Monday, September 23, 2013

This Week Has Been Awesome!

Elder Clawson, Elder F. and Julian.  Julian is the first baptism Jed has had a tiny part of in Albania.

 (We usually receive Jed's letter on Monday mornings around 10 or 11 am our time.  I thought I had plenty of time Monday morning to write to Jed, but at 6:10am I got an email from him asking if we were all ok, and a note saying he hadn't received any mail from his family.  Loser mom!!  I hastily wrote of this last weeks activities, and apologized for being so rotten. Jed was cute, and chastised me a bit, and then sent his weekly fantastic letter:)  I just love this kid!!

Dear family!!

This week has been awesome. This last Saturday was the day Julian got baptized. President and Sister Ford came up and a few of Julians friends and his fiance. I had to give a small talk which was about baptism and receiving the Holy Ghost. It was kinda short. My language abilities are not the best. But it was an awesome baptism. Julian wanted to be baptized by President Ford and it was super awesome. The spirit was really strong there and we all enjoyed seeing him be so happy. Me and Elder Foster heard him singing in the bathroom as he was getting changed.

Yesterday we got to confirm him and that was also really neat. Unfortunately none of our investigators came to church though. That was kinda sad. 

Elder Clawson overseeing the filling of the baptismal font.
SO another really interesting thing that happened this week was that I got to go on my first exchange. I got to head out to Lushnje with Elder Bullock. He's from Boise and he was pretty cool. So I took a bus to Lushnje which was about an hour drive south of Durres. We got there, unpacked and then went to a lesson with a kid named Juxhin. It's pronounced like Eugene. He got baptized yesterday in Lushnje. He was a super solid kid and we got along really well. We taught him with a kid named Bajtar. He was awesome too. They're both 18 and Bajtar is a recent convert. After that we had an activity with the youth and they had four girls that ranged from 17-18 years old. You can imagine how flirty they were with the new American kid that can't speak Albanian. So since I couldn't understand what the heck they were saying, I stuck with Juxhin and Bajtar. We went to a members house afterwards and the mom was blown away by how young I was. At the end of that lesson she kissed both of my cheeks and that kinda freaked me out but Elder Bullock said I should just accept it unless some teenage girl wants to kiss my cheeks. 

We went home after that and they (the Lushnje missionaries) have the nicest house in the whole mission. It was huge and awesome. I got to dance to Enya the following morning in nothing but my undies cuz they also had a really nice sound system. On Thursday we had zone conference and we got to see everyone from the south part. Which was everyone from Durres down. We talked about how our goals for the year were coming and so far we've been keeping up pretty well. After the conference the APs drove us back to Durres and I grew to love the APs. They are all so hilarious. Elder Webb and Elder Anderson. Funny dudes. 

Once we got back to Durres, we went out and met with Fabjan in his locale and talked to him about prayer for a second cuz he didn't have a whole lot of time. He seems pretty ready for baptism. We have another meeting with him tonight. 
Dritan and his family are doing well. I've started to understand them all a little bit better now so I'm feeling more comfortable around them. They had to get pushed back a week in their baptisms so they could all be baptized as a family.

We are teaching an English course now and we found two investigators from that. I got to teach the advanced class and we found two 18 year old girls that were interested in the Book of Mormon. We are starting to teach them this week hopefully. They seem pretty sincere. 

Anxhela is progressing still and we are going to invite her to baptism this week. I hope she says yes. 
Well I hope everything is going well at home. I miss you all and love you all so much!!
Love, Jed

Dear Mother, 
I am still staying safe and healthy. I'm going to start printing recipes off of the blog for Sunday meals. We made lasagna yesterday and that was pretty good. I hope everything is going okay. I love you so much. 

I didn't get a description of this room, but I'm assuming it is somewhere the missionaries visited on P-day.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Second Week In Albania And I Love It

Elder Clawson and one of his investigators.  In his bar!  If Jed were home he wouldn't even be
allowed into a bar.  He's to young.  Even when he gets home he'll still be too young:)
My dear family!!

I'm glad to hear that everything is going well at home!! Sounds like life has been a party!! Kirsten had a great time coming out to the house by the way. I hope Erics doing well and getting ready for Guadalajara! 

So this week has been fabulous! Dritan and his family are just as awesome as ever. Adella and Aldioni are still adorable and they have fallen in love with us. Fabjan is getting stoked for his baptism and he seems super solid so far. We taught both of them about the Plan of Salvation this week in two different lessons. They all seemed to enjoy the message that was conveyed. 

Yesterday was district conference in Tirana and that was super fun! I got to see Elder L (Jed's MTC companion) and everyone else from my MTC group except for the Elders up in Kosovo cuz it's so far away for them to drive. But while we were talking with everyone the topic of numbers came up and I guess me and Elder F. are leading the mission in every aspect of the work. That was kinda cool to hear. But it's also crazy how you can have such a strong love for each individual you teach or meet with. 

Julian is getting baptized this weekend and he is super stoked. He's one of the coolest guys I've ever met. He speaks clearly and that is a huge blessing for me. You guys need to google his music video for 'you raise me up'. Julian Gjojdeshi, You Raise Me Up. Do it.   Here's a link to the You Tube video.

We are teaching Zef again and he has some real problems with coffee. He keeps saying its like a medicine for him and Elder F eventually just had to tell him that it wasn't medicine, it was an addiction. So he seems to be getting better with all that now and he should be getting baptized next month. Anxhela is still struggling with accepting the Book of Mormon and not the Kuran. It bugs me but people still have their agency. I don't know if I've told you all about Deacon Anthony but he's a deacon in the Orthodox church and he's been super awesome. he listens to what we have to say and respects us and what we teach and he also finds sense in everything which is awesome. 

So a little bit about what has been going on this week besides teaching. I have two Durres mothers here now. Just down the street from our house we have a little Byreke stall with a little lady that reminds me a ton of you, Mom. She's super short but so kind but she can be super quirky as well. She talks to me everytime we walk past. She calls me her 'zemra' which is like sweetheart or love for Albanians. But they only say it to people who they really like. The other mother is the Buke (bread) lady. She likes me cuz my language is simple and I come in every other day and buy a loaf of bread. (Elder F makes me buy the buke cuz I'm the only one that eats it and I usually go through a whole loaf in two days cuz I'm always starving every single night.) But she's just this old lady with dyed-red hair. But she is very nice as well.

Elder Clawson's evening food.  Can you tell he's a baker's son?
P-day shopping.  2 ties and a watch $25.  He was told the tie shopping is awesome!  Italian silk ties everywhere:)

Some of the crazy things here freak me out. The hardcore Muslim ladies in their burkas scare me way bad. They only wear black ones and they're the ones with just the eye slits so their whole bodies are covered except for their eyes. All the Elders in the mission call them Death Eaters or Ring Wraiths. I'll try to snap a pic of one the next time I spot one. But yeah they are freaky. Especially at night. Another thing is the butcher shops here. They leave the meat out for days at a time just out in the fresh air. And they kill the animals right in the street. Thats kinda cool. But every once in a while you'll be walking down the street and then you'll see this cute little lamb or a young cow tied to a post on the side of the street. Then you come walking back after a few minutes and you look across the window, and that same cow is hanging upside down with it's throat cut with all of it's skin taken off. Pretty crazy. But awesome at the same time. Shows that my meat is fresh. 

Also I have a bidet. Definitely gonna have one of them in my future home. Thats all I'm gonna say about that. 
Jed sent the ending to this picture as well, but it was a little graphic:)  This little guy is looking at the butcher shop he's going to end up in, in a few moments.  I liked the "fresh meat" comment.

Typical lunch for these boys.  Looks pretty tasty!  Jed's favorite thing is a Gyro that is loaded with meat and veggies and then stuffed with those french fries you see.
The food here is heavenly. Lots of veggies and meat. Kos (yogurt) and energy drinks are the cheapest things here. Kinda crazy. 

I've gotten really good at ping pong because Albanians are sometimes late for their lessons and we teach a lot at the institute building and it has a pong table in it. P-days are fun. We went to the treg (street market I'm assuming) today and bought some sweet ties and fake watches. All in all it was like 25 bucks for 2 ties and a watch. 

I'm loving it here and I'm loving serving these people. Even though I can't understand them very well I still think they're cool. I'm actually learning a ton of Geg. (The dirty form of Albanian) And I find myself speaking that a lot more than Tosk. I love you all and I'll talk about the investigators more next week!! Love you!

Love, Jed

Monday, September 9, 2013

I Love Being Here Already! I Love The People and I Love Elder Foster!


So I am finally here and holy cow it is awesome!! When we got to Munich that was when we got our first interaction with Albanians. There was a good handful of natives that were very happy to talk with us. But it was super hard. We then landed in Tirana and got our first glimpse of life as our plane landed right next to a guy plowing his field. Like seriously he was just out having a party with his plow. We were greeted by the APs and the Fords. Elder Webb is an AP and he is crazy, but super fun. President and Sister Ford are super awesome. He calls her 'darling' in that english accent like from the movies. She is super funny and I can definitely tell she is a mother figure to all the missionaries.

I went out street contacting for a little bit and I was drilled. It was so hard to stay awake. But anyways, I was getting pretty comfortable talking with everyone and every once in a while people would stop and I placed two books of Mormon and then one guy came and talked to us and agreed to have a lesson with us.  So we walked back to his Hotel and sat in the bar that was on the main floor and we taught about the Restoration. Unfortunately I angered him when I told him that Christ told Joseph Smith that there weren't any true churches on the earth. The only thing I could understand from him was "You mean my church is false?" and then it was just a hellfire storm of Albanian words. So he escorted us out of the hotel and we were on our way home. Good first couple of hours in the country.
Also the roads here are crazy. When Vellai McGlothin said there were no rules on the road, I was just like 'pfff whatever' but really, there are no rules, no lights, no signs, no cops directing traffic, and the APs and the Fords are just as bad!! Its a mad house here!!

Elder Clawson with his favorite little kids.  Jed and his companion are teaching the whole family.
We spent the night and we were allowed to sleep in the first day. Went to bed at 7 and slept till 8. It was like heaven. The next morning I got paired with my companion Elder Foster, who is super awesome, and from spanish fork, and then we headed out to Durres. We got there a little late so we just had time to unpack and then we had to head to a baptism actually. It was about a two mile walk to the church which is actually a really nice building. Anyways, at this baptism, there was a group of guys there and so I decided to just start talking with them. they were very kind to me and accepted my mistakes. Turns out all three of them are my investigators now. And I committed one of them to baptism that night. First day of missionary work and I have a baptism date. And i actually gave the commitment. Crazy.
One of the cute little kids that plays in the
alley leading up to Jed's apartment.

So me and Elder Foster have been quite successful. The guys that I met at the baptism are Fabjan, Dritan, and Bledar. We met with Fabjan later that night and he is a baller. He is so cool. He's from Mire Dita and and speaks Geg. He is a bartender on the outskirts of Durres and he's very generous. He offered me a free Heineken. Anyways so that night we watched the Restoration with him and he was totally feeling it. So Elder Foster told me to give him the baptismal invite so I did. And he said PO!!!!!  I was stoked!! We left that night and i was on cloud nine. We've met with him two more times now and taught him the Plan of Salvation and the Word of Wisdom. He seems good with most things but since he is a bartender he has a little prob with drinking and what not, but he is trying really hard.

Dritan is 32 and has a wife and 2 adorable kids. They live in extremely humble circumstances but they are a great family. He has a son named Aldioni and a daughter, that makes my heart melt, named Adella. The son is 12 and adorable Adella is 7. But they are so small. Aldioni is the size of a five year old and Adella is A bit bigger than Jane. It's crazy. His wife's name is Anxhellina. She is great as well. She loves that I'm trying to learn Albanian. We taught them the restoration the other night and all but Adella accepted to be baptized but Adella will be baptized  in December. BOOM!!

Another investigator we have is Deacon Anthony. He is a deacon in the orthodox church but he likes the missionaries and the spirit we have. He was passed down to us from the previous missionaries. He's very receptive and we taught him the Word of Wisdom last night and he accepted to live by it. He is super intelligent. He knows the Bible like the back of his hand. He appreciates that I've come to Albania in my young years. But he prefers the lessons to be in English so he can practice his English. Fortunately he's the only one that we teach in English. He's awesome though.

Elder Clawson's apartment.  Not too bad. 
We have a few other investigators as well. We have Zef, Lilljana, Agron, and Julian. Julian is a professional singer. And he is getting baptized on the 21 of September. He's super cool. I met him at church yesterday along with his fiance. Church was great yesterday. I've become really good friends with most of the youth in the ward. The young men are Giraldo, Agron, Esnajder, Genaldi, and Armando with a few younger boys. Genaldi is leaving in a month for a mission in Milan, Italy. He's super cool and him and Esnajder come help us with lessons quite often. I don't know the young women but I see them almost every day at the institute building in town. The institute is a decked out studio apartment and it's where we actually meet a few investigators for our lessons.

The food is super greasy but super good. Suflaqe is like eating heaven. cereal for breakfast every morning and something greasy for lunch. My apartment is super fun too. There's about four little 2 year old kids that play in the alley leading to our front gate and they are so fun to goof around with. We have a pomegranate tree right next to us as well. Our windows need to be closed at all times though.

So I think I have already fallen in love with the people. They are so fun to talk to and be around. The xhaxhis are so fun to talk with as they play dominoes in the street or something.

I'm sorry this is ridiculously long. But it's all been so eventful. I'm sure I will have plenty of more stories to come.  I'll talk a little bit about some of the crazy stuff thats gone on.

Durres, Albania
Last night we had to move some stuff into our apartment from one of the other houses. The zone leaders were in town so we got to use their car. We filled it way up with crap and there wasn't enough room for all 4 of us. So Me and Elder Brown decided to just sprint to our house from there while the others drove. So we took off like speeding bullets. IT WAS SO FUN!! We were dodging people drinking on the sidewalks, jumping over little gypsy kids begging for money, and people were yelling at us and trying to stop us but we were running so fast. then we got to the street crossing and like I said, there's no rules in Albania. So we just took off into the bust street. I got to use some parkour moves dodging cars and we got a lot of horns blared at us. I realized afterwards that what we had just done was my closest encounter with death but it was so exhilarating.

Another fun thing was i saw a goat get chopped up in a butcher shop. that was cool.

I love being here already. I love these people and I love Elder Foster. He's a hoot. I love you all so much. Hope all is well with everyone. I was so happy to hear about Lotoja and Jane riding down the hill!! And tell Jake he better be hitting those jumps or they are going to be super overgrown.


Dear Mother,
I am being safe. I haven't felt sick yet and I'm staying healthy. I'm glad the garden is doing well. Sorry about the deer and racoons though. I love you.


Friday, September 6, 2013

Elder Clawson Is In Albania!!

Tues. Sept. 3, 2013 Elder Clawson, 13 of his fellow missionaries heading to Albania, and 30 more missionaries headed to Italy, all boarded a plane heading to Europe.  Jed was able to call home when they had a layover in Washington DC.  It was so great to talk to him!!!  He sounded excited, and nervous and just so good:)  We were able to ask all sorts of questions, and hear more about what he had learned about Albania.  He even bore his testimony to us in Albanian.  I was so proud of him.  After talking to Jed the missionaries headed out on their next flight.  All in all they arrived in Tirana Albania at 11:45 am local time.  The schedule after arriving went something like this.

-arrive in Albania
-drop off luggage at the mission home
-take to the streets of Tirana to do a little proselyting
-personal interviews with the mission president

Thurs. morning they were going to wake up and head to the police station.  Jed didn't need any visas or special travel papers to enter Albania.  They just have to get permission from the police to be in the country.  James said this is how it was in Taiwan as well when he was a missionary.  Then after getting all the necessary paperwork done Jed would be assigned his new companion and head to his new home for the next 12 weeks.

We have yet to hear from Jed, but we did receive an official email from Jed's mission president letting us know he arrived safely, where he would be serving, and who his new companion would be:

September  5, 2013
Dear Brother and Sister Clawson,

Your son, Elder Jedediah Clawson, arrived safe and sound at the Mission Home last evening.  He will be serving in the DurrĂ«s Branch.  This will be in the District of Tirana.  His companion will be Elder F.

Sister Ford and I are so pleased to have Elder Clawson as one of our missionaries and look forward to getting to know him well. We know that he will be able to contribute much to the missionary effort of teaching the people of Albania about Jesus Christ.

Missionaries absolutely love to receive mail and can be contacted either by email or by sending letters through the post office to:

Elder Jedediah Clawson 
Albania Tirana Mission
PO Box 2984
Rruga Qemal Stafa, Vila 1
Perballe Postas Nr. 22
Tirana, Albania

President Albania, Tirana Mission

Doesn't Jed look great!!  He's a small kid, and he sure looks young, but his new companion looks like a super missionary:)  I'm sure he will train Jed well.  Jed will be serving in Durres which is about 15 miles West of Tirana.  It is the second largest city in Albania with about 250,000 people, and right on the Adriatic Sea.  It looks like a beautiful place!  One former missionary told us that Durres is a great place.  It has one of the largest and strongest branches of the church there.  A beautiful church building, and just a great place to serve.  Click here for a little more info on Durres.  It looks like a great place to start out:)

So Jed now has a new address.  All physical mail goes through the mission home in Tirana.  No matter what city Jed will be serving in his mailing address will be the same.

Elder Jedediah Clawson 
Albania Tirana Mission
PO Box 2984
Rruga Qemal Stafa, Vila 1
Perballe Postas Nr. 22
Tirana, Albania

You can still email Elder Clawson anytime!  Just click the cute little orange envelope on the side bar to the right, or here is the actual address:

I do have to tell how much I love Jed's mission president's wife.  Weds. morning here in Utah I took a chance and sent a friend request on Facebook to her.  About an hour later I received the cutest little message, and at the end Sister Ford said, "Don't worry about your son.  I love him already:)"  What a kind woman.  So we are looking forward to getting Jed's first email from the mission field this coming week and hearing about all the great people of Albania!