Elder Echols

Elder Echols

Monday, January 16, 2017

Week 22: Zone Conference and a Frozen River

Hello everyone!

To start off with the biggest news, I'm being mid-transferred to the city of Sarajevo, in the country of Bosnia & Herzegovina! More on that later.

You know what's a rough time? Trying to get your hair cut in a foreign country where you don't know haircut vocabulary. I think it must be a pretty funny thing to witness from the outside, too. But, haircuts aside, I actually am feeling pretty good about speaking in a foreign language every day for everything that matters most. This week I feel like I made a switch of some kind; now I'm a lot more confident about speaking, and I feel like I understand a lot more than I really should when natives speak. Have you all ever heard of the Gift of Tongues? It's when you get divine help to go from speaking zero Serbian to conversing on the street with natives, in something like 5 months. Though, I readily admit that I have a lot more to learn, and I do still definitely hear plenty of words I don't know yet, and I definitely make plenty of mistakes when speaking. But, my point is that the Hand of Heaven really is in this work, helping us to be able to preach of Christ.

Also, as for weather over here, it got pretty darn cold last week into this week. It was cold enough that the entire surface of the Danube river was frozen over solid here in Novi Sad. Quite a sight. It's also been snowing on and off some.

The Frozen Danube, with the Fort across the River in View
The snow is really pretty!
Anyway, last Monday was pretty busy, filled with the regular stuff like emailing and grocery shopping, but also with getting haircuts and sending off a few letters. It was snowing pretty hard most of the day, too. That night as we got back to work, we found one guy while contacting on the street who was willing to accept a copy of The Book of Mormon. In case you didn't know, The Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ; it's a book of scripture quite like the Bible, and we believe that both are the word of God. Also, if The Book of Mormon is true, then Joseph Smith was a prophet in our day and age. Isn't that cool? If you don't already have one, you can request a copy of The Book of Mormon from Mormon.org or LDS.org (for free). I promise that it's a book that can change your life for the better.

Reading the Book of Mormon will draw you closer to God
The Book of Mormon and the Holy Bible both testify of Jesus Christ
On Tuesday we had Zone Conference over in Belgrade. As always, it was really great to see a bunch of the other missionaries, and to learn how we can improve. I got to play piano for some parts of the meetings, as well as after while we were waiting a bit. That was a pretty great set of meetings. Oh, and lunch was catering by Burrito Madre; we even got churros with our burritos. A very good set of meetings indeed.

Wednesday started off by going with the McAlpins out of town a bit to visit some members. They unexpectedly fed us some soup and Sarma and such, and it was super good. I really love Sarma. During that trip with the McAlpins, I found out that I'll be accompanying for a special musical number at church on the 22nd. So, that'll be fun.

Enjoying Dinner with the McAlpins
When we returned from that visit, Elder Osborn and I went contacting and tracting, and had a decent amount of success. We then went to a lesson with an investigator. It went pretty well, and we invited him to be baptized at the end, but he didn't directly accept it. We'll obviously keep working with him, though. I think he's headed in the right direction.

Thursday, we started off by mailing a copy of the Doctrine and Covenants off to our out-of-town investigator, as well as some other stuff. We then went contacting, and Elder Osborn promptly got off a Book of Mormon and got her contact info. Later on tonight when we contacted her again to try to set up a meeting time, she said we could meet once she'd read the (whole) Book of Mormon. I'm not quite sure how to feel about that. She very well could be one of those people that really has their interest piqued by The Book of Mormon and plows through it in less than a week, but maybe not. We'll see!

Later on, we had a lesson with a member at the church, and just as we were finishing up and heading out to go contacting some more, the power went out there in the church. When we returned an hour or so later for ECG, the power was still out, so we went on a little bit of a scavenger hunt to find the right switch to flip back. Once the gazda (landlord) showed up, he was able to show us where the right switch was hidden, and then we got on with our English Conversation Group.

Something fun we saw while out contacting...a big shed full of corn!
After ECG we went to get dinner at this little home-made soups and sandwich shop. Great food for really good prices, and the guy working there was super nice. We had a solid conversation, and at one point he said that we spoke Serbian really well for being Americans. He also said that he wouldn't have guessed that we were Americans; maybe Czech or Slovak, but not American. Score. What a friendly guy. He didn't seem particularly interested in religion, but we left our card anyway.

Friday, we did a lot of contacting on the street. Later on in the day we had a lesson with one of our investigators that's doing pretty well, and answered a lot of his questions. We also got to share about the First Vision with his son who was there. Really good stuff. On our way out of that lesson, we actually got a call from our investigator that lives way out of town, and so we ended up heading over to the church to have a little Skype lesson with him. We talked a little bit about the Doctrine and Covenants, and then to finish up we gave him Moroni's challenge, from Moroni 10:3-5, inviting him to find out for himself if The Book of Mormon is true. It was a pretty good day to me.

So, now about the fact that I'm going to Bosnia. On Thursday this coming week, the 19th, I'll be moving over to the city of Sarajevo (the capital of Bosnia) to be companions with Elder Perry. Apparently some other Elders in the mission have been having Visa problems, and thus the unexpected switch-around. We got the call to notify us of the transfer on Saturday morning during studies. So, soon I'll be speaking Bosnian! For the rest of Saturday, we did a lot of contacting.

Yesterday, Sunday, we had church of course, and that was pretty good. After church we helped with tithing and such, and later had dinner at the McAlpins. A fairly regular Sunday.

Your homework for this week is to read Alma 46! It's the chapter in which Captain Moroni creates the Title of Liberty. It's a chapter that talks a bit about what it's like to stand up for what you know is right. As you read it, see what you can learn for yourself about standing up for your beliefs.

The words Captain Moroni wrote on the Title of Liberty
Captain Moroni and the Title of Liberty
Well folks, that's it for this week! I'll be emailing from Bosnia next week of course, so that's exciting. I hope you all are doing well!

Видимо се!
Elder Ryan Echols
Adriatic North Mission
Svačićev Trg 3/1
HR-10000 Zagreb

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