Monday, 30 June 2014

Yay July!

Hey everyone!

It's kind of crazy for me to think that June has come and gone, but then again when I look back I'm like.. that was forever! Time is so weird out here. 

So this week was our first week into this transfer and I'll be honest, I was pretty nervous. Sister Smith and I were really similar personality wise and we just hit it off.. So I just didn't know what to expect. However, Sister Wilding and I have common goals for this transfer. I'm super happy about that. So even if we are different personalities I think that the companionship will still be okay because we both just want to work so hard. Seriously, we've planned and worked like crazy. We've spent our lunches this past week by going through the Vlore super books and writing down every less active member and recent converts. This week we'll have a meeting with our district and basically we're going to divide and conquer Vlore. As I said in my last e-mail, it was a kind of bittersweet thing to stay here but I've realized I'm really excited because this transfer Sister Wilding are absolutely determined to make this area stronger than it was when we came to it.

People call Vlore the "promised land" because so many baptisms have happened in this past year. The ward is also really young it kind of reminds me of a singles ward back at home. But even though we've had tons of baptisms are weekly sacrament attendance isn't anywhere close to where it should be. I think too often we think of success in missions being based on whether or not we're baptizing people but I'm so excited to be able to strengthen the people that have been found and to help them establish their true conversion to Jesus Christ and to moving forward with their testimonies. 

We had a missionary come home from her mission in this past little while. She was serving a mission in England and it was so exciting to meet her. It's so interesting to hear an Albanian speaking English with a slightly British accent.. It's crazy. But yesterday we sat and talked with her and she just cried. She told us how hard it is being home and how much she wishes she could go back and help people that she loves and things like that and as she was talking I just realized how much our hearts become attached to these people and this life. Some days it truly is so hard.. You're just like, okay.. I'm going to willingly go outside into that awful heat to stand on the street and have people give me dirty looks because they think I'm a Jehovah's Witness (the JW's are not very well liked here) or I'm going to try to testify to these people that the book that I'm holding is the key to their happiness and that it changes lives but.. rather than being all eloquent and powerful I probably just sound like a retard because I'm still learning their language.. or I'm going to walk across the city to an appointment to knock on the door and have the person not be there. I'm not even going to lie to you, there are days that I'm like why am I even doing this? But then, you have one meeting where a recent convert tells you where they've read in the Book of Mormon or they share an experience where the Spirit has touched them and it's all completely worth it. I've seriously never felt more joy than hearing someone tell me how much the lesson that we gave them was exactly what they needed to hear. Or, when I walk into the church and one of the young girls comes and hugs me like I'm her favourite person in the entire world.. It's just all so worth it! It's the most gratifying thing ever and I know that I'm exactly where I need to be. 

It's still really hot here of course and I'm just praying that I will survive through July and August.. I'm told that it supposedly cools down around half way through September. I hope that happens. I'm sorry to hear about y'all in Canada and the lame weather that you're having.. However, I think you should consider it a blessing. There are some days that I'm just so hot that I don't even know what to do with myself. Haha, I don't want to sit against anything because it's hot.. I don't want to stand anywhere because it's hot.. I just wanna throw myself into the Adriatic Sea... Too bad that I'm a missionary and that's not allowed.. Haha but whatever it's chill.. I'll survive.

Sorry I don't have any pictures this week, it's just been crazy busy and I haven't really had that much to take pictures of. I'll try and have something for ya next week!

I love you all and I hope that all is well with every single one of you! You're in my prayers!

Much love, 

Motra Vermunt

Monday, 23 June 2014

Vlore round 2

Elder Holm & Sister Smith are both leaving me
Sup y'all, 

So.. We got transfer calls last night! As I had predicted, I'll be staying in Vlore for another transfer. Honestly, it's a bittersweet thing. Vlore is awesome and the people are great, but.. after being 3 months in one place you kinda wouldn't mind a change. But, it's good. A sister from Tirana is coming down to serve with me. Her name is Sister Wilding and this will be her last transfer. What's crazy though is that she's already served in Vlore for 6 months before! She was "born" and trained in Vlore, stayed here for 2 transfers and now is coming back. She's pretty different from me personality wise so things should get interesting ;) But I'm really hoping that the Lord has some specific work for us to do to build up the ward here in Vlore. 
Bye Bye Sister Smith

Otherwise, this past week went by really fast! Probably because on Wednesday we had mission conference. It was super good!!! It was sad because the Ford's are on their way out of the mission. I love Sister Ford so much. She just totally tells it how it is and I just love it so much. She gave us a talk on patience and about waiting for things to come to pass. It was really good. Especially because I'm terrible when it comes to looking forward to things. I'm always waiting for the next thing to come. But sometimes we need to just stop and realize how great things are for us in that moment. I know that I've recognized so many more blessings that way. 

Our Bishops Puppy, Oliver. Im obsessed with him.
I was so excited to see all of the Elders that I've missed from my MTC group. I walked into the meeting late because we had to go to the police station for some of my documents and stuff. But, I walked in and I saw Elder Myers and I was just like YES!! So, I went and sat down and stuff and then he turns around in the meeting and he points at this bag and he bought me these 2 things for my hair.. and get this.. he bought me a jar of peanut butter. Basically, it made my whole life so much better! I was so excited because the peanut butter here is different, but he bought me some extra crunchy jif and I was just so stoked. It's terribly sad to me that we're on COMPLETE opposite ends of the mission. He's truly like the brother that I never had. Haha, when we all get together I just laugh so hard. It's so fun. But, also.. I met one of the sisters that are serving in Macedonia and although it will never happen.. I wanna get sent there so bad now, she's SO rad!!! We're the exact same. As we were about to sit down for lunch she comes up behind me and she was like "can we sit together.. and can we please not sit next to the other sisters.. Sisters are annoying." I laughed so hard because I really feel like I should have been born a boy. They're just so much more chill and better to hang around with. But basically, she's the best. So.. maybe something crazy will happen and Heavenly Father will be merciful and send me to be with her.

Ledi's Baptism, I was so excited
Other than that I think towards the end of the transfer things get a little rough. We've got 3 investigators with baptismal dates, but it's kinda hard to get them coming to church. So.. That's slowing our work down a little. Also, probably similar to home.. It's summer now so everyone is off in different locations and doesn't have time to meet. So, I'm hoping that once Sister Wilding gets down here we can get back into a rhythm and get some good work going. 

Something that I really want to do in this next transfer is help strengthen the ward here. Bring some less active members back and try and develop a charitable environment. What's kind of difficult is that Albanian's don't trust each other very well. They're all absolutely certain that the Church would be better if an American was in charge. But that's not true at all. So.. we're gonna do some work and get people to stop complaining and talking badly about others. It's crazy!! Y'all should hear Relief Society, it's like being in the live audience when they tape the View. Just a bunch of women bickering. But, truly.. the Church has only been in Vlore for like 6 years. So, they're doing well.. considering. Like I said, we have some work to do. 

Our investigator  Redvina, she's a cutie
This past week I went and met some of Aleksander's family members. They are so kind! They invited us into their restaurant and gave us some icecream and just talked with us. I don't think they're all that interested in the gospel. I left a Book of Mormon with them, so we'll see. But Aleksander's brother made it clear taht if I need anything I can come to them or call them or something, so that was super nice :) 

Our new mission president comes in this next week and I'm interested to see how he will change things here in the Adriatic South mission.. He's from Switzerland, so.. He could be pretty intense.. Or he could be pretty chill. It could go either way. I guess we'll see!! 
Proof that Albania has changed me... Tomatoes and cucumbers… I love them!

Well, not too much else to report over here. But I hope everyone is enjoying some nice weather there. And yes.. It's still HOT here. I hate it so much. And it's only just begun.. Heaven help me. 

Much love, 

Motra Vermunt

Monday, 16 June 2014

Am I serving in Albania.. Or Satan's lair.‏

Hello everyone!!
My companion loves me enough to serve me, and wash the lice out of my hair
Firstly, thank you SO much to everyone for caring about me and my hair!!! Hahaha, I appreciated all of you for sending me uplifting e-mails and I'm glad that y'all could get a good laugh! Sister Smith and I sure did too.. Sometimes life just sucks and you just have to laugh. 
So, this past week was pretty good overall.. Other than the fact that it's flipping HOT. Oh my gosh.. I think today or yesterday or something was 89% humidity.. What even is that. I walk outside and I'm instantly like.. Nope. Not doing it. Seriously, walking to some appointments is literally a death sentence. Hahaha, when I'm home and if I ever complain about cold weather I give everybody permission to remind me of this weather right now and I will be instantly grateful. For real. 
So this week 2 more of my investigators were baptized!!! I was so excited for all of my investigators, but this week Ledi was baptized, and she just has such a special place in my heart. Seriously though. As I watched her get baptized, I was just overwhelmed with love and I was just so proud of her. Her testimony and her understanding of the gospel truly are incredible, and I love listening to her pray. You know, they send us on missions to teach people about the gospel, but sometimes I feel like I learn more than they do. When Ledi prays, she talks to Heavenly Father as she would her best friend and it's just so great because you can feel that she knows she has a relationship with Him and it's just so incredible. I absolutely love her, and her mom came to her baptism!! I'm really hoping that we can start to teach her too! :) Our other investigator Redvina also got baptized, she's so sassy and so great, I know she'll do great things! 
This week had some really great experiences for me. As I'm starting to get more and more comfortable with this language I've been able to really use the language of the Spirit and the Albanian language together and I'm SO grateful for those opportunities because they truly manifest the power of the Lord. Not that my language is anywhere near perfect or anything but it is coming, finally. There are still days where people speak and I'm just like uh... Oh my GOODNESS. Especially the older Albanians that don't have teeth. I get nothing. I'm just like.. um, nuk kuptova.. fare. But this is besides the point.. So, this one day this past week we had such a hard time planning, everyone was busy or couldn't meet or something and it was so frustrating. But we finally got lessons lined up and let me tell you.. By the end of the day we realized why we needed those specific lessons. 

So, first we went to the Rrapo family (remember Lina was baptized a few weeks ago) and we had planned to teach a lesson on family history. Sajmir offered the opening prayer and it was such a sincere prayer, you could just tell by the sound of his voice that he was at the end of his rope. He was just pleading for the companionship of the Holy Ghost and for blessings from his Heavenly Father. So, Sister Smith and I completely scratched the lesson we had planned. We instead just talked about trials. I had Sajmir read the first few verses in D&C 121. This is where Joseph Smith is pleading for relief from the Lord. As Sajmir read these verses I saw him truly connect with the words that Joseph Smith had said. I feel that's very much how Sajmir feels.. Simply, how long will my trials persist? How long will it be until I'm relieved from my burdens? We had such a great lesson that was so spiritual and I really saw his demeanor change. It was powerful. 
Following that lesson we made our way over to the Mucaj's and we taught Sister Mucaj who was also just on the verge of tears because of some changes that we occurring with her husband's work. It was so great to give her a lesson assuring her that the Lord will provide aid and that everything will be well. I seriously have such comfort in my heart because I've realized that a lot of what we worry about isn't really of great significance. And if it is, the Lord will help us. I sometimes wonder how much easier things would have been for me throughout my life if I had relied on myself a little less and on the Lord a lot more. But both of these lessons were an absolute testimony to me that this is the Lord's work. He sent us to the people that we needed to see. He heard their prayers and knew that they needed His light and His words to pull them through. I'm so humbled to be His servant. 
We got some new investigators this week from one of our recent converts. They are an older couple and are so amazing and so humble. We're really excited to work with them more! In fact, we already have them on a baptismal date for July 27th! We'll keep working with them, but it's definitely a goal! 
I'm super excited for this upcoming week because we have mission conference, and I'm just super stoked to see everyone again and have some fun! I'll send ya some pictures of that next week!
So, this week I read the book "Our Search for Happiness" By M. Russel Ballard. It's just a little simple book that discusses our basic doctrines, but I loved reading it because truly it just opened my eyes and reaffirmed to me how blessed I am to have this knowledge. One thing that really struck me was when Elder Ballard talked about quality of life. I don't know about any of you, but when I think about quality of life I think materialistically. That's what we learn in school right? I don't know.. Anyway, Elder Ballard states that the quality of someone's life is based on their ability to influence those around them to do good, and their ability to influence comes from the fact that they themselves have such genuine and rich goodness. I mean think about it.. It might be great if you have a beautiful new truck or a really expensive home and those things will happiness and satisfaction, but how much more happiness would you have knowing that you've made the lives of those around you better by simply being in it. It really made me think and I'm just so grateful for the opportunity that I have right now to focus on trying to become a person that can maybe do that one day. 
Anyway, I hope all of you have a beautiful week and that you all pass well!! Also, I hope you all know I'm so jealous that I couldn't make it to Uncle Brent & Auntie Care's farewell. I have so much respect for them and I cannot wait to see what brilliant things they will do in their mission. They're incredible. 
Do me a favour and drink some slurpee's for me while I dwell in this dreadful heat. 
All my love, 

Motra Vermunt

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Albania-2 Sarah's hair-0

Well, hello my lovely family and friends.. 

This past week has been an opposition week FOR SURE. First let me tell you about my horrible life.. Haha, just kidding.. But really, not cool. 

So, we're walking home after a lesson and Sister Smith looks over at me and she's like you have a bug in your hair and I was just like.. Whatev, take it out. And then she looks closer and she's says.. No, really.. you have bugs in your hair. So.. yes.. I got LICE this week. But honestly with the way my life has been going recently I was literally just like.. Of course there are. Ugh. So we went down to the pharmacy and got some special shampoo and all this stuff.. I'm pretty sure my scalp is like raw from the acid in the shampoo, but pretty sure they're all gone now. Haha, I was grateful that I was able to approach the situation with some humor.. I'm pretty sure Sister Smith laughed SO hard that day, because I was just furious haha I was like this is RIDICULOUS. But, yeah.. Not a fan. Why did I have to get parasites in my hair? Why couldn't I get them in my stomach and at least drop a few pounds? Just kidding. Kind of. 

But let me just give you a little taste of what it's like living in Albania.. So, we're on our way home to get this shampoo in my hair cause I just wanna kill these little suckers, so I get in the house and I'm just so excited.. and the water doesn't work. Nothing comes out at all.. I was seriously like.. Am I being punked right now.. But thankfully we have the senior couple here in Vlore and we just went over there and had a good chat with her while we scrubbed my head and stuff. And then just last night, we're trying to weekly plan and ALL of the lights just turn off. So, yes.. We studied by candle light. These have been days where I've repeated in my mind a few times.. "I love being a missionary.. I love being a missionary.." to remind myself ;) 

But also this week we had an exchange with our Sister Training Leaders and Sister Kokol came down to Vlore to stay with me and it was SO fun!! Sister Kokol and I seriously the same person in so many ways. I died laughing. I seriously prayed that I would be able to be her companion.. That won't happen because next transfer is her dying transfer. But seriously though.. It was so good, we quoted Kristen Wiig and everything.. I mean really, that girl is just glorious. 

I'll be honest with y'all, this was definitely a rough week on me emotionally. Even our work was pretty rough. A lot of people cancelled or just didn't answer their phones and by the end of the week with my whole lice ordeal all I could think was, haven't I had enough?! I was so frustrated. It's so hard to have patience and long-suffering when you're in the midst of things. I'm not exactly sure what things that the Lord needs me to learn right now, but what I do know is that no matter what happens in a day, no matter how overwhelmed I might feel.. I always find comfort in the scriptures. Everyday I convince myself to simply make it to personal study.  I'm convinced that if each and every one of us take the time to read our scriptures for even 5 minutes every single morning we will find the strength to overcome every obstacle that awaits us in that coming day. It doesn't mean that the scriptures are going to necessarily give perfectly fitting solutions to our problems.. I mean, I'm positive that Alma's afflictions far exceeded an investigator that won't answer her phone, or having a bunch of little bugs in your hair.. But I know for an absolute fact that the words of comfort that our Heavenly Father provided to Alma and any other prophet are for us too. The Lord has said, "What I say to one, I say to all." I have found that to be so true, and I know that there is such a great power when we place ourselves into the scriptures and realize that the Lord is speaking to us. 

I realized something that I LOVE about missionary work this week, and that is when I contact someone on the street or when I'm in their home teaching them a lesson.. I'm not trying to convince them or trying to persuade them to believe. I'm giving them the knowledge and the promises that are theirs if they would simply try it. In one of my lessons this week, I just felt the Spirit so strong and I was holding the Book of Mormon and I just felt so strongly, "read this book and tell me that you don't feel anything when you read the words on these sacred pages. Tell me that a peace doesn't come to your heart. Because honestly, I know if you sincerely seek it out.. You will not be able to say that you didn't feel anything." I know that if someone reads the Book of Mormon with true intent and with an open heart the Spirit will touch their hearts. They will feel something. That's the thing about preaching this gospel, it's that we invite people to pray for themselves, we invite them to read from the Book of Mormon because we KNOW that they will feel that it is true. We're not here to persuade because we don't need to. If people have open minds and open hearts they're going to know for themselves and that's all we want is for people to understand for themselves and we know that they will. The Spirit has so much power, and it's incredible to feel and see it working on people. I think Moroni says it a little more eloquently than I can in his promise in Moroni 10:3-5. Sorry.. I'm rambling.. But, the gospel is just so.. COOL. I love it! 

Well, again thanks to everyone for being interested in my endeavors! I hope y'all have a little bit more luck than I do. Give me strength.. Haha! Have a great week! 

With love from Albania!

Motra Vermunt

Thursday, 5 June 2014


Gjirokaster Castle, so cool
So, I didn't know if it would ever come.. But it's finally June.. by the way.. HAPPY BIRTHDAY STEPH!!! I hope you have a great day and eat a lot of delicious food and do something fun! 

This past week has been really good! It has been kinda overcast/rainy here and everyday that the weather is like that I just rejoice because it's one less day of hot weather. It's been wonderful. And just to give you an idea of how much we walk and things.. I have walked a hole through the middle of a pair of one of my shoes. Hahaha, it's kind of satisfying. 

So, on Friday TWO of my investigators got baptized :) It was really great! Seeing Lina Rrapo get baptized was so amazing because she's been an investigator for a really long time. Her husband and one of her daughters are members and she was just not interested/really scared of going under water. But now, several months after the baptisms of her family members, she's now a member too!! :) She was really scared to be baptized, you could see the terror in her face before Elder Price baptized her, but she said after that it felt amazing. Even better was she told us before hand that she didn't want to bear her testimony in front of everyone because she was shy. But on Sunday in fast & testimony meeting she got up and said some things, and it was just so great!! I'm so proud of her, and I'm so happy that I could contribute to the Rrapo family and helping them progress together and help them to get one step closer to going to the temple as a family!! 

The other investigator's name is Ela, she's 18 years old. She's funny.. She talks super fast and is really energetic. At first, I wasn't quite sure if she was aware of the weight of the things that we were teaching her. It kinda worried Sister Smith and I, but time after time you could just see that her countenance was slowly changing she would come to our lessons and actually participate and be involved, and then one day, she went and took pictures of the paintings in the church and put them as the backgrounds on her phone. It's the little things like that that make missionary work so rewarding! You just see the subtle changes in people and you watch a greater happiness come into their lives, and it's so satisfying! Her younger sister that we are teaching as well will be getting baptized in the next few weeks, on the same day as Ledi. 

So, now that the people that we've been working with for most of the transfer have been or are getting baptized, we're out to do some more finding. I'll be honest.. Finding is rough. Street contacting is kinda difficult because it's hard to establish a powerful conversation that quickly, and people here in Vlore seem to always have a place where they need to get going to and things like that. One great way to find people is through English course. We're teaching a few really great girls English and I'm hoping that they'll find some interest in the gospel as we share spiritual thoughts with them too. 

Isn't it so beautiful?!
I'm happy it's June. My first transfer has been passing pretty slowly as I've just been trying to adjust to life as a missionary. But, I'm so grateful to be here. Even though there are hard days or frustrating things to deal with, at the end of everyday I'm thankful for the things that I've learned or the people that I've been able to meet with. This gospel brings us so much strength and joy even in the midst of hard times. Our burdens may never be completely lifted off of us, but we will always receive the strength or help we need in order to endure. Heavenly Father loves all of His children and one of the greatest things that I've learned is that we don't only need to pray to Heavenly Father and talk about the big things, He will help us when we need help with anything.. Even if that's to help us endure the next hour with a smile on our face or to help us find the strength to whatever it is we are expected to do. I know that there is never a problem or a worry that is too small or too significant. The Lord wants to be in the details of our lives. And I promise that as we allow Him to be, a new light and a new understanding will come to us that will make every burden that we carry feel lighter. 

I hope you all have a wonderful week. 

With much love, 

Motra Vermunt
Sister Bettinger & I. She is from Ontario