Monday, January 26, 2015

"On dirait une princesse Disney" - Soeur Gentil (Week 54)

Holy cowwwwwww. This has been one crazy week! The church is true.

Oh, about the title of this week's post - a lady in our ward told me I sounded like a Disney princess when I sang. I just about cried.

Opposition was really really really against us this week but all ended well because Sandra is now a member. :) I love her so much! I wish I could express how much she meant to me in words. I think I wanna take a bit and talk about her. I will be able to talk so much more when I'm home but she's one of those people who's changed my life.

If only I could express how much I love these people in this picture. Baptism of Sandra by Tangi.
So when she met Tangi she didn't believe in God at allllll. She had completely lost faith mostly from extremely difficult circumstances (stuff I can't even imagine going through) growing up. What inspires me most about Sandra is how she isn't at all hardened by the difficulties she's experienced in life, they've actually done the complete opposite and made her even more caring and loving. She doesn't hate people or Heavenly Father for giving her an extra hard life, she just accepts it and moves on! She inspires me. Anyway. She started coming to church with Tangi because of how much it meant to him. She said that she slowly starting believing in God as she was enveloped by the love of the people in the Saint Raphael branch. She could feel God's love through them! Isn't that cool? In the meantime she has been slowly but surely making progress in the church. There was even a time when she quit smoking! Then things took a super bad turn and they pretty much lost everything and had to move here to live with her mom. I won't go into detail. But voila that's where she started meeting with missionaries again. All she needed was a little push in the right direction and to be really engaged and she has all the self-motivation in the world to get herself where she wants to be.

Soeur Hall
The night before her baptism I called her and shared Romans 8:16-17 and promised her how this was just a step to receiving the greatest gift God has in store for us: to receive all that He has. She told me how excited she was for the next day and how long the journey had been to get there. We kept talking and right before she hung up she told me thank you for everything I had done. She said she wouldn't have been getting baptized if it weren't for us pushing her in the right direction. I had tears come to my eyes when she said this. I could feel really strongly that we were meant to be in each others lives. I can't imagine not knowing Sandra! She is incredible. Her baptism was beautiful and as I saw her and her husband in the baptismal font I cried. I want more than anything to be there when they get sealed!!!!!!!!! I love them so much!

We had to trade apartments with the Elders.  Disgusting.

Anyway. :) Raphael is doing SOOOO well. He is the best. So elect. So faithful. He brought his mom to our Chapel open-house and he told us that she was really touched by it. He said he's setting the example for his family. :) And he's totally stoked about his family history calling. I feel SOOO blessed to have been able to teach these two angels!!! They make me want to be better!

On a less spiritual note... This week I had an exchange with Toulon (second exchange with the adorable Soeur Skalka!!!) Side note: we choreographed a dance to "Glorious" by David Archuleta - I'll show you someday. So we had quite the interesting exchange. We got to teach "english class" to a french lady who spoke perfect english. We basically just had a convo in english about her world travels. It was suuuper fun.

Back in our old apartment.  Woo hoo!
Then the next day we went to an inactive members house who fed us spaghetti (Sr. Skalka was convinced it had been soaked in alcohol). Then here comes the best part hahaha. So we were at a bus stop waiting for our bus (of course). Sr. Skalka was on the phone with her companion trying to figure out our getting back home situation. In the meantime I contacted this man that was standing there waiting for the bus as well. Literally the first thing he says after I ask him how he's doing is how he's 44 and not married and how everyone else in his entire family is married. Then he goes on to ask me if I wanted to marry him..??? I told him I was a "sister" (best way to get away from weirdos ever) and then walked away. Sooooo that was strange hahaha.

View from the chapel in Antibes

Here's a really super super cool miracle. So we were at a part member family's house this week for lunch. The wife has been a member for a super long time (about 40ish years??) and her husband has never been interested to join the church. He is Catholic (not practicing) and he just thinks he would be betraying tradition to join another church. (But me and Frère Goncalo - we call him frère even though he's not a member - are really close. For some reason we just get along really well. He's the one that took us to midnight mass.) We had a really deep conversation during lunch about how we need to try things in order to know that we don't like it or that we can't do it. Later on during the spiritual thought he started talking about how he has never said a prayer outloud in his whole life. He thinks prayers should be private. I brought back up the fact how he had said earlier that we had to try things in order to know we didn't like them. He sat and thought for a bit and then he said he would pray. THEN HE SAID A PRAYER OUTLOUD FOR THE FIRST TIME. His wife was so shocked. That is the first prayer she has ever heard him say. Frère Perez (our ward mission leader and their son in law) told us this is a huge step and that maybe now "the ball is in motion" and he could start progressing really fast. We'll see!
Soeur Skalka

I read something really cool this morning that I wanted to share. It's talking about the importance of scripture study - I loooove this.

We talk to God through prayer. He most often communicates back to us through His written word. To know what the voice of the Divine sounds and feels like, read His words, study the scriptures, and ponder them. Make them an integral part of everyday life. If you want your children to recognize, understand, and act on the promptings of the Spirit, you must study the scriptures with them.

Don’t yield to Satan’s lie that you don’t have time to study the scriptures. Choose to take time to study them. Feasting on the word of God each day is more important than sleep, school, work, television shows, video games, or social media. You may need to reorganize your priorities to provide time for the study of the word of God. If so, do it!

"There are many prophetic promises of the blessings of daily studying the scriptures.
I add my voice with this promise: as you dedicate time every day, personally and with your family, to the study of God’s word, peace will prevail in your life. That peace won’t come from the outside world. It will come from within your home, from within your family, from within your own heart. It will be a gift of the Spirit. It will radiate out from you to influence others in the world around you. You will be doing something very significant to add to the cumulative peace in the world."
(Richard G. Scott is so great.)

I actually have extra time today since I did emails so early so maybe I will share a little bit about what I have been learning about Enos. (Enos is bomb.)

This is going to look really long...but I'm going to put it in anyway. Read it if you so please haha.

1 Behold, it came to pass that I, Enos, knowing my father that he was a just man—for he taught me in his language, and also in the nurture and admonition of the Lord—and blessed be the name of my God for it—
2 And I will tell you of the wrestle which I had before God, before I received a remission of my sins.
3 Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart. (This is the reason why Enos went out to the forest and prayed his famous prayer.)
4 And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens. (I've been pondering lately how I can make my prayers as intense as Enos did. What made his prayer mighty? How can our prayers be mighty too?)
5 And there came a voice unto me, saying: Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed.

Soeur Staples
6 And I, Enos, knew that God could not lie; wherefore, my guilt was swept away
7 And I said: Lord, how is it done?
8 And he said unto me: Because of thy faith in Christ, whom thou hast never before heard nor seen. And many years pass away before he shall manifest himself in the flesh; wherefore, go to, thy faith hath made thee whole.
9 Now, it came to pass that when I had heard these words I began to feel a desire for the welfare of my brethren, the Nephites;wherefore, I did pour out my whole soul unto God for them. (Again, pouring out his whole soul. This time for others.)
10 And while I was thus struggling in the spirit, (I'm also highlighting the strong prayer imagery words) behold, the voice of the Lord came into my mind again, saying: I will visit thy brethren according to their diligence in keeping my commandments. I have given unto them this land, and it is a holy land; and I curse it not save it be for the cause of iniquity; wherefore, I will visit thy brethren according as I have said; and their transgressions will I bring down with sorrow upon their own heads.
11 And after I, Enos, had heard these words, my faith began to be unshaken in the Lord; and I prayed unto him with many long strugglings for my brethren, the Lamanites.
12 And it came to pass that after I had prayed and labored with all diligence, the Lord said unto me: I will grant unto thee according to thy desires, because of thy faith. (The Lord told him he could have whatever he wanted!!!! Look what he asked for.)
13 And now behold, this was the desire which I desired of him—that if it should so be, that my people, the Nephites, should fall into transgression, and by any means be destroyed, and the Lamanites should not be destroyed, that the Lord God would preserve a record of my people, (aka the Book of Mormon) the Nephites; even if it so be by the power of his holy arm, that it might be brought forth at some future day unto the Lamanites, that, perhaps, they might be brought unto salvation—

I just really love Enos. What a great example in showing us the power of prayer and the importance of the scriptures! Of course now I need to invite you to ponder and study how you can pray with more vigor (wrestle, hungered, mighty prayer, reached the heavens, pour out whole soul, prayed with long strugglings, with all diligence, etc.) and to make scripture study a priority! Like Richard G. Scott said, that is most often how God communicates to us.

I love you!
Bisous bisous
Soeur Ev

Monday, January 19, 2015

"Any questions, comments, concerns, queries, and/or other etcetera?" - Sr. Staples (Week 53)

RAPHAEL GOT BAPTIZED!!!!!!!! AHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!! He's so cool. Soooooo cool. I guess I'll go ahead and start out talking about him! Its been a crazy great week here. The interviews went really well and when he got out Elder Burton told me how impressed he was by Raphael and that he knew he was going to be a great addition to the ward here. I couldn't agree more.

Me being excited before Raphael's baptism
This week we taught Raphael with Kiwa about temples and family history. During the lesson Raphael told us how not very long before he met the missionaries he had received a revelation from God that he needed to do his family history. And then (believe it or not) - also note that we told NO ONE about him telling this to us - on Sunday he got a calling to be a family history consultant WHATTTTT??. So inspired. Miracles are real. The church is true.

Raphael got baptized!!!
I have never seen Raphael more happy than the past couple of days. He was absolutely radiating. After church he said "So do I still get to meet with you guys?" I was like "OF COURSE Raphael!!!!!" The poor thing thought that once he was a member he didn't get missionaries to visit him anymore. Ugh he's so great. I feel so blessed that I was able to teach him!!!! He is going to be a strong member and such a blessing to this ward for his entire life.

In other news...SANDRA PASSED HER INTERVIEW AND IS GETTING BAPTIZED THIS SATURDAY!!!! Whoohoooooooo baptisms are the best. I absolutely adore Sandra. She inspires me so incredibly much. I want to be as strong as her someday. She has had a lotttttt of trials in her life and she doesn't let anyone know it. She isn't hardened by anything. She is so good at turning out. SHE QUIT SMOKING!!! So after church on Sunday she comes up to me and grabs me and says "Soeur Everett. Last night I smoked all night long....... in my dreams." hahahaha I like had a heart attack and she thought it was the most hilarious thing ever. We are like best friends. She is wonderful. (I really hope I stay here, I can't imagine leaving her.) 

Elder Burton interviewed her as well. (He and his wife are the couple missionary in our area.) He was equally impressed with her. He made me cry as he told me about his interview with her. He said that Sandra told her she hasn't been the same person since the sisters started teaching her. He told me that she really loves how I take care of her and then Elder Burton told me there was no way I could leave because he thinks Sandra needs me to help her in her beginning stages of being a new convert. We'll see I guess!
We've had so many cool miracles this week but I'll just share one!

We've been going through an enormous stack of old amis and trying to either pass their houses or call them. One that Soeur Staples had called ended up calling us back on day during lunch. We started talking to him and he said that he would love for us to come over and asked if we could go right then! YES OF COURSE. We had no clue where we were going but we took and bus and basically prayed we'd be able to find it haha. We never got lost, no worries. We got there and he was alone in the house so we couldn't go in but he told us his story. Apparently he had been coming to church for years (he even calls himself a Mormon) and then he got paralyzed and couldn't come anymore. I guess maybe people forgot about him??? Its sad.... But he told us that he really wants to start coming again! When we told the ward about him in ward council they totally remembered him!!!!!! He's extremely cool and he is ready to be baptized. We're gonna start working with him this week. :)

On exchange with Soeur Kayla Skalka from Logan

Sorry I've had a ton to do during these emails so I didn't get to spend as much time on this as I would've wanted to. BUT here's my spiritual thought.
This week I've been Roney Pattern-ing "delightification" (a word invented by Soeur Roney). Basically I've been studying how to be happy. I've come across some really cool talks and really cool scriptures. 

First of all 4 Nephi 1:2-17 (sorry no time for commentary!)

2 And it came to pass in the thirty and sixth year, the people were all converted unto the Lord, upon all the face of the land, both Nephites and Lamanites, and there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another.
3 And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift.
4 And it came to pass that the thirty and seventh year passed away also, and there still continued to be peace in the land.

In Monaco on exchange with Sisters from Nice.
5 And there were great and marvelous works wrought by the disciples of Jesus, insomuch that they did heal the sick, and raise the dead, and cause the lame to walk, and the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear; and all manner of miracles did they work among the children of men; and in nothing did they work miracles save it were in the name of Jesus.
6 And thus did the thirty and eighth year pass away, and also the thirty and ninth, and forty and first, and the forty and second, yea, even until forty and nine years had passed away, and also the fifty and first, and the fifty and second; yea, and even until fifty andnine years had passed away.
7 And the Lord did prosper them exceedingly in the land; yea, insomuch that they did build cities again where there had been cities burned.
8 Yea, even that great city Zarahemla did they cause to be built again.
9 But there were many cities which had been sunk, and waters came up in the stead thereof; therefore these cities could not be renewed.
10 And now, behold, it came to pass that the people of Nephi did wax strong, and did multiply exceedingly fast, and became an exceedingly fair and delightsome people.
11 And they were married, and given in marriage, and were blessed according to the multitude of the promises which the Lord had made unto them.
12 And they did not walk any more after the performances and ordinances of the law of Moses; but they did walk after the commandments which they had received from their Lord and their God, continuing in fasting and prayer, and in meeting together oft both to pray and to hear the word of the Lord.
13 And it came to pass that there was no contention among all the people, in all the land; but there were mighty miracles wrought among the disciples of Jesus.
14 And it came to pass that the seventy and first year passed away, and also the seventy and second year, yea, and in fine, till the seventy and ninth year had passed away; yea, even an hundred years had passed away, and the disciples of Jesus, whom he had chosen, had all gone to the paradise of God, save it were the three who should tarry; and there were other disciples ordained in their stead; and also many of that generation had passed away.
15 And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.
16 And there were no envyings, nor strifes, nor tumults, nor whoredoms, nor lyings, nor murders, nor any manner of lasciviousness; and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God.
17 There were no robbers, nor murderers, neither were there Lamanites, nor any manner of -ites; but they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God.
Second of all:

I love youuu!

Soeur Ev
I found Froot Loops with Marshmallows (aka "Loopy Charms")

Thursday, January 15, 2015

"Serenity brings eternity." - Soeur Staples (Week 52)

Always the best words of wisdom from my companion. ;)

Dinner at less-actives.  My place had this cup!
What a wonderful week! The best news is that if all goes as planned Raphael will be getting baptized this weekend and Sandra will get baptized the next weekend! We're so excited!!!!!

Okay this is going to have to be a bit shorter because apparently the hours in our internet café changed and we had to relocate and now its late and places are closing. Fin bref. I'll give you the update that I can. :)

I'm not sure if I mentioned last week but on Sunday Raphael approached us and said he wanted to do missionary work with us! Our ward is doing a "40 day fast" where each member has one day  of the 40 days and then on their day they either do missionary work with us or pray for our amis! Its awesomeee. Anyway, Raphael wanted to participate! So on the day that we were going to go out working with him ALL of our plans fell through. Luckily they fell through before we were with him so we could figure out what to do instead. After calling basically everyone we could think of finally Soeur Staples had the inspiration to go visit a lady in our ward who had been hospitalized for a few months and was super lonely. We went with Mama Gentil as well! It was such a great experience. We could tell how much it meant to Sr. Berthon (the lady in the hospital) that we came to visit her. Afterwards Raphael expressed how much it touched him. :) Then on our bus ride home he was talking to EVERYONE. This guy is a better missionary than me people. Man he was so sparked by the whole experience. It was incredible!!!
Sunrise outside our apartment
So the Rodrigues family has been telling us that they had a referral for us. We finally got to go and visit her this week!! This lady is really cool! She's older and a very strong Christian and apparently has met with missionaries before! She seemed to agree with everything we taught her (which is always a good sign.) :) Hopefully she starts progressing! Yay for member referrals!!!

Ok cool miracle. On Saturday we were out passing ancient amis. We tried finding this specific building for like 30 minutes and couldn't find it ANYWHERE. As we were looking we felt like we had seen every single other letter on the other buildings except for A!! Finally we saw someone to ask (this place was practically deserted as far as people walking around went). We go and ask this lady if she knew where batiment A was and she had no clue. Great. We took the opportunity to ask her if she wanted to learn a message about Jesus Christ and she said yes! Just as I was about to get her number she sees her bus coming and takes off running. Without thinking twice I took off running after her and handed her a card as she was getting on the bus. About 30 seconds later SHE CALLED US. This never happens... ever. She told us that she had found the batiment we were looking for! So not only did we get to find what we were looking for for an hour but we also got her number. So in brief, she will be baptized and so will her family. :)
Crowded bus selfie

Also quick news!! We got a new member in the ward for the next 3 months! She is 20 and goes to BYU and from Colorado. She is being a nanny for someone who lives in the next town over! How cool is that???? So now we have someone to teach with us allllll the time. Its awesome.

Okay I am out of time so sorry!!! I read the best talk ever this week and the whole time I was thinking about how much the Lord has blessed with with goodly parents. Read this!

"As parents, we are to be the prime gospel teachers and examples for our children—not the bishop, the Sunday School, the Young Women or Young Men, but the parents. As their prime gospel teachers, we can teach them the power and reality of the Atonement—of their identity and divine destiny—and in so doing give them a rock foundation upon which to build. When all is said and done, the home is the ideal forum for teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Christmas present from the Roney's
In the life to come, I do not know if titles such as bishop or Relief Society president will survive, but I do know that the titles of husband and wife, father and mother, will continue and be revered, worlds without end. That is one reason it is so important to honor our responsibilities as parents here on earth so we can prepare for those even greater, but similar, responsibilities in the life to come.

As parents, we can proceed with the assurance God will never leave us alone. God never gives us a responsibility without offering divine aid—of that I can testify. May we in our divine role as parents, and in partnership with God, become the prime gospel teachers and examples for our children, I so pray in the name of Jesus Christ, amen."

Thank you mom and dad for being the best parents I could ever imagine having. You've taught me and made me the person I am today. I love you for every lesson I've learned from you - whether by example or in word. Thanking for being Christlike. Thank you for partnering with God as you taught me. The older I get the more I appreciate everything you've done for me. I couldn't love you more!

Bonne semaine! Bisous!

Soeur Ev

PS Pray super hard for Raphael and Sandra!!!!!!

Monday, January 5, 2015

"My life would suck without you." -Sr. Staples (Week 51)

My companion's the best.

WHOO what a week! We finally got 20 lessons again! We're backkkk. It was crazy. We were only half-way done with our lessons by Saturday and on Sunday we still had to get 7 lessons to reach our goal. It was cutting it close at the end but the Lord blessed us to find people to teach and we found really cool miracles because of our diligence! 

Selfie in the gare (train station)
I guess I'll go a bit backwards. So last night we were 5 lessons away and we left the apartment after praying mightily that the Lord would help us find these last 5 lessons in the short amount of time that we had. We got 2 pretty easily and then we were really struggling to get the last 3. We said a prayer and right as we said "amen" Soeur Staples took off running after some guy to contact him haha. Sadly he was pressé and was heading to work... For awhile NO ONE would pray with us, let alone talk to us. Just as our spirits were dimming we told ourselves we needed to keep pushing through. We taught one lesson, then two, and then we needed one more. We had like 10 minutes left before we had to send in numbers, people. Soeur Staples then whispers to me "contact her." I could tell she was muslim and usually we don't contact them because of religious differences but I obeyed my companion. Just two days earlier she had suffered something horrible that I won't describe in my email. She told us that she is completely alone here and didn't even have anyone to talk to about it because her family doesn't talk to her either. As we spoke to her about the love of God for her she cried. She told us she knew God had protected her. She told us how much meeting with us touched her and she invited us over to her house on Thursday to eat! I love little experiences like this because they testify to me of how much God cares about us individually. He put her in our path so that we could touch her life, even if it was something as small as listening to her and caring about her!

Sandra did our nails.  She's the best!!!
We've had a lot of really cool experiences this week. I should give you an update on Raphael!!! He is doing AMAZING. He is definitely going to be baptized on the 17th and WE CAN'T WAIT!!!!!  He even told us on Sunday that he wanted to come out and do missionary work with us. He's not even a member yet... why is he so cool???? Pray for him that he'll be able to quit smoking! I know he'll be able to but prayers always help. :)

Sandra is doing wonderfully but needs lots of prayers. She is having some trials at the moment but we're hoping that they won't get in the way of her baptism. Keep her in your prayers as well!

Okay another cool miracle. The other week Frère Tantely took us over to see his mother-in-law -- I'm not sure if I told you about her but basically once upon a time she was going to get baptized and then seomthing came up and it never happened and she still never got baptized and now has no desire to anymore...for now. :) We had a thought that we should call her and see if we could stop by. When we talked on the phone she seemed a bit hesitant but still let us come! (Already a miracle seeing as we weren't even with her daughter or son-in-law.) When we got there we saw that she had bruises all over her face. She told us that she had had a terrible fall a few days earlier and was very close to death. It was a miracle that she survived it actually. She told us that she likes being alone but I could tell that she was in need to someone to talk to. She had a lot on her mind and hadn't had anyone to tell it to. So Soeur Staples and I listened to her and shared a message about angels (thank you mom!!). We sang her a hymn and afterwards she told us "You know what? I have this feeling when I'm in your church or with missionaries that I don't feel anywhere else. Not even in the Catholic church. I'm not sure what it is but I know its different." We were so grateful for the strong spirit in that moment. We testified of the Spirit and that this was the true church! We're going to keep working with her I think.

Patricia's dog is the size of my foot.
So for New Year's Eve we had a ward party (which didn't even really start until the missionaries left...) They had this dinner prepared for everyone but they were taking FOREVER to get going. So they made all the missionaries and a few other members wait in the chapel while they prepared everything. It came about that time when the last bus was going to leave from the church so the Antibes elders said goodbye to everyone. Then Soeur Mortier just about freaked out and started asking everyone if they would take them home so that they could at least eat before leaving! (She's a sweetheart.) Eventually she volunteered her husband to take them haha. Then under his breath Elder Garside said "Great now we have to go through all those crappy goodbyes again." Story of missionary life. Awkward goodbyes. Anyway then they had all the missionaries in the kitchen while everyone was running around us and they made us all little plates haha. Our ward is so adorable. They were so concerned we were going to leave without eating. We were going to wake up at midnight to watch the fireworks from our balcony but unfortunately I turned off the alarm in my sleep without even realizing it. Missionary fatigue is real... :)

Guess what?! I changed my favorite scripture. Well its actually a passage of 3 scriptures. Are you ready?

Ephesians 3:17-19

17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,

18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;

19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

Okay now read it again.

Oh man I love it more every time I read it. I wish I could express all the reasons why I love this so much but this really touches me. I'll try to explain why. 

To me this scripture is filled with hope and promise. We are promised that as we have faith and are "grounded in love" we will be able to have Christ "dwell in [our] hearts" and come to know (at least partially because it is past comprehension) the love that Christ has for us. And as we continue on our quest to be worthy to have Christ dwell in our hearts we can receive the greatest promised blessing God has given us: to receive all the He has. 

I'm sure there are many ways to look at these scriptures. I'd love to hear from you what you get from it. :) I see something new every time.

Okay well I think that's about all I will share with you from this week! Things are really good. Soeur Staples and I are really happy and we're having a lot of success right now. Things are always better when you're having success. :)

Je vous aime!!


Soeur Ev