Wow. This week was just bursting with miracles...the perfect ending to the transfer. I love my companion Soeur Bitter, we've seen some amazing things together. This is definitely the Lord's work.
On monday we took a long drive to Chateaubriant to see the chateau and the Pahio family. The drive was pretty magical, (through the countryside). The chateau was pretty cool, but I liked the one in Fougères better. The Pahio family though!!! They. are. incredible. I just felt surrounded by faith and love the moment I walked into their home. Soeur Pahio is seriously the most loving person I've ever met. She was also the first convert in her country of Dominique (an island in the French Caribbean), that was 11 years ago, and now there are two branches. And Frère Pahio, he's legit. He kept on looking at the clock so that we would leave on time, he was very concerned about making sure his family helped the missionaires be obedient. He said that his parents taught him to really respect missionaries as the representatives of Jesus Christ. They sent us home with so much food :) Soeur Pahio walked us out to our car, I could tell she didn't want us to leave. One of the most touching moments of my mission was when we looked back and she was standing on the corner, sadly watching us drive away. And then she called us later to make sure we got home safely...so much Christlike love...incredible.
So last week I'm pretty sure I wrote about how we found a family when we were 15 minutes early for dinner with the Grenal's? Well on Thursday night we went back for our rendez-vous. I was worried that the family might forget or that the lesson wouldn't go well, especially because the Grenal's were so excited about it. Soeur Bitter and I were almost hoping that we wouldn't see the Grenal's on our way to the family, but sure enough, they were outside doing yard work. We said hello and they were so excited! Soeur Grenal told us to come by afterwards and she'd give us homemade pain au chocolat and vennoiserie. I was nervous as we walked to the house, but I had this feeling that it would.....
-------We interupt this program for an exciting announcement: transfer emails just came in and yours truly, Soeur Lorraine Hilton, is leaving behind not just Rennes, but the nation of France and heading off to... Leige, Belgium! To serve with Soeur Johns, a fellow redhead. And now back to the story-------
Where was I? Oh yes, I just had this feeling that it would all turn out fine. We got there and walked up to the door, the father, Sebastian, answered and immediately said "entrez," so casually. We got to know the family. They have two adorable little kids, three-year-old Nathan and six-year-old Ilene. Nathan was hilarious, he kept on saying "Bah oui," emphatically. I gave them stickers and they loved them. We ended up only teaching Sebastian because Morgan, the mother, was putting the children to bed. Sebastian had a bunch of questions about why there are so many churches and if there really is truth. We were just like, "that's exactly what we wanted to talk about today." We taught him the Restoration and he was very interested. It was so funny, we told him about how there is a living prophet today, and he said, "Oh, so I could be the prophet." Soeur Bitter and I both just laughed for a second, and then got serious and said "non." He thought that was hilarious. Anyways we left him a Book of Mormon and set a return visit for the next Thursday.
We went to the Grenal's straight after and they were so excited. They couldn't believe it! "And they really want you to come back?" "Do you think we can, I mean if you want, teach them with you?" It was so cute, and we played it off so cool, even though inside we were very excited too. They showered us with food and love. It was great. Frère Grenal gave us some of his favorite bread and Soeur Grenal sent us home with lots of delicious pasteries. But this story leads into another, even better story.
So when we were chatting with Soeur Grenal, she asked us about Fatima. We haven't seen Fatima in weeks, so we didn't have much to say. She told us that Fatima had asked how to become a member when she came to church a few months ago. What?! I didn't know that. So we called her up right after we left the Grenal's and set an appointment for the next day. We went and Soeur Marie Chève came and taught with us. We felt impressed to teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ (faith, repentence, baptism, Holy Spirit, endure to the end). I didn't know how this was going to go because Fatima is a non-practicing Muslim. Does she even know who Christ is? How is she going to take this lesson? Will she be confused, or even confrontational? Oh soeur Hilton of little faith. This is the Lord's work and the spirit told us to teach this lesson. Well, it was the most beautiful experience I've ever had on my mission. Fatima basically bore us her testimony of Jesus Christ. She said she didn't even know who he was until Soeur Kohlert and I found her. We only taught her one real lesson during those months, but apparently she's been doing a lot of research on her own, on the lds website and in the Book of Mormon. She told us that she believes in Him, has faith, and she even accepted an invitation to be baptized. She said, "Now that I believe in Him, it's like I've known Him all along." In Preach my Gospel it says that as missionaries we are not teaching people new information, but allowing the spirit to remind them of what they already know. That is so so true. I witnessed that last Friday afternoon in Fatima's kitchen. The way she describes how she feels the spirit is so beautiful, how she feels like she's floating when she prays. She has even started to share the gospel with one of her friends. Incredible, absolutely incredible.
Well friends, that's not even the end of all that happened this week! Friday night we went and saw Sophie. She is a cute Chinese student that Soeur Kohlert found our first transfer. She back from two months of vacances, so we've started teaching her again. We gave her Alma 32 last week and she LOVED it. She said that it took something so abstract (the idea of God and faith), and made it very concrete (she is highly intelligent, getting a master's in mathematical finance) so she really likes logic. She even said, I think this is good (what we are teaching her), I want to continue and see if I can grow a beautiful tree. "So, what's the next chapter?" she asked eagerly. She has really found faith in God and Christ since we met her. I feel so priviledged to see things like this:)
Then the next day we went to Paris!! There was construction on the line, so it took FOUR hours to get there. But we had a fun little picnic on the train with our awesome elders:) That night we just meandered by the Notre Dame, it was magical. There is something very energizing about Paris. I just really felt alive, I don't know how to explain it really. Soeur Bitter took me to an awesome crepe place too. We stayed that night with the Paris Lilas Soeurs, a trio. They are great!
The next day was the big conference! We saw two prophesys fulfilled. In 1978 President Kimball prophesied that one day the nation of France would be covered in stakes and that a temple would be built there. Well France officially in just stakes, the last mission district was closed and put into the newly created Rennes stake. And then a third stake was formed in Paris. Elder Oaks spoke, and said that the temple is now under construction. The foundation was laid this week!
President Pozananski told us that this week we would see miracles because
1. Only stakes in france
2. There were two apostles, Oaks and Ballard, on French soil all week
3. The temple foundation is being laid
And wow did we see miracles. I felt so honored to be with the French members yesterday. They are so strong and they are going to receive so many blessing from the temple soon.
THEN THE BEST THING EVER HAPPENED. This is a big big shoutout to my dear dear friend ANNA JOLY. We met up by Notre Dame after the conference yesterday. She was looking adorable in her cowboy boots we bought together last summer and her beautiful smile. It was a fairytale. She is one of the most loving/Christlike people I've ever met. I'm so happy we got to see eachother. We'll be friends forever:) She is headed off to Germany this Friday for university( so excited for her), so I'm really glad I got the chance to see her, especially now that I'm to Belgium. Love you Anna! and p.s. I listened to your voicemail and it was super cute, haha.
Well everybody, that's it for this week, that's it for Rennes...I guess that's it for France for awhile too. I'll post my new address asap so you can drown me in letters (hint, hint). I love you all!!