Dear Family and Friends,
Thank you so much for your love and support! Thank you for supporting me in my efforts in serving a mission! Without your support, I don't know if I could serve a mission.
The trip to Albania was very long and very hectic! One of the elders in my group had a medical emergency and couldn't come with us to Albania. He is okay now, but he has to stay home for a while under observation to see if he can still come to Albania. Please keep him in your prayers. He was really excited to come to Albania, so that was very hard for all of us to say goodbye to him. The flight from Chicago to Vienna was very long! But the airplane was very comfortable and the people were very kind. I sat next to a man from Vienna and we talked for quite a bit. In Vienna, Elder Bangerter and I were looking for a drinking fountain to get a drink, but guess what doesn't exist in Europe? Yup, drinking fountains. So we found a vending machine, but it only took Euro coins. So we needed to go to an ATM, get some cash, go to the gift store and buy something to get change in coins, and then go back to the machine to get a drink. It turned out to be nearly a half hour adventure! But on the flight from Vienna to Tirana, I sat next to a man from Tirana. We talked for the entire flight in Albanian! He talked very slow, but I understood most of what he said! It was the confidence boost that I needed!
President Ford and his wife are very kind! I am grateful that I get to work with them for a few months before they leave. From the first few minutes of getting to the mission home, we were already going out and teaching lessons and contacting people. We were paired up with other missionaries from Tirana and we got right to work. That was very difficult, but Elder Harvey, the elder I went out with for about and hour, said that I did a great job. I didn't understand what was said, but he said that he was impressed with my abilities already.
Elder Clawson and I are opening a new area in Lushnjë so we are starting from scratch. We don't have any investigators right now, so the majority of our time has been spent street contacting. I've been trying to talk to everyone that walks by, but people mostly ignore us. However, when we get to talk to someone it's really awesome! I don't really understand what is going on because they speak so fast in the south, but I've been trying really hard. I feel bad because I don't feel like I've been doing the same amount of work as Elder Clawson just because I have a language barrier. I try and stop people and then usually Elder Clawson takes over after they respond. From some people, I have received some compliments about how good my language is, and also from others I've been made fun of because I can't really speak yet. But I've been trying to think of what I can do and I'm trying to stay positive. However, it can be hard sometimes. But I just need to rely on the Lord and trust that He will help me to improve over time.
Albania is very different from the USA. There are animals EVERYWHERE! There will be packs of stray dogs that roam the streets and people are selling live chickens and geese on street corners. The old men "Xhaxhi" sit around all day and play either dominoes or chess. Life here is very slow. People take their time. The people are also very poor. Things are very cheap here. The other day we bought lunch for under $3 for both Elder Clawson and I. Since it is very poor, we don't really get fed by church members, because work is hard to find, they don't have much. But the people are very friendly and very kind. Whenever we go into another person's house they always give you a drink and a snack. The people here are very humble and kind.
The food is absolutely AMAZING! I love the food here so much! I haven't had a ton of traditional food yet, because I've only been here a short while, but some of my favorite things are byrek and sufllaqe. It is absolutely amazing! I can't imagine serving anywhere else, I know that I'm supposed to be here! Elder Clawson and I don't have a place yet, so we are living with the zone leaders. They have an awesome apartment! They have the nicest place in the entire mission, or so I've heard. We are sleeping on their couches and living out of our suitcases, so part of me wants to get a place so I can unpack and set up a place that can feel more like home.
General Conference was a little weird. They only get to see a couple sessions of General Conference. They watch Saturday morning session on Saturday night and Saturday afternoon session on Sunday morning. Then they watch another session on Sunday night. We set up another room where we could watch a couple talks in English so we could understand. So that was really nice! But it felt really weird not getting to see it all.
Thank you for your love and support! I couldn't do this without you!
|Elder Watson and Sister Atkin, an instructor at the MTC|
|Elder Watson and Brother Carver, an instructor at the MTC|
|Brother McGlothin, an instructor at the MTC, and Elder Watson|
|Elder Bangerter and Elder Watson on their last Sunday together before leaving MTC|
|Elder Watson and Elder Dahl|
|Elder Watson and Elder Myers|
|Elder Penrod and Elder Watson|
|Elder Simions and Elder Watson|
|Elder Watson and Elder Squire|
|Elder Watson and Elder Waters|
|Missionaries from the MTC together for one last time at a monument overlooking Tirana, Albania, |
just prior to their assignments to different cities.
|Apallonia, where the Apostle Paul once taught.|