Howdy! Life is just fabulous over here; lots of work, lots of miracles, and lots of fun! It was kinda a busy week, so I'll just start with some bullet points:
-The Elders found a new crepe restaurant here in Vlore, and it is simply amazing. We went last Monday for one of the Elder's Birthdays, and then Motra Leit and I decided it was so amazing that we were going to go every day of the week (except Sunday of course!) It is kinda out of the way, but we got the owner's cell number and just started calling him everyday to tell him when we were coming so he could have our order ready. I'm pretty sure he loves us, since us two Motras have probably brought in more business this week that all his other customers combined. To date we have consumed 22 crepes, and will be returning tonight. And don't worry we always get a healthy chicken crepe with vegetables to accompany our Nutella and banana dessert crepe!
- We had the coolest dinner appointment ever this week with the Isufi family. We planned ahead of time to teach them how to make real American Hamburgers on their "BBQ." Turns out their BBQ is an awesome little shack on the roof of their house that has an old school fireplace in it. It was super cool...
I'm not sure how "American" the burgers were, since I made Motra Leit do all the dirty work with the raw meat (I know I'm a wussy), but everyone liked them. When nobody was looking I passed on the meat and just had a veggie burger since I realized that is was ground pig not ground beef. Still super fun! Afterwards I got to help Brother Isufi with his talk for church on Eternal Marriage...my favorite! :)
- Motra Leit and I got brave and decided to teach the young women this week how to make Danish Cinnamon Rolls. We had an awesome turnout of 11 girls and 2 younger brothers, and between all the chaos and cinnamon everywhere I think they had a good time. The rolls turned out pretty dang good too!
- Since we weren't having crepes on Sunday, and we had forgotten to go shopping Saturday night I got the pleasure of trying to create a little Sunday brunch for us. I'm not going to lie, I'm pretty proud of the beans & rice and bread & butter that we ended up having. I think it was pretty good...after it was covered in salt. But really, the bread was homemade and I didn't even use a recipe. I just mixed yeast, water, flour, and some sugar together till it looked like some kind of dough and then I was too impatient to let it rise, so I just stuck it in the oven. So if I can't get into grad school after the mission, I'll probably just open up my own bread store!
I'm sure you are probably all thinking that I'm a total loser since all I have talked about is food. I can't deny not being a loser, but at least Motra Leit and I are keeping plenty busy running from appointment to appointment and walking miles and miles to keep all those extra dessert crepes off our hips (for the most part). On the topic of walking...today we had our District Trip and we did our fair share of walking.
We decided to do a District Trip that nobody else has probably ever done, which was to visit Kotë, a tiny village about 45 minutes outside of Vlora. There is no famous anything out there, so our main intention was just to say that we had been to Kotë, because in Albanian the word "kotë" means "good-for-nothing, vain, useless, worthless, etc." So yeah, we think we are pretty funny for having a "kotë" District Trip to Kotë. Turns out though that Kotë is a super beautiful little village tucked into the mountains with a river and lots of awesome old school suspension bridges...
And I'm pretty sure that that old little town doesn't get too many visitors because the whole town was just sitting around the town center just staring at us. Oh, and since it is so small there aren't very many vans that drive out there, so we found ourselves walking a few miles before we were finally able to hitch a ride back home. Our adventure also included lots of run-ins with sheep herders and even a chance to help an old man "harvest" his field with a hand held "sickle." Super kotë, but we had a good time!
In general the weather has been super beautiful and the sun has been gracing us with its presence most of the days, although the evenings are getting much cooler. One day this week though, we had a terrible rain storm. It only lasted about 2.5 or 3 hours, but it was enough to flood all the streets of Vlore. We had been in a meeting when the rain started, so when we left we were without an umbrella and had to run home in buckets of pouring rain. I'm pretty sure I would have had a better chance staying dry standing in the shower than we had getting home. It was kinda a lose-lose situation because if we ran on the sidewalk then the gutters/pipes would dump on us, but if we ran in the streets we were in a foot of water...yeah we got pretty wet. So we ran home and grabbed our coats and umbrellas and headed out to our next appointment. By this point the main road in front of our house was completely flooded and there was even about 6 inches of water up on the sidewalk, so anytime a car would drive by it was like a mini tidal wave. The best part was when we got to the road to go back in to the apartment building where we were visiting someone. The back road was literally water above my knees...
Flooded streets....don't judge those white legs of mine!
It was quite the adventure, and would have been even more exciting if I wasn't constantly thinking about how these flooded streets were probably only about 50% rain and the other 50% overflow sewage. I love Albania!
Besides all these crazy adventures we have been having, we also have had an amazing week with all our investigators and actual missionary work. I know I probably over use the word "best," but I can honestly say that I had probably one of the most spiritual and amazing lessons ever this week with Kozeta. I'm sure I've talked about her before, but she is an English Literature professor at the University here in Vlore and she is super amazing. She has been investigating the church for about a year and a half, and although she knows it is true and has willingly accepted and kept like every commandment, she has always had this thing about baptism. I personally have been teaching her for over 8 months now, and it seems a week hasn't gone by that we haven't told her that she needs to be baptized. In the past few weeks though we have started seeing a small change and this past couple weeks Mora Leit and I focused our lessons on the Savior and his Atonement. As she has learned more about this, her heart has been touched and she said that she is understanding now why she should be baptized and that she would pray about it. When we met this week she talked a little more and then I gave her a scripture to read that I had come across a month or so ago and immediately thought of her. It was D&C 39:1-13, and before she came I took a pencil to the book that she was going to read out of and replaced her name with the one written in the verses. She read through it and then she and I just sat there in silence (both of us using our "gift of weeping") and she said "Yes I know. I can't deny this feeling. I must do my baptizing." Obviously my pitiful little description here will never do that moment justice, but it was nothing short of the power of God entering in and taking over the lesson. I hope I never forget that moment!
Well, I could probably go on for another hour with awesome experiences we had this week and tell you about all the awesome people we are working with, but I have to go meet now with all those awesome people instead. I love you all though, and am so grateful for your prayers and thoughts! Have a rockin' week!