Monday, November 14, 2016

November 14

Përshëndetje familja, ju dua shumë!

So this has been a pretty crazy week but a great one none the less.

To start with my new companion. His name is Elder Maurer and he's from Boise Idaho. He's been out on his mission for a year and he's so awesome! He served the first 6 months of his mission in Durres and then he has been in Gjakova for the past 4 and a half months. We've been working crazy hard and things have been going great. We're really focusing on visiting members a lot more and we've met some really cool people! One thing that I've really learned from my new companion is that the best times of the mission come when your trying your hardest to be exactly obedient in every aspect. That's one thing I've really been working on with him and the rewards have been huge. One fun thing about Elder Maurer is that because he has been in Kosovo for the past four and a half months is that he still speaks Gheg. Through this week he's been returning to Tosk but it's been fun to hear.

Some other fun experiences this week, on Tuesday we had transfers up in Tirana which happened to be the day Tirana flooded. Luckily we were all safe but I can honestly say that I have never seen that much water. The canal that goes through Tirana ended up rising so much that it went up onto the road in many places and at one point we drove through almost knee deep water. The south zone leaders actually ended up getting stuck and had to drive onto a roundabout and saw other cars with water up to the windows get stuck. So that was a lot of fun but luckily everyone was completely safe.

Another thing from Tirana, I went to the classiest KFC I have ever seen. Because of the flooding a ton of the missionaries ended up being late so those of us that were there decided to all go out to lunch. It was super good and it was the first American food I've had in months.
Here in Elbasan there was a bit of excitement because Albania played Israel in the Elbasan stadium. They ended up losing 0-3 but it was really cool seeing the city all decorated for the game.

Also winter is definitely coming. The sun sets at 4 o'clock and it gets dark super fast. Also it has rained every day this week except today and yesterday. I have a few sweaters but it looks like I'll definitely be buying a big coat sometime soon. Luckily it probably won't snow hear but when it rains the roads end up turning into more river than road.

Also this week we ended up having a lesson with one of our friends from English course and Andiol. That was a lot of fun and he really seemed to enjoy it so we'll try to get another lesson with him this week.

We also had a lesson with a member here named Vëllai Dhamo. He's so cool and that was a really fun lesson. He's like 70 years old and he can't walk to the church but his testimony is so strong. He showed up pictures of the missionaries who converted him and the trip he took to visit them and go to the temple. He was the branch president here for 8 years and he really liked that we came, but he did say that we came too late because we came at like 6 or 7 so next time we'll try and visit him earlier. He also really wants us to find a car that can take him to church but unfortunately there's not really much we can do about that. So we are going to try to get Lindis to come with us and we'll take him the sacrament every week. Also he's missing most of his teeth and he is extremely hard to understand but I love listening to him talk.

Also speaking of Lindis, he's the best! This week we've kept meeting with him every day and we always read with him and then check where he is in his reading. Right now he's at the end of the Book of Helaman which is so awesome! He reads every day and he reads a ton! It's so fun having lessons with him and really getting him to participate because he's not super eloquent in his explanations but you can really see the emotion in it and that he's learning from the Spirit. This week there is a youth activity in Durres that goes from Friday to Sunday and yesterday he told us that he talked to his dad about it and decided that he's going! That's going to be super cool and I think he'll really learn a lot from that. Also President Karanxha assigned him to give a talk the week after so we'll be helping him with that and he'll do great. Also he's been blessing the sacrament every week and he's so good at it! He's definitely better at it than I was.

Another story from this week. We went out to a fshat(villiage) near Elbasan on a furgon(a van that they stuff people in and drive around like a bus) to a lesson with the sisters and gave the person they were teaching and her husband a blessing. That was a lot of fun and it was super beautiful out there. But then after that we ended up walking for forever trying to flag down another furgon but there just were none coming. After like 30 minutes we got to a bus stop and just ended up waiting for a bus but that was a lot of fun. I did get a picture while we were out there because the Albanian country side is beautiful so I'll try to send that today.

Also I did here about Trump, that's basically the question every Albanian asks us when they find out we're Americans. All I have to say about that is at least I'm gone for the next two years.

I'm glad Annaka's primary program went well, that sounds like a lot of fun. Also I'm glad that I could help!

Also I have seen the moon but I was not aware that it was a supermoon. It is super pretty though.

And yes I do still hear from my friends, we have a group email thread and it's so fun hearing from them. I truly have the best friends ever and I'm so glad that I've had their awesome examples in my life.

That's all I can think of for today but I still have another hour so if you have any questions let me know!
Mirupafshim, ju dua shumë!
Elder Gardiner

So I have a picture of Albania that I took on our rainy walk back to Elbasan. And the other picture is a picture of sufllaqe just because I figure I talk about it enough.

I still don't love tomatoes but I do always force myself to eat them and I think I'm building up a tolerance. They eat tomatoes in everything here by the way. Also we eat crepes like 3 times a week here, it's great.  For meals, they have dessert crepes with like nutella and banannas and meal crepes with like cheese and meat and tomatoes. And we don't make them because we don't have a crepe maker or time to do that, but we do get them a ton.

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