Living on the beach. I made it to Albania! Durres is a sweet city, pretty dirty, and very unkind to my stomach, but the people seem very kind. The beach is like a 20-minute walk from here, which has been a wonderful change of scenery!
The church has been in this city for about 20 years, and there is a full on ward here with a real building and an institute center where we have our lessons! It's definitely been successful for Southeastern Europe. It is cool having members taking care of everything, and we just focus on the missionary work. Most of our current investigators are member referrals, which is definitely the way to go! There are many Less-Actives to work with here.
Elder Simons is an amazing and beautiful man; we are getting along great. Our sense of humor matches up the most of all the companions I've had so far! His dad worked in the state department, so he has lived in 9 different countries, moving every few years, including Israel. He has to do a lot of the dirty work since I can't communicate with anybody who doesn't speak good English. One day when we were contacting, I got tired of just standing there while Elder Simons was talking to somebody, so I started saying mir (good) to what the guy was saying. The guy left, and Elder Simons made me aware that I said that it was good that his mom died and his family left him...I probably will just stay quiet from now on. It feels a lot like I am being trained again! We also went tracting, which is the first time I've done that on my mission. I'm going all in for Albanian though, so hopefully it'll get a little bit better language-wise while I'm here for 3 more weeks.
We met with a less-active this week. Elder Simons had worked with him for a while, just trying to keep him connected to the church. The member's mom and grandma who were both members passed away recently, and going to church reminds him too much of them. We picked 3 Nephi 15:9 to share with him, which reads:
"Behold, I am the law, and the light. Look unto me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live; for unto him that endureth to the end I will give eternal life."
That was definitely inspiration, because it hit him hard, and he started getting emotional, and you could see the spirit touching his heart (it's surprising how much you can pick up on with just body language.) Elder Simons said afterwards the guy said he would really try to go to church soon, which was a huge breakthrough with him. Even though I didn't do anything, it was awesome to be a part of that miracle!
4th of July was a jolly time, we bought hot dogs and BUNS, which is a rarity, and cooked a little barbecue with our tiny grill, topped off with McDonald's ketchup, even though there's not a single McDonald's in this entire country. Also, the Zone Leaders in our district had a baptism, which went great! The funniest part of it was that the girl getting baptized had a skirt with a picture of a marijuana leaf that said "addicted". I guess she hasn't had the time to change that part of her wardrobe out yet haha! Elder Rigby