Monday, October 28, 2013

Still in Lyon

It's the start of a new transfer! I'm still in Lyon (yeah!) and they gave us another ward to work with, so now we are at church all day on Sundays, and get to keep teaching all the cool people that we find that didn't live in our ward boundaries before. It's wonnnnderrrrful.

Our miracle of the week was when we were on the metro and we said to a lady,"Hi" and she said "Hi, I've spoken with missionaries before. I want to learn more." We have a rendezvous with her tonight.

We also had a baptism this week! He is a friend of a member in our ward who is wonderful. We started teaching him about a month ago. He's been coming to church since April but hasn't let the missionaries teach him. Well for some reason he let me and Soeur Bicchierri teach him one afternoon, after a baptism that he'd serendipitously showed up for. And we prayed together that lesson on our knees and he cried for how strong he felt the Spirit and the love of the Lord. And then from there we taught him all the time. At first he said, "Yeah, I know the Church is true. I've already read the Book of Mormon and there's no other way to get back to God except for baptism. There's no other way. I'll get baptized because there's no other way. But not for two or three years." Heh heh heh. The cool thing was that we decided then and there to just teach with love and hope that the Spirit would push him to be courageous enough to be baptized early. Because he's already living all the commandments and he's already incredible and it's time. Well one thing led to another and this Friday he was baptized! He's wonderful wonderful.

There are some chapters in Job I'd like to recommend everyone reads: Job 38 until Job 40:10. Look for how the Lord chastises Job, and then how immediately after Job realizes his nothingness, the Lord says essentially, "Okay, now let's go do this thing! You're majestic and glorious and holy! Onward!" I think that's one of the beautiful things about repentance: it is a clean slate and it takes only as long as it takes for us to say, "I will change." and mean it.

I love you all!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Let every heart prepare him room

We just got back from an afternoon at Pres. & Sister Roney's house, and we walked along a cobblestone ivy-ed neighborhoods and the leaves are changing and the air is cool and we're coming upon the end of a transfer and I have that familiar ache inside me of autumnal nostalgia that threatens that maybe things are going to change. The nostalgia of not wanting to leave something you love and yet have not learned to love well enough. The weeks are too long and the minutes are too short. I wish I could bottle this life up so it wasn't quite so terminal. Then maybe I could enjoy it. But it has an expiration date and there are many friends to know and things to learn and all the while I wonder if I make even one atomal dent in this cosmos and we keep marching on. I need an afternoon to wander the streets and be in France and soak. Maybe more than that though I need a year and a half of not having time to soak, so I learn how to be happy and full along the way, instead of pushing off happiness for when I can get a break. It's tricky, this living thing. There's an art to learning to enjoy things in the right season, when they're ripe and ready to be enjoyed. 

I will say, however, that Christmas music can be enjoyed in any season. (My companion's not a super huge fan of me wanting to decorate the apartment and me singing Christmas music all the time and talking about how much I love Christmas. Heh heh.) :)

My favorite scriptures for this week are Luke 1: 68-75: "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, ...that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our life." That we might serve him without fear. We can go forward and be happy and love and teach and give and not need to be constantly borne back by our mistakes and our fears and our hesitancies. 


A huge pile of ice cream I was forced to eat. After eating a similarly sized plate of chicken and plate of potatoes.

Found an accordeon a few weeks back on Pday. Best moment ever. (But really.)

What we look like most of the time. Like when trying to do weekly planning. Oh la.

Monday, October 14, 2013

i love all of you. i love each of you.

Right when I get the France computer keyboard mastered, I go to Switzerland for a day and their keyboards are totally different too! So this may be rather disjointed, this here letter.

So much has happened this week oh my. We had an awesome zone conference (complete with a finale where the assistants to the president attached a huge banner to the projector screen and raised it slowly, while playing epic music, while projecting flames onto the thing. It had OPEN YOUR MOUTH written across it and afterwards we all signed it as a pledge to open our mouths all the time and talk to people. That moment, single handedly may have been the most unforgettable moment on my mission: Ha, we have the greatest assistants.

We also spent a couple of days in Switzerland on exchanges. One day we rode a train around Lake Leman (possibly the most scenickly beatiful moment on my mission--the mountain valleys had vineyards and cottages and sailboats and men fishing on rocks on the lake shores) to get to a village called Vevey where we talked to a lot of people. We were walking up a wide sidewalk beside a mountain stream with bridges and trees turning orange and there was a tour bus off to the side of the road and the driver was out smoking and waiting for his tourists to come back, I suppose: I asked if he wanted to learn more, and he said he couldnt speak French, which was good because I dont speak French either, so we had a good conversation in English. He is from Croatia. I asked him if he believes in Jesus Christ. He said his country is )) percent Catholic, so it's a big part of his traditions. So then I asked though if HE believes in Jesus Christ, and he said he believes in God, but he is really bothered and confused by all the churches and all the people who profess to be Christians but don't live their lives that way. He said there are so many churches on the earth and none of them seem to be the Church of Jesus Christ. Bingo. I told him that we believe that Jesus Christ has restored his Church to the earth through a prophet and I asked him if he would want to learn more about that. He said, "Yes. But how? I live in Croatia." Bingo. We have missionaries there. To see the earnestness and hope in his eyes when I told him that we believe Christ leads our Church was my favorite moment of these exchanges in Switzerland.

My other favorite Switzerland moment was when Soeur Vidal and I got on the tram in Lausanne, after a lot of hours of train rides and walking. We got on the tram, looked at each other, nodded, then went from person to person, talking to every single one and inviting them to learn more about Jesus Christ. It was one of the more epic moments of my mission.

And as for our exchanges in Lyon this week (had one of those as well), my favorite moment goes like this: 

Homeless man to my companion-for-the-day (in French): "You are really pretty! Oh lala! Really pretty!"

Homeless man to me: "Your daughter is really pretty! You--you are not pretty. But your daughter is really pretty! Is she your daughter?"

Me to homeless man: "Thank you very much, and no, she's not my daughter."

Me to companion-for-the-day: "Seriously?!?!"

We laughed a good long time about that one.

Two more things: 

ONE. A quote.

"As we confront our own trials and tribulations, we too can plead with the Father, just as Jesus did...[we can] paraphrase Moroni's words, 'If I am sufficiently humble, which personal weakness could now become a strength?'"

One quiet thing, amid all the conversations and goals and conferences and so on, is that I see every now and then subtle changes in my character--being a little more prone to share, a little less prone to criticize, quicker to forgive and forget, slower to jump to conclusions. The changes really are tiny, and probably no one would notice them except for me who battles internally with these character flaws all the live-long-day. But I love seeing changes like this. It means progress happens and our souls can change and become better people. One of the greatest lies is that we can't change. But the power is in us, and however long and hard the road, change can happen and it can happen with joy and hope and light in our eyes. I'm learning here that when I am confronted with my own selfishness, pride, lack of self-control, etc etc, that instead of wallowing in it, I can learn from those less brilliant moments, stage out how I'll act the next time I'm confronted with a similar situation, and slowly practice being who I want to be. Practice works. We can become whoever we want.

TWO. A goal.

I'm in the process of learning how to say, "I'm a missionary for Jesus Christ. Do you want to learn more about Jesus Christ?" in as many languages as possible! So far I have Italian and German down. I'm working on Portugese and Chinese (Chinese is impossible). I have yet to figure out what I'll do when the people I say this to actually respond...I guess smile, nod lovingly, and then make a "call me" gesture and get their phone number? Ha, one step at a time.

And the photos:

1. Me and Soeur Vidal and Elder Ferguson at zone conference. This was after lunch. For lunch at conferences we always eat baguette sandwiches. That seems like an important detail to include.
2. The assistants holding up the OPEN YOUR MOUTH banner after the conference so we could all sign it.
3. Soeur Vidal on a train. We take these sometimes (a lot of the times.) 

4. Me makin calls on a truly old school phone in a chapel in Switzerland. It's amazing how well you can hear on landlines. I think I may go the route of landlines and landlines only for the rest of my life. I thought of my dad when I was making these calls, because I think he probably used phones like this on his mission.
5. view out the train of Lac Leman
6. another view
7. me and the rain and my suitcase in Switzerland!
9. chairs that are pretty
10. a lil chateau or something Swiss, with vineyards all the hillside down

Monday, October 7, 2013

Meek and Gentle (and Guns too)

Watching General Conference as a missionary is incredible, because everything they say immediately applies to you, in seems. My favorite talk of conference was the one about meekness. The next day I studied meekness in the scriptures, and I found Matthew 11: 29. "Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest to your souls." I love this scripture because I think one thing the Savior is saying is that when we learn about his character, about who he is and who he wants us to be--namely that what is required isn't flashy displays of intellect or incredible feats of talent or outgoingness or humor, but meekness and gentleness and willingness--then we find rest to our souls. This helps me a lot on days when I feel not quite enough.

Funny stories for the week:
I talked to two large, tough looking men on a bus. They actually started talking to me first--they were looking at my plaque and trying to see what it said, but the bus was too loud to hear each other very well. Luckily they got off at the same stop we did...and it was in an area I've never been in before, one that is potentially sketchy (just kidding, I'm really safe here...but you areas...not a lot of people around...end of the bus line...can be a little scary). So they're all saying how we're a sect and so on, and then we start talking about our beliefs, theirs and ours. We explained how we read and love the Bible. We explained how we believe Jesus Christ is our Savior. We explained how we believe he's returning and that this life is the time for us to prepare. And then they realized that everything we were saying they already believed. Then one of them says, all tough, "You wanna know what? I pack guns with me every day. No matter where I go, I carry a gun in my bag. You wanna see it? You wanna see my gun?" And he reaches down into his bag and starts rummaging around. And I'm like, "AH I'M GOING TO DIE." (that's what I was thinking in my head). Then he pulls out his New Testament and is like, "Yeah. This is my weapon. I read it every day." In my head: "Cool that you read the Bible. Not cool the way you presented that information." Hahaha

Other funny story: I called a lady in the ward who we haven't met yet. I call and ask if it's Geraldine (name changed to protect the innocent heh heh) and she's like, "Yes, this is Geraldine." "Hi Geraldine! This is the sister missionaries. We just wanted to say hi and introduce ourselves because we haven't had the chance to meet you yet. How are you?" "This is who?" she says. "The sister missionaries. From the ward." "Oh, no no no, you've misdialed. I don't know any missionaries or any Church. And my name isn't Geraldine and this isn't my phone number." So that was cool.