Monday, 27 October 2014

Come What May


So, another pretty busy week as we had another baptism to prepare for. It was a really good week though!

Fiqeret's baptism!!!
So our investigator Fiqeret is one who was baptized on Friday. She is the mother of one of our recent converts, Rozalinda who is 14 and was baptized in August. It was so special.. Rozalinda gave a talk at Fiqeret's baptism and the bishop and everyone just gave such amazing remarks about how amazing it is that they are together in the gospel. It was just such a great thing to be a part of.. It was so special! 

We have been blessed to meet some really great people.. But one of them is a referral that we received from a person I used to work with in Vlore! Her name is Paola and she's actually at BYU right now.. But she e-mailed me and told me that her friend Sara wanted to meet and was interested in learning.. So, we met with Sara (good name, right?) and she is INCREDIBLE. She is seriously so prepared. We have her on a baptismal date for the beginning of December. We've met with her a few times.. and the first time she was like.. "Yeah, I read to 1 Ne chapter 4. I like this book.. time just passes when you read it." and then we met with her a few days later and she was like, "I am now in the 2nd book of Nephi." and then she goes on to say.. "when you read it you just know that it is true." She's incredible. I'm so excited about her. 

So, at the beginning of this past week Sister Coleman decided that this week was going to be a kind of "come what may" week.. And that's exactly what it was. All week we tried to set up appointments with potential investigators and things like that to find some new investigators and meet our goal of 3 new investigators. So, for Saturday we had 2 appointments set up with potential investigators, one couple and one girl.. and they both fell through. I was like.. dang it!! Haha, why! We couldn't get any other ones set up either. So, Sunday comes and Sunday's are stressful days.. you just want every one of your investigators to keep their commitments and come to church. Unfortunately, only 2 of our investigators showed up.. To be quite honest, I was real disappointed! I was like.. We set our goals with you Heavenly Father. We felt that we received confirmation.. What. But then, of course.. I was humbled very quickly. 

Halfway through Sacrament meeting our bishop's wife walks in with a woman and a teenage girl. After the meeting she was like, "this is my cousin and her daughter.. they will be taught by you." So, we had a lesson right after church. Then we came to find out that in their family they have a few sons and the dad too. I cannot tell you how much I've yearned and prayed to find a complete family to teach. I was so humbled to again re-learn that the Lord has His plans and they are always greater and always more rewarding than our own. 

Xhesi and Sara came to visit me at the baptism. I miss them so much
I love 3rd ward so much. Seriously, the people here are truly my friends. We have activities and things that we go to and they always come and every night as we're walking home Sister Coleman and I just cannot get over how much we love them and how we just want to be with them all the time! One of them is Trashegim.. He's so awesome and he just submitted his mission papers.. But, his sister Illirjana is one of our investigators too and she's just pretty hard headed and stubborn so it takes her a while to let our message reach her heart. We've been praying that something will help her desire. But we love her to death and she loves hanging out with us. She's always like hugging me and if we walk anywhere it's arm in arm and I just.. I love these people SO much. I cannot even articulate it. Anyway, we took her to an amazing fireside that we had where President Weidmann gave a talk and an Albanian translated for him.. and in the beginning of President's talk he asked if all of the investigators would stand.

We were in the 2nd row and Illirjana stood up and President Weidmann looks at her as he says, "Will you have a prayer in your heart that you will have a greater desire to understand this message?" And you just KNEW that it reached her. I saw it, I felt it! I seriously got goosebumps on my arms. You guys, Heavenly Father loves us. He answers our prayers. He answers our prayers for other people. He knows when to provide us with those answers and in what ways. It was such a great moment. President Weidmann gave such an amazing talk about how we are children of God and He will never forsake us. He will never abandon us. It was so good. President Weidmann is seriously one of the greatest examples I've ever had in my life.

This is Mirela Tafili. She is recent convert from 4th ward. I love her so much. Everytime i see her she  gives me the biggest hug and just kisses my cheeks like a thousand times.
WARZONE…. sorry I took this while walking!
Okay, so crazy Albanian thing... This past week our area turned into like a war-zone. Not actually.. But, the Albanian government decided to finally crack down on businesses having legal permits.. So, ALL of these bars and restaurants and stores have been just been demolished. It's been going around Albania for the past little month or so. But apparently, the owners would just get a notice 24-hours before and get told that the government will be coming to tear down the establishment. WHAT. So, seriously.. one day we walked down the street having all of these businesses and fruit stands and literally the next day there were diggers tearing up EVERYTHING. So sad..

Well family, I think that's all for today! I wish you all a very happy Halloween and I hope that I get to see some awesome pictures of costumes and what not. Ju më mungoni! 

With love, 
Motra Vermunt


Monday, 20 October 2014

A work of love

Hello again to my wonderful family and friends, 

This week was super busy and filled with so many things.. But it was a really great week. On Tuesday we had zone training and it was really good.. I love missionary meetings because they just get you pumped up to get out the door and be the best missionary you possibly can and just.. convert the whole world. During zone training we got a text from President saying, "Sister Vermunt, can you please come to the mission office at some point today." I felt like instantly nauseous.. It was like being called into the principals office or something. I instantly was like.. what have I done this week.. What have I done wrong.. But, it's all good because Doctor Greenwood was down visiting from Germany and wanted to see me. But seriously, scariest 2 hour waiting period ever. 

I'm feeling A LOT better, my pain is basically like all gone and I cannot even express how nice that is. I wake up in the morning and I'm so excited for that little 30 minute workout time that we have because I can actually do something now! Ah, so good. But yeah, I'm way happy about it. 

So.. this week was pretty crazy, and so amazing because Gena was baptized!!! Baptisms are great things.. I love them, but they're also super stressful. This week we went over to Gena's and talked to her about her baptism and she was like.. "Well, my new schedule for work 6:30-10:30 am and then from 3:00-7:00 pm." Our sacrament meeting is at 10:00 am.. So we were like PLEASE can you ask your boss to have Sunday mornings off, or get someone to cover you.. or something, we were just like pleading with her.. It was stressful. 

So, we left her house that day (like 2 days before her baptism) and were trying so hard to think of things that we could do to get her to the church as soon as possible.. We knew that she's totally prepared for her baptism though and she was SO excited and everything so we didn't want to push it off because of her work.. Here in Albania, bosses are not accommodating at ALL.. They know that everyone is just dying for work so they give people absolutely no leeway or anything. So, Sister Coleman and I went home and prayed so hard. We just prayed that her boss' heart would be softened and that she could be able to be there right on time in order to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 

We called Gena that night.. and her boss said no. He wouldn't allow her to work at night or even allow her one less hour in the morning. I'm not going to lie, I was like.. What.. Why, Heavenly Father? This person is one of the most repentant souls I've ever met.. she's trying so hard, why?? I was disappointed. But, on Friday morning we had her baptism.. It was beautiful and she bore such a great testimony and she was just beaming she was so happy. She told us how when she first came to our church she told herself that she wasn't going to believe.. But the minute she prayed she knew in her heart that this church was the church of Jesus Christ.
This church is super sacred to Albanians, people have been healed here and things like that.

Then comes Saturday night and we are just like.. what is going to happen.. And we call Gena and she's like "I'll be at church at 10:00 in the morning! My husband is going to take my shift in the morning so that I can be there.. Oh and he wants to start having lessons with the missionaries, he wants to be baptized!" I don't think I've ever been so excited in my life! I was just like, oh my goodness!!!! What a blessing!! Her husband just saw that light and felt her genuine joy about being baptized. It was great, she was at church perfectly on time and she was confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. :) 

So, President Weidmann is incredible.. we had interviews with him this week and that was such a great opportunity to just talk to him and gain insight from him. He said that his goal is that his missionaries can have the same relationship with the Savior as the Savior did with His Father. I thought that was so profound, because if we have that relationship with the Lord we will only seek to do His will and only seek to do the things that please Him. President made some interesting changes in our mission this week.. One is that it is our mission policy now that Sister missionaries are the only ones to teach women. Any family or investigator that is not being taught with a male (husband or boyfriend or something) is to be given to the sisters. I was surprised because the fact of the matter is, girls are just way more accepting to listen and things like that. But I know that the President is so inspired and I can't imagine how great this will be that now Elders can focus their efforts on finding priesthood holders.

The other change that was made was that we have 7 things that we do at the end of the night when we plan for the next day. There's a few things but one of them is that we each read for 2-3 minutes out of the Book of Mormon. I LOVE doing this. It just brings in such a great spirit. What I do is just randomly open to any page in the Book of Mormon and read the first verse that catches my eye.. And it is literally always PERFECT for what I'm feeling or to describe that day. So, on Friday I opened to Alma 29:13 and it reads, 

"..and that same God hath called me by a holy calling, to preach the word unto this people, and hath given me much success, in the which my joy is full"

I wish that I could properly explain how much joy I have right now. I seriously, love my mission. Not because it's easy or that I'm seeing success in every way possible because there are still hard things. But honestly, I have never felt so much love for people before in my life. I just love being with them. My investigators and the members that I work with here are literally some of the most amazing people I've ever met. Everyday this past week we've gone to a baptism or activity with Ema, Trashegim, Aferdita and Illirjana and they are literally just like.. my people. I don't even know how to explain it. But I have SO much love for every person that I work with and I am just so happy. Truly, my joy is so full. And I just put it into the perspective of, if I know how much I love these people that I serve I cannot even try to comprehend how much love the Savior has for each of us. 

Gena and Trashegim!!! I love them so much

Sister Coleman and I are doing great together. I seriously love her. She's super sweet and kind and it's just so good to be with her. We both love these people and this work and it just.. works. I appreciate her SO much. Things are just really good right now. 

SJ Squared
We picked up two new investigators this week and they're twins. Their names are Sidorella and Besmira and they're so cute! They're here for school and they have a Catholic background but they're on a baptismal date for November 22nd. They came to church on Sunday and really liked it! And they came to a baptism and brought their boyfriends.. It was super exciting! Great things are happening in Tirana 3rd ward.. Seriously. 

I hope that everyone at home is happy and healthy, I love you all. Talk to you next week!

I love these missionaries so much
Motra Vermunt

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

we walk by faith, not by sight

Hello everyone! 

This past week has been amazing and I'm so excited to tell you all about it! 

So.. It comes to me badly that I'm missing Canadian thanksgiving, however.. 3 of the 4 Canadians are currently serving here in Tirana.. So, we're having a party today!!! We're making waffles or something.. Why waffles? I don't know.. But that's the plan so whatever. 

We all have so much to be grateful for! I especially feel that I have been so blessed by the Lord and I'm so thankful for the opportunity that I have to be a missionary.. Especially to be a missionary in the Adriatic South Mission. I LOVE where I serve. I absolutely adore the people, the place and the culture. And I'm convinced I have one of the best mission presidents ever. So, yeah. But seriously you guys.. I could not even begin to explain all of the things that I'm thankful for. Oh my goodness.

This past week was CRAZY though. Seriously. One day, we had 20 minutes for lunch. We are just so busy. But.. let me tell you about one of the greatest experiences ever. So, last week in weekly planning we were praying over the goals that we made for the week. We had originally planned a goal for 5 new investigators. After praying over the goals, Sister Coleman was like "I feel that something needs to be changed to 8." As I thought about that, I felt that it needed to be 8 new investigators. But.. my mind was like, yeah right. That's impossible. So, we prayed for a confirmation and we placed our trust in the Lord and set our goal for 8 new investigators.

Throughout the week we had successes in meeting with people and getting return appointments with them, but we also had people fall through. There were definitely times where Sister Coleman and I could not see how we were going to find 8 new investigators by the end of the week. So, it comes down to Sunday morning and we have 6 new investigators. In my mind I was like, alright.. it was close and we did our best. But then.. one of our potential investigators, Ledi, called us and told us she could meet. We met with her and had a good lesson and are going to meet with her again next week. So, our number was 7. Still really good. 

It was like 7:30 at night and we had just finished watching the 2nd session of conference and we thought we'd go stop by some less active members' house. We called and asked them if they were in the house and they said yes, so we walked over there. I don't know why this is a thing.. but it ALWAYS happens that the members live on the top floor of the apartment building. So, we get up there.. and they're not in the house. What. We just called you!!! Haha, but nevermind it's okay.. So we're walking to go back to our house and then we remembered Matilda. Sister Coleman and her old companion had a lesson with her once but they didn't get a return appointment so she wasn't counted as a new investigator. So, we would have to get a solid time and day return appointment with her in order to count her as a new investigator. We started walking to her house and I just prayed in my heart the whole time, ensuring that the Lord knew that I had the faith that she would be there and that I had the faith in the goals that we set with Him. So, we knock on the door and she answers and she says that she'd love to meet with us next week and we set up a date and time. 

8 new investigators. Seriously, when we set it I could not see how it was possible. I thought we were just being way too enthusiastic or something. But the Lord literally placed people in our paths.. It happens. This truly is the Lord's work. I know that when we place our faith in Him to guide us and when we confirm our ideas and our expectations with Him, we will achieve them. Anything is possible when it is in accordance with the will of the Lord. My testimony of this is SO strong.

We have a lot of really great investigators now. People that are really seeking for truth. But one of them is Gena. We met with her one of the first days that I was here and she's seriously one of the most repentant and prepared souls of I've ever met in my life. The first lesson that I had with her, I was like overwhelmed with the Spirit that she brought with her. She had met with Elders before meeting with us and so she had already been reading the Book of Mormon and stuff. But this last week, we had a lesson with her after not being able to meet with her for about a week. I called her and she sounded so sad on the phone and she told me that her Aunt had just died unexpectedly and I was waiting for her to say that she wouldn't be able to meet with us and stuff because Albanian traditions when someone dies are pretty intense.. But, then her sweet voice was like.. "Am I still ready to be baptized?" I just love her SO much. She's so amazing. She's getting baptized on Friday!!!! She passed her interview on Saturday and our District Leader came out of the interview with her and was like, "she's seriously amazing." 

I can not express the privilege it is to be able to work with Gena. I would normally say the privilege it is to teach her.. But I feel like she always ends up teaching me. In the last lesson we had, she was telling us some of the experiences she had. And she showed us this huge scar she has on her head and apparently when she was 2 years old she quite literally almost died and the doctors had accepted the fact that she died, but her dad rushed in and put the oxygen mask back on her face and she came back to life and it was this amazing miracle. As a result of it, she spent her life looking for the truth and knowing that God was there. She knows that angels have looked out for her throughout her life. Anyway, she said that as a child she would spend the morning in the xhami.. or the mosque and then the afternoon she would spend in the Catholic church. She just wanted to know Christ and understand God. She told us that when she prayed for the first time with the missionaries, she knew that this Church was true. She knew that this was what she had been searching for all of her life. My eyes filled with tears as she bore her testimony of this gospel. She truly is one of the elect. I'm so thankful for her. She is a huge light in my life at this time.
So, as I hope you all can tell.. I'm extremely happy here. I love these people more than I could ever be able to express to you. They are incredible. They are so loving, generous and willing to help us with anything. Oh my goodness. I'm so happy to be working as much as we are. At the end of the day I'm just like.. okay.. bed. And I won't lie, sometimes in the morning I'm like.. can we just.. not? Can we just stay in sweats all day and do nothing? Haha, but as soon as I get out the door I know that I've been called to serve, I've been called to spend each day doing the Lord's work and being His instrument here in this part of the world. I hope that you can all sense my gratitude and love for our Savior and for His mercy. 

I'll also add my thoughts on conference, I loved it. It was great. Watching it in a different language is definitely interesting. But, I think we all got the repeated message of sustaining and following our beloved Prophet. Truth is truth, and there will always be opposition to that truth. It might not be popular with the world, it might not get tons of 'likes' on Facebook or be 'moving with the times'.. But it is truth, and it is absolute. I love and sustain our Prophet, Thomas S. Monson and I know without a doubt that any counsel he gives to us are direct revelation from God. D&C 1:38. 

I'm sorry this e-mail is so long.. but to prove my last point, I have a quick story. I was talking with one of the guys that do the translations for conference and I asked him if it was hard. He said that it's relatively pretty easy because they have the talks written out in front of them. But then he said, "It's hard to translate for President Monson because he always says things that are different from what is written." I know that when the Prophet stands up to speak, he speaks the very things that are placed in his mind through the Spirit of God and I know that when we follow his words we will never stray from the path of God. 

I love you all, I am grateful for your love, support and your prayers. May you pass well. 

With much love from Tirana, 

Motra Vermunt

Monday, 6 October 2014

Transfer #3

Hey everyone!

So, I honestly can't believe I'm already into my third transfer.. It's really weird to think that I've been out on a mission for about 8 months now. I've learned so much though! 

Church in 3rd ward. The landlord lives on the floor.
So, when President told me that I would be moving areas I was so surprised. I did not expect it at all..  Plus everyone always talked about how 3rd ward is the hardest area in Tirana and how it's just really slow. So, that was not exciting to me.. But let me tell you guys, I am SO happy here. Oh my gosh. This last week has been incredible. I absolutely love my companion. Her name is Sister Coleman, she's from Provo. Get this y'all, her name is Sarah Jane! So, SJ-squared is just taking over Tirana 3rd ward. 

But seriously.. I love working with Sister Coleman. This is her 2nd transfer, so she's one transfer behind me.. But I've already learned a ton from her. She's great! We had so much success this past week. Together, we found 2 investigators that are seriously SO solid. One of them is Sandra and she is amazing. She came to our English course and we showed the Restoration video and she was just so intrigued as we watched it. She's 23, and she's adorable! She's super bubbly and smiley and everything. The next English course we taught about the Book of Mormon and we gave her one and she was so grateful, she said she was going to ask for one after the class ended! We invited her to start reading it and the next day she was already on 1 Nephi 6, and she had a lot of questions and things. Oh my goodness you guys, I adore her. She came to a baptism with us on Saturday and that was really great. She's on a baptismal date for the 1st of November! 

The people here in 3rd ward are seriously incredible. I already love them so much.. I've already adopted the name of "Motra Barbie" once again. Albanian's really struggle with Vermunt for whatever reason. But we have a little "mini" missionary with us. Her name is Sindi and she's 10 years old. She helps us with lessons like everyday and she is just amazing. She has a whole notebook of her favourite scriptures with her and has already read Preach My Gospel haha. She reminds me so much of Brooklyn, she's a sassy little thing. I love her! 

I was really sad to leave 4th ward though. One of the 'less actives' that we worked with was Brisi Beleshi, and she honestly is one of my favourite people here in Albania. She speaks English perfectly so we always just taught her in English and stuff, she's seriously amazing. She's so fun! We got to be such good friends. I'm still in Tirana which is good so I can see her occasionally but she texted me this week after she had a bad day and she said that she's never gotten closer to a sister missionary and stuff and that honestly just made me feel so good.. The last few weeks in 4th were pretty rough for me so it was nice to know that some good things came from my time there.

One of the members from 4th ward, Xhexi has a totally PINK room! and the cutest pink phone ever!
So, I'm sure all of you are interested about my health. Things have definitely been worse! So that's good. I've still got a decent amount of pain which is really frustrating. I still get really nauseous on the daily.. Also annoying. But, this past week I was literally in the hospital 5 out of the 7 days. It was RETARDED. So, we went the first day to book an appointment for the next day and I had an ultrasound, and everything appeared to be normal and fine.. and then the next day we went to see about me getting an MRI but it would have taken too long so we booked it for the next day.. But funny thing about that, the lady at the desk was like "yeah, you should pay for the MRI today because we have a deal.. they're 50% for today." I laughed so hard. I was like.. sweet, half price MRI! Score! So.. we went in the next day to have that done, and so I'm back there and they're sticking needles in me and stuff (can I just say how much I loathe needles.. ugh) anyway, the lady goes away and then comes back and she's like.. so.. the electric company turned of the power.. So we're just running on generators. Yeah. Albania for the win.. the company turned of the power.. at the HOSPITAL. Haha, what even.. Anyway, so the ladies were like "come back tomorrow at 8 before the people at the electric company get up and get to work." It was so funny.. So yep.. the next day, we were back AGAIN. It was basically a sick joke. 

Good news, my MRI was all good (as expected), I really didn't want to have one. But better to be safe than sorry I guess. I hated it, it was super scary and stupid but now I have tons of cool pictures of my brain. So that's kinda cool. 

General Conference hasn't been translated into Albanian yet so we'll be watching it here next week. But we just downloaded the sessions and we'll listen to them in our apartment! I'm really excited, it sounds like there was some good stuff. How lucky are we to have a prophet? I love President Monson so much.

Seriously you guys, I'm so happy right now. I'm so excited, I really think that Sister Coleman and I can do great things. I can't explain how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with someone that has desire and drive that go along with mine. It's such a huge blessing and I'm so grateful. Good things are going to happen, I feel it!
Sister Kokol left me this week, she went home :9 Seriously one of the best people I have ever met.

So.. something I've been doing recently is at night when I pray before going to bed I only say a gratitude prayer. Meaning, I don't ask for anything.. I only give thanks for the things that I have or things that happened throughout the day. I can promise you that it has changed my attitude so much. There are seriously endless amounts of things to thank the Lord for. I have never recognized so clearly how truly blessed I am and all of the amazing things that I have in my life. It has been such an eye-opening experience and I seriously invite all of you to try doing the same thing. Dedicate one prayer a day to simply thanking Heavenly Father for things. I promise you that a greater light will come into your lives and you will have a greater understanding of His love for you. 

I love Albania so much and I'm so grateful for the blessing and opportunity that it is for me to serve here. I'm so blessed. 

I miss you!

Sister Vermunt 

p.s, I was in a store today and saw a part of Taylor Swift's new music video.. What even is that?!? .. It does not please me. 

Have a great week!