Let the good times rollllll…

LUSHNJE!!!!

So my new cute companion is named sister Eliason, and she is super tall and super blond and super fantastic. I am excited to be working with her here in Lushnje branch!

As far as this week is concerned… I feel like it can all be summed up in several words… Melting, Finding, and Miracles!

So we are whitewashing our area here… and we came here to find a pool of investigators exactly 0.. haha…ha. So we sat down, established a vision, set some goals and are getting to work! And honestly in the few days we have been here together already we have already seen miracles. One of which was that after a couple days of majorly finding with few lessons… I received a random phone call of a woman who had received a pass along card quite a while ago from the elders here… she called and said that when she had been talking to the elders they promised that the message we have would change her life. She called she said, because she felt an impression that what he said was true and that she wanted to change her life. And when we actually met up with her the next day, we had the most powerful lesson that I have had here in Lushnje yet, in which the spirit testified so strongly to her that what we said was true… especially when we talked about baptism and Christ being our Sheppard, she stopped with tears in her eyes and motioned to her whole body… after a few seconds she regained her voice and expressed how her whole body was warm and had chills. That is the spirit my friends. And it is a real testifier of truth. This wonderful woman accepted a baptismal date a few weeks out, and asked us if she could have her family come to learn and get baptized too. Sure, why not. 🙂

As far as other things are concerned… our apartment is glorious! We are on the 8th floor and it is like a purple apartment made for royalty. It is awesome and modern and our pronari or landlord is definitely part of the mafia. 🙂 He told me that he has our back. Also I have become the branches new pianist for sacrament…. bahahah it is hilarious considering the fact that I took like 6 months of piano when I was 13 or something like that and that is more than everyone else here! haha so I definitely have some practicing to do… oh man. pray for me! haha also we do a lot of work out in villages, lushnje is super small. so we are figuring out the organized hitchhiking system that albania has for getting out to those! Good times. Good times.

New favorite scripture in connection to what we are called to do as missionaries:

Luke 4:18
 “18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,”

Love you lots,

Motra Kollmen

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The last call…

This week has been a busy one! First off, Marsida and Indrit got baptized! And that was just one of the sweetest baptisms. With Marsida, we had to overcome a lot of trials, Satan tried really hard to keep her from making that covenant of baptism with her father in heaven, but she made it, and because it was such a process it was all the sweeter.

 Also I got the LAST TRANSFER CALL. I can’t believe it, but also our transfers are 3 months long… So…. I will be heading to Lushnje to open a sisters area, and I get to train again! Round three! I am really excited. Everytime I train I learn so much and am stretched so much, so I am looking forward to changing a lot this upcoming transfer!

Sorry that this week is super short, but Elbasan calls for one last gjiro. (walk about)
I have included a decent amount of photos, and those are worth a lot more words I hear so have fun looking at them.
Love, Motra Kollmen
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“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Good ole Ferris Bueler. That movie has the best quotes. And that quote above is so accurate for life these days.

This was an amazing week, in which I gained a much greater understanding and appreciation for Repentance. We have this amazing investigator and her son who are preparing to be baptized this upcoming Saturday, and are family to our recent convert xhoana. They are amazing, and this week we really had to work through some really big repentance things with Marsida the mama as she has lived a very rough life… but this week through talking about repentance pretty in depth and really inviting her to repent and really study it out, then to get on her knees and ask her Father in Heaven for forgiveness and relief from that which she had done… when we asked her to do that she changed. Drastically. In how she carries herself, how she prays, how she speaks and how she listens and looks even. Through the power of the Atonement she was able to overcome the chains of sorrow and guilt of some pretty heavy things… and I was just absolutely amazed and awed at the change that took place, within only a few short days.
Seeing Marsida become cleansed through the power of the atonement was a humbling experience, because as missionaries we really hardly do anything… we just teach people of the tools that their Father in Heaven has provided them with to overcome sin and guilt to become happy and return to Him. Marsida and Endrit will be getting baptized on Saturday, and I know that when she goes into those waters and is raised out of them again she will be completely and utterly free from her past, and then she will be able to walk forward into her her bright and happy future. Nothing is more satisfactory as a missionary than to see the people you teach change, and come unto Christ, nothing more beautiful than to know that us as missionaries are just the mouthpieces… but that Christ is who changes them and lifts them out of the darkness and sorrow.
I am grateful for the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and I know that it is something that I personally under-utilize in my own life. I sometimes like to think that I am really strong and independent, that I don’t need help from anyone. I don’t like showing weakness. But in reality I am so terribly weak. And I desperately need His divine help. And it is only through His atonement that I find true and lasting strength
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is good and it is true. And it is the way that I will live my life, because I have learned for myself that it is the road to everlasting happiness.
Love, Motra Kollmen
Fun things:
-I will be getting my last transfer call this upcoming saturday… where did the time go.
-It is boiling hot here in Elbasannnnnn
-Still waking up at 5ish to work out, today we hiked up to krast the mountain! Fun times.
PS.emails are and will get progressively smaller and smaller. #sorrynotsorry. LUVS

I’m Meltingggg….

Dear American Family,

Well typing away on this little computer I am melting from the extreme heat that has struck Elbasan! It is 30/32 C here, whatever that is in F… But let me tell ya, it is quite hot. Today we went and got our makine (car) washed, it was drastically needed, and while the men were working on washing it we ran and got ice cream for them. They were happy kids. 🙂 And they said they would try to come to church on sunday. #alwaysinviting And that was the best car wash that I have ever seen, and it was only 2 dollars. or 200 leke, which $ equivalent is like barely anything. I love Albania.
This has been quite the week here in Elbasan. We are working with lots of wonderful people, but since we just got a lot of people baptized, this week has been one of refocusing and setting more goals on how we want to end our transfer together. Me and sister Jackson only have two weeks left together for this transfer, and then…. my last transfer will begin. I can’t really wrap my head around the fact that I only have one more transfer… granted our transfers are about 12 weeks long… but still. Sometimes I still feel like I just got here, but this place is home now. I feel so comfortable here, and to think of leaving it honestly scares me!
 But all is well in zion.
Yesterday one of the Elders that was serving here in Elbasan, finished his mission, or in mission lingo: “died”, and it just made it seem so much more real that missions do come to a close at one point or another. But though his mission came to a close, that doesn’t mean that his mission ends. He will always be a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Because we are called forever to follow him, we do not follow Him for a mere 1 and a half years or 2, but FOREVER.
One of my favorite stories in the new testament is when after a time the apostles return back to their fishing after the death and resurrection of Christ… and Christ comes to give them a little call to repentance and to get back to work:

 15 ¶So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

 16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

 17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep. (JOHN 21:15-17)

I love this especially in reference to an MTC talk that Elder Holland gave talking about how Christ calls His disciples not only for an exacted time, but FOREVER. We are His disciples, His followers for life, we cannot go back to the life that we lived before. We have burned the bridges and there is no return, there is only a life of discipleship to be lived. And I have felt this keenly as a missionary. I see no other option. There is nowhere to go back to, no returning back to the person I was. Only moving forward, step by step growing closer to my Lord and Savior, and helping His sheep in the process. As we lead His sheep and serve them, we grow and change… we become the people He needs and wants us to be.
I am grateful to be a missionary. And I know that in this time I have left as a full time missionary with a tag on my chest I have to work as hard as humanely possible, because it’s a short time that I have left. But I also know that I am not merely a missionary right now. But that I have been called, FOR LIFE, to be a representative of the Lord Jesus Christ. And I will stand in His name, because I cannot deny the miracles I have seen and felt in my life and in the lives of others here. There is no going back. This is real life. And I love it.
I hope all is well and thriving wherever this letter finds you in the world. I love you all dearly.
Miracles are real. Never forget.
-Motra Kollmen
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No time.

Hello American family. I am so sorry that I am getting progressively worse at writing you all emails. But update on violeta who had the heart attack last week, she is a healthy kid now and she actually is now baptized with her two sweetest girls Lejdina and Sara. And let me tell you  that was definitely one of the sweetest baptisms I have ever witnessed. It was a bit of a rough road getting Violeta there she had lots of questions and fears, but through prayer all were answered and she gained such a confidence for herself. And when her girls entered the waters of baptism she was bawling, and the girls were crying too… this family was super prepared and it was an honor to work with them and help invite them to come closer unto their savior jesus christ. When they recieved the holy ghost after in church their testimonies were so sweet, and they were all just crying and the whole crowd was just crying. I was crying. The spirit was felt so strongly in that congregation, and that is what this is all about. Helping Gods children bring their lives into harmony with the will and standards of God so they can prepare themselves, repent, and become worthy to recieve the Holy Ghost and feel Gods guiding hand in their lives. I love being a missionary.

Hope you are all doing well, this work continues to be one of miracles and surprises.

Love, Motra Kollmen

pics of the wonderful girls who were baptized, and then there is ai i gjati elder rawlings. sorry the photos arent so awesome, it was a hectic day. also ps now we are teaching their deaf little brother and he will get baptized in a couple weeks , teaching with lots of signs, and pictures. interesting stufffff

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By small and simple things are great things come to pass

Well family. This has been quite the week. Baptisms, basketball, 5:30 am runs, rock breaking and epic moments, as well as taking care of heart attacks. I kid you not.

Firstly, this week our wonderful investigator Marjeta was baptized! And it was truly quite a miracle. She has been absolutely soaking up the gospel in the last couple weeks that we have been teaching her, and she didn’t have any problems with commandments, nothing. And as any missionary I am sure would agree with me, each investigator has their hard moment or hard thing to overcome before they get in the water. And we were two days from her baptismal date, when she got offered a new job… and now the hard part, she wouldn’t be able to make her confirmation because she was so new at work and her boss is quite strict.. but through practicing roll plays of asking her boss and showing forth faith and being firm, and through some fasting and prayer, her boss, which never lets people take breaks, took an extremely unexpected trip to Macedonia and the second in command told her to take the weekend off and enjoy her baptism. God is a God of miracles. And it was a lovely service, though she kind of lost her breath and when she came out she was gasping for air… oops.. but then she started laughing. All is well. 🙂
Immediately after her baptism we changed shpejti shpejt into our service clothing and hopped into the back of this huge construction truck to go far up the mountain with some members to break up some rocks so he could build a wall. And let me tell you, no other service has ever been so breathtaking. Just riding up the mountain, the lighting that hit the trees, the wind making our hairs whip around uncontrollably coupled with the beautiful Mediterranean countryside comparable with that of the famous bible videos we all know and love… as well as having classic 80’s songs playing in my head was GLORIOUS. It was a long ride out, and it really gave me time to think about how much I love this place. Every olive tree, every chicken, every rock.. is my Albania. And I love it so very dearly.
It is all of these little things that testify to me that there is a God. As missionaries we see miracles everyday. Especially when we are actively seeking them, and working hard for them. Miracles are things that I know are real, and I have learned that on my mission. I know that our God is a God of miracles. But it is more through the accumulation of the small things in my life that I see His hand. I remember being in Sunday school class with Brother Brockbank a few years ago and him telling the story of when he was getting his interview with a general authority for his mission, he told us how the general authority asked Brother Brockbank to bare his testimony to which Brother Brockbank went on to explain and expound upon various large spiritual experiences that he had had that had brought him to that point in his faith and in his testimony… and he said that after he had shared these experiences, the general authority paused and said, “do you want to know how I know that there is a God?” the general authority pointed to a tree outside his office window and said “I know that God lives because of that tree.” We continued on to discuss how we often put to much stock in the big majestic spiritual experiences, though they are wonderful and beautiful and necessary, God is in every minuscule detail of our lives.
In my mission. I have seen miracles. I have seen things that I know were of a divine and godly nature, and I will never be able to deny them. Because I know that God knows that I know they were of Him. I am grateful for the miracles I have seen. But the real miracles are the small ones, the ones that often go unappreciated and are not spoken of. I know that God lives. Everyday that I wake up I praise His name for letting me be here, to be a piece of His grand plan. As I sat on the back of that big construction truck, up in the hills of Albania, gazing out over the olive groves and fields of red and yellow flowers, I couldn’t help the tears from welling up in my eyes out of love for this work and for this place that has stolen such a large piece of my heart. A part of it was probably because of the wind that was so strong it was making my eyelashes get all tangled, but I felt such an appreciation for my Lord who created this world for me to live in. Every piece of the landscape, wherever we are, not just here in Albania, testifies of God and of His son Jesus Christ. Each detail so intricate and beautiful, designed and sculpted by the masters hand.  “Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.” 
I know that the Lord Jesus Christ lives. I have felt His influence and love in my life and in the lives of the Albanian people. I know that in every little piece of our lives His signature can be found like an artist on His masterpiece. We are His greatest creations, His most prized masterpieces. And I know that as we look at and remember the little details, the difficulties that we all have and face will loose their intensity as we remember the grand plan that our father in Heaven has created for us. 
Me shume dashuri dhe perulesi,
Motra Kollmen
PS.
– yes I wake up now at 530 to run and work out, and yes I like running now.
– last night as we were over at our three little family investigators house, who are getting baptized next saturday, the mama violeta had a heart attack and after the police and ambulance didn’t pick up their phones… we had to drive her to the hospital. She is ok, but if you could all pray for her that would be great. luckily the elders were there to give her a blessing, and she was just holding on to me and calling us her angels all night, she wanted us to have a sleep over at her house… I promised her after the mission was over her house will be the first albanians house I sleep at when I come back to visit. 🙂 she is like my mama here.
-yes. elbasan is indeed nje vend mrekullish.
marjetas baptism

marjetas baptism

Elder Rawlings, Ai i gjati dunked her.. These people are the best. :)

Elder Rawlings, Ai i gjati dunked her.. These people are the best. 🙂

brought sister Gjonca on exchange here in elbasan with the crew!

brought sister Gjonca on exchange here in elbasan with the crew!

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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The Mustard Seed

Well I don’t have much time to write today, we had planned to come and do email earlier, but we were learning how to make byrek and it took a lot longer than expected, but good news is that now I am a pro byrek maker! byrek is a glorious pie like pastry thing with either tomato and onion, or cheese, or spinach.. the last being the best 🙂 and so I mastered that today!

But this was such a great week! Greis was baptized~ and you should all know that it was a miracle that she got baptized. It has been a struggle for months with previous missionaries working with her to keep commitments and to work with her difficult father… but in the time we have been here I have never seen a person change so much and grow so much in their faith. Her reading is extraordinary now, and the light in her eyes is impossible to miss. She is one of the elect, and she just needed a strong invitation to change for herself.. and she has. I am impressed with her, and grateful to have been here to witness this change of character. She went from not really reading for herself but more for her parents, to reading for herself more than we ask of her, and asking for her assignments and sharing her favorite ones with us! I am a firm believer in small and simple things making the difference, and I know that through diligent following up with Greisi it really made a difference. Something fun with her baptism which I have never experienced thus far on my mission, is that as soon as she came out of the water her father and mother started clapping and then the whole big crown was cheering. And she was laughing and just beaming. It was one of the happiest moments of my life 🙂 I love that girl. And all the young women were just so excited to see another girl enter their ranks! #youngwomenbuilding I love the young women with all my heart!
So a fun thing I was reading in Jesus the Christ today was in connection with the grain of faith like that of a mustard seed, and it says that : “the seed is a living entity. when rightly planted it absorbs and assimilates the nutritive matters of soil and atmosphere, grown, and in time is capable of affording lodgement and food to the birds. So the seed of truth is vital, living, and capable of such development as to furnish spiritual food and shelter to all who come seeking. In both conceptions, the plant at maturity produces seed in abundance, and so from a single grain a whole field may be covered.”
This is talking about the mustard seed, small in comparison to some seeds, though not the smallest. But what is impressive is its capability to propel the growth of far more than the growth exhibited by that of other lesser or greater seeds. A single mustard seed has a great germination capacity… and as we compare that seed, recognizing its potential to grow and spread not merely one small plant but incredible growth beyond itself… and as we compare that to our faith… as we have faith, and show that forth through our example and invite others to exhibit their own faith and grow, then the growth of faith that will be seen is unimaginable.
This week Elder Osborn serving in thailand said in an email to me ” It’s such an important thing to make sure that you not only do you do your work and see success, but that you help others to do better than you” and I thought of what I read this morning in personal about the mustard seed. I want to have the faith of the mustard seed… and propel the faith of others. That the growth that will follow my one small seed of faith will continue to grow far beyond my time here in albania. That I will not just have success, but that those after me will have even greater miracles. So I will work on my faith, growing it one drop of water and one ray of sunshine at a time, pushing to show my savior how grateful I am to be His servant in this part of His vineyard. And so that after my time here, that the growth will continue to spread, the miracles continue to be seen and worked for. I want to be that mustard seed, but man does it take work! But with His help, it is possible.
I love you all dearly. Keep working hard. Life is hard. But has so much potential, and is oh so sweet.
Love, Motra Kollmen
Pics: me and greis the girl who got baptized, some youngwomen in the ward, me making dough for the byrek, some goat heads that people eat here… no I haven’t had the pleasure yet… FUN!
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