Dear Family and Friends,
Yeah, it was really awesome to see and talk with my family today! I really enjoyed it. It's kinda' sad that we didn't get a chance to talk for longer, but it was still really good to talk for the little bit that we had. I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas, and I hope that you'll have a wonderful New Year! I hope you have safe travels to relatives' houses this time of year. Give them my regards!
This last week was really good. We met a man this week named Loni. We just talked to him in the road about He is the Gift, and invited him to watch it. He had time right then, so we went and we watched the film together. After the film, we talked a little bit more about the Gospel, and he has an amazing knowledge of the Bible. As it turns out, we found out that he had met Mormon missionaries in Fier (another town in Albania) a few years ago. We talked some more and he was really interested to learn more about our beliefs. We ended up having another lesson with him about three days later. As with all our investigators, we asked what he had read. He said that it started talking about Nephi and his family. We said that was right, and I felt like I should ask him if he read anything else. I asked and he said, "yeah, Nephi's brothers complained a lot. They didn't like hard work. They had to go back to Jerusalem to get a book." So I knew he had read the first couple chapters of 1 Nephi. I asked again if he read anything else. He said, "Yeah, Nephi got help from God and they built a boat and went to America. And after a little while, Lehi blessed his kids and died." I was blown away! He had read all the way until 2 Nephi! I felt like I should ask him again. He said, "Yeah, then after that I read something about them working in a vineyard." Immediately Jacob Chapter 5 entered into my mind. However, I didn't think that he read that far, so I was racking my brain, and I couldn't think of any other reference to a vineyard. So just to confirm with him, I opened up the Book of Mormon to Jacob 5 and I asked him if he had read that far. He said that he had, and he continued, "The last thing that I read was about a king named Benjamin." Loni had read from the beginning of the Book of Mormon until Mosiah!! I was blown away! That's over 150 pages in three days! I couldn't believe it, but he was able to tell me in considerable detail what had happened during that period of time. It blew my mind! He then expressed to us how he felt that the Book of Mormon was true. We invited him to be baptized and he accepted, so on the, he should get baptized. It's amazing to meet some of these people whom the Lord has prepared to accept His restored Gospel. There are some people that only need to find it. It was an amazing experience! I always love meeting with Loni!
We've also been working with one of our investigators preparing her for her baptism. Her name is Besa, and she's actually been learning from missionaries for quite a while. I think she's been learning from the missionaries, on and off, for about two years now. However, we saw her name in our Area Book and we called her up and asked if she wanted to start learning again. This time around she's been completely on board and now she's really excited for her baptism! About a month ago, she was hospitalized for a sickness and she had been pretty weak from that. In our first lesson after she got out of the hospital, she said that she really felt the love of God for her when she was in the hospital. She said that if God didn't want her to live, she'd be dead right now, but He allowed everything to happen how it did so that she could have a better perspective in her life. After that, she has been very excited about the Gospel and now she's getting baptized in two days! It should be a wonderful thing! I'm really excited for her and her decision to get baptized. It was a testimony builder for me about using the Area Book. Some times we don't want to use it because it's paper work, but it is so very important that we have records like that. If we didn't, we probably never would have met Besa, and she probably wouldn't be getting baptized this weekend. It's amazing to see the Hand of the Lord in this great work!
We had a ward Christmas Party on the 24th here in Durrës. It was really cool to see all of the effort that the youth and the primary put into it. It was a really cool experience! The Spirit was very strong at that activity. I really loved being there and feeling the wonderful Spirit that the members brought into the activity. I really love being a missionary at this time of year! I think this year has been the first time I've been this focused on the True Meaning of Christmas, which is Jesus Christ the Lord. Every single day since Thanksgiving, I've had the wonderful opportunity to talk with people about the importance of Christmas. I think this year has been the first year in my life when I've been entirely focused on Christ for this season. I think in years past, I'd get excited about presents and family gatherings (don't get me wrong, they're still wonderful things!) but this Christmas Season it has been quite wonderful focusing every thought on the birth of Christ. I'm so very grateful for this and I give my testimony of God's love for us! I know that God loves us so much that our little, finite minds can't comprehend it! I know that Jesus Christ came into this world to give us the opportunity to be forgiven of our sins. I know that Christ lives and that He truly is the Gift of the First Christmas, many years ago.
Thank you for all the many blessings, prayers, and the support that you give me! I couldn't do this without you! Ju dua shumë! Gëzuar Krishtlindjen! Ju uroj një Viti të ri të mbarë! Kalofshi bukur!
Me dashuri të madhe,
|Some New Year's Lights . . .|
yes, here they are called New Year's Lights.