Pogradec

This was an absolutely marvelous week here in elbasan! Every week I think that I have reached as spiritual a high as I can get, but then each week as we strive to work just a little bit harder to give just a little bit more… each week I reach a new spiritual high and see the hand of the Lord even more in my life and in the work.

This week cutest xhoana lolja was baptized! She is 13 and just loves Jesus Christ with all of her heart. Every moment in lessons she always just has her hands on her chest because she just feels the spirit so strongly and her favorite phrase to say is ´-Kam Zoti ne zemer!`_ she basically says always that the lord is in her heart. She is a fantastic young woman that through the help of the book of mormon is learning to read, and this week she was baptized! I love her so much. Her baptism was one of the sweetest and she is being such a good example for her family, who just this last weekend committed to be baptized as well in several weeks. and unfortunately you will all have to wait to see photos, we have to track some down because the card we had those photos on was destroyed by a sketchy internet cafe computer virus just minutes ago… haha. yay albania! 🙂
This upcoming weekend, Marjeta who is 40 will be baptized and this woman is so prepared. She just loves Christ so much, she was orthodox before but recognized that she still needed more and that all the pieces weren’t there. Her interview went fantastic and we are just waiting for this Saturday for her to enter the waters of baptism! Then the week after a beautiful wonderful fantastic and so incredibly prepared family of three, Violeta, Ledina, and Sara will be baptized. These three have it rough, they lost their dad about a year ago and their two brothers are in the orphanage school because the mom cant afford to take care of all of them at once because she is out of work.. but the mom violeta last night when we were at her house just said that she has attended every church she could possibly attend trying to find spiritual strength and peace, and that she has only felt it with us and at our church. The spirit is so strong in their home, especially when we start our lessons with hymns… goosebumps up my body strong. I love the Spirit. We are working with a lot of incredibly prepared people, and I am so humbled and grateful to be working here in Elbasan. Sepse me te vertete eshte nje vend mrekullish.
So today for Pday we went to Pogradec which is a town about 2 hours away from here, and so we jumped into a big sketchy Fergon, or van, which is basically just organized hitch hiking , and we went there and the drive there was absolutely beautiful. Just seeing this beautiful land that the Lord has created, makes me so grateful to be alive and especially to be a missionary here in the adriatic south mission. This country will have a piece of my heart as long as I live and into eternity. I absolutely love being a missionary. Are some moments hard? OF COURSE. But because of those moments, because of the difficulty the sweet moments and the moments of joy are that much more intense. I have found a joy on my mission that I have never experienced before, nor can I put it completely into words. But here I am growing closer unto my savior each and everyday, coming to learn of Him and how I might make him proud and work with Him more closely.
I love you all dearly. I know this gospel is true with all my heart, I know that it is the ONLY way to TRUE happiness. All other happiness is only momentary. A knowledge of the Plan of Salvation and eternal families is what brings real purpose to life, and I feel honored and privileged to bring this knowledge to more of Gods children here in Albania.
Love, Motra Kollmen
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Free Forever to Act for Themselves

Well skyping for mothers day yesterday was awesome! And I am not quite sure what else to say… except, family guess what, I forgot to tell you that I like eating beets now. Yup.” Bears, beets, battle star galactica.” I was really excited to tell you yesterday, knowing you would be proud, but I forgot. 🙂

Well I was just talking to you for a long time… I can’t believe that that was the last time that we will skype or talk really before I see your faces at the end of September! Where does the time go?!
But this morning in my personal study I was reading an article about moral relativism.. and I think it is absolutely fascinating. One of my favorite talks by Elder Christofferson is called Free Forever to Act for Themselves and here are just some of my favorite pieces:
“Misunderstanding God’s justice and mercy is one thing; denying God’s existence or supremacy is another, but either will result in our achieving less—sometimes far less—than our full, divine potential. A God who makes no demands is the functional equivalent of a God who does not exist. A world without God, the living God who establishes moral laws to govern and perfect His children, is also a world without ultimate truth or justice. It is a world where moral relativism reigns supreme.”
 If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading this talk before I would highly suggest it. He is so right, talking about how there are so many people in the world today who are their own highest and most right opinion… and to me that doesn’t make sense. We learn in the scriptures and throughout world history that people change.. and that a lot of people are susceptible to change very quickly and for the worst… But God is constant. He has always had commandments for us to follow and he always will. We must be obedient to those standards that He, an all powerful and all knowing being, has set for us… for our good. It is only through obedience that we will inherit eternal life and eternal happiness.

“Relativism means each person is his or her own highest authority. Of course, it is not just those who deny God that subscribe to this philosophy. Some who believe in God still believe that they themselves, individually, decide what is right and wrong. One young adult expressed it this way: “I don’t think I could say that Hinduism is wrong or Catholicism is wrong or being Episcopalian is wrong—I think it just depends on what you believe. … I don’t think that there’s a right and wrong.”21 Another, asked about the basis for his religious beliefs, replied, “Myself—it really comes down to that. I mean, how could there be authority to what you believe?”22

To those who believe anything or everything could be true, the declaration of objective, fixed, and universal truth feels like coercion—“I shouldn’t be forced to believe something is true that I don’t like.” But that does not change reality. Resenting the law of gravity won’t keep a person from falling if he steps off a cliff. The same is true for eternal law and justice. Freedom comes not from resisting it but from applying it. That is fundamental to God’s own power. If it were not for the reality of fixed and immutable truths, the gift of agency would be meaningless since we would never be able to foresee and intend the consequences of our actions. As Lehi expressed it: “If ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away.”23

This is just a small excerpt from this talk, and there are several others on the same topic and all of them fascinate me to no end. I know that God is real and I know that He is a God of order. We must humble ourselves and recognize that He knows better than us. Maybe sometimes we don’t like or don’t understand the need for a commandment that He and His disciples have set for us. But I testify that all of them are for our good. I know that He knows better than me. And I know that if we desire to be true disciples of Jesus Christ, true representatives of the light, we will be obedient and be examples to others. Even when being an example is difficult beyond belief. It is in that situation that we show our true faith and love for God.

I love you all dearly and hope you have a great week! Elbasan is doing fantastically! We are working with a lot of really fantastic and exciting people and there are miracles here. God’s hands are in every aspect of this work, and these people are prepared! Exciting things to come.

Love, Motra Kollmen

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/10/free-forever-to-act-for-themselves

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May the 4th be with you #happystarwarsday

“Being blessed with hope, let us, as disciples, reach out to all who, for whatever reason, have ‘moved away from the hope of the gospel’ (Col. 1:23). Let us reach to lift hands which hang hopelessly down.” -Neal A. Maxwell

Wow Ok, so this week so much has happened! And this upcoming week is going to be even crazier. This last week I have learned a lot about patience, and gods will. Yet again! We are working with a lot of investigators who just have so many things, so many terribly hard things happening in their lives… Lives so difficult that last night from just learning some of their stories, I felt so sad and just stressed out for them! I had stress just thinking about their circumstance, and can’t imagine the actual stress of being within those circumstances! However my companion when we were on our way back to our house and she could see me being stressed for these people, she stated the obvious and helped me calm down again, she said ” we can’t control everything, there is no use in worrying over what we can’t control. But we do have the message of the gospel, the thing that can change their lives and help them.” – Motra Jackson. She is so wise this kid (trainee) of mine. 

And she is so right! We might not be able to take someone completely out of their hard circumstance and make everything happy for them physically or in a worldly sense, but we can share the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. A message that has been changing people lives for years now, a message that has changed over 15 million peoples lives and counting! I testify that a knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Plan of Salvation, the plan of happiness, Planin i Lumturise, brings true and lasting happiness. I know that through the atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ, old wounds and hurt feeling and all kinds of sorrows can be healed. I don’t feel like I have ever faced anything as difficult as some of the investigators that I have right now, but I know that I have indeed had harder times in my life, and that it was through my Savior that I found the strength to overcome those hard times. I know he is the way, the truth and the light. And that because He lives, anybody, no matter how seemingly broken can return to the right path. 

I have an investigator named Syela, and never have I heard of a harder life. She is only 17 yrs old but she has been in and out of the orphanage, her dad is in prison for murder, her mom isn’t what a mom should be and is never there for her… her brothers are into drugs and have pulled syela in to a life that she doesn’t want. She has never felt the true warmth of a loving and safe family. She is broken… and she is having a hard time seeing the light, and recognizing her own divine potential. I know that she has so much worth in the eyes of her Heavenly Father. When she expressed to me her thoughts of how alone she was, I couldn’t help but feel the tears coming into my eyes… not merely from sadness at her sad tale. But in that moment just looking at a soul who wanted so much to know light and love, my heart was swelling, nearly bursting with an amount of pure love that I have never felt before, and I know that it is just a portion of what her Father in Heaven feels for her. I stopped her, took her by the hands and testified of the love that was filling my heart, and the words that poured out of my mouth I know were right from her Father in Heaven for her. Some people never hear loving words.. they don’t know their own worth because the people around them have failed to tell them. But I told her she has a divine worth and destiny and that her Savior knew her. I have had some of the most powerful spiritual experiences in the last few weeks that I have known syela. I know that she is a big reason why I am here in elbasan. And I know with all my heart that the gospel will heal her, and that she will find the warmth and loving embrace of a heavenly father who loves her without end here. I just pray that she will look up to see the light, however small it may appear to her right now… long enough to start walking towards it and slowly slowly feeling the warmth envelope her. 

I am grateful to be a representative of the Lord Jesus Christ. I know that this time is precious, and that it is making me the person that I need to be and that God needs me to be. For which I am eternally grateful. I love you all dearly and I hope that you look out for those who need that same warmth, there are people all around us who need help. We just have to reach out and help them up. 

-Love Motra Kollmen

Fun things: Went to vlore on an exchange it is a tropical wonderland like florida or something, like hawaii. The elders did a Bugace challenge, eating 5 of these huge rolls rolled in butter and stuffed with byrek dough with sausage/// i refuse to try the thing. It would definitely stop my little heart. We have a lot of people progressing towards baptism this month, Gurie was supposed to get baptized this week, but she couldn’t come for her interview because she had to go to the hospital and they found a hole in her heart 😦 so pray for her please. But she should make it in two weeeks to the waters/ LOTS OF NEW INVESTIGATORS. this upcoming week we got an exchange and a zone conference and prez interviews as well as skyping my beautiful family for mothers day! See you soon cute family 🙂 ooh also I bought the fellowship of the ring in Albanian for the post-mission reading list. 🙂

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