Monday, February 1, 2016

Week 66 - me barin e thatë, digjet dhe i njomi

this was in Berat a while back

this awesome and cute family! HUGE progress btw, their testimonies and confidence and happiness and gospel understanding are all skyrocketing 

sweet member, D <3

beautiful Albanian sky ;)

Hej! Si jeni, mire? It's not freezing here anymore, def. not like Kosovo and basically like Florida? ;)
I have to admit, there were a couple times this past week when I just felt like we were running around in circles but not towards the finish line... wearing ourselves out without really accomplishing anything. Investigators with soo much potential taken off baptismal dates because no matter how hard we push they're not progressing and it can not be one-sided; in fact, it has to be their desire, their action because it's their conversion and who's gonna get up and go to church or read and pray when we're transferred and aren't calling them every day to remind (or beg) them... anyways, just some typical missionary concerns, I think. We're dedicating all of our time and efforts towards bringing people the gospel, so it's hard not to feel it when they just don't seem to care, let alone appreciate and value the uplifting message we're giving them.

But luckily we had an amazing, inspired, revelatory mission conference with our Europe Area President, President Kearon (the one with the scorpion talk). He is just awesome! I have to say this was my favorite meeting I've been to yet my whole mission. Also MLC with him was really great, such a spiritual experience that's for sure. Just everything that was said hit me hard and there's no way I can sum it up so I won't try to, but I really appreciated that he repeatedly told us, "well done. Thank-you. Thank-you for your service and love for the Savior..." His catch phrase seemed to be Don't Worry; Just Work Hard. (haha brainstorming ideas for next week's zone training, Sister Piterz and I considered giving ourselves dreads and playing some Bob Marley to prove our point but decided we'll go for a more.. reverent approach lol). President Kearon mentioned the importance of feeling pleased with our service; recognizing all the good we're doing each day, but never being satisfied. Always striving for improvement, which is generally easy, but taking a positive spin rather than negative; recognize our strengths and use them to boost us forward rather than getting hung up on flaws and remaining stagnant. This email is turning into "7 qualities of highly effective missionaries" so anyways, the rest of the week was great!.......

We have these really sweet, faithful investigators who go to a different church here in Lushnje but now that we've given them Libri i Mormonit, they love reading that as well. On our way to a lesson with them, we were walking through the communist apt. buildings and stopped to say hi to some street kids we're friends with. They were drawing on the street with chalk, so we drew a huge Plan of Salvation diagram and taught the group of neighborhood children about God's plan of happiness. One of the older girls went and grabbed a notebook and copied everything down and we had a few of them teach it back to us. Use your resources! Opportunities to teach are alll around, I sure have a testimony of that. 

A couple of our awesome, super solid recent convert relief society ladies had the great idea to go around and visit less-active (as well as active) families, esp. those out in the villages... something we've been wanting to do just to get our members to know each other since they're all so spread out. Had some amazing successes with that... i.e. met the (baptized) wife and daughter of a nice older active member. We didn't even know these members at all but the wife said she cried when missionaries stopped coming and she really missed contact with the church (we're working on having her in sacrament asap.. she's hesitant to leave her house unattended for a couple hours but we assure her it'll be fine). 

Also we met with a family that we had no idea the dad is a member and he's hilarious and so nice and hasn't been in church since the Elder who baptized him went home but he told us he'll be there next week since it's a new month- fresh start! Sis. Piterz and I are determined to have that whole family sitting in church together (the 2 sons are baptized as well!). This family- the M family- is so awesome and we had an amazing lesson with them the other night, followed by some service-cleaning the mom's dyqan as we'd promised (she insisted that we sit and watch her make us pizza but we grabbed the broom and some rags and she didn't object) and while we ate her homemade pizza (haha I tried to pull off the cheese and salami without anyone noticing but I guess I wasn't as sly as I thought.. the dad made a face and asked me, "is that how y'all eat your pizza in America!?" lol) anyways they turned on some popullore music and the cute grandparents hopped off the couch and started dancing and so did I and the gjyshi grabbed my hand and we danced "valle kosovare" together haha it was awesome. The coolest thing is, with this family we had never been over until recently.. the elders went over there but we wanted to go since we'd never met with the mom even though she's in church every week.. but in church, sitting in the back, glaring at everyone and talking through the entire sacrament meeting etc. and basically she gives off such a hostile vibe at church but at her house she's just a sweet mom telling us about the first time she read from the Book of Mormon.

Also we have a branch choir and it's so cute even though most of the people that come are dragged there by us and they complain that they want to go home and eat (I feel ya! lol) but once we start singing they love it and beg for one more song when it's time to go. We haven't had huuge turnouts in church the past weeks, but instead of focusing on who's not there. Yesterday, looking around at the 24 members that faithfully came (last transfer we broke 50 which was cool but beside the point) I was just filled with admiration for them because I've seen their situations and I know their stories; the sacrifices they make to come, or recent faith crises, or any other obstacle and I am just so grateful for our awesome, sweet, cute members here in Lushnje. So much strength and faith in this small (but not as small as Prishtina! lol) branch. <3

This morning I read Helaman 15:6-8*, and reading through verse 6 I thought, "man, I want to be that." I liked them because they're about personal conversion.. something I witness every day in all sorts of way out here in the Balkans, not even just in the humble Albanians, but in myself too. I know that these things I'm preaching to everyone and their (stray) dog are true! Really grateful for the knowledge the Book of Mormon gives me, and with it, comfort and enlightenment.
Në emër të Jezu Krishtit, Amen. :)

<3 dashuri, Madi

* 6 Yea, I say unto you, that the more part of them are doing this, and they are striving with unwearied diligence that they may bring the remainder of their brethren to the knowledge of the truth; therefore there are many who do add to their numbers daily.  And behold, ye do know of yourselves, for ye have witnessed it, that as many of them as are brought to the knowledge of the truth, and to know of the wicked and abominable traditions of their fathers, and are led to believe the holy scriptures, yea, the prophecies of the holy prophets, which are written, which leadeth them to faith on the Lord, and unto repentance, which faith and repentance bringeth a change of heart unto them— Therefore, as many as have come to this, ye know of yourselves are firm and steadfast in the faith, and in the thing wherewith they have been made free. 
mish conf  
and sis maxfield in Macedonia is awesome and speaks German!

cectpa xacen :)

this is Motra çupaj! who you wrote to regularly in the mtc mom ;) she said she looved and misses the steady flow of mail

I don't remember this being taken but here's some Elders in my mission lol

these cute little boys show up faithfully to sacrament meeting (&kurs!) every week, even when their mom is away at school and unable to make it  

uniting the branch, one visiting teaching (plus a home teacher lol?) visit at a time
sweet member, D <3  
me shoqen time motra piterz (tryna be shqiptare, lotsa makeup just to go grocery shopping? jk)

this was goin on while we had a lesson at a Recent Convert's....

cuuutie eating his lil bite-size petulla

channeling my inner Dutch girl, shoutout to Eliza haha

unofficial exchange with sis Benet, she's super awesome

this cute nënë made me socks <3

hahah it's not freezing anymore and our heaters weren't working anyways plus we live on the 8th floor with a sweet view so we "camped" for a couple nights  
haha our new bedroom  

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