Thanks for all the Valentine letters and packages! You all are the best! Motra Bentley also says thanks for the packages and letters, because of course we share everything! It is the law of consecration with the two of us, if she gets a good letter we both read it and vise versa. Ha ha! We had a wonderful Valentines day here. Motra Bentley and I had an adventurous afternoon in the kitchen, and it turned out pretty good. Vera told us we should try to make this dish called “pasdiqe” and all she said was that you mix spaghetti noodles, milk, oil or butter, cheese, and eggs and then you bake it. She didn’t give us any measurements or cooking temperatures or times. So of course we decided to try this dish and we just put in all of the ingredients until it looked like a pretty good mixture, plus we added our favorite addition, Kos (which is basically just plain yoghurt). We threw it in the oven and just let it cook until it looked like all the ingredients were sufficiently cooked (which was about 30 minutes). During this cooking process my lovely companion prepared our dinner setting for the occasion. She laid a blanket on our kitchen floor and set Valentines place mats (pink/red towels), lit candles, and closed all the blinds and turned off the lights. We had quite the romantic little lunch together on the floor. And our dinner turned out so good, I was really impressed with us. If any of you try it, I’d love to hear how it turns out. By the way, we used 4 eggs in ours but you can really use as many or little as you want.
Oh, also for Valentines Day I gave a talk in one of the branches. It really wasn't that bad and I wasn't too nervous, mostly because I just read everything and everyone already knows I can't really speak Albanian. It told everyone I was going to talk about love, but really I talked about the baptismal covenant. I think it was pretty good, if I might say so myself!
This week we had our interviews with President Neil (we have interviews every transfer, which is every 6 or 7 weeks). He said he had only ever given one A+ on an interview, but he gave Motra Bentley and I both an A+. I think he was probably just being nice to me though, because I wasn’t really prepared for mine. I had prepared a couple mission statements because Motra Bentley said that is what he asked her about on her first interview. The first one I created is actually pretty legit, but he didn’t even ask about it, instead he asked me the same stuff he asked Motra Bentley, which was about my life vision. I told him I just had planned to try and make it through my mission and then I’d figure something out for my next exciting adventure. He seemed okay with that for the moment; President Neil is really an awesome leader! He did say that Motra Bentley and I were doing awesome together right now and kinda a highlight in the mission, which was cool to hear (don’t worry I’m still trying to be humble).
We made pizza at Vera’s again this week, and we made a lot, so Motra Bentley and I each had to eat half a pizza with crust that was like 3 inches thick. I was dying and couldn’t finish the last little bit, so when Vera left the room Motra Bentley and I pried her window open and chucked the remainder of my pizza out the window and then hurried back to our seats before she returned. Oh, and Vera lives on the top floor of an apartment building about 6-8 stories high. I know that probably sounds terrible but I really couldn’t eat anymore, plus I didn’t feel so bad because we had brought all the ingredients to cook with. There is a street below her apartment, so we hope nobody was walking down there.
We had a great service project this week. Motra Bentley and I went to help Dashi and Irena (the couple who taught us to how to make byrek) at their flower store. They celebrate Valentines Day here also, so we went on Saturday to the flower shop and spent six hours cutting roses, scraping off thorns, and plucking the dead petals so the flowers all looked pretty and were ready to be put into bouquets. The two of us with Irena did almost 1,000 red roses in that 6 hours, but we also got a lot of gospel talk in, so it was totally worth it.
This week we taught Lindita, Kejsi, and Sara the Word of Wisdom. They are all so awesome and totally accepted it. Lindita said she enjoyed a coffee and mixed drink now and then, but that it wouldn’t be too hard to cut that out. Our favorite though was that on the table was a bowl of chocolates that were coffee flavored and Albanians always offer you stuff at their homes, so we were going to have those before we left and Kejsi (age 9) ate hers first, and as soon as she got it in her mouth she jumped up and ran to the trash and spit it out and stuck her mouth under the tap of water at the sink. And the whole time she was yelling that it was “Satan’s Candy!” It was so hilarious, she is such a character. I found out the reason she and Sara are probably so outgoing and funny is because it runs in the family. Their father is an actor on a famous Albanian TV Show called “Portocalli.” I guess it is kinda like Saturday Night Live in America. Anyway, got to love those genes!
As always a little weather update for you: mostly just constant rain, although on Saturday we actually had a few hours of snow. Tirana NEVER gets snow, so there were tons of people out in the streets taking pictures and just muttering about how amazing it was, they were in total awe!
I decided I never want to hear our youth complaining about Young Womens or Young Mens class at church, because I can’t imagine it could possibly be as awkward or lame as what I experienced this week. Motra Bentley and I needed a break from Relief Society and Adult Sunday School, so we went to Primary and the Young Womens. Young Womens class consisted of three leaders, us two missionaries, and one little 12 year-old girl who isn’t even a member. The situation was actually quite funny to us, but I felt bad for the little girl, but she was so sweet and just said “yes” to everything the teacher talked about, which was basically all the general young women values.
As I mention most every week, the work here is awesome! We are teaching lots of lessons and are working with the most amazing people. Our current “Golden” investigator is Ardita. She is 24 and one of the most amazing young women I have every known. The Senior Couple here in Tirana, the Shupes, hold free English Classes at the church, and she started coming to the advanced class when they started a few weeks ago. One day she just asked Elder Shupe if she could come to his church and he said “of course!” and introduced her to me. But she said she already knew me because I had given her a flyer in the street to invited her to English Class (of course I didn’t remember that). Then she started going to Institute and all the Young Single Adult activities the past couple weeks as well as the past two weeks of church. Last night we met with her for the first time and she said he had already read all of 1st Nephi from the Book of Mormon and that she would like to formally have the lessons from us so that she could be baptized. Awesome!!! After we met with her she came with us to another baptism that was at the church last night and she met President Neil and lots of other people. She is really smart and educated and just so nice! I am so excited to teach her! It is amazing how the spirit can work in people. I remember her first time at Institute she told me that our church just has a wonderful feeling and she likes to be here and around other people who also have good feelings and good values.
Anyway, I guess that is enough excitement for one week! Know that I love you all and thinking about you all the time! But I just love being a missionary! The Gospel is so amazing and is such a blessing to have! I know that the church is true and am so grateful for all the blessings in my life, and for each of you!