Monday, 21 April 2014

Week Three in Albaina

Okay.. So I'm a day late.. But Happy Easter. Well, what a treat it was when I got onto the computer and received 27 e-mails.. Thank you all so much for the love and encouragement. It makes me so happy to hear from home :) I'm glad to hear that all is well, and really interested to hear about the changes that are happening! Congratulate Bishop Mulholland for me.. Ugh.. I miss MJ. I hope Brianna loves her as much as I did.

This past week has surprisingly gone faster.. Which, I know is a bad thing to be grateful for.. But it's really been nice. Anyway.. I'll update you on some of the work here! So, Mark.. our progressing investigator is still doing pretty good.. But last Sunday he was in sunday school.. and the teacher kind of taught in a way that was not good for investigators.. She was really brash and kind of intimidating. So.. our next lesson with him we (and when I say we.. I mean Motra Smith) did a lot of patchwork.. He was under the impression that we didn't like any other religions.. which is SO not true. So, hopefully he's still okay. I tried to reassure him that the gospel of Jesus Christ is perfect.. But the people of the Church are not and never will be. It's really a struggle. Elder Bednar once said that if you get offended by someone or something it doesn't mean that the church isn't true.. it means that you're not true to the church, there's a big difference. Which is SO true. Some golden words right there. And then we have Jusi. She is this cute little 16 year old and she actually was a referral from a member in the ward. She's a ballerina and she's so sweet. We've had 2 lessons with her. She saw a video about Jesus Christ and wanted to know more, so her mom called us. In our first lesson, we didn't really feel like we connected with her too well.. But the last lesson was a lot better, she asked us why we came out on our missions. (She also speaks English pretty well, so she let us answer in English which is nice), but it was really great because it just made me realize.. I'm only 3 years older than her, I'm just a teenage girl like her.. but I'm out here in Albania.. I wake up everyday, and spend all day trying to catch a little bit of what people say.. and I struggle so hard to convey the things in my heart.. in order to simply attempt to deliver the happiness that I have found to anybody that will listen. I have received so much throughout my life. I have been blessed in so many ways and I honestly don't know how I could not try and help other people to receive the happiness and peace that I feel every single day. People are always like, why would you leave America to come here? Why are you sacrificing your school and your time? And all I feel is like.. Yes, it's hard. I get frustrated a lot.. But there is nothing I would rather do, then TRY to help these people. To help Jusi see that Jesus Christ loves her more than she could ever try to understand, and that through Him anything that she comes up against in life, she can overcome. I love her so much, and I hope that her faith causes her to act. We'll have to see. Missionary work really is so rewarding.

One of our Elders' investigators at Church, he's awesome
I have a cool experience from this past week.. So, Sister Smith and I were talking about the Spirit of discernment, and I was just like.. How does that even work? And she told me that she sees something in people's eyes, when they're open to at least listening to what you have to say. But, when she was talking about it I was like... Um... I don't know if that's a real thing. I look at people's eyes.. all I see is that they're brown. Haha. But, we were walking to the house of one of our recent converts and I was just saying hello and smiling at people when we passed.. And we passed this one lady and I was just like, "si jeni? mire?" and there was just something about her.. And she smiled at me and I stopped to talk to her. She was SO kind and she just had the nicest smile on her face :) and as we talked to her we told her that we were going to visit a family, and she was like, "jam nje besimtar!" basically saying that she was a believer and that she has faith in Christ and things like that, and then she gave us her number and asked if we could come visit her. It was really really cool. I don't know if anything will come of it.. but I will say that I now understand what that my companion meant when she talked about seeing a light in someones eyes. It was a really neat experience. 

The language is still frustrating for me. If there's one thing that I've learned it's that I suck at having patience with myself. I feel like I should have it all down right now and I should be like fluent and understanding everyone because I've been here a month. But, that's not how it works.. So, I just have to keep working at it everyday. I'll be honest.. there are days when I'm walking down the street and I'm like.. Why couldn't I have just been sent to Salt Lake City, UT where they speak my language!!! There are days when I seriously consider the fact that I might have a learning disability. Things just don't stick. SO FRUSTRATING. I'm learning a lot though. It's hard sometimes to have faith when you don't feel like you see progress. But, where doubt is faith cannot be. So.. I'm just gonna keep on keeping on.. but I really am so grateful to be here. Albania is so different, and I'm really enjoying being immersed in another culture and with different people.

There are stray dogs everywhere. Ive claimed this one as my own. He's cute
My companion and I get along really well so that's sweet. We laugh a lot. I think I realized that we were a good match when we walked in an apartment building the other day and we looked up at the ridiculously long stair case that we had to climb and she just says "this is a sick joke." I was like.. yes. Your attitude is terrible. I love it. Hahaha. But really though.. If she didn't get my sarcasm.. That would be so rough. My hair is still so bad :( It makes me sad. I just throw it up in a bun everyday because it's literally like.. just bad. I don't know. If y'all ever send me anything.. Maybe throw in some Moroccan oil or something to help it. It's pretty much retarded, but whatever. 

Alright, well I love you all so much and I'm excited to hear from you again next week :) 

With much love from Vlore

Motra Vermunt
A Lizard we found, he scared me a bit.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Week Two in Albania

Si jeni! 
So, it's my second week in Albania.. But it feels like I've been here for at least 5 months. It's kind of a sick joke, haha. Also, before I forget.. Mom & Dad, can you start replying to my e-mails, cause I don't get DearElders out here.. So, I was kinda sad when I saw that I didn't get to hear from you guys this week. 

I hope everyone at home is doing well! Albania is wonderful. It's been pretty cold this past week, which is rough because it literally is that cold that you're like.. chilled to the bone. Haha, but just wait.. In a month or so I'll be complaining about how unbearably hot it is. 
Vlore is beautiful! On Saturdays we go and play soccer on the beach with the members, and I'm just like.. whoa. I'm on a beach. This is so awesome! Haha. So, I'm still just working real hard to try to understand/speak this language. It's really discouraging sometimes, but other times I receive glimpses of hope and progression so that's nice. 
I love the Albanian people. They are seriously so generous. The members we visit, or even the people we talk to on the street. They just have a lot of love. Every home that we go to, they give us a drink or some food or something. Even when you know they struggle and don't have very much, they're so willing to give. They are also very kind. As I struggle to convey my ideas, they all tell me how well I'm doing. (People pleasers..) But it's very nice. 
One thing that I'm still struggling to get used to is that everyone turns and stares at us. 2 Americans walking down the street is like.. What.. In church yesterday the lady in front of me would turn around and just look at me for like 15 seconds and then turn back around. Haha, I'm sure when I come home I'm gonna be like "um, excuse me? Why aren't you all turning to stare when I walk into the room?" Hahaha, I'm living the life over here. 
Next thing.. THE FOOD. Oh my goodness, I don't even know what fruit we eat over there in North America, but.. I seriously want to die it is so good here. Like the kiwi's.. Divine!!! And it's like 30 cents for 6 of them. It's just wonderful. And the bakeries here.. Yeah, okay. Best thing ever. Fresh bread. Ah. Wonderful. 
The work is going pretty good. The companionship of Sisters before us just went ahead and baptized like 20 people. So, we're kinda starting from the ground up. We visit a lot of recent converts and things. We have one progressing investigator. His name is Mark and he has a baptismal date for May 3rd! He goes to the University here in Vlore. He's awesome. He's really timid and so nice and I just love him for his faith. I'm hoping that things continue to go well with him. 
Hmm.. What else. OH! Yeah, Steph, Cait & Meg.. remember how you used to like.. covet my hair? Well.. guess what.. I don't know WHAT happened.. But I woke up one day and it was like COMPLETELY fried. Seriously, so tragic. I've been working on conditioning it this past week, and it's getting better finally, but seriously SO sad. But, I got this deep conditioning treatment thing so.. I hope that works out. But yeah, it's some kind of a sick joke. But apparently with everyone something bad happens to them their first transfer. My companion dyed her first laundry load of whites blue.. So, ya know.. I guess this is just my initiation.
I'll be honest, starting out in a new country, not knowing the language, or the people and knowing that the day is going to feel like its 40 hours long can kinda weigh on you from time to time. But, if nothing else.. It just turns me to prayer so much more. Sometimes when we're walking to our next appointment, I just pray and ask Heavenly Father to comfort me and help me to endure with hope. We all want patience, but we want it right now. But it doesn't work like that. It's something that comes after long periods of time of diligently working and trying. Brigham Young once said that we have to pray for patience until we can understand. Not until the trial is over, or we've received what we want.. But until we can understand the Lord's plan for us, or what we need to learn from the hardships that we encounter. If there's one thing I'm learning right now.. It is that I truly need to turn to the Lord in every thought. I promise that this is beyond my capacity. But, with faith and diligence I know that I will be able to do whatever He requires of me. Who the Lord calls, he qualifies. 
I hope all is well at home. I love you and miss you all. Be grateful for everything you have. Especially drying machines. I miss those heavenly things.

We played cards on Sunday, with pass along cards. We're nailing this mission thing! haha

Monday, 7 April 2014

She's in Albania!

Hello Family! 

Okay, so this has been the freaking craziest week of my entire life. What is even crazier is that it hasn't even been a full week.. Ah! So, last Tuesday we woke up and left the MTC at 4:35 in the morning. We had a little while in the SLC airport. It was pretty fun we were all just hanging around and I got to talk to Steph and Grandma, so that was cool. But when we were returning to our gate, we found out that Elder Waters (the awesome kiwi) had a seizure and was not doing all that well. Ugh, it was the worst. We all ran down the stairs and saw him lying there and had a bunch of paramedics around him. It was so sad. I cried. It was so hard to see someone who has become like a brother to me lying there like that. Elder Waters is such a great missionary, and the people of Albania need someone like him. We've been told that he will be coming out next transfer, so I hope that's true. He's awesome. 

The flight to Vienna was long, but we finally made it. I didn't sleep like at all. So that was ridiculous. This is my first time ever being to Europe.. and as soon as we got off the plane, I was like.. What have I gotten myself into.. I started to be super nervous. We waited for a little while and then off we went to Tirana. I sat next to an Albanian and could talk with him a little, but it was definitely a wake up call.. They talk so fast. I was like, um.. can someone give me the number of the brethren? They gave me the wrong mission call. 

So, we go over to the mission home and there was a sister missionary there waiting for me to take me to a lesson. YEAH, they trusted me to go to a lesson in my first few hours. Ugh, it was so scary. Haha, and I had to share the first vision (I needed a little help) haha, but it was cool. Albanian's are VERY kind. Everyone is like "SA MIRE!" When I talk.. which is like, oh how good! They are also very touchy. Hahaha, I love it. I get kissed on the cheeks at least 30 times a day. It's so cool. They really are wonderful and humble people. Oh, yeah.. and traffic laws.. no. They're not a thing. They're more like.. maybe suggestions. Or don't exist. I don't even know. It's crazy.. But so funny. 

The food here,  really healthy!
Then we went back and I thought I was going to die, I was so tired. Oh my gosh. Unreal. I thought I was gonna fall over. Haha, but I finally got to go back and go to bed. The next day I was placed with my companion, her name is Motra Smith and she's lovely! She's been in the country from 7 months. She speaks well.. Which is really good because, yeah.. I catch very little and speak little. So frustrating. Haha, but it's great. I was assigned to Vlore! I was really excited because Vlore is down in the south.. where the language is clear and clean. But they do speak so very fast. Haha, I have to listen SO carefully. Elder Myers was sent up to Kosovo, so pac fat (good luck) to him. Up north they speak a different dialect, and Elder Temple went up to Shkoder. His companion is Albanian and like.. doesn't speak English. So, basically Elder Temple is gonna be the best speaker ever by the end of this transfer. I'll miss them! But Elder Simons is in my zone, so that's sweet. He's in Fier. 

Vlore is amazing! I think it's so beautiful. It's so cool to see all of the buildings that are colorful and different. Truly, being here makes me so grateful to live in America. We are so blessed. I realize how much I have taken it for granted. But, I really enjoy it here. It's beautiful. It's been kinda cold up until today actually. Our apartment is like 5 floors up.. So we had to carry our bags up that. That was real fun. Haha. We had a lesson with an investigator our first day. His name is Mark. He's like 19 or 20, he's really nice.. But kinda shy. We taught him about the Word of Wisdom. He understood it pretty good, he was like "I only smoke 5 cigarettes a day." Haha, so that's good. We'll have another lesson with him soon. I'm really excited to do work here in Vlore. The ward is growing a lot. There's a ton of youth, which is so exciting. I'm excited to see what is in store. So, seriously.. People look at me like I'm an ALIEN. They truly do love Americans here. People just stop and look at us while we walk down the street. It's crazy. Sometimes guys try and speak english to us. It's pretty funny. It's gonna take some getting used too. 

My teacher, Brother Carver. He's awesome . I'll miss him
I'm really looking forward to feeling more in routine and comfortable here. The beginning of things is always so hard. You're just so out of your element and you're like.. what.. I'm convinced that all things will be well once I know this language well. So, we'll see. Haha, I'll have to work really hard. I listened to general conference on Sunday in Albanian.. didn't really catch much. So, I hope it was good for y'all. 

I'm so excited to be able to bring the gospel to these people. They are so deserving of the understanding and happiness that it brings. This is such a great opportunity that I've been given to show love and kindness to these people, and to try to help them to come to know that their Heavenly Father knows them, and loves them too. This really is the true gospel of Jesus Christ and I can't wait to find those people that I can help.  

I hope everything is well at home. I miss you all. It's kinda crazy to think that I'm on the other side of the world! 

Ju dua! 

Motra Vermunt

Last Temple Walk