Monday, November 23, 2015

Week 56 - urime feste thanksgivinggg jam mirenjohese per ju

this is who I talked about in my email  

RS activity and my little primary class (the member I was on a split w took the pic no worries) 

Hej! Wow every single day was packed with all sorts of things i.e. one day we had 3 equally amazing but completely different lessons with great investigators, then rushed to a relief society activity: making byrek together, it was us and 3 awesome recent converts, then went out to a former investigator's farm (the super cute and sweet lady L who can't get baptized b/c of her bros in Greece) and worked in the fields for an hour for some service, fun and nice to mix it up and therapeutic to shovel aty te toka haha and then great lessons with members in their cozy homes out in that same village. And yesterday in church (sacrament hall has been pretty full these past weeks btw! Hello Lushnje ward soon? kismet..) sister Eliason and I conquered our fears and sang solos in sac mtg. (a verse each and then together with parts) because we'd made a deal at the beg. of this transfer that we would, so check "sing a solo in public" off my list! ;) And it was Lutjen a e the, my favee. Just ask anyone in my mtc group. ;)

Anyways what I really wanna tell you about is an INCREDIBLE experience that happened... actually, is still happening and it is amazing to be a part of. Btw I'm sharing this in hopes of inspiring/ encouraging anyone reading this that miracles are out there and not to brag with a cool success story. Alma 26:36! 

This is the story of A (17 yrs), and how her excitement about the gospel spread to her entire neighborhood. To start at the beginning.. we met A on the street in front of the church one morning two weeks ago, with her little brother, O. We invited her up to our church to check it out and had a quick lesson about prayer and hope etc. and she was interested to meet again so we got general directions to her house and a phone #. That's pretty usual for us here, but then this past week, on an exchange with sis. Henderson, we ventured out to try and find this girl with her fam (a solid 20-min drive, plus some wrong turns) and when we met up with her, she'd brought along her brothers and a bunch of their friends to meet us. We sat down in the grass right there since their house was still a 15-min walk and a bunch of neighborhood kids and teens on their ways home from school hopped off their bikes and joined us. It was amazing, teaching the restoration and testifying powerfully... and even though we had over 10 kids, it was silent b/c A's older brother glared at anyone who started whispering ha. 

Then we went back a couple days later, with sis. Eliason this time, and we felt like celebrities.. as we drove up all the kids ran up to greet us and when we got out they all hugged us/ shook our hands and this lesson was a little more hectic since there were about thirty of them!!! All gathered around us, we sat on the grass out in a tiny village here in Albania, surrounded by fields and mandarin trees etc. It was more crowd- control this time since they were eager to participate, and just so many of them. Just amazing, gave them each a card w/ pic of Christ as we explained the significance of his atonement and we sang "a Child's prayer" ne Shqip to them at the end, and it was just unreal, out there, surrounded by these children and teens so eager to learn more about Heavenly father, and our savior Jesus Christ, and the significance of his sacrifice and everything that means for them/ us... it was our little Albanian "sermon on the mount" te fshati. So we definitely have our work cut out for us these upcoming weeks! Get to everyone's houses and meet their families.... still trying to process what just happened ha. Btw they were soo eager to come to church and it was pouring rain yesterday but apparently like 15 of them were all dressed up and ready to go but they just couldn't find a fergon/ bus so they went back home wet and disappointed. :( So we'll def. make sure a fergon driver knows to swing by there Sunday morning. 

Speaking of rides to church... E, that mom who just got baptized WALKED (pouring rain, remember?) over an hr to church, along the freeway (Albanian drivers, enough said), with her little 6-yr old son! No money for a bus ride but determined to obey the commandments no matter what. Don't ever think you're too tired/busy/poor/far to make it to sacrament meeting, and if you do, think of E yesterday morning. 

Wow there's actually so much more but I think it's enough to end with my testimony that the gospel is for everybody! Regardless of concerns/doubts/backgrounds/biases... I know this is true because the people we teach are incredibly different (not to mention all the faithful members in different parts of the world) but the gospel is the same wonderful message of hope and joy and peace which every one of us is searching for (whether we're aware that we are or not) and need, no matter where we come from.

So grateful for the knowledge and comfort and hope and reassurance I receive through the message of the restored gospel of our savior Jesus Christ, and especially around this time of year...I just feel especially thankful for my wonderful family and kind friends/ relatives etc. and I just wanna say that I love you all, thank you soo so much for your faithful, strong, down-to-earth, prioritizing examples, and I wish you all a happy thanksgiving! Eat some sweet potatoes (yams?) for me (so you can have twins! jk) since I haven't seen them here! Ndihem shuume mirenjohese fare dhe ju dua shume ju te gjithe dhe ju falenderoj per cdo gje qe me keni mesuar. Love youu
me dashuri nga Motra Rajlli <3 

!!!! Berat, kinda the Prizren of Albania? 

this mini-misionare is so cute and taught me some popullore dances in exchange for flute (recorder) lessons ha 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Week 55 - Lushnje

whipped up a spinach byrek.. just call me nene Rajlli ;) 

and this fam again, they're awesome and soo down-to-earth and humble and teach me so much through their faithful examples every time we go over there..

beautiful Berat!  

Lutjen a e the? (Kenga ime shqiptare e prefaruar..<3)

E dashur familja ime....
hej c'beni, si po kaloni..??
Sounds like you are all doing well, glad to hear. I am also doing great.. lovin' my mission and the work here in Lushnje.. really incredible experiences every single day.... <3

This past week was filled with really cool finding experiences, for example... almost every morning we street contact in front of our church building and pull people in for tours of our church and slip in a lesson and it is an incredibly effective way to find new investigators... usually moms who live in villages and are in-town to do some shopping so within the next couple days we find their house (down dirt roads and past abandoned buildings and bars etc.) and teach them along with their family... it's worked a couple times and it's a miracle every time. Not just the fact that we actually find where they live (Albanians don't have addresses...) but that we're able to teach families! One of those families was baptized last week, and they're doing awesome. <3 And we met an awesome couple with two cute kids who are working towards baptismal dates in the beginning of December.

Anyways.. have a crazy story from last night ha. It was Motra Eliason's 20th bday btw! (In church, after the closing prayer from sacrament meeting, she was asked to stand and the entire congregation sang her "happy birthday", in Albanian ~"shume Urime per ty"~ hah def. a bday to remember?) but it got better! That night we had a lesson with the awesome Jeshili fam (E gave her a bouquet of roses and some cloth that was given to her as a gift...<3 "we don't have much, but what we do have, we share" true dat) and as we pulled into Lushnje after visiting them, sis E mentioned that our phone wasn't in her purse. After checking the backseat we turned around and went to the fshat a 10-15 min. drive away, figuring we'd left it at their house. This was around 8pm by the way, and it is completely dark by 6pm here. So we got to the village and parked and walked down the little dirt road in the pitch black and when we got to their house, the gate was locked! This family's house is connected to the back of someone else's house (w/ a couple barking dogs) btw. By the time my comp. said "there's no way we're hopping the fence" I was already halfway over, so we climbed it, skirts and all, and they were a little surprised to see us again but we explained that our phone was missing and they instantly turned their tiny house upside-down looking for it and calling it, but it was nowhere to be found so we headed back to our car as they kept calling it, and still no sight of our little phone so we prayed. That prayer in and of itself, huddling in the cold and dark in a remote village in the middle of Albania with a helpful and generous recent-convert Albanian couple was such a remarkable experience, but it gets better.. sis E felt like we should go back and check the fork in the road- where we turned the car around earlier. I ran up ahead to scope out the scene and sure enough, there it was, wedged in a clump of bushes, down another little dirt road. Thanks to E calling, it lit up and I was able to see it. Still amazed at what happened, and actually we had a similar experience a couple weeks ago but I forgot to mention it b/c didn't want you to be worried mom ha. ;)

Church is true, so grateful for the wonderful gospel and our inspired leaders who guide and direct the church on earth today, with continual revelation.
Jave te mbare!!
<3 Motra Rajlii
ps got a little package from Eliza and Mom, so unexpected and such a fun surprise, thanks soo much <3 :)

e te festojme.. choc and pb, can't go wrong..
and i made frozen-banana/ berrry "sorbet" to go with it! cake and ice-cream (plant-based, might I add..)

 one of our cool members made us this "village bird"... i dipped white bread in the broth.. be jealous of my dinner appointments, eliza ;)

From Madi's companion's weekly update:
  • I woke up to Motra Rajlli's birthday poster and beautiful chocolate/peanut frosting cake 
  • We hiked up a mountain so an investigator would come to church with us
  • We made some goofy videos with interpretive dancing to EFY songs 

The night before my birthday, Motra Rajlli asked me a lot of questions about my 19th year that had me reflect on it.  
Today we went to Berat to practice our skit for Thanksgiving and we think it's going to be pretty good!  This week we have interviews with President Weidmann (the mission president), and we want to do a service project in the fields. It's going to be an awesome week! 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Week 54 - Lushnje

 here's me in Lushnje!


 the golden family!! 
the fam's 1st sel!fie!  /  this awesomee family! 

 i duam<3 

Pershendetje nga Lushnja! jkxh e jdsh e klm :)
Hej! E and L got baptized yesterday morning before church.. it was wonderful and they are so great. <3 During second hour (I go on splits with a member and teach primary) I taught "a Child's prayer" (in Albanian po pra) to the little girls there and they were so cute singing it and a powerful reminder to me that eloquence and big vocab is not important when we're just talking with our Heavenly Father.. no need to try to impress when the objective is simply to speak from the heart!

For our training we felt like our zone just needed a little pick-me-up so we went for a more light-hearted approach and it was fun. Had an exchange and I got to go back to Durres! <3 With Motra Ariza :) basically my 2nd and 3rd transfers morphed into one day ha? While I was away the sisters here met an awesomee new investigator, M, and she is probably the most prepared person I've taught on my mission yet. When asking her to be baptized on the second lesson she said, "yes! it's a dream come true!" etc. and we also met an awesome family who owns a little fruit treg.. when we went to stock up on bananas etc. and spinach (gonna make some byrek) we ended up having a great, friendly conversation with the sweet mom who works there and daughter our age, and it turned to more of a gospel discussion when the dad came because he works in the neighboring villages with nonprofits and basically his goal is to serve as many people as possible and he's the referral jackpot because after we came back and taught restoration the next evening (on some plastic chairs and wooden stools out on the street next to the crates of veggies) he told us about the many families he works with who have great faith but need the hope and strength of the gospel just like anyone else and he recognized that with his job he helps them out temporally but as missionaries we are here to help people spiritually, and that's exactly right. We make sure to testify of Christ and his atonement in every lesson and it's powerful. I'm so grateful for this great sacrifice... see Alma 7: 11-13  ("11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.   12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.  13 Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me").

Ju dua shume, ju perqafoj, ju uroj nje jave te mbare, sa me bukur etj..
<33 Motra Rajlli :)

this girl is amaazing

got to see my old investigators at kurs when I went back to Duress <3 love that place <3  
gotta serve w/ motra arithe-solar again, this is the durres sisters' new apt. #saraja?

haha got a picture w/ these ice-cream scooper friends (sis davis and i knew them too well..) 

and exotic fruit salad yess ignore our faces  

impromptu vocal point dance party after planning?

hahah one of our members gave us a home-grown squash so i told her i'd make her a treat with it (i.e. pumpkin bars) but it turned out a lot different than what I had in mind (none of the right ingredients and it wasn't even a pumpkin.. wrong kind of squash ha! and possibly rotten)... probably the ugliest "pumpkin pie" ever? ;) but i told her i'd make it so i kept my word; integrity>self-respect ha (plus her 1-yr old son loved it #babyfood)

tonsss of pics for you since i have a bunch from last wk too haha  

everytime we go to someone's house we leave with a bag full of pomegranates (throwback to Gpa Ernie's house!) so I put some in your (vegan) choc. cake 

and we make the bestt turli/ gjelle 

and yuum curry lentils with fresh bay leaves (dafin) from an investigator fam 

haha didn't have tape to hang up this pic he drew (in my little primary class btw haha!) so these little address labels you made me came in handy 
and little cutie A whose parents were baptized yesterday and he says great prayers