, it's also in Croatian, so if you want to hear it in a language similar to Macedonian, check it out! This Christmas season remember Jesus Christ, and help everyone else to remember him as well.
I'll start this email again talking about Bojan and Prosina. We had waited for a bit over a month to bring up baptism with them again, since they've rejected it so many times, despite believing the church has been restored through Joseph Smith. We were having an awesome lesson, the spirit was there strong, and Elder Dibble asked them perfectly to be baptized at just the right time. Bojan answered with a hard no again. We then pulled open Doctrine and Covenants 22, which apparently had a big effect on him, because he then agreed to baptism, saying the whole family needs to be baptized. We were really excited about that, and when we came back the next time to set the date, he had changed his mind again and doesn't want to get baptized anymore, because he got baptized 5 months ago, and he feels like you can't get baptized into a church, but you just get baptized once, and then you can find out which church is true. It's a pretty legitimate concern, so we'll keep working with them on it. They're such great people though, I'm so amazed by their humility each time I go over there!We went out to Kumanovo this week, originally to go visit Sasho since he lives there, but then we ended up scheduling 3 lessons out there. It also turned out Sasho would be in Skopje that day. So we took the trip out there, but none of the people showed up. A bit disappointing, but what do you do.
The flu strikes again! Apparently the flu has been going around Skopje, and I caught it, so we spent Saturday and Sunday inside, because the last time I got sick, I got 2 other missionaries and 2 investigators sick. In other news, I also got significantly better at Sudoku, but I'm definitely ready to start working again after being inside that long.
I baked my first cake this week! It was a kind of cheesecake, but it was basically the first thing I've ever cooked in the oven before, besides chicken nuggets, so I was pretty proud of myself.
Enjoy Thanksgiving y'all! Be sure you show your thankfulness, especially for those nearest to you!
The 2nd half of this week was quite the crazy one. On the way home on Friday night, we got a call from President Weidmann, telling us that Apostle Ballard, Elder Christenson of the presidency of the 70, and President Kearon of the European Presidency would be coming down on Monday to visit a Syrian refugee camp. Then he told me that we would be coming and I had to reserve a room for it all at the refugee camp. I had no idea how to do that. We started getting everything ready for it, including some Mormon Helping Hands vests, since we didn't have any in Macedonian (classic). On Sunday, we heard from the Nelsons that there might be some complications on Monday. Elder Chingas and I rode with the Nelsons to pick up a security guy from the airport who came early to get everything ready, named Joel Burnham. Brother Burnham told us that because Elder Ballard would be flying in on a private jet, and the airport in Skopje didn't contract with an international company for supplying, the plane wouldn't be able to land. He started working with people to get some kind of one time contract worked out for it.
In the meantime, all of us went out to the camp, which was just on the border of Serbia. The guy wasn't too friendly to us, until he found out we were the "Mormoni" (we were saying church of Jesus Christ). Then he gave us a private tour of the camp. There were hardly any materials that we could see. These Syrians have really got it hard. I got to do some translating work there, but there were a lot of pretty specific words, so we found someone else who was quite a bit better at English than I am at Macedonian. We took Brother Burnham to his hotel after, and then he called us a half hour later, informing us that the whole thing would be cancelled. It was super disappointing, especially since such a small thing preventing it from happening. I called President Weidmann to tell him that he didn't need to come down for it anymore, and he just optimistically responded to it by saying "How wonderful, how wonderful...now I get to sleep in. But you still don't!" I don't think anything can faze that man.
We got Prosina and the kids to church this week! They've been keeping almost all of their commitments, except church and baptism, which are the two most important. Bojan doesn't understand why he can't just come to English course on Tuesday, say a prayer, and then be good for the week, despite repeated lessons on the sacrament. We were still super happy that 3/4 of them came to church though!
Elder Dibble wanted to try some stuff called Baklava, which I was never a fan of. We got it at a new place, and it was ridiculously good, and now we're both pretty addicted to it.
The half was training in Tirana was good. Luckily, everyone has their international driving permits for the vehicles now, so I didn't have to drive at all. We decided to do the whole thing in one day, for a total of 10 hours of driving. And in 2 weeks, we get to drive down for the 3rd time in a month for Thanksgiving! :')
We were contacting on the bridge, and Sasho came out of nowhere and started talking to us. Then, also very suddenly, the evangelist guy that rebuked me a few months ago, came up and started yelling at us to get off the street and stop with our lies. He then got up in Sasho's face and said "These guys are lying to you. Don't believe a word they say." He left after about 10 minutes of that. Sasho asked what he said to us, I told him, and then Sasho said it was a good thing he didn't understand because he would have thrown the evangelist guy off the bridge. Good ol' Sasho! Luckily, with people like that, all you have to do is be the guy that acts like Jesus (which isn't hard to do), and you pretty much automatically win.
It was a long week, and disappointing that Elder Ballard didn't come, but it was a good week all in all :) Elder Rigby
Posted by Elder Rigby's Dad at 11/16/2015