April 25, 2016

We had a way busy week this week and not a lot of time for our area. 

We started the week off on Tuesday with District Meeting like always, then we headed off to the Davis' apartment to help them move their 18 SUITCASES. 18. They fed us some delicious sweet and sour pork and then we started with making sure all the bags were good with weight. Then we hauled them all down 3 flights of stairs. Unfortunately, they will be leaving for good this time. 
That night, we headed over to Gjakova for exchanges! We got up real early and played soccer and then just had a lot of time for finding, and we got quite a few phone numbers! And by we, I mean Elder Riepel, my comp for the day, because I don't speak too much Albanian. We also traveled out to Peja again to try to get a satellite church going on over there. Since Peja got closed, there's a few less actives that don't really have any way to get to church. Albert, their investigator, would host it in his home, and they would just have a small sacrament meeting. Albert wasn't there that day, but we got word they visited him later and he agreed to it! We drove to Prishtina after that, and then back Skopje.
The 1st Skopjan Institute Class. In Skopje, we pulled up to the church just in time to catch people talking after institute. The Stake President in Albania drove over to Prishtina, picked all the young members up there, and brought them over to Skopje so we could host a class! There ended up being a really good showing, and everyone really seemed to connect quickly. Luckily also, everyone there knew very good English, so it all was just in English.

We also helped with Elder Dibble moving apartments. It was weird because I remember moving into that apartment when I just got back from being in Albania for a month. The landlady has been causing some problems, so our lawyers asked us if we could get rid of it. Luckily, there's an open apartment right now, we've got an easy fix for that.

The investigator we've been meeting up with the most now is Dejon. He's a very trusting guy with hard life, so we've just been doing a lot of listening right now, because we feel like that's what he really needs.
Elder Rigby

April 18, 2016

Conference Week. We showed conference this week! It worked a lot better this time than the last, where we had a small lunch in between sessions, took out the singing, and shortened the time between sessions. A really good treat for all the members is that both Elder Hallstrom and President Johnson spoke, who visited here in February or March. I really enjoyed Holland's talk this conference, about how important faith is. We just need to show the faith, and God will always be there to support us! One disappointment though is a few months back, a member of the translation committee promised us that this session would be translated into Macedonian, but we have yet to see anything.

There's been some protests again, just about the same time as last year! They don't seem to be nearly as serious as last year's though.

I went on exchanges with Elder Bowen, our new Russian missionary who is a little fireball. He was an orphan and got adopted by an American LDS family when he was 15. We did a language study together, and as various Macedonian words came up, he would know most of them! He's got such a head start! The grammar however, is radically different, so he can't really talk too much yet. We ended up spending the day with Elder Chingas and Dibble, our companions, anyways because we're not supposed to work in center with the protests going on.

So for a food note, the hamburgers always come with fries in them! There's a restaurant called Sedmica (Seven) close to our apartment, and they've got the best burgers in the city! The beef that's used in burgers is way weird, so I always go for the chicken. They give you a tiny plastic fork, and you eat away at the fries until you can finally fit a bit of the burger in your mouth. They also smother them in ketchup and mayonnaise.

There's a ton of little basketball courts between apartment buildings, so we joined in on one the other day! From what I've seen, Macedonians aren't too good at basketball. Elder Chingas is pretty dang good, and we were on the same team for some 3-on-3, and we won pretty handily. They also had quite the colorful language, testing our knowledge of Macedonian slang. It was really fun though! We've also been playing every week with a member, an investigator, and all the missionaries coming.
That's it for this week! Love you all
Elder Rigby

April 11, 2016

It's going to be a short one this week! Busy bees...

No Luck at the Syrian Camps  We've been trying to get to be able to volunteer at the Syrian camp, and we got a phone call about it this week. Apparently, since there's a total standstill in result of the strong urges from the EU to block the borders, the Syrians in the camp are going to be flown to Turkey. That's got to be total chaos. Anyways, after our many attempts, it looks like we're not going to be able to volunteer there at all. But they are using some donation from the church, particularly a massive generator at the front of the camp!

We had MLC and Zone Training this week, which were way good. We went to Bondsteel on the way back, and there's a ton of pilots there from Arizona and that are LDS! One of them lived in Arizona, and he put me to shame about Tucson geography. I guess I might have used my GPS too much. We found some common people we knew though; he's married to a Connie Kartchner Haynie, so that was pretty sweet! He said a year ago he went on a camping trip with my old stake president.

We took the trip 15 km southwest of Skopje over to Matka Canyon. The Treska River runs through this narrow canyon with steep mountain sides rising 1000 meters high (3300 ft or 0.62 miles).
That's all I've got time for today. Love you all!!
Elder Rigby 

April 4, 2016

So as I've mentioned before, we spend a lot of our time just street contacting, as tracting is illegal. Sometimes we go on walks through parks and talk to those sitting on the benches, sometimes we just pick a spot and attempt to talk to every person walking by. A lot of the time there's long hours in it. But there are many miracles that we get to see every day from that, as well as some incredibly funny and ridiculous experiences.
Any church that's not the Orthodox church here has an absolutely terrible reputation among the average Macedonian. So there's a good amount of people who will walk by and just say " Ајјјјјј, Тие се од некојa сектa" ("ohhhh, they're from some sect”). We were walking by a small park early in the week at night, and we saw 3 guys just hanging out. We went up and started making some small talk with them, not introducing the gospel at all, and one of them realized we were from a church. He almost started screaming bloody murder, saying "These guys are from a sect! Get out of here! Run! We don't want to talk to you!" He was going totally crazy, but we just kept standing there, looked at his friends. They looked stunned at their friend. The friend saw that he wasn't getting any back up, so he just kept screaming, and he backed away, yelling yelling yelling, until he was so far away we couldn't hear him anymore. After that, we had a really nice conversation with his other two friends on the importance of just being a good person. Elder Chingas and I got a pretty good laugh from that after. We left them with cards, and one of them said that he was going to wear it on his forehead when he saw the friend that ran again. 

We found a shoemaker, Iso, this week who is an Albanian. We taught Iso the Restoration, and he wasn't too interested in it unfortunately, but he's a very kind man, so he still conversed with us about it. We then got to the part about the Book of Mormon, and he looks at it and says that he already has one, and he's had it for 10 years. We told him that that's not possible, because there's only been missionaries here for such a short time, but he maintained he had one in Albanian. Many times people have told us they already have the Book of Mormon, and almost every time the person has just been mistaken. However, when we came back the next week, sure enough, he had an old Book of Mormon. It had the testimony written in it from a soldier at Bonsteel from 2002. The soldier gave it to Iso's friend, who then gave it to Iso. Iso said that he read a good part of it about a decade ago. He liked the book, but he doesn't remember a whole lot of it. That was such a powerful testimony to me of the influence that every effort we make to share the gospel. That soldier will never know what came about because of the Book of Mormon given. It got in two persons' hands, and left such an impression on one that he immediately recognized the book, and remembered a good deal of the contents within. The influence we have on each person around us is immeasurably large. Member Missionaries are Magical
There has been talk of the situation for the Syrian immigrants lately. Helicopters have been flying by every day from the camp on the border of Syria to Skopje and vice versa. We decided to take another trip out to the camp, Tabanovce. When we pulled up, the camp was so full. I guess the Syrians are in no man's land, where they getting blocked and can't get any further into Europe. Elder Chingas and I were able to meet with the head of the operations, and she was very helpful and supportive to us, so we hope that we can be able to help in some way! The Pulleys are also trying to visit the camp to see whether there are some projects that they can do. 

For a cultural note, a fast food here that's very popular is called a Gyro, which originates from Greece. They are everywhere, and there's a new chain restaurant in Aerodrom that sells them now. We've gone there for lunch a few times, and this last time, I just got some fries, and Elder Chingas got chicken wings. A long time after I finished my fries, the chicken wings came out, and they were totally overcooked, with pretty much no meat. The food here is way better than the food in America, but for chicken wings, I think they should stay in America.

I hope you all enjoyed conference! We haven't gotten to watch too much of it yet. There was April Fool's day this week, which is the Balkan equivalent of Halloween. Enjoy the week!
Elder Rigby