February 22, 2016

We got to check out Strumica this week! It's right eastern border of Macedonia, so we got to hear some pretty mangled Bulgarian/Macedonian. We went out there to teach a guy named Vane, who Elder Chingas and Prince used to teach. The 3 hour bus ride was nice and relaxing, and we got to stop through Veles, Stip, and Radovic along the way. We were greeted by Vane and his friend when we arrived, and then proceeded to walk through Strumica to go to a pizza place to have a lesson. Strumica is a beautiful, beautiful small city. It's so nice to get out of the capital cities of Skopje, Prishtina, and Tirana that we spend almost all of our time in. We got some pastrmajlija, which is like an oval pizza; because Vane was telling us it's a specialty in Strumica. We focused the lesson on Vane's friend and we went over the Restoration. It kinda felt like a member present lesson, because Vane was backing us up in every way, particularly when his friend was asking us about the church's history of polygamy. Vase (Va-se), his friend, seemed pretty interested about it! Vane's only problem right now is he's a 3 hour bus ride from his nearest church. He said he gave up hope of a true church until he met the missionaries. Seriously, such a prepared guy. He's very versed in the Bible, and he said that he's never come across a church that follows more closely with the Bible, particularly "all the small things" he kept saying. After the lesson, he was going off to Vase about that for a while, which was awesome.
We got fed twice in one day this week, and we were in 4 Macedonians' homes. It was so crazy, I felt like I was back in Provo! We had a lesson with the sister's with one of the Suzana's, a member, friends, and he prepared us a meal. Then we taught the evangelist family. They asked us for money this week, so we're feeling like that's their overarching motive in meeting with us, so they're probably going to get dropped, unfortunately. Although they did come to church! After that, we went to Prend's house for a late birthday celebration for him, where he fed us some fish. I've always thought fish and dirt taste exactly the same, but that fish was pretty dang good! The mission changes you. We went in for language study at the end of the day, and our landlord invited us over, so we chatted with him for awhile, and ended up talking about the church for most of that time. God was definitely blessing us that day! It felt really good to feel the appreciation of so many people in one day.

Farewell Nelsons! The Nelson's last week is this week. Their replacements, the Pulleys, are supposed to be here already, but they had visa problems, like pretty much every single one of us. So we're going to be helping them out a lot when they get here! It's really weird to see the Nelsons take off. Now Elder Chingas, Sister Hassell, and I have officially been here the longest.

In reading the Book of Mormon this time around, it's really been sticking out to me how much God is really in control. God's plan is so perfectly woven, and so intricate, a lot of the time the situation looks pretty dreary if we're not keeping an eternal perspective.. But God always fulfills his promises, and always ultimately delivers those that believe in him, whether that be in this life, or the life to come. One of the best parts of being a missionary is we get to see that practically every day. Even though there's not a whole lot of success here in terms of baptisms, I know that God is guiding this work, and that he is working through me to help his other children.
Elder Rigby