Monday, June 30, 2014

I'm Headed To Shkoder!

Mission Conference for the Adriatic South Mission!!  Pres. and Sister Ford will be returning home to England this week:)  Elder Clawson has absolutely LOVED them:)  Great looking group!
Yo family!
So yeah everyone, I got a transfer call last night! I am leaving Durrës and going to Shkoder! And Elder Watson is going to Prishtina in Kosovo! I'm super jealous that he gets to go to Kosovo before me but Shkoder is definitely going to be awesome. I will be serving with Elder Dahl. He came in the last MTC group with Elder Watson and he is a great kid from what I've seen. I"m excited to go up there with him. 
Elder Clawson with his Mission President, Pres. Ford.  (And Elder Baker in the back!)

Elder Clawson with Sister Ford.  As a mom, I love her guts!!  Thanks Pres. and Sister Ford for all you did!!
Well this week was really good. We haven't been able to meet with Elena this last week because she has been overloaded with a bunch of tests and courses. Curse school and it's horrendous tests that keep people from hearing the goodness of the gospel. But we have been able to meet with Cimi still and also with Ermal. 

Cimi actually showed us where his house is this week so we've been able to get into his home and teach them. They are doing a lot better and their situation is improving. Because God loves them. They have been reading bit by bit and they love it when we come over. They have told us that they always feel super great when we come over and it's nice to hear that we are actually doing something that changes the attitudes of people. We taught them about the prophet this last week and Cimi said it made perfect sense. We gave him a Liahona (the church magazine) so that he could read the words of the living day prophet. He loved it and was like "Why wouldn't God put a prophet on the earth right now? We still need to be guided." And I just said "Yeah." So he's ready for baptism. It's just a little hard for him to bring everyone to church because they kinda live a bit out of the way. So hopefully they will come when the new missionaries take over my area.
Another birthday cake from Elder Stewart and Elder Gray.
Ermal has been doing flipping awesome! He has been reading and he loves meeting with us. I'm glad that he is so awesome. He promised to try his very hardest with the Law of Chastity this week. He said it might be a little difficult for him but we have faith and he seems to be doing fine with it right now. He loves reading the stories in the Book of Mormon and he liked the story of Laban getting his head chopped off. He will be baptized soon I hope. There's no reason for him not to be. He has grown in faith a ton and he is just straight up great. 
Elder Clawson with a member from Durres.

So the new people that are taking over my area is Elder Foster and a trainee! (Elder Foster is the missionary who trained Jed when he first got to Albania. He is considered Jed's "Father" in missionary lingo, so when he trains a new missionary that young man becomes Jed's "brother")I'm getting a brother and I can be comfortable in the fact that my father is going to take really good care of my area. There's one thing that I wanna explain about white washing in Albania. Usually in America, if your area is whitewashed it means that you kinda slacked in that area and nothing good came from you. Here it's not like that. We have so few missionaries that we can't go a transfer without something being whitewashed. When I go up to Shkoder tomorrow I will be whitewashing my 4th area. I love whitewashing because I don't have room to slack off. It gives me a reason to work harder and try harder to get something going in that area. Baptisms don't always come with whitewashes and I'm fine with that. Success is never measured on baptisms and if that's why people have come on a mission, then they need to go home. 

Needless to say I'm super excited to go to Shkoder! Elder Jorgensen will be there wit Elder Temple and we have a car in our District! I'm so excited. I love Elder Jorgensen, he's one of my MTC brothers, and he's from Castle Dale, Utah. He is super funny and I'm gonna love being with him. I've loved my time with Watson and he has become a lovely social Albanian cricket. He is definitely not the Watson that I picked up in Tirana that first day. He has opened up and talks quite a bit more. I think I definitely helped with that because I talk like all the freaking time. He has taught me a lot as well.  He's helped me see some little imperfections that are keeping me back on my mission and I've been able to correct them and see the blessings that come from exact obedience as a missionary. Like music, I didn't listen to music that was like what I listened to back home but I was listening to stuff that didn't necessarily invite the Spirit into the house and was in accordance with the sacredness of my calling. We worked on that and then blessings came. We love the people here in Durrës and we love the friends that we've made.
Elder Clawson's family tree.  From right to left.  Elder Foster was Jed's trainer, therefore he is the "father".  Jed is Elder Foster's "son", and Elder Eliason, and Elder Watson are both Jed's "son" and Elder Foster's "grandsons".  Got it?  Or you could just say they're all fantastic missionaries!
Also this last week I got two more birthday cakes. I got one from Elder Gray and Elder Stewart that had a bunch of skiiers on it and then Ersi invited me over to his home one night and he had a cake for my birthday as well. I'm gonna miss all of these people but I'm excited to see what Shkoder has for me. Instead of speaking Tosk I'll speaking Gheg (Gheg is a dialect that they consider "Dirty Albanian")which is going to be awesome! AND THE BEST THING!!! The women won't be so scantily clad because I"m not right next to the beach!!
One of Jed's favorite friends.  Elder Tanner who has finished his 2 years in Albania, and is now safely home in Idaho:)

Although there are crazy things, I love these people. They are awesome and they are ready for the gospel. I love being here and I wouldn't give up these experiences for anything!
I love you all and I hope you have a good week!

Dear Mom, 
I'm sorry but I died laughing when I saw that pic of Emma. Tell her to get better. I'm glad everything is going alright. I saw that the bakery has ice cream sandwiches now. That's pretty neat. 
I don't have much to say but I love you! Mission Conference was awesome and I loved seeing all of the missionaries! I thoroughly enjoy them. I'm dying here, it is too hot. I love you!
Love, Jeddy Poopoo

Monday, June 16, 2014

Happy Birthday Elder Clawson! 19 Years Old

Well my dearest family it is once again that time, 

Elder Clawson with Ian Anderson from Cache Valley.  He is a returned missionary from Albania and is back traveling and visiting all over Europe.  He just happened to show up in Jed's church today, on Jed's birthday.  He delivered a package from us to Jed.!  I wondered all day yesterday if anyone would care that it was Elder Clawson's birthday, and little Tender Mercies like Ian showing up  happened.  Jed received love from home, and a familiar, encouraging face from home as well.  Makes a mom's heart happy!
I've realized that I've been out for a bit. It's gone by really fast but this is the last week of the transfer and my last week with Elder Watson. He's a bro and I love him to death. He's still kinda quiet but like I've said before, I make up for it. I believe this time here in the mission has unhinged something in my brain and I can guarantee that it will only extremify as the time goes on. 

This week was pretty good. We had hardly any lessons but I blame Satan. He kinda is the devil. But the lesson we had were good. But also this was the week on the training program where the trainee missionary takes the lead in all situations and basically becomes senior companion for the week. Elder Watson blew it out of the water! Wherever he goes next transfer, they'll be lucky to have him. He's amazing! 

Last picture as an 18 year old.
We met with Cimi and his family twice this week and it didn't necessarily go well. I thoroughly understand that he is in a rough situation and I can't imagine what he's going through. But that first night we met he kinda ripped into me for the fact that I couldn't give him any money to help him out. I felt horrible and I tried so hard to just get him to calm down and I explained how we had fasted and prayed very hard for him and then I went on explaining how the blessings might not be super apparent at the moment but they are there. He didn't really like that reasoning and he kinda flipped out again. He calmed down for a bit and we had a good little bit of conversation. Poor Elder Watson wasn't catching quite everything that was being said and Cimi was stating how he didn't have enough food to feed their baby and Watson looked at him and said, "Have you tried a fast?" I was just like "Oh no." and then he blew up again! He started yelling and telling us how we should give him what we have for him and how he's been out of food for two days and he's lost a ton of weight. I felt so bad for him but there's nothing I could've done for them. I love them to death but I'm here to help people spiritually. 

Jed and a member of the Durres Ward.
The second meeting went better and he was calm but still asked a lot for food. If he asks for it again we may have to drop because they haven't been reading and they haven't stopped drinking coffee. 

Ermal. Holy Guacamole. This guy is a heaven send. We met with him a couple times this week and taught him the Word of Wisdom and Tithing. We were a little worried about him drinking coffee but after we explained the doctrine and promised blessings he just said "Yeah that makes sense. Why wouldn't God want us to be healthy. I'll stop drinking coffee because it's bad for our stomachs and even though I don't drink very often, I'll stop drinking." So needless to say we are in love with Ermal. He is so in tune with the Spirit and he just gets it. He's super smart and I'm thoroughly impressed with him. A lot of Albanian men are kinda lazy and don't like to work, but Ermal just works his butt off. He wants to do something productive in his life and be happy and he knows that there are a few things in this world that bring true happiness. 

Elder Stewart preparing Sunday dinner for the District.  The companionships take turns each Sunday preparing dinner for the other 4 missionaries.

Elder Asler and Acheson bought Jed a birthday cake.  I think they did a way better job than I could have!
The lesson with tithing was great. He understood all of it and accepted to live it after baptism. He's still thinking about baptism and wants to be a little bit more prepared before, which I understand. 

P-day picture taking.

You must pay to go to the public restroom.  20 Lek is equivalent to $.19

P-day activities.  Jed's District met up with the Elder's in Tirana.  These are 4 MTC brothers.  Jed LOVES his MTC group!
Sunday was my 19th birthday. Yes everyone I am now 19 years old. Kirsten mentioned last week how crazy it is that if the age change hadn't come, I'd just barely be leaving! That's crazy! 
So yeah I woke up, made some corn flakes, ate them, put on my church clothes, and walked to church. I saw Ersi on the way to church and he had gotten me a book about Enver Hoxha. (He was the leader of the communist party in Albania from the end of WWII in 1944-1985 when he died.)He wrote an awesome little note in it and told me he got it for me so that I wouldn't forget Albanian. What a nice kid. 

At church I was greeting people and chatting with some members and then out of the blue comes in Ian Anderson! (Ian is a returned missionary who served in Albania and lives in Cache Valley.  Jed actually talked with Ian right before he left on his mission last July.)He had brought my package from you guys and it was nice to talk with him and Rachel his fiance. He looked really good. It was a nice birthday surprise to get a package and talk with two people from Cache Valley on my birthday! After church we stayed and sang for choir which was pretty fun. And as we were leaving all of the youth in the ward sang happy birthday to me. That really made my day. Then I got kissed by a bunch of guys. Just saying right now that it's better when it's from a girl.... 

We came home and Elder's Gray and Stewart made us chicken and pasta. Elder Acheson and Asler bought me a cake and we just had a great time sitting and kenaqing (having fun basically, excuse my albanglish.) After that we went to Vëllai Toçi's house and had a lesson with him. He was super fun to talk to and we had a good lesson about Moroni and the Title of Liberty. 

Today we went to Krujë again! It was fun because some of the Tirana missionaries were there. Elder Rawlings, Baker, Squire, and Smoot were all there and we had a good time chatting and hanging with them. My MTC group is awesome. We had pizza and just had fun. Good day. 

Well transfer calls are next week and I'm excited to see where I'm going. I'm happy to go anywhere! I love being here in Albania. I love the people and I love everything about this place. Last week me and Elder Watson saw an old guy on the sidewalk with his pants around his ankles, taking a pee into the road. Weird, but we had a good laugh. 

I love you guys a ton and I hope you enjoy your week!!

Love, Jedediah Jim

Dearest Mom, 
Yeah I'm dying here from the heat! It's so bad with the humidity here. I usually change my shirt when I come into the house because the other one will be destroyed. For some reason I get the worst pit stains. I don't know why. I'm glad Lake Powell was fun! The pic looked awesome. Well I love you so much and I hope you have a good week! 

Love, Jed

The Spirit Let's You Know What Needs To Be Done

Hello my dear family!

Sharing the Gospel in Durres, Albania.
Well I'm glad you are all enjoying your summer! The heat is killing me here!! It's going to be like 44 C' (That's 111.2' F. so I'm sure hoping that's an exageration!) next week and I'm pretty sure I'm just going to tell Elder Watson to leave me in the sun to die. It's been so ridiculously hot here. And for some dumb reason I've been sweating like a fiend this last week. Elder Stewart and Gray laugh at me all the time for it. I just tell them they're dumb:) 

So this week was pretty neat. We met with Ermal, Elena, and Cimi and his family and we also started our English Class again. English is always pretty fun but it's super stressful because I am not so great at teaching English. Therefore, Elder Watson usually ends up teaching the actual english portion of the lesson and then at the end I lay down the law with a spiritual thought. I've lost a lot of my english abilities.

Cimi's been having some rough times lately. He hasn't been able to find work but we keep praying for him and his family. They had to leave their house this last week and we did a fast for them so that they would be able to find better opportunities with everything. We haven't heard from him since Friday so I don't necessarily know what's going on. We had a lesson with him on Thursday night and we showed him the Restoration film and they loved it! Ersi helped us out with that lesson and he gave some good personal insight. 

This last Monday Ersi actually invited us over for dinner to his house and his mom made us some great food. We taught a lesson with his mom and brother and then we asked if the mom would like to be baptized. She doesn't really have permission from her husband to be baptized but we knew that she wanted to be baptized. But she just said "Kismet", which is another way of saying "no" basically and we left. But yesterday in church Ersi came up to us at and told us that his mom had talked to him earlier that day and told him that she wanted to get baptized soon! She said she was willing to take all of the lessons from the missionaries and that she wanted to be baptized as soon as possible! We were super excited and so was Ersi. He loves his mom and he just wants to see her happy and he knows that the gospel can do that for her. So hopefully that all works out. My district leader, told me that we couldn't baptize her if the dad was against it though, which is for the best, so hopefully we can have a conversation with him that might soften his heart. 

The fruit market.  Looks delish!

We met with Elena again this last week too! She has been doing great and we had a lesson on Wednesday and we invited her to be baptized on the 5th of July. (It's the fifth of july!! Feeling independent.) <--Insert Eddie From Ohio song. 
We're super excited for her. There's the possibility that we won't be here for that day but just as long as she progresses and keeps being awesome, everything will be alright.

Ermal has been doing great too. He has a few concerns about the church and what not but he asks lots of questions and I think he's actually starting to see why this is so important. I had to go on a split this week with Elder Acheson to visit a family out in a fshat while Elder Watson and Elder Asler had a lesson with Ermal. They taught about faith and the Plan of Salvation and I guess Ermal was super awesome. He was understanding everything about faith and how we can grow with faith and come to know God through our faith. At the end of the lesson he asked if we could meet at the church after that because we usually hold lessons at the center because that's a place that people know and it's close. But he has a car so he can drive out to the church. 
So on Saturday night we had a lesson with him at the church. He thinks it's the most beautiful place ever. It really is an oasis in a slurry of everything. We taught him the Gospel of Jesus Christ and he just ate it up. He had lots of questions about repentance and why we should forgive others, and then we talked about baptism and enduring to the end. He agreed to be baptized when he came to a knowledge that what we were teaching him was true. He's a great guy and I'm super stoked for him.

P-day hair cuts for the whole District! Jed loves this.
Also the other night we decided to see if Ndue Pjetri was home. We walked out to their house and only the girls were home so we just asked them for directions to his work. They gave some pretty vague directions and we took off. We walked for about fifteen minutes out into basically the outskirts of nothingness and we hadn't seen his mechanic shop yet. We kept walking and then I felt this incredible prompting to turn around and start walking back. I didn't know if it was me being lazy and giving up or what but I just told Watson that we needed to head back. We walked for maybe 20 meters and then I looked to my left to see this guy sitting in a bar hidden from the view from the road and guess who it was? NDUE PJETRI! We talked to him and asked him how he was doing and how work was going. We set up a time with him when we knew he would be in the house and then we left. But talk about a testimony builder! 

They ate a lot of pizza this week:)  Mom I  don't know if he really did, so don't get too worried!
The Spirit definitely let's you know what needs to be done. I'm so grateful that I didn't just shrug off that prompting and keep walking because we probably wouldn't have been able to meet with him. He's incredibly hard to get a hold of and he's never home. Our prayers were definitely answered. 

I love you all so much and I hope you have a good time in Lake Powell. Keep being safe and have a butt load of fun!!

Love, Jedediah

Dearest Mom,

Thanks for sending the package! I'll probably get it next Wednesday because we'll be having a mission conference before the Fords leave for England! I'm gonna miss them but I'm sure the new mission President and his wife are just as awesome. Thanks for keeping up the blog and stuff. I know it can be time consuming. I love you so much and I think you're awesome!!

Love, Jed

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

I Love Doing This Work!

Good Morning family!!

A member family that is so good to the missionaries! 

Investigators who will be baptized soon, and Ersi on the far right who is a member who helps the missionaries a TON.
Well today I'm not nearly as tired as last week so hopefully this email will be a bit longer and more satisfying. 

This week was really exciting for Elder Watson and myself. The only real downside to it was that Cimi and his family had lots of stuff going on this week so we were only able to meet with them once, and that was last night, but it went really well. We taught them the Word of Wisdom and I believe they took it pretty well but they had lots of questions about coffee and stuff and they were like "My doctor said I had to drink coffee for my health." No he did not. Caffeine is probably one of the worst things for you and coffee destroys your teeth and lots of other things. Not to mention God blesses us when we abstain from it. So yeah we had that lesson and we testified that if they didn't partake of the things we had spoken of, they would be blessed with health and strength, a stronger reception to the Spirit, and they would also save money by not buying those things. After we explained all of that they played some ping pong with us and then they left. Overall it was a really good lesson and I definitely felt the Spirit which is the necessary thing. 
The Liahona came this week, and Jed went to school with the kids in the picture.  Kind of fun!
Another cool story! So me and Elder Watson really like this pizza place called 'Pizza Dy Engjëjt' which means 'Pizza of the Two Angels'. We go there all the time because it's super cheap and they have pretty amazing good pizza too! This last Tuesday we were walking over there to order us some pizza and we get there, order, and then as we're walking back this lady stops us. I turned around and this blonde nice lady starts asking me what we're doing in Albania. I was kinda short of words because I hadn't been stopped by a cute girl for like a year now so I just said that I was a missionary with my church. She expressed interest to know a little bit more about God and also asked if we were the guys that set up the English Courses. I told her we were and then we exchanged phone numbers so that we could meet at some other point later on in the week.  She was obviously pretty interested in the church.
New glasses today for these Elder's.
So now we call the Pizza place, Pizza of the three angels. Because there was definitely an angel guiding us to that spot to find that lady. Or for her to find us. On friday we called her and we set up a meeting. She said she had a friend that wanted to come too so we called some members to come and help us with the lesson. The girl, Elena, came and she actually brought two friends, Kristina and Adela. Adela wasn't super interested in the church but the other two definitely were. They had both read from the Bible and they were super ready to hear our message of the Restoration of God's Church. They are meeting with us tomorrow and we are super stoked for them. Elena actually reminds me a lot of Juian's fiance, Arta. They look similar and both like to laugh a lot. 

Lunch this week with Elder Acheson.  Looks pretty fancy schmancy!
One more success story. About two weeks ago we street contacted into this guy named E. He was kinda awkward in the road but he spoke pretty good english so we explained why we were here and why we have learned Albanian. He agreed to meet with us and we told him we would talk a bit later. That Friday we set up a meeting with him and fortunately that was the same night that Institute was being held so we took him to that! He listened intently on the lesson and at the end we asked him how it was. He said he was really impressed with the knowledge that this group of young adults had, and how they could talk freely and explain what they were thinking. He said he hadn't seen anything like it in Albania and he enjoyed it. 

We introduced him to a member named Sadush who is around his age. E is late 20's and he has a good job. He's kinda socially backward but he is very straightforward and he respects others but likes to make his opinion heard. We had a lesson with him and just us this last week on the Restoration. He was kinda skeptical about Joseph Smith's experience and he expressed that concern to us. Elder Watson and I bore testimony of how we came to the knowledge of the truthfulness of this message, and E kinda warmed up and said "Who knows, maybe this religion can change my life." And I just looked at him and said with a big ol' grin "Oh E, you have no idea." He's been reading and he came to church with us yesterday. He stayed for sacrament meeting and then also for the investigator class. Motra Agalliu, the teacher in that class, taught about Repentance and it was a way good lesson. She bore solid testimony and it was awesome. E believes in something called Gnoticism and he said that they believe in salvation through knowledge and the shunning of worldly things, whereas in Christianity, we believe that salvation comes through Jesus Christ. We will explain to him that we are saved through Jesus Christ if we act accordingly, but we also shun worldly things and accept Christ as our Savior. 

He's a good kid though and we are really excited to see him progress. Cimi and his family are excited for their baptism coming up. Hopefully they can still progress for next week. The work is good and the people are awesome. I'm finally not having to contact 24\7.
Handsome missionary.  
On thursday this week I had an exchange with Elder Acheson. Our sons went together and had a good time. Acheson and I had to go to the Pjetri family because Marjeta had called me for a blessing. She was really nervous for a test that was coming up and so she asked if I could exercise the priesthood and give her a blessing. That went well and we had a good time. We went to a really nice restaurant for lunch too. 

Today was really fun too. We woke up this morning and at 7 we went to the bakery just across the street and we made byrekë with the cute old ladies!! It was awesome. We were chatting it up with them talking about how they wanted to learn english, what our families were like, what kind of byrekë is the best, why we were serving missions and all sorts of other stuff. There was this one boy that worked there named Visi, and he was the first one to meet us at the door and then he went around introducing me to all of the ladies. He introduced me to them as "Clawson, The Sexy King" and everyone got a kick out of that. Afterwards we were instructed on how to make byrekë and we became master chefs. It was probably one of the funnest points of my mission just sitting at this bakery chatting with old grannies and eating byrekë. We're going over next p-day too. They fell in love with us and they want us to come every single day. After that we went to the treg (A fun market that has EVERYTHING!) and bought some stuff with Elder Gray and Stewart. We got sunglasses and also Watson and I bought some pointy shoes! Now we are legitimately European missionaries. And they look good. I'll send a pic next week cause I ain't got none for today. 
This morning for P-day, Elder Clawson and Watson spent the morning at the bakery across from their apartment learning to make Byrek. (click here to see what Byrek is.  Jed loves the stuff!)  Jed was in heaven!  Here is the whole Byrek making process from start to finish.  Thanks to Elder Watson for documenting this whole experience:)

Eating the fruits of his labors.

And American baker boy, and an Albanian baker boy.  How fun is that!

Then we went and got crepes and talked about what's going on. Elder Gray really likes to pull my leg and sometimes it's really funny. I like my District a lot!  It's a good group. The transfer ends in less than a month and I'm freaking out. I have no idea where I'm going or what's going to happen. Elder Foster is doing good in Kosovo (Elder Foster is Jed's "Father" or very first companion.  Great guy and Jed thinks he's the best!) and says he loves you guys. I love you all too.
Some friends came to visit Durres.  Jed used to do this to his brothers:)

Missionary shadows.
I am going to end by telling you all that the Holy Ghost has the power to touch hearts and change lives. I love feeling the Spirit so often here and I don't want it to end. I have loved my time here and I love doing this work. It is a divine work that only God can guide. He is our loving Heavenly Father, and we are His children. He loves and he has given us everything. Our families, our challenges, our ups and our downs. He knows us individually and He wants us to be happy. He has simply asked us to be our best and to follow the example of his Only Begotten Son. I know that if we do this, we will be blessed, others around us will be blessed by our examples, and we will be happy no matter what our circumstance is. 

I love you all so much and I hope you enjoy your first week of SUMMER!!!!!!! Go biking for me or something. 

Love, Jed

Dearest Mom, 
I'm totally gonna show you how to make byrekë! And then we can make it at the bakery and people all over Cache Valley will flock to our byrekë place. Thanks for writing these emails and keeping the blog up. Tell Grandma Roberts that I got two of her letters this last week and that I loved them! I love how she sends me stickers that I can put all over my house. And the newspaper clippings. Those are nice. Let her know that I love her. I hope those wimpy deer don't be coming into the garden no more! That's why we need a Newfoundland dog. Deer probably would be afraid of a bear like that. Just get the Adairs to bring Buster over. Well I love ya mom. You're the greatest mom ever and thank you so much for supporting me while I'm out here!

Love, The Eldest Son lost in Albania