12 February 2014
Dear Family and Friends,
This past week was MUCH better than my first. I am feeling a lot more confident in the abilities the Lord has given me. It is still a lot of very hard work, but I feel like the Lord is helping me a lot. Trying to learn Albanian is extremely humbling. That has also been a blessing to me. I have realized that there is no possible way on Earth for me to learn Albanian. So I have prayed a lot in the past two weeks. This past week I have felt a lot of peace and comfort even when things are overwhelming. I am relying heavily on God.
TWO WEEKS??! Time does not make sense any more. It feels like I've been here for a couple days but also a year. It also seems like two years is forever in the future, but at the same time it's no time at all. I don't think that made any sense to you, but I think the only way that you can understand it is by experiencing it. When I read that Orcrist's Scabbard came this past week I thought, "Wow. It came really early. It wasn't supposed to get here until the middle of February. Wait... It IS the middle of February!" I can't express how warped time seems!
Even though I have felt peace this last week, I haven't been feeling the best, health-wise. I had a sore throat for a couple days and then I was congested and coughing for the next couple days after that. But I bought some cold medicine from the bookstore and I am starting to feel better now.
Elder Bangerter and I have been praying a lot together in Albanian. We say every meal prayer in Albanian and every companionship prayer in the morning and night. It's getting to the point where it feels strange to pray in English. I'm pretty sure I'm saying a lot of things wrong in the prayer, but Heavenly Father knows what is in our hearts. Thank you so much for teaching me how to work hard. There are some Elders in my district that don't seem to understand the concept of work. I am very blessed to have learned this trait from you. Thank you so much for the Plan of Salvation puzzle! I haven't had an opportunity to use it in a lesson yet, but I'm looking forward to it! The other Elders that I have shown it to are really jealous. Some of them said that they were going to ask their parents to send them one! So thank you again!
I really like p-days. Not only because we get part of the day off, but because we get to go to the temple. We get to go do work in the temple everymorning. I am extremely grateful to have a temple so close! We also get a break on Sundays to go walk around the temple grounds. The food here is... okay. It's very similar to the Cannon Center at BYU, but there isn't as much variety or quality. The food is edible but it's not the best. The food combined with being sick has had strange effects on my body. I think my body is finally starting to adjust to MTC life.
Montenegro was once part of the Adriatic South Mission, but not anymore. There is a word in Albanian for "Elder" but it translates to "Old Man" so the Church doesn't use that. The Church uses "Elder", but there isn't a "W" in the Albanian alphabet. So when I get to the mission field, my name tag will say "Elder Uatson: Kisha e Jezu Krishtit e Shenjtorëve të Ditëve të Mëvonshme" (El-dare Oo-aht-son: key-sha eh yea-zoo kree-shteet eh shen-ya-tor-vay tuh deet-uhvay tuh muh-vohn-shmay) That's as close as I can get to writing the pronunciation. We have firesides on Sundays and Tuesdays from various religious leaders. We haven't had an Apostle come, yet, but we have heard from members of the seventy. I have learned a lot from their words.
Elder Bangerter and I have been teaching a lot in Albanian. Our lessons seem to be rough because we don't know what our investigator is saying! But I have felt more and more comfortable teaching in Albanian with each lesson. I still can't say a lot, but I'm working on it. I have set some language goals that will help me. One goal I have, that I don't know if I'll be able to complete, is to speak nothing but Albanian after. It will force me to become comfortable in Albanian and it will help me identify things I want to know how to say. I'll just have to use a LOT of hand gestures to get my message across. I have been making flashcards like crazy and I've been memorizing them. I think the pile of verbs that I know how to say is about 130. However, Albanian has cases. So depending on who is doing the action and when the action took place the verb can take on over 15 different forms called conjugations. I don't have all the conjugations memorized yet. So thinking through who is doing the action and conjugating the verb on the spot is VERY difficult and frustrating. Most the time I will be thinking through the conjugation and I can't figure it out so I'll just say some form of the word, which actually makes the sentence useless.
Man, there is just so much to talk about, but not nearly enough time to say it! A couple big things happened this week. We had a sister go home. She was engaged prior to coming on her mission and that was very difficult for her. She prayed about it a lot, and she got an answer that the place for her wasn't at the MTC right now. She has a lot of faith and it took a lot of courage for her to go home, but she is doing what the Lord wanted her to do. Also, another missionary in our group was feeling very discouraged. I told him about my feelings and how I received peace and comfort to help me through this really rough time. He then asked me for a blessing. So I gave him a blessing and the Spirit was very strong! I could feel God's love for this Elder and it strengthened my testimony of this Gospel and the reality of Priesthood power. I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior. I know that God hears our prayers and He loves us and answers them in His own time. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and that we can come to know of God's love by reading it with the Bible. I love this Gospel and I know that God wants me to serve Him here and now. We will see each other soon enough in two years.
PS- I was going to send pictures but I don't have any time! I will send some next week I promise! Thank you so much for your love and prayers. I can feel the peace and comfort they bring. Thank you again and I love you all very much!