Hello!!! Happy 5 month anniversary to me yesterday!!! Wow, I can’t believe how fast the time goes. As always it has been an awesome week for me, and I don’t even know where to start. I actually brought my journal to the internet café this week, and I’m just going to start telling you about all the highlights for me….
So for about 2 weeks we have been planning exchanges for Saturday/Sunday this past week, which I mentioned before is just a 24 hour companion swap to mix things up, etc. Mostly it’s just kinda fun. Anyway, we had Zone Conference in Durres (2.5 hours away, outside of Tirana) this past Friday, which is where half the mission meets for a day of meetings and trainings. And so I suggested that since Motra Larson and Motra Yourstone would be there also to give one of the training classes, that we should just swap companions there so we didn’t have to drive so much three days in a row. Everyone liked that idea, so Motra Larson and Motra Hiland arranged everything and the plan was for me to go to Tirana with Motra Larson, and for Motra Yourstone to come here with Motra Hiland…or so we thought. Apparently there was some kinda of miscommunication because when we got to the Conference Friday the other two Motras didn’t understand why I had my overnight stuff. It turns out the plan was for Motra Hiland to come to Tirana and Motra Larson to come back to Vlore with me. There was a few seconds of confusion, and then Motra Yourstone and I said it would be fine, and we would just go together to Tirana and meet them in Vlore on Sunday. So Motra Yourstone and I unexpectedly got to be companions all weekend, and it was awesome!!! When everyone saw that us two newbies were going off on our own, I think there were some worried people just because understanding the language is still such a barrier for both of us, but we managed fine and had some awesome experiences together. Plus it is always so fun to just reminisce on our MTC days.
Being back in Tirana for two days was also awesome; I really miss that big city and the busyness there. Missionary work in Vlore is good, but definitely in general just a little slower life, so a few days in the city really got me rejuvenated. As I already expected Motra Yourstone is awesome with the language, but we still had to work together a lot to communicate with people, so it was cool to share so much responsibility. Our first night on our own, the cell phone somehow shut itself off and when we turned it back on we couldn’t turn it on without a pin number. And of course we had no idea what the pin was, so we tried some random combinations until we locked ourselves out of the phone. We were just laughing at ourselves and our situation…the two greenie missionaries alone mess up the phone and end up un-reachable on their first night. So we got a great idea to go borrow a phone, so we were wondering the stairs of our apartment building, until we ran into two girls and asked if we could borrow their phone. So then we called the office Elders and they were able to quickly run to the office and look up this secret code that we needed to fix the phone. I’m sure they were rolling their eyes at us the whole time, but we were grateful that they were able to help us.
Day two in Tirana was just as exciting. I think this paragraph from my journal explains one experience the best:
“This morning we met with Rajmonda, who is an awesome woman in the church. We also met with her daughter named Neta, and did a very special lesson for her. Neta is 21 and has been deaf her whole life and is also partially blind. She can’t read, write, or speak and doesn’t even know sign language except for a few hand motions that she and her mom can do back and forth. To prepare for the lesson we made a little collage book this morning with pictures from old Liahona/Ensign magazines that help explain how to Pray. So page one had pictures of Heavenly Father (or pictures of Christ that we tried to pass off as Heavenly Father); page two was things we are grateful for like food, family, and Book of Mormon, etc; page three was things we need like people hugging, a sick person, and a sad face with an arrow to a happy face; and the last page was pictures of Christ. Even with the book Neta did not understand and she and her mom were both getting frustrated. But Motra Yourstone stepped in and did some “acting” and pointing and I think Neta understood a little. She lacks a lot of confidence, but she is a darling young lady. Just spending an hour there made me so grateful and blessed. It was truly a humbling experience and I pray that Neta will realize that even when she can’t communicate with anybody else, she can communicate with her loving Heavenly Father.”
Also, I forgot to mention that Rajmonda is the hardest person to understand, so Motra Yourstone and I just did a lot of pretend understanding and shaking our heads. Unfortunately, one of the things she asked was if we wanted more byrek and we said yes, thinking she had asked us if we had liked it. Good thing I love Byrek, because we ended up eating a lot that morning. HaHa!
My full Saturday with Motra Youstone was filled with a lot of other awesome lessons too. We just work so well together and she always brings the spirit to lessons, so it was just an amazing day in general of teaching and talking to everyone we met.
So the final test if Motra Yourstone and I were capable missionaries on our own was somehow making our way back to Vlore. We both wanted to make it to church so we decided we had to leave Tirana by about 6 or 6:30am to be safe. So we got up at 5am Sunday morning and took off across town to find a fergon to Vlore. The Elders had tried to give us directions and between the two of us we had an idea where to go, but you all know how “ideas” can work out sometimes, which is why we left so much cushion time. Anyway, how fergon’s work is it is a van and it just parks somewhere and waits till it fills up and then it will take off, picking/dropping people off along the way. It turns out that the place to catch the fergon was in my old area in Tirana, so it was kinda fun walking my old “turf” and trying to find the way because Motra Yourstone had never been on that side of town. Luckily we found it and after waiting about half an hour were headed to Vlore. We totally made it in time for church, and we were so proud of ourselves.
It was so fun to have four of us Motras all together in Vlore for Sunday, especially because church was pretty full. In the two days that Motra Larson had been in my area, she tracked down lots of people that she used to teach last summer when she served here, and they said they are interested in learning again. Also Sunday we had Marjana and Donald Musta’s baptism. I have been teaching Marjana since I got here and before Motra Yourstone and Motra Hiland had been teaching her, which is why we all wanted to be in Vlore for the baptism. It was an awesome service, and their non-member mother even came and really enjoyed it. Awesome!
I love being a missionary! It is just so wonderful to teach these amazing people who are hungering for truth and I’m so lucky to work with such awesome missionaries. We have the most amazing missionaries here in Albania, especially Sisters. I am the only Motra right now who has served with every other Sister Missionary here (even though it was only 24 hours with Motra Larson), and I can honestly say that we definitely have the cream of the crop.
I love the Gospel and I know it is true. I know Heavenly Father loves us so much and truly will answer our prayers, if we go to him in Faith. Jesus Christ lives and is our Savior and Redeemer. I love and miss you all. Thanks so much for your love and prayers, they mean the world to me!
Motra Hall