Monday, March 31, 2014

I'll Go Where You Want Me To Go Dear Lord

Hey everyone!! 
So last night I received my transfer calls and you'll never guess where I am going.....
Okay by now you have probably read ahead and know I am going to Kosovo so I will explain.
I have to start by saying that there is no fear for me in going to Kosovo, only excitement for something new and sorrow over leaving Tirana. I have felt that I would be leaving but I am excited that my 3 Week Companion Motra Pitcher will stay here and take over. This is really good news for me since I have been working like a crazy person to get our Area Book perfect. Even though I think I understand what happened there and that there is the possibility of lingering problems, I know in the strength of the Lord I can do all things and will do all things that He will ask me to do. He has blessed me with the ability to have faith and not fear so I will go and do as He asks me. So you should not worry either. 
As I have been packing I have felt sad that I will not get to say goodbye to many of the people I love here, but I know that Kosovo is where I am needed. I was reading the other day in the Book of Mormon about the great missionaries Alma and Ammon and Aaron and all the other Sons of Mosiah. I was impressed by their courage to go against the Lamanites to teach them of Christ even though they knew they faced the possibility of imprisonment and or death. They took up courage, went forth and taught and then by their diligence and patience they recorded that: 
"And as sure as the Lord liveth, so sure as many as believed, or as many as were brought to the knowledge of the truth, through the preaching of Ammon and his brethren, according to the spirit of revelation and of prophecy, and the power of God working miracles in them—yea, I say unto you, as the Lord liveth, as many of the Lamanites as believed in their preaching, and were converted unto the Lord, never did fall away." (Alma 23:6) 
I feel a little that I am going amoung the Lamanites but I know that the Lord has been preparing me and I, like Ammon, seek to help all learn of Christ and invite them to come unto Him.  
Motra Hawkins 
P.S. Today we went and got pictures in traditional Albania clothing. Please Enjoy.
I know I did...

Monday, March 24, 2014

Happy New Ward!!

Hey Family! 
This last week has been really hard on me because my companion has been really sick and consequently much time has been spend indoors (again). Though it has been a great time of learning and I have still been able to do some great missionary work. I spent a lot of time calling my investigators and even had an almost lesson with someone over the phone. It was not the most comfortable thing for me to do but now that I know that I can do it, I think I will try more often to do that. I also spent a lot of time doing book work getting everything up to date. I get the feeling that this next week with transfers, that I will not be staying in this area. It was really hard for me to be sitting for so long but it was good to finally get maps made and information in the books for future missionaries. I really have seen the importance it has because when I came into the area it was empty- there were no phone numbers, no maps and no records. I made it a goal to leave it better than I found it and I believe that I have succeeded! It has to be the world's best now...or something pretty close to it. :) 
Yesterday we were also able to see many miracles in the ward under the direction of the new Bishop. Things are going wonderfully in 3rd Ward and I know that many of the desires that we have had as missionaries will now be met under the new leadership. They help we have wanted in teaching, in finding and supporting the less-active members is finally coming. For the first time, we were invited to take part in the missionary part of ward council and voiced some of our desires. There are no more missionaries in leadership positions so everything is being run completely by the members. I am so grateful for the loving examples of Bishop Zela and his wife. They are truly miraculous and I am so excited for the time that we get to work together. Already they have provided their help and service in regards to investigator work and are extremely interested in visiting every single active member, recent converts and those who are being reactivated. Tonight we are actually going to take our investigator over to their home for Family Home Evening. It's going to be amazing!! 
It has been great for me to see the great changes that are taking place here. I am excited to see what the future holds for the members of this ward as they become more independent and willing to take more part in missionary work. 
I hope that back home things are going as well for all of you!! I love you all and pray that you are happy and working hard. 
Motra Hawkins

Monday, March 17, 2014


Hello Everyone!! 
So Tuesday brought some big changes in my life that I was not quite expecting. Monday we called Pres. Ford to tell him that we would like to meet and talk about Motra DeFriez's problems with the work. We sat down and then carefully began to explain that he thought it would be better if she went home to get better medical attention and results. This was not the reaction that either of us were expecting but we got agreed that it was a good idea. Tuesday we went home, I packed her bags, we said some quick good-byes and then Wednesday morning she flew out. The good news is that we had Zone Conference so I was able to quickly be put with my new companion. Luckily another Sister left the mission for a new area so our companionship fell together nicely. I was in a bit of shock for a while trying to come to grips that she was gone but now I am doing much better.
This past week with Motra Pitcher has been interesting. We had a couple of sick days inside of the apartment due to health problems on her part (5th times the charm...) but gratefully today we are back on our feet and have some great plans for this evening. The transition has been a bit difficult on me but I realize that I am very grateful for the change. I have already gained so much perspective and I am laughing more than I have in months. I feel fantastic! If laughter is contagious then I am really sick with it. The funniest part is that Pres. Ford promises us that we would not be together (i.e. we are only together two weeks) but this is the best companionship we have both had and wish that it will last longer. We both recognize that our time together is short and we are excited to continue to learn together!! 
I pray that everything is going well at home and that you are all happy and smiling...because it is St. Patrick's Day!! Go and pinch someone!! 
Motra Hawkins

Monday, March 10, 2014

Tirana Albania Stake

Hello All!
There are so many things that I want to share this week but I just don't know where to start...
I guess I will start with the surprise that I received Friday night. We were waiting at the church for a family to come so we could teach them about the new Stake when President Ford gave us a call. Motra DeFriez answered and quickly handed the phone to me and said, "It's for you..". You can imagine my great surprise when he invited me to speak at conference that following afternoon. Like so many times in the past I gave him a quick yes and then realized I didn't even know what the topic was, where or when the meeting was. When I exclaimed my surprise to the invitation, President Ford simply replied that he knew I could do the job and that it wouldn't be a problem. He was correct on both accounts and my mind quickly began to think of what things I could share. I was asked to talk about the joys and blessings of missionaries working with members. It was easy enough to prepare since there are so many things for me to share. My preparation experience was different than any that I have had before because I trusted solely on the Spirit to prepare. It was amazing for me to see how easily the words and references came to me. As I stood and shared these things before everyone (no one told me until I got there that it was being broadcast to the entire stake via satellite) the Spirit was so strong in bearing witness of my message. It was a very unique experience indeed. (also afterwards a member complimented my language skills and said that I speak like a native but I believe the Spirit was speaking through me such that they could understand perfectly). 
So that was the good news and now for the bad news. Shortly after attending this wonderful session of conference and then attending a celebration at which all of the missionaries sang, we went home and prepared for the next day of conference. The next morning when we both awoke we were both extremely sick and Motra DeFriez couldn't even get out of bed because she was so sick. We both received a Priesthood blessing and then spent the rest of the day in our apartment. I cried when I realized that the day I had been looking forward to for more than a year was taken right before my eyes but I then understood that the Lord had a greater purpose in keeping us because in those hours we were taught some very wonderful principles. From the others, we learned that everything went well and that everything is set up for the stake to run at full force! I am excited to see how everything will play out now!
I love you all and am grateful for your prayers and encouragement!!
Motra Hawkins

Monday, March 3, 2014

Here Comes the Stake!!

Hello Again Family (and Friends!!),
Here we are at the beginning of another beautiful week!
It's crazy for me to think that this time next week, Albania will be organized as a functioning Stake!! This is pretty much the only thing that gets me through the day..looking forward to the moment when it will all happen. Work and our key indicators have been really low lately because (in my personal opinion) that Satan is trying so hard to bring us down before the marvelous work and wonder comes into effect here. We are putting forth so much effort and seeing so little progress but I know that once a stake is established, Satan will have just a little less power here and the work will go forward at full speed again!! Now that I have come to understand this, I am so excited for Sunday.
One other important thing that is going to take place Saturday is a cultural event in which we will take part. Many VIPs are invited, including many of the country state representatives. As missionaries of Tirana, we are going to sing "Called to Serve Him" arranged together with the recently translated "Thirrur T'i Sherbejm Mbretit". With the new stake they will now start publishing the big hymn book in Shqip!! I am so excited for it!! I am also ecstatic when I think of the power the newly called Stake Patriarch will be here. This past week I have been listening to some BYU Devotionals given on the power of patriarchal blessings and I am excited for those blessings to be available to all worthy and desiring Albanians. Things are going to change in great ways here! 
We have also started doing some new finding opportunities through activities. Yesterday we set up a big screen tv at the church, popped some popcorn, and invited everyone passing by to come and watch a movie with us (The Restoration). It was a lot of fun, something different and we had some success! I hope that we will continue to have more success in finding more who are seeking for the truth.
Also, I wanted to share a bit about our Sunday worship service yesterday at church. As it was our last week as a branch and fast and testimony meeting, there were many who got up and bore powerful testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel and its effect on their lives. Sadly, they are realigning the boundaries here and many (okay all...) of my most favorite members will no longer be in our branch. I was all tears and joy as I sat and listened to their heart-piercing testimonies. As I work amoung the members I am beginning to recognize the hand of the Lord in this country to bring the true disciples of Christ unto His protective Fold. How fortunate we are to live in a time and place (I refer to America) that practices religious freedom and believes in God and His divine goodness. The Lord is building a strong foundation for the future generation of the Church here and I am so blessed to be a part of it. I never want to leave!!! This has become such an important part of my life and my testimony is that I know that I will never stop working to build, expand and edify the body of Christ, no matter where I am serving, always beginning with myself. 
I want to bear my sincere testimony to you all that I know that the Lord loves all of His children without exception, patiently waits for them the find Him, and always provides a way for them to return Home. I know that the Book of Mormon has divine power to change lives and I know without any doubt that Joseph Smith has been the source of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ back onto the earth. My testimony is that Christ lives, He loves each of us and invites all to come and follow Him!
Motra Hawkins