Monday, December 29, 2014

"I just ate one piece of chocolate for dinner." - Soeur Staples (Week 50)

La cite
This is our life. All we have in our house is chocolate. One thing you should know if you ever come to France: French people love to give people chocolate as gifts. We found out the hard way. ;)

WHAT A GREAT WEEK. Christmas on the mission is the best thing in the entire world. As usual I have about a million things I want to tell you and absolutely no time. I'll do my best!

New shirt!
We did some really cool things for Christmas. This is definitely a Christmas I'll never forget. We did caroling/contacting with the elders and Vincent (I should be tagged in this video on Facebook?). It was way fun and people were so much nicer about talking to us! We did a tram flash mob in Nice after zone training. We all got on the tram and one person started singing "les anges dans nos compagnes" and then I added in, etc etc, until all the missionaries in the tram were singing. I did a flash mob in France. That is now checked off my bucket list. I got to go to midnight mass!!!! Another dream come true. I didn't actually attend the service because it started at midnight and we had an 11 pm curfew but I was able to at least see the actors for the live crèche and see the cathedral and everything. It was magical (there's no better word to describe it.) - We got to go because of a little bit of shmoozing on our part. The Gonçalos had us for dinner and then we kept (ok it was mostly me) dropping hints about wanting to go to midnight mass. Eventually Frère Gonçalo (not a member actually) says "you know what I really am going to take you to midnight mass." I think I may have cried.

Tracking down less actives on Christmas Eve.
What else?? OH Christmas Eve we went caroling with a group of missionaries and the DMP and a couple amis! We passed this inactive lady in the ward who had recently lost her sight completely. Her husband is not a member and I don't think she had been to church in a really long time. While we sang to them the spirit flooded the room. Afterwards I went to say hello to her and she grabbed my hand and cried as she told me how much it meant to her that we came. I think she has had a lot of trials lately and she needed to feel that spirit that we brought. It's been amazing to see how many little experiences like this we have been able to have. Heavenly Father has really blessed us to be an instrument in His hands to help His children here! I couldn't be more grateful.

Ahhhh I have so much to tell you! I'm overwhelmed haha. Sometimes I figure we'll just have to catch up when I get home.

Allez je continue.

The Christmas tree the Elders gave us.
I have to tell you about Sandra! I'm not sure how much I've talked about her but she is the wife of a member in our ward who just recently came back to church. They've only been married for about 2 years and Sandra has been investigating the church for a few months. She has already gained a really great testimony and she loves the church! But she was having a really hard time being motivated to want to be baptized (or even seeing the importance of doing it as soon as possible). We went over to their house this week and we ate together and then we shared a lesson on the Atonement. Something totally clicked for her. Without us even saying anything about it she said "Ok I need to quit smoking." Since then she fixed a date for herself to stop smoking by, she accepted January 24th as her baptism day, and she received a Priesthood blessing to be able to quit! She is AWESOME. I love her so much. Please pray for her!

Christmas Tree!!!
Ok really quickly one more. So Soeur Staples and Soeur Hutchins before I got here met this man named Aliou. He is from Africa (I can't remember where) and he has had a really really hard life including being abandoned by his family. He shared briefly his story with us and as I listened tears came to my eyes. He is strong and he loves God and he is so ready for the gospel. He grew up Muslim but said that one night while he was dreaming Jesus Christ came to him and told him that he needed to become Christian. Shortly afterwards he met the sisters. He had been in Paris for a couple months and so we had lost contact with him, but randomly the other day we ran into his friend who recognized us! We were able to get in contact with Aliou and we had a really great RDV and we fixed a baptismal date for him! He is great and needs prayers!

Ok we had a bunch of other cool miracles but I really wanted to talk about the Atonement. I've been studying it quite a bit this week and we even gave the Sunday school lesson on it. I wanted to share an analogy that President gave me when I asked him about the enabling power of the Atonement:

Our Cathedral :-)
Take for example someone that is trying to become more patient and they decide to do it without the help of the atonement. So every time something happens where they have to be patient they will just bear it and bear it until it goes away. President compared this to a headache. Say someone has a headache and they decide to just bear it until it goes away. But why bear the headache when we could take medicine for the pain? So in a situation where we need to be patient we could just sit there and bear it or we could use the enabling power of the atonement and feel peace and love (from the Spirit) in trying moments. Maybe in both situations the trial will pass, but one will be infinitely easier and we won't have to worry each time we feel a headache coming on. We'll know that there will be help.
I'm not sure if I explained that well at all. But I hope it makes sense! The enabling power of the Atonement is so real. Its one of the hardest things to explain to people but all I know is that I can feel a difference when I use it and when I don't. We need the Atonement. I can't imagine my life without it. Heartaches and trials come to everyone but how lucky are we that we have the help of the best person who ever lived? Someone who understands us perfectly and knows perfectly how to help us. I have probably shared this quote before but it is one of my favorites about the Atonement:

Creche at the Cathedral
There is no physical pain, no spiritual wound, no anguish of soul or heartache, no infirmity or weakness you or I ever confront in mortality that the Savior did not experience first. In a moment of weakness we may cry out, “No one knows what it is like. No one understands.” But the Son of God perfectly knows and understands, for He has felt and borne our individual burdens. And because of His infinite and eternal sacrifice (see Alma 34:14), He has perfect empathy and can extend to us His arm of mercy. He can reach out, touch, succor, heal, and strengthen us to be more than we could ever be and help us to do that which we could never do relying only upon our own power. Indeed, His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
I could explain my feelings about the Atonement so much better in person but I am so grateful that I can share this wonderful news with everyone I can. It is such a blessing to be a missionary and it is such a blessing to have access to the Atonement. I love Jesus Christ. I am privileged to say that He is my friend. He has helped me more than I could ever express or repay. He is always there. Without fail. Always.

I invite you to study the Atonement! There is always more to learn and understand.

Je vous aime beaucoup trop! Passez des bonnes fêtes et Bonne Année!

Soeur Ev

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