Dear Family and Friends-
Another week in the beautiful city of Elbasan! And we had a baptism this week! Grace was baptized on Friday! We had a ton of people show up and it was really a sweet moment. She was so excited to get baptized and right after she came out of the water, her dad clapped and everyone starting clapping and cheering. Defintitely different then America but I loved it. It was just a simple reminder to me of why I am really here. I have realized we aren't just here to help people get baptized but to help them come unto Christ. And Grace was shining with that light! have seen some of the most amazing changes happen in people here. When people come unto Christ, they change so drastically it is almost hard to believe.
As far as the language goes this week, I am starting to see a little progress. This week, some of the younger Albanians who are members asked if we were going to walk with them. I told them that we had to "get cleaned" hahah and they laughed for forever. I meant to say we needed to clean the church, but it came out wrong. So now, they always ask me if I need to get cleaned.
Okay, I do have to mention one thing about food. I have gotten pretty lucky with the food here. Albania is considered the "poor man's Italy" so we eat lots of pasta, bread, and fresh fruits and veggies which make me really happy. But this week I finally had to confront my fears of eating a strange food. We were over just for a house visit and this lady brings out this plate of food. It looked like someone had taken hand sanitizer and cooked it and it had some mystery chunks in there. For the first time, I was glad I couldn't understand Albanian as she explained what was in it. I stared at it for a couple of seconds, all my fears had finally been realized in this colorless Jello substance- then I said a quick prayer "Heavenly Father, please help me eat this." And then I ate it. Yup, I actually ate the entire thing without gagging or managing to offend their whole family. A small miracle right there. That was last Monday. And since then, I have eaten a lot of strange stuff. I have learned not to ask what is it or what it is made of. It is just better if I don't know. Whenever we eat meat here I am not even sure what animal it is hahaha. But Heavenly Father has defefintely blessed me with a stronger stomach then I used to have.
We also ran into some Americans this week. It was the strangest thing. We were street contacting and I said hello to them in Albanian and they answered in English. They were teaching English for service and we talked to them for a little bit. They said they had heard everything about the Mormons and that it wasn't for them. And for the first time in since I got my call, I was so grateful I was called to speak Albanian! I know that sounds crazy, but the Albanian people are so much more open to the Gospel here.
Although they are so open to the Gospel here, they have a really hard time keeping the commitments we ask them to keep. We have really come to understand that we are just here to invite, and we cannot do anymore. We have a couple invesitgators who are still on the fence with baptism and other things and I have seen some pretty amazing things this week as we bear our testimonies.
Albanians love their excuses here, we have heard some pretty good ones. Like "I can't come to church because my aunt who has been missing for 10 years just walked in the door," or "I can't come to the activity because I am afraid someone will steal my house while I am gone" or "I can't come because I had to go to the hosptial for...." We hear those all the time. But this week, on mutiple occassions we been able to bear our testimonies of things. It is amazing, when a powerful testimony is borne, it seems to literally hit them. There is a wave of the Spirit that just quiets them and for a small moment there is a undeniable witness that we are representatives of the Lord Jesus Christ and what we are saying are true.
Most of the time, this testimony doesn't get them to start coming to church or keep the Word of Wisdom, but it is a moment that I think I will always remember and they will always remember. And someday they will change. I really believe they will.
I have really come to recongize and see the Lord's hand in every aspect of my life. I think His hand is in everything, we just have to be look close enough. And I have seen it more than ever before since being on a mission.
Te dua shume (love you all)