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.


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

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