Craziest week ever! So.. first of all, ELONA WAS BAPTIZED. Seriously.. it was incredible. So stressful. There were so many obstacles that came up into her life.. One including that her 2 year old daughter spilt boiling water on her foot and had to go to the temple.. 2 days before her baptism!!! We were so sad because the doctors said that she would have to be in the hospital for 3 days. Sister Coleman and I were so upset because we knew that transfers were coming at the end of the week and we love Elona so much.. When she heard that one of us might be leaving she cried and she was so upset. We have truly developed such a bond with her. Anyway, that night Sister Coleman and I just knelt in prayer and pleaded for the Lord to help us and to bless Elona to be able to be baptized. We fasted for her too.
The next day, we took the zone leaders with us and they gave both Mishelli (Elona's daughter) and Elona blessings. But we weren't sure still if Mishelli would be released from the hospital.. So, Sister Coleman and I were just praying constantly that she would be okay.. We knew that the Lord had prepared Elona so much for baptism and we just knew it was her time. So, we went out to eat with Sara so that we could see her another time before transfers and then right after that, Elona's husband called and said that there was a good chance that Mishelli would get out the morning of the baptism day.. So, Sister Coleman and I went right back to fasting again. But.. our prayers were answered because Mishelli was actually released that night!! We were so excited. The baptism was beautiful and I cannot express how sacred it was to see that family be completed. Elona was so happy and she gave a beautiful testimony and talked about how she knew that Sister Coleman and I were the missionaries that she needed in order to move forward in her faith. I love her so much. I know that part of the reason I was sent to 3rd ward was to work with Elona Hoxha.
So.. Sunday night comes, and we're waiting for transfer calls.. Aka.. most stressful/nerve racking thing ever. We were pretty sure that we thought we knew what was happening. We thought that I was either going to stay.. or train a new missionary in Elbasan and that Sister Coleman would go to another area of Tirana to train. So, President calls and I spoke with him first.. He says, "Sister Vermunt.. where would you like to go?" In my mind I was like.. is there a right answer to this question... haha. But I told him that I wanted to go wherever the Lord wanted me to go. Then President says.. "Well Sister Vermunt.. The Lord wants you to serve in Gjakova."
Okay.. I know that you all cannot understand how insane this is but let me explain this to you.. Gjakova is a city in Kosovo that was opened in 2013 and it has never had sisters in it before!!! I would have NEVER thought that Gjakova would open to sisters while I was still in the mission.. and I would have NEVER thought that I would be the sister to open it. But not only am I opening a new area, but I am also Sister Training Leader in the Prishtina Zone. So, I get to go on exchanges with the sisters in Prishtina and also in Macedonia! You guys... I'm serving in Kosovo!! WHAT!!!
All I could say to President is that I am so humbled and grateful for this opportunity. Which, I totally am. I seriously cannot even express how cool this is. My new companion is Sister Boettinger, the other Canadian. And my District Leader is Elder Stewart from Lethbridge! So, Canadians are taking over Gjakova. Sister Boettinger and I are also supposed to do some work in Peja which is another city up here in Kosovo that only has 4 members of the church! WHAT. Oh my goodness.. oh yeah, and we have a car. So.. that's pretty cool.
Gjakova is a pretty small city. The branch has about 25 members and there is A LOT of work to be done. Lots of finding... lots. To be honest, it's kind of intimidating and overwhelming. Gjakova also has a very different dialect. It's very thick "geg".. another dialect of Albanian, I'm used to speaking tosk. So.. basically, I started in the mission where they speak the "cleanest" grammar and I am now in the place where they speak a lot dirtier. It's CRAZY. More or less.. I feel like I'm learning a new language. There's just a lot of different words and principles and things like that. The people will be able to understand what I speak.. but let me tell you.. it's very interesting to understand them.. Pray for me.
Sister Coleman is actually staying another transfer in 3rd ward and training there. That was a big surprise. But I'm so happy she's staying with all of our recent converts and investigators.. I love those people so much and I know that Sister Coleman will continue to take good care of them.
Gjakova... is freezing. Seriously you guys.. it's like -16 or something like that, but it's a cold like nothing I've ever felt. Maybe it's just cause I've been babied by the weather in Albania. But seriously.. I am so cold. Haha, weather.. it hates me. I wear like 3 pairs of socks in my boots and I still feel like my toes are going to fall off. Also, for some reason.. our apartment does NOT warm up. We have a little space heater that we have in our room so basically, we just stay in our room all the time and hurry and run out if we have to get something. SO COLD. Ah.
So, yeah.. I've got a pretty big task ahead of me, but I am so excited and SO humbled that out of all of our sister missionaries this is where the Lord wanted me to be sent. I know that there are probably going to be some tough times.. but I know that with the Lord, all things are possible and that as we move forward with faith and with desire to do good that the Lord will pour blessings upon the city of Gjakova and that we will find those souls looking for the truth.
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and HAPPY NEW YEAR. I have a feeling that 2015 is going to be incredible.
With love from Kosovo,