Monday, June 24, 2013

Letter #23: The Noble and Great Ones.. :)

My beautiful people..
I wanted to begin with our beautiful day today.. We visited this absolutely gorgeous place up Valbona Canyon, close to Theth, as it is said to be one of the most beautiful locations in all of Albania! It was about a 2-3 hour drive, but it was so worth it.. God's creations are absolutely incredible. Driving up a took close to 500 pictures of the majestic snow-capped mountains, and the little villages up in the middle of these isolated mountains.. and I just couldn't get enough of it! I know... I have quite a bit of Kimmy Forte in me.. haha. I love you mommy. 

There was this gorgeous river the ran from the canyon to the valley
and the water was SO BLUE! Like carribean blue.. so gorgeous!
This week was a wild one.. Sheesh.. I am still getting the ropes down from switching from a train-EE to a train-ER!!! It has been a whole new experience having to completely carry the weight by myself until my cute Sister Robertson gets the ropes down of mission life herself. I am so lucky to have been placed with her as we are learning so much from eachother, but I wont lie.. It has been pretty tough.. Sister Robertson is such a great missionary already, but as expected, her language is struggling which means.. I carry all of the weight in the language! It has been quite a challenge, but the Lord is blessing me with an incredible amount of understanding and comprehension. It is so amazing to see as we rely on the Lord, he directs our paths and blesses us with abilities beyond our own capacity. I have such a testimony of this. There is no way I could be training ALREADY after 3 short months without the divine help of the Lord. I am so grateful to Him for helping me and carrying me and helping me along when I have no more strength.
Driving up to Theth we found this war hero statue that we thought was pretty rad!

This week has been pretty tough to find those that are willing to listen. Street contacting, its just the same thing everytime..
"We have incredible knowledge from this Book, called the Book of Mormon, that will bring you so much happiness and direction in your life."
(looks down at "Jezu Krishtit")
"I'm not interested. I am Muslim."
(walks away.)

EVERYONE IS MUSLIM HERE. People. Listen to me. You have a Savior that loves you very much and paid for your sins so you can return to live with your Heavenly Father again.

Sometimes I just wish I could climb to the top of a tall building and shout His glad message from the rooftops! Then maybe, just maybe, those that are prepared and ready to receive it will come running to the truth and light! 

Too much beauty in one photo!!!
I cannot handle it!
I am living in a postcard people..
We have been meeting with this great girl named Gjulie for the past two weeks and she is very Muslim. She prays 5 times a day and is very set on her religion. There was a little twinkle in her eye and spark inside her that I could see when we taught her about the Restoration. She seemed to really enjoy our visits, but on Saturday, we met at the park and had a lesson with her and her other very Muslim roommate. She told us that she really enjoys being our friend and talking with us, but she isn't interested in religon. This normally would have made me devastated, but now I see things in a different light. The Lord is blessing us by helping us to better use our time on those that are prepared and ready! I have a favorite little segment in Preach My Gospel that explains, your can't force an egg to hatch before its due time! This has helped me so much since I have been out. The Lord has prepared certain individuals that are ready for the Gospel. It may take some time to weed out the ones that aren't, but the Lord will either direct us to them, or them to us...
This leads me into my next story.
Today Arberesha, my favorite little Albi worker, called me up and told me that there was a lady with her baby looking for the missionaries. She said that she wanted to meet with us to know how she could be baptized! UMM.. HELLO PEOPLE. This is an absolute miracle. We are meeting her in 2 hours to find out what this girl is all about, but to say the least.. I am very excited. I know that the Lord is hastening His work. He will direct those that are ready to us that know not where to find the truth!

Some more exciting news.. yesterday we had 2 new members receive the Melchizedek Priesthood. Ardi and Nazim, and boy.. let me tell you. They both were absolutely beaming! This is such a beautiful Gospel. To see the Lord entrust His worthy men to carry his Power and authority is the most beautiful blessing. The church is growing in Prishtina! :) 

These mountains are incredible..
Last story.. yesterday we had a lesson with some of our members, Gjon, Ardi, and Valmira, along with Arberesha and Dardania in the park. I had each of them share their conversion stories and the blessings they have recieved from the Gospel. The Spirit was so strong and I really feel like having Dardania nd Arberesha hear their powerful testimonies helped to strengthen their faith. We shared with them Abraham 3:22-23 and explained to them that each of them are among the noble and great ones. The Lord chose them to help build up the church here in Kosovo because of their incredible faith and strength. Each of them are so strong and have strengthened my faith beyond measure. To see the hardships they go through. To see the strength of being the only member among their friends and family. To see them stand up for Christ among those that deny Him. This is what missionary work is. This is what makes it all worth it. I am so grateful for this beautiful opportunity I have to serve among the Kosovar people and to share with them the great light of the Gospel that I have in my life.

I love being a missionary and I have such a strong testimony of this Gospel. I want everyone to know about it and to feel of the great love the Savior has for them! This Gospel is for all of His children.. Not just a few.. just like D&C 18:10 says.. "The worth of souls is great in the sight of God." The Lord wants all of His children to return not just a few.. So its up to us to go get em' baby! :)

Have such a fabulous week! Enjoy your lovely summer days!!!
Love your missionary,
Sister Shauntel Louise Forte <3

ps. I am sorry for the novel.. so much to say!!!


Monday, June 17, 2013

Letter #22: Missionaries are in the Lord's Hands

P-day always comes at the most perfect times! That's for sure!!!
This week has been such an absolute whirlwind of a change.. Going from the Trainee to Trainer overnight is quite the experience.
I got assigned to train Sister Robertson from Bluffdale Utah! She is such a sweetheart and guess what..
She is taller than me?! Can you believe it? WE ARE THE TWO TOWERS!  hahah. We have been cruising the streets of Kosovo together and everyone just stares at us! It is hilarious. haha.
My last P-day with Sister Hoover and our Girls, Aferdita and Dafina :)
So far training has been going very well! We are a good match and I feel like we have some very great things lying ahead for us.As for being a trainer, it is so crazy different!!! I have so many responsibilities and duties that I didn't even realize Sister Hoover did for me! I know that this next transfer is going to be one of much growth. I have been praying so hard for the Lord to help guide me and help me to be able to train Sister Robertson to the best of my ability, and it is unbelievable to see His hand completely bear me up. I am completely amazed at my language ability this week and awe-struck that the Lord has literally blessed me with this ability to speak. It still is not perfect, but I am speaking so well! Missionaries are truly placed in the Lord's hands. I am sure of it.
All of our beautiful Kosovar lovelies.
only 3 of them are members the rest are our investigators! WOOT WOOT! 
At the beginning of this week we stayed in Tirana and helped to set up the new home of Sister Hoover, as she is opening up a new area in Tirana, so we didn't have the chance to meet with any of our investigators until yesterday! We had Mission Conference randomly early this transfer as we had Elder Kearon from the Quorum of the Seventy in the European Zone come and speak to us. It was such a spiritually uplifting conference and I learned so much. It was perfect to get all of us missionaries motivated to get out and do the work! The fire inside me has just been spritzed with a bit of gasoline baby! haha.. 
Our district before we split our separate ways!
After the conference we headed back to Kosovo and, boy, is it good to be back! I have missed all of my Kosovar people so much and they so excited to see me and to meet our new missionary! :) On Saturday we had 4 lessons lined up, and.. you guessed it. ALL 4 WERE "PRISH"ED.. aka. all 4 lessons fell through. Such a bummer that Sister Robertson had to get a taste of disappointment so soon in the game, but with her new young missionary blood, it only motivated her to keep finding new people! She is such a good example to me and I am so happy to have been paired with her. :)
Me and our Jewelry man! Him and his wife are the
golden couple we taught and we hope to teach them more and more!
Sunday we had 3 lessons. One was supposed to be with our investigator Egzone with Dardania to come help us teach, but he didn't show, so we took the liberty in teaching Dardania! It was so great to talk with her on a high spiritual level again as we haven't met with her for 2 weeks since having dropped her. I didn't have anything planned for the lesson and just let the Spirit guide me. We had a beautiful discussion about how the Lord's Plan just makes perfect sense, and Dardania's response to this was, "Its just too good to be true." I said back, "That is because it is such a perfect plan! But Dardania, IT IS TRUE!" She just needs to come to terms and accept the Gospel as the word of God. Then she will develop the strongest faith in Christ and be the strongest member. She comes to every activity and even came to church on Sunday with Arberesha! I was so happy to have them both there and I kept imagining the beautiful moment when both of them will be dressed in white, making their first covenant with the Lord. I CAN'T WAIT FOR THAT DAY!

This week has been a testimony to me that the Lord help's His missionaries. Not only does he help His missionaries, but he guides and directs them. I have come so close to my Savior knowing that He is my companion in His work. I am becoming so much more receptive to the promptings of the Spirit as I rely on Him as my guide. 

Thanks so much for being the best support system any missionary could ask for! I love you all with my whole heart!!!
Love your favorite missionary,

Sister Shauntel Louise Forte xoxo

ps. I sent this to Domi earlier, and I thought everyone might enjoy it..
Good Scriptures to look up.. 

D&C 50 is the best section!!! But here is my favorite...

 24 That which is of God is alight; and he that breceiveth clight, anddcontinueth in God, receiveth more elight; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day. 

There is no end to light and knowledge that we can recieve and we will carry that light and knowledge with us into the eternities! I love this so much. I have really learned to listen to the spirit and have become so spiritually edified the more and more I study this beautiful gospel! 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Letter #21: Transfers Week!!!

Hello world.

So the time has come. Last night the news came from President Ford...
It is time for me to cut the ambillical cord and spread my wings as I have been assigned to stay in Prishtina, Kosovo and train!!! A 3-month-old training?!! YOU BETCHA! haha. In all honestly I am a little anxious, but I know that it will be unbelievable changing experience for me and I am so excited to be staying here in Prishtina!!! I love the people here with all of my heart and I am not ready to leave them! Now I will have to be a big girl, and show this city what the Lord has in store for them! Its a little nerve-racking realizing that I will basically be on my own having only been here for three months, . . . but I know that I am never alone. This is the Lord's work and I have faith that He will help me every step of the way!

I am so happy that I have had such a fabulous time serving with Sister Hoover. We are such good friends and it is so sad to be leaving her, but I also know that change is good, and the Lord is entrusting me to train one of His other servants, so I just can't turn that opportunity down!

This week was a bit upsetting.. Just like Dad called it!!!! The trials are here.. All five of my districts baptisms fell through.. ALL IN ONE DAY! Can you believe that? Only in Kosovo, would all 5 baptism dates fall through in one day. The most upsetting one, unfortunately, was Kamil, the Elder's 18-year-old investigator who was supposed to get baptized this week, could not be baptized because his father would not allow him. His father freaked out and said, "You are to never speak to those Mormon's again!" Such a bummer because he was SO excited to be baptized and to enter into the Lord's fold.. So disappointing. But I know in the due time of the Lord Kamil will be baptized. It is just a matter of time that one baptism will actually go through and everyone will feel the power of the sacred priesthood ordinance and people will be lining up to be dunked!!!! haha. oops.. I probably shouldn't tease around like that.. But in all sincerity, I know that the time is near that these people will have enough courage to take the leap!!

Sorry I didn't have too much time to write today but I want you to all know that I love you so much and I appreciate all of your great love and support that you show me! :) LOVE LOVE LOVE!

ps. I would like to give a BIG CONGRATULATIONS to my baby girl Alta Elizabeth Roberts on her engagement to Austin Engamann!!! URIME! I am so happy for the two of you and all I'm saying is that if you don't make a card-board cut out of me for the wedding line, there is going to be some serious problems.. haha. Just playin. Love you!

Love your favorite missionary,
Motra Shauntel Louise Forte


Monday, June 3, 2013

Letter #20: Hello June!!!

Family and Friends,
So first I would like to start out by saying....

Sheesh...Talk about a busy week for my beautiful family!!! I am so excited for all of you and for all of your fun adventures you have ahead of you this week!

In front of the doors to the Church
Grounds in Pejë
Second matter of business... all of my best friends are getting married!
1. Samantha Skene Wright and Braedin Rae Oakley are engaged!!!!!

As for me.. This week was crazy! To start off.. 2 of our favorite investigators, Dardania and Arberesha are all ready for baptism, but have told us that they just aren't ready yet. So unfortunately we had to drop them and told them that we will just wait for them to be ready.. It is such a bitter sweet thing. My heart is torn in half because I want this so badly for both of them, and I know that when they get the courage to stand up for what they believe is true and go against the cultural traditions of this country and their families, they will be so happy and will rejoice in the Spirit! I know the Lord will bless them immensely when they are ready to make the leap. In the due time of the Lord, miracles will happen.. I just know it. Both of them will get baptized! Its just a matter of time. Luckily they are both still coming to activities and reading their scriptures. That's all that need to do.. Strengthen their faith to be ready for it.

Last week we rode bikes up the Canyon in Pejë!
It was so much fun! :) Gorgeous ride!
As for Agim, he is our only progressing investigator at the moment, having dropped our other two lovelies. He is continually reading the Book of Mormon, detail by detail, as he wants to understand every detail perfectly! At the beginning of our last lesson with him, we discussed the importance of feeling the Spirit of the Book of Mormon verses worrying about every little detail. He came to understand it a little bit better, but I think he is still partially reading it like a history book of great war stories. haha. We had a lesson with him about keeping the Sabbath day holy because  he still hasn't come to church and he said he would do his best to try and come.. Come on Agim! Just commit and come!!!! Sometimes, I have had to develop so much patience to work with these people, because its always a "I dunno, maybe if I have time", or a "Kismet.." which means, "Be God willing, I will come" but no one will ever just say, "Yes! I will be there! See you then." If only.. we are still working on breaking the cultural traditions here of just going with the flow and trying to help people to make commitments! 

We waiting patiently for him to show up to church, but still.. nothing. He didn't show. BUMMER. Let's cross our fingers for next week..

From the Serbian Orthodox Church we visited last monday.. kinda creepy.
but beautiful.. No Spirit there.. so sad.
Yesterday at church we had a Turkish Travesty. The Elders are teaching this family, 2 kids and one father, at the moment, and I got the great opportunity of teaching the kids in Primary. We were talking about the Book of Mormon and how we can come closer to Christ by reading it. I then told them that we learn the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the Book of Mormon: we have to develop faith, repent, and be baptized like Jesus Christ--just like Kamil is going to be baptized this week! Immediately the little boy stopped me and started going off saying, "I don't want to learn about Jesus Christ. I am Muslim!" I tried to calm him down and told him that as we read the Book of Mormon, we learn about Jesus Christ and about his divine role as our Savior. This just ticted him off even more and he yelled, "I DON'T WANT TO LEARN ABOUT JESUS!" and stormed out of the room. I then turned to the girl and asked her if she wanted to learn about Jesus, and she clicked at me, like Albanians do, and said, "No." and walked out. Freak.. they both went and grabbed their dad in Sunday School to tell him the problem, and he started going off in Albanian that I could not understand, slams him book of mormon down on the desk, and walks out with both of his kids. 

Gjon surprised us at Game night and gave us both flowers!!!
How sweet, right?! He said, "I am poor, so I stole them from the park." hahah. Classic.
Sheesh. Talk about a scene. I was completely mortified. My stomach dropped and I felt like it was all of my fault. That clearly they misunderstood me or maybe I said something that offended them. My emotions got the best of me and I couldn't help but cry. I felt so sad that they felt that way about Jesus and that they were throwing away their chance to learn more about Him. Everyone was comforting me and telling me that it was all good. Just another Anti-Christ! Sheesh. I need to grow a back bone.. IM A FORTE. Forte means strong for crying out loud! haha. Later that night the Elders talked with him and cleared everything up. Basically, he claims that the children misunderstood me and felt like I was mocking their Turkish traditions? WHAT THE HECK MAN?! I have no idea how they got that, but lets just say I am going to take a break from teaching Primary.

On a good and happy note, we have Kamil's baptism, the Elder's investigator, this friday and I really think it is going to be amazing! We are going to try and get everyone to be there, investigators, members, soldiers, the whole bit. It will bring such a great Spirit to the people here to witness a sacred priesthood ordinance and it will motivate them to have the courage to do it as well!
Hopefully the rest of this week goes a bit smoother and we can find those that are ready to recieve the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Sorry for the novel,
Love you all,
Thank you for reading and stay tuned for next week! ;)

Love Sister Shauntel Louise Forte