Monday, November 25, 2013

So this is what it feels like to live in a classy apartment in France

We found out late last night that we were moving apartments. An emergency move. They've been wanting to put us in a big apartment for a while because there are always people staying with us for exchanges, for coming into the mission, for leaving the mission, and we have not the space! So finally last night it happened. We threw all of our stuff into our suitcases as fast as we could and moved a couple of streets over (dramatic, huh) and now live int he classiest apartment in all of France. Let me just describe it, because it is soon going to be filled with 10 triple bunkbeds (TRIPLE. they're turning us into the Lyon Barracks), so I'm gonna enjoy it while it lasts! You walk past a fruitstand and come to tall, thick, double wooden doors. We push those open into a big marble entry way to the building. There's a skinny elevator and cold marble stairs that spiral up into the building and an old wooden handrail. On each floor, there are tall windows, the glass so old it's wobbly and thick in places. Outside there is a chimneyed house with ivy crawling up the side and the red tile roof and the brick chimney. The ivy leaves are changing color with the seasons. And then our apartment--chevronned wooden floors that creak and that have woodworm lines in them. A bedroom with tall Cinderella windows and drapes, a fireplace and marble mantle with a huge mirror above it. Old doorknobs, old keyholes and keys in every room. Beauty-and-the-Beast-tall ceilings, and another fireplace in the parlor. Lovely. A walk-in closet. Parlor room window that open out to lacy wrought iron balconycages and a street beneath lined with big French autumn trees.

That's all, just livin the highlife. :)

Now here are the really beautiful things from this week: 

There's a family that an old missionary recommended we try to go see. We've gone before, but it's impossible to get into their building. They live in an apartment, and to get into the building you have to have a badge that opens the door. In other words there's no way to even ring their apartment and have them let us in. So we kinda gave up on it. Well a few days ago we walked back kinda by their house, and I thought, "Maybe we should just see if the door is open." So we walked wasn't open, but RIGHT AT THAT VERY SECOND, the man who puts magazines in all the mailboxes came by. He opened the door and didn't care that we followed him in :) So we went up all the floors looking for their name on the door. Finally we found it, and they opened and they are wonderful! They were so happy to see us, and they gave us their number and we're going to see them later this week! That really was a miracle though, that of all that night, the one man who would let us in happened to be there at the very second we were pushing on the door trying to get in. Best.

My other favorite part of this week was doing genealogy with a grandpa who is incredible. He called us because he really really wanted to do his we set up a RDV and oh lala he brought a big folder full of pictures and letters and driving licenses from the 1910s, pictures of his school class back in 1940, and better yet, stories. His ancestors were clockmakers in western France, but then they were forced to moved to Switzerland for religious reasons (along with many other clockmakers, apparently), and that's one reason there are so many incredible French clockmakers that are based in Switzerland. He said these ancestors (we're talking around the 1800s) had a family clock on the mantlepiece that got passed from generation to generation, and each generation would inscribe on the back their name and their life they got a ton of genealogy info from this clock! It had generations and generations of father-son carved into the back of it.

These are my favorite scriptures this week: Doctrine and Covenants 7:

 1 And the Lord said unto me: John, my beloved, what desirest thou? For if you shall ask what you will, it shall be granted unto you.

 2 And I said unto him: Lord, give unto me power over death, that I may live and bring souls unto thee.

 3 And the Lord said unto me: Verily, verily, I say unto thee, because thou desirest this thou shalt tarry until I come in my glory, and shalt prophesy before nations, kindreds, tongues and people.

 4 And for this cause the Lord said unto Peter: If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? For he desired of me that he might bring souls unto me, but thou desiredst that thou mightest speedily come unto me in my kingdom.

 5 I say unto thee, Peter, this was a good desire; but my beloved has desired that he might do more, or a greater work yet among men than what he has before done.

 6 Yea, he has undertaken a greater work; therefore I will make him as flaming fire and a ministering angel; he shall minister for those who shall be heirs of salvation who dwell on the earth.

 7 And I will make thee to minister for him and for thy brother James; and unto you three I will give this power and the keys of this ministry until I come.

8 Verily I say unto you, ye shall both have according to your desires, for ye both joy in that which ye have desired.

I love verse 8--you'll both have according to your desires, because they're both good and they'll both bring you joy! When I first read this chapter, I thought what the Savior was saying in verse 4 and 5 was, "John desired something better than you did, Peter, so he's going to be better off in the end." But actually he's just saying, "Don't compare yourself, Peter! John wanted to do this thing, and he'll have joy in it, and what you asked for is wonderful too, and I'll give you both what you asked for, because you're going to find joy in it!" Looks like we can have our cake and eat it too. Oh how he loves us.

Monday, November 18, 2013


Cool things that happened:

We got off the bus and went to meet up with a lady, but we were early, so we went back to talk to the lady at the bus stop. The conversation went like this:

"Hi, we're missionaries for Jesus Christ--"

"Jesus Christ! I love Jesus Christ! Okay! Tell me!"

(we start smiling because she's just so enthusiastic and happy to hear who we are.)

"Well, would you like to learn more about our Church?"

"Yes! Do you baptize in your church?"


"Okay, I really want to get baptized. I am READY. I know I need to be baptized to live with Jesus Christ again, and I want to live with Him. Can I please be baptized?"

(                       )

"Yes! Will you prepare yourself to be baptized?"

"Yes! How long will it take for me to be ready?"

"A month and a half, two months or so, probably."

"Oh good, another church told me I have to wait two and a half years. That is too long."

My companion and I walked away giggling. She was so full of light and happiness.

Another night, we invited our ami over to a member's house to have dinner and a lesson. During the lesson, she says, "I just feel really strange now--during our lessons and when I read the Book of Mormon, I just...want to cry, it's so beautiful! I feel really warm inside!" Then after the lesson, we took a little tour of the house, and in one of the rooms, there was a painting of the second coming of Christ, the one with all the angels around him. And our ami asked about it. We explained, "That's a painting of when Christ comes again to the earth." Ou ami said, "Is it really going to happen like that?"  And we told her yes, and she literally almost fell over laughing for joy and grabbed my arm and said, "Oh, Soeur Carter! C'est trop beau! That makes me want to cry!" and then she got big tears of joy in her eyes. She is wonderful.

Third, I love this scripture and what it teaches us about the character of our Heavenly Father:

Lift up your hearts and be glad, for I am in your midst, and am your advocate with the Father; and it is his good will to give you the kingdom.   (D&C 29:5)

I just want you all to know I love this Gospel. It helps us be happy. It helps us live our lives in a way that produces joy and peace.

Here are some pictures too:
1.) Went to a park that had carousels! Oh man I was in heaven.
2.) Then there's some chocolate too. Most beautiful chocolate I've ever seen.
3.) Then one day we were taking the trash out and the bag ripped open and down the stairs went a lot of gross stuff. Bleh. But funny. We laughed a lot.

PS: Sexy Sax Man is playing in the internet cafe where I am. I cannot escape this song.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire

Guess what we ate last night. CHESTNUTS ROASTED ON AN OPEN FIRE. People do that here in France!!! You gather chestnuts in parks and forests and sidewalks and wherever else there are chestnut trees and then you stick them in a big pot and put it on the fire. The shells start popping open and turning dark brown, and then you can peel the shells off and eat them with butter. Oh la la. We had dinner at the bishop's house last night and first we ate pumpkin soup with pears and creme fraiche (it's like sour cream but really more like nectar from the gods) and chives on top (delicious) and then they brought out pot after pot of chestnuts and we all sat around shelling and eating chestnuts and butter and drinking apple cider. This is what heaven is. You better believe when I come back I'm bringing this tradition with me.

We also ate at another family's house this week who are wonderful. This is a video about the dad.   ( turn on English captions )

At dinner we talked about Nephi and prayer and how no matter what happens--death even--we have a Father in heaven who loves us and a Savior who has power in him to bring back from the dead and to forgive our sins so we can advance in life.

Our ami came to church this week for the first time and she loved it. She took out her notebook during Sunday School and was taking notes about the temple and the gospel and family history. After sacrament, she couldn't stop smiling and said, "This is amazing. Don't worry, I will be back next Sunday." 

With our other ami we've been reading the Book of Mormon together with him every day almost. He has a hard time understanding the language sometimes, so we read verse by verse and he asks questions. The other day we were reading in 1 Nephi somewhere and he cuts me off and says, "Yeah but, what I wanna know is, how do I have strong enough faith to become like Jesus Christ?" Oh Promise. The question of the century! We were teaching with a member and she bore testimony really simpply and really eloquently that in living the gospel day to day, our hearts are changed, and over time, we become like Jesus Christ. He loves being around the young adults--he came every night this week to institute. (Institute class is in French. He doesn't speak any French. That's how much he loves the spirit at the institute building and the spirit of the young adults there, how warm and welcoming and happy they are.)

Our goal as missionaries is to help turn people away from the devil, to help them change the way they live, so that they can be happier. Because the way we live determines our happiness. There are eternal principles that a loving God in heaven who knows how our spirits and our bodies work better than we do has taught us that lead to happy days and hours lives.

I'm learning this week something called, "If I don't do it, no one will." I found myself very often this week being hesitant to do things--hesitant to talk to people, hesitant to ask for things, hesitant to lead off on things. I was waiting for someone else who is more experienced than I am, wiser than I am, better than I am to lead out. That's meekness after all, right? And I'm working on being more meek. But then I realized it isn't really meekness. I still don't know how meekness and strong leadership work with one another, but I do know this--I need to live in a way where I lead out, on setting examples, on being brave, on getting stuff done. I tell myself, "Well, if I don't do it, no one will." and even though that probably isn't true, it helps me be brave when I am scared. Or when I am lazy. Which maybe after all we'll see are the same things.

Here's a scripture I love this week: John 18:3-4

3 Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons.

 4 Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye?

There's something in this about Christ's character--that he knows beforehand what will happen, andhe goes out to meet them. He's anticipating this horrible, painful, terrifying moment, and he has prepared himself enough that he knows what he will do and say, so that even here in this moment, he can act in a dignified manner. He can act, and not be acted upon. I hope to be like this someday, master of myself enough that when others come to hurt, insult, or attack me, I can remain in control of myself, I can be graceful, I can be dignified. CS Lewis said something like it's in moments of extremity like this that our true selves are revealed. What here is revealed of Christ? Not panic, cowardice, anger, but divinity.

Here's a quote about service that I like:

"The more we serve our fellowmen in appropriate ways, the more substance there is to our souls. We become more significant individuals as we serve others. We become more substantive as we serve others—indeed, it is easier to “find” ourselves because there is so much more of us to find!" (Spencer W Kimball)

Pray for magical things. 

Find people around you and make friends.

People are so quick to smile.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Praying works

Speaking of missionary work and faith, we're trying to work really hard, but let's be honest, we aren't perfect and even on days with our best intentions, we aren't perfectly effective or efficient. Our prayers aren't perfect, our contacting isn't perfect, our teaching isn't perfect. Not even our "trying" is perfect some moments. But we keep on with our faces to the sun, as they say. Mostly we are praying and dreaming and hoping for miracles. We've seen so many. This week a young man showed up at the institute and wanted to learn more. He asked us at the Halloween party how he could get baptized. At Church on Sunday he leaned over and asked me if we could meet with him the next day to help him understand the Book of Mormon better, because there are words he doesn't know in it. So last night, we all sat side by side with our books of Mormon and read and helped him with words he doesn't understand, and I got to explain in very very basic terms the story of the Book of Mormon, so he'd know where it came from and why it's important. That was a special experience. I feel so special and honored to be someone at this moment who Heavenly Father lets see miracles like this. Sometimes I feel like we just walk around all day seeing miracles.

And speaking of miracles, something really beautiful happened this last week: we had a dream day set up--lots of lessons set up and lots of good good things we set out to do that day. Guess what. Every single thing fell through. And on top of that all, we felt really tired and horrible all day and we just kept thinking, "This isn't normal. What is happening?" Well, a couple of weeks ago, President told us that he's been praying for us specifically by name, me and Soeur Vidal, every day. So when we had this day where all the powers of hell it seemed were dragging us down, my first thought was, "I bet President didn't pray for us today." We saw him the day after actually, and we asked him. And guess what. He said, "You know. To be honest, yesterday I was doing interviews all day. And I forgot. It's the first day I haven't." First, I'm always a little skeptical when people say, "Will you pray for me?" Usually inside, I'm like, "Yeah, that's a nice gesture but it doesn't do a whole lot." Well, I don't feel that way anymore. I have never seen such a stark contrast. The prayers of others do so much. We are carried day to day on the prayers and faith of others it seems. I think of Enos and the sons of Mosiah and Alma and all the prayers of their parents that saved their very lives at times (see Alma 17:35). Thank you for your prayers!

1. At the halloween party

2. We went to Valence for an afternoon to help teach someone (long story). But look at this pretty building!

3. And look at that castle on a hill with ominous clouds. I live in France. There are castles.

Photo added by Mom: November Ensign pg 66 France Lyon Missionaries.  The Elder two over on  her right is her dear cousin, Elder Kevin Foote!