Monday, December 26, 2016

Week 47: I Hear the Xhami Calls on Christmas Day

Hellooo from lovely Berat! It is beautiful here, the city is strung with so many lights and decorations. It's very interesting though because if you were to ask someone they'd say that all of the decorations are for New Years and not Christmas; It's not a widely celebrated holiday here. The few Christians that ARE here don't do any of the traditions that we Americans do since they are Christians of only about 20 years after the communist era. Also to make my subject line a little clearer "xhami" is mosque in Albanian.

Anyway... this was, unsurprising-ling, one of the busiest weeks for us as missionaries! We planned a lot of fun activities. Thursday we organized a Christmas party at the church and made "ginger" bread houses (they were really just wafer houses because molasses can't be found here). Then Motra Suckow and I hit the streets hard all week and went up and down the boulevard, trying to talk to everyone with our "Light the World" passalong cards. We also blocked out time for knocking on doors and it was pretty cool, on all the three days we did this (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) the FIRST doors we knocked on let us in to share our Christmas message! We felt like we were truly led to the doors that needed to learn more about the true meaning of Christmas. 

Two other highlights from this week were Christmas Eve when we went out as a district Christmas caroling. We got in the car and drove all around Berat, singing to people and giving them cookies. It was really cool because at one point we drove to a little fshat (village) that was in the middle of NOWHERE. When we got out of the car the sky was huge and beautiful, completely full of stars! It really was an unforgettable Christmas Eve. The other highlight was when I got to Skype the family yesterday, of course! :)

Thought: This scripture stood out to me the other day,it's in Matt 7:11: "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? ". December is a month all about gifts, gifts, gifts! But the best, everlasting gift of all was given to us over 2000 years ago in a little stable. This was a gift from our Heavenly Father who loves us without end. Right now we can't understand the magnitude of this gift, but someday we will. I'm forever grateful to my Heavenly Father for giving us his only Begotten. I hope that we will be able to remember and treasure His gift, Jesus Christ, not only now but throughout the whole year.

I love you all and hope that you have a great ending to 2016!!

Motra Fulop

Christmas lunch! We didn't have any forks so we ate the salad with spoons

I was pretty happy with how these guys turned out.

Wafer houses at the Christmas partay!

Shoutout to my bff Maddie THANK YOU!!
We could see the ocean from the top!
Our branch president is the man on the right. Coolest guy ever!
Christmas selfies with the bestie!!!
We hiked a big one today..... we had to burn off some Christmas calories ya know

Awesome present from Aunt Jayme! SHE MADE THIS GAME PEOPLE.    

Week 46: Merry Christmas


First I gotta start of by saying... MERRY CHRISTMAS! I hope that you all have a great week of preparation and are able to feel the Christmas spirit in abundance :). I'm so excited to Skype my family for an hour on Sunday, it will be my biggest Christmas present!

This past week we had transfers so I moved to Berat! It's a little city in southern Albania and it is gorgeous here. The city has been here since 400 B.C.! My new companion, Motra Suckow, and I go jogging in the mornings along the river and in the stony city and it is the perfect way to start the day! And I just have to brag a little about Motra Suckow - she's the coolest companion! She's from Austria and just started her mission here two months ago but she's a fireball and is a cooking/crocheting/oragami wizard and I have so much to learn from her - skills wise and missionary wise. We push each other to be better in all aspects and I'm really excited for this transfer!

It's pretty cool because every city that I'm sent to the work is completely different. The branch (church) here was just created last January, less than a year ago, yet there are about thirty of us in church so the work is really moving forward. It'll be a lot of member's first times celebrating Christmas so this week we have a lot of fun activities planned. For example in a half an hour we are doing a Christmas tree lighting where we will cut out snowflakes and put ornaments and lights on a Christmas tree in the church.

Something fun: I'm back in Primary! I'm in charge of four little guys at church for two hours and it's so much fun. I've also been called as the chorister in sacrament meeting and I feel like I'm just doing a solo the whole time because none of them sing and so it's kinda unfortunate because I'm not a good singer...

Something marvelous: I read The Living Christ the other day which is one of my favorite releases from The First Presidency. It's a short testimony that was written in 2000 commemorating the birth of Christ and it's a good one. I encourage you to read it in preparation for Christmas, to remember the reason for the season! I'm so thankful for my Savior and for this special time that I have to remember him. I feel so privileged to be here in Albania and to be able to share a message that can bring hope and joy into people's lives.

Ju dua!

Motra Fulop

One of my favorite family's.  I gave E one of my tags because she really wants to be a sister missionary.

We run across this bridge in the mornings.

I had to say bye to my cool "daughter" on Tuesday :(

Motra Suckow and I! We explored the castle of Berat for a bit.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Week 45: The Big 2-1 and a Big Move!


We are being really blessed this Christmas season! People's hearts are a more softened in December and it makes our work more fun. Everywhere we go Motra Holt and I are handing out passalong cards with the church's address and trying to get as many people to church. As for specifics this week... we hosted a "Missionary Night" Friday and Saturday with great turnouts! Motra Holt and I set up a little room for "Light the World" and presented the church's initiative.  Another highlight was a lesson we had with our friend M! We sat down for our second lesson the other day and as soon as she sat down she said she'd been thinking about it and that she really wanted to get baptized! She's amazing. We planned her for January 7th! Also the family we've been teaching, the S's, are so special. None of them know how to read except for the mom so she takes a little piece of glass up to her one eye and they all silently listen as she reads the Book of Mormon. Between two of our lessons last week they read from 1 Nephi 1 to Alma 5 (over 200 pages) as a family. I was astonished. They live in a little cement square of a room as a home with no heating and three pieces of furniture. They have barely anything yet they always go to the store to buy croissants and drinks for Motra Holt and I upon our arrival. I'm always amazed and humbled by their hospitality and selflessness. 

My birthday was a really special day! It was actually a holiday here so everyone was off from work. Motra Holt and I had to wake up early to go to the immigration office so I quickly got up to open a package the family sent for my birthday (thank you!!!!). Then we got on the bus and it was soooo crazy packed we were squished like sardines. We got to the immigration office and it was closed (we initially didn't know it was a holiday)... so we did the next best thing and got Cinnabon for breakfast. Then we had a regular day with lessons! In the evening we visited a family, the H's, and they fed us a traditional dinner including fasule, spinach byrek, and dhalle. Then at night I bought a little cake from a bakery and stuck some candles in it! It was a really good day :). Thanks for all of the birthday wishes!

Saturday night we got transfer calls from the mission president and I was called to serve in Berat! It's a little city a few hours south of here. The branch (church) has only been open for about a year there! I'm so excited to get a fresh start on the work in a new area!!

Love you all have a great week!

Motra Fulop
The S family!


The H Family!

The T1 T3 District


Thanks for the bday prez from some of the coolest motras!!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Week 44: BFF E Got in the Water!!


Hand of the Lord moment just happened...Motra Holt and I weren't sure if we'd have time at all to email today because it was taking really long for us to move (we had to switch homes here in Tirana) and we pulled up to our new house with all of the luggage/furniture/etc.etc. and they were doing construction on our driveway so we thought we wouldn't be able to get through to move in after all. So I got out of the car to ask when they'd be finished and the construction workers were so nice; they didn't let us carry a single thing and they moved it all up the hill and on our porch in a matter of 10 minutes. God is good!

As for the work... We found a super cool girl street contacting the other day so we exchanged numbers and that night her husband called us! So we went over to their home and taught them the Plan of Salvation. It was a really cool experience because I haven't had the chance to teach a family the Plan of Salvation lesson before and they loved it! They have an adorable 1 year old daughter and I'm so excited to keep working with them. Our work is on the up-and-up and we are so busy it's a good problem to have!

To kick off the "25 Days in 25 Ways" Christmas initiative of the church we went to a retirement home to help out. Motra Holt and I went into a little room and chatted with a little nene for over an hour; she was the sweetest. We are definitely going back to meet with her again.

Highlight of the week: E got baptized! It was such a good day. Motra Holt and I were stressing out a little because E was adamant from the beginning that the water would be warm and the water heater was broken... but she still got in. She had to get dunked three times in the freeeezing water though because her feet kept popping up out of the water! Then yesterday she got the Holy Ghost and afterwards she bore a beautiful testimony. She was just beaming after sacrament meeting. E's a huge inspiration to me.

Something Albanian: Our electricity goes out at least once a week for a couple hours so sometimes we have to do our studies in the dark. Today when we were moving the elevator didn't work for that reason so we carried everything down six flights! Luckily we got a crew of elders to lend us some hands.

Something spiritual: Our ward was fasting for missionary work yesterday. Remember... every member a missionary! “True Christianity is love in action. There is no better way to manifest love for God than to show an unselfish love for your fellow men. This is the spirit of missionary work” -President David O. McKay

Have a great week ju dua shume!

Motra Fulop :)

The boulevard is pretty

And some friends

​It was freezing out but worth it
​I went on an exchange to Durres and we walked to the beach for the sunrise :).

Flowers for E's big day :)

Us and E!