Elder Echols

Elder Echols

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Week 32: Moving Day, Sunshine, and a Birthday Cake

Hello everybody! This week had some pretty good weather. It was particularly warm a few days this week, and everyone suddenly seems to be outside even more than before. We've been continuing to find some new people, and been teaching a few lessons too. We have one investigator that's seeming like a really good prospect, and this week he even came to church. Good stuff.

To recap last Monday a bit, we cleaned out our old apartment pretty well and got pretty much all of our stuff moved into our new apartment. And this new apartment is really nice, btw.

The living area in our new apartment
We have some pretty neat views from our new apartment
On Tuesday we just had the regular stuff like district meeting, finding, a few good lessons, and getting ditched for a few lessons. One peculiar thing was how empty our ECG was, though. Suddenly this week people just didn't show up like before. We mostly attributed it to the great weather outside. This week it just hit like summer, and the gelato place on the main street rolled out their little stand thing. The girl that works there is always going so fast.

On Wednesday we did a lot of contacting. At one point their was a civil march that we had to try to avoid. We had lunch at a restaurant called Manolo, since they have an open courtyard in the middle and the weather was great. More contacting after that.

On Thursday we started off by having a lesson with an older Muslim guy. We didn't get much time with him, but while we were talking, if we ever said anything he didn't agree with, he'd just stop us and say something like, "no, that's not right" and tell us how he believed. I appreciate how firm he was in his own beliefs, though.

That evening for ECG it was still kinda empty, like on Tuesday. Probably still the great weather. Our discussion topic was families, and I got to hear some pretty cool stories from people's past, relating to their ancestors and such.

Main Street in Sarajevo. You can see the signs for our McDonald's
On Friday we had nothing on the schedule except studies, eating, and finding. So, we went out contacting. During our first bout of contacting, we talked to one lady who was Muslim (in case you didn't know, almost everyone here is a Muslim) and seemed slightly interested, but wouldn't give us her number or schedule a meetup, but we gave her a card and continued on. A bit later, while we were still contacting, we actually got a call from her inviting us to meet her at a café somewhat nearby and talk about stuff. So we went, learned about her and her beliefs, and she learned about us and our beliefs. It was really good, honestly, even though it was in a café and not exactly a lesson. She seems like she's really been searching for truth for a long time. Apparently she used to be Christian, but had a lot of unanswered questions, but as she continued searching and learned more about Islam, she felt that a lot of her questions were answered. She seemed really interested in The Book of Mormon when we brought it up, and so we of course gave her a copy. Apparently she's read the Bible cover-to-cover 16 times, so I suspect she's going to read the entire Book of Mormon very quickly. She's really cool, and we're of course going to try setting up consistent lessons with her and her husband.

Saturday, for those who didn't know, was my birthday! That means I'm 20 now. The day started off with me basically waking up to Elder Leach singing me a remarkably well-done rendition of Happy Birthday (by means of telephone). Shout out to him for being awesome! Some other missionaries also texted to say happy birthday, I inflated a balloon, and I burned my toast a bit. That's ok though, it was still pretty good.

First thing for us out of the apartment was another lesson with that older Muslim guy from Thursday. It was pretty much the same thing. Once we told him about Joseph Smith and the First Vision, he just kinda got up, shook our hands, and left. I guess there was so much there that he disagreed with that he didn't even know what to say. Something like that.

For lunch we went to a restaurant called Klopa, as recommended by the sisters. We went in, and it looks about how I imagine a Sisters' apartment to look: bright colors and polka dots simply everywhere. They were playing some pretty great music though, and the food was great. By particular recommendation of the sisters, we got their American Pancakes, and those were pretty darn good. They had Nutella and Plazma and a bunch of stuff like that. Very delicious pancakes.

Sisters Rougeau and Martineau
After we had language study in the park (zbog dobrog vremena) the sisters notified us that there was a surprise at the church for us. Turns out it was one of those scripture trail things around the church. You get a scripture reference that gives you a hint where to look for the next scripture reference. At the end of the trail was a cake, totally loaded with M&Ms in a shape that said "20", plus a card and a notebook as a gift. Serving in a city with another set of missionaries is great. 

Me, finding the birthday surprise from the sister missionaries!
My Amazing Birthday Cake!
Birthday fun!
Also, we found out that they were trying to get to the church to set up the thing without us seeing them, but we had been out contacting around the area and they were having a fun time with that. They did get a photo of us contacting from afar, though, and that's pretty cool (believe it or not, we do actually do some sort of work out here).

Sunday, yesterday, we had church. Since the Newtons had relatives in town, President Kreibhel and his wife were there, AND we had 4 investigators there, it was pretty full compared to normal. That was pretty great. One of the investigators, like I mentioned at the start of the email, was one of our investigators that's doing the best. He came half an hour early, seemed to get along pretty well with everyone there, and stayed for the entire time. So great. I have high hopes for him. Other than church, we just had the regular Sunday stuff like planning, phone calls, and a bit of finding.

Today we started off with paying bills and getting groceries, but then we went to the big mall around here, Sarajevo City Center, and looked around some of the stores there. I bought a new tie (I suppose for my birthday), and then we had lunch at a place there called Food Market. Oddly enough, I found on the menu a familiar item called Okonomiyaki, which is a traditional Japanese food. Since my dad served his mission in Japan back in the day, I couldn't help but get that for my lunch. It was really quite good, but not quite like Dad makes it ;)

Okonomiyaki was actually on the menu!
Okonomiyaki with ketchup and mayonnaise
Your homework for this week is to watch GENERAL CONFERENCE!! For those of you who don't know, General Conference is the opportunity twice a year to hear from LIVING Prophets and Apostles. Usually I assign you to read the words of ones from at least a thousand years ago, but these ones are current. Isn't that exciting? It should be.

Attached are some photos of the wonderfully M&M-dense cake that the sisters made for my birthday. Shout out to this awesome district (yes Elder and Sister Newton, that includes you).

That's it for this week. Have an awesome General Conference! (and accompanying week!)
Elder Ryan Echols
Adriatic North Mission
Svačićev Trg 3/1
HR-10000 Zagreb

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