July 27, 2015

So our mission president kinda forgot that I had to go back to Skopje, so after not getting any call about any transfer on the normal call day, and figuring that I would be staying here a bit longer since president called saying that he's doing interviews on Tuesday in Durres. Then we got a call Sunday saying that I was going back to Skopje the next day! Not a whole lot of heads up, but it's all good. I said goodbye to Durres, which has been an awesome city, and went with the APs back to good ol' Macedonia with Sister Hassell and her companion. At least I won't have to worry about getting any sudden transfers to another city for about the whole next year.

We got a really cool new investigator whom I was sad to lose in Durres. He came to English course, and said that I gave him the flyer, and he's super excited about the gospel. He's 18, but he's spent a lot of his life looking for God's church and he's felt something unlike anything else whenever he prays and reads from the Book of Mormon. He practically was begging at the beginning and end of each lesson to say the prayer.

I don't have my journal to look at for other things that happened, and I don't have a whole lot of time left since we drove for 6 hours today. I'll be with my old trainer, Elder Prince again until he goes home in a month! Then apparently, there's 5 Macedonians in the MTC right now, which means every one of us is going to be training, even Elder Lesi. Love you all!  Goodbye Durres!
Elder Rigby

July 20, 2015

English course started up this week. We handed out a ton of fliers, and we had an OK showing, about 20ish people. We teach the advanced course, which is best one because we just talk about random stuff the whole time, giving them time to talk to native speakers. The Zone Leaders had the beginner class, and the first lesson, they were joking around about committing their class to baptism...and then they actually did it, which was really funny.

The Spirit is Awesome! I had another exchange this week, with Elder Anderson. He's good at contacting, it seemed like everyone was stopping for us! We got a lot of phone numbers, which was great. Then Elder Simons and I got back together. We've been focusing more on following the spirit in finding, so we've been praying all the time contacting and tracking now. It's been awesome, because we know we're where the Lord wants us to be, or we know to keep looking somewhere else. We got to one building that felt really good, and started knocking away. We were almost through it when a lady invited us in. We sat down and taught her and her husband about the Restoration, and they received it super well! Easily one of the best lessons of my mission. They're only here for a few weeks, and then they'll return from they're vacation and go back to the UK. We didn't find out until the end that they spoke English, so next time I'll actually be able to participate :)

This will be my last week in Albania, and then I'm back in Skopje! It's flown by, but it'll be good to be back where I can understand people.

The new Macedonia missionaries should be in the MTC now! They're supposed to come mid September, and I'll probably be training one for sure. Elder Gierisch and Prince go home on Sept 2nd, and after that, It will just be a few of us for a bit.   Elder Rigby
Albania was part of Roman Macedonia around 300 B.C. The ancient Byzantine marketplace, above dates to about 500 A.D. The ruins extend under modern buildings, so have not been fully excavated.

July 13, 2015

Things have been good in Durres! Some info about Albania. Everyone here is Muslim, but because it was a communist country before, almost none of them practice it. The people here love Americans like no people I've ever seen, so they're super kind to us. They are also more open, and willing to stop for a few seconds on the street, which has made Albania one of the most successful countries, if not the most successful, in Europe! They are one of the least developed countries in Europe, the worst in the Balkans, so it has been quite the transition.

Unfortunately, all of our investigators have recently dropped us, so we have been searching. We didn't see much success this week, which was frustrating and disappointing. We had a zone training on Thursday, and the President wants us to focus more on getting referrals from members, particularly less actives, to find more investigators and hit our baptism goal. So we've been asking all the members we meet with for referrals, and challenging them to pray about it and try to think of someone for the next time we meet! Also, we handed out a lot of fliers this past week for an English Course that starts tomorrow, so hopefully that'll bring some new investigators.

Elder Lesi, the Albanian missionary who took my spot in Macedonia, is from Durres! So this week I played soccer with his little brother, and got to meet his sister too! It's been really cool getting to work in his hometown, and I'm excited to talk to him about as we will both serve in Skopje for the next year haha!
On Sunday, we had a Stake Priesthood Conference that missionaries were invited to attend. It's been so long since I've seen that many white shirts! It was beautiful :) I got a translator device that usually just the senior couples get, so I could actually understand all of it! One of the speakers talked about only following the good examples so we can be better, instead of the bad ones to justify ourselves in doing worse. After the meeting, I found a Croatian member who lives in Albania now, so I talked to him in Macedonian a bit since they are similar languages, and boy, it's crazy how rusty you can get in 2 weeks. I couldn't get past a couple words without stumbling, or without Albanian popping out. On the bright side, I can say a half decent prayer in Albanian now, and I can understand the general idea of a lot of the conversations I hear now! Which makes things a lot more interesting (to understand what people say).

For PDay today, we checked out the Durres Amphitheater (read about it below) and hit up the beach. Check the pictures. Love you all! Elder Rigby

July 6, 2015

Living on the beach. I made it to Albania! Durres is a sweet city, pretty dirty, and very unkind to my stomach, but the people seem very kind. The beach is like a 20-minute walk from here, which has been a wonderful change of scenery!

The church has been in this city for about 20 years, and there is a full on ward here with a real building and an institute center where we have our lessons! It's definitely been successful for Southeastern Europe. It is cool having members taking care of everything, and we just focus on the missionary work. Most of our current investigators are member referrals, which is definitely the way to go! There are many Less-Actives to work with here.
Elder Simons is an amazing and beautiful man; we are getting along great. Our sense of humor matches up the most of all the companions I've had so far! His dad worked in the state department, so he has lived in 9 different countries, moving every few years, including Israel. He has to do a lot of the dirty work since I can't communicate with anybody who doesn't speak good English. One day when we were contacting, I got tired of just standing there while Elder Simons was talking to somebody, so I started saying mir (good) to what the guy was saying. The guy left, and Elder Simons made me aware that I said that it was good that his mom died and his family left him...I probably will just stay quiet from now on. It feels a lot like I am being trained again! We also went tracting, which is the first time I've done that on my mission. I'm going all in for Albanian though, so hopefully it'll get a little bit better language-wise while I'm here for 3 more weeks.
We met with a less-active this week. Elder Simons had worked with him for a while, just trying to keep him connected to the church. The member's mom and grandma who were both members passed away recently, and going to church reminds him too much of them. We picked 3 Nephi 15:9 to share with him, which reads:
"Behold, I am the law, and the light. Look unto me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live; for unto him that endureth to the end I will give eternal life."
That was definitely inspiration, because it hit him hard, and he started getting emotional, and you could see the spirit touching his heart (it's surprising how much you can pick up on with just body language.) Elder Simons said afterwards the guy said he would really try to go to church soon, which was a huge breakthrough with him. Even though I didn't do anything, it was awesome to be a part of that miracle!

4th of July was a jolly time, we bought hot dogs and BUNS, which is a rarity, and cooked a little barbecue with our tiny grill, topped off with McDonald's ketchup, even though there's not a single McDonald's in this entire country. Also, the Zone Leaders in our district had a baptism, which went great! The funniest part of it was that the girl getting baptized had a skirt with a picture of a marijuana leaf that said "addicted". I guess she hasn't had the time to change that part of her wardrobe out yet haha! Elder Rigby