December 26, 2013

I never thought that I'd be able to spend Christmas with family on my mission... But! Yesterday, the best day ever, I got to spend a big majority of it with my little brother. Yesterday was truly amazing. I really hope that all of had a great and very memorable Christmas, I know it was for me.
I'll just give some details about the day. We got to have... wait for it... Elder Bednar!!! Obobo, so amazing. He passed out 200 cell phones (there were also cell phones at all the other international MTC's) and anyone who had a question could anonymously text in their question to him and he spent the hour just answering questions. It was amazing. There were so many things that he said that answered questions I've had for a long time. I can't even describe how strong the spirit was testifying that he is an apostle of the Lord. It was a very amazing experience.
We also had a talent show, that was ridiculously sweet. So many talented people! My favorite was the magician, I'm basically a 6 year old when it comes to magic tricks, I love them.
They had Ray Smith (a professor at BYU and apparently amazing musician) come with a jazz band and we got to listen to an hour of jazz Christmas music. My heart melted in happiness. I love jazz. They were all so talented, it was incredible. 
For Christmas lunch , I got to sit by my brother :D Julianne and my Mama both sent me awesome decorations to eat with and so our dinner was beautiful and so many people got to share it with us. Red table clothes, candy, electric candles, etc.... I felt very spoiled and very blessed.
And lastly, we got to watch the 2012 Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas performance AND they gave us kettle popcorn!! wow! Can I just say, it is an incredibly beautiful performance, I adored it. Even though Christmas is over, you should still watch it :) 
Overall, Christmas was amazing. I wish I had more time to elaborate and write about it, but I don't very much time today, we have to pack ... he he he ... so if I was so shortly describe my Christmas, it was amazing. I haven't felt that close to the Savior on Christmas for a very long time if ever at all. The spirit was astounding and the love I felt in my heart was so beautiful and so fulfilling. I love our Savior, what a beautiful day to celebrate Him.

So guess what? I leave at 430 am this TUESDAY! Less than a week! Bah! So crazy! ..... I don't speak Albanian at all, that'll be fun haha I just can't believe that in a week I'll be settled in and doing missionary work on the other side of the world.
Some details that you may be wondering (or maybe not you, but someone, whatever). Mail in Albanian is tough, it only goes to the mission home and unless I'm in Tirana (which is a big chance, I find out soon!) I only get it every 3 months :/ So, conclusion. Email rocks. We get extra email time to make up for the lack of mail. So if you want to contact me, it's probably best to email me. 
Oh and Jessy, if I'm in Tirana, I get to hold monkeys ;) .... and there's a random guy who walks around with his pet bear... ?? Ya, I have no idea. And if you drink the tap water, you get brain damage.... no big deal hahaha  
Uh, what else... I dunno.... I was talking to an Albanian elder who's here in the MTC and this was our conversation....
Me: "Ç'kemi!" (how's it going?)
Him: "Mirë, si je?" (good, how are you?)
Me: "Shumë mirë!" (super good)
Him: "Ça po bën?" (what are you doing?)
Me: "Po shkruar te klassë" (going to class)
Him: "lkajsdfëiawëoejrbnvlëakjoicmawoeirml.ym,csklpojwert" (l;aksdfl;kajdsfoiawelrkja;lkjdofjasdf)
Me: ".................................................
So, uh, I don't really speak Albanian.
hahahaha, I am probably going to die in Albania hahahaha So uh, pray for me. Good thing the Lord trusts that I can do this, that means that I can do this! ... eventually! haha ... after some long, confusing days I know I will get this very difficult language down! haha (sorry about all the "haha"'s, I just think this all is so funny!

Anyway, I gotta go pack and stuff.... But! Remember, the Lord loves you. On an individual basis. Don't ever forget that. He is there for you if you let Him. And if you put your trust in Him, you will have the power to do all things that He asks of you.

Motra Russell

Some of my sisters :)

Some people from my zone and some people from my brother's district at Christmas lunch :)

My district sisters!

Motra Defriez and me

December 19, 2013

So yesterday was basically the best day ever. Why? Because my brother came into the MTC!!!!!!! YAY!! I got to host him to his classroom and everything! And sit by him at dinner! And I knock and ditched him a Christmas present to his classroom today (don't worry, I made sure I wasn't interrupting anything haha) and man, I am going to make sure he's so taken care of here! He'll probably get sick of his sister stalking him but whatever, I don't care, he'll thank me later ;)

Hosting in general was so fun, I loved it! (Oh ya, I got to host the new missionaries! Didn't see my family though, oh well) It was nutso. Since next week is Christmas, we got double the missionaries coming in. We got almost 800 missionaries. Wow. So awesome. I love missionaries :)

One of our main teachers left for home this week for Christmas which made us all so sad because we love him and it's our consecration week which is a pretty big thing to miss (not to mention we leave for Albania in what, 2 weeks maybe less, crazy). But when came back from Devotional Tuesday night, there were Christmas presents from him on our desks and a big note on the board telling us how much he loves us and whatnot. It was the sweetest thing! I love our teachers, they really take care of us.

We got to clean the temple this morning for service. It was a really cool experience. I learned some things from it that I really appreciate and am now going to share with you :)
First.... we've been to the temple a few times for our sunday walk and it's still beautiful as ever and I love it. When we went in today, they told us that there was major construction being done. As in they basically ripped out the whole basement and dug a massive pit through the concrete foundation and then pounded steel poles into the ground deep enough to get into the bedrock and make the building more earthquake proof. Did you have any idea that that kind of massive construction was going on inside the temple? Because I sure didn't. I had no idea the temple was being ripped apart on the inside. Everything looked so normal and beautiful on the outside. 
It made me think about how many people look so fine and so happy on the outside when their inside is being ripped apart. We may never know that our neighbor or coworker, etc... is going through an incredibly difficult time and their very soul is being shaken. How important it is for us to love everyone and be charitable to everyone because we may miss every sign that would tell us how much they need our love.

The second thing... we got to change into white scrubs with our tennis shoes and clean one of the floors. It was actually really fun :) Afterwards, they took us on a little tour of the temple and we got to see the places people don't normally get to see. We also got to go and just sit in the Celestial room. Even though we were dirty and in scrubs and gross tennis shoes and the whole building was taped off and under construction, the spirit was the same. It was so strong, so peaceful, so fulfilling and so different than any other room in the temple. It made me think about how even though we may feel that our life is being ripped apart, if we center our lives and our focus on the Savior, we can still have peace. I can testify of that. Despite all my trials, I was able to find peace and comfort in my Savior and it saved me. I love my Savior, I love our relationship and how despite all my weaknesses and imperfections, He still is my Advocate, my Brother and my dear, kind Savior and Friend.

I love you all, center your lives in the Savior and it will bless you.

Motra Russell

the sisters from my zone right before the finish missionaries left this week... that was a sad day, full of tears, I sure came to love them. (the white balance was off... just judge the blue grossness)

one of my favorite sisters ever. she was an answer to so many prayers and is no blessing the lives of the people in the Finland.

Elder Eliason drew pictures of our district, I loved it :) guess what one is me! haha

My brother and me!! and his companion! and my fake companion because you need your companion in pictures with the opposite sex and mine was eating food and didn't want to get up so I had another sister substitute haha (long sentence)

December 12, 2013

Nuts! Ah! Scary! Exciting!...... ah!

Okay, enough of that :)
Want to know something about Albanian? There are 12 different ways to say "my". And they don't fluctuation to show emotion, they use verb tenses. For example... if you're surprised, you change how you conjugate the verb. If you're wishing someone.. whether it be a curse or a blessing... you change the conjugation of the verb. If you're telling someone to do something, you change the conjugation of the verb...... my brain falls out of my head basically everyday. Sometimes it gets kicked around, but I usually always get it back in my head ;) Usually haha... It's tough, but it's coming. One of my teachers says I'm exactly where I need to be with the language which was very comforting to say the least. I really do think Albanian is beautiful, I'll excited for when I can actually speak it! 

Another exciting thing, my brother is in the MTC in less than a week!!!!!!! Let's all be excited about this, I get to see my brother :D Speaking of... Aaron, you must find me on Wednesday when you get here (I sit by the window at dinner) because the next day is the start of my consecration week, meaning I can only speak Albanian for a week. I kind of want to talk to you, sooooo... find me when I can speak english and I don't have to have someone translate for me haha

We got to hear from Elder Cook on Tuesday. That was rad! Of all the times to be in the MTC, right now is the best time :) The choir director told us that he's been here for 11 years and he's never seen so many apostles come in such a short period of time (other than the mission president training that happens over the summer). So cool. So so cool. I feel so very blessed to hear from so many amazing men of God and am so excited to hear from more.

I was in the "posh" gym the other day and was watching a general conference as I cardio-ed haha and watched a talk from Elder Holland about the Book of Mormon. I had forgotten about it and had forgotten how incredibly powerful it was. http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2009/10/safety-for-the-soul?lang=eng&query=safety+for+the+soul

There it is, you must watch it, really. The spirit is so powerful as it bears testimony of the truthfulness of Elder Holland's words. I truly believe that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and that it is a life changing tool from God to bless our lives. I have experienced the many blessings from this divine book as I use it daily to receive revelation from God and answers to prayers, receive peace, find comfort and direction in how I should live my life. I can't say enough how true this book is, how divinely inspired it is and how much it will completely change your life if you allow it to. It has changed my life and my relationship with God and Jesus Christ is strong because of this book. I promise you as someone who has experienced its power and a missionary for the Lord that if you are doubting the truthfulness of this book, if you read it and ponder it in your heart and pray with the faith that God will answer your prayer... you will receive an answer and it will change your life. If you know of it's truthfulness but don't read it everyday, cut it out! (I say that with love :D ) Read it everyday, doing so will bless you tremendously. Why would you want to miss out on so many abundant blessings that are at your finger tips? It has blessed my life and I know that it can bless yours.

I love you all dearly.
Motra Missy

I totally forgot about my funny story! 
We were doing door approaches and I was nervous because it was my first time and also to the teacher that intimidates me haha
So I was bearing testimony to him that God loves him and wants to speak to him... and he just starts laughing. SO hard. And I am so confused. He starts repeating what I said as a question and I say yes, He wants to speak to you, I know He does. And he starts laughing even more. By now I'm completely thrown off and he stops the door approach. 
He tells me, Sister Russell, you did very well. Good job.... except... you told me that God wants to sleep with me.
aaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh! I about died hahahaha oh my goodness. Embarrassing. I was testifying to him that God wanted to sleep with him hahahahahaha
Anyway, I hope you enjoy how talented I am at Albanian :)
Much love!

It was my companions birthday last week! Yay for being 20!!

Look who I found hanging out in my residence hall :) Basically the best surprise ever, I adore this fine lady. Mallory Goodman
Some more black and white pictures from temple walks :) Don't judge me, I know the filter from my camera blows out the highlights and adds way too much fake grain, but I don't care, it's as good as I get right now haha

December 5, 2013

Every day blurs into one and I honestly can never remember what happened. Bah.

I'm over halfway done with the MTC and still don't speak Shqip (that's Albanian in Albanian pronounced sh-cheep), aw well, it'll come eventually I guess haha I'm kind of terrified I leave for Albania at the end of this month, hope that doesn't last long! 

Callings were reassigned this past sunday in my zone. The sisters in my district and I were the only ones out of all 16 albanian speakers that didn't get callings and so Motra Singer assigned us callings. She is the zone holiday planner. Motra Maxwell is the zone cheerleader. Motra Defriez is the zone artist and, wait for it .... I am the zone warden hahaha oh man haha Basically, if missionaries are messing around or being loud during personal study or just overall disobedient... I'm uh, kind of the warden I guess hahah, I just loving remind missionaries of how to better come to Christ :).... but hey! They still love me :)

We were supposed to have Elder M. Russell Ballard for Devotional on Tuesday but the snow prevented him from coming and so we had another speaker instead and he was excellent. He spoke a lot about the temple and the spiritual power that comes from it. What I loved the most was when he brought up the Martin Willie Handcart Company. He quoted a survivor, "The price we paid to know [Christ] was an honor to pay..." (or something along those lines). It made me think, what price am I willing to pay to know the Lord? Am I willing to do anything at all?
I've also been studying a lot into obedience. It's powerful how many times the blessings of obedience to the Lord's commandments are brought up in the scriptures. One verse that I loved is Mosiah 2:41

"And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and ahappy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are bblessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out cfaithful to the end they are received into dheaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it."

I promise you that if you strive to keep the commandments that Lord has blessed us with, that you will be blessed in all things and your life will be happier than it could have ever been otherwise. Heavenly Father wants to bless us, He wants us to be happy and He wants us to have peace. All we have to do is follow His commandments and we will receive abundant blessings including being happier than we ever could have imagined. I know this is true, I have felt it in my life and you can feel it, too.

Love God, be happy, live life to it's fullest :)
Motra Missy

Self portrait of my companion and me.

Some detail of the Provo temple.

A reflection of some sisters in my zone in the fountain in front of the temple.

November 29, 2013

Happy Thankgiving

Yesterday ..... haha

I hope everyone had an incredible Thanksgiving because we really have so much to be grateful for. I don't think I've ever had such an amazing Thanksgiving before. Want to hear about it? Of course you do ;)
First off, we got to hear from Elder Russell M. Nelson first thing in the morning. Awesome right?! It totally was. He talked about how important it is for us to be best of friends with the ward or branch mission leader and I thought about how grateful I was that I got to serve as my ward RS president before I came on a mission so that I could see how the missionaries worked with the ward council and the ward mission leader. Actually, I was thinking about how thankful I was that Bryan Sea to the Strand was such a great mission leader and I got to see how it all should work. That's going to be a huge blessing for me in Albania. We're (referring to my future companion) are gonna rock those branch mission leader's socks off! 
He also talked about how our second best friend should be the family history consultant because it is so important that we are encouraging our investigators to do family history work so that their family can have their work done as well. And that we should pray to find people who had ancestors ready to have their work done. I have never thought about that, it was a fantastic suggestion.
After listening to an apostle of God (doesn't that sound so amazing? Because it is.) We got to eat out Thanksgiving lunch. Turkey, mashed potatoes, pie, stuffing, sweet potato marshmallow stuff ... it was fantastic! The sisters in my district and I put out napkins to make it look like a table cloth, stashed our trays so it was just our plates, made name card placers, collected dried leaves to use as decoration, and mixed apple juice and sprite to substitute for martinellis (spelling?). It was basically the same as home :) Besides the fact that we didn't have family... and were in a cafeteria... but it was basically like home ;) We went around and said what we were grateful for and made toasts. It was the best. And let me just say, the mashed potatoes were real. Not fake. And it may sound ridiculous, but I almost started crying I was so happy about it. (I'm tearing up just thinking about it! Bah!) I just couldn't believe they had spend so much time peeling potatoes for almost 2000 missionaries so we could have real mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving. It was like a piece of home. My mom makes the best mashed potatoes :) It reminded me of her and made me so grateful for my wonderful family and how kind it was for the MTC to put so much work into something so seemingly insignificant so we all could mashed potatoes like our mom's mashed potatoes :)
After lunch, we got free time (what?!) and walked around the Provo Temple for 2 hours! Best thing ever! And then had a humanitarian presentation and then a thanksgiving program. An elder played Harry Potter on the piano, it was awesome and another elder played the fiddle and about blew my mind he was so good. They also played us so crazy cheesy 80's videos (or at least they looked like it), those were quite entertaining haha 
Then we had dinner from a sack lunch picnic style in our rooms. And then the humanitarian project (it was in the news, prepared meals for kids). That was really fun :) And then lastly, we got candy and got to watch a movie! Woa! Ephraim's Rescue. It was pretty good! I really liked it. I knew someone in it too, that was funny haha But overall, it was a fantastic day! And you probably got way too many details and don't care so I'm sorry, but it's the most excitement we're had here.... ever haha

Ps, I'm halfway through the MTC. Uhhhhh..... freaky!

Want to know the funniest thing ever? Listening to an Albanian man try to speak in a southern accent. It doesn't work. And I died laughing haha

MTC is getting better every day. It's still an emotional roller coaster and the Lord is definitely teaching me a whole lot especially about being patient... very .... veeeeerrrryyyy patient :) Did you catch that last very? Because I should have added about 5 in there. But, the best thing ever happened on Monday! We taught Linda, one of our investigators (our teacher as always). We only had 20 minutes because the lesson went over which is about 2 minutes in english speaking time haha so basically, we were panicked. Anyways, a miracle happened! Motra Defriez and I taught the whole lesson of the Restoration in 20 minutes! What?! AND afterwards Motra Iftiu told me that she wished she had recorded it because I was speaking in full, perfect sentences. I about fell off my chair. I'm not even kidding right now. I died.... of a whole lot of happiness. Granted, my Albanian is still the WORST. Seriously, Vëlli Hoxha told me that I sucked (well, he told the whole class, but still haha) .... but it really was one of the best days of my mission so far. She said we taught everything so well and went over principles that most people skip and overall my Albanian was super good and BAH! Oh man, I wish I could type out the joy! But alas, I cannot. Just imagine. Me+happiness+falling off my chair+a lot more happiness x's a zillion. For the first time I thought, wow, I may actually speak this language someday! 
And then I walked out of the classroom and said have a nice light instead of have a nice day....
Crash and burn.
Oh well, I was good for like a second and that's all that matters hahaha

Okay, last thought and then I'm out. 
Elder Teh of the Seventy came on Tuesday for devotional and he talked about how right after they changed the age, all the general authorities were called to a meeting. Elder Teh thought he knew exactly why the age had changed, because the youth are so awesome of course! Elder Holland was speaking and said, "You all probably think that the age change was for the strength of the youth in these days. Well, you're wrong. It's all about the Lord hastening His work in these last days." Wow, how powerful it must have been to first hear those words from Elder Holland's mouth. This is a powerful, crucial work and what a blessing that I get to be a part of this incredible time. I get to be one of the missionaries going forth proclaiming the Lord's gospel and the fullness of truth. I feel honored every time I think about how I am a missionary for the Lord. It has been such a gift and it's only been 4 weeks. Like Alma, I have felt the song of redeeming love and I want to share it with all who are willing and ready to feel the same. The Lord loves each of us, He knows us, He cares about our lives and our happiness. Please, let Him take you into His arms, let Him bless you, let Him heal you. All you have to do is let Him in and I promise you, your world and your life as you know it will change so completely and so fully for the better that you will look back and wonder how you could have ever lived without Him. I stand as a testimony that God loves His children and blesses them in their times of need. That the gospel is His truth and the only was to receive a fullness of joy. I have felt it and I can never deny it.

I love you all. 
Motra Russell

Thanksgiving dinner - REAL mashed potatoes!

Sister Crowther!

Mini temple square

November 21, 2013

 So I've basically been here forever ;) Kidding! Sometimes it blows my mind it's already been 3 weeks, sometimes I feel like I should be halfway through my mission. Weird.

The language is slowly coming along.... slowly hahah... we teach "investigators" everyday (they're our teachers haha) but yesterday, we taught Buear, and for the first time I was actually kind of communicating with him!! YYYAAAAAYYY!!! Okay, I probably sounded like I was 5, but whatever, he understood me :) Here's an example of our conversation...
Buear: "I just don't feel that there's any church with the fullness of truth, they all clash, they don't agree. I don't believe that God lies, but how could all of these churches be his if they all disagree?"
Me: "I testify that church has fullness of true...........*long pause*.........*awkward stuttering*....... you pray?" .......
Yup, that's about how advanced I am, I'm a 5 year old. hahaha

The sisters in my district and I discovered the secret gym at the MTC. It's not really secret, but no one uses it. They play movies!!!! You can listen to headphones while watching a movie! Uh, spoiled much? I mean, conference while biking? The Joseph Smith movie while elipitcal-ing my face off? Best gym ever. And it's clean. And no one is there so it's not annoying crowded. And! Every time we go, the employee (always someone new) imparts their wisdom on us. It's wonderful :) We've actually gotten some really good advice. It's pretty fabulous.

I want to write a sentence in Albanian but I still struggle with the keyboard... so, I guess I'll try :P
Une e di që Perëndia do ty dhe Ai ka një plan për ty. 
I know that God loves you and He has a plan for you. 
Bah! I figured it out! Hurray!

Well my dears, I don't have much to write about. I always forget what happens, I should write down what happens so I have something on my prep. day to write about. But I will say this, the gospel is true. It's more than just something that teaches good principles. I have never felt such fulfillment and happiness from anything else on this earth than what the gospel can provide. The Spirit adds a feeling of depth and purpose to my life that is so incredibly peaceful, loving and comforting that I would literally give up anything the Lord asked me to to keep it with me always. This mission is a blessing. I already feel myself growing stronger and becoming more Christlike, it's been an amazing experience and I've only been here for 3 weeks :)

Much love,
Motra Russell
That means 'Albanian'
Beautiful fall leaves

Sister Singer and her fake phone

Sunday Walk
Me imitating the crazy flag

Crazy Albanian Flag

District Elders

Pilfered Prophet PIcs

Awkward Selfie

November 14, 2013

C'kemi! (that's supposed to be a c with a little tail on the bottom but I don't know how to do that on a keyboard haha oh! and it's mean hi/what's up pronounced ch-kem-ee)

First off, let me just announce to the world how THRILLED I am that my brother is going to be in the MTC WITH ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! x's100 I am so STOKED!!! Seriously, I could die I'm so excited :) I got the letter saying where he was going and when he was coming into the MTC and I was jumping up and down and telling everyone in my zone how excited I was :D Getting that letter was the best day ever! Yay Aaron!! I Loved you SO MUCH!

Second off, Shauna, I don't have your email and it's your birthday :) I remember no one's birthday except my family and you, so happy birthday my lovely love!

Third off, I survived another week! Woot woot!! And it was way better than the first week so that's been a blessing. I am actually starting to enjoy being on a mission, go me :)

The two Albanian districts are assigned to do service by taking down all the chairs after devotional tuesday and sunday night. We usually go and change in our regular clothes so we don't get our skirts all gross and stuff. There are a ton of other missionaries assigned too and everyone usually changes but sometimes people stay in their missionary attire. I was talking to some peeps in my district and a missionary in dress clothes walked by and for a brief instant I thought, hey! A missionary! Awesome! hahaha.... oops. Wearing jeans sure throws me off.

The elders in my district are slowly ... uh... "borrowing" some photos of the apostles and first presidency from a classroom down the hall and then put them in the lost and found box for one of the sisters in my district to find. haha, oh boy, it's kind of a joke. she gets excited and tapes it up on our wall. So now we have a very ghetto wall gallery of painters tape and stolen, laminated apostle photos. 

So, back to how this week is better. 
The first week was awful. I was frustrated and discouraged and I kept thinking, do I really want to be here? Yuck. I don't even want to think about it. As one of the sisters in my zone (who actually helped me a lot) says, "we don't speak of that week". 
After a whole lot of prayer and a whole lot humbling experiences, it finally started to get better and this last week wasn't all that bad. there are still hard times, but I'm starting to like being here and I'm really starting to get to know my zone and have a good time as well and not be such a perfectionist about the language. 
Elder Perry came for devotional this last Tuesday and it was broadcast to all the MTC's in the world which was pretty cool. I had the great opportunity to sing in the choir with all the sisters in my zone. We had practice right before and they have us stay until the devotional starts unless we really need to leave. Well, my district leader told me that I had a package waiting to be picked up after practice so duh I had to leave! (and I'm glad I did, it was a package from the chocolate, best day ever!) As we were leaving the gym, there were employees at the door. They asked us, do you really have to leave? I said, uh, yes. And they said, okay, good luck. And I thought... good luck? weird. They open the door and I kid you not, it was like black friday on steroids.... for missionaries. There was a sea of people packed so tight against the door that sis defriez and I could barely get out and it lasted forever! Like a tsunami of missionaries! It was nuts!!
Elder Perry's message was great, he talked about companions and their importance. The thing that really stuck out to me the most though was something that had nothing to do with the talk's subject, he quoted a scripture that really touched me. Moses 6:31-32... Enoch is called of God to be a prophet and he's basically freaking out about it and totally questioning his ability. 

"And when Enoch had heard these words, he abowed himself to the earth, before the Lord, and spake before the Lord, saying:bWhy is it that I have found favor in thy sight, and am but a lad, and all the people chate me; for I am dslow of speech; wherefore am I thy servant?
 32 And the Lord said unto Enoch: Go forth and do as I have commanded thee, and no man shall pierce thee. Open thy amouth, and it shall be filled, and I will give thee utterance, for all flesh is in my hands..."
It really struck a chord for me. Especially since I've been struggling so much with the language. It's such a process learning to completely trust the Lord (or at least it's a process for me! haha) and trusting that He called me to Albania to speak Albanian for a reason can be difficult. But if I follow His command and do as He asks, my mouth will be filled and I will be watched over and protected. It was a blessing to again be reassured of how much the Lord loves me and that if I let Him, He'll make sure that I'll be able to accomplish the work that He's asked me to do as long as I do my best. It's so easy to get caught up in fear, whether it be of change or going out of our comfort zone. But I know that if we trust God, He will take care of us. 
Well, I love you all! Have a wonderful week! Mirupafshim!! (Goodbye, mee-roo-paw-f-sheem)
Motra Russell
 Missy and Motra DeFriez (MTC companion)


a goodbye

It's here, I leave tomorrow.
I don't have time to write, I just wanted to say how incredibly grateful I am for this rare opportunity. Not very many people in my shoes get to serve like I do. It's a blessing and I'm looking forward to all the growth and learning that will take place from being an instrument in the hands of the Lord.
Godspeed my friends. You will be in my heart and in my prayers.


number 200

For my 200th post, please enjoy this video that I have titled "Parent Trap Style" courtesy of Brittany.
(Not gonna lie, my squealing is a little embarrassing.)

So yup, that happened :)

Oh, and did I mention I'm dating someone? I didn't want to date anyone before my mission... but wow is he amazing. I'll call him Glen. And yes, I'm still going on a mission.


a shorty

This picture is from my two week long stay at Capitol Reef.
We're all overlooking a beautiful scene right before sunset. 
My photo professor is in the middle... he was the only one shooting and it was on his iphone. 
Hahahaha, I find it so ironic :)


some news. kinda somethin' I guess.

So it's been a while...

I went to the Subway in Zion National Park with my family on Monday.
Yes, you've heard correctly, it was amazing.
At the end of the hike, there's a pretty steep trail out and a decently long path to the parking lot. My two brothers were leading the way like warriors who were in frustratingly stupid, good shape so obviously, I was falling pretty far behind them. At the same time, I was ahead of everyone else and so I happened to end up all by myself. If you've never been to Subway, there are a lot of places where there really isn't a trail, there's a kind of trail with occasional trail markers and then a kind of trail again... but basically, it can just be a guessing game where you're going. The trail out was kind of like that and since I was by myself, I was just trying to play smart. I followed the trail markers and a couple sets of tennis shoe prints in the dirt. As I was walking along I thought about how if I didn't have those tennis shoe prints, I would be completely lost. What a great analogy to how we need to follow Christ's footsteps and the example He left us so that we won't get lost.
I was feeling all fuzzy and happy inside about my awesome life lesson that I was learning when I came to the end of the trail and guys... there was no parking lot.
Dumb footprints took me nowhere. I was at the edge of a road.
I figured I'd park it for a bit until someone found me because I was most certainly lost.
Ya, no one came.
So I started hiking up the road to try and find this elusive parking lot. Well guys, long story short... after much hiking, knocking on a strangers door for directions, getting a ride from a different stranger because they didn't look like they were going to murder me and abandon my body in the desert, my mother almost crying in relief to see me and a just in time return to my group to prevent an almost made call to search and rescue.... I was okay.
It made me think though...
dang is it easy to follow the wrong set of footprints and get lost.

So guys, here is my news. After a long, hard, full of so many incredible blessings, amazing period of time, I have received permission to serve an LDS mission. Something I have wanted for so long. I am beyond grateful for this opportunity and that I even get to go. I am beyond grateful for those people who have helped me to be in a place where I am even emotionally, physically and spiritually able to serve. And I am beyond grateful for all the support that I've received over the past couple years.
I am serving a mission because I want to help people find the right set of footprints to follow because guys, there are a lot of lost people out there and being lost sucks.

Photo by me shot of my papa in the Subway.

If you'd like, I'm reading my mission call at my parents house tomorrow night (7/11/2013). Shoot me a message if you'd like to be there and I'll give you the deets.


I can do hard things

While hiking with my dad today, we saw a closed flower and he mentioned that it only blooms in the moonlight.
What a lovely thought, a flower that only blooms in darkness...
Sometimes I feel that I reach my most beautiful moments when I am surrounded by darkness. It's in those moments that I realize I am strong and that I can do all hard things in the Lord.

Quick and dirty fuji instant film scans by me from today.


an unfortunate request

This is probably one of the hardest, most heartbreaking choices I've had to make. It's been coming for a while now and I may have already even wrote about it but I've never really had commitment to it like I do now. So here it goes...

Many of you know how much I adore my dogs. Marley is my baby girl, she's my family and I love her with all of my heart. She's one of the sweetest, most loving dogs I've met. She will love you the second she meets you and not even think twice about it. Coming home everyday to someone who loves me unconditionally is the best thing I could ever ask for. She owns my heart and she always will.
My life is taking an interesting turn as of late and because of the choices that I've made and the circumstances that these choices have created.... I can no longer provide a loving home for my sweet Marley. And so my friends, here is my request.... I've been working with an adoption agency to find Marley a new home and so far nothing has worked out. I'm not going to lie, I'm pretty picky about who is going to take Marley. She's definitely an indoor dog but loves having access to the outside and she needs a lot of attention and exercise. So if you know of anyone who would be interested in her under those circumstances and would love her with all their heart, send them my way.
Thank you friends.

Here is her information...

American Eskimo
2.5-3 years old
18 lbs
House trained
If you'd like more information on her personality, energy, behavior, etc... contact me.


a joyful find

Here's the deal.
I can never find clothes at clothing stores that I actually like or are modest enough for me to wear. I would much rather sew my clothes how I like them.... but... there is no good apparel fabric anywhere. I have internet searched and fabric store searched and everything searched and I can never find anything worth buying (well, besides Anthropologie fabric... but $88/yard? ya right.)
I just found this website and my heart is so joyful it could dance. Actually, it is dancing. All over the place like a maniac. And the pricing isn't half bad.

Okay but seriously... today is the best day.
You're welcome sewing peeps.



*Cough cough*


Listening? Great. I have an announcement to make.

I am still alive.
That is all.

Haha, just kidding!
I'll post a little more for you Nes ;)
I saw this video on KSL and I really liked it. It's definitely worth your time to watch. Agency is a beautiful gift that we fought for and this a great example of how we can use it.


up to the mountains

These are some of the first images that I shot for my BFA project. I'm not sure if I'm actually going to use them in my final show, but I'm happy about the direction that I'm going. I'll explain more about my project later, I don't want to spoil it too soon ;)



#1- I went on a blind date last night. We'll call him Charles (that's confusing, I have a Charles and a Charlie... good thing I won't be writing about Charlie anymore, he just got engaged, ha!). Anyways, Charles was nice, I liked him. We went bowling. I lost terribly. We'll see if I hear from him again :)

#2- I'm finishing up my last semester of school and trying not to panic at the thought of having to be a "real" adult.

#3- Living with the best roommate ever! Shauna is aaaa-mazing. I adore her.

#4- Missing my sister on the mission. She leaves for Tampa this Monday, woo!

#5- Working on fixing up my house so I can put it up for sell. Crossing my fingers.

#6- And lastly, an embarrassing story :)

Once upon a time I parked my stick shift in a store parking lot. I went inside, did my business, chatted, yada yada yada.... when I headed out of the store and looked for my little Angelina (my car. In case you didn't catch onto that.), I couldn't find her. Strange, there were only 5 parking spots. Keep in mind that this parking lot is slanted down towards State Street.... I started to move my gaze from the original parking spot of my car towards State Street to find that my bitty Chevy had in fact rolled to the end of the parking lot and... thank my lucky stars... had been stopped by a dinky, little curb and a bush and had not rolled into State Street despite that it was certainly headed that direction.
Lesson learned.
I am now paranoid about checking my emergency break.



I went skiing with my brother and parents the other day before the season ends. It was so much fun! I brought my film camera to take some shots... why film? Because I love film. And if I crash, I don't damage my very expensive digital camera. Perks of my little Canon AE-1 tank ;)