September 28, 2015

We kicked off the week by going to Marija's, the 6 year old daughter of the family we've been teaching, birthday. I gotta say it was one of the funniest (and only) birthdays I've been to lately. We did a little lesson on faith for them, trying to be a kind of magician. We took a tea bag, emptied hit, and placed it standing on the parent's hand. We whipped out a lighter and told them no matter what, do not move the hand. We lit the tea bag ablaze, and it started burning down to the open hand. But at the last moment, it flew into the air before it burnt the hand, even though it got pretty hot. It connects with faith, and how we have to keep the faith strong and unbreakable, or else we can get burned. All of the little kids and adults loved it loved it, asking us to do it again and again.
[The science: gravity keeps the empty tea bag down until the heated air convecting upward overcomes gravity and you have lift off!]

We got a baptismal font set up, largely in thanks to the Nelsons! We're totally done with Hotel Arka now. We also got some paintings, so our church will look more like a church and not a house.
The new missionaries got delayed, so apparently they're getting here on the 9th now. They've got a total of 12 weeks in the MTC...that's pretty legendary. We had to find a new apartment with all the new missionaries coming, so we got that found this week. You're welcome, new missionaries. 

The Winter Is Coming. It's been getting a whole lot colder lately. The last winter almost killed me, I don't know if I can survive it again.

This week is transfers for the rest of the mission, and we thought we would be unaffected since it's just 1 companionship of sisters, and 1 companionship of elders, but we got the call nonetheless, and it turns out Elder Lesi is going to be training in Albania! It was a pretty big surprise, but he's going to kill it. It'll be weird for him though, he'll only be 30 minutes from his hometown in Durres. We're not sure how to go forward with one of our investigators Elder Lesi was teaching, because the investigator doesn't know Macedonian...but there will be a way!
Love you all! Elder Rigby

September 21, 2015

Dropping Nukes in the Heads of the Macedonian People about Jesus

We were street contacting on Friday night on the Stone Bridge. It was going fairly unsuccessfully until an Albanian dude stopped for Elder Lesi, He agreed to have a bench lesson, and Elder Lesi started going to town on him in Albanian about the Restoration. At first, the guy seemed extremely immature, shouting to everyone passing by that he was with Americans, and checking out every girl nearby. Elder Chingas and I looked over about 10 minutes after we had sat down, and the guy literally had his jaw dropped, eyes fixed on Elder Lesi, anxious for every next word. They talked for a while longer; the guy looked like he had his mind blown the entire time. The lesson ended with a prayer, and the guy just walked away, completely dazed and disoriented. I'd never seen anything to that extreme, but it was so cool to see! He came to church on Sunday, and he just looked so happy, and started giving everyone hugs. It's amazing to see how everyone needs the gospel, even those who seem like that's the last thing they want.

Our family came to church again, minus the mom, because she had to get ready for the daughter's, Maria, birthday. I was upstairs with the kids for Sunday School since we don't really have any kind of Primary, and I asked Maria who her favorite singer is. She replied Frozen, which I think was the funniest/cutest thing I'd ever heard over here. The family is still progressing well, but Prosina, the mom, is afraid of baptism because of the commitment it represents, and Bojan, the dad, feels like his previous baptism was valid, so we're working to get past that right now! They are such amazing people though, they're so kind and humble.

Also on Sunday, we helped a guy move his couch from the lady he bought it from… to his new apartment. It sounded pretty simple, until we found out he lives on the 7th floor of his building! The guy totally used us and some other people to get the couch, but no matter what, it always feels good doing service for people!

The new missionaries should be coming next week, so that'll shake things up quite a bit!

Love you all, have a great week!
Elder Rigby

September 14, 2015

We got a family to church! I thought for this week I'd talk a little bit more about our investigators since I haven't really talked about them too much lately. 

This week we started with a lot of lessons set up with potential investigators, but every single one except for one didn't show up, so that was a frustrating start to the week. But then on Tuesday, we had an appointment set up with family that we met in the city center who were gone for about a month, but said when they came back, we could come over. So we gave them a call, set up a time, and went over. It was one of the best lessons I've had on my mission. The husband was gone for the first half of it, but the wife was extremely interested, and very humbly listened to our message. The husband was pretty interested too, but as he was walking us back to the center, he told us that he wouldn't be baptized again, which we took as kind of a challenge. Anyways, we have visited Bojan and Prosina (their names) two more times this week, and they're really loving the Book of Mormon, which is so key. It's amazing to see such humble people, and to see their joy as the spirit testifies to them. They even came to church this week, even though it's about an hour of travel from their house with two kids!

That's our main group of investigators right now, but we've also got a Methodist guy named Stefan. He likes coming to church, but he just goes off every time we go over to his house about how Jesus and God are one and the same. He's 85, and he still rides his bike over hills for 7-8 kilometers round trip to go to church – that guy is in such good shape. He also told us that Boris Trajkovski, one of the former presidents of Macedonia, would go to his house often and Boris saw Stefan as his spiritual father, which is pretty crazy. We teach a guy named Kujtim, who is Albanian, and believes in the Qu'ran, Bible, and Book of Mormon are all the word of God, so we're working with him on the Qu'ran part right now. I think that's all the ones I haven't talked about. We have a lot of first lessons with people from contacting, but oft times we never see them again.

After we gave the blessing to Sasho last week and fasted for him this week, he looked as good as I've ever seen him on Sunday! He was so happy to be able to move again without pain, and it really strengthened my testimony on both principles.

On Saturday, we had a branch activity hiking up Vodno Mountain. Early into the hike, somebody starting yelling at us, and it turned out to be Bojan, our new investigator. He said he was exercising, and he just decided to join us on our hike. I gotta say, it's crazy how many coincidences happen every's almost like God has a plan for us. We had a discussion at the midpoint about how God is evident through nature, and all the other creations around us. It was a good day!

I love you all, and I hope you had a good Labor Day! Chao
Elder Rigby

September 7, 2015

Back to the trio life! On Tuesday, we took off to Tirana to drop off Elder Gierisch and Prince there. It was really weird saying bye to them, partly because I knew them both really well and Elder Prince was my trainer, and partly because that means that we're going to have to figure out how to run a lot of things here that they formerly took responsibility for. It’s me, Elder Chingas, and Elder Lesi.

The trip there we didn't run into any problems, which was a miracle, but on the way back, it took us a bit longer, but still had miracles! Someone forgot their passport in another car, and he/she (she) remembered right when we were about to get out of Tirana. Then we had to fill up the car in Albania, which uses the Leke currency, which we didn't have any of, so we just figured we could pay via credit card. We filled up all the way, went to pay, and all of our cards got rejected one by one. They were not taking our Denar, which we use in Macedonia, but luckily Sister Hassell had Euro, which luckily they accepted, and we were on our merry little way. So many things could have gone wrong there that would've held us up for an extra day, but it all worked out in the end!

In terms of investigators, we absorbed an area since we only have 3 elders now in the country, so we've been busy trying to get to all of them. A lot of them are Albanian since Elder Lesi (the Albanian) is with us now, which makes me feel like I'm back in Durres. We gave a church tour to a guy named Zoki, who we met during a branch activity playing Frisbee. He was so happy to find someone else who likes Frisbee, since no one plays in Macedonia. We found out he likes ping pong also, so we invited him to come, played for a while (he killed me and Elder Chingas) and then showed him around the church. We don't get to do those too often since our church is way out there so we have a hard time getting investigators to come to church, but it was an awesome thing to finally get to do! He was shocked that there weren't any icons or candles anywhere in the building, so hopefully he can get over that sometime soon.
For the zone training this week, it was about living the higher law, in reference to missionary work. It's easy to be a missionary but it's hard to always work hard as a missionary. I like it a lot, and it made me do some serious self-reflection of what I can do to fulfill my calling better!

Sasho hasn't been doing too good health wise. He's got diabetes, which makes it so his limbs slowly die, and in the long term, fall off. When Elder Chingas got back, I told him about it, and he asked whether we gave him a blessing or not. Totally skipped my on Sunday, I had the opportunity to give my first blessing in Macedonian! The words just flew right out of my mouth, it was unreal. Hopefully now he'll be able to start recovering better!

On Wednesday, the sisters brought some Chinese guys to Family Home Evening for some ping pong. They're working for a telephone company here for a few months, and then they head back. They enjoyed it, so they invited us all over for dinner on Saturday. We got there, and there were plates on plates of straight from China Chinese food! It was probably the most delicious thing I've had on my mission so far. I told them I was born in Hong Kong, and they all started freaking out, it was really funny. They taught us some Chinese, and then we talked about religion and the Book of Mormon with them. None of them religious at all, so they had a ton of questions and were super interested! It was a night that was probably a highlight of my mission, being with my Chinese brethren.
Elder Rigby

August 31, 2015

We kicked the week off this week with yet another exchange with the zone leaders. I went with Elder Muncy, he was down in Durres with me when I was there, but now he's up in Prishtina, so it was cool to be with him again! We started the day off contacting, and the first guy we said hi to was a Muslim guy, who immediately offered to take us to lunch when he saw we were working for God. We shared the Restoration (half Macedonian, half Albanian), but he didn't seem too interested. He just kept talking about how you just need to do good things for others, and that's all. So no success there, but that was the first time anyone has ever taken me to eat from street contacting! It was sweet. Also, after I shared the Joseph Smith story, Elder Muncy started testifying about it in Albanian, and I could feel the spirit back up his words, and the guy feeling it too. But, to no avail for now.

Elmaz, the branch president, lived in New York for 12 years making pizzas. He's always talking about how he makes the best pizzas in the world, so before branch council one day we brought him the ingredients and he made us his famous pizza. He left it in the oven a couple minutes too long and was really put out about it. It was a blast though; almost everything he says is hilarious.

We have been meeting with a tour guide named Alex for a while now. We play basketball with him every now and then, but he hasn't really progressed, so we were thinking about dropping him. He came to family night, where Elder Prince and I shared a message about how keeping the commandments help us to see more clearly. Usually Alex doesn't like talking about anything gospel related, but after, he came up to us and asked when the last time we felt God in our lives was. We answered, and he said the last time for him was during that lesson. And the next day playing basketball we had an awesome lesson with him about the Holy Ghost! I had wanted to drop him, but Elder Prince kept with him, and now I know why! It was cool to see that huge change in him, and to help him to come closer to God. 

Driving around. In other news, I started driving here, and NO ONE HERE KNOWS HOW TO DRIVE. I didn't get road rage too much back home, but I have yet to drive here without getting it. And tomorrow we're driving to Tirana to drop Elder Prince and Gierisch off and pick up Elder Chingas and Sister Hassell, and they drive even worse over there...

With Elder Gierisch and Prince leaving, it'll just be the 5 of us until the new ones come in Sept or Oct. So after tomorrow I will have been serving in Macedonia longer than any other Elder or Sister here, which is a strange thought for me. I still have almost one year to go.

Elder Rigby