Thursday, August 15, 2013

You've Got a Friend in Agim

My head hurts.  Albanian is tough!

Dear Family,

Unless I mention otherwise, just assume I´m doing well. In my letters home, I´ll try my best to skip the muha-betë (small-talk), because quite frankly, it's very routine and mostly uninteresting to write. So when I jump to whatever my weekly subject is, don't worry: I'm alive and the church is still true.

As a highlight of my week, I made contact with my first Albanian, or rather he made contact with me. His name is Agim, and he happened to come across my blog. He is a member from Albania who's presently on vacation in Florida, and he sent me a letter on Monday. It was probably the funniest thing I've ever read: He begins by addressing me, "I dashurplaku Gunther", which equates to "My dearest old man." Then he proceeds to tell me what his story is and how he found me. Next, he tells me his impression of me, which translates to "You seem to be learning the Albanian language well, but you appear to me to be prideful." Yep. That's an Albanian for you. They speak their mind, 100% honest and straightforward to even strangers. Well, the letter was written entirely in Albanian, which includes the absence of punctuation. And he must have been from the North, either Tirana or Shkoder, because it's part of the northern dialect to drop the second half of most words. So I had an Elder Calhoun moment as I read it aloud, "Elder, what language was he speaking? . . . 'Cause that ain't the language they taught me in the MTC." My language instructors mention at least once daily that if I happen to serve in the North, I'll be speaking, comparatively, the New Orleans rendition of English. And to finish, Agim expressed his individualistic love for me. Well, from this I drew an extraordinary enthusiasm to serve the people of Albania. 3 weeks couldn't be further away.

As another note, Richard G. Scott addressed us at Tuesday night's devotional. It was beyond awesome. He is beyond awesome. This gospel is beyond awesome.

On Thursdays, in 45 minutes, actually, we do what's called the TRC (teaching resource center). Basically what happens is you go and teach members who aren't playing a role, but just being themselves as members. And the entire 40 minute lesson is in Albanian. It is much more difficult than teaching pretend investigators, because you've got to change your approach and vocabulary for individuals who know gospel principles already. So I'm stoked. But mostly afraid. And I'm hoping to see Albert Behling, because he promised to visit the TRC while I was here, but I haven't seen him yet. So we'll see how things play out. And also, I really just want to serve in Shkoder or Kosovo. That was totally unrelated. But I had to get it out there. I'm a fan of the northern Gheg dialect. So if you would, pray that I get sent to where God needs me most. Because the areas in Albania are so diverse. And I have preferences already.

Well, missionary work thus far has proven to be the epitome of boring and the climax of happiness. 16 hours of daily exhaustion would only ever be satisfactory if this gospel were true. And it is true. Jesus Christ is the Savior. Thomas S. Monson is the Prophet. God is the Father. Missionary service is the grandest adventure. And 'happily-ever-after' is more than a fictitious finale to a fairytale.

I. Love. You.

Elder Benson Ryan Gunther

Shqiperia (Albania) - It literally translates to "Land of the Eagle People".

Thanks for the Reese's Puffs.  I thoroughly enjoyed them

That there is one nice leaf

The Hope of the Adriatic States ( Kosovo, Albania, Macedonia)

Me and Shoku im (my companion) Tuesday Night Devotional.

Weekly Sunset Picture - Sunsets are great as a missionary.

Thanks Elder Day.  You caught me at the peak of my best smiles ever.

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