Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Week 39 - Durrës/ djersë

e mrekullueshme 
check out that view! love my cute companion :) 

heart-attacked a couple member friends' doors BUT one person we're 99% sure it was the wrong door so I guess we made a stranger's day! besides the personal notes w/ the girls' name 

I LOVE this cute, adorable little girl who lives in Germany! Visiting family here, and def.a highlight of my week is seeing her at church <3

H! cutie/ awesome member fam and thanks so much for the huge lunch, A! 

loove these awesome siblings! their brother is serving in our mission right now!! (Elder C- Gjakova)
A made us a huuge lunch even though they had over 30 relatives coming in town that night. Wow talk about charity/ service/ just straightup thoughtful 
 such amazing members, Lagja e Durresit te dua :) 

best part of Albania besides amazing investigators/ members and cheap fruit: abandoned buildings to explore on Monday! 

I love sister Davis! p-day "hike" in this heattt :) 

District pic! before Elder Rigby heads back to Maqedoni after his "vacation" here

 more Albanian food (I love the greek salads and melons all over the place, but as far as the people who cook for me are concerned, I was never vegan haha)

Hej si jeni, ju duam shumë. <3 
This past week? Incredible. So hot and exhausting and longgg but packed with so many amazing people and cool/ uplifting/ testimony- building experiences that more than once I found myself thinking, I love my mission, I am so blessed I get to serve here, I never want this to end... etjI also felt completely worn-out and inadequate a few times as well, so it was cool to see that any time I felt a little down for whatever reason (usually this weather and feeling super tired... not complaining btw! just tryna be honest) not too long after, something awesome would happen i.e. we'd run into an awesome new investigator or friendly member or someone would feed us or I'd read just what I needed to be reminded of during studies in the morning. 

Our new investigator, F, is absolutely amazing! I met her street contacting a couple weeks ago and gave her a card with our # and she called us a few days ago, and we met, and she is so cool and smart and open-minded with such a sincere desire to find the truth and serve/ live accordingly! Our second lesson we brought along B (Elder Lesi's sis.) and turns out they are childhood friends!! Hadn't seen each other in ages so that was sweet, but this also ended up being the longest lesson of my mission I've ever been in.. nearly 3 hrs!! And then the next lesson with F, she brought along her cousin and she basically ended up teaching him restoration and testifying of the Book of Mormon/ importance of praying about it to know for ourselves etc., yeah she's so awesome.

Also got another awesome and prepared new investigator, D, a kind professor who has studied religion and accepted the invitation the be baptized after a great first lesson yesterday.. probably the smoothest lesson I've had since I've been out. Btw, it's refreshing not being a trainee or trainer because it doesn't feel like there's anything holding us back from just testifying sincerely and teaching clearly/ bouncing off each-other evenly. Sister Dejves has great object lessons and little stories/ analogies to spice up our teaching, and I've seen them all a million times by now haha but for each new lesson they're just as engaging for our investigators! 

Speaking of sister Dejves, she is so sweet and I love serving with her because we have great deep conversations on our long walks to appointments, but also because when she thinks something's funny she laughs so hard and can't stop and then it makes me laugh hahaha so fun. 

Had a great exchange with sister H, who usually serves in Maqedooni but has been in Vlore for the past month, she is suuch a solid and hard-working missionary! And she has great taste in food so ever since our exchange with her I've been craving your sweet potato/ black-bean chili mom..  

I love visiting with our members, hiked up to the C's and loved singing hymns with them after lunch and an interactive lesson.  

Yep it's soo different than Kosovo.. for many reasons, but one is the receptiveness of the Albanians here concerning the gospel! I really appreciate all the sincere besimtare I get to meet. It's been hard getting those of other faiths to understand the importance of baptism by the proper authority! As in, priesthood authority. Also many of our investigators don't feel 100% ready for baptism.. I love that they want to make sure they have a testimony of these things for themselves, but I also remind them that when we're baptized we're just taking the first step and from there we continue to learn and grow and improve. 

I'll end with a quote we used in many lessons this past week that's helped me so much : "God cares a lot more about who we are and who we are becoming than who we once were. He cares that we keep trying." We've all done dumb stuff that we regret, but we all have access to the enabling power of the atonement, which means positive change and looking forward, not back. I am so grateful for this! !

<3 lotsa love, Motra Rajlli/ Madi :) xoxo 

former- Motra Tengu (who's Klaudia?)

sneak-peek of the Vlore beach! 

those round turtle shell-lookin things are bunkers btw! (post-communism.. )

loove this baby (son of one of our awesome investigators, E)  and he hates wearing diapers btw lol 

evil eye to ward off evil spirits (doesn't mean I'm Muslim, no worries)

our friend P introduced us to her pet duck (btw here in Durres clothes are optional.. European thing, plus it's super hot) 

using what was left in the cupboards, whipped up a (tomato) empinada, Motra Ariza be proudd ;)

thought you'd enjoy these mom :) but haha the first one I'm the only one not looking -_- 

these cute sisters in our ward! the older one plans to go to BYU soon! After a mini- mission/ The younger one reminds me of Rachel a lot sometimes :) they are awesome, and so is their mom! (& their Gjyshja, who loves Elder S who was my DL in Prishtina ha I heard alll about how she insists that he baptize her, and now I've seen it for myself)

wrong church but still pretty 

wanted a candid comp pic here ha but no photographer.. so here's one half of our companionship

spoons after fhe with this awesome couple (members)!! soo fun :)

Monday, July 20, 2015

Week 38 - Durres

 O, our awesome investigator who we tracted into our 2nd day here, came to church woo! :)

 temple trip! so uplifting to feel that spirit again... jk Rome's not dedicated yet 

Durres District!(fergon to p-day futbol in Tirana) 

sky looked super cool from our apt this morning, also we are woken up by roosters errday (in Shqip they say "ri-ki-ki-kee" haha) 

Qeni qep'n le te haje
"let the dog eat the onion" aka that's their prob....just a funny new saying I learned but only use in emails home, because as missionaries, we would say, "qeni, mos e haje qepen.. haje buken;duam t'ju ndihmojhme prandaj na degjoni edhe hajdeni ne kishe" haha took that too far but my point was that as missionaries (and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, wherever we may be) we are here to serve and uplift everyone around us.. one of the best ways we can improve the qualities of our lives is by understanding and living the doctrines of the restored gospel, and that is what I am trying to preach to the people of Albania these days, everyday. 

It is HOT here and humid (never complaining about Texas or Florida weather again lol!) and I've sweat more this past week than the first 20 yrs of my life up til then (tmi, sorry). Funny to look back at the beginning of my mission in Prishtina were I was absolutely freezing 24/7 it felt like, and compare it to the VAP here. And it doesn't cool off at night; walking home right before 9 it feels like mid-afternoon! Afternoons, btw, the streets are completely deserted because everyone is napping (and escaping the weather with fans and cold water) so we try to plan our study times around that so we can be outside or knocking doors when people are awake and willing to chat. 

Luckily, since being out here in the Adriatic South, I've learned a lot more than how to endure extreme weather conditions... actually, seeing as I'm at my HALFWAY POINT (almost as crazy as the fact that Eliza's only got 2 months left!), I've been thinking a lot about life lessons learned out here and I'd have to say the most valuable ones have to do with my understanding of the scriptures, specifically in relation to the Plan of Salvation and Christ's Atonement. Mom, I liked the "hump-day" mission poem haha about how the first 1/2 has a lot of personal growth and change and realizations etc. and the 2nd half is all about the people; get your solid foundation and then just share and spread the word. I'm definitely ready for that in my missionary work! 

Oh I wanted to mention some funny highlights to help you get a better idea of daily life in Shqiperi.

*the street corner by the institute center has a butcher shop (very common and they stink as you can imagine; rotting meat stands lining the sidewalks everywhere) and usually we just pass goat heads or skinned animals chillen in the windows, but we got a sneak-peek one day when a side door was opened and we saw the lambs lying on the sidewalk, bleating, then walked past 5min later and didn't hear any more "baa"s but we did hear what sounded like water being poured.. it wasn't water. (Hah a vegan's take on Albanian meat markets lol? Someone else might say it looks delicious). 

*A guy came up to us while street contacting and asked us like 5 times if we want Albanian husbands, we clearly said no, we have another purpose and invited him to learn from the Elders and he made a face and left. Lol that's such a common experience tbh but this guy was def. the most forward/ persistent! The things that become normal over here..

*Motra Dejves had TONS of bad, itchy mosquito bites so some members gave her raki (Alabanian traditional alcoholic beverage) to rub all over them and it totally helped, I guess!

Yeah, it is HOT, I think my feet are damaged for life (constantly throbbing, is that normal dad?), but I love it here, I love my mission and this wonderful chance to serve in Durres. 
KLM! Ju duam, ju puthii! :*
<3 madi :)

Fruit sorbet (melon and kiwi etc!) and nutella ice-cream for sister Davis (her FAVE) gives us a little boost of enthusiasm aka energy to do this work 24/7 in this HEAT 
watermelon is less than $2 here!! YES. our stove's still broken.. we're getting by just fine, livin' off the land ;) (aka Albanians are hospitable so we get snacks at lessons)

cool-looking sky again
this little cutie! <3  /  
this girl, was the (Albanian, obvi) sister missionary serving in San Jose, Cali, and I wrote to her and finally got to meet her! 
 cool view (hej stacioni autobusit!) from a member fam's nice 13th floor apt. shyqyr the elevator worked 

Kosovo's not the only Adriatic South country that flies our flag!

maybe you could google translate this graffiti? haha