Elder Echols

Elder Echols

Monday, June 19, 2017

Week 44: Zone Conference, a New Companion, and Branch Conference

Hello everyone! News for transfers is out. I'll be staying in Sarajevo again, but this time with Elder Smith. In case you haven't been counting, today marks 5 months of me being in Sarajevo. and now it looks like I'll be doing 2 more. Good thing I like this city!

I hope you all have been having a good summer so far. We're almost half way through the year already! The weather here has been pretty warm, but not as hot as it was a few weeks ago. The only downside is that it's been raining. But that's not too bad.

I got to meet up with my MTC companion, Elder Leach, while at the mission home for zone conference! Elder Leach is currently serving in Slovenia.
On Tuesday we and the Tuzla elders started off by doing some normal missionary work, since we were already up in Zagreb and had time for it. We split up a bit to go into different parts of the city for a while, and I went with Elder Hardy. Even though the core of Croatian is the same as the core of Bosnian, all the side-words like "hello", "excuse me", and "have a nice day" are totally different, so I thought it was really fun to try switching over to the local dialect immediately. Once we'd finished with all that and re-grouped, we went to lunch together and then over to Zone Conference to get started. 

I enjoyed seeing lots of my missionary friends during zone conference.
Our conference was together with the Slovene-serving missionaries, so it was pretty cool to get to know some of them that I'd never even met before. Of course we had some really good presentations, but then after dinner we all just had some free time to relax and play games. We got almost everyone playing volleyball at one point, and that was super fun.

Playing volleyball during zone conference
Playing Uno and eating ice cream during down time at zone conference.
On Wednesday, Zone Conference continued with more great presentations. Since President Grant and Sister Grant are going home in a few weeks, this was their last zone conference. It was really good to hear what they had to say. They really do love all of us, their missionaries. 

Listening intently to the special messages presented at zone conference.
Near the end of his presentation, President Grant also handed out copies of the transfer board, telling everyone where they're going to be for this next transfer that starts tomorrow. After that, I went and got my new companion, Elder Smith, from a little meeting point where I also saw Elder Crapo! Love that dude. Then we had our road trip back to Sarajevo.

Me and Elder Crapo during our short meet up!
On Thursday, We got Elder Smith his white card so that he wouldn't get kicked out of the country, and it took forever, and we got some groceries for him, had a lesson that ended with them asking us for money, and then the sisters got their investigator on baptismal date for July 8th! Super exciting.

On Friday we had a lesson with one of our main investigators, and he's still progressing, just a bit slower. A bit later that night we had district meeting, and then went with everyone for the Sisters' farewell dinner. Both Sister Martineau and Sister McColm are leaving, and we're getting 2 new sisters. That means I'm the only one of us 4 that's staying in Sarajevo.

Farewell dinner for Sisters Martineau and McColm
On Saturday we did service up at the barn, had a short lesson, and then did some solid contacting. We didn't get any new investigators, but we got 4 phone numbers, and ran into a couple from Indianapolis that knows about the Mormons a bit. We gave them the homework assignment to talk to the missionaries when they get back to the US.

Sunday we had branch conference, and that was really awesome. President Grant and Sister Grant came down, plus a bunch of other people like some members from Tuzla and the missionaries. President Pruess was released from being branch president, and now it's Elder Newton of our senior couple here. 

Elder Newton, now President Newton, is the new Branch President in Sarajevo.

Missionaries at the Sarajevo Branch Conference: Me, Elder Smith, Elder Hole, Sister Martineau, Sister McColm, and Elder Hardy.
Also, there were a total of 10 investigators there! Of course, some of them are more like "friends of the church and their kids", but it was still great to have them there! And besides, we did have an unusual number of other investigators. For the last song in sacrament meeting, we sang "God be with you till we meet again" and that got a lot of people crying, of course. 

Me and President Grant. All the missionaries love the Grants! They will be missed.
We all had lunch together afterwards there in the church, and it was great to get everyone socializing. These people are great. After church, we did a bunch of planning, and found out that the sisters decided to give that investigator, who's on date for baptism July 8th, over to us, since we've already met the guy, and he lives in our area, and it'll avoid any more gender-rule annoyances anyway. So now we have an investigator on baptismal date! We didn't put him there though, haha.

Good luck to Sisters McColm and Martineau who are leaving Sarajevo.
Your homework this week is to read 3 Nephi 11-12, and ask yourself what the main message is that Christ teaches the people as soon as he arrives. What is most important for us to know from him?
Stuff is going well. Thanks everyone for your support! Have an awesome week!

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

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