Elder Echols

Elder Echols

Monday, July 10, 2017

Week 47: Intros, Watermelon, and a Baptism!

Hello everyone! Before you ask, yes the baptism did happen! Our investigator got baptized on Saturday just as planned despite some technical difficulties. But if you want to hear about that, you'll have to read through the rest of the email ;)

On Monday after my wallet got stolen and we did our emails, we went with that our investigator and the sisters up the hill a little bit to see some fortresses and such. There are some really cool views up there.

On the way down, we somehow decided to run/skip all the way down the huge steep hill. It was pretty fast, but we've been pretty sore this week from that =P From there we met up with the Zone Leaders so our investigator could have is baptismal interview, and then the ZLs slept at our place for the night.

On Tuesday morning Elder Smith and I went for a run, and by the time we came back, Elder King had put on some very American patriotic music by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!! Later that day we went to lunch with them at a place called Burger Bar, where they have really good burgers (naturally) rivaling Red Robin. The potato wedges were also pretty killer.

A hearty lunch at the Burger Bar with Elders Smith, Hole, and King.
Shortly after that, Elder Smith and I packed up and got on the 5.5 hour bus ride to Banja Luka so we could get to Zone Conference the next day. We slept at the ZLs' apartment, and so did the APs. So, that was 6 Elders in a 2-person apartment. Some of us were on the floor. Nevertheless, it was good to see all those guys (Elder Perry and Elder King, former companions of mine, were both there).

Elder King and Elder Perry were both at zone conference.
On Wednesday morning we went out and hit a Pekara (bakery) for some breakfast. While there, I happened to look across the street and see a watermelon stand that said "BEST WATERMELON IN THE CITY" (in Bosnian). Then I looked to my right, right next to the Pekara, and saw another watermelon stand owned by a different guy. That one also said "BEST WATERMELON IN THE CITY". Those two guys must be pretty serious rivals, haha. From there we went to the church a bit early and helped set up for Zone Conference a bit. ZC was really good. Since this is President Melonakos' first round of Zone Conferences (oh, we got a new mission president about a week ago, btw), most of it was introductions and testimonies between all of us. It was really good to already get to know President and Sister Melonakos. They'll be great. At the end of the conference, I totally wrecked the intro to the closing hymn and had to 100% start it over. It was pretty funny, though. For the way back to Sarajevo, Elder Smith and I rode with the Newtons, packed in with a whole bunch of other stuff such as leftover pizza that we were taking home from the Zone Conference lunch. #missionaryLife

Zone Conference in Banja Luka
On Thursday, we went to the church to set up the font for the impending baptism, and then we started making programs for the event too. Then the sisters came and we all practiced our musical number for Sunday. We all had lunch there at the church that we'd brought with us. We the Elders had leftover pizza from ZC, and the sisters had panninis plus fruit and vegetables. Thankfully they shared some of their healthy things with us, haha. After district meeting, we had another lesson with our investigator where we watched "Finding Faith in Christ", which is kind of a summary of Christ's life in the old world. I really like it, and since our investigator has never read the New Testament and grew up as a Muslim, a lot of the stories were new to him. That evening we had ECG like usual, and we found out that one of the frequent participants from the advanced group had lost his father very recently. We're already pretty much friends with him, but we're now trying more to make sure that he knows that he's not alone, and that death isn't just the end. After this life we'll still be able to see our friends and family. Anyway, after ECG Elder Smith and Sister Turner practiced their special musical number for the baptism. There have been a lot of musical numbers in the works recently, btw. Apparently I'll be having one in church in 2 weeks too.

Friday morning we went for another run. This time we went more through "Tsentar" and "Bashcharshia" (sorry, I don't have a special keyboard right now). That area is the more touristy spot. So, we ran past a Cathedral, a giant Mosque, some old Turkish buildings, an Orthodox church, and a whole bunch of shops. In case I haven't mentioned it, Sarajevo is a pretty cool place. For almost all of Friday we were just running around printing the programs and getting other stuff ready for the baptism, including practicing some more music with the sisters. Also, we discovered that the quarter watermelon that I'd bought on Monday went bad. Reeeeally bad. Really fast, too. And it took with it the nearby leftover pizza that we had in the fridge.

Now for Saturday. The baptism was scheduled for 3pm, and Sisters Martineau and McColm were each coming from their respective cities with their companions so they could be there, since they got the investigator started on this path anyway. So, we got over to the church right at 10 to start filling up the font. But, the water heater kept turning itself off every 62 seconds. I didn't want the water to be cold for the investigator (or myself), so I had to go push a button on the water heater every 62 seconds to keep it heating. 

This is the font we use for baptisms.
Not too long later, we noticed that the floor around the font was wet. When I say "not too long later" I mean about an hour, or maybe two. Turns out there was a leak, and we started stuffing towels under it to dry it up and maybe stop the leak. They were just getting soaked really fast, though. Elder Smith found the leak on the outside and put his finger on it to stop the water. It was actually really effective, but he was stuck there a while, and I was still going to push that button every 62 seconds to restart the water heater. Party. At some point the sisters and the Newtons showed up with some duct tape to try to help.
Contrary to popular belief, duct tape does not fix everything.
The duct tape didn't work, so the Newtons went to buy something better, while we and the sisters drained the not-so-empty font. We had a lot of buckets and stuff, and Sister Beus ended up getting in the font so she could help hand us buckets of water to dump into the street.

Sister Beus was very helpful.
We also had a pump going, thankfully. Oh, I forgot to mention that the font was basically sitting on top of some electrical panels. Anyway, the whole place got pretty wet and messy with all the buckets going everywhere, but none of it got into the electric panels (we were watching them very closely). The Newtons came back with some superglue type stuff, so we patched it up and had lunch while we waited for it to dry. Then we started filling it back up (this is probably at about 1pm). The Newtons and sisters left to go change and such, and we stayed to continue filling the font. This time we had those buckets and pitchers, and we had every faucet in the place turned on. We were basically running in circles switching out buckets and taking filled ones to the font and dumping them in while other ones were filling up. We also had the main hose as before helping. And the water heater was still turning off every 62 seconds (see the video below). The investigator himself showed up shortly after 2pm, and started helping. Just before 3pm, people of course started showing up, and the font wasn't quite as full as we would've liked, but it was definitely at a level we could work with. So, I went and changed and we had a total of 6 non-members there, plus a whole bunch of missionaries and some local members. The program was great, including that musical number by Elder Smith and Sister Turner, and talks by Sisters McColm and Martineau.

Sister Turner and Elder Smith sang a beautiful song about baptism.
As for the baptism itself, I was the one to do it. Since the water wasn't terribly high, I had to put him down pretty far, and then help him back up a lot. We got it first try, though, so that was great. He was starting to tear up a bit when he came out. It was great. Anyway, after the whole program we had some refreshments and it was great having everyone there for our new member. Once everyone left, we of course had to clean up and stuff, and dry out the font that had been pumping ever since the baptism itself was over. So, that baptism took our entire day, but it was obviously worth it.

Yesterday at church, he (our newest member) got confirmed and received the gift of the Holy Ghost. We also did a musical number with the sisters, and that was fun. Later in the day, we had a lesson with a guy we'd met on Friday. I'd noticed before that his hat had Hebrew written on it, and he was wearing it again for our lesson, and it turns out that he's a Jew. So, that's pretty cool. We kinda just find anyone from a bunch of different religions here. He seemed pretty interested in The Book of Mormon and what it says, and we're excited to keep working with him. For the rest of the day we had another lesson, did some planning and phone calls, etc.

Your homework is to read 2 Nephi 2, which is about how Christ provided us with a perfect example by being baptized and following the commandments of the Father. It's pretty good stuff.

Here are some photos! Have an awesome week!
Elder Ryan Echols
Adriatic North Mission
Svačićev Trg 3/1
HR-10000 Zagreb

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