Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Ç'kemi! Si jeni? Mirë?

We just finished our mini transfer (6 weeks) which mean I went through my first planner but we still have another 6 weeks before we have transfer calls and all that fun stuff.

I forgot to write notes of what happened this week in my planner, so let me just tell you about regular day life.

Transportation: We have 3 main forms; walking, buses and fergons. Mostly we walk everywhere. We walk a lot. But sometimes we ride buses which is always fun. Usually when we go out to Spitallë which is where we have quite a few people to visit. We also ride fergons, which is like a van/bus thing that picks up people and goes to cities that are a little further out, like we ride it to kavaj mostly. Those are fun too.

Naps: I get to take a nap almost everyday, how lucky is that?! Since they don't really eat dinner here we take an hour of lunch and an hour of dinner at the same time in the middle of the day when EVERYONE is taking a nap. Its great. Its also nice to not be outside during the hottest part of the day. Since I'm being trained we have an extra hour of companionship study which is nice to have that during the summer when it is hot hot hot outside. But actually we're pretty lucky here in Durrës because we have the sea breeze.

Food: I eat cereal almost every morning (cornflakes and muesli) and we eat a lot of pizza. I didn't think we would get fed meals by members very often because it hadn't happened at all since I got here...but this past week we were fed thrice! On Monday we were helping a member and his family shell beans and then they feed us this delicious soup and bread. It was great, the only hard part was that we didn't know they were going to feed us and I was pretty full when we got there. I was hard to eat it all, but that part from the movie "Errand of Angels" kept coming to mind "we eat everything, no leftovers." It was fun though, they are a great family. I hope we can start teaching his sister. The other time was with a member that is our age, she goes with us a lot to lessons, and her mom fed us stuffed green peppers, bread (bread is a part of every meal always), and my favorite salad (tomatoes, cucumbers mixed with some olive oil and salt- I love it!). We didn't know going in that they were going to feed us but luckily I hadn't eaten right before so it was all good. The last was yesterday with a sister that I love dearly. She has been a member for less than a year but she is stellar. She feed us like a 5 course meal. We had soup and bread first, then salad and potatoes, then chicken and stuffed peppers/tomatoes (Stuffed tomatoes? Brilliant! Why have I never thought of that before? Life changed.) Then we had this sweet bread stuff and this chocolate fudge thing. Then we had fruit to top if off. She had all of us junior missionaries over so there were 4 elders and us 2 sisters. It was just a dandy 'ol time! But after that we were helping a member which involved going up 13 flights of stair 2 1/2 times. I may or may not still be a little sore from that. The elevator's going to be installed in a couple weeks.

Oh, I can't believe I forgot! We had a branch activity this week, which are one of my favorite things! There was no ultimate frisbee involved. Sad. BUT there was dancing!! Dancing? You may wonder if this is allowed for missionaries, I wondered this also myself. However, as far as I know traditional dancing and such is allowed! Happy day! Kam shumë mali për kercim. They have lots of line dancing, not like the electric slide or cotton eyed joe, but where you hold hands or shoulders and dance around in circles or snake around doing fun things with your feet. It was fantastic. Also very sweaty. I tried wiping my sweaty face with my sweaty hand and got nowhere. Just accepted it and danced. BUT before we all danced, the youth put on a performance complete with skits, dances and piano/violin duets. They had their lines memorized and everything. I was so impressed! The youth here are phenomenal!

We have not many investigators right now, which means lots of finding! Wish us luck! I know there are prepared people here! We just have to find them! As always, I love being a missionary. There is nothing else like it. Good luck in your missionary efforts as well. Missionary work is for everyone. That is all.

Ju dua!
Motra Kërdes (Now that my new Albanian spelling name tags have arrived I found a way of spelling my name that I like better! What can you do?)

Pictures: beautiful sunset, the youth at the performance, the view from the 13 flights we climbed.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A month in Albania?!!

Well, it's been a month here in Albania! I can't believe it! I feel like I just got here last week! But its going good. The Lord's work is hastening and miracles are happening. 

I'm not sure if I have mentioned this before but while in the D.C. Airport before leaving the country I got a referral. A group had gone in to use the bathroom and I was standing outside watching the bags with a couple others. There was a lady who was standing near us, a member of the church, and we were talking to her. She obviously knew that we were missionaries and asked where we were going. We told her we were going to Albanian and crazy enough, she knew someone who lives there (how does that happen??) She said she wanted to send them a Book of Mormon and I told her we could probably make that happen. I got the address (in Durres) and her name before we had to leave. We knew one of us were going to be trained in Durres but we didn't know who it was, but I figured I could give it to whoever went.

Well with all the excitement of the week I forgot about the referral. But soon enough, I remembered and realized that I had been given the referral, and I was the one in Durres. We looked on the map and couldn't find the street! I wished I would have gotten the lady's e-mail address but I hadn't. I continued to ask around and see if anyone knew of the road but no one did. About a week ago we were going to a lesson with one of the senior couples in our area. Elder Andrus is good with roads and knew the names of many so I asked him about it. He didn't know where it was. BUT, 2 days later they had a story for me. They had been looking for an orphanage and looked it up online. They didn't end up finding it but it was on the road I had been looking for. I was impressed that he even remembered the name of the road. Albanian names are the easiest things to remember. But we found the road! That was a happy day! 

Something that you should know about Albania is that addresses don't really exist. Streets can change halfway through, that is, if they are even named. Apartment buildings aren't usually numbered. And rarely do you find numbered apartments. Well, here I am with an address and a name. We set out to find it with plenty of time, prepared to maybe have to tract the entire building. Well, we find the numbered building which was great! We start at the top because that's where you start when you tract a building. Well, the apartments ARE numbered. We find the door! We find them!!! Unfortunately it was only the son and his brother at home. They don't have a phone so we told them we would stop by again. We did, but they were about to leave. So, we'll come back!  I know that was kinda a long story. But it was an exciting thing! I loved the way things just seemed to work out. This is the Lord's work.

Another funny happening, remember Bujar who we happened to meet the other day. Well, we were looking for someone we had found in the Area book and ran into him again! We set up a time and place to meet with him at a local (coffee shop type thing). Most of the people we have done that with this week never showed up so we weren't even sure if he would show. But he did! We got ice cream and taught the restoration, it went pretty good. We'll see what happens. About the ice cream, we had already gotten 2 scoops in a cone earlier that day, and another lesson we taught had given us ice cream as well. At the local they brought us these huge bowls of 5 ice cream scoops with syrup. It tasted great but 9 scoops of ice cream in one day is kinda a lot! We thought we would be ice creamed out for a couple days but...we got more the next day haha. 

They definitely do the whole, shaking your head for the answer "yes" which even after a month, STILL throws me off sometimes. They will just sit there shaking their head as I'm talking and I want to ask what they don't agree with before I remember that they ARE agreeing. But more and more I find myself shaking my head to other people as well! It's an Albania thing haha. 

I remember before I left on my mission watching this commercial/test drive video about a car with only 3 wheels. At first I thought it was a joke and that they were just making fun of it or something, but guess what! They have 3 wheeled cars AND 3 wheeled trucks as well! They use them here! I kept meaning to get a picture but haven't yet. It's great. 

I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter-day Saints. I know who I am. I know God's plan and I'll follow Him in faith. I believe in the Savior Jesus Christ. I'll honor his name. I'll do what is right. I'll follow His light. His truth I will proclaim. His truth I will proclaim!

Motra Curtis

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Life is full of colors and blessings!

This week I finally got around to taking a picture of this beautiful building that we pass all the time. Its the most colorful building I think I have seen in my entire life! A picture will be included. Also, I saw a rainbow! It was beautiful! I love colorful things.

The blessings are many but specifically in church. We have a bus that picks up people for church each week but they recently stopped it and this was the first week without the bus. I'll be honest, I was a little bit worried about people coming to church. Its getting hot and some of these members are a little bit older. Its a long walk for some of these people. We also had a do or die lesson with one of our investigators that has been taught for forever (one of my teachers in the MTC was one of the missionaries that found her), we told her she needed to come to church or we couldn't continue to meet. Well, we tried calling her in the morning but she wasn't answering. We got to church and there were a few people there. I stood by the door to greet people as they came in. Slowly but surely people came. I was so excited with our turnout! We had about 88 people come! We didn't have any investigators come and Valbona wasn't there which was hard. Church started and then after sacrament meeting they opened the doors for people to come in that had arrived late. Guess what? Valbona CAME!!! AND she brought a friend who wants to learn more! Tender mercies of the Lord. Also, another one of our investigators who has been super busy came! With her brother! Her summer school program ends after this next week and she is excited to meet with us again! Yeah!! It was happiness. 

Can I just talk for a minute about the members here. I LOVE them! They are so welcoming to the people we bring and to us as well. I was standing next to Valbona and her friend Alma after church and was amazed by how many people came up to her a greeted them and welcomed them. With the Seiti girls, their mom usually comes with them to things and the women of the branch really reach out to her. Our youth are so supportive of each other. I am just so impressed with them. Albanian people in general are just a really loving people. 

Life is good. We do a lot of finding. But I am so impressed with the amount of referrals we have received. Hopefully they work out. People are busy with summer things but we manage to meet with them. We've gone to Spital quite a bit with our retentions and the country is beautiful out there.  

The work is going forth! Slowly but surely. The church is true. There are tender mercies everywhere, look for them and notice them and you will see more. I love you all! Have a fantastic week!

We tried our first street vendor food: sweet corn. It was way good. 

I don't understand how people get pictures of them walking on the dusty roads...who takes the
picture?? We just had to take ours separately. 

The colorful building and rainbow.

Some of the fantastic youth. 

Today's adventures by the sea.