September 27, 2010

Happy Monday!
I guess I'll start by explaining my "cliff hanger" ending from last week since you all have been waiting so patiently to know what Motra Bentley's and my future missionaries! Yep, Motra Bentley's mission dream was to serve with an Albanian, and now for the last two weeks of her mission she will have the experience. In fact we both got a mini missionary from Tirana, meaning I'm kinda training, yet we all four are living awesome! We all knew each other from before too, because they both live in the Branch that Motra Bentley and I served in together in Tirana, so there was no awkward getting to know you few days because it was just like being with old friends. My companion is Elba Kapllani who was baptized last October by Motra Bentley (so they are super tight!) and Motra Bentley is with Brisilda Beleshi, who has been a member for about 3 years.

Our morning adventure to the beach- Bentley, Kapllani, Beleshi, me

They will both be starting back to University in a couple weeks, so they decided to put their last couple weeks of summer to good use. Motra Beleshi will be starting her second year of college and she is studying English, and Motra Kapllani will be starting her first year of college and is studying French, although she is also fluent in English. In fact, they both went to the same private language high school so they both can speak like Italian, Spanish, German, ...yeah they are amazing! And we have been teaching them lots of useful English expressions like, "what's shaking cracker?" since they don't get that good stuff in their schooling. :) It probably would be pretty funny for any outsider to hear us all talking in the house because I don't think one sentence gets said using just one language...they are always a mix of Albanian and English and sometimes whatever else those girls throw in! I love that it is a totally different experience from my last Albanian companion transfer probably helps that Motra Kapllani and Beleshi are like the two coolest Albanian girls ever, and they actually love doing missionary work!

So my first lesson with Motra Kapllani was with Kozeta, the English Professor. Of course we did our lesson in English, and my companion totally rocked it. She can teach the gospel better in English, her second language, than I can as a native speaker. And because she only has two weeks to do as much missionary work as possible she is totally motivated and not scared to just tell people how it is. I don't think we have had one lesson where she hasn't invited an investigator to be baptized or told a less active person that they have to come to church. At first when she started being bold I was freaking-out in my mind, but everyone took it really well and it got them thinking. You can't imagine the difference that it makes to have a native missionary with you teaching. They have such a stronger connection to these people and when they tell someone something, they actually believe them, unlike us Americans who "eat McDonalds every day and don't understand the hardships of Albanian life." It's great!

Our new roommates and mini-missionaries! Me, Motra Kapllani, Motra Bentley, Motra Beleshi

Let's see...other exciting moments from this week...we had a branch dance party which was pretty entertaining. I got to lead the traditional Albanian line dance where everyone holds hands and dances in this snake formation. I was so amazing that they Relief Society women were saying I could marry an Albanian man. I graciously declined.

Oh, and a random cultural tradition that we learned from Motra Beleshi...every full moon they cut or trim their hair here to keep it healthy. They honestly believe that if cut on the actual night of the full moon, not just once a month, it will be more healthy. She tried to convince me to cut it for her, but I convinced her otherwise after telling her that the last time I cut a companions hair it required two trips to the salon to get it fixed.

We have an awesome new investigator named Valerio (Messy for short) and he is 11 years old. Rudina (the short, kinda special women baptized back in March) invited him to church (like she does most everybody she talks to in the street) a couple weeks ago and he actually came and stayed. Then he came to the branch activity and then to church again. At the branch activity he asked me if I was baptized and I replied in the affirmative and then asked him. He said no, but that he wanted to get baptized in my church. Motra Bentley asked him when he was getting baptized and he told her "tomorrow." He is super cute and like the happiest little kid you could ever meet. We told him he needed to learn a little so that he could get baptized and he was totally down.

I figured he lived pretty close to the church because he is always out in the street around there playing with the neighborhood kids, so we just planned on running into him and catching him for a lesson some time. A few days later though he found us and asked when he was getting his lesson. We told him we'd meet up the next night sometime around the church. The next night Motra Kapllani and I found him playing street soccer with his buddies at the local school playground, so we stood there for a moment trying to get his attention. When he noticed us he came running over and said, "watch me!" and then went running back into the game and got super into it trying to show off for us. Then after about 5 minutes he came over to us and said, okay we can leave now for my lesson. All his friends were like yelling to him "where are you going? We still need you for the game!" And he just acted all cool and was like "I'm going to the church!" He acted as if going to learn about religion in a church is cooler than playing soccer with your friends, and he wasn't embarrassed at all. We told him he could keep playing and just meet us when he was done, but he said he wanted to go now with us. He even invited another little friend to come and join us for the lesson. We had an awesome, short little lesson about Heavenly Father, because he has absolutely no concept of anything, and then we taught him how to pray. It was super cute! Afterwards he wanted us to go to his house, which I figured was a good idea so we could actually get permission to teach him. It turns out he lives right next to the church, and when we walked up his Grandma greeted us and started thanking us for teaching Valerio and helping him to get baptized and get a little "education," as she called it. She told us that his father actually had passed away and his mother is crazy (we also met his mother, who I recognized and could vouch for the fact that she isn't all there), so the Grandma had been raising this little boy alone. All I can say is I think she has done a pretty good job with what she could, because Mesi is quite the impressive little boy. Everytime we go to the church now, he asks if he can come and have a lesson, no matter what he is doing or what friends he is with. I think we have a future missionary on our hands...woohoo!

Well, I hope you all have had a wonderful week and I didn't cause any high blood pressure or other physical ailments due to my last cliff hanger ending. Oh and have a great week this week too!

Love you all!
Motra Hall