Elder Scadden

Elder Scadden

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Once upon a time in Albania (February 22 2010)

Hello all!
I hope you all are well. I was so excited about the new Gmail features we have but the computer I am on won't read my pictures! Geez, better luck next week! Ah, well, you all are probably wondering what happened at transfers. Well, I am staying with Elder Thackeray here in Durres. I would be lying if i said we were not all surprised by this happening. That means I will be here for the next transfer also. That piece of knowledge is good to know. Also, sorry if it is someones B-day, I forgot to check so you'll hear from me next week if it is.

Well, I didn't mention this last week but I will now. For the last 3 weeks I've had some crazy pains coming out of my heel. There is some kind of hard orb forming underneath the skin. I got an xray and that showed nothing so it is not a bone spur. Some have said it could be a wart or a callus but the surface of the skin remains relatively unchanged. Some have said it might be a boil forming under the skin?? Anyway, It really started to cause problems a week and a half ago so I started to stay inside off of it because of the pain. Finally I got an old man cane which was really styling but killed my hand to use for an extended period of time. I also was put on a ridiculous dose of Ibuprofen. That seems have really helped with the swelling (because it was getting quite sizely). As it now stands, since we have no idea what it is, I am working half days, wearing tennis shoes and using a medical cane. Things seem to be improving but the going is slow. Inevitably I might have to go to the American hospital to get a more in depth check up if I continue to have difficulty. Needless to say, I am really quite irritated with this current condition, but am learning to live with it. So don't worry yourselves too much, but just keep that specifically in your prayers, that this strange growth will go away and that I'll be able to work like normal again soon.

Other than that things have been good. We found some new investigators this week (well, elder Thackeray and Elder Mugleston did while I sat inside with a sick Elder Loose) and we are hoping that something positive will come from them. We are about done tracting out the section of the city we had targeted for our primary efforts. We are about done with the second time through and will probably only go once over in the morning since we have talked to most of the households. Don't worry, we keep a record of every door so we don't re knock doors that rejected the message. This area has not been the greatest tracting area so we are looking forward to moving on to a different part of the city that may have some really prepared people. I've got to say, the more I do tracting, the more I love it. It really beats trying to talk to people in the road but that is just my opinion. We are going to reopen our English course this month too so it would be wonderful if some new investigators came from that! Ermal, Donald, Grei and Kein back in 2nd branch all came into the church because of English.

We went to Vlore on exchanges. Vlore is a pretty city nestled away in a valley on the coast. Nothing really amazing happened there though. Oh, I did go to the doc. That was an interesting experience. It was a private clinic suggested by Germany for us. When I arrived there were lots of people in the waiting room. I went up to the desk and said I had an apt. with Doc. Cela at 1 (it was 1230). In 2 minutes I was in a room talking to Dr. Cela. 3 min later I jumped to the front of a line of 10 people waiting for xrays. 4 min later my xray was getting looked at by Dr. Cela. 5 min later I had some kot (worthless) medicine in my hand. I do not know what got me the special treatment but I jumped tons of people. We talked about it and we figured it was because we weren't there on the governments bill but were paying right there with cash. Everyone else just tells them to get their money from the government. Anyway, it was much less ridiculous than I thought the experience was going to be, though my radiology technician, they guy taking my xray, told me he still had 1 yr of school left before he was fully certified. Now I don't know what that really means but it made me think he wasn't the most qualified individual to be using large machine that gives off radiation. LOLOLOLOL.

Well, the week has been somewhat uneventful. I must now go. I love you all and miss you all. I thank you all for your constant prayers and support. Keep the faith and may God be with you.

Love
Elder Skadi

Monday, February 15, 2010

Once upon a time in Albania (February 15 2010)

Hello all from Albania!

I hope you all are faring well, I am alright. I would like to congratulate my niece Kinsey on her baptism and my nephew Jordon on his receiving of the priesthood. I also would like to give a big TRASHGIME to Fred and congratulate him on the birth of his two twin girls. Lastly I would like to wish a Happy Birthday to Lauren Bray and wish everyone a Happy Valentines day!

So, big news for this week: We are switching over to Gmail!!! Woohoo! The Church made some big deal with Gmail, and now the email system is going to be tons better! The new system is way better and it won’t take 5 minutes to send pictures anymore, so expect more pictures. G√ęzohem!

The work was still slow this week, but what can you do? We’ve been doing a great deal of tracting, but didn’t get in once. Our phone numbers we are getting are all falling through too. However my spirits remain high and the less active work that we have been doing seems to be taking some root. This past Sunday every less active member I have visited here came to church. Some have come several weeks in a row. Sometimes I suppose people need reminders of where their priorities are. One weird thing happened while tracting. We came to a house and hanging directly across from the door way was a framed picture of John the Baptist conferring the Aaronic priesthood on Joseph Smith and Oliver C. We both were really taken aback but the women who answered the door didn’t seem to know anything about the church, the book of Mormon, or missionaries. We asked her about the picture. She said it had something to do with baptism. We asked her where she got it. She said she didn’t know and that they had lots of pictures hanging up of Christ. She legitimately seemed totally ignorant of the pictures real implications or that we were the only church it could be associated with (despite our efforts to convince her so) . We wonder that she might just have been a totally inactive member who was just faking it. She gave us her last name. It didn’t check out on the records. Though while we were talking to her a young man in his 20’s started to come around a corner, saw us and quickly retreated. She said it was her brother. We now maybe think that while she has nothing to do with the church, her brother might. She had children which = married which = different name than the brother. It remains a mystery to us. It was a huge surprise to see something so blatantly Mormon in a house that seemingly knew nothing about the church.

This is the last week of the transfer so next week you all will find out if I am staying here or going somewhere else. I am putting my money on going to 4th branch, which would be AWESOME because I would get to see all my boys again (Roni, Grei, Kein, and Donald) and I would be companions with Elder Hagen, from my group, who is an awesome missionary and probably the best at the language in the whole mission, minus our natives. We will see what happens.

Yesterday we ate lunch at president Pina's house. He is the president of Durres branch. Besides us, a women named Eriola Xheka was there. She is a member, but it is important to note for the story that President is 24 yrs old and seriously dating someone else and Eriola is 26, without anyone. She is the owner of a huge company and is extremely wealthy. It was valentines day so you can expect that the topic between Eriola and President got onto the subject of the Vday dance that had just happened and those sorts of intrigues. Well, one thing led to another and they all started trying to convince Elder Thackeray that he needs to move back here and marry and Albanian girl. Please keep in mind that Elder Thackeray is a really lock hearted missionary, so such joking does not worry me (some Elders you don’t want to joke about this with because it will cause them problems). Anyway, we have discussed it before and he is very seriously considering returning after he completes college to live here for good (which would mean getting married here) and I give him a hard time about it. Always his defense is “well, what work could I get? There would be no good work for me to do to support my family!” Well, as they joking continued, he pulled out that defense saying that there is no good place a mechanical engineer could work here. Eriola made the quick reply “I’ll give you a job, all my engineers are foreign and you speak Albanian. And you’d get paid so well you wouldn’t even feel your rent” LOLOLOLOLOL I died, Elder Thackeray was stuck. What's funnier is that is Motra Xheka is 100% serious. She has hired tons of members here and wouldn’t hesitate to hire an ex-missionary if he had needed skills and did OK in school. They tried to pull me into the target zone but fortunately a solid commitment to the US Army and the girl of my dreams made me totally immune. Perhaps none of you find that amusing since you do not know Elder Thackeray but for me it was hilarious.

So I got a Liahona a read about the new Gospel Principles book, it sounds really awesome. I love that they church has decided to go back and review the basics. It will be outstanding for the church here in Albania and for me personally. The fundamental doctrines and practices of the church are really what help us along the path to salvation. The reminder is well welcome.

Well, I’ve got to go. I love you all and miss each of you. Thank you for your prayers and support. Oh, can someone tell me when Luis’s birthday is? Anyway, take care, and may God be with you!

Love
Elder Skadi

Monday, February 8, 2010

Once upon a time in Albania (February 8 2010)

Hello all from Albania!

I hope you all are well. I am well. Just wanted to shout out to my Brother in Law John: Happy birthday! Going to probably be a little shorter of an email because we decided to go on our district trip today and it was awesome! We saw on a map a castle called the Castle of Turres. It looked like it was only 30 min away from Durres on the coast. We asked some people about it but they had never heard of it. We called up Landi the furgon driver, who has been used by the missionaries since the beginning of the mission, and asked him to take us in that direction. It was quiet an adventure. Fortunately, when we got into the neighborhood, people knew what it was. We had to trek on foot through back passes for about 30 minutes. On a hill, from a ways a way, we saw an old run down house and decided that that must be out castle, so despite the immediate disappointment, we continued on. Well, the house really wasn’t part of the castle and what we were looking for indeed was not a castle either but an old underground communist fortification. We explored the tunnels, and found many empty boxes of ammunition. The tunnels came out on the other side of the mountain and they connected a serious of old artillery positions. All in all, we were really surprised and it was extremely fun. We also saw an old tower down on the coast so we found our way down and got to the castle. On top of all this the scenery was beautiful. The trip was a number of hours long, lots of hiking, climbing, and running: all well worth it. So, it is now one of the two best P-days I have had on my mission (the other being the time Elder Flack, Smedley, Soule and I climbed the random mountain). And fear not, I took many pictures, just no time to load up today.

I have some sad news. This week Sister Charma died in the hospital. We helped with her funeral service at the church and then went to the graveyard for the burial. According to Albanian custom the body must be buried with in 24 hrs. It was a real surprise how fast they moved. About 80ish people came to the funeral and the speakers all talked excellently on the Plan of Salvation. It was really quite beautiful. I also heard my first grave dedication that I can remember. While we were sad, we all very much knew that she was in good hands on the other side.

I wanted to pose a random question to John and Ken. On your missions, how much did the missionaries speak the mission language to each other? Were all of the meetings (district mtg, zone conference, etc.) all in those languages? I know John was in a multi-lingual mission so how much would you Spanish elders speak to each other in Spanish? I am just curious to know.

Did the church just come out with a new Gospel Principles book? Mum mentioned it in the last email and on Sunday the Elders Q. president said that soon we would be getting new copies of GPs and that we would begin to use them in first hour.

Wow, that’s crazy that you all got snow. I am glad I wasn’t there! LOLOL! Last week, just after emails, elder Thackeray and I got stuck in a hailstorm…. More than getting stuck I just told him we were going to not be babies and just troop through it because it was time to eat. It was pretty intense. Other than that it has been raining almost everyday this week, with a very large thunderstorm a couple of nights ago. It was excellent tracting weather.

Speaking of tracting, we’ve been doing a lot of that. Last week was my lowest numerical week on my mission but that is ok. It didn’t down my spirits at all. We are trying our best and the Lord is blessing us. This week was actually a very good week. It was very spiritually refreshing, especially the way we ended it with a fast. I do not understand why, but every now and again I have a short period of time on my mission when I get into a really bad mood for a couple of weeks and finally, through much prayer, scripture study, and self examination, the Lord pulls me out of it. This week was the end of another one of those times and it felt like a very good refining period. Missions truly are our own Zion's camps.

Alright, I must go. I love you all and I miss all of you. I promise pictures next week. I know it has been awhile. This is the Lord's work and this is His true church. Thank you for all your prayers and your support. Take care, and may God be with you!

Love
Elder Skadi

Monday, February 1, 2010

Once upon a time in Albania (February 01, 2010)

Hello all from Albania!
I hope everyone is well. I miss you all! Last week I got a lot of really great emails. I feel quite informed about home this week which is not necessarily always the case (just because 2 or 3 people couldn’t possibly tell me everything that’s going on in everyone else's lives). This past week has been good. We had our first Zone Conference with me conducting. Let me say that I learned many things about conducting a zone conference. The Assistants gave Elder Thackeray a hard time for not really explaining to me at all the things I would need to know or be ready to announce during the meeting. Needless to say, having seen many meeting conducted, it really was not that rocky. I simply did not know the information that people expected me to know. As a whole, zone conference was Great! Very uplifting, with a focus on finding. President has said that the year of 2010 will be the year of finding.

Last night we went to go visit Sister Charma, the old women who reminded me of Sister Hodge. We she has been sick and last night was in a really terrible way. This morning we came with an ambulance, put her on a stretcher and carried her down 6 flights of stairs. Since it was planned (it was not an emergency) the EMS guys refused to come and carry her down and since all of the men in the church were working, we were asked to do it. It went well and we were glad to help. She decided to go to the Hospital because she has no one except friends to take care of her and she needed more constant care. I hope that she will get better. I wouldn’t have been surprised if she had passed away in the night last night but this morning she seemed to actually be doing a little bit better. A good sign.

I would like to inform everyone that according to people, animals and things do not make all the same sounds all around the world. Where in America a dog goes Bark Bark, or Woof Woof, here in Albania a dog goes Hahm Hahm Hahm Hahm and a gun goes Tak tak tak tak. LOL. I guess it's not a surprise that such things wouldn’t be the same around the world but I just had never thought about it before until it came up (somehow) in church yesterday.

Dude, it has rained like no tomorrow this week. We went tracting a couple of days ago and it was raining pretty hard. While we tracted the rain got even harder. After the time came to leave, we left the neighborhood of apartment buildings we had been tracting and found that we were trapped, the main road had flooded about 5 inches LOL! Clearly passable but we decided to walk around a ways and finally found a place were we could get across mostly unsplashed. It could have been worse.

I would like to say that I really love the testimonies of others. I find them so very refreshing. Last week one of my sisters bore testimony to me about something and I really found it energizing. I had a similar feeling at church yesterday as the people were giving their talks. I rejoiced in their love for the gospel and faith in their savior. As I have been on my mission I feel like my love for the testimonies of others has greatly increased. Maybe part of it comes from always worrying about if a member will just suddenly apostatize for some totally random reason. Hearing their testimonies gives me assurance that they are trying to stand on good ground. I am reminded by Elder Bednar's talk from this last conference where we are encouraged to bear testimony far more often in our homes. We really can draw greater strength as we hear other's testimonies and especially as we bear testimony to others. I am truly blessed that daily I am given the opportunity to directly bear, to many people, my testimony of Christ and the prophets that he has called in our day. Its hard to believe that I have less time left to do that than I have behind me…
Well, I must go. Thank you all for your prayers, I feel your love and support even across these many waters. I miss you all, and I love all of you very much. I know that this is the Lords work. All of you take care and may God be with you!

With love
Elder Skadi