Monday, March 25, 2013

Letter #10: "Where the streets have no name!"

So just to let you all know, I was assigned to labor in Prishtina, Kosovo with my trainer, Motra Hoover and it is so amazing here! I can't even begin to describe how amazing it is! Holy smokes. I am the first sister missionary, ever to be trained in Kosovo! There are only 6 missionaries here in the country, 2 of them being sister missionaries, and I AM ONE OF THEM. Can you believe it?! I had no idea this was coming, that's for sure! Dad, you totally guessed it! Somehow you knew I was coming here before I was even here! So wild. It all kind of feels like a dream to be honest. Waking up in a different country every day is quite the experience! Europe is SO different from the United States! I love it here, but it is definitely different!
Today we went drove up to Germia Park here in Prishtina with
the Elders and Sister and Brother Jones, who are the
senior missionaries/branch presidents here in Kosovo.
Here is me and Motra Hoover!
My first day when I arrived in Albania, our amazing mission president, President Ford and his sweet wife picked us up from the airport, we went to the mission home, had a meeting with the President, had lunch, and went tracting that night. TALK ABOUT TERRIFYING. I don't think I have been so scared in my whole life. Luckily people in Albania and Kosovo both love Americans, so they would take the time to listen to my broken Albanian! I gave out a few pass along cards and was feeling pretty good afterwards. That night we had a testimony meeting than we went to sleep a little early to make our jet leg a little bit easier the next day. In the morning, we were assigned to our areas and immediately after, we left! I am now in Prishtina, Kosovo and it is unlike anything that I have ever seen before! It is so beautiful here. The people are so amazing here and there is a great work that is about to come forth in this land! I am so happy to be a part of this great work. 
We went to the exact spot in Gremia Park where President Nelson
of the Quorum of the 12 dedicated the land of Kosovo as a
proselyting country for the Church! It was a really cool experience
to read the dedicatory prayer and to feel of the Spirit here
in this beautiful country! WE ARE BRINGING FORTH

So let me tell you a little about Prishtina. The roads we walk are either a poorly paved cobble stone path, or a cement path with potholes! The drivers here are pretty crazy, but not even half as crazy as Albania. In Albania, the driving is pretty much organized chaos. SO CRAZY. I have to admit I feared for my life a few times. There is trash in a lot of areas, but it is defintely a step up from Albania as well. So here in Prishtina, they speak Kosovar which is Albanian with a completly different dialect called Geg. IT IS INSANE. I hardly understand a word people say to me sometimes. It is pretty rough. Not gonna lie. I just keep banking on the fact that the Lord sent me here because He knows I can handle it. I sure hope he is right!
Here is a picture of one the homes from the war that apparently
has active mines in it! 

I absolutely love my trainer, Motra Hoover. She is such a wonderful example to me and I have learned so much from her already! I love my companion, I love my apartment, I love the members here, I love Brother and Sister Jones,(the senior missionaries here) I love Prishtina, I love my mission. My missionary president said to me on our way to Prishtina, "You really do have the best mission." Everything is going well here. Obviously, the language is very rough for me still, and it is very difficult to understand Kosovar, I know that with the Lord's help I can master this language. I have been working on relying on my Heavenly Father in every aspect of my missionary work. When I am not praying out loud, I always have a prayer in my heart that He will direct my feet and fill my mouth with the words He would have me speak. So far it has benefited me, but I am hoping that as time goes on I will become more and more comfortable with the language. The members here have such a great spirit with them and I am positive that they are the "noble and great ones." The Lord has to build up His church here, so He needs his strongest children to be the foundation of the church here! Although I can't communicate with the members all that well, I have come to a realization of how important it is to listen to the Spirit in this work. Because that is pretty much all I can do, I have grown so much spiritually in just 5 days. It's amazing really. The Lord really is looking out for me.

This is the sign that tells you not to trespass because of the
active mines! haha. CRAZY.
Prishtina is amazing so far! It is such a blessing to be here and to feel of the great spirit that resides here. I feel like the work is growing here ever so quickly and I feel so honored to be a part of it. Kosovo is a war-stricken area and many people are still recovering from the war. There are many buildings left over from the war that are completely destroyed. The war really tore Kosovo apart Many people I have talked to since I have been here have brought up many stories from the war and it is a very sensitive subject for them. They are in a very humble and lowly state, and now it is time for the love of the Savior to fill their hearts and rid the hurt and pain from the past. 

This was one of my last pictures I took with my
district in Albania at one of the famous monuments!
So sad leaving them!
This week we taught 9 lessons and I was able to invite one of our investigators named Ermira to baptism. Although it was pretty broken Albanian, she understood and commited to pray about baptism and she understands why it is important for her life. We went tracting many times this week and I have impressed myself with how much confidence I have had talking to strangers here although I can hardly speak or understand a lick of Kosovar. haha. Hopefully once the language starts coming I will be able to merge both skills and be very successful here in Prishtina.

My dear family and friends, I am so happy to be a missionary at this time. I know that the Lord is expediting His work, and as a result I am here in Kosovo as the first sister missionary ever trained here!!!!!  What an honor to be a representative of the Lord at this time. It is such a special calling and I am in the most amazing place. 

I took this picture on our way up to Prishtina with my my mission
President, his wife, and my companion from Albania and I was in love
with it!! Can you say National Geographic?
Family, thank you thank you thank you for being so supportive of me in this work. I couldn't do it without you!!! I can defintely feel you prayers bear me up. Please continue to pray for me as I push through learning this CRAZY language! I love you so much!
Love your baby girl all the way in Kosovo,
where the streets have no name,
Shauntel xoxo

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Letter #9: Safe Arrival

Dear Brother and Sister Forte,
Your daughter arrived in Tirana on Wednesday after a long flight from Salt Lake City and the Missionary Training Center.  Sister Ford and I are delighted to have her as one of our missionaries serving in the Adriatic South Mission. We look forward to getting to know her well. We know she will be a great asset to the mission. She is assigned to serve with Sister Hoover  in the Prishtina, Kosovo Branch.
We have attached some pictures of her with her companion, Pres and Sister Ford and her missionary group. The group picture includes from left to right: Elders Austin and Bohn and Sisters Hawkins and Forte.
Thank you for preparing your daughter so well for this experience of serving the Lord and sharing the truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the people in the Adriatic South Mission.
 Since mail is such an important part of missionary life we encourage you to write each week. You can send emails to or letters and packages to:
Sister Shauntel Forte
Adriatic South  Mission
Rruga Qemal Stafa, Vila 1
Përballës Postës Nr. 22
Tirana, Albania
If you have questions or concerns about your daughter please contact us.
President Andrew Ford

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

... And she's off!!!

So... Mom & Dad may or may not have coincidentally ran into this gorgeous missionary in transit to Albania... She sends  her loves & kisses!!!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Letter #8: The Time Has Come...

Hello Everyone!
The time has come my beautiful family and friends! This is officially my last email I will be sending from the MTC. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? me neither.. I am actually leaving this place on Tuesday morning at 4 in the morning!!!! bahhhh. I cannot even believe it, but I am SO SO SO EXCITED!!!!! YAY!!! RROFTE SHQIPERIA!!!! hahaha. That is a saying that we always say that means, "Long live Albania!" Its so great! Goodness.. So I leave to DC at 6 in the morning on UNITED AIRLINES!!!! ahhh. I was thinking, "wouldn't it be the coolest thing if Grandma was the Flight Attendant on my flight! haha. That would be so cool if we could make that happen somehow! We have a 4 hour lay-over in DC and then we fly on Austrian Airlines to Vienna, Austria, have a 4 hour layover there, and then finally we fly to Tirana, Albania! Its going to be a LOOOOONNNNNGGGGG trip.. Wish me luck! haha. But I'm so pumped for it!

Mom, worst day ever. I get an exciting package slip, go to get my package and there is an orange note with the dissapointing news that I "had" recieved Cafe Rio from my fabulous mother, but they disposed of it because it had to be refridgerated. It made me SO UPSET!!!! Ahhh.. I recieved your adorable stationary though and I LOVE IT!!! I'm sorry that you went through all of the hard work of sending that package and then it was not recieved.. :( booo.. anyways, the thought was there and I totally appreciate it! Thank you so much mommy! You are the best!!!

I can't wait to get started in serving the people of Albania.
This week I feel like the Gospel flame inside me is roaring!!! It has grown so much in this past week and I am dying to share my testimony to change the lives of these amazing people. This week is going by ever so slowly, but I know that I will be out of here before I know it.. Last night we had yet another member of the Quorem of the Seventy come to speak to us and it was so amazing. He spoke about the importance of submitting your will to the Lord's will and then we can be strengthened in Him. We all can be made POWERFUL IN THE SAVIOR if we are valiant in keeping the commandments and constantly are prayerful. I know that this church is true. I know that if we submit our will to the will of the Lord that we can be made strong and become more like our Savior, Jesus Christ. If there is one thing that I have learned here in my stay at the MTC, it is that we all have a Wonderous Savior and Redeemer and he sacrificed His life so that we might live. I couldn't be more grateful for my Savior and for His sacrifice for me. I know that He lives today. I know this is His work, and I know that I have been called to serve as an Ambassador of the Lord to take His gospel to the people of Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro, and Macedonia! 

I don't have much time today, but I want to let you all know that I love you all so much and I am so grateful to have each of you in this mission with me, supporting me 100%!!!
I love you love you love you!
Motra Forte

PS. I have a bit of homework for all of you.. Go watch the "Mountains to Climb video on You won't regret it and you will thank me later! :)

pics from the week are attached!

Me and Cute Brit! I LOVE SEEING HER!
Me and the cute Finnish Missionaries in my District!
I love them with my whole heart!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Letter #7: THE FINAL STRETCH!!!!

Familje dhe Mika!!!!
So pretty much, my last name is the coolest.
FORTE: 1. Strong, Mighty
2. Hard, Heavy
3. Firm, Resolute, Unyielding
4. Intense, Bright, Powerful
I sure thought so :)
Si je?! I miss you all so much and I hope all is well at home! We have made it to the final stretch people!!! I get my itinerary and flight plans for Albania tomorrow, I believe, and I AM FREAKING OUT!!!! I am so excited to get out of this place! I have loved the MTC so much, but I am getting a little stir crazy.. not gonna lie. The food is 'ight, but I am SO sick of it! Mommy I miss your delicious home cooked meals and I will never take them for granted again! haha. This week, starting today, we have Consecration Week and this morning we starting speaking nothing but Albanian! We can't speak a lick of English all week (except to translate for my Motra Hawkins!!) It is going to be so HARD!!! So please please PLEASE pray for me this week.. I am going to need all the help I can get! Haha.. The language is coming along really well but I still don't feel 100% competant in the language. I know that I will learn a ton this week though because when you are forced to speak it, IT COMES! I am going to be exactly obedient this week in the language because I NEED BLESSINGS!!! But great news, this week our teachers told us that they have never seen a companionship as advanced in 7 weeks as me and Motra! Isn't that awesome? I was so happy to hear that!
My district with the Albanian missionary, Motra Berati
before she departed to London, England!
She is from Tirana where our mission home is!
She is so cute!
and she loved me. Every Albanian thinks that
I look Albanian! haha. Kind of a perk I guess :)
12 days left. 12 days left. 12 days left. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can! haha.
Anywhoooo. This past Sunday was fast Sunday and BOY! Was is a great one or what? Here in the MTC we are given the "lovely" opportunity to fast for literally 24 hours straight! From Saturday night, to Sunday night. And IT IS SO HARD! Ahhhh.. but when you sit down and take your first bite of food, it is the best food in the world because you are so starving! The messages I learned on Sunday though were so incredible. The testimonies of all of the missionaries in my zone are so amazing collectively and individually! My testimony is strengthened through theirs. Basically, one of the main lessons I learned was that we as humans are "Prone to Wander" like my favorite hymn, "Come Thou Fount", but if he put our full faith and trust in the Lord as our anchor, He will give us strength and we will not stray or vary from the truth. We can do all things in Christ and without Him, we are nothing. We need to feast upon the words of Christ and not starve or deprive ourselves from His words!!!
Last night we had a great fireside from a member of the 70 from Brazil! He was so cool and I learned so much from him. I learned that I need to decide now which Kingdom of Glory that I will choose to be in. I CHOOSE THE CELESTIAL KINGDOM!!! And as we all should decide now! Once that decision is made, then the little day-to-day decisions are practically made for us! The "Valiant" servants of the Lord will inherit the Celestial Kingdom upon their faithfulness and now is the time to act like it. I will be a Valiant servant of the Lord during my mission and afterwards as well. I also learned that it isn't all weighted upon what you do, but  WHO you become. 
From my cute package Aunt Jillie sent me! Make sure she sees this! :)
I'm in love with their cute little family and so is everyone is my district! hahaha. 
Caden and Ronin are getting so BIG!!!
Thank you for spoiling me while I have been here in the MTC! Everyone hates me for it here, but I sure do LOVE it and I feel your love and feel so close to you! Dad, I loved every little word of wisdom that you send my way this week! I have learned so much from you and I appreciate you thinking about me always! The other day all of the mail was for me! ALL 7 DEAR ELDERS AND ONE PACKAGE SLIP!!! hahaha. My district gave me SO much grief for that one.. hahaha. I LOVED IT! So thank you, thank you for your sweet kindness and gifts! 

I LOVE YOU! Une ju dua shume shume shume!!!!! :)
My time is just about up but I love you and I want you to know that I have such a strong testimony of this Gospel. I love it with every fiber of my being. I am so grateful for this opportunity I have to serve and I now that the Lord is helping me every step of the way! I could not do this without Him. It would be utterly impossible! I love you and I pray for you always!
Have such a great week my loves!

Love always, 
Motra Forte/Shaunie Bear/Your favorite missionary!