June 27, 2016

Elder Chingas and I taught our last Advanced English Course for this session. At first we were just having conversations, but they said they wanted to write essays instead! So we started giving them a lot more timed essays and quizzes, and we gave them a really hard final at the end. I would have got maybe a 70% on it. They were pretty mad about their 50% scores regardless though!

On Wednesday we traveled down to Tirana for mission conference. And we of course stopped by KFC on the way back. All the people in Europe have been going crazy over the Euro Cup for soccer. When we stayed the night in Pristina a few weeks ago, Albania was playing, and all the people were making so much noise the whole game. So at the mall where we got the KFC, they had a massive screen set up showing Portugal and Hungary play. 

THE BIG 20.  The day of mission conference was my 20th BIRTHDAY. I woke up feeling like a whole new person that day :) I think more people told me happy birthday that day than all the other birthdays in my life put together. President and Sister Weidmann always recognize birthdays, and since my birthday was on that day, I got called up first and everyone sang happy birthday to just me, and then again with all the other nearby birthdays! All the Macedonia Elders were going in style with some bedazzled ties that someone gave us as gifts. I also gave my dying testimony along with 16 other missionaries. There's only 6 missionaries coming in, so we're going to be shrinking a lot as a mission, being under 50 missionaries total! During those testimonies we all talked about all that we've learned from the mission. I don't think there will ever be another time of such accelerated learning in my life as I have had in the mission. It is and has been a memory I will treasure forever.

President and Sister Weidmann came down for the weekend to Skopje after. They came to our district meeting on Saturday, which ended up being about double the time as usual with all the help and feedback from the Weidmanns. But it was still a good meeting! We invited them to come out to lunch with us after, and they decided for it. We got to the Ramstore Mall cafeteria, and SURPRISE! We saw another big ol' screen. This time it was showing the Switzerland Poland soccer game. And the Weidmanns are from Switzerland! It was the coincidence of coincidences. Sister Weidmann is usually a very calm and elegant person, but she was not for that lunch, going absolutely crazy about the game! It was hilarious. President Weidmann was trying to set a good example for us, sitting with his back towards the game and trying to ignore it.

1 Month left exactly.
Elder Rigby

June 20, 2016

It was a good week! We had a good lesson with Martin, but he's hard to get a hold of since he doesn't have a phone. Whenever we ask him a question like "Will you come to church?" He says "You will come to church" meaning that he will come. He's a funny guy. He's got some of the most natural understanding of the gospel though, so he's progressing pretty well! But he didn't come to church this week, so we're out of contact with him for the moment.

My last Kosovo Exchanges! Exchanges were sweet. In Gjakova, I got to talk a lot of Serbian with people, and I was really happy with how much I could understand! Macedonian isn't as useless as I thought :) We had some good spirit filled lessons there and in Prishtina, and in Prishtina, it was one of the Elder's birthdays, so we celebrated with some juice pong. I was with Elder Samuel in Prishtina, who's British, and the England Wales Euro Cup game was playing on a massive screen on the boulevard, and we walked by right at the end to see England score in the last minute for the win. Elder Samuel was stoked. 

For PDay today, we got a two in one! First we went to the Aqueducts here in Skopje, they were pretty cool. After that, we went with Elder Bowen and Dibble to a Go-Karting place near the Boris Trajkovski sports arena. I was a little turned off by it because it was about $50 an hour, but we did 10 minutes of it, and it was SO SICK. You could fly in those things! There were pieces of tire flying off the whole time apparently, because it was stuck to my arms and legs. Those karts were so flipping fast.


June 13, 2016

I gotta say, it terms of all the weeks on my mission. This one was probably the most average that I've had. A straight 5/10. Not bad, not good.

We've lost contact with quite a few investigators in the past few weeks, but we've gained a few instead. We play soccer on Saturday mornings as a branch, and a 16 year old kid with a full beard usually plays with us. We've been inviting him to church, but it always seemed like a fat chance he would actually come. Last week, he said he would, and he was a no show. This week, he said he would come again, and our hopes weren't too high at all about it. But sure enough, there he was at 10! We also had a really good lesson with him afterwards.

In Prishtina, a city in our zone in Kosovo, a woman named Besiana got baptized. She's been meeting with the sisters there for a long time, with a lot of support from the soldiers there. And it was one of the soldiers that baptized her!

For my studies, I've been reading a lot in the Old Testament in Macedonian. It started off pretty interesting; Genesis ran through the lives of many different people, and Exodus detailed the great escape of the Israelites. And then I hit Leviticus aka the Law of Moses priest's manual. There were a lot of random phrases that I would get to know really well in Macedonian, particularly having to do with sacrificing large beasts, unless you don't have enough money, then you can just sacrifice a couple pigeons and doves. It makes me thankful for Jesus and for what he did for us so that we can live the different law, the higher law. It's beautifully simple.

Macedonian government protests. Skopje has become colorful over the last few months (see pics). It’s political and I haven’t said anything about it since it hasn’t really affected our work.
Elder Rigby
 [background from Elder Rigby’s dad, 20 June 2016: the Macedonian protest is called “Sharena Revolutsiya” or “the colorful revolution” and began in April 2016 when protestors demolished the office of the Macedonian president. It has been generally been peaceful in nature and is a revolutionary protest against the government. Thousands of protesters have marched through Skopje and pelted paint-bombs at the main government buildings and police. Protests generally occur around 6pm every evening, Sundays exempted. The protestors say they are spied upon and persecuted minorities and others demand economic justice. They want the government’s resignation or at least “fair elections”. Protestors come from the social democratic opposition party (SDSM), ethnic Albanians, LGBT people, and other ethnic, social and political groups. The government and police have continued to allow the protests.

Macedonian politics boiled over in Jan 2015 when the government charged the SDSM leader with planning a coup d'├ętat. In Feb 2015, the SDSM leader accused the Macedonian government of wiretapping and illegally spying on thousands of Macedonians and he provided example evidence. With the help of the EU, early elections were planned and protests subsided. With the EU relying on Macedonia to help stem the refugee crisis, EU pressure evaporated. Early parliamentary elections set for June were cancelled by the Court and the wiretapping scandal investigation was suspended and wiretappers were pardoned, so in April 2016, the Colorful Revolution began, called for by the SDSM leader. The President revoked some of the pardons in May and made other concessions. This weekend a protestor ultimatum demands were not met. The atmosphere seems to be getting more tense now. Follow news here:

This Colorful Revolution seems to be the latest in the series revolutionary-minded movements occurring in several societies in the former Soviet Union, the Balkans, and Middle East since the early 2000s (Rose Revolution: Georgia 2003, Orange Revolution: Ukraine 2004, Purple Revolution: Iraq 2005, Tulip or Pink Revolution: Kyrgyzstan 2005, Green Cedar Revolution: Lebanon 2005, Blue Jeans Revolution: Belarus 2006, Grape Revolution: Moldova 2009, Green Revolution: Iran 2009, Jasmine Revolution of 2010 of Tunisia leading to the Arab Spring movements).]

June 6, 2016

I can't believe its June already. 2016 is FLYING BY. 

We had yet another MLC (mission leadership conference) this week, and it'll be my last for sure! I'm not going to lie, the most exciting thing about the trip was that we visited the new KFC in Tirana. So expensive, but so worth it.

The mission has been a bit slower in baptisms this year. Last year, we got 180 as a mission, and this year so far we're only at about 40. So we've got some ground to cover! But President said our zone has been doing the best it's ever done in the past; even when there were more companionships. MLC was mostly about working with the ward. We don't have anything but tiny branches in our zone, so we decided with the sister training leaders that we would just focus on developing Christlike attributes, so we had good discussions on that for zone training. I'm so thankful for Jesus' example and how we all have the ability to follow it. I'm kinda sad that it's my last one, but it's also a nice relief.

Sunday, we had a special European Area Broadcast from Salt Lake. Bishop Causse, President Kearon, Sister Oscarson, Elder Christofferson and others spoke at it. It was a good treat for all of us. After church and a bit of missionary work, we had our normal missionary dinner at the Pulleys. They are such awesome people. They've got a lot of patience with all of us young missionaries!

I got my travel plans this week! I'm going from Tirana to Vienna to Frankfurt to Houston to Tucson. It's super weird having them. My replacement, Elder Wright, will be getting here in August and Elder Chingas' replacement, Elder Parker, will be here in November. I think it's pretty funny that since we're so small here, we just straight up get replaced person for person.
Elder Rigby