Wednesday, February 27, 2013's the most wonderful time of the year!! February 27, 2013

Hello again my Wonderful family!!

It's hard for me to believe that it has already been a week! The time flies by so fast here! This past week was definitely full of a lot of testimony building and learning experiences! I don't know if I mentioned this before, but I am now Senior companion. It was hard for me at first to let my companion take the lead one because I naturally do that a lot of the time, and two because she does not have a very dominant personality, but we have both learned a lot about how to share the responsibility. We both have learned to love each other and we are starting to teach together very well. It makes me sad to think that here in a couple of very short weeks that I will have to say good-bye to her, though I am excited for the change. To tell you more about the Albanian culture, I'll start by telling you about my two native Albanian teachers. Vellai Hoxha is tall for an Albanian (about 5' 8'), has a crazy sense of humor, and is very straight-forward. In general, Albanians will say exactly what they are thinking without a filter- if you are overweight (which in their culture they consider "Healthy") they will tell you, "Hey, you are fat" or if you are having a bad day apparel-wise, they aren't afraid to tell you so. I think that is going to be hard for me to get used to, but I am excited for the new culture differences. My teachers also tell me that there are a lot of different personality styles in Albanian that don't exist here in the US...that should be exciting to begin to understand. Our other teacher (also please excuse my extreme usage of plural references...being with my companion all day has forced me to speak that way) is also from Albania and her name is Motra Iftiu. She has an awesome sense of style, and I am so excited to get to Albanian and get some new clothes. It's bad enough that I have limited choice on my clothes, but lately I have been working really hard to be able to get up to 10 pull-ups. This is a good goal, but unfortunately my arms have grown so much that I no longer fit in about 4 of my shirts, so that makes life exciting. :) I'm hoping to set the record this next week...if I have any clothes left that will still fit me. =}

In regards to the language, I feel it is going very well. My companion and I are able to communicate very well with each other in Shqip and this week we had interviews with both of the Albanian teachers. Vellai Hoxha (pronounced like hoe-jah) told Motra Forte and I that as long as they had been teaching that they had never taught a pair of Sister Missionaries that work and teach together as well as we do. They both also mentioned that they have never had a set of sister missionaries that have progressed faster than the Elders, ours is the first. That doesn't mean the language is easy (for instance there are 10 different tenses, and 5 different cases as well as noun declentions which means there are literally 50+ ways to say a word and depending on what way you are using it, there is only one correct way to say it...and if you say it the wrong way, Albanians have no idea what you are huh?) I am falling in love with speaking the language, it sounds so beautiful and I can't wait until I am fluent, but I know that will only come after a lot of hard work.

Some other good news: last night I had the blessed opportunity to sing in MTC choir again for the Tuesday night devotional and Elder M. Russell Ballard came to speak to all of the missionaries. It was such an amazing experience, and it made me that much more excited to go and preach the gospel. And just before the devotional, we had the opportunity to teach a lesson in English for the first time. It was very different to say the least and I almost started speaking Albanian a lot of the time, but it was a wonderful experience. As of right now we are teaching 7 different investigators as well as acting as an investigator, and being taught by the other companionship in our district. There has been a lot of frustrating things that have happened, but luckily I have been able to ask myself, "What can I learn?" instead of, "Why me?". It's amazing to me how the Lord is able to teach all of His children in different ways, exactly the way they need to hear and learn the message. Oh the tender mercies of the Lord.

As for your homework this week, go onto and watch the Mormon Messages, "Mountains to Climb" and "Moments that Matter Most" if you have not already watched them. I am still waiting to here about how your experiment of faith went and what scriptures you found. Make sure you have some tissues close by when watching the first one, and feel free to watch it a couple of times, I know I really wanted to because it was that good! 

Well, I love you all family and I hope to hear from you soon! Good luck with life!

Motra Hawkins

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