June 28, 2010

Howdy to the homefront! Another week gone by...I think the time here in Albania goes a little faster than the rest of the world, I don't know, just how it feels I guess! As always it was an awesome week full of lots of adventures and beautiful experiences. In fact I've been in a fergon (like a taxi van) for about 8 hours today, so this update will probably be a little shorter today, as I don't have too much time.
So the trip was excessively long, which was mostly the fault of our driver, but it was totally worth it. We went down to Gjirokaster for our District Trip of the transfer. I feel super lucky because most missionaries never see Gjirokaster, except maybe a quick pit stop during their "death trip" at the end of their missions because it is so far south.
It is a gorgeous town and one of the only ones that still has the original Ottoman architecture left in all of Albania after communism. The Elders went and played up at the Castle there while Motra Larson and I wandered the beautiful cobblestone streets and marveled at the beautiful buildings...quite the change from the rest of Albania that is built only with concrete. We even stumbled onto one of the oldest manor homes in the city and were able to wander through it. Absolutely amazing, simply because nothing that people live in now is even close to the original Ottoman and Turkish styles that we saw.

While I'm telling you about all the fun, non-missionary stuff that I've been up to, I might as well tell you about the most recent branch trip we had on Saturday. It was to Himare, which is a beautiful, pristine beach a few hours away. We live in a beach town, so I didn't really understand why everyone wanted to go there, but when I saw the clean, gravel-covered beach I understood why, because our beach in Vlore is covered in litter and the sewer runs into the ocean. Anyway, we had a full bus and of course it was the traditional partying and Albanian line dancing down the aisle of the bus the whole way, children and adults alike. We had a handful of investigators there, and they all had a great time. It is so nice when they start making friends with the members and you don't have to "hold their social hand." Plus I'm sure they had a much better time talking to people that could understand them and talk back, rather than me. Anyway, Motra Larson and I agreed that it was probably the coolest day of our missions so far (in relation to non-direct missionary work, anyway).

Just so you know that I don't just spend all my time playing at beaches and touring ancient cities and castles, we did have a full week of lessons and new investigators to teach. We also scheduled another baptismal date for the end of July with one of the young girls that we have started teaching just 2 weeks ago. Her name is Laureta and she is neighbors with some of the member girls, so she started coming to English lessons and church, and I finally just asked her if she wanted to learn more. She is just a sweetheart and in her first prayers she was saying that she knew the Book of Mormon is true and she loved it and she knew the church was true and she loved learning about God and that she just felt so good. She is one who started with absolutely zero knowledge about Jesus Christ, so she still has much to learn, but just her dedication to keeping commitments to read and pray and come to church and activities already is showing her great faith and desire. This past week in fact, she even started bringing her 14 year old brother who is also going to start the lessons.

And of course Aurora who I have been talking about in my last few letters is getting baptized this week. That young lady never stops amazing us. An absolutely perfectly prepared person for the Gospel. Motra Larson said she is the most prepared person she has ever taught on her whole mission...and Motra Larson has taught a lot of people. And she is leaving me in a week! Crazy!

I pray that all is well for all of you! I know that the Church is true and that through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we can experience more joy, happiness, and peace that we could even imagine otherwise. I love you all, and I'm so grateful for your support and prayers. Trust me, I see the blessings and miracles everyday as a result of those prayers!

Have a great week!
Motra Hall