Albania ♥

Albania ♥

Monday, November 30, 2015

Teach me to walk in the Light ♥

 This week was pretty eventful with Thanksgiving in our plans. We were able to go to Tirana for a couple days and we had mission conference all together along with a pretty good thanksgiving meal.. not as good as moms, but better than my chips and salsa I had last year in the MTC:) Not to mention, mission conference was AMAZING. President Weidmann and Sister Weidmann never fail to bring the spirit and say EXACTLY what we need to hear. Sister Weidmann was telling us a story about this guy who had a lot of great things in his life, his school was great, he had a successful job, his family was happy and everything was going good in his life. He was walking one day admiring the outdoors (another great blessing) and asked out loud to Heavenly Father "Why am I so blessed. Why me of all people when I'm so imperfect?" and he heard an answer from Heavenly Father immediately afterwards saying "Because you are my son" Sometimes I find myself asking the same thing with all the amazing things and people in my life, I wonder why I'm so blessed when I make so many mistakes. I know it's because my Heavenly Father loves me as his daughter and a parent loves their children despite their imperfections and mistakes they make. I know he loves all of us the same and he wants to bless us.
     I've been thinking a lot about what it means to be happy despite the hard times in our life.  The other day I was listening to President Dieter F. Uchtdorf's talk that he gave in this last general conference about Great Aunt Rose and the Spirit so strongly so I wanted to share it in my email in hopes of helping someone.
     
A Summer with Great-Aunt Rose

By President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

"My beloved sisters and dear friends, I am delighted to be with you today, and I am grateful to be in the presence of our dear prophet, President Thomas S. Monson.  President, we love you. We are saddened by the loss of our three precious friends and true Apostles of the Lord. We miss President Packer, Elder Perry, and Elder Scott; we love them. We pray for their families and friends.

I always look forward to this session of conference—the beautiful music and the counsel from our inspired sisters bring the Spirit in great abundance. I am abettor person after being in your company.

As I pondered what I should say to you today, my thoughts turned to the way the Savior taught. It is interesting how He was able to teach the most sublime truths using simple stories. His parables invited His disciples to embrace truths not just with their minds but also with their hearts and to connect eternal principles with their everyday lives.1 Our dear President Monson is also a master at teaching with personal experiences that touch the heart.2

Today, I too will give my message by expressing my thoughts and feelings in the form of a story. I invite you to listen with the Spirit. The Holy Ghost will help you to find the message for you in this parable.

Great-Aunt Rose

The story is about a girl named Eva. There are two important things you should know about Eva. One is that she was 11 years old in this story. And the other is that she absolutely, positively did not want to go and live with her great-aunt Rose. Not at all. No way.

But Eva’s mother was going to have surgery that required a lengthy recovery. So Eva’s parents were sending her to spend the summer with Great-Aunt Rose.

In Eva’s mind, there were a thousand reasons why this was a bad idea. For one thing, it would mean being away from her mother. It would also mean leaving her family and friends. And besides, she didn’t even know Great-Aunt Rose. She was quite comfortable, thank you very much, right where she was.

But no amount of arguing or eye-rolling could change the decision. So Eva packed up a suitcase and took the long drive with her father to Great-Aunt Rose’s house.

From the moment Eva stepped inside the house, she hated it.

Everything was so old! Every inch was packed with old books, strange-colored bottles, and plastic bins spilling over with beads, bows, and buttons.

Great-Aunt Rose lived there alone; she had never married. The only other inhabitant was a gray cat who liked to find the highest point in every room and perch there, staring like a hungry tiger at everything below.

Even the house itself seemed lonely. It was out in the countryside, where the houses are far apart. No one Eva’s age lived within half a mile. That made Eva feel lonely too.

At first she didn’t pay much attention to Great-Aunt Rose. She mostly thought about her mother.Sometimes, she would stay awake at night, praying with all her soul that her mother would be well. And though it didn’t happen right away, Eva began to feel that God was watching over her mother.

Word finally came that the operation was a success,and now all that was left for Eva to do was to endure till the end of summer. But oh, how she hated enduring!

With her mind now at ease about her mother, Eva began to notice Great-Aunt Rose a little more. She was a large woman—everything about her was large:her voice, her smile, her personality. It wasn’t easy for her to get around, but she always sang and laughed while she worked, and the sound of her laughter filled the house. Every night she sat down on her overstuffed sofa, pulled out her scriptures, and readout loud. And as she read, she sometimes made comments like “Oh, he shouldn’t have done that!” or“What wouldn’t I give to have been there!” or “Isn’t that the most beautiful thing you’ve ever heard!” And every evening as the two of them knelt by Eva’s bed to pray,Great-Aunt Rose would say the most beautiful prayers, thanking her Heavenly Father for the blue jays and the spruce trees, the sunsets and the stars,and the “wonder of being alive.” It sounded to Eva as though Rose knew God as a friend.

Over time, Eva made a surprising discovery: Great-Aunt Rose was quite possibly the happiest person she had ever known!

But how could that be?

What did she have to be happy about?

She had never married, she had no children, she had no one to keep her company except that creepy cat,and she had a hard time doing simple things like tying her shoes and walking up stairs.

When she went to town, she wore embarrassingly big,bright hats. But people didn’t laugh at her. Instead,they crowded around her, wanting to talk to her. Rose had been a schoolteacher, and it wasn’t uncommon for former students—now grown up with children of their own—to stop and chat. They thanked her for being a good influence in their lives. They often laughed. Sometimes they even cried.

As the summer progressed, Eva spent more and more time with Rose. They went on long walks, and Eva learned the difference between sparrows and finches.She picked wild elderberries and made marmalade from oranges. She learned about her great-great-grandmother who left her beloved homeland, sailed across an ocean, and walked across the plains to be with the Saints.

Soon Eva made another startling discovery: not only was Great-Aunt Rose one of the happiest persons she knew, but Eva herself was happier whenever she was around her.

The days of summer were passing more quickly now.Before Eva knew it, Great-Aunt Rose said it would soon be time for Eva to return home. Though Eva had been looking forward to that moment since the day she arrived, she wasn’t quite sure how to feel about it now. She realized she was actually going to miss this strange old house with the stalker cat and her beloved great-aunt Rose.

The day before her father arrived to pick her up, Eva asked the question she had been wondering about for weeks: “Aunt Rose, why are you so happy?”

Aunt Rose looked at her carefully and then guided her to a painting that hung in the front room. It had been a gift from a talented dear friend.

“What do you see there?” she asked.

Eva had noticed the painting before, but she hadn’t really looked at it closely. A girl in pioneer dress skipped along a bright blue path. The grass and trees were a vibrant green. Eva said, “It’s a painting of a girl.Looks like she’s skipping.”

“Yes, it is a pioneer girl skipping along happily,” Aunt Rose said. “I imagine there were many dark and dreary days for the pioneers. Their life was so hard—we can’t even imagine. But in this painting, everything is bright and hopeful. This girl has a spring in her step, and she is moving forward and upward.”

Eva was silent, so Great-Aunt Rose continued: “There is enough that doesn’t go right in life, so anyone can work themselves into a puddle of pessimism and a mess of melancholy. But I know people who, even when things don’t work out, focus on the wonders and miracles of life. These folks are the happiest people I know.”

“But,” Eva said, “you can’t just flip a switch and go from sad to happy.”

“No, perhaps not,” Aunt Rose smiled gently, “but God didn’t design us to be sad. He created us to have joy! So if we trust Him, He will help us to notice the good,bright, hopeful things of life. And sure enough, the world will become brighter. No, it doesn’t happen instantly, but honestly, how many good things do?Seems to me that the best things, like homemade bread or orange marmalade, take patience and work.”

Eva thought about it a moment and said, “Maybe it’snot so simple for people who don’t have everything perfect in their lives.”

“Dear Eva, do you really think that my life is perfect?”Aunt Rose sat with Eva on the overstuffed sofa. “There was a time when I was so discouraged I didn’t want to go on.”

“You?” Eva asked.

Aunt Rose nodded. “There were so many things I wished for in my life.” As she spoke, a sadness entered her voice that Eva had never heard before.“Most of them never happened. It was one heartbreak after another. One day I realized that it would never be the way I had hoped for. That was a depressing day. I was ready to give up and be miserable.”

“So what did you do?”

“Nothing for a time. I was just angry. I was an absolute monster to be around.” Then she laughed a little, but it was not her usual big, room-filling laugh.“‘It’s not fair’ was the song I sang over and over in my head. But eventually I discovered something that turned my whole life around.”

“What was it?”

“Faith,” Aunt Rose smiled. “I discovered faith. And faith led to hope. And faith and hope gave me confidence that one day everything would make sense, that because of the Savior, all the wrongs would be made right. After that, I saw that the path before me wasn’t as dreary and dusty as I had thought. I began to notice the bright blues, the verdant greens, and the fiery reds, and I decided I had a choice—I could hang my head and drag my feet on the dusty road of self-pity, or I could have a little faith, put on a bright dress,slip on my dancing shoes, and skip down the path of life, singing as I went.” Now her voice was skipping along like the girl in the painting.

Aunt Rose reached over to the end table and pulled her well-worn scriptures onto her lap. “I don’t think I was clinically depressed—I’m not sure you can talk yourself out of that. But I sure had talked myself into being miserable! Yes, I had some dark days, but all my brooding and worrying wasn’t going to change that—it was only making things worse. Faith in the Savior taught me that no matter what happened in the past,my story could have a happy ending.”

“How do you know that?” Eva asked.

Aunt Rose turned a page in her Bible and said, “It says right here:

“‘God … will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

“‘And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes;and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.’”4

Great-Aunt Rose looked at Eva. Her smile was wide as she whispered, with a slight quiver in her voice, “Isn’t that the most beautiful thing you’ve ever heard?”

It really did sound beautiful, Eva thought.

Aunt Rose turned a few pages and pointed to a verse for Eva to read: “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.”5

“With such a glorious future,” Aunt Rose said, “why get swallowed up in past or present things that don’t go quite the way we planned?”

Eva furrowed her brow. “But wait a minute,” she said.“Are you saying that being happy means just looking forward to happiness in the future? Is all our happiness in eternity? Can’t some of it happen now?”

“Oh, of course it can!” Aunt Rose exclaimed. “Dear child, now is part of eternity. It doesn’t only begin after we die! Faith and hope will open your eyes to the happiness that is placed before you.

“I know a poem that says, ‘Forever—is composed of nows.’6 I didn’t want my forever to be composed of dark and fearful ‘Nows.’ And I didn’t want to live in the gloom of a bunker, gritting my teeth, closing my eyes,and resentfully enduring to the bitter end. Faith gave me the hope I needed to live joyfully now!”

“So what did you do then?” Eva asked.

“I exercised faith in God’s promises by filling my life with meaningful things. I went to school. I got an education. That led me to a career that I loved.”

Eva thought about this for a moment and said, “But surely being busy isn’t what made you happy. There are a lot of busy people who aren’t happy.”

“How can you be so wise for someone so young?”Aunt Rose asked. “You’re absolutely right. And most of those busy, unhappy people have forgotten the one thing that matters most in all the world—the thing Jesus said is the heart of His gospel.”

“And what is that?” Eva asked.

“It is love—the pure love of Christ,” Rose said. “You see, everything else in the gospel—all the shoulds and the musts and the thou shalts —lead to love. When we love God, we want to serve Him. We want to be like Him. When we love our neighbors, we stop thinking so much about our own problems and help others to solve theirs.”7

“And that is what makes us happy?” Eva asked.

Great-Aunt Rose nodded and smiled, her eyes filling with tears. “Yes, my dear. That is what makes us happy.”

Never the Same

The next day Eva hugged her great-aunt Rose and thanked her for everything she had done. She returned home to her family and her friends and her house and her neighborhood.

But she was never quite the same.

As Eva grew older, she often thought of the words of her great-aunt Rose. Eva eventually married, raised children, and lived a long and wonderful life.

And one day, as she was standing in her own home,admiring a painting of a girl in pioneer dress skipping down a bright blue path, she realized that somehow she had reached the same age her great-aunt Rose was during that remarkable summer.

When she realized this, she felt a special prayer swell within her heart. And Eva felt grateful for her life, for her family, for the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, and for that summer so long ago when Great-Aunt Rose taught her about faith, hope, and love.9

A Blessing

My beloved sisters, my dear friends in Christ, I hope and pray that something in this story has touched your heart and inspired your soul. I know that God lives and that He loves each and every one of you.

As you walk along your own bright path of discipleship, I pray that faith will fortify every footstep along your way; that hope will open your eyes to the glories Heavenly Father has in store for you; and that love for God and all His children will fill your hearts.As an Apostle of the Lord, I leave this as my testimony and blessing in the name of Jesus Christ, amen."

I know that we have the choice to be happy. Its all in how we look at life and look for things to be happy about. I'm grateful for all of the amazing blessings in my life and especially for the opportunity I have to be happy, and I know that it's only possible because of our Savior. That we have second chances, new beginnings, and ALWAYS a reason to be happy. 


"Isn't it beautiful?! Prizren (P-day)"


"Thanksgiving!"

"More Thanksgiving"


"Mmmmmm!"

"Apparently as legend has it...If you drink out of this fountain the next
time you come to Prizren you will find your true love...I didn't drink out of it.  I don't
trust a fountain to choose my soulmate.  Apparently the Elders do though hahaha"

"SNOW!!!  It's beginning to look a lot like CHRISTMAS:)"


"When I was in Tirana I got to go and visit my Keqja Family ♥♥"

"We asked the Elders to take a picture for us and they said
"How many do you want?"
and started taking selfies....."


"PDAAAYYYY"



"Best district ever"

"When you try to take selfies around Elders...."


"Me :)"

"Compyyy"

"Prettiest view ever"


"Elder Guymon got in the way of my picture taking..."

"Dreke"  Lunch

"We had to order "Obama" for dessert? haha"

"this...was the Obama dessert"

Monday, November 23, 2015

"Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow"

 We have an investigator from Serbia that we are doing skype lessons with and I just want to tell you a little bit about her. She speaks perfect English and has a VERY strong testimony of Jesus Christ. She was raised Orthodox and that's apparently their culture in Serbia too. She was raised being taught of Jesus Christ so when we met her she already had such a strong testimony of His sacrifice. She lives pretty far away from Prishtina, but she is willing to take a taxi/bus to come here for church.  Ever since she has started investigating the Church she has been shunned by the people she loves. Family, friends, and people she's grown up with and gone to church with her whole life. They found out that she was investigating and she was excommunicated from the Orthodox church and they put her picture up in the church telling everyone what a horrible person she is.  Her friend passed away not to long ago and they wouldn't even let her into the church for the service. Also, her mother was beaten up pretty bad by two men one night because of her conversion.  Yet this woman, is still willing to sacrifice everything to be a member of this Church. I've learned a lot from her about what it means to sacrifice things we love for something much more important, the Gospel. I'm very grateful that I have supportive people in my life but also that I am a member of this Church.  It makes me even more grateful for the blessings in my life. 
     Since Thanksgiving is this week, I wanted to talk a little bit about what I'm grateful for. My list has changed a little bit since last year, but that's actually one of the things i'm most grateful for.. The opportunity to change and try to become a better person every day.  I've learned that there is nothing more important than this Gospel and the change and happiness it brings into our lives. I used to think that people didn't change. That we were just born a certain way and that was it, but I know now that that was extremely naive. I've been able to see this change firsthand in myself as I try to be better everyday. I'm not perfect and not even close to it, but I know that everyday we have the power to change and become who we've always wanted to be.  Heavenly Father didn't create us to be stand still objects who don't progress. He created us with the potential to change and I am so thankful for that. 
    I'm thankful for the opportunity I have to help people and teach them about the Gospel. I have yet to find something that makes me happier.
    I'm thankful that God hears and answers my prayers. He created the stars and the Heavens and the Earth, yet he listens to what I have to say about my day, about my successes, about my weaknesses, and about what I... a weak imperfect human being has to say about what I need. I know that he not only hears my prayers but he answers them.. I'm not as taken back when one of my prayers is answered because I now expect it because I know he's listening to me.  
    I'm thankful for my family.  My family that has never left my side no matter what. They have forgiven me and loved me despite my weaknesses and mistakes and I know that they always will.  They give me so much strength and I know that Heavenly Father gave me them for a very special reason. 
    I'm thankful for the scriptures, Especially the Book of Mormon that has helped me in my hardest days. I know that they were written for me and for everyone in this time to help us become better people.  I feel my Heavenly Fathers love for me every time I read and I know that he just wants to help us to be happy. 
    "But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" Most of all I am thankful for my Heavenly Father and I know that EVERY. SINGLE. THING. that I have is because of him and because of His Son.  I'm thankful for my relationship with him that has grown and continues to grow. 

"No shave November? :)"


"Lessons at the beautiful Vaides house ♥ I love her with all my heart!"

"Our least favorite word as missionaries in this mission.  It's kind of an inside
joke I guess you could say haha"

"KOSOVA"
video
"Motra Qosja wanted to see me "dance".  I still got it!!?? hahaha"
I have probably watched this video at least 100 times!  I think
I laugh harder each time I watch it!  I miss this goofy girl so much!


Monday, November 16, 2015

"Who can Glory too much in the Lord?"

Before Sister Fuller left, she shared a scripture with me in D&C 88:68 which says "Therefore, sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him, for he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will."  
I have read this scripture over and over again thinking about what it means. The last little bit really sticks out to me and sinks right into my heart. "His own time, His own way, and according to his own will."   
There has been a lot of times where I have personally tried to go against the will of God. I think it's the human in all of us that wants what we want, when we want it.  I'm learning slowly but surely that we do NOT receive what we want when we want it if its against the will of God. We can try with all of our might for something but it is not going to happen with out his permission.  I think it is so amazing though, because if I'm going to trust anyone to guide me through this life and tell me what to do, it is going to be my Heavenly Father. 
I've felt His love SO strongly this week as I have read the scriptures and gained a greater witness of their truth. I KNOW that they are the word of God and that they were written by actual prophets in the ancient times that sacrificed their lives and gave all they had to the Lord and this Gospel.   The way I feel when I read the scriptures and the stories inside, I know that there is no way that they could just be made up. The testimonies inside are not just made up, because I can feel the Spirit so strongly as if they were right there bearing their testimonies to me. 
I just wanted to bear testimony of their truth and the love I have for them.:)
This week was really good! Heavenly Father answered my prayers so many times in ways I didn't expect. For example, I was fasting this week for my investigators to come to church. We invited them all and called them multiple times, but then it was in their hands and in Heavenly Fathers. I was SURE that at least one of them was going to show up. Right before sacrament, one of our less actives showed up and I was just as excited that she was able to come and I know that Heavenly Father had heard me. Maybe it wasn't the blessing I had planned on but I know that when Heavenly Father promises us blessings, He will give them to us because He has so many times for me before. 
Also, we were able to get two of our investigators on a baptismal date for the beginning of next month. They still have a lot to learn, but I'm glad that the Spirit softened their hearts enough for them to be open to being baptized. That's the first step.:) 
That is just a few of the many ways I saw the Lords hand in my work this week. 

I can testify that he loves each and every one of us so much. 

I love you, I'm praying for you. have a great week. 
until next time- Your Motra

"This was our cute birthday set up for Elder Eddings when he came to Prishtina
on his birthday.  Hahaha leave it to the Elders :)"

video


"Some delicious dessert that our investigator made us and her cute slippers! hahaha
Whenever you go into someones home, you take off your shoes and they always give you their slippers to wear.  It used to be really weird for  me...but now I am used to it :)"


"One of my new favorites..."

"PDAY at Newborn mall :) "B" for the BEST District Ever?? ;)"



"I love Kosovo ♥"


"Elder Muncy or Bill Clinton?"

"Car ride back to Prishtina after picking up our new comps ;)"

"Elders being Elders haha"


Monday, November 9, 2015

Kjo është lumturi ♥♥♥

A lot of times as missionaries we don't get to see the aftermath of our efforts, we just have to trust that if we do our part and work hard, the Lord will bless us and the people around us. When I was serving in Tirana my second transfer, I stopped this girl on the road and talked to her, got her number and she agreed to meet but every time my companion and I set up a time, she would cancel because she was super busy with school and other things. Sister White and I kept calling and trying though because we had felt that she really was ready. Eventually we both got transferred from the area and some time passed. Sister White was later transferred back into the area and decided to give her a call again.  This time I guess she really was ready and I just received an email and a picture of her dressed in white! SHE GOT BAPTIZED! I know that sometimes the little things we do don't seem to have an effect on others but the little things will eventually add up someday to something big. 
     Heavenly Father blessed us tremendously this week in every way. Our new investigator B, accepted a baptismal date and was able to make it to church this week. We told her we are going to have to meet more regularly if she wants to be ready for her baptism and she said "The more the better". 
    Another one of our investigators invited us over for a lesson, but we ended up going over to her sisters house and teaching her a little bit more about the Gospel. I guess I should expect and be used to this happening, but I still am amazed at how perfectly involved with everyone's life Heavenly Father is. How he places people in our paths at the exact moment they need to be there and he blesses us with the words we need to say at the exact moment we need them.  I don't and I never will have the words to express my thanks for him and his love for me and for the people I love and teach. 
     This week we also had a surprise transfer.  (Well, we had what we call "mini transfers" which are as long as the normal transfers in America) So we knew there would be a couple people moving, we just didn't expect or realize that it would involve me and Sister Fuller but it did :) We received a call Saturday night telling us that Sister Fuller is moving back to Albania and serving in a city called Shkoder. I am super happy for her because Shkoder is awesome, but I'm going to miss her a lot. Its been great working with her, but you know, Heavenly Father has a different plan and I will be serving with another one of the Sisters that was in my MTC group. Sister Olsen:)  Yes I will have served with all 5 of them now:) haha Who would have thought:) 
     As you can probably tell from my emails, I am happy and not just the happy that people tell you so that you don't worry, but I REALLY TRULY am the happiest I have EVER been my whole entire life. I didn't used to think it was possible. People used to tell me about this kind of happiness and I didn't understand how they could possibly be that happy away from all the things and people they love. BUT I guess the longer I'm here the more I understand what true happiness really is.  I love you all and I hope that you are just as happy. I pray for you often and love hearing from you. 
Until next week<3 

"For service this week we got to go to this members farm and dig potatoes with him.  It was
actually super fun. (I might take it up as a hobby ;) haha) "

"Also...it was beautiful up there in the country.  PLUS: I found a heart potato ;) Yes the Elders
were making fun of me... I guess it's 'such a Sister thing' haha"


President Weidmann and his wife came to our "Sunday dinner... WINNING :)"



"In the CITY.  I ♥ Prishtina"