June 21, 2010

It's Monday....I'm sure you've all been waiting on the edge of your seats for another update from me. Haha! Just kidding, I know everyone is busy with exciting summer stuff and forgot that today was even P-day. I understand!

I'm having a fun P-Day here in Vlore today though, because I'm with Motra Yourstone and we're living it up. We sent Motra Larson and Motra Bentley off on a two day trip this morning. It is officially termed the "Death Trip" that is an overnight trip down south that all missionaries get to go on at the end of their missions. Motra Bentley technically isn't "dying" yet, but she went early so Motra Larson wouldn't be alone with all the Elders. So that worked out perfectly so Motra Yourstone and I could work together for a couple days.

Missionary work is going great as usual. Working with Motra Larson just makes me feel like we are always on fire because she is such an awesome teacher and equally amazing at finding new people to teach. So we're always getting new investigators, as well as seeing great progress with those we are already teaching. The branch is also going great now with the Smith's here and we convinced the Landlord to rent us out the third floor of the building the church is in, so we now have some more room, because it was getting pretty crowded with Sunday School classes, etc. An interesting statistic from church yesterday...we had 48 people at church, and only 5 of those people were adults, the rest were children under 19. Obviously that isn't counting missionaries, but needless to say, we have a super young branch. Even considering this though, it is suprising how well everything is ran and the attendance that we see. The youth here really are amazing, even though it often feels like us missionaries are running a Junior High School Zoo.

We opened up a new English Class this week and had a pretty good turn-out. We split it into 3 different groups depending on experience, and I'm teaching the intermediate class. We have about 12-15 people in the class, and hopefully if we can get a bigger classroom, we'll have even more. The students in my class are supposed to have had at least 3 years or more of English learning in school or from a private class, yet we've been teaching "Hello, my name is..." and "How are you?" So really it is just like a beginning class, which is okay with me also. It mostly is just interesting to see this comparison of language skills between us and them. I've come to two conclusions: First, we are so blessed that the Lord helps us learn this ridiculous language in such a quick time span and in such a proficient manner. Second, schooling here in Albania is pretty horrible...but I'd already kinda came to that conclusion from other things. For example, a new investigator we started teaching this week is 19 years old and currently in law school. I always figured Law students are kinda the brighter people who can think through things critically, etc. Well we explained to this girl all about Joseph Smith and how he lived in the early 1800's, etc. Then we watched the Restoration film with her, and in the film it talks about the history and childhood of Joseph Smith in that time period, and then as he grows up and a little about his ministry as the prophet of the restoration. At the end of the film, the only question she had was if the movie was live with the real Joseph Smith, or if it was an actor. I guess she didn't get that he lived 200 years ago before movie technology. We assured her it was just an actor though, and it didn't alter her faith at all, which is good. :) I actually think she is going to be a great investigator. We also found her tracting!

My favorite new Investigators of the week though were a referal from Eva Isufi. I'm sure I've talked about her before (I teach her daughter, Hajdi, piano lessons), she and her family are just awesome. We challenged Eva to pray about someone she knows that she could share the gospel with. She came up with her brother-in-law's family, who she talked with and they said they would love to meet with Eva's "Nun" friends. I guess we kinda are like temporary nuns actually, anyway we thought that was funny. So one night we all piled into the Isufi's car and they drove us out to this village where the family lives. We started teaching the sister-in-law and 10 year old daughter and they are really excited to learn. They don't know anything really about religion or Jesus Christ, but that isn't too unusual. In fact Motra Larson was showing the little daughter all these pictures of Christ during a lesson this week, and she just kept asking, "but where is Mother Theresa?" And anytime she saw a woman in the pictures she would ask if it was Mother Theresa. So we have a long way to go, but they are willing and they have great examples since their family is LDS and are helping with the lessons. In fact Saturday when we walked all the way out to their house, we found all the family cousins there playing together. They are all under the age of 11 but they all sat down and listened to the lesson and watched the Restoration film. It was like a mini primary class at their home. They loved it, and we're hoping to eventually start teaching their parents too, which are Brother Isufi's other siblings.

Anyway, it really is just awesome to see the little seeds that are being scattered and are spreading like weeds...but of course it is a good weed! :) I just love the work and I love seeing other people love it so much that they want to share it. That is a very hard thing for Albanians because they are very prideful and they care what other people think about them, but I'm witnessing that the culture of the Gospel can overpower some of those cultural things that bind them down, it just takes time. That's why it is so important that we all do our little missionary part wherever you are in the world. So even though it's summer break, I hope you all aren't taking a break from being member missionaries and trying to share the happiness that you have from the church with those you are around. I know that it is truly the way to gain true happiness...share the joy!

I love you all and pray that you are well and having a wonderful week!

Motra Hall