Wednesday we did service today it was a good day, and I got sunburned. We also went to our one member’s house today she has two adorable dogs. I haven’t told you a lot about my companion here in Shkoder, Sister Dunn. Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time she was also my companion at the MTC and I had finished 61 out of the 62 days at the MTC. (I wasn’t the one counting, Elder Clemens had a calendar and he counted down days, and it made it so much worse to count down the days, it was ridiculous). We were so excited to go to Albania, but I was kind of freaking out about leaving the MTC and actually going out and being a missionary. Sister Dunn was my rock. Our last night in the MTC we had finished packing, everything was under 50lbs, which was a miracle in and of itself. I decided I should try to sleep since we had to leave at 4’o clock in the morning. Sister Dunn and Sister Ariza planned to stay up. I laid there and I couldn’t sleep. I was freaking out that we were supposed to go to Albania in 3 hours. So I got out of bed, but I couldn’t find my companion. I wandered down the hallway, when I found her with Sister Ariza, I ran down the stairs and tackle-hugged her. We sat down on the landing and Sister Dunn said, okay you know what we’re going to do? We’re going to pray. So she knelt down and she sat with me while I prayed, trying to choke out the words as we prayed to our Heavenly Father. Her strength and love literally got me to this country, I actually slept that night (for like an hour). Her faith in me and her strength got me on that plane. I was trying to figure out why we are companions again here in Shkoder. I’ve had a lot of time to think. There’s a lot of quiet time here, a lot of time spent walking. I realized it’s partly to pay her back for everything she did for me. I don’t know how I’m supposed to do that, but I’m going to be strong for her. She has a hard time here in Shkoder. So I just wanted you to know that my companion is one of the most amazing people on the planet…..and she never stops working out, right now she doing laps in our apartment.
Thursday was a super good day we were in Durress for zone training. Afterwards, we went to the best smoothies place in Albania and we got pretzel bread. At the gelato place next to the beach they had peanut butter ice cream and Nutella ice cream which was pretty much frozen Nutella. I’ve been craving a suflaque because I haven’t had one since I left Tirana. The beach was beautiful and you could smell the salt. Which was really awesome because I love the smell of salt it reminds me of San Diego.
Tonight, I’m in Shkoder again and it’s hot. We didn’t have lessons planned because we weren’t sure what time we would get back so we went to visit our investigators, and our one member. We stopped at the house of one of our investigators, who we thought had dropped us last week because they sort of disappeared and we couldn’t get a hold of them anymore. But when we knocked on the door they came out and said “why haven’t you been here” So we have lessons scheduled for tomorrow!
Friday morning it was raining and so it was cloudy and humid. We walked outside and it smelled like California. I looked around and there was a eucalyptus tree outside our apartment. I knew it! I didn’t notice it until today when I could smell it. So that was really nice. We went to get the makine (car) from the elders. We were driving to a member’s house way out of town, about 40 minutes away. It was a beautiful drive. Since the elders had the makine all week, they have been taking care of it. Since it’s technically the sisters’ car we get it whenever we need it, but the elders take care of it. It’s really awesome. We had a lesson with an elderly lady who is not able to come to church because it is too far. She was really great. After the lesson she gifted us a stick we’re not really sure why. She just said “here this is for you”. It is literally just a stick from a tree, so that was fun. Today while we were walking, the cell phone rang. Sister Dunn handed me the phone and said “she wants to talk to you” It was Sonia calling from Tirana! It was only a 10 minute conversation because she was on a 10 minute break from work. But, I couldn’t stop smiling for 30 minutes.
Today was hot, I think it’s getting hotter. Today we walked 15 minutes to get to the church, then we cleaned and mopped the church, and I played the piano. Tomorrow we teach Relief Society, and the elders are taking our makine to Tirana. If they are there late then they will just stay over until Monday and spend their Pday in Tirana and I’m super duper jealous. They water the sidewalks here and the dirt, to keep the dust down. I really enjoy it and find it humorous. It can’t stay wet that long when it’s 45C degrees (113F).
There is a really cool girl that we met. She has a really nice engagement ring from her boyfriend. She lived in Liverpool, England for a while with her brother and lived she in Italy, and she is Albanian so she has an Albanian accent and a Liverpool accent it is a cool trifecta combination. We found out she doesn’t drink by choice and we feel like we should talk to her more. But she is going to be leaving soon. We sang today during a lesson. They were giving us requests so we are like karaoke machines. Then they wanted us to sing in Spanish. But we didn’t know how. We’ve been helping out and cleaning a lady’s house and we’ve been folding her clothes, and her husband’s clothes, there were a lot of clothes. The missionaries helped in her garden too and plucked every single little white flower to use to make an herbal tea. Sister Dunn is writing a talk to give in church tomorrow because there are only six members. So next week I will probably be giving a talk. Only two of the six members are willing to give talks in church. I already have one talk written, hopefully that will be my topic.
The craziest thing just happened!
We just got a call from President Weidman. My companion Sister Dunn is being transferred to Tirana 2nd (T2) ward on Tuesday, and I am so excited for her, she’s going to love it! I was born there! I am getting a mini missionary, which means I will be training! She is from Albania and has been in Prishtina, Kosovo with Sister Ariza for the past two weeks. I am whitewashing, I don’t know Shkoder and I don’t know where anything is and now I am training, at least my companion speaks Albanian. Just pray for me. My former companion and trainer Sister Zollinger is being transferred to T4 and she will be my Sister Training Leader and I can call her whenever I want and we can do exchanges together, which will be super cool.
We taught a lesson to a woman who fed us half a watermelon. I don’t know if you knew this about Albanians, but you can’t say no, it’s like impossible. They give you something and you have to take it. I don’t know what it is, but we ate half a watermelon, I am going to explode. We made botched lemon bars today for a Family Home Evening we’re planning tomorrow with one of our investigators. They’re good, but they’re healthy because we accidentally bought wheat flour at the store instead of white flour.
Missionary moment: Prayer is awesome, pretty much the greatest thing that ever happened, knowing that people pray for me, I can feel it. I feel strengthened by other people’s prayers. People ask us all the time to pray for them, they think that missionary prayers are more powerful, but that’s not actually true. Prayers of the faithful can do anything.
Love you all,