Monday, January 30, 2017

Week 52: Another Freaky Friday..?


GUESS WHAT?! We had another earthquake on Friday evening. We were making banana bread in the apartment when everything started shaking and we could hear a big "crumpling" noise. I looked out the window and everyone was running out of their little shops. It lasted about 10 seconds. There was no damage done so all is well. The epicenter was only 13 km away - craziness!

This week was really good as usual, as work goes! Our friend M came to church yesterday with her daughter again and that was probably the highlight of my week because she brought another surprise with her - her mom! A little background: M told us in our first lesson with her that she'd never been to church in her life because her parents were against religion, but then she started coming to our church for the past couple weeks. Then yesterday she surprisingly brought her mom to church! She seemed to enjoy it. I really hope that we can start teaching the mom. Also our friend S had her baptismal interview this week and she's ready to be baptized this Saturday - we can't wait!

We also had a mission conference this week and it was fun as always to see everyone. The mission nurse asked Motra Suckow and I to make up a little script for the BRAT diet to present to everyone - we had a lot fun with it!

Something spiritual: Yesterday during Sunday school something stood out to me. We were talking about faith and a member made the comment that when we have faith in Christ it motivates us to repent and to change. First and foremost we should exercise our faith in Christ, but we can also apply faith into different aspects of our lives. If we want to be good at a talent or skill we first need to have the faith that we can achieve it, then that will be the driving force that will lead us to achieving our goals. I loved this thought - we can honestly, truly do anything if we have faith and work our hardest. I know this to be true!

Kalofsh shumë bukur!

Motra Follëp
Fun at our usual Sunday lunch at the Dabell's!

We went to A (Relief Society President)'s home last night for a lesson. Afterwards we had some fun with the camera

P (in the middle) is a stud!

Our P-day adventure today - the bat caves! Didn't actually see any bats though...

It was a little tight at the end... not my fave.

A little dark but this is M, one of our AMAZINGG friends.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Week 51: "Donald Trump Is On My Speed Dial"

Përshëndetja! Si jeni?

Time is continuing to fly by on the mission! I hit my year mark this week, meaning that I'm at the six-month count-down at this point; how crazy is that?! I'm trying to soak everything in and work as hard as I can, while I can, so that by the end I won't have any regrets.

This was a pretty ordinary week; but with that being said it was still a good one. We met with our three friends S, M, and E almost everyday and they're all so awesome. It is such a privilege to work with them. They soak in everything we teach like sponges - they're the teachers, we're just the guides. I've really come to witness that this work isn't about me at all but It's all about our friends and their personal growth in coming to know their Savior better.

Motra Suckow and I also had a couple first lessons with some new people we found street contacting; first lessons are always the most interesting. We met with one lady that said that Donald Trump was on her speed dial and she kept showing us random pictures of dancing penguins on her phone, and another lady we met was just trying to set us up with her son the whole time. There are some very interesting things that happened; they kept us on our toes and laughing.

Tuesdays and Thursdays we're teaching English course and Motra Suckow and I are in charge of the beginner's class. We have about twenty students and they're really focused and respectful so we're happy that we got a good group this time around! Also Saturday the Relief Society hosted a dance for the branch activity which was SO much fun - we danced to Albanian traditional music, played musical chairs, fruit basket, and had an arm wrestling contest.

Something spiritual: Yesterday I gave a talk on charity. In Albanian charity is "dashuria hyjnore", which directly translates to "divine love". In the scriptures it says that without charity we are nothing - that's a pretty bold statement! Let's try to have more charity to everyone around us. I've personally committed myself to thank and compliment others more often to accomplish this. What will you do?

Have a great week! Kalofsh shumë mirë!

Motra Follëp
​It was E's birthday so we got her a little snow globe.

This is I, a super cool member. We are in the little sacrament meeting room.

Someone gave us lipstick!

Talk prep. Note our iPhone 7.

Beautiful Orthodox church in the center of town.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Week 50: Berat is ON FIRE!


All of our efforts seemed to have paid off this week, the work suddenly exploded and Motra Suckow and I are pumped!

We started meeting two new friends this week, S and M. S's brother is a member so she began coming to church and was interested in the lessons - she basically memorized the restoration pamphlet and recited it to us in the second lesson. She's so smart and loves the gospel already. Then we found M street contacting and she is SO prepared - we call her a golden investigator! M had no background with religion so for our first lesson all of the information was very new to her. We taught her simply and showed her how to pray. At the end we asked her to say a prayer and it was the most sincere, heartfelt first prayer I'd ever heard. The spirit was in the room so strongly and we all felt it. It was the best first lesson I've had on my mission. We've had several lessons with M already and she came to church on Sunday with her four-year-old daughter, E :). Something funny E had never seen snow before so she kept saying it was sugar.

School was out all week because there are no heaters and it has been so cold they prolonged their winter break. We've been told that it hasn't been this cold in Albania for over forty years so no one was prepared. Consequentially we were out of water for a total of five days... luckily we were able to drive to the senior couple's home to shower and do the dishes!

We have been challenged by our mission president to read the Book of Mormon in a month and it's been pretty cool to get a big picture of everything. One theme I've really noticed this time reading is the pride cycle. Consequentially I've been thinking about pride vs. humility and how I can be more humble. My favorite prophet, Ammon, exclaims in 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." I love his perfect example of sincere humility!

Have a great week, ju dua shume!

Motra Fulop

The cool kid table
I went on an exchange in Elbasan and the view from their apartment was beautiful!

Our mission president and wife, the Weidmann's, came for the weekend - we had interviews and a nice lunch!

There are 46 churches in the castle and a village.

This is the most random pic I love it. Today we explored some of the castle ruins!  

Monday, January 9, 2017

Week 49: Snow in Albania?!

Mirë dita!

The pictures I'm sending really sum up the week so take a look below! 

Motra Suckow and I have been trekking along in some record lows this week. Everyone was staying inside so that means.... tracting! Funny story we knocked on a door and a man answered. It looked like Christmas in their apartment; they were all in pajamas and had music on and the warmth of their apartment carried out to where we were standing. He said, "Wow, you must be pretty cold out there!", we said, "Yeah, it's fr-" when he slammed the door shut. Luckily we'd gotten to the point where we could just shake it off and laugh about it. 

Other than the tracting, we had a lot of lessons with our friend E who is awesome! Then Saturday we had a zone conference in Elbasan and that night we hosted a branch activity at the church. We did Minute to Win It - it was a hit!

Something Albanian/cool: Friday many people here were celebrating a holiday called Uji të Bekuar. It's an Orthodox holiday and it's pretty interesting. At 10am everyone walked to the river and the priest of the church blesses the water and throws a cross in the water. Then some men dive in the water and try to retrieve it again! Talk about a Polar Bear Plunge, it just so happened to be the morning that it was snowing!

Hand of the Lord: The Dabells, a senior missionary couple, just moved into Berat this week! They're awesome; just to serve as an example, yesterday they were the first to bear their testimonies - all in prepared Albanian! Motra Suckow and I were so thankful for the Dabell's yesterday. Our water had been out for four days (it's still out now btw) so we hadn't showered for a long bit.... but we were able to take our things over to the Dabell's home and have actual warm showers. Honestly, I'm realizing so many small things that I took for granted back home!

Something spiritual: I was reading in Luke the other day and in chapter 9, verse 23, something really stood out to me :"And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." I love the use of the word "daily" in this verse! It is so hard to be disciples and to choose the right, that is why we need to recommit ourselves EVERY day to follow Christ.

Much love! Have a great week!

Motra Fulop
Happy Birthday Elder Dabell (on the right). He turned 20 again! We sang Happy Birthday to him in five different languages and Motra Suckow aka Betty Crocker made this amazing Ferrero Rocher cake :).
Uje te Bekuar on the bridge!

Here we're on the boulevard and the castle is on top of the mountain behind me.

Super random - There's a LOVE statue in Lushnje - a nice little tribute to Philly!

South Zone Conference Saturday! This was in Elbasan, one of the few places we have a chapel.

SNOW - view from our balcony. It hadn't snowed for five years here, everyone was so excited.

Week 48: The 21st Time is the Charm


For P-day today we played zone soccer... so much fun! My team crushed it :).

First, I just gotta say... Gezuar Vitin e Ri, or, Happy New Years! On Saturday we were given a much needed break to celebrate. A list of approved movies was released and Motra Suckow and I decided to watch The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Elf, Star Wars 7, and Anastasia - we were given from 4pm - 12:30am to watch! At midnight we went onto our porch to see the fireworks and it was awesome, literally everyone, our neighbors included, were shooting off huge fireworks. It was a good idea that we were in by 4pm... we were told that if we were to stay out past dark here we would need to carry an umbrella because if not, firecrackers would be thrown on us from the buildings above!

New Years is the biggest holiday celebrated in Albania. It's interesting, they kinda mush Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years into one big day of celebration and I say that because on Dec 31st they eat a big dinner with turkey, they say that Santa comes that night, and they finish it off with the fireworks.

As work goes, highlight from the week!

Motra Suckow and I have been trying to meet with a less active in Berat. There's actually only one less active in our whole area and apparently missionaries have been trying her door for months but with no luck; she's either not home and the lights are off OR she is home, the lights are on, but she doesn't answer. Motra Suckow said last transfer they probably knocked on her door twenty separate occasions with no answer. Then Friday night and Motra Suckow and I decide to try her; we figured maybe she would have off from work for the holiday. Amazingly she answered! She was one of the nicest ladies EVER! She loaded us down with fruit and candy and cookies, we said a prayer together, and she gave us four months worth of tithing she'd held on to. I couldn't believe her faith as she handed us the envelope!  We really hope to see her in church soon!

It was really nice to make some New Years resolutions this week; I was able to make some mission-related as well as some back-at-home related goals :), I love this feeling of hope and goal-setting that always accompanies this time of the year. But I was thinking about it yesterday in sacrament and I shouldn't feel this way only at the beginning of January, I should be feeling this way every time I take the sacrament! I'm grateful for the opportunity that I have to take the sacrament, to repent, and to try to be better week after week!

Have a great week, ju dua!

Motra Fulop

This is E! I drew the beautiful background :)
This is baklava, a traditional Turkish dessert that ALL of the Albanians make for New Years. Our landlord gave us some!​
Happy New Yearssss. Hair was gross because our water was out for a couple days. No shower for me.
Nene socks on. Burrito in hand. Elf showing. It was a good New Years.
A, S, comp, and I