Thursday, December 23, 2010

P-day and Denisa's Baptism

Looks like Austin and his zone had some fun on bumper cars for a P-day!

Baptism Pictures

Here are some pictures of Austin and Elder Warburton from Alseda's baptism.

Life in Albania - Week 11

YES it is true! i get to see all of you this Saturday! We got an email from president saying that it is now allowed! We are all confused too but I'm not complaining! I'm super excited. It's a Christmas miracle!

1. How did Alseda’s baptism go? Did you get to perform the baptism? Do you guys do the confirmation at the baptism or do you do it the next day at church?

Alseda's baptism was AWESOME! Yeah, I got to perform the baptism and it was a very cool experience. I was obviously a little nervous to do it since it was in Albanian but we did it perfectly the first time through and it was a beautiful baptismal service. The talks were great, and her testimony after the baptism was amazing. The spirit was very strong. Elder Warburton confirmed her the next day at church. It was also a very great experience. I got to stand in on it and the blessing was beautiful. She is going to be a very strong member here in Vlore.

2. Is everything still on track for Eva to be baptized on Christmas Day? Are her parents members?

Yes, Everything is still on track for Eva this saturday. Her parents are not members. Her older Sister is Denisa.

3. How has teaching English for the family with two boys gone where you were able to tell them a bit about the Book of Mormon? Are you going to their home to teach English, or are they coming to the English Class held at the church?

That family ended up going on a vacation last minute and we haven't got to meet them yet. They should be getting back soon! Pray for them!

4. What time do you want to talk on Christmas Day

Because Elder Warburton's family lives in Utah, we figure that 6pm our time is when we will call. It will be 12pm (noon) your time. Get on maybe 15 minutes early just in case but that is when we will be coming to the internet cafe. I am going to make sure my skype works! If it doesn't I will make a new one and just send you a message at 6pm.

5. Do you have a Christmas Program at church like we do here in the states?

We do not. We don't really have a primary program at all. Primary is more like babysitting. There are only 2 or 3 primary aged kids. Most of the branch is made up of age 12-18 year olds unfortunately. We need more families. We don't even have a primary teacher because there aren't enough adults to fill the positions. It's pretty sad.

6. Do Muslims join in Christmas festivities? Like would they hang up lights? Isn’t Albania like 70% Muslim? Does that impact the whole Christmas Celebration thing?

Everybody here seems to at least recognize the Holiday. A lot of people have lights up but it's a lot different than home. There aren't really houses here. So people hang lights on their balcony of their apartment haha. We are in two completely different worlds ha. You will be astonished when you come here. I think it will blow your mind. But yes, A lot of Albanians are "Muslim". They say they are Muslims because their great great grandparents were Muslim. During Communism, religion wasn't allowed and so there was a good chunk of time where there was no religion at all. Now people just kind of grasp onto what their ancestors did. But there are some real Muslims here too. It's just hard because you can never tell if they are the real ones or if they are using it as the excuse to get two guys in suits away from their door.

7. Do they do any celebration of New Years in Albania?

OH YEAH! haha I'm pretty excited. We aren't even allowed to leave our apartment on new years because it's so dangerous. And we come in early the day before. I guess the fireworks and other explosives are given out like candy. I'm pretty excited. I will take pictures for sure! There are going to be fireworks EVERYWHERE! and there aren't really laws here which makes it even better. People can light them off wherever they want haha.

8. How often do you have Zone Conferences?

Every 3 months

9. Did you see the email from Br. Petterborg about the boy’s eye? He has contacted the boy’s doctor, but I don’t think his doctor has responded yet. But if you read Br. Petterborg’s email, he thinks that there may be an easier fix – at least for now. He also emailed President Smith and President Smith did respond thanking him. I will keep you posted if I hear anything else.

Yes, Thank you a ton. You don't know how much this family loves you and they don't even know you!

10. Do you think Bird Man lives anywhere?

haha I think so. He has clothes and stuff and he changes. I think he has some mental problems but like he is actually a really nice guy.

11. What do people do there when they don’t have a job? For example, here in the great USA – the government pretty much takes care of you if you don’t work (not that I agree with this.) Does that happen over there too?

You are pretty much on your own. It's a lot different here.

12. Do you eat at people’s homes very often? If not – do you usually go home to eat or eat out?

We probably eat at peoples homes 1 or 2 times a month. Believe it or not, it is about the same price (sometimes even less) to eat out than to eat at home. We do a little of both. We like making pasta but it's more expensive to eat pasta than to eat out. There are some really awesome Albanian traditional food places here. DELICIOUS!

13. I remember reading something about the people over there closing their businesses for longer lunch times. Like it is typical here to do an hour for lunch. I think I remember them having 2 hour lunches or so. Is that true?

It is about 2 to 3 hours. I hear in the summer lunch is more like 4 hours. But yeah, It is crazy. People don't really have employees here which means the owner of the store is the worker. They go home for lunch and when they come back they come back. They take as much time as they want haha. It's crazy. You can never trust a store to be open from like 12:30 to 5.

14.Alexis got a letter from Brent this week. It was pretty funny. He said you are the only person that writes him – I hope he is kidding because haven’t you only written him once???

I have been writing Brent back and forth. He actually just sent me a letter and a tie! I'm gonna kill him! haha He sent me pictures a few weeks ago and then I commented that I liked his tie and then guess what comes in his next letter?! His freaking TIE!!! and I couldn't even do a dang thing about it ha I'm in Al-freaking-Bania! So don't worry. I am putting together a box right now for him. I bought him 2 ties and a belt. And some Albanian candy. He is getting pay back now!

15.I’m really excited about Alseda getting baptized – did it happen? How did it go?

Yeah! It was awesome.

16.Are you going to have another baptism on Christmas?

We actually have 2 baptisms planned for Christmas! Eva is one of them!

17.How did you end up touching Birdman? (Shake hands, give him a big hug, etc.?!).

Birdman came up and brushed up against me haha. It was actually pretty scary.

18.So does your companion and the other elders all talk to their families at the same time?

We all talk on Christmas but it's at whatever time we decide with the familes/ whatever is best for our schedules.

19.How has your Christmas season been?! Sad it's almost over!! So did you end up watching the Christmas devotional?

Christmas season has been good but really weird! It was really hot again today! This weather is freaking me out! Yesterday it was like 30 degrees and then today it was like 75. Hmmm. I don't really know what's going on ha. We did not watch the Christmas Devotional. I am kinda bummed about it but oh well. Hopefully when I get back.

20. Have I gotten all of my packages?
I haven't gotten any of them yet because mail doesn't get sent to Vlore. It goes to Tirana and then we don't get mail until either someone from vlore goes to Tirana or someone from Tirana comes to Vlore. But we are going to Tirana this Thursday so I should be getting quite a few packages hopefully! Thanks a TON! I received a letter from the Bakers again! Mrs. Baker! I'm going to come home from Albania and smack you if you keep spending that much money to send me letters! I promise you that all you need to do is send me the family updates! haha I love you for going the extra mile but that is EXPENSIVE! I also received a Dear Elder from Sarah Pratt! and Also a BUNCH of letters from the Young Women! Thank you all SO SO SO Much. But guess which young woman didn't write me a letter?! ALEXIS GOSH DANG ECKEL! haha I was getting so excited to see yours and it never came! haha You are LAMEEEE! I also didn't get one from Dayna Miller! haha.

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Hey family! I sent a ton of pictures and a video today and that took a lot of time. Sorry I can't talk very long cause we have stuff we need to do pretty soon and I get to talk to you all on skype in like 5 days! YESS!!!! But basically I just want to fill you in a little on the week. We had two days of training on the new preach my gospel principles. Then the baptism on saturday was awesome. It made everything I have ever done in the church worth everything. I can't even explain it. It was amazing to see someones life change the way Alseda's life changed. Even her physical appearance changed to a happier person. The scripture that says How great will be your joy if you even bring save one soul unto me (or however it goes) it DEAD ON right. I can't even explain it. Being a missionary is awesome. it is also WAY HARD. But it's worth it. The language is coming along. I have to go but I will Talk to you all on saturday at noon (your time) I love you!
-Elder Eckel

ps. Kend, I don't know when I'm going to finish taking notes on the conference talks! I'm trying to hurry! It definitely won't be done before Christmas! Happy Holidays freak! Peace outtttttttttttt!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Life in Albania - Week 10

Hello everyone! I hope you are all doing great. I love reading your emails. It sounds like you all have been having some fun lately. Especially Ashley with her exams! haha I'm guessing Kendy is going through the same thing with her exams too! I'm way happy that I don't have to worry about those things for a while. Speaking of Kendra Lou, I got your Ensign's this week! Thanks a bum load! I will get going on that as soon as I can. Alexis, I remember how great it was to see the words Perrysburg Public Schools - 2 Hour Delay or Closed run across the screen thinking that life is amazing..... Until about 9 O clock the next night when you realize that there is a project due the next day or something haha. Yeah Now i'm more realizing the other side of the whole bad weather thing that I never understood why Mom and Dad were so mad about the bad weather (because of work). When it is pouring rain here and freezing cold, I understand that although it may be great for those who don't have to do certain things because of the weather, I am still walking around outside in the rain looking for people to talk to. People don't really like to stop and talk when it's raining. ha. Anyways, I will get to the questions.

1. What is the name of the little Country where they speak Albanian that you said Elder Nelson dedicated right before you got out there? Do you think that will become a part of your mission? Have they said anything about it?

Kosovo. We don't know anything yet but the rumors going around the mission are that some elders here are going to be the ones that go to open it! That would be awesome!

2. Have you been able to teach Egi this week?

Nope.. It's really sad. He has completely stopped coming to everything and doesn't have a phone to contact. We have no idea where he has been. We have talked to his Cousin Rinald who was recently baptized but he hasn't been able to get Egi to come to anything. I don't know what happened. Things were going really well I thought.

3. You didn’t mention anything about Eva – except that things hadn’t gone well. Is she still scheduled to get baptized on Christmas Day?

Oh, We are talking about two different Eva's ha. Sorry. There aren't that many names here in Albania (compared to America) so a lot of people have the same names haha. Eva the little girl is still getting baptized on the 25th. The older Eva on the other hand hasn't been coming to anything anymore either. I don't know how serious she really was with learning.

4. Are you feeling better? Did you have to take any medicine? What was wrong with you?

I'm doing much better now ha. I think I might have eaten something that wasn't so good if you know what I mean? ha I spent some quality time in the restroom. (gross ha)

5. You mentioned the guys on the street that you have talked to in the past and this time you had a really good conversation with them. Are they just visiting with friends or do you see them on the street while they are working? It just sounds kind of weird that you “see them on the street.”

It's kind of a culture thing. I see a TON of the same people everyday. This city isn't that large and a lot of people don't have jobs and something they just do culturally is walk down the main street through town and there are tons of little coffee places everywhere and we see the same people at their favorite coffee places and they call us over to talk. I don't know if that makes sense?

6. You mentioned in your last letter that you went to Seminary Class. Is that Seminary Class like we have here? Is it more like Home Study where they have it once a week? Do you go every week?

Yeah seminary is once a week and we try to have one set of missionaries there every time. You have to remember that the longest members of the church here in Vlore have been members for 6 years and so a lot of times they need the missionaries help. The seminary class is great though! There are probably 10-15 people that come weekly. it's awesome.

7. You also said that all the investigators in the class are elders/sisters. This didn’t make sense! You mean everyone in the class are the missionaries?

woops sorry. I didn't mean to say that. I meant to say that when one of the Elders or sisters here have an investigator, it is almost as if they are everyone’s investigator because we all teach each others investigators a lot.

8. Did you get any pictures of the castle? Are there lots of castles there? Do you get to go inside of them?

I got some pictures there at the castle. I haven't seen many but I hear there are a few. The one we went to last week was more like a castle wall and so we could just walk in. It was really cool though.

9. Have you had any more knives pulled on you or been beat up lately?

Haha nope. We get hazed occasionally but it's not too bad.

10. Do they do Christmas Trees over there and all the same sorts of decorations that we do?

They have had a lot more Christmas decorations than I had expected but it's not like home. They have some cool lights though.

11. when you go on splits with your District Leader – is that in your area or is that somewhere else? Do you have to travel far to go on splits? Will you ever find out how Irma is doing?

Our district is only in the city of Vlore and Vlore isn't that large. It only takes us about 30 minutes to walk to the other Elders house. So it's not too far. I will hopefully get to see Irma progress!

12. Shirt size:14.5 - 32



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I don't have a ton of time to write today but I will try and get you all caught up on what's going on over here! I do have some bad news though. I guess it's not bad news but kinda disappointing. I can't do video skyping for Christmas anymore. President sent us an email saying that we can't do video skype anymore. LAME! oh well ha. We can still do Audio skype though which is still cool because it's free! So I will still do that. I hope I can remember my user name and password for my Skype. I think I'm already friends with Alexis on skype so we should be okay there. Anyways! I will talk a little about this week!

So last Monday night, I actually TOUCHED bird man haha. It was kinda a funny experience. Birdman came up to us while we were taking money out of the ATM. A little scary ha. A lot scary. But he didn't try to take money. Anyways. Tuesday we went back to that woman who said her sons wanted to learn some English. We talked to her about the Book of Mormon and then her Husband came in and asked us a ton of questions about the Book of Mormon. It was really cool. Then afterwards, he drove us to their house and we met their sons. They seemed really nice and they set up some meetings with us. Hopefully they will be interested in learning more about the Book of Mormon. And also we got to do service on Tuesday morning where we painted a fence at a mental hospital, it was pretty cool. Wednesday we had English class that went really well. Alseda (the girl who was having problems with her family allowing her to come to church) got permission to be baptized! She is getting baptized this Saturday! I am so excited for her! It's amazing. She asked me to be the one to baptize her. It's really cool because we have got to teach her a lot of lessons. She is going to be an amazing member. She comes to EVERYTHING and came to this seminary super saturday thing we had two days ago and had ALL of the scripture mastery memorized. None of our members even had it memorized haha. She is legit. anyways, It is an exciting time in Vlore. We have 5 or 6 baptisms planned before this month ends. Overall it was a good week. We did some tracting and didn't really find anyone. Those are the days that are really hard for me. It's hard not to get discouraged but it's okay. I know everything will pay off.


Dad, thanks a TON for doing the memory stick thing for me. I realize how much of a pain that must have been. Thanks! I'm glad to hear little blizzard is alive and kicking! I actually saw a dog just like him this week! It was so cute. Just imagine me talking in the voice I talk to blizzard but in Albanian haha. Yep. It was following us down the street. hahaha I am going to die when I hear "O holy Night" haha. That's hilarious! Sounds like your talk went well! Oh and if you could throw some index cards in the next box you send that would be awesome. It makes it way easier to memorize words! It doesn't have to be a ton but yeah. Thanks! Seeing Youtube on a TV must be pretty cool! haha I think it's funny that you watch those videos of mine. Are you talking about the behind the scenes one of my old album where Eric Jones is talking in the video? haha!? Yeah I don't even remember what else is in that video but I'm pretty sure it has me doing a ton of lighting things on fire and blowing stuff up! Pretty typical Austin and Evan things to do haha.

Mom, sounds like you have been having a good time lately. I am jealous that you get to hang out with Mrs. Baker so much these days! I miss the whole Baker family! I was actually just thinking about how Evan would die at how funny some of the people are here. People do some really funny things here. Evan Baker if you are reading this, you better find a way to come with my family when they come to Albania! You would love this place! It's amazing. Anyways, Mom. I went to the Rucaj family's house last night. They are the one with the boy with the eye problem. It was a very sad experience. Telling a boy that he needs to get his eye removed is a very sad and hard thing to do. I will send your work email an email after this email with some more information we got last night. I really hope things can work out. They are such an incredible family. Seeing the faces of his parents when we told them the news was one of the most humbling/sad/emotional experiences I have ever had. It was so crazy to see the love they have for their son in their eyes.

Alexis- I have not gotten anything from Carter yet! Has he sent something?! That's fun that you are getting your college stuff back! I hope you get in to BYU!!!! Nick Algretti is talking to you? That's awesome. I love that kid. I think he is going on his mission soon.

Ashley- Congrats on passing that exam! I don't remember the quote exactly but I remember you saying at one time that you are Ashley Eckel and you Rock exams haha. Anyways, I miss you and the whole fam. I can't wait to talk to you guys for Christmas! Keep it real everyone!

Sorry that this was so short but I can't talk very long today. It is FREEZING here in Albania right now! I mean not as cold as it is in Ohio or Utah I'm guessing but when all you are wearing is suit pants, the wind blows right through it! It's cold ha. And my hands are frozen to death ha. Well I love you all! Keep on keepin on! Ask me more questions to answer for next time! I hope that this wasn't too boring of an email! I'm doing great. Thank you all for your prayers!

-Elder Eckel

Monday, December 6, 2010

Life in Albania - Week 9

You are probably wondering why the title of my email is "And my father dwelt in an umbrella". Well, I was reading the scriptures in Albanian this past week with Elder Warburton and I read it in Albanian first and then go back and translate it to English to him. Well, I know the word for Umbrella because it rains here ALL the time ha. Well, Turns out that the word for umbrella and tent are exactly the same in Albanian. It was pretty funny when I was translating that verse. I said "And my father dwelt in an...... Um, Elder Warbuton. Why does it say Umbrella?" haha Yeah. Now I know. Çadër is the word ha. So yeah. I will begin with the questions!

1. Will you get to see the Christmas Broadcast? If so, when? Will it be translated in Albanian?

I don't know if we will get to see it or not. I am pretty positive it won't be translated into Albania in the near future. We didn't even have all of conference translated.

2. How do you know what to teach when you teach the English classes? Has the church put together a teaching program so you know what to teach?

The church does have an English program put together but it is.... okay. I am sure they have a better program for the spanish speaking missionaries or other popular languages. The Albanian one is very sub par. We normally create our own lessons using vocab that we choose and then we use the church's lesson plans for teaching concepts and then kinda do our own things with it.

3. How many people usually attend the English Classes?

We have anywhere between 5-10 people in our english class every session. We only teach the intermediates. The sisters teach beginners english and the other elders teach advanced. There are quite a few that go to beginners english and one or two people that go to advanced.

4. How do people know about the English Classes? Do you hand things out on the street or what?

We passed out fliers a ton when I first got here but now the english class is coming to an end in the next few weeks. We are going to start another one up again soon. We don't have it as a continuous thing because then we would never have new people coming. If we have an "end" to it and then a "beginning" to it, people will actually come. They are more likely to come if they think it is just beginning because they don't want to feel like they have missed anything. We had A TON of people showing up to the english class the first 2 weeks and then the rest that stay for the weeks after that are the ones worth teaching ha. It is actually a really great way of finding people.

5. Where do you teach the English Classes?

At the church building. I will send a picture of the church building sometime.

6. We bought you some new white shirts from Joseph A. Banks. Can you look at one of your other Joseph A. Banks shirts and tell me what the neck and sleeve size it? They looked it up in the computer – but we just wanted to be sure we had the right size before we sent them.

I will put it in my next letter home. I don't have one with me right now. sorry.. But yes, I would totally be down for the Melodica! ha that would be awesome. Also, I don't remember if I said peanut butter of not, but chunky peanut butter would be delicious!

7. Have you liked living in your new apartment?

The new apartment is WAY nice. I really do like it a lot. The only problem we have with it is that our water pressure isn't the best. But other than that, It was a very good change of apartments. Our new Landlord has been more than amazing with us. He treats us like his children. It's pretty great.

8. How are your investigators doing? I think their names are Egi and Eva?

I will go into it a little bit later but they are actually not doing well.

9. Have you found any new investigators?

Nope.. :(

10. How is the Albanian coming? I know you mentioned you are trying to move to the next level, do you feel like that is happening?

The language is coming a lot better. I have actually been told a few times this week that my language is getting better by certain people. Elder Warburton is such a huge help to me. He is one of the best speakers in country right now from what I hear. And he only has 9 months in the country. There are people leaving this next month who aren't much better than him. I am way blessed to have him as my trainer.



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So, it has been a pretty tiring week. I have been feeling kinda crumby the whole week too (health wise). Things are going good though. On Monday night we had a member retention lesson and then afterwards we were walking down the boulevard street contacting and some men who were drinking coffee called us over. We sat down and talked to them for a long while. They were some of the same guys who talked to us before. They seemed much more interested in the Gospel this time. We were able to talk a lot more about the church with them and I think it was a very good experience. They really enjoy talking to us whenever any of them see us on the street. I don't know if they are completely ready yet for the Gospel, but I do think they will be ready eventually. Maybe not when I'm still here in Vlore or even in Albania but I really do think one of the guys (Klajd) will eventually take the lessons from the missionaries. We had a talk given to us in zone conference about how normally it takes a person 7 positive experiences with our Church/ Church Members before someone is ready/takes the lessons. Hopefully we are moving people up on that scale every time we talk to them.



Tuesday we got the key to our new apartment. We didn't really have time to do any moving or anything because we had a busy schedule for the day. We had our weekly district meeting and then we had a Lesson planned with Egi. Unfortunately he didn't show up. He doesn't have a phone and so we have to contact him through his cousin and his cousin had no way to find out where Egi was. We also had a lesson with the Kokaj family. They are members here in Vlore. Wednesday we did a TON of moving. It was a huge pain. We woke up early cause we thought we could get it out of the way in the morning and then have the rest of the day to do finding activities. We were wrong. It took FOREVER. We had the other Elders over to help and we had the senior couple come help us because they have a car. It took us all day and it made me really sore hah. We had a lot more stuff that we had to move than we thought. And because we had to be out of the other apartment by the 1st of December we needed to get it all done. We also had to clean up the one we were leaving. We weren't even able to finish everything before we had English class. English class went well. We had Ganiel (a church member) come and he bore his testimony to the whole class and told his conversion story. It was awesome. Then after that we had a member retention lesson.



Thursday, we were supposed to have an exchange with the Assistants to the president but that didn't end up working. We finished everything with the new apartment and giving the key and finish cleaning the old apartment because our old Land lord devil woman was freaking out. Friday was pretty good. We did our weekly planning and then went out tracting. Then after lunch we had Seminary class. It was AWESOME. Ela is the teacher and she is probably 17 or 18. I don't really know. But she taught a really awesome lesson and did a very good job of bringing the spirit into the class. There were two or three investigators there which is awesome. It's kinda funny because here in Vlore, all the investigators in the branch are pretty much all of the elders/sisters. We probably have just as many teaching opportunities/lessons with the other Elders and the Sisters as they do. It's really cool because you get to know everyone and see how their lives change for the better. Saturday I was on exchanges with our District leader Elder Hixson. It was really great. He is in the group that is leaving right now and so I take every chance I get to learn from him. He always teaches me a great deal. The exchange was a really good experience for me. We had a lesson with Irma (one of their investigators). It was great! I talked in a lot of the lesson and we asked her if she would be baptized if she came to find the Book of Mormon to be true. She said yes. It is so awesome because the Book of Mormon is the proof of our Religion. If the Book of Mormon is true, Our Church is the Church of God. If it's not true, our religion is fake. And the promise in the back of the book is incredible. If you read, and pray to know that it is true, God will tell you it is true. If only more people would try the experiment.



Sunday was good. We have a family in the branch and their last name is Rokaj. They have a son who just got back from his mission in Italy this week. He is going to help Missionary work here in Vlore a TON. I am super excited to work with him. He gave an awesome testimony yesterday at church talking about how tracting and street contacting are incredibly time consuming and very rarely successful. BUT when you work through the members, you can find more investigators and have more success. I think it kind of helped the members realize that they need to play a bigger role in missionary work. He said a lot of awesome stuff but I think the spirit was really strong during that part. I hope the members start to work with us more.



Today we went to a Castle at the top of the city and ran around and did some fun stuff. We were chasing cows around and then dropped a watermelon off of a castle haha. It was really cool. And WAY beautiful up there. It looked over the whole city and there were no people up there so it was really peaceful. Now I'm in an internet Local emailing all of you! So now you pretty much know everything about this week haha. Anyways, my memory is pretty bad so I can't really remember what else happened this week. I wrote Kend today and I'm going to try to write Brian. Brian I got your letter this week! Thanks a ton! It was great to hear from you. Evan, Did you get my letter? I sent a letter to you like 3 weeks ago I think? I don't know. You couldn't have missed it if it came haha. The whole thing was covered with Hannah Montana stickers. I hope Brent got a letter I sent him a while back too. I am still waiting for a response from him. Dad, where did you put the TV in the house? So how is Arkansas looking this year? Are The Buckeyes gonna win? I hope so.



Mom, I'm glad you are getting to hang out with your best friend again (Mrs. Baker) haha. You two have had too much time away from each other. I miss that whole family so gosh dang much! I love hearing about the Bakers when I get her weekly letters! But Seriously, Mrs. Baker! You can't be spending 7 dollars every time you send me a letter! That is WAY too expensive! You should just leave out all the other stuff and just send your family updates! I really did appreciate the other stuff but I promise, the most important part of those letters are hearing about you and your family! So, family, I miss you all and love you all so much. I thank God every night for all of the amazing blessings that He has given me, Especially for such an amazing set of parents and the two BEST sisters in the world. I can't imagine not having Alexis and Ashley, JD and big Karen and Cory.. Oh and of course little Blizzard. And also the most amazing friends in the world. I am so spoiled! Anyways, I don't have much time left and I need to email President his weekly email still! Peace out everyone! I love you all! JD, You are in my prayers. I hope your family is doing well in these hard times. We are so blessed to know that you will get to see your grandfather again. Oh and I also got a package from the primary class!!!! It was beautiful! Tons of amazing Christmas drawings! Thank you Perrysburg Primary class. You guys ROCK! ha. Later!



-Elder Eckel

Albania News!

Here is a fun article I found about missionary work in Albania! Maybe Austin will meet this woman one day!

http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/60051/Mingling-ministering.html#

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Life in Albania - Week 8

I'm not going to lie, this was the only day I was excited to see what happened in the Ohio State game over the weekend. I mean, I obviously wanted Ohio State to win those games, but this one was the only one that made it into my head every now and then over the weekend. It's good to be a Buckeye. That's for sure. Okay, I will start with the questions!

1. Did Denisa and her little sister get baptized this past week?

Denisa got baptized on Saturday, I will talk more about that in the body of the email. And her little sister Evan is getting baptized on December 25th!

2. Are you still teaching Egi? How is that going?

We are still teaching Egi. It is going good. We just finished teaching him the Plan of Salvation. He has been really busy with school and family activities lately but he really does love the church so much and comes to every activity that he can. Hopefully we can start finding more frequent visits with him during this week. He is so awesome. It's amazing to watch his testimony grow stronger and stronger each time we see him.

3. Any new investigators?

Unfortunately, no. We have found more investigators for the sisters though! So that's good. Tonight we are calling that woman with the two sons to set up a meeting with them. We couldn't meet with them last week. Keep praying for us to find people!

4. Did you move to your new apartment yet?

Not yet. We are supposed to get the keys to it TODAY! YEAHHHHH! I'm pretty excited. It is such a nice apartment. And we are getting it for a lot less of a monthly rent than the one we are currently in.

5. How many new white shirts do you need? Are they all long sleeved?

Probably just 2 or 3 long sleeved ones. They don't need to be nice ones. I prefer the ones with out the buttoned collars but whatever you can find will work! I also thought of two other things that would be nice in the Christmas package. If you can find a inexpensive pair of leather gloves, that would be nice. If you can't find anything cheap, you could just send me money and I can buy some here. It may be less expensive to do it that way. Things are pretty cheap here. Also, if you were planning on sending ties, don't worry about doing that haha. There are more than enough ties here. But the other thing I am running out of here is envelopes. I normally use the security envelope things. I don't know if that is exactly what they are called but they are the ones that you can't see through? I don't know haa. Thanks!

6. I would like to try Skype for Christmas Day – but maybe you should give us your cell number too in case skype doesn’t work. Do you know about what time you would like to do this on Christmas Day?

Skype should work I think. I will need to know Alexis's skype name that she has. I'm guessing later on in the day would be better for us. We have Eva's baptism that morning and so I think we would probably call sometime in the afternoon. Maybe 4 or 5pm (10 or 11am your time). So yeah, I'm way excited to talk to you all!

7. I am happy for you that you get to stay with Elder Warburton. Is he happy that he gets to stay with you? J

I think we are both way happy to be staying with each other haha

8. Have you ever thought about doing any music on the streets? You know – good wholesome music that would attract attention? Kind of like when you set up your drying rack to hand out pamphlets? Or even maybe doing a song or two after English class to add to the spirit in your class when you get to leave a message at the end? Just wondered!

It is a good idea, We may give it a try. I wish I had my Melodica here haha. I could play some primary songs or something.

9. Are you feeling more fluent with the language?

I'm getting better each day. I mean, I wouldn't say that I'm anywhere near fluent but I can hold my own in a conversation. There are words that I don't know but I know enough words to be able to fill in the words I don't know just from the context. Elder Warburton and I decided that when we are outside of our apartment we are having an English fast for a while. We started it this past week. It's really hard and kind of annoying but it helps a ton. Every night I translate to him from the Albanian Book of Mormon and that helps a ton too. I decided that I really want to take my language skills to the next level which is why we are doing all of these things. I want to be in the position where if President wants me to train someone at 6 months, I can do it. I think it's possible. My trainer is way good and ever since we started only speaking Albanian outside of the apartment, I have been getting way better at understanding people and talking to people. It's pretty amazing.

10. Have you had to give a talk in church yet?

Not yet, but I think I'm next on the back up list. I would totally feel comfortable going up and talking about a church related topic for 5 minutes in Albanian.

11. Are you exercising every day? If so – what are you doing?

Yeah. I do push ups and Ab Ripper X (dad will know what that means haha) and then I do some other exercises with the band thing I have. We don't go running or anything cause Elder Warburton isn't a big runner but if one of my future comps. likes running, I would love to do that.



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So yeah, It has been a good week. It was really busy, but good. I have some really cool news too! So Eva, Denisa's little sister, is getting baptized on December 25th and she asked me to baptize her! She is soooo cute. And of course I said yes haha. So my first baptism ever is on Christmas day. Kinda cool! She is going to be an AWESOME member. I love her to death. She is like 9 or 10 and I will try to send a picture as soon as I can. I'm super excited for that. Okay I will go through each day a little bit now.

Tuesday November 23- Woke up at 5am to drive to Tirana. I had to go get this paper there that gives me the "Okay" to stay in the country. It takes FOREVER to drive to Tirana from Vlore. It basically took the whole day to go do that which kinda stinks.. But it was fun because I got to be reunited with my MTC group haha. It was really fun to see them again.

Wednesday November 24- I finished the Book of Mormon in English. We had English class and had a really awesome spiritual lesson with the class. In fact, it lasted almost over an hour of only the spiritual part. It was pretty awesome.

Thursday November 25- Woke up at 3:45am to go to Tirana for Thanksgiving. We had a Zone Conference there with the whole Mission. It was awesome. The "Fringo" group (the new group a.k.a. my group from the MTC) got to bare our testimonies to everyone and then after we bore our testimonies, the group that is "dying" (The ones going home this next transfer) bore their testimonies. It was really cool. Then we had Thanksgiving dinner. AMAZING. Turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, EVERYTHING that I haven't had in a long time haha. It was weird to be away from family on Thanksgiving though.

Friday November 26- We spent the morning setting up the baptismal font (swimming pool in the chapel) haha for Denisa's baptism. One set of missionaries have to be watching the font fill up the whole time it's being filled because water runs out here (Albania) pretty much by the end of every day. There is only so much water for each building for each day. And once the water runs out, if you have the water on and no water is coming out, it ruins the water pumps and stuff. So we had to stay and wait for the water to run out and then turn it off. Pretty weird huh? We had a lesson with Egi that went well. He is really good at understanding concepts. He loves the scriptures and gets really excited to tell us about what he has read. He hits EVERY detail in that he read ha. It's funny. Then we went to the Ruqaj's house for dinner and to have a lesson to prepare them to go to the Temple (Exciting!) it's always a really big deal for families to go the Temple because the closest temple is in Germany.

Saturday November 27- Denisa got baptized in the morning. It went really well. Probably 20 people showed up! That is more than how many come back home! The youth here love being at church. A lot of times, they like being at church because it means they don't have to be in their home situations because for a lot of them, their home situations aren't great. It's sad. But they love being at church and they always make all visitors feel welcome. They are also very good about volunteering to sit in on lessons with investigators. it's always nice to have members sit in on lessons. We also had a member lesson with the Kokaj family. They are really good people.

Sunday November 28- There were a decent number of people at church considering it is a huge national holiday here in Albania. It is Albania's Independence day. There were a few less people than normal but we still had a few investigators at church which was awesome. Then we had a lesson with Samantha and Geri. They are awesome. We committed Geri to get married in the Temple and to serve a mission haha. He rocks.

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Things are good here. We really want to get another investigator though. It's so hard to find people who "receive religion". Everyone you talk to, once they find out you are a missionary, says: "Sorry I don't receive religion". Or "I'm Muslim" but when they say they are Muslim, almost 90% of the time it just means that their great grandparents were Muslim and so they think they have to be Muslim too. Oh well. Things will get better.



So how is school going (Lex, Ash and JD)? How is work going (mom and dad)? Kendy, Have you gotten all my letters? I have sent one every week so use your math skills and add seven days between each one and figure out if you have gotten all of them! I hate the mail system here haha! Alexis, that's pretty awesome that you finally are done with your application. I remember procrastinating a TON on my application haha. Sounds like you all had fun in Nauvoo. I hate missing out on family vacations! ha.



It was funny to hear that the two seats up in front of the movie room were empty for most of the game on saturday. Gosh, I miss football season. Not even watching football but I just miss knowing that it's football season here. Like you know when you walk outside and you can just tell it's a game day? It's not like that here. There are a ton of soccer games but there isn't A DAY for it. Games are on every single night and the bars and coffee shops are full every night of people watching the games. It's kinda cool, but not as cool as real football.



Anyways, I realized how expensive dictionaries are! I bought one dictionary and I still have to buy one more cause the one I bought is only English to Albanian and I want one for Albanian to English too. It's going to cost a total of like 50 bucks! that's ridiculous. So, how are things back home?! I love hearing from you all. Is there anything that you all want for Christmas? I probably wouldn't send it because that is way sketchy to send things from here but I could buy them and hold on to them until I come home? Dad, I will obviously have some ties you can pick from when I get back. You are going to have the coolest ties in the whole Old guys part of church! haha yeah i said Old! But let's be honest, you already have the coolest ties. That's probably why I have stolen like 5 of your ties already haha.



We are running out of time to be here at the Internet cafe but I love you all! Keep it real in Ohio! Oh yeah, if you try to open that video that I sent you last week on the Mac it should open up in iTunes. Have you tried opening it there? If you haven't, try forwarding Alexis the email and have her open it on the Mac. It's a funny video. Speaking of macs, I saw a store in Tirana with Macs. The first macs i have seen here so far. I almost passed out haha. It was great. Anyways, I gotta get going. Keep doing the stuff you should be doing. Read you scriptures and say your prayers and keep Blizzard alive! I gotta see that little booger before he dies. I get nervous every time i get an email that doesn't say he is alive cause sometimes you say "Blizzard is still alive and kicking" and so when his name isn't mentioned I freak out! Don't think you can let his death slip by me haha. If he dies, I wanna know! Ashley, I hope you had fun in California! Thanks for being an awesome family. Go Bucks!

Monday, November 22, 2010

PIctures from Albania!

Some pictures from Austin this week!


Life in Albania - Week 7

What is up!?? Albania is awesome (as always) I will start with the questions!

1. You mentioned the pizza was amazing. What is amazing about it? Is it the crust, the sauce? Does it taste like American pizza?

I'm not sure what makes it so good. The Albanians just know how to make a good pizza. The place that I really like is family owned and they have AMAZING pizza. There is also a place that we went to in Fier (a different city) and it is called Pizzaroma and they have the only thick crust pizza I have heard of so far in Albania. It was really good too. The food here is pretty much top notch. I'm sure it's nothing like something Ashley could make but still, it comes close :)

2. How are your investigators doing? I know you mentioned the one girl was getting baptized at the end of November. Would that be this coming weekend?

Well, one of them is doing amazing... The other one we haven't been able to contact.. I will talk more about them in the body of the email. But yes, Denisa and her little sister are getting baptized in the upcoming days. Exciting?! I think so!

3. Were you able to send anything to Kendy for her birthday?

I sent a letter.. But its really hard to send packages from here. I am iffy about it because I have heard from missionaries that they have sent packages home that never made it home... so yeah ha.

4. Any updates on the boy’s eye?

Not yet.. We are working on it though! I will try and keep you updated with any news that comes about. Thanks!

5. Have you gotten the package we sent yet?

I did! Thank you so much! It was so awesome to see some American candy! haha I may or may not have already eaten most of it haha. I am seriously amazed/super confused about how you got the iPod in that sock!? The socks were still stuck together. Like I couldn't get it out of the socks! haha I had to take them apart and stuff. Did you staple the socks together? I was thoroughly impressed. I forgot how ancient that ipod was haha. It is pretty hilarious. The package came un opened which was nice too because all the other packages that the sisters here have gotten and stuff have been pre opened. THANKS A TON! :) It was pretty awesome.

6. Will you have a Thanksgiving meal?

Yes, We are going to the mission home in Tirana for a thanksgiving meal. Our mission president is pretty awesome. They take care of us over here.

7. Are most of the elders and sisters in the Albanian mission from America? I know the one sister that was in your group was from another country – but are most of them from the U.S.?

Most of us are from the states but there is sister Leit from Denmark, Elder Fej from England, and Elder (Crazy last name that I can't even guess how to spell) from France.

8. Do you mind if I let Ashley borrow your scout shirt??? Ha Ha – pretty sure you will tell me she can keep it!! She needs it now that she is a cub scout leader! I will make sure she gets a picture of herself in it so we can send it to you!

haha Yes, Ashley can HAVE my scout shirt. and yeah, if it becomes a hassle to hang on to after she is done with it, she can just burn it ha.

9. Any more ideas for things you would like for Christmas? What do other missionaries ask for??

I can't really think of anything else..Hmm. I will try and if anything comes across my mind, i will write it in my planner for next weeks email. Time is flying by huh?

10. Aunt Donna, No haha Elder Warburton has no direct association with the Warburton bread in England ha but he says probably somewhere down the line there would be a connection. Sorry!

11. Austin, Are you still super awesome and like the coolest person ever?

Yes. Of course. I can't believe you would think other wise!

12. On a scale of 1-10 how beautiful would you rate your ties.

I would have to give them an 11

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So, it was a good week. The first transfer is officially over and now the news you have all been dying to hear. Where is Elder Eckel going to be serving for his second transfer? (drum roll please)......................................... I am staying in Vlore!!!!!! YESSSS! I am pretty excited about this. Not many big changes were made for this transfer. Elder Warburton and I are together once more! I would have been pretty sad to leave Egi( Rinalds Cousin). Plus Vlore is the warmest city in the Mission. And during the winter, it's pretty nice to be here compared to other places from what I hear. Next transfer either Elder Warburton will leave Vlore and I will stay, or I will leave and he will stay. We don't have to worry about that for another 6-7 weeks though. Okay, I will go through this week now. Oh real quick! I have been keeping track of how many old men have kissed me since I've been here. I'm at 5 right now! Yummy! haha That is one of the cultural things that I don't know if I will ever get quite used to.

Tuesday November 16th- We had our first real lesson with Egi. He is a very smart boy and has an incredible knowledge of the Bible. Previously, we had committed him to reading 3rd Nephi 11 and he accidentally read 1 Nephi 11. Turns out he LOVED the chapter haha. He thought it was beautiful and he was understanding all of the symbols in Lehi's Dream. AMAZING? Yes! His cousin Rinald came to the lesson with us (it's always best to have a member in on the lesson with you). The spirit was definitely there for the lesson. He was already talking about getting baptized. We talked about the restoration and he already had a solid knowledge on that as well. (I'm guessing from his cousin). Then we did a street table later that night. Basically what a street table is, is where we have a drying rack (for laundry) and put a sheet over it to try and make it not look so trashy haha and then we put a bunch of pamphlets (restoration, plan of salvation, and gospel of Jesus Christ) and english fliers and some Book of Mormon's out on the table. Then we stop people and talk to them and give out the fliers and stuff. We got a few numbers and talked to quite a few people but there is kinda a funny story from this night. This crazy man who was wearing a tiny light blue swim suit bottom and then a crazy color rain coat (it wasn't raining) came up from behind us. It was dark out and this man was wearing sun glasses. He came up and so I started telling him about the display we had but he didn't look like he was even acknowledging the fact that I was talking. He started moving all of our pamphlets and fliers and books around as if he was shuffling a deck of cards or something for a magic trick and then he just walked away hahahah. It was hilarious. I just looked at Elder Warburton and we just laughed.

Wednesday November 17- Rained alot. One cool experience we had was after English class when we got to the Religion part of class, Elder Warburton and I each shared a scripture we liked and why we liked it. Then Alseda (one of the sisters Investigators) wanted to share her favorite scripture. Then Marsel shared his favorite scripture. It doesn't sound that cool but the spirit was way strong and It was a really cool experience. To see an Investigator share a scripture from the Book of Mormon that has changed her life was just incredible. And Egi was there which made it even better. Here is a crazy statistic. 3 people from our English class have either gotten baptized or have a baptismal date. And Egi is about to have a baptismal date. Cool stuff! It's cool to see the seeds we planted grow!

Thursday November 18- We had a zone training in Fier. It is an unsaid competition for who has the coolest tie when the zone gets together. I obviously won haha :) But no, the training in Fier was awesome. It really made me think of ways I could be a better missionary and got me re-motivated to just go out and serve. Not that I wasn't motivated before but it is always good to get that re-charge.

Friday Novmeber 19- We had the Fier Training day 2! It was also awesome. It helped my language skills a lot sitting there and speaking Albanian for a few hours straight.

Saturday November 20- Kendy's Birthday! haha It was necessary. I had to sing Happy Birthday in the shower. I sang both versions too (obviously). I even ate a pop tart. It was the closest thing to birthday cake I had! haha P.S. Pop Tarts are really nice to have in packages. I forgot how much I love those things! But yeah. We may have found 2 more potential investigators on Saturday. We met a woman who wants us to come to their house and meet with her 2 sons. They want to learn a little English and she had heard of our church before and knows one of the members. She seemed pretty happy when we told her which church we were with. We also had our 2nd lesson with Egi. We talked about the first half of the Plan of Salvation. It was awesome. He keeps all of his reading and praying commitments. He really loves learning about the Gospel and I am sure that he is feeling the spirit. We are meeting with him again on Wednesday.

Sunday November 21- Church was good. Egi couldn't come though. I think he had a family issue he was dealing with cause he seemed really sad when he said he couldn't come to church. Ganiel gave a really good lesson on the word of wisdom during the second hour. It's too bad he doesn't follow it haha. He is a little rebel youth. He is 18 and is really funny and has a testimony of the church but he likes to be a rebel. It's too bad. But he did give a really good lesson. Then last night we had a member lesson with Samantha and Geri. They are 2 of the youth in our church. They are so awesome. Samantha is 13 and Geri is 11. They are recent converts but SO amazing. Samantha actually had a talk last sunday and it was incredible. She used preach my gospel and gave one of the most powerful talks I've heard. Anyway, we were at their house last night and they speak English really well. It was a good visit. When Samantha was saying the closing prayer, she said "thank you for our jobs..." and Geri right in the middle of the prayer said "We don't have jobs" hahahaIt was really funny.

So yeah, That was our week. It was really good. The work is going good here. I'm glad that you are all doing well. I loved the updates I got from the Baker family! I sent Evan a letter last week! Let me know when he gets it! I think he is going to like the decorations on it haha. Uncle Mike- There is a good scripture to share with your seminary class. Mosiah 5:13. It is a really good scripture that talks about why we should serve God.

Good to hear that the Buckeyes won a close one! haha Dang. I can see Mom getting up and punching the TV! That is super funny. I also miss the phone calls from Ashley either at half time or 4th quarter asking me if we were going to win hahaha. That is way funny. I'm glad that Pryor is staying for next year too! I was hoping he would. Next year we are taking the championship! So basically, I am going to owe KendyTucanos when I get back but hey. I am going to try and get a double or nothing deal saying that if Ohio State wins the championship next year, she will owe me tucanos, but if they don't win it, I will owe her 2 nights of Tucanos haha. I have faith in my buckeyes! Anyway, I'm getting off track here haha. That 3d TV thing sounds pretty crazy! I would love to see how that thing works.

I think it's funny that all the cub scouts are obsessed with JD. I don't blame them. I have the coolest brother in the WORLD! I can also see how JD would love it that they love him haha. I love it when he makes that bashful face that he makes when Alexis shows him that she is obsessed with him. Alexis, I am glad that you are doing well! Sounds like senior year is going good. Is it as good as High School Musical Senior year?! haha. I'm glad you got Elder Knowells letter. He was really excited to hear what your reaction was. I will probably make a up a bigger reaction because you didn't have that big of a reaction. haha. Kendy, If you could send me the Ensign that would be awesome. I would be down for either the temple one or the conference one. Is the Temple one cool? I haven't seen it yet? You can surprise me when you send it :) haha. I hope you had a good birthday! If I recall Andrew McMahon shares the same birthday month as you? I am probably wrong haha I'm trying to remember where his beautiful face was on your calendar. You should be jealous of him haha. I am sending you a letter today. Yes dad, you are going to LOVE the food here. So I'm assuming since you didn't say no, that Evan and Brent coming is a yes?! haha Sweet! This place is so awesome. I loved all the pictures on the ipodhaha. There were some funny pictures on there. I couldn't stop laughing when I saw how Tourist Mom and Dad looked on their segways in DC hahahaha. Gosh. We are so blessed to have such an amazing family. Thank you all for that you do and have done! Keep it real people's I miss you all and pray for you every day. Oh real quick, I notice that I don't shake my head the american way anymore haha. It's pretty crazy. I don't even have to think when I do it anymore. It's pretty weird. I shake my head no for yes and yes for no! YES! haha. Well. I am going to send an email at a different email place in a little bit with a video attatchment of a funny video from this week. I can't do it here because these computers are being lame. It's a video of this little girl in our branch named Saraja. She was in a fighting mood so she started fighting me. I was pretending to fight her back and stuff and Elder Warburton took a video of it. IT was all fun and games until she took a cheap shot at my tie! how could she! hahaha. It is funny. Anyways. I'm out!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Life in Albania - Week 6

Whasssup!?

okay, I will begin with questions as always.

1. Don’t forget to tell me about the Boy’s eye and if you were able to get all of my emails regarding what the doctors thought and what he should do.

We are currently working with that. I will try and get more information and keep you up to date. Thanks!

2. Did you get Alexis’ senior pictures?

I haven't seen them yet! Send em on over!

3. How is your new apartment?

We don't actually move in until the end of November. I am pretty excited! It doesn't have two bathrooms but it is way nicer than the one we have now. It doesn't look into the sea anymore but it looks towards the mountains which is way cool too.

4. Do you ever hear about the other missionaries you were in the MTC with – like how they are doing?

I have talked to Elder Owens on the phone a few times and he is doing really well. He is THE MAN at the language. But yeah, I think that everyone is doing good.

5. You mentioned that you went on splits with an Elder Askuith. That is a different name. Is he from the states or somewhere over there?

He is from the states. He is pretty crazy though.

6. How is the girl doing that came to church? (The one that her Dad originally said couldn’t come anymore but did)

She is doing way awesome. She loves the Church and comes to EVERYTHING! Like, she goes to all of the English classes, Young Womans on saturdays, and all the other activities. She is going to get baptized for sure! I'm so excited for her. I think she would get baptized now if her parents would let her but I'm not sure how ready they are for that. Anyways, she is way solid and has been reading in the scriptures every night.

7. Any new investigators for you and your companion to teach?

YES! We found 2 new investigators this week!!! It's so amazing what fasting and prayer can do! Rinalds cousin is now interested in the church and now we are teaching him! He is pretty excited to learn! and then there is a Woman named Sefi who is in her 40's? and both her and Rinalds cousin came to church yesterday! It's awesome. And Church was really good yesterday! I'm pretty excited to start teaching the lessons to them.

8. Are you still cooking every day? Do you need any ingredients that you can’t get over there?

We still cook a lot. We stick to pasta type things and so there aren't really any ingredients that we need. Thanks though!

9. We had our time switch – so we got an extra hour of sleep last weekend. Did your time switch? So are we 6 or 7 hours behind you now?

We also had a time switch which was great! Nothing like an extra hour of sleep haa. You should still be 6 hours behind us I think.

10. Do you go to PEC meetings every week at church? I know you mentioned that you don’t have Sunday School. So investigators just go to Priesthood and Relief Society for the second hour? Do they have Primary and YMYW during that second hour?

We don't have PEC meetings haha. It's kinda crazy. We have a lot of different meetings. In fact I don't even really know what the names for some of them are in english. So yeah. But yeah Investigators just go to the normal classes second hour. Everyone here is so new to the church that basically everyone is an investigator haha.

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Okay! Well, I'm sorry if I didn't answer all of the questions but I don't have time to go through and pull out all of the questions from your emails so make sure to put them in a section where I can just copy and paste them if you want to me make sure I answer it.



Okay so this week was really good. We found two new investigators and I am thinking that things will only get better. I don't know if I will be staying in Vlore or not for this next transfer but either way, I'm sure I will love wherever I am. Today we went on our District Trip to Kote Albania. Kot translates to worthless/vain and the city name is pronounced the same haha. That is pretty much the only reason we went there. And It was just exactly that. Kot. It was kinda funny though. We just walked around this tiny town and people just stared at us. Sounds like Ohio State pulled off a close one? haha Who knows, maybe with a few key losses Ohio State can still take it all? I don't have my journal with me right now and my memory is AWFUL haha so I really don't have a ton of stuff to say and I don't have a ton of time either because we have a lot of stuff we have to do today still. This week it rained SUPER hard. I have never seen streets so flooded. There were parts of the city flooded knee high. I was soaking wet. My pants and shoes and socks were completely drenched. Oh haha I also made a big rookie mistake. I somehow avoided doing this throughout all of college. But, I accidentally put one pair of black socks through the wash with my whites. Bad idea... Everything is gray now haha. Everything. So yeah maybe that Christmas package with the restocking of those things might need to be sent a little sooner haha. It's not my fault though! Okay.. It is. But seriously, I thought I checked to make sure there weren't any darks in there! haha. Oh well.

Dad, You would LOVE the pizza here. In fact, I already know exactly where I'm taking you when you come to Albania. Oh I also wrote Brent last monday and told him that he was going to come with you if you came to pick me up from Albania. What is a family vacation without brent?! And if you wait til I come home and then we go back, Brent is still coming haha. I would love to bring Evan back here too. But I don't know what he will be doing/ busy with at that point in life haha. So how is life back home? What does winter feel like?! AHAHAHA! I live on the beach. no big deal. So, this week at English class, I had to take the advanced English class on my own because the other missionaries couldn't make it in time and so I had to teach the religion part on my own. I had the help of a member but it went super well! I taught the plan of salvation and the spirit was super strong. The language is getting better every day. I still get frustrated when I can't understand everything but it is truly a miracle that I know how much I do for only being here for a month. I know that I have TONS of help from the Man upstairs.

Hopefully you all are doing well? I wish I could remember more things to say.. I always think of things after I get off of the email that I could have said.. Oh well. Oh yeah! I was listening to General Conference talks this week and when I was listening to Elder Holland from the quorum of the 12 Apostles talk from April 2009, I had a feeling that I should tell Michelle Baker to listen to it. I don't know why. Not because I think she is lonely or anything. I just had the feeling to tell her to listen to it. Maybe she knows someone that could benefit from listening to it. It is a SUPER good talk that talks about Jesus and how he performed the Atonement for us. I think everyone should listen to it. Here is the link: http://lds.org/conference/sessions/display/0,5239,23-1-1032,00.html and then just go down to the "Sunday Morning Session" and then listen to the talk by Jeffrey R. Holland. The talk is called "None were with Him". It is truly amazing. So Ashley, How did your test go!? I prayed my guts out for you. Alexis, I'm stoked for you to get into BYU. I hope you are all doing well. Sorry if my emails are lame. I wish I had more cool stories to tell. A lot of them are personal and then it's hard to have a ton of stories when we are doing a lot more finding rather than teaching. Hopefully i will start to have better ones. Uncle Mike, You should have your class listen to that talk as an assignment. It's pretty awesome. Anyways fam, I gotta email President now to give him my weekly update. I love you all and hope that you all have a good week. Stay safe, be awesome, represent Ohio well, be good examples, and on the less important note, do well in school. :) GO BUCKS! PEACE LOVE HAPPINESS!. Later Gators! I'm excited for that package to come! I will probably get it next time someone from Tirane comes to Vlore. AKA A MILLION YEARS! haha the roads here are so bad that it takes like 3 hours to get to Vlore when it's like not far at all. Anyways. I love ya'll! Have a good one!



-Elder Eckel

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Life in Albania - Week 5

Why hello family and friends! How ya'll doing?! haha yeah I said ya'll.

I'll start with the questions:

1. How is the weather? Is it getting cooler?

It's getting a little cooler. It is still really nice. I guess it will start to rain more coming up but "winter" here is like nice fall weather in Ohio. I love it.

2. Did the one girl get baptized yet or is that this weekend?

She has a baptismal date for the end of November. (Denisa)

3. Have you found any other people to teach?

We met a woman on the street who gave us her phone number and she said she wanted to come to church and we called her a bunch and she said she was coming so we went to the spot where we were going to meet her and she never showed up. We had a good first lesson this week but we haven't been able to contact them again yet.

4. About how many contacts do you make in a week – where you get to at least talk to someone?

hm.. It is different every week. Actually we wanted to count how many people we talked to in the street on wednesday and we talked to 43 people. So that is quite a few people. It's hard to go tracting on our side of the city because there are a ton of empty apartments in a every apartment building. It's a "newer" part of Vlore.

5. Do you mostly tract or do street contacting?

Woops, I guess I just kind of answered that. We do a little of both but doing street tables has been pretty effective. But I guess the MOST effective way of finding investigators is English Course. Our district has quite a few investigators from english course.

6. Are you still doing the English Classes 2-3x a week? Do you have any English teachers you would like for me to tell that you are teaching English to Albanians? J They might find that kind of funny!

haha Yeah we do them twice a week. You can go ahead and tell House or whoever else you come in contact with ha. it may even be funnier to find my spanish teachers and tell them I am teaching people how to speak english from a foreign language. They would think you are a liar.

7. Do you play the piano at all on Sundays?

A little bit. I get a little every week. I don't play like during church if that's what you are asking. Sister Hall (a missionary here) is way way good at piano. So yeah. I get to play a little though.

8. How are things going with your companion?

It's going awesome! I love elder warburton a ton! We get a long very well together and we teach well together. he allows me to be involved in our lessons.

9. Do you do splits or go with different elders very often?

We are supposed to be with the district leader twice a transfer so in our districts case, I go with him (hickson) twice and elder nollz twice. Although this week I got sent on a surprise transfer to a different city called Fier. It was pretty cool. I was with Elder Askuith and it was a lot different but I liked it a lot. The church is so new here! It's crazy to see how small the branches here are. I thought Vlore had a small branch. Fier has 15 people come every week.

10. Have you had a Zone Conference yet since you have been there?

Not yet. Although President Neil came to our branch this sunday which means that we had interviews. Interviews are cool. Basically President just checks up on us making sure we are doing okay and stuff. I really love President Neil. It will be sad when he leaves. But it's all good.

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Okay! So yeah, It's been a good week here in Vlore. I got a letter from the bakers again! It was good to hear from them again and to hear how my 2nd family is doing haha.

This week we finally ended all of our housing troubles that we have been having. Our landlord that we currently have is AWFUL! so we have been doing some annoying things to get rid of that problem and finally it is over with which means more missionary work! Thank goodness. I'm glad that junk is over with haha. So yeah, we found a new apartment with a landlord that is AWESOME. President approved everything and now the Office elders are coming to Vlore tomorrow to sign the contract with the new Land Lord. Sweet :) I'm almost done in the Book of Mormon. It's interesting how much I LOVE this book. I hate reading any other book haha. But I can't put down the Book of Mormon. It is so amazing. I feel so good when I read it too. I can't even imagine my life without the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Elder Warburton and I were talking about how the Bible is way awesome and stuff but how The Book of Mormon is just like so much more spiritually charged and interesting. I mean not taking anything away from the Bible because the Bible is way incredible but it isn't as pure of a translation as the Book of Mormon. And the Book of Mormon is so much easier to understand. Anyways, We also have been listening to Conference talks during lunch and stuff and the talks this session were so amazing. Every time I hear the same talk more than once I learn more from it than before (Just like the scriptures).

We went to Rinalds baptism on saturday which was so cool! He was baptized in the Adriatic Sea. It was so beautiful and amazing. Rinald is an awesome kid and will help the youth of the church here a lot. A lot of the branch came to his baptism too which was good. There were probably 25 people there! Awesome huh?

Elder Warburton and I are going to find some sweet Investigators this week. We were fasting yesterday and I just have a good feeling about this week. We will find people searching for the Gospel. Oh and I don't remember if I told you about the girl from last week how her dad wasn't allowing her to come to church anymore? Well she came to church yesterday! She is going to be an amazing addition to the youth as well! Please continue to pray for us. We have been working super hard to find people and we know as long as we keep trying, we will find someone.

Thanks for doing the iPod thing for me pops! I appreciate it a ton! I'm sorry it was time consuming and frustrating. I didn't want it to be a pain. I was thinking about Christmas as well and I think the food items that would be cool would be peanut butter, starbursts, sour candies, (they don't have any sour candy here! what the heck?!), and beef jerkey! haha Random I know. Thanks!

Uncle Mike's Seminary Class:

I think it is SO awesome that you are reading my weekly emails! I hope all of you are doing what you need to do to prepare for Missions (girls or guys). It is the most amazing thing you could ever do. Make the decision now that you are going to serve Heavenly father and realize that it is only a tithe of your life by the time you are 20. It is 2 years. And it is, from what I can tell already, going to be the most amazing two years that anyone could ever go through. I have grown so much closer to Heavenly Father and my testimony has been strengthened every day. I know how hard it can be to keep the standards of the Church in the world today, but I know that if you ask Heavenly Father for help, He WILL help you. One thing that I think you should all do, especially the boys, is to start reading Preach My Gospel. Take notes in the margins. Read the scripture refrences that are in it. It is a big book but it's incredible. I wish I would have taken advantage more fully of the things in that book. I think that by reading Preach My Gospel every day for 10 minutes and reading scripture references from it, you will be that much better of a Missionary by the time you are called to serve. Thank you all for your prayers. Have a good week! Be nice to my Uncle. He has guns and stuff!

Alexis- You got a 26 on the ACT? You are such a BALLER! You are totally going to get into BYU. I'm sad I won't get to be with you for your freshman year. Ashley is spoiled that she got to be there for mine and then she will be there for yours. I'm jealous. Have a good week kiddo! Sorry I can' write more. I'm glad you are holding the Ohio is great tradition. Call Kendy and talk to her about how awesome Ohio is okay? haha. She would love that.

Ash- HAHAHA I still can't get over the fact that you are a cub scout leader. It kills me. You two are perfect for that. I'm praying for you that you will pass this expensive test ha. Best of luck. I would take it for you but let's be honest. a) i'm in albania, and b) I'm Austin Eckel. So what good would that be for me to take your test haha.

Okay, Well I love you all! It's going to be a good week. Live it up!

Elder Eckel - Go Buckeyes!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Pictures from Albania!










Life in Albania - Week 4

Hello family and friends! Albania is better than ever! I'll start with the questions.

1. After doing all of this walking in Washington D.C. it made me think about your shoes. How are your shoes holding out? Are they comfortable with all of the walking you are doing?

-My shoes are doing alright. It is SOOO Dusty in Vlore and so they look like crap ha. But they are still comfortable. I doubt that 2 pairs will last the whole mission but we will see! I'll keep you updated.

2. Have you had your first interview with your mission president since you have been out in the field? If so – what are those like? Since I have never been on a mission – I have always wondered what you talk about in those.

-I haven't had one yet. The one zone conference that we were going to got canceled.

3. How is your knee doing?

-Dandy

4. What are some of the things you do on P-days besides writing letters?

-We go walk around the city. Sometimes play soccer on the beach. Shop, hang out with the district. Our latest project on P-days is that we bought fabric and we are making our own ties. It's pretty awesome haha. It just depends.

5. Any updates on the 18 year old girl in the building that you taught and her mother had recently died?

-We haven't been able to contact her again yet. We will keep trying.

6. If the sisters ended up teaching someone and they wanted to be baptized – would you and your companion go to the baptism since you are in the same district, etc.?

Yes, We actually are going to a baptism this week!

7. Do you go out to eat your lunch or do you usually go back to your apartment to eat?

-It just depends on the day. It's probably about 50/50

8. Any new types of foods that you have really enjoyed?

There is something called a Suflaqe that is super good. Actually there are a lot of things here that I really like. I miss a lot of stuff from America but the stuff that they have here is way good.

9. How long until transfers? Are they every 6 or 8 weeks?

6 weeks. I'm hoping that I will get to stay in Vlore. I love my companion and the city. Keeping my fingers crossed.

10. I would like some ideas for Christmas because I don’t want to send you things that are going to be a problem for packing for you. So if you need anything you are wearing replaced or if there is some type of food you would really like – remember Blake always wanted peanut butter and syrup sent to him. Are you missing anything like that?

-hm.. I guess just american candy haha. They have chocolates here but they don't have sour candy or a lot of sweet candy. I don't know.. hmm. It's hard to think of stuff. A USB drive would be sweet! Like with at least 4GB. I'll keep thinking about stuff.



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So this week wasn't as "crazy" as last week haha.

We went on exchanges this week and I was with Elder Nollz. He has been in country for 3 months and so we are both pretty new at the language. It helped a ton to be with him. I couldn't use Elder Warburton as a crutch. It was good to see what things I really needed to work on and it also was nice to see that when I really needed to, I could get my message across to people that I was talking to. People here are amazed at how well we all speak the language for not being here very long. They get super excited that we are learning their language.

Denisa has a baptisimal date now! I think it is sometime in late november! It is pretty exciting. We have quite a few investigators in our district that are close to baptismal dates. Unfortunately Alseda ( the other girl from english class) her dad found out she was taking lessons from the sisters and they are muslim and he doesn't want her to come back to church anymore. We will see what happens..

This week we did service for a member family in the ward. We picked olives off of olive trees. It was way cool. I think that we are going to get to have some of the oil from what we picked. I'm pretty excited because I'm going to consecrate it and use it for blessings! SWEEEETTTT! Also, the place where we were doing it was BEAUTIFUL! i will try and send pictures! It is so awesome.

We had a lot of investigators at church this week. It was good. Well, it was good that we had investigators at church. But church was.... okay. I can't believe some of the things people do at church here. Every sacrament meeting before church, we announce to turn off cell phones and ask for reverence. Every sunday, people take phone calls in sacrament meeting. People talk during sacrament prayers. AHHHH it drives me crazy haha. Also, something I didn't know when I accepted my mission call was that I was also accepting to be Nursery Leader haha. Kids just run around during sacrament meeting so the missionaries get stuck with being babysitters haha. It's wild.

I don't have a ton of stuff to say about this week. It was a good week. We had to deal with a lot of housing problems which was a pain but for the most part, we took care of it. We might have to move. I don't know. Anyways it was a good week of missionary work. We are still trying to find a good Investigator for us! Keep praying that we will be able to find one!

I got a letter from the bakers! Thanks a ton! It was good to get the baker family update. I also got a letter from brent which was hilarious! I want to take a picture of it and send it to you all haha. I miss him so much. I also got a letter from Sarah Pratt. Thanks a ton everyone! Oh and I also found a letter from the Carters in my stuff! It must have got stuck with some other stuff! Thanks so much for writing me Carter Family! I know it was a while ago but thanks! It was good to hear from you and I hope you are all doing well!

It's good to hear that Perrysburg Beat Maumee! Also that Ash and JD are cub scout leaders! hahahah
Hope Alexis has fun in Georgia! and I hope that Mom and Dad had fun in Washington DC! Dad, I laughed so hard during your email haha. i Don't know why but it was just funny. Stuff you said just made me laugh. Like the expensive hotel and stuff. And all the weirdos in America showing up. It was pretty funny stuff.

Sorry that I don't have much else to say! I will send some pictures for you all! Have a good week! Oh, and yes Albanians "Celebrate" halloween. Hardly though haha. It was pretty lame. Although there was a YSA dance and the missionaries were there which was pretty funny. It was basically only the missionaries and like 10 other people. it was fun though. Albanian music is quite.... interesting haha. my comp. promises me that I will start falling in love with it. We will see about that haha. They have line dance type things that they do to their Albanian music stuff. It's kinda cool.

ahh. I can't remember other stuff that happened. I'm doing well though. I hope you are all doing well.

Evan, Happy birthday my man! I know this is kinda late, but I promise I didn't forget. In fact I sang happy birthday in the shower for you on the 15th! I miss you bro. Keep it real.

Kend, hope all is well and that Halloween was fun! Ash said she is hanging out with you this week? I'm pretty jealous of you guys. Oh well. You should all be jealous of me. I'm in freaking ALBANIA! it's the coolest place EVERRRRRRR~! K i'm gonna send pictures now!

Life in Albania - Week 3

Well Hello Everyone! I will start with the questions!

1. I think your Mission President said you get $200 a month – do you each get $200 a month – or do you have to share it with your companion?

Yes, we each get 200 a month but we just put it all together and then at the end of the month, we split whatever is left and put it in the emergency fund.

2. What types of things do you have to spend your money on? You mentioned that you are saving it for emergencies – what type of emergencies happen?

Basically we just spend it on food and things we need for the apartment (toilet paper, soap, random stuff) We keep an emergency fund just in case we need to travel somewhere or can't go to the bank for some reason. It's just a good idea.

3. Did you end up getting to teach the girl again that came to church that Sunday? I think you said she comes to your English Class.

4. About how many people come to the English Class?

5. I don’t mean for this to sound rude – but someone asked me this week if the people in Albania are white, are they dark skinned like Muslims? What do they look like?

haha. Well most people look like us. Like they look like people from perrysburg after spring break. Everyone is super tan. And then there are some that are darker (like the Muslims from Perrysburg) But yeah they have olive colored skin. But I will send pictures so you can see. There are a lot who look american.

6. How often do you have meals with members or non-members?

I have only had one meal since I've been here, but every time we go into anyones house (tracting or an apointment) they give us drinks and snacks.

7. How many areas are there in the Albania mission? Will it be likely that you will go to every area during your mission?

I'm not sure how many areas there are but I will not go to every area.

8. You mentioned that Elder Nelson dedicated Cosavo or someplace like that where they speak Albanian. When would you find out if that area will become a part of your mission?

9. What is the hardest part about teaching someone over there? Do they believe in God?

The hardest part for me is understanding their needs and what they are saying. Everyone here believes in God pretty much. That is part of the problem though. They all say "one God for everyone" and it's true but when they say that, they mean, it doesn't matter what you believe or what religion you belong to because God is the same for everyone. It's hard to explain.

10. Do the Albanians celebrate Thanksgiving and/or Christmas?

Not really.. They know what Christmas is, but they don't really celebrate it.

11. Do they drive on the same side of the road we do? I know you said they are crazy drivers – but are they supposed to drive on a particular side?

Hahaha. They really don't have rules when they drive. They are SUPPOSED to drive on the right side of the road. But hardly anyone follows any driving rules.

12. You mentioned other missionaries in Vlore – how many total missionaries? I’m guessing the two sisters you mentioned in getting their bags to their apartment – but how many others, and are you spread around the city, etc.? Is that who is in your District?

In Vlore we have 7 missionaries. 3 sisters and 4 elders. The city is split into 2. We are the South side and the other elders are North side. And yes we are in the same District. It is an awesome district.

13. What time of the day do you normally eat? More details please!

We eat in the morning before we go out and then lunch is from 2-4 every day. Then we snack a little bit when we get back in at night (9)

14. Do they have local leadership in the branch or do the Elders help?

We have an American senior missionary couple here and Elder Smith is the branch president. THere is 1 Albanian as a counselor and then Elder Hikson is another counselor.

15. How is your knee?

It hurts every now and then but it's getting better I think. We do a ton of walking but it's all good.

16. Do you need a new converter? Can you get a good one there, or is it better to have it sent?

Nah, I am all good now. I found out how to use the Big converter you got me without blowing stuff up haha.

17. Same on the razor – do you need one sent from here, or can you get one there?

I'm good with this too. I got another one for free!

18. What prompted the drunk teenager to want to punch you? And why was he carrying brass knuckles (just in case?!)?

haha I have no idea. He really had no reason to come at me. He was just really drunk.

19. Why in the world would a car with Ohio plates be in Albania?! Also, do they drive on the same side of the road? Are the steering wheels on the left like ours?

I have been told that the new "cool" thing to do here is to have American plates on your car. But I have no clue why someone would choose Ohio Plates haha. I mean they are pretty awesome but Ohio is such a random state. People drive whatever car they can find haha. So if the steering wheel is on the right they have one on the right. If it's on the left, it's on the left. It's pretty crazy though. 50% of the people here drive Mercedes, 20% drive BMW's and then the other 30% drive junky old cars. There are a ton of sweet cars here though. I'm convinced they steal them

20.Did you ever finish the BOM when you were in the MTC?

I didn't finish it in the MTC but I'm almost done with it now.

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haha okay SOOOO much stuff has happened this week. I brought my journal to the Internet cafe so I won't forget anything. I will just go Day by day and cover a little bit of each day.

Monday October 18th 2010- I emailed you guys and then we went tracting and then on our way back to the apartment we met a homeless man who was begging for money. We told him we couldn't give him money and he was telling us how his daughter was in the hospital and they didn't have any food and I thought it was a pretty big lie but then we offered to buy him a loaf of bread. We thought he would deny if he was just wanting money. But he was so excited and accepted. We walked about 2 miles to the nearest bread place and he walked all the way there with us. We bought him 2 loafs of bread and gave them to us. He gave us HUGE hugs, had the BIGGEST smile and then kissed us both haha. But yeah, after I saw his reaction, I felt bad for judging him because I knew afterwards that he really did need food for his family. Then after we did that, we started walking back to the apartment and we saw Bird Man! He was wearing clothes this time though! It was very rare! haha and then we were just walking and talking. It had just finished raining. As we were walking down the sidewalk, a 16 year old boy with his friends were walking towards us. He started screaming and jumped at me from about 6 feet away. He punched me straight in the chest and Elder Warburton without even thinking just smacked this kid with an umbrella! hahah It was so funny. Yeah, the punch hurt, but seeing him get smacked with an umbrella made it all worth it. After he got hit with the umbrella, his friends all looked at him with the "why did you just punch that random guy in church clothes look" and he knew that his friends did NOT have his back because he was just being stupid and he just cussed us out and walked away ha.

Tuesday October 19- So Tuesday morning a teenage boy came up to us and pulled out a knife on us and tried to blame us for doing something to his cousin. I'm not sure if he was joking with us or not haha. It's funny though because It didn't scare me at all. I'm getting used to it. Then we were about to go tracting and My comp. asked me where we should go. I normally say I don't know because I don't know this area well yet but then I just had a feeling I should look up and I did. And there was a huge orange building. I pointed and said There? and he agreed. We got in it and there was pretty much NO ONE living there. We decided to keep knocking on the apartment doors though. We came to a door where an old woman answered. We started talking about the Book Of Mormon and then this womans granddaughter came in the room (probably 12 years old) and she started talking to us and we came in and talked to her for about 30 minutes. She seemed WAY interested in the Book and said she would read it. We tried to get her to give us a phone number or something but she said she had to talk to her parents about whether or not she could meet with us and that she would call us. It was really sad because she was really excited about the book of mormon and I think she knew there was something special about the book. But I am guessing her parents said she couldn't meet with us because she didn't call back. We are going to try knocking on her door again this week.

Wednesday October 20 - We went tracting and decided to tract the apartment building that the senior couple live in. We knocked on a door and an 18 year old girl (im just guessing) opened the door. We started talking about the book of mormon. She stopped us from talking and said "I just have 1 question: What happens when we die?" We then started to explain the plan of salvation and what happens after death. She seemed really excited. We talked about how good people go to spirit paradise and bad people go to spirit prison and how if you accept the gospel you go to spirit paradise and that people have the opportunity to accept the gospel even after they die. When we said this she said "So you can still accept it once you die?!" and I was kinda confused because I was thinking, "yes but you can accept it right NOW!" haha. Well it turns out that, that girls mother died about a Month ago. We are meeting with this girl again this week.
Also, we saw a super creepy man walking around haha. He had a side view mirror from a motorcycle and an apple. He was walking about 200 ft in front of us. He was acting super weird. We then saw him using the side view mirror to look down girls shirts and then he used the mirror to smack a girls back side. This man was in his 40s. Yeah it was super gross. Then he pretended to throw an Apple in an old womans face. Elder Warburton and I just kept following him. He kept using the mirror to look back behind him. We could tell he was looking at us. He then stopped walking, turned around and told us to leave. He was pretty scary so we left. We watched him walk away until we couldn't see him and then went to the church. When we got to the church we were telling the sisters the story of this creepy man. Right then He walked up to the church and Elder Warburton said " and there he is right now" hahaha It was SOOO Scary. He walked in and started yelling at us about how our sign to our church was spelled wrong. I don't know how the heck he found the church. We made sure we weren't being followed. Plus he got there super fast. It was creepy.

Thursday October 21- This day was SUPER WEIRD! Why was it weird? Because it was a normal day haha. Normal days don't happen here. We went on exchanges. I was with Elder Hikson (my district leader). We went tracting and Found a man named Avdull. He seemed interested in the Book of Mormon and said he would come to church. When we called him to remind him about church he told us he was in Tirana and he wouldn't be back for a while. So we will hopefully hear from him when he gets back.

Friday October 22- YES! Friday I saw BIRDMAN in full action! He was half naked running around playing in puddles in the street, taking floor mats in front of stores and hiding them, Shutting doors to stores that were open and opening doors to stores that were closed. As Elder Warburton and I stared at him while he was playing in the puddles in the road, Bird Man looked up and saw us staring. He tilted his head, smiled and crowed at us like a bird and made a signal with his hand telling us to come to him hahahaha It was SO funny. We ran away haha. It was funny, but super creepy. Dad, I know you think this guy is probably just a rich man who lives in a mansion. But he isn't. He is just a freak. Like no one would ever give this man money because they would be scared to get that close to him. Everyone knows who he is and when they see him they cross to the other side of the road. He doesn't ask for money. In fact, he doesn't even speak a real language. He just crows like a bird. haha. Elder Warburton told me something very true. He said: There aren't anymore crazy people in Albania than there are in America. It's just that In America, All the crazy people are either in jail, in an insane asylum, or a special health center hahaha. In Albania, all these people just roam the streets! It's hilarious.

Saturday October 23- At English class we had another girl come back again who we previously gave a Book Of Mormon. At the end of the lesson, she said she wants to change her life and she feels good when she reads the book of mormon. She then accepted our baptismal commitment. We asked her if she came to know that the Book of Mormon was true, would you be baptized? and she said without a doubt yes! Unfortunately, all of our girl investigators get turned over to the Sisters. So that one that we had from the previous week is now meeting with them. It's not unfortunate because they are still recieving the Gospel but I want to see the changes in people's lives. Oh well ha. I won't be selfish. The girl from last week (Denisa) has been coming to church, Institute, and Family Home Evening. It's awesome! She is pretty much a member already! She says prayers for institute, english class, or whenever we ask for a volunteer. Ever since we taught her how to pray, she has been praying a ton! It's awesome!

Well yeah, I Left some details out of these days, but things are going great! I love it here and can't wait to get better at the language. I am starting to understand people way way better! I don't have much more time to write but I love you all! Thanks for the emails fam! You guys ROCKKKKKK. Sorry if this email was lame! Tell me what you want to hear!

The sooner you get the iPod here the better ha. I'm dying over here! Just throw some EFY music and other church stuff, or just instrumental stuff, or slow songs with gospel lyrics, piano stuff? Anything. I will put conference talks on it when it gets here. Don't worry too much about the music on it. You can take it all off and just have lex make a playlist of songs for me. I can get music from Elders here. Thanks a TON though!

Peace out everyone! Keep it real!