Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Settling in-October, 2011

For the rest of the month, we began to settle into a routine.  Wednesdays and Saturdays were focused on Institute and Home Evening at the Center for Young Adults, which we have responsibility for.  The Institute teacher is Marsel Hoxha, and he does a great job every time.  One of the challenges for him has been the lack of teaching materials in Albanian.  Fortunately, he also speaks Italian and English, which has made it possible for him to prepare.

'First we'll be jack-o-lanterns, then pie!'
The Institute program is for young adults ages 18-30.  At this important time in their lives, the church provides educational programs to help them succeed in their lives.  The Center provides a wholesome place to gather, learn and grow together.  It was Elder Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles who championed this cause.  He had a dream/vision that made him realize that the future of the Church in Europe is with the Young Single Adults.  His focus has become our focus.  These are great young people, and they have a great desire to do good and be good.  When they are taught, they usually begin to implement those teachings right away.  Their discussions on gospel principles are frank and honest, and we love being here to watch them learn and grow.  They are an inspiration.

Activity night at the Center
After the lesson time, we always have the center open for games and fun activities, along with a home baked treat from the kitchen.  It gives everyone time to relax and strengthen their friendships.  It gives us time to get to know each one of them better.  With all of our boys grown up and living on their own, it is fun to see that we have almost all young men here!  We have a few girls, but mostly boys and we are right at home.  Been there, done that!  We love it.  Clark especially loves playing ping pong or dominoes with the kids.  They love it too!

We also began going to visit the orphanage in October, on Thursday mornings.  The children there are so cute!  The range in age from babies to about 4 years old, and there are more children who attend school during the day.  Some of the babies have parents who are not able to care for them, but still visit.  These are the lucky ones, as these mothers are working hard to be able to take their child home again.  Most of them fall into the other category, and we do not know how the adoption process works here.  But the children are wonderful and love to be played with, read to and held just like any other kids.  We love visiting the orphanage.

Fresh Mandarin Oranges-Yumm!
On Sunday, October 29th we attended the District Conference in Tirana.  The whole branch traveled by bus, and the ride was much smoother over the bumpy roads because we did.  We had about 55 people on the bus when we left Vlore.  We were a little surprised that not all of them attended conference, though.  Some thought it was a great way to get a free ride to Tirana, and went shopping or visiting family instead.  We'll work on that some more-I understand this is not a new problem ;o)

Elders Street Teaching
Another great start in October was our English Class.  On the first night, we had 32 people who came and registered for the class.  Many of these would later become members of the church.  It was exciting to see so many new faces.

October ended on a Monday with a Family Home Evening for the missionaries at our house.  We love being with them, working with them, and feel that our association with them helps us to be better.  We see them working all the time, and we know the Lord is grateful for their strong testimonies of His Son, and the great desire they have to share that with everyone who will listen.

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