Elder Echols

Elder Echols

Monday, July 24, 2017

Week 49: Exchanges, and a Pigeon-Slaying Cat

Hello Everyone! Here we are again at another Monday and I have to figure out something to write about. Good thing I have my journal as source material. Anyway, the weather this week has been about the same as before: just really hot, but not to the point of dying.

Last Monday, after emailing we met two young guys for a lesson, but they had to be somewhere else soon, so it was a very brief lesson. From there we went to do some contacting, and then met the sisters over by the Cathedral to go to the Srebrenica museum. Somehow this was my third time, and I'm still learning stuff about the Yugoslav wars.

This is the Srebenica Museum.
That evening we had another FHE activity for the branch, which included making grilled cheese sandwiches and watching Meet The Mormons. Our newest member was there of course, and he brought his girlfriend! It was really good to have them there, especially with what movie it was. She didn't really know who we are, and he didn't really have any exposure to what the church is like outside of Sarajevo. I think it was awesome for them to get to see that we're a world-wide church with full-size congregations across the world. (If you want to watch the trailer to the movie, click the first image below. If you want to watch the full movie, click the second image below).

"Meet the Mormons" Movie Trailer

 "Meet the Mormons" Full Movie

On Tuesday we started off the day with some phone calls (you end up doing a lot of phone calls as a missionary, trying to keep up with all of your not-quite-investigator friends), and then around lunch time the Banja Luka elders got into town to start exchanges. Elder Smith went up to Banja Luka, and Elder King stayed here with me, so it was like he'd never left! Right off the bat, we had an awesome first lesson with a college-age guy, teaching the Restoration. After that we had a lesson with another pair of younger guys, both Muslims, one being a painter and the other a trumpet player. The painter just kinda chilled and looked at the paintings around the church while his trumpet playing friend grilled us on all of the questions designed to stump Christians. Thankfully we aren't quite like the Christians that he's accustomed to talking to, and we held up really well against it, and committed them both to read The Book of Mormon to see if it's true. After that we had language study and ECG, and at ECG we got one of our participants to agree to meet up with us to learn more about the church! She's the one that came to the baptism, and she's really cool.

Enjoying ice cream during exchanges with Elder King, the Sister Missionaries, and Sister Newton.
Wednesday, Elder King and I went up the hill to visit that less-active member and deliver some cookies, but he and his wife weren't there, so we just left the cookies on the doorstep (they undoubtedly got melted beyond all belief before anyone could eat them), and then started knocking on nearby doors. We got some pretty interesting stuff, including a lady that said she was 90 years old who got really mad at us for preaching religion, and she even simply insulted our language skills. She didn't seem to speak English, though...anyway, we did find one new investigator and one "almost" one that we'll come back to visit sometime soon. After lunch at Woki, we had district meeting and then comp study. Our appointment with that ECG participant lady then fell through, but we were able to meet with a different ECG participant whose father passed away recently and buy some magnets from him. Long story. To shorten it up, we're trying to make sure that he knows that we're here for him. Also, on the way over to that, we found a wallet on the ground filled with Turkish money and credit cards. Thankfully there was a phone number on a business card that had the same name as all of the credit cards, so we called it, had our native-Bosnian friend from ECG talk to him, and then he went to return the wallet, around the corner and across the street to the place where the guy apparently was. That evening, the Newtons took us all to the rotating restaurant, since Elder King never got a farewell dinner, but he was in town again for the exchange.

The view from the rotating restaurant.
On Thursday morning, Elder King and I had to sit at the church to wait for another repairman to come to check out the air conditioning. Yaaaay. A bit later in the day, our RM friend, Haris, came into town to help us with some missionary work. We went contacting with him, and got a new investigator really quick. It was a girl that had actually met the missionaries 2 or 3 years ago. I always think it's cool to know that missionaries have been in this city non-stop for the last 5 years, talking with people almost every day the whole time. When you add it up, that's kinda a lot of people that have spoken, even briefly, with missionaries.

Missionaries stay busy all the time and talk to a lot of people!
After contacting, we had a second lesson scheduled with that really cool young guy from Tuesday, but he didn't show up and wouldn't answer his phone. #whiffed. At that point, Elders Smith and Hole arrived back from Banja Luka in preparation for interviews with President Melonakos and the end of the exchange. The Melonakoses were a bit late though, so we were able to get Elder Smith's stuff back into the apartment really quick before interviews. While President was interviewing everyone, Sister Melonakos sat with the rest of us in the other room, just talking. We also learned the new "mission song" and had a good time with that. The Melonakoses are really great. I'm glad that they're here. After that, Elder Smith and I had a lesson with an older lady, and of course the lesson ran long, almost making us late to ECG. That's fine, though.

On Friday morning we started off with a lesson with our good friend/investigator that's been around since shortly after I arrived. So, we've been teaching him for something like 5 or 6 months. He's still doing well though, he just has a hard time finding time to meet up because of his job. This was the first time we were able to meet up with him since he attended the recent baptism, so we got to talk about that with him. He said that he was surprised how happy everyone was; everyone was acting like it was their own baptism and special day, they were so happy, not just the baptism of one person. After that lesson, we had a lesson with our newest member again. We talked with him about his questions, about the priesthood, and then set up an account for him on LDS.org and FamilySearch, so now he can go do family history work! He seemed pretty excited about that. That evening, we got on a bus to go out of town a bit to visit a member and meet his family some more. They fed us ice cream, some cake, and then sandwiches (in that order). The mom told us some stories from the war, and it was really interesting to hear from a first person perspective.

Saturday morning, we of course had service up at the horseback riding place, and that was pretty great. After that we cleaned the church and such, and then spent some time with that ECG participant whose father recently passed away. Then we went to visit that member that lives in that center across town. He's doing a lot better already, just knowing that he'll be out of there soon. While we were sitting outside talking, I saw a cat sneaking towards a large group of pigeons. Shortly thereafter, the group of pigeons exploded up into the air as the cat ran at them, leaping into the air and grabbing one of the pigeons. The cat pulled it down to the ground and killed it, while some crows made a huge ruckus about the attack. Then the cat calmly walked off with it's dead pigeon. During this whole time, Elder Smith and I were having a hard time paying any attention to what our member friend was saying. Oops. In any case, it was a good lesson, and we got to see a feral cat take down a hideous flying beast. From there we went home, made some more phone calls, and had dinner.

As for Sunday, we of course had church, and that lady from ECG came! So, we're making progress there. I might've mentioned it a week or two ago, but Branch President Newton asked me to play a special musical number on accordion today. So, I did. This week I had borrowed an accordion from a member to practice some, and then during church yesterday I played "If You Could Hie To Kolob". People seemed to like it. Haris taught Sunday school about sunflowers and our tendency to follow after things pertaining to light and truth, and then at the end our investigator/ECG friend lady (I apologize for not being able to use names) asked a bunch of somewhat unrelated (but very good) questions. It was great to have her there.

Me playing the accordion.
As for today, we started off with going grocery shopping and doing some reimbursements, and then we went with the sisters up on the mountain to look at the bobsled track and get some cool views of the city.

Your homework is to read Why the Church by Elder D. Todd Christofferson. Why would God establish an imperfect organization of imperfect people and call it his? Why do we even need to go to church? Read and find out ;)

Have an awesome week! I hope you all are doing well. Enjoy the pictures.
Elder Ryan Echols
Adriatic North Mission
Svačićev Trg 3/1
HR-10000 Zagreb

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