April 4, 2011

Hey everyone! Not much new over here. We did have transfer calls on Saturday and the new transfer begins tomorrow. Motra Hoxsie and I will both be staying together, which is actually really nice. Motra Leit is going to be training though, so that means I'm going to be a grandma - quite the honorable status for a Motra here!

As for work it is rather slow, but Motra Hoxsie and I are still in the best of spirits. Actually we hit an all time low for my mission, just 8 lessons this past week. The funny thing about it is that we got to go to Vlore for exchanges and Motra Leit and I had 9 meetings in less than 24 hours there. Let's just say there are a lot more people in Vlore who wanted to see me than here in Tirana. It's all good though, I'm sure the work will pick up soon.
As for Vlore.....yes it was AMAZING! I hadn't been back to visit since I was transferred from there and walking down the boulevard was just like coming home. I went with Motra Leit and we were literally running from visit to visit just to try and see everyone. Luckily because we had so little time, I was saved from about 4 different dinners with people because everyone wanted us to stay and eat with them.
Also, as an FYI for you all, Brother RRokaj says that they are going to hold me hostage and not let me return to America. He's setting the ransom at 10 million, so start saving up! Oh, I also loved that Alseda's dad said that since I came back to Vlore he was going to give up smoking, but when he found out it was just for a visit he started smoking again. We just laughed!
On a sadder note I found out on Tuesday that Aurora's dad (the man named Hate that answered the door at the very beginning when we were tracting) passed away. I heard from one of our investigators here in Tirana that is cousins with Aurora. (Small world- I know!) So last thing Saturday morning before we left Vlore, Motra Leit and I went to visit her. She was so surprised and probably more overjoyed than anyone who just had a funeral should be, but I think she needed it because dealing with death here is super stressful. Obviously it is always a super hard time, but the traditions here are just really different and don't exactly lighten the load of the difficult trial. Aurora filled us in on all the traditions and it was super interesting/slightly depressing. The general idea is to pretend to never be happy again, ie: the immediate family must all wear black for 40 days and stay at their home to await and host visitors, the wife then wears all black for the rest of her life, no TV or any kind of entertainment for the first 40 days, no receptions or wedding parties for any of the daughters only quiet civil marriage at the court house, etc. Anyway, you get the idea.

Another cool thing this week is that in 3rd branch a new young couple from America moved in. They will be living in the American Embassy housing for the next two years and he will be working for the U.S. Embassy. They said before the end of the summer two more LDS families from America will be moving here also for similar work. It's going to be so amazing for 3rd branch because they really can use some more strong members. Also this couple has a little 7 month baby which was like the star of the branch yesterday. All the members are already in love and all wanting to hold him and play with him. So needless to say I think they found a very warm welcome here, and we are all excited to have them as well.

We loved watching General Conference here! It was my first time being in Tirana for conference and it was really cool cause all the Tirana missionaries went to the mission home and watched it with President and Motra Neil in their living room. Just like a big family here....still kids fighting for the comfy seats and kids getting shushed for talking during the choir. We never grow up I guess! But what a great conference! Hope you all got to see at least here a little bit of it. On Sunday we actually had technical difficulties with the Satellite so we ended up watching it on the computer and missing part of it when the electricity went out- typical Albania, but all-in-all still a great weekend!

I hope you all have a great week!

Love Always,
Motra Hall