Dear Family and Friends,
Thank you so much for your emails. I always look forward to reading your emails on P-days! I'm glad to hear that Dad and Rachel had a great time at Long Lake. I'm glad to hear that Rachel likes canoeing. Canoeing is a lot of fun! Yeah, I have to agree with you, a compound bow is a lot easier than a recurve, and a longbow is much harder than any of them. I'm really glad to hear that you had fun. Dad, I don't remember the beds being really hard, but I've had a couple beds here in Albania that could contest for the hardest bed in the world. My bed right now is a little harder than a rock, but most nights I'm just so exhausted that I don't really care.
I think the biggest issue with our house is that our AC unit leaks after it's been on for a while, so we have to keep turning it on and off. I am so thankful for air conditioning!! It's starting to get hot in Albania, and it's not even to the hottest part of the year yet. Oh joy... And all of the Albanians are walking around in long-sleeves and jackets and stuff like that. I don't know how they can take it! I'm dying in a short-sleeve white shirt! I think a nice comfortable day for them is about 90 degrees F with 85% humidity. They are definitely a different kind of people!
Wow, tell Tyler congratulations! (Jacob's cousin who returned from his mission last year is getting married in August. He transferred to BYU in January and proposed to his fiance on Mother's Day. Tyler's mom says everything fell into place as a blessing from having served a mission!) That's awesome! That is pretty fast, but that's not the fastest engagement story that I've ever heard. I have definitely seen that it is a blessing to serve a mission! And the best part of it is that I'm having fun while being blessed!
We've been street contacting quite a bit here in Durrës and we have quite a variety of people that we talk to. There's one xhaxhi ("xh" in Albanian makes a "j" sound, like in English) that is really interested in talking with me. We talked for quite a while one day a couple weeks ago. He's not really interested in the Gospel, he's more interested in me. Things have gotten a little weird a couple of times. When he saw me one day he said, "O Elder, si jeni?" and then he kissed me... on the neck... and it was really wet. It was the weirdest experience of my life so far! I didn't know what to do so I was just polite and talked to him a bit. It was really weird, so now whenever we see him in the road we'll do our best to avoid him. Yeah, it's kinda' weird, but without things like that missionary work would get pretty boring.
Today, for P-day, we had a great adventure! We went to the town of Berat. There are a couple members in Berat, but there isn't a congregation there yet, but we were able to go there on a trip today. We had to take a bus from where we got dropped off to the center of the city, and that was the most crowded bus I've ever been on before. We were CRAMMED inside of that thing! I would have taken a picture, but there wasn't enough room for me to get the camera out of my pocket, and no that's not an exaggeration! We went to the castle of Berat, which is a big attraction there. We started off the day by going to a Greek Orthodox Church which was absolutely beautiful! After that we went to a xhami, or a mosque. It was really interesting to see the inside of a mosque. That's the first one that I've ever been inside. There was a man there that was really impressed that we were learning Albanian, and so he taught us a little bit about what goes on inside. It was pretty interesting, and he was a great guy! After visiting the xhami, we hiked up the mountain to the castle. It turned out to be about 400 degrees today, so all of us nearly died. It was so hot today, but we had a lot of fun playing around the castle ruins. We were climbing around the castle ruins on the top of the mountain, and yet we were much more safe than when we were traveling to and from Berat in the frigon. The road was in horrible condition and our driver was absolutely crazy! I had to stop looking out the window because all of the near misses were starting to freak me out a bit.
Elder Clawson and I have been teaching a family here in Durrës, and they are absolutely amazing! They have very strong faith in Jesus Christ and the Bible already, which is great! We actually don't see a whole lot of that in Albania which is a miracle in itself. After our first lesson, we extended the invitation to be baptized and they accepted. They have already been baptized in another church, but they said if they had to be baptized again it wasn't an issue. They are progressing very well! Right now their baptism is scheduled for. They are always really excited to meet with us. They are a wonderful family! It was a testimony builder to see how they've already been prepared to receive the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that God is working with the people in Albania and I know that He has prepared many people here to receive the Gospel. All we have to do is introduce them to it. It's such a blessing to see God blessing the people here and making it possible for them to come closer to Him. I'm so grateful for the ability that I have to help these people come closer to God. I love these people and I love being able to help them in whatever way that I can!
Thank you so much for your love and support! I couldn't do this without support from home!
|View of the mountain (in background) where the castle is located.|
|District Elders climbing the mountain.|
|Looking over Berat from the castle ruins.|
|Sitting on the edge of the castle wall.|