Howdy all!

I know I probably say this in like every email, but Motra Bentley and I had the best week ever here in Tirana. Each week we keep track of all our numbers like how many hours we spend doing stuff and how many lessons and people we teach etc., and then we make goals for ourselves and there are also goals set for the whole mission by President Neil. We totally blew the mission standard goals out of the water. The awesome thing is, that missionary work really isn’t about numbers it is about dedication and quality, and we truly had the top quality to go with our numbers. Even Motra Bentley, who is half way done with her mission said this was probably her best week. For example, our other weeks together we average around 17 lessons a week, and the mission goal is 20, but this week we had 27. Plus we had 10 people in church yesterday, and the mission average for that is like 3 people on a good Sunday. The Lord really has just been blessing us with some amazing people and awesome opportunities to teach.
In addition, Ardita (the amazing girl I told you about last week) set a baptismal date for March 10th, and Irena (the wife who owns the flower shop) set a baptismal date for the end of March, and her husband is still thinking on a date. Plus, Lindita and her two daughters picked a date, but are waiting to talk to their Dad about it so they can make sure he is in town so he can come! That is only like a small portion of how amazing our week is and how wonderful the missionary work here is.

So I hope you get the picture of how much I love these people and this place! Now I’ll tell you a little bit about my weekend, which has probably been the hardest couple days of my whole mission so far (which I know hasn’t been very long, but still). First a little background on how the mission works; every 6 or 7 weeks there are “transfers” which means you get a call from President on Saturday night and he tells you that you are either staying or moving to another place with a different companion. And you can never really be sure what he is going to say. So our calls came- I am moving to Vlorë tomorrow!
I was totally shocked! Motra Bentley has been here in this Tirana area for the whole like 8 months of her mission, so everyone thought she would leave because I just got here, but the Lord has a different plan for me I guess. I’m going to be companions with Motra Highland who has only been out for 3 months longer than me, but she is totally great, and Motra Peatross is coming to be Motra Bentley’s companion. So all 3 of us newbies (me, Motra Peatross, and Motra Yourstone) are just rotating. I’m really excited to go to Vlorë because it is beautiful and right on the water, but it is just so hard to leave all of these amazing people I’ve been teaching. If you haven’t followed, that is why this weekend has been so hard because it has been full of good-byes. President said I could probably come back for their baptisms, so I’m super excited about that. And he said he hated to break up Motra Bentley and I because we were probably the best companionship in the mission (he probably tells that to everyone :) ), but of course you got to spread the love, totally understandable. Anyway, I’m grateful everything I own fits in a suitcase, because I still haven’t started packing yet and I leave first thing in the morning. Haha!

Okay, now on to exciting stories from our week. I know this really has little to nothing to do with missionary work, but Motra Bentley have totally been dedicated to getting up early to work out in the mornings. We have come up with lots of great exercises you can do without leaving your bed. My favorite one is we created our own bench press on our beds. Since the doors of our closets broke off, we use them as a “bar” and lay on our beds and lift closet doors ( we even put books on top to add weight when we are feeling extra strong). I’m sorry you have to hear about the lame things that I think are cool, but I’m pretty proud of the creativity that I’m gaining out here on the mission.

Another highlight of the week was I made a goal to eat 3 whole pizzas in one sitting. All the Elders didn’t think I could do it, which of course made me even more determined to. I know some of you are probably thinking that is impossible, but the pizzas here, although they are the same size as like a Little Caesars, are super thin crust, so you don’t get as full as fast. Anyway, I totally achieved my goal! I was able to eat 2 pizzas in 15 minutes, but it took me another 45 minutes to eat the 3rd pizza. Nevertheless, a perfect example of making and achieving goals right there for you! (Oh, and I still love pizza, although I didn’t feel like eating anything for a couple days.)

Another thing in the Mission is “exchanges,” where you swap companions for 24 hours. So on Wednesday Motra Bentley went over to the other side of Tirana with Motra Peatross, and Motra Larson came to be with me for the day. She is the “oldest” sister missionary in the mission, meaning she has been out the longest and will finish her mission in July, so she is excellent at the language and just an all around awesome missionary. It was great to serve with her just for the day, and I learned a lot. It was also great to talk to her because she is even older (in real life, not mission months) than me and has finished school and traveled and done some cool things, so that was fun.

One day this week we had Alma Osmëni come all day with us to our lessons. She is leaving next week to go to the Provo MTC and then she will be a missionary at the Salt Lake City Temple Square Mission. She is totally awesome and such a great missionary. We wanted to give her a little practice run on being a missionary for a day and she totally rocked at it. If anyone is at the temple in the coming months make sure you say hi to her, because she is super!

So here is a little culture minute for this week…in Albania for some reason old married men (who are like old enough to be my dad or grandfather even) think that for some reason if two young cute American girls say hi to you in the road it somehow means that we are totally interested in them and want to go get a drink together or something. It really is pretty funny. Anyway, some guy got our number this week from a pamphlet and he called Motra Bentley. She told him we could only meet if he was interested in the Gospel and that we would also bring some Elders. And he said he was interested in the church but also interested in learning more about her. He said that he knew family was important to her and it was also important to him and told her that every since he met her he had been thinking that he would like to have a family with her, and he is like 38 or something ridiculous. She basically just told him she was engaged and only here as a missionary and then hung up on him. She gets stuff like that all the time though, so funny! I’m so glad I can’t speak the language, so nobody bothers to talk to me or propose to me! Haha!

News update for the branch, we got a new branch presidency in one of our branches. The two counselors that just got called are both 20 years old. Younger than me! The members here are so amazing at serving and the young people of the church here really are the foundation. The church really depends on them for so much! Awesome!

So a totally awesome experience this week. (Sorry I think I over-use the word “awesome,” but really my life is amazing right now!) Anyway, we were planning this week and trying to figure out how to find even more people to teach. So Motra Bentley was looking through this huge binder of hundreds of pages of former investigators that old missionaries have taught here in Tirana. I was kinda doing something else and wasn’t even paying attention, but she turned to one page and I looked over and I don’t know why but I told her we should call that person. I always say crazy random stuff like that, so Motra Bentley said okay and kept turning the pages of the binder. And I was like, “no really, we should call her, right now.” Motra Bentley and I both were thinking that we were pretty random to call this lady especially because there were no dates on her information sheet and we didn’t recognize the names of the sister missionaries who taught her, meaning it had to have been a long time. Plus, Albanians change their phones around here like every few months so you can never keep in contact with people. Nevertheless, I insisted and so Motra Bentley called this lady up, …and she answered! She said she hadn’t had missionary lessons in over 4 years and she was so excited that we called because she totally wanted to have the lessons again, So Motra Bentley will meet with her this coming week. After we talked to her we read through her info sheet and it looks like the old sister missionaries had just gotten sick and then there were transfers and somehow this lady had gotten forgotten about. How awesome that the Spirit prompted us to call that one lady in a whole binder of hundreds of people. She was the only person we called from there. Amazing, the Holy Ghost is so wonderful and this work would be so impossible without it!

Well, I guess that is about all I have time for this week. I’ll be checking in again next week from Vlorë, so get excited! Hope you all have a great week, and remember that Heavenly Father Loves you very much and so do I! I know that the Church is true and that our prayers are heard and answered. Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer and I’m so grateful for what he has done for me!

Love you all!

Motra Hall