Elder Echols

Elder Echols

Monday, March 19, 2018

Week 83: 10 Dinar, Rain, and Return of the Snow

As a little side note to start off, the weather was really good at the start off this last week. The sun was out and it was warm and feeling like spring. Today it's snowing. No, I don't know how that happened.

Anyway, on Tuesday Elder Heaton was feeling quite ill, so we stayed inside for a while to do calls and such. But, we did go over to the other (currently empty) apartment to grab some basketballs, in preparation for Wednesday's "sports night". I did some needed work on the computer, we contacted a bit, and then we came back for English Conversation Group.

On Wednesday we started off with a nice lesson with "James" (though that's not his real name), that investigator that lives pretty far out of town. We taught him some more about the Gospel, particularly repentance, and he said he'll be traveling soon, but that he'll use that time to read The Book of Mormon some more. After that lesson, while waiting for another lesson that never showed up, we saw an old man on a bike with his dog, a husky, on a leash. The dog was running enthusiastically, pulling the man along on his bike so he didn't even have to pedal. Later on we had district meeting, and at the end, some guy just walked into the church asking for us to pray for him, so we of course did. He said he'd come to church on Sunday, and seemed sincere. Later, while Elder Heaton and I were contacting by the river, a drunk guy walked up to us and asked us for 10 Dinar (that's about 10 cents). We're still kinda wondering what he'd even do with 10 Dinar. After some studies and such, we changed our clothes and headed out for the basketball court for branch "sports night". In addition to me and Elder Heaton, the Deckers showed up for a bit, and one youger guy came, who we know from English Conversation Group. Even though hardly anyone came, we had some fun shooting some hoops.

Thursday started with more contacting. Then we had language study until we got a call from the building manager guy. He needed to work on something in the church, so we had to let him in and such. While we waited, I practiced piano some. When he was done, we did more contacting, and at the same spot along the river we ran into the same guy that had asked us for 10 Dinar. He again asked us for 10 Dinar. A bit later, we went with the Deckers to that other empty apartment to clean out some stuff that's still there in the drawers and closets. Then we of course had ECG, like every Tuesday and Thursday, and then after we got home I made pasta again for dinner.

On Friday we went contacting, we did actually run into one guy that was willing to listen to us, and so took two copies of the Book of Mormon; one for himself, and one for his son. Then we went with the Deckers to visit some members, which was good. After that, Elder Heaton and I went into the center of town with our table and a whiteboard and set up a little stand. We put out some copies of the Book of Mormon, and wrote John 10:16 on the whiteboard. We actually had one guy that came over and asked us what the deal was, like what we were selling, and so we told him about Christ's ministry in the ancient Americas and how the Book of Mormon is how we know about that. He took a copy, and our card. Then it started raining a few minutes later. Since we were right next to a building, and it wasn't raining very hard, we just pulled our stuff closer to the building and that got it out of the rain. But, then everyone vanished and there was no one to talk to, so we just packed up and headed back to the church. That evening we went with the Deckers to again visit the owners of the other empty missionary apartment. The husband gave us more of his award-winning sausage, and the wife showed sister Decker how to make Gibanica (I think I spelled that right), which they'd fed us last time we'd come over. They're great people.
Who doesn't love pancakes for dinner? I think I made some pretty good ones!
Saturday was pretty boring for the majority of the day. The Deckers and most of the members were gone to Belgrade for a conference thing for most of the day, and we hardly managed to speak with another living soul the whole day, even including phone calls. Though, at the start of our dinner hour, while in the grocery store, we did run into two of the younger members that had just gotten back from the conference. It was great to get to speak with other humans. Then we went back to our apartment and made pancakes for dinner. Some lady that the missionaries had apparently met last transfer did text us out of nowhere, and we ended up getting a lesson set up for this next week. Right as we were about to go to bed, we got a call from Elder Decker saying we needed to go to the hospital to give a member an emergency blessing. Turns out it was one of the members that Elder Heaton and I had run into at the grocery store, who had since started having extreme abdominal pains, like appendicitis or something. So we got dressed again real quick and headed over with the Deckers and found them and gave the member a blessing. They are definitely going to be ok, but it's undoubtedly a stressful situation for the family. I was glad that we were able to do something to help, though. Anything at all.

Yesterday, Sunday, we had church like always, but there were only a few members in attendance, since so many people are sick or in the hospital at this particular instant. In any case, do you remember that guy that came into the church at the end of district meeting on Wednesday to ask us to pray for him? He did actually come to church! I had the opportunity to play a special musical number during sacrament meeting, which I quite enjoyed. Later, for Elder Decker's lesson, I also got to translate into Serbian; translating what other people say from English over into another language is probably one of my favorite things to do with the mission languages. Speaking on my own in another language is fine, but there's something oddly satisfying about translating someone else's words. After church we of course got our business stuff done, including weekly planning, and had a wonderful dinner over at the Deckers' place.

Today we woke up and it was snowing. In any case, we did some cleaning, bought some groceries, and had lunch at Pizza XL (just like old times, except without Elders King, Jones, and Criddle). I really don't know how the weather turned around again like that and turned back into winter.

Your homework for this week is to read or listen to "Achieving Your Full Potential" by Elder Donald L. Staheli. I don't know where Elder Heaton originally found it, but we listened to it this week, and it's great.

Sorry for not having sent photos last week. Here are some more from visiting Novi Sad last week, part of our trip to Belgrade, and pancakes from this week. Have a great week!
Elder Ryan Echols
Adriatic North Mission
Svačićev Trg 3/1
HR-10000 Zagreb

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Week 82: Russian, a Book Fair, and Football

Since we went to Belgrade today for our P-day, I really don't have much time at all to type. So, here's the 30-second run-down of the week.

Monday, after emailing, our landlady's husband and some repair guys came over to our apartment to install our neighbor's satellite dish from our balcony.

Tuesday, the electricity got fixed in the church, and we turned in Elder Heaton's papers for his Visa. After ECG in the evening we had a bit of a lesson with one of the older participants that has been coming to church recently. He seems open to our message, so we'll see what we can do.

Wednesday, we had a great district meeting lesson taught by Elder Decker, made a lot of calls, and then had a branch activity that no one attended.

Thursday we went with the Deckers to a member family home for a guitar lesson with the daughter. Since they're from Ukraine and speak Russian, I took the opportunity to talk to the mom and learn some basics of Russian. After that, Elder Heaton and I went to a police station to get permission to set up a table in the center of town to hand out copies of The Book of Mormon. The police officer that helped us was a really nice guy. I made tacos for lunch. After ECG we had another lesson with our older friend. We watched the Restoration movie with him.

The Novi Sad missionaries
Friday we went with the Deckers over to Novi Sad so we could help with the church's booth. As we got out of the car, Sister Decker got stung by a wasp. Apparently she's allergic. Though, miraculously, for this one time in her life, the sting didn't swell up and cause a huge problem. Apparently it wasn't even hurting by the end of the day. Cool. Also, it was really really cool to be back in Novi Sad again, after more than a year. I really like that city. It seems so alive. Anyway, we got to see the Novi Sad missionaries and help man the booth and give out some copies of the Book of Mormon.

The Novi Sad Book Fair
Saturday we had a lesson with our investigator that lives way out of town, and it was really good. Like I said a few weeks ago, it's hard for him to come in to town here, but he's really seeming to understand the message and take it to heart. That afternoon we went with Elder Decker to the weekly practice of Sremska's American Football team, the Legionnaires. I now know about 4x as much about football as I previously did, and we have some new acquaintances. After we'd gotten back from that, we went with the Deckers to visit the home of the landlord of the other currently-empty missionary apartment. He and his wife are really cool. Apparently he makes award-winning homemade Serbian sausages, and she's a doctor. After he showed us his "office" where he makes these sausages, we sat down and had a great discussion with them. Great people. That evening we had our branch game night, and though only 3 people came besides us and the Deckers, it was quite a good time and definitely worth the time.

The Deckers, some of my favorite people!
Yesterday we had church, which was fairly normal, helped Elder Decker get a video conference-call up and running, and then at the end of the night went to visit a member in distress. His father is dying and really in bad shape, and so we gave the father a blessing, and then had a discussion with the son for a while. He ended up wanting a blessing too, and so we gave him one also.

Today for P-day we went to Belgrade and did an escape room, which was awesome. Essentially, you solve puzzles until you figure out how to escape the room. That's the first time I've done one, and I really enjoyed the puzzles. We then got some food, and went to play basketball. Pretty chill, and it was great to see all those other missionaries. Plus, two of the Sremska members came along, and their company was quite appreciated.

And I'm totally out of time today! But, I hope you all have a great week!.
Elder Ryan Echols
Adriatic North Mission
Svačićev Trg 3/1
HR-10000 Zagreb

Monday, March 5, 2018

Week 81: Flooding, Zone Conference, and Good Food

Hello everyone! This week it was really cold. Also wet, with all the snow. But, we hear that it's going to start getting warmer as of this week, so that's good. On to the recap of the week!

Elder Heaton trying to stay warm!
Tuesday we did a bunch of work from the area book, as well as ECG. One of our participants came early to have us translate something for him, and turns out it was an email from some scammers trying to get him to give them his information. We told him as much repeatedly, but he didn't seem to totally believe us. We tried, so let's hope he doesn't lose all of his money.

On Wednesday we had district meeting at the church with the Deckers, and had some really good discussions. After some contacting and studies we had "sports night", but other than me and Elder Heaton plus the Deckers, only our dear atheist friend came. That's fine though. So, I played some ping pong with him and we had a good time.

Thursday we went contacting, got Tešić for lunch, did some more contacting. Then we went to visit some members, and also heard from the landlord of the other (currently empty) apartment that there was some kind of problem, so we went over there to meet with him. Apparently one of the water-based heaters had bust a pipe and had kinda flooded the apartment, causing water damage in that apartment and the one below also. So, that's fun. That evening for ECG, one friend of the Deckers came, and somehow it got arranged for me to start teaching him Slovene.

I'm collecting a lot of books in other languages...
Friday we had zone conference! The whole theme was on the Book of Mormon, and it was really good. We had Chinese food for lunch, and it was great. And, like always, it was great getting to see everyone. When we got back to Sremska for the evening, we visited some members with the Deckers, and then went to find the APs, since they were there in town. We went with them over to a different member home where we had a wonderful dinner and a great discussion. That night the APs stayed over with us.

Seeing everyone at zone conference was a lot of fun.
Saturday we did a lot of contacting, and once again got lunch at Tesic before more contacting. Later on we had that Slovene lesson with the friend of the Deckers. He's now our friend too, I think. We did some phone calls, and at the end of the day cleaned the church with the Deckers and our dear atheist friend. During the course of cleaning things, one of the breakers went out, or something like that. 

Our church is small, but really nice.

Another picture from our church building.
Sunday morning we of course had church, but we didn't have lights in the main room. Yes, we tried flipping the switches, and no, it didn't fix anything. At least we still had our electric piano and the main heating, so we survived. It's quite a long story, but there was also some notable drama at church, and so it was quite an interesting Sunday. In any case, after the whole thing, Elder Heaton and I had our regular weekly planning, and then went over the Deckers' for dinner. Besides just us, the Deckers had also invited one of the member families over, and it was really great to have so many people there.

We've had a lot of snow lately.
Today Elder Heaton got a haircut, we got groceries, emailed, etc. The regular P-day thing. We also had to be at the church and our apartment for various repairmen to repair things.

Your homework is to read President Nelson's talk "The Book of Mormon: What Would Your Life Be Like without It?" and sincerely ponder those questions that he asks.

Well, I guess that's it for now. Here are some pictures! One of them is some of us at zone conference, and the other one is the salt shelf in the grocery store. Have a great week!

Salt at the grocery store in Serbia.
Elder Ryan Echols
Adriatic North Mission
Svačićev Trg 3/1
HR-10000 Zagreb

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Week 80: Recap of week 79, and the Return to Sremska

Hello everybody! Sorry about the short email last week. We were in the middle of transfers, and stuff was kinda crazy. I'll try to get you a quick recap of the end of last week:
On Wednesday we cooked some food with a local member and then a bunch of people came over to their place for lunch, and it was great. The rest of the day was pretty boring.
Thursday morning we found out about transfers! Later in the day we had district meeting, and then ECG in the evening where I said bye to the attendees that came, since I was going to be leaving before the next time I'd see them.
Friday morning started the packing and cleaning, and then in the afternoon we met up with a member for a while and had some cake that was apparently Swedish. That night for dinner, Elder Love and I went to Dva Zmaja, a Chinese restaurant, since it was apparently the Chinese new year.
Yummy Chinese food!

Saturday morning we cleaned more, had cleaning checks from the Monsons, and then later met up with another member for me to say goodbye and for us to read a chapter from the Book of Mormon together, since he wasn't going to be able to make it to church. That evening Elder Love and I went with the Monsons to a pizza place called Koper as my farewell of sorts.
Sunday at church not a whole lot of people came since most people were sick or out of town or something, but 3 investigators came, some that was cool. Elder Love and I each had a talk, and then I taught Sunday School. One of our investigators stayed for all of the meetings, and it was his first time at church, and the members seemed to welcome him really well. After all of the meetings we had a big lunch as a branch, it was really good to get to see people one last time before leaving.
Having some fun with our cameras and mirrors...
Then we went home and I packed the rest, we had a really small dinner with the Monsons, and then Elder Love and I took the car to Ljubljana to meet up with most of the other Slovene missionaries to switch around luggage and companions, so I ended up going with Elder Jensen to spend the night in Maribor. When we finally got up there to Maribor to Elder Jensen's new apartment, we discovered that the sisters had given us one set of keys, but not the keys we needed to get into that apartment; the keys we needed were still way back in Ljubljana with the sisters. Rather than drive all the way there and back and go to bed at 1am or something of the sort, we decided to check with the Crniches in Maribor to see if they had an extra set of keys for that apartment, and they managed to dig up a set, so we were saved, haha.
Sister Hall and Elder Echols
Now for this week!

Monday morning we drove with the Crniches from Maribor down to Zagreb and helped them do some shopping at a place called Metro. While we were there, I happened to see a package of meat in the exotic section that was Zebra meat. Interesting. In any case, Elder Jensen and I ended up at the mission office with the APs and a bunch of other missionaries to email and play Spikeball and such. We even got President and Sister Melonakos to play Spikeball with us for a bit. We also got to see 4 of the 5 departing missionaries as they passed through to weigh their luggage. Then at the end of the day we had to do some fun car switch-arounds at the mission home before going over to the APs' apartment for the night.
Reunited with old companions: Me and Elder King

Reunited with old companions: Me and Elder Perry
In the morning, Elder Crapo made all the Elders there palačinke (crepes) as we took turns showering one by one. Eventually we all headed out to the giant Ikea there in Zagreb for our big transfer meetup where a lot of people change companions and move luggage between cars. Elder Heaton my new companion was of course there, and I so we headed out for Sremska Mitrovica. Right about as we were getting to the Serbian border out off Croatia, he realized that he'd forgotten in passport in the mission office back in Zagreb. So, we drove all the way back, got it, then gave it a round 2. When we got to Sremska, we unloaded our stuff into the apartment, went with the Deckers to visit a member family, and then had ECG. After that, we had a great lesson with these two younger guys that Elders Jones and Perry had apparently contacted last week. The two guys are in the military right now, so they kinda travel around, but they're so cool. One said that, when he was talking with Elders Jones and Perry, they gave him a verse to read out of the Book of Mormon, and that when he read it there with them on the street, he had this feeling that he described as like a guitar string getting plucked. These guys are really prepared. We gave them each a Book of Mormon, and set up to meet again the next day.
Teaching ECG with Elder Heaton in Sremska

On Wednesday we got some groceries to survive for the rest of the week, got some stuff we needed from the other (now empty) Elders' apartment, did some planning, did some phone calls, and then had that lesson with the two military guys. This one was shorter, but still really good. I might've misunderstood, but the one may or may not have said that he'd read all of 1st Nephi already. I don't know. But, they said they'd be in Belgrade for the next few days for work stuff, so we kinda have some nomadic investigators right now.
Thursday started off with us getting Elder Heaton's "white card" at the police station, and then later having our apartment checked out, since most of our electricity had gone out. It's fixed now though, so we again have hot water, haha. That night we had ECG, and it seems like there's a "regular crew" of sorts that comes every time. They're pretty funny people.
Me and Elder Heaton out in the cold!

Friday morning we had another really good lesson, but this one with a different guy that the previous elders had been working with. He had a lot of really good questions, and we taught him about the 10 Commandments and repentance and a bunch of other great stuff that doesn't seem to fit together, but it somehow went really smoothly. He has a lot of promise, but he'll be busy for the next week or two, so I guess we'll have a little pause with him for a bit. After that we did a bunch more calls, trying to get in contact with the investigators that the other elders left for us (there used to be 4 elders here in Sremska Mitrovica, but with the transfer, they all left and me and Elder Heaton came to replace them). Later on we visited that member family again, and went outside for some contacting in the snow. Unfortunately, it wasn't too effective.
Saturday was mostly more of the phone calls and such, until we had a game night in the evening. And it was Elder Heaton's birthday! For the game night, two investigators showed up, and that was it, haha. We still had fun though. And one of the two guys that showed up apparently has the same birthday as Elder Heaton! So 50% of the people there were celebrating their birthday. After the activity, we all cleaned the church together.
Elder Heaton and his birthday cake

Sunday started off with church, of course, and there were a lot of people there! Almost everyone that I can remember ever coming to church in Sremska was there, plus some people from the District Presidency. We had some really good lessons (in fact, so good that church as a whole went over by 40 minutes, haha), and then had a big lunch all together after. It's been really good to see these members again. The rest of Sunday was pretty much just planning and more phone calls to try to get in contact with people.
Today we went with Elder Decker to visit a member lady that lives way off in another little city, and had a nice little visit. She fed us some really tasty baked treats, and gave us home-made cherry juice mixed with carbonated water to give it some fizz. That was really good. Since she'll be having an operation soon, we gave her a priesthood blessing, and it was great.

Thanks for making it through that long email! Your homework for this week is to read Helaman 14, part of Samuel the Lamanite's prophecy. I think it's quite remarkable to think that even prophets on the other side of the planet were teaching of Christ through the years before Christ was even born. See what you can learn from it!
Samuel the Lamanite boldly prophesied of the birth of Jesus Christ.

Anyway, have a great week! Here are some photos!
Elder Ryan Echols
Adriatic North Mission
Svačićev Trg 3/1
HR-10000 Zagreb