Gèzuar Pashkèt! (Happy Easter!)

As always it has been a wonderful, eventful, and adventurous week here in Albania. For starters I’m not sure if I reminded you all last week, but transfer calls came this past Saturday and....I’m staying and so is Motra Hiland! Yay! The Elders weren’t as lucky though, and Elder Skousen is headed to my old area in Tirana to be a Zone Leader. And since Elder Layton is finishing his mission tomorrow, we get two new Elders here in Vlore, and they are going to be Elder Wallentine and Elder Smith (both from my MTC group). It should be fun to work with them again!

Okay, now about our exciting week…for starters Motra Hiland turned 22 years old this week. She is catching up with me! Since I’m such a wonderful companion I spent a little time in the kitchen while she was still in bed and whipped up some breakfast in bed complete with pancakes, eggs, and fruit. She isn’t exactly a morning person, but she put on her best smile for me and ate off of her table leaf platter that I served her on. I was just happy that she didn’t get food poisoning from my kitchen escapade.

Also for Motra Hilands’s birthday we had our President’s interviews. He and Motra Neil came down to Vlore and it was nice to catch up with them. Interviews went pretty normal, of course President is always super nice and told us we are like the most effective companionship in the mission, but I’m sure he tells that to everyone.

Then we had April Fool’s Day! In case you were wondering, Albanians know this day as a joke day, but I didn’t notice them doing anything to “Fool-ish.” Motra Hiland and I, on the other hand, had a top-notch April Fool’s Day. We were able to get our hands on Elder McGlothin and Skousen’s spare apartment keys (man I’m going to miss when the Snow’s leave) and spent a lunch break over reeking havoc at their place. At the MTC we were always constantly reminded that Missionaries are professional and don’t pull pranks, but somehow on the plane trip here we were able to retrieve our natural instincts back. Thank Goodness! So anyway, the Elders felt pretty punked when they came home to toilet paper (the pink scented kind), saran wrap, shaving cream messages on their tile floors, vasoline, and a few other things scattered about and hidden. Just another successful day for us Motras!

I had to give in this week and I ATE LAMB. I hope everyone at the Hall Sheep Ranch is feeling really proud of me right now. I didn’t really even eat that much, but Motra Hiland was really proud of me too. We went to visit the family from a few weeks ago that always cooks for us and of course we had noodles and lamb again. This time Motra was too full to help me out with my very generous servings of meat, so I found myself in a little bind. Thankfully I had come prepared with a Ziploc bag in my backpack (thanks for that recommendation Brother Hardcastle!), so when nobody was looking I would try and drop some pieces onto the napkin in my lap and then into the bag, but I still had a lot on my plate and I couldn’t really do anything. So I started stringing tiny pieces like string cheese and nibbling on them. I probably ate less than a grape size of meat and it took me about 15minutes, so finally Motra said we had to go. I didn’t know what to do so I asked if I could just take it in my napkin and eat it on the walk home. The lady was super sweet and got me tinfoil for all my leftover meat. Motra Hiland enjoyed that for dinner that night.

So as I mentioned last week we had another big trip this past Saturday. As a Branch we went to Logara, which is about an hour and a half away and is up in the mountains. We had a packed bus and as always it was a pretty exciting trip. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, so we were all grateful for that. Mostly it was just a great opportunity to enjoy ourselves with the members and some of their non-member friends/family that they invited. We played some volleyball, Frisbee, and soccer. I especially enjoyed the soccer match that the older Dads of the branch started. I was thoroughly impressed how fast these older, not exactly in-shape men were. They probably were like soccer stars in their younger years because they were super competitive, and probably didn’t appreciate having a crippled Motra Missionary on their team, but we had a good time. We also had an Egg Toss Activity with raw eggs. I ended up pretty covered in egg from my waist down, which was quite entertaining for everyone else to see.

So the last kinda exciting thing of the week happened Sunday afternoon after church. President Baird had come down to Vlore for church and when he got ready to leave he realized that he had locked his keys in his car. Somehow Elder Snow had heard this rumor about my hidden talent of picking locks and breaking into cars, so my assistance was requested. (I think what really happened is the Snows heard me joking with the Elders that we picked the lock to their apartment when we pranked them). Anyway, it turns out that of this whole group of men, I really was the only one who had any kind of experience breaking into cars. So we found a wire clothes hanger in the church and went to check out the situation. As I was expertly sliding the clothes hanger in through the top of the door window, we were approached by a group of Albanian men who were wondering what we were doing. I realize it probably was a pretty interesting sight…4 men in suits watching this girl in a dress try and break into a car with a coat hanger. Anyway, once the men realized that we weren’t trying to steal this car, they immediately busted out this bag of tools and got to work trying to break in the car. I just stepped back because it is kinda xhunaf for a girl to try and give directions to men, plus I figured these guys were expert mafia car thieves. After watching them for a couple minutes I realized I’ve probably broken into more cars than them. So after about 10 or 15 minutes and a dozen or so other Albanian men stopping to give advice to these guys, President Baird just went and got a locksmith. I was kinda bummed that I didn’t get to work my breaking in magic because these Albanian guys showed up, but it was still pretty exciting.

I hope you all got to see and or hear at least some of General Conference this past weekend. Because of the time difference we only got to hear the morning sessions from both days. We listened to them live on the Internet at the Snow’s house both on Sunday and Saturday Night. In Tirana there are enough members that they broadcast it at the church and some of the members who know English well take turns translating it live for the other members. But otherwise, the Albanian saints don’t get to watch it because the church doesn’t translate it anymore. So they won’t get to hear the messages until the Conference Addition of the Liahona comes out in a couple months. So eventually they’ll get it, but it just isn’t the same as hearing the Apostles testify. It is just so wonderful to hear them witness that our Savior Jesus Christ lives and that this is his Church. I heard some amazing talks. I especially enjoyed Elder Ballard’s talk Saturday Morning. He said that young woman need to listen to their moms because they are wise and know a lot, even if they can’t text fast or don’t have a Facebook page. I was thinking that I was extra lucky because my Mom is wise and she is cool and has Facebook. Haha!

Anyway, as I listened to Conference and enjoyed the special spirit of Easter I just felt especially grateful to be a member of the true church on the earth today and to have the opportunity to share the joy that it has brought me to the wonderful people of Albania. I know that we are led by a living prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, and that Jesus Christ is the head of this church, His church. We have a loving Heavenly Father who hears our prayers and will answer them if we listen with patience and faith.

I love you all! Thanks for your support, love, and prayers! Have a wonderful week!


Motra Hall