I hope you all are well, I am doing just fine. I am in Tirana today. I am staying with the office elders while Elder Thackeray goes on his death trip to Saranda. It is great because I get to be with Elder Smedley and Elder Allen, both from my group and both awesome elders. I heard that the socialized medicine bill passed (NNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO), this comes to me very badly, very very very badly. Like MacDuff from Shakespeare's MacBeth I cry "O my beloved country, what will become of thee??" sigh... Well, I suppose that people's bad ideas come through sometimes. I thought most of America's population was against this unfortunate bill? Sigh... well, it is still my country and I shall fight for it.
Anyway, aside from that little bit of news, this week has been really great. Do you all remember an investigator that I had talked about several times in November and December named Julia? She got baptized!!!! It was so great. I got to be there, as well as elder Seevers. She was so excited to see us because we were her first missionaries. I remember the lessons we had with her were so excellent, the spirit was always present, and Elder Seevers and I were so sure that she would be baptized and finally she has entered the waters and been baptized! It is so exciting when those individuals with whom you've had spiritual experiences choose the right road and get baptized. The spirit was very powerful and she was so happy. Man, this is why I am here, I am here to help others come unto Christ and to enter the waters of baptism, looking towards the temple. What a blessing! I am very glad to be here.
Mum recently asked me what I have been doing for study since I have much more free time. Well, for some months now I have been studying the Old Testament with the church published manual and will soon be moving out of part one and into part two. At this time I am getting to the end of Saul's life as he chases David all over the place. I am amazed by the number of fallen heroes in the Old Testament: Samson, Saul, David, Solomon etc. I do not know the whole story of David or Solomon yet, but it Saul started off as such a great guy but he fell so fast as he allowed his authority to go to his head. It is astonishing that he goes from being the representative of God in political matters, to a mass murderer who just kills anyone he even thinks has helped David. I am grateful for the great examples from the Old Testament though, like Joseph, Moses and Samuel. I did not realize how extremely cool both Moses and Samuel were before this time. I think my tendency is to always like the military characters more but as I have studied the stories of these prophets in greater detail I have learned how amazing they were and how we can learn from their faithfulness. Beyond that I am also reading the new Gospel Principles book, underlining key things and writing my thoughts in the margins, just as I mark my scriptures. I will always love studying the basics. Deeper knowledge of the gospel really doesn't matter if we are not striving with all our might to know and live the basic commandments of God. I also read from a church study manual that focuses on preparing for an eternal marriage. It is organized by topic and only uses citations from prophets, apostles and seventies. I have found that I actually have learned more about living the basic principles of the gospel, and how to be a good, hard working and charitable individual, than I have learned about marriage from that book. I am surprised how applicable many of the things I've read there apply to me as a missionary, not just as a future husband. Lastly I have made a goal to read the BOM every transfer til the end of my mission. It is a lofty goal but since I've been inside I am ahead of the game and will probably start next transfer early. 13 pages a day does the job and that's only about 45 minutes of reading so I can get it done during lunch even after I am back to normal work. That has been really amazing. The book of Mormon really is more important than any other of the books we have. Studying it has allowed me to feel and recognize the spirit much more powerfully this past transfer. I am excited to read it again and again. I love how much I am able to study here. I hope to maintain a good fraction upon my return but I know that I will lose a lot of that time to other necessary things! I'll take advantage of the blessing while it lasts.
Mum also asked if I felt myself drawing close to the Lord. Yes, in powerful ways. Yesterday at church I had a profound experience. I was just sitting there, thinking during the investigator class, and suddenly I was hit with an overwhelming love for the people around me, for the people of Albania. It was very much related to the feeling I feel when the Lords love is poured out over me by His spirit. I truly am learning and growing as the Lord blesses me more than I can explain.
I must go. I love you all and miss you! Take care of each other, and be kind. You are all in my prayers. Thank you all for your love and support. May God be with you!!