March 22, 2011

Hey everybody! It's pretty official (as official as mission gossip can be at least), I'm extending my mission until May 18th, so restart those countdowns! I know, I'm like the luckiest missionary ever....very spoiled! I guess we can start making new plans for then, the only thing I have going so far is the next weekend after I get back (May 28th), I'll be in Salt Lake City for the big wedding of Motra Bentley.

That is about all the big news I have from this past week though, everything else is just the day-to-day awesomeness of Motra Missionary life in Albania. We did have a huge District Conference on Sunday and it was amazing! That is when all the members in the whole country come together for a conference. Obviously seeing everyone was a HUGE plus, but also it was quite a fabulous meeting as well. One couple just talked about the Especially For Youth program and how all the youth need to take a part in it. I don't think I've mentioned this, but we are going to be having the first ever EFY in Albania and it is going to be this August. In fact it is the first EFY to ever be done in the Baltics, so it is a huge thing and we are even helping to promote it. I am so excited about it, even though I won't be here. It is just cool to see Albania progressing.
Also it was President and Sister Neil's last conference as well, so they both gave great talks. They will be leaving around the end of June and the new President will be Elder and Sister Ford from
England. They actually came and visited Albania last March and I was able to meet them-they will be great also. As for seeing everybody at conference, it was fabulous.
Motra Hoxsie was probably pretty bored just standing around while I talked to everyone, but I told her in a year she'll feel the same way. It was like a huge family reunion and I wished I had a few hours just to have enough time to talk to everyone. Everyone from Vlore was there, and it made me so home sick (for Vlore that is) to see them all, but also just an amazing feeling to see them well and progressing in the Gospel. In fact, yesterday was Marjana's anniversary of her baptism and she was telling me Sunday how she had planned a "birthday" party for herself to celebrate her baptism and was inviting everyone from the branch. I loved that!
During conference I wished I could have sat by everyone, but I only have two sides so I sat with Genti and Elba (both are well and send their love Motra Bentley). I am just so grateful that I have more time here and before I leave I imagine I'll be heading down to Vlore because a young girl I taught my last three months there is finally getting baptized and has been begging me to come. Knowing I'd be in Vlore again and that I still have another 2 months here made it a lot easier to see everyone and say good-bye after the conference. I don't know what I'm going to do when I really have to leave this place. I need an extension of an extension! haha!

So an interesting cultural tradition that I learned about this week. Every year on Summer Day (I mentioned this last week) everyone makes a little bracelet out of like string and it is simply red and white string twisted together. The red represents love and the white represents like a clean soul. And you wear the bracelet until April 14th, or technically until the swallows migrate back for the summer from their winter migration. Then you take off the bracelet and put it in a rose and the swallow is supposed to come and carry the rose away. This gives you luck and peace for the coming year. Megi made us these little bracelets so we can have luck and peace....I already feel pretty lucky and full of peace, but I feel cool now too with my bracelet.

So I forgot to tell you why we switched our p-days. We are heading out now for a District Trip to Kruj√ę, it is an older city with a castle and museum and stuff....I'm not really sure actually. But it is pretty famous and my District was so nice as to agree to go there because I had never been and it is kinda a "missionary must do." Anyway, I'm sure you'll hear all about it later.

Have a great week and much love to you all. Keep working on your patience....I know you are dying to see me. Haha!

Motra Hall