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