Elder Echols

Elder Echols

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Week 23: Bosnia and Exchanges

Hey everybody! Crazy week with mid-transfers and everything, but here's the rundown.

Tuesday, we started off by doing some tracting. It was a good start to the day, really. We picked back up on a row of buildings that we'd started on a previous day, and very quickly found a college-age girl that was super open and interested in our message and reading The Book of Mormon. The interesting thing though, is that she's only at that apartment having lunch with her parents on one day a week, and we happened to get her precisely then.
Later on in the same building, we came to a door that had a slightly older lady answer. I asked if she was a believer at all, and she said that she used to be. With a slight tear in her eye she said that she had lost a child and wasn't a believer anymore. She then said goodbye and shut the door. Even though she had shut the door on us, it really didn't sit right with me to leave yet, since one of the principal things we share with people is the Plan of Happiness, which includes the fact that we'll be able to see our loved ones again after this life, and that families can be eternal. So, I knocked on the door again, and told her that she could be with her child again after this life, and that our message really is one of hope that we wanted to share with her. She reaffirmed her answer to be a no, and again shut the door, still with a tear in her eye. It really is so sad to me that we have this incredible truth about the eternal nature of families, and she wasn't willing to hear what it was.

After we'd finished tracting for the day, we had another Skype lesson with our investigator from out of town. He really is pretty excited about learning more about the church. After that we had ECG, and I got to say goodbye to the friends there that I've met.

Elder Osborn and I were only companions for a short time
Wednesday, I packed. We also cleaned the apartment while we were at it. For lunch we went to a Chinese restaurant, and I burnt my tongue. Oh well. To finish off the day we visited one of our investigators and shared a spiritual thought, and I said goodbye. I really am going to miss all these people that I've met from Novi Sad. But, I'm sure we'll see each other again at some point.

Thursday, we loaded up in the car and went up to Belgrade to pick up Elder Froc from the airport, since he flew in from Montenegro so he can take my place in Novi Sad. Then, we 3 drove over to somewhere just over the border into Croatia to meet up with another 5 missionaries involved in the mid-transfer. We all had lunch together and then swapped companions, beginning my time with Elder Perry. When we got back to Sarajevo, I officially met the Newtons, and then we went back to our apartment for me to unpack.

Reunited with Elder Froc and Elder Isom, who were in my MTC group
For those wondering, Bosnia is very mountainous, apparently. Sarajevo is settled in a bowl of sorts among the mountains. I hear that there's been some particularly cool history here, so we'll probably go explore some museums on our P-days. Some parts of town are small windy roads among hills of building, all covered in snow, but some parts of town are bigger and more open modern areas with lots of shopping and restaurants. Most people here are Muslim by religion. I definitely like it so far in this city.

Sarajevo, Bosnia

Beautiful snow!
Friday, we headed over to Tuzla with the Newtons to see the baptism of one of the investigators there that Elder Leach has been teaching. It was really good to see Elders Leach and Crapo there, of course. 

Elder Crapo, Elder Leach, and myself
It was also very good to have my first time seeing a baptism out here. The new member was so happy to get to make that covenant. It was pretty interesting though, since the baptism was done in a full-on swimming pool that they'd rented out for the baptism. After the baptism I promptly ended up switching Elder Perry for Elder Palmer before we headed back to Sarajevo for us to go on exchanges. Apparently he's served in Sarajevo before, so it's been pretty interesting hearing him talk about his memories here from the start of his mission.
Lots of missionaries attended the baptism in Tuzla
Elder Palmer and I on our way back to Sarajevo after the baptism
Saturday, we did some contacting, and cleaned the church a bit. We had two lessons scheduled for the day, but neither person showed up in the end, so we did more contacting. We've also been doing a lot of roleplays as part of the exchange. It was pretty interesting going contacting on the street, since the assumption around here is that everyone is Muslim, and so I can no longer use the common ground of Christ as our Savior like I did with the Orthodox Christians back in Novi Sad.

Sarajevo Street

Sunday, we had church, of course. This week there weren't any native members that came, so we happened to have all of our meetings in English. After church, Elder Palmer and I visited one of his good friends that's an inactive member. I think this whole exchange, he's been trying to get me to meet his old investigators and such so I can carry on his work from when he was serving here. Sounds like a good plan to me. Anyway, that inactive member we visited and his wife fed us as we talked to them and shared a spiritual thought. All the food was homemade and really quite good. When we got home we did some planning and Elder Palmer made some phone calls, and then we went contacting. Pretty relaxed day.

Your homework for this week is to look through the titles of recent General Conference talks, and pick one that catches your eye. And of course, then read it. While you read the talk, ask yourself how you can apply it to your own life. Think of one specific thing in your life that you can can change to better live by the principles taught in that talk, and then start living that one new thing. Even doing something as simple as this is a way of repenting and coming closer to Christ, and it'll help you have a happier life as you progress.

Anyway, to summarize, this week has been a good one, though a bit weird. Bosnia is pretty cool, and I'm looking forward to getting to work with my new companion this week! Haha.
Have a great week!
Elder Ryan Echols
Adriatic North Mission
Svačićev Trg 3/1
HR-10000 Zagreb

Reunited with my MTC companion, Elder Leach, while at the baptism in Tuzla

In the Beautiful Bosnian Mountains

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