April 27, 2015

Did somebody say baptism?  We had a double baptism in Skopje this week!! WOOO HOOOO! Brother Swineford got the Hotel Arka pool for this past Saturday, which was the only thing we were waiting. Sasho was one, and the sisters had a really sweet older lady named Susannah. We were all pretty stressed for it, our members that were supposed to give talks had things come up last minute, so we had to cover for them.
Then we found out Elder Krajnc was coming back down in time for the baptism, so Elder Prince and Chingas had to go pick him up from Prishtina the morning of. They were bringing Sasho's baptismal suit, and they ran into some bad traffic on the way back. And their phone wasn't working...we were getting worried, but they still ended up making it back in time with our favorite Slovenian!

We started the service after changing and some pictures, and then headed up to the (freezing) pool! The best way to describe when Sasho and I got in the water is just unreal. It took me awhile after to realize that I actually baptized somebody! Sasho seemed to be on Cloud 9, saying he felt fantastic and clean. After Sasho's baptism, Elder Prince baptized Susannah, and then we finished up the baptismal service.
We went out with Sasho afterwards, when he got a call saying that he had to work Sunday morning. It's just about impossible to have a job here, so we're pretty lenient about working on the occasional Sunday. Sasho said he would talk to his boss, but he would probably have to miss church and getting confirmed tomorrow. He called us the next morning and let us know that he for sure wasn't coming :( But it's all good, we'll just take care of it next week!

The Swinefords are taking off to America and then Moscow this week. We're going to miss all of them a lot. I know I'm going to miss their two older kids always jumping on us, wanting us to be their personal battleships. Since they are gone, we're forced to move to the new building a bit early, even though we haven't gotten the decorations or furniture, so next week should be interesting! There should be a lot of standing going on, haha.
This week was President Arif's first week conducting a regular sacrament meeting, since last week we watched General Conference. He said that he was planning on having Elder Prince speak. We called Elder Prince Sunday morning about something else, and I asked him about his talk. He said that he wasn't giving a talk, called President Arif a minute later and found out he was giving a talk. It was a close call on that one! Luckily Elder Prince is a baller and already had a talk prepared, so he was good to go. We got to see Susannah get confirmed a member, which was super sweet!

Another golden moment of this week occurred when we were contacting on the stone bridge. A guy walks past us, turns, and exclaims in perfect English "Long Live Joseph Smith!" He said he was from Serbia, but that was all we could get from him. Elder Gierisch and I got a pretty good laugh from that. 

I am so glad to be a missionary right now. I get to help people live happier lives for a job. I know that this is God's work, and that he loves each one of us.
Love you all!,
Elder Rigby

April 20, 2015

Car Problems in Veles, Central Macedonia...  So we decided to try emailing at a different place today, mostly by force, because we're stuck in Veles. We had a problem with our oil tank while we took a trip down here, so now it's getting fixed as we speak. Sorry for no pictures, I didn't bring any of my stuff.

The Swinefords are out of here in a little more than a week. We're all going to miss that spectacular family, but they have adventures ahead in Moscow!

Sasho passed his baptismal interview, so he's good to go! It looks like we'll have a double baptism, because the Sisters have a lady also. We're all pretty stoked, since it's been about 6 months since we've had a baptism in Skopje. Sasho is such a cool guy, holy cow.

We've got to get going now, so that's all for now! Love you all

Elder Rigby

April 13, 2015

ITS SUMMER!  It's finally warm :) I was getting real tired of it still being cold in April, so I am one happy missionary!

On Tuesday, one of our members, Nejat, invited us to a celebration for a Roma (a large ethnic group in Macedonia) holiday. We thought it would be a showing the culture or something of the sort, so we figured why not! We met up with him, and then headed to a large building near Center. At the front, a very official looking man was waiting for us, who turned out to be his father in law! We headed up with him to a large room where many people were gathered together. A ton of people were going out of their way to say hi to us since we're easily identifiable Americans. We got a really good spot near the front, and waited there until the event started. Everybody was talking amongst themselves, and we were all confused out of our minds, when all the sudden everybody started clapping. A man with 10 bodyguards following him walked into the front in the center, and Nejat whispered to us that he was the Prime Minister of Macedonia, Nikola Gruevski. We were about 10 feet away from the man, so you could say we were pretty astonished. They commenced the event, and explained who the Roma are, the history of the holiday, and the relations with Macedonia. Gruevski said a few words, then the event ended, and he seemed to vanish.
Then we got a another good surprise! The Nelson's the senior couple, were pretty sure we weren't going to get the building, like I said last week. But to all of our surprise, about a month late, they finally got the word to sign the lease for the building! Such a huge huge miracle! We don't have to meet in a hotel anymore!! We should be moving in there in about 2-4 weeks. It's kinda far away, but it's so beautiful it's way worth it.

Some Macedonian members that live in Germany came down and visited. They were originally from the east side of Macedonia, and they were speaking some funky dialect. I heard a lot of stuff I hadn't heard since the MTC when I was learning Bulgarian, since they live right next to the Bulgarian border. We went out to eat with them, and their non-member cousin who lives here. We've visited him a few times, and he's not too interested yet, but hopefully time will change that.

President Weidmann and his wife came down on Saturday to interview Elmaz, Zoki and Nejat for new Branch Presidency now that President Swineford is leaving. We came to church, waiting anxiously to find out. President Weidmann made the longest introduction ever for them, and then announced that Elmaz would be the Branch President, Zoki 1st Counselor, Nejat Branch Mission Leader, and Elder Nelson as the Ward Clerk. It's going to be super cool to have a lot more native members running things now.

After the sacrament meeting, we went to the Nelson's for lunch with the Weidmanns as special guests, and then we all checked out the new building. It is MASSIVE. It's got like 10 rooms, and it's own apartment. The members are going to love it, and we can actually decorate it and leave all the church materials there. President Weidmann made us aware that the Elders would be having interviews with him, so we headed back to the Nelsons, and did a lot of waiting. I was last. He talked to me about the importance of keeping Christ at the center of the message, and helping ourselves and our investigators to become more like Christ. The man is a genius, I learned a lot. He seemed a lot more personable this time around than in the past, cracking jokes all around.

Sasho was supposed to be getting baptized this coming Sunday, but after working a 7PM-7AM shift on Saturday, he barely missed his bus, and came two hours late, when we were all leaving. He was pretty sad about it, especially after all the effort he put to get there. But I don't thing it will bug him too much, he seriously such a good guy. I've never met anyone willing to make so many changes to their life! We'll see if next week gets better for him.
Elder Rigby

April 6, 2015

Среќен Велиден (Happy Easter)
Elder Krajnc took off to Kosovo on Tuesday! He and Elder Prince drove up there, while Elder Chingas and I were together handling Skopje on our own. We had a lesson with a guy names Sasho on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We were using the pamphlet for it to help us teach, and even before he read anything, he already knew EVERYTHING. It was super cool. We asked him a few questions, and he literally took the words right out of our mouths of what we would say to answer it. He always talks about how good he feels whenever he meets with us, that all the problems in the world just seem to disappear. He's such a cool guy, it's a miracle to see someone to be that receptive to the Holy Ghost here. He's definitely a prepared one!

After the lesson, we contacted a bit and went in for dinner. We were there when the other Elders returned...with Elder Krajnc. It turned out there was a landslide that blocked the road, so after some calls to President Weidmann and some waiting, they decided it would be best to just try again the next day. We said goodbye to Elder Krajnc again the next day, and then Elder Prince came back with Elder Gierisch. Elders Gierisch and Prince are back in Macedonia for good, so either Elder Chingas or I will probably get moved out when Elder Lessi finally gets here!

We got some new posters and cards to contact with for the Because He Lives initiative, which has been helping a lot! And we were just about to run out of our cards, so the timing of it was perfect. We're excited to change our contacting up a bit!

We had a branch activity on Saturday and Sunday for conference this weekend. I still can't get over how good conference is as a missionary. We watched the morning sessions for both days live at 6 here. The big theme on the family was very apparent. It's cool to see that, since each speaker doesn't know what the other will speak about, how so often they are all related and tie in together perfectly. The Lord was trying to get a message across to us there! An investigator showed up who was partying before the conference, so he was pretty far gone for the whole thing. We were walking him to the bus afterwards, and he was talking about how today changed his life forever. It was pretty funny to see, but hopefully he'll remember something about it!

There's been no new news about the building getting signed, so the chances keep getting slimmer and slimmer of us getting one. But it'll come sometime in the future, so it's all good :)

That's it for this week. I hope all ya'll had a great Easter!! We get the double holiday again, with Orthodox Easter being on the 11th, so be jealous.
Elder Rigby

March 31, 2015

Happy Week of Easter! Elder Krajnc is out of here! He's going up to Kosovo to teach Elder Lessi Macedonian. Elder Lessi has been doing great in his English there, we're excited for him to come here in about a month! I'm gonna miss Elder Krajnc though, it's been fun being with him and his silly, slovenian-self. Hopefully he'll get to come back down here before he leaves, but he only has a month left of his mission! Elder Gierisch is coming back from Kosovo to be my new companion.

This week the Zone Leaders came down and did an exchange with all of us. I was with Elder Jorgensen for the day. We had some lessons set up for that day, and it was pretty daunting having to be the only one teaching since Elder Jorgensen doesn't know Macedonian. They went over pretty well; I could understand everything they said, and I was able to say everything that I wanted to. I was praying for help to get through it smoothly, and I got it! Elder Jorgensen bore his testimony at the end of both, which made my first time translating into Macedonian. It definitely wasn't exact, but it felt really cool to be able to translate for someone to a native!

For a culture note, here, you take off your shoes when entering homes, like in a lot of places. We were at Zoki's apartment one time for language class, when Sister Schofield was laying on the ground. Somebody stepped over her, and Zoki started freaking out. Apparently stepping over somebody else is one of the worst insults here. 

It was Daylight's Saving yesterday. We moved forward an hour, and Elder Prince and Elder Chingas didn't know about it. We were at church, waiting for Elder Prince to show up since he had a talk to give. 15 minutes went by, it was time for his talk, and he was still nowhere to be seen. Elder Krajnc called them, and they said they totally forgot about the time change.  President Swineford called on Sister Riddle to give a testimony, and then when he found out that they were going to be an hour late. Pres Swineford, being a beast, improvised a talk on the spot about sacrifice.  Just when sacrament meeting ended, Elder Prince and Chingas came, not the happiest I've seen them about the whole situation. 

It's almost Easter!! Go check out http://www.mormon.org/easter to see a great message about Jesus Christ and all he's done for us! In my life, I've felt a lot of comfort from all he's done for me. No matter how many times I mess up, I know I can always be better and be forgiven of it because of his sacrifice. Please watch and share it for Easter!
Elder Rigby