Monday, May 30, 2011

philomene is official!

so. the big event this week:

my first baptism!

Philomene was baptized yesterday! barely. :) It started out with her not showing up to church. I stepped out into the hall during sunday school to call her, and she said she was making a cake for the refreshments afterwards. I tried telling her the refreshments were all taken care of, but she insisted on contributing! why it was the day of, I haven't the slightest idea. So, church ended at 12:30 and the baptism was supposed to start at 2:00. 2:45 rolled around, and Philomene still hadn't turned up and was not answering her phone. My companion was in tears and basically freaking out, the members were sitting in the hallway looking really bored, and we had a full baptismal font with no one to baptize. The Elders suggested we pray, so the four of us went into a classroom and got on our knees. Elder Gilmour prayed that Philomene would be able to arrive soon and safely. We came out of the room and seriously one minute later, she appeared at the door. with a cart full of food. We had to laugh at that point... it was so very Philomene. She was going on and on about how the devil didn't want to get baptized so he threw obstacles in her way as she was trying to get to the church. we quickly helped her get her baptismal dress on, then the show was back on!

She was baptized by Elder Weed. She had to be baptized five times because her knees kept popping up. by the fifth time, her wig was starting to fall off, but she looked over at us with a huge smile. Afterwards as she was drying off, she said, "I'm a member now! I'm a missionary!" She was glowing. Her happiness was contagious... i was so happy for her and with her. She didn't waste time on the whole missionary thing... She started talking to her friends she had invited to the baptism and by the end of the refreshments, I was taking down their information so we could set up a rendez-vous. Philomene is just incredible! It was a lovely day.

we saw éliane again this week... she's a doll! She is the one who is here in Paris alone and pregnant. Anyway, we taught her the plan of salvation and she totally accepted it. She told us it made perfect sense to her. It's nice when lessons go that smoothly! She came to church for the first time on sunday, which was so exciting. During sunday school, she kept leaning over and asking me, "when is the Mass going to start?" It was cute :)

Edinton and Anbu were at church as well. Anbu invited his friend, Donald, to the baptism. Donald was very interested and asked a lot of great questions. He said he is going to bring his 11 year-old son to church next week! We have been so very blessed. The people we are teaching are doing missionary work too! It is seriously incredible and such a blessing. I cannot wait for Edinton and Anbu to be baptized!

today for p-day we went to the Musée de l'Orangerie, home of Monet's water lilies. It was absolutely gorgeous. Monet painted them at the end of his life, nearly blind. They are MASSIVE... huge, curved murals surrounding large oval rooms bathed in natural light. it was ethereal. There were several other famous artists in the galleries downstairs, such as Manet, Renoir, Cézanne, and Picasso. It was so heavenly to drink it all in. I love the contrast of stepping off of a busy city street into a silent white room surrounded by beautiful paintings. It kind of mirrored being a missionary, stepping from the world I'm familiar with into an entirely different, heavenly sort of world. i love my little missionary world.

je vous aime, tous!

little mish. 

 the baptism

 Souer Jorgensen, Philomene, me & Elder Weed

me & the water lillies.
me & soeur j.
monet the master.
lillies up close.
one of the water lilly rooms (there are TWO of them!)

Monday, May 23, 2011

we happy few.

bonjour à tous!

On Tuesday, we had a rendez-vous with Philomene. We taught her the Law of Chastity, which she loved. Apparently her husband cheated on her, so she divorced him. She was so happy that members of the church take fidelity very seriously and she happily committed to living the law of chastity. We then went through the baptismal interview questions with her. it was so cute... after every question, she said, "oui, je crois." ("yes, I believe.") she is so excited for her baptism! She is so ready. We can't wait!

Exchanges were on Wednesday. Soeur Jorgensen and I took a train to Caen (Normandy area) first thing that morning. We arrived there two hours later and met up with the Caen sisters for lunch. After eating, Soeur Woodward and I hopped right back on the train to Paris, while Soeur Jorgensen and Soeur Barros stayed in Caen. Lots of train in one day, I loved it! When we got back in Paris, we headed to the church for a rendez-vous with Dominique. We watched the Testaments, and I tried (unsuccessfully) to not bawl like a baby at the end. oh well. :) Dominique enjoyed it... She said she has Indian ancestors. We're kind of worried about her. Everytime we call her and ask her how she is doing, we don't get very good responses. We'll see how it goes.
Soeur Woodward and I had so much fun together on our exchange! This is her very first transfer and she is loving it! We have so much in common. I can't believe it was five months ago that I was in her shoes! It seems like a lifetime ago. After our rendez-vous, we went and taught English class, which is always quite entertaining. We had this man named Philippe come in and talk about how much he loved shopping, so naturally we taught him the word "designer". :) He had a ball with that one!
Afterwards, we went next door to the Visitor's Center so Soeur Woodward could see it. The missionaries that were working there at the time explained that a woman had just been in there who was really interested in the gospel. She had just wandered in and started looking around, so the misssionaries gave her a tour and a Book of Mormon. The woman told them, "I don't know why I walked down this street. I wasn't planning to. Then I saw Jesus in the window." The missionaries got her information and... She lives in our area! I was so excited. Soeur Jorgensen and I called her last night and set up a rendez-vous for Thursday. She was very happy that we called and is excited to meet with us!

We had a Leadership Training with the three Paris zones, the Versailles zone, and the Normandy zone on Thursday. It was so much fun to see everyone, especially President and Sister Staheli. Next month's zone conference will be their last one. So sad. I'm going to miss them. We watched this funny little movie about an eager salesman in the 1920's whose little catchphrase was, "I can do anything except take no for an answer!" Naturally, we applied it to missionary work :) President then quoted a speech given in Shakespeare's "Henry the Fifth":

we happy few.
we are outnumbered,
but we are a band of brothers
{and sisters}.

When President stood up at the pulpit to speak to us, the first thing he said was, "I just had a sweet and powerful spiritual confirmation that our Heavenly Father loves each and every one of you. He is so proud of you."
It was definitely a bittersweet meeting, but also so very good. I have learned so much from the Stahelis.

Elder Weed, Elder Gilmour, Soeur Jorgensen, and I all gave talks in sacrament meeting yesterday. All four of us spoke on different aspects of missionary work in order to get the ward excited for the special fast in June. It went well... i talked about Charity and missionary work. I love to talk about charity :) I wasn't nervous at all! I remember the first time I had to speak in front of the branch in LIège- I was absolutely terrified. My, how far we've come. :)
Edinton and Anbu were there, of course. They were beaming at me from the congregation as I gave my talk. After church, we had a lesson with them. Anbu invited a friend! They are the world's best investigators. His friend seemed a little skeptical, but we'll see. AND.... We fixed a baptismal date with Edinton and Anbu! They will be baptized on June 19th. They're so excited, and so are we! Those two are such a miracle. I am in awe of how prepared they are for the gospel.

as you can see, life is oh so good.

all my love to you!

la petite missionnaire.


the red wheelbarrow bookstore. we went there this morning and i am in love.
Soeur Woodward and I
the Paris missionaries. left to right: Elder Zarbock, Elder Gilmour, Soeur Jorgensen, me, Elder Gubbay, Soeur Smith, Elder Weed, Elder Vallecalle, Elder Liao, Elder Pletain, Soeur Pearce, Elder Canonica, Elder Jacquier, and Elder Montulet.
My district. Left to right: Elder Gilmour, Elder Weed, Elder Silvester, Elder Buhlmann, Elder Pieper, Elder Coburn, Soeur Jorgensen, me.

Monday, May 16, 2011

j'ai trouvé mon église, et je ne sortirai pas.

oh my goodness, this week was amazing. we definitely had a plethora of miracles and tender mercies!
Philomene arrived serendipitously early for our rendez-vous that was scheduled way too close to english class on wednesday evening (tender mercy!). She was so excited to tell us her son had found the church in Congo and is now taking the missionary lessons. So exciting! Philomene is getting baptized on May 29th. We can't wait! It will be the first baptism for both of us. Philomene is SO ready. They announced her baptism on sunday in sacrament meeting and the bishop had her stand up- she was absolutely glowing. She's wonderful! As we were walking out of our lesson that night, she turned to me and said, "J'ai trouvé mon église et je ne sortirai pas. C'est finit!" ("I have found my church and I am not going to leave. It's finished!") That's one of the happiest things for a missionary to hear.

On Friday, Soeur Woodruff came and worked with me in Paris while our companions went to Brussels to do their Belge legality. We had so much fun! I love her. We had a first rendez-vous with éliane, a referral from the elders. She's in her mid-20's, African, pregnant, and alone. She is so sweet and really interested in our message. She was given a Book of Mormon before, so we asked her if she had started reading. she replied, "yeah, a teeny bit." My heart sank when she said that, because usually that's code for "nope." But then she pulled her book out and her bookmark was on 1 Nephi 5! She said she had been reading about Nephi and his wife Sariah :) It was cute. We explained to her the background of the book, then read Moroni's promise with her. It was really neat! We ended up teaching her the third lesson (the gospel), which she accepted really well. We have high hopes for her!

we saw Mona saturday morning. We all sat on pillows and drank herbal tea- it was really fun :) We taught her the third lesson too. It went so well- she asked lots of great questions. At the end of the lesson she started crying and bore her testimony to us. She said she knows in her heart the church is true. She wants to be baptized, but she's afraid she's not prepared enough. We're going to keep working on that one. :) We just love her so much. She has such a desire to learn- it's inspiring. She left on a business trip to Switzerland for two weeks, so we made her a "study calendar" for her Book of Mormon reading during her trip. She loved it and she's going to go to church in Switzerland too! Oddly enough, she'll be staying in a town called Sion (Zion) :)

Sunday was the cherry on top of our cupcake of a week. After church, we had a lesson with Edinton and Anbu. We gave them a first lesson- talked about the apostasy & restoration and the coming about of the Book of Mormon. they loved the story. we had Edinton read Moroni 10:3-5 aloud in Tamil- it was so cool. The two of them were absolutely giddy as they read it. He immediately asked me for a pen when he finished reading so he could underline the verses. Then they asked us to assign them more reading for the week. They told me they feel so good when they read from The Book of Mormon. It was wonderful! After the lesson, they came up to us and said, "We want to be with Jesus. Can we be baptized?" Of course we enthousiastically answered, "YES!" They want to be baptized in mid-June, after he has his court trial to become legal. They were so happy and excited. I almost cried watching their faces as they told me about how they had talked all about baptism together the night before. I just can't believe how amazingly prepared the two of them are.
 we had a baptism for the other Paris ward after church (they don't have a baptismal font at their chapel, so all the baptisms are done at ours) There were FOUR people baptized! It was amazing, and so cool to watch. Three of them were in Chinese! Edinton, Anbu, and Philomene were there to see what a baptism looks like. They are so excited for their own baptisms! I can hardly wait.

The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I can not desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell shall endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no never, I'll never, no never,
I'll never, no never, no never forsake!

-"How Firm a Foundation".

I love you, dearest family and friends. thank you for your support & encouragement & love.
life is lovely, isn't it?

avec tout mon amour,
soeur williams.

Monday, May 9, 2011

baptisms & the bard.

bonjour! it was a lovely week this week... especially since i got to talk to you yesterday! how wonderful it was to hear all of your voices. it was so fun to speak french with roland and actually understand everything he was saying! you all sounded great and it did me good to get to talk to you.

on tuesday, we went to see soeur davillé, a recent convert. i remember Soeur England telling me all about her, so i was excited to meet her. She is a sweetheart! We sang two hymns (she loves the hymns) and talked about the sons of Mosiah. We read Mosiah 29:3 with her and talked about "every member a missionary". It went really well. In the closing prayer, she prayed for every single office of the priesthood from the prophet all the way down to the deacons. It was very sweet and endearing. Love her.

tuesday was also our first shift in the Visitor's Center. i can't believe i'm a visitor's center sister! it was actually quite fun. each companionship in Paris and the surrounding cities has a four hour shift once a week. we stay in the visitor's center and give tours for two hours while another companionship is out contacting and inviting people to the center, then we switch for the next two hours. It was so weird how we kept running into Americans during our contacting session... it's definitely tourist season. They're EVERYWHERE. I'm not used to hearing so much English in public! That will take some getting used to.

we had our first rendez-vous with Mona on thursday. She was just passed to us from the Elders and we love her! She's from Egypt- she tells us she's our "Egyptian mother". She's so sweet! She wants to be baptized but she's afraid of how that would be received in her country, which is understandable. We'll keep working with her. At the beginning of the lesson, we were getting to know each other when she asked what the word "Atonement" means. So, we watched "Finding Faith in Christ"- she loved it. We had a really good discussion about the Atonement, then set up a rendez-vous for Saturday morning.

We had a rendez-vous with Philomene, one of our baptismal dates, on friday. It was my first time meeting her... she is so great! She's from the Congo and she is VERY passionate about the gospel. She told us about what she had read this week in the Book of Mormon and gave us a very animated account of Nephi's vision. :) She's awesome and just ready to go! We're looking at the 29th for her baptism. Can't wait! We talked about the Gospel of Jesus Christ with her... I mad a little drawing to help explain it. She loved the drawing and asked if she could keep it so she could look at it and remember "the good pathway".

We saw Mona again on Saturday- we ended up teaching the last half of the Plan of Salvation. She had previously thought that heaven and hell were here on earth, determined by your actions. We talked about the Resurrection, judgement, and the three kingdoms of glory. She loved the idea that people can still be taught and accept the gospel in the spirit world. we're really excited about her!

Edinton's friend, Anbu, came to church on Sunday. Edinton wasn't able to make it, but Anbu promised he'd fill him in on what he missed :) We had a lesson with him and a member, Soeur Cornet, after church. We watched "The Restoration" and explained the coming about of the Book of Mormon and why it's important. He was so very accepting and happy. We gave him a Book of Mormon in Tamel, his native language, at the end of the lesson and committed him to read it and pray about it. He enthousiastically agreed- he told us he had already started reading the English copy we gave him last week with his dictionary. So sweet! We're really excited about them. We're going to set a baptismal date on sunday!

We had a perfect Parisian p-day today. We wandered around the Latin Quarter and got paninis for lunch. An accordionist started playing "La Vie en Rose" in the middle of the square and I seriously almost burst into tears, it was so dang perfect. How can you get more Parisian than that? After lunch, we went to the infamous Shakespeare and Company. I have been wanting to go to that bookstore for YEARS! It was on the very top of my list of bookstores i want to see before i die. It was absolutely perfect. i was in total heaven, as you can imagine. I felt like Belle when the Beast shows her the library. ("I've never seen so many books in my whole life!") it was magical. later on, we went and got organic gelato made with fresh fruit. It was delicious... and they shaped the ice cream like a rose in my cone! like i said, today was practically perfect in every way.

if you can't already tell, i am so very happy. i love missionary life. i love parisian life. i love my life. and i love YOU!

avec tout mon amour,
la petite missionnaire.


one of the greatest days ever.
i'm pretty sure this is what heaven looks like.
can i live here?
a cherry center surrounded by chocolate petals. yum. 

Monday, May 2, 2011

bonjour, paris!

bonjour from paris!

this has been such a wonderful week, as you can probably imagine.
it started on wednesday morning at the unpleasant hour of 6:40 in the morning when my train left Liège. It was SO hard to leave my first city... saying goodbye to everyone was not fun! it was okay though, because I know I will be going back there someday. It was just Elder Hall (my district leader my first three transfers) and I on the train, which was so much fun. We arrived in Paris around 10, then I was off!
my new companion is Soeur Jorgensen, from Taylorsville. We lived in the MTC together my last three weeks, so we already knew each other, which is fun. We share an apartment with the other Paris soeurs, Soeur Pearce and Soeur Smith. I love them all! We have so much fun together. Our apartment is lovely and old... The windows open out to the street below, there are exposed wood beams on the walls, and a bookcase full of vintage books at the bottom of the rickety, windy wood staircase! I am in absolute
h e a v e n.
I don't even know what I can say about Paris that hasn't already been said, but I will say this: I belong here! I have known it my whole life. I was made for Paris. It's like what Gertrude Stein said, "America is my country, but Paris is my hometown." It's so true. This is the most beautiful city in the world, and I feel so very lucky and blessed to be here. Sometimes I still can't believe I'm here, so I go and peek out the window of our apartment, just to make sure it's not a dream :)

Our ward is great.... It's basically all Africans, which is so much fun! I love it here already. We had something really cool happen on Sunday. Edinton and his friend, both from Sri Lanka, came to church. Edinton was contacted by the sister missionaries on the metro six months ago. He was really interested in the church, but the sisters never heard back from him. Then, about a week ago, the sisters got a text that said:
"Hi Soeur Pearce and Soeur Clark I am Sri Lankan guy. In 2010 I met you in the metro. My name is Edinton. You had my number in your diary, but it's not working. I like to joind with Jesus me and my friend. Can you pleace call me."
So of course, the sisters contacted him. He came to church with his friend the Sunday before I got to Paris. They said that they have been searching for churches for years and have never felt that way before. They came to church again yesterday and we had a rendez-vous with them after the meetings. He told us his story:
A few days after he was contacted by the sisters, he ran after a robber who had taken a lady's purse. He caught up with the guy and grabbed the purse, but the robber and his gang stabbed Edinton twice and broke a glass bottle over his head. He was in the hospital for a long time, so he wasn't able to contact the sisters. He was then put under police protection because the gang was still after him, so he couldn't contact the sisters. Basically, he's been waiting for six months to be able to come to our church! He and his friend were so excited to be there. They are so sweet and humble, and so very ready for the gospel. Edinton has agreed to baptism! It is such a sweet little miracle.

i just love you. thank you for everything. know that I am very very happy. your support and love means everything.
la parisienne.

Last district meeting in Liège... love them.
me and my girl Ewoma. (also in Liège)
Soeur Jorgensen and I in front of the Arc de Triomphe
 paris, i love you.