Monday, July 29, 2013 week ever!

Dear family and friends, this week was the best one yet!  I guess I'll just start from the beginning.

First of all on Tuesday at district meeting, the Vannes Soeurs brought desert.  They knew I loved (love really isn't a strong enough word) pistachios so the brought magnum chocolate pistachio ice cream bars.  Everyone was staring at me as I took the first bite, haha it was hilarious.  And Elder Richer-Brulé started singing "halleluiah," haha I love my district.

Well that's it folks, best week on the mission!

Totally kidding, although a transcendent, never-to-be forgotten pistachio experience, It was actually nothing compared to the other things that happened this week.  I know, pretty hard to believe, haha.

Okay, let's start with Annick.  Annick is the woman I told you about who Soeur Pozanaski found on her mission 30 years ago.  It turns out that Annick had a lot of things holding her back, and on top of it all she is scared of water.  But she has had a testimony of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith since 1983!  I will never ever ever forget the moment she was baptized.  She showed such amazing faith and courage.  I don't know if anyone can really know how hard that must have been for her.  We had the program in the little Primary room.  It was just me, Soeur Kohlert the Elders and our Ward Mission Leader, Frère Moal.  I gave the talk on baptism.  The whole thing was so beautiful.  It was one of the most spiritual experiences of my life.  Everyone could just feel how much our Father in Heaven loves Annick, the spirit was almost tangible.  After the confirmation we sat and talked for at least an hour, it was powerful.  Frère Moal said how he felt that the building had become like a temple that definitely definitely felt that way.  I never thought I would be priviledged to be part of a miracle like this on my mission.  It was amazing!

But the miracles just kept coming this week.  God is pouring out his Spirit in Rennes.  Hmm, I think now I will talk about Fatima.  Do you all remember Fatima and Pascal?  We ported into Fatima the third day I was here in Rennes and since she was muslim we had to get her husband's permission to teach her.  Then we miraculously ran into both of them on the street a few weeks later when we missed our bus.  Okay, so with Fatima.  We see her about once a week, but we haven't really been able to teach much about the gospel.  She just tells us about recipes and cuts our hair etc.  I was losing faith that we'd ever get to teach her.  We were nervous and it never really seemed right.  But this last Thursday we stopped by and I was really hoping that we could share a message.  The setting was perfect, absolutely perfect.  We started to teach her the Plan of Salvation and spirit immediatly entered the room.  She asked us how she could know it was true and we prayed together.  She told us that she felt something really amazing during the prayer, like she was floating or something.  I was ecstatic.  There have been so many miracles with her, and Soeur Kohlert and I fasted for her this month.  Soeur Kohlert and I just keep getting the thought that she is extremely special.

Then....she and Pascal came to church yesterday!!!!!  We have been inviting them for two months!  And the best part is...the loved it.  The members just kind of swarmed them ( in a very good way), because we told everyone about them, haha.  They stayed at least an hour afterwards just talking to people.  I don't really know how long because we left first:)  And we over heard Fatima telling Soeur Grenal that she'd see her next week!  Also during the Sacrament meeting Soeur Grenal leaned over to me and said that Fatima is really interested in learning more about the word of wisdom!  We are having another rendez-vous with her on Thursday:)  And Pascal had a really good time too.  He talked with tons of members and said that it was all reallly different and fascinating.  I have hopes for him too, it just might take more time:)

Okay, and if that wasn't enough miracles, remember the family that saved us last Sunday when we were stuck in the hailstorm?  Where the father had met the missionaries as a student in Strasbourg, read part of the Book of Mormon and loves San Francisco?  Well we stopped by their apartment on Wednesday to give them some banana bread to say "merci" and we met the mother!  We set up a rendez-vous for Sunday afternoon (yesterday).  Soeur Kohlert and I were so excited/nervous for it.  We practiced over and over again throughout the week.  Soeur Pozananski called us to talk about Annick and we told her about the family and she promised that our hard work would pay off... and it did!!!! It was the best lesson ever.  Almost perfect in fact.  The parents loved the family proclamation and all the children were involved.  This family is prepared.   The father is very very excited about all of this!!  We talked about eternal families and I showed them a picture of the Oakland  temple and how my parents were married there for eternity.  The dad was very excited because he loves Oakland and they all like the picture.  We have another rendez-vous this Friday!  Our president has been pushing us to find families because apparently it's hard to do that in this mission.  I was feeling pretty discouraged especially in the hailstorm right before we found them... God works in mysterious ways!

Well everyone, that's it for now, tune in next week for the next exciting installment!

Monday, July 22, 2013

You know you are in France when you find a SNAIL in your refridgerator.

Yes, it's official, I live in France.  I can't believe there was a snail in the fridge!  So grossss. haha.  But sometimes it's hard to believe that I'm living in France...especially when you have FOUR baptisms within 10 days of eachother!  Yes everyone, we had two beautiful baptisms this last Saturday, Lucy and Gladys.  And we are having a miraculous/unexpected baptism tomorrow night.  Let me tell you the tale...

Once upon a time there was a young sister missionary named Soeur Pozanaski who served in Rennes France.  She met a shy, red-headed young Breton named Annick.  Now Soeur Pozanaski's is the wife of the Mission President in the France Paris Mission and her investigator Annick has been going to church for 30 years, with baptism no where in sight. 

The first week I got to Rennes my trainer told me about Annick and how lucky the Soeurs who get to baptize her will be.  Then yesterday the ZL's called us and said that Annick wants to get baptized this Tuesday (tomorrow).  She is so shy that there will only be 5 of us there, the Elders, our Ward mission Leader, and us!!  I feel so honored.  I just know that Soeur Pozananski is the happiest woman on earth right now.  I feel so so so honored to be able to be a part of this.  Soeur Kohlert and I were freaking out last night.  I didn't think I could be this happy... This is the Lord's work!

And the best part is, that the news about Annick was only ONE of the miracles that happened yesterday.  For some reason Sundays are just filled with miracles.  There really is something holy about the Sabbath day.

The day started out great with the confirmations of Lucy and Gladys.  I even ran into one of my history professor's from BYU and his wife and church! (Professor Harline)  Apparently his wife had served in the Paris mission too.  They are so great.  Can't wait to see them again in Provo next year!  It was a fun little coincidence.

Church was just FUN yesterday.  Usually it's super stressfull, but it was relaxed.  There is this super cool family moving here from Toulouse.  They had this girl with them, also from Toulouse, she was so fun to chat with!  It turns out that I met her sister in the MTC, who is now serving in the St. George Mission:)

After church we went out to do missionary work and it was MISERABLEY hot.  We tried to find this lady the Elders had referred us too, and we ended up walking forever... we found her house just to have her tell us she wasn't interested.  Soeur Kohlert and I were feeling pretty discouraged.  We have been really really trying to find a family to teach and we were feeling pretty hopeless.  We just sat on a bench and talked about how we wanted to go home.  Then it started raining...really really hard!  So we curled up under this tiny tree (didn't help much).  Then, just when we thought things couldn't get any worse it started HAILING.  And it hurt!  The pieces of ice were huge!  We were stunned at how ridiculous our situation was.  But God works in mysterious ways.  All of a sudden a car pulled up out of nowhere and they yelled at us to get in.  We jumped in the back and it was a family!  With four children.  Well to make a long story short, the father had met the missionaries in Strasbourg and has even read part of the Book of Mormon.  We are seeing them that doesn't just happen!!  We were stunned.

But that was only the beginning.  We met another beautiful family on the metro right afterwards and hopefully we will see them soon!!  Then we got the news about Annick.  And, just when we thought things could'nt get any better...we met a cute french girl, about 19 years old, on our walk home.  We taught her about the restoration and she seemed very interested.  We are going to see her again soon!

Ok, sorry that last part was so rushed!  I'm running out of  time:)

Well my dear readers, the church is true and I am so honored to be able to serve as a missionary!  God loves each one of us so much.

Until next week!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Don't take a single day in Rennes for granted

The above is the sage advice of the legendary Soeur Pymm, who is headed home in just three weeks.  During my stay here in Rennes I've read/heard her name a million times.  Everyone knows her here. She opened the city, and I finally got to meet her when I was in Paris last Friday.  She was on the verge of tears when  she told us how much she loves Rennes and wants to go back.  "Don't take a single day for granted!"  I love Rennes too.  I never ever want to leave!  Everytime we get together with other missionaries I am just so grateful for Rennes, the ward here, and for my wonderful, hardworking, loving companion.  If I had the choice I'd spend my whole mission here with her.  We are considering "eloping" next transfer and just doing missionary work on our own...haha.

So this was a pretty insane week.  First of all there was the whole mess with Mart.  She said she didn't have anywhere to live so we spent hours working with the ward council trying to look up agencies etc., and then she didn't show up to any of the rendez-vous we set up with Soeur Hamzic (the relief society president).  But we did have a wonderful talk with Soeur Hamzic about how we can work better with the ward.  I think she is actually beginning to really like us!  The saints here in France work so hard and sacrifice so much.

We also had to get everything ready for Shaina's baptism and also our license plate was about to fall off, so some members helped us with all of that.

We left Thursday night for Paris and spent the night with the Versailles Soeurs.  It's amazing how radically different wards and areas can be.  They are fun sisters and we had a nice little "sleep-over."  We went into Paris that day and I got to see most of my dear MTC friends!  I hadn't even seen Soeur Lefrandt or Soeur Jackson since I got here to France.  It was so nice to be able to catch up.  Also it was amazing to see all the Elders again.  Some looked really different (gained/lost weight etc) and it was interesting to see how everyone had progressed in French.  Elder Bates was just beaming, apparently he and his companion had completely turned around their area.  He said he wished everyone could have the chance to serve in Cherbourg.  And Elder Saffell is actually nice to us sisters now!  It is soo fun to see all of them.

We basically spent all day in a doctor's office though.  Soeur Lefrandt and I had to run through the metro's back to St. Merri.  Soeur Kohlert and I missed the last train back to Rennes though... so we spent the night in Le Mans with Soeur Elliot and Soeur Stapely.  Soeur Elliot (my MTC companion) has matured so much!  She has a rough companion though.  Poor girl:(  I didn't realize how much I'd miss her!

I woke up sick and tired and we caught the first available train into Rennes.  We had to get back for the baptism!  We were there for 5 hours.  We cleaned the font and got everything ready, practiced our violins etc.  Shaina's family showed up an hour early.  And Soeur Kohlert turned on the heater by accident.  I was pretty sick by this point.  Sweating like crazy, head throbbing, I had to play 5 songs on the violin, lead the music and say the closing prayer. I was out for the rest of the weekend.

I am so proud of Shaina.  She made this decision by herself and it is going to be tough for her.  Her family is not the greatest example.  I lost it during her confirmation blessing.  I just love her so much and I just hope she has a good life.  But, GREAT NEWS.  Her mother said she wants to take the missionary lessons!  I almost started crying when I found out.  The gospel is true and really can change lives.

We have another crazy week coming up.  We have two baptisms set for this Saturday, Lucy and Gladys.  Gladys scared us to death in our last lesson when she said she couldn't baptized if it meant getting her hair wet.... because she had just gotten a new weave...Soeur Kohlert and I couldn't believe it!  She looked so serious...she was only joking though.  It was NOT funny, haha.

Yesterday we had a ward picnic.  It was so cute.  I was feeling pretty sick though, the Elders gave me a wonderful blessing.  God really is there and he knows and loves each of us.

Today I basically slept all day... and I made home-made peanut butter.  Because peanut butter is sooo expensive here.  It is so delicious.  We ate it with the home-made honey Fatima and Pascal gave was a dream!

Well the mission is just clipping along.  I can't believe that in just a few weeks Soeur Kohlert will be leaving me:(  Life is great and the gospel is real and powerful.  I love you all!

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Monday, July 8, 2013

Closing Prayer

Oh hello dear readers!  It's been here in Rennes, France.  It's just amazing how unpredictable mission life is.  When I wake up in the morning I never really know how the day will turn out!  It's exciting/crazy.

Okay, I want to start out talking about Shaina.  She has stolen my heart, she is just so precious!  I'm so excited for her baptism this week.  She is such a great example to her family by deciding to get baptized.  At the young age of 8, with both of her parents non-members, she valiantly follows Christ.  Her mom, who smokes and has other problems, actually prayed in our last was so good.  And this sweet little girl asked me to give the closing prayer at her baptism!  I feel so was so adorable when she asked.  I felt like crying afterwards.  Her interview is tomorrow and she is going to do great.  We were worried at first because when we went over the questions for the first time she didn't understand them at all.  But I made a poster with pictures on it and asked her to practice them every night with her grandma.  The next lesson she answered all the questions perfectly!  Happiness...

Lucy--her baptism is rapidly approaching as well.  We were pretty stressed out because she is really busy and cancelled our lessons a few times.  And then at church last week she someone mention the Word of Wisdom in class and she said she didn't know anything about that!  Which wasn't true according to the teaching record... We were able to get Frère Guiheux to come to her lesson though, and we went over the Word of Wisdom, Tithing and the Law of Chasity.  It took like an hour and a half!  But she understands why we have these commandments and how they will bless us.  I'm just not worried anymore.  She is so dedicated to her decision to be baptized!  It was so cute when the announced her baptism in Relief Society yesterday.  Everyone was so happy for her and she was just beaming.  She looked so beautiful!

Then there is Gladys.  She is progressing well too.  It is always nerve-racking to teach the commandments.  We are asking these people to make huge changes.  So I was nervous to teach the WoW and the Law of Chastity.  But she accepted them readily!  I need to have more faith I guess!  Gladys is just amazing.  She is so funny too.  She really really wants to have a sleepover with us.  Of course we couldn't stay.  But as we were heading out last night, Soeur Kohlert asked if there was anything else we could do for her (just as she asks every investigator/member) and Gladys said "I have a headache and you didn't do anything about it." Then Soeur Kohlert said, "well, how are we supposed to help?"  Gladys--"you can have stay here with me tonight!" haha so cute.  I'll be sad when we have to leave her:(

Those are our lovely soon-to-be-baptized amis!  We are also very excited about our new ami Loma.  We had a lesson with her this week and taught her a little bit about the plan of salvation and the gospel of Jesus Christ.  She gave the most beautiful prayer in Chinese.  She was beyond excited to come to church again and the members were so warm and friendly to her.  There was a Tahitian family that was sitting right in front of us with 9 children.  The father was soo great!  He bore a powerful testimony and then came and talked to Loma after the meeting.  He told her about how he was baptized and went on a mission.  He said she can do the same.  I don't know if she understood everything, but she was very touched by his testimony and liked the idea of being a missionary!  She is so adorable I can't stand it.  She sent us this text: "I love you! I like the church and the people. Thank you for explaining about the gold (she meant god, hehe) to me."  

Well folks that's it for this week.  Of course there are other things going on and I wish I could write about everything!  Like Marie Delacourt, Fatima and Pascal etc.  Next week I promise :)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Together Forever Someday

It's pretty strange-- throughout the week I find myself noting a million things I want to write in my blog, but as soon as I'm sitting in this little internet café my mind goes blank... I promise that cool things happen all the time!

Okay I'll just start with what I remember:)

Yesterday was sooo great!  We met this really sweet Chinese girl named Loma awhile back and had a lesson with her last Sunday.  She came to church yesterday!  She stayed all three hours and then stayed after for a Family Home Evening with the Pahio family.  It was about 5 hours in total, she is such a trooper!  haha.  But it was truly an amazing experience.  The Pahio family just GLOWS with the spirit.  We watched the "together forever" video and Soeur Pahio bore strong, loving testimony.  Me and Soeur Kohlert just lost it, it was beautiful.  We really are children of a Heavenly Father.  And we really can live with our families forever, no matter where they are right now--Tahiti, China, Utah, or on the other side.  Loma was very very touched.  She even offered the closing prayer in Chinese.  Soeur Pahio gave her a picture of Christ, and Loma was so surprised by her kindness.  The Pahio really are an example of being Christlike.  Members are wayy more powerful than they realize.  Soeur Pahio has no idea what that meant to Loma, but I do. I watched her look again and again at the picture, holding it so carefully and saying how wonderful and nice soeur Pahio was. Loma said that she felt the Spirit.  She also really loves hymns:)  I just want to encourage all of you to reach out to others.  You never know how your words and actions will affect them... no matter how small and insignificant you think they are.  So dare to be Christlike.  Be kind. Share the gospel.  Smile.  It goes a long long way :)

In relation to that, did you all get the chance to watch the big missionary broadcast "The Work of Salvation?"  Wow!  It was so wonderful and inspiring.  And it is so true, the missionaries can't do very much without members.  There are many many more missionaries right now, don't let their sacrifice to leave their families be in vain.  Use them!  They want to work, I promise:)  Great conference... I even saw my friend Sister Mortensen in one of the videos!  She is famous, which I'm pretty sure means I'm famous by association, no? haha, kidding kidding.

I'm so so so excited for my brother Evan who got his visa to Argentina!  He is flying out today.  He is going to do so great.  He's already been doing so well out in Oklahoma:)

What else happened this week?  Well Soeur Kohlert and I have been a wee bit stressed lately because of all these baptisms coming up!  It's a lot of work... pray for us!  We got a new Elder here in Rennes, Elder Thomas.  Elder Lehrdal was transferred to Athony, right outside of Paris.  He was so excited!

Oh we stopped by Fatima and Pascal this week.  They are just so wonderful.  haha Pascal is funny.  Apparently he makes documentaries for a living.  He said he wanted to make one of us!  I don't know how serious he is... he also has an interesting hobby...he works with bees!  Like he has some hives and collects the honey. haha and he said he'd take us to see them!  Oh and we found out that Fatima cuts hair...that is wonderful news because Soeur Kohlert and I are in dire need.  She said she'd trim our hair and she also sent us aways with delicious Moroccan bread and this almond/peanut/sesame seed goodness.  We are hoping they'll come to church soon.  Also, Fatima's brother is interested in talking to us!  He is in Morroco, but they'll call him next time we are over.

Oh wow, now I'm remembering all the crazy things that happened this week, but I have to go!  haha, don't worry I got the highlights down.  

Also, I got a wonderful package with a bunch of adorable letters from the Camacho family.  Thanks a million, you are all so sweet:)

Until next week!  And happy 4th!