Monday, February 15, 2016

Week 68 - Lushnje

Motrat e Shoqatës së Ndihmës
just to remind you that I'm out here working hard.. hahah I swear, only a small fraction of my time is spent popullore dancing.. just happens to be when I snap a picture..

Hej! Gëzuar Ditën e Shen Valëntinës. ose, Dita e Dashurisë Hynore? #veçare

This time last year I was in Prishtina, spending way too long decorating our church for a valentine's party that hardly anyone came to haha.. this time around we had a lot less prep and a much bigger turnout. Just how I like it. :) Got our Relief Society together- in one of the villages this time, at a member's lokal- and the idea was to make heart-shaped cookies and read Moroni 7 (my idea yep, such a sister missionary ha) but without a cookie-cutter they ended up looking like modern art but the spiritual thought part was great, so that's what matters!  Working on encouraging- and enabling- the members to fulfill their callings, aka for me that means holding myself back and not taking over and planning things, even when that means that nothing's gonna happen if I don't step in.. so this was my last branch activity I planned, as a sister missionary, and I am so good with that.

I came out here to PREACH THE GOSPEL and serve and teach and INVITE OTHERS TO COME UNTO CHRIST and that is what I'm trying to fill my days doing... a little difficult when recipients of this true message aren't quite as enthusiastic/ eager to learn, but luckily I'm here in Lushnjë aka the promised land.... if nothing else, people are super nice and willing to give us the time of day (might have something to do with the fact that 80% of the people we meet are "senior citizens" lol) but really, I just wanna express some gratitude for the opportunity to serve here, where so many at least give the gospel a chance. Keeping their commitments is a whole different story- don't get me started on that- but a willing heart is the first step. We are actually teaching 3 families right now! Awesome, and they all seem to be reading etc. but none have been in church or progressing towards baptism.. so that'll definitely be a major focus this week.

Yesterday in church we had a returning member who hadn't been to church in years but we've recently started meeting with her and she's becoming great friends with some of our AMAZING recent convert Relief Society sisters.. bringin' these lost sheep back to the fold, YES.

Did some service out at the shed (not house.. just a shelter; roof but no walls) of an incredible member. With the (new) elders and our awesome recent convert/ poster relief-society sister, T. Anyways this guy is incredible. Not just because despite his poor living conditions he bikes hours to church, but just has extremely strong faith/ powerful testimony and great insights. His life is a rags-to-riches story: He was cheated and lost his thriving business, his wife and kids left him, and for the past 8 years he's been living in an abandoned cow shed (picture where baby Jesus was born, minus Mary and the animals)... this man is a real inspiration, along with so many of our other faithful, resilient members. I'm so grateful for the dedication and vision of the priesthood leaders guiding our branch.. shoutout to them because I know how discouraging it can be when it seems like everyone is offended/ complaining/ causing problems when we needa just serve and love each-other.. but we just keep going and serving, look forward with faith and miracles happen, especially the times we least expect them.
God is great; church is true....

I'd like to wrap up with a couple verses from Isaiah (I stumbled across them in first Nephi ch.21), they hit me hard because I have to admit a recurring concern is, "am I actually making a difference? Am I really doing all I can for this area/ these people?" so I love the comforting reminder in verse 5: God shall be my strength. And he is; I see the influence of His power every single day, and his hand is definitely guiding the work.
"4 Then I said, I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for naught and in vain; surely my judgment is with the Lord, and my work with my God. 5 And now, saith the Lord—that formed me from the womb that I should be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him—though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the Lord, and my God shall be my strength."
I recommend the whole chapter actually, and I want to dissect the book of Isaiah soon (lately all my scripture study's been getting through the Book of Mormon though- also great)... As we're reminded in 3rd Nephi, Jesus approves those inspired words! (Mom, if you have anything, please send my way! Old Testament, that's your stuff!)
JU DUA, JU PëRQAFOJ, Javë të mbarë! Alles gute, hab' euch ganz lieb <3
Motra Rajlli <3

p.s. if the subject of this email (a little Albanian expression- something along the lines of, much talk is poverty) then I am dirttt poor haha

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