Ahh, back in Tirana!
I must not lie... I love it here. I've missed the big city feel with the big city people. Everyone here is more open to new ideas and such than in smaller towns. One thing I like about being here is that we're always busy. Mostly with teaching, and when we have an hour or two once a week that we don't have a lesson scheduled, we try a little finding.
Friday we had mission conference, and we were trained by Elder Causse, a counselor in the presidency of the 70 over Europe. He taught us many things, but mostly that all we do comes from our desires. Scripture after scripture illustrates that it was the person's desires that guided them to do certain things, whether they be good or bad. We were also taught to look for specific people when we find, not just sift through random masses and hope we strike it lucky. So we tried it.
We went to the artificial lake on Saturday to find a man in his 20's or 30's. Well, we went around one side of the lake, found nobody, went back and started on another path, and it took a bit of courage, but we finally walked up to a black man (pretty dang rare here) stretching his hamstrings. He started talking to us in English, which we were expecting, but we weren't expecting the Jamaican accent! We found out that Sisi here was living in Dubai, and he came here to play soccer for one of the small cities to kind of take a break for awhile. He's half Nigerian and half Jamaican, and he seemed interested, so we're going to hook him up with the Elders in the area he's living in.
We went out and had a "coffee" with an investigator of ours. We do this a lot here. Once people get more comfortable with us, they take us out to a cafe to chat. We usually sit at the outside tables. I get a Fanta Exotic (mmm), and we just talk about them and get to know them more and teach a few principles of the gospel. I got to know Fatione better on Saturday. He speaks English pretty well, so it wasn't as hard to have a good conversation. Turns out, he likes a lot of the same comedians we do, and like me, loves electronic music. We talked about our favorite DJs and genres and stuff and it was really great!
The language is coming along full steam ahead. A lot of things we learned in the MTC about the grammar is making sense now, and I'm seeing how it all fits together. Constantly when my mind is wandering, thinking random phrases, it's also trying to translate those phrases without my permission. This happened with German, and its happening now. In passive listening, I can understand most words and what's going on 96% of the time, but when people talk directly at me, it goes down to like 64.6%, which I hear is pretty normal for everyone.
We visited a man named Adam for the first time yesterday. He's from England and married a less-active member, and she wanted us to teach him a bit to see if he's interested. I like Adam. He's a pretty laid-back guy, likes electronic music also, and loves to read. He was discernably excited when we gave him his own copy of the Book of Mormon and wants to read it as soon as he can.
Speaking of English speakers with non-American accents, there's a member named Mario who spent a few years in England and speaks to us in English with an Irish accent, which I think is pretty dang cool-sounding. He's a very strong member, and we've had great discussions with him. He's great to have in a lesson because he's great at connecting with people, making them feel at ease with his warm sense of humor.
Sunday we didn't have normal church meetings, instead all the members in Albania met at the Palace of Congress (really just a big auditorium) here in Tirana. There were sadly only about 200 people there, but that's ok. We heard a great talk by Elder Causse about covenants and he urged the members to get a temple recommend, and then make every effort to go to the temple in Switzerland. If they couldn't get to the temple, then at least they would have a recommend and be living worthy of it. We also heard President Niel, our mission president, describe how he was blessed to be one of the first missionaries in Italy. He remembers thinking "How could the church ever grow here?", and now, 40 or 50 years later, there are 7 stakes and a temple soon to be built. He said the same thing could happen here.
Goodbye, I'm going to go enjoy my special treat now.
My very own Mountain Salami. From Austria!