Elder Echols

Elder Echols

Monday, January 9, 2017

Week 21: Christmas (Round 2) with Burritos

Hello family and friends! This week was a pretty atypical one; we didn't have much regular work time. Lots of sickness generally going around (which I thankfully haven't caught yet), and lots of driving too.

On Tuesday, we did a whole lot of contacting and tracting. That was a very solid block of time to get some good work in. We ended the day with ECG and briefly making a stop on the way home for Elder Osborn to buy a traditional Serbian Christmas ornament for his grandmother.

Wednesday Elder Osborn's birthday, so we got a fair number of messages and calls throughout the day from people who wanted to tell him to have a happy birthday, but he was actually feeling sick enough that we didn't get to go out and work much. I read a LOT out of the blue grammar textbook. Slept, too. Eventually we had a lesson scheduled with a member, and we did make it outside to head over to the church for that. As part of Elder Osborn's birthday, we went to Caribic Pizza for dinner (we have coupons for there, and it's really close to our apartment, so I think the employees recognize us by now). Later that night, Wednesday, it started to snow! A really good, proper snow. It was great. A bit of a birthday present for him, I think, since he's been wanting snow this whole winter so far. I really do love snow too.

Some of the snow we've been enjoying!

Thursday, started off with something notable lame: the investigator that we miracle-tracted into last week dropped us. He texted us and essentially said that he was 0% interested anymore. Sad day. But, from there it got better. We got to borrow the car from the McAlpins and drove way out of town to visit one of our contacts that's been super interested. We haven't been able to visit him and his family before this, but we did Skype with him once last week. He really knows his Bible, has awesome questions, and is super interested. In his own words, he's "searching for truth"and I think he knows that he found it. We're really excited to keep working with him and his family.

Friday, Elder Osborn was still pretty sick, so we stayed at home for most of the day. I slept a lot. We listened to some talks from General Conference. That night the 2 Elders from Sremska (including Elder Valentine from my MTC group) came over to our apartment to begin our 24 hours that we get truly off once a year for Christmas. Here, since people celebrate Christmas both on December 25th and on January 7th, we get the choice of which day to take 100% off; we did January 7th for this year. When they arrived and our 24 hours started, we got some food, played some games, and had a pretty good time before going to bed.
On Saturday, Serbian Orthodox Christmas, we slept in (naturally), then popped over to the Fortress across the river to explore the catacombs a bit. At first, we only could find one very dim flashlight in our cars, so we tried making some torches out of nearby dead sticks and some newspaper. They wouldn't light for the longest time though. Eventually we did get them to start up, but then they just burned out very quickly and brightly, maybe lasting a whole minute or so each. Oh well. We did find a quality flashlight though, and went exploring briefly.

From there we headed down to Belgrade to meet up with all the other missionaries serving in Serbia. There was plenty of ping-pong, and some Uno too. While there, I also got a Christmas package that my mom sent at the start of December (Thanks Mom!). Included in the package was a new camera, to replace the one that vanished somewhere between the MTC and Frankfurt. So, I'll be sending more photos once again! Sorry for the lack thereof until now.

My package included a camera, an Alphasmart keyboard, and a bag of Cheetos!
After the games, some of us went venturing out for food... but it was Christmas. So, it was quite an adventure trying to find anywhere that was open to sell us food. Eventually we happened upon a place called Burrito Madre that was open; that was some good food. I found it highly amusing, though, seeing the menus and walls scrawled with Serbian pseudo-Spanish. This place also had a bunch of bookshelves lining the walls near some of the tables. Next to our table was a yellow book, written in Serbo-Croatian, whose title translated to "Elementary Mathematical Logic and Set Theory". Naturally, I picked it up and read some of it. I'm now somewhat versed (in a very limited way) in how this kind of math is notated differently in Serbo-Croatian vs in English. In any case, it was really good to have the day off to spend with other missionaries.

Yesterday, Sunday, the McAlpins were in fact sick also, and so they stayed home from church. I tell you, it's pretty interesting trying to run the entirety of church meetings as two young adults, neither older than 21, in the middle of Serbia. But, I definitely think it went pretty well; thankfully other people are often willing to help when asked.

Later on last night for dinner we had Missionary Pantry Surprise, round 2. This time it comprised of beans, corn, pasta, and tomato sauce, and the ever-essential chopped hotdogs. Not too bad, once again.

Your homework for this week is to read Alma 32, which talks about faith in the second half. It explains what faith really is, how we can help our faith grow, and what blessings come from having faith. I know that even if you simply have a desire to believe in Christ, in the Bible, in The Book of Mormon, or anything else of God, that desire can grow, turn into rely faith, and in time become a great foundation for peace in your life.

Well, that's it folks! I hope you again have a good week, and that you all do well as you get back into classes and work if you haven't already.

Sa ljubavi iz Srbije,
Elder Ryan Echols
Adriatic North Mission
Svačićev Trg 3/1
HR-10000 Zagreb

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