Monday, November 25, 2013

Hey Everyone!!

Hola family...oh wait...C'kemi!! 
So to start off, I just wanted to comment about something my mission president said to me in my weekly email. He told me that our key indicators from last week would be just about perfect for any missionary. I laughed in response and when I told Motra Smith she did the same thing. This entire time we have never considered how our success might compare to others and we have never thought that our success is anywhere near perfect. I guess my idea of perfect would be a baptism every week and all of my investigators attending church so it'll take a bit of time for that to start happening. And then the next step is baptizing entire congregations..but that is going to take some time. We have been very blessed this past week and we have seen many miracles, much like every other week I guess. There have been some problems with investigators coming to church because they have been sick or visiting sick family members, but I believe that once the weather becomes a bit more regular things should start looking up.  
With the arrival of the new sisters, Motra Smith and I have enjoyed the search for lost members to go and teach since we gave most of the known members to them. It was hard to give them up but we are excited to work and support new people. It has been nice to sit down and visit with them and encourage them to return to activity! It is a hard job and sometimes I don't know what to say but the Lord always provides. 
It's great to see the progress of this branch and I know it won't be long until they will be ready to be a steam-engine ward!! Now we need to start finding and teaching those who will make up the new branch they will have to establish to compensate for all of the new members. :)
One interesting thing that happened yesterday was that I had the opportunity to give a talk in sacrament meeting. Now remember that this is a nerve racking thing to do in English, but imagine doing it in another language with 10 minutes notice. The branch president came up to me right after we arrived and said that the supposed-to-be speaker did not show and asked me if I would do it in her place. The old me would have said "No way Jose, find someone else because I need time to prepare." but this is something I have been working on lately- to never back down to hard challenges and so the challenge was accepted. I have to admit that it was probably the best sacrament meeting talk I have ever given in my entire life. When the Spirit teaches and you are simply the tool, that is when the greatest amount of people learn (and that was me included!).
Some fun things that we did this past week includes: we found a pumpkin (which is basically like finding a rare pokemon) and made a sweet jack-o-lantern and then some pumpkin bread and pumpkin pancakes as well, we made a sweet apple pie! (see picture below), we had a surprise leadership training which was phenomenal, I was kissed in the ear, we almost drown from all of the water that has been coming down, and basically just had a great week. This next week is exciting because we are celebrating Thanksgiving together as a mission and will be having a talent show and a dessert contest. It's going to be great!! 
I love you all. Have a great week!!  
Motra Hawkins

Monday, November 18, 2013


Here are some other fotos of Durres. Enjoy.

Families are Eternal

Hello Again Family!
It's hard to believe that another week has come and gone! It seems that just yesterday I was here writing to you all. I guess that is a good sign because the days aren't going to slow but it makes me sad because I know this is all going to be over in the blink of an eye.
This past week was very special because we had a baptism. If you remember our investigator Flutra is the mother of our branches most recent missionary. Elder Hallulli has been serving as a mini missionary for the past month. We started teaching his mother just after he left and just a couple days ago he received his visa and is now on his way to the Provo MTC. We was here just in time to baptize his mother. It was such a special moment to see him baptize her. For three years he has been waiting for his mother and this was the perfect timing. How can someone look at this situation and not see the hand of the Lord? She was really nervous but at the same time very excited. I am so grateful that we were able to take part in it. Below is a picture of us with their family. Our focus is now the father!!
This past week was full of miracles like the last, but the most exciting is that we have found a returning member who was baptized back in 1996 and went inactive after we denied the opportunity to serve a mission and because he was offended by some old members. Last night we were able to meet with his son and daughter and invited them to be baptized and they accepted! I have never met any children who knew the Bible so well! The best part of the story is that he wants them to both serve a mission (though they are only ages 14 and 10) and accepts everything we say. We are praying that he will return to activity alongside his wife. As you can tell, lately we have really been focusing on teaching families, completing families, and inviting them to come to church as a family. This is how we come the the earth and it is how we live through the eternities.Why not work on helping them come together sooner than later?
Other than that, things are going great like usual. I am continuing to learn so many things every day and am so excited to see what each new day has to teach me. One principle that I really impressed me from my personal study today is found in Moses 6:59. Here is clearly teaches the symbolism in birth-baptism-and our needed re-birth. The connection between the Spirit, blood and Spirit is beautiful!! I encourage you to stop and read and study the scripture right now and seek to understand the connection to baptism.
Well, that is all I have for this week. I hope you are all doing well and enjoying yourselves. Qofte nje dite e bukur! May you have a beautiful day!
Motra Hawkins

Monday, November 11, 2013

Happy Day 300!! November 11, 2013

Hello Everyone!

So the good news is that this week was absolutely packed with blessings and people to teach. We one lesson away from 30 total lessons which equates to a lot of people, a lot of changing and a set of two very tired missionaries. Things are starting to get a little tense between the two of us because Motra Smith gets ornery when she doesn't get enough to eat so we are working on fixing that problem. Things have been quite outstanding for us and I feel that things are going well with the work but that we still need to find a better balance physically with the work. It seems that lately investigators like to not answer their phones at night when we call and then the next day they call and ask if we can meet right then, which leads to a bit of running around to try and make everything work out. I am hoping for my companion's sake that this next week is better, but other than that I cannot complain about anything.
There have been so many miracles this week that I may just have to make a list starting from the beginning. Let's see if I can describe the waterfall of blessings that have fallen upon us this week.

First of all we had a great zone training at the beginning of the week and made a goal of talking to at least 10+ daily outside of street contacting. We put this into play and have seen immediate blessings. It is easier for me to stay focused on my purpose, we are finding more people to teach and it is a great way to spread the gospel. We also were able to find more investigator who want to be baptized (so now we have a grand total of 9 for the next month!!) and all of them came to church yesterday (a total of 12 investigators came!!). In regards to the branch, there is finally more communication between us and the branch presidency and our branch mission leader after I helped him understand how frustrating it is for us to give them a list of our concerns, announcements and problems, and then we never hear anything back or receive any help week after week. Things are a bit better now and they can only get better. I think we all understand now that their should be no difference between the branch's work and the missionaries work, to a certain degree. We also have been blessed to be asked by the District President to help with a missionary work themed activity for the YSA. It's going to be great!! We also are working more with the RS to find lost members and members are now inviting us into their homes, instead of the other way around. I don't think I have ever been so busy in my entire life, but it is amazing!! Also, we discovered the secret to getting people to commit to baptism! We have an investigator from English we invited to church, met with her after the meetings, and then she asked us if she could be baptized. It was magical!! We also have a baptism for this Saturday which we are really excited about- it is the Elder's mother who is going to come and he is going to baptize her. It is going to be beautiful!! Also, we are going to be receiving an additional set of sister missionaries in our district so we will have more sisters than elders (like I secretly prayed)! It's going to be great!! There were other great things that happened but I will stop now so this email doesn't get too long.
 The moral of the story is there are truly miracles everywhere, you just have to stop and find them!

Love you all!

Motra Hawkins

Monday, November 4, 2013

All in a Day's Work -- November 4, 2013

Hey Family! 
The bad news is that this week has not been nearly as effective as the last. We led the mission last week with 17 investigator lessons in the presence of a member but this week was not as efficient as the last.  But we are continuing to work hard and teach as many as we can find! Our motto is teach as we find and find as we teach. It doesn't matter if we are with investigators, members, or less-active members, we are looking and finding referrals. Last week we even received one without even asking for it! It was awesome! Now the hard part is trying to meet with everyone. We are going to try and do member splits again once this week if we can find YW that have the time.  
The most important principle that I have learned this week is that you just have to love. When investigators or members break your trust, you have to continue to love them. When your companion is starting to annoy you, you must look past the annoyance and continue to love them. When you don't meet your expectations for yourself, you move on and love you for who you are. Charity may be a more appropriate word for the love that we must have. The more I strive to have it, the more I understand that I must seek for it more. It is not always easiest to have but it is essential for eternal progress and growth. The lack thereof can be a great stumbling block, at least I know that it has been for me. 
The good news of the week is that Danjela was baptized, but she came late yesterday to sacrament meeting so she was not confirmed. Right now she is kind of in a limbo stage. It was a hard but good lesson for her to learn, that we must be punctual in this church. I guess it is good to make her wait just a bit longer. Other good news is that we have seven other investigators all preparing to be baptized within the next month so we are really excited for all of them!! It's been a lot of hard work lately and we come home exhausted almost every day but I am grateful for it. One of the greetings in Albanian is, "A jeni lodhur, a jeni merzitur?" which translates to "Are you tired?" and truthfully I have to tell people yes most of the time. As hard as it is, I wouldn't have it any other way. I am doing my best to teach my companion important principles like learning to recognize and teach by the Spirit (she told me she truthfully did not know how to recognize the Spirit so I am loving teaching her) and how to apply scriptures when teaching. Things like this have always come naturally to me while teaching so I have had to step back and understand what I do, and then help her to be able to replicate it. It is a slow process but after fourth months she will be an expert (or something like that...). 
It's crazy for me to think that I have been here almost ten months, and that all too soon it will all end.  
Thank you for all of your prayers and fasting. I feel them and recognize the hand of the Lord in my behalf. May you all be blessed you as you work and pray toward your goals. 
Motra Hawkins