NOTE: new snail mail address is given above!
This week we had our mission conference, my first one, even though I've almost been a missionary for a whole year! We went down to Elbasan in Albania, passing by Lake Ohrid, which is so beautiful! We heard the testimonies of many missionaries, focusing on how the Gospel has changed so many people they have worked with. Then we had training on conversion since apparently, we've had over 200 baptisms in the mission each year, the past 2 years, but church attendance hasn't gone up at all. It was all about teaching daily things new members should do to keep strong in the faith. We got some lunch after, and it was pretty cool to see other missionaries in the mission instead of just Macedonia and Kosovo. Something way cool was that they have an actual church building in Elbasan, which made me feel like I was back in America!
I don't know what it is, but I've been enjoying the holidays and birthday a lot more than usual being on my mission! My birthday was great, Sister Riddle left on that day with the Nelsons and her companions to fly out of Albania, so we just had a little party with the 4 of us elders. Elder Prince made me a super beast cake that was very delicious. I got some new ties and some candy from the family, and a basketball from Elder Chingas and Gierisch. The sisters got Elder Gierisch and I shirts that say, "1 Baptized, 0 Confirmed" – since Sasho got called into work the day after his baptism so he could not go to church, and when he got confirmed, it was the next month. It was pretty clever.
The financial account for the church finally got some things cleared, thanks to the Nelsons, so we can make some more purchases for the branch, including a PING PONG TABLE! We played with it today, and it was super sweet. I'm going to have to try hard to not abuse using that opportunity.
I'm getting transferred out of Macedonia? This week is transfers, which usually consists of us just switching companions, but I'm getting moved to Durres, Albania for four weeks! They all speak Albanian over there, so I'm not going to be extremely useful. I studied Albanian a tiny bit, and that language is CRAZY. My companion is going to be a guy called Elder Simons, who from what a hear is a great guy! They have got a real building over there too, and that's where the stake president lives for Albania and Kosovo! Elder Lessi will be coming in here to replace me. I'm going to miss being with Elder Gierisch, he's been a great companion! Farewell for now Macedonia
Note from Elder Rigby’s dad: see map above, Durres is on the coast of the Adriatic Sea, right across from Italy. Both Macedonia and Greece share a border with Greece, currently having all the economic problems. Elder Rigby has a living Albanian relative, Ella Rigby. Elder Richard’s grandfather, Bert Rigby, has a brother Sterling who married an Albanian. Eleni (Ella) Chacho Rigby was born (1934) in the southern mountainous region of Albania in Ogren, Permet (see map below). She was blessed and baptized in the Eastern Orthodox Church, but came to the U.S. and was baptized LDS in 1961. The first LDS meetinghouse in an eastern European country was the one in Durres, Albania where Richard will now serve. Most people in Albania are Muslims.