3 Nephi 5:13 Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life.

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Gift of the Gab and the Byrek Battle

Hello everyone!! Just wait until you hear about this week!! IT's a GOOD ONE!! I have not seen so many miracles at once before! This week was a week of miracles! And I mean MIRACLES!! Along with that, try getting challenged and then crushed greatly at a byrek battle with an Albanian Nëna haha Also for my P-Day I went to KORCE today and met with some of my most FAVORITE people!! They are my family! It was fun to feel like I was back home, like I never left :) I love Korcë...if you can't tell haha

Culture Shocks of the Week:
1.  Something I've learned is that you cannot compliment people on their clothing or anything they own because they will than GIVE IT TO YOU! The people here are incredibly selfless and giving it's incredible! Included in that is that they just give you SO MUCH FOOD! We have collected so many apples (apple season) and have been giving so many homemade jellies and juices (cherry juice and plum jam). So. Good.
2. The old men here carry around these portable radios and they sit and jam out to their popullore traditional music. It is so funny. We were talking to this old man one time and he would not turn down his music so we were basically yelling over his music. As we gave him a pass along card, we were walking away and 5 minutes later we get a call. It's from him! We opened it and all we heard was the music. He called us to then hold up his phone to his radio so we could listen! haha it was so funny.
3. The time it takes for me to make a byrek is about 6 times longer compared to a Nëna here. While I take 3 hours to make a byrek (you have no idea how tedious it is), a Nëna takes about 30 minutes. 

This leads right into my BYREK BATTLE!! We were walking home and I was holding a byrek pan. This older lady from her balcony called down to me asking me, "Do you know how to make byrek?" She then runs down from her balcony and says that she'll take my pan, make me a byrek, and then return it to me. Then in return, I'll make a byrek,  then share it with her and we'll see who makes it best. I just got challenged by an Albanian Nëna to a Byrek Battle! I shared we'd love to do that, as long as we could also share a little something else with her that is greater than byrek and that is the message of the Restoration! It was so fun! I definitely was put to shame haha but we were able to share with them the message of the Restoration! I am also thankful for all of the previous Nënas who have taught me to cook up to this point. I just don't think I could ever compare to their cooking though!

Another huge success this last week was that we began English Course and prepared to have a big picnic with the members in the "group" here (not a branch yet) along with just inviting those who wanted to come from our English Course. We show up to the picnic with what we expected to be just a few of the members, but then we enter into the church to find 30 kids and their moms from English Course prepared for the picnic. We then call up the Senior Couple here grabbing the pizzas for the picnic and we were like, "Uh.....we don't think 5 pizzas are going to cut it" haha it was so awesome to have such a huge family here! We went out to the picnic and were able to show others that we are not just these strange Americans with skirts, shirts and ties walking the streets but that we truly are a family here! We had many come up and ask who we were! Our members and the people here were so happy to say, "We are from the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Saints!" Pogradec is growing!! And it's only been open for about a year!!

Then for some other MIRACLES from this week! First off, the greatest compliment ever was from the senior couple here telling us "You Sisters have the Gift of the Gab" a new Spiritual Gift :) From just trying to talk and meet with everyone, we have been able to meet with a lot of families! Some INCREDIBLE miracles were that we were able to meet with 2 of the members families and as we testified of temples and of eternal families, they BOTH accepted to prepare for baptism so their families can prepare to go to the temple and become eternal families! We also had such a special lesson with a girl here who has been concerned about getting baptized again as she has been baptized in the Catholic Church. However, as we shared and testified about the Restoration and asking the Lord what He wants for her, she prayed right then and there with us if she had to get baptized again, and in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. What was key was she shared that if she received an answer, she would get baptized. She then prayed and it was so special as we felt such a powerful Spirit. The whole room was so warm and I was beaming and I couldn't help it! After the prayer, she shared that she felt SO GOOD and knew it was the Spirit and knew she needed to get baptized as the Lord was letting her know that this was true. 

I truly cannot even begin to express my joy that I am experiencing here in Pogradec. Miracles are SO REAL and they are happening! I have just seen that I need not to fear or worry about anything. As long as I have faith and I trust in the Lord and just do my part inviting, testifying, and showing my love for the people here, The Lord brings about His work here! Through this, I just see the joy from others! I want to share a scripture from the Book of Mormon that describes me: 
Alma 27: 17 Now the joy of Ammon was so great even that he was full; yea, he was swallowed up in thjoy of his God, even to the exhausting of his strength; anhe fell again to the earth.

18 Now was not this exceeding joy? Behold, this is joy

​ ​
which none receiveth save it bthe truly penitent and
​ ​
humble seeker of happiness.

I about passed out a few times this last week ;) But I truly want to testify of this. I couldn't be happier. True joy truly comes from the LORD! Is this not exceeding joy? If we truly are seeking happiness, then we are seeking Christ. I can testify of that because I HAVE EXPERIENCED it! It is so true! Please, turn to Christ because you will taste of this JOY!!! I testify of that with all that I am in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.​

​I love you all!! Have a wonderful week!!!​

My family :) They've been with me since the beginning!
I was meeting up with my Albanian family and we literally ran into everyone else on the boulevard. It was such a sweet reunion!!

There's Pogradec for you!! 


We had a rainbow after a rainstorm here!!!

Just after one day of tracting and work, look at how much we are GIVEN! Yes that is plum jam :)

My byrek. Let's just say I forgot the salt....

I beat all of the guys at the plank competition at our picnic. It was awesome :)

We had a member come from Tirana to our little group. She is SO CUTE!

KORCE!!!! :)



Showing my comp around my home. It is THE PRETTIEST city in the mission. I'm so happy to call it my home :)


Welcome to Europe :)


My home :) This is the church building in Korcë

Old Korcë



We went out to eat traditional food together in Korcë. There are now 4 sisters in Korcë! I also ran into Monika! I love that girl!!


-- 
Mirupafshim! Të dua!
Motra Olsen

Letters:
Adriatic South Mission
Sister Natalie Olsen
POB 2984
Bulevardi "Gjergj Fishta"
Qendra "Alpas", Shkalla #5, Apt #14
Tirana
Albania

(If you can't send it with the POB box number, you can just send it without it. I'll still get it)

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Numero Bekimet!!!

Numero Bekimet-Count your many blessings. God is so good. This email is a long one-but it is a GOOD one! I just want to share with you an email filled with gratitude. There were definitely ups and downs in the week, but I have SO MUCH to be thankful for!

My breshk (turtle) :)


Culture Shocks of the Week:
1. I'm out of the hotel and INTO my new apartment! We are on the 7th floor and we literally have a penthouse view of the lake and the futboll stadium next to our apartment. Yeah we get to watch a couple of games ;)

2. We traveled to Durres yesterday (a 6 hour ride across Albania there and back) in a bus like vehicle called "furgon". Basically it's a trip filled with popullore music, belting out "Count Your Many Blessings" and carsickness. It's the best.
3. I'm becoming an Albanian Nëna (old woman)! From making byrek to cooking Albanian dishes, I am now KNITTING! It's the best! I've gotten some lessons from the Nënas in our little group. A 6 hour furgon ride helps you to get the knitting down.

This week was a pretty sick week! Let's just say one day I got a sandwich and then that night ended up throwing it all up ;) What I'm GRATEFUL for is that while it hit me hard the next day, I have not been able to rest for a day on my mission. It was so hard to not be out serving and working-I was so sad. However I felt such a love from my Savior telling me He is giving me this day of rest to then strengthen me for the rest of the week. I want to share how GRATEFUL I am for the restored priesthood of God on the earth. The Elders gave me a blessing and I just knew I'd be healed for the next day. Faith has power, and I saw that as the next day I woke a new person ready to work! 

I AM SO GRATEFUL for the little group here in Pogradec. Honestly I love them so much! I have a new family here! We usually do an activity every week to strengthen the members here and to invite others to join us. We played some futboll this last week. I definitely think I'm getting worse. However, it's a step up from my 6 year-old self sitting down and picking grass in the middle of the field.  It's a close step though ;) 

We are also teaching this incredible girl here that I LOVE SO MUCH! I am so GRATEFUL for her! She wanted to become a nun in the Catholic church but something happened which caused her to stop her to pursue that desire. As she's been meeting with us, she has been curious about the family. As she's been praying for that, we had an INCREDIBLE experience going to stake conference in Durres (basically all of the branches and wards from all over Albania and Kosovo meeting up for a conference) which was centered around-you guessed it-families. I wanted to share some things I have learned that has impacted my life. God's plan of happiness is ALL ABOUT the family. It is everything! That is why family is so crucial-A man, a woman, and children. We are not saved individually, but in families. That's why there's a huge focus on turning the hearts of children to their fathers through family history work. We need our ancestors, and each other, to be saved. It's not just a matter of perfecting ourselves in this life, but perfecting our relationships. We are not just preparing to build Zion right now, we are BUILDING Zion! With our families, we are building heaven on earth as we build each other. These relationships that we are developing and creating are not just temporally, but eternally! Everything begins with the family. As we strengthen our family relationships, then there will be peace in the home and eventually peace on earth!

One way to help our family relationships is to look at the good. I have an example that has impacted me.

​Look at this page. What do you see? Most people would say (including me) that you see a small blue dot in the center of the page. However, has anyone thought of the rest of the page? The vastness of the white surrounding the blue dot? How much of life do we focus on the one, small blue dot, and miss the whiteness and the rest of the page? How much good do we miss? Change is hard. I've been experiencing a lot of change lately on my mission and it's easy to want to be in the past when things were good or to be with the people that you're close with. However I had such a special experience at this stake conference. When I arrived, I was ambushed by people from Tirana, Gjakova, and Korcë. Tears were shed as we just embraced. I just saw the white of the page when I saw that while I am not with these people, I was able to impact them in some way. I looked around and saw families there of individuals I had taught. I had people run up saying how much they had missed me and waited to see me. I honestly felt what heaven is like at this conference. I love these people so much and it is all about the family. These people are my family and my new family is Pogradec! Please give your families the biggest hug. I wish I could do that with mine but I just want to share how much I KNOW that this gospel is true! The gospel of Jesus Christ is ALL ABOUT the family! We need to be living the gospel WITH our families! That is how we perfect our family relationships! That is how we cleanse ourselves! God-Our loving Heavenly FATHER loved the world SO MUCH that He gave His only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, that whosoever that believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16). We can live with our family forever. What greater gift is there than this from our loving Heavenly Father. Meet with the missionaries. Read the manual for a perfect family: The Book of Mormon. I testify of these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Thank you for being apart of MY family! I love you! Have a wonderful week!


Futboll :)


Me with KOSTA'S FAM! If you remember me teaching Kosta and Monika in Korcë, now their families are baptized! I am so happy I love them so much!!

My Gjakova family :) Even my girls! I love Motra Suko and Motra Hysa so much!!

Another Korcë family!

I LOVE THIS FAMILY SO MUCH!!! :) The mom is now baptized!! :) They are literally my Albanian family from the beginning of my mission!

My new family :) Aren't they all such cuties!!




The view from my apartment!

​The view of the soccer (futboll) fields from my apartment.

I LOVE this girl!

​Our furgon family!​

​My Pogradec family!​


-- 
Mirupafshim! Të dua!
Motra Olsen

Letters:
Adriatic South Mission
Sister Natalie Olsen
POB 2984
Bulevardi "Gjergj Fishta"
Qendra "Alpas", Shkalla #5, Apt #14
Tirana
Albania

(If you can't send it with the POB box number, you can just send it without it. I'll still get it)

Monday, September 4, 2017

POGRADEC: My Beautiful New Home

C'KEMI!! I'm back in Albania and life is SURREAL!! I live in the most BEAUTIFUL city of Pogradec right along the lake connecting to Macedonia! I'm about 40 minutes from Korcë which is super weird. I'm back in the south of Albania I feel a lot like I'm back home in my "birthplace" (first area) but hopefully I know a lot more, can speak the language a little better ;) and am a lot more prepared now haha 

Culture Shocks of the Week:
1. I live in the breathtaking city of Pogradec. We are right along the lake therefore there are a lot of fishing, beaches, BEACH VOLLEYBALL, and tourists here.
2. We are currently waiting to move into our house here so we are staying in a hotel here along the lake so we literally do studies outside on our balcony over the lake.
3. I'm back to the pure toskë Albanian. I've been trying hard to get out of the Albanian Gheg dialect...

So before heading down to Pogradec, I actually spent a few days in Tirana and was in a trio with the Tirana sisters; One of the sisters now being my companion: Motra Risk! She is from California and goes to BYU! She is also teaching me how to knit so I am PUMPED! While I was in Tirana, I got to visit LILI!!! I love her! I heard all about her baptism and honestly-I have never seen her so at peace! She just shared how calm she feels now ever since then even when things are crazy and busy! I just know that the Lord truly comforts us and guides us through His Spirit: The Holy Ghost! I have seen that in the work here as I couldn't do ANYTHING without the Lord!

We also had the new group of missionaries come in this last week so because I was in Tirana I got to go out with one of the sisters as she was immediately off the plane and take her to do missionary work for a day. I made sure to give her the full experience getting her a byrek and dhallë (watery, salty, yogurt drink) ;) She may have said I tried killing her but you know, we've got to strengthen ourselves through overcoming the challenges in life. Why not right of the bat? I just had a flashback to my first day! It was so much fun! I am so excited for all the new missionaries! I served with Motra Stull for a day. She actually is now going to Korcë for her first area!!

We actually had a crazy blessing! Literally within the first 30 minutes of our first full day here in Pogradec, Motra Risk and I went out to run and right as we were about to go in, we met this mother and daughter who began to tear up because they were touched that we greeted them. We then immediately met up with them that day and are now teaching them. They came to church and it has been such a blessing to already work with them! We arrived in Pogradec about 4 days ago and immediately we've been looking to meet the members and their families and to start up many finding activities to build the group here. It is not a branch yet. There are 16 members here and it opened up when Korcë opened up. We are so excited to help and serve the people here in Pogradec. My favorite part about opening is that both my companion and I are walking and are like, "Maybe this road will take us somewhere" or we are just clueless as to where we are walking or where we are going. It's an adventure! Luckily it's just a little city!

I just wanted to share something that has applied to me this past week:

2 Nephi 4:15 And upon these I write the things of my soul, and many of the scriptures which are engraven upon the plates of brass. For my soul delighteth in the scriptures, and my heart pondereth them, and writeth them for the learning and the profit of my children.

16 Behold, my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard.

This last week I finished reading Jesus the Christ and WOW has that book impacted me! As I studied Christ's life I just learned SO MUCH about His love for us! I just love the scripture from Nephi in the Book of Mormon as my soul truly delights in the scriptures! It is truly something so sweet and something I look forward to read every morning. Feast upon them and you will taste of that sweetness too! It is so good! The scriptures like the Book of Mormon and the Bible truly feed us, fuel us, and guide us as it is the Lord that directs us in all things! Read the scriptures EVERYDAY! We cannot know what we need to do and what we are capable of without studying the words of Christ everyday! I say that in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

I love you all! Have a wonderful week! And the adventure continues.... :)


A lady in Tirana showing us her wedding dress!! She is preparing to marry in the temple!

When you find out you're opening Pogradec.....

The church building in Tirana. I was here serving for 4 and a half months.

LILI!!! :) I went right in and she had a full meal prepared for me. I love her!


Motra Stull and me!



WELCOME TO POGRADEC!!!


Our little pet on our balcony!

Just the view from my balcony at the hotel :)

My view when studying.

MINIONS in Albania! :)

Motra Risk and I at breakfast!










One of the members here: Greta! I LOVE her! She got baptized when I was in Korcë!


I LOVE THE BEACH!!! Literally my prayers are answered :)




-- 
Mirupafshim! Të dua!
Motra Olsen

Letters:
Adriatic South Mission
Sister Natalie Olsen
POB 2984
Bulevardi "Gjergj Fishta"
Qendra "Alpas", Shkalla #5, Apt #14
Tirana
Albania

(If you can't send it with the POB box number, you can just send it without it. I'll still get it)