July 26, 2010

I hope everyone's Pioneer Weekend was as amazing as mine! I probably have had more favorites in my mission than any one Motra should, but this past weekend definitely made my top mission favorites!

It started Friday and dragged through all the way to today. I'll start from the beginning - Friday morning Dashi, Irena, and Lindita called and wanted to meet with us because they were down here in Vlore at the beach for vacation this weekend. If you don't remember, Dashi and Irena are the cute couple from Tirana that own a flower shop and byrek shop and we cut tons of roses with them for Valentines day and also went to their byrek shop and learned how to make byrek. And Lindita is related to them and is the mother of the two girls that spoke English and had lived in America most of their lives. The 2 girls were busy, but the three adults all came into town to see us and go out for refreshments. Motra Bentley and I were so excited we were practically running down the street to meet them. They are probably some of my favorite people here, and judging by what they said, Motra Bentley and I are pretty awesome in their books too. Since we have left Tirana they haven't had much time to learn from the new Motras and they said that since I left they haven't really been to church. I know it was supposed to be some kind of honor/compliment from them that they love us so much that they won't go to church once we left, but it was kinda sad. I am so excited to teach them again when I return to Tirana, and they made me promise to let them know as soon as I get back there.

Friday night Motra Bentley and I headed up to Tirana for exchanges with Motra Peatross and Motra Hiland, so it was great to have a little Motra slumber party. Then Saturday was just as awesome. Motra Hiland and I spent all morning tracting (knocking on doors to find people to teach). We had a great time, and it was thoroughly entertaining to be doing typical missionary tracting on my birthday. But the highlight of the day had to be that night.

Kastriot got baptized!!!

Kastriot is Motra Bentley's biggest investigator of her mission and she found him and has been teaching him basically for the last year. He finally was ready to get baptized and he was so happy. I taught him also when I was in Tirana, so it was super exciting to see him working the white. His baptism was super beautiful, and it was great to have all the Motras there also, since we all have taught him at some point in the last six months. We had to leave around 5 am Sunday morning to get back to Vlore, so we weren't at church when he got the Holy Ghost, but he called us right after and told us how amazing it was and how it was even better than his baptism the night before. I'm so excited to see this young man as he continues in the church. He is going to be such an amazing leader in Albania and he has such an awesome testimony that he has had to work hard to get.

Other random highlights of the Big Day on Saturday included waking up at 5 am to go play football (ie: American soccer) with half of the missionaries in Tirana, including Motra Yourstone and her trainee, Motra Halabuk. And another highlight, Motra Peatross's amazing carrot cake, pineapple, cream cheese frosting Birthday cake she made me. I think it might be one of my new favorites. The Elders also made me a birthday cake today which was pretty amazing also, with a special layer of candle wax as the frosting. See, when you get as old as I am, by the time you get all the candles lit, half of them have melted all over the cake. Anyway, in summary I was more than well taken care of for my birthday here. Plus all the emails and cards, and birthday parties held in my honor over there on your side were all very much appreciated. Thanks so much!

My last kinda funny story of the week was meeting with our future landlord to sign the contract on the new apartment. We told him last week when we looked at the apartment that this week the Office Elders would be coming from Tirana with a contract to go over with him. In typical Albanian style he just said, "okay, whatever, come whenever, okay do as you like." (They usually aren't too professional.) When the Elders got here all the way from Tirana we called the guy and he's busy, but eventually makes his way over to meet us. So we go up to the apartment, only to find out that he has rented it out for the next month to some tourist and we can't move in till September. Still, it is a great apartment so we decide to go through with the contract, but the Landlord had left again, so we tried to talk to his wife and then waited forever for him to come back. This happened a couple times till we had waited over an hour and a half total for him that morning. So then we get into the discussion, and Elder Smith (from my MTC group) is basically doing all the negotiating with this guy, which was pretty entertaining. Elder Smith is going into accounting too and wants to go to law school, so he was very professional, but this landlord guy just didn't get it. He just kept wanting to know when he got paid and he didn't understand the idea of a contract at all. I was enjoying the little show of Elder Smith patiently explaining that this contract protects him and that it is a promise that we will move in and pay our monthly rent. Motra Bentley in the meantime was super annoyed with this character (and rightfully so) and was whispering to us that we just need to drop this guy and walk off. It was a pretty entertaining meeting to just watch. Finally at the end the guy just said told Elder Smith, "okay I will just sign this and then you shut-up." It was a frustrating business but at least we now have a new house we get to move into - in a month!

I hope you all have a great week! I love and miss you tons!

Motra Hall