Tuesday, August 2, 2016
I forgot to tell ya, I'm District Leader! That's one thing that is helping me to make sure i stay in a good attitude and stuff, because i know i have people to lead and to be a good example to. I like it though! I get to be the eyes and ears of the Branch presidency, and i get to help missionaries out who are feeling homesick or who have any concern. It's pretty cool! I like it. I'm gonna send Momma an email, so read that one too, because i'll put some good stuff in there! I love you so much Dad, and I am happy to be out here! Une e di se Kisha eshte e vertete! (I know the church is true.) Hoorah for Israel!
- Elder Schneider
Pershendetje familjen! Une jam shu mire! (Hello family! I am very good!) By "I am very good," I don't mean that I think I am like the bee's knees, or the cat's pajamas or anything. I just meant that I am doing well!
My p-days are mondays, so I will usually e-mail every Monday around 11-12:30 ish! Since our zone has a history of being obedient, we have unlimited E-mail time! Yay! But I'm not gonna e-mail all day, of course, but i'll have more time than just an hour! :)
Where to begin! I settled into my room on Wednesday, and I'm staying with one other companionship and my companion, whose name is Elder Gardiner. The other companionship consists of Elder Johnson and Elder Benson, that one Elder whose related to the Benson's in our stake! He told me that people tell him he looks like a mix of Anakin and Barry Allen, and he's right!!! I'll send a picture, but for now, imagine Hayden Christensen, with Barry Allen's haircut wearing a suit and speaking Shqip (that's Albanian for... Albanian). He's cool. We 4 are the only elders in our district, but there is another district of Adriatic South missionaries and they have 6 elders and 5 sisters. Our district has 5 sisters also. Like 60% of our mission's missionaries are from Utah! I'm the only one from Idaho going to the ASM (Adriatic South Missionaries). By the way, all the missionaries in the MTC going to the ASM arrived on the 27th! I'm not sure when the next wave of AS missionaries, but for now, it's just us! Our zone consists of 56 missionaries who are learning either Albanian, Dutch, or Hungarian! It's pretty sweet. Yesterday during Sacrament meeting, we all sung the hymns in our mission language, so we had the hymn being sung in 4 different languages, since the Branch Presidency sung in English. Anyways, I started learning Albanian on Wednesday, and they gave me my Shqip Librit i Mormonit! So far i really like the language, and it seems to be coming pretty well! It comes little by little, but you can feel the Gift of Tongues working when you are diligent! The zone leaders in our zone are very kind and loving, and so are the rest of the missionaries going to the ASM. So far, none of the ASM elders have any beef with each other, which is great! I'm already starting to really love these guys.
We taught our first lesson in Albanian on Friday! Holy cow. Our classroom teacher is named Motra Kokol (Motra = Sister), and she served in the ASM, so she's teaching us Albanian! She showed us this video of this man named Juxhin (pronounced "Eugene") and she told us that we would be teaching him in person on Friday, and we could only speak Albanian! The video included him telling us that he is a Biologist, and a Chemist, and that his family is Orthodox. He also said that when he does his sciency stuff, he can see and understand how it works, but since he can't see God, he does not believe in Him. Basically, he "only believe in science" (Stephen from Nacho Libre). So my companion and I prepared our lesson, which was kind of rough, because we basically made a script of what we were going to say and then when he would ask a question that wasn't a yes or no question, we kinda just looked at him and at each other "like a cow looks at an oncoming train." So we leaned in and said, "THE GOSPEL'S GOOD FOR YOU!!!!" So we tied him to the wall, and stuck a funnel in his mouth, and force-fed him nothing but sauerkraut until he was 33 and a half years old-- I mean... until the end of the lesson-- I mean... we didn't do that. That was from Weird Al's song, "Albecerque." But the part about us not knowing what to say when he would ask us a question was true. We could kind of answer some things, but we weren't able to answer all his questions as well as I would have hoped. We invited him to pray at the end of the lesson, and gave him a pamphlet, and he did pray, and then invited us back to teach the next day! Ha! So we came back the next day, and taught again, and it went much better. We read this excerpt out of PMG that talked about this missionary who learned that when he focused on listening to the investigator, and how they were feeling and what they were saying, rather than about what he wanted to say, he was able to feel the spirit, and know what he should teach. Well, we tried this, and I really enjoyed teaching him! We were able to understand a whole lot more than before, and we were even able to kind of answer some of his questions! They provide all the missionaries here with this big yellow bag of language books, pamphlets, and manuals both in Albanian and in English, which help so much! There is this small one that has all kinds of common phrases missionaries need when teaching, and it even has it organized just like PMG, which is great! It also teaches how to pray and bear testimony in Shqip. So we use that a bunch. Haha, funny thing, kind of. We were teaching Juxhin about the atonement and he asked about the atonement. I think he just said "Shlyerjes?" Which means "Atonement?" and I didn't know that meant Atonement, I was guessing it meant "sin", so i was trying to act out what it means to sin, to try to help him understand, and he just got super confused! Haha! Later in the lesson, i realized "Shlyerjes" meant "Atonement" and not "sin," which i tried to tell him, but i'm not sure if he understood. One thing that bothered both me and my companion was that he basically asked why Christ had to atone for us, and i could have told him in English, but i did not know enough Albanian yet to tell him so he would understand! So Elder Gardiner and I are going to teach about the Atonement tomorrow and be even more prepared to teach him! As I was preparing my lesson, I sometimes didn't feel like doing it, but I find that once I get into the lesson, and start testifying and teaching, I love it! I'm really looking forward to being able to speak fluently in Albanian so I can teach effectively and be able to answer the questions of those we are teaching.
Whew. That was long. So i've already seen Elder Southwick, Elder Weatherston, Elder Fromm, Sister Richins (Ami Richins), Elder Jones (Nathan Jones, I don't think you guys know him), Elder Reilly from our stake, this one Elder i was an escort for a pageant with, and Elder Southwick even gave me a letter from Elder Child! We're not supposed to call each other by our first names, or call each other "guys" or "dude" or anything like that which is really hard! It's so fun being here all together learning, and growing, and serving together! It's like we're the same people, yet there's a different sense of maturity about us that i still think is really cool.
So I have to go get lunch, but I just wanted to let you know that the MTC is hard, but it is rewarding. I have already felt my faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement grow this week. I've realized that I am not able to become an effective missionary and the kind of missionary Heavenly Father needs me to be without relying completely upon the Atonement. Because of the Atonement, I know I am able to become a qualified missionary if I have "faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God." To be straight up honest, it's hard here, but I know I can do it. We watched the Character of Christ here yesterday for our Sunday movie, it helped me strengthen my faith that if I turn outward and think not of myself, I will find myself. My faith is increasing little by little, but I am thankful to be here, and am thankful for my trials. I will e-mail again in like an hour and a half and tell you more and upload pictures! I love you and miss you!
- Elder Schneider