April 19, 2010

Greetings from a very wet Vlore! We finally ditched our nylons/tights at the beginning of this week, but it didn’t last too long since we have been having moody spring showers on and off for the last few days. We didn’t let the rain stop us this morning though, as we found a sand volleyball net down on the beach, and decided to put it to good use (even though it was shorter that I am).

The rain really isn’t that bad, although the slightly negative side-effect is not having water in our apartment. For some reason whenever there is heavy rains, our apartment water apparently shuts off for a few days. This is the first time it has happened since I’ve been in Vlore, but now I understand why Motra Hiland had been keeping tons of old soda and juice bottles full of water in our pantry. It isn’t so bad though because the Snows are so wonderful and we are able to just run over to their house, or to the church, for showers and other water needs. They take such good care of us, and we will miss them as this is the last week of their mission. We’ll be getting a new couple temporarily and then in May we’ll be getting the Smith’s, which are from Southern-Arizona (still waiting to hear exactly which city). Of course this all is happening if the European Airlines start running again soon. I’m not sure if you have heard about the crazy volcano in Iceland, but most airlines in Europe aren’t running right now, so a couple senior missionaries who are supposed to be coming to Albania have had their flights cancelled and are just waiting to come. I don’t know much else about it, but it sounds like it is pretty hard on the European economy, as well as around the world since we receive imports from all over.

Anyway, enough of current events, as for missionary work everything is still going great! Motra Hiland and I are keeping busy teaching and serving everyone we can. I think my favorite random act of service this week was probably gardening with Anxhela’s family. Anxhela is 15 (youngest of 4 girls) and the only member of the church in her family, but we visit her every week for a lesson and at least chat a little with her family. This week we stopped by randomly just to see how she was and they were all out gardening. I asked her mom if there was anything that we could help with, but I don’t think she thought we were really capable of doing any kind of manual labor. She joked that we could start shoveling the soil to get it ready to plant in. Boy was she surprised when I took a shovel and started tilling the hard dirt in my skirt and dress shoes. I think Motra Hiland was kinda surprised to, but she quickly jumped in and gave me a hand. Afterwards we shared a little thought about “gardening” and “seeds” and how they are like faith. Although the rest of Anxhela’s family wasn’t too interested in our little spiritual thought, they were appreciative of the help we were able to give and kinda impressed that we just stopped by to help. I know these are just little steps we are taking, but I know that someday the rest of Anxhela’s family see how important the gospel is for their whole family.

Another exciting adventure this week was getting Motra Hiland’s hair cut. At first she just had me try and trim it in our apartment so we could avoid the hassle of trying to explain the kinda of cut she wanted. I must say I think I did a pretty good job, but Motra decided to go even shorter and I was a little nervous to do that, so we ventured out to find a salon. We ended up at this kinda sketchy looking place, but the lady was super nice and I thought she did a great job. While Motra Hiland was getting her hair cut, I wrote my testimony in a pamphlet and wrote this little note for the lady that was cutting her hair so that I could leave it with her. She was really grateful for the pamphlet and said that she would read it when she didn’t have clients. So I thought it was a very successful visit to the Salon. The next morning Motra Hiland was getting ready and she screamed out from the bathroom, so I went running in to see what was up. I about died laughing…one side of her hair was about an inch longer than the other side and it was very obvious. She didn’t think our visit to the Salon had been very successful, quite the opposite in fact. We of course found another Salon that next day and she was able to get it fixed. As for me, I haven’t gotten brave enough to venture into an Albanian Salon.

Probably the highlight of my week though has been working with Anisa. Anisa is about 19 years old and has kinda been learning from the sister missionaries for about a year (she was one that Motra Larson tracted down when she was in Vlore). She is an awesome young lady with great faith and a desire to be baptized, but a huge smoking addicton. This week we had an awesome lesson with her on repentance and we told her about a stop-smoking program that we have. It is a really amazing, 100% effective, seven-day program that the church has, and it is pretty intense. She told us that she was ready to try and stop and that she would do the program. So we organized it and had Elder McGlothin go out with us Friday night to visit her and present the program (we had to take the Elders because Motra Hiland and I just don’t have the vocabulary or speaking ability yet to explain all the necessary steps for this program). Anisa excepted all of it and started that night with the program. We have been visiting her every day, and she is doing great so far. She said it has been pretty hard, but she has been keeping very busy and putting a lot of faith in the Lord and has received the strength necessary to stay strong through this trial. Even though the program has tons of steps to do and certain things you have to eat, drink, etc. to cleanse the body of the nicotene, it is interesting that even with all those things the most important steps are to pray and seek strength from God. I really have come to the realization that no matter what the world says or what scientists and research show, God’s way is always the right way even if we don’t always understand it (Isaiah 55:8-9). Just like Anisa is doing, we can all receive strength to overcome challenges and trials in our life, if we turn to the Savior and let the power of the atonement strengthen and comfort us.

I guess that is all the excitement from me for this week. Thanks though for all of your support, emails/letters, and prayers. I know that this is the Lord’s work and his true church on the Earth today. And I promise that following the prophet, keeping Heavenly Father’s commandments, and staying on the Lord’s path will bring us more happiness and peace in this life and the next, more than we can ever imagine.

I love you all! Have a great week!


Motra Hall