TIRANA

Well I have finally made it to the beautiful land of Albania and wow is it amazing!!! It is quite humid and quite hot here, and Albania is quite literally the Mexico of Europe! I am in the Tirana 3rd ward which is the ward of one of my MTC teacher’s husband’s mom actually, and they are a lovely little ward. There are probably 35 ish active members right now, though we have a few returning members and what not but we are really in need of a revival around here, and we are definitely going to make it happen!

So let me just start off by saying that our first day here, we got off the plane and we were greeted by our wonderful English mission president and his cute wife. And they drove us to the mission home where we had some traditional food and they proceeded to be paired up with the STL/s and immediately went out onto the street for contacting and she said hey you get to stop them. And so I did. I was initially a bit nervous but then it worked out and I got some numbers and I’m sad that I’m not in that area because they were awesome. But after that we just had dinner and I was out so fast. Next day got my new companion and we went right to our area about 10 mins away from the mission home and she is brilliant. Her name is Motra Fevaro and she is an absolute gem. She reminds me so much of aunt Caroline. She is seriously a blond version of her. And she also reminds me a bit of Abbie Mongie, and Sophia Osmond. So it is truly an amazing combination. She is such an inspiration to me both with the language and with how spiritual she is. The thing that strikes me the most about her is how much she loves EVERYONE. She loves these Albanian people and the members with all of her heart and they love her too. It is truly beautiful and I hope that I can be half the missionary she is soon.
So currently we don’t really have any progressing investigators and we just have so many potentials who are on the fence and so busy. So this week we are calling our assessment week and we are doing a lot of sifting because we need to get down to business and hasten the work.
 I know that I havent even been here a week but I am already developing a love for these people. My first real lesson with a woman was my second day, and we just ran into her and had a lesson about how God loves us and she invited us into her very very humble home where she proceeded to offer us a very strong kafe, and after we declined she had one and lit a cigar… though I was initially a bit uncomfortable because we had asked her to wait… we still continued on with our lesson and I was overwhelmed with a feeling of love for this woman that I hardly knew. I knew she had so many trials. She is struggling financially, as is most everyone here in Albania, but she had such an incredible love and appreciation for God or Zoti, and I felt my heart swell with love for her. She is a very muslim woman, as is most everyone here, and I don’t know if we will meet again. But I will never forget the way I felt how much Her Heavenly Father loves her. The spirit manifested itself, even through the smoke… And she could feel the spirit too… she even snubbed her cigar when we were getting really serious. And when I bore my testimony, she understood every word and clutched her chest. It was just a brief moment, but I know she felt the spirit. And that is what is going to convert people. Maybe not her right now. But I think she will remember how she felt when we talked to her. But that same spirit is going to be what brings people unto Christ, not me, but the Spirit.
Wow. It is very hot in this tiny little internet cafe. But I am so overwhelmingly grateful to be here and to have a marvelous companion. I have so much to learn, but we are getting serious here. We are going to re motivate the people here. Its hard because everyone has work ALL THE TIME because they are struggling to feed their families…. but we will help them understand that the Gospel is exactly what can help them with their struggles and their pains and help them endure to the end and receive miracles in their lives.
I love you all, and I hope you are well. Till next time!
-Motra Kollmen
Other fun things:
– bore my testimony and introduced myself in church yesterday. It went great. Just got up and just went for it and bore a testimony how all of us can and should be everyday missionaries and how important the work is and how much I love them. The ward is great and all the old ladies love me 🙂
-Offered various wines in lessons this week. Its disconcerting because they bring out a coca cola bottle, but just kidding, its wine and then we have to politely decline and then they give us more candy or fruits
– this place has so many fruit stands. Farmers markets all day every day
-The bread and food is delicious.I might get a little fat while I am here. But I will make sure to work it all off through walking and daily yoga ok? so just love me.
– The treg (market) is awesome and I may have bought a cute purse and tons of flowy pants… its so so huge and awesome
– Byrek is the best thing on the planet….
LOVE YOU ALL

Last week in the MTC!!

Hey there cutest friends and family! WELL, this is it! On Tuesday at the bright hour of 2:30 am I am headed of to Albania! I know I often say this, but time is seriously flying! And now we finally get to go to the field! I am beyond excited and ready to go! woo hoo!

Well this week we had the immense pleasure of hearing from Elder Ballard. I know. Another apostle. I can’t believe it either. 7 apostles in 9 ish weeks. It’s insane. And I feel so incredibly blessed to be here at this time and hear from so many wonderful servants of the Lord. My favorite thing that he talked about probably was when he instructed that, as missionaries, we need to be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves. Serpents can sense danger, and doves are strong in testimony and full of love. – sorry for the paraphrasing but I just couldn’t keep up with my notes. It was a brilliant meeting; and he also stressed focusing on the doctrine of Christ, and how it will keep us grounded and rooted. Plain and simple, people. Plain and simple. And another favorite: ” Acquire the fruits of the spirit and you will not be so distracted by the sounds of the world…”
This is a perfect segway into my next part of my letter…
 So this week, starting tomorrow is the new mission presidents conference. This means all of the 12 will be here, and the first presidency, and many of the 70… So it’s getting a little crazy here. Because of this conference, on Sunday instead of just meeting with our branches, we are having three big combined sacrament meetings. And guess who has been asked to speak in one of them…. with a couple thousand people… yup. YOURS TRULY. This motra right here. Granted I only get to speak for like 5 minutes… but there may be my new mission president in the crowd… or an apostle or two behind me on the stand. NO PRESSURE. I am actually really excited,… and I thought I would just type up what I have so far as far as my talk. It’s on recognizing the holy ghost…
eh hem…
Being here at the MTC, if we are correctly applying ourselves, we are able to feel more spiritually saturated then ever before. And as I have had the immense pleasure of being here for the full nine weeks, ready to head out this tuesday at 2:30 am, I have come to cherish and revel at this heightened concentration of the spirit. But I know from experience that we are only able to reach heightened levels of spirituality when we strive to invite that spirit, and even then, it takes some practice to hear the spirit and it’s gentle promptings.
On pg.96 of PMG there is a quote by Elder Packer which reads: ” the spirit does not get our attention by shouting or shaking us with a heavy hand. Rather it whispers. It caresses so gently that if we are preoccupied we may not feel it at all… occasionally it will press just firmly enough for us to pay heed. But most of the time, if we do not heed the gentle feeling, the spirit will withdraw and wait until we are seeking and listening and say in our manner and expression, like Samuel of ancient times : speak lord, for they servant heareth.”
I once attended a youth camp when I was 14 or 15, kind of like EFY, but it was called OYA: outdoor youth adventure. Where we hiked and went white water rafting… it was great. But one of the spiritual object lessons that our leaders did with us was, one evening they took us into this mountain pasture, just a clearing but the ground was rocky and uneven. They proceeded to blindfold all of us , then told us to cover our ears, count to 100 then to uncover them and listen for a sound and to make our way toward that sound. we quickly counted, then listened intently… then a loud sound was made far off and I immediately started running towards it, but to my displeasure the sound kept moving. Being unable to see i stumbled on the rocky terrain and ran into a few of my peers who were struggling to locate the source of the sound as well. Yet despite this obvious struggle, I kept running without caution.
Finally becoming frustrated at this game of cat and mouse, I stopped, and listened intently again. After several moments, among the clanging sounds that were apparently ever changing- I could just make out a far quieter, almost inaudible sound coming from a different location… it was a light tinkling of a bell. I then refocused my attention not on the booming sound, but that of the bell which seemed to stay in the same spot. I then started cautiously moving towards this new sound, stepping one foot at a time. It was hard at times, with the distraction and temptation of the other sounds which made it hard to hear the bell, but through perseverance and patience I finally reached the location of the soft bell, and upon my arrival my instructor came up to me and untying my blindfold she whispered: “you’re safe/”
The obvious analogy in this story is that the loud and moving noises are the distractions of the world, and the bell the voice of the holy ghost. When I stopped to listen more intently, I was able to perceive the sound of the bell. I then took steps towards the bell. The distracting sounds were still there, but not as important now. And the closer I came to the sound of the bell the louder it became and the easier it was to discern its location, until I had arrived at the destination and was finally safe.
We can often become frustrated in missionary work, and I’ve just begun, but I know that when we stop and ardently listen to the spirit, then we can refocus on the sound of the bell and take steps to become closer to it. Steps like praying and preparing to receive a greater portion of the spirit and exercising faith in the instruction and guidance that we do receive from the spirit, these steps will allow us to become more spiritually tuned and better able to invite others to come unto Christ as well as helping ourselves become more fully converted unto Him.
I pray that each of us will strive daily to listen when the spirit speaks and bring our lives to a higher standard of living so that we will be better vessels for the spirit to reside in and work through. And let us REMEMBER how the spirit feels. My branch prez- president Hutchings- gave a talk one of my first Sundays here and what he said has stuck with me: “When you have a spiritual experience, take a few minutes to bask in the spirit. Remember what He feels like so you can develop the muscle memory of what having the spirit feels likes, so you can more easily recognize and invite Him again.”
I have applied these principles that I’ve talked about and have striven to acquire a greater ability to perceive the spirit- Because I know even though I am the missionary, I’m not the teacher, the spirit is. And I know that He will help us in lessons with our investigators when we INVITE Him, and LISTEN. I implore each of you to seek a greater understanding and portion of the spirit. Stop worrying about what you will say, just stop and LISTEN for the small tinkling promptings from the Holy Spirit and heed them, and then bask in the spirit and develop that muscle memory of Him. It’s hard sometimes, but I know that we can all do it. Just remember, everything good is of God.
I have such a strong testimony of the power of the Holy ghost and the truthfulness of this gospel. I believe and love it with all of my heart, and I know that this is the best place for us to be at this time in our lives. I love my savior, and I am humbled to wear His name upon my chest. I love you all and say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Hopefully that was somewhat coherent. I’m still going over it. But hopefully if an apostle is there, I don’t embarrass myself too bad. haha I’m so excited.
WOAH this is just an exciting time to be alive. I love my mission. I love you all! next week, you’ll hear from me from SHQUIPERI!!! (albania)
-Motra Kollmen

NEARLY THEREEEEEE

Hey there family and friends! I hope you are all doing well! This has been an incredibly amazing and awesome week here in the MTC. It has definitely been the busiest week thus far, but I don’t think I’ve ever been happier! And I think that the more busy I become the happier I will be in this work!

This week we had another amazing speaker! GO FIGURE. IT was the Elder Cook of the 12! I feel so incredibly blessed to be here when so many amazing speakers are coming here to speak! It really is amazing when an a member of the 12 gets up because right when they walk in every missionary in the room shoots to their feet mid song and just beams at the member. And sometimes the member waves quickly and sits down, but more often than not the member wants to stand as well and finish out the song with us. That is cool. But when they enter the room and we all shoot to our feet there is a drastically different feeling in the room. The spirit just swells and fills every spare corner of the room and everyone can visibly feel it.
This week Elder Cook talked about a lot of different things. But something that he said to me that I really loved and which resonated with me was how many times he said to us: ” YOU are the message.” And in our district meeting afterwards where our district and our branch president meets with our districts sometimes we had a mini devotional talking about things we liked in the devotional and I just couldn’t seem to think of anything else from the devotional besides this one truth that Elder cook said concerning us being the message. He said ” your assignment is not to be the corporate arm of the church…. but to be the message of the gospel…. and be the builders of His church”. I loved this.
Because- how in the world are people going to listen to a mere 19 year old girl about her belief in God?
 Because of the happiness in my heart, the light in my eyes, and the smile on my mouth. We have to open our mouths to everyone that we possibly can and tell them about the blessings that we have received because of the gospel, and our knowledge that this life is not the end, nor was it the beginning. We are examples of what the gospel can bring, and that is what we are sharing. We are sharing our lives. We are sharing the sorrows that we have been through, and the joy and peace that we have found through the healing power of the Gospel and the love of Christ that we have experienced in our lives.
Something that Elder Cook’s wife said at the devotional also stuck with me: ” You will never know the extent of your influence.” I think this goes hand in hand with what I just talked about, how we are the message. We will never know the extent of the impact that we may have on the people we are teaching or even the people we talk to. And even beyond missionary work I started thinking a lot about how many of you, and how many people have played such a big role in  my life. And though sometimes I may have had a really awkward moment, or had a not so awesome something or other happen to me, I am grateful for every single experience that I have had and every person who I have interacted with because they have helped form the person who I am today. And I don’t know that I would able to pinpoint a single person who helped me learn a specific thing(well there are a few that I could directly pinpoint, but not what EVERY person I meet helps me learn) , but I know that the small little things build up and make a person. So it is all the tiny, as well as the big, things and interactions with people that I have met that have made me the WHO I am. And though I have a very long long long longgggggg way to go as far as becoming a better refined me, I am so grateful to every single person that I meet each day, or have met, because they have made the sister coleman that is sitting here in the MTC typing away furiously on the keyboard. And I wouldn’t want to change anything, because it might change the fact that I am sitting here. And being here in the MTC ready to head out to albania in 12 days is something that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. So thank you -all of you who have had any kind of role in my life. You have impacted me more than you could ever ever know. I LOVEEEEE YOUUUUUU 🙂
ehhhehhhhh welllllllll sorry if that got all nutso. But it is super true. You all rock.
I’m always breaking through and reaching new spiritual highs here! I LOVE IT. But I really can’t wait to get out to the mission field. Head up to Shkoder and learn Gheg ( my teacher motra Iftiu has predicted that my first area will be a city called Shkoder in the north…. where they speak very thickly and it sounds nothing like the Albanian I have been learning called Tosk…. soooooo i’m just gonna have to relearn a lot of things when I get there….. hahah also Gheg is like albanians “hick” talk if you will….. woooohhooooooo! hahahahaa oh man I’m seriously so excited.) We learned a little gheg but not much. It’s gonna rock.
Me and my wonderful comp. sister Z were chosen to do the how to begin teaching workshop again. It is so fun!
I really love it here. But I’m glad we are heading out as soon as so  sososososossooooo many missionaries are heading in here. We are just missing a massive wave. so that is good. Next week will be my last pday in here and then I’m off to Shquiperi!
I love you all soooo muchhh!
– Motra Kollmen
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MTC #6

How in the world is it Pday again? I don’t even know. Scares me a bit how fast life is going these days.

Alrighty, so this week another apostle came!………..jk. But you all totally believed me. Nope not this week. But we did have a seriously amazing speaker come to Tuesday devotional: Elder Schwitzer of the 70 and he and his wife did an amazing job. Unfortunately I left my spiritual little journal (I call them my own personal small plates) in our classroom…. so I am not going to be specifically quoting this week. But towards the end of his talk he was sharing an experience of when he was a mission president in Russia, and how he visited a small ward Christmas party and there were two elders in that area. And at this Christmas party there were these two elders. One of them was visiting with all of the people and just was so involved with everyone in the ward and all of the investigators who were at the party, and although his Russian was broken and not very good- though this was the last week of his mission- you could see how much he cared about the people and that is what made the difference. (I WANT TO BE LIKE THIS- well the loving the people a lot, + I would also like to speak Albanian but if I have to choose one I would definitely pick loving the people)
His companion on the other hand was in the corner studying a russian grammar book. And Elder Schwitzer noted how although the one companion could speak nearly like a native and very complicatedly… he wasn’t as favored or loved or understood by the people.
Then Elder Schwitzer looked up at all of us and said something along the lines of: ” Elders and Sisters, don’t worry about perfectly conjugating every little thing so much that it distracts you from your true purpose as a missionary. Just make sure that people know how much you care and love them and everything else will work out.”
I love this. It goes right along with the time old quote that “people don’t care how much you know till they know how much you care.” And personally as a missionary who is currently working on countless noun declensions, conjugations, wishing tenses, and so many other things…. which I’m sure I have talked about in past emails….. it was comforting to be told not to worry about it. Well it is obviously necessary to worry a bit about it, and stress a little about it, because stress is very healthy and motivating in good doses, but to not stress so much that it deters me from my true meaning and purpose as a missionary. \
Lately I have been striving so hard to study the characteristics of Christ, and try to become as much like my Savior as possible because He was the ultimate example and teacher. I am currently studying the New Testament along with my regular BOM study, and this has brought me so much peace. Studying the life and teachings of Christ is the ultimate way to know how to act. And especially for a missionary, someone who wears the name of Christ upon my chest all day. I need to be like him as much as humanely possible. Let me tell you it is hard. And I don’t think anyone can ever exactly radiate his love, patience, hope, charity, humility, knowledge, etc as Christ, no matter how hard they strive to within their life. But we can try. As hard as we possibly can. Because when we are constantly getting better, even just a little, we are coming closer to our Heavenly Father and Christ, and that is what this life is all about. Coming closer to our Heavenly Father and ultimately returning to Him.
So there is my little spiritual thought for the day. Wish I had my little journal with me. Drats. Next time. Also next time I will take pictures of this spiritual journal because during devotionals I tend to draw a lot and it is getting pretty awesome. So look forward to that next week.
Ok. I must talk briefly about yesterday. It was one of the best days I have had in the MTC. (To be honest each day just keeps getting better and better- though there are a few less fantastic ones mixed in there to make the brighter ones that much brighter and lovely ;))
Yesterday:
1- Taught an amazing lesson with our investigator Besnick who had an amazing personal experience with the BOM: he had an awful day couldn’t sleep, and remembering what we said concerning the peace it could bring, he spent the entire night praying and reading. And we had an amazing discussion/ testimony meeting about it.
2- We skyped a REAL LIFE ALBANIAN! It was a TRC activity and it was awesome and I actually understood like 85% of what she said which is nuts, and we were both baring testimony and then we asked her to share her thoughts and she started crying and it was nutso awesome.
3- Me and sister Z were recommended by our teachers to help out with the “How to begin teaching” orientation meeting with the new missionaries. And for those of you who don’t know what that is: it means that me and sister Z were both given fancy microphones and asked to help in a role play with a new investigators first lesson in front of 2 groups of about 60 ish + newbie missionaries! And it was so super fun.
– Oh also last thursday after emailing, for TRC we had a rockin lesson and the RMs who help out told me and sis Z to keep doing what we were doing for studying because we made a lot of sense and were using clitics and noun declentions right, which is really hard for new missionaries to do, so… sorry if that sounds like I am sounding our trumpet a little bit… but it was very encouraging hehe Also our teacher said that me a sister Z are right were we need to be language wise right now which was super comforting. And they said we are ready for Albania!!!!! JUST GET ME THERE
Life is good. Lemme tell ya. I love this place. And though I have now gotten the same throat virus for a THIRD time since being here, this is truly an amazing place.
Love you all to the moon and back!
Love – Motra KollmĂ«n
Would you like a small testimony in albanian? ok fine, here you go….
Unë e di që këtë Ungillin është vërtët më gjithe zëmër, dhe unë e di që kur ne duam të afrohemi më Perëndise ne mund të kuptonin shumë. Unë e di që Jezu Krishti është Shelbuesi yne, dhe unë mendoj që kur ne shojmë në Shquiperi Ai do të jemi shumë veshtirë, por unë e di që nepermjet Krishti dhe Perëndine, unë mund të bej shumë! Ne emrin e Jezu Krishtit, amen!