Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Well... I guess this is it

Hey everyone, 

My companions have been asking me about what I think about going home in a week, and my response to them is "I don't." Haha, I've been really trying to not think about going home too much and I've tried even harder to just focus on what I am currently doing, which is the most important work that any of us can do! 
I think that our diligence has paid off because this week we had an incredible week!! Literally, we've been so busy and this next week is looking like its going to be the same way! We are just going from appointment to appointment to appointment pretty much all week. We have seen some incredible things this week.. and had some hilarious experiences, and some.. kind of scary ones. 
First off, it just happens to be gay pride week here and there is an area of town that is all about pride.. and we just happen to have to walk through it a lot more often than we'd like. We have seen some pretty OUTRAGEOUS things and I continue to become more shocked every time that I'm there. People are crazy. Downtown Toronto is nuts! 
We had a pretty sketchy experience, that I ended up being grateful for. We had a referral that requested a Book of Mormon, so we went to the address (and thankfully had our ward mission leader with us) and knocked on the door. I kid you not, as soon as the door opened I was like.. oh no.. The apartment was dark, all the windows were covered with dark red sheets and it smelled so strongly of smoke. The guy invited us in and I felt the Spirit leave immediately. We looked around and there were demonic things everywhere. Like, witch hats and super scary masks and all of these really satanic things. We talked to him a little bit about the Book of Mormon and invited him to church, but I wanted to get out of there so fast... I literally felt so dark and it was so scary. Actually, one of my companions broke down into tears after we left because it scared her so bad. 
The reason I was grateful for this experience is because I didn't realize how much the Spirit truly is with us until it wasn't anymore. I am so grateful to know and feel of the light of the Spirit and to be able to be worthy of having it be with my at all times. I know that there is an absolutely noticeable difference between having it and not and it really made me think about what I need to do continually in order to ensure that the Spirit can always be with me, and it made me appreciate the thought of 'standing in holy places.' 
This past week we have found some of the most solid investigators that I've met since being in the Canada Toronto Mission. One of them is Ausra. She is currently living at a YWCA and is in a wheelchair. She is in a wheelchair because she attempted to commit suicide by overdosing on drugs, but her attempt failed and she ended up being passed out for a long time.. so long that she damaged one of the nerves in her back and it prevents her from being able to walk. Anyway, this woman is so prepared to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. When we extended the baptismal commitment to her, she accepted without blinking an eye. It is so incredible. Meeting with her completely humbles me and reminds me how blessed I am, and how precious this knowledge is. 
As I look back on my mission as a whole, I have been completely blessed and I will never be able to articulate all of the things that I have learned and gained but what I can say is that I have become so completely converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ and will continue to deepen my conversion building on the things that I have learned in this past year and a half. I am so excited to work my hardest in this past week and be able to fulfill this sacred calling to the end. I look forward to seeing you all again and I am so grateful for all of the support that I've received throughout my mission. 
Well, see you soon then! 
With love from Toronto, 
Motra Vermunt 

Monday, 15 June 2015

Alma 26:12

Hello family, 
So.. I think that everything is just pretty.. surreal for me at this point. This morning at 8:30 am I had my exit interview with President Clayton because the transfer just ended and all of the missionaries going home are leaving tomorrow.. I just get to hang around for a couple more weeks. 
Seriously though, so weird. It's kind of weird because I've technically already had an exit interview when I left Albania. But, nevertheless I was just like.. I cannot believe that I am here right now. It was a super awesome interview though and President Clayton gave some killer advice.. Kind of intimidating advice.. but super great. Tomorrow is going to be a pretty awesome day as we have "departing meetings" all day and then get to attend the temple and then have dinner at the Clayton's home.... and then I'll return back to my area and I'll get to be a missionary for 2 more weeks. 
To be honest, I don't even know where this past week went! But it was great. Sister Leung and I saw huge growth in our area and we're SO excited about that. It felt really good. But, sad news.. Sister Leung was transferred last night, she's going to be a Cantonese missionary for the next little while, which is super awesome but we're sad to be leaving each other. She's lovely. I love her. I will be in a tri-panionship for the duration of my mission. I'll be with Sister Mencarelli who is from Italy and Sister Horton who is a spanish speaking missionary. I'm excited, they are 2 awesome sisters.. And it will be super convenient on transit because Hermana Horton can talk to all the Spanish people, Sister Mencarellis got the Italians... and... I'll just continue to hunt down my Albanians. 
Speaking of them!! This week was super cool. We got a text from our Bishop a few days ago telling us that they just bought a house and their neighbours are ALBANIAN and they would love for us to come and meet them. I'm excited for that :) 
As missionaries we offer a free English course as a service and our flyers are all over the city and we get calls ALL the time.. and yesterday someone called and Sister Leung was talking to her forever and everything and finally Sister Leung asked where she was from, and she was from Albania! So she threw the phone at me and I got to talk to the lady for a while :) I loved it.
But the best part of my week this week was Sunday. We were busy greeting people and I saw Motra Gallani walk in and I went over to say hello to her, and then I saw Leo.. and he came in with SHPRESA! :) I was so excited to see Shpresa at church, but even more excited to introduce her to Motra Gallani. They started talking in Albanian and as I was standing there seeing them all talk, I was just overwhelmed with a sense of peace, and I was full of gratitude because it was one of those moments where I felt that the Lord truly had a purpose for me here in Toronto and that He enabled me to do something to fulfill that purpose. 
As I talked with President Clayton today, he asked me what I've learned. I know that the things that I have learned from being a missionary could never be summed up into a several paragraph e-mail, let alone one sentence.. But one of the many things that I have learned is what it means to be a converted and steadfast disciple of Jesus Christ. I know that once you find that, you can never stray from that path. I am eternally grateful for the experiences that I've had throughout my mission. Each and every experience, whether it be good or bad, has contributed to my understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and what His teachings mean to me in my life and I know that there is no way that I could have become the person that I am today if I had not experienced all the things that I have. I am so grateful that I have another 2 weeks to be a full-time servant of the Lord and to proclaim the gospel with all of my heart, might, mind and strength and I know that once those 2 weeks are finished, my call will change but I know that it won't end, I know that for the rest of my life I will serve my Savior and I will do all that I am enabled to do in order to bring others closer to Him. 
With much love, 
Motra Vermunt 

Thursday, 11 June 2015

And then there were 3

That was Dad's subject for his e-mail today.. and I thought I'd steal it. But yes.. I guess I only have 3 weeks left, which doesn't really seem to make sense to me in a lot of respects.. but it happens. 

This week was pretty insane. Lots of meetings! We had missionary leadership council on Wednesday, which is an all day affair, let me tell you.. And then in the 2 following days we had 2 other meetings since we are STLs of sisters that are in 2 different zones. We literally prepared the instruction we were asked to give on the subway as we were on our way to one of the meetings. Crazy. 

I had a really special experience yesterday during fast and testimony meeting. Sister Gallani called me the day before to make sure that I would be at church (I had to laugh because.. literally where else would we be other than church.. its like the pinnacle of our week) but, anyway.. on Sunday morning Sister Gallani asked that I would translate her testimony for her. I will not lie, I was SO incredibly nervous.. I was like, what if she talks to fast or I forget Albanian.. Seriously, I was dead nervous. But, good news everyone.. I didn't forget Albanian, and it was an incredible thing for me. Sister Gallani has never been able to bear her testimony in front of a congregation because she hasn't felt confident enough with her English. She talked about how grateful she was that a missionary was sent from her land that speaks her language so that she could testify about what she knew to be true. I was grateful to have the privilege to bear my own testimony after she was finished. I am so grateful for the amazing things that I've experienced with the few Albanians I've come into contact with here.

I wanted to share something really inspiring that I learned this week. In the latest general conference, Preisdent Packer said that "the end of all activity in the Church is to see that a man and a woman with their children are happy at home, sealed for eternity." As missionaries we are so passionate about finding, teaching and completing families because we know that the gospel is designed to bless and strengthen families. It is so important for us to attend church, (seriously.. Sabbath day observance is absolutely crucial to our spiritual health) but.. we can't just apply gospel principles one day out of the week. It has to be all the time, especially in our homes. That is where we will truly learn and understand the things that we must do to be the people we ought to become. 

In Isaiah 7:14-15 we read,  
"Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.  Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good."

Obviously here it is talking about the Savior.. and President Clayton asked us where the Lord would have eaten butter and honey.. and there was a little bit of silence and then he told us that the Savior ate those things at home, and that is where he learned between right and wrong, just as we all do. It is so powerful to think of the fact that the greatest place to build the kingdom of God is in our own homes. 

I am so grateful for the knowledge of the gospel, I am so grateful that I was raised by parents that have always sought to do good because I know that I would not be here on my mission, I would not have experienced or learned the things that I have if it were not for my parents who taught me the Gospel of Jesus Christ at home, and led by example. I know that this is greatest work that we can do, at any time of our lives regardless of what situation we may be in. The Church is true! :) 

I love you all, have a good week! 

Motra Vermunt 

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

what… June

So.. I think every person that e-mailed me this week told me that it is now June and reminded me that it was the last month of my mission. It's a pretty insane concept for me.. But, the way I see it is I still have 4 more weeks of finding investigators, getting them to church and helping them progress in the gospel. But I really can't believe it. 
Today is Sister Leung's birthday so we're going out for all you can eat sushi.... I'm so stoked. 
This week went by really quickly. We had a lot of things to do.. We had 2 exchanges with other companionships and then one emergency exchange as well.. So, I felt like we didn't really have a normal week at all. 
But I'll just tell you about my favourite parts of the week. This week we went and saw Motra Gallani. I just love her so much. Every time I see her she talks about how she waits for our phone calls and things like that. I just absolutely love her. She was able to get a position at work that only requires her to work afternoons on Sundays so she can start coming to church! Leo Dautaj has also come to church every week for the last 3 weeks and I absolutely just love it. It makes me so happy. 
Anyway, we were sitting in sacrament meeting and I saw Leo and Motra Gallani sitting next to me and I was just overwhelmed by the Spirit and I just felt so much peace and joy. I love all of the people I work with, but I know its not a surprise to any of you when I say that I have a special love for these people. 
Me and all my Asians :)
One of the missionaries I served with in Albania sent me the dedicatory prayer given by Elder Dallin H. Oaks when Albania was opened to missionary work. I will quote a part of it. "I bless the people of the scattered tribes of Albania wherever they may be in this world... that their hearts may be inclined to their native land, that the missionaries will be lead to their doorsteps, that they may hear and understand the message of the gospel." Elder Penrod (the missionary who sent me the prayer) said that this section applied to me. And this Sunday as I was with Leo and Motra Gallani I just realized that this is all so much bigger than me. It has been so difficult to leave my mission, as I've said 100 times.. But the Lord is mindful of His children where ever they may be and I feel so privileged to be able to have been sent to in some small way help fulfill these blessings that Elder Oaks left upon this people.

"Now my brethren, we see that God is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth. Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever. Amen." Alma 26:37
I love you all. Have a great week. 
Me dashuri, 
Motra Vermunt

Monday, 25 May 2015

Hello family! 
It's been a crazy week here in Toronto East.. I feel like I say that every week, and I probably do because.. well, crazy things happen all the time. Seriously. Yesterday, Sister Leung was like.. "what else could possibly happen this week?" But it's been great! 
We really saw some great things happen this week, we started working with a part member family and saw some great progression in our investigators. I think that a lot of the miracles we saw came from the fact that we've really started to work with the ward and ask them about who we should go visit or how we can help. It's been amazing! 
One of my favourite experiences from this week was when we went to teach a member referral from a Hungarian woman in our ward named Bettina. Her friend has only been here 2 weeks and quite literally only understands the word "good". Haha, so with Bettina's help in translating, we taught Anita and her family. What was so amazing to me was their facial expressions as we talked about the Restoration. Even before Bettina would translate what we said, I knew that Anita was feeling the spirit. It was such a testament to me that the language of the Spirit is one that is understood by all. It was really amazing, and we're looking forward to working with that sweet family. 
So, on Saturday night we went to drop by a less active member.. who wasn't home. Okay, and I'm not going to lie.. the less active member is Ann Gosling. As in, Ryan Gosling's mother. To be straight real I have this dream.. that we'll drop by and her son might be in town for a visit.. But anyway. We had an appointment shortly after and we knew that the bus didn't come very frequently in the neighbourhood so we started to walk to the main road where we figured there would be a bus route. We were mistaken. So, we ended up having to walk over an hour.. pretty much uphill the whole way. At one point I just said a prayer in my head and I was like, "Heavenly Father please help my attitude and make this day better." We finally get to the subway station and we see that the subway we need was closed for scheduled repairs. We were like.. COME ON. 
We ran to catch the bus before it started to leave, but we missed it. So, we waited and we finally get on the bus we need to get on, which was super packed and hot.. And it was still really difficult to enjoy this day.. But a lady sat in front of where I was standing and I remember thinking that I should say something to her. So, brilliantly I say.. "I hate transit sometimes." We start talking a little bit, and she had an accent just like everyone else I talk with in a day so I asked her where she was from, and she says.. "Albania." 
Okay, I know that you are reading this and probably thinking, "that's super cool, what a sweet coincidence." But, as soon as she said that she was from Albania.. I literally felt this peace come into my heart that I can't even begin to explain. I felt as though the Lord was reminding me that He knew where I was. I thought about all of the little things that had happened that day that set us back or seemed to be frustrations but they all allowed to me to be in this place at this time on a bus of like 100 people, to sit next to this woman and talk to her about everything that I love and miss about Albania. I loved her, and I loved what it meant to me to be able to talk with her. 
This leads me to something that I studied just this morning. I was reading in D&C 100 and I read verse 4 which reads, "Therefore, I, the Lord, have suffered you to come unto this place; for thus it was expedient in me for the salvation of souls." In this section, the Lord is talking to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon as they are away from their families preaching the gospel. Something that I really want to point out here is that Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon were preaching the gospel in Ontario, Canada. 
Many times I have allowed myself to feel that I was placed in this mission because of logical reasons or kind of through a "process of elimination". But, when I read this and really pondered what it meant for me, I realized that if the Lord had wanted me to be reassigned to any other mission, I would have left Albania earlier or I would have been originally assigned to somewhere else. But Heavenly Father suffered me to come unto this place, and I although sometimes I wish things could be different.. I am grateful that He did. I've learned incredible lessons that I don't think I could have learned in any other way. 
I love this gospel, I love the Lord and I love the opportunity that I've been given to share it with the wonderful people in this world. I love you all! I hope you have a great week. 
With love from Toronto, 
Motra Vermunt

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Important Lessons

Hello Family, 

Happy long weekend.. Our p-day is today because all of the libraries were closed yesterday. It's been a long week, I'm grateful for this p-day! 

This week has been interesting. I think that I was under the impression that in the last 6 weeks of my mission I would feel like I've got this whole missionary thing down and just feel super confident in my abilities. To be honest, in the past week I've kind of felt the opposite. We had 2 exchanges with different sister companionships and I was just like, I'm your sister training leader but.. quite honestly, I feel like I don't know what I'm doing. 

I think some of these feelings of inadequacy stemmed from the fact that Sister Leung and I have been struggling to find new investigators. We literally talk with EVERYONE. But nobody responds very well to us and it was pretty discouraging. On Saturday I was on an exchange with a sister from Edmonton, her name is Sister Raymant. Sister Raymant and I were walking down the street and she said hi to a group of black guys, and they said hi back and I felt an impression to go and talk to them. So, we turned around and talked to them. Nothing really came from the conversation, other than clearing up misconceptions about our church. I felt kind of confused as to why I felt like we needed to talk with them. 

We continued on and went to tract in a neighbourhood. This neighbourhood is beautiful! I loved it.. But, here's a sad fact for you.. I always dread going into a neighbourhood because I know that if they are nice homes and the people have nice cars, more often than not they are not very nice to us. It's sad because it is so evident that often times those who are blessed enough to be comfortable materially often have no desire to strengthen their relationship with God, because they don't feel like they need Him. 

Later on in the day, we had a lesson that ended earlier than we had anticipated. I felt that we should go drop by one of our investigators. We went to her house, but no one was home. As we were leaving the building we heard someone call out to us and ask if we went to the church on Ossington Ave. We approached the man and Sister Raymant recognized him as one of the men that was in the group of black guys that we were talking to earlier in the afternoon. He introduced himself and said that he had been to our church before. As we talked with him we learned that he was being taught by missionaries in Brampton a few years ago and was preparing for baptism. He said that the missionaries he met with were transferred and then he moved to Toronto shortly after. Sister Raymant and I invited him to meet with us and prepare once again to be baptized, and he said yes! He also wanted us to meet with his wife, and he took us over to meet his friend, Francis who also became a new investigator. 

I learned two very important things from this experience. The first was, that I needed to repent and humble myself to remember that our desires, regardless of how righteous they might be, will be fulfilled in the Lord's time and in accordance to His will. I had been frustrated all week because I was placing more trust in myself than I was in the Lord. Everything that had happened in that day led us to be in the right place and at the right time so that we could find Michael. It is in moments like this where I am in awe of the goodness of our Heavenly Father and in His love. 

The second thing that I learned was that we need to act on the impressions we receive and to trust in them, even if the outcome we expect doesn't immediately manifest itself. When I walked up to that group of guys I think I half-expected to give some eloquent sermon and gain 5 new investigators right then and there, and then later when we went to drop by our investigator I think I expected her to be home and to have an awesome lesson with her to keep her progressing in her faith. Neither of those things happened, but I was diligent in following the guidance that the Spirit gave me and because of that, we were rewarded in a better way than I had expected. 

Mom reminded me today in her e-mail that I have 6 weeks until I am home. Truly, that seems insane to me. It seems far but so close at the same time. All I know is that I'm grateful for the time I have left to be able to be on the Lord's errand. There are truly miracles in every single day and I am so humbled to be able to experience them, and to learn from them. Missionary work is truly one of the happiest things we can do. :) 

Me dashuri te madhe, 
Motra Vermunt 

Monday, 11 May 2015

Lumturia e përjetshme!‏

Hey everyone! 

It's been a crazy week, Sister Leung and I literally felt like we didn't have time for anything!! Transfers are fun and it's good to have a change.. but its also pretty rough trying to figure out how everything works with your new companion and everything. 

Toronto is crazy, I seriously have so many stories that I wish I could share.. but I think the best one from this week is that Sister Leung and I almost got punched by this crazy lady. She had her fist in the air and everything.. Hahaha, it was intense.  But super funny after it happened. 

We had mission leadership council this past week and it was really good!! President Clayton has some really great goals for the mission and I'm really excited for these next few months. Miracles are going to happen!! President Clayton keeps on saying that "now is the time" and he's right! Sister Leung and I are so pumped and we're finding some awesome people. We found a SOLID investigator this week and he was so awesome and he called us on Friday to tell us that he got a job and would be moving to Edmonton... the next day. So, that was a bummer. But what do ya do. 

We were able to visit both the Gallanis and the Dautajs this week and I just love them SO much. Motra Gallani made me speca te mbushur (stuffed peppers) because I told her it was my favourite, it was so good!! Seriously.. I love being in their home. Before we ate Vellai Gallani said that he was so happy to have us in his home.. Not just because we are missionaries but because we are like his daughters. I love him so much! He is just the sweetest man, and I cannot wait for him to be able to return to church. It's going to be the happiest day of my entire life. 

Yesterday we went and saw the Dautajs (Shpresa and Leo) and they are SO close to coming back to church. I know it! Leo said that he would be there next Sunday and I can't wait. Shpresa made another one of my favourite Albanian dishes.. It was SO good. It was awesome to spend a little bit of Mothers day with her :) .. Another cool thing, Albanians.. LOVE chinese people.. Haha. Seriously, in both homes I had to translate these long stories about how China and Albania were partners in times of communism and stuff like that. Haha, Sister Leung was like.. I didn't even know what Albania was... haha. 

I love my mission. I can truly say that I have never been happier in my life. I know that probably sounds crazy, coming from a 20 year old girl that doesn't have access to instagram or facebook, or who can't watch movies or listen to the radio.. But I think it is such a testimony to the fact that true happiness comes from living the gospel. There are so many good things that we have in our lives, and they can definitely help us feel happy. But none of it compares to sharing the light of the gospel and to seeing others find their faith in the Savior Jesus Christ. It is such a privilege to leave behind and "sacrifice" the things that I have in order to be a missionary. For anything that I might have left behind to be here, I have been rewarded so much more. 

I hope you all have a wonderful week! :) 

With love from Toronto, 
Motra Vermunt