Elder Echols

Elder Echols

Monday, June 5, 2017

Week 42: Cafes and a new Translation

Hello again, friends and family. I hope you've all been doing well this last week. This week for us was pretty good, though a bit lopsided if you look at our numbers. On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, we got plenty of new investigators, but then we didn't get any for the rest of the week. Kinda peculiar.

Anyway, on Tuesday right when we started off contacting, we promptly stopped a married couple that was really open and friendly, and we ended up inviting them there on the street to be baptized, and they said yes. It seemed to totally come out of nowhere. They live a little bit out of town though, so it might be a little bit hard to figure out how to get lessons frequently with them. But, I'll talk about them more with Friday. For the rest of Tuesday, we had some more good contacting, a lesson bailed, visited a member, had another 2 lessons bail, and then had ECG like always. Normal day.

On Wednesday we started off with more contacting. For various reasons, that whole morning was pretty rough. We also had 4 lessons that bailed in one way or another throughout the day. But, that evening President Grant came into town for the return of Bosnia's first missionary. When they got into town, President Grant and Sister Grant took our whole district to dinner at an Italian place, and it was really great to have so many great people around. While we were waiting for everyone to gather before going in, a teenage girl came up to us to ask for money. Elder King of course told her that we couldn't give her money, but we could talk with her about God, and then turned it into a contact. Right about then was when President Grant showed up, and then the girl was pretty much trapped/surrounded by all of us. Pretty funny how the tables can turn. The Sisters set up an appointment with her and gave her a Book of Mormon. Points. After dinner, the Grants headed over to the airport to pick up Haris, the fresh returned missionary. I suspect you'll be hearing a lot about him soon.

On Thursday we had a lot of lessons ditch again. I might just stop mentioning in these emails when that happens, just to save space and time... we also had district meeting, and that was really good. For a lot of the day, Elder King wasn't feeling too good, so we spent some extra time inside, out of the heat. We did still go do ECG though, and we had 2 new participants show up! That's always exciting. I feel like we're building a solid little friend circle. For example, one of our older participants, a lady from Ukraine, gave me a CD of some recordings that she did. She sang some covers of some older American songs and put it together as an album. These ECG people are pretty great. After ECG we had a lesson at a cafe with a Muslim guy that was mostly just trying to prove Islam to us. Even though neither side was convinced by the other, we got to at least explain how we're different from Islam and most Christianity, as well as learn more about Islam.

To start on Friday we had a short lesson at a mall. Btw, people around here really love to meet anywhere that isn't their house nor our church. Typically the only places they'll accept to meet are loud places with a lot of people smoking, such as outdoor cafes, restaurants that feel like cafes, or cafes in the middle of a mall. Every now and then we can convince people to have a lesson at the church, and that works really well. Anyway, we had another lesson that day, visited a member, etc. It also rained some.

On Saturday morning, we had a brief meeting with a professor at his office in the Economics college. He seemed like a really great guy, but we didn't have a lot of time with him right then. He said he'd read the Book of Mormon, though. For a large portion of the day after that, we were up at the barn (horseback riding place) up on the mountain to help Sister Newton with her therapeutic riding stuff that she does. It's really good stuff.

Elder King and I helping Sister Newton with a rider at Riders of Hope
On the way back home after that they took us to lunch, and then we got the car from them so we could go visit that married couple that lives out of town a bit. The ones that I mentioned we met on Tuesday. That was a really great lesson. They were still really friendly and really open and everything, and even though the lesson kept going off-topic a bit (that's a regular occurrence with people that like to talk, of course) we managed to always redirect it back to the lesson.

We also had the new Croatian translation of The Book of Mormon! Since the sisters were at the mission office on Friday, they brought some back. This translation is so good. I love it. As a bit of a side note, a lot of times when we're telling people about The Book of Mormon and why it's important, a lot of people just answer with something like "yes, another holy book. I already believe in God. All holy books say the same thing. It's undoubtedly true. I'll take a copy, and might read it, but it won't do anything new for me since I already believe in God and know that I should be a good person." But, what people often don't catch is this: if the Book of Mormon is true, that means that there was a real prophet, named Joseph Smith, that authoritatively established God's church once again onto the Earth in 1830, and that God actually does have more prophets than after Christ or Muhammed or wherever people say that prophets stopped. We try so hard to get people to understand that link, how The Book of Mormon is relevant and important, but a lot of times it just doesn't click with people. Maybe we're not teaching it well enough. In any case, back to our lesson with the married couple. As we taught them about the Book of Mormon, it started out as the situation that I just described. But, Elder King finally got it to click with them near the end. We saw it really hit the husband as something remarkable. Of course, he hasn't studied the book yet and so doesn't know if it's true or not, but he gets the connection. He also promised that he'd read it, and he's a man of his word in every other matter so far, so this is looking good. They really are great people, if I haven't mentioned it yet. I'm excited for them. Also, as we left we traded them their copy of the old translation and gave them a copy of the new translation. We're not sure, but we think that copy is the first of the new translation to be given out in Bosnia.

The Book of Mormon in Croatian is used for Bosnians and Serbians as well because their languages are so similar.
As for Sunday, we had church of course, and we got to meet Haris for the first time. His English is really good (go figure) and he even said it was easier for him to speak in English than in Bosnian. We also got his phone number so that we can get him on some lessons with us soon. Later on in the day, we had dinner with our branch president's family. They're leaving in a few weeks, and we're going to miss them. Though, apparently they're getting replaced with a near identical family, so we'll see if anything even changes, haha.

Today it's been raining and the power's been on and off in some parts of the city, so it was kinda hard to get around by the (electric) trams like we usually do. The stoplights were also out, and so the streets were kinda chaos. But, we went into a Mosque (I think it might be the biggest one in Sarajevo) and that was really cool. We went with the sisters and a friend of the church that's a Muslim, and she explained a bit about what everything is. Pretty cool place.

That's gonna have to be it for today. Your homework is to read Jacob chapter 7, in the Book of Mormon. It tells the story of an encounter between the prophet Jacob and some guy Sherem. See what you can get out of it.

Have a great week!
Elder Ryan Echols
Adriatic North Mission
Svačićev Trg 3/1
HR-10000 Zagreb

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