Thursday, 25 December 2014

I'm not a little girl, I'm 20


I literally can't believe that it's Christmas already.. I just got off of Skype with mom and dad and that was fun! It's weird because it seems like I've been gone for a long time but at the same time.. not. I don't know. But, this Christmas is DEFINITELY different than some past Christmases. No snow.. So weird. It doesn't feel like Christmas at all, and most Albanians don't even really treat this like a holiday at all. 

We woke up this morning and opened some presents and then had breakfast with other missionaries. It was really good! I feel kinda fried and so I'm not sure how long or how good of quality this e-mail will be. 

This past week, a lot of good things happened. A lot of people are out of town and stuff and so there's not too much work to be done. It's coming to the end of the transfer and sometimes you just get kinda burnt out toward the end.. Especially with the holidays its been kind of crazy. 

BUT! Sister Coleman and I have been seeing CRAZY success. We currently have 12 investigators on baptismal dates and we've just seen the gospel change so many hearts. One investigator we have is an 18 year old girl named Zana.. She was in our English course and I just didn't feel like she was that interested in the gospel.. But, we invited her to baptism in our second lesson with her and she just completely changed after watching the He is the Gift video.. THAT VIDEO IS A MIRACLE. I promise you!! Anyway, she was coming to meet us to go to the stake Christmas party and the friend that she was coming with got hit by a car. She said that as that stressful situation was happening she just cried and held her Book of Mormon. And her Grandpa read the WHOLE book in one night and has folded over TONS of pages of the Book of Mormon that contain things that are important things for her to know. Miracles you guys.. miracles. They happen. She's doing great! 

I'm still doing awesome with Sister Coleman, I love her guts and it's been such a good transfer with her. But, 3 month transfers are so long it seems like FOREVER, crazy. 

Elona is doing so good, she passed her interview on my birthday and she's just doing so wonderfully. When she heard that transfers were coming up, she started to cry!! It was so heartbreaking. I love these people more than anything!!! I feel so blessed to work with them. I cannot even explain it to you. I love being a missionary. 

I wish all of you a Merry Christmas, and I hope with all of my heart that we can all remember why we celebrate Christmas and try to dedicate ourselves to knowing and understanding the Savior. We are so blessed to have a loving Redeemer who knows us and loves us individually. I know that He indeed is the greatest gift that we have ever received. 

Family, I love you with all of my heart!!! It was so good to hear your voices and see your faces, I miss you all and I wish that I could be with you at this special time of the year, but I love being a missionary SO much and I just feel so privileged to dedicate myself to the Lord and to this great work. 

HAVE A WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS!! Gezuar Krishtlindjet! 


Motra Vermunt 

p.s, I'm 20!!! Woohoo!!! Thanks to everyone who sent me birthday e-mails!

Monday, 15 December 2014

Lift where you stand

Hello again!

This last week was another amazing week and I'm feeling so blessed to be a missionary at this time of the year. I can't think of a better way to spend Christmas than to preach about the Savior and His gospel. 

A lot of amazing things happened this week.. one of them being that SARA WAS BAPTIZED. She's so amazing, I love her! One of the senior elders, Elder Smith said that Sara has a countenance about her and it is so true. She does, she is one of the elect. We've had so many experiences with her where the Spirit has testified to us that she has been prepared by the Lord to find the gospel at this time. Her baptism was amazing. President Weidmann attended and he bore his testimony and it was amazing. Seriously, so wonderful. Nothing is more  fulfilling than seeing someone you love so much make a sacred covenant and move closer to their Heavenly Father. 

We were also able to meet with the mother of one our members and she's INCREDIBLE. She's on a baptismal date for the 26th of December. She just is so ready to accept the gospel and to do what is right. She's awesome and we're working a lot with her. 

You guys.. Elona, is doing SO well. We met with her in the beginning of the week and she was like, "If there's anyone that's addicted to coffee.. it's me." So, we taught her Word of Wisdom and she was just like.. I'll try. We just asked her to gradually drink less and less.. But the next day we saw her and she's said that she hadn't drank any coffee at ALL. And to this day she has not had any at all. She got a blessing from Pajtim and she is seriously just progressing SO much in her faith. It is amazing. I can't even explain to you.. She was like, afraid of missionaries before and now she's just.. OH MY GOODNESS, I'm just so excited. 

Our area is exploding right now, great things are happening. We're just finding a lot of young women who are just so receptive to the gospel message and I'm so grateful to the Lord for the trust that He has instilled in Sister Coleman and I to be able to work with these people. 

So.. this week I turn 20, I'm pretty excited. It's a Sunday so we'll just be doing missionary work which is awesome. But I'm excited to not be a teenager anymore :) Haha. 

Truly, I feel so blessed to be a missionary right now, I love these people so much and I'm just so grateful for everything that the Lord has allowed me to experience. I hope that you all are enjoying your Christmas season and are continually remembering the true meaning of Christmas and the first gift that was given to us, even our Savior, Jesus Christ. 

Me dashuri te madhe, 

Motra Vermunt

Monday, 8 December 2014

A work of miracles


This past week was.. incredible. I can't wait to tell you all about it. But first, I wanted to comment on all of the pictures from you all in Banff.. I can't explain how jealous I was! I love the matching toques. It sounds like you all had a great time and I couldn't be happier for you! 

However.. I feel that I am SO unbelievably blessed to be a missionary during this time. I know all of you have probably heard of the He is the Gift video, but truly.. that video has had such a HUGE impact on my life and has grown my testimony more than I can even explain. 

So, as a mission.. we set a goal to have 300 convert baptisms by the end of the year. As a goal for our zone we set a goal for 54.. At the end of November we had 13 baptisms. So.. guess what our baptism goal for December is.. 41. Yep. 41 baptisms by the end of December. We had a zone training this week and our awesome zone leaders just pumped us up so much. Seriously, Sister Coleman and I were ready to jump up and preach the gospel to EVERYONE. I don't think anyone was as excited as us. Awesome things are happening in Tirana too.. the video is being broadcast on the big TV screen at one of the main sections in Tirana and we have really big signs and posters and things and it's just... SO AWESOME. I love it. Anyway, I felt the Spirit at the zone training and I know that it is possible to meet our goals. But, what I loved was that the zone leaders emphasized the idea of "lifting where you stand." It's so true.. the overall goal of 41 baptisms looks pretty overwhelming.. and kind of impossible. But when you look at your own area you realize that you only need 3 baptisms to contribute to that goal. 

I am SO grateful to be with Sister Coleman at this time. Truly, I know that our companionship is completely led by the Spirit and we have been SO blessed this week. We met with our investigator Sara, who we weren't able to get a hold of at ALL last week.. Called us last Monday and I pretty much screamed when I saw her name pop up on our phone. So, we met with her and found out that she's still SO solid!!! And guess what y'all.. she's getting baptized this Friday!!! She's incredible and I can't even explain how well she's doing. She's been with us everyday. I'm just so excited. Miracle #1. 

The rest of the week just went really well too.. We found 8 new investigators through the He is the Gift initiative and we have been so blessed to have the Spirit with us as we declare about the life and ministry of Jesus Christ and about God's love for His children. I was so surprised as we started contacting, to find that so many people do not celebrate Christmas or really understand what the point of it is. We met with our investigators, Sidorella and Besmira and they accepted baptismal dates as well.

Sunday though was when things really got amazing. 4 of our investigators came to church.. Which truly was one of the greatest blessings ever.. One of them being Elona Hoxha, the wife of our 2nd counselor. She's incredible and I just have such a unique and special love for her. Brother Hoxha was conducting the meeting and so he had the opportunity to bear his testimony first and it was BEAUTIFUL. He got emotional as he talked about how wonderful it was for him to have his wife in church with his 1 year old daughter. He then went on to talk about how we (the sister missionaries) were angels sent from God to his family and he said that he has never been happier. I cannot express the love and gratitude that I felt in that moment for this family and for the opportunity that the Lord has given me to work with them. Sister Coleman and I were mentioned in several other people's testimonies for the work that we've done with them and their families and I was just so grateful to see that our efforts really are making a difference in these peoples lives. 

So, after church we went to Elona's house to have a lesson. We taught the Plan of Salvation and talked about eternal families. We had committed her to pray about a baptismal date in our last lesson and so at the end of the lesson, I followed up with that commitment. She said that she had prayed.. but said that she "still didn't know." I was so overcome by the Spirit at this time.. and I told her all that I had in my heart. I told her that she ought not to fear for anything.. But that her Heavenly Father cares for her more than she understands. I promised her, as a representative of Christ, that all would be well if she would take this next step in her life. She was teary as I spoke.. But things just continually came to my mind.. Sister Coleman was silent, but I just had so much to say.. and as I did so, I felt my Albanian be more fluent than it has ever been. The words just seemed to flow out. I promised Elona that the words were not mine, but were the Lord's. She agreed.. hesitantly.. to prepare toward the date of the 27th. 

As the lesson ended, we asked Elona to offer the prayer. We all knelt down, and she prayed.. In her prayer, she told her Heavenly Father to bless her to be ready to be baptized on the 27th of December.. and then, the Spirit came into the room stronger than I've ever felt before.. She ended the prayer, and she said that she was freed.. freed from her doubts, and freed from her fear of her family. And she was a completely different person. The smile on her face was incredible.. and her countenance was so bright. She then told us that we are angels to her. I literally witnessed the Spirit testify to her that our words are true and that this is the road that her Heavenly Father has prepared for her. 

Sister Coleman and I pretty much floated out of that lesson. It was one of the most spiritual experiences of my life. I also had the opportunity of talking to one of my recent converts from Vlore this week. I called sweet Ledi and when she found out it was me on the phone she just started to SOB. Seriously.. she started to cry so hard. She was like, "I miss you so much!!!" I wanted to cry too.. I seriously cannot explain to you how much I love these people. They truly are so incredible and I know that their Savior loves them too.. I love being a missionary and being able to experience these things and understand the love of God a little bit better.

I testify to all of you that things are possible through the Lord. He grants us blessings according to our desires and according to our faith. I promise that He is in this work every single day. I know that He is the greatest gift that we have ever received. God so loved the world, and so loved each and every one of us that He gave His only begotten son.. so that we might be able to return to live with Him again. I pray that this Christmas season we all look for the hand of the Lord in our lives and see the greatness of His love. 

I miss you and love you all! Share the gift!

Motra Vermunt

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Mosiah 24: 12-16‏

Happy Monday everyone, 

I hope that all of you have had a great week.. It sounds like it's been pretty good, I was so excited  to hear that the Stamps won the Grey Cup! Woohoo! It also sounds to be unreasonably cold.. Yikes. But.. HAPPY DECEMBER! What, I feel like November came and went so quickly. It was a pretty rough month to be quite honest, so I'm pretty excited for it to be over.

This last week though.. was not an easy one. We had high hopes for it, but each day just a had a lot of setbacks. There were moments where things just felt pretty impossible. You know? Those moments where you're just like.. What more am I supposed to be doing? Why is NOTHING working out? But, as I look back I realize that each day held a tender mercy from the Lord.

Thanksgiving grub!
Thursday was a good day. It was Thanksgiving! So we all got together at the mission office to have a little training, and then we had dinner and had a talent show! It was so fun. I love the missionaries in my mission, seriously.. I swear they're the best. The talent show was SO funny. My friends Elder Holm and Elder Price were the MC's and it was... so funny. Our district's talent was synchronized swimming.. The elders all choreographed a "swimming" piece to a hilarious song and Sister Coleman and I held up the 'water'. It was funny. I died laughing as I was holding it, super funny. Elder Holm loves to make fun of Canadian's (all in good fun) and so while we were waiting for one district to get ready, he was like "if your flag has a maple leaf on it, come up to the front". So, all 4 of us Canadian's get up there, and we had to sing the Start Spangled Banner. It was so funny.. Then the whole mission joined in and sang too, it was great. Seriously, we had so much fun. 
The second place apple pie
There was also a dessert contest, and Sister Coleman and I made an apple pie.. and it came in 2nd.. So, we're pretty awesome. We lost to the Peja elders... Stupid.

Our training was so awesome, it introduced us to the "He is the Gift" initiative. I am IN LOVE with it. That video is incredibly powerful. I know that this is so inspired. Seriously, I know that so many hearts are going to be touched and changed because of the Spirit that it brings. I cannot wait to share it with my investigators. Obviously it's not translated into Albanian so some of the missionaries/stake leaders are going to work on doing translations and things like that. But I am so excited for this month, it's going to be incredible. I love inviting people to come unto Christ. 

Anyway, so.. it came to Sunday, and again it was a pretty rough one with church. I kid you not, we invite our investigators and people like CRAZY to come to church, we do everything that we can think of.. We testify of it, but Sunday rolls around and it's like everyone leaves Tirana, or someone in the family has died or is in the hospital.. It so frustrating!!! So, we didn't have any investigators in church. I'm not going to lie, sometimes it's hard not to think that you're slacking or not being as good of a missionary as you ought to be. So, I was just feeling kind of discouraged. 

Later in the day, we had a lesson with Elona.. Which was going really well, until her husband's brother came in. I kid you not, the spirit left.. Immediately. Sister Coleman, the member who was with us and I all just felt the Spirit leave us. I realized that I'm in a state right now where the Spirit is with me so often that I've become so accustomed to having it with me that not having it there was such a crazy experience for me. I just wanted to leave so bad. We stayed for a little bit and he just argued with us and it was just.. not good. I didn't feel good after. 

So, we come into our house at the end of the day and I was just feeling kinda down. I just felt really confused, Sister Coleman and I have been truly trying, and truly working and I just felt unsure as to why all of these things were continually falling through. In my heart I was just praying to know that the Lord was with us, I promise that this is a work that can ONLY be done through His power and His guidance. So, as we started daily planning I opened my Book of Mormon and I read, 

 "12 And Alma and his people did not raise their voices to the Lord their God, but did pour out their hearts to him; and he did know the thoughts of their hearts.

 13 And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort...

 14 And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs... and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.

 15 And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.

 16 And it came to pass that so great was their faith and their patience that the voice of the Lord came unto them again, saying: Be of good comfort, for on the morrow I will deliver you..."
(Mosiah 24: 12-16) 

I cannot properly describe the feelings of peace and absolute love that filled my heart when I read that. I truly felt the hand of the Lord.. My worries and my feelings of inadequacy were immediately lifted. I am so grateful for the Lord, for His love for me and for all of us. I know that He knows us, I am absolutely convinced and absolutely certain that He is our Savior and that He suffered for our afflictions and because He did so, we can always turn to Him. No matter how big or small that affliction may appear. I cannot tell you how much my testimony is grown that the Lord truly does come to us in our times of need. All we need to do is seek Him out, and turn unto Him. 

Campfire for FHE. Seriously it made me so happy
I love being a missionary so much. When I think about all of the things I've learned and come to understand I am overwhelmed at how blessed I am that I have this opportunity. I love being able to stand on the street and invite people to feel the happiness that I have found, to know that they have a loving Heavenly Father and a merciful Redeemer. I know that this gospel is the greatest thing I have and I know that it will bless any sincere seeker of truth. I know that the Lord visits us in our afflictions, and I know that He walks alongside us in moments of joy. He is in every moment of every day. I am so thankful for Him. I am so thankful for this gospel and the peace that it brings. 

I hope that you all have a great week! Don't freeze! 

With great love, 
Motra Vermunt