Greetings! Hope this finds everyone swell and loving life, because I sure have had an awesome week and am loving life! As you know I received my two new companions this week, Motra Leit and Motra Korita, and they are both SUPER AMAZING! We all get along great, and I'm gaining lots of cultural insight from both of them!
New companions (cupas!) Motra Korita (Albania), me, Motra Eit (Denmark)
At the beginning of my week I got Motra Bentley sent off back to Utah. As Motra Bentley was ending her mission here in Albania, there was still one thing on her "Mission Bucket List" that hadn't been fulfilled, and we decided to make it happen. It was to ride the old Albanian train system. So on our way to Tirana we stopped off in Durres and ran to catch this old rickety train!
It was totally like in the Harry Potter movies, and we had a blast in our one hour ride to Tirana. Our mini missionaries didn't think it was too exciting because it was so slow, and they probably thought Motra Bentley and I were crazy for being so stoked to be on an old dumpy train that only cost 70 cents, but it was like Christmas for us!
On the train...Motra Kapllani, Motra Beleshi and I (I'm wearing black in respect of the dying Motra Bentley!)
While waiting for my new companions to arrive, I got to spend a few days in Tirana with Motra Peatross and Motra Yourstone- It was like a little MTC reunion. We had fun talking about our experiences from the past year, and awing at how fast the time has gone! I also got to meet with all my old mini missionary companions (Motra Nonai, Motra Kapllani, and Motra Beleshi), as well as hang out a bit with Motra Korita the night before she became a full-time missionary/my official companion.
I decided to give my new little cupas a fun experience on their second day here...Friday night we had scheduled an appointment to visit the Isufi family for the first time. I started walking in the opposite direction of their house (but of course my companions didn't know that), and after a couple minutes I stopped and just stood "pondering" for a moment. I told my companions that I really felt like we should just go tracting instead right now. Motra Korita wasn't pleased about that, because she doesn't like knocking on doors at all, but of course they agreed that if that is what I felt was a good idea then they would follow me. So I "made a phone call" to cancel our evening appointment, and I'm sure by this point they both are thinking I'm pretty crazy to cancel a meeting to do tracting...but the trainers always right, right? So we turn around and start walking the other direction, and we walk about 15-20 minutes and I make sure to stop every so often and "ponder" for where we should go. While we are walking I inform my companions that I'm letting them do all the talking at this first door, so we practice what they should say. Needless to say, they both are feeling super nervous, but trying to be confident. We walk up a small street, but then I stop and turn around and walk back a ways and stand below a house just staring at it and "pondering."
Finally Motra Leit asks if this is the place, and I said "yes, I feel really good about it." So I open the garage door to this house and walk right in and head up to the private house door. Motra Korita is freaking out because I just walked right into this strangers garage without knocking, but I told her it was okay because I felt really good about this place. So I get both of them standing in front of me and they knock on the door. A young girl cautiously answers and then calls her mom to the door. The woman then comes to the door and is super grouchy and asking "who are you?" "Who said you could come into my garage?" "what do you want?" Of course on her second day in Albania, Motra Leit isn't really understanding anything this woman is saying, so Motra Korita is trying to calm the woman down and explain that we are missionaries, but the woman isn't having it. She starts yelling at us to leave and pushing us towards her garage door. As you can imagine my companions are pretty much scared to death, so when they are walking out the door and I turn around and go back to talk to the women myself and try and convince her, they were thinking that I'm super nuts and super bold. I spend a couple minutes trying to talk to this women and asking for just a few minutes of her time, and she is throwing out stuff like, "we don't believe in religion!" and "who is Jesus Christ?" Finally she agrees to let us come in for a few minutes. I practically had to drag my companions into the house because they were pretty freaked out, especially because the woman told us that she just got back from the mental hospital. When we got in her house she shook my companions hands and introduced herself as Motra Isufi. I don't think Motra Leit got it though, so it wasn't till we had all sat down that I leaned over and told her that it was all a joke and that this was the Isufi family's home from our Branch. Needless to say Sister Isufi and I were pretty proud of our awesome acting skills in this prank on my new companions. It took Motra Korita the rest of the night to forgive me, but we all are still laughing about it now. It was nothing short of hilarious! I know, I'm a mean trainer...but it is so fun!
On a more inspiring note, we had an awesome/interesting meeting with a women named Verde this week. Motra Leit met her on the airplane ride here and got her number so that they could get together if Motra Leit was ever in Vlore...and then conveniently that is exactly where she ended up! Verde is actually Jewish and from Israel, but moved here about 6 months ago with her husband for his job, and she opened up some kind of clinic of her own. Her native tongue is Hebrew (which we heard her speaking on the phone and it was ridiculously awesome), and she is in the same boat as us trying to learn Albanian right now. So obviously we just talked in English because she is perfectly fluent and even has all the slang and American expressions down - she is super fun to talk to. Also she and Motra Korita were able to talk a little together in Arabic, which was super cool to hear. (That is another story in itself about Motra Korita knowing Arabic...she used to be a full-blown Muslim, but I'll have to share that story another day). Oh and speaking of languages, Motra Leit prays for us in Danish sometimes too...all I have to say is that I'm super grateful that I'm learning Albanian because all that Danish and Hebrew and Arabic sound outrageously difficult!
I guess that is all I have time for today. I love and miss you all though, and I love being a missionary! It's not good, it's greeeeat! (Thanks Tony!)