Culture Shocks of the Week:
1. We found a coconut haha and couldn't figure out how to open it so we smashed it on the floor.
2. So everything is centered around New Years here-Christmas is not really celebrated so the lights are New Years Lights, the trees are New Years trees, and even Santa Claus is Babi Gjyshi that just means dad grandpa and he comes around for New Years. New Years is pretty HUGE here.
3. We are introducing a ton of Christmas traditions to the people here one being Christmas cookie decorating! No cookie cutters don't exist so we hand carved trees, snowmen, and ornaments. We'll see how it goes tonight at Family Night :)
I cannot explain how much my week this week changed from night to DAY once I centered Christ in it! He is the LIGHT of the World! You would think that being a missionary, I'd have to always be happy and perfect centering my life on Christ but let me tell you-if we are not making the conscious effort to center Him in our life-it's easy to forget. I was trying to find new ways to improve and I felt I was going through the motions. EVERYTHING changed once my companion and I started getting really into the LightTheWorld service and started to do everything with LOVE! Love, pure love, truly comes from CHRIST! He turns our night to DAY! While I struggled for some time, everything changed when I was reminded to remember Him and serve as He did. He did so much-He healed, He taught, and He suffered. Yes it was hard, but I don't think it was hard for Him to keep going as He had a purpose as to what He was doing this all for. He did all that He did for us because He has PERFECT LOVE! This is what this LightTheWorld is all about! He is the light of the world and we can be the Light of the World. Then as we serve and we are that light, we are FILLED with Light which means we are FILLED with love! It's truly a beautiful thing!
I want to share with you of this light and the Christmas miracles from this week. Some things we were able to do was one day, we bought a TON of oranges and were going through the streets and searching for those who were in need whether that be the beggars in the streets or people we were led to. I cannot express the joy and gratitude that filled their countenance as we gave them this simple mandarin orange. Another day we visited some of the widowed women in our group and heart attacked them with paper hearts and notes. It was the most precious thing to witness the humble gratitude from these people!
Our Christmas MIRACLES were that in English Course, we had light 6 people ask for a Book of Mormon and we have this woman that we are working with that has a HUGE desire to be baptized! Her husband in the beginning wasn't allowing her but this last week, on his 3 hours off of work in the week, he got his family all together and they all came in to CHURCH! WHAT?! He came and their whole family sat together and it was the most beautiful thing! I cried! I truly believe that miracles are happening here in Pogradec. If there's one thing I am learning is how GOOD God is! You've probably heard this before but it's SO TRUE! Honestly I just love sitting back (well, maybe not that, we're always working haha) and just watching Him work! This is His work! I used to have this fear that I'd mess it up but it's not like that. This IS His work. It's just a matter of the desire that I have to be an instrument in His hands to bring about miracles. He will accomplish His work. The Spirit makes up for what I cannot achieve and I can testify of that. I love my Heavenly Father and my Savior!
I just wanted to conclude saying that Jesus IS the Light! I read in Helaman 14 in the Book of Mormon with Samuel the Lamanite prophesying, 3 And behold, this will I give unto you for a sign at the time of his coming; for behold, there shall be great lights in heaven, insomuch that in the night before he cometh there shall be no darkness, insomuch that it shall appear unto man as if it was day.
4 Therefore, there shall be one day and a night and a day, as if it were one day and there were no night; and this shall be unto you for a sign; for ye shall know of the rising of the sun and also of its setting; therefore they shall know of a surety that there shall be two days and a night; nevertheless the night shall not be darkened; and it shall be the night before he is born.
5 And behold, there shall a new star arise, such an one as ye never have beheld; and this also shall be a sign unto you.
The sign of Christ's birth was LIGHT and only LIGHT! Then, Samuel proceeds to testify of the sign of Christ's death in that same chapter that it will be 3 days of darkness. We see that without Christ, there cannot possibly be light! So what will happen when we come unto Him? We will be FILLED with light! I testify of that! We are teaching a woman right now who knows NOTHING about Christ and it's so beautiful to see her fill with light little by little. We started with His birth this week and have the blessing to teach her about His life. He is MY light and I love my Savior SO MUCH! I am NOTHING without Him! I can testify that as we come unto Him, we are FILLED with LIGHT! Let's LIGHT THE WORLD! I testify of that in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
I LOVE YOU ALL!! I hope you have a wonderful week and if you need a message or a friend to talk to, I am here :) Every Monday haha
Our Christmas tree with our little group here in Pogradec.
We helped a woman to see and gave her a magnifying glass so she could read :)
Changing the world one orange at a time!
Our heart attacking :)
New Years Lights!
Our hand carved sugar cookies. Please note the star I attempted to cut out ;)
Mirupafshim! Të dua!