May 30, 2016

So the highlight for sure of this week was going to a basketball game with one of our investigators, Tane! Tane used to play for MZТ Skopje, the local basketball team in Aerodrom. He's a 6'7" giant, and is one of the best, most warm hearted people I've met here. It was a big game against Kumanovo and he got us some tickets! It has been way too long, it felt so good to be in that Arena. MЗТ ended up winning, so we left happy. We also did a lot more sports this week, playing basketball and tennis with some investigators, and playing soccer as a branch. We've tried Frisbee, volleyball and basketball with the branch, but they LOVE their soccer.

Milan, one of our new investigators from last week, wasn't answering our texts and calls, so we figured he dropped us like a lot of people do. We gave him another try on Saturday, and he answered! We met up with him that night, and he had a huge gash on his forehead, and also was experiencing a lot of intestinal pains, and he said that's why he hasn't been able to meet. At the beginning of the lesson, he just seemed totally deflated, and kept saying "I can't keep enduring all this." His family left him not too long ago. We let him vent for a while and then really just tried to encourage him and get his spirits up, testifying of the truths that we know. By the end of the lesson, he was all smiles, and he kept saying "I'm strong! I'm going to endure!" It was really cool to be able to see such an immediate change in somebody. There's nothing better than serving people, remember that!
Elder Rigby

May 23, 2016

Busiest Week of the Mission! A lot of the time when you're doing missionary work, you don't really feel like you accomplish too much. Sometimes it seems as though everyone that you talk to and try to help seems to look at you in disgust and disdain. The minutes feel like hours and the hours like days. You try a lot of different ideas that you feel will be sure fire ways to move the work forward, only to see each one falter and fail. This past week was not one of those weeks.

We were extremely blessed this week. The APs came down for an exchange, and I was with Elder Guyman. I'll start listing the miracles.

1) The first person we talked to, who was sitting on a bench, told us to sit down with him, and tell him what we're doing here. We were able to have a lesson with him.

2) The next person we talked to was a guy who made fun of us and was pretty rude to us the first time that we met him. Seeing him this time, he seemed much more humble. We sat down with him and told him about God's love for all of us and the hope that it gives us. He explained to us the family problems that he's been having, and how alone he feels. At the end of the lesson, he was tearing up with joy. Awesome moment.

3) We started teaching English course this week, and a guy showed up that seems a lot more interested in the church than learning English. So we happily indulged in his request!

4) We were starting contacting again after lunch. We walked by some cars. When we walked by one of them, a man got out and chased us down, asking to know what we do here and , later, whether it would be ok if he came to our church service. We told him no. (Just kidding, we were being good missionaries.)

5) We had 11 first lessons with people. That's by far the most I've ever had in any week, and we had a total of 20 lessons by the end of the week. Elder Chingas and I are now the record holders for most lessons in one week in Macedonia since it's been opened! And that was the most in the zone for as long as we have records for. Everybody just seemed to nice to us and everything worked out perfectly. Almost too perfectly. Also as a zone, we got pretty close to doubling our lesson this week, almost getting 100 lessons with 9 companionships. That's ridiculously good!

One of the biggest miracles for sure was that we've been trying to hike Vodno for about 1 1/2 months now, but it's been raining EVERY MONDAY. But finally, after all that patience training, we got to hike it in some perfect weather today!

The missionary life is a very good life. You get to help so many people come closer to Christ, and make huge changes in their life for the better. One of those this week was in Sunday School, where Sister Waterman was teaching us about the Word of Wisdom. Frosina shared her personal testimony of it, and then citing me as helping her to discover her ability to choose to quit with the coffee. It was a very feel good, humbling moment. There are so many awesome people here. 
Elder Rigby

May 16, 2016

We started this week with another trip to Gjakova. This time it was to drop Sister Barch and Maxfield off since Sister Barch headed home! She was a good sister and we are going to miss her.

Elder Dibble and I went on exchanges this week. That means we got to go and teach Bojan and Frosina!!! That's the first time for me in 4 months and the first time since they've been baptized. They are such good, down to earth people. I can't imagine either one ever having an evil thought in their whole lives. They both got callings a couple weeks ago. Bojan is the assistant clerk and Frosina is the music chorister. That's a huge miracle because it took over a year for Prend to get a calling.

Thursday we traveled down to Strumica for an investigator and had another lesson with a way cool guy named Tane. When we got home I felt really funky with a bad headache. I went in bed to just lay down, and then I started shaking way bad. I was super freaked out! Nothing like that had ever happened to me before. Luckily Elder Chingas had some medication that totally fixed it, and I got a good 12 hours of sleep that night.

On Saturday we were handing out English flyers, and it was just business as usual. Suddenly, a woman with her daughter appeared out of nowhere and just stared at us, with a massive smile on her face. She didn't say anything for a couple seconds. I was racking my brain for who this lady was, since we talk to so many people. She finally spoke and told us that she lives in Denmark and that she's a member there! She's a native Macedonian born in Bitola, and she was so happy to find out that there's a church here. We gave her the address and she was just beaming the whole time when she came and attended. Also, it turned out the daughter knows one of my friends from high school who was a foreign exchange student from Denmark, Ida.

Happy Bob Marley Day! This is a growing annual event celebrated on Saturday at the Skopje city park. It is the anniversary of his death (died at age 36 from melanoma cancer) and has become a popular reggae music festival with themes of peace and love and everyone just chill’n. It was a family-friendly event with little kids to old people there, so that was perfect for us and finding people to talk to!

Enjoy your week!
Elder Rigby

May 9, 2016

I Skyped the family a couple hours yesterday, both Tucson and Las Vegas, so I don't have a whole lot to add. Great things are happening in the zone though, where we're seeing a lot of miracles everywhere. We also had Mission Leader Conference and we lead a zone training this week, which was a lot of fun! And Sister Barch is almost out of here, with Sister Dow taking her spot. It's crazy, I'll be the next to leave after her! The Mission President also came to our sacrament meeting yesterday, and we had interviews. And the greatest highlight of the week of course was getting to Skype the family. Here are a few pics I had...
Elder Rigby
here in Skopje

May 2, 2016

Easter this week! In the Orthodox religion, one of the biggest points of doctrine seems to be which calendar you go off of. They think that the whole rest of the world is totally pagan because they celebrate Easter at a different time with them. We were talking to our favorite bakery lady, and she just laughed at us when we told her that we celebrate Easter with the Orthodox here, but with the Catholics in America. It doesn't make any sense to the people here. She also told us that we are of the devil because we don't worship Богородица Марија (Mother Mary).

Some of the big traditions they have are coloring eggs, except they make all of them RED and having loud prayers going off until 2 in the morning. The sisters and Sister Waterman set up a church party for it, which was a lot of fun. Both our landlord and a different couple invited us over to their houses to celebrate with them, but with both of them, we couldn't get it to work out to go to both places! I was wayyyy bummed.

There were Americans everywhere this week! We had a whole lot of American visitors in church. A lot of students and a random American family that's living in Poland! And then when we were contacting in Aerodrom, we walked by a park, and there was a group of people playing baseball! That was the first time I've seen baseball in like 2 years! They were from a Christian group also, and they invited us to play, it we declined. It was quite the surprise though!

Other event of the week: Zone Conference, the new Macedonian sisters should be going into the MTC this week, and a new elder got called and should be here in November I believe. Elder Bischoff's investigator Nikola is doing really well and should be getting baptized in a few weeks from now! Huge miracles.
Love you all! Elder Rigby