Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Life in Albania - Week 30

Well howdy hey there!

It's pouringggggggggg rain here in Lushnje. But what do you do ha.

Here are the questions you ALL have been waiting for ha.

1. How many missionaries are in the district that you are in now?
There are 6 of us. 2 of us here in Lushnje (me and my shok ((companion)) ) and then there are 4 elders in Fier which is a city about 35 minutes away. We have a pretty cool district.

2. Did you do any more street tables this past week where you played music?
We haven't. We were pretty busy this week. We were in Fier for exchanges and then it rained a few days which made it pretty hard to do any street contacting work.

3. That is cool that your companion plays the violin. Did he bring his violin or did he get one over there?
He bought one over here. He got a KILLER deal on it. I guess it is a 700 or 800 dollar violin and he bought it for 150. Good deal huh?

4. How are the people doing that you are teaching?
They are doing alright. I am hoping that all of the kids that have been coming to English and FHE and Church will be getting baptized while I'm here (assuming that I stay here for another couple months) I am kinda hoping for a change this next transfer coming up in about 2 weeks. We will see though.

5. Since your companion is the Branch President -does he have to deal with a lot of "branch issues" during the week - or is it not that bad because the branch is so small?
There aren't a TON of branch issues but there are some. We do a lot of less active visits and helping out with welfare and other things like that.

6. When he is dealing with issues - what do you do?
I normally just read in the Albanian scriptures.

7. How is the English Class going? How many more weeks will the class go?
It's going really good. The kids that come are way awesome. I think we will continue to do the class until people no longer have interest to come. We just recently had a big group of kids show up and so we turned it into two classes. I have been teaching the ones who were more advanced and then Elder Mugleston has been teaching the ones that just showed up. It is going really well.

8. Do they celebrate Mother's Day in Albania?
They do but their Mother’s day is on a different day. It was about a month ago. It's not really that big of a deal here though. Pretty much it's just a day where people buy flowers for each other and that's about it.

9. Do they have grocery stores over there like we do or are they tiny market like stores?
They have 3 or 4 big name Europe grocery stores around the country in each city but most of the stores are just little family owned hole in the walls where you can get some good deals on stuff.

10.Do you eat out much or do you mostly cook?
Here in Lushnje we pretty much cook every day except for when we go to Fier every week for district meeting. There aren't really any good food places in Lushnje. Plus my companion is an awesome cook. Hence why I have gained weight.

11.Do you see many people who wear all of the Muslim type clothing?
Not that often. We see a lot of the Muslim men with the long beards and hat but the woman stay inside for the most part unless they are going to the mosque. It's kind of funny how many people think they are muslim but have never even stepped into a mosque.

12.Did you get Grandma and Grandpa's package yet?
Nope not yet. but I might get it tomorrow when President comes for interviews. He will bring all of the mail down from Tirana with him.


This week was nice. On Tuesday we went to Fier for District Meeting and had an exchange afterwards. The Zone Leaders came to the district meeting and did a training on getting baptismal dates and commitments. It was a great training. Then afterwards I went with Elder Mcullam. He is new in the country. He has only been here for 4 weeks now. It was a lot of fun to go out with him. It's crazy to be with the new missionaries because they make me realize how long I've actually been here. It was a lot of fun though. We went and visited a few members and went tracting and street contacting. It was a great day of missionary work. We stayed the night in Fier and then came back the next morning. It was pouring rain on Wednesday too. On Thursday, we had to do some financial work for the Branch and that ate quite a bit of time. It is insane how organized the Church is. Everything is so well thought out. It's almost as if they are the plans of God... Oh wait.. They are!

Then we went out with Rajmond (one of the members) we went and taught a family and gave out some Book of Mormon's. We came back and visited a few members. Then on Friday we went out and did some tracting. Saturday was awesome! I got permission from President to go to Sister Braha's baptism in Elbasan! It was so great. I miss Elbasan so much. The people there were so happy to see me and Sister Braha had a beautiful baptismal service. There are 3 new (just got to the country) missionaries there in Elbasan. One of them is a prodigy at the language. He is with elder Merepeza too which has helped him even more! He speaks WAY better than me and he has only been here for 4 weeks. It was absolutely insane. I felt bad for the 2 other Elders there that are new because they are where they are supposed to be with the language but they feel terrible because of how good this other elder is. Anyways, I hope I can serve with the Elder that speaks really well at some point cause he was a really nice and guy who seemed like a hard worker. I also talked to a TON of people in the streets of Elbasan while I was there. And to and from Elbasan I talked to people in the van taxi's. It was a lot of fun. I love talking to people in Albanian. It's great. Yesterday at church there were 11 people. Pretty good I suppose. We were forced to stay inside all day because of yesterday being Election Day here in Albania. I guess some people got shot in Elbasan and Tirana. And the ballot boxes were broken into and all sorts of other fun stuff. I really hope that this country won't be corrupted forever. It's so sad.

Well that was my week! I hope you all had a good week. Sounds like you all had a lot of fun with family in town and stuff. I'm sad that Grandma and Grandpa couldn't be at the house when I skyped. Oh well. Hopefully Evan can come? :) It also sounds like Alexis did AMAZING in the play. That's so awesome. I wish I could have seen it. I'm sure I will see it when I get back. Alexis sounds like she has finally hit senioritus. She got it a little bit after I did. I got it when I was a freshman in High School haha. It's all good though. I some how miraculously still got into BYU. haha Alexis I thought it was funny how you said "It's Fine... Kendy anyone?!" haha that was pretty funny.

Mom, Since yesterday was Mothers day, I feel like it's an appropriate time to tell you how much I love you! So thank you for being such a wonderful mother, example, friend, and teacher to me. I can't imagine my life with any mother other than you. I am so blessed to have the family that I have being led by such wonderful parents. Thank you for being such a great example in the way that you live you life. I read a quote the other day that made me think about you. It said "Live your life in a way that people who don't know Jesus Christ, but do know you, will want to know Jesus Christ because they know you." It made me think about you because you always live in a way that people can see the happiness and joy beaming off of your presence. You are a little fire ball haha. I don't really know how else to tell you how much I appreciate and love you but I hope this is sufficient enough for the circumstances of being thousands of miles away from you. I have been able to see how many other people don't have the same relationship with their mothers that I have with you and it just makes me realize how blessed I have been. Do you remember the first time I called you Karen? haha I do! It was in the Home Depot with Adam Wibbler! haha Anyways, thank you for being such an amazing mother! I love you!!!!

Oh, and for my second mother (Mrs. Baker) You were also a great mother figure to have throughout my life. I have been able to feel your love throughout my life and I'm so thankful that our families have been able to be so close throughout the years. You have a wonderful family and as they say, the apples don't fall far from the tree.

I also got an email from Ryan Elmer! It was great to hear from you all! They have such an amazing family! I really enjoyed the advice you gave me Ryan and cool scripture study thing that you sent. You said you were listening to one of my old songs ha. That scares me because my old songs were pretty lame. You should have my family send you my new songs in an email or something so that your opinion of my music doesn't have to be so low haha. Thanks for thinking of me and sending me an email. I enjoyed the family picture. I hope this isn't wrong to say but you have a beautiful wife! I think i'm allowed to say it cause she was my baby sitter before she was your wife ;) Anyways, I hope your family is doing well and I am thankful for your prayers. I wish you all the best.

So that's about it for today! I gotta get an email over to president and then I gotta bounce outta here!

Kendra Lou, did you say pae for the reason I think you did haha. You better not have! Anyways, I have written another letter to you today! Hope all is going well with you. And I obviously accept your challenge of doing everything the best that we can this week. If it's a challenge, I WILL win. Obviously. haha anyways, I gotta go! PEACE OUT!


Monday, May 2, 2011

More pics!

The one i'm jumping with in that picture is Elder Seivers. He played quarterback at boise state! pretty cool. He's an awesome guy.

Lushnje Pictures

My companion is the one on the far right in the blue shirt. The other people are all in my district. we have a cool district! It's the bomb dot com

Life in Albania - Week 29

Hello hello!

Here are the questionsss that have been rattlin' around in y'alls minds this week!

1. Have you gotten any packages yet? I think you have one coming from us, Grandma and Grandpa Martin and one from the Bakers.

Yes! I got 2 of those. I got yours, and the bakers! They were great! Thanks a ton! It was a good pick me up! Thank you ever so much.

2. How are your suits, shirts and shoes holding up? The Lenahans saw Brent over Easter. They were at Melissa’s house for Easter and Brent is now in his sister’s area so he got permission to have Easter dinner at her house. They said his clothes were a mess! How are yours doing? Do you need anything replaced?

They are holding up just great.... with some pins and paper clips, you can fix just about everything! :)

3. Have you gained any weight or lost weight over there?

haha yes. I have gained weight. It's pretty pathetic. I don't look in mirrors anymore. I hate it haha. I almost don't want to skype because you guys will all see how fat I am ha. Oh well.

4. How are the people doing that you are teaching?

They are doing good. None of the investigators that we are TEACHING came to church yesterday, BUT there were 4 random girls that randomly showed up to English Course this past week that came to Church yesterday. Pretty cool stuff eh?

5. Do you have any people that are planning on being baptized?

Yes. We have 1 person that for sure said she will get baptized at some point. We have another that would get baptized if she wasn't "muslim" ha. Yeah. Same problem. Also, I have good news. My "Girl friend" from Elbasan (Besjana) got permission from her parents to get baptized! She is getting baptized for her birthday in October and she asked me to do it. I am so excited that she is going to get baptized!!

6. How many people were at church on Sunday?

There were 9, including us. (7) people. But, only 2 were members. 5 investigators were there! :)

7. Have you done any more “music street tables?”

Nope not yet, this week we were pretty busy with a bunch of random stuff but hopefully we can do more this week.


So now, for a little more detailed version of this week!

Today we went on our district trip to Berat. It was BEAUTIFUL. I absolutely loved it. We went to a castle and it was a ton of fun. This morning before we left, we went to get breakfast real quick and a worker was like "you are Americans right? Obama Bin Ladin is dead! haha it was hilarious. He meant to say Osama I think but he said Obama. It was pretty funny. So yeah, I heard about it this morning. Pretty crazy news. I am glad it happened though.

Also, last Monday, a teacher here in Lushnje called us up and asked if we could meet. We met with him and he took us to a woman who worked at a Pharmacy. She asked us about our English Course and asked if her son could come. He came with his little brother and they are way awesome. They stayed for our religion lesson but when we invited them to church they said they couldn't come. I am hoping that they will be able to come at some point. They seemed like great people. We also have an English class with like 14 people now. It's great! Also, at family home evening tonight, there were 14 people! Crazy! Success is coming out of no where! It's been a huge blessing. I am hoping these people stick around. We might actually get some youth coming to church which would be awesome. They all want to go to EFY so we gave them registration forms.

I was thinking that we could do a skype call on the 14th? What do you think about that? If the 15th is better we could do that too. I just don't really want to go to an internet local on a Sunday. But if it works better, I'll do it. I also want Evan to be there!

Alexis, make sure that you tell Carter that I wrote him and sent it last week. He should be getting it this week or next. I thought it was pretty funny about Lucas asking you with carrots hahaha i actually laughed out loud. Have fun at prom and good luck this weekend, you will be awesome! Ask Brandon if he has gotten my letter.

ish- Elder Hickson, thanks a ton for emailing me! I figured you had forgotten about me since you are home and stuff ha. I'm glad you found the blog that my sister made. You can now stock me as you please haha. I'm sorry for being a greeny and spelling xhaxhi wrong haha. I didn't know what I was doing back then. I hope all is well with you at BYU and that your exams passed well ha. May you be with health my friend. You were a great example to me and I enjoyed our exchanges a ton. I think I probably talked about them in my emails home back then haha. You are the man. You left yourself a good name in the mission. Everyone always talks about how you were a hard worker. I hope that my name will be used the same.

(ash or lex)- send Nathan Hickson a message on facebook to read this ha. I will feel dumb if he doesn't read it.

Mom- thanks for your testimony. You are amazing. thanks for the example you were and are to me.

Dad- hahaha the story about the iPad is priceless. I love grandma great.

It's looking like I have two options for this next upcoming transfer. I am either going to stay here and be with Mugleston until he goes home, or I will be going to the Office with Elder Anderson (my MTC companion). There was a Branch Presidency meeting in Tirana this past week. President Neal said it would be beneficial for me to go. (hint hint) that I have a chance to stay here and be Branch President for a few months. Crazy stuff. So those are my two destinys right now.

Well I am going to send you all some pictures now. I hope you all have a great week.

Elder Eckel