October 26, 2015

Alright Grandma Hill, here's your long letter!

Word of Wisdom Confusion . So we taught Bojan and Prosina the Word of Wisdom this week. I don't know what the deal is, but every time I've taught that lesson on my mission, it's SO HARD for the investigator to understand. When I taught it to Sasho (our recent convert), we had a member there. We gave Sasho the pamphlet the lesson before, and asked him what he understood the Word of Wisdom to be. At the same moment (we were in a cafe because it was cold), the waiter comes, and Sasho ordered an espresso, so we knew there was something he didn’t understand. Sasho said you can't have alcohol, but if it comes from the ground, then it's ok to consume. We told him he was off a bit, but then the member chimes in and says "No guys, Sasho is right. If it's from the ground, it's ok." They both started ganging up on us together about it, so we just dropped the subject entirely, and then had a lesson later with Sasho and the member about what the Word of Wisdom really is. Thankfully, now they both understand it. 

Anyways, in the lesson, they understood everything until we got to tea. They said they drink tea all the time (like every person here), so we explained that you can only drink herbal teas.  They still did not understand at all, so then I told them that they just can't have the tea from the tea leaf. Bojan, the father, looks like a lightbulb went off in his head, and he exclaimed "OH! Prosina we can't drink any tea from flowers!" We proceeded to discuss what a tea leaf was for about 15 more minutes. In the end, we had to show them a picture of a tea leaf and told them they just can't have black and green tea, which is made from it. But they both agreed to live by it thankfully, which is what really matters!

In the previous week, we had a really cool lesson with Bojan and Prosina. Prosina's dad died, so we changed the whole lesson plan and just talked about how families are eternal. At first, Prosina was so sad and in a depressed state because of her father's passing. But by the end, it was a total 180, where she had so much hope as she knew that she would get to be with her father for all eternity. It was one of those moments of my mission where that alone makes everything else all worth it, a hundred fold. 

Usually we spend most of our finding time in the center of Skopje, but we've been trying to branch out a little more. One of the first times we did it, we felt like we should go to a little part of the city called Hrom. We were not finding one person that would talk to us, and then a biker crossed right in front of us. Elder Dibble stopped him, and he exclaimed that he knew me, and he went to our church. At first, I thought he was just really confused, but then he said he went to the open house in August, so I guessed I had to be the one mistaken. He invited us in to his house, and we taught him and his wife the Restoration. They were the Orthodox leaders of their neighborhood, so they weren't exactly open to the message, but they treated us with so much kindness. Even though they weren't interested, it was awesome to see how God guided us to one of the only people that slipped through the cracks of our open house, who we didn't get to really meet. I know that God guided us there at that exact time and place.

Also in the previous week, we had our general conference showing. We showed it in Serbian, but it's so excited to think about how next session, it will be in Macedonian!!! Except for the showing we had on Sunday morning, we average the missionaries + 2 members/investigators per showing, and one of those people was our branch president. Hopefully we'll see more excitement for it when it's in Macedonian. 

We'll be doing the first English course for the church here next week, and so far we've already had a lot more calls about it than we had for the open house, so that' s a very good sign.

When President Weidmann was in  Prishtina before he came down to Skopje to do trainings, he texted the District Leader there and told them that he felt impressed for them to visit a part of the city on the outskirts of Prishtina and go tracting there. So the 4 elders in the city went, and one companionship came up completely empty. After only 2 hours, the other companionship had 5 new investigators and 3 lessons from the tracting, which is absolutely absurd numbers for tracting here! I've only had 3 lessons in an entire week before, and it's a good month if you get 5 new investigators. It's awesome to see the spirit guide the work like that!

All in all, the missionary work has been slow here for the past few months. No one has been baptized since Sasho and Suzana in April, and nobody is too close to getting baptized. But it's the Lord's work, so it's going to go farther one way or another!

Time has been flying by lately. It's weird to think I've only got a bit more than 9 months left. Missions are very strange and impossible to expect, but they're great things. I'd say I'm finally entering good fluency for the language, which is a pretty great feeling!

There you go grandma! Love you all. Have fun with that new stake created for you guys in Tucson!
Elder Rigby

October 19, 2015

So I'm still doing well. Life is good. I'm happy. And alive. I don't really have any time to write today, so expect a long email next week! Love you all!
Elder Rigby
 This last picture is from that new Orthodox Church. They even have pictures in the ceiling above the chandelier!
News: with the new turmoil in Syria and winter coming, the refugees crossing the border into Macedonia have doubled and tripled . The latest estimate is 10,000 people daily. Fall is here and winter is coming fast to Skopje:

October 12, 2015

So the new missionaries finally got here this week; it took them 5 days so they were beat but excited. We picked them up at Zone Training on Friday, they traveled through Albania and Kosovo to get here. We went to the police station that night to do legal work, and then I went contacting with Elder Dibble, who turned out to be my companion! He's a stud so far, it seems like all of them are! They had 12 weeks in the MTC, and Macedonian apparently got banned hardcore for them, so they only know straight Bulgarian.

We continued with the service project preparing items to give to the Syrians refugees this week. We got a lot of members, and one night a lot of Muslims came, so I had two Muslims ladies by my sides wearing the head shawl and everything. It's cool having everyone come together to help other people!

President Weimann did trainings for us on Saturday. The APs took the new ones up to the dedicatory site, and we got some wise words from president. On Sunday, the Weidmanns spoke, and there was a guy there from the church language department. President Weidmann talked to him, and now we just have to send in a wishlist of materials we want translated, and the guy promised to do at least a few! And he said by next general conference, there will be a Macedonian version. THIS IS HUGE! We're finally getting translations. Then we did our usual lunch at the Nelsons. I have to say, President Weidmann has gotten a lot funnier as time as gone on as being mission president! 

Today is yet another holiday of Macedonia, celebrating the liberation of Macedonia. I think. There's so many holidays here, I get them all confused.

Love you all! Especially you family.
Elder Rigby

October 5, 2015

It was a bit of a frustrating week this week, but those are the ones that teach us the most! I gotta say, the two character traits the mission teaches you more than anything is patience and humility. Being on a mission is good shining a light on every weakness you've got, for all to see, and then some! But I'm so thankful for it, because it's helped me to grow so much! I love how God knows me to personally, and for the love that he manifests to me every week, showing me how to show that same love to other people.

The Nelsons got a phone call from a representative of the church who is here in Macedonia to help with the refugee situation. She asked if our branch could help to assemble kits for the Syrian refugee children traveling through Macedonia. So on Saturday we had a branch service activity at a hotel putting together various things (markers, pen, notebook, modeling clay, and some stickers) in the kits! We had four members show up, the Nelsons and us four missionaries. We also removed the packaging on about 500 small flashlights and put batteries in them. We were told that when these refugees get off the train at night it is very dark and they have a bit of a wait before the next train takes them further on their journey and flashlights would make that easier on the children. It was really fun doing everything.

The lady that organized it is from the church, so she came yesterday to church, and talked about how the staff workers were asking her why so many people just came and helped so willingly; she said that gave her an angle to share the gospel. There was an American couple visiting there on Sunday as well, and I had to translate for the husband! It went pretty well, and I was happy I was able to do that in church! They had lunch with us at the Nelsons after church, and they carried the light of Christ so much in their eyes. One of their bags got lost at the airport, so they were without any change of clothes, but they were just charging forward. They came to Macedonia to show doctors here how to perform an eye surgery, and all they care about it helping the people here with that. It was amazing to be around them for those few hours.

We got to see a bit of conference! That was the first time I remember new apostles being called.  I really liked Elder Lawrence’s and Pres. Eyring's talks on the Holy Ghost. It answered a lot of questions for me, and I felt the spirit so many times while they were speaking. They sure put quite the focus on the Sabbath Day, I think every talk I saw dealt with that! Be more reverent in sacrament meeting guys!

Nothing too new besides all that. We'll meet the four new missionaries in Pristina on Friday at Zone Training. Love you all!
Elder Rigby