February 9, 2016

We had a pretty interesting lesson/hanging out/debate with a devout Muslim guy this week who is appropriately named Muhammad. He's from Turkey, but he's studying in Skopje because it's cheaper. When we'd be contacting, he would always come over and talk to us for about 10 minutes or so. We would chat about God or basketball, so I could get updates about the Rockets. He's a Magic fan, and his favorite player on the team is Aaron Gordon! He's easily one of the best and nicest guys I've ever met in my life. So he called us saying he wanted to meet up. We asked if he liked playing ping pong since we have a ping pong table at the church, he said no. But we went with it anyways, and we got to give him a church tour! We talked about religion quite a bit, he already knew quite a bit about our church. It was interesting just having more of a light conversation with a devout Muslim guy though.

We had our Zone Training this week, and it was in Skopje! The first one ever to be in Macedonia! When the Kosovo missionaries were driving down, they all got stopped at the border, and some guy there made them buy insurance, costing them 50 Euros each. So that wasn't a good start! President Weidmann and his wife were also able to be in attendance, probably judging us. This last month was really good for the zone though, total lessons went up 30% although there still weren't any baptisms. We got Domino's for everyone, which they were all really happy about because no one besides the Macedonian missionaries can have it!

Reading the Book of Mormon in a month...again! We got the commitment to read the BoM again, this time focusing on the blessings from the Atonement. I'm going to know the BoM so good when I get back home! It was really nice reading it fast, and being able to see the constant themes of pride in the people. Pride got them every time. Also, it just provided a better spiritual start to each morning.

After the training that night, I went on an exchange with Elder Cani, the Albanian missionary who's here with us for a few months. He's such a stud, like Elder Lesi he didn't know any English when he started his mission, but now he speaks very well. I can't imagine being in a similar situation; being surrounded by Macedonians, only being able to speak Macedonian all day, and learning French at the same time, through Macedonian. That's pretty much the difficulty of what he's doing. Elder Cani is a guy who made a lot of changes in his life before he was able to come on a mission. He related it to Alma 36, where Alma is talking about how great the pains were before repenting, and how great the joys are after the repentance. 

We took a little break on the exchange for interviews. President Weidmann is such a good guy. He talked to me for like half an hour at the end, asking about my interests, family, plans for after the mission. I really learned a lot from his personal ministering and sacrifice of time for me. President Weidmann also attended church this week, where we had 42 people when sacrament meeting ended!! It was packed. President Weidmann proposed to sustain Brother Waterman, the embassy worker here, to be first counselor of the branch. I guess I wasn't paying attention, and I accidently raised my hand during the opposing vote. Everyone got a good laugh seeing my face as I realized what I was doing. The Asan family, who had a baby a few weeks ago, came and gave their baby a blessing, which was awesome to see.

It's warming up more, so life is good! Love you all! Elder Rigby