April 26, 2010

Howdy to Everyone on the Homefront!

So I spent over half an hour writing a really awesome, creative, detailed email this morning, and as I was finishing it up the Electricity in all of Vlore shut off, and of course I lost the whole email. So sorry now you just get a short, plain email to fill you in on my exciting week full of surprises and changes.

For starters I have a pretty long story, but I'll just tell you the main points. Motra Yourstone got a stress fracture in her leg and had to get a cast put on. She now has to stay off her feet/hobble around on crutches for 3 weeks and then another 3weeks after she gets the cast off. Of course she is the amazing Motra Yourstone, so she has a super attitude and is doing really well. The nearest American Doctors in Germany recommended that she just go home, but nobody wants that of course so everyone put their heads together to come up with a solution (ie: President and his assistants put their heads together). So President convinced Marsida (she was serving as a mini missionary when I first got to the country) to come serve another mini mission for 6 weeks or so and be Motra Yourstone's companion since she can't be out doing tons of work. Then he had Motra Hiland go up to Tirana and be Motra Larson's companion. All four of those sisters are now just sharing one apartment for the time being, and things are going well. That of course leaves me in Vlore (which I was super happy about), and I'm "training" another Mini Missionary (a normal member who serves as a missionary for a short time). Her name is Elsa Nonai, and she is actually from the old branch I served in Tirana before, so I kinda knew who she was at least. She has been thinking about serving a full-time mission, so President thought this would be a good opportunity for her to sample the work and see what the life of a missionary really is like. Plus, we obviously had the need for another Sister for the time being. Motra Nonai is 26 years old, an only child who lives with her Mom and Dad in Tirana (which isn't a bad thing, but it is actually normal/expected to live at home till your married), and she has finished with her Bachelor's and Master's degrees. I said before that I'm "training" her because I'm the senior companion and I'm kinda in charge of everything and of teaching her the ropes, but since she speaks Albanian already, I really have it easy and she has been a huge help. Oh, and have I mentioned that Motra Nonai doesn't know any English...that has been fun! Really communication hasn't been that bad at all actually. The Lord has really been blessing me with the gift of tongues and I'm speaking better and understanding better than I ever imagined I would at this point. I'm just grateful that President has allowed me this opportunity; he really has put a lot of faith in me to be doing this.

We got the details of this emergency transfer on Tuesday, and Thursday morning I went to Tirana to get Motra Nonai, so it has only been 5 days, but I haven't managed to ruin anything yet (I don't think at least). In fact, we have had a really successful week together. On Sunday Rudina was finally baptized! She is a sweet lady that has been taking the lessons for about a year and has just a wonderful testimony. She has had a couple fears about baptism though, and has cancelled previous baptismal date, so I was pretty nervous that she wouldn't show up or that something would go wrong, especially because I was kinda in charge of everything for her baptism. I'm used to just kinda showing up to these type of things and the senior companion taking care of everything, but this time I was the one making sure the program was all ready, everything was organized, and she was fitted and dressed in the right stuff, etc. So much excitement! The baptism went perfectly though and it was just beautiful! It was such a special day for Rudina and for me also, as I was able to watch her take this big step in her life. She gave a lovely testimony afterwards, and the rest of the day she was telling everyone we saw that she had been baptized. I feel so blessed to have been able to witness this special event in her life and to see that joy and happiness that she experienced and that comes to us all when we know we are doing those things that our Heavenly Father would have us do.

I know last week I also mentioned that we had started the Stop Smoking Program with Anisa, and I didn't want to leave you hanging on the outcome...it worked! Anisa didn't smoke one cigarette all week and she is doing great. It was definitely a hard week, and as we visited with her each day we could tell that it was a difficult trial of her faith to overcome this bad habit, but she did it! Of course after any big step like this, there is still a long road to follow, but it is in this "enduring to the end" process that we become even stronger.

I'm sorry that is about all I have time for this week, but I'm sure you'll be getting lots more exciting stories in the coming weeks. Living with an Albanian is an experience that all the missionaries always hope to have an opportunity at, and I've been really lucky and very blessed for this chance. I've learned so much more about their culture in just a few days, so who knows what the coming weeks have in store...

I know the church is true and that this is where we can find true happiness. No matter what trials we face in the life, I hope you all remember that they are for our good to learn and grow and become better individuals, and ultimately to become like our loving Heavenly Father. He is always there and always listening to our prayers, if we will only turn to him.

I love you all! Thanks for everything and have a great week!

Motra Hall