Monday, February 10, 2014

Gaspar the Ferret


We write our emails in an Algerian internet cafe where they play 90s girl band music and every Monday from 10:30-2:00 the place is wall to wall missionaries writing their emails home. The man who owns it knows us by name and often doesn't make us pay full price when we print things. Nice.
Today on the way out of our apartment, we ran into a man on the landing who had a flashlight and a badge and was walking down the stairs with his flashlight touching the walls. We didn't think anything of it, and then we realized how bizarre it was, and we've been laughing about it ever since. He was just going around touching the walls real quick as he went down the staircase. I feel like nonsensical things like that happen a lot. A lot a lot a lot.
Last P-day we went bowling...and Soeur Hutchins and I being the super-bowling Americans we are invented challenge rounds like bowling on one leg and bowling in partners and bowling with your left hand and bowling with your eyes closed. The last one was incredible and dangerous. No one got hurt. Best part: Sr Hutchins and I got the same final score. 69. Not super impressive. But for bowling with our eyes closed, I mean...can't really expect much more.

It was warm outside after and we found watermelon at one of the tiny gas-station sized grocery shops in the city and we bought it and ate it, then ran off to catch our train to Clermont-Ferrand. Clermont-Ferrand is famous for it's black cathedrals. It's a town with lots of volcanic rock apparently...and what does one do with excessive amounts of black volcanic rock? Why, build cathedrals of course.
We're in the process of composing a list of things in French that we say all the time that don't translate into English at all. Like "Mince quoi." It essentially means "Shoot!" but translates to "Skinny what."
We had the LUCK to eat patisseries twice this week: once because we said "we are in FRANCE let's get a patisserie" (raspberry tart? chocolate chocolate chocolate cake) and once because it was an Elder's birthday so our zone leaders got us patisseries and we ate them in a park together in the sunshine and sang happy birthday.

I'm trying to develop the reflex of following the Spirit faster. All the time I have little ideas like "say this to that lady" or "apologize" or "give him a card." And you know what the natural man does with that? S/he says "Nah, ___(insert logical reason why I shouldn't do that thing)___" and then s/he doesn't do it. LAME. I realize how often there's this little kid voice inside of me that wants to just go around without inhibitions, helping people and saying funny things and being without care and without concern, just with joy and purity. So I'm trying to trust those little ideas more and dissolve the obstacle course of my logic between those good thoughts and my actions, so that someday I am brave and pure enough to just do everything that little child voice says.
For example, there was a lady on a bench one day and we were about to walk past but the little push said "Talk to her!" so I did and it turns out she just recently decided to be Christian. She decided to believe in Christ she said. Cool. We're teaching her this week. And then a couple of hours later, the same thing happened, the prodding to talk to a lady at the bus stop. She also decided to believe in Christ recently. Neither of them are practicing, but they said they have chosen to believe in Christ (CHOSEN. powerful word right there. That is courage, that is faith, that is logic beyond our own.). So it turns out that little prodding voice works. I want to get to the point where following it is a natural reflex, the way kicking your leg up is a natural reflex to having your knee hit by the doctor.
A few nights later we were walking around the streets of Lyon trying to find some referrals when that little feeling came again, to stop and talk to someone. He was an older man (90 to be exact) who was strapping a baguette to the back of his bicycle, and who very jovially proclaimed he neither believes in God nor the devil, just in himself and even that's a little sketchy at times :) But we kept talking and he told me that he was raised Protestant, but met his wife and she was Catholic and all her family too, so he converted to Catholicism for her. I asked if he loves his life a lot, and he said, "Yes, but she is in the cemetery now." He said that his wife died this year, and that they were married for some 70 years and she is magnificent and he visits her in the cemetery often. In between his stories about the wars he fought in and his grandkids, we testified a little about how God has a plan for the families that makes it so we can be together forever. We went back on Sunday to see him again. He is magnificent. Truly. He opened the door and had combed hair and was wearing a blue suit and pants with a full paisley vest underneath and a checkered shirt and a polka dot tie. The man has class. He also has an albino ferret named Gaspar who snuck up on Sr Hutchins and bit her during the lesson and we couldn't stop laughing.
Crazy English class is finally starting to bear fruit. We had a short lesson last week about how families can be together forever. No sooner had we said "families are important to God" than one of the students started asking if everyone will be resurrected and where we go when we die and why Jesus Christ matters and who will judge us in the end and how will be judged. (Our faces: blank stares...smiles...) "We want to answer all of your questions. Would you like to meet with us on Saturday night?" Yep. All FOUR of them. So Saturday night we had a group lesson about the Restoration and it was AWESOME and all three of them had questions and got them answered and now they're all reading the Book of Mormon and are coming again this week to learn about the Plan of Salvation. Cool!
This morning I was reading about when the Savior came to the Americas. I want to highlight a few verses that show how much He loves us (from 3 Ne 23-26). Look at what He does when He's with them:

31 And it came to pass that he went again a little way off and prayed unto the Father;

32 And tongue cannot speak the words which he prayed, neither can be written by man the words which he prayed.

33 And the multitude did hear and do bear record; and their hearts were open and they did understand in their hearts the words which he prayed.

14 And now it came to pass that when Jesus had expounded all the scriptures in one, which they had written, he commanded them that they should teach the things which he had expounded unto them.

1 And it came to pass that he commanded them that they should write the words which the Father had given unto Malachi, which he should tell unto them. And it came to pass that after they were written he expounded them. And these are the words which he did tell unto them, saying: Thus said the Father unto Malachi—Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in; behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of Hosts.

1 And now it came to pass that when Jesus had told these things he expounded them unto the multitude; and he did expound all things unto them, both great and small.

2 And he saith: These scriptures, which ye had not with you, the Father commanded that I should give unto you; for it was wisdom in him that they should be given unto future generations.

3 And he did expound all things, even from the beginning until the time that he should come in his glory—yea, even all things which should come upon the face of the earth, even until the elements should melt with fervent heat, and the earth should be wrapt together as a scroll, and the heavens and the earth should pass away;

6 And now there cannot be written in this book even a hundredth part of the things which Jesus did truly teach unto the people;

13 Therefore, I would that ye should behold that the Lord truly did teach the people, for the space of three days; and after that he did show himself unto them oft, and did break bread oft, and bless it, and give it unto them.

14 And it came to pass that he did teach and minister unto the children of the multitude of whom hath been spoken, and he did loose their tongues, and they did speak unto their fathers great and marvelous things, even greater than he had revealed unto the people; and he loosed their tongues that they could utter.

15 And it came to pass that after he had ascended into heaven—the second time that he showed himself unto them, and had gone unto the Father, after having healed all their sick, and their lame, and opened the eyes of their blind and unstopped the ears of the deaf, and even had done all manner of cures among them, and raised a man from the dead, and had shown forth his power unto them, and had ascended unto the Father—

He prays for them and with them and teaches them so they can understand things and he blesses them and heals all of them and lets them be part of something "great and marvelous." This is the kind of experience that changes you forever. The kind of experience you walk away from smiling and shaking your head because what you just were part of was incredible and magical.

Oh this mission. I know I'm going to ache inside for this life, when it's over. The roads and the people and my missionary friends and the sisters I work with. It's the ephemerality of it all that makes it so sweet. I was talking to another sister about it this week and I had to stop because I was starting to cry. It is a precious, precious time.

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