Monday, October 28, 2013

That's a pretty red car!




Okay, I gotta start with food this week. Not that it’s the most important...but kinda... haha. Elder Knight is getting transferred this week and so one of the couples had the elders over for dinner and invited us too. It was so good! We had probably the best byrek that I have ever eaten. The soup was "super" delicious as well. (get it, soup, super...haha). It was a fun time. Also, Iliriana gave us byrek at one lesson and we talked about making byrek together sometime. Although we couldn't go when she made byrek next she brought us a whole pan of it (and the elders too). We are also given lots of mandarins, all the time. We are trying to keep up with eating them before they go bad (we each eat about 6-7 a day). The elders made a cake for transfers last night and gave us some (they borrowed butter from us because they ran out). It was one of the most intense cakes I've ever eaten. They weren't joking when they said it's pretty much just butter and sugar. But it tasted way good.


They continue to progress, slowly but surely. Some new people we found haven't really gone anywhere, but sometimes it is through them that we find other people. You just gotta talk to everyone. We also found a less active member. We had a map that gave us the general direction and a picture of the house. It took a little bit but we found it! We kept getting calls during the lesson but usually we just reject them and call back later. But it was this number and the elders. Finally, I excused myself to talk to them. One of Motra Guri's aunts was in distress and wanted to talk to Motra Guri. It was a rough situation and Motra Guri was worried after. So here we are trying to meet this girl and help her come back to church and instead she is helping me comfort my companion. It was an interesting situation but I feel like it pulled us closer. She really opened up about why she hadn't been coming to church and we were able to help resolve some of her concerns. Hopefully she will be at church on Sunday. 


Motra Guri:


I forgot to tell you, Motra Guri loves cars. But not just any kind of car, specifically red cars. She always points them out. Not in a "that’s a sweet 1940 Mercedes Benz" way (I obviously don't know car talk either) but more in a "that's a pretty, red car". It makes me laugh. There is this red car that we pass all the time that we're gonna get a picture with one of these days...haha. She also gets hiccups all the time! They say here that you get hiccups whenever someone is thinking about you. Every time we try to guess if it’s her family or a special boy. Either way, I never get hiccups! What is this? Do you people never think of me??! Hahaha. Just kidding. What other fun things to know about her...she’s a joker and loves to laugh but often assumes the most serious faces for pictures. She’s a fun companion.


Fun things that make my life happy:


Motra Guri's aunt's mother made us these sweet matching orange socks that may or may not be the coolest thing ever. I'm converted to the way of the knitted socks and will learn the art someday so that all my socks will be such. Sometimes I bring them with me to wear in peoples houses. (We always take our shoes off at the door.) They are legit! I seriously love them.


Sometimes we take pictures with the toys we find in the house's of those we teach. We found Tigger! Also, the woman gathered all the toys together so we could pose with them. It was hilariously fun. 


We went back to one of the houses of members who we promised to take pictures with but we had a couple other members with us. I wasn't sure if they still wanted to take pictures so I waited to see if they would bring it up. They didn't until at the end I was saying goodbye to one of them and she was like we'll see you again sometime and then whispered in my ear, "and bring the camera". They are a hoot!


We had an all time high church attendance this week since I have been in Lushnjë! I think we had 42-45 people! It was fantastic! We also had an all-time high number of people show up to play soccer this week. It’s neat to watch the friendships that are happening. I love being friends with these great people, but even more I love them making friends with each other. 


Life is good and the work is going forward. I love being a missionary. I look talking and thinking about Jesus Christ everyday. I promise that if you will think of Christ everyday you will feel the spirit stronger in your life. I know it’s true. A mission is such a unique opportunity to have a Christ focused day, everyday. But I also know you don't have to be a missionary to make that happen. So I invite you to make that happen in your life. Right now. Just do it. Paqja dhe bekimet!


Ju dua shumë! Zoti ju bekoftë!

Motra Curtis


Loving life in Lushnjë

Good things are happening here in Lushnjë!


Investigators: Our sweet investigator Majlinda is no longer on a baptismal date. The member we brought with us was really concerned about her being baptized being pregnant and suggested that she wait till after the baby is born in December. So her baptism is on hold for now but she still wants to be baptized she just wants to be careful (her first child died shortly after being born so it’s understandable that she wants to be extra careful). She came to church and brought Meri, her co-worker that we met this week. Their other co-worker that the Elders are working with was also at church. We almost had the whole bakery in church! Meri had to leave early but Majlinda stayed the whole time. I think she made some good friends. Our other investigator Ilirjana was also in church! She really loved it. She was there last week but had to leave early. She has the most adorable little girl! She is still on for her baptism in November. She is stellar. Usually we call people to meet with them, she calls us! Its funny, we met her in English course on our last day. We were talking about the Book of Mormon and she asked if she could have one (of course!). We met with her briefly after to talk about what it was. We read the final paragraphs in the introduction and Motra Guri straight up asks her if she is ready for the 2nd coming of Christ. She was like yeah, I have a lot of faith. Motra Guri just looks at her with slightly raised eye brows in this "really?" looking face and asks if she has been baptized. I thought Motra Guri was going to scare her off before we even got to teach her! Albanians are blunt. But lo and behold, she is preparing for baptism and is so excited. I'm learning lots from Motra Guri.


Motra Guri: What I love about Motra Guri. She loves to sing. Especially hymns. She does not however, know the tunes to any of the hymns. So what she does is sing the words to her own tune. Sometimes I'll sing them with her so we sing the right tune, but sometimes I like to just listen to her variations. She especially loves Joseph Smith's First Prayer. Another thing I love about her is how she extends baptismal commitments. In the MTC we learn the invitation that is in Preach My Gospel about following the example of Jesus Christ and being baptized by someone with the Priesthood Authority. We memorize it in Albanian and practice saying it. Sometimes I forget that Motra Guri didn't go to the MTC (she is already such a good missionary!). After talking about baptism and before asking if they even want to be baptized she's like "We have a surprise for you! We have a date for your baptism!" So far everyone has accepted...maybe its a better way to go! Haha. Another thing is her cooking. The other day we were at a lesson and they gave us this delicious rice pudding dessert thing. I loved it! Another house gave us baklava which was also good. I was telling Motra Guri that I liked the baklava but that I really liked the rice pudding. She was so surprised because the baklava is such a special treat and rice pudding is common. "It’s so easy, sister, I will make it for you tomorrow." And she did. And she makes a delicious pasta, her rice is excellent and she makes byrek. Its a good thing she won't be here the whole transfer or I would probably gain a million pounds.


Life: The weather is beautiful. Some days more hot, some days more cold.


We sister missionaries taught the temple lessons to those who went to the temple and the last lesson is one you give after they have gone to the temple. It was such a neat experience to meet with all those members who have just been to the temple to talk about their experience. It reminds me how much I love the temple and how grateful I am for the opportunity I have to go back several times to do work for other people. Many of these people will only ever get to go once to do their own work. These people are amazing.


There is a magical bakery here in Lushnjë (I've already talked about it briefly). It is not magical because of its bread and pastries (although, they are delicious!) but because of the people there. A member here referred her boyfriend/fiancé and the elders started teaching him. He invited his co-worker to church and she came and wanted to be taught as well. Then one night we were walking by and stopped to talk to her in the bakery and ended up talking to her other co-worker who also came to church on Sunday with her and asked for a Book of Mormon. We stopped by another night on our way somewhere else and she had a friend that was there talking to her. Her friend was actually walking to same direction as us and so we taught her as we walked and will meet with her later this week. It’s a magical bakery.


We haven't had Primary since I've been here because we haven't had any kids. But yesterday we had 2 kids show up for church and so I got to teach. It was way fun. They are quiet but really smart (brother and sister that live above the church -literally, not figuratively). We sang songs, read some stories together, drew pictures and played a game. I forgot how much I love Primary.


I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I know who I am. I know God's plan and I'll follow Him in faith. I believe in the Savior Jesus Christ, I'll honor His name. I'll do what is right, I'll follow His light. HIS TRUTH I WILL PROCLAIM!


Ju dua! Mirupafshim!

Motra Curtis


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

First full week of working out in Lushnjë!


This was our first full week together and my first full week of working in Lushnjë which is crazy because it has been the last week in my planner (they come in 6 week increments). The lady who showed up at church last week is awesome. We have met with her 3 times this week and she loves learning. She has read each pamphlet we have given her as well as the Book of Mormon. When we invited her to be baptized she was like "po pra" which being interpreted is "obviously". She is a neat lady. She is pregnant with a baby boy and due in December. She has had one other child but it only lived a couple days. We are working on getting a member to our lessons with her so she can have a friend at church. That really makes a difference.

On Sunday we had testimony meeting. We had  5 members go to the temple this past week (the district has 2 temple trips a year to the temple in Germany). They were glowing with happiness and each one bore strong testimony of their experience. We had an investigator there for her first Sunday and even though she had to leave early she had lots of good questions in our lesson later that evening. I love the temple and I love the strong desire that members here have to go. I can't wait till the temple in Rome is finished. It will be such a blessing for the members here in Albania!

Motra Guri continues to be a rock star. At the beginning I really did take advantage of the fact that she knew Albanian and let her take the lead in lessons and make phone calls (I still don't understand everything people say, especially on the phone!). But that is exactly what should not be happening. I have the potential to learn so much from my companion and I wasn't using the opportunity to the maximum ability. I was letting it be easier for me. So, I talked to my companion about it. Now I have been stepping up a lot in lessons and it using the phone/talking to people. It helps having her know too because in the moments when its hard and I need a little extra encouragement...she pushes me to do it. But she is so supportive! Sometimes too nice, I want her to correct my language mistakes but she has been around me enough to understand my cave man speech that she forgets to correct me. Until I bring it up again, then she is good at correcting for another 5 minutes haha. This has been such a fun companionship. I'm learning so much and not the things that I thought I was going to learn.
I loved listening the conference this week in English. I can't wait till it comes out in the Liahona! There is something about being able to read and study them..its like all kinds of new things pop out. 

 This was a good week. The weather was cold at the beginning but has been straight up beautiful these past couple days. Thomas S. Monson is a prophet. Jesus Christ lives. God is our Father. The church is true. Of this I testify.

Motra Curtis

Monday, October 7, 2013

My life in Albanian

What a week?!

I got my mini missionary!!! She is a fun little companion! She doesn't know English. So my days with subtitles in Albania are over...straight up shqip all the time. But we have a lot of fun together. She was worth the wait! Instead of the 8 cow woman from Johnny Lingo I have the 3 week mini from Albania! Ahh, I don't even know where to start! I got her on Wednesday and it was late by the time we made it back to Lushnjë but we went out for a couple hours to try to meet with people. As we were walking I started beat boxing, she starts beat boxing too!...but wait it gets better. I start trying to rap in Shqip to her beat boxing but it sounds.. not that great. So I start beat boxing again and she starts rapping about how we're 2 sister missionaries teaching people and inviting them to church..whaaat?! Fluent! I wish I had recorded it. But we were off to a good start.

 Next day. We go to a fshat (small village) to teach some recent convert families and turns out she is related to all of them! They were estatic! It was great! (spoiler alert: they all came to chruch on sunday for the first time in awhile!) So that was good. Then we come back for lunch and decide to cook pasta. I start to put water on to boil and she was like no, no,no. She dumps the water and puts oil in the pan and browns the pasta a little before adding the water. She then proceeds to put every kind of seasoning we have into this pot of boiling water and pasta. I had finished the sauce and went to stir the pasta...she had placed a metal spoon on the pan and that is what I picked up. I burned my fingers. It hurt. I was thinking, "silly albanian, why did you put a metal spoon on a hot metal pot?" and she was probably thinking, "silly american, why did you touch a hot spoon on a metal pot?". Either way, she was super nice and finished everything. Side note: it tasted delicious. My fingers were still in a lot of pain after eating and she kept saying this word of what to put on my finger that I didn't understand. So we went to a Farmaci (Pharmacy) and we got this cream thing so put on my fingers. It was magical. My fingers felt so much better and healed faster. Then I had a cold for a few days. She was always trying to help me with everything. She is super nice. Side note: she loves using the word "super".

Communication is probably the hardest thing still. Some little comment will sometimes take 5 minutes of charades, pointing and using different words for us to understand each other. But she is way patient with me and never gives up trying to help me understand. Before Motra Wait left we set some serious language goals and one of them was to have solid consecration weeks of SYL (speaking only Albanian). I remember in the MTC our group was so bad at SYLing we always seemed to break or forget. I don't think we made it one day until consecration week (we were really good for that week). Well, I am happy to report that Motra Genta Guri and I are way good at SYLing, we almost never break haha. Its funny, I think we both feel very responsible for this companionship. I feel responsible because I'm Senior/Trainer(ish) companion and have the missionary experience. She feels responsible because she is the one that knows Albanian and feels the need to do the communication betweeen us and Albanians (everyone) haha. I just have push to talk anyways. Shes does really try to help me understand when I look to her to help. I'm really grateful for her. I've been teaching her English too. We are both learning a lot.

What I love about Motra Guri is that she is fearless! She takes talking to everyone to a whole new level for me. Its like on District 2 "I'm not training Motra Guri, she came pre-trained!". But seriously, I just tell her what we do as missionaries (and she knew some stuff already too) and she is all for it. We went to an appointment and they weren't home and while I was trying to think of who else we could visit she was like, hey, lets knock on all these doors. She loves tracking! Then the next day we had a lady knock on our door, she cleans the stairways and elevator and collects $2 every month. I went to get the money and when I came back she was talking to the lady about how we are missionaries and asking if she wants to meet with us in her house to learn more. What the awesome! What is that even?!! Reverse tracking? I don't know but I love it! She seriously talks to everyone. She is going to be such a fantastic missionary. I'm learning more from her than just the language.

There are many perks to having a native companion 
 -She understands what everyone says
 -They understand what she says
 -Shes get the culture (better than me)
 - People love her
 - She cooks Albanian food
 - edhe një qind

Conference this week! Usually in the past the missionaries have watched General Conference in English together and then get the translated version later. But this is the first time that they broadcasted conference translated in Albanian live. Super exciting to see the progress that is happening here! But it also meant that I didn't understand everything. At the end when President Monson talked about what a great conference this has been I just remember thinking "Ahh, this has been the best conference and I didn't even understand half of it!" But mos frikë I'll watch in English during lunch breaks and stuff this week. I'm super excited!

Basically this week has been awesome and I love my little Motra Guri! Its going to be a fun month or so with her! Its been neat to hear her testimony (she is a convert of a 1 1/2 years...not that long). The work here is going forth. One of the elder's investigators invited a co-worker to chruch and she came up to us after and wanted to meet with us! The Zhamë families came to church! There are tender mercies and miracles happening everywhere! Love it! I love being a part of missionary work! The chruch is true!

Paqe dhe bekime!
Motra Curtis

Friday, October 4, 2013


Well, I feel a little misleading telling you this...but I'm suppose to get my mini on Wednesday. I know, I know, I keep telling you that I'm getting one this week but this time I really think its going to happen. They even told me who it is and when I'll get her. Her name is Genta from Elbasan (her name is just Genta though...not "Genta from Elbasan") and I will get her in Tirana on Wednesday at 3:30 with the candlestick. Just kidding, no candlesticks will be involved I don't think. 

So here I have been, kicking it in Fier. In fact, they have gotten so used to seeing me here they even had me give a talk on Sunday! But they know I'm not permanent so they still get excited to see that I'm still here. I love that part. I really love it here. I feel like I know the members and investigators here. I kinda know my way around (the term "kinda" is used very loosely in this instance). But this is just a great place with great people.

On Friday we were eating lunch after a meeting and got a call that the young woman were ready for our activity doing missionary work (there was some mis-communication that happened because we didn't know about said activity). So we went and took them street contacting. It was actually a really cool experience. I'm so impressed with how willing these girls are to do missionary. They really love it. Also, they are really good at it. We will be planning another one soon (with more preparation). I had never been street contacting before my mission. These girls are well on their way to be ready to serve missions. Missionary work, man, its contagious! 

Also, we went to Lushnjë for a couple days this week and did some work there. Fier feels more like home right now but I'm sure Lushnjë will very soon. We met with this awesome woman who is looking for truth. The Lord really does prepare people. Its a neat thing to be a part of. Even here in Lushnjë there is this awesome young woman we are working with. She is so ready. We invited her to this Seminary/Institute activity and she has been going ever since. We came for our lesson one day and she had her Book of Mormon, the student manual and her journal and she was STUDYING her scriptures. Golden! She is so great and is already friends with all the youth. Missionary work is sic!

For the past couple p-days we have gone to the beach. Last week we were at the beach in Fier and cooked tin foil dinners. Delicious. This week we were down in Vlorë. We went to a monastery and then to the beach to play soccer (with a volleyball..haha). It was super fun. 

I love beat boxing. I am not very good at it but I still love it. Sometimes I'll just break into it with music or while waiting around. This week I have been trying to teach Sister Wendt and Sister Hoover how to beat box. They are making drastic improvements and they make me feel like a good beat boxer. Well, the other day Sister Wendt was telling me about this member in Vlorë who is way good at beat boxing. I hoped to someday meet him. I didn't realize that that day would be TODAY! He came and played soccer with us in fact. (Side note: it was his birthday today). His beat box skills blow me out of the water! He is legit! There people who beat box like me, then there are good beat boxers, and then there are people like him. Someday...someday.

I can't believe General Conference is this week! This is the first time it will be translated live in Albanian. Usually the missionaries watch it in English but this time we will be watching it with our members and investigators in Albanian. So that will be neat! 

Well, that's it for this week.

Ya heard it right here nga Motra Kërtis!