#9 September 9, 2013
Dearest Mother and whomsoever you share this with,
Happy Monday and hello from here in Albania! I hope you are having a wonderful time back stateside! It sounds like everything is going just great with everybody and that life continues out there without me...that is probably a really good thing. Congratulations to Michael for booking it out to the MTC on Wednesday! I hope he has a great time.
Mom, I was actually just reading Jacob 5 not too long ago as well and that was cool to see that you also had a really cool experience reading it. It was actually pretty cool, Elder Linderman's family has an orange grove and he was telling me about it and I was thinking about how similar it was to the olive tree parables. I guess there are olive groves out here in Shqiperia, so that is something that I would love to go out and learn about and visit sometime.
Well, I am in Albania. Weird. But really, it is pretty crazy here. The first day that we got in we went out and did some contacting with a missionary in Tirana and then had interviews with President Ford. I was actually surprised that my communication was better than I thought it would be (that is not to say it was good, but I was expecting a lot worse!) . We then spent a night in a hostel and came back the next day to the mission home. I was assigned to be with Elder Austin from Idaho Falls and we are going to be serving together in the Tirana 4th branch for the next 4 months or so. He is great and has been in Albania for 6 months which is pretty young for a trainer, but that's cool. The plan is to work the city like it is 2013, and well, I think we can do that! We have done a fair bit of street contacting because that is what he has found to be the most effective form of contacting here, and Albanians are just funny so I have a good time with that! I am able to at least get a point across to people but quite a bit of the time he has to do the listening for me because my comprehension is not where it could be yet, but I am working on it! Here in Albania at night people just kinda go out onto the streets and walk for couple hours so it is perfect for contacting people. People confuse Elder Austin for an Albanian all the time, but that is not going to happen to me...ever. I think that almost plays into my hand thought because I stick out and that draws peoples' attention. I really am trying to become good at the language too because when Americans (who Albanians love) learn to speak Albanian (something Albanians also love), well, Albanians love that.
I have never been to Mexico, but from what other missionaries are saying, Alex and I are going to have some stories to swap when we get back. Addresses don't exist here and everyone lives in these 8 or 9 story cement pallats. Police here are kote fare and don't do like anything, but the roads run incredible safely in the totally crazy way they do for it. I don't really know how to explain it, everyone just kinda drives everywhere that is open and you only look out the front window of your car. your horn is a warning to other people that you are there rather than a signal of anger, it is just different. I can already tell that I am probably going to walk in front of a car and die in a couple years back in the states, but we will cross that bridge when we come to it! Bread here is bought at these bread stores and it is only like 80 cents a loaf (800 old leke or 80 new leke...it is the same money but they just call it different things...it is pretty crazy) and that is pretty great. Other than that I had my first 2 sufllaqes the other day which are a big thing here and are basically a pita with a shaved beef and some other stuff in it all wrapped up in a paper with fries on the top and kos (this milky cheese stuff that I guess is everywhere).
Because of the craziness of this last week (me coming in, my comp is the District Leader, and we are whitewashing Tirana 4th) we only had 3 lessons this last week. One was with Pirro Dilo, a xhaxhi (an old man though it literally translates to uncle) who doesn't get why he would need to be baptized again so we are working with him on that. Another was with some non-members that were brought to church, so that was good because we also had several members there. Another was with Ada who is 16 and her mom just got baptized but she I guess has not been super active. Two of the Markaj kids were there with us on that one. They are ballin' and I am huge fans of them. They are these three siblings who are 16, 19, and 21. Their parents aren't members and live about 2 and a half hours from church but are there every week. They are so cool and I am so grateful for their examples.
Well, I think that is it for this first week in this crazy but wonderful place that they tell me is Albania!