Happy Valentines Week!!!
As always we had another awesome week here in Tirana! We started off the week with an awesome cultural experience. Our cute family, Dashi and Irena (the ones who taught us to make byrek), called and cancelled their lesson because they had something with the family. We didn’t understand what they said on the phone but at the end they asked if we wanted to come, and even though we were clueless, we said yes. So at the appointed time they drove up to the church and we jumped in the car for our mystery adventure. We ended up going to this Albanian play/theater that their nephew was acting in. He is going to the University of the Arts here in Tirana, and so it was a school production. I obviously didn’t hardly understand any of it, but there were only three actors and it was kinda funny but also kinda weird. Something about a professor and a really dumb, blonde student who can’t do math but loves to dance. It was interesting, but totally awesome that we went to an Albanian theater.

The power has been off three nights in a row at our apartment, and Motra Bentley loves it because that means we have to use candles. The reoccurring tradition of candle-lit evenings has kinda turned us into pyros. We have been burning the edges of like all the papers we write on, including our journals!
I know this probably makes us sound like little kids, but it was eventful for my week. And at least I’m not as bad as Motra Bentley, she loves to play in the melted wax, and even after the electricity comes back on, she still gets ready for bed in the dark and uses her candles.

This week we had a great visit with Vera as always. For “Vera Cooking School” this time she taught us how to make Petola. Basically it is just scones, but they were really tasty and really simple to make so me made some more for lunch on Sunday. They are excellent with Nuttella, well basically everything tastes better with Nuttella.

Sunday we had a wonderful turnout to church, two of our families came and they even stayed for the second hour of Sunday School. For me this was really fun because they each have two kids, so I went to Primary with the kids. The senior primary class consists of about 9 kids and half the kids only speak English so it is all translated by one of the teachers, so Primary was right up my alley. The reason half the kids speak English is because the dad of one family works for the embassy but they are American (like the lady in the movie “Julie and Julia), and the other family, the father is Albanian but went to school in America and married an American and they have lived there for like 10 years and have all these kids who only speak English and now they moved back here for good so the kids all are being home schooled until they learn Albanian. Anyway, I loved Primary, especially singing time in Albainan, because I just have to read the words. On the other hand, Motra Bentley had a pretty stressful Sunday School class. Go figure the day you have lots of investigators in class, everyone decides to talk about as much deep doctrine as possible. Anyway, it was a great Sabbath!

Motra Bentley has been living here for 7 months and I am her 4th companion and she has still never met the next door neighbors in our apartment building, so I made it a goal this week to meet them. So we baked some American chocolate chip cookies (brown sugar and chips courtesy of Sister Neil) and we took them over to the neighbors. And since it was my idea, Motra Bentley made me talk so I memorized a little script to say hi and we just wanted to make you American cookies. They were really surprised, and five minutes later they knocked on our door and the girl who was about our age said that on her mom was going to make us byrek the next day, which she did and it was very tasty. I think they felt like they had to return the favor, so it kinda defeated the purpose of just getting to know them, but I will continue to befriend our quiet neighbors.

Today for P-Day we went as a District to the Zoo of Tirana. It was awesome! It cost 1 lek (about $1) and it was totally worth it. When we first walked in we were attacked by wild dogs, which we thought might be the only animal there, but thankfully it wasn’t. They had lots of birds in pens, a wolf, a couple foxes, two lions who looked miserable, some llamas, two bears, a duck pond, and two ostriches. They also had a normal cat in a pen, which was pretty random. They also had some sweet trees that Motra Bentley and I played in. We even convinced the District all to climb up with us for a photo, even though half of those wimpy boys were scared out of their wits to climb the tree. And Motra Bentley had this old Grandpa who offered to help give her a boost and he did. It was quite hilarious. An excellent District Adventure, and a beautiful day without rain, which was a nice change compared to this past week.

As for missionary work, it is booming for Motra Bentley and I. We literally have had a couple people approach us at church and ask if we can teach and baptize them. It has really been a blessing, and it is so wonderful to teach people who have such a desire to learn and come unto Christ. This week I extended my first formal baptismal invitation to Lindita, Sara, and Kejsi, which means it was in English. It actually went really well. Kejsi said she wanted to get baptized on her birthday next week, Sara said she thought March sounded like a good month, and Lindita said November sounded good. Obviously the girls were a lot more excited about it than Lindita, so we didn’t set a firm date but Lindita said she would definitely pray specifically for it this week. Kejsi is so cute, she told me that she had already prayed about the Book of Mormon and she felt really good about it and knows it is true. We met this later in the week for lunch and ice cream and had a great time. Lindita says the girls just love us, and we definitely love them. They are such an amazing family!

I know that my Mom and Rachael are going to freak out, but I tried to cut my own hair this morning. Before my mission I decided to grow out my hair and bangs, but this morning I changed my mind and tried to cut my own bangs with my rounded edge, childproof scissors, with green handles. The first snip I was like “uh-oh” and Motra Bentley looked up and was like, “oh, my goodness, what are you doing.” I was able to do some blending though, and I think they turned out okay. Haha!
Anyway, sorry I haven’t send anything to spiritually uplifting, but really we are doing some amazing work here. I love the gospel and I love being a missionary. I know the church is true and that our Heavenly Father loves us immensely and has a very special plan for each of us. He hears and answers our prayers, we just must remember that everything is in the Lord’s time. Jesus Christ is our savior and Redeemer and I know that he lives! And I know President Monson is a prophet of God and I’m so grateful for his leadership and guidance today. Read the Book of Mormon everyday, because it is true and it will change your life!

I love you all!
Motra Hall