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