August 16, 2010

Happy Month of Ramazan!
Yep, the Muslim month of fasting just began here in Albania...and I'm not part of it, thank goodness. I only know this because there are banners all over town wishing everyone a happy Ramazan. The exact translation basically says, "We hope you have fast that is easy and accepted." We all got a good laugh about that, I never realized that it was supposed to be good to have a fast that was easy, and I never considered my fast as not "accepted" by God. Anyway, we got all the details about it from one of our investigators, a Muslim 19 year old girl who is participating in the fast this year. She said it lasts for 1 month and you can't eat anything, drink anything, or work at all throughout the day, and then between sundown and sunset is when you can eat, work, and do everything else. I know the missionaries in Tirana hate Ramazan, because all the pizza places in Tirana are run by Muslims, so for this whole month they can't buy pizza during the day. I haven't noticed that problem here though, probably because we don't have any decent pizza places in Vlore. Kinda interesting I thought!

Motra Bentley and I are still rocking it up down here in Vlore, working hard, and enjoying every minute. It is absolutely impossible to not have a good time with Motra Bentley, that girl is always smiling and laughing her cute little pig snort. Because Motra Bentley laughs at everything, so she has got me to thinking that I'm pretty funny, but the truth is she is just easy to entertain, so it will be hard when I have to have a new companion or hang out with different people and they won't think I'm funny just dorky and annoying. Oh well, we're enjoying it while it lasts!
Motra Bentley and I ready for take off this little indian squaws/nerds!

Our District trip today was to Porto Pollermo, an old castle about 2.5 hours away.

Gotta have a jumping photo! Elder Hixson, Elder Thorpe, Motra Bentley, Elder Warburton (on the ground), me, Elder Wallentine

So, for some of our dorky adventures of the week:
One day this week we called Rudina (the really short woman that got baptized a few months ago) for a meeting. Her mom told us she had just left their store to go home for lunch. We didn't know where she lived, but we thought if we could catch her on her way home then we could just follow her to her house and have a lesson and also find out where she lives. As soon as we thought this, the city bus drove by and we saw Rudina on it. Motra Bentley and I looked at each other and without saying anything started running after the bus. So we obviously looked pretty ridiculous, two tall, obviously foreign, girls in skirts and sandals running down the main street. We didn't catch the bus, but it was near the end of its route, so we thought we could just run down there and catch her getting off the bus. We totally caught her and she was super confused why we were like running after her, but was excited that we wanted to come to her house. In the process we also ran into another member, who is less active and hard to meet with, and she invited us to come to her house later. I just realized that wasn't too funny of a story how I told it, but if you just try to picture us running and looking like total weirdos in a place where walking fast is considered totally un-normal, let alone running down main street. Besides feeling dorky, we did kind of feel like some legit FBI gals or something, tracking these people down to meet with us.

Our other adventure of the week included us trying to find dye to tie-dye stuff for girls camp. In short...tie-dying is not a concept that anyone understands here. After a couple days of asking around we were let to the local wool dying shack where they hand dye their knitting wools, but the lady told us it wouldn't work on cotton. We finally just convinced her to just sell us a little bit, and that we were just going to do some experimenting. She still was super sceptical, but eventually agreed. While she was gathering together the dye, her old father started talking to us. At first he was super friendly and was saying "you are the sun, you are the moon, you are the stars, you are everything beautiful in the world." And then he got super angry and said, "and here you are wasting your time for Jesus! What a waste!" And then he wouldn't talk to us anymore, and he just sat and stared into space. Of course, Motra Bentley laughed, and I was just kinda confused and trying to think about what he had said because he jumped right from praising us to basically calling us stupid and I still can't follow Albanian that fast when they are constantly changing topics. It was kinda sad that he felt like that, but little does he know that there is no better way we would like to be spending our lives right now than helping others come unto Christ. Some people think of it as a great sacrifice, but to me it really just seems like a huge blessing. I love it! Oh, and as a side note, the tie-dye turned out really cool until Motra Bentley washed her shirt and it turned white again. It's okay though, we have already found new ways to entertain ourselves.

Another story for you, although this one is kinda sad, but it gives a nice little view of the Albanian culture. It's about Rezarta, an 18 year old girl who has been a member for a little under a year and is amazing. She is one of my favoritest girls (I know I say that about everyone). Here's how Motra Bentley tells the story:
Rezi is in love with a member boy thats 22 and they're planning on getting married so the boy went to her parents this past week to talk to them about marriage... well right now just think to yourselves about the reasons why you would say no... here is some more facts about them. they've dated for t
he past year all in secret - her parents haven't known a thing about it. I don't know about you but to me the reasons why her parents would be against it are these: that she's 18 and she's kept it all a secret.
Well... they did say no but not for those reasons. Here were their reasonings... he is a Mormon boy and they found each other with love... meaning it wasn't an arranged marriage like the rest of her family has been... yup they didn't care that its been a secret for the past year and they dont care that she's only 18... they're mad that he's LDS... so now they're blaming the church that they're in love so she's no longer allowed to any church activity at all, she can't even come to church anymore! oh man - Albania... its insane here!!! especially when it comes to that kind of stuff; they're still obsessed with arranged marriages and dad's are evil!!!
How sad! We of course have a pretty good relationship with her parents and her, and so we are trying to help her through this hard time. It's just crazy the things that we still have to deal with here sometimes! I am so grateful for my culture I was raised in!

Well, as always there was much more but time is short, so I'll just have to leave you all salivating for my update next week! Thanks for all your love and support and prayers and emails/letters, it means the world to me. You are all amazing! Have an awesome week, and know I'll be thinking about you!