Sunday, July 27, 2014

Yes Mama Lisa, My Piano Skills Have Come In Handy!

July 14, 2014 Letter
Elder Clawson in Theth Albania!  A beautiful little village in the Albania Alps, right on the border or Albania and Montenegro.  Amazin!

My dearest family and friends!!

What a great week we had! We taught a few lessons and met some good people and had a good time!
So on Tuesday we had a huge meeting with just the missionaries and we were talking about what the branch here in Shkoder needed. There are 3 active members and 2 of them have callings. One is the branch president, Besnikë, and Arsen who is a Sunday school teacher. We are currently fulfilling the other positions and we are overloaded with a bunch of branch work. We are the Relief Society, Elder's Quorum, Primary Teachers, (Every now and then some kid investigators come) and anything else. I have blessed the sacrament every week that I've been here and I've been the ward pianist a bit. Yes Mama Lisa, my piano skills have come in handy. Even though I can only read from the simplified book. (I knew there was a reason we plugged through piano lessons!!  Thanks Charlotte!!)

More pictures from Jed's p-day in Theth.  Looks amazing!

Elder Jorgensen made a statement the other day about talking in church. Since he is Relief Society President he wants to give a talk on how we can all be strengthened as Sisters in Zion. 

We talked about what work needed to get done here and then we all made a goal to pray specifically for opportunities to find people that would fit these positions. We have been doing that all week. 

Wednesday Elder Dahl and I met with one of the sisters investigators this last week named Klodi. She had been kinda skeptical of us before because she didn't know who we were and we were two new young men in the sisters area. But on Tuesday night we were talking with people in the road and these two girls walk by and we say hello and they ignore us and then walk away but then after a bit they turn around and stare at us forever! It was super awkward. After that happened I got a text from Klodi that said "Hey are you those two guys that we passed in the road?" I called her and said yes we were those guys that they were looking at. She agreed to meet us the next day at the church so we were kinda skeptical as to why they wanted to meet with us. 
Anyways, the next day came and we met them and had a lesson with them and the other elders. Klodi was super nice and very in tune with the Spirit. She hadn't been reading as much as she would like she said but she tries to read every day. Her friend on the other hand.... She was not into learning about our church. She wanted to learn about us.  Klodi gave a great prayer at the end of the lesson and then told us that she was actually going home for the summer. That was really sad. She told us that she'll be coming back in September though and I'll probably still be here so that's good. 
Wild strawberries.

Handsome Jed.

We said goodbye to them and I shook Klodi's hand and her friend shook Elder Dahl's and then I went to shake the other ladies hand and she wrapped her arms around me and gave me two huge kisses right on my cheeks. It happened in the blink of an eye and I was just like "What the heck just happened?!" She told me I was beautiful and 'mire' which just translates to "good" so I don't know how to read that and then they were off in the blink of an eye. Crazy experience.  

Then the next day we got a call from another investigator named Liza. We met with her a while back and she was pretty cool. Unfortunately like I said before, all of my investigators are girls. We are trying very hard to change that. Anyways, we met her on the road and SHE TRIED TO KISS ME TOO!! Fortunately I knew the signs of an approaching kiss so I just did this temple knock thing that men do. You just bump sides of your head together like two big boy rams fighting over a lady sheep. She didn't have enough time to meet with us but she just wanted to say hi which was really nice of her and I hope we can meet with her a bit more this coming week because she is a really good lady. 
Blood Feud tower.  These towers were and still are occasionally used as safe havens for men who are involved in a blood feud.  Click the link to read what Wikipedia has to say about it.  Very interesting.

We also had a lesson with Besara's husband, Edi! We've been trying to meet with him for a while and we finally got into his house when he was there. We watched the Restoration video and talked about the Book of Mormon and how we can know it is true. And NOT written by Joseph Smith. 

He had tons of good questions that we wouldn't have been able to answer fully if we didn't have the Spirit with us. He asked how could we know the church is true if we hadn't had an experience like Joseph Smith did where God actually talked with us. We told him that we can know that this is God's true church because he lets the Holy Ghost answer us by praying. We told him that we had prayed with sincere hearts at certain times in our life and that we asked if the church, the Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine of the Church was true. We explained how the Holy Ghost works through our thoughts in our minds, feelings in our hearts, and through our general atmosphere such as feelings of quietness and peace. 
More of Theth,Albania.  It must have been a spectacular p-day!

Elders having a great time.


He seemed to understand it pretty well but we'll double check this coming week. But it was a really good lesson and I just wish I could have ones like that more often. More reason for me to work my bum off. 

Sunday was pretty cool as well. President Weidmann, his wife, and the AP's all came up to Shkoder! They got to know the branch president and they also gave some talks, and so did Besara. We all helped her the night before to write her talk because she was super nervous because it was the first talk that she had ever given. She did great! But it was a pleasure to have the Weidmanns come. They are great! None of our investigators came but that just leaves room to improve. Next week baby. 

After church we had a branch council and talked about the needs of the branch. It was really cool because the first thing that President asked was "What positions are filled and which ones need to be filled?" We told him which ones were open and not taken by members and then he said "We need to pray to find specific people to fill these positions." HOLY COW! The Spirit was definitely prompting all of us into the same direction. We explained how we had talked about that in District Meeting. The meeting went well and the Spirit was felt. 

After that meeting, President came to see my house. I cleaned very well so don't worry. They sat us down on the couches and got to know us and then President asked us what our vision was for our area. We told him that we simply wanted to strengthen the branch and if we ended up leaving at the end, we wanted to have a good amount of work ready to hand down to the new missionaries. 

He looked me right in the eyes (kinda scary) and asked me if I could think of anyone in the scriptures who didn't have a lot of work at the beginning. The first thing that came to mind was Alma before he met Amulek. We read that part together and it said that Alma was rejected by the people of Amonihah and he left. He had no work. As he was leaving, an angel visited him and told him to not be sad. He was beating himself up for nothing. The angel told him that he had done his part and that God was pleased with him. But he needed to go back. And this time, God gave him a companion. Alma, along with his new companion Amulek, went back to Amonihah and they preached together and were able to touch the hearts of many people. 

As we analyzed this story, there were certain verses and sayings that struck Elder Dahl and myself to our core. We know what we need to do and who cares if we seem like we aren't having success. I know that as long as we are trying, working, and being obedient, we will be blessed and God will be pleased with us. Therefore, we are going to work. Harder. 

About 4 hours after that, we prayed that we could find some people to fill the positions of Elder's Quorum President and Relief Society President. We left and went tracting. We tracted one building and got nothing. We went to another and the first door that we knocked on opened up. An older lady, maybe 50, answered and listened to what I said and then invited us in with her husband.... And they want to learn more. We are hopefully going over tomorrow but we left them with a Book of Mormon and they let us say a prayer before we left. We floated away on Cloud Nine. 

GOD LISTENS TO OUR PRAYERS!! I also had another little experience with it. One morning I was taking a shower and unfortunately our shower only has one temp. Boiling. So I was so sick and tired of dying in the shower, I said "Heavenly Father, please make this water colder. This is the only time where I get to just be by myself and relax for a bit." And sure enough, the water turned to a wonderfully perfect temp. 

Today I went to Theth. It was awesome and we will all go one day. I'm not living in Berat any more. I'm living in Theth. 

I love you all! I'll try to send pics soon! Have a good week!
Love, Jedediah

Dearest Mother, 
Sorry I got on so late. We had some difficulties getting back from Theth. How's the garden doing? Is anything growing lately? I love you so much! Have a good week. 
Love, The Eldest

We Are Now A Hugging Mission

Letter from July 7, 2014
Happy 4th of July from Albania!!  This is how they celebrate.  With red, white, and blue ice cream!

My dearest family,
I'm suspecting the reason that no one has emailed me is because you are either asleep, on the road, eating, walking our dog... oh wait, watching a rated-R movie, crying because you all miss me so much, or you just forgot your oldest child who is in one of the far corners of the world. (Jed emailed a little early, but we all got emails to him before he had to leave.  Such slackers we are!)
Whatever the reason, it's okay. Rejection has become a very regular part of my life.
Well this week was full of all kinds of stuff. On Tuesday I went down to Tirana with my other boys and we got to have a combined zone conference with the Tirana Zone and the South Zone where we all got to meet the new mission president. He's a pretty cool guy and yes his wife does look like Baroness Schraider from the Sound of Music! The first thing that I heard him say was that this mission was now a hugging mission. So all of the Elders got to go up and give President Weidmann a hug and all of the sisters got to go and give Sister Weidmann a hug. A good first impression I believe.
Shkoder, Albania

So I guess they will be coming to every single missionaries house and looking at them and seeing how they are. Which is kind of a problem for Elder Dahl and I because we made some sloppy joes for the 4th of July and dirtied a ton of our dishes and then our water has been out since the 1st of July and hasn't come on since. My landlord refuses to answer his cellular device so we are going out to look for a new house this week. Should be good. And the dishes smell like death and it's dog.
This week, workwise, was a little sad. We didn't get to meet with a lot of people and thank heavens we had english course. We met with two investigators out of the many that the sisters left for us to teach and they were really cool. One kinda unfortunate thing is that all of the sisters investigators are girls. So if we do get a lesson with them we have to use the other elders in on the lesson because we need some more males and the male members here (there's two) are always busy, at work, with family, or they straight up live too far away. So we feel really bad inconveniencing the other guys. But they're good sports about it. Another downside to having only girl investigators is that when I call them, they're expecting one of the sisters voices coming from the phone. They hear some dorky little kid and they get all freaked out and say "Uh where are the sisters?" And then I say that they had to leave but I'm taking their place and that I'm a missionary just like them. Then they say "Uh maybe some other time." 

Doing service for a member's sister.  Picking something.

I called one investigator and she answered the phone and I said "Hey my name is Elder Clawson and I'm a missonary with the Church of Jesus Christ. I'm friends with those two American girls that you know." She said "Wait one second." So I waited for a bit and then this dude gets on the phone and starts drilling me with all of these questions asking me why I was calling his girlfriend. I was just like "WHOA! Calm down man I'm not trying to get with your lady, I just called a number that was in my phone." He calmed down a bit and then told me to never call the number back. So I'll give it a couple days and then I'll give it another shot.
This means that we are doing lots of finding for male investigators. We need some more priesthood in the branch here. Members in general but you get what I mean. I freaking love Shkoder though. My district is awesome, the food is good, the people are actually really nice and I don't have problems with the young men saying potty words at me. My companion is a lot like Elder Watson so I know how to work with him. He doesn't like it when people touch him so we'll see if I break him of that this transfer.
Shkoder really is my new favorite place. It's super pretty. It has tons of potential here and I'm so excited to see what we can do with it once we get a groove going. The language here too... It's beautiful. 
Celebrating the 1 Year mark!!

I'll tell ya a bit about the people that I met with this week. They were both ladies, one's named Rozi and she speaks really good english, and the other is named Liza and she is older and has 4 kids I believe. They both really enjoyed meeting with us and I think they'll keep meeting with us. Rozi has a brother who seemed kinda interested in the gospel as well and we gave him a Book of Mormon and he seemed stoked to read it.
On Saturday we went and did service for one of our member's aunt. She had a big field of stuff that we had to pick. It was really fun and we had a good time. I think we may be doing that again next week. The World Cup is also ending next Sunday. Më në fund. People have been going crazy here. There was this riot thing going on after Germany won against France and guys were on top of cars screaming with huge flags and peeling out on their scooters or motorcycles. 
Some cute little girls in the missionaries English course.
Well that's about it. This last week I did a lot of study out of the Old Testament which was super awesome. I study the Messianic Prophecies foretold by Elijah, Elisha, Moses, and all those other ancient prophets. I thought it was super interesting to see how misinterpreted the prophecies were. But it also really made me look on my own knowledge of our Savior. Jesus Christ was the only person in the world to have all the details of His life laid out in words years before His actual birth. He was born of a mortal mother and of an immortal father and He did atone for all of our sins. Through His Atonement we can all forsake our sins and become cleansed. If we humble ourselves before Him and repent, we can live with Him, our Heavenly Father, and our families after this life. He is the only way by which we can be perfected. He died for us so that we can also rise from the dead and become resurrected. I know that He will come again in all of His power and glory for the salvation of all of God's children. 

I love you guys and I hope you all have a great week!!
Love, Jedediah
Dearest Mother,
How was the Fourth for ya!? I hope everyone was safe up in Idaho. Did anyone do anything crazy behind the boat. Yes I did celebrate my year mark and the Fourth but it wasn't anything big. I love you so much and I hope everything is going alright.


Monday, July 7, 2014

Shkoder Is Awesome!

Hello my dearest Family!!

Happy to be on a bike:)
Well Shkoder is probably going to be my absolute favorite place to serve! This place is awesome! There's so much that needs to be done here and Elder Dahl and I are super excited to see what we can do. 

Last Monday I did the usual missionary thing and we went and said goodbye to all of the people that we know and love. We said goodbye to Cimi, and Marion his brother, was actually there with him so we were able to see him once again before we left! They gave me a couple of really cool hand made lace doilies that his wife made. (Doilies... Holmes, does your depravity know no bounds?)<-- Dr.Watson from Sherlock Holmes. And Marion gave me this super sweet leather bracelet. The first time I met I asked him where he had gotten it and he said it was a gift and I was like "Oh dang I wanted to buy one like it." But he remembered that I liked it so he decided to give it to me as a parting gift. In return Elder Watson and I gave him two ties and I gave Cimi one of the watches I had because he really liked them. That was kinda sad to say goodbye to them but it was alright. 
Goodbye to Ersi,Cimi and Marion

Goodbye to the Pjetri family!

Ersi is an amazing member missionary!  He helped the missionaries so much in Durres.  Sad to leave good friends!

Jed and Elder Palmer goodbyes!  Elder Palmer is done and headed home:)

Jed loves Elder Tanner!!  Hard to see him go home as well.  Pocatello isn't that far from Cache Valley though:)

After that I went and said bye to the Pjetri Family in hopes that their dad would be there but unfortunately he wasn't. That wasn't as bad as saying goodbye the first time I left Durres. The person that probably cried the most over me leaving was Ersi.  I like him too. He's a good kid and I'm excited to see him again. 

Tuesday I hopped onto a fergon and headed to Tirana. I got to the mission home and got my package! Thanks a ton for that! Even if you didn't send me any regular oreos, those Berry Burst Oreos were gone in like 30 minutes. I love those things. I'm making the cake for my year mark. And actually I will be done with my mission a year from tomorrow. President Ford told me when I was leaving for some reason and I leave on the 1st of July. Anyways I'm making a cake for me and Jorgy. We were in the MTC together. After that I hooked up with Elder Dahl and I said goodbye to some of the best friends I've ever had. It was rough saying goodbye to Tanner and Palmer. Elder Tanner left me this big flag that Elder Gunther left behind. It's actually the Title of Liberty and I have it hanging up in my house right now. After that we took a van up to Shkoder.
Mustache missionaries.
We spent that whole day just getting to know Shkoder. It's a super beautiful city and there's a lot of tourists that come here from Germany and stuff. 

We've been spending a lot of time with the other Elders in our district. We are serving here with Elder Temple and Elder Jorgensen. Just the four of us all isolated in the middle of nowhere right next to Montenegro. We all really like each other and we get along really well. Elder Jorgensen and I are loving being in the same area. He's hilarious and we enjoy each other's presence. We also have a car in our district. Only Temple and Jorgy can drive it but that's okay because I just don't have to worry about crashing it.
Elder Jorgensen and Elder Clawson and the district car.

The work here in Shkoder is slow. We took over a sisters area and I'm really impressed with the work that they got set up for us though. We have about 3 investigators that show decent potential. That's all 4 of the missionaries combined. We have set up some pretty high goals and we are going to try our absolute hardest to get them achieved. We have a branch president, a clerk, and that is it. We fulfill all of the other positions but it's kinda easy because we don't have to worry about any people. At church yesterday we had 9 people in church. 4 missionaries, President Kraja, 1 member, and 3 little kids from our english course. I'm so excited to see what we can do here! 
Jed's new companion Elder Dahl.  I hope Elder Dahl is up for this!

One crazy thing about Shkoder is that they speak Ghegnisht. It's a ridiculous dialect of Albanian and I'm struggling to get it right now. I can speak it but I can't understand it for some stupid reason. They speak with super deep voices and it's crazy how different it is from normal Albanian. But I like it a lot.
p-day activity

"Should've bought the hat!"  he said.
We've tried to get some work this week but 75% of the missionaries here are white washing so we don't know where anything is and Elder Temple has only been here for 3 months. But we absolutely love being here.
This is the where the branch meets in Shkoder.  I'm sure they'd be thrilled if they could fill up even half of that room.

Elder Dahl is a quiet kid, kinda like Elder Watson, but that's fine. He came out with the last group of missionaries and he is doing really good. Having a bit of a rough time with the language change but I am too so it's whatever. He's from New Mexico and likes to play tennis. Good kid. 

The families that used to be members here have either fallen away or were converted to the welfare program. Kinda rough.
Jed's apartment.  The banner is the Title of Liberty passed down from Elder Gunther, to Elder Tanner, to Jed.

Today for P-Day we went to this place called Zogaj which is right next to the Montenegro-Albania border and we goofed around there and bought some hand woven bags from this family business that's super cool. They have these massive looms that they make rugs, table settings, bags, and all sorts of other things and they sell them for ridiculously cheap. It was super cool. Other than that I just ate food and read the Old Testament study guide.
Shkoder, Albania

Well I hope you all have a great week and I love you all!!

Love, Jedediah

Dearest Mother, 

Thanks a ton for emailing me. Have a blast up at Sam and Hollies! Tell them all that I said hey and that I love them. You should probably cut down that grass in the field or else them deer are gonna start creating some huge colony and then they'll make a surprise attack one night and take out the whole garden! Well I love ya tons and I hope you are all safe and happy. 
Love, Jeddy