Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Don't drink hot tea

Loving life here in the South side.

This week right before district meeting we had a lesson with someone we had found tracking. She didn't answer but Bali, our new investigator who lives above her invited us in. We didn't have too much time but we wanted to share a message with her. She insisted we drink some fruit tea while we're there. So five minutes before our meeting is suppose to start she gives us this steaming hot tea. My companion and I just look at each other, luckily she had given us some peach juice as well. She left the room for a moment and we started pouring the juice in the tea to try and cool it down. I still burnt my tongue BUT we were able to share a message AND we were only a little late to our meeting. Also, we learned that peach juice in blackberry/blueberry tea doesn't taste too bad.
The other day Motra Boettinger was saying a prayer and at the end she was trying to express our love to Heavenly Father. But instead of saying, "Të duam" which is 'we love Thee', she said "Ne duam" which means 'we love us'. I'm worried God might think we're getting a little self conceded, but luckily He knows our hearts haha. Either way, we had a good laugh. Its been fun having a vegetarian companion. At first I just thought about the absence of meat in our diet, but we eat A LOT of vegetables. The other night we had salad and steamed broccoli/cauliflower with a cheese sauce. It was pretty delicious. Basically we just eat lots of vegetables and I love it. She has also been doing more of the teaching which is exciting. We were role-playing with the Law of Chasity pamphlets and I gotta say, the pictures in the Albanian pamphlet are different than the English one...but we were obviously very mature about it... and she did an excellent job in our lesson that night.
Knowing about the gospel makes you happy. Fact. Sharing the gospel makes you even more happy. Fact. Lessons when members come are so much better! Unfortunately so many of our usual member helps have been sick or busy with school. But I'm so grateful for members that help us with missionary work. Members are SO important in missionary work.So moral of this paragraph- go help the missionaries and be happy!
I hope you all have a happy-missionary-work-filled week! 
Zoti ju bekof! 
Motra Curtis
P.s. Lots of good pictures this week BUT I forgot my card reader. Just get excited for next week.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Sometimes we write on mandarins for language study...

I want to start with the highlight of my week. It happened yesterday. We went to go see Iliriana, who was baptized in November, and her family. She recently got a calling in Primary and it has been the coolest thing to see her excitement for it. There were only a few kids before but now she brings her daughter, niece, nephew and a couple neighborhood kids. They are all awesome. All that is superb. But the sweetest moment for me was at the end of the lesson. We asked her niece to say the prayer, she was a little nervous and shy about it but before we could reassure her and review with her how to say a prayer, Iliriana jumped in and explained it to her and helped walk her through it. It was just a few months ago that we were teaching Iliriana how to pray. My heart cannot hold the love and happiness that I have for that family.

It is also crazy to think that a year ago this week was when I opened my mission call to the "Adriatic South Mission". Since that moment, my thoughts turned toward this little country that I literally knew nothing about. I truly love this place and these people. I wanted and waited to go on a mission for so long it sometimes seems unreal that I really am here. I really am a missionary. I really am living the dream. But what a sweet time that it is. It truly is the opportunity of a lifetime. 

The woman that we met last week that knew English came to Church with us yesterday. We weren't able to meet during the week but she still wanted to come to church with us. I tried explaining what it would be like as we walked over (because I knew she was pretty active in her church in Greece). First she was surprised by how little people there were and then that we sang out of a hymn book. I guess she was expecting a Christian rock band with choreographed dancing. Maybe we'll try that next week. But not really.

Anyways. Life is pretty good. That persistent little cough I had got worse for a few days but I think I am back on the upward track. I just sleep every spare moment. I feel like I always remember my dreams more when I am sick. Weird. 

I am grateful for tender mercies everyday. For example, the neighbor man of one of our new investigators did not seem happy as he walked to his apartment and told us she probably didn't want to meet with us J-dubs. We only had time to clarify that we were in fact not J-dubbs and that she had invited us. It was kinda a downer BUT then he came out a minute later and gave us oranges and told us to knock harder and call out her name. Totally unexpected and really nice.

I love being a part of the Lord's work. It is literally the best. 

Much love,

Motra Curtis

Monday, January 13, 2014

Where does the time go?

Ana, an investigator we have been working with for a few weeks came to church! She hadn't really been keeping commitments and I figured we would need to drop her soon BUT then she starting reading in the Book of Mormon. She felt like she was too old to be baptized (just for her kids) but then she was reading in Moroni where he talks about how children do not need to be baptized because they are free from sin. She accepted that she needs to be baptized. It has been neat to see this change in her this week.
We went to some apartments that we had tracked into and they had told us to come back but we weren't able to find them home. Finally we found them both but they both just told us they were too busy and that they weren't very interested. That was rough, BUT as we were going down the stairs we ran into this girl and talked to her (in English- how sweet for my trainee) and she wants to meet with us. Tender mercy.
Lushnje has been warm this week. It has been so nice.

Many of our young investigators that we have been teaching just kinda dropped us. Some were from unsupportive families some just got busy for us or something.
Lushnje took down the festive lights.

In terms of funny:
There are some interesting things that come from having native companions. Some have never used a microwave so part of teaching them was teaching them how to use a microwave. The funny part is that one day I was in another room and I heard beeps coming from my companion using the microwave. I literally thought to myself, 'oh wow, now I have a companion that already knows how to use a microwave'. Not 5 seconds later I hear my companion coming down the hall "Sister Curtis...how do you use the microwave?". I about died laughing.
I have this nasty cough that I can't get rid of. Everyone has something new for me to try. Lemon with herbal tea. Lemon/honey tea. But yesterday this family told me to eat straight up lemons with salt and then proceeded to fill my bag with lemons. I promised I would try it so I did. It was not my favorite. Lemon with salt. But who knows? Maybe it will help. Also, we visited a member that had fallen down her steps. When we asked if she has been to the hospital she said she has a village doctor come and he told her to put onions on her foot and wrap it up. But she says it feels better...maybe there is something to all this?
I sure love being a missionary. Sometimes you have to drop investigators. Sometimes they drop you. But the Lord always seems to help you find those that are prepared and that are seeking. Quick side note: I love that the Albanian word for investigators literally means seekers. The church is true!
Jam nje misionare!
Motra Curtis
P.s. I hit my halfway mark. That was weird. I read this note I had written in Albanian in the MTC that I had saved to read on my "hump day". My Albanian has gotten better. But I didn't quite realize how fast the time would go.
beautiful Lushnje sunset
adventures today

Monday, January 6, 2014

Oh Canada

I got my trainee this week!! She is from Canada in fact which is super cool. She says fun things like "wash room" instead of "bath room" and plays rugby. She likes to cook which is lucky for me. She has a lot of excitement about missionary work and wants to work hard. Its going to be an awesome transfer.

Got to spend a couple days in Tirana while waiting to get my trainee and it was fun to serve with Motra Wilding from my MTC group for that. We took the new missionaries on on their first teaching experience. I didn't know the area and couldn't find the person we were suppose to teach at first so we went tracking. They did really well and seemed to like it. We finally found the lady in the last 15 minutes and so we taught her a really quick lesson. I'm so impressed with this new group. I reminds me so much of how I felt at the beginning. It has also really helped me realize how far I have come. 

I remember one of the hardest things when I first had my mini missionary was to speak Albanian in the morning because you're still half asleep. Unexpectedly its been an interesting change back. I remember one of the first mornings going right into Albanian before realizing that she may not be understanding what I'm saying. Sometimes still in lessons or other times I'll still talk to her in Albanian expecting her to understand before remembering that for MY entire first transfer I hardly understood anything. But we've set some good SYL (speak your language) goals and I think that will help her understanding a lot. This is a completely different training experience but I'm really excited.

The area is good (still in Lushnje) we have a lot of young investigators but they are awesome. Tea, one of the members here, has been helping us a lot with lessons which is really helpful (I still don't understand everything/speak perfectly). She taught us this penguin dance which may sound funny but I really like it. You should probably look it up right now. Albaninan penguin dance...not sure what will come up..

The are a lot of exciting things that are going to happen in this next year for Albania. They are "penciled in" to become a stake in March which is huge! To have a patriarch will be such a blessing to these people. Also, the Rome temple should be finished in October which will be so much closer for the members here. They might even be able to have a youth temple trip (I hope and pray) that would be so good and exciting for them. We have a lot of really excellent youth that have such strong desires so go but not the opportunity. The work here is hastening I'm excited to be a part of it. The church is true!!

Ju dua!
Motra Curtis

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Missionary life in a war zone...

Well, I didn't have time to write an e-mail on Christmas so I will try to catch up on the past couple weeks.

Christmas Eve- we went Christmas caroling with the elders and shared a quick message of Christ to a bunch of families in Lushnje. It was so good! Not because our singing was very good (it wasn't, thanks for asking) but because we got to talk and testify of Christ. It was so much fun.

Christmas involved a Skype call with my family in the morning trying to Skype with my sister in the Philippines as well but it didn't happen and we only missed each other by minutes! That was hard. But it was so nice to talk to my family. I sure love them lots. We went to a baptism in Vlore and that was really neat. It was a couple and a mother of a young man leaving on a mission in a couple weeks. How awesome is that? We had lunch with a member and then did some Christmas things. 

This whole past week has sounded like a battle zone...fireworks going off at random times during the day. New Years is a big deal here. Instead of a turkey Christmas dinner everyone eats it for new years. I feel like in America everyone gets their frozen turkey and keeps it in the freezer for the few days before...in Albania they buy them live and keep them in their yard for the few days before...Pretty cool, huh?

We got transfer calls this week. I will be staying in Lushnje training again. I'm so excited! Motra Tengu is now here in Tirana serving with Motra Wheelock who was my trainer and so therefore her "grandma" in mission genealogy. Pretty crazy. My new trainee has just arrived! I'll find out who will be my "daughter" tomorrow! We'll be going out with them in just a few minutes. AHH. I'm super excited. 

Last night was way fun. I am with Sister Wilding in Tirana until tomorrow and the sister training leaders stayed with us.  It was pretty much a party and so much fun. In America usually the city buys and sets off the fireworks and then everyone watches. Here in Albania everyone buys them and sets off the fireworks and the city watches. There is no rhyme or reason its just crazy for a solid 10-15 minutes  with them going off everywhere (like RIGHT over your head) and then it died off for awhile. Basically it was the finale without all the pre-stuff leading up to it. I loved it.  

Its been kinda a crazy time this holiday season-ness. But I love it all. I love being a missionary. I love the highs and I even love the lows. I love what you learn and I love watching others learn. I love life. I love missionary work.  I love Christ. I just love being a missionary.

Ju dua!
Motra Curtis