Elder Echols

Elder Echols

Monday, March 13, 2017

Week 30: Pizza, Cleaning, and Horses

Hey everybody, what a crazy week we had here in Bosnia. I don't feel like we even had any time to go contacting (which is very peculiar).

To start off with, on Monday as we were leaving the internet place where we email, we were trying to decide where to get some dinner, and Elder Perry decided he wanted to take a photo with a classic red phone booth that's sitting in what I call "pub alley": an alley in the walking-only part of town that has a lot of restaurants, most of which are pubs. 

As we were about to take a photo with the phone booth, someone calls out to us asking if we were those people from Salt Lake City. It turns out to be a local Bosnian guy and his American business partner from SLC. The Bosnian guy has lived in Utah too and learned English there. Long story short, they invite us to dinner with them at a restaurant right there that apparently has the best pizza in all of Europe, by their opinion. They bought us dinner, and the pizza was pretty darn good for European pizza, the Bosnian guy was ecstatic to meet Americans that know his language, and it was all a pretty good conversation. At the end we left them with a spiritual thought and headed out. Shortly thereafter, I realized that the change of plans had made us run out of time to get groceries... oops. It was good to talk to the two guys and spread the missionary love.

On Tuesday morning someone ditched us for a lesson, we had district meeting and ECG, and did some cleaning around the apartment. Not a terribly interesting day.

Wednesday, it was raining again. Apparently it was National Women's day or something like that, so pretty much every female over 14 was walking around town with a flower that she'd received as a gift. We had a quick lesson with someone that was pretty good, then packed up to head to Zone Conference. As we got on the tram to get to the bus station, we discovered that it was CRAZY packed, probably due to the holiday, but somehow we fit on anyway. So crowded. Thankfully the ride was pretty short to get to the bus station, and then the bus ride that went to Banja Luka was pretty darn empty. Once we got to Banja Luka, we slept over at the Zone Leaders' apartment and got educated a bit by Elder Winfield on Australian football.
On Thursday morning, it was pretty cool walking through Banja Luka to get to the church there. Banja luka is a pretty big city, but it feels more like suburbs than a big city. I really like it.

As for Zone Conference itself, I played piano for the meeting (thankfully I had anticipated that and brought my music book), and for lunch in the middle we had a dish called "Spaghetti Pie" (lasagna made with spaghetti noodles) which was pretty darn good. We had some pretty good training and role-plays, and got to hear from Elder Adler of The Seventy, and his wife. They're from Germany, and are very much awesome people. A lot of times at missionary meetings like this, we only ever talk about how to help other people become stronger in their faith, but this time there was more of a focus on how we as missionaries can become stronger in our faith, and I think that was really good. As it was pointed out, we can only help other people along the path as far as we have already come.

Zone Conference in Banja Luka, Bosnia
Zone Conference in Banja Luka, Bosnia. This is Elder Leach, who was my MTC companion. And we are getting photobombed by several other missionaries!
Zone Conference in Banja Luka, Bosnia
After zone conference finished, we rode back to Sarajevo with the Newtons. When we stopped for dinner, it was at a huge store called Fis that happened to have a restaurant in it, kinda like Ikea or Costco would. And, the toiles they had there were the Turkish ones: just a hole in the floor, really.

On Friday we did a LOT of cleaning, since there were some parts of the apartment that we don't really even use that have been just a total mess since before we got here. We also did some tracting in the evening, and got kicked out of a building. Also, it's been raining a lot during this last week. Almost every day.
Saturday we had service with the Newtons up at the Pegasos horseback riding place. It was really cold. Also, one of the horses that we were with was named Gypsy, and that horse really likes biting things. He tried to bite Elder Newton's jacket. Apparently last week he bit Sister Martineau on the hand, and gave her a bit of a bruise. I didn't let his face get too close to anything of mine, though, so thankfully I was safe. 

We also briefly ran into one of our (many) ECG participants while we were there, and said hello really quick.
From there the Newtons took us to lunch, and then we headed over to our apartment for them to do their cleaning check. When we were almost there, Elder Newton missed a turn while on a one-way road. Our apartment is in the middle of the maze-like section of houses, though, so we had to take a rather squiggly detour of finding a lot of dead ends (on one-way streets... who built these roads?) until we eventually figured out how to just get out and get back on the main road, from which point we just restarted, this time doing it without missing that turn. #AdventuresInBosnia.

Other than that, we had another lesson cancel, and cleaned the church. Plus, Elder Perry tried to bake some peanut butter cookies, but one pan came out of the oven looking like double-fudge cookies, if you know what I mean. The other pan was super good, though.

The cookies on the left were super yummy!!
On Sunday, we got a call from an investigator that was apparently a golden self-referral back in November, but lived too far away to ever come to church. He said that he was going to be coming to church, and had brought a friend! So, we met up with them before church for a few minutes and had a mini lesson, and they seem really excited to start coming to church regularly now that they found a way, and so we're also going to start having consistent lessons, and we put them on baptismal date! So, that came out of nowhere. Then for church itself we had 2 other investigators show up, for a record number of 4 in one week! Crazy.

During sacrament meeting Sister Rougeau sang a special musical number, and I accompanied. It's hard to explain how this happened, but once playing the intro and whatever and Sister Rougeau started singing, I realized that my music book was on the wrong page. Opa. So, I kept playing with just my left hand while I flipped through a few dozen pages with my right hand. Once I found the page, stuff went very smoothly, and I thought it was pretty great. A few minutes later, our branch president's wife gave a talk, but she doesn't speak Bosnian, so I ended up being her translator. It was kinda rough on my end, but I think it was fine =P Then I also taught Sunday School.

Today so far we've done our contacting and stuff, and we got 2 new investigators really quickly! That was cool. One of them was an older guy that said he had 20 minutes right then, so we walked him around the corner to the church and had a mini lesson right then. Cool stuff. We'll see what other adventures await for the rest of today.

I think an interesting thing that I've noticed this week is that the work that we do doesn't always seem to be very effective, but it shows that we're willing to try, and thus we're sometimes sent an unrelated miracle on the side to help the work along.

Your homework for this week is to read Alma 22. It tells a short story of a king being taught how to turn to God. There's a lot of good stuff there in a short chapter. See what you can dig out of it to learn, and then apply it.

Have an awesome week!

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

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