Monday, 24 November 2014

D&C 123:17

Hello everyone!

So, this past week seems to have gone by quite fast! It helps that I'm feeling a lot better. I basically feel back to normal. I'm so grateful! Thank you for all of your prayers and encouragement. 

Our new kitchen
The first exciting thing about this past week is that we moved!!! Our apartment now is so cute, we're so excited about it. It's so refreshing and we love it! We're on the top floor of an apartment building so we have a beautiful view too. I wake up in the morning and look outside and I'm like.. whoa. I live in Albania. It is a lot farther from the church than our old house, but that's okay. It's gotten a lot colder this week. We've definitely pulled out big jackets and scarves. It's not the same kind of cold like it is in Canada or anything.. It's a damp cold. I don't know how to explain it, but it's just really.. chilly. I definitely wish I brought more scarves.. So frustrating. Haha.

Our "baptism" wall… in a few years i expect it to be full
As far as missionary work goes, it was a better week. In the first part of the week, we found a new investigator every day! It was super exciting and we loved being able to reach out and find new people. We started English course again which is probably our most successful finding effort aside from member referrals, so that was nice. 

The view from our balcony, were on the 8th floor. It's awesome
Speaking of member referrals, in our area of Tirana we have the US embassy and so all of the embassy workers and their families live on a housing compound, I think I mentioned the family that lives there before.. Going to their house is seriously like, culture shock because it's just so.. American. Anyway, Sister Spaulding texted us one day and was like, "I think I found someone for you to teach, are you free on Tuesday?" We were like.. um YA WE'RE FREE. So exciting.. So, Sister Spaulding told us that this girl just really wanted to know more about religion in general, not necessarily interested in ours specifically. So, we met this girl.. and her name is Bjanka. or (Bianca) and she's incredible. She speaks perfect English and is a babysitter up there at the compound thing. The discussion was amazing, and so guided by the Spirit. We found out that her grandmother died a year ago and that was so hard for her so we went right into the Plan of Salvation. How beautiful is it that we have the knowledge of eternal families. I absolutely love teaching that principle and watching people light up at the idea of living together with God and with their earthly families in a state of happiness. 

Anyway, so as the lesson ended.. we asked Bjanka if she had any questions and she said, "yeah.. just one.. when can we do this again??" So, we met on Friday as well. Which was another amazing lesson, we went through the whole plan of salvation and explained everything in more detail. We asked her how she felt when she was praying, and it is incredible to me how receptive these investigators are to the Spirit and how much they feel, sometimes they simply just don't know how to recognize it. That's all we're here to do.. Is help people act on the light that they are receiving from their loving Heavenly Father. I am overwhelmed by the privilege it is to be a missionary and watch these things take place.

New apartment
Another great thing that happened this week was that we had another lesson with Elona. (The wife of our 2nd counselor Brother Hoxha.) We had this lesson on a really hard day! It was Thursday and EVERYTHING was falling through. I was just like.. what. At the end of English course we watched the Restoration movie and I just sat in the back and was just praying to Heavenly Father and asking what His will was and what He would have us do. No more than 25 minutes later, Elona showed up at the church. We had one of the most spiritual and emotional lessons I've ever had. It was amazing. The woman who walked into the church was a different person than the one we'd met a few weeks earlier. Her countenance was different, the way she acted toward us was different. We sat down and started the lesson and she told us that her and Pajtim have started reading and praying together every night before they go to bed. You guys, I kid you not.. Those little, seemingly insignificant things change peoples lives. I know that they are being SO blessed. Elona said that she wants to be baptized.. But the problem that she's always faced is that her family is extremely against the church. They're Muslim and they're very very influential to her. She's so scared that they would find out and things like that. It's so sad. However, I'm confident that as the spirit works within her and as she opens her heart to these things, along with the help of her husband and other members of the ward that she will come to know that this is what she ought to do. She said the closing prayer and got emotional, she prayed and told her Heavenly Father that she wants to be baptized and she prayed that the hearts of her family members might be softened so that she can do so. It was incredible. 

This is literally what I eat everyday. Grilled vegetables and a little cous cous salad with some tomatoes and cucumbers
When Albanian's feed us they go all out, seriously this isn't even like half the food they gave us.
To continue with the trend of families being against the church, I'll tell you about our recent convert, Ema. She is seriously one of my best friends. I absolutely adore her. She's the sweetest thing. She helps us with lessons all the time and she's the best little member missionary. She's doing the BYU-I pathway program.. and it's amazing. She was baptized in June, but you'd think she's been a member for years! She's the 1st counselor in Young Women's and everything. She's so awesome. Before she was baptized, her parents strongly disapproved.. but she did it anyway because she knew that it was something she had to do. On Saturday we watched the newest mormon message with her, the one about refiners fire. (Watch it!) Then I felt prompted to ask her a certain question. As she responded, tears immediately came to her eyes and she just totally opened up to us. She told us that one time, she was in her room reading her Book of Mormon her dad came in, took it from her and threw it away. I saw that it weighed on her and it just broke my heart. I cannot imagine being so certain that something is right, and feeling so good about something and knowing that the people closest to you will give you no support. I am so inspired by her strength and by all of the good that she does. She truly is a spiritual pioneer and I know that who she is will bless generations and that she will be such a strong spirit in the church in Albania. She's going to start her mission papers soon! I wish you all could understand how much I love all of these people. I cannot even begin to express it. 

Ward misson leader, Brother Gusmari
A goal that Sister Coleman and I have made for this week is to make sure that we journal regularly. I cannot believe the incredible things that happen to us each and every day. I'm so grateful for the opportunity that it is to serve as a missionary. It's not easy. Truly, there are some moments where I'm like.. I feel like I'm going to be on a mission for the rest of my life.. But I know that things I'm learning, and the things that I'm experiencing are things that could not possibly be learned or experienced in any other way. My testimony is so strong. I can say that I absolutely know of God's existence, of His awareness of each and every one of us and of His infinite love. No matter how hard things get, no matter how impossible things may seem, He will always reach out to us. He will always give us the strength that we could not possibly obtain on our own. 

"Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed." (D&C 123:17)

I love you all. Zoti ju bekoft. 

Motra Vermunt

I love these people so much
Seriously i cant even express it
The church cat. Psycho… I hate cats

Bishop Zela and his family

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