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, January 22, 2018

Can't Have Rainbows without a Little Rain :)



Culture Shocks of the Week:
1. We have a member who has her own little cafe shop so we usually stop in to see how she's going. We stopped in this week and she says, "I want to make you some sausages". She then whips out a pan out of no where and a loaf of bread and cabbage and fries them on this little pan above her portable heater in her shop. It was so random it was awesome!
2. We saw a FULL RAINBOW this week after we had some monster storms! We were trekking through the streets that were literally rivers. It was awesome!
3. We eat a whole lot of Kos (Greek Yogurt) here. It's awesome! We drink it watered down and with byrek

So this last week there was a baptism in our soon-to-be branch and I wanted to share with you his story. He is incredible! So there's a boy-Francesko-and he's about 12 years old. He's read the Bible and has LOVED learning about Christ. As he read and finished, he felt like something was missing like there had to be more. So a few months back we had a baptism here in Pogradec in the lake and he passed by watching from afar and saw that we get baptized the way Christ did! So then some time recently, he saw the missionaries holding ANOTHER book-the Book of Mormon. When a man dropped a pass-along card in the trash, he ran over and grabbed it and found the church himself asking when we had church. Luckily we were there at that time! He then came to church and it so happened that that week I team taught with one of our younger members the "Restoration" in the youth class. Since then, he's been learning and this past week he was baptized and now his family is interested as well. It truly is incredible and I am so excited about our growing soon-to-be branch! These people here are incredible!

This week I have really just seen miracles with our members here. We are continually looking to strengthen them and teach them the doctrine and it is incredible to see their lives change as they continually strive to live the commandments. One shared how her and her husband, before they go out into the fields or off welding a tunnel (yeah-jobs here are intense!) they drink hot cocoa and then kneel down in prayer together every morning! We have just been seeing so many miracles with these people here! I LOVE THE GOSPEL IT IS SO AWESOME!

I also just want to bear my testimony of our living prophet: President Russel M. Nelson. Something I have truly come to see and LOVE is that God is THE SAME yesterday, today and forever. One, that means that He will NEVER love us less. If we make a mistake, or sin, it doesn't mean that it means that we are worthy, but we will never be worth less. The second is that His doctrines, His commandments never change. We have living prophets to direct and clarify the Lord's commandments. We are led by the Lord and not by the ideas and desires of men. This is comforting for me to know that we will always have a living prophet to guide and direct us according to the Lord's will! I testify that President Nelson is the prophet of God and that President Thomas S. Monson was a true prophet of God!

2 Nephi 29:9 And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever.

I testify that the Lord LOVES us and will always love us along with our Father in Heaven. They will never change because their love is perfect and they are perfect beings. We are imperfect beings striving to become a little better and to be perfected each and every day through the Atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I testify of that in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

HAVE A WONDERFUL WEEK! Look for the rainbows throughout the week! ;) hahaha



​The drinks are watered down kos (dhallë) Here we have egg byrek and fassule (a bean soup) these are the most common foods we eat here. And fruit of course!​


Pogradec

​My ​shop buddies :) I always pass them in the streets! They are the sweetest things!

Streets of Pogradec so you can get an idea of how things are.

Pogradec

Pogradec

--
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, January 15, 2018

HOPE :)

My goal of this email is to share the reality of a missionary. To begin, I want to share how much I LOVE being a missionary and I had a very sad moment of even imagining taking off my tag this week. But I will say that I don't love it because it's just 18 months spent in Albania but what comes with that is a lot of disappointments, rejections, but also HOPE.


​Culture Shocks of the Week:

1. Quote of the week: "Oh I thought no one judged in America!" In the eyes of many here, America is a perfect place without any problems :)​

2.Waffles are considered dessert.

3. Albania is a male-dominant culture meaning that mainly men have the most say in things.


To expand a little more on the male-dominant culture, that has been the main difficulty on my mission. It doesn't matter sometimes if the women have desire to learn more, the man in the home has to agree. We met with the sweetest girl this week and she is going ham reading in the Book of Mormon haha but our only challenge is that she can't really meet with her and her father refuses to let her leave the home. Another update on that family we found last week-what was sad was we knew that they felt something but sadly they discussed with each other and said they can't change their previous traditions and ways and now we are blocked. This is not a rare occurrence, but I want to share a little something with you that has carried me throughout my whole mission and that is-HOPE!


(Book of Mormon) Ether 12:4 Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.


​Throughout my mission, I have faced countless rejection, countless degrading comments, and countless disappointments-but I haven't really experienced discouragement. ​Something I have found is that everything I do, I see as though I am PLANTING something-even a smile-in HOPE that one day in the future someone will come in contact again with the gospel and remember that moment, that love they felt, or that Spirit they felt when they heard the message for the first time. I have found that HOPE brings about JOY! I always just think that everything little thing I do, there's a HOPE in the future, maybe even 20, 30, 50 years down the line even that these people will have found the gospel of Jesus Christ. Hope has truly been my anchor to continue on! Hope is a beautiful thing! If we feel like we are trying and trying and feel like we are not making a difference in the world, in our families, in our communities, think about what would happen if you never made the effort! That one person that felt your smile would have one smile less in their life. I truly believe that there is ALWAYS good waiting for us in the future so by our small efforts, our small acts of love, our simple testimonies, we ARE making a difference. That is the joy of HOPE and by every little act, the world gets better each and everyday.


In addition to hope, I have been experiencing some of the greatest joys watching people REPENT! That means to CHANGE! To literally turn ourselves to God! We have had many new members experiencing so much CHANGE as they strive to live the commandments. I have never seen so much joy from these people as they strive to come unto Christ even in the smallest ways. Everyone here is so new but their faith in Christ is INCREDIBLE! I am trying to develop more and more faith as throughout my day, I have so many moments when I am exhausted or I have NO IDEA what to do. There are many moments when people stand us up or we get blocked. There are many moments where people yell at us in the streets or have others laugh at us. However, with FAITH, HOPE, and CHARITY-I have found joy in any circumstance. I have hope that I'm impacting others in some way, faith in Christ that we WILL find those that are prepared and WAITING to find the true gospel, and charity, or love, that causes me to laugh at the worst moments because I just love these people. There truly is so much joy we can find in everyday. I can testify of that-that's why we have Christ! When in doubt-pray. Our Father in Heaven WILL hear us and our Savior WILL rescue us as we come unto Him. Because of Christ, we can find LIGHT and JOY in all things. I testify of that in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


I love you. Truly. Have a wonderful week!


-- 

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)

Email: natalie.olsen@myldsmail.net


mormon.org

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Baklava filled to the Brim

I really don't know how I'd say it in Albanian, but this week we were blessed to be FILLED to the brim with SO MUCH BAKLAVA!! The New Years celebration still has been going on all week but has finally died down :) Now my comp and I have made some major goals to burn off all that we have gained in this last week.....haha 

Culture Shocks of the Week:
1. We managed to hit 15 baklavas this week!!!! *Famous last words*-"Have you ever had baklava before?" We really don't know how to respond at this point.....
2. IT SNOWED!! We actually went up to Tirana for a conference and what's beautiful about Albania is that every city is COMPLETELY different than from another city. That's including climates! So we drove from our freezing snowy Pogradec, through some cities still experiencing Fall, and into Tirana that is as warm as Spring. It was crazy to experience all of that in just 2 hours!
3. We met this woman who has an autistic son and 10 years ago when she had him, she has never heard of autism because the Internet and technology here is still pretty behind from the rest of the world. She's raised him for 10 years now just trying to figure out how to help him on her own. These people here are just incredible! It truly helps you to realize how much we have to be grateful for. I love these Albanian people. They are the most loving people ever :)

So there are always miracles that can occur when there is faith and I am happy to say that we had yet ANOTHER miracle this week!! Motra McGuire and I only had this short amount of time to go out contacting and to go tracting, She told me, "You have one chance, pick the building." We picked this one and yes, every door rejected us but once we reached the LAST door, this man opened up the door and we didn't even say much but he told us to come right back the next day. As we returned the next day, the whole FAMILY welcomed us RIGHT in and we shared with them the message of the Restoration. They just sat in awe, We felt to mention a little bit about the Plan of Salvation. They then asked, "Then, when are you coming back to teach us about this plan? Tomorrow maybe?" We were in awe. This is very rare by the way to have people pleading for us to come back haha so we came back and we are continuing to teach this beautiful family! It's INCREDIBLE!

​SUPER funny story from one of the little boys in our group here. We went over for a little New Years celebration to a member's home and we shared with them the importance of Christ Atonement in regards to the Fall of Adam and Eve and how Christ was CHOSEN before the world was even created to come to earth and save us from the Fall so that we may be lifted up and be brought BACK into the presence of God. We shared the story of Adam and Eve and the forbidden fruit. At the end of the lesson, the member and her husband after giving us all this food, asked us, "Why haven't you eaten the fruit?" Then the 6 year old little boy calls out-"Because it's forbidden!" Well at least he listened :)​

Another quote of the week, "After receiving the Holy Ghost, it has helped me make a mistake 5 seconds slower than I would've before" Progress am I right? We're working on it :) hahaha

I honestly just love these people. I cannot even begin to express it. It helps me to understand a little bit more WHY Christ did what He did. The Fall of Adam and Eve was in God's plan! He knew it would happen and without the Fall of Adam of Eve, we would NOT be here.
Book of Mormon: 2 Nephi 2:22 And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever,and had no end. 
23 And they would have had no childrenwherefore they
​ ​
would have remained in state of innocence, having no
​ ​
joyfor they knew no misery; doing no good, for they
​ ​
knew no sin.

24 But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom ofhim who knoweth all things.
25 Adam fell that men might be; and men arethat theymight have joy.
26 And the Messiah
​ (Christ)​
 cometh in the fulness of time, that he
​ ​
may redeem the children of men from the fall. And
​ ​
because that they are redeemed from the fall they have
​ ​
become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for
​ ​
themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the
​ ​
punishment of the law at the great and last day, according
​ ​
to the commandments which God hath given
​.​

​Christ truly came in the fulness of time to REDEEM us from the Fall. That includes His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, His suffering on the cross, and His resurrection. This is Christ's INFINITE Atonement. While through the Fall, we have fallen, but through Christ, He lifts us UP. He descended BELOW all things, so that we may be lifted up! Christ suffered so much and WHY? Because of love. He could fulfill the will of the Father BECAUSE He has perfect love. He HAD to live a perfect life in order to fulfill His Atonement. That's why He CHOSE to be perfect because He had PERFECT love for us! Imagine the power of love! And I mean charity-the PURE love of Christ. Without it, we are nothing because if you think about it, charity is EVERYTHING! The plan was created, Christ came, we have families, all because of love. The fruit of the tree of life in 1 Nephi 8 represents the LOVE of God which represents Christ's Atonement. We must choose to come unto Him as we are free to choose! As we come unto Him and partake of His love, meaning APPLY His Atonement in our lives, we will be LIFTED up. We WILL find true, pure, and infinite JOY that is "whiter above anything that is white and purer above anything that is pure". And we will be FILLED with this love that we then can share with those around us. I can testify of that. If we all would just love and Christ did, then there would be world peace. If we would just love as Christ did, we would all be healed. I can testify of that with all of my heart in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

I hope you have a wonderful week!!  LOVE YOU!!!







-- 
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, January 2, 2018

Gëzuar Vitin e Ri!

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Gëzuar Vitin e Ri!! I just barely survived a war-zone of fireworks! New Years is HUGE here! We had to be in our homes last night and we have to be inside tonight at 4pm because of how crazy the fireworks are here haha there are like fireworks all out in the streets and it goes crazy! We are able to stay up to see them and went out just barely on our balcony and just about got hit haha people are like shooting them from their windows and from the roofs of all the apartment buildings here. HAPPY NEW YEAR! It was a good start :)

Culture Shocks of the Week:
1. I'm going to gain like 10 pounds due to the amount of BAKLAVA we are given here because of Vitin e Ri. It's about 1,000 calories per slice and we are at 7 this week now already......haha They are about 200 layers of dough baked, then DRENCHED in sugar water and cinnamon with some nuts. My favorite is when the Albanians tell us, "It's actually really good for you! You get your flour and nuts for the day!"
2. We had a bunch of random people call us on New Years that we have no idea how they got our number but we were wished a Happy New Year many times :)
3. The fireworks here....yet again. I'll attach a video haha but they have been lasting for like a week and they probably will for the next week.

I wanted to share about a special moment we had on Christmas Day! So Christmas caroling is not heard of here so Motra McGuire and I made about 50 cookies and starting going around all of Pogradec and hitting EVERY member and investigator we have. (We about 30 members now!!! Isn't that crazy awesome?) As we showed up singing Christmas hymns and giving out these cookies, they just start bawling sharing that they didn't expect such a thing! I love Christmastime! We ended up going home with all kinds of fruit, byrek, and interesting desserts :) It was a beautiful Christmas!

Other moments from this week was the man that was baptized this last Saturday had the opportunity to receive the Priesthood and then baptize his stepdaughter on her 8th birthday this last week. There have just been such special little moments here in Pogradec. I cannot express how much our Savior, Jesus Christ not only just heals US individually but also our relationships! I have just seen so many families united here through the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Something that we are getting really into is teaching such basic, simple doctrine one by one to our group here in Pogradec! They are incredible and their faith is incredible! I can't imagine coming from knowing nothing about Christ and then developing that incredible faith to follow Him through baptism purely due to their faith in Christ! No, they may not understand completely every doctrine and we are all still learning, but their limit in knowledge does not keep them from acting, always looking to learn, and following Christ. Sometimes we're sitting there in Sunday School and some things are said where we are like, "uhhh.....we'll have to address that." I love it though. We are always on the alert haha I love Pogradec and we just had transfer calls and I am here for another 6 weeks with Motra McGuire! I am the luckiest girl EVER because I love Motra McGuire so much! We are seeing miracles here in Pogradec! It is absolutely beautiful!

I am looking forward to this next year! My year in Albania is over which is really sad actually, but I am looking forward to serving with all my heart, might, mind, and strength these next 4 months! I love you all and will weirdly see you all so soon! Happy New Years!

Christmas sweater and Christmas PJs :)

This is one of my best friends, Aleksia :) It's been a year now since she's been baptized when I was in Korcë on Christmas Eve and I had the special Christmas gift of seeing her here in Pogradec.



BAKLAVA!



Merry Christmas :)

​I made some French Toast Casserole for New Years :)

-- 
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)


Krishtlindja të Bardha

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!! GEZUAR KRISHTLINDJET! I don't know where to begin-other than sharing that this Christmas was a WHITE CHRISTMAS!!! What that means is-WE HAD A BAPTISM!!! It truly was a Christmas miracle!! This week has just been a week of miracles as we have exercised a lot of faith in Christ to accomplish His work!

Culture Shocks of the Week:
1. An Albanian buffet!!! No that doesn't exist-but this week we had a big Christmas dinner with everyone and had everyone bring an Albanian dish so we could have a Christmas dinner together! They were so confused at first not realizing they could just put whatever they want on their plate-in this culture the people are usually served. We just told them-"Well this is the American way so dig in!" It was a blast :)
2. Traditionally all of the churches here give out gifts to children on Christmas day. So at church yesterday, we had a TON of kids show up to our church, we sadly did not have anything to give but it definitely was a crazy meeting!
3. This was the Pogradec's group's FIRST CHRISTMAS! Also-because Christmas is not really celebrated here-everybody's still open and on work and it's just like a normal day. It's so weird! We however were able to put out some cookies and milk and sit around our tree and open up packages this morning haha

So to share about the miracles from this week-At the beginning of the week we were feeling pretty sad because one of our investigator's wasn't able to be baptized due to her family being against it. However when we went to Family Home Evening on Monday, she came up to us and said that she's getting baptized on the 23rd of December! I bawled! What's the miracle about it was that it truly was because of HER faith! We previously had fasted together that she would get baptized on December 23rd and the closer and closer the date came, her family still was against it and was not letting her and I just thought, "How is this going to happen?" I definitely doubted a little bit until I was able to truly see the goodness of God and how He truly brings about miracles according to our faith-especially the faith of Nexhi! She shared with us that it was because of her 6 year old little boy-He said, "Let mama be baptized because then she'll be happy and we'll have a happy family and when I grow up and get married, I'm going to get baptized with my wife!" The power of a child's words! I'm telling you-we then had such a BEAUTIFUL baptism at Christmastime and when she got home the night from her baptism, her husband found work! The Lord truly blesses us after a trial of our faith! It is incredible!

So Nexhi is actually the daughter-in-law of the incredible woman who gave up smoking and drinking and was baptized about 4 weeks ago! They read the scriptures and pray together every night. They came up to me and told me, "You know, before we were just mother and daughter-in-law, but now we're sisters!" OH MY GOSH SO CUTE! This gospel changes lives. Really. It blesses our families! Why? Because its Christ's gospel! He does the healing! He heals our broken relationships. He heals our sorrows, our pride, our anger, and ANYTHING as long as we allow Him to and we come unto Him through FAITH! Faith is not that we just believe, but we ACT upon that which we believe. If we truly believe in Christ, then we FOLLOW Him. Like the wise men and shepherds, they didn't just hear about Christ, believe in Him, and continue about their business. They CAME unto Him! They followed the star to find Him. I love the Forgotten Carols (I listen to them all the time) and one of the songs shares this, "3 Kings they found the Lord, and so can we." We must find Him. He is the Way and the only Way! He is the Light and the only light in our lives! If we look back and feel that we have been experiencing dark times, lets think if we are letting the source of true light into our lives: Jesus Christ. I plead you to come unto Him. I have felt so much peace through Him and have seen so many lives touched, healed, and blessed because of Him. All we need to do is to "Let Him in". I testify of that and of this Christmas season. He is the Gift! He is the reason why we can have eternal families and is the Light, the Peace, and the JOY that is in this world. He is the Light of the World and I testify that this Christmas Season is all because of Him. I say that in the name of our Savior, the Light and Life of this world, even Jesus Christ, Amen.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PrLoWt2tfqg

MERRY CHRISTMAS! Gëzuar Krishtlindjet!! I love you all so so much I cannot express it enough! Have a very merry Christmas and we will chat next year! ;)

Our women's activity gathering clothing and toys to donate to others here in Pogradec :)

We got us some new coats :) THANKS GOODNESS because it's FREEZING!

Our Albanian buffet :)

Literally my buddies :)


Playing pictionary together as a group!

Us with Nexhi and her kids on her baptismal day! (I'll send more pics)

Our Christmas tree :)

--
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)