Sunday, January 29, 2017

First Arrival
Sheep, Teach, and Freeze in the Dark

Tiranna to Pogradec
Our flight from Utah through Chicago through Austria to Tirana.

Our flights  easy and roomy until the last flight to Tirana.  In the Chicago airport I talked with an Irish bread woman who had gone through a divorce who had also passed through Salt Lake City.  She followed me to the eatery while I picked up some yogurt for breakfast. She wanted to know why my tag had a different spelling on it.  We talked of Albania, my future service there and genealogy.  She was darling and I hope my encouragement to get on family search and will get her closer to her roots.  The Airport in Austria was void of English speakers and we slept on black Euro Style couches in the lobbies with large Albanian men garbed in fur hooded down coats playing video You Tubes on their phones speaking Shqip.  Lorin tried out his best Albanian “Hello, how are you”,  “Pershendetje, si jeni”  and the young man scowled back at him—then in a low voice… Pershendet…. I was so proud of my husband trying to be brave and forward—even though I knew what the end result was going to be.  The one and a half hour flight to Albania on a small commuter plane with two house fans on each side to lift about 70 people ,  Lorin, me and my six 40-50 pound bags each was cramped and a bit scary.  The harsh voices of Albanians when they are irritated rumble through the cabin like a verbal cock fight.  However,  just before landing we came out of the clouds looking over the Ionian sea and Adriatic seas with the background of Albanian Snow covered Alps.  We were headed to beauty! Shume Shume Bukur! (Very, Very Beautiful)  We looked at each other, Lorin leans over and whispers…”Welcome home for a year honey.”  I smiled,  Yes we are off on an adventure for Shume sure.  

In Tirana we had a FHE night with the seniors and later in a conference we met all the mission.

The Maxfields—office from Washington
The Abrahamsons—Pathway leaving in March from Minnesota
The Weidmans—The Humanitarian couple Two houses Tirana and Elbasan and she is the Mission Nurse.
The Weidmanns—The Mission President Leaving in July (yea an extra N between names—very confusing— Joke is NN means Not the Nurse
The Collins—John and Loretta in Skoder—she left me brown sugar and chocolate chips and vanilla surprise to start my kitchen… LOVE HER  from St George
The Pulleys-In Macedonia 
The DaBells in Elbanson  used to be in the office but the Maxfield's called and said they needed to come Early.  
The Copelands —in Pristina  new like we are.  From Florida and they are FREEZING! in Kosovo! She got sick immediately and then went out on a Mutual activity, slipped and broke her wrist!  They are so nice.  She has a Brazilian accent or something so this is not her first language!    Pristina is where I thought they were going to send Lorin and me.  I pray everyday thanking Him for sending me to Pogradec!!!!!  We love our little branch and they have welcomed us with OPEN ARMS  HUGS HUGS KISSES HUGS AND MORE KISSES!!!!

Our 22 year old Greta is my arm and arm companion at all times! She holds me like I just might get away.  But she is lovely and so darling.

After we got our car and a trip to the TEG(an older communist Mall) that has more in it than any other shopping in all of Albania.  We headed to Pogradec a little late (because the Elders had to get our car out of the shop—made us an 4 hours late but while I waited in the office I started stealing supplies like temple pictures, books, filters for the water, posters, and anything I thought I could start a new church with—the longer they took the more I took :) )  Lorin rolled his eyes and I just ignored him and started to stash.   
Winding through the crazy one lane double-sided parking with four cars racing to be first in the lane—don’t even get me started on the round abouts….we climbed our way through Elbasan through Quirks on the way to Kukes (yep we got our quirks and Kukes here!)  toward the mountains …. winding icy roads with cliff drop offs that I don’t EVEN WANT TO KNOW HOW FAR DOWN!  Of course while navigating them going 30-40 kilometers faster than the 60 klm road sign we try to keep up with our guide who is passing everyone on both the left and the right side —whatever!  It’s Albania! Hopefully we can succeed without hitting a donkey carrying ten times his size of wood or a flocks of sheep with their shepherd carry a staff out of the biblical eras.  I swear I just saw Moses walking around with a staff just yesterday.  I didn’t know Charleston Heston was still living!   Apparently so, still in garb walking the Hills surrounding LAKE OHRID!!!  SAW HIM TWICE!

The Springtime weather faded quickly from Tirana to Winter in Pogradec.  We put our coats on because of the -5 C.  We pulled into the church building (A store front on the second floor of a Main Road looking out to Lake Ohrid) where a crowd of people were waiting for it to open. Our guide didn’t want to stop, but we had to see what was going on!  Climbing the Marble staircase (every floor here is either dirt or stone and the most beautiful stone comes out of these and surrounding mountains) to find Two missionaries (Elder Anderson and Elder Tare) crowd controlling .

What was the reason?   They passed out fliers to teach English for free!  67 people showed up!!!  They have about 42 chairs.   I looked at Lorin and said…. I’m not leaving. These boys need help!   So we divided the people in groups I took the standing only into a small room off the side (about 25 people) and we had a greeting circle and a game on introducing ourselves.   Luckily this is about the ONLY THING I REMEMBERED from my three month training before the mission!!!  Lorin went to our new apartment, set it up with our guide Marcel Pane who was VERY disappointed that the “Woman” wasn’t there to set up the house. 
 I had the time of my life meeting 67 new friends!!!!  I was so proud of our Elders and they couldn’t  believe it either! Our arrival timing was Perfect! They felt supported. It actually went smoothly.  I felt like I was in Primary again except with grown ups!  “popcorn popping on the apricot tree almost fell from my lips”  We’ve been teaching English twice a week.  Four or five new investigators have come to church because of these lessons and we are on our way to starting a 
NEW BRANCH for the Lord!!!   

Erald, Elder Klodjan Tare, Xhoana, Greta, Klevis, Jeta, Elder Anderson, Xhonatan, Rei
Klevis Swam in freezing cold water after his baptism. 
 He came out saying : It was the happiest day of his life!  

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Let's just say---The MTC Experience as a senior missionary is picnic compared to the experience as a young missionary. We even slept in a hotel--The Baymont  With a gym and a swimming pool hot tub, freshly made beds to come home to and lovely towels and private bathroom!  The absolutely most fun was to be with other Senior Missionaries who, like you, are preparing for their coming Adventures.  We had an absolutely charming group of people in our District and in our Zone.  Here are pictures of my New Friends going all over the world.....

     I'll never understand how I could be so tired just sitting and listening to inspiration lectures!   Love these people!