Happy New Year!
I know I have already bored some of you with my Christmas adventures, but you'll just have to endure another little recap! On Thursday we loaded up a bus here in Vlore with lots of youth and other members and friends and headed to Tirana for the big District Christmas Program with all the members in Albania. There was a great turnout and not one empty seat in the huge hall at the National Museum where we held the event. Each branch in Albania performed something that they had prepared, and we had over 2.5 hours of entertainment. All the big branches had choirs and lots of special Christmas musical numbers. Church choirs here aren't exactly what we have at home, so as you can imagine it was....interesting. All I can say is that us missionaries on the back row definitely enjoyed ourselves, even if at sometimes it was more like a comedy show than a musical performance.

Motra Leit, Motra Korita, Motra Hall at Christmas Program
So after all the other branches got up and did nice Christmas skits and sang Christmas songs, our branch youth got up and tried to sing "The Apostle Song" in English and then they did some skit where the Young Women pretended to be Motra Leit and I and be missionaries contacting people in the street. It was definitely entertaining and had everyone laughing...so yeah, go Vlore! We are always the strange different ones though, it's great...I guess. It was also awesome to see all of my Tirana friends there! It was a long day though, and we barely made it home by 10:30pm that night!

On Christmas Eve (which is when we kinda celebrated Christmas at our house, because that's the Danish way) we went to Seminary and afterwards invited all the kids to go with us Caroling. At first they seemed a little leery because they just don't do those kind of things here, but by the end we were able to get about a dozen kids to come with Motra Leit and I. So we went out and caroled to lots of the less-active members and some of the families that live around the church. Even though we took music, the only song the kids knew was Silent Night and then the chorus to Jingle Bells in English, so we just sang that over and over again. It was probably the worst caroling I have ever heard because they have absolutely no sense of rhythm or melody, but the youth were loving it so it didn't matter. And in general I think most of the people we sang to were surprised and enjoyed it as well. There were of course those who were about ready to shoo us off their porch also, so we just left it at one song and hurriedly left! By the end it was pouring rain and we were all soaked, but the kids didn't want to stop. I think it will always be a memorable experience for them!

Christmas Day started off at 9am with a baptism....well, almost at 9am. We actually were all waiting at the church and it was like 5 minutes to 9am and our little girl, Eva, still wasn't at the church. It's not exactly the coolest moment for a missionary when the person who is supposed to be baptized is MIA, so Motra Leit and I went running to her house. We were knocking on the door and nobody was answering, and I was honestly a little worried. Then all of a sudden Eva came running out of the elevator to her apartment because she had been at a cousin's house and was just getting home. We hurried to the church with her and ended up having a beautiful baptism! She is just soooo awesome! After the baptism we had a little young women activity and baked some sugar cookies. Then Christmas night we had a sweet Young Single Adult Activity at the Institute. It was a Danish themed night and Motra Leit entertained everyone with games, info about Denmark, and some Danish treats.
It was a lovely end to a fabulous Christmas.

Motra Leit, Eva, Motra Hall

The only other cool thing I can think of that happen this week was we had an unplanned visit to see Alseda, the awesome girl who was baptized last week. We were just dropping some new scriptures off to her, but she insisted that we come in and meet with her father. That was about the last thing I wanted to do on my lunch time, especially because her father had been against her coming to church in the first place, so I was pretty scared of him to be honest. It ended up being an awesome meeting though. We had a great time and her Dad is actually super funny and nice and reminded me a little of my Dad (or at least I told him that). Often missionaries talk about great experiences of the "Gift of Tongues" where they testified or something like that, but I had a different "Gift of Tongues" experience. It was more like a "Gift of Tongues-Comedy Style."
I'm not sure how to explain it, but to be able to be entertaining and funny in a foreign language is kinda hard (especially if you are a lame, not so funny person like me), but we had Alseda's dad just laughing and loving life and loving us. It was definitely a huge blessing! And I was even able to throw in some Word of Wisdom stuff on him because he smokes. It was sweet! Now I'm back to my boring, not funny-self, but I'm just so grateful that I had it when it was necessary! We had lunch with Alseda today and her Mom was telling us that we had to come back and visit her husband again because he really enjoyed talking to us. Quite the big change from the beginning!

Well, hope you all have an awesome New Years Eve! Motra Leit and I will be staying up to midnight to see the fireworks (if I can make it that late...I've become quite the oldster on this missionary schedule) and then in the house all New Years Day doing some Deep Cleaning!

Love you -
Motra Hall

Kelsey at the internet cafe on her SKYPE call for Christmas.