Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Letter # 24 - It Can't Get Any Worse, Can It? July 20, 2015

Dear Family and Friends-

This week I got on a bus to go out to this little fshat (village). It was about noon, so the hottest part of the day and there were way too many people on the bus to be legal. It was like an Indiana Jones ride, mixed with a whole lot of sweaty people. As we were standing there waiting, some guy jumps on the bus with this bag and something inside the bag starts crying. At first I thought it was a small child, but then a goat's head pops out. He comes and stands next to me, with his little goat and it is just crying and crying. And everyone is just sweating and sweating and holding on for their lives in this sketchy bus, and I am just laughing that this has become normal life for me.  It was just a moment where I appreciated the fact that I am really in a foreign country called Albania. 

We were super busy this week, there is always work in to be done in the kingdom of God. We are doing a lot of less active finding. Elbasan has about 300 members! But only 50 people actually show up in church, so we kind of go on mystery hunts each day tracking down people. Because addresses don't really work here, all we usually have is a photo of the person's house or just their name. So we end up just talking to everyone on the way trying to find them. And we have met a lot of other people that way. We met the coolest family this week who loves Jesus Christ and now we are teaching them! God plants people along the way.

So yes, we were working hard then Friday hit. It was just one of those days, where everything falls through. We went to our lesson in the morning, they didn't come. We went to our lesson in the afternoon, they didn't show up. We walked about 3 miles in 104 degrees to another lesson that fell through. We went to find a less active, who was quite rude and told us that she didn't want anything to do with the gospel. We went to another less active who professed she had never been baptized or seen the missionaries. So after about walking about 10 miles at least, and with 0 lessons, Sister Ranta and I were a little worn thin. 

So we go get in an elevator and suddenly it just stops. The door opens not to one of the floors, but just a concrete wall and my heart just dropped. I thought, "Oh man, Heavenly Father is really testing my patience today because now I am going to be stuck in an elevator." Sister Ranta and I just started laughing, because the day couldn't have gotten any worse. And here we were stuck in stuffy little elevator, with no way to get out. A few quick heartfelt prayers later, the elevator decides to move and we got out. Hallelujah! 

So we walk a little more and we met this lady, we ended up talking to her for only about 3 minutes or so. It was a Muslim holiday on Friday but she was talking about how she is Christian so she wasn't celebrating it. We were able to introduce the church and give her a quick pass along card. As we were walking away, I felt the Spirit confirm to me that we were supposed to meet that lady. That God is the ultimate planner. 

I can't say that she is going to get baptized or anything like that, but God knows. And we are only instruments in His grand plan. Who knows? Down the road, some other missionaries might find her and she will remember talking to those sweaty,very tired, sister missionaries who hadn't had any lessons that day.

It was a bad day, but it was also one of the better days of my mission. I went home and read in 2 Nephi 2:13

"And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away."

There are bad days so we can remember and appreciate those really good days. To realize that God is planning something for us that is more amazing than we can imagine. 

"No matter how bleak the chapter of our lives may look today, because of the life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we may hope and be assured that the ending of the book of our lives will exceed our grandest expectations. “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”  

"The things we hope in sustain us during our daily walk. They uphold us through trials, temptations, and sorrow. Everyone has experienced discouragement and difficulty. Indeed, there are times when the darkness may seem unbearable. It is in these times that the divine principles of the restored gospel we hope in can uphold us and carry us until, once again, we walk in the light."    

(From one of my favorite talks by President Uchtdorf. The Infinite Power of Hope)

The Savior lives! I've seen Him there, especially on the bad days when the elevator stops and you wonder where to go next. (And He was merciful enough that we were able to have one lesson that day) 

Love you all! 

Motra J 

P.S. For the last 3 days, we have taken the stairs. No more elevators for us! 

I love the Albanian Children!
We walk daily...the road of Elbasan.  It looks like Far Far Away from Shrek.

This is Bugace. Only found in Elbasan. Doesn't it look heartstopping?
I think they use 5 pounds of butter.

Sara Shkalla drew us a picture of Joseph Smith.  For those of you who didn't know he has a mustache.
Just a reminder that Albania used to be Communist.
The Catholic Church in Korce
Inside the Church.
The art was amazing.
This is a WWII Monument for all those who died in the War.
Me and my comp.
Eating my usual pasta they make for us at the Shkallas house.
The coolest Catholic Church on a hill.
We ran through a forest to this church...for some reason I felt like singing, "The Hills are Alive" from the Sound of Music.
Korce.  It looks a lot like Italy to me. ( Not that I have been to Italy)
This is our awesomely nice church building.

This Elder caught a baby bird... then we watched a cat eat it.

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