Monday, August 26, 2013

What happened this week?

So much to say but then not much at the same time. This is the last week of the transfer. Transfer calls come Sunday night and it will be interesting to see what happens. There are 7 places with sisters. This time next week I'll know who my companion will be and where I will be serving. Exciting stuff.

We had Motra Training this week which was sweet. We all went to Tirana and Sister Ford has a special training for us. The Sister Training leader's also did one on the Book of Mormon. Sister Ford's was about lots of things but especially on gratitude. I want to be more grateful. Then we ate pizza... like we always keep doing. Its fun to be part of a mission that is small enough that you can get to know everyone. I love that I know all the sisters. We have a great bunch of people. I have this fun 90s style dress that I wore. Just because, its classy and fun. My companion didn't know if she wanted to be seen in public with me. But almost everyone complimented (or at least commented) on it. I even made some new friends with it. The elder's call it my pioneer dress but they are probably just jealous. I was talking to one of the elders and he came up with a brilliant idea that I instantly loved. If or when I train (probably in January when we get 9 new sisters! Hooray!) that I should wear that dress when I go to pick her up! I say yes to the dress! Oh the fun you can have when you have 90s dress! 

As for the work this week...there was some heartbreak and some heart-make? heart-happiness? I don't know how you would say it but something that makes the heart happy.

Heartbreak: A lady that we have been meeting with to practice English with and teach we will probably stop meeting with. She hasn't been reading or keeping commitments but we kept trying. In our last lesson it became sadly obvious that she only wanted to practice English and isn't interested in the gospel. This is hard because she is such a cute lady! I really enjoy her company! But right now I have been called and set apart to teach the gospel..not English. I hope that in another time in her life she will want the gospel. Planting seeds.

Heart happiness!: A young woman we have been struggling to meet with we were finally able to visit with! I absolutely adore her family! They are fantastic! She wants to get baptized and her family is supportive. She was on a date but it might be pushed back a little. She is so ready though. The hardest thing is that is very busy, we couldn't do the interview this week because she was in Tirana. But I hope it happens soon!

The other is a young girl who turning 8 next week and wants to be baptized. Her grandma is an active member and she comes to church with her. We met the girl in her home and talked to her mom and she is supportive. We'll be meeting with her a lot this week to get her ready but her family seems to be in support of it. They are a cute family with a cute house. I already love them. 

Other random things:

 I remember on road trips, having those little things that you do, like hold the roof when you pass under bridges and hold your breath when you go under tunnels. Well, here they have little tunnels that go through apartment buildings that we take sometimes as shortcuts. I definitely hold my breath when going under. Not because I am reminiscing the road trips of my past...but because they literally stink. But maybe that's how that "tradition" started. Stinky tunnels. Oh well, it's all part of the experience. 

The word for Baber here is Berber so you see it all over the place and usually they have pictures of famous people on them. Well the funnest one I have seen I have yet to take a picture of - but hopefully soon - has a picture of Justin Bieber on it. Get it? Berber, Bieber? Hahaha, I love it!  

The elder's had a baptism with the patient girl who was trying to teach me how to dance at the ward party. She is so sweet/funny/stellar! I also like her family. 

I think I already talked about the little trucks with only 3 wheels (I saw a commercial/test drive thing before my mission and thought they were a joke- but no, they are everywhere here.) I finally got a picture with one!

With this transfer coming to an end I have been thinking of change. I am grateful for change. I am grateful for new beginnings. I am grateful for setting goals. I am grateful for examples of others. I am grateful for my toothbrush. I am grateful for air conditioning. I am grateful for light. I am grateful for fresh bread. I am grateful that I get to be a missionary right now, right here. Its the opportunity of a life-time. The church is true! This is the Lord's work! 

Peace and blessings!
Motra Curtis 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Exciting things

Its so crazy to think that this transfer is coming to an end. In just a couple weeks I will finish the training program! I'm not quite where I thought I would be at this point. But from talking to other missionaries a lot of them have said that it was during their second transfer that a lot of things just clicked. Also, I know it will come in the Lord's timing, patience is just not always an easy thing.

A very exciting thing happened this week. My companion and I have been working with a young woman in the branch who is preparing to go on a mission. She has been so helpful to us as we have involved her in our work. It has been exciting for us to see her go through all the steps and finally the anticipation of the call (which arrived this week.) We gathered together and her family came (none of them are members.) She got called to the Adriatic South Mission!! We have 2 elders (one serving and one under call) who are Albanians serving in this mission. She will report to the MTC in England on Oct. 31 2013. Unfortunately at this point her father is not allowing her to go (he would only allow it if she went to America.) But I know that this call came from God and that just like in 1 Nephi 3:7 (her favorite scripture) the Lord will provide a way. He always does. I am excited for her and I know she will be an excellent missionary! This is the Lord's work and it will go on!

Another exciting thing happened this week. Back when I was in the MTC I remember my very first TRC (which is where volunteers come and you teach them in the language you are called to teach in) we had a girl come. She was from Albania and was going to school at BYU. She was way fun and we loved teaching her. We met with her again during that time  and saw her throughout when other companionships taught her and once more at the very end. She was the first one we taught and the last. THEN, my very first week in Albania (Durrës to be exact) we teach a family none other than hers! That was cool and it was neat because I got to Skype with her for a moment! I had actually e-mailed her earlier that day. THEN this week she came back to visit between semesters and I got to see her at church! She is way fun! THEN she even came with us to an appointment that night. So fun!

Also, my companion had her birthday this week! It was on Wednesday but I feel like we celebrated it all week long. We had cake and a get together with the other missionaries on Monday. On Tuesday a senior couple that she worked with a lot in her last area was in town and we went to see them really quick and they had some things for her (one of them was a sweet waffle iron that makes some delicious waffles!). Then on Wednesday we went out to eat and ate some cake that we saved from Monday. I got her this awesome cane (because she is sooo old, she turned 22 -but its a joke). Fun stuff.

Don't forget weddings! A couple went and got sealed in the temple a couple months ago (which is a BIG deal in Albania!) and they had their Albanian wedding party this weekend. (there are SO many weddings happening right now). They made a branch activity out of some of it on Friday. Can I just say that I love Albanian dancing and I love that we are allowed to dance. There was this sweet lady that I met and she was so patient in trying to teach me. But for some reason I just couldn't get it, it was kinda off beat and she was wearing a long dress so it was hard to see how she was moving her legs. But she was patient with me. I initially went to talk to her because she didn't look familiar but I thought she was a member. Turns out, her baptism is this week! She is way cool. Her brother is actually on a mission right now. Durrës is great.

Less exciting: We had 2 senior couples in Durrës (we're a little spoiled) but with 2 couples leaving the mission and other places needing them moved to Fier and the other is leaving to Vlorë. I'll miss them! But Durrës is a strong branch and doesn't need them as badly as other places. But they will be missed. They are great examples to the people here.

I tried this cantaloupe soda this week...and I really liked it. I actually don't drink soda that much because I'm not a huge fan of carbonation, but I like it. Sounds a little weird. But it was good.

Last exciting thing (in this e-mail): We found 2 new investigators these past couple weeks that are continuing to meet with us! It seems like of all the people we talk to only a few give us a phone number. Of those few even fewer meet with us. Of those few even fewer continue to meet with us. It is especially hard right now because people leave on vacation or are super busy because its summer. But there are people that are prepared! You may not find them till the end of the transfer but they are here!

Lots happened this week and I'm grateful for each of these exciting things. I am also grateful for the tender mercies that happen throughout the day! Because they do happen everyday and as you acknowledge them and think about them you find more! The Lord loves us! Of this I testify!

Have lots of joy and happiness this week!

Ju dua!
Motra Curtis

Monday, August 12, 2013

Rain brings happiness!

It rained this week!! It has been especially hot this week and then on Saturday there was a thunderstorm and lots of rain and things cooled down a lot. Satuday was actually a pretty fun day. Just little things. For example when we were going back to our apartment for lunch one of the little neighbor girls that we see everyday and always say hi to started running over too us. I remember thinking, wow, it lookes like she is going to give us a hug, and then she DID! It was way cute! Then the rain in itself was a wonderful thing. We went to our appointment but actually cut it a little short because we were going to meet this girl we had met earlier in the week (there is more on her later). We actually didn't end up meeting with her because it was pouring rain. We went to wait it out a little in this little place we eat lunch sometimes. We got sallap (a super delicious warm drink that I don't know how to describe) and then after the guy gave us FREE ice cream! How nice is that. We actually weren't able to meet with anyone else that day but when around trying to find people home because of the rain. And met with success in the case of one of our less actives. We have not every been able to catch her at home but, becasue of the rain, she was home! Happy day! She couldn't meet but we got a new number for her so hopefully we will be able to meet with her another day. But it was just a fun day. I love rain! Especially when it cools the city down. The day was just full of little tender mercies.

Real quick, the girl Kristi who we weren't able to meet with, we set up to meet with again at the same time the following day. She didn't show up, so we called her and she said she didn't have time right now. So we had a lesson with Klaudia, the member who came with us. Right after our lesson with her we came our and Kristi was there! What the miracle! So we had a lesson with her. She had a lot of really great questions! For example, what makes your church different from other churches...Restoration! It was just a really fantastic meeting and I'm excited to meet with her again on Wednesday! (which also happnes to be my companions birthday! EVERY companion I have had has celebreated their birthday with me! (okay, all of the only 2 that I have had...but still). I'm excited to see what happens with her. She seems way sincere! There are so many that never even show up that the fact that she showed up and wants to meet again is reason for rejoicing! 

Sorry its short today! But know that the work is going forward. I love being a missionary! Sometimes its hard, but always its worth it. 

Ju dua!
Motra Curtis

Monday, August 5, 2013

Living the missionary life

Well there was some exciting stuff going on this week. 

First, we had our halfway training which means that all the trainers and trainees come for a training to see how things are going and what can be done to make things better. But best of all, it was a time that I got to see my MTC group!! How I love them. Its crazy the bonding that goes on when you are stuck in a classroom almost all day everyday learning a crazy new language with people. There is nothing like it. It was actually the first time I got to see my companion from the MTC, she came a week after us and so I hadn't seen her since I left her in Provo. But it was just great to see everyone! We also went to the embassy to get our permission to stay (since we don't have visas). We set some new goals for the rest of training and then went our ways.

The very next day we had exchanges with the sister training leaders. I stayed in Durres and Sister Wheelock went to Fier. It was fun to see how well I actually knew my way around Durres. We didn't get lost but I'm pretty sure there were a couple times we took the long way...but its all good, right? I was fun to the the one in charge and calling the shots. Sister Morgan was way fun. We made a cake for one of the investigators of the elders and we put flowers in the center of the bunt cake...just for fun. We met probably the cutest little Albanian family I have ever seen but they weren't interested! It always seems to be the people that you think would be such good members are always happy with where they are...there is more happiness to be had! I hope someday that do find it again. We got into the apartment where the family lives that I got a referral from. The power was out so the door was open and we just called out their name. They aren't interested right now but I left a Book of Mormon with them with my testimony in it (In shqip!) I hope the lady who gave me the referral continues to work with them through e-mail (that is how she keeps in contact with them). Once again, I hope another day they are ready. It was a fun exchange.

The very next day after that we had zone training. It was great fun, usually its just us Durres district because we are the north zone and the other areas are too far to come but Shkoder came to this one and the sister training leaders were at it too because they were already here for the exchange. So it seemed to be such a big group. It was fun. There was a lot of great training that went on but the parts I want to share are the funny ones, but don't think that we just joke around the whole time because they really are great training's. But one was when they were comparing the gospel of Jesus Christ to a stained shirt and a washer (because of the scripture that talks about a cleansing agent) I can't remember the details of it and it was slightly confusing but great! The other time we were talking about faith and the man who leaves his dying son to find Jesus to heal his son and one of the zone leaders accidentally said that the son dies (he actually doesn't) everyone jumped in real quick to clarify but it was just funny because we were talking about faith and then the way he said it (and then the son dies anyway). But I saved the best for last. We took a quick break between something and they had us stand up and kinda do the hokey pokey. Then Elder Andrus, one of our older missionaries, starts talking about how when the man who invented the hokey pokey died they had a hard time putting him in the coffin...because he kept sticking his arms and legs out and doing the hokey pokey (you know the joke) but it was just so funny because he could hardly say it because he was laughing so hard. So we all start laughing. At first I was laughing at the joke, then at how hard everyone else was laughing and then just at the situation. We all laughed for a solid 3 minutes. It was great. Sometimes you just need a good laugh as a missionary. 

From then on our week was a little less exciting. We did get our first lesson from street contacting last night, we have an institute center that we can use to teach people in and usually the elders street contact just outside so they can teach a lesson if the person has time. So we tried it and actually got a lesson! We're meeting with him later tonight so that is exciting. He seems interesting in the gospel. Church was great yesterday, I am understanding more and more each week which truly is exciting. 

Also, I think you can still send me free letters on They print them out at the mission office and then if there is anyone from Durres up there they usually pick them up and bring them down. So you want to try it out :)

My mission address is:

Motra Solana Curtis
Adriatic South Mission
 P.O. Box 2984
Rruga Qemal Stafa, Vila 1
Përballë Postës Nr. 22
Tirana, Albania

I'm so grateful to be a missionary. Its hard work but its good work and there is nowhere else I'd rather be right now than here. I have felt incredibly blessed by the Lord. Look for the Lord's tender mercies in your life and you will find more! I promise you that!

Ju dua!
Motra Curtis

P.s. There is this Albanian song that gets played so much here and is always stuck in my head, look it up if you can I think its called "Ata sy, ata sy, blu blu blu" not sure exactly but they sure say that a lot in the song! Translated its "Her eyes, her eyes, blue blue blue". I'm guessing its real popular here right now... 

Pictures: MTC group reunion and the cake Sister Morgan and I made

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Another week in the city that I love :)

Family and Friends!

Well, this week is going to be short because I'm struggling with this keyboard...

First, let me tell you about the women in this branch her in Durres. They are incredible. As I was sitting in Relief Society yesterday I was looking around at them. The church has only been here for 20 years so pretty much everyone is converts.  Many of their husbands are not members but they faithfully come every week. Also, they are a hoot. They always make me laugh. I don't really understand all that they are saying but I know they are funny. I just love them an awful lot. I also love the youth, they make me so happy! Actually I just love all the members here. But I might be biased. 

Also, I love the missionaries that are serving here in Durres. We have 2 senior couples that are fantastic! We have 2 sets elders and then us sisters. We are actually getting 2 more elders here to work with retention work and Melchizedek priesthood holders I think. It was fun, I wrote a rap for the Durres District (I've been working on it for a couple weeks) and finally finished it and shared it with them today. I might still edit it a bit though. I based it kinda on the missionary rap that we wrote back home for the missionaries that served in our branch. Well, I'll have to add the 2 new elders that come here anyways. But yeah, it was fun. We have a pretty fun district. 

But I also love just everyone here in general. These are such a great people, I feel honored to be among them. We have been focusing on finding a lot and just talking to everyone. When I first got here I would really try to talk to people on the bus but have somehow gotten out of the habit. But have resolved to do better. Its still hard because I don't always understand what they are saying or how to talk but sometimes you just have to open your mouth. I sat on the bus directly across from a woman. We started talking and she said that she was really busy right now but she would have more time in September. I left her with a pamphlet with our number and told her to call us (a pretty soft commitment I know - baby steps!) But we continued to chat. I won't lie. I didn't understand everything but enough to keep the conversation going. When they came around to collect bus fare she paid for me and my companion! People are so great here! Why does it seem scary sometimes to talk to them?! It's in my head. I know. I just want to understand them. But I can tell a difference in my language ability from the times when I just do my best to talk to everyone from the times that I just rationalize that they wouldn't understand me anyways. The Lords blesses you when you are trying. 

Well, since this e-mail has just turned into talking about everything I love, I might as well talk about the food too! I love our bryek lady who makes the best bryek. We even special ordered some that with apple, cinnamon and sugar and it tasted like apple pie (we ate it on July 4th). I love the pizza especially this place that puts garlic oil on it, delicious! I love that tomatoes and peaches are everywhere. I could eat them everyday and never get sick of them. In fact I put tomatoes in almost everything I eat at the grilled cheese, rice, plain...I love it all. But seriously, put a tomato in your next grilled cheese. Its great. We got together and ate french toast as a district this morning. Amazing. I love the bread here. Ok, lets just be honest here, I love food. 

We have been doing more finding this week. We actually met this cute couple that want to learn English that we have been teaching (ok -just once so far). They ask a lot of questions but its good because they want to learn. We are meeting with her again tonight. They are great people. We'll see where they go! 

I know I said I wasn't going to write a bunch at the beginning but then I did. Just know that I love Durres and I love Albania. I love being a missionary and sharing the happiness! This gospel is a happy thing! OH! I almost forgot! I gave my first talk on Sunday! We were meeting with the branch president on Friday (all us junior missionaries) and he said something and they all pointed at me (I have a hard time understanding him -well everyone is but especially him) so I didn't know what he said but then he said my name and the elders were giving me fist pumps before they told me that I had a talk on Sunday. He told me I could talk about whatever I wanted, so I talked about Faith, Hope and Charity. I don't think I could count the number of grammar mistakes I probably made but everyone thanked me for my talk. They told me they understood it so either they know cave man speech or they are just being nice. But either way it was a good experience. Like I said, people here are so nice. The gospel is true!

Ju dua!
Motra Curtis