Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Dont worry about nothing, pray about everything

The title of my e-mail is the name of a song Sister Monnie and I have been jamming to this week in the mornings, and it just gets us so pumped up. We love it.

So, this week has been good! We had a lot of really good lessons and been really busy. We have 2 investigators with baptismal dates, and we're hoping to help them reach those. It's been kind of hard because they haven't been able to get out to church, so we have to keep moving them back. But, we're hopeful that things will continue to go well with them.

We've had a lot of lessons this week about prayer. The beautiful thing about prayer is that it is a two way communication with God. We are not just simply asking for things that we need or talking to a faceless being.. But rather we are offering up our desires and asking for the things that we need to help us in our daily lives and to remain close to our loving Heavenly Father.

Often when I talk to someone on the bus or on the street, I ask them about their belief in God and I ask if they believe they can have a relationship with him. I get varied answers,
We went the aquarium last week on our P-day.

but when I ask if they would want a relationship with God 99% of the time the answer is yes. We all want to have a relationship with God, but what we really have to ask ourselves is are we willing to do what it takes to obtain it. In Albanian, the word for relationship is "marrëdhënie". The word "marrë" is the past participle of 'to receive', 'to get' or 'to take'. "Dhënë" is the past participle of "to give". I love this!! Literally, if you were to translate the Albanian word into English it would be something along the lines of "give and take."

If we want to have a relationship with our Heavenly Father, or if we want to strengthen the one that we already have, we need to give more of ourselves to Him. That means, our hearts, minds, talents and even our time! I imagine that is one of the hardest things for our Heavenly Father. He has given us all that we have or ever will have, and so often we set the things that would bring us closer to Him at a lower priority or we don't make time for them. Things like prayer, scripture study and going to church each Sunday are the basic things that we have to do if we want to sustain our relationships with our Heavenly Father. Without those things, we become dulled to the Spirit and we drift away from Him and He can't bless us with all of the things that He has.

I know that in giving my time to serving the Lord and submitting myself to His will, I've been more blessed than in any other time of my life. I know that as I've given more of my devotion to Him, He has blessed me with His love and His support and I can't imagine having to go through life without His guidance and blessings. I know that the most important thing for any person on this Earth is to have a knowledge that we have a loving Heavenly Father who has provided a plan for us to return to Him. I love the knowledge that I have gained as I've had the opportunity to strengthen my relationship with Him and I know that knowledge is available to each and everyone of His children.

I miss you and love you all!

With love from Toronto,
Motra Vermunt

Monday, 20 April 2015

The Blessing of Scripture

Happy Monday everyone!

We had a really busy week this week which was so nice! We found 2 new investigators that are awesome and we're excited to start working with them! It's been starting to feel like spring here finally and it's been great!

This is the cute little Sabado family. Our investigator, Tricia will be baptized on May 17th.
Um.. worst thing of this week.. I got proposed to.. by a Turkish man. Like, no word of a lie.. End of the first lesson.. saying goodbye.. yep.. Super awkward. I literally fear ever running into him again. Haha

Excuse me while I get a little bit spiritual on ya, but it is insane to me that I only have a little over 2 months left in my mission. I don't even know how that happened.. But, I am so grateful for every single thing that I have learned. I've been going back a lot lately and writing down how I've felt and what I've experienced throughout my mission and I am so humbled that the Lord has loved me enough to allow me to experience something so.. difficult, yet so rewarding. I know that my testimony of Him and of His gospel has absolutely transformed and I can't think of anything more important for me in my life.

I want to try to express to you all how much I LOVE reading the scriptures. They seriously meet every single one of my needs. This week I was reading in the New Testament, in the book of Acts. These are some of the references that stuck out to me. Acts 20:19. ".. serving the Lord with all humility of mind.. with many tears and temptations." If we are truly on the Lord's errand we must serve Him with all humility of mind.. Meaning, that we purely desire to submit to His will in all things, whether those things are uplifting to us or feel like a burden in that current moment. I know that it has required so much of my humility to accept the trials and setbacks that have come to me while I have been serving the Lord. But, had I not been humble in accepting them, I would have missed the incredibly important lessons that the Lord needed to teach me. Being enlisted in the Lord's work is the most rewarding thing that we can do with our time, but it doesn't mean it is easy. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland once said, "how could we expect it to be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him?"

Acts 20:23-24. "In every city.. afflictions abide me, but none of these things move me.. that I might finish my course with joy." As I have said before, I would have never expected my mission experience to have been this way and there have been times where I have felt that the things that I face are too overwhelming, but no matter how hard it has appeared to be I have never had a day where I didn't go to bed at night knowing that the Lord loved me and was by my side. He is the rock upon which we need to build our foundation, and with Him we can find happiness, regardless of the circumstances that surround us.

I know that we are so lucky to have the scriptures. I bear testimony that as we liken them unto ourselves, we will realize that they are not merely stories or experiences from those in times of old but they are truly a guide for us today, they are the way that the Lord comforts us in our times of need. They will give you answers to any question, concern of fear that you might have. They are specific to each and everyone of us and I know that they are true.

I hope and pray that all of you are well and are happy..  I know that each one of us has things in our lives that trouble us. I truly can promise that every burden we bear will be made lighter through understanding the gospel of Jesus Christ and the power of His Atonement. Have patience with the struggles you face and have faith that your Heavenly Father knows you and the things you feel. I love this gospel so much and I am so grateful for all of the things that I have learned and for the ways that I have grown in closeness to my Savior.

With much love,
Motra Vermunt

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Hello everyone!

This week went by quite quickly again! It's getting warmer here and actually starting to feel like spring, which brings me so much joy! Seriously.. the sun changes everything. Haha, it's nice to see it again.

I had some awesome experiences this week, which have deepened my faith and understanding that the Lord is aware of where we are and what we are doing and that He knows the desires of our hearts.

I just love the pink sleeves at Starbucks, so cute!
Early last week, we were in the library and the person next to me was listening to their music really loud.. and my first thought was about how inconsiderate he was being. Haha, but when I listened to the music that he was listening to, it reminded me of Albania, and when I looked at his screen I saw the singer's name was "Vjollka." So, I tapped him on the shoulder and asked what language he was listening to.. you guessed it, ALBANIAN. I pretty much died. So, we sat talking for a long time and he gave me his information so that he could tell me when Albanian events were happening so that I could "find people to bring to my church." Seriously, miracles.

We also went to visit a less active Albanian family that was on the ward list.. It was SO rainy and cold this day, my feet were soaking wet and I was just like.. pleading with the Lord that they would be home and welcoming to us. So, we knocked on the door and Shpresa answered and at first she was pretty cold toward us. Even when I started speaking to her in Albanian she didn't seem to enthused. But, when she figured out that we weren't Jehovah's Witnesses her countenance changed. So she invited us in and we met her son and she told us about the sister missionaries that had taught them. She talked about how much they loved her and her family and helped her in her life, she even had a picture of them on her wall. It became clear to me that missionaries hadn't been over in quite a long time. She still agrees with everything the church teaches, but she doesn't quite understand what the difference is between our church and others so she attends a Catholic church.
In FHE this week, we played a game where we had to find skittles in a pam of whipped cream… I didn't play… I was just taking a picture next to Elder Ellis with his face in the whipped cream, but he then threw the pan in my face. I cant remember the last time I laughed so hard. It was the best.

Anyway, her non-member husband came home and when I started speaking in Albanian, he freaked out! He was so excited and he is your typical proud Albanian and I LOVE HIM. He went into his bedroom and pulled out his Albanian money to show me and just talked about Albania FOREVER, I was dying. I loved it. We were just laughing and having such a good time, and then Shpresa looks at Murat (her husband) and she says, "they're back, the girls are back." The reason that I get so excited to teach Albanians and meet them is because when I'm in their homes or when I talk to them, I feel the Lord's love for them. I can't properly explain what that exactly means, or how it feels because there just aren't words to describe it. When we were leaving and she hugged me goodbye she said, "you are my rainbow on this rainy day." OH, I love her.

Other miracle, real quick.. When Sister Monnie and I ride public transit we don't sit together we go and talk to people and I was on the subway and I just see Sister Monnie running at me and I was like.. what.. And she was like. "I FOUND AN ALBANIAN!" It was great. :)

But.. missionary work is not all easy. During the week, 2 of our seemingly solid investigators texted us and told us they could no longer meet. That was pretty hard because they were the one's that we felt really confident about, and we couldn't really understand what happened. It's really heartbreaking because you see the changes that these people make, and the light that comes to them and you hate for them to turn away from it. But, we all have our agency and having this happen only helps me understand in some small way how our Heavenly Father must feel when we turn away from him.

I love you all! I hope you have a great week, talk to you soon!

Motra Vermunt
Calgary and Edmonton were right next to each other… I couldn't not do this!

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Gezuar Pashket

Hey everyone! I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter weekend and enjoyed conference as much as I did! 

Happy Easter!!!
This week has been great but really long. I think it was long because Sister Monnie and I were unfortunate enough to get food poisoning. It was rough and we literally stayed inside all day Thursday and wished for death haha. Seriously.. my stomach can just not catch a break. But, we survived and we're better now. 

Sister Monnie's version of a decorated egg.
Okay.. so before I talk about conference I wanted to share with you my FAVOURITE part of this week. So, on Saturday night we had planned to go over for dinner with Motra Gallani.. (the Albanian member in our ward) and I was just so excited obviously.. and she had told me that she wanted me to surprise her husband and that she wasn't going to tell him that I spoke Albanian. So, we get to their apartment and we're just talking in English and I told Brother Gallani my name and everything and then I started talking in Albanian and his eyes just got HUGE and I showed him my Albanian tag and he just.. was like BEAMING. They've been in Canada since 20087 but, it's been pretty difficult for Brother Gallani to learn English.. 

So, the whole night the Gallani's just spoke Albanian and I translated for Sister Monnie and they just loved it. But more than that.. I loved it. I seriously think I was the happiest person on the planet. It was incredible, they told us their conversion story and everything and the whole night Brother Gallani just talked about how happy he was that there was a missionary that could speak his language. Apparently when Sister Gallani told him to be home that night because the sisters were coming over he was like, "why do I have to be home? I don't really understand them that well anyway" and stuff like that. AH! He was so happy and I love them SO much. 

Unfortunately, Brother Gallani hasn't been able to come to church for several months.. and I wasn't really sure if he was super strong in the church or anything like that.. So, I was trying to ask questions to see where his faith was at and stuff. But we were talking about Tirana 4th ward and I asked him who was branch president when they lived there. And seriously, he so humbly looked at me and responded "I was." He then continued to tell me how important it was to have that calling and how he was called only 1 year after being a member. He talked about how he thinks he can maybe get work off on Sunday's soon and he wants to come and partake of the sacrament even if he can't understand that well. 

ALSO, it was my first time having a legit Albanian meal in too long. IT WAS THE BEST. Everything was exactly like it is in Albania.. from the soup to the bowl of oranges at the end of the meal. Seriously. I was in heaven. Anyway.. our message for them was about the prophet and how this weekend was general conference.. and as we were talking about it the clearest thought came to me, and it was that I might be able to get them the sessions of conference translated into Albanian. Seriously, I wish I could have taken a picture of their faces when I said that because it has been 8 years since they've been able to listen to general conference in their own tongue that they could fully and clearly understand. 

Albanian food!!
I love the Albanian people more than I can even begin to express. They are so humble, loving and so generous. I know that being able to hear general conference and to be able to have a missionary speak in their own tongue is an answer to this faithful couple's prayers. I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve here and to help the people that I love. Another blessing is that Brother Gallani said, "oh yeah, our apartment building is full of Albanians. The owner is even Albanian." So.. guess who's going tracting? :) 

Conference was great! All the Elders were like.. "sweet, only another year until any of those talks apply to me..." Haha, there was definitely a theme of marriage and family. But it was great! I too, loved Elder Holland's talk and was SO grateful because I had an investigator at that session with us and I was stoked that he was able to hear and feel the powerful testimony of Elder Holland. 

I think one of the talks that most impacted me was Elder Bednar's address an the difference between fear, and godly fear. In our world today we have many things that surround us that can cause us to fear and worry but if we look to the Savior and build our foundation upon we have no reason to be afraid of the future or anything that will come. I'm so grateful for our apostles and prophet that lead us in these latter days. We are so blessed! 

Also, April 1st 2014 was the day that I arrived in Albania. As I look back at this year, I can honestly say that I wouldn't have expected any of what has happened. It has been a trying experience, but absolutely the most rewarding. I am so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father that guides our paths and uses us as instruments in His hands. He knows us and He is with us in every aspect of our mortal journeys. I know that this is the true church of Jesus Christ. If there is one thing that I have gained in this past year it is the knowledge of the reality and divinity of the Savior and in His love for all mankind. 

I love you all! Have a great week! 

Me dashuri, 
Motra Vermunt 

This member stopped us in the street and demanded that he buy us something for us. So he bought me chocolate oreos… haha I wanted a package of 2, he wouldn't allow it.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

He Lives - Celebrate Easter Because Jesus Christ Lives


Hey everyone!

Oh my goodness, everyone all over the world just had so much news for me today. But the BEST is about my new baby niece! How exciting! :) Congrats Caitlin and Jordan!

So, I feel like I have a lot to say today so I'm excited to share it with y'all. So, I LOVE BEING IN TORONTO. Seriously, not gonna lie.. Eastern Canada, not my fave. But, Toronto is awesome. We take the subways, buses and streetcars everywhere and I literally feel like I'm lost... all the time. But that's okay. The city has so much character and I'm just like absolutely in love with all the cool things we see.. and the diversity of culture here, (more on that later.)

Let me just tell you... my second day in the area, we go to Albion's for lunch. Albion.. is ALBANIAN. So, we walk in and I see his wife and I spoke to her in English at first and then I started speaking in Albanian and she was just like.. what?! She's from Korca. Anyway, so then I talked to Albion and stuff and he's like.. Where are you from in Albania?! And I was like, oh no.. I' m Canadian but I lived in Albania for like 10 months and he was like, "how have you learned Albanian so well?!?" So, that was nice because he thought I was actually Albanian. Seriously everyone.. I wanted to like.. cry as I was speaking to them. I LOVE THEM. I can't even express my joy to you.

The house President Monson lived in when he was mission president here :)
There is also a woman in our ward who is Albanian, her name is Motra Gallani. So I called her and spoke to her in Albanian and she was just like "Whaaaaaat". She's a less active because she works on Sunday's but on Sunday morning we were in ward council and she called us and asked if I would be at the church. When she came I was just basically in heaven. So, we started talking in Albanian and she just over and over kept saying that she couldn't believe it. She was like, I can't believe they sent me a missionary that speaks my language and it was just the cutest thing ever. She was like, "you were sent here to baptize more of us!" She cried! Guys.. she cried. I wanted to cry too, it was just the best. She was like, you're coming over and I'll make you Albanian food, and she was like.. I want you to surprise my husband by speaking Albanian. And she was baptized in 4th ward, where I served so she knows all the people I know and I just.. I'm like freaking out as I type this to you because I'm just so dang happy. 

Other best thing.. on my first day, we were riding on the streetcar and something caught my eye and I look up and I see a restaurant called "The Eagle Twins" and it has 2 shqiponja's (eagles on the Albanian flag) on the sign. I JUST ABOUT DIED. It's literally like 5 minutes away from our apartment. So, I went in there and she was like.. wait, how are you Canadian but know how to speak Albanian?? She was like, come in here and I'll make you food from our country! AH! She's great, her name is Mirella.. She's not religious.. yet ;) Haha, and also the Elders were tracting and found another house with the shqiponja, so we're going to go there and I've also kind of stalked the phonebook and found Albanian names.. I'm pretty much in heaven over here.

Stuart! He's from China and he just got the Aaronic Priesthood on Sunday
But, seriously.. I thought that I needed the gift of tongues in Albania.. But, nope.. I need it HERE. I don't think there is a Canadian in our ward. Haha, just kidding there are. But EVERYONE is from someone else. Like, one of the guys that was just baptized is from Egypt. Last night, some members had us over and we had German food.. and like 50% of our members are Filipino. I LOVE IT. It's so cool, I'm just learning so much about these different cultures and I honestly kind of forget that I'm even in Canada.

My cute little gingerbread church :) I love it
I'm pretty sure I mention this a lot.. But, a lot of my mission has been difficult in one way or another, and I'm SO grateful that it has. Neal A Maxwell once said,  The greater our sorrow is, the greater our capacity is to feel joy" I know this to be true. Leaving Albania, and those people was so heartbreaking to me.. But as I'm here and as I've met with some Albanians and I feel my love for not only them, but for all the people that I meet here I am so grateful that the Lord allowed me to experience that difficulty so that I could understand the depth of this joy. I know that this church is true, and that this is the work of the Lord. He lives!

I love you all.. Enjoy Alberta while I continue to freeze in this eastern arctic land.

Me dashuri te plote,
Motra Vermunt
One of the investigators I left in Barrie last week.