Monday, August 12, 2013

LYON (if you're lonely, give me your hand and I'll hold it)

I LOVE THE CITY. I love it so much. There are people EVERYWHERE, which means we are constantly talking to people. We had a bazillion miracles too this week because we're constantly talking to people. The pace is fast and we're right in the center of everything, and I love that. There are 8 missionaries in our ward. EIGHT! I've spent the last four months out in the boonies with my one companion and not another missionary for literally hours. So I've having a mot of fun here with all the different people there are to talk to and the huge mix of cultures and experiences and so on.
This is to say nothing of the smell of the metro. The smell of the metro is one of my favorite smells in the world. It's D.C. and London and curry and sweat and people and hot brakes on hot tracks and I love it. Every time I walk into the metro I tell Soeur Bicchierri how much I love the smell. Every time she tells me I'm weird.

My job right now is called sister training leader. Here's an example of what that means: my second night, after we taught a lesson, I got to spend an hour calling around to the sisters in our area and talking to them, getting to know them, encouraging them, loving them, and so on. In other words, my job here is to hold hands that hang down and help us all be a little happier. Amawing how uplifting others uplifts you too. We go on exchanges about every other day. Sometimes the sisters come to stay with us, and sometimes we go to their villes. (We even get to go into Switzerland this transfer! This is the only time on my mission I'll get to go to Switzerland!). We spend 24 hours with each sister in our area (22 total). And our sole purpose these 24 hours is to uplift them, encourage them, help them, love them, and teach them how to teach and how to contact and whatever else they want help with. I love this job so so much. The first three days I woke up smiling I was so happy.

Now let's talk about my companion, Soeur Bicchierri. I have never had so much fun before. We laugh ALL. THE. TIME. We do really funny stuff contacting, and we always get people to laugh. She told me that when we're on exchanges with the sisters this transfer that's something we have to do--help them see how fun contacting can be, so they aren't so stressed out about it.
Also, she speaks a bazillion languages. Contacting with her is like contacting with James Bond. We contact someone who speaks German, so suddenly starts speaking fluent German with them. We contact someone who speaks Spanish. Fluent Spanish. She's also done this in English, Italian, Mongolian, Portugese, and a little Chinese. It's crazy. And she can get any person to smile in under 3 seconds. It's incredible, I've never seen anything like it. I'm learning a ton from her about loving people and making them smile and helping uplift their spirits and then immediately connecting that joy they feel to Jesus Christ. It's wonderful.

And yeah we laugh all the time. People are just so funny, they say funny things and they do funny things to try to get away from us. We were walking really fast alongside a moving sidewalk in the metro the other day and we start talking to a man who was standing on the moving sidewalk. He was just standing there, listening to his ipod or something, and as soon as we started talking to him, he started dodging in and out of people on the moving sidewalk trying to get away. People are scared. People are scared of the soul-searching questions we ask them. But we can usually get them to smile fast, and then they tell us some of the most beautiful things.
For instance: we were in the apartment ALL DAY on Saturday trying to get things in order for all the exchanges and so forth we'll be doing this transfer. Around 5 we got super stir crazy and realized we needed to get OUT of the apartment and do some good missionary work. We planned to pass by Yasmine, one of our amis. We called her to see if we could, and she said no, it wasn't a good time. So we decided instead to pass by one of the referrals we'd received. But then we couldn't find the paper we'd written the referral's address on. So then we decided to pass by the other referral instead because I had that address handy, but then we couldn't find the KEYS. So after 10 minutes of trying to find them, we realize maybe there's something else we're supposed to be doing. So we go into our room and pray, and the only thought we have is to go to the office (which is literally across the sidewalk from our apartment). We'd only be gone for a few minutes so we wouldn't need the keys. On the way out, I grab a bag of cookies we'd just made, thinking maybe there was someone Heavenly Father was going to put in our path, since none of our other ideas seemed to be right. So we leave the apartment to go to the office. As soon as we leave the apartment, I see a woman with grocery bags at the other end of the block, so we run down to help her. It was interesting because I don't even know what possessed me to do that. I could have just as easily not gone back to help her. It wasn't really a conscious decision, it just kind of happened. It was the same when I gave that pass-along card to Bruno. I don't remember deciding to do that. It just kind of happened. Anyways, we walk up to her and she says, "No no, I'm not interested." And then my companion says, "Actually, we would like to give you some cookies. We just made them. Will you accept them?" And she softened up and smiled and laughed a little, because the whole situation was so weird--these two girls, one American, one Italian offering her cookies. Weird.
So we ask her what she feels about Jesus Christ. She explains that she believes in him and is Evangelist. After that she seemed like it was finished, she really wasn't interested beyond that and maybe wanted us to leave her alone. But I felt like I should ask her if she was satisfied with her relationship with Jesus Christ. And oh wow, then the floodgates opened! She told us all about how she used to be Catholic, and how she believes there is a God, that she was with him before this life, and that He has a plan for her life, and that every day she prays that He will show her more of this plan. She used those very words. My companion and I looked at each other like, "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?" So then right there we taught her by the Spirit. It was such a neat experience--we really felt like every sentence we said and every question we asked was being led exactly by the Spirit. We taught her about the Restoration, and she took a Book of Mormon and 30 minutes later she asking us when we can meet with her. !!! That was the reason we couldn't find the keys and the addresses and so on! I am learning more and more everyday what it means to be led by the Spirit. It isn't this strong feeling to do certain things. It's mostly just happy little ideas that come to you, and the trick is to not squash them out by your rational, miserly mind that is lazy and looks for reasons not to do happy little things. And it is miraculous to see what happens when you trust in those happy little ideas, and then leave the rest to Heavenly Father. The other day we were waiting for the metro, and I thought, "Hey, just ask that guy if he wants to learn." So I did (after telling the little miserly voice that was telling me it wasn't worth it to hushhush), and guess what! He said no, he didn't want to learn anything about Jesus Christ! So I said, "Okay" and smiled and then me and my companion stood there waiting for the metro and happily planning a lesson. And I was watching him and he kept looking over at us, looking at our tags, and finally he said, "Okay actually, I have a question. I believe in Jesus Christ, but how can I know him more? How is that possible?" We smiled. YES. The promise Elder Richards of the 70 left with us when he came a couple of transfers ago was that we needed to teach simply, then let them process the information, and then they will ask US a question! And that's what happened. So we explained the Restoration to him, and then we felt like we should invite him to church with us, and he said yes, he would really love to, and that he's been looking for a church to go to that wasn't corrupted by the ideas of men. I love seeing that change--from them thinking we're weird strangers to them recognizing us as representatives of Jesus Christ.
And I'm learning more and more every day just how much power this "setting apart" actually holds. It's incredible.
And definitely there are still loads of people who don't want to hear about it just yet. My favorite funny contact of today for example was just a couple of hours ago, I explained to a man we're here to talk about Jesus Christ and he said, "That's great, but not with me." Ha. People are just really funny.
Also. Last night, we were on our way home from church, and I tried to ask a guy if he wanted to learn more about Jesus Christ, but he walked away before I could finish asking: "Bonjour! Do you want to learn... more..." Gone. Soeur Bicchierri thought this was hilarious. "Sister! Did you just ask him if he wanted to learn more?! Learn more about what?? That makes no sense!" So then the next two contacts we started by saying, "Bonjour! Do you want to learn more?" The first lady was like, "No thank you." (Soeur Bicchierri was like, "What? She doesn't want to learn more?! She already knows everything? Who are these people!" and then we laughed some more.) But then the next couple we asked looked blankly at us for a while then said, "...about what?" We smiled and said about Jesus Christ, because we are his representatives! They said no, ca va, they already believed in Christ. My companion showed them a Book of Mormon and explained that it testified of Jesus Christ. The woman said, "Oh yes, I've read it already." We weren't sure what exactly that meant--if she read it and didn't believe it or what. So we asked how she felt about it. She said, "I loved it. I read it a long time ago, but i really loved it. It touched me deeply." She was smiling really big and her face was glowing. So we explained that in the Book of Mormon, it talks about baptism, and we asked her if she's been baptized yet. She hasn't. So we invited her to be baptized the end of the month! She said yes! We asked when we could start teaching her, and she said tonight wouldn't work because they were on their way to be with family. She then pulled out ultrasound pictures of her baby! She's three-months pregnant! Miracle times 3!

The field is white!
Photo: the Bayonne soeurs left us a message in candy after they stayed the weekend with us (it says WE LOVE YOU. We love them too. Lots of love.). This photo is of me and the sister who replaced me in Bayonne! Kinda weird that we essentially are wearing the same thing in this picture.

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