Well people, the work here in Liege is blowing up! Especially in Liege 2. They are really pulling their act together and setting some very high goals for this year. Things are already off to a great start with the baptism and confirmation of Ismael this last week! The branch's goal for new converts this year is eighteen... love it. We can definitely make it happen!
As I've said before...Liege has a history. There are pages and pages of inactive members on the branch lists and our area books are practically exploding with fiches. It is pretty fascinating to read through them and wonder what happened to all these people. Did they make a unwise choice, did someone offend them, or did they just get lost? On my mission I've just loved hearing stories. People fascinate me. Every person that we pass by has a story. Some are just tragic, others are inspiring. But what is always true is that it is NEVER too late. Not for anyone.
Anyways, so what I'm getting at is simply that there are a lot of inactive and less active members here. This week was a very "sister missionary week" as Soeur Walker likes to put it. According to her that means COOKIES and LESS-ACTIVES. We can throw playing the violin in there too :) So yes the stereotype is true, sister missionaries bake cookies and teach less actives... at least this week. It isn't the dreamland that it sounds like though! It's much harder work than finding new people. Here we are dealing with broken hearts, anger against God, member conflicts etc. But really, it's what Liege needs, what's the point of spending all of our time finding new people, if we can't keep the one's we already have?
It is looong work though. And the results don't come very rapidly. Let me share an experience with you though... So, for a while we've been hearing about a John Tomeselli. A returned missionary, son of the 2nd Counselor in the Branch Presidency...inactive for years. He lives wayyyyy far away. Well, I was, naturally, fascinated by the mystery of it all. So Soeur Walker and I grabbed my violin and made the trek out to Boirs (near the frontier with the Netherlands). Members warned us that we were wasting our time. But we prayed with a member family that lives near John and asked them to continue praying while we went over. We knocked on the door and Sonia, John's wife answered. She was about to close the door on us, saying she never wanted to come back to church, but we said, "that's not why we are here! We just wanted to meet you and play you some music." She let us in and we had a delightful conversation and we even prayed together. It's sad that people think missionaries just want to force them to come church, that's not the case at all. We just want them to be happy, and we want to show them how to find that happiness. Good missionaries care about the PEOPLE. That's what it is all about...love and forgiveness.
She said that the "porte est ouverte" (the door is open) anytime we wanted to come over. John even showed up at the end. It was cool to meet the famous John Tomesselli:) Well, Sonia let it slip that her birthday was the, so like good sister missionaries we made some chocolate chip cookies and made the long trek again. It took forever and we were totally freezing, and another lesson had just fallen through right before hand...and then...no body was home! It felt like a huge waste of 4 or 5 hours...but we just slipped the cookies through the mail slot and went on our way... We felt like failures, but then that night, after a really difficult health moment on my part, a ray of sunshine burst into view in the form of a text. It was Sonia! She was absolutely delighted to get our cookies and "beautiful" birthday card, she wants to see us again soon!
Anyways, that's just an illustration of how the week went, a very sister missionary week, full of cookies and miracles:)
Oh one more note: I AM SO IMPRESSED with Katie. She and her friend Caroline, two little ten year olds, came to church by themselves this week. That is just inspiring. They are bright, introspective young things. We had a little lesson with them afterwards and they brought in the spirit so strongly... I couldn't help but think of what the faith of a 14 year old boy a couple hundred years ago did... they've got it and it's amazing to see...
Well, there were many other belles choses from this week but it look like I'm out of time. Enjoy the pictures of the dream apartment!