July 30, 2010

Happy August! Another month down...where does the time go! I was actually sent into a head spinning shock this past week as I realized truly how fast the time has gone. Here's how it happened: Marsida Korrika, who lives in my old area in Tirana (she was a mini-missionary with Motra Larson when I first got to the country and again when I had my mini-missionary) got her full-time mission call. It is to Albania, which to be honest is kinda disappointing for her since the last two sisters from Albania got calls to Temple Square, which is like the Albanian Sister Missionary Dream (personally I'd take Albania any day over Temple Square.) Of course she is happy to just finally have her call, but the craziest part of it was that she doesn't leave for her mission till October 2011. Over a year away! I thought 6 months was bad, but waiting almost 18 months to leave on a mission would be unimaginable. She called and told us the moment she got her call, and when she read us that part we thought it was a little weird and I've kinda been communicating with President for her to see if it's some kind of mistake. For the time being though it totally makes sense because as we only have 6 Motras in Albania, the five that will be replacing all of us have already been called, and so Marsida would be the replacement for Motra Halabuk who just got here in July. I'm sure all of this replacement talk and stuff doesn't make that much sense to you, but my little mission life revolves around transfers, new missionaries arriving, etc., which is why it seems so crazy to me. The moral of that whole story though was that my replacement has already received her mission call! So somewhere out there is a little future Motra Hall who will be filling my shoes in a matter of time. I think I'm going to start working double time so she at least has somewhat of a challenge filling my shoes! Haha!

But on to more exciting stuff! Motra Larson and I's little Aurora (the girl who just got baptized in July in the ocean) wants to serve a mini-mission in August. She is so awesome, and I think this experience would just help her grown in the gospel even more and keep her firm in the things that she knows are true. Obviously as a missionary she has to dress in modest skirts and blouses (something that basically no young Albanian girl owns...Mormon or not), so I went through some of the smaller skirts and dresses we had in our apartment from previous Motras and we took them to her and had a little Missionary Fashion Show. She was so cute in those frumpy little clothes and so excited to be a "fashionable missionary" in her high heels (we'll see how long those last.) We'll know soon the exact plan, but likely she'll just be joining Motra Hiland or Yourstone up in Tirana...fun!

As always Motra Bentley and I are doing awesome! President came down for interviews yesterday and he said to me, "I'm not even going to ask you if you are getting along well together with Motra Bentley, because it is pretty obvious." Boy was he right! Everything from finding people to teach and having amazing lessons where we both just teach in unison naturally, to having adventures and spending every free moment talking about the same people we knew and the same parties we went to at USU before we knew each other. As for our most recent adventure...this morning we got up early and headed out first thing. We caught a bus to the far end of town, and then found another bus that went even farther, so we just rode it to the very end. Then we got out and started hiking down and found ourselves on a beautiful rock beach. We climbed a few rocks until we found a perfect sitting spot, safe from the waves, and there had our morning studies and just enjoyed a little sun and nature.
My life is amazing!

Another random highlight of the week...my cute girls that have been coming to my English class for about a month and a half totally got me this little artificial flower for my birthday and brought it to me this week since I wasn't at English class the Saturday of my Birthday. Then their teenage cousins who have only been to our English class once also brought me a birthday gift. It was a sweet bling-bling cross! The Elders made fun of me because I wore it the rest of the class until they all left. It's now my "English Class Necklace," that I only wear for that one hour of class every Saturday. These teenage girls are actually really awesome though, and I invited them to Girls Camp with the Young Women, so they might start learning from us soon if all goes well!

A couple final awesome updates from this past week...Anisa (the one who did the non-smoking program) is now pregnant and so we are trying to use it as an opportunity for her and her husband to get their lives together and get ready for their family. Unfortunately, due to lack of information here, Albanians don't really get the importance of not smoking when you're pregnant or the danger of second-hand smoke to their children in the home, so that has been hard to try and explain. But on the plus side, both she and her husband and their little girl came to church on Sunday and it was her husband's first time. Anisa even got up and bore her testimony and said she knew the church was true and she was excited for her and her husband to be preparing for baptism together. That was super awesome to hear, and I'm excited to see them progress in the coming weeks and months!

Also, Kozeta's 20 year old son, Franci, is home for summer break from his University in Amsterdam. While at school he had an LDS roommate from Australia and also his friend from Fiji recently got baptized there, and Franci went to his baptism, etc. So when he got back he had lots of questions about the Mormons that none of his friends at school knew, so his mother informed him that she knew two girls who could answer all his questions. It also turns out that Franci went to school with a boy from Vlore who is currently on an LDS mission in Italy and he used to be friends with a few of the Elders about 3 or 4 years ago, so he has had lots of contact with the church. We all met at President and Sister Smith's home and had a really awesome lesson where we mostly just answered his questions and shared our testimonies. It was probably one of the first times in my mission that I had a legitimate Gospel discussion with a person who had actually read the Bible and had the ability to really think critically. My favorite part was when he said,speaking about the Book of Mormon, "well, it's nice, but nobody can know 100% the truth." President Smith then was like, "ohhhh, noooo, it most certainly is possible to know 100% that it is true!" And then he shared a very powerful testimony and explained how through prayer and the Holy Ghost we can know with all surety the truth, straight from the source...Heavenly Father. Franci isn't jumping in line to be baptized or anything like that, but it was just one more opportunity for him to learn a little more, and of course we're keeping in contact with him while he is home for break. And it was a great opportunity for Kozeta too, especially because she does have a testimony of the church and the Book of Mormon, so to be a part of the discussion and just have her testimony reconfirmed was a great opportunity for her.

That probably is enough story telling for this week, but I hope and pray that you all are well! Thanks for all your love and support! Have a great week!

Motra Hall