January 24, 2011

Greetings from a cold dark bomb shelter. We were surprised to find that out here in our refugee camp there was even wireless internet to connect from our phones....static.

Old cement bomb shelter/bunker

Okay, sorry just kidding, we are doing great here and just hitting up the usual internet cafe by our house. President Neil told us that we are supposed to report to you the following:
"Please tell your parents in your email this week that you are well, and promise that you will stay well clear of the demonstrations, and will go to your apartment at the first sign of trouble!!"

We heard that President emailed all our parents to let them know we are well, and we really are fine. It sure has been a crazy week though. Someday remind me about this and I'll have to share all the awesome stories I have, but for now I'll keep it on the down low so the Socialists don't come after me next. I guess I can at least give you a brief little summary of the whole Protests and Riots from our side. Our District Leaders just casually told us Thursday night to avoid the center of the city and government buildings the next day due to some political protests that were scheduled. We didn't think too much of it, but rescheduled some of our appointments, since that is our area. Then the next day we were at a lunch appointment and the people had on the TV and the news was just doing a live broadcast of the protest, which as you probably have seen video coverage/pictures, got super violent. We continued with our day until around 4:30pm when we were called and told to go back home, so we had to cancel the rest of the lessons for the day.

Socialist party protest in Tirana

It was pretty weird being just 3 or 4 blocks away from all this craziness (yeah, Motra Yourstone and I live the closest of all the missionaries to where this all went down....we feel super cool!) yet inside with no TV or radio....just kinda in our own little world. We cooked like 10 liters of soup together during that time! Fun! So it wasn't till the past couple days that we have got a little more information about everything just from members and people we talk to. It was interesting in church because it isn't like Utah where everyone is Republican :), but instead the branch president got up and talked about how we need to be peaceful and pray that this can all end, and then one guy got up and started talking in his talk about how he was there at the protest, and started naming off some other members that he was proud to have seen there with him, even though they weren't being violent. Us missionaries all looked at each other and were like, "are we understanding this correctly?" Super interesting!

Anyway, the embassy is keeping President updated, and we have a couple days this week that we probably will have to be in the house again for safety, but really we are all really fine. Don't worry, if I really wasn't safe I probably wouldn't tell you so much about it! :) I'm just glad that of all people I have to be stuck in a house with for lockdown I get Yourstone.

On a brighter note, I got to give a talk this week in one of the branches. I kinda got stuck into doing it...this is how it happened: we were visiting a member girl and her husband who was visiting from England and is taking the lessons from us when he comes to visit (she still lives here because she can't get a visa yet), and she said that she couldn't do the talk that the Branch President had given her for this Sunday. So we made her call him and tell him herself on our phone. As soon as she hung up, he called right back. We made her answer it and he asked for a Motra.

Motra Yourstone threw the phone at me like a hot potato because she knew exactly what he wanted. I lost the hot potato fight and when I answered the phone he wanted me to do the talk that the member girl had just cancelled. Motra Yourstone thought that was really funny....I know we are really immature missionaries. Anyway, I was the annoying first speaker who always takes up all the time, but everyone seemed to enjoy my talk (I say this most humbly) so I didn't feel too bad. Especially since the closing speaker was the lame boy who was talking about how he was at the protest instead of talking about his topic.

A cool thing this week though was getting to visit Sister Hanzi, one of the original members who joined the church here in Tirana before the Book of Mormon was even translated into Shqip. She is one of the neatest, most faithful members I have ever met, so it was neat to talk to her. She of course wanted to show us all her pictures that she has taken with missionaries over the years and also her diary that they all write in. It was fun flipping through and finding a couple old college friends in the photos who had served here many years ago (German Ellsworth & Ben Cannon). I have been trying to find traces of them my whole mission, so it was neat. Also the Elders found an entry in her journal from a Yuma missionary, Elder Nielsen. Another small world moment, brought to you by the Albania Tirana Mission!
I'm a little short on stories this week because we spent 2 whole days doing trainings and then the couple days inside due to protests, etc. But I thought I would give you a little taste of Motra Yourstone and my training we did this week. We were assigned to provide a 10 minute motivational talk on "finding" for the whole mission. The only thing we could think of to motivate was a cheesy poem that we wrote ourselves. It was actually a big hit and Pres. said he was going to put it into the mission history book. We felt cool. Here is a copy for your enjoyment, although sorry about all the inside jokes:

Knocking doors will never get old
If we always testify and be bold

Finding Finding is so fun
We're glad the elders do a ton (elders have a lot less people to teach than sisters, and they always give us lots of referals)

Have a coke or do you prefer Rockie
One more qeras (treat) is gonna kill me

You finally get in and your lesson goes great
But in the end you find their daughter just wants a date

We will teach with faith and great care
But we can't help if they choose Ferr (hell)

Tracting can be kinda hard
When the nena (old lady) pulls the nje Zot (one God) card (most heard excuse for not wanting to listen- one God for all)

What we have to give is the truth
Even if that xhaxhi (old man) only has one tooth

When you really out of luck
Just go and feed a duck (president's advice from an old training)

We are teaching what is true and right
But still they call us Jehovite (that means Jehovah witnesses)

Zero lesson (first lesson when tracting) goes great, baptismal date set
You invite them to church and they say kismet (way of saying maybe but usually means no)

When they won't listen to what you say
Wish them better luck in Boten e Shpirtrave (Spirit World)

So when your tracting and your down
Think of this poem and get rid of that frown!

That is all I have for this week! I love you all and hope you have a great week. Be safe and remember God loves you! And don't worry about us, we promise to not go set up any display tables and try and pass out church pamphlets to the protesters.

Love Always,
Motra Hall