Monday, August 31, 2015

Week 44 - Durres

beautiful Durres <3

these are the traditional clothes I love, idk if you can see them well in the pic tho

baxhanak (if you can figure out this word, it's in honor of Isaac und Sandra!)
Hejj ckemi :)  
Shyqyr my letters made it to Florida yay hope the ones coming this way make it too:)
Yet another awesome/longg/ crazy week here in Durres! Also hot.. Vapa ka kthyer. (Edhe ka me najt me duket! oops geg)

Here's the light quote I mentioned last week: "I am not the light or the source of light. But light- the light of truth, understanding, and knowledge- is there, and that light will only shine in many dark places if I reflect it...I can reflect light into the dark places of this world...and change some things in some people. Perhaps others may see and do likewise. This is what I am about. This is the meaning of my life." (~Dr. Alexander Papaderos)

Moving backwards through the week, here are some highlights/ interesting things that have happened,,
*yesterday evening while doing some street contacting, saw a gypsy girl holding her baby (practically suffocating, wrapped up super tightly in blankets), shaking him vigorously, to get him to stop crying? not supporting his little neck at all, so I went over to talk to her (about the gospel as well as shaken baby syndrome..) and while chatting she thrust her little 3-month son in my arms (ah white handbook) while she rummaged in her pockets for a pen or something. Then she took him back to breastfeed him while walking around asking people for money. (Whether it's old men in speedos or women breastfeeding out in the open, these people have no shame..)

*prepared a lesson involving a hymn for a recent convert who we meet with before church, but yesterday when we walked into the chapel and our Bishop saw the violin case he asked if we'd do a musical number for sacrament mtg. so we threw something together.. me on piano and sis Dejves on violin, "nearer, my God to thee" (Josh's fave to play apa jo?), and to mix it up we played different parts/ octaves and improvised at the end haha sis. Davis w/ cool harmonies and me doing moving left-hand/ chord progressions or whatever haha and our awesomee (and huge!) ward liked it shyqyr so it was fun even though last-minute ha.

*that older guy in our ward (Vellai M) I have pics with from a couple weeks ago, brought us some awesome new potentials/ investigators, who we met at church yesterday. When we met with one of them, A, at her home yesterday she told us they met him because he was struggling to carry something on the road so she went and helped him and he invited her to church and she came, with her friend, B, and they both brought their cute 9-yo sons. And this lady, A is amaazing and so.. happy, and kind, and I'm so excited to keep meeting with her and teach her the gospel because she is so ready for it.

*One of our members is J, a renowned (travels throughout Europe to perform etc.) opera tenor, and he's singing for stake conf. and sis. Davis is accompanying him on piano, super cool to hear them practice.

*Futbol is fun here, our investigator Lo comes (but wasn't at church this week :( but she did come to the yw activity!) but other than her it's just little street boys, very competitive and very dramatic. It's a fun way to get people in contact with the church.
*Al is an amaazing, sweet and sincere older lady who I'd say is our best investigator right now, there's just one problem~she can't come to church because she nannies for a 4-yo autistic boy whose mom is pregnant.

*printed fliers for stake conference (I wish Kosovo was included!) and, being sister missionaries, baked about 6 batches of snickerdoodles to deliver little treat plates along w/ notes and the stake conf. invites to our ward members.. we wanted the cookie dough to go farther so we made tiny cookies which, once baked were basically 2-d hah but they were a hit even though they weren't much to look at haha. But whew finding some of those inactives, who lived way out in the foothills/ down dirt roads, all I can say is they better come to stake conference, or at least I hope they liked the cookies :)

I LOVE our ward and members here. They are amazingg. <3 Just livin' the dream here in Durres! ;) So fun to see pics and everything, JU DUA KLM fare mirutakofshim nepermjet email-it ;) flasim prape javen tjeter dhe Urime Mua e Shatori-it..

love you!!
Madi :) <3

I have a favor to ask you :) can you please send me a list of basic ukelele chords?? there is one left at our apt. and I want to play it (hymns in lessons!? etc.). and rachel, you know some uke right, can you send me any tips plz?? i'll learn your fave hymn, translate to shqip and play it for you hah to thank you for sending me this info. sorry.. i just can't use the internet remember :)

Isaac's lookin so European! do you have any more pics of them please send me!!! haha yes I love these (pics of Isaac and Sandra), aw she is so cute! does Isaac tell you any details?

We love Madi's paper letters that she sends home once or twice a month!

warning: gross (no worries not another black eye hah) 
remember that slaughtershop I mentioned right by the center? the stray dogs love their leftovers

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Week 43 - Durres

po mundohem, po kenaqem

I should get a scholarship for these pics (my shirt: "I <3 byui")

this place is amazingg

hiked through thorns but worth it 
amaazing Skenderbeu castle. With some Tirana missionaries aka I got to see Nene Z! and sister White!

and hunger games? 

Hej! Happy 23rd anniversary mom and dad! To celebrate, you should throw yourselves an Albanian dasem (wedding party).

As usual, my pics make it look like I'm on vacation, but lemme tell ya, 6.5 out of 7 days of the week it does not feel like it. Still hot, still lots of finding aka rejection, but somehow we managed to get 9 new investigators this past week! Granted, 4 of them dropped us after a couple days, but it's a cool story how we found them. Our first p-day here, we found the beach as you saw, and a nice mom w/ her kids showed us where to go and later we ran into the 13-yo daughter again and she was interested in meeting or kurs but never answered the phone. Then, exactly a week ago, we'd just finished up email and were tracting (right before we started we were praying pretty sincerely, "please help us to find people we can help and teach.. we know they're out there, guide us/ place us in their path..") when we went to a new neighborhood and the bldg. we stopped at the 4th floor because from there up it was pitch black. the 1st door we knocked on was the home of this family! The next day we had a great restoration lesson with their bestfriends/ neighbors. The girl seemed especially interested and eager to read but we aren't teaching them anymore because her older sister is about to start attending a special Muslim school and wear the headscarf so the mom made it clear that her family won't be switching religions. But we know there's a reason we ran into them again, and I'm pretty sure it's for this girl, who now has a Book of Mormon.

Also, Lo (I don't use people\s names for privacy but just so it doesn't get confusing I'll use the 1st two letters b/c I also wanna mention "Le" haha) is doing amazing! A sweet 17-yo from kurs (free English classes the missionaries teach) who we spotted potential in and has been showing amazing interest and faith lately.. just a little trouble with her traditionally-Muslim family who don't support (or allow..) her getting baptism. 

Also Le, this awesome, super- prepared 18-yo guy we started teaching at kurs and then handed to the elders b/c he's a guy, is so strong in his testimony already.. he went to fsy (efy) this past week and shared such a sincere testimony at church yesterday, it's amazing to see him not only accept but flourish with the gospel.. in kurs he basically teaches our spiritual thought for us, and he decided to move to durres for school instead of staying with his family in their village so he can come to church here. Future stake president, calling it. 

Also E, 18-ish and her mom, are so sweet and amazing.. Muslim, also found through kurs, but we have had some of the best discussions with them because these two are so loving and eager to learn, and compare with their faith/ background but never in an argumentative way.

Also Xh was MIA for a couple weeks but luckily we met with her again and she's still solid and should be getting baptized next month once her schedule changes so she can attend church. A, a sweet older woman, referral actually, is amazing and we had one of the best first-lessons I've ever had, a couple days ago with her. Well, hope you enjoyed the progress record. ;)

I have a long quote about not being the source of light but reflecting it, and that's enough etc. but no time to type it out ha so I'll leave you with the words of the always great (and Albanian!) Nene Tereza: "Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier." 
Ju dua! Jave te mbare! 
(Also, Eliza, soo cool you get to come full-circle and finish where you were trained! Ah cool. Miss youu! <3)
<3 Love, Madi :) 

i wanna come to your seminary class haha Are you super tired these days though haha? what time do you get up? I think 6:30 is hard enough haha!  don't take it personally if Rachel says it's boring, she said stonehenge was boring.

got to see Enide! in her hometown
exchange w motra ranta in Elbasan, she's halfway through training and super sweet 

got to see Motra Peters!

Lori came to church!!!!! 

haha a dying Elder's planner.. sneaky 

there's a lot of funny stories behind this drawing.. (by Motra Davis) a dropped investigator of the elders who is Jewish/ lived in Israel for a while and shared an entertaining testimony in sacrament (youth were sharing efy experiences and he had some thoughts to share too so he got up and the bishop stopped him so he just walked up in front of the podium instead)

sorry I take so many pics haha, everything's just so cool here (also after having a camera stolen I'm a little paranoid of losing them all again ha)

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Week 42 - Durres

eating SHARK! from the adriatic sea. sis Mema (American) cooked it for us, and their apt. feels like a cruise ship 

did I mention how beautiful this country is!? I just wanna come here and listen to the waves and write in my journal  

right before I met that snake btw 
came THIS CLOSE to a viper! jk not sure what kinda snake tbh but whew crazy 

Albanians are quite the recyclers! 

Albania <3  

window view: Shqiperia  /  helloo Durres 
sweet view/ roof of bldg we tracted 

coooolest p-day trip today !I say that every time but really, this place is amazinggggg and thank goodness for p-days that's all I can say haha  

feel like Eliza and Isabella with these yoga poses haha  

e hengra peshkeqene!
Hej! Oh man so much weird stuff happens these days. Sometimes I make a mental note to mention to you guys on p-day to give ya a glimpse of (missionary) life in Shqiperi, but then I'm like nah, it wouldn't do it justice so why bother? But, I'ma do my best to describee..

This past week was packed with finding aka testifying and getting yelled at/ rejected and really appreciating polite/ civil responses. (It is so frustrating when I hear people out even if what they're saying is ridiculous, but the second I open my mouth they interrupt/ cut me off/ talk over me. So rude. Not to mention, we have the answer to their questions/ concerns! If they would only give it a chance; just listen.) We tried the music- street contacting approach again, this time violin and singing while Elders talked to people. Not too successful, but the street we chose seemed to be a popular hangout spot for the elderly so I figured we could at least brighten a nice older lady's day with a song~ "I am a child of God" is usually a crowd- pleaser. So I stopped a nice- (and very old-) looking lady and asked if we could sing to her but oops didn't realize she was a very devout Muslim and when she found out we believe that God is our loving Heavenly Father, not just a mysterious/ all-powerful mist, and that we are his children, not just his creatures, or creations, she was very upset and went off at us, wagging her finger and shouting and hopping up and down (Rumpelstiltskin? jk) and we didn't get a chance to say much else because she was making too much noise but I guess our calm reactions surprised her and before she left, when she'd simmered down a little, she told us we were nice (but, "misinformed"). 

Also, a naked, heavier woman answered her door and all she had was a washcloth around her waist like a loincloth, explained that she just got back from the beach but we didn't stick around too long, just handed a #sepseaijeton card (yep still using those btw, timeless vid.. go re-share it to fb!) and moved on to the next door. I must say, I really prefer tracting to street contacting! Maybe because I've always liked seeing peoples' houses (nosy?) but it seems way more effective to me because if people show any sign of interest we know where to find them again (poor them! jk). But at least out on the street people are dressed lol.. pros and cons. 
I have a lot of pics that will explain other stuff. 

Also dad, the other week you mentioned that often missions are "95% drudgery with about 5% thrills", and I have to admit I've found that to be true lately, but then I remind myself that I didn't come out here for the "thrills", I came out here to preach the gospel to these amazing Albanians, whether they think they wanna hear it or not! ;)
Speaking of amazing ALbanians, I loove our ward and members here, they are all so cool and nice and strong and constantly impressing me with their faith. <3 <3 

I've been reading through King Benjamin's addresses in personal study lately, packed with truuth. In Mosiah 2:25 it talks about how we mortals are nothing in comparison to God's greatness.. not gonna lie, I prefer the emphasis on our divine nature and potential and individual worth (#YWvalues ha) but Sister Davis shared this quote with me from Brad Wilcox (Sis. Ariza knows him, fun fact haha) that explains it perfectly; "Without God, we are nothing...Nothing doesn't mean means powerless. We are powerless without God...Grace is not the absence of God's high expectations; it is the presence of his power."  (emphasis added ;)) I know that this is so true and I'm really grateful for the Gospel, which is the same Gospel taught by Old Testament prophets, Book of Mormon prophets (i.e. King Ben!), Jesus Christ himself, and all 80,000 of us full-time missionaries throughout the world today. 

Good luck teaching seminary mom! and feel free to send me any great lessons you use because I bet the people I teach would appreciate all your insights too! Oh also, my comp and I loove Elder Dale G. Renlund's talk about change/ saints are sinners who keep on trying (#thxrobertlouisstevenson) and we constantly quote and discuss it. Anyways Shakespeare's quote (from his play "As you like it"? stood out to me; " 'twas I; but 'tis not I: I do not shame to tell you what I was, since my conversion so sweetly tastes, being the thing that I am." Made me reflect a lot on how I've acted/ treated people, and especially what a terrible teen I was..but the thing is, I am ashamed to look back at how I was.. but I like to think that I can also confidently say, "'twas I, but 'tis not I"..idk, maybe that's why I love that talk so much, because it is optimistic and all about second- chances/ enduring to the end, and isn't that the core of everything we believe in? "Our greatest glory lies not in never falling but in getting up every time we fall." 
I love you guys! If anyone has a favorite motivational quote, please, send my way haha can't get enough of those ;)
Ju dua, ju puthiiii ju kam loqke ne zemer gjithmone :) <3

Motra Rajlli... Madi:)

oh, PS: I ate SHARK !!!!!!! Officially not even vegetarian. :( Missions change people ha if ya haven't heard.

oh, and Isaac~ dang, TE SHKUARA wow glad you and the German Freundin are doing sehr gut.. schreib mir mal 'was! Rachel, pac fat w/ school and everything and writee mee dude and Josh, good luck with highschool ah and CHINESE haha guess we're kindof a multilingual fam? 

made this cake for a member's bday, borrowed a lighter from a cun off the street and carried it up to her apt. but she wasn't home and by the time we got there the candles melted into it and the frosting caught on fire  

this guy is cool and showed us pics of the 1st missionaries ever to come to Albania (20yrs ago actually) in a little album he carries around in his pocket  

this cutie had her 19th bday.. mission time!? 

primary kids are my faaves
Lagja e Durresit haha ah I love these peeps 

 bishop's son's got a nice bowl cut :) 

& xhaxhi 

little did we know, the 1st floor of a bldg. we tracted was a SLAUGHTERHOUSE check that knife on the floor  

and a river, believe it or not! 

ok so our stove doesn't work and we don't have many dishes which means I got a little creative, whipped up some chili in this cake pan, baked in the oven lol 
it was SO YUMMY I have to admit :) for breakfast too lol my meal schedules are so backwards these days. I wanted to make your roasted chickpeas but don't have a can opener or soy sauce haha 

hi sis Davis! rockin my shirt ;)  /  po bejme trokitje