Albania ♥

Albania ♥

Monday, February 29, 2016

Called to Serve Him Heavenly King of Glory

"And behold, when I see many of my brethren truly penitent, and coming to the Lord their God, then is my soul filled with joy; then do I remember what the Lord has done for me, yea, even that he hath heard my prayer; yea, then do I remember his merciful arm which is extended towards me" Alma 29:10

    This scripture never really stood out to me like it has lately.  Just goes to show the power of the scriptures and the knowledge and power of God in showing us the things we need at the right time.
    My soul really is filled with joy when I get to serve and teach the people here. We recently had a lesson with one of our friends where we were explaining the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the happiness and change it can bring into our lives and she said to us "Really though, there is something different about you missionaries. I can see the happiness in you, but its a different kind of happiness. Its more.... REAL. Other people can say they are happy and put on a smile, but when you say you are happy, I believe you because i can see it not just in your smile, but in your eyes too that you really, truly, do have happiness"  I was able to testify of the truth in the words she said. I reflected back on my life (yes, all 20 years of it haha) and what I thought to be happiness, but I realize now that the only times I really felt REAL happiness was when I was living the Gospel and doing what I should.  I was excited to share with her the news that she could feel that happiness too and I could hear the longing in her voice when she said to me "I hope so."  I have a strong desire to help her get to that point.  Hope is where it starts, and then with action comes the happiness and stronger faith.
    With lots of prayer and action, Heavenly Father helped us to recover one of our investigators. We hadn't talked to her in a couple of weeks because she told us she would let us know when she was ready to learn again, but we continued to pray everyday and fast because we just weren't ready to let her go.  We had a feeling to call her a couple nights ago and to our excitement, she answered and we were then able to meet up with her and find out that she was just going through a crazy time in her life.  She had still been praying and reading the scriptures through it all and still has a desire to learn and be baptized eventually. I'm thankful for the promptings of the spirit and that Heavenly Father answers every prayer. Big or small, it's always in his timing though. A lesson that I am learning. 

"I guess it is your lucky day...I just received these pictures that
were snapped with me and my Nene Shehu when I was in Tirana this
week.  She just about kissed my cheeks off when she saw me.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

"Zion everywhere is growing As the Gospel Light it Spread"

"We can say we believe in Christ as we believe in the sun at noon day, not that we can see it, but that by it, we can see everything else." 
C.S. Lewis

     I can't say I have ever seen my Heavenly Father or Jesus Christ but I can tell you with full assurance that I know that they live. I can say this because of the amazing miracles I've seen and because of the experiences I've had on my mission. I can see them in the lives of the people around me.  I can feel the love they have for me every time I am teaching and testifying to others about the love and mercy that they have for every person here on the Earth. Heavenly Father loved us enough to send his Son to die for the sins, pains and sadness of the world while Jesus Christ loves us enough to be our advocate, to teach us, and to show us the way to eternal life.
     We had a lesson with a new friend yesterday where we were able to talk about her and the things she has been through in her life that have lead her to this point.  It was so apparent to me the role that Heavenly Father has played in her life. She comes from a family not really connected with the religious side of things, yet by her experiences she has had she is unable to see how there couldn't be an all powerful, supreme being up above.  She found it actually very interesting that all she has to do to know the truth of all things is to ask God through prayer. I guess since I've been praying my whole life I had overlooked the simplicity of things.  Just pray to know the truth, just read to receive guidance in life, just be baptized to be cleansed from all your sins and mistakes, and just keep his commandments to receive eternal life.  It's so plain and simple and sometimes we make it so hard. 
     We talked about testimonies in Relief Society today and how we get them.  Sister Weidmann shared that it's all through action. WE cant get a testimony of the Book of Mormon if we don't read it. We cant gain a testimony of pray or fasting or church attendance when we don't pray, fast, and attend church.  I can say that most of the testimony that I have today has come from my mission because I have been acting and living the Gospel more than I have my entire life.
     It all comes to action, big or small. One different decision and I wouldn't be here on my mission and my faith and testimony wouldn't be where it is today.  That scares me to think about.  I'm thankful for the invitation Heavenly Father gives us everyday to act.  To pray or not to pray and it makes the biggest difference.
     I know that if my new friend decides to pray she WILL receive the answer she is looking for and one small action like that can change her life.
     "This much I do know, that the Lord God hath power to do all things according to his Word" 

"My companion is the greatest.  Beqir is pretty cool too :)
Best ward mission leader!"

"Just Valle dancing over here in Kosovo ♥ at our
combined activity with the Gjakova branch.

"Gjakova with Sister Fuller. ♥ hahahaha"

"Look at these beautiful Sisters I get to work with!"

"Jumpin for joy!"

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Season of Love ♥

I guess since it's Valentines day, I'll be a little cliche and cheesy and talk about LOVE, but a different kind of love. Charity. Now, charity is something better than just simply love and by Bible dictionary definition it is "the highest, noblest, strongest, kind of love, not merely affection". 
     I didn't really understand what Charity was before my mission. I guess that is because I didn't serve people like I should have and I didn't give of myself to anything but my phone and sleep. haha  I also can't say I'm the most charitable person now. I have such a long way to go, but I can say that I have felt that charity love while being here. I have felt it for the people I work around and with. I have felt it for my investigators, and  I have even felt it for complete strangers I meet and talk to on the road. It's something very special and I believe its what makes the mission so amazing and worth while and on the other hand so hard.  Because when you have charity for someone it means you are willing to give of yourself and you "come to feel a sincere concern for the eternal welfare and happiness for other people". 
     It is kind of amazing how fast you can develop such strong love for the people here and how fast you can develop a desire to help them and serve them and do anything you can to help them be happy. Its actually kind of hard to explain the love I have for the people here in Albania and Kosovo. All I can really say is that I love them. I love the people I have met on my mission and I would do anything for them. Missionaries, friends, and members. They have changed me for the better.  Charity is something special. Its different. ♥♥

"This was left in my mailbox for me by my mother/trainer Sister Bezas who finished her mission this past week.  I cannot thank her enough for all she has taught me and for the help that she has been to me my whole mission.  Go get em Bezas, I love you. ♥"

"My kind of baking..the kind where it is impossible to burn the
cookies #nobakes haha"

"Made some no-bake cookies for Valentines day.
(It's what us missionaries do to celebrate. ;)"

"Happy Valentines day.  Spreading His love around the world.
The best way to spend Valentines day if you ask me :)"

"Huge love for these two!"

"Sister Fuller came to Prishtina and gave me a rose on Singles Day.
(Day after Valentines day, it's a real thing haha."

"Yummy Thai food with my Sister Training Leaders ♥"

"How many missionaries can you fit in an elevator?"

"The ride up was a little less crowded haha"

"At the top of the Catholic Cathedral...
I guess you could say it was a little windy ;)"

"Beautiful Kosovo..from up high!"

Thursday, February 11, 2016

2/8/16 "Think what I for Thee have done"

  "All of our Heavenly Fathers Planning and preparation, all of his interest in his children and all of his desires for them, all of his aims and goals for the entire universe came down to a singular moment in a specific time and place on this earth in a garden called Gethsemane."

     As I have read, heard, and have been taught about the atonement my whole life, never before has Jesus Christ's sacrifice touched my heart as much as it has this week.   As we went to Macedonia this week for zone training we discussed the main points we had learned from our last mission conference with President Kearon and the things we learned that stood out to us. Our zone leaders and Sister Training Leaders hit on one point which actually happened to be one of my favorite topics of the conference.   Which was "Don't worry so much, just work hard" and our leaders, along with President Weidmann and President Kearon discussed that the best way to worry less and work harder is to come to study and understand the atonement better.  So as a commitment and invitation, the whole mission was invited to study the atonement for at least 10 minutes everyday and to restart the Book of Mormon again, reading  it from cover to cover  and this time marking everything having to do with the power and blessing of the atonement. along with this we heard a clip from the talk Missionary work and the Atonement Given by Elder Holland at the Missionary Training Center and I want to share a piece of it with you because it is safe to say that it softened our hearts and brought tears to our eyes. At least it did mine.  

"Anyone who does any kind of missionary work will have occasion to ask, Why is this so hard? Why can’t our success be more rapid? Why aren’t there more people joining the Church? Why isn’t the only risk in missionary work that of pneumonia from being soaking wet all day and all night in the baptismal font?
I have thought about this a great deal. I offer this as my personal feeling. I am convinced that missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience. Salvation never was easy. We are The Church of Jesus Christ, this is the truth, and He is our Great Eternal Head. How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him? It seems to me that missionaries and mission leaders have to spend at least a few moments in Gethsemane. Missionaries and mission leaders have to take at least a step or two toward the summit of Calvary.
Now, please don’t misunderstand. I’m not talking about anything anywhere near what Christ experienced. That would be presumptuous and sacrilegious. But I believe that missionaries and investigators, to come to the truth, to come to salvation, to know something of this price that has been paid, will have to pay a token of that same price.
For that reason I don’t believe missionary work has ever been easy, nor that conversion is, nor that retention is, nor that continued faithfulness is. I believe it is supposed to require some effort, something from the depths of our soul.
If He could come forward in the night, kneel down, fall on His face, bleed from every pore, and cry, “Abba, Father (Papa), if this cup can pass, let it pass,”  then little wonder that salvation is not an easy thing for us. If you wonder if there isn’t an easier way, you should remember you are not the first one to ask that. Someone a lot greater and a lot grander asked a long time ago if there wasn’t an easier way.
When you struggle, when you are rejected, when you are spit upon and cast out, you are standing with the best life this world has ever known, the only pure and perfect life ever lived. You have reason to stand tall and be grateful that the Living Son of the Living God knows all about your sorrows and afflictions. The only way to salvation is through Gethsemane and on to Calvary. The only way to eternity is through Him—the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
I testify that the living God is our Eternal Father and that Jesus Christ is His living and only Begotten Son in the flesh. I testify that this Jesus, who was slain and hanged on a tree, lives. The whole triumph of the gospel is that He lives, and because He does, so will we.
I bear witness that He came from God as a God to bind up the brokenhearted, to dry the tears from every eye, to proclaim liberty to the captive and open the prison doors to them that are bound. I promise that because of your faithful response to the call to spread the gospel, He will bind up your broken hearts, dry your tears, and set you and your families free. That is my missionary promise to you and your missionary message to the world."

     Along with our commitment we received a picture of Christ as a promise to our Heavenly Father that whenever times get tough and whenever we feel like we are too tired or too sad or angry or upset to go on that we will look at that picture of the Savior to give us the strength to keep going. 
     I tried it out this week actually. When I was having a particularly hard/ tiring day. I remembered the picture that I had in my pocket.  I pulled it out and I just looked at it.... I just looked at it for a couple of seconds and the moment I did, an overwhelming feeling of love and understanding and comfort surrounded me as if I had angels strengthening me. With tears in my eyes, I put the picture back in my pocket and I wasn't tired anymore.  I wasn't thinking about anything else but the Savior and his love for me and my love for him and all I wanted to do was share it with everyone.   
     As I've been studying the atonement more I've been given the spiritual strength I need to do anything the Lord puts in my way and I'm willing to do it.  I know that nothing I can do or go through compares to Jesus Christ and the time he spent in Gethsemane atoning for my mistakes and my sins. I know he understands me and I will never be able to understand him and all he went through, but I do know that he loves me and that's enough.
     My companion and I have ran into this man on the roads a couple of times now while street contacting. He is always really respectful and nice and we can tell that he just sincerely wants to know the truth. He has many questions for us every time he comes and we are able to answer every one of them with help and guidance by the spirit. The last time we talked to him he said he wanted us to find him a scripture in the Book of Mormon when Jesus Christ says he is the Son of God and Sister Lakaj and I did just that.  When we saw him again last night we were able to read with him from 3 Nephi 9:15-18 which is Christ speaking to the Nephites and he says: 

15 Behold, I am Jesus Christ the Son of God. I created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are. I was with the Father from the beginning. I am in the Father, and the Father in me; and in me hath the Father glorified his name.

 16 I came unto my own, and my own received me not. And the scriptures concerning my coming are fulfilled.

 17 And as many as have received me, to them have I given to become the sons of God; and even so will I to as many as shall believe on my name, for behold, by me redemption cometh, and in me is the law of Moses fulfilled.

 18 I am the light and the life of the world. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.
When we read the verses to him he stopped for a second and he was silent and then he smiled and he said "That is the most beautiful thing I have ever read" And it is.  I know that Jesus Christ is the son of God and that he loves me and sacrificed his life so that I could be happy.

"My three countries."

"Matisse ♥"

"Elder Rigby serving in Macedonia.  (He is the one that knows Garth)

"I don't know what has gotten in to me letting people
cut my hair...the mission has changed me haha"

"The finished product. Doesn't look different but that's the point :)"

"Cute companion"

"Macedonia!  These are the best pics I could get of Macedonia while driving through haha"

"They have double decker buses for days :) Also, a little something written in Macedonian."

"Ready for our drive to Macedonia...obviously."

Friday, February 5, 2016

Believe It - 2/1/2016

  This week started off great from the get go.  We traveled to Tirana this week for mission conference and it was seriously one of the most spiritually uplifting meetings EVER.  We were taught by Elder Patrick Kearon (of the Seventy) who is the Area President of the missions in Europe.  HE was seriously one of the greatest people ever and he taught by the spirit at every moment and in a way that was comfortable and relate able to everyone.  Questions I had about life and my mission were answered specifically in the way I needed.  Every second of the multiple hour conference I was hooked by his teachings and hooked on the spirit I felt.  He is a man of God and one of my favorite speakers.
     The week continued to be a week of miracles in ways we had never expected.  One of our friends (we use friend instead of investigators, because it's just better) is getting baptized soon. We have seen blessings pour into her life since the moment we met her.  Her husband (once skeptical on the whole idea of baptism)  has now been reading the Book of Mormon with her and encouraging her to learn more so one day she can teach their children.  TALK ABOUT CHANGE OF HEART.  The blessings I can see in the lives of others as they begin doing the right things and coming closer to their Heavenly Father is truly amazing.  Who doesn't want that? I know I couldn't live without the blessings I have received from being a member of this church.
     Yesterday I had a pretty cool experience as we were on our way to go tracting. As we were walking, I saw a really unique building.  I thought it looked familiar and as we walked past it, I realized why.  I had seen it in a dream.  A long time ago, before I even decided to serve a mission.  There was a lady standing outside that waved hello as we passed, but I couldn't deny the feeling that I needed to talk to her.  I told my companion and we turned around and went back.  She was a super sweet lady with a big smile. She talked to us about her struggles and we asked if we could share something with her that would help.  Unfortunately, she wasn't super interested but we gave her our number and when we left I felt content that that was what we were supposed to do.  I'm not sure why I needed to be there or whats going to happen in the future with her, but I know Heavenly Father needed me there and I was thankful that he was able to use me as a way to help.
      The greatest part of missionary work, or I guess the most rewarding for me is being able to know that I helped someone and made their day a  little brighter and brought them closer to their savior.  I can have a rough, tiring week and Satan can try his hardest to get me down, but when someone tells me I simply helped them see the light or that sharing my testimony strengthened theirs, that's what I live for.  That is why I am a missionary and I will/would do anything to feel that happiness all my life.  Its a different kind of happiness, but its stronger than anything else. I LOVE IT.

"Sad day saying goodbye to one of my favorite people EVER.  Thank you
for being my saving grace Sister Bezas.  Thank you for everything.
Te due moj"

"Mission conference this week.  My sisters ♥ We've come so far."

"This cracked me up so I had to take a picture haha"

"Took this picture for Elder Hydrick.  He makes fun of me and Sister Lakaj because
we have to get the chair if we want to reach anything. #shortprobs"