Monday, August 31, 2015

The Plan of Happiness.... Week 70 .......... Oh my Goodness!!!!!!

Hello Hello!!! :) 

Motra Zollinger and Motra White!  ( I love these two Motra's -mom z)
I hope that you all have had a wonderful week this past week and that you have a great labor day tomorrow! :) This past week has been a great week; but the biggest test is if I can remember all the awesome things that happened... hehe

It is the last day of August. I am freaking out. I woke up this morning just groaning because it is the last day of August. Then I almost started to cry. But I couldn't start to cry this early, so i went and ate some food. 

The Chess war continues on. I think it is tied 5-5 now, or even 5-4. But it quite pathetic. haha, both of us are awful at chess and we both try different game strategies that never work out. We always start the game by moving the same pieces both both and try to distract each other through out the game with stories or food. haha, it is awful. haha. 

French! Yeah, that language that I studied for 6 years... I was able to use about two words that i remembered this week. "un peu". haha. we were street contacting and a man came up to us and said "you are mormons right?" and we of course said yes. He then was like "i have something to show you" and he pulled out his phone. I was a little worried at first thinking it was something weird or bad, but I looked at I really didn't see anything, just the time on the phone. He asked "did you see it?" I just said yes. and then my companion was like "yeah! the Book of Mormon!" I nodded and then was like "wait, what?! What Book of Mormon" and then I looked again, and alas it was the Book of Mormon. haha. This guy is from France and him and his wife just moved to Albania. He had some friends in Africa that told him about the Book of Mormon and he has started to read it and really likes it!  He spoke a little of french and I have missed the sound of french, it sounds so pretty! But we had a really good conversation with him and showed him where our church was. Then later this week he came for a baptism! It was super super cool!! 

The cute old lady that I talked about last week in my letter. Well she is atleast 80 ish years old. Yesterday she had left her house and started to walk to church when she fell. She cut her knee open and bruised her arms really bad. Luckily a member on their way to church as well was not too far behind her and was able to take her to the hospital and get stitches. So after church the elders came with us to take her the sacrament, and the Brother who helped her earlier that morning came with us as well. I was super worried about her because she is so old and fragile, so I was expected her to be merzit and sad and everything when we came over. We got to her apartment and knocked on the door and then she opened the door smiling and laughing because the Brother was at her house again. It was so neat though, because she was smiling ear to ear because she still got to take the sacrament. It was so sweet and such a cool experience. After the elders left we staid because she still wanted us to eat the food that she made for us that night before. So we stayed. This cute nena is quite impaired with her hearing and so we have to yell at her. She was laying on her cough to rest her legs, and she was played candy crush on her ipad as we ate the delicious stuffed peppers that she had made for us. It was hilarious because boy, does she like her candy crush! haha. it was funny!! Sister White talked to her as I hurried and cleaned up the kitchen for her...and accidentally broke her cabinet. I tried for like 5 minutes to put it back together. I barely touched that cabinet when it just fell down like it has been fouled, sorta like what Espindola did when he played for Real soccer. So for five minutes I tried fixing it, but couldn't. So I just walked back in the room with sweat dripping down my face and stress in my eyes and the cute lady just said "you tired?" Then as we were leaving, I told her that the cabinet had broke. I thought she would just laugh it off, but she didn't. She didn't get mad or anything, but she was like "who did it?" i just said "techinically, it did it itself, i barely touched the thing..." but thankfully Sister White was able to fix it. #phewithoughtiwasintrouble. haha. but it's all good. i ain't touching her cabinets anymore. 

We were visiting an active family earlier this week...i tried to do jokes about justin bieber with the girls... but it didn't work. it was awkward. because they thought i was talking about michael jackson. and then i thought their dog's name was one of the girls' fiance's many weird things happened that night... haha. 

Choir practices with the stake are always super fun. yesterday I couldn't not stop laughing though. Sister Dunn kept making faces at me and I would just start laughing and I tried to hide the laughter but then my face would go really red and I would start to shake when I look over and Sister Dunn is just perfectly composed as if nothing had happened. that sneaky sister. haha, it was hilarious. 

A family that Sister Russell and I started to teach my first transfer, I found out this past week that they are going to be sealed in the Switzerland temple in the end of September!!!!!! I was absolutely speechless. I am so happy and excited for them!!!! Hopefully I will be able to take a detour home to switzerland to go to their sealing and then head home. But we are working on it! :) 

Today for p-day we went to the big treg. This time the shopping didn't stress me out that much. Small victory! But, there was a huge pair of pants that someone put up, along with red underwear. I thought it was cool, it's not every day you see giant clothes like that.  So I took a photo. 

today we went to lunch at an american resteraunt. I had just gotten in the bathroom and locked the door when elder greener called. I didn't want to not asnwer it, because that would have been rude. So i answered it. he asked how to get to d-town (the name of the resteraunt). I told him to call another elder that we were with. but then he asked if i was with the other missionaries and I said yes, and he was like well, why can't you just give him the phone. it got quite and then I was just like "elder. I am in the bathroom." elder greener freaked out, haha, he was like "oh sister! gosh. bye!" haha. then when they showed up they told everyone what happened and my face was going so red. hah, so that totally happened today. note to self: just don't answer the phone next time. 

This past week we have found an amazing new investigator. She is such a sweet heart. She is 24 years old, and she is so open and prepared!! We have met with her the past 4 days and are meeting with her again tonight. I think that that is one of the most exciting things as a missionary, is that there is never a dull moment. Always, there is an amazing excitement inside of us that just fills our soul and every time I teach the lessons I learn something from the investigator and from my companion. That happened this week. Yesterday we taught her the Plan of Salvation. My testimony was strengthened of the simplicity and the grace of that wonderful plan. I am so grateful for the Plan of Salvation and that we have a wonderful Savoir and Redeemer who has saved us all. I am grateful for Christ's obedience to His Father and to His Father's plan so that we could all be saved. I am so grateful for the un-ending gift of the Atonement. I know that my Savoir lives and that He loves us. I know that He lives and that He helps us each and every day. The Atonement is there to help us; but it can't help us as fully as it can if we do not open the gift through prayer and faith. But, when we do open the gift of the Atonement, our lives change! 

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

I love you all! 


Motra Zollinger

Monday, August 24, 2015

By Small and Simple Things.... week 69!!!! (We are SOOOOOO Excited!!!)

Forgetting Sunscreen Motra Z??
Hello Hello!! :) 

Wow. What a week. The weeks here just keep getting more and more exciting, it is amazing!! I absolutely love being a missionary more than anything else in the entire world. Honestly, it is miraculous. 

Good luck Poopers and Parker with starting school! That is crazy sauce, but I hope that it all goes super super well! Stay strong. Work hard. and don't procrastinate because it only brings you sorrow. You really should try and fix it, but you could do it tomorrow. ;) honestly though, don't procrastinate. I am a living witness of that. Go get 'em! :) 

Poor Elder Stuart forgot tennis shoes
Service project clearing for futbal field
This week all of the Tirana missionaries got together with the Shkoder missionaries and did a major service project! We went to the near by orphanage and we were working in their back yard, starting to build a soccer field for them. That day we were just taking out tree trunks and cement borders and the good old dirty stuff. It was so much fun! I miss getting all sweaty and dirty working in gardens. It was a stinkin' blast! Everyone got some pretty good blisters from that day. It was totally worth it. It was exhausting though, we were up there all day. It was so much fun though! 

Sister White and I have started to have super intense chess matches during our lunch hour or after nightly planning. It is a lot of fun though, because neither of us are really good at chess-but we pretend we are. haha. and yes, we are keeping score. It is tied 2-2. hahahaha. 

Missonary selfies are the best... 
This past week we found some spaghetti squash!!! So we baked it!!! It was so good!! It didn't taste how I remember it tasting, but maybe that is because I don't have my couple tablespoons of Costco butter to put in it. But it was still super super good. Afterwards we baked the seeds as well. It was a ton of fun. It smelled like fall. We loved it! 

We have started visited a widow in our ward. She is so stinkin' adorable, I can't even handle it!! :) She is the sweetest thing, she can't hear really well though. So we are practically yelling at her so that she can understand us, and she just laughs and smiles because she still can't understand/hear us all the way. During the prayers she has to peek so that she knows when we say Amen, and she just giggles when we say amen. She is stinkin' adorable!! I am pretty sure that cute widows/widowers in wards are the meat of the ward families. I love this girl so much! 

American football. I don't think that Albanians have ever heard of that sport nor seen the football. It was hilarious, because the Elders had brought that with us to play the real manly sport of soccer. But on the walk home, Sister White and I stole the football and started throwing it to each other. It was really funny to see all the facial expressions of everyone around us. I guess they haven't seen one of those before. hehe. 
Motra White and Motra Zollinger
Yesterday we had another member visit, and I was able to visit the real Linda Inftiu!! :) I was so excited!! I had met her already a couple of times at church but I was able to go to her house! I told "her" in the MTC, as her daughter pretended to be her and we practiced our albanian and our teaching. I was so happy when we left her house last night! She is amazing! and while we were there, her daughter, Sister Iftiu who was one of my MTC teachers skyped her and I was able to say hi to her! It was super cool! :) 
Missionaries trying to get the frisbee...

Still being obedient
Coastal View of Durres

Coastal View of Durres
Another view of the coast Durres
Missionaries Pday Activity at Skenderbeu's castle

Today for p-day we went to Durres. We went to Skenderbeu's castle. It was absolutely gorgeous and breathtaking!! The castle was a little ruined down, but it was so cool to go there! It was right on the beach too. oh my heavens, it was so gorgeous! That was such a big temptation being that close to the water, especially because the sun was just beating down on us. But we didn't get in it! A couple of times the elder's football got in the water. So we threw rocks behind it to get it to push to us. Then when the frisbee got in the water, we tried the same time. But not all elders have good aim, and it hit the frisbee right in the center and broke it. haha, it was actually hilarious. We hung out at the castle for about an hour to goofing off and playing and having a blast... but then little satans had to come around the corner and ruin everything.There were about 5 teenage girls in bikinis that were coming over; but as soon as the elders saw them coming we all left. so take that Satan. ya fathead.  Durres is gorgeous though, especially the beach and everything. I took a lot of photos too. But the photos just don't do it justice. It was so much fun hanging out with the Durres Missionaries as well!! I got to see Sister Riley again! I miss that girl so much, she is amazing! and Sister Davis! I love them both so much!! :) 

This past week I became obsessed with the scripture Alma 37:6. It has taken on a whole new meaning for me, especially as we have done that for a lesson with all of our recent converts and active member lessons. It has been so good!! We are so lucky that we have the Book of Mormon, because in verse 6, we can learn how God works. We can learn His pattern to answering our questions, and how our personal revelation  will come. God gave us the answer and what His answer will look like. He literally put the answer in our hands. It is by small and simple things that God works. Every thing in this Gospel, is line upon line and precept upon precept. Because it is avash avash we can grow so strongly in our faith and our patience and our character as we are preparing ourselves and working so that we can receive answers. Joseph Smith is a perfect example. He had a question to learn of the truth, and so he studied and prayed. Then eventually he went to the grove to ask God which church to join. That answer that he got has changed history, and God knew the impact that that answer would have, and so God instructed Joseph Smith line upon line, avash avash. Joseph didn't have the first vision and then that next day find the golden plates, and get the priesthood, and then fully restore the church. That would have been absurd if it happened like that! God doesn't work like that (not saying that God couldn't have done that, but God worked how it explains in verse 6). First, Joseph had the first vision. Then a couple years later as directed by Angel Moroni he recovered the Golden plates. He received the priesthood. After some time the whole church was restored. But it didn't happen over night. It was a year span before everything was restored that needed to be restored. It is just like a sunrise. It isn't dark one second and the next BAM! light. There's no beauty in that, and there's no learning in that. We can't be grateful for the light if we don't know what it's like to be in the dark. This past week I have been thinking a lot about my mission thus far and I am just amazed at this same principle. All throughout my life God has been working with me in small and simple things so that I could be here in Albania at this time interacting with the people that I am. When I first got in the MTC and I heard people speak Albanian it sounded like complete and utter gibberish. But i took it one day at a time, and it was small grammar principles added upon other principles and I was able to speak a little more. And now, almost 16 months later, I am able to talk to people and converse with people and they can understand me! This most certainly did not happen overnight. But I am so grateful that it didn't. Because if it had been easy to learn this language, then I wouldn't have been able to grow as much as I have. I wouldn't have the testimony that I do now about how God keeps His promises and how He helps us in everything. I am so grateful that God works by small and simple things, that He tries us with our patience.  I also know that once we are familiar with how God works and how He will answer us, that our lives will change! We will know even stronger that God in fact does love us and cares for us. That even when we think that we are not getting any answer, that we will realize that we have already started to get some answers. I know that it is true! God loves us, so much! 

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

Motra Zollinger


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A Tender Mercy in 3 Flats...... Week 68 (So close!!!!)

Motra Zollinger and Motra White in Korce, Albania
Hello Hello!!! :) 

I hope that everyone had a wonderful week this past week! It really was such a beautiful week! 
It was a super busy and fun filled week. So many things that I want to say, haha, let's see if my brain remembers them. 

First off, our investigator was able to get baptized on Saturday! It was so amazing and go gorgeous! Both of her two little angel daughters were able to come with her. So many people showed up from the ward and other missionaries' investigators; it was amazing!  She was so happy and gosh, i don't even know what to say, words cannot even describe the happiness that I saw in her eyes and her families' eyes and her daughters eye. It was amazing. 

There are these fruits, I think they might exist everywhere, but the first time i saw them (or atleast knew I was seeing them) was here in Albania. They are called figs. They look like gross alien brains and I refuse to eat them. Except for one time a member gave us candied ones, because i couldn't not eat it. Yeah, so Sister White loves figs. But I don't. Last p-day there was a fig tree and they were all eating a christmas feast of figs and i was gagging as she threw them to me to catch. So, Tuesday morning during companionship study Sister White read to me the verse in the Bible where it says that Christ ate a fig, then she says "Christ ate a fig. So you need to eat a fig." haha. it didn't work. 

I had to say good-bye to my Albanian companion. Her mini-mission came to an end and she headed back home. I am going to miss her so much!!! 

The Motra's enjoying the rain
We had an exchange with Shkoder this past week. It went really well. and, guess what?! I DROVE FOR THE FIRST TIME FOREVER!!!!! It was so much fun! I was a little nervous at first...but it went really well. In albania, if cars are going slow and you want to pass them up you can go on the other side of the road and pass them up (like onto oncoming traffic's lane), i only did that a couple times. It was exhilerating. It was like I was in fast and furious. haha, just joking. it was a little terrifying and i only did it when i had to. But, driving wasn't that bad. I thought it would be awful like having to eat a fig, but it wasn't! mwaa. 

Cinnabon and hot chocolate
Poor Elder say "cheese"
Albania has some of the coolest lightning storms. Honestly, they are glorious. On the way back from the exchange there was red lightning. It was so pretty! We have had thunderstorms almost every other night this past week. It was so glorious. One day, sister White and I were actually outside when it started to rain, and we were between the real Shqiponja and Zogu i Zi when it started to rain really bad, so instead of taking the bus we just walked. It was so nice!! haha, we got a lot of weird looks. Then on Saturday after the baptism we were walking to go tracting. A thunderstorm had just started. We were walking down the street when a huge lightning bolt struck what looked like  not too far, like half a mile and as soon as we saw the light there was a huge clap of thunder. It shook the ground a bit! It was so awesome!!! I love the rain storms here! That night during language study, I did it by the window so that i could keep looking outside to see the was so pretty! 
Elder with Motra Zollinger

Key: anetar-member, fort-strong. The funniest thing happened during one of our lessons with a recent convert. We were talking about Elder Ballard's talk from general conference. Sister White was talking about how amazing the member is that we were teaching (which was comletley true) and then she says "ti je nje anefart". As soon as I realized what she had said I just busted out laughing, and sister white was laughing super hard too. The member didn't know any english, so she didn't get what happened. I totally knew what she was meaning to say "anetar e fort" but then it just came out anefart. I tried to hold it in the rest of the lesson. But everytime I thought of it, I just would laugh. So after the lesson as we were walking to the gate i just said "so, she's an anefart, eh?" haha. I just started to laugh super hard and sister white was opening up the gate and then she kicked me. hehe. it was hilarious!! 

haha, i totally just sneezed as i am writing this, and it was worse than the usual wet squeeze toy. it sounded like a horse laughing. haha, it just got really quiet in here... #awkward

We had a basketball activity on Friday night. It was a lot of fun! hehe. Sister White and I were on opposing teams, which was fun. Good thing we had already done companionship inventory that day ;) haha. jk. it was a lot of fun though! The elders investigators who are 10 and 12 years old showed up, and so it was a lot of fun! They are adorable little boys! it was a blast. Then on Saturday we had futbol. It went really really well! It was a ton of fun! After futbol, i tried to touch my toes and I was able to touch my toes without cheating; haha, the practicing for excercise in the morning has paid off. #score haha. Doing activities with the youth and investigators is so much fun! I love it a lot! 

So, the reason that I am writing my email today is because yesterday morning we got a call from the APs that asked us to help escort some minors from Gjakova to the FSY (it is like efy) activity in Korce. We were so stoked! Everyone talks so much about korce and how gorgeous it is and everything; so we were super super excited to go! The drive down was absolutely gorgeous. So gorgeous!! Parts through the mountains reminds me of the drive up to Park City and Heber valley, so that was weird but it was so pretty! We drove by a lake and on the other side of the lake was Macedonia. It was gorgeous. We got the girls to the hotel for FSY and we got to stay for about 30 minutes there, because they gave us some food. It was so cool! There were about 80+ youth at the activity. I didn't even know there were that many youth in Albania! It was so awesome and i wish i could have just stayed  there! I was sorta hoping the furgon back to Tirana would have already left so that we would have to stay at FSY for a day, but alas por yorik, it didn't happen. The drive back from Korce was good, but super long. Sister White got super car sick on the way back and i felt super bad... and those roads are so windy (not windy like with wind, but windy as in not straight roads...i don't know how to spell that... haha). The drive was still super pretty though. It was a lot of fun overall. And by the time we got home the p-day hours were spent so we were given some time today to email. 
On sunday as we were doing language study we got a call from one of the senoir couples for us to come to the Elder's choir practice because the elder who usually played wasn't able to come because his companion was sick; which mean they needed me to play the piano. They sure were desperate. So we went to the church. They were singing Ye Elders of Israel (I think) and I saw that it was 3 flats. I just said "oh man. I'll do my best, but I can't do 3 flats." For some reason I always have a mental block if a song is over 2 flats or sharps because I think that I cannot do it. I said a quick prayer and then started to play for the choir. After I played through it, I was almost speechless. I just sat there thinking "what? What just happened. that has never happened to me before." I was able to play the entire song only making a couple minor mistakes, but not bad enough that they couldn't sing. It was honestly a miracle. I remember feeling so shocked as I realized what was happening, being able to sight read this song and to be able to do it well enough to help the choir. It was a tender mercy in 3 flats. For those that are really good at piano, 3 flats is nothing. But for a sister missionary named Sister Zollinger, 3 flats was enough to make me super nervous, and it may not seem like a big thing for a lot of people. But this was a huge thing for me. It meant so much to me, that God would help me so that I would be able to play that song well enough for the choir. And as the next hour and a half went on, I played for the stake choir as well. I do not say this to boast in any matter, but rather to testify of the marvelous works of God. In the middle of elementary school I took piano lessons. It was fun in the beginning, but as time went on I just wanted to play soccer and not do piano. Practicing became a chore that I hated to do, and I eventually dropped it the last couple years of high school because i didn't make enough time for it and I didn't think that I wanted to do it. But something that I have realized is that sometimes God gives us talents not to help or benefit us, but to help and benefit those around us. Sometimes at the beginning a talent that we have might not be something that we want to do, but it often times is something that God has given us because it is what He needs us to do; and as we continue to grow closer to Him that talent will be able to grow in us and our desire to use it. That is what i realized on sunday as I played the piano. Along with a great feeling of gratitude for my parents who stuck with their deicision for me to play the piano throughout my youth, even though sometimes it was probably not an easy thing to get me to practice nor the sound of me trying to practice; but I am grateful for their support. Don't give up on yourself or your talents quicker than what the Lord does; because the Lord is never going to give up on us. Ever. We are given tender mercies of the Lord so that we can continue to go on in our lives. I don't necessarily believe in coincidences, because I believe in God. But, I do believe in Tender Mercies. I love what Elder Bednar said about tender mercies, "We should not underestimate or overlook the power of the Lord’s tender mercies. The simpleness, the sweetness, and the constancy of the tender mercies of the Lord will do much to fortify and protect us in the troubled times in which we do now and will yet live. When words cannot provide the solace we need or express the joy we feel, when it is simply futile to attempt to explain that which is unexplainable, when logic and reason cannot yield adequate understanding about the injustices and inequities of life, when mortal experience and evaluation are insufficient to produce a desired outcome, and when it seems that perhaps we are so totally alone, truly we are blessed by the tender mercies of the Lord and made mighty even unto the power of deliverance." I testify of the worth and value of tender mercies. They are real and they are powerful and humbling. They don't always happen when we want them. But they always happen when we need them. 

Have a wonderful week!! Smile lots, serve lots, and treasure trials!! I love you all!!

Motra Zollinger