Elder Echols

Elder Echols

Monday, August 7, 2017

Week 51: Return of The Wallet, plus Herzegovina

Hello friends and family! I hope you all are doing well. It’s pretty darn hot over here in Sarajevo, but it could be worse. We’re surviving. Hopefully you are too! Haha.

Last Monday, after emailing, we went adventuring around baščaršija, which is the Turkish “old town” where they have a whole lot of tourist shops and such. I ended up buying a mug, and a very small pen made out of a large-ish bullet. The souvenirs around here are pretty interesting. They also had tanks and planes made out of only bullets. Anyway, a bit later Elder Smith and I quickly met up with an investigator for the 15 minutes or so that he had free. At the end of the evening we had another branch FHE activity where we played games and played some music all together. The turnout was a little bit low, but it was still really fun.

On Tuesday we ended up having lunch with our newest member and his girlfriend. While we were waiting for our food, we asked them to check some of the translations that we’ve been doing. And apparently the restaurant is one that they frequent, since they new to the owner, a man from Kuwait. He was super cool. Man, that was a hot day, though. Walking back from that, we were just getting baked, and weren’t feeling too good by the time we got back to the apartment for comp study. That night we of course had ECG, and it was a pretty small turn out. It seems like everyone is going to the coast for mini-vacations right now. People just vanish for a week or two or more, and then come back a bit more tan. Anyway, after ECG, we practiced the “mission song” with the sisters. We’re pretty sure that everyone is going to be singing it at Zone Conference.

Wednesday morning, we got a peculiar phone call. It was from American Corner (a place around here where we can occasionally use computers for free on P-day), saying that there was a guy up the hill, near the hospital, that had my wallet. Like, the wallet of mine that got stolen at the very start of July. Anyway, they gave me the guy’s name and phone number, so we went to pick it up from him while he was there at work. What I gather happened was that the thief ran through my wallet a month ago when he first stole it, took my cash, and then just threw it to the side of the road, at the mercy of the sun and rain. A month later, some random guy finds it, investigates, and finds a membership card to American Corner. They have our phone number, so they call us, and I go get my wallet. Weird, right? Anyway, when I got my wallet back, it was a bit more worn than it already was when it was stolen, but it’s still definitely useable. It was really interesting seeing how weather-worn the papers inside were. So, now I don’t have to buy a new wallet! Hooray. On the way back from getting my wallet, we got stopped by a guy speaking pretty good English. Apparently he’s a cop, and he gave us his phone number in case we ever need any help. What a great guy. During the rest of the day we did some other stuff like printing off some signs to put in the church’s front windows so that potential visitors will know when we have church and such. That evening we had a lesson with our newest member, and then a quick dinner with him and his girlfriend at Woki, the restaurant right next to the church. I don’t remember if I ever mentioned it, but there used to be this waitress that was ALWAYS there, and then she quit so she could take a vacation for a few weeks. The last time we saw her there, we gave her a copy of the Book of Mormon. Guess what? SHE’S BACK. She wasn’t sure she’d be able to just turn around and get the job again after being gone for such a short time. I guess they couldn’t turn her down, with all that experience. We’ll be following up with her soon about her reading.

On Thursday we talked to a library about potentially donating some books about the church, or Krešimir Ćosić (the first member of the church over here in the Balkans). So, we’ll probably be doing that soon, if we can. Shortly after that, we were in the church and ran into Elder Newton just as we were about to go have lunch, as was he. So, we went adventuring around a bit looking for a doner place that had the kind of doner he wanted. Some places were closed, and some places just didn’t have the right type. We eventually got one, though. That evening, before ECG, we had another lesson with our investigator/ECG/friend lady (do you all know who I’m talking about by now?), and our newest member was again on that lesson to help us. We discovered some of her concerns, and I feel like we have a better idea of what direction to go with her now. For ECG, we just had our two groups combined, and played a game of Taboo (or Catchphrase) for the last half. That was a pretty good time.

On Friday, we started the paperwork to try and get a spot in the center of town to have a little display table or something of the sort. Some way to have people come to us, or to play music. Maybe chalk drawings of the plan of salvation, or something. A bit later on, we also talked with the sisters to plan out a concert of sorts, so that’ll be coming up soon.

Saturday morning was service up at the horseback riding center, like usual. The only thing that was different, though, was that no riders came for us to serve. So, we ended up cleaning. That means scooping horse poop in the sun, haha. It was pretty interesting. Anyway, after service we went with the sisters and Newtons to lunch at Burger Bar, then went to clean the church. When I finished picking what songs we’d sing on Sunday, I started practicing some music for that concert thing, specifically the song “Savior, Redeemer” from the movie 17 Miracles. While doing so, we got a call from Sister Melonakos asking if I could play the accompaniment for that very song at Zone Conference. And then we got a text from the Zone Leaders asking if I could play accompaniment at Zone Conference. And then Elder Smith mentioned that Sister Melonakos also mentioned that I might have to accompany everyone to sing the mission song. I wonder if anyone else in the zone plays piano… Anyway, we also went to visit a member, and that was pretty good.

On Sunday we of course had church, but this week was fast Sunday. Our investigator ECG friend lady came (I really need to figure out something shorter to call her), and really seemed to like it. There was also a visiting member from the US, and she was pretty cool to meet. Apparently she’ll be here next week too. After church there wasn’t much of anything too interesting until around 10pm when all of the elders from the whole zone were in our apartment. Of course, that’s only 6 in total, but it’s still a lot for what our apartment has in terms of beds. Also, all 5 of the sisters from the zone were in the sisters’ apartment. So, all 11 of us were in one city. Maybe you’re wondering why. That’s because this morning we all loaded up into some cars and headed out for a zone p-day on the way to zone conference.

The view of the bridge in Mostar from the restaurant.
So yeah, today’s been a solid amount of driving. We went over to Mostar, a really cool city in Herzegovina that has a really cool old bridge and such. The bridge is about 75 feet over the river, I think (Wikipedia would know better than me; feel free to investigate). Also, relatively close to Mostar is a dervish cut into the side of a cliff, right next to the river that goes into a cave. We went to see those things, and they were pretty cool. Later on in our ride today towards Banja Luka for zone conference, we briefly hit Jajce and got to see an old underground church, plus a cool fort thing.

That's basically all the time I have right now. Please figure out something spiritual to read for your homework from me ;) Pictures will have to come next week, I think. Stay awesome!
Elder Ryan Echols
Adriatic North Mission
Svačićev Trg 3/1
HR-10000 Zagreb

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