Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Avengers Came My Final Week at the MTC . . . Week 8

This week has been absolutely incredible!! Tuesday night our Devotional was M. Russell Ballard. He is such a sweet old man. And his wife seems like such a sweet old lady. His talk was super good; it was about be dedicated to this gospel. The thing that I want to talk on is when he said "Listen to the Prophet and the apostles. We won't lead you astray. We CAN'T lead you astray." When he said that they couldn't lead him astray it got me thinking a lot. This is Christ's church. In Helamen 5:12 it says how Christ is "the surest foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall." The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints really truly is Christ's church.

We are all on the right path, and His apostles and prophets will never lead us astray, and Christ won't allow them to lead us astray. And that got me thinking about the Avengers (I have a good reason, trust me). In the Avenger movies there are of course the villains (Loki, Hydra, those evil elves, etc.) And of course there are the Avengers (Hawk Eye, Black Widow, Hulk, Iron Man, and Captain America). Yes, those movies are amazing and everything (especially Captain America) but I realized how perfectly those movies portray these days. In the last Captain America movie you didn't know who to trust anymore because of Hydra, which reminded me a lot of the "secret combinations." We live in an Avengers movie today. The villain is the worst villain of all, he is evil, he is worse than all those villains combined—he is Satan, and his evil minions that follow him. But, we have 15 Avengers. Every one of them is better than all 6 of the Marvel Avengers combined. Our modern day Avengers are the First Presidency and 12 apostles. Their armor is the Armor of God and the Shield of the priesthood. We can always trust and rely on our modern day avengers. As long as we listen and reread the conference talks and really obey what it is that they have told us to do, we will be safe. We will be protected. It reminds me a lot about this quote: "comparing Satan's army to God's army is like comparing two toddlers with squirt guns to the entire US Army." I love that quote because it really shows the power of God's army that we as faithful members of the church will always have against Satan if we are faithful to our commandments, serve others, and endure to our endowment. Satan is gonna be the big fat LOSER and he knows it, and he wants to make everybody else a big fat loser too. He knows he is gonna lose, but we all know that we are going to win so gloriously. Keep pressing forward with faith!

In seminary whenever someone would ask "if you could go back in time to any event in the Book of Mormon, what would you go see?" I always have wanted to see what Helaman's army looked like; what the Stripling Warriors looked like. I realized this week more than ever that I see Helaman's Army each and every day. In the new Sister's in Zion song it says "we are enlisted in Helaman's army, in numbers much greater than ever before..." it is so true. I am enlisted in Helaman's army. I get to serve everyday alongside the Stripling warriors. It is so humbling to be surrounded by missionaries each and every day. Whenever I see a big group of elders walking by, I still get the goose bumps because there is so much priesthood power that shines forth from them. I absolutely love it here. It is incredible to be enlisted in Helaman's army.
Motra Coleman and Motra Zollinger Last Sunday in the MTC

 This week we had our last lessons with our investigators because we are "transferring". It was really hard with our last lesson with Linda. Both Motra and I were emotional throughout it.  It was so neat, Linda technically is getting baptized on Sunday, and it was such a neat experience. Before our lesson was over after we had taught her the word of wisdom we asked her if she would bear her testimony with us. The spirit was so strong as she bore her testimony. It was incredible! It is hard to explain how connected Motra and I felt with Linda. It was incredible. That lesson was incredible, and I am so grateful that we have been able to teach her. Our teacher who was "Linda" is actually Linda's daughter. So Motra Iftiu is Ema, who is Linda's daughter. So, it was personal connection for her and I hope I get to meet Linda in Albania. :)

I feel like I have changed so much and it has only been 2 months. I cannot wait to see who I become as my mission goes on. I have never prayed more in my life. I have never been this happy before in my life. Something that I have learned while being here is why I am doing this, why I am on a mission.  I am not on this mission for me. That is the last person that I am here on my mission for. I am on my mission for my Lord and Savior; I am here out of gratitude for what he did for me and also for Heavenly Father for this wonderful plan of Happiness that we have the oppurtunity to live. I am here for my Albanian Angels whom I promised I would come find. I am also doing this for my ancestors and for my family, to try and represent my family and all the sacrifices that my past relatives have made so that I would have the oppurtunity to be serving a mission. I feel like I have become a better sister since being here, I have realized how not good of a sister I was to my sibilings. And I have changed.  Lastly, I am doing this for my future family- just like in the scriptures about Helaman's army “they did not doubt what their mothers taught them." My husband and I will be the parents to Helaman's army too. I want to be the best Mom and wife that I can possibly be. 

I know that this Church is true. The Atonement is the greatest gift we have besides the chance that we have to have a body. Christ suffered for me. He died for me. And He still loves me. He is my divine Brother, my Savoir and my Redeemer. I will forever be in debt to Him and my Father in Heaven. Heavenly Father is so incomprehensibly loving. I love the father's day video, the one about a Father's viewpoint I love the end where it says "out of all the names that God could have been called, he has asked us to call him Father." what power there is in that name. I know that my Heavenly Father loves me. I am His Daughter. I feel a source of power of divinity and confidence from knowing who I am. We are all Children of God. If God could love me for who I am, then I can love every single person that I ever meet. This gospel is true. There is life after death. Death does not exist in our gospel; it is simply the transferring of our spirits to another life, a better life, a painless life, a life with our Heavenly Father. The Book of Mormon is true. Every single word, every verse is true. It has the ability to empower all who read it with the Holy Ghost and the love of Christ and Heavenly Father. Joseph Smith truly saw God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. The priesthood has been restored on the earth today. Thomas S. Monson is a true living day prophet of God. His Apostles are Apostles of the Lord. I have seen them bear testimony of our Savoir Jesus Christ, being in the same room you can feel that power of their priesthood and of their testimonies. This Church is true. I know it is. Come unto Christ. Only through Him are we able to go through our lives happily. Give Him all of your problems all of your concerns, your worries your sadness’s. He has already suffered for you; he already knows exactly how you feel and only He is able to succor you and help you how you need it. There is a power in serving others. Serve others each day. You will come closer to Christ and to our Heavenly Father by helping your brothers and sisters, by helping God's children. It is true. It empowers you with happiness. Serve. That is the answer to everything. Serve and pray. I love the temple. Today I went to the temple for the last time for the next 16 months. I sat in the celestial room and cried because I did not want to leave, because I knew I wouldn't be back for a while. The Temple is a holy place. Go there often, it truly is a refuge from the world. It is so important to always be worthy (and trying to stay or be worthy) of a temple recommend. That is part of your armor of God. I am just so excited to go to Albania in 4 days!! I cannot wait to be able to go and share this gospel message. I cannot wait! :D

I love you all! 
Motra Zollinger

ps sorry for my awful spelling... Albanian has messed me up that way....

Friday, June 13, 2014

Consecration week has commenced....‏Week 7

Let's see...what to talk about...what to talk about. Elder Quentin L. Cook came on Tuesday for our devotional. That sweet old man looks a lot older in person than he does on TV and everything. The devotional was super good! The musical number was "Oh How Lovely was the Morning" and it gave me so many Goosebumps!!! It was so good. The spirit was so strong! Elder Cook talked about feeling inadequate for missions and how we don't need to worry; that we are supposed to be going on our missions to where we have been assigned to go and to not worry about it. He also gave us 3 apostolic blessings, and it was incredible. As he was leaving the devotional he blew us all a kiss and said how much he loved us missionaries—so humbling, it truly was amazing. I know personally that devotional helped me a lot. I have been feeling a little bit overwhelmed lately because I now have less than 2 weeks before I leave; and I am so excited to go but at the same time I am nervous and everything; but I felt so much peace during that devotional. It helped me a lot. Sister Cook also spoke. She is a sweet lady. She said how we all need to be our first converts; but we also need to be our true converts. When we get home from our missions, we don't stop what we have made a habit of doing for the past 18 months or 2 years of our lives. We need to continue to use those habits and continue to become better and to strive to become closer to Christ. We need to be a true convert, and endure to our endowments. It was a really neat perspective. 
It was super super bright at our last temple walk. And we didn't have sunglasses, so pretty much we are the new McGuyvers. We made our own sunglasses. So attractive. haha, they actually worked pretty well. Sisar Pace is on the left, me, and Motra Coleman. :)

I so totally played soccer volleyball the other day during gym. Ha-ha, I don't know how but I became quite adequate in a matter of minutes and I was lunging for the ball and I was actually making contact with the ball. And then gym time ended...tis a shame. ;) Ha-ha. Gym is a lot of fun though! I love it! Our zone just plays volleyball and sometimes it gets crazy intense, because pretty much everyone is pretty good at volleyball and the elders have the hops for sure, and they can block each other. It's like we are professional volleyball players, only we're not. Ha-ha. 

So today we started our consecration week. Consecration week is where we are not allowed to speak any English for an entire week. It started as soon as we got out of the temple this morning. The only times when we are allowed to speak in English is if we are translating to the Hungarians or Estonians for our companion and that's pretty much the only time. It is going to be hard and surely will be interesting; but I am really excited. It will be a lot of fun! Ha-ha, today on the way back from the temple Motra Coleman was asking me when I wanted to go to the bookstore. But I thought that when she started her sentence she was just merely doing a "when..." statement, not a "when" question. So, it was like 30ish seconds after she had asked me the question and I had repeated it in my head like 3 times that I realized she had asked a question and was expecting a response... ha-ha. So I responded. It's day one and I have already had one of those moments, hehe, this is gonna be good. :)

Yesterday we Skyped again. Her name is Arjona (Ar-i-ona). She is such a sweet person!! It was incredible too! We talked about the importance of prayer in our lives, and sometimes she would respond in English to us...ha-ha, but we couldn't. But, it truly is amazing how much Heavenly Father has helped me with this language and continues to help me. I was able to do verb conjugations that I have not yet studied; I was able to talk in more depth about how I try to do my prayers and what prayers are to me. I really truly do feel like Heavenly Father loosed my tongue during that Skyping so that I was able to bear my testimony on prayer. After I was done talking, I just sat back in my chair and thought "Wow. What just happened... thank you Heavenly Father", and the best part is that I don't remember getting a confused look from her as we talked. So, I count that as a glorious success. :D  Honestly though, it truly is amazing how many tender mercies that I see each day. I feel like I am looking for them more, because I need them more as a missionary. There is no way that I would be able to be doing this by myself. I don't think I would be able to last even a few hours doing this by myself. It is so important to work as hard as you can, even if you aren't learning a language. When it is personal study, you do personal study. You study out of the Book of Mormon, Preach My Gospel, Jesus The Christ, and New/Old Testament. You use every minute you can for personal study. Then when it is time for additional or the other studies, you can do whatever you do. In D&C 82:10 it says "I the Lord am bound when you do what I say; but when you do not what I say, ye have no promise." I testify that this scripture is true. If we do everything to the best of our ability of what the Lord has asked us to do, he will not leave us alone, but he will help us succeed wonderfully. He will help you and He will literally be right by your side as you go about your day.  This especially applies to non-missionaries. To everybody, take 15-20 minutes each day to read the scriptures, to read a talk, to do something to come closer to Christ. And I promise if you do this, with a good attitude that you will be blessed in more ways than you would have ever thought possible. If you feel like you are in a rut in your life, if you are not feeling as happy as you could be, forget yourself and go serve. Serving I really do think is the answer to everything. If you give up some of your day, and put whatever it is that you are concerned about to the side and care for another of God's children, you will be blessed. He knows who it is you are serving, and He knows how it is helping that person and He will bless you for it. You will feel an added measure of simple joy in your life for it. Serving and coming unto Christ really is the answer to everything. I truly believe that it is.

This week we had a district talk about our missions thus far. Why we went on a mission, how it is going, what we want out of our mission, etc. Something that our teacher said was "you will not always be happy, but you will always feel joy." I just really liked that statement.

On Sunday in relief society we talked about the Priesthood. It got me thinking a lot of how the priesthood has blessed my life. I have a father who is a worthy priesthood holder, I have two brothers who are worthy priesthood holders. I am surrounded every single day here at the MTC by worthy priesthood holders. I am enlisted in the Army with worthy priesthood holders. I feel like my life is the way it is because I am surrounded by worthy priesthood holders—I am surrounded by the power of God. I love it here and I love the priesthood. I am so grateful for the priesthood. 

I'm sorry, I feel like my letter this week wasn't too good, not to mention can you say "SQUIRREL"? Sorry I couldn't keep all my thoughts sort of connected...but that's how my brain works. Isn’t it wonderful? :)

Oh, one thing I did find out this week is the normal phrases that we say at our house are not normal to people that are not Zollingers. I get a lot of weird looks when I say my phrases and then they just look at me and then I have to try and explain myself or say it in a normal English phrase, which I do not know how to do. 

Motra Coleman and I have gone Harry Potter in our residency. And by that I mean every time we want to get in our room we knock on the door and then one of us will say "password" and then we have to say cabbage trokonus. And when I say "we" I mean me. It has only happened to me thus far, and I have not been able to remember the password so she will shamefully open the door and say "cabbage trokonus Motra! Cabbage trokonus." ha-ha, I love it!! :)

Oh, I just had another thought. But, I can't remember it. Ha-ha, I guess I should be use to that by now. ;) 

I love it here at the MTC!! I love my district. I just love everything here. I can't wait for what the next 16-ish months bring. I can't wait. 

I love you all!! 


Motra Zallënxhër 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Jesus Christ, this Church, and My Family Week 6

Hello Hello!!

This week was a great week! It was a fun, hard working week. It sure did have its ups and downs this week, but overall it was great! 

The big highlight was yesterday; we Skyped an Albanian, a real-life speaking Albanian. It was crazy. I had such big butterflies!!! The first few attempts with Skype wasn't working very well, which I was okay with because I was so scared to do it!! Then Motra Hoopes was gonna try one last time and as she was dialing it I was praying "please don't work, please don't work..." but it worked. But, the cool thing was that as soon as we said hello to her I felt such a calm and peaceful feeling. It was a lot of fun talking to her! It was hard to hear what she was saying because the connection wasn't too good on our end, but the things that I was able to hear, I understood! And she only gave me the "girl what are you talking about" or "what language are you speaking" look twice; so I count yesterday’s Skype as a glorious success!!! :D We get to do it again this coming Thursday or Wednesday; I don't know when but we are going to start doing it now every week.  So, that was the big highlight of this week: that we talked with a real live Albanian and she said that she was able to understand us and everything! It made me so happy! 

Yesterday I realized how blessed I am being here at the MTC. I am so grateful that I am enjoying it here and that Heavenly Father has helped me thus far with the language. It has been truly humbling. For me, it just goes to show how important this work is to Heavenly Father and that if I try to do my best in personal and language study that He will bless me in more ways than I expected.
Enjoying Sunday on the Temple grounds at the MTC

Our devotionals this week were great!! There was no apostle though this week, which was sorta weird, but hopefully this week? The mission presidents do come soon and the entire First Presidency and 12 Apostles will be staying here at the MTC. I can't wait, I might be able to shake hands with Jeffrey R. Holland or even see our living-day prophet. I do hope that I am able to see one of them, because there is just something that is so empowering about them just when you are in the same room with them! Our Tuesday's devotional I really liked a lot, the speaker was Elder Schwitzer of the Seventy. The main theme that I got out of it was how important it is to care; to just love those people with whom I will be serving with and those who I will be teaching. I leave for Albania 19 days from today. It is so nerve wracking, but that devotional just gave me a complete sense of peace and calm. Why? Because it really all comes down to your attitude and Christ-like Love. "It isn't going to matter if you get a verb conjugation right, all that matters is that they know that you care." That quote is so true! I will get the language and I will eventually be able to speak it well. But even if I were able to speak it fluently right now, if I don't teach with the spirit present and without caring for whom I'm teaching nothing is going to come out of it. It won't be a lesson; it will just be a pointless meeting if the spirit isn't present. I don't know how long it will take for me to be able to speak the language well enough, but I do know that I can invite the spirit into the lessons by testifying and for caring for those whom I am teaching. In our lesson with Besnick (MTC instructor) yesterday, we started to talk about the atonement. Besnick asked why Jesus would suffer for him. My answer was "Because He loves you." When I said that, I got the goose bumps and the spirit hit me like a wave of water. Teaching does not have to be complicated and that is something that has taken me a while to figure out. Teaching should be simple truths. It is said all the time in the Book of Mormon that they taught simple truths line upon line, precept upon precept. Simple truths are just that, they are simple; but they are powerful enough to soften the hardest heart, to mend a broken heart, and help anyone in need. So that is what I learned this week: that my main priority is not to speak the language fluently, rather, my main priority is to love and to testify. Testifying invites the spirit and the spirit knows every language, and he always knows every dialect of every person. 

Another thing that Elder Schwitzer mentioned is how there is a time and place for everything. Here is the poem that he shared:
Clowns in the circus are as funny as heck
But clowns in the church house are a pain in the neck
I like that poem a lot because it just emphasizes how there is a time and a place for everything. I love it here at the MTC! I have never felt happier before in my entire life. I have never worked harder, prayed harder, studied harder, focused more or had such fun as I have worked hard. If you are not having fun at the MTC, you're not doing it right. Just because it is hard, doesn't mean that you can't be happy or be having fun as you do it. There are moments here where 100% focus is needed, and there are other times like at gym where 100% good attitude is needed. 

Fast Sunday was such a great day!! It is amazing what fasting does for you. This fast Sunday was incredible. It was my last fast Sunday here at the MTC (weird. I know). I have only known these new missionaries in our zone for about 2.5 weeks, but I realized on Sunday how much I love all of these new Elders and Sisters. The love was overflowing from within my heart. It is truly amazing how quickly you grow to love people you have never met before in your life when you are all working so hard for the same thing. So, needless to say, my zone is the best zone. Like ever. #wildandferocious My district though, is outstanding. All the Elders are such great examples to me, and I have learned so much from them. They are like brothers to me. Last night we were all talking and we were just having so much fun. We were all worn out from a long day of speaking in Albanian yesterday that by the time night time hit we were all laughing. They were even laughing at some of the things I was saying, and that just shows how tired they all were. haha, jk. I am pretty funny sometimes. Honestly you should hear Motra Coleman and mine conversations. haha. Seriously though, I have been so blessed to be in the district that I am in. I have learned something from each and every one of them. I have such a big respect for all of them. And Motra Coleman, she is an Angel. I don't know what I did to deserve her, but I am so grateful for her. She has helped me so much, and whenever I say how something is hard or something like that she just says "është mirë, Motra!" which means "it's good, sister!" I am so grateful for her! So much! 

You know how you hear about angels surrounding missionaries and protecting them in the mission field. Well, I'm not in the mission field quite yet, but I do think that angels are on double time with surrounding and protecting their assigned missionaries during gym time. True story people. For instance: a few weeks ago I was shooting hoops in the gym. One Elder in my zone played basketball in high school, so he was trying to make a half-court shot or something. I was getting my basketball and I hear him yell "watch out" and so I look up, and the ball had hit the ground just a couple feet in front of me and was heading right towards my face at a super fast speed. So, I did my man-scream and closed my eyes, and I didn't even get touched with the ball. I really do think that my guardian angels were on double time during that gym session. Another thing happened this week. Motra Coleman and I have such ridiculously great softball skills. We play this game where we will throw the ball to each other and every time you don't catch it or drop it you have to do an awful punishment, like a plank or crunches or yeah. So, on Tuesday she had thrown the ball super high, and it was going through some leaves and I knew I wasn't going to get my mitt up in time to catch it and that it was probably going to hit me on the head. Then all of the sudden it somehow hit a branch and fell at my feet. I'm pretty sure it was, again, Angels. I do think my guardian angels like to play the sport games with me. Some people might say that those were just "lucky" but I don't think they are. There is something about being a missionary; you know that you are never alone. Even if you are having a tough day with the language or whatever it may be, I am never alone. Never. 

I would also like to say how amazing it is being here! How amazing it is to be a missionary. The three things that I care most about, that I would give my life for, that I would do anything for--I wear on my chest every single day. That is (1) Jesus Christ, my eldest brother who I will forever be indebted to because of His unconditional love for me. I am a missionary because of Him. I get to go preach this gospel to the people of Albania, with Him by my side. (2) The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. What an amazing restoration this Church has had and under such humble circumstances. Joseph Smith truly did see God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. They do have a body of flesh and bones, and they called him by name and told him to restore the Church of Jesus Christ; to restore it to its proper and original form. I am so grateful for the priesthood, what an amazing blessing that has been in my life. What a humbling experience it is to interact with priesthood holders every day, to have one be my Dad and my brothers, and to see them 24/7 here at the MTC. To be enlisted in the Army of Helaman with Priesthood holders. This gospel is true. I cannot wait to go and share that with the people of Albania. Death is not the end; it is only a glorious new beginning. I don't know what the future holds, I don't know what is going to happen in my mission, I don't know a lot about life but the one thing that I do know is that this Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true! Jesus Christ is my elder brother, and Heavenly Father is such a merciful and loving Father. I am a daughter of God. I am never alone and they never leave us alone. I know it is true! I also know that Satan will forever and always get the "BIGGEST FATHEAD" award. He wants us to become miserable and to doubt anything and everything we know. But, pray whenever that happens. This church is true. There is no way that this true church cannot be true. Thousands of people have tried to find a fault in this church and no one has succeeded; anyone who has tried has been converted. Even Satan has a testimony of what God is capable of doing and of His power. Fan the Flame of your Faith. IT IS TRUE. (3) My family. My best friends, who I get to spend the rest of forever with. I am so grateful that family is such an important unit to Heavenly Father. I love my family with all my heart and I would do anything for them, I would die for any of them without even giving it a second thought. Families are forever. It is not easy being away from my best friends, not being able to have my giggling fits with my little sister, or have our Muppets jam session with my little siblings, or to have our competitive family card games, or to just sit and talk with my wonderful parents. But, I know that they will be protected and safe. I know that this is where I am supposed to be and that we will all come closer. I love my family with all my heart!! 

Being a missionary I strive to bring honor to the three things that I care most about; my Savior, Jesus Christ, this church, and my family. I love it here! I love it with all my heart! I love you all! Thank you for all of your support, it truly means the world to me! :) 


Motra Zallënxhër