Hello Everyone!!The final moments are coming and it is pushing us to do even more and more. We are still pushing our goal of inviting thousands and baptizing many. Unfortunately, people are having a hard time coming to sacrament meeting (which is such a fundamental step in the learning and growing process) so I will not get to be here for their baptisms. But its all okay because one day it will happen when they are ready and in the Lord's timing. Why stress about things you can't control?This is an exciting but bittersweet time for me. I am reflecting on all of the things I have learned from friends, investigators, companions and leaders. Lately I have been reflecting on the time I have spent as a missionary serving here. I have come to realize that I have been very blessed to see many different aspects of missionary work. I have seen what it is like to unmotivated and motivated leaders and learned from both. I have been able to teach and find many and help prepare them for baptism and confirmation. I have come to learn to love the Lord's Work and rely on Him through prayer and guidance of the Spirit. I have learned to love the Albanian culture and its people. I have learned to accept my weaknesses and have humility. I have learned how to lead and how to be led. I have seen sorrow and success. And greatest of all, I have become converted to this Gospel and will never falter. I count this as my first and most important convert in the Church.There have been so many things that I have learned that I never thought could or would happen. I do not remember much from my blessing when I was set apart to be a missionary and that makes me sad but I do remember the words Dad said. He told me that I would not return the same person I was when I left. I remember laughing inside to myself a bit because I thought I was good enough as I was. I now laugh even more to myself when I realize how much I needed to change and how far I still have to go. His words have been prophetic and I am so grateful for the change I have seen in myself and in others around me.Today I want to close with my simple testimony that I know this is the Work of the Lord. His Spirit testifies and witnesses this of this to me everyday. Even though the going is tough from time to time, if we stop we can always see the Hand of the Lord guiding us along. I know that Christ lives and that He is our Savior and Redeemer. He loves us and has provided the Way for us to return to live with our Heavenly Father. It's all true and it all points us back to our divine home on high.Love you all!!Motra Hawkins
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Monday, June 9, 2014
It is interesting to me this principle that I have learned these past few weeks. I have been surprised to see that the harder we work the more we have to do. I feel that the Lord sees that we are willing to do more and so he has provided it for us.
Lately, we have really been trying to find families, and the Lord has blessed us with them. It seems every time we go trackting, the only time anyone lets us inside is when it is a family. Not all have been ready to receive the Gospel but I know that we were in the right spot at the right time and for them it was the perfect introduction to our church. We are still struggling to get them to come to church but I know that one day in the future these people will want learn more about us- what we do and who we are.
Even though there are hard days, I always try and remember that there is always someone out there who has it worse off., we learned from our investigator Halide that her best friend died suddenly from cancer. This came as such a hard blow to her but I am so grateful that she has an understanding of the Plan of Salvation to comfort her. I am not the best at offering good advice about death, but I know that the Lord will give her the comfort she needs. We consequently are pushing back her baptism. I guess this is a trial that she needs to help build her testimony. It is hard for us to see but I know it is according to the Lord's plan for her. She is such a great person!!
Well, I hope you are all doing well and working hard as well.
Keep strong and smiling on!
The One and Only Motra Hawkins
Monday, June 2, 2014
This past week was pretty awesome and let me tell you a few reasons why!First of all, there was a surprise baptism a couple of weeks ago that I forgot to mention. There was an investigator named Betim that called us and called us so we went to the church and sat us down to tell us a story.
He said that while at FHE another investigator that has been investigating for more than a year told he, "We should get baptized...really, we should get baptized!" And then she told him that he should pray about it.
So he did and what happened was miraculous! He told us that he prayed all night and in the morning when he woke up, he realized that he news it was true, that he had always known it was all true. Now he is our branch mission leader and is doing great! He knows all of the investigators and is doing a great job to help us keep them coming.
The most exciting part of this week was our second baptismal covenant invitation that we extended to our investigator named Kate who is an English teacher from London (Swiss Cottage to be exact) here teaching the Italians on the base. One of her students is a high ranking official who just happens to be a member from Italy who is serving here. He brought her to the church, we met last Monday, gave her a Book of Mormon, then we taught her of the Restoration and in the meantime he has basically taught her everything else (we didn't know this until recently). We met with her againand she refused our baptismal invitation because she said that she was already baptized as an infant. We were quite sad but decided to teach her more and then ask again after she understood more. To our surprise, Cosimo the Italian member, got up in sacrament meeting yesterday and bore powerful testimony and conveyed to all a very special message.
Before he was preparing to come here to Kosovo, he told his wife that he felt we would be serving a special mission while here. He then told us how after we parted ways, Kate expressed to Cosimo her desire that he baptize her. This came to me as such a great shock but wonderful news. I didn't know how to respond!! We are so excited to begin to help her as well! The best news is that she reads her Book of Mormon before teaching and all of her student have many questions about her special book. We hope this will be good exposure to a large number of people.
Other than things are moving forward little by little. We had 35 people in sacrament meeting yesterday, and almost a third of them were investigators!! The Lord is moving his work along quickly here! We have five baptisms planned for this next month as a district!
Health, peace and blessings to you all!!
Monday, May 26, 2014
So today I wanted to start by telling you about how we met our investigator Halide Volca. She is a single 30 year old Muslim Biology professor. We in fact did not find her but she actually found us. Here is the story.
The weeks leading up to our first meeting in the street, we had been planning on offering church tours to people passing in the street but didn't have a chance until that specific day. As she was walking by, we smiled and said hello and she stopped when she saw the church sign with the name of Christ. She explained to us that she is Muslim but that she has purchased a Bible and been studying it for a couple years and wanted some help to understand different books and verses. She didn't have time to come inside the church then so later in the week we went to her home and taught her of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith and then invited her to come again to the church and take a look around.
As we walked around the church and showed her the different portraits on the wall, she marveled as she had been reading of these stories for years and knew exactly what all of them were. She had so many questions about our church and how it compares to Christ's church and was thrilled to learn that they are the same. She easily accepted that our church could be led by a modern prophet and that Christ is at the head of our church. She understands the doctrine, the need for baptism and loves Christ. Even though her family is against her joining the Church, she has a strong testimony and will be a great member once she is able to overcome her fears and enter the waters of baptism. She has been sick this past week so we have not been able to meet with her but we hope to meet as soon as she has time. Consequently we may have to push her date back but she will be ready soon!
This past week was hard because we had a difficult time meeting with all of our previously found investigators, but we had a great week of finding and the Lord blessed us with a great family to teach! We are so excited!
Another crazy thing that happened this week took place. We were at the church waiting for our investigator when a man in a suit and a blonde haired woman walked in. It came to me as such a surprise when the man started speaking to me in broken English and introduced himself as Cosimo, an Italian member who is here with the military. He then introduced me to his English teacher, Kate, and told us that he has been teaching her all about the church since they met and that she is excited to learn more. We met with her again and she even came to church yesterday and wants Cosimo to baptize her children! It's fantastic! Now we just need to convince her that she needs to be baptized first. :) My favorite part of that day was when Cosimo leaned over to me and said, "Sister....Golden Contact!" When she asked what he said we all just laughed. :)
Another crazy thing that happened this past week took place. We had just finished lunch when our investigator called us and told us to hurry and meet her. Once we found her, she was a mess in tears and told us that because she had put up a picture of Christ on her wall, her landlord told her she had an hour to pack up her belongings and get our or they were going to through her things away, just an hour before she had to be to work. We helped her throw everything into bags and calm her down. The entire time I was thinking how crazy the entire situation was. The only good thing about the whole problem was the comment Ermira made at the end when she said, "What did He ever do wrong to them? Even though they all hate Him. And what is He going to do? He is going to forgive them." I was taught so much.
The last experience that I want to mention also came as a surprise. We were out trackting and the Elders gave us a call and told us our investigator was waiting for us at the church. Her name is Bleta and she is a political leader and is running for leadership in the government. She came to the church to ask us if we could say a prayer for the country of Kosovo. For the better part of twenty minutes she explained the problems to me and my companion and largely expanded my political vocabulary. Then she turned to me and asked me to say a prayer. I was a little scared but I turned to the Lord and simply asked to bless the people and leaders here. The Spirit in the room was strong and I prayed for things I would have never thought to say. The experience was truly remarkable and I hope that the people here will be blessed.
Well that is all for this week. Don't count down the days and I'll see you all that much sooner!
Monday, May 19, 2014
So long story short I don't have much time today so I have to keep it short.
This week has been great and we were able to achieve many of the goals that we set for ourselves, especially in regard to teaching new investigators. The saddest part of the week was that we had to say good-bye to our lovely Senior couple. It has been hard without them but I think the branch will continue to run without them.
I also wanted to let you know that we have an investigator who is going to get baptized!!! Her name is Halide and she is the one that has been studying the bible for so long. I have never met someone who has been so prepared to receive the message of the Gospel! I see her as an amazing future member, teacher and leader in this branch. She has a strong testimony of the Savior and simply understands the principles of the Gospel. She will be such a great blessing to this branch!Well, that is all I have for today. Love you all and can't wait to hear from you soon!
Monday, May 5, 2014
I must start by saying that I am so grateful for Albania and the principles that it taught me while I was there. It greatly prepared me for all of the things that I would face while here in Kosovo. Multiple times on a daily basis others testify to me that there truly is no Christ and that the Bible is full of lies. This is always hard to hear but strengthens my testimony because I know what I know and no one else can take that from me.
I know that Christ is the Savior of the World. I know that we have need for a Redeemer so that we can be forgiven of our sins. I know that Christ was born of a Heavenly Father and earthly mother. These things I know amoung many other truths.
Missionary work has always been hard work- if it wasn't such there would be a lot more missionaries around the world. Fighting for the salvation of others is never an easy task but I am so grateful that I get to be a soldier in the Lord's army. Every day!! I understand that there are many things that I still have to learn and I look forward to the stretching and growth.
The work here is slowly growing and we are finding and inviting more and more people. This past week we had success getting our one investigator who has accepted baptism to come to church! She really loved what she saw at church and is excited to come again. Even though she is Muslim, she bought a Bible and has been studying it for about 10 years so she understands everything that we do in our church. The priesthood, the sacrament, and ordinance of baptism are not new things for her. The best part of our last teaching opportunity was that she expressed that she sincerely felt she has found the truth. The look on her face and the Spirit in the room was undeniable! She too soon will be a member of this great church. One by the one, the Lord is sending His chosen children into our midst.
I never tire of this work and am excited to see what the Lord has in store for the lovely country of Kosovo!!
With a heart full of love,
Monday, April 28, 2014
Hey Family and Friends!
It seems that the Lord is making some great preparations for this country and is also preparing His missionaries as well. These past two weeks have been rough but they have been great learning experiences as well. I think that rejection hollows out the heart leaving more room to love. We literally had one day of entire rejection from our most progressing investigators. We have not had much success in the usual respect, but rather have been forced to try new things and have been given hidden success (i.e. success that isn't measured by numbers and statistics). We have been able to talk to many people and invite many more! I learned a lot of things that I was not expecting. We had a really great conversation with a man from Chicago who felt led to come to Kosovo but didn't know why. I believe it was so that we could find him and such that he could find the church. As for our other little family we found last week, they have been busy and we have not met them again but we are never going to give up. We gave them a Book of Mormon stories book with pictures for there little children to read and hope we can go and watch the Restoration video soon.I also want to report that we had a great exchange in Macedonia with the sisters there! It was sad to see the Anderson's leave and I could feel the great love that is in that branch. I sense that the Lord has great things planned for that country! Being there was like walking into the real Europe I always imagined and I actually saw the church of Mother Teresa! It was great! The sisters are doing great and I enjoyed sharing with them new ideas to find more people and reach a bigger audience. It was great. I never thought I would serve in all of the countries of my mission but it happened.I also wanted to share my testimony of the miraculous power of the Lord in teaching me. Before serving as a missionary I never understood my need to completely rely on the Spirit and the need to delve into the scriptures to find personal spiritual truths. I understand now the need all of us have to learn to literally feat upon the words of Christ. May you all do so as well!!
Have a great week!