Monday, January 20, 2014

It is well with my soul.

Well, this week was transfer calls. Let me explain a little what that means: every 6 weeks there's the possibility that we get moved to a new city. The last week of the transfer, all anyone wants to talk about is their speculations for the next transfer--where they'll go, who they'll be with, etc. All last week my district leader kept telling me, "You're so gone Sister Carter" because, well, I've been here in Lyon for 4 transfers and that's a third of my mission which is a really long time! Friday is call day, when President Roney calls every missionary to tell them where they're going and who they'll be pretty much all Friday morning is shot...eating breakfast and showering and getting ready, you're on pins and needles. And then someone calls and you both run to the phone and your heart starts beating really fast...and then it's just your district leader trying to freak you out by calling. Then President does call and he tells you what is happening, and there's a moment of clarity, and then you start thinking through all the implications--of who you'll be with and what you'll be doing and what members you're leaving behind and what your plans are for the next transfer etc etc etc. It's like New Year's Eve and New Year's Day every six weeks. For the last two or three weeks, I knew I would be leaving Lyon. And then I woke up Friday morning and started thinking through what I've done here in Lyon, what I wish I would have done better or differently, and then things I would do if I were to stay. I worried if I've done what I was sent here to do.

And then President: "Sister Carter, you are staying in Lyon. Again."

I stay.

I think sometimes Heavenly Father is merciful and doesn't let us move on prematurely. He lets us stay until we're satisfied, until we've finished all He wants us to do in a place. And I'm grateful for those early-morning friday feelings that confirmed that He and I are working together out here. (I know before I said I was going to die if I stay in Lyon another transfer. Well, not dead. And very happy and very very excited for this transfer!)

And then, well then you can pretty much kiss goodbye to studies Friday morning--texts coming in with where people are going and asking where you're going and your milnd all awhirl with dreams for the next six weeks. Oh call day. It is a whirlwind and a delight.

So yes, I stay. I stay! And I am with Soeur Hutchins. Soeur Hutchins who is six foot and loves basketball so much she doesn't play on her mission lest it get outtahand :) Soeur Hutchins who bought a meerkat calendar last transfer as a gift for someone. She's going to protect me if scary things happen.

Which is good. Sr Vidal and I had a rather eventful week. Quick story: last night we had a super dinner with some members (nems and sushi and fish and a galette de rois and fruit) and we leave their apartment full and happy, and a little worried about getting home on time, so we start running out to the tramway, when some men yell at us, "No need to run, that tram's not going anywhere!" And sure enough there are about 8 ambulances and fire trucks around the tramcar, and policemen roping off the area...uh...turns out their was a gas leak or something, and they have to secure the area. So a few phone calls, a rainy walk to the bishop's house, and a comfy car ride with his wife later, and we're home safe and sound. Oh la la.

We taught a delightful family this week. One of the missionaries had met a grandma who asked for a Book of Mormon in Romanian. They got her name and address, and asked us to take the Book of Mormon over. There was no building number where the address should have been, just a glass door with a last name written on notebook paper taped to it. Inside there was a long staircase but it was so dark inside we couldn't see more. So we rang the bell and hoped for the best. A little boy appears at the top of the stirs. We smile really big and wave. We smiles back, waddles his way down the stairs and opens the door for us. He is adorable and all smiles, and then before you know it, a little girl about the same age appears at the top of the stairs, all smiles too. They take us upstairs, to a warm and cozy apartment, buzzing with movement--kids in every room, parents walking from one room to the next, someone in the kitchen cooking something that smells like chicken soup. We don't know exactly who we're looking for, as we weren't the ones to talk to the lady in the first place, so we just act generally pleasant and like we know everyone. Eventually someone finds the grandma and she comes and warmly welcomes us, brings us into their front room (decorated with elaborate Romanian vases and plants and figurines. Lovely.). There's no light, so the daughter gets a lamp and brings it in while her brother finds a bulb, stands on a chair, changes, the one hanging by a long cord from the ceiling. There are brocaded couches and the walls are painted dusty yellow. They sit us down at the table and we serve us multifruit juice and a heaping plate of pain au chocolat. We teach the grandma that Jesus Christ loves her and her family. She doesn't speak much French, and pretty soon, then the daughter comes back in, closes the door behind her. We start asking questions about their beliefs, to know how we can help them. Every 30 seconds or so another person opens the door, pokes their head in, then comes in an introduces themselves, sits down on the couch, and joins in. As best we can figure, there are 23 people in their family, with kids and grandkids included. And I think every one of them poked their head in at some point that night! And they laugh and the kids cuddle with their parents and their is love love love in that home. It was so wonderful to be there. We taught them a little more, and then have returned several times to teach them more. They are Romanian and delightful. The daughters complimented our skirts, and we complimented theirs and then we all talked about how it's hard to find modest skirts here, and they said that they wear skirts all the time, and not very much makeup because their bodies are sacred. Well how about that. Everytime we go over, they bring us food. So a couple of nights ago we made a big batch of Mom's Mrs. Field's cookies and took them a huge plateful.

I read a really good story from General Conference this week: It's from President Monson's talk "Come, All Ye Sons of God." He talks about how if we are serve the Lord with all our heart and are obedient to Him, miracles--MIRACLES--can happen in our lives. The kinds of miracles that are things that are just too good to be true, that in our deepest dreams we hope for. Those kinds of miracles happen! When Jesus was with the apostles on the sea, and he told them to pull their nets in, their nets came in bursting at the seams. And then their boats started sinking because of how many fish they'd brought in! This must have been the best day of those fishermen's lives. And what did they do? They left those nets and probably those fish too, and their boats and their livelihoods and whatever else they had and followed Jesus Christ. As a missionary I get to do this! I get to leave my nets and go and do, and trust with all my heart that when I come back to those nets, they will be full to overflowing and all will be provided for and better than I could have ever fixed it to be myself. Better than I could have dreamed up or believed was possible. I've seen this happen before in my life--when there were things too good to ever happen to me, but that I wished for with all my heart, and it required that I awake my faith, serve God, love others, and trust Him. And miraculously, those boats and nets and fishes all came in, in ways that are so beautiful to me that I still cry when I think about them. So let your light shine and trust the Lord. He will take care of you. My shepherd will supply my need. Jehovah is His name.

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