September 20, 2010

Greetings from a rainy...wait, rainy again, Vlore. I think it can't make up its mind about what season it is, but we don't mind we have been enjoying the spontaneous showers.
We just got back from a fun little District Trip to Fier, a city about 45 minutes away. We went to the Fier Zoo which wasn't as pitiful as the Tirana Zoo, but pretty close considering they also had a normal dog in a cage. We also drove out to Apolonia and had a really good time.
District trip to Apolonia - September 2010

I actually had been to Apolonia before with the youth of the Vlore Branch, but that was long ago before any of the other missionaries that I am currently serving with were here, so I agreed to do a repeat visit. It was a lot cooler this time in fact...the joys of being in the same city forever!

So my ultimate highlight of the week...playing basketball for the first time in nine months! I was walking on sunshine! We had a branch trip out to the monastery on the Island, Zvernec (where Aurora was baptized and I'd been there another time also), and this time I made sure to have a ball to use on the pitiful little basketball court they have out there. I didn't even care that we were playing on a gravel, glass shard surface with a flat soccer ball, I still enjoyed every second of it. And even though I was REALLY rusty, I was still basically able to destroy the whole deacons quorum single handed. I know it sounds like I'm being cocky, but if you've ever seen an Albanian try to play basketball you'd realize that it isn't that impressive of an accomplishment. But I'm pretty sure that I just qualified as like the coolest Motra in all those little 12 year old boys books. All in all it was a great trip with the branch. We are a small group, but I think it makes the camaraderie all the better. It was also neat to have over 10 investigators out there with us as well to get to know the members and enjoy themselves.

Motra Bentley and I also enjoyed our first overnight house guests this past week, Motra Hiland and Peatross. They came down for exchanges and I got to spend a night and morning with Motra Peatross. It was her first time in Vlore, so I gave her a grand tour of my town, while making lots of missionary visits of course!
Motra Hall and Motra Peatross
It was really fun to be together, since we haven't spend anytime just the two of us since the MTC. It was neat to see how much we both have grown and how it didn't even cross my mind to worry while we were together about not having our senior companions to help us understand the language. By no means are we fluent, but we were just fine on our own. Crazy to think we are getting to be the old Motras in the mission now!

Our really awesome investigator, Genti, that I've been talking about the past few weeks just continues to be amazing and progresses each day. Motra Bentley and I stopped by his house one morning this week to drop of some cookies and a thank you note for his mother, who helped us cook last week, and she ended up inviting us in. Genti wasn't even home, but his dad insisted that his mom cook us some breakfast, which turned into a mid morning feast. It was neat though, because his parents had lots of good questions about the church and what Genti's been learning, and they asked about him getting baptized and everything. The cool thing is they are super supportive and open to their sons doing whatever they want, which isn't typical of Albanian parents. The dad even got out Genti's Book of Mormon and started going through it and asking us questions about all the different papers and pamphlets that he had stuck in there. Basically we ended up doing a whole review of all the lessons with his parents. They had us over again yesterday for yet another meal...and I'm pretty sure they would adopt Motra Bentley and I in a second if we didn't have to go back to America. We just can't wait for Genti's family to come see his baptism!

We really have had so much success this week, but it would take forever to go into every story. It's enough to say that we have truly been blessed in our missionary efforts. And as a little cliff hanger for next weeks email: Today is probably my last day working with Motra Bentley...(and no, she isn't leaving Albania for two more weeks!)

Love and miss you all tons!

Motra Hall