Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Long flight to Albania... But I am here and it is everything I imagined!

Mother Dearest!

Oh how exciting these past few days have been. I know you won't want me to summarize anything so I'll really just go for it without making my message pretty and structured I'll just go flat out from the start haha. Okay, here we go. I can't send photos this time round, had some technology issues but next time, promise!!

After I left you's in NZ airport I got on the plane and it was a killer 12 hour flight to bangkok! I was so anxious and uncomfortable. Actually it wasnt that bad, there was 2 little kids sitting next to me, one of them fell asleep on my arm I took a photo, it was so cute haha so expect that photo next week! After the 12 hour death sentance we got out into Bangkok, Thailand and it was HOT! Like a big slap in the face from the sun and ocean at the same time. Hot, humid and muggy, I was pretty good with overlays and stuff, went straight to my gate and waited for 3 or so hours, got on (it was a pretty airport btw) my flight and for another 11 and a half hours suffered pain and anguish haha. Sat next to this german lady and her son, they were totally awesome. she told me albania isnt a place she would ever want to live hahaha. We landed in Vienna and it was super cold! Like snowing outside oh my so glad I bought the gloves and stuff. Had to wait there for 6 hours for my flight to Tirana, Albania! Nonsense!

1 hour flight to Albania and I got off, not knowing what to expect, grabbed my luggage (lucky it came with me, I wasn't sure if I had done it right hahaha) and walked out into the waiting zone. There my mission president was and I was just so stoked. I walked up to him and gave him a hug! Amongst all the people I didn't see anyone else there with him so I had a short conversation with him, until soon A wild Elder Simons appears out of no where! I almost cried with joy. It was so tender! Oh how good he looked, and how much I missed him. I also saw Elder Bangeter and his companion who was in the MTC with me, tender moment as well! But dang. Found out Elder Simons was going to be my trainer and I was so pumped. SO THRILLED! The best part is president didn't even know that we were companions in the MTC, it was a very inspired decision. 
Elder Simons is so good at albanian. And such a powerful missionary.

Elder Waters & Elder Simons were companions at the MTC in Provo and now Elder Simons is his trainer - Beautiful reunion:) 
(photo taken in Provo MTC January 2014)

We dropped my stuff off at our apartment (Which is super cold, my bed is pink, along with the walls, splash abit of yellow - oh and its all concrete! And cold. OOOOOOh my gosh its so cold. Its on the 7th floor of the building so we got a pretty nice view and everything. I'll show you next week. We straight away went street contacting, I was kinda nervous but said hi to people and what not, if they stopped and wanted to talk more I had no idea what to say afterwards so my comp did most of the speaking, haha. It was great! The albanians are so different, To say yes they shake their heads as if they are saying no! its the weirdest thing, but I love it! They have tonnes of different gestures that are so cool haha. Im totally trying to become shqiptare (an albanian), its one of my goals, I think It will help me greater connect with the people, and understand their way of life. Oh mum the driving is crazy, like legit crazy. I tell missionaries here that you would NOT have lasted the drive from the airport, they are absolutely nuts it is so fun haha, people walk out in front of cars like willy nilly, there are really no road rules, the taxi we caught the other night totally ran a red light or two, beeped his horns how many times, talked on the cell while smoking a cigarette. Heck it is all so hectic but such an adventure! Its such a relaxed country and I love it so much. 

The food here is glorious. Byrek and Suflaqe are all I ever imagined them to be, glorious. But you gotta be careful where you buy from thats for sure! I was eating byrek from this shop today (its kinda similar to a thin thin thin pie, but doesnt have the taste of it, its like a thin pastry dough, with meat and spinach and cheese in it and stuff) and I bit down on something SOLID. Pulled it out from my teeth (hoping it wasn't an actual tooth, because thats happened before) and it was a solid piece of bone in me byrek. Ugh hahhaa. Hilarity! The water... They say don't drink from the tap cause it will make you so super sick so we got a filter and everything, which is kinda funny haha. 

We gave service on saturday and it took 4 hours! I mean I'm cool with 4 hours service and all but this was no ordinary service. You know how all the buildings here are high rise, well we had to transfer couches, bookcases and a washing machine down 6 floors of stairs, around the corner of the streets of Tirana, and back up 5 floors of stairs! Oh my gosh it was such a killer! haha. 

On Sunday I had to bear my testimony. It was nerve wrecking! I thought I'd go so horribly wrong and they wouldn't understand me but apparently I did good... for my first time hahaha. My albanian isnt so bad after all! I was really nervous about how I would stack up but I'm surprising some people and even myself, so thats cool. I can generally follow the topic of a conversation, but speaking, heck thats a whoooole different story. But I know it will come, the gift of tongues is very real. I have felt that, even in the 5 days I have been here. 
Church In general was hectic, our teacher for gospel doctrine class was teaching and got a phonecall halfway through and totally took it, left the class, my comp turned to me and was like "pfft, albanians" hahaha! It was so loose, so funny! But I loved all of it. Im serving in Tirana 4th ward and everyone is super nice to me. 

It is so good to see my district from the MTC again. I haven't seen them all but heck its been so wonderful seeing those who I have seen. And thanks to them the whole of the missionaries have been anticipating my arrival, they all (thanks to my companion) expect me to be this tall dark handsome kiwi with a good voice and awesome piano player. Slap to the face when they see this white, broken nosed, scarface, nil voice, average piano player hahaha but what can you do.

On a more serious note,

I love this place mum. I feel that it is the place where the Lord has always wanted me to be. I know it, actually. I look at the Albanian people and I cannot help but feel this deep abiding love and admiration for all of them, listening to them speak and relate to each other, I feel like this is truly my people. When we walk the streets, when we take the bus, when we almost get hit by cars, looking outside from my apartment and seeing the mountains surrounding this city, It is all a testimony to me that I am supposed to be here. It is something spiritual. I know that the Lord was and is aware of me because I feel like how I felt in the MTC, enriched with the presence of the spirit. There is just this great comfort that everything will be alright and I know it is of God. I have had so much energy mum, I've been keeping up with missionary life in a pace that you would not believe, based on how I was at home, haha. It is God given, I have no doubt. Obedience brings blessings that nothing else can deliver. Living missionary life has taught me that. 
We have had a few lessons and the people are just so awesome, Man I love them so much! They are so kind when you have them in your house (at least the members are), of course you have your rude and crazy ones, significantly more here apparently but man my heart is filled with nothing but love for the people. 

I am being well taken care of here. Its super cheap living and The leadership here are awesome. The work is progressing pretty good here, particularly in comparison with the rest of europe. I know the lord needed me here but for which reason, I don't know. I am not in the business of disappointing the Lord, particularly on my mission so I am going to try my hardest to fulfill my sacred purposes as a missionary. Which is what we should be doing in all of our lives! There are so many blessings available to us if we adhere to the Gospel of Christ and let it change us.

I have realized that If I want to learn this language with any kind of haste, I don't need to just 'add' more knowledge to my mind, I don't need to just increase the amount of vocabulary I know, I need to actively let the new information I receive change my whole mindset, I need to let it shape me, I need to become something new and improved, something better, someone better. Albanian language and culture have such a different nature to our New Zealand culture so I can't possible learn it fast if I approach it with the mind I presently have (Just like the whole shaking your head to say no, but meaning yes! Its totally weird, everyone does it and its normal). I have realized that this is much like our relationship with Christ and his Atonement. When we repent we aren't just learning about sin, realizing that its bad, adding that to our pool of knowledge and leaving it at that, true repentance comes when We are sensitive to the information we receive and let it change us. We can't access the enabling power of Christ' Atonement if we don't allow it to change us. We need to completely devote ourselves without holding back, willing to submit to all things, And then the power comes, THEN we will be supported by God's Holy Spirit. 

I can't say I miss you guys too much, because I am having too much fun here! I belong here. Both I and the Lord know it so.. sorry. Haha! But even though I don't miss you guys, at least not yet, You all have my undying love. Tell me how things are! I love hearing about home, perhaps write me a letter or two? I dunno, up to you haha. Heres my address just in case:

Adriatic South Mission
Attn: Elder Jashon Waters
PO Box 2984
Rruga Qemal Stafa, Vila 1
Perballe Postes Nr. 22
Tirana, Albania

Other than that, lifes still abit hectic, I haven't reeeeeally had alot of time to settle in, I've pretty much thrown all my stuff down and gotten to work, the way I suppose the Lord wants it to be.

Me Dashuri
Elder Waters

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