Monday, November 22, 2010
Things in France for me have been full in culture! I have come to realize to only take a little portion for the 1st couple courses of the meal. I really almost had a bad experience.We ate with the sweetest, oldest Soeur in the ward last night. The First course was a light soup. Next course was a huge lasagne. Next course was cheese, salad, and bread. The last was ice cream. I made the mistake of taking to much soup and too much lasagna. When it came time for the goat and sheep cheeses, my stomach almost couldn't take it. But miracles happen.
It's interesting it takes almost all my focus to understand what people are saying. But I got it. The french language, as far as comprehension is almost complete. The speaking and sentence structure and french sayings and such, is still a struggle. I know it will slowly become easier and easier.
Last week, Anthony Betteridge's old colleague from his mission gave a talk in church and he said something that really hit me. The gospel makes the comfortable uncomfortable and the uncomfortable comforted. I have found that one line very true this last week.
We started off this week with tons and tons of rain and went to Bayonne (I love that ville) for an exchange. I headed back to Pau with a new blue Elder straight out of the MTC His name was Elder Grossen and so I was leading us around on Tuesday. We got to do service for Frere Bonét in Oloron Ste Marie. He paid for our lunch which of course was canard. MMMM I love canard and that he paid for us to have a special treat called a russe. It was probably the best patisserie ever! It's a speciality to the Oloron Ste Marie area.
That night of the exchange, we had a dinner appt. at the Portwood's. They are an awesome Canadian family who spoke English, which was very nice for Elder Grossen and me. We got off at the bus stop and I remembered the last time Elder Graham and I went to their house we got lost. We still don't have a phone because it was broken. So I literally lead by faith! We showed up 20 min late, but it was an amazing dinner.
After the exchange the next day, we headed to Bordeaux where the Elder Texiera spoke to us. It was an uplifting awesome experience. The spirit in the room was so strong and he actually gave the Bordeaux zone a special challenge that he didn't give to any other area in the mission. He told us to kick it up a notch! Elder Graham and I looked at each other and we're like alright let's do this! The work in Pau is going well. Our area in Pau is the top in the Bordeaux zone right now and so I know the Lord will magnify us to take it even higher.
After the zone conference, I went on an exchange with Elder Mayor, who only speaks French. He is a stud and the zone leader. Elder Mayor and I caught a ride around Bordeaux with Elder and Sister Texiera, Brother and Sister Carter, and the Assistants. Really fun! I found out that they went on a mission tour with Elder Pearson and went to Matthew Pearson's mission and met him. It was awesome to hear that. Anyway, Elder Mayor and I got a ride with them to Talence.
It was very difficult for me to only speak French for 2 days straight, no English!!! I felt like my brain was going to explode!
Happy thanksgiving!! No one in France has even heard about Thanksgiving! So I will probably be eating pasta or pizza while your eating your dinners! haha
The Lord loves us. I have been blessed and am grateful for many things!
Have a good week!!
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Dear Family and Friends,
Where to begin...it seems as though everything that could have went wrong did and everything that could have went right did as well!
Three people on date for baptism. Two for the 12 of December: Soeur Sa Oliviera as well as Soeur Martin and Soeur Seiglar for the 22 of January.
Elder Graham and I were down and out the first few days of this week with the flu and coughing and what not. Our phone broke, hard core, so our way of communication to the outside world namely the zone leaders and Soeur Carter has been non existent as well as to ALL of our amies (appt.)-- which made scheduling, moving and shifting the calendar very difficult. Elder Graham and I began to implement what we call, the 5 week plan.
It is hard to organize my thoughts because so much has happened in four days! Maybe this way will be better:
Soeur Sa Oliveira: She has read the book of Mormon and knows its true I have been with her from the beginning and we are super excited for the 12 of Decembre also she was referred to us by the Abadies in the ward. Soeur Sa Oliveira loves the gospel.
Berthe: She was baptized a couple weeks ago and I gave her the Holy Ghost 2 weeks ago. We found out she was originally from Congo and her husband was the Ambassador to the other side of Congo and less than 5 years ago she was exiled from her country and her husband was executed. She is like a grandma to me and I make her laugh a ton because of my poor french. I always ask her if she has any other questions and she just laughs and laughs. She also has a hard time reading so she loves making me read to her.
Frere Decosta: He is an inactive member who we had a RV with this week. He said his daughter had a seizure, so we asked to go over to his house and give her a blessing. He said ok. It was in a huge Muslim cartel and it was night when we went so there were tons of young Muslims out taunting us. Elder Graham taught me a phrase to speak in Arabic which makes the Muslims your friends really quick. It actually worked! It was a miracle! We arrived safely, walk in, gave the blessing to the little girl. She has a twin sister, who we also gave a blessing to because its likely she will get the same thing, epilepsy, so we gave her a blessing. Then the mother wanted one. It was an awesome experience because we shared a little message and Frere Boné translated because they speak Portuguese. It was intense and a great experience.
Soeur Kissungo: She is also from Congo and is illiterate. We read to her. She has come to church with her family for the last 2 years and no one realized that she wasn't a member! Her daughter finally told us. She is leaving December 4 for Paris and were not sure if she is coming back, We are having a lesson with her today to pick a baptismal date. Hopefully, before she leaves! Which means... it would have to be a miracle! Because in two weeks we have stake conference and the week after that she is gone! So the baptism would have to be this week meaning we would have to teacher her 9 lessons in 5 days!! Pray for a miracle!
In our district, we got a new elder who I'll be going on an exchange with tomorrow!! Wish me luck! haha!! He speaks less french than me so I'll be holding down the lesson tomorrow with Soeur Kissango. Pray for me!
Soeur Martin: She has accepted to get baptized along with Soeur Sa Oliviera on the 12th of December. She is an excommunicated member. The brethren have given her permission to get rebaptized! She has a smoking issue that we are working hard to over come with her. She is also someone that I have taught all the lessons to with Elder Graham.
Clairees with 5 kids: She came to church yesterday and she liked it. The meetings were super long for her though. We have high hopes for her and her family! She is also from Africa. We have a huge African population in our ward. The African people are amazing with missionary work!
Love you all,
Monday, November 8, 2010
May I begin at the end of the week, as to get to the climax and to the point of how much the Lord has seriously changed and helped me, as well as used me to build his kingdom.
I have been working on purifying my life in every aspect. The main thing I have learned to purify our lives is, we must have the spirit with us. Which is to say, we must testify of Christ, learn of him, humble ourselves in his sight, and become what we say we are: A disciple of Jesus Christ. This means, we will think as he would, act as he would, and teach and bear witness of him. I have realized as a missionary, my life is no longer mine. It is His and through the agency and freedom of choice, I have by choosing Him, he endows us with power.
I was laying in bed on Friday at about 11:00 PM and could not fall asleep. It kept running through my head to get up! Just get up! I fought it for a bit. Finally, I did get up. I went into the hall, knelt down and prayed. I thought nothing of it and went back to bed. I then received a prompting, call Frere D. He is a Portugese, less active member who has been having a rough time. He was just released from his job. His wife is not interested in religion and his 2 daughters speak only french --not Portuguese. He speaks very little french.
Elder Graham and I have use a translator, Frere B in the ward to help us communicate. I received this prompting to call Frere D and I kept fighting it and fighting it. Finally, I said, "Elder Graham, we need to call Frere D." He said, "Are you serious? He can't even understand us and it's 1130"! This time I have no rational for this thought. So I completely ignore the spirit of the Lord. HOW IGNORANT I AM.
Thankfully, the Lord loves us!
The following day, which was a Saturday (which by the way, was the 6th week in France) which in turn means TRANSFER calls! Elder Graham and I expected that president would move Elder Graham. We expected a call in the early afternoon. Which led us the day before to not plan so much because we thought we would have to go get pictures with friends and leave him time to pack. So we waited and waited and waited and then did some contacting and then waited and actually went and got pictures with a few friends-- talk about two dumb missionaries, golly!
We went to our meeting at 7:00 PM and gave the lecon horribly! We walked out with Elder Graham angry with me and me angry at him. It was just a horrible day and we couldn't wait for that dang call to confirm our assumption! So we walked from the meeting to the bus stop at about 8 PM. I stopped at the bus stop to take us to the church so that I could play piano. Elder Graham stopped at the bus stop to take us home to eat because it was the beginning of dinner hour. We both wouldn't budge! My bus came first and I got on and he quickly followed. We than tried to smooth things over before getting to the church.
We arrived at the church and there was some sort of activity going on, which we had no clue about.
Here is the miracle:
Frere D's car was in the parking lot. We run inside the building and find a young women's activity and Frere D and the translator Frere B sitting talking. We walked into the room and apologized for being late, thinking we had forgot to plan it. They apologized for being late, as well! They thought that they were late! They thought we had planned something, got there, and then left. We had no clue what was going on, other than we all showed up at the church at the same time: they thinking they were late, us not ever planning a meeting and so we: Elder Graham and I were in aw!
We sat down, asked him how he was doing. He said, not good! He said a few weeks ago he got up and left everything and went back to Portugal for a week! Hence why he is losing his job! Then he said that last night-- the night I felt impressed to call him, he was in the depths of despair around 11 p.m. I immediately felt horrible and wanted to just cry for not following the prompting of the spirit.
He said, I remembered that we had a meeting planned the next day and so it gave me hope. A meeting we did not have scheduled, what a miracle!! Frere D came to church yesterday and I know he is back on the right path.
I absolutely know that the Lord is here and that He knows each one of us and what we need. I testify that all of us are children of our Heavenly Father! It is only through our exercising the promptings of the spirit and continually trying to be better that we will be blessed. The scriptures tell us, we are saved by grace after all we can do.
I know that God has a body of flesh and bones. Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost and Heavenly Father are three distinct separate beings. I know this because the Holy spirit has born witness to me that it is so. I challenge each one who reads my testimony to search the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and desire to know if the proper power and authority is restored on the earth again. Just as in the times of Adam, Noah, Moses, Abraham, and Jesus Christ. Joseph Smith restored the Gospel to the earth. We have a living prophet, Thomas S. Monson.
God leads and directs his church today and there is no other way to know of the truth without the power of prayer and searching the Book of Mormon. Follow Christ. Have faith in Him. Repent in His name and follow his commandment to be baptized.
Monday, November 1, 2010
This week was exciting for Elder Graham and I with a baptism of Berthe. She is a sweet African lady. I was supposed to give her the Gift of the Holy Ghost yesterday but the Bishop forgot to announce it. We promptly reminded him but he said it was too late. Elder Graham was not happy, nor was I. So I'll be doing that next week. Also, last minute change, Elder Graham ended up doing the talk. The Bishopric called us back and specifically changed it to him. I guess they wanted to understand what was being said.
After our zone Conference in Bordeaux on Monday the October 22, we went to Bayonne. We got stuck there for 2 days because of the HUGE Strike. It was insane! Seriously, thousands of people! We were instructed not to take pictures of it. So I didn't! But I really wanted to because it was massive. It felt like a dream. So surreal.
Tons of flags and music and yelling it was cool to walk through. We got to the Gare train station, by bus and then we found out no trains were running. We tried to hop on a bus and found out that the bus that had just taken us, couldn't run because the strike was blocking the roads! Soooo we had to walk back to the Bayonne Apt through thousands of people-- pretty sweet.
Bayonne is the heart of Basque country, which I found out have some pretty sweet people. The stereotypical beret is actually Basque. In Bayonne, there is a suburb named Biarritz. Tons of french people go to Biarritz on vacation. Too bad we didn't have time to go into that part of the Bayonne area.
Here is a story I will never forget: On Tuesday, Elder Graham and I went on an exchange with the Bayonne Elders. Elder Bell and I had the opportunity to go move a family that lived in Gabat. If you get a chance, type in Gabat into the Google maps, and see what you come up with.
Elder Bell and I hopped into the car with the Millers, members in the Bayonne ward. We had a map and had been given directions from the family who needed help moving. We left at 5:30 in the evening and managed to get lost for a good hour and a half until they handed Elder Bell and I the map and said, "Get us to Gabat!"
So with divine inspiration, we directed ourselves through country road after country road. We finally climbed all the little hills and looked back and seriously saw a sunset! I will never forget it! It was amazing to see what looked like the most beautiful spot on the earth!! It was such a blessing to get lost!
Through all of that confusion, frustration, and yelling we made it to the most peaceful spot in all of my mission, it was amazing!!! After the sun had set, we traveled through a few castles, and finally we found Gabat!! Which is not even a city!! But we moved the family in a half hour and they were so grateful.
With the six of us, we did more in a half hour than we could imagine! We all considered it a miracle! It was an awesome experience. I just wish I had my camera! Getting lost in Basque country and finding pure beauty is a great memory for me that I hope to never forget!!
After finally getting back to Pau, we immediately started planning the baptism for Berthe. I volunteered to sing, "I believe in Christ" as a solo in french. Elder Graham helped me with the pronunciation, which I was very grateful. I also played piano, which was frightening! But I pulled it off with the Lord's blessing. I was also a witness for the baptism and I gave the closing prayer. It was a small baptism with about 15 people. The spirit was strong. When Berthe was baptized she started clapping, it was a sweet moment.
Well, I love all of you and we have 3 people committed to baptism in December. I am hoping I get to stay in Pau. Next week I find out whether I'm transferred or not. On Wednesday I'll be in Toulouse.
Till next week!