Thursday, June 29, 2017

Week 74: The Best Eighteen Months!


Well.... this is it! It still hasn't really hit yet, that my mission is ending. I don't think it really WILL sink in until I'm on the plane on Thursday. Right now I'm dripping in sweat at a little internet cafe in Berat. A week from today I'll be back with my family celebrating the Fourth of July (my favorite holiday to boot)! Enough of that though... it was an awesome last week on the field!

We met an amazing lady named A on the bus a week ago. She's deaf and mute so she understands us in our lessons by looking at our mouths, hand motions, and writing. A is so positive and always smiling. I learned a lot from her in the past week after meeting with her every day. She accepted a baptismal date and I'm really hopeful for her. She came to church yesterday and two of our sweet members, A and A, wrote down all of the talks for her as they were talking in sacrament meeting so that she could understand. It was a blessing to meet A at the tail end of my mission.

Besides that, we did some cleaned up a plot of land for a member and taught a billion and one lessons. We did a lot of running around so that I could say goodbye to everyone.

It has been a privilege to serve the Lord. I can't express how much this time has meant to me. The past eighteen months have been the hardest yet best, most rewarding months of my life. I've never been happier. It will sting to take off my name tag on Thursday. It may mark the end of my mission but it will certainly only mark the beginning of a life-time of devoted discipleship to the Lord. I'm hopeful and excited for things to come.

I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is true. I know that the Bible and the Book of Mormon are the word of God. I know that we are led by prophets, seers, and revelators today. I know that Christ lives. I've seen Him in the eyes of my friends as they've testified that the things we've taught them are true. I've seen His footsteps in a man that walked three hours in the mountains to go to church. I've heard his voice in the prayer of a humble seeker of truth. I've felt his angels round about me, lifting me up and helping me to overcome my weaknesses and proclaim his gospel - all in order to accomplish His marvelous work.

"Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever." - Alma 26:12.

I'm thankful for the miracles I've witnessed in Albania and Kosovo. Along with Alma I, too, will praise the Lord forever.

See you soon! Ju dua!

Motra Follëp

​Last district meeting!

​We had a birthday party for a few of our members.

Mama and President Xhindi gifted me this! <333

​This is Antoneta, her daughter, and Aida!

The elders had a baptism on Saturday!​

​Motra Follëp Out.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Week 73: Good Times and Goodbyes


We were super busy this week! Two great things that happened: we organized visiting teaching for relief society and had our first Young Women's class yesterday. The Berat branch is getting more and more developed it's been neat to witness the past six months.

Something Funny: Yesterday we were outside in our friend's gated area about to start a lesson. Motra Grigg reached up to grab a grape that was hanging in her face when a lemon flew out of nowhere and pelted her in the chest! We think that someone from the apartment building next to us chucked it down from their window. We could hardly compose ourselves to say the opening prayer.

Something Marvelous: Since President and Motra Weidmann (my mission president and wife) are finishing their mission in ten days like me they came to our district to say their goodbyes. We went around in a circle and shared our testimonies and it was so special. The spirit was so strong. I'm going to miss Motra and President Weidmann so much. They have made a huge impact on me.

Saturday we went to Tirana to celebrate the 25th anniversary of missionaries in Albania. It was really cool - the first missionary that was sent here in '92 spoke and we sang in a big choir in the international hotel of Tirana - one of the biggest convention centers in the city! I was just soaking it all in and reflecting on the amazing opportunity that I've been given to serve as a missionary here. It was good closure to say bye to all of the members I've grown to love in Albania and Kosovo.

Something spiritual: This week I set my goal to "inquire the Lord in all things" - that meant praying more fervently and diligently. I saw a few small miracles! The most profound one was when I was on a split with a member, I. We were tracting (going to knock on doors). We were trying to choose between two apartment buildings. I offered a small prayer asking that we'd be guided to the people that needed us. When I looked up from the prayer I saw a few people in the open apartment building to our right - so we went to that one. There hanging around in a doorway were two girls, one of whom I knew from service projects we've been doing at the foster home. She was so excited to see us. She opened up to us about how her dad passed away a year and a half ago and how ever since she'd lost her faith. We talked with her for a while about the Plan of Salvation and had a really good conversation. She was really moved and happy we had come by. I knew that we weren't accidentally sent to meet her - we were guided by the spirit. I know that as we put our trust in God he will direct our paths!

Ju dua shumë... see you in 10 DAYS!

Motra Follëp

Some of my besties and Albanian companions from Vlore :)

I love this girl - S! She has this cute store in the castle. I bought this painting from her

"Mos Parko Ketu Më" (Don't park here anymore) - This was way better than a parking ticket

​This is B, one of my faves!

On our way to the celebration in Tirana. I was hanging with S, A, and A!​

The branch president and fam from Prishtina - the Teli's. I missed them so much!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Week 72: The Sweet Sound


This week was amazing! I got two new companions, Motra Grigg and Motra Saldaña, on Tuesday. I had never been in a trio before so I didn't know what to expect. But then I got these two and I've now decided it takes three to make a party. We're having so much fun yet at the same time working so hard. They're such good examples to me. I'm so glad that I get to learn from them.

The pictures will tell the story this week. We were busy helping T, B, and P get ready for their baptisms on Saturday! Everything went smoothly and it was beautiful. We drove to a village called Divjak and did their baptisms on an island. I was and AM so happy for them!

One of my favorite videos is "The Music of the Gospel" ( The steps of the Gospel will only take us so far in our conversion. We must come to feel the sweet sound of the music of the gospel. It is when we have opened, humble hearts and are in tune with the spirit that we can be changed by Jesus Christ. I know that the Gospel has the power to change lives. T, B, and P made many small changes and sacrifices in order to take a leap of faith into the waters of baptism. I'm overjoyed that they were moved upon by the music of the gospel and were willing to follow their Savior into the water. They are huge examples to me.

"If ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?" - Alma 5:16

Ju dua shumë! 19 days...

Motra Follëp

​It was sooo pretty!

T (middle), P (8 year old in middle), and B (on the far right)!​

So so proud of them.

This hay guy posed for the picture! What a guy!
T in the water!

​Look who we found in the church today! We named him Bobby and set him free.

Week 71: Fun Fun Fun


I'm so happy! We got our transfer calls on Saturday and I will STAY IN BERAT until the bitter end. I will get two new companions tomorrow so I'll experience the trio life for a couple weeks.

We had another amazing week! We were mainly meeting with T, B, and P in preparation for their baptisms this week. They are all awesome. We went to Qendra Lira, the foster home for special needs children, on Thursday with the humanitarian missionaries. We went so that they could fix their doors, washing machines, etc. It was June 1st, Children's Day, so they had a big party. We danced to traditional music with the kids. It was the highlight of my week.

Mission conference was on Tuesday and I gave my final testimony! It felt so weird because the time has flown by so fast, like I blinked and the end is there staring me in the face. I'm going to work my hardest at this time because I know that this is the work of the Lord. He is in the details. I know that He lives. Alma 26: 12 - Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.

Have a great week, ju dua shumë!

Motra Follëp

This is A, one of our friends that we've been teaching the past couple weeks. I think she's mom's Albanian doppelganger.

We celebrated A and P's birthdays on Saturday :).

....And the group I will leave with, President and Motra Weidmann included!​

The group I came in country with....

Us and I at Qendra Lira

​Gezuar 1 Qershorin - Happy June 1st!

Children's Day!
Motra Godfrey and I were binge eating today. So sad that she's leaving.

It was President and Motra Weidmann's last conference, too! We all got Toblerone to take home :). Perks of having a Swiss mission president

​RIP Fulfrey

​I spy a puppy....

Motra Godfrey and I were invited to a conference for youth in Durres called Super Saturday!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Week 70: Prayer Really Works


We did a lot of out-of-the-norm service projects this week. Wednesday morning we drove to a member's house to clear out his garden. He lost the key for a few years so the garden was untouched for a long time and needed a lot of work. As he slid open the gate he said, "I hope you aren't afraid of snakes!" Luckily I didn't see any snakes but I DID see an earthworm as long as my forearm and some bright, speckle-y, poisonous spiders. That was creepy. Thursday morning we went to a foster home for mentally disabled children called Qendra Lira. We brought supplies and made pinwheels with a class of kids! Friday we got a call from one of our members and she was crying and crying and crying. Her grandmother had just passed away. Her husband was in Greece and it was too late in the evening for her to catch a bus to the village where her family was gathering for the funeral. So we called the sisters in a neighboring city, Elbasan, and arranged an emergency exchange. We were able to drive the member straight to her grandma's village. It all worked out perfectly. I stayed in Elbasan for 24 hours with Motra Miles! It was very last minute but we knew God had made it happen!

We were teaching our friend B the other day when in the middle of the lesson his son O hopped up from the couch and started praying. O is 9-years-old and is highly functioning Autistic. He folded his arms, closed his eyes, and kept saying over and over again, "Father bless mother bless God bless sisters bless". It really touched me because O usually doesn't speak at all so when he started praying out of nowhere it really surprised me! B said that he started doing as we had invited him to - to do family prayers every night before they put the kids to bed. I was so impressed and grateful for his efforts to teach his family how to pray.

Motra Godfrey and I did a special fast this week for some less actives. They ALL came to church yesterday! We were sitting in church yesterday and could hardly believe it. It was clear that our prayers and fasting were answered! I know that prayer WORKS. We cannot stop praying. I am never, ever, going to let myself get into the habit of saying short, hasty prayers because when we pray sincerely, God will without a doubt answer us.

 "And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens." (Enos 1:4).

Love you loads! Kaloni bukur!

Motra Follëp

P.S. Today we went to Apollonia so that's all my pictures for this week :).

​The best district in the ASM.
​These ruins have been here since 600 BC!

There were turtles everywhere. I wasn't mad they were soooo cute!

​Sitting on the cool theatre steps.

​Albanian word of the week: "Flok sheqeri." Translation: cotton candy.... Direct translation: sugar hair!

​Bud and I.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Week 69: M's A Miracle!


This week was a good one. The time is seriously flying by

Something Albanian: In the words of Motra Godfrey, just because she explains it better than I ever could... "We were on the bus this week and it was pretty full-not full enough where bodies are touching, but full enough to know no one else is wearing deodorant. So, we are there just riding the bus and this man gets on with a big burlap sack. I think nothing of it. Then, we hit a pot hole and a goat pops out of the bag and starts making goat sounds. I was taken off guard. The bus man is like "What are you doing?" and the guy is like "I need my goat." and the bus man is like "You can't have animals here." and goat man is like "I get that, but I need my goat." Bus man and Goat man make an alliance. Now everything is okay..except the goat keeps squirming around in the bag, so goat man straddles the goat's neck in between his legs. I swear I thought this goat was going to die. Finally, the goat chills out. Then, a lady with a stroller runs over the goats leg. The goat goes wild. Goat man maintains his scissor hold on the goat's neck. Our stop comes. As we get off, the man in front of us kicks the goat and goat man was livid. Luckily, the guy in front of us was a quick little sucker and no one was harmed. I love the bus." Same girl.

Something unfortunate: I lost my voice the past couple days. Hopefully it'll come back soon because it's distracting in the lessons. I sound like a man. One of the members said I sound like the Albanian Spongebob. I think if the Albanian Spongebob sounds anything like this I will never willfully watch it.

Something marvelous: M got baptized! Woohoo! We took a little bus to Lushnje where she got baptized in a font. We thought that'd be easier for her than the river. She had to go down in the water three times.. so clearly she was super blessed! It was super cool; yesterday after she received the Holy Ghost in church we walked out of the sacrament room and she started excitedly telling everyone about her conversion. It really was a miracle. She had smoked for thirty-five years and was never able to stop. Then we taught her and didn't know what we could further do to help her stop smoking. We just prayed and prayed and prayed. Then she got really sick for a couple days... and after she got better she said that she never wanted to smoke again; she was sickened by even the idea of having another smoke. Because of that change she was able to continue and get baptized! Reflecting back on M's conversion I can see that it was a miracle that she was able to quickly stop smoking right when the Lord needed her to. It was because of her enormous faith. She's such an amazing example to me.

Love you lots and have another great week!

Motra Follëp

We were tracting and spotted this amazing staircase. It made my day.

Tuesday was Motra Godfrey's 20th birthday! She got these red noses in her birthday package so we celebrated Red Nose Day along with the celebs :).

We made three of these brownie cakes for Saturday!

​President Xhindi took some selfies for us on the furgon

Turns out M has babysat one of our members, P!

​Us and M <333

Monday, May 15, 2017

Week 68: Thrust In Your Sickle With All Your Might

Mirë dita!

Motra Godfrey quote of the day (from about 5 minutes ago): "It's only the second week of May and we're already sitting in puddles of our own sweat. On a scale of 1 to 10, how screwed are we this summer?" Berat is hot but it's poppin. The friends we are teaching are doing great!

We only have four less active members in the city since the church is so new here. This week we FINALLY made it into one of the less active's doors after a year of attempts from the missionaries. We had a great lesson on improving our relationship with Heavenly Father by prayer, reading the scriptures, and church attendance. Then the best part.... she briefly came to church on Sunday! She is so sweet and I hope that slowly she'll be able to get her foot back into the door of the church and allow the Gospel to bless her life.

The other day it was raining so we stopped by a little shop to buy an umbrella. The store owner lady was there that we've talked to many, many times. We were just being friendly as usual but for some reason that day was different and she totally poured out her heart to us. She invited us up to her cafe upstairs and told us about her 5-year-old nephew with serious health problems. She invited us over to her grandma's house a couple days later where she introduced us to her nephew and whole family, immediate and extended. Many of them didn't know much about God so we simply offered them a prayer. It was their first time praying and it was so special.

Saturday we drove to a village and worked in their bean and potato fields for a couple hours. It was so fun and a nice break from our usual work, but... there were so many unavoidable beetles! As we were working Motra Godfrey and I had ponytails full of beetles. Then they brought us some homemade bread and cheese and we sat in some tall grass to eat. Someone asked our friend R, "Are there snakes here?" He just laughed, paused, and said, "Well, yeah!"

Yesterday I Skyped with my family for an hour! It was so nice to see everyone and it really made me excited to get back home. At the same time though I'm so happy here and I don't want the time to end! This year and a half is such a precious time and I don't want to waste any of it. How thankful I am for this time of missionary service, my family and my Savior!

Kaloni bukur këtë javë!

Motra Follëp

V gave us a GIANT tomato! Whatta lady!​

Saturday we were working the fields in Hoxhaj. There were mountains of olive trees surrounding us it was so pretty!

Trying to look tough but I really just look like the grumpy cat.

​Mom would be in heaven here.

​We went to Tirana today and passed the fanciest treg ever. They just built it in the area I used to serve!

Fam Skype yesterday!!

Plus Mads since she's fam. :)