Monday, May 25, 2015

Week 30 - Kosovo

long (scenic!) bus rides te Shqipnii

looove them :) <3 <3 
 Gj & V!! <3 <3 / "Gezuar!" (went and pijed some uje minerale/ caj mali... "pije a kafe" means drink coffee aka go to a kafe together but we call it "pijing an uje" lol )

Parku <3  

strawberries for dayssss (dredhez!) / "une pashe nje shtylle drite..."

prite sipas veshjes dhe percjelle sipas mendjes
hejjj a jeni mire, a po lodhni? ("are you good, are you weary?" sorry - Google Translate isn't too helpful with Albanian!)
Last P-day, as you saw, hit up Peja via train, and while there made the best purchase of my life aka a popullore-looking wooden/painted fyll (recorder) and Hermana Ariza and I loove jamming out aka trying to play hymns by ear (think of when Rachel first brought her piccolo home or when Eliza was just learning violin... I don't think our neighbors are as fond of our new hobby). Haha SO FUN and I want to do a musical # in Sac. mtg. but idk if the spirit would be there but we wanna get traditional banjo/guitar Kosovar instruments and just jam out so maybe we'll play at mish conf. or something? ;) or maybe we can join our roma friends on the streets. I'll let ya know how it goes. ;)

Got to see President a lot this past week (District conference?) and the Weidmanns came on a lesson with us to Gj and V and Motra Ariza completely led it and did great with Shqip, thas my trainee.The Weidmanns are amazing! So sincere and spiritual and knowledgeable and graceful, and of course so cool das sie aus die Schweiz kommen. :)

A definite highlight of my week was an INCREDIBLE and mind-blowing fireside by the Givens couple... they are amazing and educated and brought up so many intriguing points and def. have done their research... I loved when they talked about how Eve is looked down on in many Christian opinions, as the weak, sneaky temptress, but in Mormon culture we see her as the heroine of the human race. And pretty much any question or topic I'd been wanting to study (Pre-mortal life; fore-ordination/ Christ as the only begotten; the virgin Mary; Heavenly Mother) was was way more in-depth than our recent converts were expecting or needed, but I was totally kenaqen. :)

My attempt at getting a member lesson yesterday was a complete disaster.. arranged for our recent convert, S, to stay after church for 5 min. to share feelings about her baptism with those who are getting baptized in a couple weeks, but she went off, in detail, about investigators who have been coming to church hoping to get money and help with projects and then ... ugh, basically moral of the story-a valuable life lesson for everyone, in every culture- is that gossiping is ALWAYS a bad idea and stirs up so much contention (3 Nefi 11:29) and that experience yesterday brought to mind 1 Timothy 5:13; "tattlers and busybodies, speaking of things which they ought not"... of course we need to keep Luke 5: 29-32 in mind...they that are whole need not a physician but they who are sick etc (people causing the problems need to be in church, of all ppl).. but it's frustrating when problems are being stirred up from within the branch.. members need to build each-other up, so the church can be a haven from all the negativity and persecution they already have to deal with from those outside.

In closing, wanna share Alma 5: 14-15, 19. Makes ya think, right?
The Book of Mormon really is the word of God, written for us in our day. Every question and concern can be answered if you just read/study those verses! Libri i Mormonit ka teper vlere, e vertete.

Ju Dua! Ju uroj nje jave e mrekullueshme!

<3 Motra Rajlli :)

ps~ hbd J-dawg! EDHE NJE QIND :) 

hej mom<3 just so ya know I sent a note to y'all this morning so now you can know how long it takes for mail!
From Elder Guymon's blog: new pass-along cards and an Arabic Book of Mormon

Monday, May 18, 2015

Week 29 - Kosovo

 (reading PMG in our native languages)

 BEST view ever


 love all the markets/fresh fruit stands! bananas on ever corner yesss (and bartering down the price lol)

 Hello Kitty water bottle.. it's the little things in life ;)

 haha nice translations... appetizing or nah?
 P-day.. internet cafe and pants

V made us spinach Pita.. basically spinach pie.. YUM. no cheese or anything, fave Ushqimi popullore, hands down

pyll pa derra s'ka

hejjj si jeni aty? kini humb si kripe ne uje!

Currently in Peja, a beautiful mountain city that was recently opened and then last transfer shut down for missionary work for the time being.

Kosovo is beautiful! And hottt wow never woulda believed it back in January!

Another incredible week. It is such a contrast these days having consistent, progressing investigators to work with as opposed to "planting seeds" aka street contacting 24/7 like last transfer. It's a blessing for sure, finding some open and sincere people to teach!

First and foremost are V and Gj, the amazing sisters who were introduced to the church by a model LDS American family they were great friends with 5 years ago.. before the church was established in Kosovo! There were a handful of members (Americans working in Kosovo, it sounds like) in Prishtina back then so sacrament meeting was held in someone's living room and these sisters attended that but yesterday was their first time in church with our branch and not just sacrament meeting but Sunday school and Relief Society as well. They are such an asset already! Anyways they are amazing and I love them and their faith and understanding of the gospel amazes me and they just absorb the scriptures which makes me look twice at my own studies.. gotta search/ponder/pray, merely reading is never enough (name that primary song btw!)

S, the one in the wheelchair who was on baptismal date, has been MIA but hopefully we'll get to check in with her soon!

L, our Muslim former English student and FRIEND (loove her but we decided it may be best to drop her which I'm kinda dreading) is making amazing progress but the whole accepting Jesus Christ as the son of God and savior of the world is a big obstacle for her (and a pretty essential principle). After an English course we planned to show our students (beginner class) the Restoration video for the spiritual thought but the only video that would play was "duke gjetur Besim ne Krisht" (finding faith in Christ) which was def. meant to be because L LOVED it and stayed after to watch the end and took notes, and later we met with her and explained Christ's role in the justice and mercy equation and she loved that too.. she's amazing, so much potential in this girl if she'll just let herself believe! </3

N, our super smart and German-speaking 15 yo investigator friend brought up all the controversial topics in our last meeting with her: gays, priesthood, womens' roles etc. and we also talked a lot about how to KNOW when you've found truth.. some of what she said sounded a lot like the Prophet's feelings recorded in JSH: 'so many different groups.. which one is right.. is one of them right?'

And, on the rare occasion we have finding time (NEVER thought I'd say that in Prishtina lol) we have had great luck with tracting and get let in for impromptu lessons every time, usually with friendly college students (just girls don't worry) or nice young moms but as usual the Muslim tradition is pretty strong. Still!

Oh and before I wrap up, a cool experience: The other week we were tracting a bldg. behind the church and while knocking doors some girls were coming up the stairs so of course we talked to them and gave them cards which they didn't accept but on the way down they were leaving too and this time they accepted our cards (#sepseaijeton + numri yne) and then a couple days later we were back in that bldg. visiting some new investigators who we'd had a lesson with that first day and we saw one of the girls again, and I thought she'd be so sick of us but she smiled and said "hej si ke qen!" and THEN a couple days later we were taking the bus back from a lesson (so rare that we take the bus) and I glanced over and saw that same girl hahaha so went over and talked to her and she was just as excited to see us and was so friendly and nice and we got off at the same stop and she even walked home with us a little ways to keep talking haha cool right?

And also shoutout to our solid recent converts who I love working with! S and her sweet kids loved learning about/acting out Lehi's dream and the Hydricks have been helping us work with the J family to get them headed to the temple eventually and it's been great. And returning members. Love them. Wish we saw them more lol. I, our RS pres, may share her strong testimony full-time and serve a mission woo it's worth it I promise ! Anyone considering a mission, I encourage you to just go because it's not like you're giving up anything more important than sharing the gospel, and it's only for a year or two.. it flies by trust me and there are enough blessings of serving to outweigh any reasons for staying home.

The other day I did an insanity workout during lunch (a rare day where we took the full break.. why don't we do that more?! because there aren't enough hours in the day to fit everything in lol that's why!)) which was soo nice but I don't think I'll be able to do that too often b/c it's exhausting to walk all over and take our 7 flights of stairs multiple times a day.. (and run at the park most mornings, soo nice there) and usually by the time we're done planning at night it's all I can do to get up and brush my teeth and go to bed. Haha. Last transfer I said I wanted to push myself/ do more work/ come home EXHAUSTED.. be careful what you wish for ;)

I love Kosovo, especially Prishtina, and I LOVE these Albanians/ Kosovars so much and am so grateful for and amazed by their generosity and kindness ( generally speaking, of course.. not the cuns whew!)

Read through 1 Corinthians 2:4 and I've been thinking a lot about teaching by the SPIRIT not tryna use logic or impressive arguments or phrases etc.. so much more powerful with a simple, SINCERE testimony, and the only way to a lasting conversion apo jo?

Also President Uchtdorf mentioned in a talk (if you know which one please tell me !) that if we could comprehend (or explain) all the doctrines of the Gospel it would be proof that it was made up by mortal minds. Good to remember. However, continual learning is part of 'enduring to the end' we keep TRYING our hardest to understand and live according to our faith but, if we don't understand every little thing, don't get hung up on it because one day we'll have a perfect knowledge but it's not gonna be in this life!

Gotta go because I got some pics me dergu!
Ju dua shume kaloni bukur aty ne Plazh, shiimiiii puuth :* :*

<3 Madi :)
From Wikipedia: The Newborn monument  is a typographic sculpture and tourist attraction in PristinaKosovo, unveiled on 17 February 2008, the day that Kosovo declared independence from Serbia. The monument consists of the English-language word "Newborn" in capital block letters, which were painted bright yellow when the sculpture was first revealed. The monument was later re-painted with the flags of the states that have recognized Kosovo. Newborn will be painted differently and unveiled on 17 February every year

Week 29 - National Geographic photos? No - Madi's scenic shots!

in Peja

loove these smoothie things,
and check out those wires by the parking sign!

a house on the way to a lesson

train station!
Trainer and trainee at the train station lol

classic xhaxi!

scenic :)

throwback to backpacking the baltics and that long Voronezh-St. Pete's train ride! ;)

these Kosovars sure love their Tango juice...!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Week 28 - Kosovo

(left photo)  this is sis Kokle who used to serve i Albania, she's awesome! and goes to BYU so tell her hi Isaac!
 celebrated Mother's day with a picnic lunch after church (we love jogging at this park in the mornings) and a SKYPE CALL yay so great seeing everyone, y'all look great, and mom and dad you look younger wow
 more picnic pics snapped by my comp

 Here is S! Our wheelchair-bound Kerkuese. Went over Fjala e Urtesise as she was sipping her kafe in a kafe
oh and we were wheeling her to an appointment and it was raining and she was screaming profanities in English ha we encouraged her not to but she sure hates the rain lol! she is soo nice though aw never a dull moment with her either :)

Gezuar dita e neneve!

Miredita! Qysh po kaloni??
Soo good skyping home! You all look great and happy and esp. fun to line up the times to see Eliza <3, I mean Zuster Riley, and Isaac+Russian roomies~ congrats on the job at the MTC, btw!
I was just catching up in my journal this morning and re-living some crazy and amazing things that happened this past week so lemme share a few. :)

One of our investigators, L, who we met through English class, has been opening up to us so much and accepting and loving so many of our teachings (esp. chastity and fasting and of course prayer, and the holy ghost and LOVES the idea of a temple marriage), and she's fluent in Spanish so she and Motra Ariza talk and talk and testify and it's awesome (and if I don't understand an Albanian word she says, she tells Motra Ariza in Spanish who then tells me in English, kinda complicated so good thing it's only happened like twice), and she's read a lot from the book of Mormon (she also LOVES our fave chapter 2Nefi 4) but this girl is so closed off to faith in Jesus Christ. She's made amazing progress, and she's even told us she loves Christ and we explained thoroughly the NEED for a savior because he satisfied the laws of justice and mercy, but accepting Jesus Christ as the redeemer of the world just goes against her Muslim teachings too much. She even asked me if someone could be Christian without believing in Christ.. hmm I think the definition of a Christian answers that one!

We had Zone Conference, with President Weidmann, he's awesome. We talked a lot about talking to EVERYONE; always handing out pass-along cards and introducing ourselves and why we're here (me ndarre nji mesazh shume i bukur) and I loved that training because I'm all about that.. as Eliza pointed out, with our nametags and being foreigners etc. we stick out like a sore thumb anyways so we might as well use it to our advantage right?

That evening we had two AMAZING lessons with D, a very faithful catholic nursing student who we also met through English course (we've been talking about the Restoration for our spiritual thoughts in there and she always shared the greatest comments so of course we couldn't wait to have a lesson with her and discuss, plus it is SO refreshing to meet friends who share such a strong love for the Savior). We had two lessons with her because our first one got interrupted by a (very Muslim, as we soon found out) friend of ours who just came in and sat down and we didn't kick her out because we thought she was just listening in but she started commenting and then bashing on Christianity and the discussion escalated to a full-blown argument so Motra Ariza (who worked as a Peacebuilder for her government) broke them up and we ended because we had English class, and then after class we picked up where we left off. She had a catholic guy friend who we had no idea was her brother, and we wanted to teach him because he seemed interested, but after the unexpected visitor in our previous lesson we were hesitant to invite someone new (plus we can't teach only guys) so we told him to talk to the Elders and meet with them so now the Elders want to teach them together because they're siblings and D is eager to show her mom the Book of Mormon we gave her so let's get this whole family in church!

Had some more adventures with S, the one in the wheelchair, who cracks us up and is also so sweet and an amazing missionary for us! When she introduces us to her friends she basically teaches the first lesson. We're gonna make her a name tag of her own. :) She's still on baptismal date, which will have to be pushed back because there are a few commandments we have to go over with her again. She introduced us to some friends of hers here - NGOs and groups working with disabled people here in Kosovo and we are eager to help out and serve and be a part of this great community.

Yesterday afternoon was a miracle~ we were at the park reading scriptures when the Elders called us and said to meet them at the church, where they introduced us to our amazing new investigators, V and Gj. They are two single sisters who live together here in Prishtina and are journalists and were introduced to the church a couple years ago by a friend in Tirana, and have been reading and researching and based off of what they know and the mormons they know, they said they discussed and decided they want to become members of this church. So they got the number of missionaries in Prishtine - the Elders and then met us. Amazing! Talk about finding prepared people, wow. So we all taught Restoration together, and we'll be working with them every day (hopefully) up until their baptism in a couple weeks! Pray for them to keep their strong faith and desires to convert, because they are amazing.
Also had a powerful lesson with our faithful recent-convert couple who we work with, and Cifti Hydrick (I translated for them, so fun and great language practice) were really able to help them and give them hope and strength that they need amidst some hefty trials they're going through, so it was humbling to be a part of that.
Oh and N! Our amazing investigator who is 15 and so smart, studying Math and Physics at a charter school, so our long conversations about science and the Plan of Salvation are pretty mind-blowing.

There are so many amazing people here. Some are more interested than others in the Gospel, but really, these Kosovars are so nice and friendly and thoughtful and generous and cool and I am so impressed by them all the time. I love the wonderful people I get to meet and become friends with here, I feel so lucky to be doing this great work and focusing on what matters over here in Prishtina. <3

I love the Book of Mormon a lot, keep finding more verses that I LOVE and seem to have passed over the first couple times I've read through it. Alma 34 is so great right? Because that is a CLASSIC question of the soul.. what is the purpose of life?? Verse 32 can help with that one!

Wow this is so long! But I guess that's pretty accurate because this week's been packed with some amazing lessons and people and experiences.

I had way more pics I was excited to send.. from last week, but they're on my trainee's camera, which is not in this internet cafe! (the camera is missing not the trainee #sightandsound lol)

JU DUA SHUME kaloni bukur, Zoti ju bekofte. Hajt shimi, flasim javen tjeter! S'po di nese Perkthimi i googlit punon pra pac fat nen!

<3 <3 <3 <3
Motra Rajlli :)
from last wk again!

with the Weidmanns!

"our first hug!" haha thought you might like these from 6wks ago

love our little branch <3 (this was from our activity last wk.. Relief society prepping food together, just like in any other ward!)

this is our ward mission leader he's awesome haha (and he might go to BYU.. hang out w him Isaac!) / and some elders.. if they're gonna take selfies on my camera put them on the blog hah

Motra Ariza made her first cake EVER (two branch members had birthdays on Saturday)