Wednesday, March 21, 2012

On our own! Our First Week in Albania-October 17-23,2011

Our Monday evening was spent at the branch.  A Home Evening event had been planned to say good-bye to the Smith's.  The great love that the member's had for them was evident.  There were lots of hugs, and kisses on the cheeks, and tears.  This couple had been not only the senior missionaries here, but also the Branch President and wife-so their hearts are forever entwined with the great members here in Vlore.  It was a happy/sad occasion for all of them.

We looked at all the new faces and wondered how we would ever learn their names?  It seemed like an insurmountable task to me then, but now, looking back only five months, their hearts are forever entwined with mine, and I know all of their names If we had to leave our mission today, I would never forget these wonderful people and the love they have extended to us already.  This is just a wonderful assignment.

Our first week started off just like it would at home if we had just moved into a new place.  We looked it all over, moved the furniture around, did some cleaning and organizing and by the end of the week we were pretty comfortable.  We had district meeting at our house on Tuesday with the young elders and sisters and our first Institute/activity night on Wednesday.  I didn't know what to do for refreshments, so I baked banana bread-since there is someone selling bananas on every corner in Vlore.  I think they enjoyed it-they ate it all up!  (Now I know they will eat anything-all up!  They are always hungry!)

Antonetta on her baptism day
On Wednesday, Oct 19th I went with the sister missionaries to teach a woman named Antonetta at her bookstore near the church.  We also attended her baptism on Saturday, October 22nd-the first of many since we arrived here in Vlore.  Antonetta had been studying with the missionaries for some time, and had made the decision to be baptized.  She described a night when she was struggling with doubts and fears, which she attributed to the adversary trying to discourage her from making this important covenant with her Father in Heaven.  She said that when she would wake up worrying, she would get out of bed and kneel beside the bed and pray until she felt peace again.  Then she would get back into bed and try to sleep-only to wake up again worrying.  She repeated this process over and over through the night.  She said her husband thought she had gone crazy or something-getting up over and over again to kneel in prayer.  But, she announced, the struggle is over-I am ready to be baptized!  It was great to get to know her and she is now a dear friend to us.

On Thursday, October 20th, we had the opportunity to drive the car (makine) up to Fier.  There we met the Casady's, the couple serving there, for the first time.  We hitched a ride with them to Durres for a Couples Conference being held at 1 PM that day.  It was great to hear their story.  Pres. Casady is serving as the branch president in Fier.  He had been a dentist in southern California, and they have a large family.  I think 7 or 8 kids?  Sister Casady is really fun, and we loved getting to know her.  I remember hearing that little voice that sometimes whispers in my ear, saying "This woman will be one of your dearest friends while you are here".  I can tell you that the little voice was right.  I just love Sister Casady and she is already one of my dearest friends here.  We and they both volunteered for 23 month missions, so we will have a good long time to develop our relationship and to add more fond memories to our experience together.

On Friday, our District Leader, Elder Ireland, invited us to "District Lunch".  We'd never heard of a District Lunch before, but it sounded like fun so we said "Sure!"  We all gathered at a
restaurant right on the Bay of Vlore called "Sunset".  It had a beautiful view of the water, and we
were able to eat outside under the awnings, which was really nice.  We took some nice pictures there which we'll share.

Sunday was our first Sacrament meeting in Vlore and we were both looking forward to it so much.  But, I ended up sick in bed and could not attend.  It was a bummer, but I could not move.  I have a way of catching any flu or cold bug in the vicinity, and I caught a doozie that weekend.  I stayed in bed all day, and Clark went to meet the Albanians all on his own.  It's a good thing they're so friendly ;o) !

No comments:

Post a Comment