Tuesday, March 20, 2012

On to Vlore-Our New Home!

On our first Sunday in Albania, we attended church with President and Sister Ford at the "1-3" building.  You guessed it-the 1st and 3rd branches meet here and it is on the first and second floors of the Mission Home/Office building.  President Ford asked us to bear our testimonies, as it was our first Sacrament Meeting here.  We agreed, and I decided to share mine in Albanian.  We had been practicing this in our language lessons, and I decided there was no time like the present.  I had to read it, of course, but I did face my fears about the language and push through it. Clark shared his testimony with the help of an interpretor, and I am sure it made much more sense to them than mine did.  Anyway-that was our first Sacrament Meeting.  Afterward, one of the Elders came up to me and said "Do I know you?  You seem awfully familiar to me."  I admitted that I did not know him, but since I am writing this in March, I can tell you later more about this story.  It will come up again.

After church we had dinner with the Ford's and then began the  journey down to Vlore.  It is not such a long journey, if you look at it on the map.  But, when you see the roads you'll travel to get there, it takes about 3 hours.  We were not just amazed-I think we were 'flabbergasted' if that is a word anywhere beyond my country home in Michigan!  At times, it was a super highway, almost.  Then, suddenly, it would all end-pavement gone, gigantic ruts and holes in the stoney roadway-it was downright dangerous!  I thought of my Mother, and decided she would never survive a ride down that road from Durres to Vlore.  Too bumpy-too rough.  We were tired, and suffering from jet lag-we were grateful that President was driving and all we had to do was look out the windows in amazement at this strange new country called Albania.  The sights were so new to us-we were trying to drink it all in.  As quickly as one new scene would pass, another would come into view.

A Curious Cow

The highway is, for the most part, divided.  There is a concrete barrier between the northbound and the southbound lanes.  This is to keep accidents from happening, you would think.  The people, however, have different ideas about these barriers.  We have seen everything imaginable crossing over those barriers, including two men with a wheelbarrow!  Along the roadway, there are flocks of sheep, goats, turkeys and many carts drawn by horses and donkeys.  Life is old here-and young at the same time.  More on that later.

The view from our apartment
Our first view of the apartment

We arrived in Vlore and were driven directly to the couples apartment.  The Ford's took us to the door, introduced us, and then had to rush off to their next appointment.  We were in the care of the Smith's, whom we were replacing, for the next 24 hours.  They would introduce us to our new city, our new branch and our new life.

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