March 14, 2016

The Pulleys are here! The highlight of this was for sure the new senior couple coming, the Pulleys. President and Sister Weidmann picked them up from the airport on Thursday, and we had a big get to know you with all the missionaries at the church. This is the Pulleys 3rd or 4th mission, so they're pretty veteran. Before, Elder Pulley served in France and Switzerland as a young missionary, then as a couple they've served in China (75 miles west of Hong Kong!) and in Taipei Taiwan. They seem like such good people. A few days before they came in, we got their flight plans, which had their full names on there. And as it turns out, Elder Pulley’s middle name is RIGBY. I was freaking out when I saw that. We'll for sure have to do some family history for that. We had our normal Sunday dinner all together, and Elder Pulley was telling some stories about his mission in France. Apparently a few years before he got there, some of the elders in France entered into polygamist marriages with the sisters, so there was a pretty mass excommunication of the mission. The general authority that set him apart told Elder Pulley that he'll be furious if he were to try anything with any female members or sisters. I've heard a lot of crazy mission stories, but I think that one takes the cake.

We had some pretty significant holidays this week! On the 8th of March was National Women's Day, so that whole day we saw women walking around with flowers. Then yesterday on the 13th was Procka, which means Forgiveness. So we got phone calls from random people asking us for forgiveness for anything they might have done wrong, including our landlord's son and a bakery lady. Our elderly female neighbor gave us some feta cheese and spinach pie, asking for forgiveness, so I'd call it a good day!

Gift giving is a really big deal here. So we got the idea from Brother Waterman to present the Book of Mormon as more of a gift to people, so we've been leading in with that this whole week, instead of telling people how we're Mormons, and having them freak out because that's not Orthodox, and anything that's not Orthodox is evil. And focusing on the Book of Mormon had a lot of success! People really do respect the gift giving, and we were able to give away quite a few.

One highlight of contacting, and not exactly a good one, was a guy who proceeded to tell me he wasn't interested because he's an atheist. We kept talking a little bit more, and later in the conversation he mentioned he was Christian. I stopped him, asked if he was Atheist or Christian. He said he was both. I told him that wasn't possible, but he was not having it. He carefully explained to me that he was born in the Orthodox Church and he was baptized, so he's Christian. But he doesn't believe in God or Jesus Christ, so he's Atheist. After that, I bid him farewell. For a lot of the people here, religion is a thing you're born with that they think can't be changed.

For culture, gambling is also really huge here, especially in Aerodrom. There are not a lot of casinos, but there are about 10 sports betting places in the range of about 1/2 mile. Those and cafes make up about half of the total businesses in all of Skopje; it's crazy.

Elder Rigby