Monday, September 28, 2015

Letter # 34 - TRANSFERS! - September 28, 2015

Dear Family and Friends-

DRUMROLL.......I AM GOING TO GJAKOVA KOSOVO. Yes. My transfer call is to another country. President called us on Saturday night and I was shaking when I hung up the phone....from excitement! I am going to be a Sister Training Leader with my new companion, Sister Kelly, and that means we get to go to Macedonia for exchanges! I am so pumped.

On the other hand though, I will be learning Albanian all over again. Those of you who pray for me to have the gift of tongues...please don't stop. I feel like I just barely got the hang of Albanian here, but in Kosovo they speak Gheg, which is a really hilly-billy version of Albanian. Apparently the women sound like men, and the men sound like the Huns from Mulan. I am super excited though to learn Gheg.

But yes, it is going to be freezing and snowy and so different from serving here in Albania. But I have felt an overwhelming sense of peace that I am supposed to be there in Kosovo. 

Saying goodbye to everyone in Elbasan has broken my heart a little bit. I thought saying goodbye to my family was hard-but I know that after a year and half I will see them again. Saying goodbye here is so uncertain-sometimes I feel like I won't see these people until we meet again in heaven.

Another Elder is leaving from his mission to go home, so we sang "God Be With You Till We Meet Again" yesterday in Sacrament. I was afraid my eyes would be so teary I wouldn't be able to play the piano because I've really come to feel a small portion of that love that God has for his children here in the vineyard.

A lot of people who have heard that I am going to Gjakova have expressed apologies because I am going to a harder area of the mission. I have thought a lot about that. I thought before my mission, going on a mission was like paying tithing for your life. 2 years=tithing for living 20 years. Just to repay the Lord back. But, now I realized I could never really do that. No matter how hard I worked.

Instead I realized, it is like the song, "I Will Go Where You Want Me to Go"-there is a line in the song that says, "Where I may labor for life's short day for Jesus the Crucified." I love that-that I can just waste and wear out my life, for these 18 months for Jesus Christ. It doesn't matter that people slam the door in our face, that people make fun of us on the streets, that somedays no one wants to listen to us. It is just a small thing I can do for Christ because He lives and I love Him. 

Well, I love you all and thank you for all your prayers. I really feel the support on both sides of the veil here in the mission field. 

Love, Motra J 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Letter # 33 - September 21, 2015

Dear Family and Friends-

As we were on way to email today I asked my companion what happened this week because I usually can't remember. We were going through the days and my companion said, "Well, on Tuesday we finally found microwave popcorn. That was good." But good news, I finally remembered what happened besides stumbling upon microwave popcorn. 

We had one my favorite lessons ever this week. It was my favorite because we just talked about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I still do not understand it completely but I do know that it is a real power we can use in our lives because we have a loving Father in Heaven.

We read this scripture with a girl who is facing a lot in her life right now-stuff I can't even imagine, but the Spirit impressed upon me that nothing can help her more than Jesus Christ and His Atonement.   

 11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.

 12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.

In the Albanian set of scriptures is says, "how to succor his people according to their weaknesses." And I think I liked that a little better than infirmities-because on those days we fall short, those days when we just don't measure up, we just have remember the Lord has paid the price for us. Not just for a couple of people who were really close to being perfect, but for every single person. How amazing is that. 

I love you all!

Motra J  

And this is my favorite video ever. I wish I could watch it every day. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Letter #32 - A Marriage Proposition, Cow Milking, and A Whole Lot of Randomness - September 14, 2015

Dear Family and Friends-

I loved this week with all my heart. It was amazing. We met so many amazing people and so amazing things happened, I can't include it all in an email. On Saturday night, I came home and listened to "Joy to the World" because it was basically like Christmas for me, I was so happy! 

I will just include some of the little miracles of this week

1) Bora! She was supposed to get baptized at the beginning of the transfer, but her Muslim husband said no. Last week, her husband actually came to church with her and has given her permission to get baptized! I am so pumped.

2) We were street contacting and this woman stops me-which is significant because most of the time we have to stop the Albanian people and convince them to talk to us. She said, "Are you true believers of Christ?" I told her yes, then she explained, "I knew I needed to walk home this way today because Christ told me that you would be waiting for me!" We walked home with her and got introduced to her whole crazy family who all believe in Christ and love the Bible. It was so awesome! 

3) Okay-funniest story I have to share. It wasn't really a miracle but we got invited by our ward mission leader, Brother Metushi to come over to his house. To describe him, he is basically a little hobbit and dances like one as well. Anyways, we go over there and his wife and son are not members. Anyways, we are thinking-hey we can help get his wife baptized. 

But he had other motives in mind.....we taught a short lesson about Plan of Salvation. Trying to emphasize the fact that of course, we want all our family to be with us in heaven again. The lesson went okay, but then after his family fed us the typical Albanian dinner which is rice in sauce with bread. Then Greek Salad with sour yogurt called kos. Soggy bread that they call dessert and of course, Fanta Exotic to top it all of.

It was the typical Albanian dinner. They ate nothing and had more fun just getting us to eat everything. They always tell us, "EAT EAT YOU ARE YOUNG AND SKINNY." Then at the end of the meal, he literally gives us an 8 pound bag of grapes I could barely carry home.

Anyways, didn't think much about the lesson anymore but then he came to FHE on Friday. We were playing games and having a great time, and he pulls me aside and says, "Can we talk in the kitchen?" And I was like, "Sure, come on Motra Ranta." He said, "No, no, just you." Now I am werided out, "Well, I am always supposed to be with my companion." He just grumbles and pulls us into the kitchen.

He just looks super uncomfortable and awkward and starts, "Listen....that family really likes you so my son wants you to come back after your mission...can you do that? Think you can have all the grapes in our vineyard....okay? Just think about it." 

I didn't really say anything..I think that got of my mouth was "Okay.......". Then Sister Ranta and I had a laughing fit in the kitchen after he left. Our ward mission leader wasn't really interested in getting his wife baptized...just in getting a wife for his son. Anyways, whenever I see him now, he brings me more grapes. In fact, on Sunday he opened our car and stuffed grapes into our bags.

I guess I just didn't expect that from the ward mission leader. I think it pretty hilarious and no-I do not plan on coming back here and marrying anyone from Albania-even for all the grapes in world.

4) Another miracle! We have been searching for less actives and we were able to find the sweetest lady this last week. We were truly lead by the Spirit to her house. 

She fed us probably the grossest thing I've had on my mission so far. It was milk with yogurt, butter, and cheese, all left out in the sun to rot. Gulping that down was a toughie. It doesn't sound that bad-but trust me. (Oh another note, she let me milk the cow). But that drink is called Dhale.

Anyways, she talked about how she felt she had been in darkness the last couple of days and suddenly we appeared and she said, "Today the sunshine has come back into my life." And I knew it wasn't us, but the message and the Spirit that we carried.

5) We went to Tirana this week for our Stake Conference. My favorite part is when the Albanians sang "Come, Come Ye Saints." Although it was off-key because no one knows how to sing, I felt such a Spirit that they really are the pioneers of this work. 

Anyways, this week was quite an adventure. I can't include everything that happened but I just want to testify for those little miracles along the way. The Lord is preparing people-this is His work. We are just lucky enough to be his disciples, to be His instruments here. 

I know that if we rely on the Lord-WE CAN DO ANYTHING. I love that. The Lord is the miracle worker, not us. He is just waiting to show us what we can do with Him, if we put our trust in Him and let him.

I love this work with all my heart. I love these people. There is nothing better then serving a mission, I am so glad I am here because I am coming to know my Savior.

I love you all! 

Motra J
The infamous koran fish that I ate today.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Letter # 31 - September 7, 2015

Dear Family and Friends-

This week we were just talking to people on the street (this is how all great stories begin...) but we stopped this little old lady and she just was like "Oh I love you girls" and gives us big kisses and pats our heads and says "Te keqa nena" which translates to "Give all your bad things to me because I am your grandma." 

It just makes us laugh because this happens all the time to us and they are always random strangers...mostly old people who just kiss us and give us big hugs then run away. Two weeks ago, an old little grandpa said, "Are you American?" And before I could stop him he just pulls me for a hug and tried to kiss my cheek (I avoided that one), then he just left on his way. Whenever we need extra lovin' here we just talk to the old people. 

Twas a good week this week. The weather is finally cooling down and we got a car in our area which means no more riding on the bus with the goats. 

This last week we were cruising along and then we hit a little bump in the road. The 5 people that we were teaching decided that they didn't have time to hear our lessons anymore. It was a little rough, but we still had one girl we hadn't heard from for 3 days so I just started praying super hard that she still wanted to get baptized and meet with us. 

We didn't hear for her for two days but finally we were able to talk to her and she said, "Sorry, I have just been sick but we can still meet!" I was so happy and it just reminded me of those little tender mercies of the Lord. Although we may have lost 4 other people, there is joy in just that one soul. That one child of God.

We had a Zone Conference this week and we talked about just finding joy in the little things, and I have started to try to do that. To see the Lord's hand in the little things, because he really does so much for us. 

Sometimes we expect those big miracles, we want things to go our way! I will admit, I wanted those 4 other people to get baptized. But God has an ultimate plan and you just hope and have faith and be of good cheer while He makes that plan happen.

I love you all.

Motra J 

P.S. Albania is playing Portgual tonight in my home town of Elbasan. I've never seen people so excited about soccer! I hope we win and I attached a picture of the giant TV screen in the center of the city.