Monday, September 30, 2013

Rain, Miracles and Fasting -- September 30, 2013

Hey Family!!

I just have to start by letting you all know that I am loving it here in Durres. The first couple weeks were hard, especially trying to work things out with my companion but now things are smooth sailing. I am learning how to communicate with these people more and more and I am falling in love with Albanian. Where I am at there are two main dialects- Tosk and Gheg. The first is the kind that you learn from textbooks and is very "clean" as we say. Basically it is the kind that everyone can understand. The second is a very "thick" accent and much more fun to speak and so I am teaching myself/having members help me understand and speak it. Pretty much you can just cut off the end of a lot of words and get really lazy with your grammar so it's a lot of fun and it sounds really cool. I am hoping that at the end of my 4 months here that I will be able to be taken as a Kosovar but who knows??? My companion on the other hand is really struggling with the language and no one really understands her when she speaks Albanian so I am helping her as much as I can every day. It is helping me know more as I teach her what I know. Pretty much the best way to learn eh?

Now I want to talk about this past week. Like I had hoped a couple of weeks ago, this past week was amazing and full of many mini miracles! Lately we have been struggling (okay desperate might be a better word) with meeting with our investigators and also with finding new investigators. It seemed for a while that everything was stagnant or digressing and we were feeling very saddened by our lack of teaching. My companion has a great testimony and I was very excited to let her have the opportuntiy to let her share that with others but more often than not our lessons would fall through. But the great news is that this week everything has changed around, especially since we fasted on Saturday. I bear a firm testimony to you all that the Lord does and hear our prayers if we are sincere. In just a few days we were able to find five new investigators and able to meet with most of them. People suddenly became available and investigators have been finding us. The most miraculous were two sisters, one of which was an extremely inactive teenager who brought her sister to church and just showed up on Sunday. Another one called us and set up a time to meet without us even trying and she has so many good questions. She has a lot of potential!! This past week we were also able to find a couple of inactive members and invite to come to church again. The best part is that we were able to get two of them to come through the help of a member. There were also a lot of little miracles that added up to a wonderful week and we are planning for a great week to come as well!

Love you all! Hope to hear from you all next week!


Motra Hawkins

P.S. Here is me with a pomegranite our investigator gave us. Fun huh?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Lushnje, Police Station and Trios!! September 23, 2013

Hey Y'all, 
I don't have much time to write this week in cause of an unexpected trip to the police station (no we didn't get put in jail we only had to pick up a car crash report for our sister trainer leaders) so I will have to make it short. The first part of this week was crazy because we were in a three-some in Lushnje and then back here in Durres as a three-some again unexpectedly. It was great to see all of my favorite members in Lushnje again but it was even harder to say good-bye once again! I was able to show Motra Curtis (the one who is staying there for the next four months) the area and help her understand the circumstances and needs of the members and current investigators. It was hard to get my mind back in the area and thinking about those people again but it was great. We finished our stay there with a wonderful Zone Training where we set some awesome goals for our area. By the end of the year we have set a goal to baptize 26 new members and get our church attendance to 100+. Right now we have had two baptisms this transfer and we have 17 dates set with 10 on the the same day! It's going to be a great service!! The work has been really hard for us this week, even harder than last week because almost every lesson we set up falls through, but I know this next week will be amazing!! It's like that saying, the night is always the darkest before the sun rises, right? Well, other than the fact that my companion is bad luck (just to name a couple of things she has done the past week include breaking the handle on our dryer and faucet as well as dying all of her garments a beautiful sky-blue) so we are going to experiment a couple of Albanian based ways of gaining luck by handing stuffed animals in rooms, throwing salt around, as well as using rabbit's feet and an eagle eye. I'll have to let you know next week if anything comes from it! 
Love you all!! 
Motra Hawkins

Monday, September 9, 2013

DURRËS!!! September 9, 2013

Hey Family!! 
Gratefully I am glad to say that I am back in Durres. When I got the call last week, I was really sad that I had to leave Lushnje and cried quite a bit. Okay, I was extremely sad to have to leave Lushnje but I am glad to be back here with all of my old friends/members/investigators in Durres. There are so many people here that I forgot about and am so grateful to be part of the work here again. It is so strange having a "ward" of about 90 members with a giant beautiful church building and the relief of not having to worry about everything  in regards to sacrament meeting. For instance before I would have to constantly remind all of the young men to wear white shirts and ties with pants instead of a t-shirt with shorts and flip-flops. I can hardly believe how different it is here- all of the youth were Sunday appropriate clothing and there are sooo many members that come. We also didn't have to worry about an inadequite number of priesthood holders attending. It was so great!  I am excited to get to really know all of the members again now that I can actually communicate with them. In comparison to last time, I think I did not understand as much as I did understand my first week here (which translates to that I almost understood everything when at first I understood nothing that was said).  
Oh and yes I am training again!! It is a bit difficult and I feel bad for the poor girl because she can't understand a lick of Albanian but she is really sweet. Her name is Motra Smith and is from Sandy. She is basically a much more shy version of me- loves to quote the Emperor's New Groove, is obsessed with rock climbing and loves Nutella. It's going to be a great transfer if I can just help her be able to speak Albanian. She is having a bit of a rough time adjusting with the time and especially the language, but I know once she gets over that she will be a great tool in the hands of the Lord. The best part is that she is not afraid to make mistakes and never gets embarrassed when she doesn't understand. She just tells them truthfully that she does not understand and then I translate for her. Also, she is not afraid to try new things so I things will go very well this transfer with the two of us-I feel like there are a lot more things I can do with her that I could not with Motra Wait. We spent some time making some great goals for the transfer in addition to our weekly goals so that we can have a vision for this transfer and mini-transfer. I am really excited to see how everything will go for the next four months.  
Well that is all for now. Love you all!! 
Motra Hawkins

Monday, September 2, 2013

It's the End as I Know it... September 2, 2013

Hey There Family, 
Well to say it how it is, right now my heart is broken. I just found out last night that I will be transferred to Durres (pronounced Dew-Rus) to train again. 
Today was a bit hard (okay really really hard!!!) saying goodbye to everyone here in Lushnje, but I know that I am needed in Durres. Maybe that is why it was so hard to say goodbye to everyone. Our last visit was with Rista and Pirro Cauli and that was probably the hardest thing I have done in a long time...almost as hard as saying goodbye to Mom and Dad at the MTC. They truly are like my Albanian parents! The greatest miracle is that they were both baptized on Saturday (see picture below) and confirmed yesterday. My heart is broken and my eyes won't quick heart hurts so bad but I know that I am needed in Durres. I have truly loved serving in Lushnje as hard as all of the struggles were both big and small. When President Ford called me last night he told me the reason that I am going back to Durres is because I am needed as a key trainer because Durres will become a ward shortly (when we get a stake here!!!) and I am needed to secure the fort up there. I hope that this next training adventure will be equally rewarding and full of growth as this last one has been. I can hardly believe how much this area has changed since we first got here and all of the wonderful people with whom we were able to meet and teach. I will definitely be leaving a piece of my heart here when I go.  
Well, that is all I have for this week. I hope this email finds you all well and happy! 
Motra Hawkins