Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Week 17: Walking on Water

Ç'bona! Si jeni?

This week has been craaazy! B's brother, D, got baptized on Saturday which was really special. Also our stake president, Pres. Memma, came for institute and taught us an amazing lesson. Funny note... he was the national ping-pong champion back in his day. We conveniently had our ping pong table set up and ready to go for him when he came to the church. So Motra Henderson played a game against him. He'd do this special, crazy swing where he'd jump up and snap his arm back really fast to slam the ping pong ball. Unfortunately though my face was in the way as he did it.. so he elbowed me in the nose pretty good. But hey now I can say I took a hit to the face by a national ping pong champ!!

Something Kosovar: I've been surprised with how much I've had to defend my belief in Christ. Here barely anyone believes in him. I think the statistic is that in Kosovo 90% of the population is Muslim. So as we've been knocking on doors and street contacting a few people have asked me: "Why are you here? You know, all of us here are Muslim..." I tell them I'm here because I know that our message is true. I've been testifying of the Savior so much. It's pretty great. I'd like to share with you all a message on faith:

This past week I've been reading in Matthew. One of my all-time favorite events in Christ's lifetime is when he and Peter walk on water. A little background: Jesus is walking on the water towards his disciples who are on a ship. Peter climbs off the boat and tells Jesus he's going to walk to him. Then in Matt. 14:30-31 it reads, "But when he (Peter) saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?"
Two things that I'd like to emphasize from these two verses: 1. Peter could literally see Jesus. He was standing right infront of him. 2. Peter was one of, if not THE strongest disciples Christ had. With these two things in mind, you would think Peter would have had enough faith to make it to Christ on the water. But he lacked still; the wind distracted him and he doubted he could do it. He began to sink. This brings me to the conclusion that yes, faith in Christ is extremely hard, it was for Peter and it will be for us. But luckily for us, Christ is always ready and willing to bring forth his hand to get us out of the water.

Just always remember.... faith and doubt cannot coexist! I have to remind myself of this constantly. When we do this, we will be able to press forward with more confidence in ourselves.

Shpresoj që ju do të keni një javë e mirë! Ju dua!

Motra Fulop <3

​Motra Henderson's BDAY so the elders made a cake and I made a crown for her <333

The district. I'm awkwardly in the E

Awesome member right here! B is going to be the first missionary from Kosovo!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Week 16: Prepare to SWERVE

Mirë dita! Si je?

This has easily been the busiest week yet! Motra Henderson and I had every day completely booked with lessons. GET THIS, one person we met up with... Peter Makoid's cousin!! (my high school friends will know who I'm talking about). Yeah what are the odds, she works right down the road from me. It's nice to have a little piece of home here.

A little Kosovar culture for ya... Every morning we study from 8-10 and we've been getting live music outside our window. The gypsies walk up and down our street in the morning playing their homemade instruments. They'll have a clarinet/tamborine/drum strapped infront of them and play everything at once. Sounds like it would be a potential mess but it actually sounds awesome.

Yesterday we watched some of the few Mormon messages that are translated into Albanian. There was one that really struck me. We shared it with our branch president and a few members last night. I can't stop thinking about it it's so good! Please watch (this one's in English). We're going to share with everyone this week.


"He is the light and life of the world; yea, a light that is endless, that can never be darkened..." - Mosiah 16:9

Ju dua,

Motra Fulop :)
 
Just Motra's doing Motra things

​Gramia Park

Peter's cuz, Kristen!!!

YAY biking for P-day today

You don't want to know how many times I've ordered this in the past 7 weeks here
 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Week 15: May showers bring June flowers...?

Ç'bonaaaa

How is everyone?? I swear it's rained every. day. here in Prishtina. Gloomy and wet but whatareyagonnado. The work continues. This week was full of last minute, unplanned things!

Tuesday we got a text that we needed to be in Tirana the next morning for a conference. It's a four hour drive for us so we scratched everything we had planned for the next day and headed down. President Weidmann held a meeting for all of us greenies and our trainers. I felt so empowered after the meeting that day! Ever since that day Motra Henderson and I have been a lot more bold. From the moment we leave our door we'll talk, or at least say hello, to everyone we pass. It felt like a funny social experiment when we first started doing this. People are so caught off guard and stare us down. At first it was really uncomfortable, but you know what they say... what's bold today won't be bold tomorrow. The mission is stretching me hardcore. 

Friday didn't go nearly as planned, either. One of our members Y, passed. Our second counselor told us that the night before he had a really vivid dream of his deceased mom saying to him, "your friend is with me now." He awoke to a phone call at 3am from our branch president that Y, a dear friend to him, just passed.

Y was 80 years old and a devout member of the church. What I think really distinguishes his character and faith is that he would walk about 5 miles through the mountains to catch the closest bus to Prishtina every week for church. The total commute for him to get to church was 4 hours. So I never knew Y personally; he started getting sick right before I got here. But he lives on as a strong example to me of perseverance and faith. He was the only member of the church in his family. He sacrificed so much time and energy for the Lord.

So Thursday night Y's struggle with lung cancer finally ended and Friday we drove to his little fshat (village) for the funeral. I was unprepared with my favorite Sunday flats - we got dropped of in the fshat and had to hike quite a ways to get ontop of a hill where he was buried. I'd honestly never been to a funeral before and I thought a Kosovar funeral might be especially different but it was beautiful. The sun came out for the day. We sang hymns. Barely anyone cried; they knew they'd see him again. 

"...Press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life." - 2 Nephi 31:20

Dashuri nga Kosovë,

Motra Fulop xoxo
 
MTC fam reunion in Tiranë!!!

MOTRA LYNG. My Norwegian bff. The Elsa to my Anna. 6 weeks was too long.

I think these are the funniest looking cars zipping around. 3 - wheelers!

Jamming out with Motra Henderson and taking in the views on our way to Tiranë. The Balkans are b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l

View from the funeral. We were surrounded by vineyards and rolling hills, super nice to get out of the city
 
 
 
 

Monday, May 9, 2016

Week Fourteen


Përshëndetja!



Another week, here and gone! This week was full of fun, random stuff that broke up our usual work. We celebrated Cinco de Mayo in the lamest way possible - with a random Taco Bell we found on the American base! (thought of you as I was eating, dad). We also went to Macedonia for a zone conference on Saturday and lucked out on more American food - Dominoe's! We drove around the capital, Skopje, a bit and it was super pretty. There's a ton of construction, it looks like they're rebuilding the whole city but it's green and beautiful there. Pictures attached. Then yesterday I got to Skype the fam for Mother's Day which basically made my life! Sooo yeah it was a good week.



The miracle: We teach English course twice a week here; we teach for about an hour and for the last 5 minutes we share a spiritual thought and close with a prayer. About two weeks ago I began the closing prayer and a guy in the back, I'll call him A, quickly got up and ran out the door, yelling out a few things in Albanian that were probably best I didn't understand. That was the last time we saw A until last week. He came back to our last English course of the cycle. At the end of the class we did our usual spiritual thought. Motra Henderson and I testified of the Book of Mormon and one of our friends, Don, stood and shared his extremely powerful testimony of the book. After class A came up to us and said if anyone needed the book, he needed it because his life was a mess. He poured his heart out to us about all of the mistakes he's made. He felt like there was no hope for him, but our testimonies gave him a little hope. We quickly got him into an appointment with the Elders (the guy missionaries) and A has come back for lessons every day since. He's stopped smoking cigarettes and weed already. Motra Henderson and I ran into him on the boulevard the other day and he excitedly told us he's getting baptized May 28th.



I know that through Christ, we can find new life. People like A have shown me that.



Dashuri nga Kosovë,



Motra Fulop

Skype with fam ft. MADS who made a guest appearance <3333

The church in Skopje!

Paint splattered on all the nice landmarks...

Street shotz

Rockin out with my new xhaxhi guitar. Xhaxhi's are old grandpas that chill and do what they want all the time, it's pretty funny. They're always playing these out on the streets.

Week Thirteen


Ç'bona!

I don't have any time to write today! So here's my week in pictures :).

Ju dua!

Motra Fulop

"I believe in Christ like I believe in the sun. Not because I can see it, but by it I can see everything else." -C.S. Lewis

Look who I saw in Bonsdale this week...Sheryl Wensel's brother! What are the odds? Could someone forward this to her?!?

Football

#proud we made these casseroles in 10 min

Zone conference with my fellow BYU-Idaho girlie, Motra Barch!
 

Week Twelve


Ç'bona! :)



I just had THE BEST lunch! Have you ever tried Himalayan food? I got a chicken curry dish and warm pita bread. Find a Himalayan restaurant... you won't be disappointed. Also I gotta mention, I've come across a few Turkish toilets here. It's literally a stall with a hole in the ground. I need to tone my legs to use these bathrooms.



Now on to the good stuff... It's been a good week! Motra Henderson and I found a lot of opportunities to serve members this week. S was sick all week and her brother just past. She graciously let us come over, so we had a lesson, colored with her kids, and sang a few hymns. Then we went to S's home and helped her with piles of dishes that were piled all over the kitchen. We also went to the J family's home. They were in really bad living conditions before, but they were finally able to move into a nicer apartment. We prayed for them and their brand new apartment. It was great to get to know the members here better. The church is really small, and everyone comes from different walks of life. But they're a great support for each other; it's pretty cool to witness.



Also, our investigator, B, invited us over to her parent's home last night. We drove to their little fshat (village) and met them in their nice home her brother built them. It was a full house with B's parents, brothers and sisters, and their children. We taught the Restoration lesson to them and they loved it. By the end we were all kneeling around in a big circle for the closing prayer. I almost felt like I was home again. They were all super warm and friendly. I have a really good feeling about B and her family. They seem prepared for this beautiful message of the gospel. 



I could never describe it as perfectly as Elder Uchdorf: "The joyous news of the gospel is this: because of the eternal plan of happiness provided by our loving Heavenly Father and through the infinite sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we can not only be redeemed from our fallen state and restored to purity, but we can also transcend mortal imagination and become heirs of eternal life and partakers of God's indescribable glory." This truly is cause for glad tidings of great joy!



Have an awesome week, ju dua!



Motra Fulop

S'ploring

District fam plus Beqir the Baller

BUKUR

Hiking through Rrugova Mountains - ridiculously pretty

Week Eleven


Përshëndetja!

This email is going to be quick! I'm in a little internet cafe in Pëja right now. We woke up early and took a 2 1/2 hour train ride here. We're going to hike to a waterfall in a bit. Pictures to come next week :).

I'll be honest It's super hard because I still can't understand what people are saying. AT ALL. Their accents are so strong and I'm having a really rough time with the language. I don't feel like I'm progressing much... like I've plateaued. So I was feeling pretty discouraged because of course I want to love these people that I'm serving. But I felt like the only people that I could connect with were those that speak English! Then one day the senior couple (the H's) took Motra Henderson & I to a member family's home, the J's. We went in and had a lesson with their family. The H's don't speak Albanian so Motra Henderson translated for them. But it wasn't a problem for the H's; they had so much love for this family. They were really close friends with the J's. Witnessing that taught me a lesson that the language barrier isn't everything. I can still show people that I love them, it doesn't have to be through words. I just need to serve them. My perspective has changed.

Now let me explain my subject line... On Friday we went to an American military base called Bonsdale. So yeah... technically I was back in America this week! We went to a nice general store and stocked up on some imported American junk food (aka Gatorade and Reese's for me). Then we taught our investigator, B, and some of the soldiers a lesson on the 10 commandments. B's awesome, we're bff's. Fun fact: she taught tennis in PA for a summer! What are the odds of that... she was in the Pocono's. We're going to play tennis soon :). Anyway she's an English translator on the base. She's progressing so much... we're going to ask her to be baptized this week!

That's all I've got! Love you all, have a great week.

Motra Fulop

And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right
hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up. - D&C 84:88

The BEST lunch I've had so far - a doner from California Burger (I guess they think this is what an American burger looks like??)

Bill Clinton welcomes people into Prishtina. Told ya they love America.

Street crepes <333

Week Ten


Përshëndetja!

I've got blisters and tan lines in all the right places... I'm feeling like a missionary! We hit the ground running this week with a ton of street contacting and tracting (knocking on doors). I first have to mention that everyone here is super friendly. Kosovar love, and I mean LOVE Americans because we helped them gain their independence from Serbia not long ago. Many people approach us on the streets and ask to marry us because they want to come to America. It's pretty bizarre, but hey, it's nice that people want to talk because we get a lot of numbers and give them to the Elders to teach! 

Interesting story... so my first lesson on the field was in a bar during a soccer game. They are nuts about soccer here so I couldn't hear a word they were saying in their thick Gheg. Nonetheless Motra Henderson and I taught about following the prophet over their tea and cigarettes. It was a little sketchy there but the girls we taught were sweethearts. Throughout the week though we had a lot of teaching opportunities. One day we taught five lessons! There's one family we met & taught that I'm really excited about. They have a two-year-old and Mrs. is pregnant. They were really interested in everything we taught and we're going to meet with them again tomorrow!

We also had zone conference this week, so other missionaries in Kosovo and Macedonia came here for a meeting on Tuesday. We taught English class Tuesday & Thursday as well. It's been a busy week. But overall, not going to lie... I think I lucked out getting sent to Prishtina my first transfer. A lot of the people here speak English, so half the time I teach in English. Plus in church everyone speaks English and they want to help me with my Albanian. The branch here is solid; they're a big family and they welcomed me with open arms. There are some American soldiers that come in their uniforms with their guns and everything. Yesterday when we broke our fast they put our little girly aprons on over their uniforms to serve the food. That was a pretty funny sight to see. 

Hope you're all having a great week! 'Till next Monday

Ju dua,

Motra Fulop

The chapel...we'll get to the top of the bell tower to take pictures one day

The boulevard - common stomping grounds for us.

Lovin' the trees on this street
 

Week Nine


Përshëndetja from your favorite fringo (greenie)!

This was easily THE craziest week of my life. I'll start from the beginning... On Wednesday morning we left the MTC for Tirana, the capital of Albania! I was amazed when we landed. I knew the area was pretty from pictures I saw online, but the pictures don't do it justice - it is simply GORGEOUS here. The Balkan Mountains surround us, there's perfectly warm weather, palm trees... I felt like I was on vacation. I felt so lucky to be moving to this area for the next 18 months. That first day we were whisked around the city (I must mention their driving here is nuts - no lanes, cutting, double parking.. an American's nightmare). We did paperwork business and had interviews with President Weidmann. I love this man, he's amazing and I feel so privileged to have him as my mission president. I'm excited to work with him further! Then they said.... "Alright, time to go street contacting!" That's when you approach people on the streets, introduce them to the religion, and get phone numbers. I had a mini heart attack but it went fine. As we walked around there are stray dogs everywhereeee so that was pretty weird. I could hear them all through the night, too. We stayed the night at President Weidmann's home.

The next day (Friday) we got our first transfer assignments! We all sat in a meeting and received our first assignments along with our training companions. I was called to... PRISHTINA, KOSOVO! Ahhh! I was extremely scared when I got that call, not going to lie. To be honest for the past month I had basically been praying "I'll go where you want me to go, dear Lord.... except Kosovo". I was scared because they speak a dialect in Kosovo called Gheg, which sounds very different from the dialect I had learned in the MTC - Tosk. I have a tough time understanding people in Tosk, let alone Gheg. But I kept reminding myself that who the Lord calls, he qualifies. I took the next four-hour bus ride north with my new companion, Motra Henderson.

I've been here in Prishtina for three days now. I can say that God knows what He's doing & He sent me here for a reason. I learned a valuable lesson this week. This isn't my mission - It's His. And luckily I had the wrong attitude about getting sent up here. It's truly awesome. Sure it's hard for me to understand the people... but that kind of comprehension isn't going to come overnight. And God won't let the language barrier inhibit me from teaching what I need to. 

Motra Henderson and my district have been a huge strength and a blessing for me here. For example, as many of you know general conference was this weekend. Since it was in Albanian my district took turns translating small summaries of the each talk throughout the whole thing. I hadn't asked them to do this, but they were willing and eager to translate it for me. That meant a lot. The ward here is really strong, too. I'm glad to be here & I have a good feeling about what is to come. 'Till next week!

Ju dua,

Motra Fulop

"The best antidote for worry is work. The best medicine for despair is service. The best cure for weariness is to help someone who is even more tired."

View from the mission office :)
Flight shotz. Right before we landed in Tirana.

Last day with my first district and comp, Motra Lyng (TEARS)

First lunch in Prishtina with the one, the only, the legendary Motra Henderson.

 

Week Eight


Ç'kemi!

Welp, this is my last email I'll be sending from the MTC. This place has treated me really well the past 9 weeks. The food is edible people!! It's not as bad as people say. Also I'm convinced I got the best teachers here. They pushed me to work hard and I've learned so much. My Albanian is way better than I thought it would be by the time I left here. More importantly, my testimony has been strengthened tenfold. The MTC is seriously a spiritual powerhouse! 

Now looking forward.... we fly out to Albania in TWO DAYS, Wednesday morning. I'm just so excited. I've been running on adrenaline the past couple days I think haha. I just feel SO ready to begin this adventure! When we land we'll meet the mission president and his wife & stay the night at their home. From there I'll get sent to my first area whether it be in Albania, Macedonia, or Kosovo! Stay tuned :).

Also... Happy belated Easter! It was kinda weird to not be home this weekend, but hey, we had a pretty unique Easter here that I'll never forget. Elder M. Russell Ballard from the Quorum of the Twelve came and spoke to us! He gave us an awesome talk about how we need to be personal witnesses of Christ. 

I'd like to share my simple testimony that I know Christ lives! I'm so glad for the hope that this knowledge gives me in my life. He literally "broke the bands of death. Because of this we live passed the grave and I know I'll be able to live with my loved ones for eternity. I'm thankful for this sweet message we are reminded of every Easter. My favorite scripture pertaining to the Atonement of Christ is John 3:17 - "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." & this is my favorite video: https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2015-04-1010-he-lives-celebrate-easter-because-jesus-christ-lives?lang=eng 

Talk to you next week!

Te dua,

Motra Fulop

Week Seven


Çkemi!

We're down to the 10 DAY COUNTDOWN until we fly to Tirana! AH! We're pretty dang excited. I feel like I've been here at the MTC forever. But we're trying to keep it in perspective. President Uchtdorf counsels us to always work as if we're in the middle of our missions. Welp, I'm trying to work as if I'm in the middle of my MTC stay, or else this week is going to be really unproductive. Motra Lyng & I created a plan the other day called "The Best Two Weeks" and we're really trying to crack down with doctrinal & language studies so that our personal study time is effective. 

Anyway, last week was pretty much the same as any other week! I'll mention some of my highlights:

Friday morning we skyped with Albanians again! This time we spoke to a member named Mimoza. She's only been a member of the church for a couple years, but wow, I was so impressed by her strong testimony. I loved her. She said if Motra Lyng or I are ever sent to her area, she'll have us over for dinner :).

We watched Meet the Mormons yesterday. It is SUCH a good movie! Fam I don't think you've seen this. Buy it! It really clears up a lot of misunderstandings people have with our faith. It simply follows a few families around but it's an extremely inspiring, feel-good movie. I encourage everyone to watch!

Best part of the week: Yesterday I got to go to the Provo City Center Temple dedication! It was a really neat experience. I was excited to go since I won't be home for the Philly temple dedication (tear). Anyway, this building was an old, 110-year-old tabernacle that burnt down five years ago. Our prophet was inspired to rebuild the structure into a temple. Then yesterday there was a beautiful ceremony where our leaders cemented in the final cornerstone of the building and offered a dedicatory prayer; now it's an open & running temple. The whole event opened my eyes to how sacred the temple truly is. One of the speakers at the dedication said that he hears people say as they leave the temple, "Now back to the real world." He said that's not the right way to say it, rather they should be saying, "Now back to the temporary world" because this world is temporary. Inside the temple is the closest we have to experiencing the eternities, or the "real world." I can feel that when I go to the temple. The veil is the thinnest there. 

Have a good week! Te dua!

Motra Fulop

Week Six


Çkemi!

This has easily been THE busiest week here at the MTC. Time is flying and we only have two more weeks here!

First off, I got a second companion this week, Zuster Pond. I instantly became best friends with her in a matter of days and I selfishly didn't want her to leave, but her Visa arrived on Friday and now she's off to bigger and better things in the Netherlands!

Also, Motra Lyng had been having consistent, annoying headaches for the past seven weeks. On Tuesday we were at a devotional and within ten minutes of sitting she said she felt like she was going to pass out. So her, Zuster Pond, and I went outside to get some fresh air. Motra Lyng started crying and I felt so horrible like I couldn't do anything. Then I had the distinct impression to offer a prayer, so that's what I did. It was as if we were in our own little bubble. I prayed so hard and truly felt Heavenly Father's love for her. We were all a mess haha when others are emotional, I'm emotional. But I'm happy to report she's felt a lot better since!

On Wednesday we welcomed eleven new missionaries to our zone. They're training to go to the Belgium/Netherlands mission. Motra Lyng and I were pretty busy attending meetings, running interviews, and showing them around. They're awesome people!

Friday morning we had the opportunity to Skype call with Albanians (fellow Shqiptari's)! We talked with a girl named Reolda. It was so nice to get to know her (she goes to BYU-I woot woot) and learn more about Albanian culture. I was pretty surprised because I thought she'd talk really fast or have a strong accent I wouldn't understand but it was actually a confidence booster to talk with her and it made me SO excited to leave!

Yesterday in church, I was asked to give an impromptu talk. Our sacrament meetings are veery unique. Everyone in my branch prepares a talk and brings it to church. Then once we're sitting there the presidency calls 2-3 people up to share their talks. Well, yesterday they called me up first! So I gave a talk about faith in Jesus Christ... in Albanian! It was a really cool experience to testify and teach in my new language to the congregation. I couldn't imagine being able to do that seven weeks ago. I'm constantly in awe of what Heavenly Father can help us to accomplish.

Ju dua,

Motra Fulop

Week Five


We're halfway there! WOAH OH livin' on a prayer. I've been here at the MTC for 4 1/2 weeks, 4 1/2 to go. I could happily leave for Albania tomorrow, but I know I've got some more learning to do here first. It's crazy to see the amount of progression I've seen in myself and others in such a short amount of time.

Highlights from this week:

1. My district (the six of us going to Albania) decided to do a "No English" day Thursday. It was a lot harder than I thought it would be. I felt like a mute. Overall though... it was a good experience and I learned a lot that day.

2. The weather has been beautiful! We go on a temple walk every Sunday, and yesterday's was particularly nice. On the temple grounds there are mountains surrounding us and Utah Lake in the distance. The view makes my heart preetty happy :). 

Quick thought: I was reading in Moses this week. Enos is my hero! The Lord shows himself to him and says he needs to call the people to repentance. Enos says, "Why is it that I have found favor in thy sight, and am but a lad, and all the people hate me; for I am slow of speech; wherefore am I thy servant?" Enos felt inadequate for the task, but the Lord provided a way. Enos proceeded to teach, lead the people and move MOUNTAINS. I can really relate to Enos right now. I can barely understand my investigators. Sometimes I feel useless when I'm trying to teach my lessons. But the Lord gives us trials to mold us into the person we should be, as all trials should. The Lord has a plan for us individually and he can see our divine potential. We just need to trust Him and work our hardest!

Have a good week & happy leap day. All you ladies go to Ireland and propose. Watch Leap Year if you don't know what I'm talking about :).

Love,
Motra Fulop