Monday, June 27, 2011

"see you very soon at church."

paris is like dante's inferno right now. 96 degrees today! no AC in our apartment! good times. this week has been kind of singular. thursday was our last ever zone conference with the Stahelis, which was so weird. They got stuck in traffic that morning, so we were all already seated when they arrived. When they walked in, we all stood. aaaaaand.... Soeur Pearce and I started crying. We all stood and sang the mission song. And we cried even more. It was so sad! It was a really good sendoff, but still so sad. I will miss them so much. Soeur Staheli gave a cute little talk, as always. She talked about Bees: "at the end of your mission, will you feel the sting of what might have been, or will you taste the sweetness of the 'milk and honey without price'?" So very Soeur Staheli :) The meeting was wonderful. Lots of pictures taken, goodbyes said, and testimonies borne. It ended with all of us stainding and singing "Dieu soit avec toi jusqu'au revoir" (God be with you till we meet again). The Stahelis made their exit during the last chorus... It reminded me of the Other Side of Heaven when he leaves the island on a boat and they all stand on the beach singing that song. The song ended, and we all just kind of stood there in complete silence, not knowing what to do with ourselves. Here is the Stahelis' goodbye letter to the missionaries:

Dear Friends and Fellow Servants,

It seems but a short time since Sister Staheli and I arrived in the France Paris Mission. Now the time has come for our departure. We will treasure the memories of the good times and the struggles, the successes and the lessons learned the hard way. We have a special love for Belgium and France and have great respect for the history, culture, and beauty of these wonderful countries. We love the Grand Place of Brussels, the monkey of Mons, Belgian frites, gaufres, and hand-made lace. We love the Loire Valley, Bretagne, Normandy, Paris, jogging along the Seine, and cheese. And much, much more!

Sister Staheli and I have gained a deep love and respect for the members of the Church in France and Belgium. We are so proud of dedicated leaders of small branches, of bishops who lead with love and devotion, and visionary stake presidents who direct the work so well. We are grateful for the regular members who are so full of love and generosity. We have always felt welcome and have appreciated working together as true brothers, sisters, and friends, fellow citizens in the Kingdom of God.

Most of all we have loved you, the missionaries. We have loved you even before we met you, and that love has only grown as we have come to know you. You are the best of a great generation of young people who have been prepared by the Lord to perform His work and to prepare the world for His Second Coming. You are doing an outstanding job. You are faithful, obedient, and diligent. You know the doctrines and you are great teachers. You remain optimistic and keep going despite frequent rejection. You are true disciples of Jesus Christ.

As we go, we know you will transfer your love and loyalty to President and Sister Poznanski. That is natural and good. We hope, also, that you will retain a warm spot in your heart for us. We are interested in you and want to know about the future events of your life. We await anxiously any news we might receive. Our love for you will never diminish.

God bless you in your missionary labors and in all you do in life. Stay true. Remain committed to the gospel and to the Church. Be worthy of the Spirit. The Church is true. This is God's work. We know it and you know it.

With our love and blessing,

President and Sister Staheli

and that's that! President and Sister Poznanski arrive tomorrow, and in a couple weeks at the end of the transfer, we will have a bigger mission with more missionaries! Our mission is buzzing with change right now. It's kind of exciting.

thursday was unexpectedly amazing, which is just what we needed! it's been kind of a bummer week-- my ankle is swollen and refuses to back down. Anyway. We had a rendez-vous with Mona (the Egyptian lady) that afternoon. We had been kind of struggling to know what to do with her- we just couldn't seem to get the right angle. She is very interested and faithful, but she is also very scared. We were planning on following up on her Book of Mormon reading for the week, then doing a lesson about eternal families.
So there we were, Book of Mormons in our laps, reading about the great and abominable church of all things. All of a sudden, Mona stopped us and said, "I have a question. Can I be baptized?" um, WHAT? we were so excited! She told us she has faith in Jesus Christ and she wants to show Him by being baptized. She will be baptized on July 31st! After all that was settled, we read 2 Nephi 31:17-20 with her. As we read, it seriously felt like those words had been written for her. When she looked up, there were tears in her eyes. It was so sweet to sit there with her and feel the spirit.
Afterwards, as we were euphorically floating down the sidewalk, we caught sight of a patisserie and got a couple pain au chocolat to celebrate. And guess what: they were fresh out of the oven. it was a much-needed good day.

we had another rendez-vous with Célestine on saturday. We taught her the Plan of Salvation with a little picture I drew (her little daughters loved it!). At the first mention of the Spirit World, Célestine stopped us and said, "is there really such a thing as paradise?" I looked her right in the eye and said, "we are here to testify that there is a paradise. Our Heavenly Father is waiting for us on the other side. Death is not the end of this life." She looked so happy! She accepted the plan and told us she wants to come to church with us. She is such a blessing!

We had a little miracle happen during weekly planning yesterday afternoon: we heard from Edinton! Three weeks ago, we got this text from him:
"Hi sister its Edinton now i am staying in Orléans I don't have home I am not stay before same place I am sorry to say that Anbu he should be there today at church next sunday I will be there I had a lot of problem I am not paye room rent last two month sunday home owner take my bags put in the road then close my room three day I am stay in the road, now I am with one friend 250km to Paris so next sunday I will be there tks pray for me."
And then we didn't hear from him for three weeks. We called and called and called... no response. So yesterday, during planning, we got this text:
"HI SISTERS I am in Paris came from Orléans Gare D'Austerlitz just now arrived Edinton see you very soon at church."
I immediately called him and he answered! It was so good to hear his cute broken english :) He said he will be at church on sunday. I asked him if he still wanted to be baptized and he said "of course!" I am so very happy and excited to see him again! The Lord has showered us with blessings this week.

This is His work. I am so lucky and blessed and happy to take part in it.

sending my love across the atlantic.

little mish.
Soeur Didier and I at Place de la Concorde, where Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were guillotined. Charming. 
At Dalloyau on Soeur Didier's birthday.
I love the Tuileries gardens.

Monday, June 20, 2011

an Indian guy, an American girl, and a French girl.

it was Soeur Didier's birthday this week! We totally pulled a sneak attack on her after studies on friday. ("put on your shoes! don't ask questions!") we whisked her away to Dalloyau for some of the best hot chocolate in the world (because, oddly enough, we are having hot chocolate weather in mid-june. no complaints from me!) it was mmmmgood.

Afterwards, Soeur Didier and I went to the GHETTO to see Anbu. And when I say ghetto, I mean we were the only white people for a good 20 miles. It was interesting to say the least! It was like a totally different world. Our lesson with Anbu went so well though. We taught him the law of chastity, which he already lives, so we moved on to the law of the fast, which he also already lives! He fasts every single weekend. We told him that wasn't necessary, but he said he likes to feel closer to Heavenly Father. It was so sweet. Then he said, "my life is Mormon now." He said he's excited to be the next member of the church and to "wear a badge" like us :) We just love him. He radiates light and joy. In the middle of our lesson, he said, "Look at us. An Indian guy, an American girl, and a French girl. Only Heavenly Father could have arranged this." He is so good. He will be baptized on July 3rd and he can hardly wait! Neither can I. He is just the sweetest man. The Lord is blessing us so much!

We were late getting to the email place today, so that is all I have time to write! Know that I am happy and well and loving missionary life here in the city of light.

Que Dieu vous bénisse!

little mish.

Monday, June 13, 2011

home is where your books are.

It's been raining a lot here lately. I've never seen rain like this before... an endless downpour against a backdrop of thunder and lightning. It's beautiful! I honestly thought I could not love Paris more. I suppose it's like reading a wonderful book, discovering a new city. with every turn of the page, there is something even lovelier than the last. I believe Paris and I will be a lifelong wonderful book. I hope at the end of my life I will have a collection of wonderful books of places I have been and cities I have discovered. If home is where your books are, there really is no place like it.

transfer weeks are crazy. it's been fun, though! before heading to the train station to drop Soeur Jorgensen off and pick Soeur Didier up, we went to a little place called Dalloyau for some hot chocolate (I know it's June, but it's been cold here!) as a little farewell for Soeur Jorgensen. um, wow. The French really know what they're doing in the chocolate department! It was basically heaven in a cup.
After that, it was off to Gare du Nord. What an adventure THAT one was. It started out with, "Sure, Elder Buhlmann, we can move our own luggage no problem." and ended up with us laughing our heads off trying to manage getting 5,000-lb. suitcases through the Paris metros. It was quite the experience :)

Soeur Didier and I finally made it back to the apartment so she could unpack, then it was off to a rendez-vous! I'm going to take a little detour here and tell you about Soeur Didier. She's "Niçoise"- from Nice. It fits that she is from somewhere like Nice, because she is one of the nicest people I have ever met! We have so much fun together. She speaks very minimal English, so it's basically all French, all the time! I am in heaven. We speak some English in the apartment... She says it helps her english a lot to be living with three American girls!

Anyway. After unpacking, we headed to Parc Monceau for our rendez-vous with Clementine. Parc Monceau is in a rich neighborhood, so it is gorgeous. there was a round, columned building thing which looked exactly like the Pride and Prejudice one! you know, when Mr. Darcy proposes the first time in the rain. There was also an antique carousel full of really well-dressed french children. Clementine works as a nanny for three such children, so we sat on a park bench and talked as we watched the children play. One of them was a blonde chatterbox with a raspy voice who loved to show me his cars. yep, basically the French version of Gregory! It was kind of a funny déjà vu moment :) We had planned to teach the first lesson with Clementine, but it ended up being the Plan of Salvation. I love it when things work out like that.

thursday was miraculous in every sense of the word. we had received a referral a couple of weeks ago from requesting a missionary visit. we called, and she happily set up a rendez-vous. She lives in a sketchy part of town about an hour away from us... It was quite the journey to get there. 3 metros, a bus, and lots of walking! It was SO worth it though. Her name is Célestine and she is lovely. Come to find out, it wasn't through that she found the church- her brother is a member living in Salt Lake! He told her all about the church and she asked him to put her in contact with the missionaries. We had an amazing first lesson- she asked so many great questions. We watched "The Restoration" with her, and afterwards she said her favorite part was how close Joseph Smith was with his family. I've never gotten a response like that before! Family is really important to her, so we're excited to teach her the Plan of Salvation this week! We left her with a Book of Mormon and a commitment to read and pray. I can't wait to hear what she thinks of it! Soeur Didier and I reluctantly left, got into the elevator, waited for the door to close, then started jumping up and down with excitement. this is going to be a wonderful transfer.

yesterday was so good. Anbu came to church, of course (Edinton wasn't there this week) Our lesson afterwards was awesome. we have to simplify everything when we teach him- I even have to be careful how I phrase my questions. His English is very minimal, but he understands just enough that somehow our lessons work! I think the spirit does most of the teaching. Yesterday he was able to talk more than I have ever seen him be able to do... he told us that he was an alcoholic for thirteen years, then one year ago he said he found Jesus Christ and decided to turn his life around. So he's been sober for a year! I asked him who Jesus Christ is for him and he bore such a sweet, simple testimony. I teared up a little bit watching him struggle to find the words to express how he was feeling. He told us he has been to a lot of other churches before, but it troubled him how they had "no respect" for the Savior. He said he is amazed by the respect we show Him in our church and how happy and peaceful he feels when he comes. There was such a light in his face. The spirit was so strong! I can't wait for him to be baptized.

After church, we went to the hospital to visit Rose. Rose is a member from Tahiti. She had a baby about a month ago. The day after the birth, she was diagnosed with Leukemia and immediately sent to France for treatment, taken away from all her family, including her husband and her new baby. We had to wash our hands, use hand sanitizer, and wear a surgical mask. She started crying when she saw our tags... She said they were tears of joy. Of course, I was crying before we even went into her room. My heart just broke for her. We shared some (tweaked) verses from Alma 38 with her:

And now, my daughter, I trust that I shall have great joy in you, because of your steadiness and your faithfulness unto God; for as you have commenced in your youth to look to the Lord your God, even so I hope that you will continue in keeping his commandments; for blessed is she that endureth to the end.
 I say unto you, my daughter, that I have had great joy in thee already, because of thy faithfulness and thy diligence, and thy patience and thy long-suffering.
 For I know that thou wast in bonds; yea, and I also know that thou wast stoned for the word’s sake; and thou didst bear all these things with patience because the Lord was with thee.

It was a lovely sunday. It was hard to see someone going through such a difficult trial, but I think we left her a tiny bit better than we found her. I know she is being watched over.

je vous aime, tous.

little mish.

photos:{some from last week, some from today}

our apartment... view from the door.
view from the opposite side of the room. I sleep on the top bunk. our apartment is little, but we love it!
the street we live on, as seen from the window. It's always lively and bustling, i like it.
the Paris Opera house. it's huge!
the chandelier weighs SEVEN TONS.
me and soeur smith.
me and soeur pearce on the opera house balcony.
our little group in the very center of paris, in front of notre dame. they call it "kilometer zero". Clockwise from center top: Soeur Smith, Elder Gilmour, Soeur Pearce, me, Soeur Jorgensen, and Elder Weed.
transfer day with luggage on the metro :)
dropping off Soeur Jorgensen at the gare.
with Soeur Didier at the Louvre pyramid!
 my favorite part of p-day today. gorgeous.

Monday, June 6, 2011

these are a few of my favorite things.

This week has been rainy and lovely. Last night, there was a huge storm with thunder and lightning. Soeur Pearce and I stuck our heads out the window and sung "My Favorite Things". I love this weather!

Philomene was given the gift of the Holy Ghost yesterday. She actually showed up for church, bringing two MORE friends with her! She is such a great missionary. She is just the light of my life right now. I love her so much. She walked in the door wearing rainbow leggings with a bright purple dress over it and a huge wooden bead necklace. She is so wonderful. Frere Hitoto, our former bishop, gave her the blessing. The two of them are both from Congo and he calls her "my Philo". So cute. She was beaming up on the stand... After the blessing was done, she came and sat next to me in the congregation and gave me a big kiss on the cheek. She is so happy!

Earlier this week, we had a rendez-vous with her about temples. As you can imagine, she got really excited when we told her about everything you can do in the temple! Her favorite part was the Angel Moroni... She loved his trumpet. She said the trumpet is more powerful than the bells in the catholic cathedrals :) Then she cupped her hand around her mouth and imitated the trumpet... Soeur Jorgensen and I were dying! It was so funny and sweet. We showed her pictures of the tempes in Africa, which she loved. She is excited for a temple in Congo someday. She is so faithful and full of love and enthusiasm for the gospel. I just love her!

Edinton wasn't able to make it to church, but Anbu was there. We taught him the Plan of Salvation afterwards and it went so well. His English is very limited, so we have to teach the lessons very simply, almost like as if it were to a child. I drew the plan out on the board and we went through each step with him. When we got to the kingdoms of glory, I asked, "Do you want to live with your family forever?" He contemplated for a few seconds, then nodded and quietly said, "yes." there was such a strong spirit. I testified to him about the plan and how comforting it is that this life is not the end. It was a very sweet and simple lesson. I love Anbu. He is so humble and he loves church so much. He's still very excited for his baptism!

    A few weeks ago, the Area Presidency of western Europe sent out a mass letter to all the wards. They consecrated the month of June for missionary work, and asked all the members to fast for missionary work the first sunday in June. During fast & testimony meeting, members got up one by one and bore their testimony on missionary work, often talking about the missionaries who first found them and how they received their testimony. It was so cool... Everyone was on fire with the missionary spirit. It was such an amazing thing to witness. June is going to be full of miracles!

Other than that, our week has been crazy getting ready for transfers! The last week of the transfer is always a little nuts. Time is flying by. most days I feel like I'm flying up in the clouds, I am just so happy.

i love you all dearly. have a wonderful week!
avec amour,

little mish.