Monday, March 7, 2011

heaven is missionary work.

Bonjour famille!
It has been a crazy week. And this week is going to be even crazier! I can't believe we're in the last week of the transfer already. Where is all the time going??
It started out with a little trip to France for exchanges. We went to a little town called Valenciennes and it was très cute. France is so charming. How does that country do it? Seriously. Soeur England went with Soeur Didier, who is from Nice. She doesn't speak much English at all, which was so much fun for us. We spoke French a LOT and I just loved it. Soeur Turney and I went with Soeur Barros, from California. She is hysterical and a wonderful storyteller. She could probably talk all day long! It was fun.
That night Soeur Didier made us a pizza (SO good) and we all chatted and looked at pictures before bed. We had to leave first thing the next morning, so it was a pretty quick exchange. I like exchanges... It's nice to learn from the other sister missionaries. We are so individually different, but our goal is the same. There is an automatic sisterly bond that is strong, joyful, and full of the spirit. Wherever there are Soeurs, I feel at home. 
We arrived back in Liège after almost 7 hours of train rides. (about 3.5 hours each way) It was heavenly. And exhausting. I had no idea what tired even meant before my mission :) But it's a good tired. I love missionary life, even the tired bits. We met Maurice in a park shortly after we arrived home. He is SO close to baptism, he just needs to do it! He has a light in his eyes, and he's so happy when he's at church. We extended the baptism challenge, and he said maybe in July. We're still working on that one :) we read the Book of Mormon with him on a park bench and it was just lovely, even though it was freezing.
The next day, we had district meeting. We talked about Elder Christofferson's talk, "Reflections on a Consecrated Life", and talked about being consecrated missionaries. I love our district. For lunch, Elder Duarte made us a Portuguese dish for lunch: rice with basically every type of seafood mixed in. After finding out about my little "problem" with fish, the elders had oh-so-much fun egging me on and teasing me about the fish still being alive. I couldn't do it! I know I'll have to eat fish someday on my mission, but I'm putting it off as long as possible :)
We went to see Christiane after district meeting. She's still smoking, but doing better other than that. We still call her faithfully every night to read the Book of Mormon with her. Every night after we've finished reading,we ask her what she learned. Every night, her response gets a little longer. I love seeing the Lord working little miracles in the lives of others! I hope Christiane is noticing the difference too. We still have a long way to go with her, but she's definitely making progress.
THEN. We got on a train to go to Visé to visit Isabelle (the blind lady). About ten minutes into our voyage, the train suddenly stopped. The conductor came over the loud speaker and told us there had been an "accident de personne". No idea what that means. They locked all the doors and told us to stay put. We stayed put alright... For an hour and a half! The train ride to Visé usually takes about 17 minutes. They came on the loud speaker again and told us the train had to be evacuated. For reals. We got to the door, and the train workers were all lifting the old ladies down to the ground, and there was a huge crowd of people huddled together in the cold. The conductor handed us down as we jumped down. After I jumped, Soeur England turned and said, "that was a big jump for you!" (I'm definitely the short one in this companionship... Shocker.) They informed us they were sending a bus for us to take us back to Liège. A half an hour later, the bus showed up and we all crowded on. There weren't any seats left, so we stood in the aisle and held on to the little handles hanging from the ceiling. Like I said, I'm the short one, so it was quite a stretch for me. The bus driver drove like a maniac, and the three of us were thrown all over the place. By the time we we arrived in Liège, we were hysterically laughing. It was quite an adventure. Oh, the life of a missionary.
On Friday, there was a nationwide transportation strike. No buses, no trains. That was kind of a problem for us, considering we don't live in our area. We have to take a bus to get to our area every day. It was an interesting day! Europe loves its strikes. Sheesh. We spent the morning working on our area book. The Skousens came to our rescue with their car (I am so grateful for cars.) and whisked us off to the church so we could teach English class. It was such an odd week for transport. I'm glad the strike was only one day though...We were going crazy, we couldn't go anywhere!
On Saturday we actually went to Visé to see Isabelle. We read her verses from the Book of Mormon. She has the Bible in braille, but she has no way to read the Book of Mormon. How terrible would that be? We try our best to make sure she feels loved by her Heavenly Father. The best way to do that is through the scriptures! After we read with her she had me wash her hair for church the next day. That was an interesting experience. I was willing to do it if it meant she was coming to church! I styled it for her and she asked, "is it pretty?" I love little moments like that.
Maurice came to church on Sunday! He came for two hours instead of just one... Like I said, progress. :) In Gospel Principles, the teacher talked about making covenants. He focused on Baptism, since we had two amis with us in the classroom (the other one was Mike... Also close to baptism, but he's just taking his sweet time.) It was such a good lesson for Maurice to hear. He came to fast and testimony meeting too, which he loved. It's been so great to see him make friends in the branch and begin to be integrated. He has made friends with Beauty, who is the perfect person for Maurice to be friends with, since Beauty was just baptized in November. Speaking of Beauty, he blessed the sacrament for the first time on Sunday. The three of us were just bursting with pride, watching him up there. He is just the best, and he is doing so great in the church. A perfect example for Maurice!
Earlier today for our P-day activity, we climbed the stairs to the "Citadelle". It's a gigantic staircase right in the middle of the city... Probably around 200 steps (it felt like 200 billion). The view from the top was incredible! I looked out over the city-- my city-- and I felt that feeling again... That warm, tingly, happy, luminous feeling. The spirit nudged me, reminding me how very blessed I am. I am a missionary. I am a missionary in Europe speaking French. As Jane Austen said, "Is there any felicity in the world comparable to this?" I think not. :)
avec tout mon amour,
soeur williams
This one is Soeur Turney and I with Soeur Barros in Valenciennes
The next ones {above and below} are from the stairs at the Citadelle today.

Lovely view of the city
checking out the view from the top!
This picture is from P-day last week. I had just told my companions a couple of days before that dad used to call me "lover", and what do we find? "Lovers Place". Perfect :)

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