Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Letter # 16 - Happiness - May 25, 2015

Dear Family and Friends
This last week was one of the best weeks of my life. We have seen so many incredible miracles here in Elbasan. Joana got baptized this last week. I am sorry I have not really written about her a lot because we have so many people, I forget sometimes to write about all of them. We have only been teaching Joana for 3 weeks, she is 13 years old and we met her on the way to our other lesson. 
It was amazing. When we went to go pick her up for the baptism, she was literally glowing. I have never seen anything like it. The Spirit changes people. She got up and bore a really simple testimony at the end and said "I just have Jesus in my heart all time." She is sooo cute and I love her to death. It is pretty amazing how close I get be with these people without really speaking the language. 
I heard this song this week, called "The Hardest Thing Ive Ever Loved To Do" by the Nashville Tribute Band. I recommend that everyone should listen to it, because it somewhat describes how I feel out here on my mission. I used to think that happiness was reaching a certain stage in my life where I just had everything, but I can tell you now that happiness is missionary work. It is teaching the people here in Albania. It is seeing people like Joana getting baptized. 
I had this whole realization this week when we were sitting in a lesson with our investigators, the ones I talked about last week. Their names are Ledina, Sara, Violeta. They lost their dad about a year ago and live in a little tiny house in the outskirts of Elbasan. They also have two brothers, but the mom cant afford to pay for them so they live in an orphanage. We were sitting there this week, teaching them about something and I just was overwhelmed at the love I have for them. I didn t think I could love these people that much but I do. And they remind me why I am here on a mission,doing what I am doing. 
I would say to anyone who is thinking of serving a mission that they should go. The miracles I have seen already and love I have felt, are things I would not trade for the world. Happiness is sharing the Gospel and living it. I am so grateful for the chance I have to be a missionary here right now because it is amazing. 
I love you all
Motra J

Monday, May 18, 2015

Letter # 15 - May 18, 2014

Dear Family and Friends-

Another really good week here in Albania! The best highlight this week was definitely a miracle we had at English course. 

We restarted English course with just girls this week and we had a lesson and at the end we showed the video for Easters, the one from last year "Because He Lives" and also the other one, I  can't remember the name. But this girl and her mom just start bawling and after we talked to them and found out that their dad had died a year earlier. We taught them the most powerful lesson about the Plan of Salvation  and it was so amazing. 

Then they came to church on Sunday and now they are getting baptized in just 3 weeks. They are the most amazing family! 

Lots of other miracles this week, but sorry I don't have a lot of time. But I do know God loves us and listens to our prayers and answers them. Every time.

Love you all, Motra J 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Letter # 14 - May 11, 2015

Dear Family and Friends! 
This week might have been one of my favorites. We got this new investigator this week named Angela and she has been both a Muslim and a Jevohah's Witness. We took this one girl over who was thinking about baptism but she is having a hard time making a decision. Anyways, Angela just stands up and kind of yells her testimony (Albanians yell when they talk about important things or are really excited) and says "I have read the Korean and I used to wear the whole Muslim get-up. I had every part of my body covered except for my eyes. I joined the Jovhah's Witness group and done everything they have asked. And did I feel the Spirit when I did any of those things? No. But when I started reading the Book of Mormon, I have felt the Spirit in my life. This church is true and I am getting baptized." (On only the 2nd lesson!) She is really really awesome. She is only 18 and just got married because her family is too poor to take care of her. It is kind of a sad situation. But, she is really awesome and so ready for the Gospel. I just love it when people bear their testimonies here! 
We also had another awesome 1st lesson where the lady just professed her desire to be baptized. Elbasan is the land of milk and honey. People are just ready here! But while we were sitting there teaching a lesson, there was this giant spider on the table.I was just kind of staring it so the lady just brushed it off the table with her hand. So I was trying not to think about where that spider went the whole lesson until I felt it crawling up my leg about 10 minutes later. Oh man, I have no idea why I didn't scream because it was giant and hairy and everything I fear in life, but yes, in case you were wondering, they have spiders in Albania too. 
Also, when we were in Tirana this week, we ran into the Jovahah Witnesses. It was so interesting. They told us how we were wrong because we have a living prophet and no one needs those anymore. They tried to argue with the scriptures and tell us how we have no need for further revelation. All we could do was bear our testimonies to them and walk away. It is hard because you just wish they could understand how much we truly do need a prophet to lead us and guide us. And honestly some of the scriptures they read us, were talking exactly about the need for a prophet, they just had not read them correctly. Those are frustrating moments but I also think they strengthen our testimonies more than diminish them because now I am so much more certain that Thomas S. Monson is a living Prophet and he speaks with God. 
We also went to Tirana this last week for a missionary conference. We had a training from President Weidmann and he is just amazing. He just talked about the importance of sharing the Gospel. There is this quote I have thought a lot about from Preach My Gospel, "As your understanding of the Atonement increases, your desire to share the Gospel will also increase." 

When I first got here, sometimes I was hesitant to talk to everyone. Like in the elevator, I didn't really want to bug people and give them a pass along card. But every day, I think I understand more the weight of our message. That when someone steps in the elevator, I am not bugging her with something trivial but it is actually a matter of ETERNAL SALVATION. So although my companion and I wish we could convert the whole city of Elbasan, we just try to talk to everyone we meet. I have realized more and more how important sharing the Gospel is.

I also was reading after Jesus was Resurrected he comes back to tell his Apostles to continue to do missionary work and that is what they do for the rest of their lives. I think I am finally starting to understand how we really have to be missionaries our whole lives because we have a message that everyone has to hear! 
Thank you for all your love and support! 

Love, Motra J
Yes, not for the faint of heart...these are fried goat head.

How they fix things in Albania, yes our fridge is "airing out" on the balcony.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Letter # 13 - May 4, 2015

Dear Family and Friends-
Another amazing week here in the beautiful land of Albania! This week, Motra Coleman and I did an exchange in the city of Vlore. It was gorgeous! It is right next to the Adriatic Sea. It is where most of the tourists go. We went there and I went out with Sister Olsen and Motra Coleman went out with Sister Beezus. It was really fun. We got to eat a place right by the sea, and smell the salty air. It was quite great. We had more fun driving there then anything else. The Albanian countryside is soo pretty! 
It is funny being here for only a month and picking up on the little things that Albanians do. When people talk now, I always shake my head back and forth like them. When I first got here I thought they were shaking their heads like "no, no, no" but it actually means "yes, yes I am listening to you". And the other night we woke up to the sound of hundreds, literally hundreds of dogs running down the street. They were barking like crazy and it was almost like a bad nightmare! It was kind of scary. But luckily they only do that at night and we live on the 9th floor. The other funny thing, is every time I introduce myself they pause "Wait, like Michael Jackson, do you know him?!' I guess they really like him here in Albanian. But just some cultural stuff for you.
We have just been swamped this week with lessons, which is something I can never complain about. People are so ready here to hear the gospel! We are teaching this one new girl named Syla. She has quite possibly had the hardest life I have ever heard. We had a lesson with her this week and it didn't start off so good, but then we starting talking about miracles. We taught from Mormon 9 and read it with her. The Spirit just came into the room and all the sudden this girl changed. She is really quite tough on the outside because of all she has been through, but the moment we talk about the Gospel she changes. I have never really experienced anything like it. The Spirit changes people's hearts in a way I didn't know was possible. Then she offered the most beautiful prayer I think I have ever heard. I think Heavenly Father really helped me understand it so I could feel the Spirit of it. Everyone in the room was crying because her prayer was so sincere and so humble. I don't think I will ever forget kneeling in the small little shack and praying wtih Syla. It was a type of moment that missionaries live for! 
Another cool thing that happened this week, we taught the Plan of Salvation to this super solid investigator named Mertia. And the look on her face when we explained stuff, I realized that this was the first time she had heard this before. I realized I have been taking the Plan of Salvation for granted. That knowledge to me is so much more precious. I think we teach so many lessons we sometimes forget, hey this person has never heard this before. But I realized, how lucky I am to know things and have the Gospel in my life! 
I think I have realized this more and more on my mission that miracles are real. Like what we read with Syla, in Mormon 9, God still gives us miracles. They aren't neccessarily always miracles like feeding the 5,000 or the dead coming back to life, but if you look for them and ask for them and work for them, God gives them to you! I have really come to see how loving He is, how personal He is with each of His children. The gospel is true, that is all I have to say.
Thank you for all your love and support and emails and letters! I love you all! 
Love, Motra Jackson 

The cutest Albanian girl showed us how to make byrek.

I am making byrek! You have to roll the dough out really thin, using those wooden sticks.

Yummy byrek!

Albania is beautiful!


The beautiful Adriatic Sea!

This is my new companion for the day in Vlore. We did an exchange.