Monday, June 17, 2013


I'm in Albania!!! I don't even know where to start!! The plane ride over was pretty great. I talked to some people from India in Salt Lake and we talked about temples briefly. I was surprised at how easy it came up. On the flight I sat next to a girl from Serbia who had been a foreign exchange student. She had lived with 2 LDS families and had been to church before. We talked about Joseph Smith and the word of wisdom. We also talked about her culture and what that part of the world is like. The lady on the other side of her was going to DC to visit her mission area (she got home in Feb.) So it was neat to talk to them both. I told girl to talk to the missionaries in Serbia if she ever saw them. I was excited to see who I was going to sit by on my flight out of the country but it ended up being a member from North Carolina who was going overseas on business. 

I loved being able to talk to my family at the airport. I sure do love them a lot and I'm glad I got to wish my dad a happy fathers’ day since I didn't get to e-mail until today. 

The real test was the flight to Albanian where it would be in Albania. I talked to the kids first that were waiting (they knew English haha) but they didn't always understand me. I sat next to a lady who lives and works in Vienna but was going to Tirana for the funeral of her mother. It was so hard to communicate. We didn't understand each other very well. She asked me what I believed about life after death and I thought that was great, so I tried explaining about returning to live with God. She actually believes strongly in reincarnation and seemed really sad for me that I didn't. I wish I could have handled that situation better. I think she was often frustrated with having to re-explain herself so much because I was struggling to understand. I now why they send us out in 2s. Oh, I almost forgot while I was in the Airport I got a referral from a lady who has some friends in Albania that she has been corresponding with over e-mail (I want to say they met through this conference thing about this disease- the lady in the airport had been wearing a shirt about it). The group was leaving so I didn't get to talk to her for as long as I would have liked but I wrote down the name and address of the people, they live in Durres. I hope we find them. 

The mission president and his wife are great. They raced the APs home on the first day (driving is crazy, maybe even more than in some areas of China...pretty close). It was an exciting orientation to say the least. We went out tracking right as we got there while we each got interviewed. It was a crazy moment to knock on a door, say something and then have no idea what they are saying. "This ain't the language they taught me in the MTC!" -Best 2 Years. But seriously, people talk so fast. Sometimes I can get the gist of things. That's always exciting. 

Anyways, we had a quick testimony meeting, ate food, and then they took us to a hostel to sleep. The next morning they took us to this statue area looking over the city and we read the dedication prayer for Albania from Elder Oaks about 20 years ago. We each got a copy and some time to think and ponder and dedicate ourselves. It was neat. And then we took a picture. We went back to the mission home and ate pizza for lunch and found out who our trainers were going to be and where we were going to be serving. 

I'm serving in Durres!!! My trainer is Motra Wheelock. She was trained in Durres and then got transferred to Fier and now is back in Durres so that is kind of fun. She is from Star, Idaho and is studying business. Her personality reminds me a lot of my roommate from China. She is a red-yellow. She is taking her role of a trainer (ma) very seriously haha, I often feel like a child. She is great and I think we are going to have a lot of fun. It has been hard getting into a routine because we had a mission conference and then a district conference (like a stake conference) and things have just been kinda irregular. We rode up with the members to district conference and that was a good way to meet a lot of them. Unfortunately, I don't understand anyone but they were very sweet and patient with me. 

The first day I got to Durres we rode a fergon from Tirana (a van/taxi/bus thing) and then a senior couple (the Botts) picked us up and dropped us off at our commi-plot apartment. It is actually a very nice apartment. I was very impressed. We dropped my stuff and headed back out to go teach. The Seiti girls were my first teaching appointment in the country. I couldn't have asked for a better one. The 2 girls are getting baptized next week (the parents aren't yet members). They are 9 and 11 and so smart! We knocked on the door and they let us in. We took our shoe off (its a custom) and they had slippers for us to put on. The older girl took me by the hand  and led me to my seat. We went over some English lessons. Then we taught them the Word of Wisdom the mom was pretty involved as well. After the lesson they walked us to the bus stop and we played red light/green light while we waited. They are so sweet! Another story about them. They came to church on Sunday (district conference) and sat by us. Most of the conference was in Albanian and so I didn't understand very much. The girls knew I didn't understand much and so they would translate for me. It was cute, they would translate for me in Albanian, so I was basically hearing it twice in Albanian but sometimes they would use different words. I still didn't understand much of what was said but I felt the love these little girls had for me and for church. The district presidency actually just changed, they released the old one and called new ones. Pretty cool stuff.

Albania is great. I don't really understand anyone. They sometimes understand me. It reminds me a lot of China in many ways. They have stores that line up the streets and people live in the apartments above them. The driving is crazy. Its hot and humid. I love their salads! (Tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, onions, sometimes cheese and lettuce and then salt or something- super good!) I haven't had a suflaqe yet, but soon! We are close to the sea, its beautiful! I think I can see Italy sometimes...jokes!

I thought I learned how to rely on the Lord when I was learning Albanian in the MTC but now I thinking that was just the tip of the ice berg...I am so excited to serve these people. Mostly, I can't wait till I can communicate with them :) I love the Lord, I know He will help me. I love Albania!!

Motra Curtis

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