As always Motra Bentley and I found ourselves in all kind of interesting situations this week. One of the first was an extremely interesting lesson we had with our investigator Genti and a less-active member. We made the mistake of thinking that maybe we could kill two birds with one stone and re-activate this young man by letting him help us in Genti's lessons, plus they both are about the same age, etc and it seemed like a good idea... it wasn't.
So Vlore just got the biggest blessing ever...a returned missionary! Our branch here in Vlore had two missionaries out serving in the two Italy missions and they both were scheduled to be coming home in December. Well sadly (gladly for us), one of them, Marcel Hoxhaj, broke his arm playing soccer over there and had to come home a few months early. He has only been here a week and is already been super awesome for the branch and for us missionaries. After our bad lesson with the loser member (mentioned above) we started using Marcel with Genti and they totally hit it off. Sometimes they just go off talking about the Gospel in Italian (most all Albanians speak Italian) and Motra Bentley and I just sit there and smile and let them go at it.
A photo from our YW activity this week....it required much patience. We talked about individual worth and how we are all beautiful in our own ways and we don't have to try and show that off by wearing immodest clothes (which luckily it was a rainy day so they were all dressed well.) From left to Right: random boy, Soraja (she's like 5-we teach them young), Motra Bentley, Anxhela, a friend of one of the girls, Samantha, Marjana, me and some little girl.
It's interesting- I think in the past 2 or 3 weeks of my mission I've had more dinner and lunch appointments and been fed more by people than in my whole mission combined. I don't know what it is, but people are trying to pack it on us...which Motra Bentley isn't too happy about since she is about to go home, and we all are always worried about fitting into those old pre-mission jeans. Anyway, I think yesterday was the big whammy (I know that is stupid to say, but I can't remember any good English vocabulary to say), we had two lunch appointments, one right after the other. The first was with a less active woman and her husband, who went all out with the typical Albanian meal which I talked about a few weeks ago. They didn't let us leave anything on our plates though, in fact the husband kept telling us that we had to eat at least as much as the "man of the house."
I thought I was full...and then we had our next appointment, which was cooking lessons with Genti's mom. He arranged this for us, but didn't even come to the meeting. So it was just her and these two stupid, helpless little American girls who have no education on keeping a home and cooking because of our advanced culture (those are her words of course). She also sat and watched us while we ate every little bite of the meal she cooked. I say she cooked it, because even though it was our cooking "lesson" we just watched her because she wouldn't let us touch anything. It was pretty entertaining!
So one more final Albanian culture fact for the day...in Albania it doesn't even matter if you live on the 8th floor of an apartment building, because walking outside to the trash-can takes sooo much time (approx. 45 seconds or less) it is completely acceptable and normal to just chuck your garbage bags or scrape the scraps from your dinner plate out the window. I can't tell you how often we see this! As much as I love this place, I just can't embrace this practice, but Motra Bentley and I did have to kinda put our own version of this custom to work this week. See, we found a little bit of an ant infestation in our new apartment, so one morning Motra Bentley tried to sweep all of them up and I put them in the dust pan and the only good thing we could think to do with them was chuck them off the balcony (yes we have a sweet balcony...lunch break sun-tanning anyone?) from our 4th floor apartment. Good thing nobody was out that early in the morning or they probably would have thought it was raining ants! By the way...we found some raid so we don't have to throw anymore ants out the window!
Well, sorry that is all the good stuff I have for this week. Obviously we had some awesome missionary success too though. In fact Genti set a baptismal date this week, as did one of our our investigators, Eva, so we are all working hard to get them prepared and ready. It is so awesome to see their progress, especially Genti. When we met with his family, who aren't even members or investigating the church, they were thanking us so much for helping Genti with his smoking program and for all that we have done for him. We tried to explain that it was nothing we had done...truly it has been Genti's own desire to change and the help of the Lord! It's like I have free front-row-seat tickets to Heavenly Father's miracle show. I love it!
Love and Miss you all! Have a great week!