August 25, 2014

So. I speak english fluently. Duh. But man, teaching it is hard. I have no idea how to teach someone how to read english. Or really anything. I could teach someone how to speak albanian fluently.... english? Nope. I'm probably the worst english teacher ever. I can tell you if a sentence is right or wrong.... but not why haha I'm grateful our english course is free otherwise I would feel awful haha

We were street contacting the other day and a cute, happy family walked by. Sister Z asked them if we could talk with them and they stopped and asked us what about... she started talking about being with our families forever and testified about something else that I don't remember, and wow! They really seemed to like it! Sister Z was getting really excited! ... And then they asked what ward we were in. Boooo... He was the bishop from 3rd ward haha total Best Two Years moment.

So my sister is home now! That's crazy! I'd just like to give a shout out to her for being amazing. Kaq.

A guy from 1st ward got baptized this last weekend. Sister Z and I got to go unexpectedly with an investigator that called us and said he was at the church (we don't know why he was there, he just showed up haha but hey! It was a huge blessing so we'll take it!) Before the baptism, the guy getting baptized kept turning around and staring at me and I thought, oh boy... this is awkward. Afterwards, we went up and talked to him and apparently Sister Z and I had ran into him passing out english fliers and encouraged him to go to english course where he lived and he said he would and then he got baptized! Wow! That's why he kept looking back at us, he remembered us telling him to go. I feel like most of the time we don't get to see where our actions are blessing others and so it was such a blessing being able to have this tender mercy.

As for a thought...
I'm reading the Book of Mormon cover to cover right now (which has been so wonderful by the way). I was reading in Alma and read Alma 5:45-46. I've always loved these scriptures and I want to talk a little about them....
So remember Alma the younger? He was described as the "vilest of sinners" trying to destroy the church of God in the land and really just being kinda rotten. Well, the prayers of those who loved him and especially his father led to him being visited by an angel of God and it completely turned his life around. I love how he describes it in Alma 36. It's so beautiful. In verse 22 of that chapter he even tells his son that he saw God sitting upon His throne with countless angels around him. I can't even imagine what kind of experience this was. He saw the very Father! I would think that this would be the most converting experience of them all! But in Alma 5 he says this:

"And this is not all. Do ye not suppose that I know of these things myself? Behold, I testify unto you that I do know that these things whereof I have spoken are true. And how do ye suppose that I know of their surety?
Behold, I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me."
Alma the younger, who had seen God, still had to fast and pray to know for himself from the spirit if all of this was true. 
I think that is so powerful. Especially as I talk to so many people who tell me that they would believe if they saw God, they would believe if they saw the golden plates, they would believe if they had more proof... but even if they had proof, it would never be enough. It's never enough to have signs or proof or any of that stuff. We can only know truth through the Spirit. Through prayer. Through faith.
So if you want to know if all of this true, if Joseph Smith really saw God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. If you really want to know if the Book of Mormon is true or if Thomas S. Monson is a living prophet for God.... live in a way that you're worthy to get an answer from God by keeping the commandments, going to church, searching the scriptures, praying... and then ask Him. Be patient for His timing and have faith that you will get an answer and I promise you that youwill get an answer. I got an answer.
I know this is true because of how it's changed my life. How I feel. And from answers to prayers. This gospel will change your life if you let it. 

Me të gjithë dasurinë time,
Motra Rasëll


August 18, 2014

This last week was excellent as always :) 

We had an awesome lesson with a new investigator, sweetest old guy ever. He prayed for the first time in our lesson and after said that he felt so emotional. It was so beautiful. These moments make me so happy. I will treasure them forever. After when we were talking about church, we told him that in church we dress our best to show respect to God and he immediately buttoned up his shirt to the top button so that he could look his best right then. I don't know why, but it touched me so much and I had so much love for him! I can't even begin to say. I wanted to cry I loved him so much! It just really touched me.... then we found out he lives in 4th ward and we have to pass him off to the other missionaries and I cried in side :/ But that's okay! He's going to be taught and that's all that matters! 

So ya know how people joke about the lame excuse of "I can't do it, I'm washing my hair"? Ya know, the joke that isn't really that funny haha .... we were tracting and a guy answered with suds all over his hands and hair and said, "you're going to wait for a minute, I'm washing my hair"....and then shut the door.... he he he, hahaha I laughed pretty hard :) But hey! He came back and we had a pretty good discussion! He's a cool guy, hopefully it goes somewhere.

This last Sunday was really just amazing. Our Mission President came to speak in our ward. When he started talking, he talked about how he was an Area Seventy for Europe and had come to Albania about 5 years ago. He said that when he was speaking in the district conference, he felt impressed to tell the congregation that if they were faithful, they would have a stake in 5 years. Well, we just got a stake, so that's pretty amazing :) He then started talking about how he and his assistants and wife went down to Serandë (pretty sure that's spelled right) to pray about if it should be the next opened area to missionaries (which is every missionary's dream hahaha). While they were there, they found a hill so that they could overlook the city. He said while they prayed, he could see a temple in Serandë. He then promised us that we not only will one day have a temple in Tirana, but also in Serandë. TWO TEMPLES! Are you kidding me?! I was dying by this point. The Spirit was BURSTING! I could hardly handle it! Then he told us that we have three things we have to do. In a summary, he told us that if we invite people to sacrament meeting, keep the sabbath day holy, and pay our tithing... we would have a temple very soon. 
I can't even handle it! This is the best news ever! The closest temple is in Germany. We're excited about Rome, but it's still far. Members always ask us, do you think we'll have a temple? Do you think it'll ever happen? These members want it SO bad. And I'm not gonna lie, I always feel somewhat guilty that I live in a temple dotted state. It's an incredible blessing that I am so grateful for. But now, now I can tell them with every fiber of my heart that yes, YES!! There WILL be a temple! There's gonna be two! And this is what you have to do! I am on FIRE about this! I witnessed a powerful prophecy and the Spirit bore witness of it's truthfulness. I have never felt so urgent about the work. I want these members to have a temple so bad. I have never felt more peace or more happiness than I have in the temple. 
I'm also so grateful that we have access to the Spirit so that we can know truth. Yes, this promise about two temples was amazing and cool.... but it was the Spirit confirming that it was true that made it powerful to me. We can know truth for ourselves! And it's amazing! We don't have to take anyone's word for it, we can know for ourselves and I am so grateful for that.

Ju dua shumë, pa masë!
Motra Rasëll

I was lame at pictures this week, sorry :/ Just a shot of my comp and me!

August 11, 2014

Email!! .... is gonna be short today haha
We went to Shkodër this morning, an event that was supposed to be short and sweet... buuuuuuut, a two hour drive turned into a 3.5 hour drive due to unusually large amount of traffic... in the middle of nowhere on a Monday (???) I dunno... it was a pretty sweet trip though! I now can say that I've been to Shkodër :)

Can I just really quick say that sometimes I am so grateful for the language barrier? Most times I'm not... but sometimes, it's a pretty awesome barrier. People say rude things, crude things, totally mean things.... eh... I don't really know what they're saying half the time, whateve's... but man, the other day someone who spoke english as a 1st language said the rudest thing to us and man, it hurt! I was a little hard to shake off! So yes... different culture, different language... makes it a whole lot easier to cope with rejection! haha 

This last week was amazing and full of tender mercies and miracles! We felt impressed to work with finding less active members that haven't been in contact with the church is years and wow! Things just fell into place! We found so many people! And are going to start teaching so many more people! It's amazing really. The Lord's hand is in this work like we do not even understand. It's been the most incredible thing. I WISH I had time to write about all the little miracles that have happened, but I don't :/ All I can say is that I understand so much more now how much God is aware of us and how much He loves us individually, more than we can even comprehend. He knows us. We are His children and He willnever forget us. 

I love you all! 
Motra Russell

Some shots in Shkodër, exchanges! woot! These sisters rock my world! And a cool creepy door, had to do it :)

Ladies weaving authentic albanian rugs in a little cement house tucked up in a hill behind some trees.... I have a sweet mission :)


Aug 4, 2014

Guess what?!
We are turning into ROCKSTARS at street contacting :D Next step, getting real numbers instead of fake ones ;) hahahaha 
Okay, the fake number thing doesn't happen too often, it's always just pretty funny when it does.
Work has been very slow. People are still out and about vacationing and stuff. Even shops are closing down here in Tirana with little signs that say they will open again in the end of August. It's been a good experience though, we work through the long days and it's incredibly rewarding.

Something that I absolutely love about the culture out here is that at night once it cools down, everyone is outside. It's awesome! There are so many people to talk to, there's so much life! It's made me really love the summers here. The importance of family and spending time together here is strong and it is wonderful. 

Something that I've been thinking about lately is exercise and health. 
There are definitely some people that don't know how to take care of their bodies because they haven't been educated. But really, I feel that most people have enough knowledge to be able to take care of their bodies. Most people know they need to exercise and eat healthy (fruits, vegetables, etc... ) to take care of their body. I would dare say that we all know that when we're regularly exercising, eating healthy everyday, etc... we generally feel better. We look better, we feel better, we sleep better... really, everything is better. It affects all aspects of our lives in a positive way. It's hard, it takes self control and energy and effort, but it's worth it. And yet, so many people don't exercise regularly and don't eat healthy. 
Why is that? When we know how much better it is to do those things than to not? 
Is it because of short shortsightedness? Thinking that we're fine now and not thinking about the future? Is it because we're okay with where we're at that we're willing to sacrifice what's better in order to not have to put forth the work or effort? Is it because of laziness?
Whatever the reason, usually down the road ... after years of poor health choices.... it catches up. Health problems start to arise. Doctor appointments build up. Small issues start to turn into big issues and if our habits are not corrected, it can lead to permanent damage, a less fulfilling life, sometimes even death. 
But we never really think about those things. We never think that those things could happen to us. They're sooooo far down the road, we'll make better choices before it gets to that point... or it'll never happen to us, we're fine... or we flat out just don't care.
I've been thinking about how much this parallels to our spiritual lives. We know how to keep the commandments, we know what to do to get closer to God and be more spiritually healthy... and yet so often, we don't do it. We think we're fine, we don't want to do the work to get what's better... we'll choose better habits tomorrow....
And just like what happens to our physical bodies, only bad things happen when we do this to our spirits...

All I can say is yes, being spiritually healthy is a lot of work. It can be really hard to get on that road and do the things we need to do and repent of our bad choices. But it's so worth it. It affects all aspects of our lives in a positive way. And it is so so worth it. Make the choice now. Do what you need to do turn back to God. You will never regret it.

Me dashurinë time,
Motra Rasëll 

Sister Zollinger! A picture of the Wilson statue in Tirana (kind of, not the best picture :P ) 
And the best picture.... evidence that my companion is CLEARLY better than me in bowling. By a 100 points better hahahaha she stomped everyone! I've never been so proud hahaha


July 29th, 2014

Hello my loved ones! 

This last week wasn't too eventful, a whole lot of finding! Woo! Vacations here, they're nuts. Definitely not a weekend thing... more like a month and a half long thing. Makes missionary work a little tricky :P But that's okay! We keep on keepin' on and it's wonderful!! 

One of our recent convert's muslim son gave me one of his copies of the Quran. I'm actually really excited about it. It's really pretty and even has an albanian translation if I ever want to read it when I get home. I think it's really amazing that I serve in a country that is very much muslim, it's a really beautiful religion really. I think it's so interesting to learn about it.

Okay, my brain is fried and I don't know what to write about from this last week. So I'm just going to talk about how much I love my mission, because I love my mission! I have never in my entire life been so consistently happy. I feel so clear, almost like for the first time I'm breathing the freshest air in the world. It's hard to explain. But the spirit of this work is incredible. I thought I was happy before, but it was nothing like this. There is a deep peace that is always with me and it makes me so grateful to be here. 
Please do everything you can to read the scriptures everyday, pray with all your heart and serve those around you. It brings a joy unlike anything else. It brings peace unlike anything else. And the best part is that you can lay your head down at night completely satisfied and fulfilled knowing that you're doing God's work by serving His children.
I know God loves us. Individually. That He cares about our success, our happiness and our spiritual well being. He has a provided a way for us to return to Him if we choose. It's all so beautiful really. And I am so grateful. So so grateful.

Much love and many prayers,
Motra Rasëll

An adorable kitten I found by the dumpster just chillin'. I of course had to love it. And then use hand sanitizer. But I like to think about the loving it part :)

Some fabulous members that I love love love love.

Sister Zollinger and me stuck in the church today because it was pouring rain outside!