Wednesday, 27 August 2014

August… you can leave

Hello everyone!

I hope that everyone is doing wonderfully and enjoying the last little bit of summer. As people have been talking about the Labour day weekend I've been a little bummed about that.. Man.. Go Stamps! I wouldn't mind watching a football game and eating some peanuts.. But hey. Enjoy it for me! 

This past week went by pretty quickly. I realize that as I move along in my mission and feel less and less like a fish out of water that time actually seems to pass quite nicely. Haha, seriously a blessing. It's been so hot here. The whole mission got e-mails regarding dehydration because apparently it's been a little bit of a trend... But literally, I don't think I've ever sweat more in my life. It's absolutely ridiculous. Shoot, I can't wait for fall. 

P day with my peeps
The work here has been kinda slow just because a lot of the people we meet are out of town on vacation and it's just hard to get anything really going. But, I'll tell you a little bit about the work we've got here. We have an investigator that is planning to be baptized this upcoming Saturday. Her name is File. She's in her 40's and she's from a city in Northern Albania called Shkoder. She's been a Christian her whole life and knows the Bible SO well.. So, as she reads from the Book of Mormon she always tells us that it's just like the Bible but more clear. Yes! She's awesome. She comes to everything.. stays in church for 3 hours.. She's just good. So, hopefully all continues to go well with her. We also have Orkejda who will be getting baptized in a few weeks too. She's 13 years old and her dad, Ylli was just baptized a few months ago. She was kinda slow at first, but now her testimony has really grown and I'm excited for the progression she's making. It's been difficult for her to get to church lately though, so we've pushed back her date a little bit. 

So, in Tirana the ward boundaries are kinda weird and sometimes hard to decipher.. But this week the Tirana 2nd Ward sisters handed us over an investigator that they found through English course. He's like a 60 year old policeman named Dashi and he is SO cute. Apparently, in their first lesson with him they described to him that we dress our very best in the church to show respect for the Lord and His house and stuff and as they were explaining that to him.. He looked down at his uniform and buttoned up his top button and like fixed his shirt. We met him, and he's SO sweet. He brought his wife too. Her name is Lejla and I'm SO excited to work with them. They seem like just really really humble people. 

This week I had an exchange with my Sister Training Leader, Sister Kokol. Seriously.. that girl. I love her. I'm so excited because she's going to BYU too.. She's so great. I had such a great time with her. She helped me with a few things in the area and she just really gave me a lot of great counsel. Being with her on that exchange just reminded me of how much I love being here. Of all the goals that I have for my mission. It was so great and really helped me to solidify the path I want to be on as a missionary. The Lord literally works through other people all the time. I love it. 

Shopping at the treg… I literally don't have patience for it
So.. Yesterday, I gave a talk in Sacrament meeting. I seriously thought I was going to throw up. Any of you that talk about being nervous for giving talks or bearing your testimony.. Try doing it in a different language.. Y'all are LUCKY.  I was so nervous. I chose to talk about repentance. In the Gospel, repentance is the second principle. As I studied repentance and the true meaning of it.. I realized how blessed I am to be able to see how repentance changes people, how it has changed me! When we are truly repentant we seek to align our desires and our actions to the will of the Lord and to His teachings. That is a continual process, and it doesn't matter if we're investigating the church, if we're recently converted or have been members our entire lives.. It should be our constant goal to enhance ourselves and allow ourselves to be truly converted and consecrated to our Savior. 

One thing that I continually learn while I'm here is that no matter how hopeless things can seem, the Lord will always provide light in our lives. I can't express how much I love the enabling power of the Atonement. I love that the comfort of the Lord can always help us to keep going. Even if our trials seem to last longer than we think we can bear.. He enables us to keep going and to make it through. He can provide us with that strength because He has already overcome the things that try us. When I think about the things that trouble me or how overwhelming things might be.. I often wonder if I'm a strong enough person to go through the things that I face. And to be quite honest.. I'm pretty sure that in a lot of respects I'm not a strong enough person, I have a ton of weaknesses and I can get pretty down. But one thing that gets me through those tasks that seem insurmountable is that I have more faith in Jesus Christ than I do fear of my in capabilities. 

I testify that there is nothing that we cannot do if we turn to the Lord. One of my favourite verses are found in Jacob 4 verses 6 and 7:

"Wherefore, we search the prophets, and we have many revelations and the spirit of prophecy; and having all these witnesses we obtain a hope, and our faith becometh unshaken, insomuch that we truly can command in the name of Jesus and the very trees obey us, or the mountains, or the waves of the sea.
 Nevertheless, the Lord God showeth us our weakness that we may know that it is by his grace, and his great condescensions unto the children of men, that we have power to do these things." 
I hope and pray that all of us can remember that we are never alone and that the power of the Lord comes to all those that seek it and those that will be believing. I love you all and I pray for your happiness and safety! 

Love from Albania, 
Sister Vermunt

Monday, 18 August 2014

C'kemi familja ime‏

Well, another week down in August. Thankfully. Seriously, they haven't invented words for how grateful I am that I only have one full summer in Albania. Haha, this month is rough around the whole mission. But hey, it's chill. 

Anyway, this week was pretty good. We've been doing a lot of tracting and knocking on doors. It's kinda hard because I understand why these people wouldn't exactly want to invite us in because I don't know if I would want to either. But, I know that the Lord prepares people and that our efforts will be rewarded. 
The day before Sister Sejati got sent home… long story

I had a few really good experiences this week. We were meeting with our investigator Rejmonda and she has been a member of the baptist church for a long time.. and so she's read the Bible multiple times and she had a lot of questions. Seriously, I don't pretend to be learned enough in the doctrine to be able to answer questions that people have.. But, in this circumstance, the Lord TOTALLY blessed me.. Not only with answers to these questions.. But the ability to deliver them. I kid you not y'all, I could understand her perfectly and I just was totally ready to respond to her and I was able too. I can promise you that my Albanian was not perfect, but I knew that the Lord was speaking through me. I really think that was one of my first experiences with that, and it was seriously amazing. She's on a baptismal date for September 20th. 

Sister Kokol, she is the literally like… the best person I have ever met 
Another wonderful thing that happened this week was that we had interviews with President Weidmann. Okay, honestly.. I cannot express how totally blessed I am to be able to have him as my mission president. He is incredible. Seriously, every missionary that I have talked to is so pleased with how he directs us as missionaries. I've never met anyone that is so guided by the Spirit and who turns to the Lord in literally every decision that he makes. I cannot say enough good things about him. We had a really great interview. He told me that he wanted to know that he was very inspired to bring me up to Tirana 4th ward and I appreciated that because leaving Vlore was harder than I had anticipated. I miss those people a lot. 
I'm doing pretty well over here in Albania, it's pretty crazy for me to think that I've already been out here for almost 5 months. Weird. I really like that I'm around a lot of other missionaries now, it's fun to get to know the other sisters and stuff rather than just being tucked down South.

Anyway, I think that's all I've got for ya this week. I love you all! I hope that you're all enjoying the last little bit of summer. Eat some taber corn for me and steak for me.. :( 

Love you! 

Motra Vermunt

Monday, 11 August 2014

August Sucks

I hope you're all doing really well and enjoying the summer. I know it definitely sounds like Mom and Dad are just traveling all around. So, that's fun! 
Of course the weather is still so hot and humid here but not only is that frustrating.. the other thing is everyone has left on "pushim" or vacation and therefore NO ONE has time to meet or answers their phones. So, there was literally a day this past week where we just contacted for 4 hours!! But you know what, it's all good because it will get better in September.. I think. Haha. 
But I'm finally getting the hang of things here in Tirana, I know where I am now and I'm starting to get to know the people better. So that's really nice. I don't feel so out of place. 
So, one cool thing that happened this week was that we got one of our investigators, Orkejda, on a baptismal date. So, Orkejda is the daughter of one of our recent converts and before I got here apparently Sister Pitcher and Maxwell worked SO hard to get her to accept baptism. But she was just kinda like.. meh, I'll get baptized but not right now. So, they kinda just gave up on that. So.. this week we were running out of ideas to teach her. I've been reading in 3rd Nephi and so we decided to read a few verses to her from there. So, during the lesson Sister Pitcher asked Orkejda's dad why he decided to be baptized and then the Spirit just hit me so strong and I knew that Orkejda could feel it too so I asked Orkejda to explain her feelings about the gospel. She bore such a sincere and heartfelt testimony. She said, "I don't know how to say it but there's just something inside me that's changed." So, I then asked her that since she knew these things were true if she would commit to be baptized. She. said. YES. I looked over at Sister Pitcher and her jaw was literally just wide open. It was so exciting. We're hoping that she can be baptized sometime in September. 
One thing that I really love is that Sister Pitcher listens to conference talks in the morning. So, while I get ready in the morning I just get spiritually fed. One of my favourite talks from this past week was "Forget Me Not" by Dieter F. Uchtdorf. The talk has so many amazing things but I wanted to share a few things that I learned. First, Elder Uchtdorf talks about not forgetting the "why" of the gospel. He talked about the fact that we focus on "What" we're supposed to do, or "how" we ought to do it. Of course we have to think of the what and how but when we put our focus on the why, the things we must do don't feel like obligations that weigh us down. I really considered this and related it to my work as a missionary. So, as a missionary it is my purpose to bring other people to Christ, to give them the knowledge of the Gospel that I have been blessed to have in my own life. We report our numbers of lessons, investigators, and returning members. We wake up at 6:30 each morning and dedicate every day to this work until 9 at night. I know "how" to do this because I have leaders, Preach My Gospel, and the white handbook to help me know how I can do these things better. I realized that I could probably spend a lot of time worrying excessively about either of those things and be a great, obedient and relatively successful missionary. 
But what became very clear to me as I listened to this talk was how much the "why" influences all the rest. When I think about why I'm doing this.. I'm overwhelmed with a desire to bring people happiness. To bring them light in a world that becomes increasingly more dark. To help answer questions and help those who need love. I'm serving a mission to show the Lord how grateful I am and how much I recognize all the things that He has given to me in my life. I'm serving to come closer to Him myself. And when I think about those things, all the goals, the guidelines, hard work and frustrations don't come to me as irritating obligations or restrictions. I have a genuine desire to do whatever it takes to be successful so that I can fulfill my "why" purposes and then the "how" and "what" just seem to make sense. One thing that I've been blessed to learn is that a mission is not something you can do while withholding part of your heart. You have to completely devote yourself to the Gospel, to the people and to the Lord because when you do that.. When you have heart behind your work and you really embrace the reasons why your doing it.. When you think about the blessings that can be had, our burdens truly become lighter and easier to bear. 
I've been having a lot of fun experiences out here. Something happens everyday where I'm like... Oh.. Albania.. Haha. I know I say this every week, but I'm seriously so blessed to be able to serve here. I'm really so grateful. 
Alright, I hope you all have a wonderful week! I wanna leave y'all with Elder Uchtdorf's other counsel. Which is, forget not that the Lord loves you! 

"Wherever you are, whatever your circumstances may be, you are not forgotten. No matter how dark your days may seem, no matter how insignificant you may feel, no matter how overshadowed you think you may be, your Heavenly Father has not forgotten you. In fact, He loves you with an infinite love...  You are closer to heaven than you suppose. You are destined for more than you can possibly imagine. Continue to increase in faith and personal righteousness. Accept the restored gospel of Jesus Christ as your way of life. Cherish the gift of activity in this great and true Church." 
I love you all!
Motra Vermunt

First week in Tirana

Hey everyone, Happy August! 

I hope y'all are doing well over there. Things are going pretty good here. I'm just adjusting to the area/companion change so this past week was a little slower. Honestly, leaving Vlore was hard. I really thought that I would have had at least 2 more months working among those wonderful people, but that wasn't the Lord's plan for me. On Friday, my investigator Viktor was baptized and I heard it was really wonderful. I wish I could have been there. 

So, Tirana is really different.. We take the buses a lot and it totally throws me off because I'm so used to walking everywhere we go. It takes up time in our day because we have to consider how long it will take to travel to and from different places. Also.. I HATE summer. Everyone and their dog leaves and goes to a different city. So, basically we end up street contacting a lot of the time. But, we have some really great investigators here and I'm looking forward to finding more and getting to know these people. It's kind of hard coming in and not knowing anything!

I really like Tirana though, it has a lot of trees and I really like that, and there is always SO much to look at.. It's crazy. It's really busy and everything which is a change from Vlore too but I'm getting used to it! The people here are really nice, there are a few different dialects here so sometimes when we meet with someone they use different words or different grammar principles which is cool too. Probably the best thing though is that my area has a cinnabon.. Um, yep. A cinnabon. Hellooooo. Haha, just kidding we've been once but I'll save those for REALLY hard days. 

Cool thing though.. My first night here we went over to the ward mission leader's house and we were talking with him and everything and they told us their conversion story and were talking about missionaries and as it turns out I'm serving in Joel Kay's old area.. Haha. Oh dear. They loved Joel so much, they were telling us stories about him and I was like.. yep. That is EXACTLY Joel Kay. Haha, so funny.

Anyway, there's not really too much else to update on, I'm doing well and I'm really starting to feel like I can maybe actually speak this language. Not positive.. But I'm getting there ;) Oh yeah.. I have a new companion. She's really funny, she's from Utah but she's definitely not your typical Utah Mormon she's definitely got some edge. Haha, she loves like 60's and 70's rock and therefore hates my country music :( Haha but it's good. We get along and she's pretty chill so that's nice. She's been in the area a month but.. there's still a lot that we need to figure out so it kinda feels like we're both new here. Fun stuff.... Haha. 

I can't explain how grateful I am each day to be able to serve the Lord and to work to build His kingdom in this part of the world. I truly am so blessed. 

Anyway, I hope I have more for you next week! Love you all! 

Motra Vermunt