Monday, September 30, 2013

Letter #37: c'kemi. hi. hello. conichiwua.

What a week..
I really have limited time this week, but I wanted to catch you all up with me and whats the new and happening!! Sheesh. Well lets just say, the longer I am out the more and more I have been able to recognize the Lord's hand in my life. Sometimes I just have to take a step back and watch the miracles happen, because they are for sure happening! The Lord is in charge here. Not us.

This was inside a cave mosque in the side of the mountain!
The candles really set the mood. Kinda creepy.
They had just done some animal sacrifice outside of the cave. NASTY.
We started up an English course and passed out fliers all over Tirana. We had a rockin' turn-out and so many people were to excited to learn. At the end of each lesson, we teach 10 minutes of Religon, and boy!!!!!! This group was incredible. The Spirit was so strong and I just felt prompted to teach the entire Restoration! WHAT THE HECK?! You would think that they would be completely overwhelmed getting a big bite from such a short time, but they LOVED it!!! At the end of class, 8 people came up to us asking for a Book of Mormon and they all took one home! We plan to meet with all of them outside of English to help guide them in their personal conversions to Christ. 


We met with one lady from English named Luli. She is an angel that woman, with the strongest faith I have ever seen. To our first lesson she showed up having read 5 chapters of the Book of Mormon and was all fired up and excited to learn. We committed her to read and pray about the Book of Mormon to receive a personal witness of its truth and she said, "I already believe and know it is true. I can feel it!" She is unreal. This was the first meeting people!!!!! That is it! It was the coolest thing to see her great faith. We committed to do so anyways to confirm her believe of the Book of Mormon and she also accepted a date for baptism in 2 weeks. She is so willing to do everything the Lord asks her to do. She knows that she will be blessed as she does His will. She has definitely been searching for the truth for a longggggg time. We are stoked to keep meeting with her.

We finally got one good jumping one! haha.
The wind was insane.. (photoshop the garments out! haha.)
So I told ya a bit about the pups last week. So this week, we had one of the families give back one of the pups tonight because it didn't get along with their cats, so we had limited time to find this pup another home! She was put back with her brothers and sisters back behind the church, but we were scared her mom wouldn't take her back and feed her anymore because she smelt like people! ahh, so we searched and prayed that we would find someone to take the pup. We had an idea to visit this less active named Rajmonda and her adorable deaf daughter, Denota that could use a friend. She is completely coherent and has expressed to us how she would like something to do! WE went and she told us she has been looking for a puppy for a long time and would be delighted to take it! We were so excited, ran to the place of the pups and they were all gone! NOOOOOO! We were distraught. We felt so terrible that we had told this poor deaf girl that we would bring her a puppy and now we couldn't anymore. So... long story short, we are walking back from a lesson and a little boy off the street asks us, "Have you gotten anymore puppies?" We told him how they were all gone and he convinced us otherwise and found us a whole new liter of puppies! YAY!!!!! We hired one of the little street boys to crawl down in this hole to grab one for us to take to Denota for the deal of a new soccer ball! haha. DEAL! We took the pup to Denota and she was so ecstatic and lit completely up with joy! Later, Sister Andrews went back to check on the other pups and found the others in a box! This man made her pay 5 bucks for it and we found her a home as well with the Deda's! :) They love her and now she will have a great home, not on the streets! If we hadn't been in the right place, at the right time, and that boy on the street wouldn't have talked with us, none of this would have been possible! The Lord was so completely evident in this experience! Ahhh, I love Him and his divine guidance and help.

Albania!!!! The look out from up here was insane! :)
Next, our darling Suida! She is preparing for her baptism next week, and she was ready from day one. The Sisters found her 2 weeks before I came into the area, but we have completely clicked and bonded and she is just the cutest little hipster you would ever see! She speaks great English and is so committed to the Gospel already it feels like she is a member. This she called us up on the phone ecstatic. She told us she had great news to tell us when we met with her. When we went over to her house, she told us that she had felt it. She had read a piece of the Book of Mormon and sat and pondered for a short time.. instantly, the spirit came over her and enveloped her as if someone was hugging her. She explained that it was exactly the way we had explained it to her. She was so excited and said, "I know that this is the right path." It was so special to see how happy she was! 
The Gospel brings such great happiness to all people! Not just a few.. BUT ALL!

e di që ky ungjilli është e vërtetë me të gjithë zemrën time. kam shumë deshirë me tregu të gjithë njëriez në tiranë që ne kemi vërtetësi edhe s'ka një kishë tjeter që mund të sjellë aq më shumë lumturisë në jetën e tyre. unë e dua shpëtimtarin tim. e di që ai jeton sot edhe që ai është drejtuesi e kishës sonë. unë e lë këtë gjera në emër të jezu krishtit, amen.

me shume dashuri,
Motra Shauntel Louise Forte

xoxoxo

photos:
1-3. We went to Kruje today! Its the biggest castle in Albania. 
Even though it was so rainy, it was so much fun!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Letter #36: Rise up like the sun, labor till the work is done-- Be Still. The Killers.

This week has been wild.
My beautiful girls from Kosova!
Oh how I have missed them :)
It went by in the blink of an eye and I literally am tripping that I am here in this local writing home again on this beautiful P-day in Tirana, Albania.
Today was the best day ever! My beautiful ladies from Kosova, Valmira, Dafina, and Aferdita, came down for a YSA Conference down in Durrës tomorrow and they came to breakfast with us missionaries this morning, then came bowling with our District! It was such an exciting time to see all of them again.. They literally have a big piece of my heart those three, so when I saw them I literally couldn't contain all of my emotions! It was the best thing everrrrrrr.

So I don't know what is going on, but most of the missionaries in Tirana have been plagued with sickness the past 2 weeks and unfortunately we were hit! Sister Heathcote was pretty bad with fever achey chills, a cold, and threw up.. the whole bit on Saturday night, so we just kicked in our apartment to recover. I got a pretty gnarly sore throat and unfortunately still have it now. It feels like someone is carving the back of my throat with a potato peeler.. Sorry, terrible image. But its the worst. Hopefully it passes soon! The work must go forth!

I decided to give the bad news first then to give the good! That always the best way.. right?
This week was rad minus the bacteria infections and whatnot.. 
We totally got a picture with Adrian after our bench lesson! So rad..
About two weeks ago, Sister Heathcote and I were finding and without a bit of success, and 6'4 black man walked past.. (a bit of background knowledge.. it is very rare to ever see a black man, and if you do, he is from out of the country and it is likely that he speaks English.) Me, being the chocolate lover that I am said, "Black man! LETS GET 'IM!" So after literally chasing him down, we nonchalantly started up a conversation to share with him the Gospel! His name is Adrian and he is from France but he is here on vacation for sure would love to meet when he was free! We got to talking and he became so excited and told us that the missionaries had taught his mother when we was just a boy. SO RAD. We promised that we would get him a Book of Mormon in French and he was stoked! So then, we met with him, and lets just say, if I never have another success in my whole mission, I feel so accomplished to have had this experience of introducing the Gospel to Adrian from France. He was so completely hand-prepared by the Lord. It was no coincidence that we ran down Adrian on that day. Although this might sound kinda goofy, I know that the Spirit planted the desire in my mind to want to talk to this man. We taught him the Restoration and about the Book of Mormon and it was as if we finally placed the missing puzzle piece into his mind. The piece that has been lost his whole life. We gave him his Book of Mormon in French and he said, "Oh my goodness, I would have never thought I would have come to Albania to recieve the Book of Mormon in French. It was almost as if I was supposed to meet with you two sisters." He opened the book and said, "I am like a giddy little school boy that just recived his Christmas present! I am going to read this book tonight!" WHAT THE HECK. If that wasn't the most perfect response ever, I don't know what would be! He was for sure prepared. And the coolest part is, me and Sister Breea Linton will be crossing paths yet again in our work! I am sending him to her as a referral this week! So cool! He will get baptized. He just will.
This one is my favorite pup of the 7.. 
More pics will be on the way next week.

That was the most excited story of our week. Definitely. Another excited thing we are up to lately:
A few weeks ago we were walking along to one of our lessons and I heard a little whine from a small animal. I asked Sister Heathcote if we could go check it out and we found a whole litter of 7 puppies hidden underneath one of the wooden store stands at this flee market! I DIED.. We showed them to the Senior Missionary in our District who is obsessed with dogs, and we have been helping her feed them ever since! This week, our service project is to find homes for all 7 of them and so far we have 2 member families that want one! We are going to give them baths and deliver them tonight! OPERATION: SAVE THE PUPS!!!! It is so much fun! Hopefully we can find them all homes so they don't end up on the streets like the other 796 dogs running around the city! 

We found 6 new investigators this week and 2 of them are totally on board! They are friends and are both teachers! One is a professor of the French language, and the other teaches english to children. We taught them two lessons together this week and one of them, named Gert, came to church on Sunday! He is loving everything. Completely eating it all up. It is such a joy to teach him because he knows it is all true. We watched the Restoration movie with them, and Konstantinë said, "One word: Beautiful." They both loved it. I will keep you posted on them.. until next week!

I hope you all have a fabulous week and remember that a sister missionary out in Albania loves you very much!

love,
Motra Forte
xoxoxo
<3

Monday, September 16, 2013

Letter #35: Buenos Aires, Argentina----->Tirana, Albania

Mirëmengjësi Familje ime!!!!!!!

So I don't have tons of time to write today cuz I got the greatest news of my life..

MY OLDER SISSY IS GOING TO THE BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA NORTH MISSION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  (MY DAD'S SAME MISSION)

And I kinda had some important business to attend to.. bah!!!!!!!!! I am seriously freaking out.. I cannot wait for my older sister to be out here in the mission field with me!!!!!!! On opposite sides of the world, but both in the amazing work of our Lord and Savior! This is the best work we could ever get ourselves involved with. I love being a missionary and I love being a servant of the Lord!!!! Us Forte Sisters will be spreading the Gospel from coast to coast! haha. Motra... Hermana.. LOOK OUT ARGENTINES!!!!!!!!! YOU GOT AN INCREDIBLE THING COMING YOUR WAY!!!!!!

The cookies turned out pretty good!
Considering the ingredients.. haha. i love the Dedas!
Things have been so great this week. Seriously. Absolutely marvelous. I couldn't have asked for a better week! This week we taught so many lessons. Returning member lessons, retention lessons, and many new investigator lessons! 
We have been visiting the cutest family lately named the Dedas! Let's just say they are the cutest things ever. I am in love with all of them. In such a short time, I have already fallen hard. haha.
Last Monday we taught them a lesson on Faith and they were so receptive and responsive! They basically taught the whole lesson. Their little boy mentioned how it is important to grow our faith by coming to church.. After our lesson we taught them how to make chocolate chip cookies and they absolutley loved it! They gave us both our own individual aprons and were so excited. The cookies turned out good. Albanianized, but pretty good. The butter they used was fresh.. literally just churned from the cow! haha. So there for sure was an interesting taste in there, but good nonetheless!
We got a pic with the Deda's after Conference
and I am obsessed with it. i love them.
 and then.. the best part... drum-roll please.. THE ENTIRE FAMILY CAME TO DISTRICT CONFERENCE YESTERDAY!!!!!! We sat waiting for the meeting to begin, and in come the Deda's one by one! The parents, the daughter, the son, and their niece who is our new investigator! My heart was so filled with joy it was literally overflowing!!!!!! awhhhhhh.. Happiest day ever!

District Conference was so great! It was every branch in the country of Albania that met together to hear the words of our leaders, including Elder Charles from the Quorem of the Seventy! It was so great to feel of his great Spirit and strength. He said, "My dear brothers and sisters, I bring you the love from the Prophet and his Apostles." When he said these words I literally felt the Spirit so strongly. This man hangs out with the Prophet people! How cool it was to hear his inspired words and feel of his testimony! Obviously everything had to be translated over to Albanian, but the Spirit in that building was undeniable. There was no way the Spirit could have been lost in the translation!
Thats one thing that is so amazing.. All of God's children can understand one language and that is the language of the Spirit. What a blessing it is to feel of God's love for us through His Spirit. I love the Spirit.
I fell in love with the Gega family's little kitten..
his name is poopy.. i think.

Fun finding story.. Earlier last week, we went and stopped by this house and asked them if we could come in to teach them a lesson. They kindly said, "No, sorry we are putting the house in order and don't have time for anything like that.. Come back another time?" So after leaving their house, we didn't think much of it. Just another rejection. Get over it. Then yesterday, after lunch we went out and felt inspired to go back and visit this house again. I am not lying when I say that the Lord completely had been working on this couple. We came to the door and the wife said, "Sure, come on in!" We taught her and her husband all about the Book of Mormon and the Origination of it, and they completely were lovin it! The husband said, "Well of course, if this book is the written word of God, then why wouldn't I think it is true? I have faith." GOLDENS!!!!!! Ding ding ding.. we have a winner.. and they my friends, have completely been prepared by the hand of the Lord. So incredible. I am grateful for the spiritual prompting I recieved to go back to this house in which I thought was a hopeless case. 

Thats all I have time for today loves, but I love you all. This week has been an amazing week for the Forte family. That's for dang sure! I am so happy for you sissy!

love,
Motra Forte :)

xoxoxo

Monday, September 9, 2013

Letter #34: new country, new mission, new world.

Hellllllloooo
my lovely family and friends!

As you know, I am now serving in Tirana Albania! I got moved from one capitol city to another! It is a completely world. I feel like I am in a completely different mission almost. Its so crazy how a 4.5 hour bus ride from country to country can really change everything! And I mean everything!
I am now serving with Sister Heathcote here in Tirana and it is a wild ride. We get along really well and things are going great. Let me just paint a picture for you..
Here in Tirana, it is a bustling city. The people drive like absolute crazy people. Like Dad's road rage times 4 billion. And thousands of them! It is seriously a miracle that people are able to get around without crashing. "Organized Chaos" some call it, but I think calling it "Absolute Madness with a bit of luck" is more appropriate. Another crazy thing. Its nuts because you will be driving on the main road and on the left will be a sweet, brand new $200,000 Range Rover, and on the left will be a horse and buggy heading back with their goods for the week, heading back to their village. Like, WHAT IN THE WORLD? Where am I? I could never have even dreamt up a place as crazy as this one. For reals.  haha. There is a lot of poverty here in Albania. Many people are good just with a loaf of bread and Kos, which is a form of sour yogurt. I have noticed that the hygeine here compared to Kosovo is drastically different! People actually bathe often in Kosovo. Here.. Welp. That's another story. 
There is just kinda a natural smell walking among large masses of people. Some people probably don't even know what a tooth brush, if they even have their teeth. Other have nice implanted fake teeth because their real teeth all fell out from rotting.. yuck.
But besides some of their cultural pit falls, they are some of the most loving people I have ever met in my whole life! All of the people we met this week have completely accepted me with open arms and they treat me as if I am already their daughter! It is such a blessing really. Sister Florez, the Sister who just left has been here in the area for 9 months and has formed some very strong relationships with the people, so I have some pretty big shoes to fill!
The work is so completely different here in Albania. We are always teaching teaching teaching! Lessons, lessons, lessons, all day long! It is the greatest thing ever. Although many people here still claim to be Muslim, they seem to be so much more open to listening and hearing us out. Meeting with some of these people for the first time was such a delight. I formed instant connections with just about all of them! The Lord is for sure blessing me to be able to relate to these people and make them feel comfortable around a new face.
Me and Lumturi. She insisted that we take a picture together.
She loves me, what can I say?
I love the people here. We met with many people who are returning back to activity and I hit it off with this one older lady named Lumturi, which means happiness in Albanian! She is the best. We went to visit her one night this week and our love was sparked after I made some joke with her.. It was so great to see her completely open up to me. She then insisted we came over from Lunch the next day, so we did! She made us delicious pasta and pulled out every photo she had in her house with her family. I later found out that she had never showed the Sister before me, Sister Florez, her photo albums! SCORE! I broke past her wall. 
We visited many families this week that fed us and loved the heck out of us. Two of my favorites that I absolutely fell in love with are the Toskas and the Deda Family! Both of them are returning families and they are both so dang strong. The Toskas have been through the temple and they have two adorable little children, 7 and 2. The 3 year old said the prayer as her dad told her the things to say! It was the most adorable thing to see a father teaching his daughter in the ways of truth. How cool it is to see families living the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Deda family is another family that I completely fell in love with. I connected with their niece as she is almost Domi's age and she loved me asking her about her fiance that is 3 years younger than her! haha. Geez these people are nuts. In the best way possible.. haha.
We made signs for two elders that got sick with some sort of food poisoning
 from Chimichangas and are in the hospital.. Poor guys..
The translation literally means, "Bless your stomach." haha.
It is an expression they use often to show appreciation.
For example.. "Të lumta dora" = bless your hands.
You say this to thank someone who prepared a meal.
Or after someone offers a beautiful prayer, you say, 
"Të lumta goja" which means "Bless your mouth". haha.
We thought it was very appropriate. The nurses gave a good laugh
because you would never really say that.. haha.
Funny story: We went into this meeting with a newly baptized member named Mehmet, and his loving wife, Lavdia, who has been a member for 5 years. She served us this delicious dessert that is like Baklava mixed with some sort of Byrek, and it was unreal. Along with this treat was some Coke. Everyone always serves us Coke. Its terrible. As I took a sip, I instantly got the hiccups because I am not used to drinking carbonation! RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF OUR LESSON! haha. I did all I could to get rid of them, but every time I secretly held my breath to get rid of them, I would hiccup again. We were in the middle of teaching about Eternal Families, and as I started explaining the Family Proclamation a huge hiccup came out and everyone started busting up! We laughed for a solid minute and eventually they went away! Soooo embarrassing. haha. Hopefully that doesn't happen again.. 
Here is a pic of poor Elder Ferguson and Elder Anderson.
Poor guys. At least they had eachother for company right?
Church in Albania is amazing. It was such a blessing for me to be able to see an established church here function by itself without the missionaries! The entire room was filled will members. WOOOOW. I was in aweeee. But sheesh, is the culture sure different here! The music director, Sister Martiri, is this heavier lady that wears bright coral lipstick, and she is an opera singer. She got up for every song and belted her heart out! It was the funniest thing ever, but I had to hold back my laughter. Then to my right a woman pops out her boobie and started breast feeding her little 2 year old who wanted a little sippy!!!! ahhhh. I was completely in shock. bahahahah. I just pretended that it was completely normal and didn't look over.. YIKES. Talk about a culture shock! HAHAHA.
So yes. Things are going so amazing here in Tirana. The members here are so strong. Many of them have been members for 5 plus years and it is just a breath of fresh air to see people that understand the gospel and understand the importance of it! We are working to get those that have fallen away back into activation along with finding the new that are searching for the truth they are thirsting for. I am so excited to be a part of the work here in Tirana. It is going to be a wild ride. And I am super pumped for it!

i love you all so much. Thanks for the prayers and love every week! You are the best..
love your missionary,
until next week,

Motra Forte<3

Monday, September 2, 2013

Letter #33: Goodbye Kosovo, Hello Albania

Holy smokes. 
Extreme Pizza with Dafina and Aferdita
The time has come. The change is set. My bags are packed. This is crazy people! I am finally leaving Kosovo! :(
Transfer calls were last night and my stomach was seriously full of butterflies all day long! I knew that I was definitely leaving Kosovo, but I had no idea where..
That night we were tabling on the Boulevard, and started teaching this man we had met from Macedonia on a bench nearby. The lesson was going so well and his heart and mind were so open. I felt impressed to invite him to baptism, and in so doing, we received our transfer calls from President Ford and we couldn't pick up! haha. I think he was very pleased when he called again later and we told him that we were in the middle of inviting someone to baptism! ;) bonus points! haha. Then, the time came when President Ford finally said the words in his awesome British accent, "Sister Forte, you will be serving in Tirana, Albania in branches one and three!" I was so excited! I seriously wanted to go to Tirana and that is exactly where I am going! My new apartment is literally 2 minutes away from the mission home, and the church is so much more established in Tirana! It is going to be such a great experience to serve in two branches that have over 20 people in them! (compared to Kosovo! haha) :) ahhhhh, its going to blow my mind. I cannot wait to see the product of an established church here in the Balkans! Look out Tirana, here I come!

My last sunday with the girls :)
I am so full of bitter-sweet emotions right now. It doesn't even really feel real that I am leaving this wonderful country.. I am sad to leave the wonderful branch here, my beautiful Shtufi family, and all of my fabulous investigators. They have all changed my life in one way or another. I will never forget the great faith and strength of the people here! I hope that when I return there will be double the amount of members and a new church building! I can feel this almost tangible flow of energy that is building and building and it is about to burst! The work is moving forward here! The Lord has prepared these people here and there are people ready for the restored gospel of Jesus Christ!

I am so excited for my upcoming adventures in Albania! I know that is where the Lord needs me to be at this time and I cannot wait to find His elect children that have been waiting to meet me as His servant with His divine message :)

On the other side of the coin though, I am pretty nervous about my language.. I know I am going to have some serious issues adjusting to this clean Albania! The dialect here in Kosovo is diirrrrrrrrrrrrrty geg. And I would say I have about mastered it! haha. In Tirana, they speak sqeaky clean Albanian! 
WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?! haha. Albanians make fun of the people that speak Geg, and call them "katunars" which means like an unlearned villager! haha. They are going to think I am one of them!
Well, good thing I am up for the challenge. I am going to learn this clean Albanian so well that everyone is going to think I am Albanian! I will show them.. ;)
Me and my girllllll, Aferdita. I am sure gonna miss this girl!
This week I really felt so much love from the branch and from many of our investigators and english class! Everyone has expressed how sad they are that I am leaving and that they want to make me stay! Aferdita is so angry that I am leaving that she wants to have a good talking to President Ford! haha. My Shtufi's are pretty sad being so newly converted, but I know that this is all for their good! They are converted to the gospel and not to me. this Sunday Ardi, one of our members, got up and bore a beautiful testimony and then thanked me in front of everyone for my service. He made me feel so good by expressing his thanks for my testimony and for all of the work I have done here. Then, he took the initiative, and said, "Now we would all like to hear a final testimony from Sister Forte." Now if that wasn't putting me on the spot I don't know what is! haha. I got up, shared my testimony and couldn't help but feel an overwhelming sense of pleasure to see my beautiful Shtufi family smiling right back at me. Because I am more like my mom than I thought I was, the tears started-a-flowin! haha. I love these people with my whole heart. they have all changed my life. I am so grateful for them and for their strong testimonies that have strengthed mine :) I feel so lucky to have had this experience to serve in Kosovo and the people here will always have a special place in my heart. This will always be my home!  

I am so stoked that Camo rockin it in his football game! I am so happy that my family is scoring points back home, and I am scoring points for the Lord. haha.
Dom, good luck in the good ol' 808 baby girl! I am so excited for you and I know that you will absolutely LOVE it!
I hope you all have the greatest week! Count your many blessings this week.. The Lord is blessing us in many more ways than we realize.

kisses and hugs, kisses and hugs, kisses and hugs... (here is Kosovo they kiss you and hug you three times.. ;) )

l LOVE YOU ALL.
love Motra Forte

xoxoxo