November 8, 2020

Happy Week of Veteran's Day! In case you were wondering, that isn't celebrated here in Albania either, although we do have some kind of Independence Day sometime this month...but I don't know when.

If you didn't guess, my past week has been awesomely amazing and eventful, as it usually is. For starters I guess I better follow up on my last week's email about Motra Korita. Because I'm such a brutal companion, President thought it would probably be better for her to take a little break off her feet and away from me, so on Tuesday morning Motra Leit and I took Motra Korita home to Tirana. She is just at her house with her family for about 10 days to rest her leg and see if it gets better, but she is still a missionary and left all her stuff here, so we'll go back and pick her up next week I guess. It is kinda weird just being two of us and we miss Motra Korita alot and call her everyday, but the work goes on here and Motra Leit and I have continued to rock-it-up and make the best of it!

Probably the highlight of the week was the baptism of Rinald, a young man who has been learning from the Elders for the past month and a half or so. He is about 16 years old, and the craziest, coolest kid ever, who was a referral from one of the members in the branch.

- Elder Wallentine, Rinald, Me and Motra Leit at the baptism

He heard about my girl Aurora's baptism in the ocean, and so he totally wanted to do the same thing, even though it is November (which in Albanian language means "way to cold to go in the ocean"). So a few weeks ago our District took a walk down the ocean and found a gorgeous beach spot below a cliff, which provided privacy, and was perfect for this baptism. It even had an unfinished building right next to it, to serve as a changing room.
Our only worry was that it would be a cold, rainy day, but thanks to our answered prayers it was a beautiful sunny day on Saturday afternoon when we showed up for the baptism. The only problem was that it was terribly windy, so the water was super high and the waves were out of control.

Elders trying to baptize in the waves!

Elder Wallentine came down from Durres to do the baptism and I think he was equally wet as Rinald by the end of it because the waves were so rough and they could hardly stand up out there without losing their balance. So it took a good 15 minutes and a few tries before they finally got it right.

Elder Eckel and I were both standing on the beach praying for the waves to calm down and right then there was like 2 minutes of no waves. It was awesome! The Lord truly answers prayers and can calm the seas (Mark 4:39)!

Oh also, because the crashing waves were so loud and crazy, the other two Elders that were witnesses had to roll up their pants and wade out a ways also to hear and see. They also were pretty soaked by the end of it, but they didn't have dry clothes to change into, oops!

And did I mention that the turnout to this baptism was huge: 33 people (14 of which were non-members/investigators), and of all those people that came only one was an adult, and he was the member that originally referred Rinald. The rest were ALL youth! It was really a special day for everyone present!

So there is actually another quite eventful thing that happened at the baptism, which was an additional testimony builder for all those present. Because this beach we were using for the baptism was a ways out, it was necessary for everyone to carpool out there. One of the member boys was doing multiple trips in his car, and on the last trip back as he arrived he was going too fast and when he braked the car went sliding on the gravel and went full speed into a huge metal telephone pole. Luckily they were all okay inside, but the bigger miracle was the fact that they hit the pole, because if they would have been just one foot over more and missed the pole they would have gone right off the cliff into the ocean. All of us below on the beach saw the whole thing happen, and on fast Sunday yesterday in Church, one after another the youth of the branch kept getting up and bearing their testimonies on how God blesses us and protects us and loves us, and of course they referred to this experience as an example that had strengthened their testimony of that.

Denisa, Soraja, Motra Leit, and I with Eva in the front! Denisa and Eva are two sisters learning, who are awesome.

One of the amazing young girls that we are teaching, Alseda, got to go to the baptism and she thoroughly enjoyed it. She is the one that I mentioned before said she wanted to change her life.

When we met later that afternoon after the baptism she asked us what she had to do to get baptized and we discussed it and then set a date with her. I love it when people come to us asking to be baptized! Anyway, the even cooler thing though was she said that she heard from some of the other girls something about not having multiple ear piercings (because she has a whole ear lined with earrings), and before I even explained anything she just said, "I'm sorry I didn't know about this before when I got my ears pierced, but I can take them out no problem!" I was shocked at first at her response. It's not everyday I hear that kind of dedication and willingness to be obedient to whatever is asked, but Alseda really has felt it and she wants to do whatever it takes to have the spirit be apart of her life and be part of Christ's true church. This same girl said after a meeting at the church earlier this week that, "this place is so peaceful, I don't want to leave."

Our District- yeah we think we're pretty cool!

I guess that is most of the excitement for the week. Just a few additional random things that I've discovered this week that might be of interest to you:
1 - Plain yogurt mixed with Nutella makes an amazing fruit dip!
2 - Playing Twister in a skirt is pretty difficult, but can still be fun!

I love and miss you all and hope you have a super duper fabulous week! Thanks for everything!