Saturday, May 18, 2013

Une e di se shqip është i veshtirë :)

Welp, it looks like another week dun come and went! And it was a good one!


On mother's day Janice Kapp Perry came and spoke to us. I LOVE Janice Kapp Perry. Let me give you a quick background. When I was 16-17 for a family Christmas gift we got the missionary 2-disc album of hers. I loved it so much I just kind of adopted it and listened to it all the time. I love love LOVE those songs. I've also heard some of her other ones. Plus she wrote some of my favorite primary songs too. I just love her and was thrilled beyond measure when she came. She talked with us and told stories and OF COURSE she shared songs. It is amazing how much music brings the spirit, I love it. We sang a medley of Child's prayer, Love is Spoken Here, I Belong to the Church, I love to see the temple, and the Army of Helaman. Those are all some of my favorites! I never really thought of I Belong to the Church of Jesus as a missionary song, but now its my new favorite missionary song (now that I'm on a mission "I hope they call me on a mission" isn’t as current anymore). It was all super great! But my FAVORITE part was the very last song we sang. She just finished it so its fairly new. I think we were one of the firsts to sing it. It’s called "The Sisters in Zion". It’s the same tune as "As Sisters in Zion" but is has different lyrics. They are so good! As first I was just going to try to write them all down but after the first line I decided to instead be a part of the moment and I'm so glad I did. There was power in that room. We were all singing and crying and feeling the spirit. I don't really remember the lyrics. It talked about being the army of Helaman, thanking God for a prophet and just about being a sister missionary I guess. The overall feeling I got was just that this thing, this work, is so much bigger than myself. I am so grateful I get to be a part of it. This is God's work and I'm grateful He trusts me to teach His children. I just love Him!


Another treat was that Elder Russel M. Nelson came to speak to us on Tuesday for our devotional. I love that powerful spirit that comes when the Apostles walk it. You know they are called of God. No doubt. He loves missionary work and I love it too! Remember that talk he gave when he spoke from the pulpit and told the world to "ask the missionaries"? Well I can't remember his exact words but he reminded us that he told the world that and we better make that promise good...or something like unto that (that's what I got out of that). An apostle of the Lord is counting on me to make that promise good and so you better bet that I'm gonna do my very best! I love how much he used the scriptures when he spoke. You know he loves them. He recommended we study about Christ. He said that there are 18 topics under Jesus Christ (there are 18 months in my mission....) and he suggested we study them. You bet I will! You are also invited to study them too :). Always. I love that man.


This week one of our friends needed to go home to work some things out. He is a dear friend to all of us and it was hard to see him go. We were 12 Albanians and now there are only 11. It literally feels like we are missing a member of our family because you get so close to those that you struggle and stretch and just grow with on such a daily basis. But it strengthens my testimony of the Atonement and my understanding of God's love. I can't wait to see the people he will teach and the conviction with which he will be able to testify. There are people in Albania that need him. He left us with a powerful testimony and such an example of faith and humility. He is a remarkable elder and we're all so proud of him. It’s a hard thing to do, but we know he can do it.


The language is coming slowly but surely. I appreciate any and all the prayers said on my behalf. The other day one of our teachers was walking us through what our first couple of days were gonna be like in the field. Suddenly it hit me how real it was and that I REALLY am going to Albania (shocker, I know - you would have thought learning Albanian would have clued me in, right?). But instead of feeling nervous about the language and teaching I just got so excited to be going there. To teach real people (don't worry I still love our "investigators" -one's on a baptismal date and the other one will be as well soon) but to be there among them! I'm super excited! BUT I still like that I have a few more weeks to get the language down. I really need them.


Guess who I ran into the other day? Karli King! My 2nd cousin? But she is basically my cousin! I was worried I wouldn't get to see her because she is only here for a couple weeks. But I saw her a couple times, it was great! She is gonna do so great in Florida!

I had this funny realization the other day. I remember when I went to BYU I thought I was soo smart. I was top in my class and school was easy. Let’s just say that was a very humbling experience. THEN before coming to the MTC, I thought I was soo excited to be a missionary, but you know what’s funny? So is everyone else! Another humbling experience. I think that's one of my favorite things about being a missionary. I get these 18 months to learn how to really focus on other people and not on myself. Being a college student is selfish time. You are finding out what you want to do and living on your own with no one else depending on you. Being a missionary is completely the opposite. Nothing is about you. Everything is about other people. It’s about your investigators. It’s about the people you meet. It’s about the members in your area. It’s about your companion. You can't even get up and leave to go to the bathroom without thinking of your companion and whether they are at good stopping point so that they can come wait outside the door. But seriously, I am so grateful for all these learning opportunities that I wouldn't have gotten any other way. Missions are seriously the best. My companion and I were talking about that while we ate breakfast after going to the temple. There is nothing we would rather be doing right now than being missionaries. Even though it’s hard and you're constantly uncomfortable… but then when you get comfortable, you stretch a little more, so you’re uncomfortable again. Man, it just hurts so good. Its the hardest best thing I've ever done.

Another thing! We met an elder from Albania the other day! He is from Durrës and will be serving in Salt Lake South. He is so cool! We took a picture with him in front of the flag. Funny how we found him. Some of the elders walked by him on our SYL (speak your language) day and he heard them and chased them down. They gave him our classroom number and so he came and saw us later! He speaks English great. In fact, he would speak shqip, and then if we didn't understand, he would tell us in English. He thought we were so funny. I'm not sure if it was because of the fact that we knew Albanian or that we were saying things funny. Probably both. I remember people in China laughing at my Chinese too. Oh well. It was way fun. I can't wait to be in Albania! You don't meet real live Albanians very often in the MTC (or America for that matter), but when you do, it’s awesome!


More randoms: they have pictures along all the hallways in all the buildings of missionaries from years past all over the wall. I love them. Despite the fact that I have been here for 5 weeks, I'm still seeing pictures I've never seen before! The MTC is a pretty miraculous place! I still love the fact that it is spring and there are flowers all over the place! I just love spring! A couple of weeks ago, I found the tree that smells like cream soda....for real! But word on the street (well, sidewalk to be more specific) is that they are going to be cutting it down soon. Sad day!

I love you! I love the gospel! I know it’s true! Be good this week!


Paqe dhe bekimet!

Me Dahuri,

Motra Kërtis


P.S. I thought of this my very first week, but I always forgot about it in my e-mail time but my companion reminds me of a mix of Xandra Fuimono, Rachel Benson and Emmaline Neubert. Probably mostly Xandra. The funny thing is I know these people from way different places so I don't expect anyone to know all three of them. Xandra is from my home stake in Missouri, Rachel is from my freshman year at BYU and Emmaline was a fellow teacher in China. But I love them all and I love my companion!

P.S.S. I hope Mother's day was great!

Picture 1: The sisters in my district

Picture 2: The albanian sisters

Picture 3: Elders from our zone
Picture 4: Me with some elders from our zone...bahahaha! The back of yo head looks ridiculous!

Picture 5: Most of us Albis...only missing 2 sisters

Picture 6: Utah eshte shume bukur!

Picture 7: The tree that smells like legit creme soda

Picture 8: Look at the pretty flowers, and all the sister missionaries!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Just another week in the life of a missionary​...


Another week has come and gone and it is so crazy to think that I am almost halfway through my MTC experience...WHAAAT?!! I don't know shqip!! This time next month I'll be packing for Albania...ok, so yeah I still have a month left but it's gonna go fast! Well actually, riddle me this, my departure date is set for June 11 but I leave the MTC on May 28..what's happening?? I'll tell you what, the MTC is being filled to its MAX capacity and they are having to find new places to put us. I mentioned before that they were talking about moving us to Raintree but actually they checked out Raintree and decided to update it a little to put it up to missionary standard (they are pretty old complexes) before moving missionaries there. So they are instead going to move us to Wyview. Which is CRAZY that was my freshman year. If I'm in the same building I will probably freak out. Our branch president told us it was official this past Sunday. Out of the 70 branches in the MTC (each zone is a branch) we are one of 6 that are moving to Wyview. We don't know all the details (like how they are going to feed us!) but we'll have our classrooms and everything there. In fact they are getting so many new missionaries (especially since school is out) that we are moving Tuesday devotionals to the Marriott Center so that we can all fit. There either is now or will be soon 70,000 missionaries...WHAAAT?! And as of now 49% are sisters (I love it!). I'm so glad I got to be here to experience the MTC (because I love it here! Dreamed about being here only my whole life) but I'm also excited to be a part of the group that is trying new options. It’s "historic" as our branch president kept saying. Plus I'll only be there for 2 weeks so it won't be that bad. But seriously, how crazy is that? It will be like my freshman year all over again..except COMPLELETLY different. They are calling the Raintree and Wyview areas the West MTC campus. I guess they are just 18-month contracts (kinda like mine, huh?) and they are still looking into more permanent options. We shall see. But it’s exciting. Being a missionary is exciting!

I remember before I came it seemed everyone told me I would get sick of the food or it would make me sick. I am here to tell you that I still love the food (no shame!). The hardest part is being able to eat so much all the time. Sometimes my self-control when it comes to food is not so great so I just eat all the time. I guess in that regard, maybe its not so healthy. But they have DELCIOUS salads and fruit all the time. And even though I don't love eating dinner at 4:20, the nice part is that we usually get the food before it runs out. (I'm pretty sure they've had strawberries the whole time-they just ran out by the time they got to our shift. Whaat?! so that’s pretty scrumptious)

So just to update you on my birthday since I e-mailed in the first part. The sweet elders in my districts (there are 2 Albanian districts) got me candy and one of them made me a SYL flag tag (SYL = Speak Your Language). The motrat (sisters plural) got me cookies and Motra Wait got me this sweet "Return with Honor" t-shirt. I love it! I also got a dearelder birthday package from my dear friend Sister Diane Standifird, love that woman! I got a fun package from my work/brother/friends! Didn't see that one coming (just kidding) but I still love it. Also another sweet friend Adrianna Hill sent me the Plan of Salvation visual set thing- in ALBANIAN! How cool is that?! And letters from home. It was a most joyous birthday and I felt much loved!

Then the next day VEDEKJA!! (Vedekja=albanain word for "death", we may or may not say this word on a daily basis). Basically I got sick the next day. I had a headache and felt feverish and my body ached. We went to the doctor and he said I didn't have a fever but gave me medicine for chills and told me to manage it. I tried to tough it out for a couple days because I did not want to miss class. But it got bad enough that on Monday I stayed at the residence and slept ALL DAY. There was another sister in our zone who wasn't feeling well so she was my "companion" and I literally slept all day, waking only when the other motrat came to check on me, when they brought me food, and to pee. I tried to drink water as often as I could. Motra Robertson charged me to drink as much as I could and filled up all my water bottles. So each time I drank "for Motra Robertsoooooon!" aka "for Narniaaaaa". That night the elders came to give me a blessing. I thought it was just going to be the elders in our district but all 6 of them came. It was cool to be surrounded by so much priesthood. They have a great opportunity to literally bless the lives of those Albanians we are going to teach. I felt better the next day and went to class but I still didn't feel well. My poor companion was basically teaching solo and I zoned out trying to understand. It was a rough lesson. However the NEXT day I felt much better and I continue to improve. No vedekja for me.

Yesterday we had our first SYL day where we tried to speak Albanain all day. It was hard! I learned a lot and I really think it helped me improve but boy does it make my head hurt! Alright I am running out of time and I wanted to save the best for last.

For our Tuesday devotional we had Elder and Sister Gavaret (sp?) come speak to us. It was wonderful but the part I want to share with you was as Sister Gavaret was speaking about halfway through she started speaking in Spanish (her native language) and even though I could only understand a little, what I felt was the spirit. What came to my mind was that prophesy that everyone will be able to hear the gospel in their native tongue. That's why I'm learning Albanian. Not because I thought it would be cool (Albanian is probably the last language I would have learned). But it is important to Heavenly Father that His children hear about His gospel in a language they understand (well, that they can hopefully understand if it’s coming from me). That why he calls us Americans that have never heard a lick of shqip to come to the MTC and gives us 9 weeks to learn this language that is unlike any other language. And that’s when miracles happen. That's the only way I'm learning this language. It’s hard and crazy but I am so grateful for this opportunity to stretch like I've never been stretched before. I love being a missionary. It’s the hardes,t best thing I've ever done.

I love you all. This church is true. Say your prayers, read your scriptures. Be a [member] missionary.

Peace and blessings!

Motra Kertis

P.S. Sorry no pictures this week, how about YOU send me some for a change :)


Thursday, May 2, 2013

They changed my​d its my birthday? whaaat?!

C'fare jam? Majmun? (This is my new favorite phrase to say)

Well, usually I write down quick notes about things that happen during the week that I want to tell you but I forgot them this you will just get whatever is on the top of my mind!

First of all our weekly schedule changed which is why this letter is on Thursday instead of Wednesday. There are some good and bad things about our schedule. I actually like having my preparation day on Thursdays instead. But the down side to our new schedule is that breakfast is now at 6:45 which gives us only 15mins to get ready (no more showers in the morning...) which bumps up all our meal so we eat lunch at 11:20 and dinner at 4:20 (which seems ridiculously early to me but since all my other meals are early I'm usually hungry by then). We also have gym in the middle of the day, so that is usually when I take my showers. Which is weird. Showers in the morning are my favorite. In China I took showers in the evening because it was so hot and humid I never felt like I was dry if I took them in the morning. But this whole taking them in the middle of the day is...interesting. I can't wait to be out in the field where the schedule is a little more normal. I feel like this new one is a little scattered. ALSO they might be moving us to rain tree in a few weeks. I guess they are turning it into an extension of the MTC with all the new missionaries coming, especially since its summer now so all those who are out of high school will be coming in soon. There has already been a huge increase with BYU being over and all those peeps coming in. It is such an exciting time to be a missionary, I love it!

The language is still coming slowly and is probably what I struggle with the most. Every day is a roller coaster, someday are super great and I feel like I'm progressing. And some days I feel like I don't understand anything. But I love that every time it is hard and every time it is frustrating, God finds some way or someone to help me. My days are filled with tender mercies and I feel extremely grateful for that. It doesn't mean that I have suddenly gotten way good at the language but it gives me the strength to go from day to day or moment to moment. I have never been stretched too much in my life; physically, mentally, and spiritually. But it hurts so good. I remember at the beginning of basketball season we would always have intense physical workouts and I would feel so sore and it would hurt. But it would hurt in a good way because you knew you were getting stronger. That’s how it feels, my mind and soul are being exercised in ways they have never been exercised (or at least not for awhile) and it hurts so good. One my favorite Hungarian friends Maxfield Nover (Sister Maxfield is SO funny) was in consecration week last week (you don't speak any English for a week) and I was going to choir with her and her companion so I was waiting from them to finish studying before we left and she gave me a letter to read that one of her missionary friends sent her. It was like the best pep talk ever and I really needed it that day (just another tender mercy of many). One of the lines from the letter was like "Mission = a stretching mechanism from the soul" and it is so true! There was so many golden nuggets in that thing but another one I super liked was "people don't care how well you can congregate a verb they care if they can feel your love and the Savior's love". My grammar is somewhat lacking (to put it lightly) and it IS something that I want to improve (so people can understand me) but more important than that I want to be able to bring the spirit and let them know I love them. I truly am so excited to meet these Albanian people. Our native teacher Motra Iftiu is so wonderful and I just can't wait to be there! (But at the same time I can wait a few more weeks-I need a better handle on this crazy language)

Also, we taught in English this week for the first time ever (as a missionary) and it was a humbling experience. Before I thought I would be *such* a great teacher if only I could speak in English since I had gone to teaching appointments with missionaries a bunch growing up. But no, even when you DO know the language you still NEED to rely on the spirit. We also learned a lot as a companionship and how we can teach together more unified. But it was such a learning/growing experience. One of my favorite lessons we have had here was learning to teach with the spirit. I love how even when we are role playing and "pretending" you can still totally feel the spirit. I love this place.

The field has opened up this week so it had been nice to be outside playing volleyball, I want to play soccer next time. The hard part is we have it right after lunch or dinner and lets be honest, who feels like running around right after they've eaten? Not this kid. But I'm getting more and more used to it I guess. I also played 4 square for the first time yesterday. Before I came on my mission I remember lot of people telling me how intense it is and one of my friends even got hurt playing. But I guess it depends on who is in the MTC at the time because most days it doesn’t seem like anyone is playing and when they do its not that intense. But it was still fun. The saddest part about the MTC (and especially with the field open now) is that you can't play ultimate Frisbee (sad day) you can still throw a Frisbee around but you can't play the game. I will just have to bring it to the people of Albania!

I love the weather here! Spring time is my favorite! I love being able to go outside for personal study and sit in the sun. It is magical. Also a much needed break from the classroom that we live in. I'm glad I wasn't here for winter where I would spend even more time in that place. It’s funny; when we first got here we got a nice classroom with a window and comfy seats and nice desks. After a few days they moved us out to fix the AC and we were put in this closet room with no window and tiny little desks that slanted so everything fell off your desk. We have been there for a couple weeks but last Saturday we moved back into our beloved old classroom and we appreciate it so much more now.

When I first got here most of the trees only had little buds on them and were just starting to grow but now there are blossoms and leaves all around. It’s like we are all growing here together (the trees and us missionaries). I took a picture of the tree outside our window the day we left our classroom. I had wanted to take pictures of it throughout our stay here but then we were moved. When we came back it was amazing to see the progress the tree had made while we weren't able to observe it. I feel like that’s how I am with the language. My progress has been so slow that sometimes I don't feel like I am learning and progressing. But when I compare myself to where I was when I first got here, its amazing how much I really have learned and grown. I will call the parable of the tree outside our classroom window.  

Oh, today is my birthday too! It doesn't feel like my birthday but I suspect birthdays on a mission are just like that. I've given this year-and-a-half to the Lord. This is His time and this life right now is no longer about me (but I do still love letters! And I am SO grateful for birthday wishes and letters I've gotten thus far). The Lords demands a lot with this time we've given Him (remember all that stretching stuff) but despite how hard this is, I wouldn't have it any other way. I want to be as useful of an instrument as I can to the Lord and if that means learning Albanian, then by golly I’m gonna do it!

I just want you all to know that I love you so much! And I KNOW the Lord loves you too. As a missionary (so far-not that I'm seasoned or anything) but I have been able to see a smart part of that love that He has for His children. I can' wait to help share that with the Albanians. As a missionary we focus a lot on our investigators but you know what, we also are our own investigators. Everything that we are asking our investigators to do we should be doing as well. Everything we are asking them to pray about and find out for themselves we should be doing too. So I encourage you to (dare I say, commit to?) remember that as you are reading your scriptures and saying your prayers, ask again about the truthfulness of those things. I promise that your testimony of those things will be strengthened as you do that. The church is true. God love you. I love you. Have a great week!

Peace and blessings,
Motra Kertis

P.S. The BYU Men's chorus came to the MTC a couple weeks ago, it was great! If anyone sees my good friend Cameron McCready tell him he did a fantastic job!

Also, I loved the letters from family and friends this week! Keep it up! They are the highlight of my day!