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Tickle · the · Pear

Where I've Gone to Church - Tirana, Albania (May 2001)

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Once in awhile I'll post something pertaining to the eternal question: "Is the Mormon Church an international church or an Americanizing church?"

I was interested to see what the Church would be like in a predominately Muslim country. The chapel was in another part of town so the missionary couple kindly picked me up. The neighborhood was very modest and the church occupied several floors of a small townhouse. When I arrived and introduced myself to the younger members (all of whom spoke English well) I noticed that they always checked out my left shoulder. When I asked one of the young women why later, she said that all the Americans she’d met were missionaries so she’d assumed that I was one as well. They were looking for my non-existent name tag! The branch was the first one I visited where translations took place, usually by Albanian RMs who had served in the US. The missionary couple told me that it was very difficult for Albanians to get visas anywhere, and one young man had his mission call changed from Italy to Germany because of visa problems. Also that many missionaries do not return to Albania. The first Albanian family had just gone to the Frankfurt temple to be sealed. I told the RM in RS about the Albanian temple missionary who had taken me around when I visited SLC in January 1998. “Oh, Sister Mema! Yes, she is now married in Utah.”
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On February 10th, 2006 09:57 pm (UTC), (Anonymous) commented:
this is actually a very interesting post. while i was in beirut, a church statistician from frankfurt came for a few days and talked about some number he just crunched a few years ago to figure out why the church is shrinking in europe despite births and baptisms. it turns out that an entire stake of the church emigrates every year from europe to the US or Canada. yes, an entire stake. that's a lot of numbers when you think about the generational growth that is lost as well. in any case, they are trying to rectify that in europe, but i think they face a real challenge. perhaps growing national security issues in the US will lessen this immigrational flow, though i'm not sure this is the best motivation...

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On February 13th, 2006 10:07 am (UTC), ticklethepear replied:
That's interesting given that (if I recall correctly) members overseas were consistently counseled to "build Zion" in their own countries, especially after the huge migrations in the Church's early decades.

Quite a contrast to my experience in Kenya, where young Kenyans who went to BYU were expected to return to be the next generation of leadership, often with the ideal UT ward in mind....
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On June 1st, 2006 05:33 am (UTC), (Anonymous) commented:
That experience sounds about right! We go to church in a townhouse-esque building. It's a VERY small world within the church in Albania. I'm not surprised you mention an Albanian, not even by name, and they knew exactly who she was! Thanks for the link! --jen from http://roxcy.synthian.org/
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