History of the Church in Macedonia

Macedonia, in 2012, was opened for missionary work, making it the last country to be opened in all of Europe. The only city open in Macedonia right now is Skopje. We use Serbian materials for the most part. All we have in Macedonian are the sacramental prayers, the Gospel Fundamentals Book, and A Testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith. We have most of the other materials in Serbian, but for example, we use the Croatian Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price, since those aren't translated yet. We learn Bulgarian in the MTC, which is similar to the Macedonian language. Macedonian is a part of the Adriatic South Mission because of the high presence of Albanians and the low geographical area of the mission. Even with Macedonia, it's still the smallest mission area-wise in the European Area. Currently, it's illegal for us to tract (knock doors), so the bulk of our finding is done through street contacting.

An LDS couple, the Junckers, were doing some kind of work unrelated to the church in Skopje in about 2009. At the end of their stay, they were asked by a church official to extend their stay and to serve a mission in Macedonia. They agreed, and they worked there as humanitarian aid missionaries. In 2010, Elder Russel M Nelson traveled to Skopje and dedicated the country. The Junckers talked with their associates, found 6 people, and those 6 Macedonian people became the 6 founders for the Church in Macedonia, and the Church became officially registered in the country.

The first proselyting missionaries came in April 2012. Despite being there to proselyte, it was illegal for them to do so. One was pulled from Albania, and the other from Serbia. They couldn't bring up the church to anyone legally, the people had to come to them about it. Even so, they managed to catch the attention of Elmaz Arif, who after being taught for quite some time, was baptized in October 2012 and became the first member to be baptized in Macedonia. During this time, church was held in the Juncker's home in Skopje. The Junckers were replaced by the Andersons that year.

In 2013, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Sants got legally registered in the country, making proselyting legal for the missionaries there. The church started renting out a conference room in Hotel Arka for Sunday services. 4 Macedonians got baptized that year.

Sisters were brought into Macedonia at the beginning of 2014. The Skopje group also became the Skopje Branch, with James Swineford put in as the president. 2014 also saw the baptisms of 9 people, including the first family (link to an article of one of the members is at the bottom).

At the beginning of 2015, there were a total of 10 missionaries in the country. With help from the lawyers that work with the church, a building was found that would be suitable for the church to have a more permanent location in the municipality of Zdanec, Kozle. 2 people got baptized.

Released Elder Rigby

July 31, 2016

Richard gave a wonderful talk yesterday about his service as a missionary in Macedonia. He considered his time there the best two years of his life, and will really miss being there. He enjoyed the Macedonian people he met, the dedicated local church members, the missionaries he worked with, the couple service missionaries, and he said his mission president was truly inspired. One country, but several religions and languages, and a mix of cultures.

Elder Rigby came home with a bag of missionary badges printed in different languages which illustrated the first challenge he faced: talking to the people. He learned Bulgarian in the MTC, needed to learn Macedonian (took about 8 months to begin fluency), but since the mission also covered Albania and Kosovo (speak Albanian), he learned a bit of these other languages as well. His Bible and a few church pamphlets were in Macedonian, the Book of Mormon was in Serbian, and the D&C was in Croatian.

Only street contacting was allowed, which meant they had to find investigators by talking to people on the streets. He told about working with a single fellow and a family that were eventually baptized. Economic hardship is a part of life for many Macedonians. Many grow up smoking and drinking alcohol, Turkish coffee and tea. These were challenges to baptizing people. However, because any family benefits from gospel principles and the church, he was instrumental to helping them want to eventually be baptized with persistence and the help of the Spirit. Some had to travel quite far to get attend Sunday church meetings.

A pivotal time was when the mission president challenged all the missionaries to read the entire Book of Mormon in a month. Then again the next month, this time seeking to better understand Christ’s atonement. These challenges helped improve missionary desire to share the gospel and their fluency in speaking to the people about the blessings the Church could bring into their lives.

Elder Rigby hopes to keep in contact with members, ex-missionaries, friends, and others he met on Facebook and other social media. Next he is heading up to BYU to study Mechanical Engineering.
Pics -- with my dad and brothers and sisters:
The extended Rigby family: grandma, uncle Paul and aunt Michelle, and cousins:
At Gaslight Theater with the Rigby side of the family: