Well, its been a couple weeks since I've been home. Yesterday I had to opportunity to report to the Stake Presidency and High Councilors about my mission. It was neat to reflect on experiences and the way my testimony has grown.
I will be grateful every day of my life for the opportunity that I had to spend 18 months of my life serving others and bringing people unto Christ. It really was incredible. Of course, at the end you reflect on your time and think about how you have changed. I'm not very much taller. I don't look that different. Its not as if my personality has changed a ton either. I have always been a good kid. But my testimony is stronger.
I have come to know my Savior, Jesus Christ. I have come to rely on my Heavenly Father and trust Him. I have come to learn how to work with Him and involve Him in my efforts. I have meet INCREDIBLE people who have changed my life forever. I want to be a better person just thinking about them. I want to live my life every day as a disciple of Jesus Christ and do what He would do.
Monday, September 15, 2014
Every day is an adventure. Me të vertetë. Some great moments this week:
Seeing Djart in the road (3 year old little boy of an investigator), we never know what reaction we will get. Sometimes he runs away calling for his mom, sometimes he insists that we come visit right at that moment, and other times he stops to chat before wandering on his way. But always he gives us a good laugh. What a cute kid.
Our Iba Feva friend is a miracle every day of our lives. I want to be like her someday. She is such a good example and you can't help but be happy around her. Any moment with her is a great moment of the week.
Playing soccer. Its definitely the sport of preference here and in Albania. I'm not the best at it but I enjoy it. #branchactivities
Matching my companion. We do it a lot. Usually on purpose.
It came up in conversation this week that people who convert, do so because they weren't committed to a religion before and they have that void. Although that may be true for some converts, I think of the many brave members here in Kosovo. They are are so strong, they have to be. They didn't convert for lack of previous religion. I know I talk about these members a lot but they are incredible.
We may do a lot of finding. But we have fun while we do it. Hopefully all the finding this week will mean teaching next week :)
Its hard to believe that there are only two weeks left. It just makes me especially grateful for each moment and experience. The time to be a called full-time missionary is extremely short. I love it. I'm going to miss it. I'm going to make the most of what I have left!
I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY!!
Keep it real,
Thursday, September 11, 2014
Today is the 4th year anniversary of Kosovo being dedicated for the work of missionary. That's pretty neat. We've been to the spot were it was dedicated. It really is like the sacred grove of Kosovo. Its neat to think of the growth and progress that has happened here. The members here are pretty incredible. They are so new to the gospel and bring such an excitement and strength to the work. The have the courage that is so needed to be members here. I love being able to serve around them. I learn much from them.
Yesterday night we were standing on the boulevard talking to people. We stopped this neat couple. They are Albanian but live in Switzerland and are visiting here for a week. I was talking to the wife and she mentioned that she wanted to change religions, she wants to become Christian when she goes back home. Neat. We are also Christians. We exchanged numbers and we will be meeting with them before they leave. They were super nice. They left, but about 20 minutes later they walked by us again and asked if we had time to get something to drink. We didn't have time as we needed to be in our apartment soon and we had set up a later time. But they said "We are happy. Do you know why we are happy? You make us happy!" It was super cute. It was probably the spirit they felt making them happy. And we know just how to teach them to feel more of that good stuff. Hopefully we will be able to get their contact information and have the missionaries there contact them. THEY ARE ADORABLE!
We had planned group finding (the "ask us what we do") but then it was raining. So we some shifts in plans, Elder Roberts thought we could get bed sheets and tie them up as a shelter and have the film "Restoration" play underneath. We were a little skeptical but he seemed confident enough so we went for it. Last minute he couldn't come but the rest of us still went and tried it. I'll send the pictures. Long story short- it didn't work too well but it was a lot of fun (I regret nothing) we did talk to some people and got one number. The worth of souls is great in the sight of God.
The recent convert family we teach are so amazing. We continue to have FHE with them in their home. This past week we talked about temples. The spirit was so strong. The wife can't wait for the year to come when they can go. The older daughter isn't baptized yet but also wants to be sealed to her new husband (they got married last month). The younger daughter was also recently baptized and want to be married in the temple. I cannot wait for the Rome temple to be finished. Its so hard for these people to get Visas out of the country to anywhere. None of them have been able to go to the Germany temple yet. I hope they will be able to go to the Rome Temple. I have taken the blessing of having a temple close for granted so much in my life. Think about it. Count your blessings. Name them one by one. I love to see the temple.
I LOVE being a missionary. I know I probably say that every week but its TRUE! I love learning and growing and stretching. Its the BEST! The gospel is TRUE! God loves us.
Ju uroj lumturi dhe paqe në jetë!
Dear People of the friend variety,
My companion has this music...Its called The Lamb of God, but we just call it the Jesus music. We love it so much. Nothing like good music to get you pumped to testify about Christ in a 97% Muslim country. Seriously though, we were talking about it the other day and we have both felt our testimony of Christ strengthen while we have been here. Christ is our Savior and the Son of God.
There is a recent convert family that we just love. The elders taught them before but we have been having family home evening with them. We bring hymn books to sing with them. One week we forgot the hymn book. They were so sad. Never again. They have another daughter that is sometimes there. We asked her if she wanted to learn more about the church. Turns out she has already started reading the Book of Mormon with her sister! They are such a fantastic family!
Another one of our cute recent converts who is a rocking member was busy all week and so we hadn't been able to meet with her...but THEN she surprised us by coming to the church to see us and brought us a present! Lipstick! Did we take a selfie right then and there? Why yes, we did.
We have this neat investigator that we have been meeting with. She is 52 years old and sells beauty products, so she is pretty glamorous. She called us the other day to meet (yeah, SHE called US...we didn't say no). She sat us down and was like, I want to get baptized tomorrow. She was like, talk to your people and make it happen. Its exciting to see her desire (this does NOT happen everyday). We explained more about baptism and the promises we make. She still has more to learn but she is preparing for baptism and excited about it! Me të vërtetë!
It's crazy to think my mission is coming to a close. This day starts the last month of my mission. I talked to my mission president about extending and he even asked SL. But they said no, with good reasons.(we all figured that...but it was worth trying). Time has gone so fast. I love being a missionary and wearing Christ's name next to mine. It is such an incredible experience that I recommend to everyone. But you don't have to wear a name tag to be a missionary. Fact.
Ju dua shumë dhe Zoti ju bekoft!
We got invited for lunch by some of our adorable English students. It was SO good. They are pretty active Muslims. They had been to Arab and Kuran class earlier that day. The call to prayer went off while we were there and the son got up and left to pray in the mosque. They were very open to hearing our message and had good questions about the Book of Mormon. It was neat experience and we are invited back!
One of our investigators has a young son. I want to give him the most improved award. At the beginning (April/May) he was very distracting during lessons and he didn't like prayers-he would try to stop his mom from praying or participating in prayers. Yesterday we were there and for the opening prayer I asked him to come sit by me and fold his arms. He didn't but just stood there quietly. BUT then for the closing prayer I asked him and again and this time he sat where he was and folded his arms and squinted his eyes shut. IT WAS LITERALLY A MIRACLE. He is making such a turn around. Its so incredible to see the influence of the gospel in this young family.
We had exchanges with the STLs today and it was awesome! We tried a couple more finding ideas. One was where we had a poster with pictures of Mormons that said "Who are the Mormons?" But most people didn't know many of them. So then we tried a "lemonade stand" but since we didn't have lemonade we just used Kool-aid. The idea being to talk to people as they drink it. The first 2 came up, a man with his young daughter. She takes a sip and kinda makes a face. At this point we look at each other and realize that no one tasted to kool-aid before we brought it. So, after they left we tried it. It was some orange/mandarin flavor that wasn't that great. But even the green strawberry and fruit punch didn't go over too well. I guess they just don't really like our American flavors...? But it was so much fun. Trying to get creative in our finding ideas.
One of my favorite things as as missionary is to see the change in others. The gospel is all about constant change, improvement and becoming better. I'm humbled in getting to see it bless others. I love seeing it in myself.
Peace and blessings!
We wanted to get creative as a district in our group finding. We took some chairs down to the main walking street in the city. We sat them down in a row with a sign in the middle that said "ask us what we do". We then sat down with The Book of Mormon in our hands. We would do things like cross our legs the same time, turn pages at the same time and stuff like that. The idea started as a joke but it turned out working really well!
Our cute family that was on vacation for a month just got back! We love them so much! We had given their number to the elders in the they had been staying before. While we were there visiting the elders called them. She tells me "my people" are on the phone. I talk to them and its totally the elders haha. Its the second time that has happened.
It has been so good to be out and about doing missionary work. We have been passing our lots of English flyers this week. We had a poster at one point and people were coming up to us to get a flyer, even cars were stopping to get one. It was fun.
We got to go the the base on Thursday to teach institute. It was crazy to be around so many Americans. As we went to the chow hall to eat it was cool to have people recognize us as missionaries. We may or may not have brought some American food back with us. So good! The lesson was really great. We had planned our lesson and it started going with it, but during the lesson it took a slightly different turn that ended up being so good. The spirit was strong and it was neat how everyone was able to share experiences. I loved being there and hope we can go again.
I love serving here in Kosovo. I love being a missionary. I love being a representative of Jesus Christ. ...and I'm a mormon.
Zoti ju bekoft!
This has been quite an unusual week. My companion has been under-the-weather to say the least. So we have been inside pretty much all week. This left lots of time for personal study and things of the inside variety.
We had a baptism this week! 5 souls entered the waters of baptism and were confirmed yesterday. It was literally a joyous occasion. One family of 3 and 2 men. Although we weren't actively involved in their teaching, the mother and daughter in the family we got to know and we absolutely LOVE them. I was going to give the talk on baptism and had prepared it, but last minute one of the members jokingly said they wanted to give a talk. I was more than happy to offer him the opportunity. I even gave him my paper with notes written on it. He actually took it and gave the talk. It was so interesting to see someone give a talk from the notes I had written. Some of it he gave exactly like I would and some of it he took a different way. But it was seriously so good and I quite enjoyed it. Talk about team-work.
We got to go to Macedonia on exchanges this week. I absolutely adore the sisters out there. It was great to do missionary work. I got to teach a lesson for the first time that week. It was all in Macedonian so it had to be translated but it was so good.
We went group street contacting that morning and I got to brush up on my Spanish. I was with Sister Schofield and I said hi to someone when she was talking to someone else and the lady actually stopped. I couldn't speak Macedonian to her so I asked her if she knew English. No. But she said she knew Spanish. So here we were using the little Spanish that neither of us knew very well and a pass-along card I had in Macedonian to communicate. Luckily Sister Schofield came over and was able to Macedonian it up with her. We got her number and hopefully they will get to meet with her soon!
Also when we were in the store picking up some things for breakfast a man heard us speaking English and asked if we were with a church. Why yes! And he wanted to come to a bible study course. Why yes! So that was cool. Exchanged numbers and can't wait to see what happens.
I just keep remember stories from that exchange! We went running in the morning. It was laps around the park, I gave up after a mile and went to go play on the swings. A few minutes later and woman walking by gets very exciting to see me swinging (she is speaking completely in Macedonian so I don't understand a word) and she comes and swings with me laughing and talking. I just used the 2 words I knew ("good" and "thanks") and laughed with her. As suddenly as she came she got off, said sometime to me and walked off smiling. I don't know what happened. But hey, who doesn't want to go swinging with Macedonian grandmas at 6:45 in the morning?
I'm excited for this next week. My companion is feeling better and we are ready to jump back in to missionary work. Bring it on!
Hope you all have wonderful weeks full of happiness and joy!
Ju dua shume!