Family and Friends,
This week has been an excellent week. Our English course has been picking up and our investigator pool has been growing. The other Elders in our branch had a baptism for a man named Timo, with whom they have been working for about three months. Timo, over the course of his introduction into the gospel, has developed a powerful testimony. It was a group triumph to see him baptized this past Friday. We were able to take our investigator Krenar to the baptism and have a lesson with him about baptism directly after. Krenar is progressing and we have already offered the baptismal covenant but he is waiting until he knows personally with assurety.
As far as big events this week there haven’t been any landmark, heavens-opening-and-spilling-miracles-upon-the-people-of-Albania things going on. This week has held many small, progressively faith-building moments that will lead to sweeter, completer blessings. We have received several small promptings that have lead us to talk with more people and elicit more frequent testimonies of truth. It has been interesting and will take some time to see the fullness of the Lord’s plan in several areas of our lives as missionaries right now.
My companion Elder Wagstaff and I have been doing great together as a companionship. We have been able to work together and have fun while doing it. Elder Wagstaff is the brainiac of our mission… well… was the brainiac of our mission until I arrived :) He and I share the trait that we have vast libraries of seemingly random information stored in our head. We, in our down time, challenge each other in games of 20 questions to see who is the better random knowledge knower. So far, we are pretty equal. He almost got me on Phedepides, the name of the runner from the Battle of Marathon and I almost got him on the origin of the Black Plague. But he does know the scientific name of the plague… that I didn’t. Well anyway…
I would like to briefly describe a couple Albanian people I have come to know while being in Albania. The Branch Mission Leader Bujar is one of my favorite people. Bujar is about 60 years old and completely bald. Bujar typically wears a leather jacket and dark sun glasses and if you didn’t know he was a teddy bear, you wouldn’t be surprised if he were a hit-man. He is one of the most sincere and loving people and it has been a blessing to have him serve as our mission leader.
Motra (or Sister) Ballallari is our nënë (or mother). She feeds us… a lot. She has been a member for about 7 years and has a daughter who is 19. We have done some yard work for her and she is just awesome. She is a professional cook and the food that she makes is amazing. She is always looking out for ways to help the missionaries. She even tried to hook me up with opera tickets when I said I love the opera but I’m a missionary and I have to wait a bit before I can do those types of things.
And finally I would like to talk about Alfred Abdulari. I have spoken of him before but he is just a gem. He joined the church in August and has a wonderfully strong testimony despite the hard hand he has been dealt. He is so willing to serve. He does everything from lending out his gardening tools to helping a young missionary pronounce his "q" and "ç" which sound almost identical to English speakers. As mentioned before, he has been having interesting challenges with his grandfather's property but he knows that in the end, the important things of this life consist of following the teachings of Jesus Christ and doing good unto his brothers and sisters on earth. Additionally, Alfred's 88 year-old mother is absolutist hilarious. She loved the totalitarian regime of Enver Hoxha, the communist dictator. She said essentially "everyone had to be nice to everyone else. You could leave your doors unlocked in the middle of the night because if someone broke in, they would have a public trial, shaming, and execution. Everything was safe! Very strict, and strict is good." I love her cooking as well.
Today for P-Day, we went on a 2-mile hike to the Cave of Pëllumbs or Doves. There weren’t any doves but there were goats and bats. The hike was beautiful and it was a great opportunity to get out of Tirana and see the countryside of Albania. There are some wonderful contradictions such as old wrinkled farms driving mule-driven carts of hay chatting on cell phones.
I love you and thank you for your love and support. I hope you all have a wonderful week!