Hello all from Albania!
I hope you all are faring well, I am alright. I would like to congratulate my niece Kinsey on her baptism and my nephew Jordon on his receiving of the priesthood. I also would like to give a big TRASHGIME to Fred and congratulate him on the birth of his two twin girls. Lastly I would like to wish a Happy Birthday to Lauren Bray and wish everyone a Happy Valentines day!
So, big news for this week: We are switching over to Gmail!!! Woohoo! The Church made some big deal with Gmail, and now the email system is going to be tons better! The new system is way better and it won’t take 5 minutes to send pictures anymore, so expect more pictures. Gëzohem!
The work was still slow this week, but what can you do? We’ve been doing a great deal of tracting, but didn’t get in once. Our phone numbers we are getting are all falling through too. However my spirits remain high and the less active work that we have been doing seems to be taking some root. This past Sunday every less active member I have visited here came to church. Some have come several weeks in a row. Sometimes I suppose people need reminders of where their priorities are. One weird thing happened while tracting. We came to a house and hanging directly across from the door way was a framed picture of John the Baptist conferring the Aaronic priesthood on Joseph Smith and Oliver C. We both were really taken aback but the women who answered the door didn’t seem to know anything about the church, the book of Mormon, or missionaries. We asked her about the picture. She said it had something to do with baptism. We asked her where she got it. She said she didn’t know and that they had lots of pictures hanging up of Christ. She legitimately seemed totally ignorant of the pictures real implications or that we were the only church it could be associated with (despite our efforts to convince her so) . We wonder that she might just have been a totally inactive member who was just faking it. She gave us her last name. It didn’t check out on the records. Though while we were talking to her a young man in his 20’s started to come around a corner, saw us and quickly retreated. She said it was her brother. We now maybe think that while she has nothing to do with the church, her brother might. She had children which = married which = different name than the brother. It remains a mystery to us. It was a huge surprise to see something so blatantly Mormon in a house that seemingly knew nothing about the church.
This is the last week of the transfer so next week you all will find out if I am staying here or going somewhere else. I am putting my money on going to 4th branch, which would be AWESOME because I would get to see all my boys again (Roni, Grei, Kein, and Donald) and I would be companions with Elder Hagen, from my group, who is an awesome missionary and probably the best at the language in the whole mission, minus our natives. We will see what happens.
Yesterday we ate lunch at president Pina's house. He is the president of Durres branch. Besides us, a women named Eriola Xheka was there. She is a member, but it is important to note for the story that President is 24 yrs old and seriously dating someone else and Eriola is 26, without anyone. She is the owner of a huge company and is extremely wealthy. It was valentines day so you can expect that the topic between Eriola and President got onto the subject of the Vday dance that had just happened and those sorts of intrigues. Well, one thing led to another and they all started trying to convince Elder Thackeray that he needs to move back here and marry and Albanian girl. Please keep in mind that Elder Thackeray is a really lock hearted missionary, so such joking does not worry me (some Elders you don’t want to joke about this with because it will cause them problems). Anyway, we have discussed it before and he is very seriously considering returning after he completes college to live here for good (which would mean getting married here) and I give him a hard time about it. Always his defense is “well, what work could I get? There would be no good work for me to do to support my family!” Well, as they joking continued, he pulled out that defense saying that there is no good place a mechanical engineer could work here. Eriola made the quick reply “I’ll give you a job, all my engineers are foreign and you speak Albanian. And you’d get paid so well you wouldn’t even feel your rent” LOLOLOLOLOL I died, Elder Thackeray was stuck. What's funnier is that is Motra Xheka is 100% serious. She has hired tons of members here and wouldn’t hesitate to hire an ex-missionary if he had needed skills and did OK in school. They tried to pull me into the target zone but fortunately a solid commitment to the US Army and the girl of my dreams made me totally immune. Perhaps none of you find that amusing since you do not know Elder Thackeray but for me it was hilarious.
So I got a Liahona a read about the new Gospel Principles book, it sounds really awesome. I love that they church has decided to go back and review the basics. It will be outstanding for the church here in Albania and for me personally. The fundamental doctrines and practices of the church are really what help us along the path to salvation. The reminder is well welcome.
Well, I’ve got to go. I love you all and miss each of you. Thank you for your prayers and support. Oh, can someone tell me when Luis’s birthday is? Anyway, take care, and may God be with you!
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