Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Ne Craignez Pas. Nothing Will Be Lost.

I forget from week to week what I've shared, so apologies if this is repetitive. Sometimes I think I'll come back from my mission and finally have the chance to read back through what I've learned, and all I'll find is the same email written again and again and again. And that would be okay--I think some things take lifetimes to learn. And what better proof that something is true than to come upon it week after week, every time in a different form, a different experience, a different story.

This week me and Soeur Vidal (my new companion!) spent some time with the assistants to the President. They asked us to help them out with a training about how members of the Church can work with missionaries, for the stake priesthood training. Very humbling moment, as I'm doing these skits in French, with a native French speaker and two missionaries who are at the end of their missions. Suddenly my "awesome" French is baby talk again. (And by "awesome", I mean that sometimes I think I can actually communicate good. Then moments like our skit happen and I realize oh lala learning a language takes a looooong time :)

On our way back from the training, I asked the assistants what the most important lesson is they've learned on their missions. One of them said he's learned about repentance. He said at the beginning of his mission, his one goal was to not have any regrets. Over time, he realized that it's impossible to not make mistakes, but he learned that he could still live without regrets if every mistake he made he used to become a little better. That's what repentance is. My first few transfers on my mission, I was really overwhelmed with how much I didn't know, and how badly I was doing everything. But as I've accumulated a few more transfers since then and can see with a bit longer perspective, I see that in each transfer, I've learned a little better how to be a missionary. They aren't grand changes, non of them. They're just little tweaks, little adjustments in perspective, little polishings of this rough and rocky soul to make it a little prettier and a little holier.

The next day I found these scriptures. They're in Doctrine and Covenants 50: 40-42

40 Behold, ye are little children and ye cannot bear all things now; ye must grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth.

41 Fear not, little children, for you are mine, and I have overcome the world, and you are of them that my Father hath given me;

42 And none of them that my Father hath given me shall be lost.

Guess what. It's okay that we can't bear everything right now. It's okay that I'm imperfect. I have to grow in grace and knowledge, the same way the Savior did. But the truly beautiful part is the promise: that nothing shall be lost. When Jesus feeds the multitudes with a few loaves of bread and some fishes, at the end he asks that all the fragments be gathered up, "that nothing be lost." This is the same Christ here, who says "Fear not, you are mine, and none of mine shall be lost." On days when I make a ton of mistakes and all my best efforts really do seem totally useless, I find a lot of peace in these verses. Sometimes in my life I've applied all my efforts and force to bring about good, happy miracles in my life, and all those best efforts don't do anything, and I wonder if all those efforts were pointless, if I'm just wandering in circles trying to do good things but all of them just being sent up into the ether to dissolve into thin air. But He promises us here that that isn't how it works. He promises that if we are anxiously engaged in good causes, trying to do lots of good things, that even if we aren't totally sure how to apply these efforts, that the rewards will come (Doctrine and Covenants 58:27-28). So fear not little flock!

As for miracles this week, I only had about 87 (translation = too many beautiful moments to write about all of them), so I will pick a few favorites.

 4. One night, we tried to reschedule a rendezvous because it was going to be impossible for us to get there what with the training thing we'd been doing, but the person the RDV was with wouldn't let us reschedule. He said it was super important. So we moved heaven and earth to get there, at the last thirty minutes of the day. We taught a sweet little lesson about our Heavenly Father, about how we can know He exists, about how we can know He loves us. Our ami is reading and praying and coming to church now. I love getting to meet people like him and talk to them about such meaningful things.

3. Six of the people we're teaching came to church. One had showed up at noon and called us to see where we were (we were still at home...church doesn't start till 2), and he had to work all afternoon, so he couldn't stay for church. But then, the last 20 minutes of church, he walks in and sits next to us. He had just finished work and said to himself, "well, I know there are only 20 minutes left...I'd still like to catch those 20 minutes." Three weeks ago he didn't believe in God. But now he's praying and feeling for himself the proof of such unproveable things.

2. One day we hadn't had a ton of time to talk to people on the street--we'd been inside doing planning and teaching lessons most of the day. But we had 30 minutes to walk home, and so we talked to every single person we crossed on the sidewalk. In those thirty mintues, we found three people who want to learn more about how they can have more peace through Jesus Christ and we also found six girls who were in the middle of moving all their belongings out of a moving van into their new apartment, and we got to help them. Service opportunities like that don't come around super often. Every corner we walked around their was someone to teach and someone to help. Great walk home, those 30 minutes.

1. And my all-time favorite moment of the week: when I got to co-teach a lesson with Elder Foote, my cousin. Soeur Vidal and I have been teaching an ami who technically doesn't live in our area, so we needed to get the right missionaries teaching him--the ones who actually serve in his area. So one night we decided to make the transfer. Me and Soeur Vidal and Elder Foote and Elder Escobar all went to teach him. We've had a lot of relatives from that side of the family serve in France--my brother, my two second uncles (or whatever they're called technically...I'm not sure), and Elder Foote. I think we must have some roots there, or an ancestor who helped start the Church in France. Maybe it's where Grandpa Foote would have been called had he been able to serve a mission :) But to get to sit next to my cousin and testify about the Spirit and Heavenly Father and how the principles of the Gospel bless families and individuals--that was a once-in-a-lifetime special experience. 

And as for the picture this week...well, life this week has been crazy. We've planned exchanges with the 11 companionships of sisters we serve with, taught a whole bunch of lessons, had 3 days of training stuff, took 30 new missionaries contacting (these are the awesome things we get to do since we live right next to the office, where the new missionaries spend their first few days), and adjusted Soeur Vidal to a new ville. This is the only picture we had time to take this week, and it was taken while we were speed-walking to do our emails, not on preparation day but on Tuesday since our preparation day was spent in leadership training and buying a new microwave because ours is leaking nuclear fog. It should be noted that in this photo, Soeur Vidal is on the phone with the gas company because also our hot water doesn't work. It's been 4 days of cold showers and today we're putting our foots down.

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