March 14, 2011

Gezuar Diten e Veres! (Happy Summer Day!) Greetings from a beautiful holiday in Albania.
All the Albanians have been shocked that we Americans don't celebrate "Day of Summer," but we just aren't quite the party animals as they are here. Most all the stores are closed and everyone is out walking the streets and playing. We just came from the center of
Tirana, and we could hardly drive through because there were so many people in the streets. It was kinda like being in a Safari, but instead of tons of animals attacking your jeep it was tons of Albanians surrounding Big Blue (the mission van).

Anyway, I decided to have a really special Adventure for Day of Summer, and I'm still not sure if Motra Hoxsie has forgiven me for it. So there is a famous mountain on our side of town called Dajti (you can Google it) and it has a cable car that goes to the top. Neither of us had ever been because it is usually closed on Mondays when we have p-day, but today for the holiday it was open. All I knew was that it was at the end of the road by the church, so I just start walking and following the signs. Once we got there we decided to just buy a one-way ticket and then find some other way home, ie: walk home, or catch a van, or figure something out to complete our adventure. So after wandering around on the mountain we decided to head back and to save time decided to just buy another one-way return ticket, but apparently those don't get sold on the mountain. Also, apparently there aren't taxis or vans just waiting at the top to take people back to Tirana (my bad), so we started walking down the mountain. We walked about 2 hours and lots of cars going up the mountain passed, but not one going down, and it seemed like we were still pretty high up in the mountains still after 2 hours of walking. Finally one little yellow car passed, and I was way to prideful to stop it, but Motra Hoxsie wasn't. The nice man let us hitch-hikers ride with him down the hill about 20 minutes (also he said he did taxi service on the side sometimes, so I guess were weren't exactly hitch hiking), and then he showed us where we could catch another van. About half and hour later this van came and we jumped on and were back to the church within another 20 minutes or so. So yeah, Motra Hoxsie was a really good sport, but I don't know how in to hiking she is....oops! It was definitely the memorable adventure we were going for.

On Saturday Bela got baptized! Bela is the girl that Motra Yourstone and I started teaching about 6 weeks ago that was "golden" and from the English class. She was so happy and excited and just so cute drowning in her huge white jump-suit. It was a really great day and it was so wonderful to see her again! It was also super cool because we had an investigator walk like an hour and a half in heels just to come to the baptism. We had told her and her friends the day before that they were invited to this baptism and they all said they wanted to come, but when we tried to call them Saturday morning they didn't answer, so we figured they just slept-in or something. Then the one quiet girl that had just kinda been listening in with her friends, but we didn't even have her phone number, showed up and she had found the church by herself. I was just shocked that she went through all that to come. She really enjoyed it though and we went and talked afterwards about it. Her name is Genta, and she isn't exactly sold on the Gospel yet because like everyone she says she is Muslim, but we have a start!

One more cool story from the week.....we were doing a routine visit to Rajmonda's, and wonderful woman from 3rd branch who had been inactive for sometime and is starting to kinda come back. Motra Hoxsie and I had been talking about it and decided we really wanted to invite her daughter to be baptized because she is always at church with her mom and obviously believes everything. I doubt you all remember, but exactly about 1 year ago Motra Yourstone and I were on an exchange here and we tried to do a lesson with this same daughter about prayer, but it didn't go so well. That is because she is 22 years old and is deaf, mute, and losing her sight. She really is an amazing young woman though and although she doesn't know any official sign language, she manages to communicate with her parents and even with me quite well (using lots of big hand movements and pointing). So we asked her if she wanted to get baptized and she said she wants to, but she know that she can't wear an "open" (I'm not sure if we use that word in real English, but it basically means"immodest") wedding dress one day when she gets married and she knows if she is baptized that she can't/shouldn't. So that is why she said no.....I was pretty bummed about that. But, the Lord is good and still seems to send blessings our way to cover our disappointments ----one of Rajmonda's casual neighbor acquaintances just happened to pop in to say hi. Rajmonda invited her to come sit down and listen to the rest of our lesson. This woman, Flora, loved it and said she had always been a follower of Christ since she lived in Greece. Rajmonda told her that she needed to start learning from us and that they could go to church together on Sunday and that they would stay for three hours. It was awesome! Rajmonda usually doesn't even stay at church for three hours herself, but this opportunity for her to share her testimony and be a member missionary just really helped her catch the excitement again of the Gospel. It's like feeding two birds with one slice of bread (that's similar to killing two birds with one stone, but I thought the "feeding" analogy was better for missionary work)----I love it! Before we left I gave Flora a Book of Mormon and she gave me her number and asked us to come over later in the week with Rajmonda!

Well gang, I guess that is about most of the excitement I have for the week! I hope you all have a wonderful week and choose the right!

Motra Hall

P.S. I know you probably got my "firm and final" travel plans for April 6 this week, but I thought I should just let you know that my return date is still kinda in the air actually, so don't make any kind of plans, ie: book tickets, take off work, etc. Next week I should know for sure.