April 18, 2011

Hope you all enjoyed a very pleasant Easter with no messy incidents with unboiled eggs or anything of the sort! We had a lovely Easter here and I did my fair share of boiling eggs, so I was grateful for the Mt. Sterling Cooking Course that I took to improve my egg boiling skills. Both of our branches had little Easter parties too, so that was fun to go to and take our new investigators to. The 3rd branch just had a little Relief Society activity to dye eggs, but here they just stick one color in the water while they are boiling the eggs and then just have solid colored eggs (usually red because that is what the Orthodox church does, so everyone thinks that's what we should do because we are a church). I guess it is a lot simpler this way and didn't require much effort or creative input on my part, so that was a plus.
The other branch (1st branch) went out Saturday morning to the artificial lake that we have here in Tirana and we had an Easter egg hunt there and played soccer, Frisbee, jump rope, and dodge ball. In fact we ran into the other two Tirana branches there also (2nd and 4th branch), so it was fun to see everyone. We took a new family with us there and the three young girls just had a blast, which was quite a relief. Unfortunately our little Easter lakeside party came to a close when some stupid teenage/young adult boys showed up close to where we were playing and started having dog fights. The "in" thing around here lately seems to be boys with pit bull dogs and so these idiots thought it was cool to bring their dogs into a park of kids and start egging them on letting them fight 2 dogs against one. It was disgusting and a couple of the Elders went and chewed out the boys afterward.

Anyway, moving on to happier thoughts. This week was super awesome for Motra Hoxsie and I. We finished off the week with 8 new investigators, all really awesome and all referrals from other missionaries in other areas. It's kinda funny because you spent day after day trying to find people and knocking on doors but no luck, and then within a couple nights other missionaries call with just amazing contacts for you. I don't mind though, we are just super grateful. So the first is a girl from Vlore that Motra Leit met on the van ride from Tirana last week. Her name is Ola and she is a student here in Tirana but was going home to Vlore for the weekend. She met with Motra Leit and then got my information and called me once she got back to Tirana. When we met her she was already so excited about the church and brought two of her roommates with her. One of them is also from Vlore, and they both know Enea Rrokaj from high school as well as some other people I know in Vlore. So we talked a lot about things they have noticed in him and they said he was just such a good example at parties, etc.
We had a great lesson with them and at the end Ola said that she just felt so happy and wanted to go tell everyone about this church. I told her that now she knows how we feel and that is why we are here on missions. Before we left the girls also asked about getting baptized and said they totally wanted to, and Ola even said she was ready "right now" because she felt so good. They are just all so cool and the neatest thing is that we decided to walk them home and to our surprise they live in the apartment building RIGHT next to us. The next day they also came to the Relief Society party and I think really enjoyed themselves. The older women were just so nice and invited them to come to their homes anytime for dinner. They also were happy to share their testimonies and how much they love the temple and doing baptisms for the dead, etc. It never fails that they talk about that first with new investigators. I just had to laugh to myself and then I went over after and explained it a little better. They thought it totally made sense and was totally normal! Yeah, they are super awesome.

As for the family we took to the Easter party at the lake....earlier in the week we had met with the mother and just talked a little about her faith and her life etc. In a simple summary, her life has been pretty rough. She and her five siblings were raised by her mother from when she was five because her dad ran off with some other women. She got married when she was fifteen and is now thirty with three daughters ages 14, 12, and 8 and her husband is in Greece trying to find work and she is living with her mother and her paralyzed grown brother. Still she accredits the blessings she does have to God and realizes that her trials have made her stronger. As I mentioned they all came to the activity at the lake and then they showed up to church on Sunday with three other neighborhood girls as well. I was kinda surprised that even after a long, slightly boring sacrament meeting, all the girls begged their mom to let them stay even though she had planned on leaving. They did the same thing after 2nd hour too and ended up staying a total of 2.5 hours, which I was pretty impressed with for a first time. The girls all said that they totally loved church and the oldest one even asked about how she could get baptized. The two neighborhood girls piped in about how it works. I had heard them earlier telling someone they were baptized, but I just assumed it was like when they were a baby in some other church cause that happens alot. But I started talking to them and they were actually baptized in our church just a year or so ago but somehow got lost through the cracks and randomly came because their neighbors invited them to go to a church for Easter. I still can't get over how cool that is. There is no way that ironically just happened, so I am so grateful that Heavenly Father is watching out for each of his children and is willing to use miracles to help them find their way back.

I guess that is all the good stuff I got for this week.

Hope you all have a super-duper fabulous week!

Motra Hall