Elder Scadden

Elder Scadden

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This is a moderated BLOG. Gregory does not make posts nor does he read or monitor this BLOG. His family maintains it for him.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Once upon a time in Albania (November 30th 2009)

Hello all from Albania!

I hope you all are well, I miss you all. HILARIOUS PICTURE WITH MY FACES!!! Lolololol. I view this as a gift, thank you all for including me in Thanksgiving, I am going to keep these. I also wish to congratulate Tony on his team's victory over mine, State is doing bad this year. It is not so bad of a blow since VT is my second team, thanks to tony, so at least someone I like won the game. So I hope thanksgiving was an excellent meal and a good time. Our thanksgiving was excellent, good food and a fun time but it still was nothing like our mighty Scadden family thanksgivings. The sisters did a bunch of decorations and they asked me what I was thankful for, for the purpose of writing it down on some random paper cutouts and they said it could not involve my family or Jenni, or religion so what do you think I said? The U.S. Army! Elder Esplin and I had a good time together discussing such things during dinner. Our meal was pretty standard, turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes. There was a large variety of desserts. It might surprise all of you but I actually made a cheesecake, a very large cheesecake, and it was completely devoured and got good reviews from all. The only issue was that it didn’t chill quite long enough so it was a little runny. Pretty amazing for a first time. We then watched this new Pixar movie called Up. Apparently it did very well? I enjoyed it, it was a good movie, except for how sad it was. In the first 7 minutes they just break your heart and they whole rest of the time you are waiting for it to be repaired and it doesn’t really happen. So we didn’t get our football, but I approve of the alternative.

In Dad's last email he asked me how my Mission President felt about my army recruiting efforts. Well, I really don’t know. Usually though he likes missionaries to have something of a plan when they are going home and I feel that by encouraging them to look into the military it gives them some semblance of potential paths they might take when they get home. I am surprised by how many people have no idea what they are going to do when they get off their missions! I suppose that is a lucky thing about ROTC and having a beautiful future wife, 2 of the biggest post mission problems are well on their way to being solved. It doesn’t work too well on Elder Seevers, he just wants to live in the middle of nowhere Nevada and be a baseball coach at a high school.

The work is slowing down a bit as I suppose is to be expected when your investigators get baptised. Donald's parents continue to be stalwartly opposed to his baptism but Grej and Kejn are now members! That is very exciting. Their mom is learning from us but we had a somewhat disheartening lesson on the Word of Wisdom. She is convinced that red wine is good for you and that there is no alternative. I don’t care what doctors say it does for your heart! The best doctor, the creator of all and most professional and educated of all scientists insists that we do not drink it and He also gives us a promise far greater than any doctor could promise about any diet. We will continue to pray for her and to hope that her heart will soften.

So I have been studying the Old Testament with the LDS college student manual. I have been thoroughly enjoying it. The strict punishments exacted in the Law are pretty intense. I would have been executed years ago for blasphemy or for trespassing the Sabbath. However, I have learned that the Law of Moses is so much more than a list of laws that exact harsh punishments. The law constantly points towards Christ and His coming. Within the law there is also much instruction on what we need to do to be better, not just things that we should not do (though personally, I find DO NOT DO laws pretty great because it tends to be more difficult to find gray areas in keeping them and also it is more difficult to justify not keeping them). I also do not think so badly of the Children of Israel anymore, now that I have been reading their account. Previously I always thought they were the most hardened, illogical, completely stupid people in the history of the world, seeing right before their eyes the manifestations of God and still hardening their hearts. I now realize that while they fell short of the blessings God wanted to give them (I.E. appearing to them that they might see Him with their own eyes) , they still were quite faithful and even were so excited to build the tabernacle that they had to be commanded to stop contributing gold and silver because they just had much more than was needed. From the example of the patriarchs and Moses I am learning a great deal about the mercies of God and the diligence of His servants in fulfilling His commandments. The Old Testament has much more value than I ever thought it did.

Ok, so this is a pretty lame email, I hope that next weeks will be better. Thank you all for your emails, your prayers and your support. This is the Lords work and I feel blessed to be a part of it. I miss you all, and I love you. Until next week, may God bless you!

Elder Skadi

Monday, November 23, 2009

Once upon a time in Albania (November 23, 2009)

Hello all from Albania!

I hope you all are well! I miss you all. I want to congratulate my niece, Kinsey, on her being allowed to be baptized, that is exciting! I also just wanted to shout out Happy Birthday to Brother Bray, his birthday happens this week. So, remember last week how at internets I was complaining about being a little sick? Well, I got home and found I had a fever of 102.2, and was condemned to stay indoors for the next 4 days. That was horrible! And being sick was pretty sucky too, it got worse that night, but improved a great deal the next day, yet I still had to stay inside for some time. One thing I really did not expect about my mission is how many sick days I’ve had. I suppose they are not exceptional compared to normal life, but in a day of mission life I feel like so much more valuable time is lost. What can you do? I am completely better now. The Lord blessed me with a quick recovery, considering that it was probably the flu.
Grej and Kajn's baptism was awesome! The water was freezing because the gas tank that had gas wasn’t working so the heater wasn’t working but it was still excellent. 2 of their cousins, their aunt, and their mom came. I think the best part of the service was at the very end the mother asked if she could stand up and say a few things. She said a lot of thank yous and the like, but then she said “I had no idea how amazing this church was, how amazing this would be, and I know that I too must follow the same road that my boys have chosen.” It was a great thing to hear! So we are going to start for real trying to teach her again and her boys will be able to help her. It is amazing the way the Lord works. She went from being a very kind, but quite indifferent women to the gospel, to realizing that this is what must be done in her life. I hope to be reporting on her progress in coming weeks.

Donald, our investigator who did not get baptized because of the hardness of his parents hearts, did give a talk in 4th branch on Sunday and it was amazing! The whole audience was stunned by how well this 15 yr old boy delivered his talk and how doctrinally sound and powerful it was. It was a really great thing for Donald to do since he was not able to be baptized that day. I am glad that President Apostulli thought he was a member of the church and asked him to speak. I hope that soon his parents will allow him to be baptized. We are praying much for him.

OH! I have a story! So I have been having mad crazy dreams recently and I do not think that they are fever induced but I would like to share one. It is a good reminder to all of us! So, in the dream, I am driving the Pilot, backing out of our drive way. I am taking grandma to her hair appointment. As I am backing, I see a big black SUV parked at the top of our driveway in the rear view mirror so I stop and I look into my left side view. In the mirror I see Denzel Washington. He is wearing a completely white suite like that of a temple worker and sunglasses. He grabs the edges of the opening of his suite (you know, the V of the suite? He takes them with his fingers) and lifts up his suit jacket a little as though he is indicating it and then says to me “Remember your covenants”. LOLOLOL! The moral of the story, Denzel Washington says, Remember your covenants! Man, I laughed so hard after I woke up, as did my companion when I explained it to him.

THANKSGIVING! We are going to the mission home and having a huge meal on Thursday, so fear not, I will be partaking of some home cooked goodness. However, do think of me because I am sure that it still will not be as amazing as the out of this world cooking that is commonplace at our family meals, especially on so great an occasion as thanksgiving. Now, I asked president if we could play football but he said no, so all those going to the turkey bowl, please play your hearts out for me! Now, I do think we have successfully warded off all the silly movie ideas, like Lion King, a good movie, but thanksgiving and football are inseparably connected, and therefore football must be watched! I think we are going to watch Remember the Titans, great movie!

Dad recently shared a story with me about how his temple shift coordinating always works out regardless of the obstacles that they face. It is a simple testimony builder to me that the Lord will always provide that His work will go forward. It is really miraculous, however small it may seem sometimes, to see His hand revealed. I have seen many miracles, like the one at the baptism last night, as I have been here on my mission and it is a blessing to be a part of so great a work. Anyway, thank you all for your love and your support, and your prayers. I know that this is God's work. I miss you all, and I pray for you often. I love you, may God be with you!

With love
Elder Skadi

Monday, November 16, 2009

Once upon a time in Albania (November 16, 2009)

Hello all from Albania!!

Time for the exciting news: Elder Seevers and I are staying together! There is nothing I wanted more than for us to continue working together, he is a great missionary and a good friend. This past week we had a 24 lesson week, only 2 less than the most I have seen in any of my companionships and these ones are worth a lot more. The Lord is blessing us with great success and I hope that it will continue. Graj and Kajn are still set to be baptised on Sunday. They are so excited! Donald's parents have not relented but that is ok, he is aware that he can continue to grow and learn in the gospel until the day the Lord blesses him with softened hearts from his parents. This week might end up being pretty hard because I am getting what at first glance seems like the flu. Not throwing up but I am sore from head to foot with sinus problems and I feel on fire. But because we had to go to the mission home this morning (so that Elder Seevers could get his lejtrendrimi, his right to reside here) I didn’t test my temperature. I’ve had worse on my mission! I bet it will pass in a day or two. Please pray specifically for my health this week, it would mean a lot to me, thanks!

Wow! Thanksgiving this next week! That will be exciting, great food! It will probably be the last time I see my good friend Elder Esplin, the Elder I worked with on Boys Camp. Recruiting efforts continue to go well. We are convincing many getting ready to leave to very seriously look into the Army on their return home. Lol I’ve been so concerned with Elder Seevers language and progress as a missionary that I didn’t start military pitches until about a week ago. Come to find out that he would love to serve in the marines but because he injured his shoulder so bad there is little chance he will be able to but he is going to try when he gets home, A satisfying answer for me. It is a real shame Elder Esplin and I did not get a chance to serve a transfer together, it would have been awesome, but that is ok. Maybe we will see each other in the mountains of Afghanistan or where ever we might be in coming years. I seem to be getting to the point on my mission where the friends I have made among missionaries start to go home. Both Elder Esplin and Elder Hamilton leave next transfer! At least Elder Seevers and I will be here in Albania for a while together. When it comes down to it though, I didn’t come here to make friends (though I am making many more, both foreign and Albanian than I ever expected) and the Lord is blessing me greatly with spiritual strength and growth.

The Branch continues to do well under the new president, he has a lot to learn, but he is doing well. Ermal, our just baptised, is being considered as branch secretary because he graduated in finances. That would be a great calling for him! I hope they decide to give it to him. He needs a responsibility.

Darn I had notes that I wanted to write about but I forgot them at home. What can you do? Well, I’ll talk a little bit more about Donald Graj and Kajn. So when they come to church they give awesome answers. They even quote scriptures they have read etc. It blows our members away! They get a great deal of strength and encouragement. Last Sunday, Presidenti Apostulli (president of 4th branch, and yes his first and last names in English are Apostle Apostle) did not realize that these kids attending his ward (just so that they could learn more) giving great answers were not members and he assigned Donald a talk for next Sunday! We are going to help him. Presidenti still wants him to do it even though the confusion has been cleared up. He is excited, it will be great for him because that same day his 2 friends will be getting baptised and he will not so he feels he is still are part of the church. They also attend seminary twice a week and give outstanding answers. They love this gospel. It is amazing. I do not think I have found such excitement and zeal in a person their age (except my friend Erik Wells) ever in my life. It is wonderful!

Ok, sorry for shortness this week, this was a hard one to write without notes! I am very grateful for your prayers, I feel them daily. I miss you all, you are in my prayers, I love you, may God be with you all!

Elder Skadi

Monday, November 9, 2009

Once upon a time in Albania (November 09, 2009)

Hello all from Shqiperia!

I hope you all are doing well! I am doing well. This week I want to shout out to… My self and Jenni! This week we have been together for a year!! Time just continues to fly. Also I was asked to tell Bej Fala (which means give my regards) to Mum from Motra Balilari. We visit her house once every two weeks and she feeds us a ridiculous amount and tells us she is our temporary mother while we are away from our moms. She is the head desert chef at one of the two nicest hotels in all of Albania, so you can imagine that the food is pretty good. But I will be honest, it is nothing like the good cooking I had grown accustom to at home.

I had a question about disciplinary councils in the Church, since I just read the section instituting the way they should be carried out in the D&C, but all I wrote as a reminder was "disciplinary councils", so I have no idea what on earth I was going to ask about them.

Hey! I had a really outstanding idea for Sarah's wedding! So I am her only brother and it is a big disappointment (at least for me, I’m not really sure how much it disappoints you all) that I will not be there. However, I decided that I could at least be there by proxy of a life sized cardboard cut out of me. There are places that make those in our area! I would be thrilled to get a picture taken with my sister in her wedding dress. What does everyone think? If you think it is tacky, you can hid me in a closet or the kitchen or something. just want to be in some pictures. If you all didn’t have any worry, it would be even better if I could stand in that welcome line thing the family does at the reception where all the guests shake our hands upon entering. Anyway, it was just a thought. It is your day Sarah, so if me being there via proxy doesn’t flow with your plans, don’t worry about it, I am unoffended hahah!

Ok, an update on our great investigators Donald, Graj and Kejn, they are still great! They are progressing really well and have such a desire to feast upon the words of Christ. They love coming to church and to seminary as well as English class (though it is less spiritual). They ask us outstanding questions. Graj and Kejn's folks continue to be supportive of their decision but Donald's parents are skeptical. We have a date set for the 22nd of November but Donald fully understands that if he does not have permission from his folks he will have to wait but that he can still be fully active in the church. I am very excited for the 3 of them!

Next Monday is transfers. There seems to be a great deal of risk that one of us will be transferred. We are both very sad about that, Elder Seevers and I make a great team, and have enjoyed working together. I suppose we will just have to wait and see what happens. I do not want to leave but I will willingly go wherever the Lord sends me. Due to the great necessity I have to be further educated in the ways of Charity, I would not be surprised to go to Fier, a very small city that once had a branch of close to 70 active members but they all apostatised from the church in the matter of about 4 weeks. There are now something like 8 active members. I think I would have a lot to learn there. I also would hope that I would be able to work hard and see that place be better than when I left it. That is only a thought! This transfer everyone, and I mean every missionary, could potentially get transferred. The entire board can and has to change (because 1 transfer from now we need 4 new branch presidents that are missionaries, a new assistant, a new office elder, a new zone leader and they don’t want the brand new half of the mission to have to fill those spots). Exciting!

Anyway, it is that time again. I hope this email was sufficient. Today we are going to go eat American cuisine at a restaurant called Route 66. That is about as American as you can get. I’ll let you know how it is. I miss you all, thank you very much for your prayers and your support. I love you all, please take care. May God be with you!

Elder Skadi

Monday, November 2, 2009

Once upon a time in Albania (November 2 2009)

Hello all from Albania!

Woohoo!! I got a GREAT package this week! I am very pleased with its contents, you all are wonderful! I also want to wish Grandma a happy 89th birthday. Wow! Grandma has seen many of recent history's most important events. Oh, back to the package, what was up with sending me vitamins especially for people 50+ yrs old?? Lol, no problem, I compared them to the other ones I had and they are essentially the same, so no worries. I just thought it was funny.

Well dang, I forgot to take notes about what I should talk about. I hope this email is not too lame. It is getting cold here in Tirana, I’m not too excited about that but I have plenty of good items to keep me as warm as possible. So what happened this week? Well, we are still teaching those two awesome boys I think I talked about last week. (Hey, did everyone like how I told the same story to weeks in a row with Elder Seevers telling me I needed Charity? I’m telling you, all is as one day here. I is so hard to distinguish one day or week from the next.) Well they are still awesome! Now we have another boy with them, Gray's younger brother, who is also great. All three of them want to be baptized. However, seeing how 2 are 15 and one is 11, we wanted their parents in on this. We visited the family of Donald. They are quite a wealthy family for Albanians and live in a very nice house but they had all the usual, lame Albanian excuses about learning more about the gospel. They are the kind of people that would have answered the door, said they were of a different faith (when in reality they don’t know anything about their faith and don’t ever go to services) and then closed the door. They claimed they had such a huge faith in God but I told them they had no actions to show for it and that this faith is worthless if they do not act the way God has commanded. (I said it in nicer words) We discussed their son getting baptized but they were skeptical. They said they would talk about it. They were kind, respectful people but quite willing to parish in their ignorance. I think it was one of the hardest lessons I have been a part of yet on my mission because they threw so much stuff out there that usually just stops a lesson dead. But because of Donald’s requests we were permitted to push onwards. The Lord certainly helped us to get through that lesson as well as we did, there is no way I could have done it on my own. Gray's family was somewhat different. His Mom is the closest thing I have found in Albania to a hippy. She is a really energetic, kind lady and told us pretty much straight off that her sons had total permission to be baptized and become members in our Church. She is also willing to learn from us, but I think it is more out of respect for us and her sons than anything, but a willingness to listen is a step, I believe. So our plan to see their families baptized is not so close of a goal. We will continue to teach the boys and gage their readiness for baptism.

So we are not the only missionaries in our area who have great people right now. All of Tirana e Re (which is 6 missionaries: us, Elder Turley, Elder Loose, Sister Bojer, and Sister Bentley. So there is no confusion, the ZLs are also in our district but their branch is fourth branch) is having huge success with finding and teaching. The Lord is really blessing us with many miracles.

Our branch president was replaced on Sunday. Sparti has been called to serve in the District Presidency so he could no longer be a branch president. We were all extremely surprised when Shpetim Shima was called as the new BP (he is the father of the two kids baptized when I first came to Ti-re). The surprise is that he has only been a member for 8 months in a branch full of older members. I think it is great!! He has such a huge amount of faith. I believe he will make an outstanding BP and his counselors are all experienced men. It was fast and testimony meeting so after the counselors and BPs had born their testimonies, it was opened to the congregation. Immediately s women in her late twenties rushed to the microphone, absolutely balling, and told us she was never coming to church again (which is ironic because that was the first Sunday in a couple of months that she had been at church). I will admit that that was super awkward, especially because we had 3 investigators in church. However, it got tons better when every other person got up giving large thanks to Sparti and declaring their support for the new BP. They were mostly the stronger, older members of the branch but I believe that a majority of the active branch agrees with them. Brother Shima is well loved. Still, having talked to a few of the members who are younger, they all worry that this will ruin everything. They just haven’t experienced changes like this before. The Lord's work will go forward.

Well, shorter email for this week. Next week might be my last P-day in Tirana e Re. I talked to the Assistants today and it looks as though there will be huge changes this transfer. We have to prepare for January when 14? Missionaries are leaving. 4 Branch presidents, an assistant, and a zone leader need to be replaced because of the changes coming in January and so they need to start getting that set up now. I wouldn’t be surprised if I found myself in a different city next transfer but I really hope that I do not move and that I get to stay with Elder Seevers. He is such an outstanding companion. Anyway, that’s all for this week. I love you all. Thank you for your support and prayers. You are all in my prayers, may God be with you!

Elder Skadi