July 19, 2010

As always, an awesome week here in Albania! I don't think I'll ever get used to the heat and humidity, but at least I have a pretty sweet farmer's tan. I'm pretty proud of it!

I'm not sure if I have ever talked about Kozeta, but she is probably one of my most favorite people here. She was an investigator that Motra Larson originally found over a year ago, so she has been learning about the Gospel for quite awhile. She is one of the most spiritual and good hearted people I have ever met. She is also an English professor at the University here in Vlore, so we usually chat in English, and this week she had the best story ever for us. Apparently she was with one of her friends\coworkers (another very educated English professor here) at a beauty salon, and Kozeta mentioned that she had to leave at a certain time because she had a meeting with her American Mormon Missionaries. Her friend and the beautician in the salon started freaking out on her. They told her she needed to stop meeting with us because we are actually secret Agent girls from the U.S. The various reasons they gave Kozeta for this conclusion that they came to included:

1 - We are outside walking in the sun in the middle of the day, and without umbrellas even. And young girls our age don't have that kind of dedication for anything, unless they are "agent girls." And of course they know all about American agents because they had see it on the TV.

2- We are tall. American must be breeding us tall agent girls to come spy on Albania.

Kozeta said it was all she could do to keep from laughing. She tried to explain that most American woman are taller than Albanians, and tried to explain that in our culture, unlike Albanians, we are more dedicated to things we start and are involved in. But apparently her friends didn't give it up, they just tried to tell her we were spying on them. Kozeta joked that "what would they be spying on, our dust or our old concrete buildings that don't have decent water systems?!" Anyway, hearing Kozeta recount the whole story was priceless. I'm just so glad that she has a testimony of the church and is in love with her American Mormon Motras, and that she has half a brain so she didn't listen to her friends. It is also kinda sad, because most people here do have a naturally suspicious mind about almost anything foreign, which Kozeta says is mostly because of the communism. Another small example of this that I'm pretty sure I've never talked about is some of the things that one of my old Albanian companions used to say. My favorite was she called our District Leader a "spy" because he would call every night to get our numbers of the day and make sure we made it home safe from the streets (that is his actual responsibility). Anyway, there is a little Albanian culture for you!

Yesterday we took Rudina (the short little girl that got baptized with Motra Nonai and I) out with us to a couple of lessons. She keeps talking about wanting to serve a mini mission, so we decided we should try and help her get some practice. She is really awesome though and loves talking about the Book of Mormon. In fact, she has probably given out more Book of Mormons in the last month than I have, and every time we see her she asks for more to give to her "friends." Well, when we were out yesterday I got to meet some of her "friends." She had two Book of Mormons in her hand that she had gotten for some people she knew and as we were walking to one of our lessons, she stopped and started talking to a couple older guys who were selling stuff on the side of the street (which is normal). By the time we realized she had stopped and we walked back to get her, she had given both of the Book of Mormons that she was carrying to these men, and the third man that was with them was telling her to bring him his own book the next day. When we walked away, we asked her if she had ever even talked to those men before. She said "no, but wasn't that great. Did I do a good job?" We just told her yes, and decided not to point out the fact that all those men were lined up selling books on the side of the street and that tomorrow the books she just gave them would probably be for sale, which is why they were so eager for her to bring them more free books. Motra Bentley and I got a pretty good little chuckle out of it!

My girl Meg is back from vacation! She is about 14 and is one of my little gem investigators that I met back with Motra Nonai. I met her street contacting and she started coming to English because she is amazing and basically fluent. Right away she accepted a Book of Mormon and she and her 18 yr old sister started reading it at home. Motra Larson and I began teaching Meg, but then she left to visit family for part of the summer. But she got back this week, and first thing she did was call us! I met her 18 yr old sister, Ada, for the first time this week and now they are both learning together. They are awesome, and love reading the Book of Mormon. I love when people come back to lessons and have good questions about what they read, and you can tell they are really trying to understand it and apply it. We don't get that a lot in lessons, so it is a special treat for us!

Oh, a quick update on the apartment search...we looked at one more apartment this week and were totally sold. It is only like a block from where we live, and it is super cute. It even has a high class North American toilet (I actually don't know what a North American toilet is, but it's a legit toilet), and it really big and furnished. The office Elders are coming down in a few days to negotiate a contract, and then hopefully we'll start moving in the first of August.
This morning our District already started working on some of the art work that we will be decorating our new apartment with. It is pretty righteous! I'm sure Motras serving in Vlore will be thanking Motra Bentley and I for years to come on such a sweet home!

Thanks for all the emails and letters, you're the best! I love you and I love the Gospel. I know the church is true! Have a great week!

Motra Hall