Monday, June 17, 2013

Music Monday in Bayonne, France

This week we got a music CD. A CD with music on it. We call it our music CD. Let's talk about the power of good music for a second. It's all "approved music" for missionaries which means Mormon Tabernacle Choir, BYU choir, BYU Vocal Point and some classical music. We have been listening to it nonstop. Guess what's on it: Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Billy Joel's Lullabye (choral version) and Danny Boy. Each of those is a tender mercy to my heart. Each of those songs means a lot to me and to who I am. And to have that influence in our apartment all morning and all night? To be inspired and edified by such beautiful music? Ah. Joy.

The last verse of Danny Boy, which I had never heard before says this, and I think it's the most beautiful words I may have ever heard:

And if you died and crossed that stream before me

I pray that angels met you on the shore.
And you'll look down and gently you'll implore us

to live so we may see your smiling face once more.
I've been singing it and thinking about it all week.
Other highlights include realizing our entire ceiling was covered in a thin but growing spider webs. I tell you people, my life is Lord of the Rings. See pictures below.

We've been eating lots of grilled cheese sandwiches in a pan we never wash. So they're tastier.
We had a good big long conversation with a lady today about how she can have her family again after this life. It wasn't until we were parting ways an hour later that she realized we weren't Catholic. Ha/oops. I guess she assumed we were nuns? I couldn't figure out why she ws so open to talking to us for so long. The best/worst part of the conversation too was when she asked if Soeur Witt was my daughter. Hahaha/do I seriously look that old?! Then she explained she thought Sr. Witt was 15 years old...which would make me 30. Come on lady, do I look like I'm 30? And then it hit me: oh wow I am in fact almost 30. Best/worst.
And now for the good stuff:
Some mornings I wake up really panicky inside. It's like a sadness in my heart, a despondency. So a few night ago, I decided to read some beautiful scriptures right before bed (I recommend Alma 24: "he loveth our souls..."), and to have them by my bedside when I woke up. I read first thing in the morning, and all day I had love and joy and hope, instead of fear and death and all of their friends.
And one of the people we've been teaching got baptized last week. I wanted to write a little bit about that. First of all, he is one of the kindest, most open-hearted and sincere people I have met. He loves animals. A LOT. Like, a two-hour conversation about birds, a lot. We met him about four weeks ago on the bus. For some reason, I gave him one of our pass-along cards with the name of the Church on it and our phone number, and didn't think again about it. In fact, I ended up spending the whole hour bus ride talking to another girl on the bus about the Gospel. We had a really good conversation and I thought, "This is the reason we took this bus today." We never heard from that girl again.

But then a few days later, we got a phone call--it was the guy from the bus. He said he'd like to meet with us, and he'd like to come to Church. So we made the arrangements, met with him, taught him, and two weeks later, he was baptized. And let me tell you, us with our limited French? It had nothing to do with us. That was one of the sweetest parts of the whole experience. He'd been searching for answers and direction for a few years, and little by little God had been teaching him. He found a book on the bus a while ago, about praying to angels to get help. So he started praying to angels. He also had a pendant that he used, you know, you ask it questions and depending on how it swings, there's your answer? He told us later, "At the time, I didn't know about Heavenly Father, or how to pray, or anything. So God talked to me in a way I could understand. And that led me here." The long and short of it is, God is working with his children. The more I see of this, the more I think that we don't do anything, really, as missionaries. It's Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ's work, this salvation of souls, and it's not for us to try to convince people of anything, but just to love people and tell people the things we know about. We don't know what's going on in other people's hearts, or how God is working to bring miracles about, or what good we can do by reaching out to each other. The funny and lovely thing about that day we met him on the bus is that the whole time I was on that bus ride talking to the girl about the Gospel, I was thinking that perhaps we'd get to teach her. Really, though, I was there for a totally different reason. You never know what good you're sending into the world by choosing to go outside of yourself and talk to people and smile and love.
*The other picture is all the missionaries in our area--the southwest of France--singing around a piano in the Bordeaux Gare, waiting for our trains to come. These are the things we do as missionaries. Sing and smile.

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