November 16, 2016

The 2nd half of this week was quite the crazy one. On the way home on Friday night, we got a call from President Weidmann, telling us that Apostle Ballard, Elder Christenson of the presidency of the 70, and President Kearon of the European Presidency would be coming down on Monday to visit a Syrian refugee camp. Then he told me that we would be coming and I had to reserve a room for it all at the refugee camp. I had no idea how to do that. We started getting everything ready for it, including some Mormon Helping Hands vests, since we didn't have any in Macedonian (classic). On Sunday, we heard from the Nelsons that there might be some complications on Monday. Elder Chingas and I rode with the Nelsons to pick up a security guy from the airport who came early to get everything ready, named Joel Burnham. Brother Burnham told us that because Elder Ballard would be flying in on a private jet, and the airport in Skopje didn't contract with an international company for supplying, the plane wouldn't be able to land. He started working with people to get some kind of one time contract worked out for it.

In the meantime, all of us went out to the camp, which was just on the border of Serbia. The guy wasn't too friendly to us, until he found out we were the "Mormoni" (we were saying church of Jesus Christ). Then he gave us a private tour of the camp. There were hardly any materials that we could see. These Syrians have really got it hard. I got to do some translating work there, but there were a lot of pretty specific words, so we found someone else who was quite a bit better at English than I am at Macedonian. We took Brother Burnham to his hotel after, and then he called us a half hour later, informing us that the whole thing would be cancelled. It was super disappointing, especially since such a small thing preventing it from happening. I called President Weidmann to tell him that he didn't need to come down for it anymore, and he just optimistically responded to it by saying "How wonderful, how I get to sleep in. But you still don't!" I don't think anything can faze that man.

We got Prosina and the kids to church this week! They've been keeping almost all of their commitments, except church and baptism, which are the two most important. Bojan doesn't understand why he can't just come to English course on Tuesday, say a prayer, and then be good for the week, despite repeated lessons on the sacrament. We were still super happy that 3/4 of them came to church though!

Elder Dibble wanted to try some stuff called Baklava, which I was never a fan of. We got it at a new place, and it was ridiculously good, and now we're both pretty addicted to it. 

The half was training in Tirana was good. Luckily, everyone has their international driving permits for the vehicles now, so I didn't have to drive at all. We decided to do the whole thing in one day, for a total of 10 hours of driving. And in 2 weeks, we get to drive down for the 3rd time in a month for Thanksgiving! :')

We were contacting on the bridge, and Sasho came out of nowhere and started talking to us. Then, also very suddenly, the evangelist guy that rebuked me a few months ago, came up and started yelling at us to get off the street and stop with our lies. He then got up in Sasho's face and said "These guys are lying to you. Don't believe a word they say." He left after about 10 minutes of that. Sasho asked what he said to us, I told him, and then Sasho said it was a good thing he didn't understand because he would have thrown the evangelist guy off the bridge. Good ol' Sasho! Luckily, with people like that, all you have to do is be the guy that acts like Jesus (which isn't hard to do), and you pretty much automatically win. 

It was a long week, and disappointing that Elder Ballard didn't come, but it was a good week all in all :) Elder Rigby

November 9, 2016

English Course was ok. We got about 20 people there. Probably about 40 people called Elder Chingas about it, so we were expected a bit more, but what can you do. We taught the beginner class and it was really funny seeing all these people trying to make the "th" sound for the first-time in their lives. And they were started attacking us saying that we're teaching them "American" and not "English", but luckily, Elder Dibble is a half Brit, so he was able to show them that there's hardly a difference between the two. At the end we share a 5 minute spiritual thought.

No, we don't read our prayers. The Orthodox Church is all about ritual, and as a part of church services and daily life, many of their prayers are pre-written in prayer books and they read them. So the students got mad at us when we said prayers from the heart, saying that we have to read it, or at least write it down after. 

We had another zone training this week and on the way back, Kosovo decided they would re-do the only 2 lane highway between Macedonia and Kosovo. Most of the time we were driving on concrete where a road used to be, and at one point, they decided they would put blacktop down in the middle of rush hour, so we were at a standstill, taking turns going through going through the one lane that was open, while the other lane had a huge steamroller. Why they decided to do that at 4 in the afternoon instead of midnight, I'll never know.

Prosina, the mom in our family, is still struggling with the Word of Wisdom in drinking coffee, so we've been trying to help her with that. And the kids are finally starting to say their own prayers in the lesson! They're really good at keeping their commitments, except for the biggest two, which are to be baptized and to come to church. They found a traditional dancing class for their kids that starts at 10 am on Sunday, so they've been choosing to go to that instead of church. They kept telling us that they wouldn't come to church, but we showed up at their door at 9 on Sunday anyways just to make a statement. They felt really bad about it, so hopefully they'll remember that and come next week!
After months of effort from Elder Nelson, it finally shows that there's a church in Macedonia! Go check it out

Finally! A lot of work went into that, so y'all know.

Elder Dibble is such a trooper, I just gotta say that. He's got two pretty nasty ingrown toenails right now, and he hasn't even complained about it once. We took him to the hospital in Skopje that the church recommends. I had the opportunity of watching the doctor clean out the nail and cut away at the skin. The doctor kept asking "There's no pain, right?" to which Elder Dibble kept replying "Nope, there's a lot of pain. A lot a lot of pain." I was dying laughing in there. The mission nurse asked what prescriptions the doctor gave, and it turns out they're just for athlete's foot. So now Elder Dibble will get to see the doctor in Tirana on Wednesday when we travel there for the Trainer Trainee Half Way Training meeting.

We got paintings hung up in the church! Our house looks more like a church now :)  In other news, Elder Krajnc, my 2nd companion here who was from Slovenia, got married about a month ago

As the almighty District Leader, I did my exchange where I got to do all the judging! I was with Elder Bishoff, Elder Chingas' trainee. All of us went tabling together that morning, then we did some contacting, where we got quite a bit of phone numbers. All these new missionaries are pretty dang good, not going to lie.

That's all for now. I'm super excited for Christmas, mostly to Skype you guys! Only like another month and a half. Elder Rigby

November 2, 2016

So the exciting news I forgot to mention previously is that Elder Prince and Sister Riddle (recently returned missionaries) are working at the MTC now teaching Macedonian! They'll be translating materials into Macedonian for new missionaries that come in the future. There's an elder coming here in December in the MTC right now, but I'm not sure how exactly that's going to work, since everyone is either training or being trained. Also an American family will be coming over here to work at the U.S. Embassy in Skopje. The father served his mission in Bulgaria, so hopefully he remembers some of that Bulgarian!

I drove a brand new car out of the lot :)  Last week, we did a lot of paperwork and getting registered for the new car (thank you Nelsons!), so that on Wednesday, we would be able to drive it to Tirana for Mission Conference. We have residency cards here that take about a month to get, and they expire every 6 months. Well, currently, only Sister Barch and I had our cards, as Sister Hassell and Elder Chingas were in the middle of getting new ones, and all the new missionaries haven't received theirs yet. So that meant Sister Barch drove the old car and I drove the new one over to Tirana, Albania. Sister Barch handled her car like a pro, even in Tirana during rush hour. Like me, she hadn't driven for a year. I'd like somebody to show me a place where it's harder to drive than Tirana, because I don't think it exists. Anyways, after driving an old beat up truck before my mission, it was a pretty crazy change to be driving a brand new 2015 car. The control panel for everything looked like something from Star Trek, so I guess I'm turning into a bit of an old person. It had a GPS, but we found out from experience that GPSs doesn't work in Albania when we tried driving back to Skopje, and the GPS kept sending us to the airport. From the pictures you can see that the leaves are starting to turn fall colors. It is getting here; in the 30s at night, so we had to drag out our big coats to wear.

At Mission Conference, we were pleasured with Pres. and Sister Johnson of the European Presidency. President Johnson spoke mostly about the guidance of the Holy Ghost. The most instructing thing for me was his statement about how the spirit will not guide us in every second and moment, but it definitely will guide through a lot of the different moments. However, we have to make a lot of the decisions based off our knowledge, and then the spirit can tell us whether that decision was correct or not. Check out the picture of every missionary in the mission.

Our English Course starts tomorrow, and we’ve been handing out tons of flyers, so hopefully we get people to come. The problem is that the church is far away from the city center. The work has been slow for the most part lately, and English classes should help to pick up the work a lot!

The mission has definitely made me much more straight up with people, for better or the worse. Bojan and Prosina have told us this past month every week that they would come to church, but they haven't shown up. So Saturday night, in our lesson with them, we were blunt about their church attendance, and told them that we would be coming to their door Sunday morning to pick them up for church. I think they thought we were joking, because they were very surprised when they saw us there Sunday morning. Prosina was the only willing one to go, so we started our hour hike to the church because she didn't want to take the bus. We are definitely going to be making this a weekly thing :)

We celebrated Halloween by going to a Chinese restaurant. I know, we're pretty lame. Happy Halloween y'all!  Elder Rigby