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.
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!