November 1, 2010

Happy Belated Halloween! So to answer the big question about if Albania celebrates, not really. Of course the word is getting out more and more though, so some people have private us. Yep, we helped the Institute YSA's plan a little Halloween party for Saturday night. Of course the word got out though and all the younger kids from the ward showed up too, so we just moved it downstairs and had a big dance party together. It was a good time!

Me and Eva!

So the excitement this week included multiple visits to the Vlore Hospital, better known as the Tower of Doom. I guess after killing so many old Motras the past few transfers, I kinda got confused when I was assigned to train new missionaries, and I started walking Motra Korita to death. We were just thinking that the stiff walking regimen that we Motras have here in Vlore was just something that she would get used to as she got into shape, but I realized once Motra Korita's ankle started swelling and she started limping, that maybe that wasn't the case. So we decided to go check out the local hospital...if you can even call it that.

I don't have time to go into any detail, but just a quick summary of this place: no information desk, no check-in/secretary, no sanitation, no waiting line, no signs, nobody knows where any of the Doctors are or when they will work, no privacy, and the list goes on. We wander our way onto the floor for rheumatism because that is what some lady from church told us the problem was. We ask for the Dr. that deals with that problem and they send us down to his office. No Dr. Spiro. We ask if anyone has seen him, and they send us down another hall. No Dr. Spiro. We ask again, and they send us back to his office. Still no Dr. Spiro. We ask if anyone has his number. Nobody has his phone number and the hospital doesn't keep his number on file either. We ask someone else, they think maybe he left early to go drink a coffee or have lunch. We leave. The next morning we go first thing to the hospital. This time we call our boy Genti, who is a nurse at the hospital and was on shift. He personally escorted us to the other Dr. that deals with rheumatism and gets us right in to see Dr. Valbona. We might have cut in line in front of all the old people who were also waiting for the arthritis specialist Dr. Valbona...oops. Dr. Valbona tells Sister Korita that it might be arthritis and that the excessive humidity in Vlore is what is causing this bad swelling and reaction, but that she'd have to get some tests. So we then got to go visit the Frankenstein Lab where she got a foot x-ray. It was only $5 and afterwards they just handed us the black foot x-ray, which we then just carried around in our hand the rest of the day...very official!
Her tests also included a blood test. Luckily Motra Leit stepped in on this one and held Motra Korita's hand for the blood test, because as you can imagine, I was on the other side of the room curled up trying not to look or think about it. We returned two days later for the results, and the blood test was positive for rheumatism, so Dr. Valbona prescribed Motra Korita over half-a-dozen prescriptions and a no-salt diet for a month. After getting all the drugs we called Sister Neil, who looked into the prescriptions on the Internet and with our Dr. in Germany. Turns out like one of the drugs is so bad it is banned in like most European countries, and all the other ones were pretty useless too. As for the no-salt diet, Motra Leit and I are trying to be supportive and also eat all healthy. It is super hard!! I confess that when Motra Korita isn't looking Motra Leit and I sometimes sneak a little salt for our food. So that basically is a summary of our little hospital experience this week. Of course Motra Leit got an awesome secret video documentary of the whole experience, which maybe you can all see someday if you're lucky. It is pretty funny!
As I said to President this week, "As you know we spent a fair amount of time at the hospital this week, but we tried to talk to everyone we could while we were up there. We only hope that maybe our cheerful smiles made someone feel a little better than any ridiculous prescriptions that the Doctor would have given them." Anyway, don't worry my companions already know that it is better to ship me home in multiple pieces than to take me to that hospital if I'm dying.

On a happier note, I've been working on my acting skills this past week, in preparation for my starring role in The New Testament film after the mission. Since our little boy, Kristi, is having a hard time remembering the Book of Mormon stories we have been reading together, I thought we'd try and make it a little more exciting by acting them out. Up till now, I've starred as Lehi three different times in our lessons, and I'm pretty sure me standing on a chair trying to prophecy to the wicked people (hymn books) has made a lasting impression in his little memory. I also played a key role as the wicked people in the "great and spacious building" of Lehi's Dream. Thanks to my excellent acting skills, I think this kid is going to keep a pretty tight hold on the iron rod!

Another memorable moment this week that made me think, "I'm in the coolest mission in the world," was when we went and helped the Rrokaj family this week as our service project. They drove us up to some of their property in the mountains and we spent the morning picking olives from their small little vineyard, so that they can make homemade olive oil. I mean talk about putting the scriptures into action, Jacob 5 where Jacob quotes Zeno's allegory of the tame and wild olive trees, will never be the same for me again. Mostly because every time I read it I will remember climbing up an olive tree picking thousands of olives...

while looking out through the branches at the ocean,

with 60-something year old Brother Rrokaj laying down on the end of a tiny little branch that is bending to the max to reach the furthest-out olives another five feet above me. Yep, it was super awesome and we made a pretty huge dent by picking about 400 pounds of olives for them.

As for other missionary work, it couldn't be better. The Elder's kindly gave us some golden young ladies from their English classes, and they couldn't be more excited to be learning the Gospel. One of them already has a baptismal date, is meeting with us faithfully each day as well as attending all church activities, and is trying to prepare herself to have a calling as a teacher in the branch. She always brings her equally amazing little sister to everything with her, and she is also reading the Book of Mormon and praying daily. The little sister's name is Eva, and she is the coolest little 7th grader ever!

Oh, and a quick note for other events this week is that we had some of the Tirana Motra's down for exchanges. Motra Hiland and Motra Halabuk came down with their mini missionary Motra Sullollari. Motra Sullollari actually is leaving in a couple weeks for her full time mission at SLC Temple Square, so I was excited to meet her before she left. Now when I go to get a tour at Temple Square after the mission I'll have two Albanian friends there to show me around! Woohoo!

Anyway, it was a good exchange, but it is probably a good thing that we don't usually have 6 Motras living together always, that would be kind crazy!

Well I love you all and hope you have a rocking week!