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

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