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! ;)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Letter #58 we'll keep marching on and on and on.

The weeks are speeding up faster and faster. I cannot even believe that it is monday again?! What in the world people? Where is the time going?!
I really cannot even think about the reality that Sister Wendt will be leaving me in 2 weeks, and then my final transfer will begin. It blows my ever-living mind!

So Fier this week. Wowza. Every week a new problem and every week a new miracle! I have really come to recognize the blessings that God tucks in between every rocky road. Lately things have been a whirlwind. I got to the point where I kind of just felt like the work was at a stand still because of all of the problems with the members and that this branch would never grow. After the many prayers and miraculous creation of our stake, the fire has been rekindled inside me and I am determined to help this branch grow. I want to leave Fier better than I found it. This is all I want for these people.
 here is me, wendy, and bela sitting in a flower patch in Ballsh ;)
So just when I thought we would never have any new progressing investigators, the Lord blessed us through our wonderful Sister Gjika, an old member, with a mother and her two precious daughters! The mother's name is Liliana and her twin daughters names are Viviana and Joana. They are such a wonderful family and they just have that glow about them. They are ready and waiting for the Gospel! The girls came to English course and got a little more familiar with the church there, and now they are on fire! The first meeting we had with them was so great. They were so intentive and it was as if they were hungry to keep learning more. We came back to next day to teach them and both of the girls had read the pamphlets and read from the Book of Mormon. We set a baptismal date and they were very excited. The mother was a bit more hesitant but very open. The twins came to church and seemed to really love it. They live above their restaurant about 15 minutes out of town and have a lot of land and animals behind their house! We got to hold their bunnies and play with their dogs after the lesson ;)

It was such a breath of fresh air to have a new family to teach that the Lord pretty much handed to us through a member. So awesome :) 
We also had a wonderful zone conference this week! President and Sister Ford always know what to say. I feel so lucky to have them as my leaders!

This is me milking a cow! Yeah, its real! I really did it! 
Dream come true my friends! hahaha.
On Saturday we went to a recent converts' village called Ballsh with her brother and the elders to do service and it was such a blast. Guess what mom?! I finally milked a cow! It was the coolest thing ever. Who knew I would get a chance to do it on my mission! Not i! haha. We helped to turn the land over on a piece of their property and got to milk their cow. Such a blast. Later they fed us homemade fshat bread, green olives, homemade cheese and I tried to choke down some Dhall which is basically sour milk with salt and chunks of yogurt. It was terrible. Definitely not something I will be drinking ever again.. Yuck.. Overall, it was a great service activity!

While serving in the difficult city of Fier, I have learned quite a bit about patience and gratitude. Towards the beginning of my stay I was constantly thinking, "Oh if only the branch here would get along." or "Oh I would rather be in Kosovo.." but I have really come to understand that the Lord has put me in this area for reason whether it was to help the people learn to love eachother, or whether it was all for me to learn patience. Regardless, I have really come to love it here in Fier. I have come to realize that regardless of our circumstances, we can learn to love it and be grateful for the tender mercies that the Lord gives to us. 
In my reading, I stumbled across the end of 1 Nephi 1:20, and it made a big impression on me..

 20 And when the Jews heard these things they were angry with him; yea, even as with the prophets of old, whom they had acastout, and stoned, and slain; and they also bsought his life, that they might take it away. But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender cmercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of ddeliverance.

I was completely struck by this scripture as I know that at this time I have been chosen of the Lord to serve Him and He has shown me His tender mercies. Because our my faith, I know that no matter what struggles or hardships that I face, the Lord will always show me His tender mercies and bless me. There is always a silver lining my friends. It's just up to us to look past the big black billowing clouds and see it.

I am so grateful for this mission that is constantly teaching me things I could never have learned anywhere else. I love my mission and I love my Savior. I will continue to serve Him with all that I have!

Until next week my loved ones!
Shaunie Bear<3