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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Weekly Round-up




Hey Hey Hey my fellow blog-readers -

Let me first begin by thanking everyone for all the mail you have sent me. I only get it about once or twice a month because it has to come up from Tirana with someone from the mission so it is quite the treat to get letters and packages. 

So now for the stories and other miscellaneous things that I am assuming you came here for...

Tuesday's and Saturday's are the English class days and I love English class so much. It is a great opportunity for me to speak English with the natives and to just have a good time with the youth here. There isn't any gospel lesson, just English, except for a little thought at the end of class about how we can improve our lives and how we can better the lives of others (pretty non-denominational, I believe). We also close every lesson with a prayer, whether it be a prayer offered by a missionary or one of the Muslim kids. It is so cool to have so many different faiths come together and pray. The lessons that we teach are almost as cool, but not quite. This past Tuesday we taught about adverbs and adjectives. About 15 minutes into the lesson I realized that I had no idea what an adverb was. To any of my English teachers that may be reading this, I apologize from the very depths of my soul.  I still couldn't tell you the difference between the two. 

The following day, Wednesday, my companion and I did about 4 hours of finding. Finding involves a mix between knocking on doors (tracting), talking to people on the street (street contacting), and tabling (setting up a table with pamphlets and Books of Mormon and letting people come to us). Of the 3, tabling is by far my favorite method. It gives people the opportunity to come to us with questions and shows desire on their part instead of us walking up to them and scaring them. Tracting is my next favorite. We get to visit a bunch of different houses and apartments and meet people in a semi-formal environment. But my least favorite method by quite a long shot is street contacting. We have such a difficult time getting any serious investigators from this because we sometimes scare people off and they think we are being rude. If we do have a gospel-oriented conversation and ask them for their number (to meet again), they give us either a wrong number or tells us they don't want to meet when we actually do call them. 'Tis the joy of missionary work, I suppose.

President Ford and his wife came to our humble little city of Gjakovë on Thursday to have individual interviews with the missionaries and to check on our progress. Since they live in Tirana, they brought up all our mail with them. I got a package and a letter from Hollie, a letter from Bro. Collings, 2 letters from Grandma and Grandpa Allgaier, and a dearelder. It was awesome!

So to wrap up this email, I am going to share one story. This story took place on the 25th of this month. It was one of the coolest lessons that we have ever had with this family. Before I tell the story, let me give a little bit of background info. Their family has 6 people: the dad, the mom, son (16), daughter (13?), son (8), and daughter (8). The mom and her 3 youngest children were all baptized together and are currently the only members in their family. The dad has received all the lessons but hasn't been baptized for reasons that are unknown to me. The 16-year-old boy has not had any lessons and has had almost no contact with the missionaries or church. So that night at the lesson, all 4 of us Gjakovë elders went to deliver a washing machine to their house and to share a short message. At first, everyone except the 16 year old was there as we were discussing the Atonement and repentance to the dad. But about 10 minutes in we hear the front door open and close.  The mom gets up and leaves and comes back with the 16 year old son. This is the first time he has sat in on a lesson and it is also the first time that they have been taught as a family. The mother was almost tearing up as we continued teaching. It was so spiritual. At the end, the mom gave the closing prayer. That very well could have been the first time that they have prayed as a family. 

As a concluding thought, I want to ask you all what you think about this question: Why do we close our eyes when we pray?

Thank you for everything that you all do for me and my family. Stay safe!

Love, 

- Elder Allgaier
Lesson at a family's home

my companion at the family member's home

My companion didn't wear black socks
A baptism calendar that I made for 2 of our investigators

These are constantly cooking chicken all day (only 4 Euro!)
Cafe rio dinner on Sunday (courtesy of me)

The most delicious chicken ever

Cilantro rice

A burrito being born

There she is in all her glory!

Yummy yummy

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

I Am Currently Lacking A Creative Title

Hey Fam-Fam -

Spencer, congratulations on the perfect season! I am excited to hear how your play-off season goes. Maybe win states for me? Urbana needs it.

It was a pretty good week but I won't be able to remember much of it because I forgot my journal at home. We just barely got home from a day long trip to Pejë and I forgot to grab it on my way out this morning. So, I will do my best to recollect everything based on pictures.

As a Gjakovë branch, we have started doing family nights here at the church, which is basically another way for us to encourage all the families to spend time with each other. We try and watch some kind of movie and have treats. It's not too spectacular yet, but it has only been a week. As soon as we get the ping-pong table here we can have game nights and things like that (yes, we are actually getting one). 

Along with family nights, English class has officially started! The turn out has been pretty good so far (about 20 kids each day) and we hope to have more come. We teach the beginners the alphabet and simple phrases, the medium class more phrases and how to have simple conversation, and the advanced class we just talk with them and help them fix any mistakes that they make and help them focus on their accent. Its a lot of fun and it is a great way for us to get to know the community and make friends. Last week we had one of the students give a prayer at the end and he was Muslim. He gave a prayer in Arabic and it was so cool. 
About half of the kids for English class

Church yesterday was interesting to say the least. Everything was going fine until aright after sacrament meeting. A little 2 year old boy (who ALWAYS causes problems) happened to lock himself in the bathroom. We couldn't use the key from the outside because he had locked the key from the inside. We tried for about 15 minutes to get the door open, but it wouldn't budge. Finally his dad told us all to just leave and go back to classes. So we did. About 5 minutes later I went back to check on the boy and his dad, but I found the door open and no one was there. Turns out, his dad knocked the door in and broke the frame. Awesome. I thought it was pretty funny and everyone made it out alive. 
The 2 year old (his mom calls him The Problem)

A little boy locked himself in the bathroom

I get to help out in nursery

Today we took a trip to a city named "Pejë". Its about an hour outside of Gjakovë and we went there with the Zone Leaders, the sister missionaries, the senior couple missionaries (all from Prishtinë) and our little Gjakovë district. We visited a secured Greek (I think he meant Serbian) Orthodox Monastery that was protected by the K-4 (Italian police I think). We had to show our passports to get in. The reason it is so protected is because of the war between the Serbians and the Kosovars. If it wasn't protected, the Kosovars would go in and clean house. Sad, but true. Anyway, this place was so serene and peaceful and absolutely gorgeous. It was a nice break from the dirty city of Gjakovë.
Patriarchate of Peć --Serbian Orthodox Monastery











Well, that's about all I can think of. I hope you are all doing well and stay safe! Peace and love.

- Elder Allgaier

Friday, October 18, 2013

Week 7? 8? 9? Who knows....


Dang... Time is really flying by. It has already been 3 and a half months since I have seen you guys and it feels like it was just yesterday that I was saying goodbye at the airport. Hopefully this pace can keep up for the next 20.5 months. 


So, do you remember how I told you about the weight-loss "program" that we have? Apparently it got pretty bad with a few other elders. The senior couple in Prishtinë helped us all get some stool samples to a lab to check them for diseases or anything serious. Luckily, we all passed with flying colors and no one is dead. 

On a completely different note, we are about to start our first English class this weekend! The past couple weeks we have been handing out flyers and telling everyone about it. I did notice a trend, however, while passing out the flyers. Everyone is super excited about the class until the see "Jezu Krishtit" written on the paper. Then they just turn and walk away. It makes me kind of sad, but that's just how it is here. Anyway, we have 3 different classes: beginner, medium, and advanced. It is about 95% teenage girls so it should be really interesting to see how seriously they take it. A lot of the girls here (if not all) just want to go to America and are trying to find anyone to take them whether it be through marriage or something else. Thankfully I don't have to worry about any of that. I have someone better in the great U.S. of A.

A couple days ago my companion and I went to the center (the place where the nënë Tereza statue is) and did a tabling session for a few hours. We had a couple people come up to us and ask us questions and my companion took them by himself to go teach, leaving me at the table. I was a little nervous, I'll be honest, especially when a lady came up to me. I had a complete conversation with her in Albanian and told her about the Book of Mormon, the things we believe, and even joked a little bit. I understood every word she said and I am pretty sure she understood me. It was so cool to finally see my language skills being put to the test... and to succeed!

To make the story even better, after that lady left a Muslim guy came up and asked about our church. I started introducing everything in Albanian and he said in English, "If you want, you can just speak in English". Thank heavens. So we had about a 45 minute conversation about what we believed and what his faith believed. It was interesting to see the similarities that Islam and our faith have. He was a really cool guy and I hope that we will be able to talk again!

Now let me finish up by telling you a quick story: There is a girl that I would see all the time with her friends on the street and she would always giggle and say "Hello" in an Albanian accent. We see a lot of girls do this, by the way. One day I walked by her and told her "të puth fortë" in a joking way (I can say that kind of stuff because I am still learning the language, right?) and she almost lost it. I'm pretty sure she giggled all the way home. So late one night we were tracting (or knocking doors) at a pilatë (or apartment complex). We didn't have any luck until we got to the last door. The person who answered it was the same 12 year old girl from the street. Talk about amazing coincidence. She went a got her dad and we had a lesson with him about our beliefs and it went really well. During this entire 30-40 minute lesson, I could see out of the corner of my eye this girl taking pictures of me with her iPad. It was pretty funny. After the lesson I asked her if she had any good pictures. She laughed pretty hard and her face got all red. The end. 

So that was my week. I hope you all enjoyed it and stay tuned for next week! Stay safe!

Love, 

Elder Allgaier 

P.S. 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SPENCER!!!!!!!!!!!
My new outfit (action shots will come later)

Keeping patriotic during English course sign ups

English course flyer

Me and a boy I play soccer with

Writing a letter to my sister! (I'll send this week.)


Me eating a giant block of pita bread
Another funny sign that you can try and translate (I don't understand it)




Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Just Another Week




Hey Guys -

I have decided to try a different method to writing these weekly emails. As I'm sure many of you experience weekly disappointment at the shortness of my emails and have an unquenchable desire to know more about me and what fun things I do, I will begin recalling my weekly events by using my journal. Yes, I know. My very own personal journal. So buckle your seat-belts and prepare yourselves for one of the most barely above average emails you have ever read in your life.

Let's take it all the way back to October 1st, or last Tuesday. Apparently the Adriatic South Mission is pretty notorious for the weight-loss "program" that all the missionaries go on during their 18 or 24 month stay. I have begun that journey. If any of you want to join this program, it starts with camping out in the bathroom and is similar to preparing for a colonoscopy. So, that being said, I have lost a record 11 pounds since entering the MTC and now I weigh 185.6 pounds! Woot Woot!

On that same day I also went on an exchange with one of the Zone Leaders (ZL) to Prishtinë. We had 4 lessons planned within a 2 hour time block and only one of them dropped! I'd say that is a huge success. All 3 of the lessons went really well and the investigators are really cool people. The next morning in Prishtinë we taught the owner of the local bus station and that was a very interesting lesson. We walked into his office and were greeted by a healthy dose of smoke. Probably enough to kill an elephant or 2. Anyway, he had two of his buddies there and we tried to get a lesson going. It didn't start very well and it was looking like we should just leave, but one of the boss's workers leans over to us and starts asking us questions about the Church while the boss kept chatting away with the other guy in the room. We had a relatively successful lesson and gave him our number and asked to meet him again. Hopefully the ZL's will have a chance to teach him more.

After the lesson in the bus station we went to buy a suit and eat lunch before heading back. The food was amazing, but the suit makes me look irresistible (Pictures to follow next week). 

Wednesday, not much happened but I did get my haircut and my face shaved with a straight razor. I have never looked so European in my life. Look out ladies! (Just kidding, I love you Hollie!)

Friday was a fun day. Every week we try to get out to play either basketball or soccer at the local high school to talk with the kids about the English class we are getting ready to start up. We (mostly me) played soccer with the kids and I had a really good time. It's so cool to see how good basically everyone is at soccer here. Whenever we walk around the city with a soccer ball, random kids ask for it and start juggling it. You would never see that in America.

Saturday was probably the best day of the week. My companion and one of the other elders weren't feeling to good so the other elder and I went on an exchange to Prizren while they stayed home and rested (Aren't we so caring?). Prizren is a city about an hour south-east of Gjakovë and in my opinion, is a lot more gorgeous. According to the other elder, it is a lot more tourist friendly, too. If you have a chance to look at the pictures, Prizren is a lot bigger than Gjakovë and the people there seem to be so much happier. Sadly, it's not an official area of the mission yet but hopefully if we can get a couple members there, it will open up sometime next year! I would love to work there. So, back to the missionary aspect of Prizren. The other elder had a couple lessons planned out. One of which was a young couple (20 and 24) that seemed really awesome. We waited on a bench by the canal that ran through the city and they never showed up. Bummer. Why let something like that ruin a good day? We went suit shopping for the other elder and I got a new pair of shoes and a belt at a store. The ladies that worked there were flirting like crazy. I had to use my best defenses to lure them away. "Sorry, I am a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ). It works wonders, let me tell you.

And now for the highlight of the Prizren trip. We visited the castle that was there and it was awesome! The castle was pretty beat up from the Serbian and Kosovo war, but it was still really cool to see. If I go back there in 10 years or so, I signed my name on a rock and I can tell my kid(s) how cool I was. He will totally believe me. 

It was a pretty good week and I had many adventures. The work in Gjakovë is still moving along and we are starting to bundle up for the chilly weather that has come. Its been down to about 7 degrees Celsius (no idea what that is in Fahrenheit) and its only the beginning of October. 

I love you all so much and thank you for the support and love you give me and my family. Stay safe!

Love,

Elder Allgaier




Burek me mish

One of the most delicious crepes I have ever had (nutella, banana, whip cream, kiwi, and magic)
Soccer at the school
So ghetto it's almost beautiful (notice the monument of guns)
Prizren Kalaja (or in English -Prizren Castle)
Prizren Kalaja 
I am one risky sitter

Overlooking Prizren


Probably my favorite picture (overlooking Prizren from the castle wall)






Watching General Conference just like we do at home


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Good morning!

Hey family (and fellow readers) - 

The family we are teaching has an unofficial baptismal date of October 27th! We still have to teach them a couple doctrine principles and make sure they follow them, but I think they will do well and I look forward to writing about them in the next month or so. 

General Conference is next weekend. This coming Sunday will be your standard church and then we will watch conference as a congregation the following Sunday in the translated Albanian. The reason we don't watch it right away is (aside from the time difference) because it takes the translators in Salt Lake some time to translate the conference talk. I think It'll be interesting to watch conference in Albanian, but I don't think I will get as much out of it when I cant understand everything.

I have been talking about the food here lately and I have have picked up a new favorite drink. Its chamomile (herbal) tea. Super delicious and because everyone here drinks tea, It shouldn't be a problem to get a hold of. 

Im sorry these letters home are so staggered and unorganized. I was talking with Hollie and we both agree that it is so hard to fit a weeks worth of events into a single email, especially when you don't have anything to help you remember. I do keep a pretty good journal that I try to update daily, and I have only missed a few days here and there. So maybe when that fills up I can send it home and you can scavenge through that for a good story. 

So here is my spiritual food for thought: (from one of the apostles)

God watches over us and He especially watches over us in times of trial. And this is the coolest part to me: When we feel like He isn't there, He is even closer than ever. 

That about wraps up my week! I hope you are all doing well! Stay safe

- Elder Allgaier
The senior couple in Kosovo (the Jones')

The lovely stroll around the restaurant 

My Mexican Specialty

The Anglisht menu at a restaurant we went to

Funny english spellings
Flower picture

Its gorgeous outside Gjakovë

Outside Gjakovë

All the trash we picked up outside our church doing service.

The basement of the church flooded with about 2" of rain. Elder Peterson doing work with the shop-vac.

Elder Rawlings also doing work.

We plugged the hole with a bunch of rubber gloves.
Cool scripture card