Elder Echols

Elder Echols

Monday, July 31, 2017

Week 50: A Mystery Microwave Lasagna, and a lot of Enchiladas

Hello everyone! I hope you all are doing well and enjoying life. I don't really know what else to say as an intro, so here we go.

I forget what I told you last Monday about what we did, but long story short is that we went up on the mountain again to see the old Olympic bobsled track, and old WWII memorial, and some other stuff. After that, when we came back into town, we made a stop at one of the huge malls, and I bought a tie that was 75% off of its original price. That evening we also had branch FHE, which was mostly playing sports in the park. We had a few of our friends from ECG also show up to that, and it was great. That night, Elder Smith and I finally took the baptismal font down, now that the hole is (hopefully) patched and sealed up. I guess we'll see how well that patch does its job the next time we have a baptism, haha.

Me and Elder Smith at the Olympic Bobsled track in Sarajevo.
On Tuesday morning, we had a "lesson" in a café with the husband and wife that I mentioned a long time ago (right when we got the new Croatian translation of The Book of Mormon). That was the first time we'd been able to meet with them since that first lesson out at their place. Let's just say the setting was less than ideal, with how loud it was and everyone smoking, but I still think we made a small amount of progress. When we left, we smelled like cigarettes. At some point in the afternoon, we went to go pick up a package that we'd ordered a while back that finally arrived. The package was a Croatian triple combination (so, scriptures) that we were getting as a gift for our newest member. That's the 3rd Croatian triple combination I've seen in my life, since they're so new. Anyway, we ended up writing some notes in it (the sisters too) in preparation for giving it to him.

Wednesday wasn't terribly eventful, except for having tacos for lunch, and then something that happened while we were contacting. We talked to a lady who seemed interested, but she said that she lives outside of town, so she wouldn't have time to come into the city later in the week, but that she had time right there. So, she got her two granddaughters out of the nearby store, and then we all sat down at a nearby café and talked about The Book of Mormon and such. Apparently she was Orthodox, and she was really funny. She kept jokingly asking us if we were some sect and if we were trying to pull her off the right path. She was pretty interested in what The Book of Mormon said about Jesus, though, and how that lines up with the Bible. At the end, we gave her a Croatian copy, and she looks at it, then asks if we have it in Cyrillic. So, we say yes and I give her the one Serbian copy that I happen to have in my bag. She was pleased with that.

My Bosnian nametag against the backdrop of the Bosnian mountains.
That night we were doing some phone calls to potential investigators to try to set up lesson, and towards the end we get a call from an unknown number. Elder Smith talked to him, and apparently the guy said that we'd called him, but he'd just missed the call. The confusing part is that we didn't have his number in our phone anywhere at all. Our phone didn't recognize it. So, either he has two phone numbers and just called us back from the other one(?), or that was a miracle. He asked if he could come to church, and we obviously said yes, and gave him the details.

Thursday morning we had a huge runaround with an investigator that lives out of town that told us he was in town and could meet, but then ditched us, mixed in with the repair guys surprisedly calling us saying that they were already at the church to look at our AC unit (and we weren't there to let them in). A bit off a mess of a morning. Though, one big highlight of the day was lunch! Haha. We decided to make mashed potatoes and fried chicken, with gravy. That was probably the most classically American meal that I've had in a good while. So good. They have burgers and pizza around here, which are good, but they do it a bit differently from in America. In any case, we're planning on having that again for lunch this week at some point.

Fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy, which me and Elder Smith made ourselves.
Later on in the day, just before ECG, we had our first actual lesson with that lady (who we originally met through ECG) that had come to the recent baptism. We also had a member present on the lesson: the most recent convert! He was super useful to have on that lesson, and helped answer her questions in a really clear way. That night for dinner I really didn't want to put any effort into it, and somehow found a microwave lasagna in the freezer, even though I didn't remember buying it. So, I guess you could call that another miracle for the week, haha.

On Friday we visited Haris, and discovered that he was feeling sick, so we gave him a blessing. He then helped us figure out who some inactive members might be for us or the sisters to visit, and we made some good progress there. On the bus ride back, we talked to some cool college-age kids that were apparently learning English, and invited them to come to ECG this next week. From the bus, we had to rush over to a lesson with a guy that Elder Perry and I had contacted back on my birthday, in March. He's in a branch of Islam that specifically focuses on love and tolerance, and avoiding hate. What a great guy. We ended up having our lesson in a café, which is of course sub-optimal, but it actually wasn't too bad this time. We had a very respectful conversation, and learned plenty about what he believes. He told us he'd talk to us in a month or two when he finishes reading The Book of Mormon... that's fine. Immediately after that, we had a lesson with our most recent member, and talked about the priesthood a bit, and answered some of his questions. I love that he always has questions.

The old WWII Memorial in Sarajevo.
Saturday morning we had service, and so we went up kinda early. We had the same rider as last week (in case you forgot, the service we do here is hippo-therapy: therapy for children with special needs, using horseback riding), and he seemed to have a really good time with it again. That afternoon we cleaned the church and such, and set some goals for August with the sisters. After that, we went to visit our member-friend across the city that likes to paint. Stuff still hasn't quite finished up with the sale of his mother's old property, but it should be soon. He is doing better, though.

On Sunday, we of course had church. Most of church was just as good as normal, but then at the end we had a big potluck lunch (which was of course awesome). Sister Newton brought a whole bunch of enchiladas, and so we of course ended up taking home a very large quantity of leftovers. We're set for our meals this week. It was really good to have some time to get to know everyone even better, and get various members talking more with each other.

Now, your homework for this week might be kinda hard. I'd like you to read/listen to a series of talks called "A House of Glory" by S. Michael Wilcox. The only problem is that I think it might cost money. We've listened to it over the last week or two, since Elder Smith already had it. In any case, as a backup plan, your secondary homework is to read section 88 in the Doctrine and Covenants, which is the section that says "establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God" in verse 119. See what you can learn about temples. Now, if you don't know what a temple is, your tertiary homework is to read this talk: The Holy Temple—a Beacon to the World, by Thomas S. Monson. Or maybe you can just do all three homework assignments for extra credit. Just learn more about temples!

The Washington D.C. Temple. Our church has about 150 temples worldwide.
Well, that's all I've got for this week, folks. I hope you all are doing well and also doing good (that is, doing good things, perhaps like serving others). Here's a photo from last Monday up at the WWII memorial and a panoramic from the main road in a village in the Bosnian countryside.
Have a great week!
Elder Ryan Echols
Adriatic North Mission
Svačićev Trg 3/1
HR-10000 Zagreb

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