March 21, 2016

There's going to be some baptisms! So the most exciting news of the week is after 48 weeks of no baptisms in Macedonia, that drought is finally going to end! Bojan and Prosina will be getting baptized next Saturday. So many efforts have gone into helping them to get to the font by so many people here in Skopje. I'm so glad to see that they finally made that great and eternal decision. A huge miracle was that with the Watermans here, there are now some other kids coming to church every week. One of their main concerns was church attendance, which is largely solved now. They had a traditional dance class for their kids at the same time as church, and every week they were choosing the traditional dance over church. Elder Dibble and Halverson quickly got friendships going with the two families. After Bojan and Prosina saw that there were other kids for their kids to associate with, they were completely fine with going to church every week! Also, there will be another baptism this Saturday in Gjakova, Kosovo which is the first one to happen there in about a year. Miracles are happening.

On Tuesday, we skyped Sister Dow's dad for 3 hours for Woogie English, the English program we're going to start hosting at the church. The program is an app, so he also furnished us with 5 tablets to start off for the Macedonian kids that will come. We're going to hold sessions of it every day, with missionaries running each session. For half an hour, they'll be doing the English program, and for the next 30 minutes, they'll be playing the equivalent of Minecraft. We're all supposed to play the game so we know how to help the kids, so Elder Chingas and I did that on Saturday. I got to say, you do a lot of things that you'd never think you'd do on the mission.

We had some exchanges in Kosovo again this week. We started it off at Gjakova. On the exchange, Elder Griffiths and I went down to Peja, a city about 45 minutes out. There were missionaries here for a few years, but because of a decrease of missionaries in the past year, it got closed about a year ago. In fact, Elder Gierisch, one of my old companions, was there when it got closed! The Gjakova elders have some investigators that live out there. We taught a couple lessons out there, one being a man in a cafe, whose name I can't remember. The man grew up a devout catholic. He had curiosity about the Book of Mormon, and after prayerfully reading the whole thing, he knew it was true. In the lesson, Elder Griffiths slammed it down pretty hard that if the Book of Mormon is true, then that means the Catholic Church is not true. He told us that he was talking to his church leaders about the book, and they told him that it was from the devil. The most amazing thing to me is the faith this man is showing, to truly seek the truth despite what his leaders that he's had since childhood are telling him. I'm so grateful for the power of faith. Mountains can be moved, and rivers can be changed through it. 

After our stay there, we headed Prishtina. I was with Elder Mero, and on that day we taught a lesson to a recent convert there, Becir. After being member for about 6 months, the gospel has completely changed his life. He testified so strongly of the happiness of the gospel. In the lesson, we talked about the tree of life. I made the point about how at both the great and spacious building and at the tree of life, both peoples thought they were happy, although one is an empty happiness, and one is a real, deep happiness. As Becir told about his new found happiness, it reminded me of the reason I wanted to come on my mission. I've gained so much from living the gospel of Jesus Christ, and one of the greatest gifts being the happiness I've enjoyed. I know that God is a god of love, and that we are his children. He wants us to enjoy our life here, and a large part of the way we can do that is through our obedience to the commandments that he has given us.

We didn’t give many lessons this week. One of those lessons was with a man named Goce. He's an older guy. We went over the Restoration, asking a lot of questions to make sure he was understanding, because it goes right over the heads of a lot of the people here. He was getting pretty excited about it, and really seemed to grasp it. Unfortunately, when we finished the lesson, he said he had one question "What's the difference between your church and our Orthodox church?" So either he doesn't know any Orthodox Church doctrine, or he didn't understand anything we told him. Knowing the people here, it very well could have been the first one, but I'm guessing it was that he didn't understand. That's one of the most frustrating things. The people here just don't seem to have the capability of grasping the significance of a restoration of the gospel. And they don't want to disappoint you, so they just go along with you the best they can. 

The Nelsons arrived back here yesterday and will be heading out tomorrow. It's good to see them again, and they seemed to enjoy their cruise, although they're very excited to head back to America. This week is also the last week of the transfer, so get ready for that next week! Sister Hassell goes home, so there will probably only be one companionship of sisters here. There's two more called coming here in July I believe.
Elder Rigby