Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Letter #72 Ready or not...

My loved ones.
So I am sad to say that this is the last time I will be writing you as Sister Shauntel Forte and it is all super bitter sweet. I would like to thank good ol' Nelly Furtado for her words, "why do all good things come to an end"? This song seriously has been on constantly replay in my head and I cannot stop it! I can't believe that my time has come. My bags are almost packed. I'm almost ready to go. But am I? I have been in a constant battle with myself the whole past week and I just cannot control my emotions! My hourglass is down to the last few grains and I cannot slow any of them down anymore.
Some of my favorite sisters with cute Sister Ford :)
Like I said, this week has by far been the most emotional week of my entire mission and I think I can official self-declare myself as bi-polar with all of these overwhelming mix of emotions--Feelings of joy, feelings of sorrow, feelings of anxiousness. You name it. I have felt it! I have heard even from the very beginning of my mission that this is how I would feel at the end of my mission, but I had trouble believing it. Now I am seriously living exactly what "they" always said! It does not feel real in the slightest, but ready or not, HERE I COME BABY!!!!!! 

Most of the sisters in our mission!
Tonight we are having a "farewell" for all of the departing missionaries here in Fier, but with me it is all a bit different because I am finishing my mission. I am expecting to shed a few tears, but I am going to try my best to keep it all together. Gosh mom! What did you do to me?! haha. I definitely am becoming more and more like you each day! 

My wonderful companion, who is literally my best friend, mind you, gave me some comforting counsel from one of her buddies that just recently finished his mission as well. He said, "I hate endings. I hate change. Yet without the two the Gospel really has no purpose in our life." This is a true statement. As much as I hate change. As much as I hate endings. I am more sure now than I have been that the Gospel is just a constant cycle of change and endings. This is how we grow! Through change, we are put in a situation where the Lord tests who we really are and our true character. I know that this wonderful chapter of my life has to have an ending eventually so I can truly grow and see how much I have changed throughout this experience.
Me and the gorgeous Sister Schofield!
 She is my lover from Macedonia ;) 
Best exchange ever this week!
I can't find all of the words to explain the overflowing joy I am feeling at this time, but I just want to testify that I know the decision of serving a mission was the absolute best decision I could have ever made in my life. Having the experience to work right along-side the Lord and find His elect sheep has been the most incomparable privilege that is available in this life. I am sure of it. The most beautiful thing of this entire experience is that before my mission, I believed. Now I know. I know for a surety, that everything I had believed growing up in the church is all true. It is more of a reality than we can even come to comprehend. I know the Lord lives. I know He loves me and loves all of His children. I know that it is through Him that we are made alive. It is through Him that we are made free. And it is through Him that we will all live again. I know that His church has been restored to the earth and if we abide by His precepts, we will find eternal happiness. This is my testimony and I leave it with you until that lovely day comes when I will wrap my arms around all of you!!!!! I think it is appropriate to say that I say all of these things in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
love your love,
for the last time,

Sister Forte<3

Letter #71 translate me: puci puci :*

So first of all, I feel like a terrible person for having to do this but...
Happy belated birthday dad and dylan and uncle jared!!!!!!!! and
happy fathers day on the 15th daddy!!!!! ;)
Yeah, last Monday I completely spaced writing you all even though I didn't forget about you and your birthdays!!! I hope you still love me and accept my apologies.. Jordan is the better missionary bahahah.

we went to a gorgeous natural spring called blue eye today, 
and boy!!! was it a beauty! 
Day by day I am literally overwhelmed with the amount of knowledge and understanding that the Lord gives me as I serve Him. Lately I have been pondering a lot about all of the things I have learned throughout this journey, and the list would take far too long to write out into words, but I have come to understand the concept of line upon line, precept upon precept. At the beginning of the mission, I was amazed at the knowledge I gained in the MTC, and now after weaving a piece of the Lord's beautiful tapestry here in the Adriatic South Mission, I can see that those many lines have added up to create something beautiful and have not only helped others change, but have helped to create the woman I hope to be today. 
As I was doing my personal study I came upon these beautiful verses that I fell in love with:

2 Nephi 30: 5-6
5 And the gospel of Jesus Christ shall be declared among them; wherefore, they shall be restored unto the knowledge of their fathers, and also to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, which was had among their fathers.

 6 And then shall they rejoice; for they shall know that it is a blessing unto them from the hand of God; and their scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes; and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a pure and a delightsome people.

the oh so appropriate kissy face with sister kokol!
 and of course elder morava jumped in 
and bombed it! hahaha. i love them
Is that not beautifully said? As we learn the Gospel of Jesus Christ, our perspective of life is changed and widened. We are enabled to take a peek out of the lenses of God. To make a beautiful connection to my inspiring sister's email last week, we understand more about our divine potential and our eternal progression! The scales of darkness, or misunderstanding fall from our eyes and we can see. It is through Christ that we are given our sight. He is everything. He is the reason that we do all things, and as we come to know Him, we become a delightsome people! Um, yeah! This is the reason I am a missionary people! I want everyone to be healed from spiritual blindness and rejoice in Christ! What a special calling we have as His servants! Forgive me for getting carried away! haha.
Rronjë and Skëndër have made great progression this week as we can literally tell they have been reading the Book of Mormon together. It is so cool to see that twinkle in the eye flip on as they begin their journey unto Him. I love these two so much. They are like my Albanian Aunt and Uncle! They had us over for lunch this week and literally had a feast.. I couldn't do it. They wanted me to eat everything and I thought I was near death. hahaha. Everything was awesome except for the lamb meat. I can't do it man! I thought I was a trooper and could handle it, then oops.. I had to hold myself back from gagging. Yikes. I guess I am still a spoiled American at heart after all. haha. What do ya do?

Well i just want you people to know how much i love you all and how much I love my Savior! I know He is our salvation and our rock. As we draw nearer unto Him, He will draw nearer unto us. I love being His servant and having the privilege to work in the little city of Fier ;) There is no other work that trumps this one!

Love your friendly missionary,

Motra Forte<3 

Letter #70 FUTBOL

My apologies to you all. I am so sorry this letter is getting to you a day late, but yesterday the internet went out and we had to drive to Macedonia, so I didn't get a chance to send this out.  How are my babies doinnnn? I am so excited for your trek and hope that you have good weather! :)
This week has been a mad house with the World Cup going on and what not! Soccer here is seriously HUGE! And all of Albania is going crazy over it! Woo hoo! It is a fun thing to be a part of because we hear the scores every single day from everyone we meet! With all of this commotion and excitement, I had an idea pop into my head...
My good ol' friend once said, "Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get." haha, thanks Forrest, thanks. But I am going to change this idea a bit. Life is more like a soccer game. Good versus evil. Our actions and choices that we make determine which team we are playing for. I once read this great scripture mastery verse in the Bible that said,  "No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." Luke 16:13.
Now this scripture has been taken to a whole new level. We can only serve one master. We can only satisfy one coach. We can only score points for one team. Therefore, Who's side are we on? The Lord's or Satan's? I will tell you one thing. We already know that outcome of the match, so the decision is pretty easy. We are on the Lord's team! So we better play to our full potential because we only got one shot. We got to give our all all of the time! Because we never know when the ref is going to blow his whistle. 
That was just a little thought I had throughout the week and I hope that you guys followed my little brain waves. haha. So I know you are at Trek right now but I hope you all have a blast and push those handcarts real good ;)
I love you guys so much and just cannot even explain how excited I am to see you beautiful people. BLAHHHHHHH! ONE WEEK!!!!!!!
It's back to work my friends. Until next week ;)
love yours truly,

Motra Forte<3

Letter #69 And then there were threee.

C'kemi familja ime!!!
Can you believe we are somehow all the way down to 3 weeks left? I seriously cannot.. I am trying to remain as calm and focused as I can, but I am also trying to do all of the things that I haven't had time to do so I can feel fulfilled when I get home! I deserve a pat on the back for calmness, if I do say so myself ;) ITS NOT REAL.
So the greatest thing happened this week! We had an exchange with the wonderful sisters serving in Kosovo and it was the greatest thing ever! :) We not only got to spend a day with our MTC companions (yes, Sister Kokol with Sister Curtis, and me with Sister Hawkins-ironic or what?) but it was the best exchange ever. It felt so good to be back in Prishtina where I got to see all of my old friends, and also to see how the work has grown there. It obviously is still really small but it is growing! :)
We are still teaching Lavdosh's parents and they are learning and growing little by little. They really want to be baptized in the sea, so we are going to make it happen. Absolutely. I couldn't leave my mission without seeing a baptism in the Adriatic Sea, right?
I have learned so much throughout this spiritual sojourn, but one thing that is a fact is that people's hearts are changing here. People are coming unto Christ. People are understanding and learning and growing! Skender and Rronje grew up in the generation where religion was nonexistent. During the time of Communism all of the churches were completely destroyed and the people were thrown in jail if they even spoke a word about God. Enver Hoxha made them believe that they must worship Albania as their religion. He cut God completely out of the picture. Now that the church has been here for 20 years it has built up a strong foundation and is changing the lives of many. The older generations are usually the hardest to convince because of their traditions and their sad past, but Skender and Rronje are different. They are so humble and so willingly to learn more about their God. It is the most beautiful thing to see these people come from absolutely no belief in God, to developing a personal relationship with Him through the Book of Mormon and Prayer. 
They were unable to come to church yesterday because they had a funeral of a family member to attend to, but they promised they would be there next week!
Other than that, all is good in the hood! ;) Everything is about the same but we are still working hard to find those that the Lord has prepared for us.
This week we are trying to focus on being fully commited to the Lord and helping our people we are working with to do the same. In Alma 23:5-6 we read about the Anti-Nephi-Lehites conversion to the faith and how they were so converted to the Lord, that they never did fall away!

5 And thousands were brought to the knowledge of the Lord, yea, thousands were brought to believe in the traditions of the Nephites; and they were taught the records and prophecies which were handed down even to the present time.

 6 And as sure as the Lord liveth, so sure as many as believed, or as many as were brought to the knowledge of the truth, through the preaching of Ammon and his brethren, according to the spirit of revelation and of prophecy, and the power of God working miracles in them—yea, I say unto you, as the Lord liveth, as many of the Lamanites as believed in their preaching, and were converted unto the Lord, never did fall away.

Wow. This is the exact faith and conversion that we all must develop in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We must be truly converted. We know that He will never fail us or forsake us, so why would be ever do the same to Him. We can all develop this conversion in the Lord if we just trust in Him and make His will ours. THATS ALL WE HAVE TO DO! 

Yeah, basically I just want to you know how much I love being missionary and coming to understand the ways of the Lord. There really is nothing else better. Ahhhhh, I love you guys so much and pray for you alwayyyyys.
Keep praying for us too! :)
Love your girl,
Sister Forte<3

ps. I forgot my camera today but next week the pictures will be coming your way ;) loves loves loves

Letter #68 Peace, be still.

This missionary is back on track baby!
yeah. it doesn't get much better ;)
So I won't lie. Last week was a bit of a downer. I am not sure exactly why, but I think that Satan was really trying to bring me and Sister Kokol down.. I have three words to say to that... AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN!!!!!!!
Me and Sister Kokol are going strong and we are trying to find the elect that God has prepared for His gospel. They really are out there and we have the faith to find them.
welcome to lake ohrid. heaven on earth!!!!!
This week has been awesome. The Lord has been working with us in a very close way this week. I have really come to understand the ways that the Lord works and communicates with us through His spirit. The scriptures tell us that the Spirit communicates with us through our feelings and our thoughts. The words seem so simple, but to feel and recognize the power of the Spirit is a whole different ball game. In this life we have so many distractions--noises and plans and people and activities and music and movies and games and i-phones and commotion all around us 24-7. Do we ever take a moment for ourselves to listen to the silence? This week we had an amazing broadcast for the YSA from Elder Ballard and it was very powerful. He discussed this very thing and encouraged us to find take those moments of silence and listen to the Spirit. 
take two. I love these girls. haha.
I have been prayerful to find the people that are ready. Then one day walking down the street, I had the epiphany that we should meet with Lavdosh, a recent convert's parents! At first I thought, hmmmmm. Maybe? Maybe not.. Then I realized that these thoughts were not my thoughts, but were thoughts given to me through the Spirit. 
We met. They accepted. And now they are on a baptismal date for the 7th of June. WHAT? 
Beatles attempt take one.
Yeah. That is the power of God manifested my friends. He is real. He is with us and working with us every step of the way if we rely on Him and not in the arm of man. This is His work. The field is white and all ready to harvest ;)

Sorry for the short letter this week.We went to the most beautiful place today, Lake Ohrid in Macedonia! bahhhhhhh. What a beautiful sight to see! I love my mission. 
I hope you all have a lovely week and remember who you are ;) until the next one.
love your guts,

Sister Forte<3

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Letter #67 how firm is your foundation? ;)

Familja ime e dashur,
Sa shumë qe ju dua juve. Jam e habitur cdo herë qe unë flas me juve sepse mbaj mend sa shumë që t'ju dua. Ju jeni njerëz më të mirë në botë dhe jam shumë mirënjohëse për juve në jetën time. Pa fund. Ju jeni inkurajo ime që më mbeshtet gjatë javës dhe s'mund të shpjegoj apo përshkruaj dashuria ime për juve. (hint:use google translate)
This week was a real whirlwind and came and went faster than I could blink! I cannot even believe how quickly my time is running out. Its as if I am watching the sand time run out, and I cannot slow it down. Neither can I slow this work down. There is so much going on, and there is still so much work for me to do!!! 

We are working with Anisa still and she is the cutest thing ever. She has so much sincerity but just seems to be a bit scared of commitment so she is still without a baptism date. As the Spirit continues to work with her, I know that she will come around. She is a very special girl. This week we are going to find, find, and find some more! I know the Lord has people anxiously waiting to find everlasting happiness. Who wouldn't want it?!

Today we went to my favorite city in all of Albania, Berat! 
The city of a thousand windows! :) It was such a blasttttttt. This is my ballin' district ;)
Last night I was woken up by an earthquake in the middle of the night as my bed rocked back and forth and our closet rattled against the wall. It wasn't a very strong earthquake to scare me too badly to get up and run under the door frame, but it was big enough to disturb my slumber. haha. It was pretty crazy. The Elders on the other hand live in a quite unstable building made of brick and Elder Morava told me their whole building was rocking back and forth! He was a bit freaked out and hopped right out of bed to safety just in case.
This led me to think about the little ways Satan tries to tempt us rock us off our path. He tempts us in such a way that we hardly even notice a change. Everything seems okay at first until you realize that you are completely sucked into his sly trap. In reality, his ultimate desire is to knock us off our spiritual paths. He will do everything in His power to rock us into despair, but as we are close to our Father in Heaven and build our foundation on the Lord, Jesus Christ, we cannot fail. Just like in Helaman 5:12.
 12 And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon  the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.
Satan will send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shaft in the whirlwind, but when his mighty storm shall fall upon us, we will not be dragged down. Why? Because of the rock upon which we are built. Which is a sure foundation. Whereon if men build, they cannot fall! This is the truth people. If we just trust in the Lord and deny ourselves of all ungodliness, Satan cannot have any power over us. More and more throughout my life, I have become more aware of the forces of good and evil. Just like the forces of good in evil depicted in Star Wars and Harry Potter. haha. Cheesy but so true. Although they are depicted in a worldly different way between Harry Potter and Voldamort and Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, they are both displaying the reality of good and evil. We are in a war right now. A spiritual war between Satan and his team, but it is a war that if we choose it, it has already been won! Christ made it all possible for us to overcome all things. If we stay on His side, we will always win. Wickedness never was Happiness, and Righteous always brings about the Victory. We will be victorious as we place our faith in Christ and build upon Him as our rock.

I love the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that it is the only key to our temporal happiness and our eternal happiness in the life to come.
i love you people so dang much. You better know that!!!! Have the best week and keep smiling! :D
love your missionary,

Sister Shauntel Forte<3

Monday, May 12, 2014

Letter #66 i am the captain of my soul

Oh my beautiful family.
Skype is the world's best creation. I have been on cloud 9 ever since people! 
Absence makes the heart grow fonder. This is true. And I am the first to admit that I miss you people like crazy. That "one day", whenever it may be, will be a magical day.
With all of that said, I am even more committed, now more than ever, to serving the Lord Jesus Christ and I am going to continue to work hard until the buzzer rings! I love being a missionary. I love what I do and really wish I could do it forever.. Member missionary work? I think YES!
I have had a few cool impressions throughout the week that I thought I would share with you.
I am reading Jesus the Christ and I am absolutely in awe with the glorious plan of happiness that our merciful Lord has prepared from the foundation of the world. A vital piece of this beautiful plan is the loving gift of our free agency that our Father has given us. I have never thought about how grateful I am for the ability to choose my happiness. The path is laid clear. We literally have the opportunity to choose our destiny. What truly matters is what we choose to do with that agency.
Back in high school I learned this poem called "Invictus" by William Ernest Henley and the final couplet in the end is so applicable to the plan of salvation. It goes like this:
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul. 
William Ernest Henley
Is that not the truth? The Lord has entrusted us to make decisions by ourselves through the help of our Spiritual guides: the prophet and his apostles, the scriptures, church, and prayer. If we hold on strong with unshakable faith to these precious resources, we will never go astray. If we hold fast to the Rod of Iron, we will always stay on course. One truth that continues to ring true to me is that our Heavenly Father loves us. He wants us to succeed. He wants us to obtain His happiness and it is made possible when we use our agency the way it was meant to be used. To bring us happiness! When His will becomes our will, it is then that the Lord takes over and He directs our souls. As for me and my mission, I want Him to be the captain of my soul! The final stretch is going to be the most rewarding!
Well I am not going to write a ton this week because I think you got enough of me yesterday, but those thoughts were just on my mind. I love you guys so much. Thank you for being the best cheering section any missionary could ask for. Me and Jordan are sure lucky to have such an awesome family supporting us while we are out here in the Lord's vineyard!
I love you guys to the moon and back!

love Sister Shauntel Louise

Monday, May 5, 2014

Letter #65 there is no end to wisdom.

We get to skype in 6 days!!!! Yay!! I cannot even wait :) I CANNOT WAIT TO SEE YOUR BEAUTIFUL FACES!!!!!!!! YIPPEEEEE!

What a lovely week it was. Seriously, I feel like more than ever throughout my whole mission, I am really being an effective instrument of the Lord and making a difference. So many wonderful things are happening here in Fier. It is absolutely incredible to see the significant changes. Finally, we are having silent sacrament meetings. Finally, the Spirit is back in our meetings and is touching the hearts of all present. Finally we can all be strengthened together and help each other grow in our Faith in Christ our Lord. It is all happening right. now. SUCH A RAD THING.
Our wonderful Liza was finally baptized!!!! Wow, and can I just say. She. is. so. prepared. She has so much faith, humility, and love for the Savior. She is one mighty fine woman. In all aspects of the word. She is so completely repentant and humbled before the Lord. When she stepped into the water, she started freaking out a little bit, but Elder Morava calmed her nerves and lied to her, telling her just to dunk herself by bending her knees. Then when she did this, he then dunked her backwards when she wasn't expecting it! haha. It was a little white lie, but it took away her fears and it was perfect! She came up perfectly and it was a beautiful ordinance. Her son Stivi afterwards gave her a kiss on the cheek and she looked so happy. The Twins were baptized about 2 or 3 months ago and they are the trouble makers of the church now.. But now with their mom baptized, I think the tables will be turning. Both the twins helped with the administering of the Sacrament yesterday when their mother was confirmed a member of the Church! It was really so cool for Liza to see as well.
Also along with Liza, Saimire was baptized as well! Saimire is a man the Elders have been working with for 8 months and he is so awesome!!! He just had a minor setback of paying his tithing. No matter what anyone said to him, it all came back down to him and his faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ. The Elders working with him finally challenged him and said, "Saimire, maybe the Lord is expecting you to make a leap of faith." Then after that all things changed. He decided himself to be baptized and Saturday was the happiest I have ever seen him. It is a beautiful thing to witness the making of covenants with our heavenly father. Wow. I love being a missionary and having the privilege of seeing it first hand. This is the Lord's Church. I know these things are so true. It is just so clear. The Lord will never leave us high and dry! So he send His messengers, the prophets to guide and direct us. He called Joseph Smith in this last dispensation of the fullness of times to restore Christ's Chruch upon the Earth again in its fullness. This is His Church. I know that Jesus Christ lives. I know he is the Savior of the world and day after day this truth it made more and more evident to me. Every passing day my faith in Him made more and more firm. As I learn more about Him and get to know the Shepherd for who He really was, I come to really know how much he truly loves me and cares for me. There is literally no end to the amount of knowledge we can receive. The Lord will give us His knowledge and reveal unto us His great mysteries if we but have faith in Him and submit to His will. There is no end to wisdom.  This reminds me of one of my favorite hymns, "If You Could Hie to Kolob". The lyrics to the 4rd verse made such an impression on me the first time I heard them and they have stuck with me ever since. The lyrics go :
  • 4. There is no end to virtue;
    There is no end to might;
    There is no end to wisdom;
    There is no end to light.
    There is no end to union;
    There is no end to youth;
    There is no end to priesthood;
    There is no end to truth.
There literally is no end. Everything comes together in Christ's infinite Atonement. The principles of heaven that we learn through the Gospel of Christ are infinite and eternal. His love is without end. I know he cares for all of His children and this is why we are out finding those that will receive Him.  
Wow. I just love my life. The happiness that I feel because of this glorious gospel is literally indescribable. The Gospel blesses our lives and families and brings us happiness. And thats the way the cookie crumbles people.
I love you so much. Sorry for the lateness of this email. I hope it meets you in good spirits and helps to remind you how much the Savior love YOU!!!!!!!!
love your missionary,
Motra Forte

të dua shumë fortë!!!!! të kam shumë xhan!!!!!!! mos më harro.

Letter #64 BE HAPPY

So I am freaking out a bit.
Mckenzie Dawn Holmes is no longer. Hello Mckenzie Dawn Hawks! Dang, thats got a nice ring to it :)
Day after day, this work never gets old. Each day brings a load full of exciting things and new experiences. 
At the beginning of the week we had an exchange with the Sisters in Lushnje that were having some problems and by the end of the exchange, the Spirit of peace came right back and all was well. It was super cool to see how we could really make a difference even in the companionship of others :)
Me and cute Dajana. She is a recent convert. She is the cutest :)
On Wednesday, me and Sister Kokol were walking down the street and one of my old investigators, Anisa, ran up to us freaking out! She thought that I had gone home and that I wasn't coming back. She told us that she wanted to meet with us again and that she missed coming to the church. We met with her and started from the very beginning with her. She told us that she always believed the restoration was true from the very beginning and that she knows the Book of Mormon is true by the good feelings she gets when she reads it! Okay, awesome! In the short time we were separated, I really feel like the Lord has been working on her. Such a cool thing. We have already built up a great relationship and trust so can just skip to the goods with her. To be continued.. ;)
That evening we went to go visit a family of members in hopes to reactivate their daughter, Ada, but she was asleep. Dang it. We brought them some delicious pudding type desserts and had a wonderful time together! They have the cutest little son named Davidi that has my heart. He is such a heart breaker. He didn't come to church this week and we were all wondering why. To give you some background history, every Saturday we play soccer with the youth and last week Davidi found a cute little baby puppy in the road that had been adandoned. He didn't think his mom would let him keep it so Elder Morava took the puppy and gave it away to the owners of the soccer field without asking Davidi permission. Anways, when we started chatting it all came out that the day before he was really offended that Morava didn't ask him to give his puppy away; that is why he didn't come to church. It broke my heart, but I couldn't help but laugh! We taught them that night that no matter our circumstances, the Savior will help us to forgive and to work on our personal weaknesses that we all have. We read Ether 12:27 and taught him that through Jesus Christ he can forgive Morava and he can work his personal weaknesses. It was a really special lesson. 
This is the puppy Davidi found last Saturday morning! 
haha. It was the cutest thing ever!!
Doni got the priesthood on Sunday and it really was just the coolest thing to see his transformation from the very beginning to the end. He is such a good kid and has so much potential! :)

I am such a happy person this week. I am just so happy with all that is happening out here and with all that is happening back there. Life is good. Don't you ever forget it!
I always have awesome talks with my girl Sister Kokol and she told me a cool story about her BYU Religion teacher that basically stalked David O. Mckay or whoever the prophet was at that time, knocked on his front door and he invited her in for a visit. Out of all of the advice and deep doctrinal principals as a prophet of the Lord could have taught her, he simply advised her 
How simple and sweet are those words. As long as we are happy and really count our many blessings, life will always be beautiful. Another quote came to my mind, "Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, its not the end." Isn't that perfect? The Gospel brings us such a peace of mind and a joy without end that sometimes we may overlook or get swallowed up in our struggles or challenges that we forget the big picture.
This is the place we play soccer :)
2 Nephi 2:25: "Adam fell that men might be; and men are that they might have joy."  This is the true reason why we are here on earth. We are here to find joy and to find the true happiness that living the Gospel gives us. His way is the only way we can be truly happy. His way is straight. His way is narrow. We must rise to His level and be perfected as He is. Obviously becoming perfect in this life is merely impossible, but we can try each and every day to live the way He would. He is the center of all true happiness and I know He is just waiting with open arms for us to come unto Him and He will make our burdens light.
I love Him. I really just want to badly for everyone to have a personal relationship with Him that I now have. He is our personal Savior. He loves us so much.
I love you all so much too and I hope you have a beautiful week!
I love you. I love you.

Love Sister Forte<3

Letter #63 It is real.

Week by week. The miracles keep coming. This week was nothing less than a miracle.
Every day we seeing the Hand of the Lord mold our missionary work. The work here in Fier is all of the sudden BOOMING. No joke.
Me, Sister Kokol and our sweet twins ;)
This past Saturday, our cute little twins, Joana and Vivjana Duraj were baptized. It was such a beautiful ordinance and the Spirit just manifested itself that day. Throughout the lessons with them, their sweet mom Liljana didn't show must interest in the Gospel for herself, just for her girls, but I know she felt something at her daughter's baptism. On Sunday at her girl's confirmation, she actually showed up late and missed it, but she was there to feel the Spirit of a fast and testimony meeting, and afterwards she was a completely difference person! Her complete persona changed and she was so excited to have taken part in something so amazing. She brought her friend with her and they both said they would be back next Sunday. 
These are the moments that prove the reality of the power of the Spirit. 
The Spirit is what changes hearts. We as the missionaries are merely just the tools that call it in. 
I have a feeling that sweet Liljana is right around the corner.
We literally have a baptism planned for every. single. week. for the next three weeks in a row! Can you believe that? Because I truly cannot.
Me are the girls after the baptism :) Liljana is on the right! I love them so much!
The work is rolling forth. And the speed is picking up!
Doni, Bela's brother, our wonderful next door neighbor, is being baptized next week and he is ready man. Completely prepared for the Gospel in his life. We taught him a lesson last week and asked him why he wanted to be baptized. He simply said, "I just love the way I feel at the church. Its a good feeling and I know its the true church." 
Um... okay people. They are ready. The field is white. And it is ready to harvest. The scriptures are literally manifesting their truths as we speak. 
Today Sister Sejati and I swapped presents with each other
 because her birthday was yesterday,
 and they were both Winnie the Pooh stuffed animals! 
How funny and cute is she man! Such good times;)
I love being a missionary. There is no other work in the world as great as this one. The Lord's work is real. His children are real people. His Spirit is real. This gospel is real. And the reality makes itself known day by day as we read the scriptures and pray. 
I love this Gospel with my whole soul. I just read the Living Christ yesterday and it so perfectly describes the majesty and reality of His matchless life and the infinite virtue of His great atoning sacrifice. This week we get to celebrate His ressurrection and remember Him. Everything we do comes together in Christ.
I love you all so much and am so grateful for all of the birthday wishes!!!
It has been a good 21st birthday!!!! 
Have the best Spring Break week ever ;)

love Sister Shauntel Louise Forte<3

Letter #62 E di se rron Shelbuesi im

First of all I want to wish you all a Happy Belated Easter!!!!!!!!
Wasn't it a fantastic day? YES.. It really was. 
Second.. I want to wish a HAPPY WEDDING to two of my favorite people in the whole world, Mckenzie Dawn and Andrew Hawks!!!!!!!! I am just so incredibly excited for the two of you and even though I won't be there partying it up with you two, know that I will be there in spirit cheering you on along the journey!!!!!!! Congratulations you two love birds!!!!
Wowza. What a stellar week it was.
Me and Sister Kokol<3 Gosh I love her!

We had yet another baptism, our awesome next-door-neighbor Doni, and it was really beautiful. Being able to witness the joy of covenant making with our Heavenly Father really has made every hard day so worth it. I love this work!
So can I just say, I love my companion? Sister Kokol and I have decided that we must have been best friends in the pre-existence and we have spent these past few weeks catching up for all the lost time! ;) haha. I really do love her. And we have been working really hard together. Time flies when you are having fun and in the service of your Lord. 
Yesterday we had the such a wonderful success. We walk into the sacrament hall, and there s

hines a smiling face of our in-active member for the last 8 years, Sister Hoxhaj. It was such a happy moment to see her in the church beaming from ear to ear as all the old time members ran to greet her. Wow. It really is hard to explain that joy that I felt! It was as if my heart was going to explode! I was so happy, and I know it was just a glimpse of the happiness that God was feeling as he saw her there.

I have come to many realizations throughout my mission. Some of which I may have had to learn the hard way, others developed throughout time. But one realization that I wanted to share with you today is the fact that this time that I have been out here in the foreign lands of Kosovo and Albania, although it may seem long some weeks, really is but a mere small moment in the long eternal scheme of things. And although at the beginning of my mission I looked at this period of time as a sacrifice that I wanted to do for my Heavenly Father, I have come to realize that it is not a sacrifice at all. It is such a privilege. It is a mighty privilege that I have the incredible opportunity to serve my Savior for a short 18 months of my existence. This short time is such a small offering I can give to my Savior that has done so much for me. He payed the debt that gives me the opportunity to be cleansed from my sins. He suffered the pains and afflictions of each and every one of us in this mortal life that gives us the matchless comfort that pushes us through the hard days. He gave His life for us that we may live again. What a beautiful gift that we all have in our grasps through the simple principle of obedience. Sometimes I ponder and think to myself, "I really don't deserve this. Why would He do this for me?" and I have come to the conclusion. Because He loves us. He loves us so much and wants us to have all that He has. 
I want to live every day of my life to prove that I am worthy of this matchless gift.
I love you all so much and hope that we can all work together to become more like Him. He is the reason for all things. Because of Him, we will live again.
Have a wonderful week and remember that your missionary in Albania still loves you!

Motra Forte<3

Letter #61 A diamond in the rough

Okay so lets me honest.
I have no time to write today because I got my hair did.. haha. And it looks GOOOOOOOOOOOD. Just so you know ;)
This week has been so awesome! I am serving with my "dream companion" Sister Kokol.. and to be honest.. we are like sisters! We are laughing 100% of our time together and having such a good time! But not just that.
We have such great companionship unity and we teach so well together. Like our teaching chemistry gets an A+.
The spirit has been so strong with us this week and we are beginning to see some serious amazing things happen here in Fier.. I can just feel it.
We have 5 baptismal dates and they are all pretty solid people. The Lord is seriously blessing us.
We are working with the twins mom, Liza, and she is so solid. She is so ready for the gospel and it just a gem. "A true diamond in the rough." haha. To quote aladin and all that jazz. She has been through the ringer with her crazy twin boys and all of their immaturities, but she is truly a gem. I cannot wait for her to be baptized. Yesterday she said she was nervous to be baptized because she is in fear that she won't be able to be the perfect member. WE assured her that even as missionaries we are not perfect. But the important thing is that we try. The Lord loves us and will help us always.
Yeah, so this final transfer is going to be sick.. I really am just so pumped about it and am so excited to be working with Sister Kokol, my girllllllll!
I love you and hope you have a great week!

love Sister Forte<3

Monday, March 31, 2014

Letter #60 "Every rose has its thorns"

Hey you cuties!
I didn't hear from ya this week but I sure hope things are just peachy back home! I'm sure the Spring time weather is treatin ya really well ;)

Sister Wendt's last Sunday
Where to begin this week. I feel like I say this every week, but for reals, this one was one for the books. The journal has been recorded and now its time to update you! First and foremost.. Last night. Transfer calls. And guess who gets to serve with Sister Kokol for her last transfer? THIS GIRL!!!! Yeah, I am pretty excited. Sister Kokol is pretty much the coolest chick ever. I really love her and it has been my dream to serve with her. Welp, dream realized! She is coming down to join me in the ranks here in Fier as STL's :)

 Every week brings forth lovely new blossoms, but now we are just trying to clear out all the weeds! haha. Or I guess in rock and roll terms, just for daddy, "Every rose has its thorns." This known fact has really been made evident this transfer..
President Mema, our new stake president came to Fier to do some interviews this week and just took a moment to thank us for all of the hard work we are putting in here in this area. He said, "I know its not always easy, but I know the Lord has sent the Noble, the Brave, and the Strong to this area to help revive it." He told us we were basically working with a dead branch and it was our responsibility to help cut off the dead twigs! I think in some ways he is right, but there are definitely still some strong thriving roots in this dead branch keeping it alive. There really are some amazing people here. Now we really just need to start cutting off the dead and rotting branches to keep this tree alive!

My favorite Thomo family.. the future strength of the branch!
Fier always keeps me on my toes and throws us new curve balls every day. This weeks consisted of two fights. One in church, one in the street. A few upset and offended people. And some really great memories made. Our little group of missionaries here really have gotten close and it is going to be hard to say goodbye to Sister Wendt tomorrow! I cannot believe this transfer is already over. It came and left man!
 Once again Fier has had a wonderful successful week with the baptism of two boys taught by the Elders. The work is still moving right along and we are working with some wonderful people for baptism as well.
This week a miracle happened. But it was one of those miracles that was way too obvious it couldn't be coincidence. A very sad thing happened this week. We have been teaching Doni Bela's brother to prepare him for baptism this week, but WHAM!!!! came the trial. Their grandmother died this week suddenly and blindsided them. We had just taught him the Plan of Salvation just days before. What a miracle. Then the day of the funeral, we wanted to go see Bela and her family but weren't sure if they would be home because of the strict traditions they have here with death. We finished up at the church and noticed that Donald and Silvia, a 12 and 10 year old, were alone and their mother didn't come to walk them home. So we decided to walk them home and on the way back, we went down a road we had never been on before and who comes walking up to us out of the shadows? Bela's family! It was such a blessing. They were all so upset. Their Spirits were so down, and meeting with them in the middle of that dark road was all too perfect, it had to have been the hand of the Lord. 
The Lord threw me this scripture this week right when I needed it. D&C 78:17-18.
 17 Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye are alittle children, and ye have not as yet understood how great blessings the Father hath in his own hands and prepared for you;
 18 And ye cannot abear all things now; nevertheless, be of goodbcheer, for I will clead you along. The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the driches of eeternity are yours.
 I know that the Lord is preparing us at this time to be recieve of his glorious blessings, and although we cannot bear all things now, we must always be of Good Cheer, because he will lead us along.
love you all so much and I hope you have a great week ya hear?

love Shaunie Bear<3

Monday, March 24, 2014

Letter #59 Officially tightless :)

my trio, marisa, and her brother stivi! (my tag in hiding..)
Oh my dear family,
First of all, I love and miss you so much. How is everyone doing? Fill me in! The weather is a'warming right up my friends! This week was my first week without tights! Woo hoo! :) You know summer is a'coming and is knocking at your door when there is no more need for tights!
 The weeks fly by and every week I sit at this computer at a loss of words of what I should tell you about because so much happened and it all flew by so quicky! 
All I have to say is..
Miracles do happen. 
The Lord performs them still today.
and boy, does He love His children.

Many wonderful things happened this week, but my two favorite ones go as follows:
1. Friday night, our sweet little 13-year-old, Marisa got the final word from her parents and they told her she could be baptized! She was interviewed just after, and was baptized the next day! Our little Marisa was baptized guys!!! It was a little miracle sent from heaven that that sweet girl's parents allowed her to be baptized. She was so completely ready and willing to do anything the Lord wanted her to do. She is such a sweetheart and so humble. Without question she said, "I want to be baptized into this church, because I know that it is true." Her faith and conviction to be baptized was so fervent and set. And because of that, the Lord softened her parent's heart and allowed her to be baptized. Her cousins were baptized last week and so I think that why her mom was prepared to say yes! Her mom came to the baptism and was very kind. She doesn't seem super interested for herself, but "avash avash" (slowly, slowly) the Spirit of the Lord will work on her too as she watches the example of her daughter! 
i love her.. she is just the cutest thing.
2. So we live on the 10th floor of a massive building and our next door neighbor is a recent convert named Bela who was baptized last transfer, I love her by the way, and throughout the transfer, we have spent a little extra time and effort trying to get her brothers to our retention lessons with her. From the very beginning until now I have seen this complete change in her older Brother Doni.. He has always showed interest in what we were teaching, and there has always been a little glimmer in his eye. This week, his complete complexion changed, and he told Bela he wanted to be baptized by Elder Lindermann before he left Fier at the end of the transfer.. That's next week people. We thought it was better for the Elder's to teach him, and they will be meeting him everyday this week to have him baptized on Saturday! Can you believe it? The Spirit of the Lord performs miracles in the hearts of His children. In just the matter of one week, his eyes were filled with that light. The light of Christ has been ignited inside of Him and we know this is just the beginning for him. Such a success :)
all in white ;)

I really just love this work. But I am aware that it has nothing to do with me.. As to my strength I am weak.. Just like Alma in Alma 26:12..
12 Yea, I know that I am anothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will bnot boast of myself, but I will cboast of my God, for in his dstrength I can do all ethings; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.
But I know that the Spirit of the Lord has no limitations. It is the Spirit that converts and touches hearts. We are just merely the tools in the Lord's hands. I know that in the strength of the Lord, we can do ALL THINGS. Not just some things, like getting through a hard week of finals, or planning a stressful wedding (cough cough, kenz..), but in His strength, we can do ALL things. I know these things to be true. I love this Gospel and know that His words are true. I love you all so much and would encourage you all to put your strength in the Lord and He will help you get through anything.. Read your scriptures and say your prayers. This is the key to strengthening our relationship with Him. There is no other way.

i love you all so much and hope you have a fabulous week. You are my sunshines and I look forward to hearing from you! ;)
love your lover,
Sister Forte :)

unë ju dua juve shumë! kalofshit mirë kjo javë dhe mbani mend që motra forte ju do! ;)