Monday, 28 July 2014

Wait… WHAT?

Howdy family, 

Well... I've had quite a week, let me tell you. But I'll start off with the biggest piece of information. Last night, Sister Wilding and I were just getting into bed and the phone rings.. and it's President Weidmann. So, obviously my heart like dropped to my stomach, I was like.. flip. President is calling at 10:30 at night, someone's dead. Haha, but it's all good because no one was dead.. I'm actually being transferred up to Tirana. I leave Vlore tomorrow morning at 7:30. Super unexpected. But, I'm excited for a little change. I love President Weidmann so much, he gets on the phone with me and he says.. "Sister Vermunt, the Lord has answered your prayers.. I'm moving you up North a little bit to a place that isn't so hot." Which.. I'm pretty sure Tirana is hotter because it's like a big city and stuff like that, but hey whatever. I laughed. So yeah y'all.. I'm Tirana bound. Haha

Alright, so now with the rest of my week.. Such a gong show.. Really. Haha, So, to begin.. My companion and I got a little mixed up this week and might of drank some vodka... Haha, flip. Even worse, it was given to us by our member. Guess who will be getting a Word of Wisdom lesson next time the missionaries come over. Haha, so here's the story. Every Albanian home that you go to, they give you something. Sometimes a little candy or sometimes they give you stuff they made.. But this time we just got a drink and some cookies. Usually it's juice.. but ya know. So, we drink a little and we're like.. Um what is this. So we asked her and she told us that she made it herself from the peaches in her garden.. And she was like of course there is no alcohol in it. So we believed her and we drank it.. and it burned so bad.. Haha, I was like.. yeah right Natasha ya little liar.. Haha. I looked at the bottle on the counter that she poured it from and the label was like "Pjeshke" which is peach in Albanian so she was honest about that at least.. but then right underneath in black bold letters it reads.. VODKA. It was nasty. 

So, remember that week that we walked out to our members house in the village? Well a few days after that my left foot really started to hurt but I just ignored it and kept on going and a few times I would look down at my foot and be like.. Is it swollen? But I just figured I was being a baby and imagining it, so I carried on. So, about a day and a half ago it was bugging me really bad and I look down and I was like.. dang, that's swollen. So I asked Sister Wilding if she thought it was and she was like "oh my gosh!! what did you do?!" So.. the next day I called one of the senior missionaries who is kinda like the mission nurse I guess, and she asked me all these questions about how it feels and stuff and I guess all the tendons in my foot are like inflamed and stuff and Sister Andrews got mad at me because I've been walking around on it for 2 weeks and made it worse. Flip! Haha, whatever what can ya do right. So, walking around Vlore right now.. Not the funnest thing ever, but it's my own fault. Haha. 

I was walking down the street and saw this. The window was broken,
so they put a picture of a cow. I laughed so hard.
Man Albanian's.. gotta love 'em
But probably my favourite part of this week would have to be the fact that our apartment has NO water and it hasn't for like 3 days, so I've been filling up several jars of water from these jugs we have to rinse out my hair and try and get clean. I feel more like a monkey than a human being. But hey, it builds my character. And I read Auntie Care's e-mail.. So, I have nothing to complain about. But honestly, some of the things she describes I can kind of relate too. It's crazy being in other parts of the world. 

But this week passed really well and we saw a lot of success in different aspects of our work. Probably the most exciting to me was the fact that one of our less actives came to church!! This is literally a miracle because in the past two lessons we've had with her, her heart has been so hardened and she would not even consider the idea of church. But, low and behold on Sunday morning she came walking up to the church with her granddaughter. I literally like almost threw up because I was so excited. For real. It meant a ton to me. Also, Viktor Mucaj passed his baptismal interview! I'm kinda bummed though because his baptism is on Friday and I won't be here :( I'm really going to miss the people here in Vlore, they're so amazing. Sad day, I didn't expect to leave so quickly.
I love these Albanian xhaxhi's. We walked this street like 5 times and
they were there ALL day. Just living the life. haha
But, at the same time.. this whole transfer thing has a really cool story behind it. So, our transfers are typically 3 months long and this transfer is 14 weeks. At the halfway point of the transfer there are sometimes "mini-transfers" but, seeing as we're only 5 weeks in, this was super unexpected as I said. Anyway, so when I compare this transfer to last transfer I realize that things are quite easy for me. I'm comfortable with the language (not where I want to be quite yet, but I'm improving), the work down here is going nicely, Sister Wilding and I get along.. and maybe one of the greatest things.. I don't have lice! Haha, but one night I was thinking about how my confidence has changed and how much more I enjoy my mission. I had been talking to some other sisters in the mission earlier that day and I had heard that some other sisters were struggling and stuff with different things. So that night while I prayed, I thanked Heavenly Father for the ways that He had helped me to overcome the things that had troubled me last transfer, and then I told Him that if there was another sister in the mission that needed help or an area that needed help that I wanted Him to send me next transfer. I don't know why I felt that exactly but.. It was what I had in my heart. So, when President called me last night I got a very real feeling that the Lord had taken me up on my offer. 

I am so funny that SisterWilding had to sit down cause
she was laughing so hard and thought she would
wet her pants. Man, Im so funny!
You guys, I love this place. I mean.. To be completely honest sometimes when the alarm goes off at 6:30 in the morning I'm like, yeah right.. Not today. But the minute I get out of bed and kneel to pray, I know that the day is going to go okay and that I'm in the place that I'm supposed to be. I seriously am so grateful for my life and the opportunity that I have to be a missionary at this time in my life. It's crazy frustrating some days.. But I know that I'm so blessed to be out here. 

I cannot believe that this upcoming week is the beginning of August, what even is that?! I feel like 2 weeks ago I was complaining that May wouldn't end. What is this sick trickery. I hope that you're all having a nice summer over there. If not I would GLADLY send you some of this stupid heat. 

I love you all, you're in my prayers!

With love from Vlorë (sad..), 

Motra Vermunt

Happy Monday

I just love Monday's. I love hearing from y'all and how good things are going!!  You all are so wonderful!

Paolo. She is leaving tomorrow for America, she got into BYU. She was the first person I taught a lesson to in Vlore! I  adore her.
So, this week has been really good! We just worked away and somehow the end of the week just came.. It was really nice. It's still really hot here and yesterday was SO humid. It's such a foreign thing to me.. I find so much joy in the fact that summer will end one of these days. Haha, I'm such a wimp. Whatever. 

Last night was so great, President Weidmann, his wife and the AP's came down to Vlore and visited us. Seriously you guys, I love the Weidmann's. They are incredible. Sister Weidmann is SO sweet.. She's so soft spoken and so sweet, and super classy too. I love it. It was so nice because you know that the Weidmann's have so much to do but President put it at the top of his priority list to get to know us and I'm just so grateful for his genuine love and concern for us. He is incredible and I consider it such a great blessing and opportunity to work as a missionary under his counsel. 

Ledi got a puppy, i am seriously OBSESSED with it
Cool story though.. So, in order to get to know us a little better they asked us to tell some information and then share a spiritual experience that we had. I couldn't decide what one I wanted to share but I chose to share the story of how I chose to come on a mission. I started telling the story and when I got to the part that I was in the temple and then opened to D&C 31, Sister Weidmann just kept on looking at President and then back and me and then back at him and I was like... what's happening.. Haha. After I had finished she told me that the EXACT same thing happened to her daughter. Her daughter too was like, "Well if you want me to go, I need something big." That was exactly my prayer and we both were guided to D&C 31:3. It was really cool and I think the Weidmann's and I really connected over that. I'm so excited about them! 

Look at that face
Another sweet thing that happened this week was in a lesson that we had with Alketa. So, Alketa is SO chatty. Teaching her lessons is kinda difficult because we make one point and then she's on another 6 minute tangent. Haha, but her ideas and feelings are seriously full of wisdom. Anyway, we were discussing prayer and how the Lord wants us to talk to Him about everything, not just the bad or not just the good. We told her about the love of Heavenly Father and after we said what we needed to say, she paused and looked at us and she said, "I don't know why this happens but when you talk.. It always makes me cry." And her eyes just started to fill with tears. We sat in silence for a moment, and I told her that it was the Spirit telling her heart that our words are true. It was really a powerful lesson. 

And! One of her coworkers asked if we could come meet with her too! When we talked to Alketa, she said that her friend is so excited for Wednesday when we get to meet and she thinks that we're just the cutest girls. Haha, I hope that she has genuine interest in the gospel. We'll see! 

My companions planner… seriously… our days are insane
I love this gospel so much. I look forward to my hour of personal study every single day. That one hour of the day gives me enough strength to make it through whatever comes my way that day. Honestly, there are days when so many things fall through.. There have been multiple times in the past week where Sister Wilding and I have had heavy hearts because of the hardness of peoples hearts. But despite all of the difficulties of this work, I am always lifted up by the hope of the gospel. Sometimes when I look forward, the road seems long and I'm like.. whoa, I have another year of doing this.. day after day. It is easy to wonder if you have the endurance to do that.. But, I found something that was said by Heber J Grant and it says, "I believe that when we determine within our hearts that by and within the power of God and with his blessings, our Heavenly Father will help us accomplish a certain labour. God gives us the ability to accomplish anything. But when we lay down, when we become discouraged and when we look at the top of the mountain and say that it is impossible to climb to the summit while we never make an effort it will never be accomplished." I loved this because it's so easy for us to look at a task and feel that it's insurmountable. But once you just put your head down and get to work, you'll find that it isn't that way at all and with the help of the Lord even the roughest times won't seem so hard. But it takes our work and our determination first. We can't just pray and ask the Lord to get us up the mountain without expecting to work for it ourselves. I love this work that I have the opportunity to be apart of, and I testify that it is the work of God. 

All my love,

Motra Vermunt

Look y'all… Max made this way all the way to Albania

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

From the e-mails I got this week it looks like everyone is doing amazing and I'm so happy about that! You all look like you're having so much fun! I think the thing that really stung though was that the Calgary Airport now has Chick-Fil-A... WHAT. That's glorious!! I know what I'm doing the minute I step off the plane next year.. 

So this past week has been pretty good. Time is a crazy thing, for real.. I feel like I always talk about it, but I just don't even understand.. When it came to weekly planning this week I was like.. Whoa, how is it weekly planning already.. but then when I think about the fact that we're only 3 weeks into this transfer I'm like.. what kind of sick joke is that?! Haha, but whatever. It's half way through July.. so that's pretty cool. I'm so jealous of the fact that y'all get to have fun little BBQ's at the fire pit and stuff. We were walking the other day and I smelt fire and I was like oh my goodness, someone's having like a bonfire or something fun!!! It totally made me die to be home.. when we got closer it was an Albanian man burning garbage and things.. So that was nice. 
Sister Wilding and I

We had another busy week, which is SO fulfilling.. I mean, at the end of each day I literally want to never leave my bed ever again.. But it's so nice. We just see EVERYONE that we can. And this past week, Sister Wilding and I took it upon ourselves to create a giant list of every less active and recent convert in Vlore. We took the list to District Meeting and basically orchestrated a plan to divide and conquer Vlore. By the time I leave this place we're going to have SOLID members. Guys, it's gonna happen. But yeah, so some days it literally feels like I'm walking across this entire city. It's crazy. 

Our investigators are doing pretty good. Viktor Mucaj asked to move up his baptismal date. I just love him, he's the dad of a family of recent converts that we have and he's just so humble and sweet. He just wants to do what's right and he's just the funniest guy. I love him to death. His baptismal date is August 1st! That means that a year or so after if they're all active and doing well that they can go and be sealed together as a family and I can honestly tell you that nothing would bring me more joy. That family is incredible. Sava and Mehmet are a married couple that we're teaching. They're in their late 50's or so and they're just so amazing. Sava talks a mile a minute and she's just going ALL the time. But they're doing really well and they truly are humble followers of Christ. They're progressing toward their baptismal date as well. 

One thing that I've really gained a testimony of this week is how directed this work is by the Lord. So one morning we got up and we were headed out to Sava's and it's like a 30 or so minute walk to her house and so we're headed over there and we run into Sava and Mehmet in the street, and I was seriously was like.. You've got to be kidding me Sava, haha we're on our way to YOUR house right now. We planned this last night.. Haha. But they had something they needed to go and do, so we were like um.. Well.. and I kid you not, no more than 10 minutes later a woman named Alketa calls. We've been wanting to meet with her and try to start teaching her and she was like "I only have time at 11 today, can we meet?" Well, 11 was when we would have been at Sava and Mehmet's.. But since they cancelled we could go!!! So, we went over there and we had a GREAT lesson with Alketa. It truly was a blessing. She's now a new investigator for us :) 

Albainian countryside
Last night we made the trek out to our members house that lives out in a village. It was like a 4 hour journey for us but it was really worth it. My feet hate me.. even today they're super sore.. But what can ya do. We went and visited Klara. We had a good lesson about trusting in the Lord and waiting for His plan to be fulfilled. And she was just so grateful. She was like, I was not expecting you today but it was exactly what I needed.. And then in her prayer she just thanked Heavenly Father for sending us to her to help her. I was so grateful that we could sacrifice our efforts to reach her and I'm so glad that the Lord directed us to go out there for her. 

 Everything's going well down here in Vlorë.. I mean I still feel as though sometimes I'm going to literally melt and DIE, but hey.. It's fun right? I MISS YOU ALL. I already look forward to hearing from you next week and seeing all the fun things that you're doing!


Motra Vërmënt ;)

Thursday, 10 July 2014


Happy belated Canada Day and Independence Day!!! 

This week has been super busy! We're seriously working like crazy here and I absolutely love it. The days are long and sometimes you're just dead tired cause the heat gets to ya, but it's so fulfilling to sit at the end of the day and know that you did everything that you could have and should have. It's so great. This week Sister Wilding and I walked out to a village where we have a less active member. It took us like an hour and a half to walk one way, but it was so nice and I just looked around and I was like.. Whoa. I'm in Albania. It's still pretty crazy to me sometimes.

This week was really good, one of our investigators Jusi is on a baptismal date now! We have been teaching her for a while and I absolutely adore her, she's the one that we teach in English and she's just so amazing. She's on date for August 22nd. We'll see how she progresses, but I'm honestly just ecstatic! I love teaching her so much. She truly ponders and wants to know the truth for herself. When Sister Smith was still here we had a lesson with Jusi and we were actually wondering if maybe we should drop her because we didn't know if she was just interested in learning what our church is about or was actually wanting to act on what we were teaching her. So, we had a lesson and I just felt SO guided by the Spirit while we were teaching her. I was talking to her about sincere prayer and I told her that Heavenly Father will never let us go down the wrong path, so I invited her to pray and ask Heavenly Father if what we were saying was true and I told her that if it wasn't true she would receive feelings that would cause her to doubt our words. So, the next visit we had I was super nervous.. When we asked her if she had prayed she told us that she had and she said that she waited for an answer and she wasn't really sure if she got one.. But then she said that after she prayed she felt very calm and the thought just came into her mind that she should continue on the path that she's on. And she was like, I can't really explain how I felt I just.. Felt it.. I seriously wanted to be like.. THAT'S THE SPIRIT! It's such a hard thing to describe to other people but our minds and our hearts just know. They know! Ah, so I'm SO excited for her and I truly hope that she will get baptized. 

This week I met our new mission president and his wife. President Weidmann and Sister Weidmann, and they are AMAZING. I'm seriously so excited!! I was really nervous cause he's from Switzerland right? So to be quite honest I was kind of ready for him to come in here and be somewhat dictator-ish. But he's SO kind and he cracks jokes and I'm just so excited. And his wife.. Oh my goodness, talk about the sweetest lady ever. What made it even better was the brought a massive toblerone chocolate thing for us.. YES! But I'm really excited for the things that he'll bring to our mission. I mean the Ford's were amazing, but unfortunately I didn't get to serve with them for that long or get to know them as well as I would have liked but I'll have the opportunity to be closer with President and Sister Weidmann and I'm so excited for that. When I met them I told them who I was and they love Jo and Greg and then they said that they spent a lot of time with the Thomas' too!! It was really cool. I'm seriously so excited. 
So, I'm just continuing to work hard here in Vlore. We're really trying to reach out to our recent converts and our less actives here. There are so many! It's sad. But we go and we visit them and we have good lessons and things and then we commit them to come to church, and I'll tell ya.. Sunday is a rough day. Your heart truly is so invested in these people and you want them to come and act on the covenants that they made. So, truly I can't tell you how much joy comes to me when I see one of my recent converts walk in the door and how much sadness comes to me when a less active doesn't come even when she promised us that promised she would. It's really hard. But it only drives me to work harder. I heard something that was so amazing this week and I've really been pondering it. We heard it in zone training and it was, "Don't be so faithless that you have to see the results of your efforts." As I've thought about that throughout this week, I realized how profound it is. What I got from it was this: Of course when we work hard or diligently at something we want to see the fruits of our labours. And maybe those fruits for me would be the people that I work with bearing their testimony on fast Sunday about the truthfulness of the gospel, or my investigators being baptized. Those are successes that I can see. But what about the ones that we can't see. For example, maybe one of the less active members we've visited this past week knelt down to pray for the first time in a long time or found their Book of Mormon that was lost in a pile of old things. I guess what I'm getting at is that we ought to do good things and have faith that something will come of it and be humble enough to accept that sometimes our good efforts won't be recognizable to us. We won't be able to see them necessarily and receive that gratification but our efforts all have results and we just have to work knowing that our Heavenly Father uses us as instruments and we have to know that He sees and receives our efforts and uses them according to His will and His way. 

I know that I am richly blessed to be able to be serving in this country and more specifically this city and I'm so grateful for every experience and opportunity that I'm given in order to grow and become closer to the person that my Father in Heaven needs me to be. I hope and pray that each of you can recognize the ways that He blesses our lives each and every day. 

With much love, 

Motra Vermunt