Monday, January 3, 2011

Life in Albania - Week 13

Hello everyone! Well I have some crazy news for you all today! But I will start with the questions first.

1. Have you gotten anymore packages? You should have 6 more coming from us, one from Grandma and Grandpa Martin, and one from the Pumphrey family. I think you may have something coming from Kristie’s family as well.

I will hopefully get those packages tomorrow when I go to Tirana. Nothing actually gets sent to Vlore so I don't get things unless we go to Tirana or someone comes from there.

2. Are you enjoying your last bit of time with Elder Warburton? Do you think you will be changed up at transfers?

Yeah, We had a very fun week. We were in a threesome this week and it was a ton of fun. We were LOADED with work though because we had both North Vlore and South Vlore’s work since we were in the threesome. We also had Branch work since Warburton was filling in as first counselor this week. and yes haha I do think it will be changed because we actually know now. I will get to that later though.

3. Since the church is so new there – I was wondering if there are a lot of inactive members after they are baptized or is the retention pretty good?

There are quite a few inactive members which is why we do so much retention work. It is kinda sad how many people are inactive.

4. Do you think Elder Nowlls will stay there in Vlore too – but just get a new companion?

Yeah Elder Knowells is staying here in Vlore and he is getting a new companion.

5. How was New Years? You said it was supposed to be dangerous and that you had to stay inside. What were you able to see out of your window!?

New Years was AWESOME! There were fireworks EVERYWHERE in the sky. It was absolutely beautiful. It something you have to see in real life to believe. I took a video of it but it doesn't show even half as cool as it was.

6. Was that Elder Warburton’s first Christmas away from home or was he in the MTC during last Christmas?

This was his first Christmas away from home as well. He went to the MTC in January of last year.

7. Do you know how many baptisms the Albania mission does all together in a given month? Do you set goals based on the number of people that are being taught throughout the country?

I'm not sure exactly but I think we hit somewhere near 85 this year as a total in Albania. We set goals based on area but There is a "Standard of Excellence" for the country.

8. Are you supposed to have goals for the number of lessons you teach, service hours, etc as well?

We set goals every night during nightly planning for the next day and then we also set weekly goals every week for weekly planning.

9. Have you gone to any more interesting sites on your p-days?

Nope. haha. Just chilling here in Vlore!

10. When do you start up new English classes? Is that what you do – have them for a certain number of weeks and then start them over again with a new group of people?

I'm not sure when English classes will start again but I'm guessing it will be somewhere around the end of January. I won't be here in Vlore for it though.


Okay so I'm sure you are all wondering what the news is that I have haha. Probably not. I was trying to build it up and make it seem really cool but I probably did a lame job ha. So, we had transfer calls this past week. Something happened that neither Elder Warburton or I was expecting. We are BOTH leaving Vlore! There is a shortage of Missionaries here in Albania right now and they needed to close an area and since Vlore has two sets of Elders, they closed our area. I am going to be spending the next little while in a city called Elbasan. I am very excited. My new companion is Elder Vance. I have met him a few times and I think that we are going to get along great. He is very funny and he seems like a very hard worker. I am excited to start a new chapter of my mission in Elbasan. Elbasan actually has a real church building! SO that is pretty exciting and fun to look forward to. I am sad to leave Vlore though. I have made so many great friends here and have grown to love the people here in this branch. I leave tomorrow to go to Tirana and get my new Comp and then head to Elbasan. I hear it is FREEZING there in the winter and BURNING HOT in the summer so it's a good thing I am getting the warm clothes haha.

This past week was pretty fun. We had some lessons with Irma again. We taught her the 3rd lesson (The Gospel of Jesus Christ). It is a little different trying to teach with 3 people but it went well. I think she really understood things. It is sad though because she still hasn't come to church. She says that God isn't answering her questions in prayers and we have told her that one place that is great for hearing answers is at church. Hopefully she will come this next week. Elder Nollz and I had a lesson (while Warburton was doing Branch presidency work) with a girl named Kristina who is 11 years old. Her father died when she was 4 years old. We taught the plan of Salvation to her. You should have seen her face light up when we talked about how she can live with her Dad again. It was a very cool experience. She has so much faith and desire to come to church but she lives with her Grandpa and he won't let her come to church. It is a really far walk from her house to the Church and so we think that might be partially the reason. We have asked if we could come pick her up? The Grandpa is still stubborn about it. It was Tithing settlement time here and so that ate a lot of our time too but it was a fun/busy week. New years was amazing. I still can't get over how many people were shooting fireworks out of their windows haha. It was hilarious.

Alexis, Congrats on getting into BYU-I! that place was awesome when I went to go visit. I think you would love it there. I mean, you obviously would want to go to BYU Provo first, but seriously, BYU idaho was awesome. Good job on getting in Motra (Motra means sister). I'm glad you added Alseda. Alseda isn't the older sister of Eva. Alseda is in a different family. It was really funny though cause I told her to add you on facebook and then she came to me pretty much devastated that you denied her friend request thinking that you hated her or something hahha. I told her to add you again and tell you that she knows me. I'm glad you added her. Practice English with her. She is pretty dang good at English. Do facebook chat with her and try and keep up with her how church is. I really don't want her to fall away from the church. She needs some good Mormon friends. Just talk to her every now and then and see how she is doing. I already told her that you are going to hang out with her for a little bit when you come to Albania to get me haha. She was so exicted. She thinks you are very beautiful ha. Talk about Jack's Mannequin with her. I tried to get her hooked on Jack's Mannequin and she loves the song Dark Blue haha. It's hilarious. I am still spreading the good music joy even over here in Albania. Anyways, hope your Christmas was awesome. I miss you girl.

Aunt Donna and Uncle Brian! Thank you so much for the Christmas gift! I love hearing from you guys. I hope Tony isn't killing you too bad in P90x haha. I still have nightmares of that 60 year old man. Europe is pretty awesome! It's weird to think that we are actually relatively closer to each other than I am with anyone else. Thanks again! Hope you had a great Christmas and New Years.

I'm sorry if anyone else has sent me something if I haven't mentioned it yet. I haven't gotten anything else yet but hopefully I will get things tomorrow on my way to Elbasan when we stop in Tirana!

Baker Family! How the heck are you all?! I hope your holidays went great. It was weird not spending new years with Evan at waffle house haha. I remember one new years when evan and I were so pathetically bored that we spent it at Waffle House hahaha. It was hilarious. I learned something really cool that day though. Waffle House is the safest place to be if there is a Hurricane because the windows are Hurricane proof! Well, At least that is what the drunk guy there was telling us. I saw a picture of you when you went to eat with my mom! I miss you guys. It was like seeing both of my mothers in the same picture!

I'm sad to hear the Big 10 isn't doing too hot. I bought an Ohio State tie that I can wear for the occasion tomorrow. GO BUCKEYES! I hope we win! AHHH. OH!

Sounds like you all had a great Christmas Holiday. I'm jealous that you all got to be together. Dad, I'm glad you bought some fireworks for the occasion. You would freak out if you knew how inexpensive fireworks are here in Albania. We aren't talking the little kind either. People were shooting full blown HUGE fireworks into other peoples apartments from their balconies haha it was awesome. Don't worry thought. Only 15 people were hospitalized from fireworks in Albania this year which I guess is good compared to normal haha. Mom, I bet you were a great ice skater. I want to see pictures of you ice skating haha.

Alright, well I need to get going cause I need to pack up so I can leave tomorrow. I will be in Elbasan next time we talk! Thank you for everything you all do. I love you and miss you all. Tell the Lenahans I said thanks for the Jerkey! haha I will try and send some last minute pictures now! Peace out!

-Elder Eckel

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