May 3, 2010

Greetings! Happy Albanian Labor Day! Okay, actually that was May 1st, but that is about as exciting as I have for this week. Just kidding, of course Motra Nonai and I had another exciting, eventful week together.

So I want to share my favorite story of the week which was tracting. So this was Motra Nonai's first time tracting (which is where we go from door to door knocking on people's doors to find people to teach), and she was pretty nervous, but said she wanted to try it. So I chose an apartment building a little ways from the city and I just decided we'd go at it. Usually we take turns knocking and starting the conversation at each door, but this time it was a little different for me. Motra Nonai hid behind me the whole time at every door and refused to talk to anyone. The few times it wasn't possible for her to stand behind me she would just stand kinda at my side looking at her feet. We really had no success at all, and lots of slammed doors, but I was really enjoying myself. I think it was because I was thinking that Motra Nonai was acting so awkward and it was quite funny, plus the happier I was and the more I enjoyed it, the madder she got. Then I kinda started being a little mean...everytime someone would tell us they didn't have time right now to talk and would slam the door, I would turn to Motra Nonai and say that I think that means that we should come back later when they have more time. She kept getting upset and yelling at me (I say yelling, but it really is just how all Albanains talk...with loud, fast voices) that no they aren't interested and we should just leave and not come back. I obviously knew that they weren't interested in the Gospel, but after like every slammed door I would say, "maybe they really would love to learn later if we come back." Motra Nonai was really dying, and was probably thinking I was the craziest, dumb American she had ever met. I know, I'm a mean companion, but I figured I had to have some fun as I was basically tracting all these homes alone. We continued at this for about an hour and Motra Nonai was practically on her knees begging to leave. Finally she had it and just started walking back to the city. Obviously I had to follow her, but I figured we had gotten in a good first exposure to tracting.

Anyway, I hope you all don't think I'm so terrible for terrorizing my companion, and I hope you don't think less of her, because she is really doing well. I must admit tracting was probably the one thing I dreaded before my mission too, but now it is kinda fun for me. On a more positive note, it has been amazing having Motra Nonai here with me in Vlore because she is a very personable person and most of the Albanians just love her. For example we met with two women this week (one a member and the other an investigator) who have not met with us in forever, and the one I had never met at all the whole time I've been here in Vlore. But when they got a call from Motra Nonai they immediately agreed to a lesson, and they went really well. Sometimes I think these people just want someone to talk to a little, someone who understands their struggles and can just talk to them. Unfortunately I'm not quite there yet with my language ability, and quite frankly I'll never be able to understand all of their difficulties because our cultures are so different, so it really is just so wonderful to have Motra Nonai here, if only for a short time.

This week we also had Zone Conference, which was fun to get together with everyone and have a really uplifiting conference. I got to see most of the Motra's from Tirana, and they are all doing well in their little house with the four of them. Motra Yourstone is doing much better with her leg and is excited to get her cast off in a week or so. As for conference it was really great and was the start of a Mission 40 Day Fast. Obviously we aren't all going to give up food for 40 days, but we each had to make a list of 3 things we are going to start and 3 things we are going to stop doing to be better missionaries. Then we are all reading the Book of Mormon in these 40 days looking for teachings of Christ that we feel are specific for us in our lives right now. I'm really excited for this big "fast," and I decided I would share my goals with you all. They always say you should tell someone else your goals so they can keep tabs on you, right?
1. Start putting everything in better order (ie: often I just stack all my papers and study books in a big pile on my dest) A cleaner study place will help bring the spirit more into my study time.
2. Start having better, more productive language studies
3. Start taking better care of myself (ie: eat better, exercise better, etc...don't worry I'm still plenty healthy, but of course we can always be better)
1. Stop being nice. (Basically I need to be more bold with people. For example if someone didn't show up to church because they went out with their friends, I have a bad habit of saying "oh, I understand, well maybe next week." The same old Motra Hall problem...I never want to hurt anyone's feelings.)
2. Stop ignoring promptings or good ideas. (Usually just small things like, talk to those kids on the side of the road, etc.)
3. Stop letting future/post mission plans distract or stress me. (Not really a huge problem, but I sometimes find myself thinking about these adults my age here who still live at home, and imagining myself moving back in the Hall Ranch...haha)

Anyway, that is my list, so we'll see how it goes. You'll all probably have to be checking in on me the next 40 days to see if I'm keeping these goals. I know you are all busy with your lives too, but if anyone feels so motivated I would totally encourage you to try out your own similar 40 day fast with me. You can probably just pick one or two things to work on that you think would make you better and help you come closer to the Savior. Plus, re-reading the Book of Mormon never hurt anybody! Who am I kidding...I'm talking to the most amazing people I know, haha, what could you possibly work on?!

Well, that is about all I have for this week, but I hope you all have a wonderful week and know that I am thinking about you and miss you tons! I know the church is true and I'm so grateful to be serving a mission and sharing this message. I promise that we have a loving Heavenly Father who hears and answers our prayers and who wants to help us if we will only rely on him. Jesus Christ lives and is our Savior and Redeemer and I'm so grateful for his sacrifice for me and the strength we can each receive from his Atonement.

I love you!

Motra Hall