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
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!