March 8, 2010

Hi everyone!

Happy Albanian Women’s Day to all those wonderful woman in my life. It actually used to be called Mother’s Day, but albania decided to get more politically correct and wanted to celebrate this day for all the women even us single gals, so now it is called women’s day. Nevertheless, thanks to all you wonderful women out there.

Hope you all have had another wonderful week, whatever you have been up to. I of course have had an amazing week here in Vlorë. We haven’t had as many lessons as I’m used to, but we have been keeping pretty busy knocking doors and talking to people in the streets and we have seen some awesome little miracles. More about that later though, first I’ll get through all the crazy little missionary adventures.

Since this was Elder çelaj’s last week as a missionary he kinda got adventurous and wanted to enjoy himself a bit. On Tuesday he called for a District finding activity called a Xhiro, which basically a glorified stroll, or walk. Of course Motra Hiland and I took advantage of this time to say hi and talk to all the people be passed. But over the course of the walk we realized that there weren’t very many people to talk to because we were in the middle of nowhere, walking on a pretty dead, muddy, dirt road. Nevertheless, we still ran into a couple people that I stopped and chatted with, mostly because they were wondering why a group up young people in suits and skirts were walking down this muddy deserted road. Then we started walking through this forest and there was nobody around. Except in the distance in the forest we saw a group of old men sitting in a circle on logs. Lots of old men sit around here like that and play dominoes, or cards or chess, so it wasn’t that big of a surprise, besides the fact that they were in the middle of this forest. Anyway, we kept just following the Elders a little farther and we came out on the Palaxhi Bjetr, which is basically the beach. There was nothing out there except litter. It was very beautiful thought and we found tons of old bunkers everywhere. Some were out in the water and a few of us were able to find stepping stones and make our way out to climb on them, despite our suits and skirts. It was a fun little adventure, and don’t worry we made the time up later, so we aren’t spending all our missionary time on walks to the beach.

This week was also Elder çelay’s birthday so we had a little party at the Snow’s for our District Lunch. Motra Hiland made a version of the game pin the tail on the donkey, but instead it was pin the Libri I Mormonit (Albanian Book of Mormon) on the Muslim Man’s Hand. It was kinda the highlight of the party although I didn’t make it even close to the picture of the Muslim Man at all.

In Tirana we never ate at people’s homes besides small little treats that every one gives you when you come to there house, but here there is this family that loves the missionaries. They aren’t members, but they invite us over all the time and always give us food. The first night we were there they brought Motra Hiland and I each out a huge bowl of spaghetti (like enough to serve 4 people), and then they brought out a basket full of bread. Then they brought out this plate of meat, which was lamb. And then they brought out a bowl of like pickled, soured, plain yoghurt stuff. And then oranges and apples also. I thought I was going to pop because I was so full! And luckily Motra Hiland loves lamb, so she just ate all of it on the plate while I slowly picked through my spaghetti. And when they asked if we like the meat I just smiled and put more food in my mouth. It is really nice here though because Albanians shake their head from left to right to say “yes,” but obviously for Americans that means “no,” so sometimes I just shake my head like that and they think it means “yes,” but to me it means “no” so I’m not lieing. I may have done that.
Two days later we ate at this same families, cousin's home and we had noodles and lamb meet again. When they left the room for a moment though, Motra Hiland ate my lamb meat for me. I was extremely grateful!!! Oh, and both times we visited these families, they always play Popullori Music (which is Albanian music but it kinda sounds Indian because everyone here is like muslim) and the Nënë (grandma) always dances and makes us get up at dance with her. I’m pretty sure I looked pretty dorky, but the Nënë loves it!

One night this week Dashi and Irena (the family from Tirana that had the byrek and flower shop) called our cell phone to talk to me. They said they had gotten my number from Motra Bentley and they just called quickly to see if I was liking Vlorë and to tell me that they missed me. I felt so loved! They are so amazing, and I can’t wait to got back to Tirana at the end of the month for their baptisms (hopefully!!!).

Okay, like I said in the beginning we have been spending a lot more time this week simply trying to find people and that means lots of tracting (knocking on people’s doors). We actually were having a fairly successful week tracting. Of course my idea of successful may be different than most people, but it basically is that some people actually took time to talk to us and took a pamphlet to read although they didn’t have time in the moment to talk to us. But compared to people yelling at us and slamming the doors on us, I figured that we were doing pretty good. Of course you always get the people who you can hear them inside talking or with the TV on, and as soon as you knock they turn the TV up really loud so they can pretend they don’t hear you knocking on their door. I always get a good laught out of those. Anyway, we had a couple meetings scheduled yesterday, but none of the people ended up being home (that seems to happen a lot with people here, a scheduled appointment means nothing to them.) Anyway, it was a total blessing, because instead we went tracting and we knocked on the door of this woman named Jeta. She has three sons, aged 5,9,and 15 and as soon as she saw us on her door she invited us right in. That was the first time I have ever been immediately invited in, so it was awesome. As we started talking to her she said that she had actually been taught by sister missionaries before about a year prior. We talked to her some more and she remembered about Joseph Smith and asked if we would share with her a message from the scriptures. Of course we said yes! Afterwards she asked if we could come back because she would like to receive the lessons. That is always wonderful when they asked before you even offer to teach them. So we are going back to visit her on Tomorrow and I’m so excited. Her 9 year old son also seemed quite interested in the message and sat still and quite and listened the whole time.
When we got home we went through the old record book and found Jeta’s record from when she received the lessons before. Apparently she had been having them and loving them and they the middle son had gotten hit by a car and it was a pretty stressful time in their life and between that and transfer of missionaries, they somehow stopped getting the lessons. It is just amazing to me that of all the hundreds of apartment buildings in this city, we were able to knock on her door and find her again. It truly was a miracle! The Lord is truly blessing us as we do his work, and he is guiding us to find those who need and are ready for the gospel. I am so blessed to be a missionary here in Albanian.

I know the church is true and that the Lord hears and answers our prayers. He is aware of each and everyone of us and if we only have faith in him he will guide us on the path back to him. I love this gospel and I love being a missionary. I love you all, and thank you so much for your prayers and support!

Have a great week!


Motra Hall