Monday, March 30, 2015

Letter # 8 - March 26, 2015

Dear Family and Friends -
Well, it is official. I have survived it all. I get to leave the MTC on Tuesday at 3:35 am and fly out to Albania! I am actually leaving and going to the place where I have finally been called! I am a mixture of every emotion but mostly excitement to be finally serving the Albanian people! (And the fact that I finally get to eat real food). 

Anyways, this last week has been a really good one. I have really reflected on everything I have learned here. At first, I was a little discouraged that I don't know the language that well but I have realized that I cannot deny I have been blessed with the gift of tongues here. I think sometimes I don't count the blessings I do have and instead count the all the things I am missing. But I have come to see how many blessings I have been blessed with here at the MTC! It is really quite amazing. 

And we always sing Count Your Many Blessings in Albanian! The Albanian hymn book doesn't have that many songs, so we always sing that one but I have really come to love it! 

We had a really good devotional this week, where the speaker said something I needed to hear: Be not afraid, only believe! So I am believing with all my might this week that when I get over to Albania things will be okay. I know that it will be hard but where would my faith be if everything was easy?

So here I am, anxiously awaiting that plane ride that will take me half-way across the world (that was for you Britt) where I start really, quite officially as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ. I know that what I am doing is the greatest work I will ever do. I cannot wait to tell the wandering souls of Albania that God has a personal plan for each of them and that He loves each of them! I love sharing that message of peace.

Well, I love you all and thank you all for your love and support since I have been here at the MTC! Te dua. 

Love, Motra Jackson 

All of us in our Albanian Shirts!

My name tag in Albanian!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Letter # 7 - March 19, 2015

Hello Family and Friends!

Life is good! With the warm weather and everything, it finally starting to hit me that I am leaving for Albania in just a couple days! I am so excited to go.

I have to mention a funny story that happened this week. We went to Skype this week and we Skyped with this Albanian lady named DeNada. Anyways we start off and we ask how she is and her family but then I forget what to say and there was this long AWKWARD pause and I didn't know what to say so I just said "Sa mire" which means "That is wonderful" and DeNada laughed so hard. I have never heard anyone laugh so hard in their entire life. She laughed for about 5 minutes and said "I just love you guys". Now that I think about it, it was an awkward thing to say when there was an awkward pause. But it was great!

So this week we got to look at pictures of Albania and I just got this overwhelming feeling that I belong there! That Albania is where I am supposed to be! We had this amazing devotional and he told us that "the day you are happy is the day you forget about yourself and you love the people more." And I am starting to love the Albanian people! It is crazy to me, that I love this place and these people when I wasn't even considering a mission until about a year ago. 

We had a girl go home this week because of some medical issues and it was really hard for her. I can't imagine what it would be like to go home, but anyways, she bore a powerful testimony that God has a plan for everyone and I can testify that is true. There is no way, I would be out here getting ready to fly to this foreign country in two weeks if I didn't know that. I know there are people who need to hear this message. Even if it is in my broken Albanian. 

My language skills are definitely not where I would want them to be but I have learned the Spirit makes up for everything! At the devotional the other night we learned a sister had be converted through the practice lessons! She really was a real investigator and she listened to this broken Korean and she still knew what they were saying was true because of the Spirit! So that is my plan once I get over there because I still have no idea what I am doing.  

But I am just really excited to get there and to start speaking to them! Une e di qe Jezu Krishti jeton! (I know that Jesus Christ lives) I love you all. 

Love, Motra Jackson 

Also sorry I don't have any pictures, the MTC is pretty much the same as always. I will send more pictures when I am in the amazingly beautiful Albania! 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Letter # 6 - March 12, 2015

Family and Friends!

Another week down at the MTC and I have another great Albanian phrase for you! Instead of saying "You read my mind" they literally said "You read the newspaper in my pocket!" I think it is so funny and say it all the time now!

So this week, I had the most amazing tender mercy! We had to go to the police station because we have to get a background check to travel internationally. I think it is a new procedure for missionaries. Of course, being in Provo I wondered if I would see anyone I knew. But we were standing on the corner of Center Street waiting for someone to pick us up and I look over and see Rachel! It was a surreal moment. We both reached out to each other and then the light turned green and she drove off. I was in shock for a little bit, but when I got in the van, I was thinking "what are the chances of that happening?" We had only been standing on the corner for about 3 minutes and the van was right there ready to pick us up, so I barely got to see her! I think it just shows that Heavenly Father really does care for us and there are no coincidences in the Gospel! Something as simple as getting to see Rachel (something that made me so happy for the rest of the week) was something that Heavenly Father took the time to care about! It was so crazy! 

Another awesome thing that happened. Our district was sitting together at dinner and Brother Seamons came up to us and asked if we were excited for the devotional tonight. Brother Seamons is the secretary to the MTC presidency. Anyways, he asked if we were excited because Elder Cook was coming from the Quorum of the 12. We all said yes and he asked if we would like to sit on the front row! Of course we wanted to and he let us sit right on the second row-RIGHT IN FRONT OF ELDER COOK. I have never been that close to hear an Apostle speak and I doubt I ever will again! It was so neat!!

Elder Cook did an awesome job and he said two things that I really really loved. First he said, "Serving a mission blesses everyone you love." And I just really liked that- to know that everyone I care about is being watched over and cared for.

Then Elder Cook bore his testimony and I have come to realize there is nothing more powerful than an Apostles testimony. He said "In experiences too sacred to share, I know The Lord's voice and I know that He lives!" Everyone in the MTC was so still and quiet when he said that because it was so profound! It made me want to be a better missionary and just be a better person! But it was all so neat because we were sitting right in front of him!

Anyways, it was really just a great week and I leave for Albania in just 20 short days. It has really snuck up on me but I am getting so excited to go serve the people there! They need the Gospel and I cannot wait to share it with them!

Love, Motra Jackson

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Letter # 5 - March 5, 2015

To all the ones I love, jap koken time-

So that little phrase-jap koken time, is what the Albanians say to the people they love. It literally means "I would give my head for you". It sounds really ridiculous but that is what they say! I love it! 

This week, I did something unheard of...I got to LEAVE THE MTC!! This week, Sister Ariza got her gall bladder out and I was the one who went to the surgery with her! It was the weirdest thing for me to get in a car and drive down all my favorite Provo streets and go to the surgery with her! 

Everyone stares at the missionaries! I didn't realize it until I left, but everyone would stare at me and my badge and I think one guy was afraid I was going to try to convert him or something. They also stared at me because I was obviously missing my companion and it felt so strange to be alone. For the first time in a 5 weeks, I had 30 minutes of just quiet time to myself. It was the strangest feeling. 

Sister Ariza was actually supposed to go home, back to Chile. But after we fasted and prayed for her, we got a miracle! She got the surgery here and everything went so well! She said she has had this pain for the last 3 years,so she has been one tough cookie. The doctor showed me her gall bladder and it did not look good! But we spent a long day at the hospital from 11 am to 6 pm. I just sat with her and fed her Coke and cookies. The nurses also gave me a Coke with real caffeine!! I was SO HAPPY. But it really was just amazing day, knowing that she gets to go to Albania and she gets to stay with us! 

We also said goodbye to the Finnish missionaries in our zone this week. We were so sad to see them go! But we got all new ones yesterday! There are 7 sisters and 4 Elders. One sister was supposed to come but she got engaged. You don't know how common that is! It is pretty funny though. 

 Sister Henderson and I got to do the orientation with them, and it was strange to me how we have only been here 5 weeks more than them but what a difference those 5 weeks have made.They were all just as nervous as we were those first couple days. There are two Australian Elders and everyone just loves talking to them because they have the best accents. But we are just trying to help them adjust to everything because it is a lot to take in. And Finnish is one of the hardest languages.

So this week, I didn't a lot of Albanian studying and such as Sister Henderson and I always had something else to do! But I have really come to realize that the language is secondary to service. I didn't think I would love people so much here. But I have really come to care for everyone, especially helping Sister Ariza, it has made me realize how much our Heavenly Father loves each and everyone one of us! And how much He wants us to succeed by answering each and every single one of our prayers! I am so grateful that I got to experience a little bit of that love this week and know what Christ feels for us. He suffered so much for us, because of His infinite capacity to love us! Missionary work simply is just love for other people! 

I love you all and thank you for your love and support!! 

Love, Motra Jackson 

This is the tiniest letter I have ever gotten from my roommate.

With all of our favorite Finnish missionaries before they left.

More Fins.

My companion with a candy bar that describes her personality.

Sister Ariza right before her surgery.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Letter # 4 - February 26, 2015

Family and friends!

Well, I have officially been here at the MTC for a whole month. It feels like just a couple days and I have learned more than I have ever thought was possible!

The language matches the title of the my email this morning and comes from, of course, my favorite Disney movie Mulan! Learning Albanian has been exactly like training to defeat the Huns and the MTC is basically the training ground. But I've realized Disney is Disney and they summed up all this preparation for war in 2 minutes with a catchy song. I know that if the Lord wanted me to learn the language, He could bestow it upon me right when I got my call. He could do that for all the missionaries. Wouldn't that be so much easier? Wouldn't the work go forth so much faster? But I realized that if I learned the language like Mulan learns to fight, in just two minutes with a fun song, I would learn nothing. There would be no stretching and growing, there would be no relying on the Lord. I've realized that the Lord is making something out of me- a missionary that He can rely on to do His work. Although I feel like I am so far from that, I find comfort that He can someday do that!

The language was and always is the struggle of the week, but I know that the Lord doesn't leave us alone! I had someone reach out to me this week, someone I didn't know, write me a letter explaining how her daughter who also served in Albania, struggled with the language. But she testified to me that she got it and now is doing great in Albania! I was so thankful this stranger took the time to confirm to me that Heavenly Father watches out for each of us and loves each of us personally! 

Our whole zone is also experiencing so many health problems. One sister has mono. Another hit her head and went blind for a a little bit. One can't open her jaw. Another is having severe shoulder pain. And Motra Ariza in my district needs to get her gall bladder taken out. She knows on Friday if she has to go home or not and so we have all been fasting for her. It just a testament to me that this is the true work because there is such a struggle to stop the work from progressing. But the good news is, nothing can stop the missionaries! But I will have to say, I really admire Motra Ariza because through all of this, with the possibility of going home or staying, she has never once complained or asked "why me?". In fact, she is way more worried about those around her. I consider her one of the most Christ-like people I know! She is amazing!

I have realized, that sometimes, we are just walking in the dark. Walking without the end in sight. But I know that the Lord doesn't just leave us in the dark. Sometimes He lights up one step and then the next step. I know that putting my trust in Him is best decision I could make for my mission and the rest of my life! I know He Lives and loves us!

Thank you for all your love and support, I love you all!!

Love, Motra Jackson