Monday, February 3, 2014

Letter #49 Fieri, oh Fieri

Më Në Fund! 
I am all settled in Fier and still trying to get the hang of things here! It is so crazy to be out of a captiol city and in the more fshat-like city! Translation.. fshat means village.. haha. It is so quiet in Fier and I am still having to adjust to it, but it is a nice change.
Us girls with Sister Gjika! She is one of the oldest members here.
The real bonus is being behind a wheel again. Ahhh. It feels so great to drive again! Its been over a year that I have driven a car.. Crazy right? Yeah, truth be told, myth busters albanian style.. It really does come back just like riding a bike. It was wild driving in Tirana for the first time, but because I am so used to the craaaaaaaziness, I wasn't scared!
The church is pretty small in Fier, but on record has around 130 members. This sunday we had 42 people. Yeah. We have got some work to do my friends. To explain everything in a nutshell, the branch used to be really strong and thriving, but a few years ago, the Branch President of Fier was armless and one of the members had a fit because of some false interpretation of the Bible that said leaders of the church have to be "whole".. So terrible. After that more than half the branch went apostate and many have never returned. 
There are many other dramas and things that play into it as well, but to say the least, we are having to build the branch back up and strengthen the existing members! At first it may seem like a difficult task, but I know with the Lord's help we can tackle this bad boy!
Every time I think of the immensity of the task the scripture repeatedly comes to my mind,  
33And Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me. 
It is so true. If we but have the faith, we can do anything in the Lord. He is always there and willing to bless us as long as we exercise faith in Him.

Me and Sister Sejati. I am a whole head taller than her! haha. She is precious.
So I believe I forgot to mention. I am serving with Sister Wendt and our beloved Sister Sejati who is a native Albanian. She doesn't speak any english other than "thank you my darling." Ha

ha. She is so much fun and we basically do Ab-Ripper X from laughing so much together. The only conflict we have is our constant battle/game opening and shutting the window. She is always hot and not used to the heaters always being on. It is almost as bad as mom rolling down the windows when she would get a heat flash! bahahaha. It is such a joy serving with her and I feel so blessed for the opportunity to see how she reacts to serving her people. It is great to see her Albanian perspective to have a better idea of how to help our investigators and members. 
Fun fact. The Sunday School teacher here looks like Robert Degionero.. No lie. It blew my mind! It was like he jumped right out of Meet the Parents and into Albania! haha. So funny. I told him and he said, "Oh yes, he is my great American Uncle!" What a crack up.
So we met with these two adorable sisters that came to church and as soon as she told me her name, Donika, I knew she was from the North! I got so excited and told her I spent some time in Prishtina! Immediately she started to open up and felt a connection to me! They both have a lot of faith and seem to be very interested. We will commit them to baptism this week without a doubt. 
The work is going to pick up here in Fier. I just can feel it with the beginning of this new year! Great things are going to happen here!
I love this work and am oh so happy to be a part of it.

love you forever and for always,
Sister Shauntel Louise Forte<3