Linds, with her companion, Soeur England and Soeur Staehli
with Pres. and Sis. Staehli
her "Plan of Salvation" chart... in true Lindsay fashion!
the most artistic "goal chart" in the mission!
this is the view from her desk...
looking out the floor-to-ceiling windows:)
Bonjour! Oh wow, it has been quite the week. I'll start with Tuesday... that's when I taught my first official lesson! Oh my gosh i was so excited. We taught a less-active member, Christianne. She kind of looks like Sabrina with her short black hair and full eyebrows. She was really talkative! she helped us with our pronunciation and we helped her a little bit with english. we taught her about prayer and scripture study- she prays, but she doesn't read her book of mormon. we committed her to start reading it, just a few verses a day. baby steps :) i hope we can get through to her. overall the lesson went very well. I spoke French- more than i thought i would. The lesson was pretty equally split between Soeur England and I talking-wise. I feel like I'm doing pretty good with the language, but there's definitely room to improve- there always is :)
In the MTC, we had someone come speak from the mission department and he told us to "master your mission language". that is my goal. I want to always be studying, practicing, and speaking the entire time i'm here. I have verb conjugations taped to the shower wall, tense charts above the table, i ask natives for help, and i always keep a little booklet with me to write all the words I don't know. I read from my french scriptures daily. Scott and Katie (and anyone else who reads this who had to learn a language on their mission) do you have any advice for me? anything else i can do?
Thursday was so good. a little weird too. It was Soeur England's birthday, so that was really fun. we brought a chocolate cake to district meeting and i gave her a little drawing of her favorite scripture. district meeting was a blast, as always. man, those elders are funny.
after district meeting we met Beauty (pronounced bow (as in bow tie) tee) at the church for a lesson. He just got baptized in november and he is just the sweetest, most humble and faithful man you'll ever meet. He's from the Congo but he's here in liège for school. He's studying to be a dentist- he wants to do an "operation smile" type thing in poor countries after he gets his degree. He's taking final exams right now for some really hard math classes. We could tell he was a little worried about them, but he just kept smiling and said, "God will not let me down." we talked with him about temples. His mom passed away some time ago, so he was very excited to learn she can be baptized through someone else at the temple and eventually be sealed to her. I loved telling him about the blessings we can receive from the temple, like eternal families, and watching his smile get wider and wider. It was like a little boy on Christmas morning. He's just the best- we LOVE him.
After we finished with Beauty, we went outside and waited at the bus stop. all of a sudden, this huge coca-cola truck, strung with christmas lights and blasting christmas music, pulled up and stopped right next to us. the truck was driven by santa, who honked the horn as two coca-cola elves (girls dressed in little fur-trimmed coca-cola skirts and santa hats) burst open the double doors of the back of the truck. they pranced over to us, gave us each a gift back full of coke products, chimed "happy holidays!", and were on their way. it was so weird.... we were in this quiet little neighborhood right across the street from the church. I've never seen anything like it.
we got on the bus, which was super crowded (standing room only... we were like sardines in there) soeur england and i were crammed right next to the door, just riding along, when this girl about my age standing next to me yelled, "i need to get off the bus!" the bus driver didn't hear her. all of a sudden, she fainted on us! soeur england and i and a few others caught her. We helped her stand up and stay standing until the bus stopped. we helped her to a bench... she could barely even talk. She was white as a sheet, almost gray even. It was freaky. Oh, the life of a missionary. Like I said, it was kind of a weird day.
Later that evening we went back to the church to teach Maurice. He is from Cameroon and he's very.... dramatic. We asked him how he was doing at the beginning of the lesson and he launched into this huge story about how he feels like he's living a dream... like his body was there talking to us but his spirit was somewhere else. We weren't quite sure how to respond to that. He then went on to say he feels like he has lost his faith, so we abandoned the lesson we had originally prepared and just went from there. He said his life was hard and he feels like God has abandoned him. I felt impressed to share the scripture in Doctrine and Covenants when Joseph Smith was in Liberty Jail. I had him read the "all these things shall give thee experience and shall be for thy good" verse. when he read the scripture aloud, it was like a theatrical dramatic reading. It was like Laurence Olivier or something. He said that whenever he had a hard time he would remember those words. At the end, we asked him to pray and read his scriptures every day. We then asked him if there was anything in specific he would like us to mention in our prayers. He gave us quite a lengthy list of things like, "sometimes my chest hurts a little bit", "i can't bend my right ring finger", and "pray for me to find a club to play football with". He was very sweet to us, but it was just a little off. Soeur England has taught him before and she was weirded out too. Hopefully he'll be more "with it" next time.
Our New Years was very calm. Well, sort of. The Belgians, they're not so calm on New Years Eve. P day started at 6 in the evening for us -we had to be in our apartment at 6 instead of 9 because of all the wild partying that goes on in the streets. Not very safe for a couple of American girls trying to preach the gospel. So, we got home early, made cinnamon pancakes, read our scriptures, played scattergories, and went to bed at our usual time. an hour and a half later, we were startled awake by people absolutely screaming "BONNE ANNEE!!!!!" as firework after firework went off for like a half an hour. It sounded like continual machine guns. It was NUTS. we just lay there, staring at the ceiling.
New years day was a p day too, which was nice. :) I was so so excited all day long to go to church the next day. Our church starts at 9. we had relief society first, and of course, i was asked to play the piano. :)
i have never been kissed so much in my entire life!! In France they kiss you on each cheek, right? they call it the "bise". (bisou in french means kiss) In Belgium they just kiss one cheek. We have mission rules about bise-ing... elders aren't allowed to do it at all, and sisters can only bise other women. So in relief society, all the little ladies were grabbing me left and right and bise-ing me. Everyone was so warm, welcoming, and friendly. All the Belge are that way, members especially. They all tried to speak a little english to me, which was cute.
Sacrament meeting was last. it was fast and testimony meeting and i really wanted to get up, but it was a continuous stream of people up until the very end and i didn't want to take up anybody's time. I'm sure i'll get called up to talk next week :) our branch president's name is Président Stoumont. He is in his late 50s, tall and skinny with graying blonde hair. He has kind eyes and a sweet smile. He came up to us after the meeting and said " 'appy new year!" with a sheepish grin. he switched to french after that and oh, i just love him already. i'm excited to work with him.
When we got home from church (we were there for about 4 and a half hours because of all the bise-ing and chatting) we looked for new leads in the area book. we had found an older lady that the elders had met last year and passed to the sisters. Soeur England called her a few days before and she had said, "your words mean nothing to me. if you want to talk to me, come to my house." we decided to go to try and find her. After a 40 minute bus ride, we arrived at her apartment. We knocked on the door, and no one answered. disappointed, we started to leave her a note. Then, she yelled from the inside, "Qui est la??" ("who's there?") we beamed at each other and told her we're the missionaries. She cracked the door open, glaring at us. she glanced at our tags and her expression completely changed. "mormons? i love the mormons!" she said. she thanked us for stopping by, but said she didn't feel well and couldn't talk right then. We asked if we could come back next week. She agreed and we pulled out our planners to arrange a time. Then she said, "well, it is really cold outside. perhaps you can come in for just two minutes." an hour and a half later, we were inching towards the door as she just kept talking and talking. She told us we were like her children now and we could come teach her anytime we want. She kissed us on the cheek like five times and told us to always remember our prayers. It was so cute! we love her. Her name is Razia. She's in her late 60s, never been married, no children. she was born in Rwanda to a Muslim father and a Hindu mother. She is fluent in 8 languages, but her best one is Swahili, so we're going to get her a Book of Mormon in Swahili. She converted to Catholocism like 30 years ago because she didn't like how Muslim women are treated. We're going to teach her in a week and i can't wait. I'll let you know how it goes :)
This mission is kind of tricky proselyting-wise. We're not allowed to talk to Muslims, which makes contacting really hard because there are TONS of muslims here, and sometimes it's hard to tell if they're muslim or not. We're not allowed to talk to them because in years past, muslims have been taught and baptized and then they return to their home country and are executed or just disappear. If we start talking to someone and find out they are a muslim, we are supposed to end the conversation as quickly and politely as possible and be on our way. It's really sad. And like i said, it makes things a little tricky.
i LOVE my mission though! being a missionary is just the best. I wish everyone could experience this. I'm so happy and so SO very blessed.
favorite scripture of the week:
"...for ye know that the word hath swelled your souls, and ye also know that it hath sprouted up, that your understanding doth begin to be enlightened, and your mind doth begin to expand. O then, is not this real?" -alma 32:34-35
It is SO real. we are so blessed to have the knowledge that we have! share it with everyone :)
i love all of you! thank you so much for your love and support. I'm excited already to email you next week... i can tell you all about Paris! (we're going there for the day on thursday to work on some visa stuff)
don't forget to write :)
the little mish
mmm... a belgian waffle dipped in chocolate, anyone??