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, October 9, 2017

Edhe Një Qind!!!

WOOOOOO! EDHE NJE QIND!! (And 100 years. Every Albanian says it when it's your birthday) This last week was an awesome one and I actually got to spend my birthday at a zone conference so it was fun to see some of my old companions-especially Motra Jones from the MTC! I love her!! She and her comp made me a little cake and then sent me the Korcë Branch singing to me happy birthday :) It was awesome! And I'm 20 now-what the heck! Well, I will have to say, I've had the most happen and I've learned SO MUCH this last year than any other year in my life so it's been a good one!! (I'll let you know next week what I've learned in a year ;) Haven't hit my year mark yet!

Culture Shocks of the Week:
1. So the Albanians have this superstition where you can't wish somebody happy birthday before their birthday or it's bad luck. So didn't realize it was my birthday until they all shouted it out to me on my birthday ;)
2. They have a lottery here to go to America and it is HUGE! Everybody gets super into it!
3. I love how much the people here are huge into cooking! They get so excited to see what they'll cook for the next day. We were carving pumpkins on Monday for a Family home Evening Activity with our little group here and one of the mothers asked, "Can I take our pumpkin home and make it into a byrek?" It was awesome!! 

To be honest, I can't remember much of this lat week haha I swear time is SPEEDING UP! But what's crazy is that my companion GOES HOME on Wednesday and I am getting a new companion tomorrow: Motra Saldana! She is also in her last 6 weeks of her mission so I will be her companion until the end just like with Motra Risk! Crazy! Motra Saldana is from Mexico. It looks like I'm going to be in Pogradec for a while! I love this place and these people so I'm living it up!

Some activities and things we've had this last week have been that we went on a bike riding activity with the members and others to these BEAUTIFUL villages on water!! We also watched General Conference this last weekend with everyone and it was awesome! It's incredible to see how much more Albanian I understand after just 6 months from the last General Conference Session. We all gathered together, and had a potluck this last weekend. Let me tell you-Albanian and their cooking and everybody bringing their best dish was absolutely fantastic! They were all super excited too!! We also had a full out meal with that couple that was recently baptized and they made us the koran fish!! Found out why they're rare-their endangered. And I'm being fed them....

This last week we had some pretty powerful experiences I wanted to share with you. I just want to share with you the power of the Book of Mormon! This last week, this woman we are teaching as she's been reading the Book of Mormon, she said to us one day, "This book. It's not like it's forcing us to believe in Christ or to join some religion. It's as if it IS the way! This IS God's way!" We then had another family we are teaching-I LOVE THEM-and the father was talking about work on Sunday. I felt impressed to share 1 Nephi 3:7 from the Book of Mormon-one that we all know and love:
1 Nephi 3:7 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.
After that moment, I saw him so determined to work and to find a way so he can keep the Sabbath Day because he knew that through the Lord, there will be a way to accomplish all that the Lord has commanded.
We have a Heavenly Father that cares about us and loves us-in every DETAIL of our lives! I have seen that not only through myself, but through others. I see the excitement of others to read the Book of Mormon. I actually actually printed off the Book of Mormon pages (the book font was too small) in English and the lady who received them was so excited to read and then she realized it was in English....dang it....haha I love the love that these people have to learn and to come unto Christ! It is powerful and especially after listening to conference, I am coming to learn more and more about how beautiful the Book of Mormon is! Please read it everyday. It is something so sweet above anything that is sweet and so pure above anything that is pure. It truly consists the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ that brings us closer to Christ and closer to joy. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Pumpkin Carving for Family Home Evening!!

Bike Riding Activity!

One of the communist bunkers painted into a ladybug. I love it!

The village on water :)

Literally I love my life :)

My companion Motra Risk and me! I love her tons it's crazy she's going home!

MOTRA JONES!!! I LOVE THIS GIRL!! I was so happy to be with her on my birthday!

I LOVE THIS FAMILY! I spent my birthday with them and it was the best! Yes-we had roasted chestnuts just like from the Christmas song!

My birthday breakfast! Yeah-THAT'S MAPLE SYRUP THERE! You have no idea how happy that makes me to find a little bit of home here in Albania :) Shout out to my New Hampshire folks!! I miss you TONS actually! Hopefully I can visit you soon! ;) ;)

Officially 20!!!

We were over at this recent converts' home with the Elders and like every Albanian, they gave up slippers. The slippers were just a little too small for the Elders....hahaha then mine were massive!

The Koran fish!

Motra Risk and me at dinner!

​Albanian potluck!

We went out to bowl for our last P-Day​

​Spending time with the Tirana Sisters :)​

​All the Sisters in the mission! We had a Sisters Conference recently!​

Mirupafshim! Të dua!
Motra Olsen

Gëzuar Pervjetori!!!

HEY THERE EVERYONE!!! So first off-I love you tons. Second off-POGRADEC HAS BEEN OPEN FOR A YEAR!! It opened when Korcë opened up so it has been the coolest thing to be here for it all (that means I'm almost hitting my year mark-YIKES!) We had a celebration for Pogradec's first year anniversary this week! I am so thankful I was able to be apart of that :)

Culture Shocks of the Week:
1. WE ATE THE KURAN FISH!!! There is a fish that is only found in the Macedonian lake here and somewhere in Russia (but only sold here). It's even illegal to eat it in Macedonia so we had a rare experience in this cute little village along the lake. It was good.
2. I've been realizing how much of a lack of American food I've had that I about cried when for Sister's Conference this week, we had homemade soup and apple crisp! Sorry-these aren't much of a shock for you :)
3. So our hose broke that was attached to our shower head so I've become skilled using a bucket :) There are just some things you don't get around to fixing.....haha we'll get to that

This last week, we met this incredible woman in the street. I honestly don't even remember beginning to talk to her. She just shared the stresses that she's been going through and we got her number to find a time to meet with her. I then remember feeling that we needed to contact her 2 days later. As we met up with her and shared with her the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, she just sat in awe sharing that we were sent to her by God and this is a sign for her. She doesn't actually know a lot about Christ being raised in a different religion and when she learned what Christ had done for her, I saw her light up and her struggles leave her mind. She has such a desire to know more about Christ and I have already seen an immediate impact in her life as she has been reading the Book of Mormon and listening to the words from the General Conference Woman's Session.

We also had the chance to have a baptism here in Pogradec of a couple. After their baptism, they just shared their desire and excitement to now prepare to go to the temple and be sealed as a couple. I just saw them beaming as they stepped out of the lake and stood there together wrapped in each other's embrace. I honestly love this gospel so much. I've had many people here-including tourists-telling me that what I'm doing is a waste of time and what I believe in is false hope and that I'm not living real life. Let me tell you something-THIS IS REAL LIFE! And if anything-I am HAPPY! And TRULY happy! Do you know why? Because I KNOW that Christ is MY Savior! I KNOW that this is HIS gospel and that it is RESTORED through the prophet Joseph Smith and we are led and directed by a living prophet of God today! Why would God change? Why would He stop giving us direction and stop showing His love for us THROUGH directing us through HIS prophets? He is our Father in Heaven and He loves us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, so that if we follow Him we WILL find JOY. When we follow the prophet, we follow Christ because all that the prophets testify of and speak of are the words of Christ. I testify of these things because I have found JOY! The source of joy is Jesus Christ and I testify of that because not only have I personally found it, but being here for this past year, I have found and seen COUNTLESS people through following Christ and His gospel in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints change from a person filled with sorrows, to a beaming person happy even if they can only afford a loaf of bread. They are happy because they know they have a Savior and a family and others surrounding them. This gospel is TRUE! And if you don't know for yourself, I have one request for you:
I'm really passionate about this because I want you to be happy. All I can say that if you haven't done it, or it's been some time, just do it. Ask God if the Book of Mormon is true. Ask God if His church is restored or even if He loves you! If you sincerely ask, He will sincerely answer you.

Moroni 10:4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.
And whatsoever thing is good is just and true; wherefore, nothing that is good denieth the Christ, but acknowledgeth that he is.
And ye may know that he is, by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore I would exhort you that ye deny not the power of God; for he worketh by power, according to the faith of the children of men, the same today and tomorrow, and forever.
I'm really passionate about this because I want you to be happy. All I can say that if you haven't done it, or if it's been some time since you've asked God, just do it. Ask God if the Book of Mormon is true. Ask God if His church is restored or even if He loves you! If you sincerely ask, He will sincerely answer you. Once you receive an answer, act on that and you will surprise yourself. Or more that God will surprise you :) 
There have been many things that I have learned one my mission-some being that I can whip up a batch of no bake cookies in 20 minutes when we have a last second need for refreshments, or that you can make about 20 different Albanian desserts with flour, sugar, and oil, but something so REAL and so TRUE that I have learned is how REAL the love of God is. He loves YOU. And not just you as a people or as a group, but you individually. One by one, individually we teach, we serve, and just to bring one more soul unto Christ; one more soul to true joy. I testify of that in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
 This is a very special image to me of the Savior walking along Pogradec. <3
Heading to Tirana for Sisters Conference!! All of the Sisters in the Mission gathered together for a Sisters conference put together by our mission president's wife: Motra Anderson. She is SO CUTE! We all got scarves going along with her message, "Fear knot"

Me and the Macedonian Sisters :)

Back with my girls :)

At the Anniversary all of the missionaries were on the cake! Notice all the Elders and then Motra Risk and I on at the end :) I am so thankful I have the opportunity to be here :)

Me and my comp :)

Our invitation to the anniversary.

She got baptized!!! I love her :)

Baptism at the lake.

I love these people/

The Kuran Fish!!!

​Bonus Pic :)

Monday, September 25, 2017

Heyo Cookie Ya’r the Whole World

Hahaha this is what I walk out to see everyday as we head out to work. It's my favorite :)

Culture Shocks of the Week:
1. WINTER'S COMING! Do you know what that means? All of the women and families at this time are canning peppers and jam, making homemade pasta, and spending their days storing food for the winter when the fruits and vegetables aren't in season. Now that's what I talk about following the prophet's council of food storage!
2. As we were studying in our apartment, we hear some MAJOR chanting outside and walked out to see a professional futboll game begin at the stadium by our apartment. It was AWESOME! Then it starting pouring and everybody sprinted away it was the funniest thing! 
3. Lots of rain here :) I love it. And thunderstorms! 

A major blessing from this last week was that I got to go on an exchange with MOTRA JONES my companion from the MTC!! I love her! She currently is my Sister Training Leader and I went to Elbasan for a day. It was fun to teach lessons and spend time with her especially when we could speak more than, "God loves you" in Albanian. :) 

This week was yet another good week as we are still continuing to teach both of those families. I will say it is my favorite thing going out and meeting with this families. We all gather around, usually the mother makes some sugar drenched cake or brings out a byrek along with some juice (this is a usual tradition to guests. It's calling "qeras" The host brings out some drink and then some sort of treat or candy). It is good :) Then we all gather around and have a lesson. It is honestly so special to talk about eternal families and see them all work and progress together! As we finish a lesson, we all kneel and have a family prayer. WOW how powerful it is! I love family prayer :) If you're not doing family prayer everyday-DO IT! That's all I can say. It truly brings us all closer together as a family.

Something that I've began to start doing more that has helped me SO MUCH in feasting on the words of Christ through reading the Book of Mormon and the scriptures is using a study journal and keying and commenting on each verse that stands out to me and teaches me something. It's actually incredible! This week I learned a lot more about repentance and what it means. It is so much more than just asking for forgiveness and then continuing on with our lives. Repentance means that we TURN to God. Literally, we decide that in that moment we will follow God and His will. I love Elder Holland's comment, "You can change anything you want to change and you can do it veryfast. That’s another Satanic sucker-punch—that it takes years andyears and eons of eternity to repent. It takes exactly as long to repentas it takes you to say “I’ll change”—and mean it."
I have just found that as we turn to the Lord in prayer, rely on Him, and serve Him, He WILL heal us! That's what repentance does! We see that in the Book of Mormon with Alma and the Sons of Mosiah (Mosiah 28). They were the "vilest of sinners" however when they decided that they would repent and turn to God, their hearts were changed and they desired the welfare of others and to serve God! 
It was so much more than just stopping what they were doing, but truly CHANGING! How awesome is THAT? We can do that too! In order to truly repent, just turn to the Lord and He will change us! Life is SO MUCH BETTER that way! We just need to obey His commandments and follow Him and He is just WAITING to pour out His Spirit and blessings upon us! I testify of that as I have knelt in prayer and asked the Lord what He would have me change or do, and He truly guides and directs me. It is then that I am filled with the greatest joy: True joy. God knows better :) Something I realized this last week was that "Working with the Lord means working smart because it's dumb not to" -Motra Olsen. Quote for the day!! I know this to be true in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

I LOVE YOU ALL! Have just a fantastic week and let me know how you are all doing! (Please ;))
Back with Motra Jones for a day!!

Me and some girls in Elbasan!

A day in Elbasan.

Motra Risk, Motra Jones, and me 

Motra Dunn too :)
Mastering byrek with a Nëna in the branch.

Mirupafshim! Të dua!
Motra Olsen

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

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