Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The end of shator. . . Week 23

Wingapo my friends!! :) 

Wow what a week what a week! :)

I have been beyond blessed to serve with Sister Russell. She has been absolutely amazing and I have learned so much from her! I am going to miss working with her so much but I am so grateful for this past transfer! It has been such a great start for my mission and I cannot wait to see what lays in store! 

Highlights of the week: 

The weather is so much cooler here. I absolutely love it so much! The weather is nearly perfect here. So good. 

Yesterday I made the big mistake of drinking THREE waterbottles during lunch. I don't know why I drank so much, but it happened. But, the problem is that they don't have public restrooms here in Albania. And when you have a 4 fl. oz bladder capacity like me, well, let's just say last night was a REALLY interesting night. After lunch we went a member's house. After the lesson nature was calling my name. But, we had another lesson to go to. So, we took the bus partly there because that was less walking on a full bladder. We had the lesson with the family, which went really well by the way. After this lesson Nature was full on yelling my name!! But, our shtepi was soo far away. So we walked slowly. We stopped and talked to this person who was wanting to talk to us in English. So after that we bee lined it to the church. I would walk really slowly and then try to walk faster to get to the church. When we were closeish, Motra started laughing. which caused me to start laughing which made me start to run to the church. But, then traffic happened. So whilst we were waiting to cross the street there was  A LOT of traffic so I just walked around the pole. haha. okay, long story short last night was the longest 3 hours of my life during that time of not having a public restroom to use. and the Moral of the story is: DO NOT DRINK 3 WATER BOTTLES OF WATER DURING LUNCH WHEN YOU DO NOT HAVE PUBLIC RESTROOMS TO USE. Yep, true 'dat son. 

We had sister's conference this week. That was so much fun! It was all the sisters in the mission and the Mission President and his wife. It was so amazing. We talked about the Atonement. It was amazing. That is one of the coolest things about the gospel, there is no maximum in the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is always something that could be learned if you are wanting and willing to learn. 

I learned that you can't try to make up an apple pie filling for a pie. I tried using an applie crisp recipe thinking it would work. It didin't. I also learned that you can't let dough rise all day and then make rolls after. Because fermented rolls are not good. But I wanted food so I still ate a roll, I am very grateful that I didn't get sick...

We did Albanian dancing at a ward party. I would not dance, because I have two retarded left knees and I just can't dance. But then Motra Russell and Elder Ostergard ganged up on me and I danced. But, I actually am glad they did because I ended up loving it!! It was a lot of fun! Albanian dances are the bomb dot com!! :)

Yesterday, we had transfer calls! And when I am anxious and such I have to eat. So, we got in the house at 9 at night, and we didn't get the transfer call until 10:35. And I literally ate something (roll, piece of pie, orange, cookie, and lots of water) until the call. And guess what?! I am going to KOSOVO!!!!!!!!! I was so surprised! I didn't know what to say to respond. But, I am going to Kosovo! My companion will be Sister Favero! I am so excited to work with her, she seems like an amazing missionary! We are going to be white washing the area, and we also are going to be learning Gheg. It is going to be a lot of fun! I think the coolest part about getting the transfer calls last night was the peace that I felt. During the week I prayed that when I found out where I was going on my mission that I would get a confirmation that that really is the place that Heavenly Father needs me to go to. As soon as President Weidmann told me that I would be going to Kosovo I felt so much peace. President Weidmann before ending the phone call said "Sister Zollinger, I know that this is where the Lord wants and needs you." I responded "Me too President. Me too." I don't know what lays in store for me in Kosovo but I know that this is where I am supposed to be going and I am so excited for what lays in store for me. I know without a doubt that the message that we have, all missionaries all around the world, is true. We do have the Gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth again. God really is our Father in Heaven. Christ is my Savoir, and your Savoir. He has made it possible for us to return to live with God again; it is up to us, we need to accept the Gospel. Accept what is given to us. I know that it is true! 

Have a wonderful week! :) I am so excited for General Conference!! It is going to be so amazing!! :) If you have any questions for life or anything, pray and ask for an answer and I can promise you that you will get an answer during General Conference. 

I love you all! Smile lots and serve lots! :)


Motra Zollinger

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Language of the Spirit . . . Week 22

Hello hello!! :)

This past week was quite a week! It was a week full of lessons and it was so amazing! 

High lights from this past week: 

We had zone conference with our Mission President. That was amazing. The musical numbers that were given were absolutely amazing. Music is able to touch a soul in ways that words could not. 

They have these amazing things here call Lion Bars. They are amazing and frankly they are to die for in some instances. Well, I tried the white chocolate one this week. So stinkin' good!! Aah, so good. 

I like tomatoes now. I don't know if I have mentioned that before (jk I know I have) but it is so weird that I like tomatoes that I just have to keep mentioning it. Today I also had green olives...and I didn't want to vomit. They actually tasted good. 

I learned how to make rice this week. That was exciting. 

My companion also taught me how to take good photos. She is a professional photographer so I learned the rule of 3s to be able to take good pictures. :)

So, I don't know if ya'll heard but the Pope came yesterday! It was really cool all the decorations that Albania put up for the Pope. It was really nice too, because there were no makines in the street so we could just cross the street whenever yesterday without fearing of crossing the street. But, it was weird too, because the bus system shut down which was a little difficult because our lessons for yesterday we needed to take the bus to get there. So, those lessons didn't happen. We were pretty much grounded yesterday to our apartment. Our mission president told us to avoid big groups of people for safety measures, in case any of them were extremists and our safety could be in danger. So unless we had an appointment we had to stay in the apartment. What else are you supposed to do when you are in the apartment and you have a chocolate craving? You make a chocolate cake. That's what. So that's what I did, and then we got together as missionaries and watch the movie of Thomas S. Monson's life. It was a lot of fun! 

This past week I learned a really valuable lesson about the importance of the Spirit. After a lesson with one of our investigators I was worried, because I felt like I could speak Albanian fare during that lesson. And I was worrying about it afterwards and everything; and something that my companion said helped me and made me realize the importance of the spirit. She said that you can speak in the most elegant language and make complete sense but if you don't have the spirit with you, it doesn't mean anything. She also said that you can speak so grammatically incorrect, and it could be so choppy; but if you have the spirit with you then it means everything. I can testify of the importance of the Spirit. It is so important that we being missionaries teach by the Spirit of God. Because we could say everything that we know about what we are teaching, but if we do it without the spirit, it is a waste of words. I see it like this: God knows everything. He knows every language. But, he also knows every dialect of every person. It is our responsibility as missionaries to do our best to teach the message by the spirit, and the spirit in turn takes what we are saying and translates it into their dialect of language, so that they can understand and feel that familiar feeling of truth that they had in the pre-existence. Every person on the earth right now accepted Heavenly Father's plan to come to earth. They knew the truth, they fought alongside me before we came to Earth to have this plan. We are just reminding them of what they already knew; we are helping them remember what truth is and what it felt like. 

I know that God speaks to us through the Spirit, through the Holy Ghost. That is why it is so important for us to be living our lives in such a way that we will be able to recognize and understand the spirit. I know that God is our loving Heavenly Father and that Jesus is the Christ, our Brother, and our Savoir. I love them and I know that they love us. 

Have a wonderful week! Smile lots and serve lots!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Joy, a Work of Joy . . . . Week 21

Hello hello! :) 

I hope that everyone had a wonderful week! This past week has been yet another wonderful week! 
This transfer is a 14 week transfer, usually it is a 12 week transfer, but it is different this time. Anyways, I am now officially done with training. We finished the 12 week training program yesterday. So, now I am like a normal missionary, pa training. #crazystuff

Here are some highlights of this past week:

I found out this past week how hard it is to try and tell someone how to bake cookies in Albanian! Holy cow, haha. We were able to tell her the ingredients just find (except for tartar), and then the directions came. haha, that was so entertaining. haha, the member and us were getting confused with what we were trying to say so we ended up doing sherades (i don't know how to spell it, that one game where you can't speak but you have to act it out) to show her how to make these cookies. haha, it was priceless. 

We found an Italian gjelleto place! Man my taste buds were in Heaven! It tasted soo good!! Like honestly, so good!!

So, the other day we were walking back to our apartment. We saw a recent convert that we visit weekly and some friends that she was with. So I started talking to the recent convert and Motra was talking to her friends. I had just gotten done talking to the recent convert and then I was just thinking about what we had just been talking about, aka I sorta zoned out and wasn't listening to my companions conversation with the couple. I mean the man didn't make eye contact with me once, and then I just zoned out. But, in the midst of me zoning out I realized how everyone was looking at me and I guess he had just asked a question... so I just said huh? and then they all laughed because I guess the man had just said "and she (pointing to me) didn't understand anything of what I just said." haha, nope. haha. :) haha!

I  know I say it a lot, more I mean it more and more each time I write it: I absolutely love being a missionary! I love serving here in Albania! I love how I feel. I feel more than happiness here, I feel joy. Pure joy. Even when people reject our message, or I am tired, or I am trying to understand what is being said, I feel joy. It is one of the most satisfying feelings ever. Knowing that you are where you are supposed to be, I feel like that is why I am so happy here. I love what I do here. I love teaching people that we in fact have a God, and He is our Father in Heaven. He knows us. He loves us. and because He loves us He has provided us with a Savoir, our Brother, Jesus Christ. I know that God does exist, and he more than exists, He lives. I am a daughter of God, and we are all children of God. All He really wants for us is to be happy. and He has provided us with every single thing that we need to have this happiness; all we have to do is to accept it and to use it. If you ever want to know if God is there, pray to Him. I testify that God cares about you, and that He will never abandon you, you are never alone. Never. This Church is true and I am so grateful to have it in my life! 

Have a wonderful week! Smile lots and serve lots! :)

Monday, September 8, 2014

How Old is Your Testimony . . . week 20

Hello! Hello!!

This week was an absolutely amazing week! I don't think that I could ever get sick of being a missionary. It is so exciting, each and every day is amazing. This past week was exceptional. God truly is aware of His missionaries. The Lord really does prepare people for His missionaries to teach and it is such an exciting and humbling moment to be a part of this. We started teaching two different families this week. Both are progressing very well. I wanted to just talk a little bit about one of the families. They are in such humble circumstances right now; the dad left them 7 years ago, she doesn't have work, and they are at risk of losing their house right now. Even though all of this is going on in their lives right now, they are putting God first. They are changing, they are becoming happier. Me and my companion can literally see them change; and it is because they are reading the Book of Mormon. There is an unexplained power and happiness that comes from the pages of that Book. One can't adequately describe it, but all can experience it. 
A walk to the lake on p-day for lunch

Some highlights from this week: 

Tuesday was Motra Russell's 22nd birthday! It was such a fun day!! We went to a member's house that night and they threw a mini surprise party for her!! She was so happy!!

I also learned how to make buttermilk. No, you don't just put butter in some milk and call it buttermilk...i tried that. haha, just joking. I almost did. But, you put a couple tablespoons of vinegar in milk to make buttermilk. Who woulda thunked that? It baffled my mind. I successfully made my chocolate cake on Tuesday, and the members liked it and Motra did too. So, #score.  

Brother Vance in the MTC always told these stories about the qofte here... so I have been a little apprehensive to try it. BUT, on Tuesday I had qofte for the first time. It was soo good!!! I also had Kiwi for the very first time on Tuesday as well!! SO GOOD! 

I wore a cardigan for the very first time since the MTC. It felt soo good!! The weather has gotten colder and I love it!! 

HAHA!!! Funny story. So, yesterday we were having dinner at a member's house with the Elders. So, we had a lesson out in Kombinat (45ish minutes away from Tirana). And the member's lived in Tirana. Long story short we were late. Like way late because the lesson went over. So, after we got on the bus to go to the member's house we accidentally got off two bus stops early. Well, this bus only comes along every 15ish minutes. So, we decided to walk it, haha just joking, we ran! It took us 5-10 minutes to get to where we were going to meet the Elders. Once we met with the Elders we started walking to the member's house. But, it started to rain. So, we showed up to the member's house and we were "wet". They brought out a towel for us to wipe down our faces, I was embarassed. Because i wasn't really wet from rain it was sweat...but they don't need to know that, right? ;) haha, jk. but honestly. haha! 

I have been thinking a lot lately about the concept of conversion. I thinking being converted to the gospel should be our goal. Elder Bednar said "testimonies aren't enough. If you are converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ you will never fall away." Testimonies are great, because that is the beginning process of becoming converted. I think that testimonies are our foundation. Because when life gets hard, and adversary or Satan hits you down, your testimony is what catches you. The first time that I really considered my level of conversion was when my seminary teacher, Brother Skidmore asked us "How old is your testimony." Of course, this answer is different for everyone, and I think that it is such a great question to ask ourselves. I think that that is a great way to see where we are. Whenever we meet someone who was a "convert" to the church, we always ask them what their conversion
Motra Z's companion, Motra Russell
story is. But, I think that we could ask that question to every person that goes to church. If during a sacrament meeting for a talk, the speaker said "if you are a convert, please raise your hand." My hope would be that every single hand in the congregation (of those who have been baptized) would go up. We all need to be converted to this gospel or at least have started on our conversion process. That is what "Enduring to the end" is. Conversion I don't think is ever something that we reach and then it's done. This church is a church of continuinally progressing, becoming more like our Savoir, Jesus Christ and that is the same as conversion. It is a continual process and it is such an amazing process. 

I know that this church is true! Jesus Christ really is our Savoir and Redeemer and it is only through Him that we will be able to do anything. I know that our Heavenly Father loves and knows each of us individually. I know that this is true and I am so grateful for the chance that I have to share my testimony each and everyday! 

Have a wonderful week!! Smile lots and serve lots! 

Motra Z being silly with her crazy eyes

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A Wonderful Message . . . Week 19

Hello hello!! 

This week was such a great week! 

Highlights from this week: 

First off, I now eat tomatoes. Like on my own free will. They actually are quite delicious to my tongue taste buds. 

We went to Kruje today. It is absolutely gorgeous up there! We went to the top of this building and we could see the entire city plus some. It was amazing. 

We saw a Dasëm (Albanian wedding). They were celebrating it at the bottom level of the apartment, and we had to go upstairs, so we just smiled and joined the dance line as we walked to the stairs to go upstairs. 
Motra's Russel, Kokul and Betinger in Kruje

I am not sweating as much... that is always a good thing. 

Okay, the big highlight of this entire week is how the week went. This week was amazing. I am not gonna lie, August was a hard month. It was way hard. We weren't finding any new investigators and it seemed like no matter how hard we tried it wasn't doing anything. We decided to fast on Wednesday for help from our Heavenly Father so that we could find those people who have been prepared to hear our message and also that we could have this discouragement go away. It is amazing what fasting can do. I have such a stronger testimony of fasting since coming on a mission. I know that fasting does work; and that God is aware of our needs and that He does answer prayers. This weekend has been amazing. We have found 3 new investigators, we had such amazing lessons this weekend, and this weekend just went so well. And I know that it is only because of the fact that God does hear and answer our prayers and that He also is aware of our fasts. I don't know if I can adequately describe how this weekend has felt, seeing the Lord's hand helping us doing His work, it has been so humbling. I feel like being a missionary when talking to people and when telling them about this Gospel, this wonderful blessing that we have that will change their lives, I want to say so much to them. I want them to realize how good this is for them. I just want to go up on the Mountain Tops and say for all to hear: "This message is true! The Book of Mormon is True!" but, when we testify or teach people about this message, they are able to feel it. The Holy Ghost I think gives them that feeling of peace that has been missing from their lives, but at the same time is so familiar to them, because it comes from God. 
Motra Zallenxher and Russel

I realized this week how amazing this is. I am a missionary. In Albania. I can't get over it. I love what I am doing here. I love it soo much!! I think one of the best feelings in the world is knowing that you are doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing, and that is the feeling that I have being here. I know without a doubt that the Book of Mormon is true. It can and will change your live, you only have to give it the chance to do it. 

Have a great week! I love you all so much! :)