September 6, 2010

Happy Labor Day!!! We have done enough manual labor this week to last us for a bit, so we took the day off today to celebrate also (well, and it's P-Day of course so we already had it off). We celebrated our manual moving labors by having a house warming party with our District today at our new pad. It consisted of having banana bread cake with candles to celebrate the new houses "birth day." I held up the cake to the new air conditioning unit to let the house blow out the candles. Look...don't judge us, we are just super excited to be in our new place and be done moving! As for the moving, you would think it would have been simple to just pack up my couple suitcases and roll them down the street, but somehow I've collected alot of junk in the past few months here. Motra Bentley just sat and laughed at me as I tried to pack about 200 pounds of stuff. It was pretty pitiful!
Our new apartment! Kitchen and dining room:
Living room and dining room:

So the moving story, as written by Motra Bentley...
"We finally moved apartments this past week! my whole last transfer was us living in a crap hole with no water i think i've mentioned our once a week showers we've been having or when we get desperate we head to the church yeah all of that has ended but not without much... fighting on my behalf!!! haha i'll explain. So you're all going to think i'm the worst missionary ever but first i just gotta give a tag line on the Albanian culture. They yell a lot and never let you have a minute word wise. And when Albanians yell it doesn't necessarily mean that they're angry its just how they talk. They yell a lot especially when trying to deal with business type of things, so when our old landlord was trying to make us pay him 2 months in advance for money that we're not even sure we've spent yet cause we won't get the receipt for another month or so he was yelling at me a lot and what did i do in response??? I yelled back! :) So every month we get the electricity and water bill half way through the month for the previous month... meaning we wont get august's bill till half way through September. The bills get delivered to your apt. and since we just moved out we will have to go back to our old apt half way through this month to get the receipt and pay our bill. Well our landlord didn't want to wait to get his money and kept telling me that i was going to run away to america without paying him. Finally we got a call from one of his business people saying he had a receipt for us. I thought great that means we can take the receipt and go to the bill place and pay it and then be done. so i set up a meeting and when we finally meet with him he shows me the so called "receipt" more like a piece of paper with a bunch of numbers that he had written down. I once again told him we would not be paying him money. The only way it was going to get payed was when we got a real receipt and we would go pay the company and not him. He didn't like this answer and rambled off or went off on a yelling spree explaning to me how much simpler it is for him and us to just give him the amount that he had "calculated" that it had spent. He also went off on us saying its our fault it was so much money cause we had used our air conditioner.... duh ,we realize that when you use utilities you pay for them.... anywho this man was not letting me speak kept telling me that i wasn't understanding him and refusing to accept the answer that we weren't paying him, so i gave him back the exact treatment that he gave me, I yelled at him cut him off and kept refusing to accept the "solution" he had created to solve all our problems... we left that meeting with him telling me i needed to ask him for forgiveness and me refusing to ask for forgiveness because i had done nothing wrong, he also said I was with nerves, insincere, impatient, not kind, without culture, and uneducated... but he adored my companion motra hall... she was the mediator between the two of us trying to calm us both down she left the meeting with words like she's full of patience, god is with her, she's sincere, good people skills.... !!!! I honestly dont think i've ever been so angry in my life! Motra Hall was a saint the whole time trying to calm me down and dealin with the dirt bag after i had had enough of his junk.

Well after we moved all of our jazz out of the old apt and into the new one, which took a whole day and two amazing elders help! For real two elders came and spent their whole lunch helping us move and then when motra hall and I had to leave for some lessons they stayed and organized and labeled everything for us in our new house!!! We came home from our lessons with a spotless new home -we were shocked!!! They're amazing! So that took a whole day and then the next whole day was spent cleaning our old apt which was a dump!!! oh man it was bad (that was the day with the whole meeting) then that night we had to meet with him again to hand over our keys and all that jazz but this time we didn't go alone we brought backup! haha we brought our investigator genti cause he's an albanian man who knows how to deal with other albanian men and then the senior couple also came with us! this meeting was a lot better because i didn't say a word!! haha i couldn't or else i would have gotten mad again instead genti and motra hall talked the whole time for us and we left the meeting with the same knowledge that i had informed him of and it was that we were not paying him until we got a receipt we didn't care that he had to wait a month to get the money!!! With those two days full of moving jazz it really made me miss my normal missionary working days! i'd choose those anyday over dealing with business affairs albanian style!

Sorry that was long, but it was better to use Motra's story than rewrite it for you. Sorry if it was confusing, but basically when we told our landlord we were moving, she sold our house to some other guy, and he was the one who was giving us such a hard time when we were leaving, because he wanted us to stay so he could keep getting rent. Luckily because of my excellent meter reading skills (thank you Ridgcrest Mobilodge), I was able to check out our meter myself and make sure we weren't being ripped off. I also realized that all our neighbors had been checking out our meter all the time too, which is how they knew when we were running our air conditioner or not, which they liked to tell us. See, here in Albania your business is everyones business. For example, it seemed like the day we gave moving notice, the whole apartment building already knew and started asking us what was up and where we were going. And when we moved like half of the ladies in the apartment brought us all these canned fruits and stuff that they had made us. I think I'll miss all our neighbors down there. We still haven't gotten to meet too many of our new neighbors, but we hope to get to know them soon!

Saturday night we got to head up to Tirana for a baptism of a young woman named Aurela, whom Motra Bentley and Yourstone had taught. Of course because we are so small around here I have also met Aurela before and so even though I haven't taught her it was neat to see her and be at her baptism, and as always it was wonderful to visit with all the other members I know it Tirana. The best part of the baptism though was probably the closing prayer, given by Motra Bentley. I obviously wasn't paying very close attention, all I know is that she started her prayer and then a few lines in she restarted it and I couldn't figure out why. Then as soon as she finished, the whole congregation (which consisted of like 1/2 of the mission because it was like all the Tirana missionaries plus their investigators) busted out laughing. I had to ask afterward why she had started over and it was because she had started to pray in English, and actually got pretty far before catching herself and starting over in Albanian. Everyone was giving her a pretty hard time all night, and I would have been too, but considering I didn't even notice the difference I figured I'm about as air-headed as she was on this one!

I forgot to mention last week that I gave a talk in Sacrament meeting. It was my first Albanian talk that wasn't completely written out, but rather just bullet points and me talking. I know that is the normal way of giving talks, but it is dang scary in Albanian! I have been wanting to give a talk like this for quite a bit, but never thought my language skills could really do it justice...but the chance came and I took it. I admit it was kind of a mean talk, but I was just sick of hearing Albanian's excuses for why they can't keep commandments and how I don't understand because I'm American. Here is a rough summary of what I said (I know it sounds stupid in English, but when translated directly to Shqip it makes better sense):

"Everywhere in the world we have members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Now we are more than 13.5 million and each member has made the same covenant with God, which is to leave our old life and start a new life in the road of Christ, no matter where we are in the world. In Mosiah 5:7 King Benjamin teaches his people about this covenant. Therefore, we are Children of Christ, and like all parents, he has rules for the good of his children. So, we have the Culture of Christ, for example we have Family home Evening, word of wisdom, tithing, temple marriages, a living prophet, church every sunday for 2 or 3 hours, the Book of Mormon, Docrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, the Priesthood, the Law of Chastity, and many other standards. When we accept Jesus Christ, we accept His culture, with no exceptions for how old we are, the culture in which we live, or anything else. Of course the Culture of Christ is different and is not the norm of the world, but we are not OF the world."
Then I shared a few examples:
- Like how it is 45-50 degrees celcius in my home town (that shocked them!) in the summer, and the norm is to wear less because it is so hot, yet the Culture of Christ teaches us to dress modestly, so no matter if we are at church, school, or a special event, we follow the culture of Christ.
- How in America it is normal to sit home on sundays and watch football and drink beer. Going to church for 3 hours isn't normal in America either, but in the culture of Christ it is normal, and expected.
- Even in places around the world where people are very poor, they still paying tithing as a part of the culture of christ. Those around them probably think they are crazy, but it doesn't matter what they think.
- And then an example from old times...Act 6:14...even in ancient times the culture of Christ broke the norm of the world.
"The Culture of Christ is higher than the culture where we live in, so sometimes it is hard to live it and people may think we are weird, but in fact we are very special. Just as Peter said in Acts 5:29, what the Lord thinks is more important than what others think."
And then I ended with my testimony about how when we live the Culture of Christ we are happier and live is more beautiful, etc.

Anyway, sorry for the super long babbling, but it was just such an interesting topic to study, even though the talk was simple.

Well I love and miss you all! Have a great week!