Monday, April 6, 2015

Letter # 9 - Hello from Elbasan! April 6, 2015

Dear Family and Friends!
I have finally made it to Albania!!! I can't believe that I am here. It is still a little shocking to be walking around in a different country but I am learning to adapt and love it. I am currently in the city of Elbasan. It is about an hour south of the captial, Tirana. My companion/trainer is Motra Coleman. She is from Provo, Utah and her parents own a chocolate factory and she likes rock climbing. She is really awesome and understands what is like to be a missionary. I mostly just watch her in awe trying to remember how to do everything that she does!
The trip here was pretty long. We travled for about 24 hours straight. I remember when we stepped off the plane, we stepped out into the sunlight and I looked around and thought "Oh my goodness, I am really in Albania!" We met our mission president and his wife. I almost didn't recongize them because they look so young. They are what a typical person from Switerzland would be like, super classy and dress quite modern and hip. They both have cool accents because they speak German. But they are so nice and I am looking foward to getting to know them more. 
We spent the night at their house and the next day we got assinged our trainers. I was so nervous! Two of the girls from my group went to Kosovo, which I was so grateful I didn't called to because they speak an entirely different dialect. Sister Coleman and I are the only sisters in Elbasan and we are actually white-washing the area so we are both really new here. Sister Coleman has servered in Tirana for the last 9 months so she has never been anywhere different. 
Albania is so different from America. There are so many little different cultural things. The driving here is frankly terrifying. The one rule is that there is no rules. Motra Coleman has a car though because she is a sister training leader. We use it every once and a while, but driving here isn't as bad as driving in Tirana. 
The food here is sooo amazing. We stopped at a fruit stand and got so much fresh fruit for only six dollars. I would bet it would cost 30 or more dollars to get what we got in America. I have also fallen in love with Greek salads. They are green leafy salads, with this white cheese, tomatoes, and you pour vinegar and olive oil on them. I know what you are this really the same Motra Jackson that we dropped off at the MTC 2 months ago? Yes, it is. I am actually learning to like different food hahaha. I also tried my first suflacha *I don't know how to spell that. It is this pita bread sandwhich with this white sauce, mystery meat hahha, lettuce, and french fries. AH. They say the best ones in the mission are here in Elbasan, and we had some the other night. It is basically the Albania version of fast food. Also gelato! Basically everything is just so cheap here. We get ice cream for under a dollar. Oh and the bread.....I love the bread!! And again it so cheap. The only gross thing I have had so far is their version of cookies. It is like a giant cornbread and it has this after taste of throw-up hahah. Not very good.  
Some other cultural things. The kissing thing. It took me a second to get used to it, but every woman we meet, we kiss on both cheeks. At first it was strange to me, I mean all of these women are strangers to me and I don't even know them, but we do it every time. It is pretty strange, but I am getting used to it. Everyone is so touchy here too. Everyone touches my face and pinches my cheeks and ask if I am really 19. 
There is one funny story about that. We were street contacting the other day and some little 12 year old boy came up and started talking to us and I thought "Wow, he actually wants to hear about the chuch!" HAHA no. He got a little card from me, and then I shook his hand but he went in for a kiss with his lips all puckered! I just laughed and shook my head and he ran off all disappointed. But it was really funny. 
We do stand out here as Americans. Eveyrone asks us, "Why would you leave America and come here?". I thought that maybe with dark hair we wouldn't stand out, but Albanians all look sorta of similar and we don't really fit the mold. People love Americans here though so it isn't a bad thing.  
Albanians are really just a different brand of people and I am still getting used to them. We had church this week and Relief Society was literally 5 old women just yelling over top of each other in Albanian hahahha. It is just a different culture! 
There is also a really cool castle here in Elbasan in the middle of city. We ate at the resturant inside with our new district one day. It was crazy because the power just turns off randomly all the time here, so we just ate in the darkness inside the castle because they had no power! 
As far as missionary work goes, we ARE SO BUSY. We have had 13 new investigators just this week! *And it hasn't even been a full week. Sister Coleman says she has never seen this many people ready to hear the gospel. So for everyone who said people in Albania don't want to listen-that is far from the truth. They are a lot kinder than most Americans and will actually stop and listen to our message even if they don't want to hear it. 
We have been street contacting this week. We used the 'Ai Jeton" video for Easter and we ask people if they would like to watch it. And we pass out little pass along cards. Anyways, we met this family on the street and this dad just has THE light in his eyes! We taught him the Restoration and he said, "I want my whole family to be baptized" and he came to church yesterday with his whole family! He is the golden invesitgator everyone talks about. His wife is still a little unsure. But they have a little son and he is also going to get batpized. But just an amazing thing that came from street contacting!
We also are teaching this other family who has been going on and off for about 7 years. So they are the eternal investigators. But they are probably the nicest and most humble people I have ever met. They are so so poor and their house is literally the size of most American garages. They have the cutest little daughter who is partially deformed on one side of her face. One day she calls us and says, "We didn't have any money for food today and we didn't have anything to eat so I prayed to God and ten minutes later a neighbor came by and gave me 5 dollars!" She has a lot of faith, it is just hard for them because her husband cannot read and they really don't have any money. But we have been going over the lessons again and we taught the Plan of Salvation and she got all teary when we told  her in heaven, everyone's bodies will be perfect again because she was thinking that her daughter will be perfect again! It was really neat. 
Other than that, we are just teaching lessons right and left. Motra Coleman of course, mostly teaches them because I can't really underestand or speak Albanian, but you know it will come! I think there are so many people here who are just so ready to hear the Gospel and it is amazing!
And it was just really cool this week to show the "Ai Jeton" video because whenever we sit down to watch it with people the Spirit is just undeniable. We feel it, they feel it, everyone feels it. They can't deny that the video makes them feel something. It is just awesome and we get to share that with the people in Elbasan!
Well, sorry for the longer letter this week but Albania is just so exciting! Thanks for all your love and support! 
Love, Motra Jackson 

This is the spot where they dedicated the mission.

Our view from our apartment.

My companion and I in the coolest castle.

These are amazing. They are little cake-bite doughnut balls.

This flaky bread has a white sauce inside and it is so, so good.

The sweetest Albanian member and me.

The castle in Elbasan

Albania is bukor, *beautiful!

My first sufachla (sorry don't know how to spell it yet)

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