Well, hello family dearest!!!!
I know it's only been a week, but I miss you already! I'm glad everyone made it home safely, even if it's just to be welcomed back to tennis camp craziness. But, how was Italy? Did the guys and boys love it? Speaking of.....can I just say that I loved, loved, loved the package?! I am so spoiled!!! I don't know how you and Nana thought of everything, but it was perfect. Thank you so much!!!!
So.....I'm a missionary....in France. How in the world did that happen?! Seriously, I know it's been like 5 months, but sometimes I still wake up and am shocked to look out the kitchen window and see very French looking apartment buildings all smooshed together. (Another quick reminder is when men get on their scooters and chase after us down the sidewalk yelling in French--those situations tend to jog my memory a bit! but hey--at least we don't get chased by dogs down the street!) And then I think man, it's a miracle I havent been the demise of the mission one area at a time!! Seriously, like who am I to be entrusted with such an important job? But, then I remember that it's not such a miracle, because it's not us who do much at all. The Lord gets it all done. And that is a testimony to be that it must all be true--if the Lord can use kids from Provo to get the work done, then man, there's just no doubt in my mind! hehe. These last couple weeks have been full of some tears and heartbreak, but so many, many more miracles.
Our first miracle was with Parfaite. She's been taught very slowly for a few months now, and was always good at keeping commitments (mostly I think because her cousin was just baptized into our church and she was curious), but just wasn't really what you would call progressing, because she wasn't willing to come to church (it conflicted with her church meetings) and stuff. For some reason, we felt like it was a good idea to watch Finding Faith in Christ with her this week. Which we did, and then testified that the Atonement is real, that Christ is our Savior, and that he has again established HIS church on earth, etc, etc.... The Spirit present in that little family room was overwhelming. And when we knelt together to pray at the end, it was the first time she actually asked Heavenly Father about the things we had taught. (So.... it might have, sort of, kinda still been in a round-about-evangelical way, but she did ask!!!! haha.)
And it was the first time she committed to be baptized when she knew these things were true!!! K. I realize that might not seem like a whole lot, but hey, I was there the first time she was invited to be baptized (months ago) and I tell you what--that isn't an experience I'll forget anytime soon!! (in case that left some question--her answer was a very, very rock solid, unquestionable NO.) The spirit can wear anyone down! hehe. jk, but really, I am so grateful for the Spirit that testifies of truth so much stronger than I ever could. Ya know, I might not always love living in France, and I might not really like French men, and I might mostly hate public transportation (man that sounds like debby downer), but I will NEVER, ever, ever get sick of bearing my testimony of Jesus Christ. And bearing testimony brings the spirit, and the spirit brings miracles!!!! And seriously--who doesn't love miracles?!!!
Then came some heartbreak. Opposition in all things right? Well, I know I've told you about Virginie before. She was one of the first investigators I met and she is great. I absolutely love this woman. She prays, reads the scriptures, tries to do what's right, tries to help people around her, wants to be a mom and have a family, so much faith--just a really genuinely good person. Which, makes the whole heartache thing sting even more. ugh. Long story short--this week, the last part of our RDV consisted of Sister Bellini explaining sweetly, but firmly that Virginie does not in fact have the GIFT of the Holy Ghost, nor is she a prophetess. She wasn't very pleased. And then, after I exchanged a glance with Sister Bellini and I knew we were both feeling the same thing, I was left the honors of giving "the talk." Which in missionary speak translates to telling her that we love her, that she's always welcome at church, that we'll be there to answer questions and teach her again WHEN she is ready to progress. At the end of that lesson, it was just made clear that she isn't really searching for answers or even asking questions. She's just not ready right now, and if we continued to see her, we'd be straying from our purpose. oh man--dagger to the heart!!! It was still a good lesson, but as soon as the door closed behind her, I just burst into tears. haha. I know, I'm such a girl, but I just couldn't help it! But, I can still hope that she'll get it (or at the very least, someone will smack her over the head with it :)) eventually.
But, of course, miracles are never far away! The next afternoon we got a call from the elders out in Angers (I dont even know where that is) saying that someone named Tina called them and wanted to see missionaries and they thought she lived in our area. So we give her a call and are like "so, are you interested in seeing missionaries?" yup. "When are you available?" 1900. "oh!!! you mean like tonight? haha. ok." Needless to say, that doesn't happen very often. So we go meet her and probably within the first 30 seconds of sitting in her apartment, she says that she thinks she has a problem--that she thinks she is possessed. "well....okay....so exactly what makes you say that?" (just a sidenote--when she said that i suddenly felt like 2 years old trying to fix a very, very big problem) Anyway, don't worry--she's not really possessed, nor is she crazy. Turns out that she has a hard time sleeping because she has been having bad nightmares and can't get these terrible images out of her mind (she saw some kinda traumatizing things when she was little).
She had been taught by missionaries like 8 years ago, and somehow had the idea to call them to get help. She definitely turned to the right place if she needs spiritual healing--gospel of Jesus Christ, the Atonement, and the priesthood are powerful. And she is so earnest and sincere in her desire to learn, despite being kind of an interesting character. it was funny, the first time we asked her to pray about the Book of Mormon, she was like, "No".....long pause where missionaries are like well, awesome, that's one we haven't heard......followed by, "I trust you." so adorable!!! we explained how she needed to pray and know for herself, but it was seriously so cute!! And she received a blessing from one of the members in the ward and it was funny because she was so worried about getting her name right, "well, is it a problem if I have two last names? because I changed one of them at the prefecture.....well which one should I use? I only have one first name though, is that okay?" Oh, you just can't help but love this one. Miracles are everywhere I tell ya!!!
And just cuz it's too awesome of a story not to share--we had testimony meeting yesterday (it didnt get done the week before because of the bishopric being re-organized) for Sacrament, and this one lady gets up and starts talking about how there are false friends in church who lead you to perdition. yup. oh she said it. And then continues (oh yes, it gets even better) by saying that as members of the church we get the Holy Ghost that gives us the right to judge people "like God." Just to set the mood better, she also has kinda shadowy eyes, opens them super wide at very precise moments, has a crackly old voice, and was slightly swaying behind the pulpit. I was just waiting for the moroccas to break out to start the "tribal ritual dance welcoming the devils among us to perdition" to start. Was a little disappointed, actually, when it didn't happen...but yeah, never a dull moment!! (and ever so grateful I wasn't the bishop who got to get up at the end and be like, "So just to clarify....we get the Holy Ghost...." He handled it tactfully, but still funny.)
Best public transportation experience of the week: some dude asked me for a drink of my water. I'm fairly certain the first words out of my mouth were, "wait, seriously?" Once I ascertained that he was, in deed, quite serious about the request, I just opted to give the water bottle to him.
Best English class quote of the week: Elder Cutler likes to start out the class by having everyone introduce themselves and answer a random question. The question this week was, "if you opened a restaurant, what would it be called?" I think by far the best answer was this one guy, in all seriousness, saying that his restaurant would be "heavenly Father's Italian McDonalds Restaurant." I think everyone could find something to their taste there, wouldnt you agree?!
Well, I'm gonna try to find time to write you later, because it is Sister Powers' birthday and I think the sisters are having lunch in paris together and then we have an early RDV scheduled. But Ill try!!!! Love you guys lots and lots!!!! Miss you!!! Can't wait to get the pics! Hope you have a good week!
nana--i seriously loved the package!!! i have already used some of the CTR rings!!! and I love your e-mails!! i print them and read them all week. thank you so much. love you so much!!!