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.

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