Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Well... I guess this is it

Hey everyone, 

My companions have been asking me about what I think about going home in a week, and my response to them is "I don't." Haha, I've been really trying to not think about going home too much and I've tried even harder to just focus on what I am currently doing, which is the most important work that any of us can do! 
I think that our diligence has paid off because this week we had an incredible week!! Literally, we've been so busy and this next week is looking like its going to be the same way! We are just going from appointment to appointment to appointment pretty much all week. We have seen some incredible things this week.. and had some hilarious experiences, and some.. kind of scary ones. 
First off, it just happens to be gay pride week here and there is an area of town that is all about pride.. and we just happen to have to walk through it a lot more often than we'd like. We have seen some pretty OUTRAGEOUS things and I continue to become more shocked every time that I'm there. People are crazy. Downtown Toronto is nuts! 
We had a pretty sketchy experience, that I ended up being grateful for. We had a referral that requested a Book of Mormon, so we went to the address (and thankfully had our ward mission leader with us) and knocked on the door. I kid you not, as soon as the door opened I was like.. oh no.. The apartment was dark, all the windows were covered with dark red sheets and it smelled so strongly of smoke. The guy invited us in and I felt the Spirit leave immediately. We looked around and there were demonic things everywhere. Like, witch hats and super scary masks and all of these really satanic things. We talked to him a little bit about the Book of Mormon and invited him to church, but I wanted to get out of there so fast... I literally felt so dark and it was so scary. Actually, one of my companions broke down into tears after we left because it scared her so bad. 
The reason I was grateful for this experience is because I didn't realize how much the Spirit truly is with us until it wasn't anymore. I am so grateful to know and feel of the light of the Spirit and to be able to be worthy of having it be with my at all times. I know that there is an absolutely noticeable difference between having it and not and it really made me think about what I need to do continually in order to ensure that the Spirit can always be with me, and it made me appreciate the thought of 'standing in holy places.' 
This past week we have found some of the most solid investigators that I've met since being in the Canada Toronto Mission. One of them is Ausra. She is currently living at a YWCA and is in a wheelchair. She is in a wheelchair because she attempted to commit suicide by overdosing on drugs, but her attempt failed and she ended up being passed out for a long time.. so long that she damaged one of the nerves in her back and it prevents her from being able to walk. Anyway, this woman is so prepared to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. When we extended the baptismal commitment to her, she accepted without blinking an eye. It is so incredible. Meeting with her completely humbles me and reminds me how blessed I am, and how precious this knowledge is. 
As I look back on my mission as a whole, I have been completely blessed and I will never be able to articulate all of the things that I have learned and gained but what I can say is that I have become so completely converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ and will continue to deepen my conversion building on the things that I have learned in this past year and a half. I am so excited to work my hardest in this past week and be able to fulfill this sacred calling to the end. I look forward to seeing you all again and I am so grateful for all of the support that I've received throughout my mission. 
Well, see you soon then! 
With love from Toronto, 
Motra Vermunt 

Monday, 15 June 2015

Alma 26:12

Hello family, 
So.. I think that everything is just pretty.. surreal for me at this point. This morning at 8:30 am I had my exit interview with President Clayton because the transfer just ended and all of the missionaries going home are leaving tomorrow.. I just get to hang around for a couple more weeks. 
Seriously though, so weird. It's kind of weird because I've technically already had an exit interview when I left Albania. But, nevertheless I was just like.. I cannot believe that I am here right now. It was a super awesome interview though and President Clayton gave some killer advice.. Kind of intimidating advice.. but super great. Tomorrow is going to be a pretty awesome day as we have "departing meetings" all day and then get to attend the temple and then have dinner at the Clayton's home.... and then I'll return back to my area and I'll get to be a missionary for 2 more weeks. 
To be honest, I don't even know where this past week went! But it was great. Sister Leung and I saw huge growth in our area and we're SO excited about that. It felt really good. But, sad news.. Sister Leung was transferred last night, she's going to be a Cantonese missionary for the next little while, which is super awesome but we're sad to be leaving each other. She's lovely. I love her. I will be in a tri-panionship for the duration of my mission. I'll be with Sister Mencarelli who is from Italy and Sister Horton who is a spanish speaking missionary. I'm excited, they are 2 awesome sisters.. And it will be super convenient on transit because Hermana Horton can talk to all the Spanish people, Sister Mencarellis got the Italians... and... I'll just continue to hunt down my Albanians. 
Speaking of them!! This week was super cool. We got a text from our Bishop a few days ago telling us that they just bought a house and their neighbours are ALBANIAN and they would love for us to come and meet them. I'm excited for that :) 
As missionaries we offer a free English course as a service and our flyers are all over the city and we get calls ALL the time.. and yesterday someone called and Sister Leung was talking to her forever and everything and finally Sister Leung asked where she was from, and she was from Albania! So she threw the phone at me and I got to talk to the lady for a while :) I loved it.
But the best part of my week this week was Sunday. We were busy greeting people and I saw Motra Gallani walk in and I went over to say hello to her, and then I saw Leo.. and he came in with SHPRESA! :) I was so excited to see Shpresa at church, but even more excited to introduce her to Motra Gallani. They started talking in Albanian and as I was standing there seeing them all talk, I was just overwhelmed with a sense of peace, and I was full of gratitude because it was one of those moments where I felt that the Lord truly had a purpose for me here in Toronto and that He enabled me to do something to fulfill that purpose. 
As I talked with President Clayton today, he asked me what I've learned. I know that the things that I have learned from being a missionary could never be summed up into a several paragraph e-mail, let alone one sentence.. But one of the many things that I have learned is what it means to be a converted and steadfast disciple of Jesus Christ. I know that once you find that, you can never stray from that path. I am eternally grateful for the experiences that I've had throughout my mission. Each and every experience, whether it be good or bad, has contributed to my understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and what His teachings mean to me in my life and I know that there is no way that I could have become the person that I am today if I had not experienced all the things that I have. I am so grateful that I have another 2 weeks to be a full-time servant of the Lord and to proclaim the gospel with all of my heart, might, mind and strength and I know that once those 2 weeks are finished, my call will change but I know that it won't end, I know that for the rest of my life I will serve my Savior and I will do all that I am enabled to do in order to bring others closer to Him. 
With much love, 
Motra Vermunt 

Thursday, 11 June 2015

And then there were 3

That was Dad's subject for his e-mail today.. and I thought I'd steal it. But yes.. I guess I only have 3 weeks left, which doesn't really seem to make sense to me in a lot of respects.. but it happens. 

This week was pretty insane. Lots of meetings! We had missionary leadership council on Wednesday, which is an all day affair, let me tell you.. And then in the 2 following days we had 2 other meetings since we are STLs of sisters that are in 2 different zones. We literally prepared the instruction we were asked to give on the subway as we were on our way to one of the meetings. Crazy. 

I had a really special experience yesterday during fast and testimony meeting. Sister Gallani called me the day before to make sure that I would be at church (I had to laugh because.. literally where else would we be other than church.. its like the pinnacle of our week) but, anyway.. on Sunday morning Sister Gallani asked that I would translate her testimony for her. I will not lie, I was SO incredibly nervous.. I was like, what if she talks to fast or I forget Albanian.. Seriously, I was dead nervous. But, good news everyone.. I didn't forget Albanian, and it was an incredible thing for me. Sister Gallani has never been able to bear her testimony in front of a congregation because she hasn't felt confident enough with her English. She talked about how grateful she was that a missionary was sent from her land that speaks her language so that she could testify about what she knew to be true. I was grateful to have the privilege to bear my own testimony after she was finished. I am so grateful for the amazing things that I've experienced with the few Albanians I've come into contact with here.

I wanted to share something really inspiring that I learned this week. In the latest general conference, Preisdent Packer said that "the end of all activity in the Church is to see that a man and a woman with their children are happy at home, sealed for eternity." As missionaries we are so passionate about finding, teaching and completing families because we know that the gospel is designed to bless and strengthen families. It is so important for us to attend church, (seriously.. Sabbath day observance is absolutely crucial to our spiritual health) but.. we can't just apply gospel principles one day out of the week. It has to be all the time, especially in our homes. That is where we will truly learn and understand the things that we must do to be the people we ought to become. 

In Isaiah 7:14-15 we read,  
"Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.  Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good."

Obviously here it is talking about the Savior.. and President Clayton asked us where the Lord would have eaten butter and honey.. and there was a little bit of silence and then he told us that the Savior ate those things at home, and that is where he learned between right and wrong, just as we all do. It is so powerful to think of the fact that the greatest place to build the kingdom of God is in our own homes. 

I am so grateful for the knowledge of the gospel, I am so grateful that I was raised by parents that have always sought to do good because I know that I would not be here on my mission, I would not have experienced or learned the things that I have if it were not for my parents who taught me the Gospel of Jesus Christ at home, and led by example. I know that this is greatest work that we can do, at any time of our lives regardless of what situation we may be in. The Church is true! :) 

I love you all, have a good week! 

Motra Vermunt 

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

what… June

So.. I think every person that e-mailed me this week told me that it is now June and reminded me that it was the last month of my mission. It's a pretty insane concept for me.. But, the way I see it is I still have 4 more weeks of finding investigators, getting them to church and helping them progress in the gospel. But I really can't believe it. 
Today is Sister Leung's birthday so we're going out for all you can eat sushi.... I'm so stoked. 
This week went by really quickly. We had a lot of things to do.. We had 2 exchanges with other companionships and then one emergency exchange as well.. So, I felt like we didn't really have a normal week at all. 
But I'll just tell you about my favourite parts of the week. This week we went and saw Motra Gallani. I just love her so much. Every time I see her she talks about how she waits for our phone calls and things like that. I just absolutely love her. She was able to get a position at work that only requires her to work afternoons on Sundays so she can start coming to church! Leo Dautaj has also come to church every week for the last 3 weeks and I absolutely just love it. It makes me so happy. 
Anyway, we were sitting in sacrament meeting and I saw Leo and Motra Gallani sitting next to me and I was just overwhelmed by the Spirit and I just felt so much peace and joy. I love all of the people I work with, but I know its not a surprise to any of you when I say that I have a special love for these people. 
Me and all my Asians :)
One of the missionaries I served with in Albania sent me the dedicatory prayer given by Elder Dallin H. Oaks when Albania was opened to missionary work. I will quote a part of it. "I bless the people of the scattered tribes of Albania wherever they may be in this world... that their hearts may be inclined to their native land, that the missionaries will be lead to their doorsteps, that they may hear and understand the message of the gospel." Elder Penrod (the missionary who sent me the prayer) said that this section applied to me. And this Sunday as I was with Leo and Motra Gallani I just realized that this is all so much bigger than me. It has been so difficult to leave my mission, as I've said 100 times.. But the Lord is mindful of His children where ever they may be and I feel so privileged to be able to have been sent to in some small way help fulfill these blessings that Elder Oaks left upon this people.

"Now my brethren, we see that God is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth. Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever. Amen." Alma 26:37
I love you all. Have a great week. 
Me dashuri, 
Motra Vermunt