Happy February!

Hopefully I’ll be able to write this email before the power goes off again. Most of the internet cafes have been closed all day because the power keeps going out. It isn’t that uncommon and happens at our apartment all the time.

Anyway, an awesome week here in Tirana. I had my first baptism! Gledis, who is nine got baptized on Tuesday and it was a simple but nice little baptism service. My favorite was after she was baptized she swam in the font to get out. We had a good little laugh. Also, I had my first zone conference this week. It consisted of all the Tirana missionaries and the Shkoder missionaries, so about 20 of us total. It was really good and inspiring!
Weather update for Tirana this week is…rain, rain, speck of sunshine, and rain. It has been pretty wet and lots of puddles, but it has provided us with an opportunity to get creative with our contacting. One day we went out walking in the rain and offered to share our umbrellas with people who didn’t have one. While we walked with them wherever they were going we shared our umbrella and shared a message about the gospel. Saving souls and saving from drenching, even though in the end they will have to get wet (baptism… haha).

I know everyone warned me before this mission that I should be prepared because I’ll have to teach the law of chastity, etc. Well, my first opportunity came this week, and I took the easy way out. It was for Sara and Kejsi (the 9 and 13 year-old girls that we teach in English). So Motra Bentley and I made them paper dolls with modest clothes that said, “I love Church” and “No Boys Allowed.” Then I just talked about how our body is a temple and we should dress modestly to help boys have nice thoughts. We left the Pamphlet that goes into more depth on the topic with the Mom to explain. But the girls said they understood, and except for the really awkward moment of trying to get the right things to say, it wasn’t that bad of a lesson. And the girls loved our paper dolls with matching clothes!

Last week I think I told everyone about my new favorite food, byrek. Well this week Motra Bentley and I went to visit one of our investigators who owns a byrek shop, and he had us come back Saturday night and taught us how to make byrek from scratch in his shop. It was awesome! Granted we were able to go in his shop and just start cooking because they have no sanitary laws here, so I was kinda grossed out at first, but I just got over it. It was so fun and I’m actually kinda good at it. Hopefully he’ll get us the pictures soon. We took home some dough and made some more byrek for Sunday dinner and we totally rocked at it. We are going to get creative now and try making some dessert byrek. If you have any creative ideas, let me know and we’ll try them. I hope you are all getting excited, because when I get home I’m totally making you all byrek!

Last night we had to ride the bus to an appointment that was pretty far away. The bus fare is 30 cents but we didn’t have any change and he didn’t have any change for 5 Lek bill, so we were kinda in trouble. The man who collects the money on the bus was super nice though and let us ride for free. In exchange we gave him a pass-along card with our number. He saved us a bus seat, so we’ll save his soul! I love Albanians, they are so nice!

Cultural Lesson of the Week: Albanians have this interesting tradition that each Easter when they color Easter Eggs, they keep one egg (often on display) the whole entire year until they die eggs again and then they keep a new one. I still haven’t learned exactly why, but I have seen quite a few and I think it might be for good luck or something like that. Interesting!

The work is really booming for Montra Bentley and I right now. She said she has never had as many investigators (people who are interested in the church that we teach) in her whole mission, and most of the new ones have all been referrals from members or the couple missionary or the English class that the church offers for free here. It is really amazing to be so busy just teaching lessons to people who want to know the truth for themselves. We are so blessed and I see miracles every day in our lives and the lives of those we work with.

I know that Heavenly Father loves us so much. I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer and that he suffered the Atonement for each of us. The power of the Atonement is real and can give us the strength we need to overcome and endure each day. I know that President Monson leads the church today and that Joseph Smith saw God and Jesus Christ in the grove. I know each of our prayers are answered and heard, and that the Book of Mormon has answers to our questions today. It is truly a book of God! I love being a missionary!

I love you all and am so grateful for all of your support! Have a great week!

Motra Hall