|Pres. & Sister Smith|
We had breakfast at home, and soon the Smith's were at the door-ready to show us around town. Vlore is a city of about 100,000 people, which seemed so big to us then. President Smith had prepared a list of things to show us and to teach us so that we could function here on our own. We were so grateful. When they arrived at the beginning of their mission, their predecessors had already returned home, so this was a great blessing for us to have their help.
We learned how to find the electric bill (it's left in a little box beside the elevator on the first floor). There would be two with the landlord's name on them, and we were to open them both and determine which matched the account number in our little book marked 'elektrik'. Then, you would take both the little book and the bill and go down to the small post office on the main boulevard and wait there to pay. Everything in Albania is done in cash-no checks or debit cards-so often this would require a withdrawal at the bank.
'Waiting' at the Post Office does not mean 'waiting in line' as we do it in America. Our first experiences were a little disturbing as we waited 'in line' and watched the natives brush by us and go right to the front. I'll have to admit that sometimes they 'push' past you to get waited on first. We were a bit offended at first, but after talking with other missionaries we began to understand that this is just the Albanian way. They don't mean to be rude.
The next lesson was about the water bill-'Uje' (pronounced oo-ee) as it is called here. It also has a little book, which much be stamped at the office each time you pay. The water bill is not in the little box downstairs. It will arrive magically about the middle of the month under your door! To pay this bill, you also must take the bill and the book through the small treg to the 'hole in the wall'. During open hours, a small overhead door is rolled up to reveal a window where a worker waits to take your money and stamp your book.
|A shepherd watching over his flock|
|A calf by the beach road|
Our favorite part of the day came at the end. The Smith's had told us about their favorite beach, and we really wanted to know how to find it. We did find enough time at the end of the day. The drive out was about 3 or 4 miles long, through an area of old abandoned pallati's and then through a grove of trees. Eventually the road became very rough and we kept going. President Smith pointed out places where he had baptized people during the warmer months. It was just beautiful. When we finally arrived, we had to take pictures. This would be a place we would visit again and again. It reminded us of home and of Lake Michigan. It felt good.
|Our first visit to a favorite place|