Thursday, November 6, 2014

Week 1 - "Missionary Torture Center"?!?!

Hey there family! (& friends!) I wish I had the e with an umlaut key on this computer so I could show off some Albanian I've learned this past week ;) But you'll see enough of that in hand-written letters which, by the way, I am only allowed to write on P-day as well otherwise I would write more! And before I forget, thanks to MOM, Sis. Legge, Elyse Riley, & Grandma Linna/Grandpa Burk for the sweet letters! <3 So fun to get mail :)) Love you all.

AH where the heck do I even begin?? SO much has happened this past week because everyday is FILLED down to the last minute with studying and more studying and an occasional meal here and there. I absolutely LOVE learning Albanian. It is so exhilarating to learn new words and phrases each day, and I really enjoy putting together sentences etc. Our teachers are awesome, and they balance each other out with very different teaching styles but both effective! We taught an investigator, Alma, our FIRST full day there (second I guess)... not even bad because we had hours of language class before so we were decently prepared. Within the first few days I learned how to pray and bear my testimony ne Shqip (in Albanian), and a couple days ago my companion and I accomplished our goal of memorizing "our purpose" ne Shqip. Speaking of my comp, I love Motra C ! She is a year younger than me in school and she keeps me punctual and in line (NOT that I would be disobedient otherwise) but we still manage to have some fun!! Actually, her name means "to laugh" in Albanian which is so fitting because we laugh a lotttt. Our whole district does, really. I love my fellow Motras/roomies, we are all pretty different but get along really great and these companionships were definitely inspired! We all seem to balance each other out very well! Our district leader, Elder Medvecskzy, is Hungarian, learning English, and now ALBANIAN on top of that... respect points forsure! He is so sweet and cracks us up too haha. I just love them all. Our whole zone is awesome! We have the "huns" (Hungarians with only a month left) & the "Finns" (here the same time we are) & yesterday we got some new Estonians and the one I met was so nice.

Because we are dealing with some difficult languages, our zone especially emphasizes EXACT obedience which I am so grateful for, because there are definitely people wasting their time here at the MTC but I'm not one of them, nor is anyone I've been spending time with. Our branch pres.'s greatest compliment seems to be that we are a "wild and ferocious" bunch, and testimony meeting this past Sunday was incredible (English-only btw.. was all ready to go in Albanian but plenty of chances for that later I guess!).

Yes, the main focus of my efforts and energy and precious time has been soaking up as much of the Albanian language as I can in this short time, but that does not mean I have been blowing off my scriptural study/spiritual growth! I have been to some incredible devotionals recently and taken part in some really enlightening discussion... I'm bummed I left my notebook in my residence (aka dorm) bc I wanted to share some insights, but let me see what I can remember! Watch "Character of Christ" by Elder Bednar, I appreciate how bold and say-it-how-it-is and also funny this talk is, and On Tuesday Elder Golden of the 70 (from South Africa!) gave a wonderful talk and some things that stood out to me were that when you are baptized and receive the gift of the holy ghost you are 'walking in a newness of life in order to avoid tainting yourself with the contamination of old sins/bad habits' and wow I totally butchered that but what he actually said was worded beautifully and basically next time I'm bringing my notes to email time ;)

Something HUGE that stood out to me my first days here, when we were in a big room "teaching investigators" (but 1:50, not 1:2 ratio lol) is to get to know the people you teach, and build off of what they already know and have! Don't tell them you want to bring joy and hope and the love of Christ into their life, if they are already religious and very happy with where they're at. Instead, I think it is so much more effective to teach and show how the truths that we revere and proclaim to the world are not so different from what they already cherish, but there is more to add on to that... and someone who loves Christ would surely want to learn more about him and his life, which is why I am always irked to hear that some people still don't accept that mormons are Christians... this book that we pronounce as the keystone of our faith is about him, after all! Oops, didn't mean to go on a rant, but respecting the investigator and finding common ground is so huge, I think. Oh and a comment Brother Garr, in our branch presidency, made: "don't use the excuse that you haven't 'found' yourself yet... go out and MAKE yourself." Wow I love that; decide what/who to be and go be it.

Well I have TONS of pics to send your way so lemme just wrap and say that I absolutely LOVE it here and really appreciate the STRUCTURE and productivity and also the kindness and strong testimonies of everyone around me. Shoot, forget Disneyworld, this place is def. happier. Lol. LOVE YOU and love hearing from errbody! Talk to y'all next week. xoxoxoxoxoxox Motra Rajlli :))

branch pres. weekly update if ur interested:
(Our investigator, Alma, agreed to come to church with us and in our most recent lesson we asked her how it was and she told us she enjoyed it, hence the number up top.)
(One night I stayed up a little later than 10:30pm writing in my journal with my flashlight... sacrificing a perfect score my first week at the MTC to share insights and newfound knowledge with my posterity, hope they appreciate it! :)) 
Well President, this has been a wild and ferocious week here at the MTC! I love the zone and the emphasis on EXACT obedience because it still shocks me to see other missionaries who are set apart and everything and still not 100% committed... especially sisters, because it is completely by CHOICE that we come out here. 
I love my companion Motra C, and we work very well together; she keeps me punctual and we help each other out with the language and also have had some really worthwhile discussions about "Preach my Gospel" during companionship study. 
Elder Medveczsky is a wonderful District leader, and so are the zone leaders!! They gave some really helpful advice which I appreciate! (i.e. study scriptures during personal study and not only the language whenever possible).
I love the food (unlike most lol but, great salad bar!!) and people and most of all the LEARNING here. I absolutely love how productive my days here have been, and I shudder to think how lazy my days would be, were I still at home! I think this tight schedule is great for me and I am thriving on the feeling of purpose.
Thank you for your service and Noah picture!!
Motra Rajlli (Riley) :) 

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