It has been an interesting week. We did a lot of finding and it was good. It was great being with Lowis again. We had some good English classes and Fisher is down here partying it with us! It was a good start. We had a good contact where we got a return appointment, but it turns out he was JW and he had this friend that he brought. The friend wanted to bible bash even though he was 20 and our guy was 18 but our guy was actually interested. We gave them BoMs and shut down the guy that was bashing but kept contention away just kinda confused him a bit and then said we had to go. It was funny, he was showing us these scriptures to prove his points but it was A) their scriptures that they redid and B) they were completely irrelevant scriptures and I was trying so hard not to laugh because he looked like an idiot. He sat and tried to explain that knowing God's name and using it to him is important and used this example that if we didn't know our dad's names it would be weird. I feel really bad for them because their doctrine is so messed up and they believe it and its just really sad. But yeah we shut him down without provoking an actual bash it was pretty great. Anyways, that was ok and we are trying to meet up with our guy without his friend again. We will see. Also we had this guy call us on Saturday and I talked to him and he came to church on Sunday. He had found our church online, researched it, and came and now he is taking lessons which is pretty tight. We got transfers which are happening tonight. Lowis is leaving and going to Zadar in Croatia. Dang. I am getting Elder Bennet. Don't have too much time but you guys are great and I hope you have a good week!
It has been one of the greatest weeks ever out here! Also one of the craziest and most stressful but it was soooo awesome! The beginning of the week was just regular but on Friday things got really interesting. During the day Elder Hixon had a lot of issues with the people in the office because his visa didn't get approved. His white card expired and we got a call that night that he would be leaving today (he left this morning). He went to Novi Sad and elder Fisher, one of the Furious 5, one of the awesomest studs in the mission came down so it was a worthy exchange. Elder Fisher and Poore went together and Lowis moved into my area so we are comps again which is weird. But real transfers are next week so we will probably only be together for a week.
Friday night was also the 1st semiannual Talent Show put on by us. We kinda threw it together because we didn't have many talents. Then, Friday night, everyone showed up with stuff so it ended up a huge success! I had the honor and privilege of being the MC, which was a bit crazy. I probably looked like an idiot but afterwards I had like 4 people come up and tell me I did a good job and I should go into stand up comedy. Yay for career options! To break the ice at the beginning, elder Lowis and I did a dance. It was pretty crazy and everyone laughed so we accomplished our purpose pretty well. Everything from backflips and moonwalks to shimmying and piggy back rides. Yeah it was fun. A lot of people really enjoyed it, we had about 30 something people there and we got a few potential investigators out of it. A senior couple came down from Germany to train the Taylors and they were there too and they loved it. That was good. Speaking of them, they have a huge gap in couples! They have 3 humanitarian couples in Europe that they don't have replacements for. Also on that subject, President Grant has announced that young elders are now being branch presidents again because we don't have enough senior couples because none are coming out! Both have asked for referrals. You know what that means.... ;). Everyone who can serve a senior mission get out here!!!!!
Saturday was probably the greatest day of my mission. Fo real. We took the gang (Snezana, Bozina, Jovan, Tamara, and Marko) and had a great day with them. We all went to the Bay of Kotor, one of the most beautiful places on the Mediterranean coast, and then to Budva. They have the coolest coasts and coolest old towns ever! It is like stereotypical old Europe. All cobblestone buildings and walkways, super skinny, like a maze of a city. While on this trip I went in like 6 Pradoslav and Catholic churches. They are all so weird. All of the gang crossed and kissed a picture in one of them and they were looking at us expectantly and we flat out refused. It was just weird. Anyway, it was the funnest day ever! We taught them a ton about the gospel on the drives and also I learned a good amount of Serbian. So that's cool.
Sunday we met with the gang after church so Hixon could say goodbye. Let's just say I really don't want to leave here. These are the coolest people ever and its a great area and I will probably just cry like an idiot. I will see what happens I guess. But it is seriously so great here and if you are thinking of serving a senior humanitarian or regular mission come out because we NEED you! Love you all have an awesome week!
It was a pretty great week. One of the most fun on my mission even though it wasn't really specifically productive to my area, because I wasn't in my area. I spent Wednesday morning to Friday night in Belgrade on exchange. It was a blast to say the least.
Tuesday night was Serbian Christmas eve. At night we went to the Orthodox temple to see the festivities. It was super different. They had two guys doing a weird chant and had a screen that showed the crowd through the cameras that were there, then every once in a while they would zoom in on a priest's face. The people all had Oak branches that they threw into a bonfire. It was kinda cool I guess but didn't really get big. The ritual was so crazy though I couldn't believe that it was even a Christain church. Like obscenely ridiculous and it was a bit uncomfortable being there. Luckily, we had an excuse to leave early because people were throwing fireworks into the crowd that were like flashbangs, and one went off about two feet in front of us and our ears were ringing for forever.
Wednesday morning I flew out of Podgorica. By myself. It was extremely weird not having a companion, and knowing that there wasn't a companion within miles of me. It was exhilarating! Haha just kidding but it was really weird. I landed and one of the ZLs, elder Nielsen, one of the Furious 5, was waiting for me. I landed on Serbian Christmas and it was really crazy because in a city of 2 million people, there was nobody on the streets. And no cars in the road. It was kind of an eerie feeling. But I went to the Belgrade District meeting and kind of chilled there because it's not my district and all the stuff they were planning I wouldn't be there for.
That night we went to a member's house. My first time on my mission! It took us forever to find the house and it was like -12 degrees C. It was so cold. My ears were like gonna fall off. It made me happy that I am in MNE right now. The family is the Vašica family and it was crazy. They have like 6 kids and the youngest two are insane. The 3ish year old girl just yelled into a cup the whole time and the 4ish year old kid hit me in the crotch when I walked in then hung on my belt for forever, climbed over all of us the whole lesson, attacked elder Odiorne's back with chocolate, and was just insane the whole time. But it was a good experience.
On Thursday we had meetings to coordinate food for Zone Conference, then Nielsen took me to some of the cool parts of the city and just contacted between so we still did work. We had a district lunch (they needed to discuss some stuff) at McDonalds. It was the best food I have had from a restaurant since I have been on my mission. It was seriously so great! Then we went to Blok 70. It is a mass of Chinese people that sell random stuff for dirt cheap. It is one of my new favorite places haha its so crazy there. On the way there, I had one of my favorite mission moments. I Dan Jonesed. I climbed on a fountain in Belgrade Center, held up a BoM, and said "REPENT!"!!!!!! Haha but not very loud but I talked to people that looked at me and stopped. It was a blast. But then we had the APs sleep over and it was really weird because they had to stay the night before Zone Conference.
Friday we had Zone Conference. It was pretty awesome we all wore our sweet European suits and we all looked good. Serbia zone has some of the coolest elders. The Furious 5 and Lowis and Odi. The coolest. But it might end this transfer... Anyway, it was fun and we watched Meet the Mormons which was pretty good! After, Lowis and I took the Taylors to the really good bakery in Belgrade because we had extra time and they don't always love it because they don't leave the church really, just kinda wait. It was good though. Then us cool kids walked around Belgrade for a bit and took some pictures in our suits.
Saturday was a rough day because we were all sick. And Sunday. We did some good stuff but it was a tough couple of days because we all felt really gross.
That's about it this week, hope you all have a good one! Belgrade was awesome and the Church is true! Peace!
First of all, HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!!! Speaking of which, that is the subject line for the week! So here in the Balkans, people party hard. Like really hard. Like, on New Years Eve, New Years Day, and the day AFTER New Years, there was not a single person in the street. Everyone just took all the time off and got drunk. Pretty intense. All of the taxi drivers were miserable because of their lack of business, and we had one taxi driver that was pretty drunk. It was funny, because I said something to him and he just slurred back and me and Hixon looked at each other and as soon as the ride was over started laughing. Also we were glad to be alive. But yeah, for three days there was nobody in the streets, which meant a lot of language study.
The language is coming super awesome as far as random words and reading stuff, because thats what I do a lot of. I should probably speak more. But I can now understand most of the BoM when I read because I have read it before obviously, so I can easily deduce what part I'm at. But also there are times when I am helping the greenie here, or even pitch in a word or two for Hixon and Lowis if they don't know them. They are both still a lot better and more experienced, but it is good to know that I am at least improving.
Church was good this week. We had 10 people total, which is our tied record from last week! We had 6 missionaries, 1 member, and 3 investigators! So that was pretty cool. Even Srdjan 2 came, an investigator from last transfer that hasnt been in contact for a bit.
Finally, this week I bought a suit. A nice European suit. It was on a big sale for 50% off so I just did it. It's pretty snazzy and I'm going to get a pair of shoes and belt this week because I am going to Belgrade on exchange for 3 days this week and there is a really good cheap place that has them. Then Zone Conference is in Belgrade on Friday and I will fly home that afternoon with everyone. So I am super pumped because Belgrade is the coolest city in the mission probably. We will see how that goes.
I hope everyone has a great week, I love you all and have a happy new year!
Elder Michael Pantelakis
Called to serve an LDS Mission in the Adriatic North Mission, serving the people of Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Montenegro.