Elder Echols

Elder Echols

Monday, May 29, 2017

Week 41: Travnik, David, and Ramadan

Hello there everybody! Sorry for not sending out an email last week. We had the Zone Leaders in town to start exchanges, and we did a lot of stuff other than spend time on email.

As for some specifics of what we did last Monday, we first had a lesson with our investigator that had previously decided to be baptized. I don't remember if I mentioned it in my group email, but he backed out of it about a week before it was supposed to happen. This lesson was the first time we were able to meet with him since then. We got him back "on the boat", but we'll just be taking it slow from here on out.

The bobsled track is up in the mountains above Sarajevo.
We took the Zone Leaders to see the bobsled track from the 1984 Sarajevo Olympic Games
Anyway, when the ZLs got in town, we went up on the mountain with them and the sisters, coming plenty close to getting lost, and went to see some cool stuff. We saw the old Olympic bobsled track again, as well as some cool views and a WWII memorial site called Vraca Memorial Park. The site was also used as a stronghold of sorts in the Yugoslav wars, so it was a bit beat up. Also, it's the place where Bosnia was dedicated by an Apostle for the preaching of the gospel. Pretty cool stuff.

Vraca Memorial Park was originally a Hungarian Fortress built in 1898, which was then turned into a very nice World War II Memorial. Unfortunately, it was damaged heavily in the Yugoslavian War from 1991-1995.
As a WWII Memoraial, Vraca has many walls with the names of all the people from Sarajevo who were killed during the war. There are almost 12,000 names.

This doorway looked like it needed some help to stay up!

Another scene from the damaged Vraca Memorial.
On Tuesday, we started exchanges. I stayed in Sarajevo with Elder Bowles. We did some regular stuff like role-playing and contacting, and then it started raining and messed stuff up a bit. No one wants to listen when it's raining. That night we had ECG, of course, and we went to dinner after at a place called Burger Bar. In case you didn't guess, they have really good American burgers.

Elder Bowles at the Burger Bar.
On Wednesday we had to finish up exchanges, so we got the car from the Newtons and drove out to Travnik, which is about half way between here and Banja Luka (where Elder King was for the exchange). But when we get there, we found out that they were still about 45 minutes out, so we looked around the town a bit. There was a cool fortress up on top of the hill that we went to see, and there were a bunch of kids there on a field trip.

The Fortress in Travnik, called Stari grad, which was originally built in the 14th or 15th Century. It is a popular tourist spot.
The fortress is really large and built completely of stone.

The town of Travnik surrounds the fortress and is built upon some very scenic hills.
Some of the features of the fortress are built around natural bodies of water.
Once Elders King and Winfield got there, we had lunch and then split back up for our own cities. When we got back to Sarajevo, we got ditched by a lesson or two, and did some contacting.

On Thursday morning we had a mission-wide video call for District Leaders (and their companions, like me), and then a lesson right after. We were slightly late for the lesson, but the guy was actually pretty chill with it. A bit later we went to visit a member and his friend that's interested in the church. They've both been having some rough times, but it was a really good visit. When we got back for ECG, we decided to switch groups with the Sisters, but then nobody showed up to the group we were going to lead, so we just joined them in the other room and helped to converse with the participants.

On Friday morning I got a call from President Grant, and during the course of the call he suddenly said, "Oh, you know what, David Archuleta just walked into my office; here, I'll hand him the phone." And then I talked to David Archuleta for a few minutes. What a great guy. And apparently he's good enough friends with my mission president to just be passing through Croatia (...?) and walk into the mission home unannounced. Sounds good to me. Anyway, we started off the day with a lesson with our most progressing investigator, and we talked about the priesthood authority that was given to the Apostles by Christ, but then lost shortly after their deaths, but which was restored to the Earth by Peter, James, and John when they gave that authority to Joseph Smith. Pretty cool stuff, honestly. Anyway, we also talked about baptism with him, and he said he was in a pretty tight situation with some stuff, but if he wasn't in that situation, he's 99% sure he'd get baptized. So, now we just need to help him resolve the situation... We'll get there. But the point is that he's doing well and knows that it's all true. After that lesson we had district meeting, and then we went to visit that same member and his friend. We're trying to help them establish the habit of reading The Book of Mormon every day, since it'll help them a lot.

Peter, James, and John conferred Priesthood authority to Joseph Smith.
On Saturday morning we cleaned the church, like always, and then headed over to a first lesson at the guy's house. We'd contacted him a few weeks ago and kept contact, but this was the first he was able to meet with us. It went pretty well, and we invited him to church (like we do at almost every lesson) for the next day. Spoilers: he came! That was great. But as for the rest of Saturday, we did some contacting, and some work on the computer.

For Sunday, at church, I played piano like usual. But, what was different this week was that Sister McColm had picked for our opening hymn one of the hardest hymns for me to play: "Press Forward, Saints". So, I struggled through that, but didn't die. Like I said before, that investigator came to church! It's always nice when an investigator does come to church. For the rest of the day we did some contacting and planning. When we were contacting, we talked to a guy the was "from here" but spoke only perfect English to us, with a mostly Australian accent. He said that he's always been a Muslim in general, but when Europe generally started turning against the idea of Islam, he had to really figure out if he was in or out. I think everyone out to do that in their own religion, regardless of whether or not the world dislikes your religion.

Also, the streets have been a lot less busy recently, and we think it's because of Ramadan. Btw, Ramadan just started, which is Islam's month of fasting. They fast while the sun is up, and eat once the sun goes down, if I'm understanding this all correctly. So, we've been making jokes about people not wanting to listen to us because they're "hungry" from the fasting.

Your homework for this week is to look up a session of General Conference from more than 20 years ago. So, that's 1997 or earlier. Pick a talk that stands out to you. Keep an eye out for what things they say are still applicable today (probably most of it), and what things they said then would've helped people better prepare for everything that's happened since then.

That's it for today. I hope you enjoy the photos! Talk to you next week!
Elder Ryan Echols
Adriatic North Mission
Svačićev Trg 3/1
HR-10000 Zagreb

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