Monday, August 26, 2013

Letter #32: I'm walking on sunshine, woahhhhh

F A M I L Y <3 F A M I L J E 
This day is just such a beautiful day!!! Ain't it great?
I am so happy to hear everything going so well back home!!!! 
*My older sissy's mission papers are in!!!!!!! Bahhhh!!! Jordan! Congratulations baby girl!!! I seriously will be hanging on the edge of my seat to find out where the Lord is sending you boo! You are going to be the best missionary the world has ever seen! Ain't that the truth! ;)
*Dad, I am so proud of you for closing your HUGE deal with work! You are amazing!! :) Your baby girl is proud of you!
Tirana Sunsetsssss
*Cam.. this is for you bud. GOOD LUCK IN YOUR GAME ON THURSDAY!!!!! you are gonna kill it! Get the first sophomore touchdown in Corner Canyon's History!!!!! :) Your sissy is rooting for ya all the way across the world! haha.
I seriously cannot express my full love and gratitude for you family. I love each of you so much and I am so grateful for the great examples that each of you are to me! You are incredible!!! I seriously have the best family in the whole wide world.. I have been so incredible blessed to have been placed into the best family, with the best parents that have raised me up in this beautiful gospel, into the missionary I am today! Yesterday I gave a talk in sacrament meeting about families and how our family relationships can be perpetuated beyond the grave. I seriously could not be any more happy to be able to live with my family for time and all eternity! WHAT A BLESSING! I bore my testimony about this and express my gratitude for all of you. I also told everyone how grateful I am for being my 2nd family out here in Kosovo! I love all of the people out here so much and a guess they are a good replacement for a short time.. ;) I love you family and I am so grateful for all of you!

The work is going well up here in Kosovo! I seriously am loving every minute of serving here and cherishing every second because transfers are next week! I am dying. I am going to cry. So hard. I have grown so close with all of the members and all of my investigators. They have all taken little pieces of my heart!  Plus, just helping Hana and Vali get to this point is going to be so hard to leave them! I know change is always a good thing, but I am going to be fighting this one pretty hard this time.. President Ford usually never keeps a missionary in an hour longer than 6 months, so that leads me to think/know that will be transferred down to Albania! I cannot even believe my time has flown so quickly serving here! I will have been here for 6 months! Can you believe that? Yeah, me neither! Missionary work is hard man. They put ya in an area, naturally you fall in love with the people, and then.. BAM! they make you leave!!! Its heart breaking! Really.. Ahhhh. But it will all be for the better. I am excited to hear where I will be sent in Albania! I'm crossing my fingers for Vlore?? Maybe Tirana? Who knows! Transfers are always a thrill!
I'm a redhed now?? haha.

The most amazing thing happened. Yesterday in Relief Society the topic was being followers of Christ, and Hana boldly rose her hand to share with us her experience that happened this week! She was out with some friends and they all offered her cigarettes and Alcohol.
She politely said, "No, thank you! I don't drink or smoke cigarettes." They all were shocked and prodded, "Why? Why?"
then, Hana boldly said, "Because I am a Mormon!"
MY HEART WAS SO OVERJOYED TO HEAR HER SAY THESE WORDS!
I cannot express the feelings of happiness that came over me. I was so proud!!!! Hana is so strong. She has such a strong testimony and is not afraid to share it with anyone! This is incredible that she would be courageous enough to tell everyone that she was a Mormon. I will tell you why.. because almost all of our members here are very secretive about the church and don't tell anyone because of the incredibly strong Muslim influence here and the strong social pressures. They are afraid of rejection or being disowned by their families. Then, shortly after Hana was baptized, she boldly declared to everyone that she is a Mormon! Her friends were all shocked and started asking tons of questions. Hana answered all of their questions and invited them to all come to church to take part in the happiness that she has found! HOW INCREDIBLE IS THIS GOSPEL!!!!!!!!!!!!
 She went on to say that after explaining to everyone about the church and the missionaries, I immediately called her!!! Ironic? I think not!
Out of courtesy, I told her to say hello to her guests from me, little did I know they all now knew who I was! How cool! My little Hana is a missionary! She is going to be such a strength to the branch here. Her and Valerjan are both receiving callings this week: Relief Society teacher, and Elder's Quorum Teacher! They are the best. They will do an awesome job!

more sunsetsssss
As for our other work, we are meeting with some new people who we contacted on the road, and many of them are very excited about the Book of Mormon! We will continue meeting with them and help them to progress! Keep praying for us! The work really is moving forward! It is such a great blessing to be a part of. 
This Gospel is the most true thing on the face of the planet. I have never been more sure of anything in my entire life. I have seen first-hand, the Gospel completely change the lives of many people, and I am sure that there is no other way we can take part of this eternal joy! I am so grateful for this opportunity I have to tell all the land of Kosovo and Albania about His glad message. There is no other work upon the face of the earth that is more important! I am so grateful for my Savior. He is the reason I am here. I often think of the Sons of Mosiah and their great desire to tell every single living creature about this work, and how thinking of missing a single person made their bodies quake and tremble. As I have been out here, my desire for every creature to know is growing and growing. I sincerely want every person to take a part in this great knowledge and happiness that I have. I know that with the Spirit, the Lord will direct me to those people that are willing and ready to receive it! I love being a missionary.

I love you all so much and I hope you have such an incredible week! You are all the greatest! 
GO CHARGERS!!!! ;)

love always,
Motra Forte
<3<3<3<3<3<3

xoxoxoxxoxoxo

Monday, August 19, 2013

Letter #31: Tender Mercies < 3

Hello my dear family :)
I love you so much and miss you dearly.. How are things in the USA?! I heard Jackie Chan died.. Fact or False? hahaha. We hear all sorts of rumors out here and I never really know what to believe to be true.. I hope everyone's summers were lovely :)

Oh what a week!!!! We officially have two new members of the Prishtina Branch! Hana and Valerjan were baptized on Saturday night and con

firmed on Sunday in Sacrament meeting! Sadly, they had a close cousin pass away that night after their baptism, and they still showed up to church to be confirmed! They are so strong and have some of the strongest faith I have ever seen. What an incredible feeling it was to realize that the Lord had used me and my companion as tools in His hands. I still am just on cloud nine! I finally understand what it feels like to help someone reach their conversion in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Words cannot describe my happiness for them. Realizing that now they can take part in the many blessing that come from being member's of His church just gives me chills. 

Us with Hana and Vali before their baptism! :) 
We held the baptism on Saturday night at 7 and we had so many wonderful show up to support them. They had a hole cheering section there in their behalf, including President Ford, Sister Ford, a few investigators, many members, and even two of the Soldiers, Colonel Rodriguez and Perkins, that came all of the way from the army base to support them! It was incredible. The baptism was held in the church in our brand new font and they were the first people to use it! Hopefully there are many more to come :) Elder Jones baptized both of them and read the Baptismal Prayer in Albanian! It was so awesome that he took the time to figure out how to say the words.. The Spirit that filled the room after they both come up out of the water was unlike anything else.. I felt to happy to have taken part in bringing them unto Christ! Little Denisa, their 2 year old daughter got scared when her mom went in the water and started crying!! hahaha. It was so adorable that she was so worried about her mom!
Their precious little Family!!!!!!
Cannot wait for them to be sealed in the temple next year!
The Soldiers are so supportive and are working to find help for little denisa!!! :)
Keep her in your prayers. The older she gets the worse her hip displascia gets.. ahhhh.
The Lord will bless them for their faith!

After the meeting, both Vali and Hana got up and shared their testimonies and feelings being clean and pure and they were glowing. Light literally was radiating off of their faces! IT WAS UNREAL. I can't fully express with words how full my heart was the hear them say, "I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true church!" They both explained how since they found the church, they have been so much more happy! They feel more peace in their home, and they really feel the Spirit of the Book of Mormon! This is exactly how it is supposed to happen! All we do as missionaries is open the door, invite them to act, and the Spirit works upon their hearts!!! It is incredible. The Lord blessed us with many tender mercies this week.

Pajtim, our other investigator came to the baptism (this was his second one), and I said to him, "Pajtim, how are you feeling now? Did you enjoy the baptism?" He said, "Oh yes.. It was very thrilling!" Literally 8 different people asked him that night when his baptism was, including President, the Soldiers, Elder and Sister Jones, and more, and he said.. "Very soon." Ahhhhh! I cannot wait to see what happens with him. We are meeting with him tonight to talk more about everything.. so we will see! He says he has a few more questions before getting baptized. He is the best. He is ready for baptism, he just doesn't know it yet! Hopefully I am still here to see him make his first covenant! I'm crossing my fingers :)

We have been doing tons of finding lately.. 5 hours on the Boulevard yesterday, and so many numbers recieved! Super excited to meet with some of them.. There was this awesome man with crazy gray hair that looked like Motzart or someone who I talked to for 20 minutes yesterday! He is super rad and is excited to read the Book of Mormon. I gave him a copy of it and we are planning to meet this week.

In a nutshell, the work is moving forward people!!!!! It is such a blessing to be a part of this work. I love the Gospel. I have learned so much lately and learned so many Spiritual truths since being out here. These people have taught me so much and I couldn't have learned any of it without the Spirit. I know without a shadow of a doubt that this church is true. How blessed we are to have the truth and this wonderful Plan of Salvation. We are ushering in the Second Coming of the Savior! I love this work. I love this Gospel. I love my Savior.

I hope you all have a fabulous week!
Always remember, "Look unto the Lord in every thought. Doubt not--fear not." D&C 6:36

Love your favorite little missionary,
Sister Shauntel Louise Forte

xoxoxoxo 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Letter #30: "bringing light to those in darkness"

Oh what a beautiful week!
Us Prishtina missionaries kickin it at Mirusha!!!
*sorry the quality isn't spectacular!!! 
So my beautiful sissy jordan wrote this great line in her email to me this week and I couldn't help but love it, because it really is true! How incredible is it to be a part of God's army bringing the people of Kosovo this light? I am the luckiest girl in the world to be at the fronts of the Lord's ranks bringing in His elect people and hastening in the 2nd Coming! I LOVE THAT. I feel so incredible lucky to be apart of His work. Even though its just a tiny part of his vineyard, I have such a divine responsibility and the more I engage myself in this work, the more I want to do more, find more people that are ready for this gospel in their lives, and tell the whole country about these incredible truths!

Throwin up my shaka :)
for domi and jo jo!!!
This week was another great one. I don't know that I have had a week that hasn't gone great. Let's be honestttt. But this week was especially great because of the highlight... my family passed their baptismal interview and...
Chillin on top the falls!
HANA AND VALERJAN ARE GETTING BAPTIZED THIS SATURDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I could not be more excited for them to make their first covenant with their Heavenly Father this week! It has been such a divine opportunity to take part in their "coming unto Christ", and this week, this whole quote, "bringing light to those in darkness" has really made itself manifest! In our final interview with the Shtufi's before their baptismal interview, I bore my testimony to them about the gospel and about how happy the Lord is about their decision to be baptized and enter into his fold! They both expressed to us how incredibly happy they both have been since finding the church and feeling the peace that the gospel brings. They have found the light and happiness that they both have been thirsting for. They are truly changed people. Valerjan has completely quit smoking after smoking for 20 years, and have replaced his packs of cigarettes with Big Red gum that Sister Jones picked up for us at the army base in Bonsteel! :)

Us and our Shtufi's with aferdita! :)
Aren't they just glowing?!
 They told us that the whole feel in their home is different since reading the Book of Mormon. Vali told us how he never gets upset or irritated anymore and how there is just a different feeling. A feeling of happiness! We explained to them that this is the Spirit of the Lord. They literally are beaming with light. BEAMING PEOPLE!!!!  When at first they came to the church in a state of distress, looking for help, they found the Spiritual help the Lord was desiring for them. Although there may be different reasons that people are brought to the church, the Lord has a bigger reason for it all! Hana found us about two months ago. She came to the church looking for help for her daughter, and it return, she found help for her family and found the answer to this life. How great is the work of the Lord! Please pray for my Shtufi family this week! Especially Vali so he can stay strong against the cigs!!!! Satan is a jerk.. Ya know that? He needs to keep his nose in his own business and stop messing with God's children! They will need all of the prayer and blessings they can get this week, so keep em coming! :)

Us with Aferdita after the baptism! She loved it.. :)
We are still working with Pajtim and helping him to strengthen his foundation in the Gospel. He has the faith it takes, He just needs a bit more time! He is really such an awesome and strong boy. He has made friends with all of our members and is practically already a part of the branch! He helped us translate on Sunday because he speaks awesome English and he did very well!

You know who else translated in church for the first time?? THIS GIRL!!! Yeah, so crazy. It was so scary and I definitely had some fubs, but it was so cool to realize that the Lord has helped me to learn a foreign language in such a short time period! I blows my mind to think that I can understand and speak a foreign language!! Although i am definitely not perfect, and I mess up all the time, I am able to communicate and be an effective tool in the hands of the Lord! HECK YEAH BABY!
The Marku Family after their baptism in Gjakova!!!
So amazing.. even with the froggies :)
This week we also went down to Gjakova with Aferdita for the baptism of a Catholic family of 5! The fifth little boy will be baptized in November when he turns 8! It was such a beautiful baptism even though it was in a murky pool with a bunch of frogs swimming everywhere.. hahaha. It was hilarious.. The family was literally beaming with light! They couldn't wipe the smiles off of their faces! The 12 year old girl, Genta, said, "I am just so happy to be baptized just the way Jesus was!" How special is that? It was great to bring Aferdita there to let her feel of the great power in that sacred ordinance! :) Time will tell.. :)

We visited Mirusha again today and the beauty of that place ceases to amaze me. 
I love you all so much and I want to let you know how grateful I am for all of your prayers, loves, and supports.. :) haha. 

love love love love love you,
Sister Forte <3

xoxo

Monday, August 5, 2013

Letter #29: Gotta love em short and sweet!

My dear family and friends,

I am so sorry because I don't have much time to write this week! I came up and played in Macedonia today and sacrificed most of my writing time!

Just to catch you all up..
Sunsets!!!!
*Pajtim is still preparing for his baptism that will have to be slightly postponed due to some unsure feelings towards Heavenly Father being the "father" and Jesus Christ being the Son! We just keep telling him, "Pajtim, take all the time you need because these are some very HUGE necessary building blocks upon which your testimony needs to be established. He really is doing so well though.. Each and every day he grows in his faith. I can see it in his eyes. Yesterday, he was too tired to come to church, but he committed him to fast to recieve his answer about the church. He did just that and fasted at his home. We called him last night to check up on him and asked him how his day was! Without even asking, he said, "I fasted and it was great! I think I am starting to feel the Holy Ghost. I can feel in knocking at my soul!" DIRECT QUOTE!!!! Do those words just bring so much happiness to your hearts? Ahhhh.. It sure did to mine! I am so happy for him and excited to see so much progress!

Macedonia with Sis Robbie
*The Shtufi family is better than ever! They are loving the Book of Mormon and Valerjan is down to less than a pack of cigarettes a day! We gave him the "Quit Smoking Plan" from the church and bought him some of the items suggested in the plan. He was so appreciative and tried it out that night! One of the requirements is white grapefruit and white grapefruit juice! He tried it that evening and called me on the phone saying, "Oh Sister Forte, that juice is terrible." haha. If it gets 'em to stop smoking than its worth it!!! We are continually working with him to get rid of this nasty habit! This family really is the best and I have seen a complete and total change in both of their countenances. The Lord is walking with them every step of the way!

*This week the Soldiers donated a huge bag of white shirts and ties to the members here and Elder Jones d\taught all of them how to tie ties Friday night! It was so great to see how excited they all were to have their very own shirts and ties! Such a blessing. the Lord is working through the Soldiers as well!

*The Church is under construction right now and the whole side wall has been knocked out due to expansion! Yeah baby! ITS FINALLY HAPPENING!

Macedonia has been a blast today!!! IT IS SOOOO HOTTTTT. I am sweating so badly as I write this email to you all. haha.
I hope you all have a joyous week and enjoy the last month of your summer vacations!

I love you all to pieces. Keep praying for my investigators! I can feel your prayers and I know that you are all taking a part in my missionary work!

love,

Motra Shauntel Louise Forte