Monday, April 29, 2013

Two, over and out!

Oh what a week! Living life at the empty sea. Days go by slow and weeks go by fast. I remember on BYU tours they used to always say the most prayers are said at the Testing Center, well I am here to tell you - there are far more prayers said at the fact I don't think they every really stop. But its great. Ahh, there is always so much to say I never know where to start!! I guess I started last week talking about how many sister there are here (which continues to go up) I love seeing them everywhere I go. It seems like every devotional speaker we've had come talk to us has mentioned the fact that there are so many sisters and how much color it brings to the MTC. Its fun to watch old MTC devotionals and when they scan the audience it like all suits but not now!

Another change here at the good ol' MTC is the age change. I would say a majority of the missionaries here are 18-year-old boys and 19-year-old girls. There are still a couple of oldies here (like me) but there are so many young 'uns! This adds a cool little perspective to life here at the empty sea. For one, I feel like they talk a lot about how this is not a efy/youth conference but a missionary training center. There is probably more flirting that goes on too...but I don't know (I can’t really compare too well because I wasn't here before the age change). There are challenges with calling kids before they've had much experience out of high school, but let me tell you, they have been prepared. To hear them bear testimony of gospel truths is amazing. I thought I was exciting about missionary work, they are pumped! The other night we had district review after the Tuesday devotional and the things that they got out of it and the insights they shared were so good! Shume mire! Well, I might be slightly biased because I think our district/Albanians is/are just so fantastic. We all get along so great and they are spiritually mature. I won't lie, sometimes we get a little crazy at the end of the day when our brains are about to explode. It's like that point you get to late at night when EVERYTHING is so funny. But here we hit that point at like 3:00pm... But I love the determination we have to learn the language and our love of the time we have to get spiritually recharged (I love love love love love love love SUNDAYS! - also p-days)

Guess who is in the MTC presidency?! The HACKINGS! Remember them? They used to be the mission presidents of the Independence mission like 3 presidents ago. I saw her in the cafeteria the other day and went up to talk to her. She said she recognized me...but I'm not sure she really did...haha its been a while, but it was nice of her to say it. But she is so great! I remember we used to always describe her at the one with big hair...she's still got it! :) I love her!

The language continues to be difficult but I looking at the progress that I have already made its pretty cool. We have 3 main teachers. Bro. McGlothan (I think that’s how you spell it..) was our first teacher. He served his mission in Albania but has been back for about 3 years now and is attending BYU. He is a red personality (if you know what that means) and has a very direct way of speaking and teaching. It does a good job of showing me where I am and where I need to be. That can be hard at times but it motivates me to work hard to catch up. He can be patient too and will sit and explain things until I understand them...but when he does I often won't forget them. In his directness he is really good about bringing up the spiritual side of learning our language. Like trusting that the Lord will help us and that we should just go for it and teach what we know. Its hard when they test us on the teaching principles because they have us teach in Albanian and then I am so focused on the language and trying to remember words that I forget BASIC things (like forgetting to promise blessing after extending a commitment...whaaat?!). But hopefully it will make us more confident in the language. I think Heavenly Father would know I would struggle with the language so He sent me the best companion so I wouldn't have to worry about that. She is super supportive and we continue to have fun and grow together in the gospel.

Another teacher we have is Sister Iftiu. She is from Tirana, Albania but is also going to BYU. She served her mission in England. She is so great. I would say she is probably a blue personality. She teaches us a little language but does a lot more of the missionary training. I will never forget the time we were so past learning. Our brains were exhausting and we were just at the point where everything was distracting. She stopped what she was doing and gave us a little devotional on the Attributes of Christ. It brought the spirit and focused us like nothing else could. She is great. She just recently became one of our investigators Linda. Its hard teaching her though because she is our friend so we don't take it as seriously as we probably should....we're working on that. We start each class with a hymn in Albanian. I'm getting better at it now but the first couple times I felt like Sister Taylor in Errand of Angels when they are singing the hymns and she has no ideas what she is singing. That me. Everyday of my life. They be changing' all these letter making the "i" sound liek and "e" and the "e" sound like and "a" and the "q" and the "ch" sound the same (don't worry "ch" is a separate letter from "c"...there are like 10 more letters than English...can't wait till I understand this crazy language!)

I saw Eric Smith the other day. He is my friend from BYU but isn't a member. He is way cool. I guess he works here at the MTC as an investigator which is way cool. He gave me and my shoqen (companion) some good advice to just be ourselves when we teach. He says so many people just get all weird when they are trying to teach (granted we are all newbies-don't judge) but its important to be yourself. Motra Kokol and I talk about that all the time because we want to be representatives of Christ while still being ourselves. Its a balance thing. We have been way better at being reverent this week as we tried cutting out all our high fives and fist bumps (they helped us show our enthusiasm but were a little less reverent). So now we only Rev-five (reverent high five = softly touching hands in a high five motion) and chill bumps (courtesy of Corban Curtis, they are a fist bump using only the middle knuckle slightly extended) I hope you all love these forms of reverent excitement and that they change your life.

I forgot to tell you about our other teacher Brother Vance. He stared out as our investigator Ermal (who committed to be baptized) but is our teacher in training because Sister Iftiu has a summer internship she is leaving for in a couple weeks. He is great. He is a white personality with some blue. He is such a gentle teacher and the epitome of patience. He served in Albania too and loves telling us stories about it. I love how each of my teachers have completely different personalites but they work together to be the perfect teaching team for me. It is such a testimony to me that the Lord is SO involved in this work. From the teachers that are so perfect for me to the way the companionship and districts are is the best possible way it could be. Does that make sense? Ahh, I just know that this is exactly where I am suppose to be exactly when I am suppose to be here.

Fun fact: so my teachers are red, blue and white and my companion is yellow. I've got all the colors around me all the time. It's great!

I love the intense spiritual growth that happens here at the MTC. Its seems like we are just continuing to be stretched to our full capacities EVERY day. But then this is the Lords time and the Lord is efficient so he is going to use this time as best He can and it will bless us for the rest of our lives. Motra Kokol and I decided that serving this mission is the hardest, best thing we have ever done.

I don't have much more time (despite the fact that they have doubled the amount of e-mail time here since they changed the rule to letting you e-mail more than just your family). As always, I love getting letters! Thanks to those of you who have written. is the best. I love you all! I love being a missionary. This is the Lords work and I'm so excited to be a part of it. Thanks for your prayers. The Church is true!

Peace and blessings!

Motra Kertis




1. My companion Motra Kokol!


2. Me on the computer during Portal time (we get to listen to talks, mormon messages etc)


3. Motra Kokol drew all the people in our district


4. Rachel Benson from freshman year!



5. Shoqen and I



First Week in the MTC!


What a week this has been!! You know, for being an Empty Sea it is not very empty! There are so many missionaries here! Most exciting is that there are so many sisters here! 44% of all the missionaries here are sisters and I'm sure it will continue to go up. AND 50% of the missionaries here going to our mission are sisters (6 Elders and 6 Sisters). AND 66% of the missionaries in my district are sisters! WOOT WOOT! There are 6 of us, Elder Davis and Elder McGrath and Motra Heathcote and Motra Wait AND my amazing companion Motra Kokol! She is the best! We seriously have so much fun together, I couldn't have asked for a better companion! We are so much alike in our excited and enthusiasm about missionary work and being missionaries. Sometimes we get a little too crazy excited and have to remember to be reverent and dignified. But we have lots of fun and get along great!

The first day here we had a meeting with all the new missionaries’ (I think there was actually another room of us too but anyways) they had us stand up as they listed how long we would be a the MTC. First was the 2 weekers (English or native speakers) then the 6 weekers (most languages, Spanish, German, etc) and THEN they had all the missionaries who would be here for 9 weeks and we were the ONLY group that stood up! AHHH!! We are here like unto Asian languages as well as the other missions in our zone (Hungarian, Estonians and Finnish sp?). Oh our zone is so great! We meet together for church and stuff (which we can do in English because we are all learning different languages). We have gym time together and have great fun playing volleyball. Its nice because we don't have a ton of REALLY good volleyball players so we just have fun. I love it. But I can't wait for Frisbee when the field opens (even though we can't play ultimate :P) WAIT back to the first meeting where we stood up, we sang the Army of Helaman song but instead of singing "and we will be the Lord's missionaries..." we sang "and we are the Lord's missionaries..." It was SO great! Since I served as the music director in Primary before I came I always had the kids sing at least 1 missionary song each week (it was great!) it was fun to sing that AS a missionary! I love being a missionary!!!!!!!

Another highlight for this week was that for the Tuesday devotional we had Elder Scott come talk to us!! I guess they haven't had an apostle here for a while so I'm so glad we were here! Motra Kokol and I actually go really good seat we were about 20ft away from him 4th row pretty central. It was so great to feel the spirit that he brought. He talked about communication with Heavenly Father, it was powerful. There is so much I could tell you about it, it was so inspired. But he left us with his blessing that those of us learning a language would be able to learn it, that Heavenly Father had called us to this mission not to fail but to succeed and as we called upon Him, He would help us be better instruments. He also told us that any task we would be asked to do would be fit to our capacity. He assured us that we were called of God to our mission for a reason. We were prepared for it and it was prepared for us. Then after we sang the closing song and the person saying the prayers was coming up he ran over to the microphone again and reiterated those points again. We were called to succeed. The Lord will help. We were called by God. The spirit was so strong! The best part about that devotional was that I had really been struggling with the language that day (well really its everyday!) but it was such a timely promise and gave me such hope! I love the Lord!!

Speaking of the language, it is so hard! I thought it would be easier since it has some of the same letters as English but the e is actually an eh and the i is and ee and ch and q sound the same. So you have to re-train your mind to see them differently instead of just learning new ones. There are dh sounds and gj sounds. The grammar is different too and there are so many rules and exceptions. Its kind of like English were there are random rules that we seem to have just to make words sound better. Another hard part is that everyone has learned French, Italian or some other language so they get is so much faster (ASL hasn't really helped me too much so far...) So it is frustrating to feel like the slowest one in my class. My companion gets it so fast which at first was hard because I compared myself to her all the time but it has proved to be a blessing because she is such a patient teacher (she is also teaching me how to stand on my hands and do the splits-I love her!). Its been good to struggle though because it has definitely humbled me (I though I was going to naturally be such a great missionary because of all the experience I've had with it) but I have to start all over with the basic simple stuff because that is all I know. I seriously feel like a child in the way that I pray (we pray in Albanian) and the way that I read scriptures (I have to read slowly and sound everything out and get corrected all the time). But it has been a great way for me to learn to truly rely on the Lord and a little child!

We were talking about is as a district last night (I love my district!) about how Elder Scott talked about how we would be stretched and grown as missionaries (oh he also talked to us sisters and told us what a blessing it would be in our life that we had decided to serve- his own wife, that he talks about all the time, served a mission too!). And its true, the MTC especially stretches you so much. We may not do much, we sit in class all day, sit in the cafeteria to eat (the food is great, I love it!), we sit all the time but mentally and spiritually we are being stretched like we have never been before in our life. Elder Scott talked about when you want to learn something you have never learned before you have to do things you have never done before.

I love being a missionary. It really is a dream come true for me. It's harder than I thought it would be but it has already been such a growing experience. And I'm only on week 1!! Hahaha, I can't wait to see what else happens!

I love you all so much! I love getting letters too! (shameless begging: Please please write me letters, they make my day!) All the info is on my Face Book about section. Write me!!

I love you all!! I love being a missionary!

Motra Kertis (the e has 2 dots about it, I think its called an idea how that’s spelled)


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Just before departing

Less then a week before leaving to the MTC Solana participated in a musical of the Ten Virgins Parable.
Here are some of the pictures her Dad took  


An easy way to write while she is in the MTC

You actually have several options:

It is probably the fastest and easiest. I'll get it the same day you write it when I'm in the MTC.
When you go to the webpage you just click the little grey box that says "Write a Letter" (found on the right side of the page). You will have to enter your address and then the following address for me:

When I'm in the MTC:
Sister Solana Curtis
MTC Mail Box: 117
Mission Code (optional): ADRTCS 0612
Estimated MTC departure date: June 12

You can still write me DearElder letters in Albania. All you'll need is my name :)

2. Snail Mail

MTC address (Use until mid-June)

Sister Solana Curtis
MTC Mailbox # 117
2005 N 900 E
Provo, UT 84604-1793