Monday, November 1, 2010

Life in Albania - Week 2

1. I thought it was interesting that church was only two hours long. Do you still have the three meetings – they are just shorter, or do they only have Sacrament Meeting and then one of the other meetings?

We have Sacrament meeting and then Priesthood/Relief Society and the kids all go together.

2. Are you in a branch or a ward?

There are no wards in Albania so I'm in a branch

3. About how many people come to church each week?


4. Are you in a stake or a district?

District. We don't have stakes in Albania yet. Key word is YET

5. Is the whole country of Albania one district or one stake?

Yeah ha (see Number 4)

6. What kind of food have you had? Anything different or new?

There is SUCH good food here. Dad would love it. THere is something called Byrek. It is the greatest thing ever. It is like Meat and french onion soup wrapped in a fried dough. It is AMAZING! and there are a lot of other things that are way good. Elder Warburton and I had a member lesson last week (my 2nd day in Shqiperia ((Albania)) and when we got there they had dinner for us. They didnt tell us it was a dinner appointment hah. So we walk in and there is a BIG fat fish with this butter salad thing and french fries sitting on the plate. oh and a hot dog. And I was thinking to myself, well here we go ha. I can do this. It was hard but I finished it all. I was so proud of myself haha. Everything was pretty nasty. Even the french fries. But it was all that they had and they were so kind. Then when I finished, the mother went into the kitchen and brought out 2nd's hahaha. It was hilarious. I was SOO Full. We had just had lunch pretty much. On the seconds plate was a huge Chicken wing and a huge pile of rice. It was actually way good but i was stuffed. The Mother asked me if I didn't like the rice. I said yes because I thought she asked if I liked it. When my companion nudged me and told me that I told her I didnt like it, I apologized and said no no no I LOVE the rice! Turns out the word Love and Want are the same here. So she brought me more! haha It was so so funny.

7. Have you tried the fruit yet? Somebody said their fruit was the best ever.

The fruit here is way good!

8. Have you found anyone to teach yet?

We found two people to teach this week but both wouldn't allow us to plan appointments with them. They said to come back though and they would love to learn more but they didn't want to give us there number. So yeah. Its hard right now. But we are talking to tons of people daily and eventually people will be more accepting.

9. Are you getting used to the way Albanians talk? Is it getting a little bit easier to understand them?

It is getting WAY easier to understand them. I understand all of the words that they say that I know. Now I just need to learn more vocabulary. I have tons to learn. But it is getting alot better. My Comp Rocks.

10. How cold will it get in Vlore?

Im not exactly sure how cold it will get in vlore but I know it rains a ton. Trust me. I know. It has already started it's winter raining schedule. IT is bright and sunny one second, and the next.... BOOOM! Thunder Lightning. Downpouring rain! haha

11. Since you only eat two meals a day now – do you snack at night? I’m just wondering how you get used to only eating 2 meals a day.

We snack a little bit at night. We dont really have much snacks at the Shtepi (apartment) because we are trying to budget really well to get a reserve fund for emergencies. But we do snack some nights. We have big Lunches until we can't eat anymore.

12. Are you experiencing culture shock?

Not really. It is DEFINITELY different here. But I love it. I love it here so much. It's a good thing they force you to leave after your mission because I probably wouldn't come home if they didn't make me leave haha. It is so amazing here.

13. Is Albania and the people what you had expected?

They Albanian people are everything and more than what I expected. They are all so kind and generous. I love them. It's sad. THey all want to go to America. If only they knew that America was not as cool as Albania haha.

14. Are you happy?

Of Course! I am happier than ever! It is so incredible to see people as Children of God. Our brothers and sisters. They are so different, yet so much like us. Teaching people the Gospel of Jesus Christ really does bring so much happiness. The only times I am sad are when people reject the messages we have. But it doesn't last long..,


So yeah, The weeks here go by really really fast! I love Vlore and the people here so so much. I wish you could all come and visit haha. After the mission we will come back and so you can see how great it is here. I am loving these people and this language so much. The language is super difficult but so beautiful. In the MTC people would always come up to us and ask us what language we spoke when they looked at our name tags. THen we would tell them Albanian and they would say " That stinks! You will never get to use it after your mission. No one will understand you back home!" and It is 100% worth all the times people would say that to me. They didn't understand the purpose that we were learning a language obviously. We learned Albanian so that we could teach people about Jesus Christ and his restored Gospel on the earth today. ALbanian is a BEAUTIFUL language and so awesome. I love learning it.

haha It is funny. When we walk around here, people can tell we are american when we are in our suits and stuff and so all the teenagers/kids will see us from a distance and you can tell they get all whispery and quiet and then right when they come up to us they say "Hello!" or "What up" in a black person ghetto accent cause that is how they hear it in the movies. We just say, Hello, How are you? and then they don't know what to say haha. Or we just start speaking ALbanian and that shuts them up real quick haha. It's so funny. Surprisingly, there are quite a few people here (mostly teenaged kids) who can speak decent english. and by decent, it's probably like 2nd grade level in America. But still. There are a few people who speak really really well though. But it's funny because you know what movies that they have seen because they will quote the only things they have memorized in english which are from movies. And they normally aren't the best words haha. It's funny though. THey also sing American music. And listen to American music. Last night, Elder Warburton and I were teaching a lesson and when we came out it was POURING rain. We didn't have unbrellas so we just started walking home. Albanians are scared of the rain, so when it rains, there is pretty much no one outside. And if they are, they are running with an umbrella. We were just walking, Soaking wet. and these two albanian guys were walking behind us and started singing "It's Raining Men" hahahaha. It was so so funny. Anyways. Yeah. I also almost got punched in the face by a drunk teenager wearing brass knuckles. It's hard to just smile and say hello when people do stuff like that but we have been asked to not fight back to people haha. So yeah.

Guess what else?! In the past three days, I have seen 2 cars with Ohio License plates!!!! YESSS!!! I LOVE OHIO! yes, I know Ohio State lost.. But it's okay. We can win the Rose Bowl again this year. Plus It is still POSSIBLE for us to take it all! Have some faith! But yeah, I took pictures with both license plates.

Oh, Dad, Can I get bank account updates from you? The ATM's here don't let me see my account balance. THanks pops!

You would never guess this Mom.... I have a new love.... COOKING! haha It is awesome. I have been making some awesome meals. My comp. taught me how to make one of them. And then last night, we were hungry and all we had was rice and eggs and some sauces/spices. So I decided to take what i have seen the Chefs at Nagoya do and I made some LEGIT fried rice! It was so good! haha with eggs and everything. It was so freaking good!

Oh haha also, this morning i was shaving my head and i was using the converter thing but I was using the not as nice converter. Yeah.. my razor caught on fire and then exploded in my hand. One of the scariest moments of my life haha. It's all good though. My comp has another razor.

We do an English class twice a week here. A lot of people have been coming. We pass out tons of fliers every day. Last night we were passing some out and Elder Warburton dropped like a handfull of probably like 50 of the fliers into a huge puddle. It was not good haha. But it was funny. It was one of those moments where you can't help but laugh. Oh well. The English class is going really well. We got this one girl to come who is 16. Her name is Denissa. She has been coming for 2 weeks now and we teach them a gospel lesson at the end of ever english lesson. We teach the gospel part in Albanian. We asked her to come to church and she came yesterday! For Conference. I think it went really well!

YES!!! So there is a man here that the missionaries call "Bird Man". I saw him for the first time the other day! He is a man, who thinks that he is a bird! hahaha. IT is soo funny. He bathes in the fountains and stuff until the police kick him out. I tried to speak to him but he doesn't speak albanian. In fact, he doesn't speak any language... Besides bird language. He crows. and he buys food and puts it on the ground and tries to pick it up with his feet. He is probablyt like 30. He doesn't wear a lot of clothes either. He fidgets around like crazy! he reminds me of Haywire from prison break haha.

Okay, so only one of those CD's I got from the missionary mall is decent. Everyone in the Mission has an iPod with EFY music and church music and instrumental stuff on it and other stuff the president approved. I was wondering if you (Dad) still have that 20gb old ipod somewhere? I don't want a new ipod. Plus Im not allowed to have something with radio or internet access so I can't have my ipod touch, or my ipod nano because that had radio. I was just wondering if you still had the 20 GB one. Anyways, If you do, that would be awesome if you could send it. Also with a camera cord! I want to send you more pictures but I didn't bring a camera cord! If there is any way I could get that, it would be awesome. Same type of cord that works with the black camera you have. I have been told that the best way to make it so that people don't go through your package when you send it is to label the package with something of little value and then to burry it cheap things (candy or papers or something) and then to put pictures of Jesus or Mary on it over the seals. People wont rip his picture. So yeah. haha. It's pretty sketchy.

The members here are so awesome! It is so incredible to see how much people change. Some of the most amazing members in the church here used to be hardcore in drugs and other things. Abusive familes and things. But once they Read the Book Of Mormon and test the promise in the back of the book about how if you read it and pray and ask God if it is true, he will answer you. They try it out and can't deny the truth in the book. And they completely change there lives. It strengthens my testimony so much. It's awesome!

Kendy, I wrote you last week and I am writing you today. I hope they make it to you hha. The postal service here seems a little sketchy. Who knows though. I hope it gets there!

Ashley, THanks for the letters. I am glad you are getting good at cooking. I'm expecting some awesome meals when I get back!

Alexis, Keep on keepin on. Hopefully school isn't too bad. Enjoy Georgia! Tell all the Georgia crew I say hello!

Mom and Dad, I love you both so much! THank you for being such awesome parents. I Love you!

Elder Eckel

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