Monday, October 31, 2011

cast not away therefore your confidence.

bonjour from blois!
on wednesday, we had a rendez-vous with Clément. I don't know if I've talked about him yet, but he is awesome. He has been dating a member for two years and they just got married in August. He's been coming to church for most of those two years, but he isn't baptized yet. He knows the church is true, but he's the afraid-of-commitment type. He comes to church every week in a suit, white shirt, and tie. The first  time we saw him, we thought he was a member! And he doesn't look French at all. He's big and tall like a football player. He's sweet.
Anyway, Soeur Larsen and I have had him on our minds constantly, trying to figure out what we can do and say to help him get baptized. We came up with lots of illustrations of his situation. Our favorite: it's like he's at a feast, but he won't eat because he doesn't want to have to do the dishes. This man needs to be a member! We prayed a LOT before our rendez-vous with him. As I was doing my personal studies that day, I thought about the moment I decided to go on a mission. My mom looked at me and said, "Cast not away therefore your confidence." those words rang through my mind as I sat at my desk. I immediately opened my bible and flipped to the scripture. this is what I found:
Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.
For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.
For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.
Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.
But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.
It was perfect for Clément! We had him read those verses during the rendez-vous and they hit him really hard. We both testified about doing the will of the Lord, even when we're scared or feel inadequate. We were bold and upfront and told him to think about a date he would like to fix for his baptism, and we would talk about it the next rendez-vous. He agreed. We're going to see him again on Wednesday!
We spent the day in Paris on Thursday; it was so lovely to be back. We had a fantastic training by Elder and Sister Gonzàlez. They were so cute and happy! It was weird to hear a training in English. He talked about the promise that was made to the members of the church in Europe that if we have a concentrated effort between members and missionaries, we can DOUBLE the membership here! We're so excited about that. That would just be amazing. It made us want to work that much harder! And yes, it was terrifying to play the hardest piano piece I've ever played in front of a general authority. But, I survived :)
Yesterday evening, we were walking home from a member's house. We started talking to an old woman who was standing on the sidewalk in front of her house. She was adorable. She told us she had been living in her house since 1946, back when that part of Blois was all fields. She showed us her house and her crazy detailed cross stitching she did when she was younger. We tried talking to her about church, but I don't think she understood. It was so fun to talk to someone who had been living in Blois for 70 years!
As we were leaving her house, we came across a dirt path that cut across a field. We decided to take the shortcut. As we were walking across the field with the rolling hills and forests spread out before us, and the sun setting on the horizon, casting a warm glow on the yellow leaves, I turned to Soeur Larsen and said, "shouldn't we be wearing empire-waist dresses right now?" we talked about whether Mr. Bingley would be at the ball until we got to the end of the pathway. It's nice to have a companion who will talk in british accents with me. Anyway. Moral of the story: I adore the French countryside.
i adore my mission.
little mish.

i adore blois!

cute Soeur Larsen and i...
we love being together again!

Monday, October 24, 2011

one year.

one year.
top ten moments of my first year as a missionary.

1. the paris temple announcement
2. Anbu's baptism
3. Zdravko's franglish prayers
4. the moment i realized i could carry on a conversation in french
5. teaching Beauty about temples with Soeur England
6. Philomene's baptism
7. Christiane's english ("i love you, me too, too much!")
and her adorable kids
8. having to gulp down really gross food-
not funny in the moment, but funny afterwards.
9. really good food-
it's the reward for all the really gross food.
10. putting my tag on everyday
and talking to strangers about the gospel.
of course, there are thousands and thousands more of moments and experiences over the past year that have been defining, amazing, and life-changing. It would be impossible to write them all down. it has been an incredible year!
sometimes mission life is so crazy, all you can do is laugh. on tuesday, soeur larsen and i made the trip to paris for my doctor appointment. the doctor gave me a shot in my ankle and told me to try not to walk. we got back to Blois that night and started the 15 minute walk from the train station to our apartment. I was walking like a 90 year-old woman.... VERYslowly. we were limping along our merry way when a torrential downpour of rain descended upon us...we were soaked through in minutes. Of course the only day it has rained since we arrived here was the day I could barely walk! we laughed at the irony as we got wetter and wetter walking at a snail's pace back to the apartment.
this week has been awesome. on saturday we went to see Chris and Maria, a young married couple. they have two kids: Axel is 17 months and Exaucée is 3 months. The rendez-vous was a little crazy with the little kids, but the spirit was so strong. Chris is familiar with the church.. he was taught by the missionaries about a year ago. They were both so humble and open and accepting. We are so excited about them! Maria came to church yesterday with her little baby girl and the whole branch just fawned over them. I love having such a rockstar branch :)
life is good.
love from blois
little mish.

Monday, October 17, 2011

heaven is a tiny french village.

10 little things that make me terribly happy:
blois edition.

1. to get to the train station from our apartment, you walk down our street and turn right at the castle.
not kidding.
2. the mailmen deliver the mail on yellow bikes.
3. trees and fall leaves everywhere.
4. the twinkle lights strung between the trees in the little town park
5. the boulangerie on the corner called "the golden croissant"
6. there is a shoe cobbler shop on our street.
7. they play an audiobook in the park on sunday nights
8. our little branch of 50 members
9. the accent. their "r"s are much more round here than in paris. love.
10. if i had a basket with a book in it, i would totally feel like Belle everyday.

yes, Blois is exactly as ideal as it sounds. after a less-than-ideal arrival (we had to switch trains in the middle of our journey and the Big Strong Elder who helped us load our luggage on the train was not there anymore. We had literally 5 minutes to take our 6 suitcases that weighed 5,000 lbs each down two flights of stairs and up two flights of stairs. We could only lift one at a time. We were literally throwing suitcases on the train as the conductor blew the whistle, but we made it!)  anyway. Blois is tiny, which has been an adjustment. my mission has turned me into a city girl! I adjusted quite quickly, though. how can you not when you live in a perfect French village? Seriously. This is a dream. There are trees everywhere, hilly cobblestone streets, and the beautiful Loire river. Everyone says "bonjour" to us.... so friendly! It's lovely.
Not only is the town beautiful, but the branch is AMAZING. we are the first Soeurs in Blois for over 10 years, so we got a hero's welcome into the branch :) The members are so excited to have us. It's nice to feel so loved! Yesterday in sacrament meeting they asked Soeur Larsen and I to "present ourselves". pretty sure both of us got up there and cried about how much we love French people. I'm ridiculous. I just can't seem to get over how much I love it here. I love the people so much. The branch is super small, about 50 members all together. It's like a family.... all of the members know our investigators and are like, best friends with them. It's every missionary's dream.
Speaking of investigators, we are so excited about them! We have one, Clément, who is on the brink of baptism. He is what we missionaries call a "solid ami". He's about 25 and he's newly married to a member. We had heard all about him, so we were excited to see him. We had our branch mission leader point him out to us yesterday and we could not believe our eyes. He was in a suit, white shirt, and tie! He commented on the missionary minute! He looked like a member! We are so excited for him. He knows the church is true, knows the doctrine backward and forward, reads the Book of Mormon everyday, but he's afraid to commit. We can't wait to work with him. There are so many exciting things happening here, and Soeur Larsen and I get to witness them firsthand! It really is incredible.
Love from the Loire valley.
little mish.

Monday, October 10, 2011

we'll always have paris.

My time with Paris is winding down. Come wednesday afternoon, I will
be on a train to Blois as Paris gets smaller and smaller in the
distance. I'm happy I get to leave Paris on a train... it's kind of a
romantic, Casablanca-ish way to say goodbye to the lovliest city in
the world. I love Paris. And, as Rick says in Casablanca, "we'll
always have Paris." and it's true. I'll always have it.

That being said, leaving Paris for the Loire Valley (famous for its
billions of castles) is not a bad tradeoff. I'm excited to try out the
French village life. I'm sure there are many adventures and stories
yet to be had. I can't wait!

Soeur Smith and I had a perfect last week together. There seriously
could not have been a better way to close our Paris chapter. The most
exciting part was two new amis! The first one is Dou Dou. She is 26,
Chinese, and here in Paris getting her Masters degree. She is very
sweet and eager to learn. She didn't have any religious background
whatsoever, so we're starting from the ground up with her. Our first
rendez-vous, we gave her a Book of Mormon in English (she wanted to
read in English to practice) she was hesitant when we committed her to
read some verses in Alma 32 that night, telling us she had too much
studying to do. The next day, she came to our rendez-vous and said,
"I'm really sorry, I only read a little bit because I didn't have much
time." Then she opened the book of mormon and it was seriously FULL of
notes and definitions and underlinings. Gotta love that Asian study
ethic! She was all ashamed of it because she thought she didn't study
enough. So cute. She read Moroni's promise and said she would read and
pray every day. We're excited about her!

New investigator number two is Arman. Last week, our mission office
sent us a referral from Arman had gone on the site and
asked for missionary lessons..... THREE times! He was really excited
to finally meet with us. He is Armenian, speaks Russian, very little
english, and no french. Luckily (and randomly) we have a Tahitian YSA
in our ward who speaks Russian. So between the four of us, we got
through some lessons! It was quite the adventure. It reminded us of
the Zdravko days :) We watched the Restoration with him in Russian. At
the First Vision part, Arman said, "he got an answer to his question!"
He was riveted. He is very humble and very eager. We were super double
ultra blessed this week!

Last night was our missionary concert. It was all about Joseph Smith
and it went so good! We have been preparing and practicing for weeks.
Along with our full-time missionary work, it has been tiring! But
after last night, it was so worth it. We had a packed-to-overflowing
chapel and overflow room. It was a hit, mostly because we have some
VERY talented Elders and members. By the end, there wasn't a dry eye
in the house! It was fun to get to go out with a bang :)

I would write more, but like I said, my time in Paris is rapidly
winding down. I'm going to go soak up the beautiful, chaotic paris

until next week...

little mish.

 soeur didier and i with philomene at the concert

 last day with our favorite tower...


Monday, October 3, 2011

i love to see the temple.

10 little things that make me terribly happy:the best-weekend-ever edition.

1. the temple!
 when President Monson got up to announce the temples, my heart was literally pounding out of my chest. we had been waiting and waiting and waiting all week for that moment, like it was Christmas. he went through the list, and for a split second, i thought he wasn't going to announce it. Then, he said it! We were in a room full of missionaries watching it in English and the entire room erupted into cheers. It was literally one of the best moments of my life.
2. it was absolutely euphoric.
after the temple was announced, we asked Elder Rak, a french elder, how he felt. He said, "those screams reminded me of the screams when we got our mission calls." that was a perfect way to describe it. I thought  back to when I opened mine and um.... screamed... a lot. hearing the temple announcement gave me the same feeling. 
3. President forget-me-not Uchtdorf
4. Remember the amazing discussion I had with the doctor during the exam?
 I had never been able to get a hold of him, but we didn't give up hope. Last week, I called and left a message with his secretary, and on thursday night, he called me! He said he hadn't started reading the Book of Mormon yet. I told him I would really like to know his opinion of it. He said, "Okay, this is what we'll do. I have a conference for the next two weeks. Give me that time, call me in mid-October, and I will give you my opinion." he then asked me how my ankle was doing and we said goodbye. He was so sweet! I can't believe he remembered everything. It was a miracle.
5. making fluffy apple pancake, 
finding out we didn't have the right pan, and baking it in a rice cooker bowl. ah, mission life.
6. riding the train back from Normandy (exchanges)
 and having a nice long chat with Soeur Smith while the beautiful French countryside rolled alongside us out the window.
7. President Monson being silly. 
8. the temple in Kinshasa, Congo. 
that is where Philomene is from!
9. Watching all the Elders taking notes on how to raise their daughters and be good dads
 during Sister Dalton's talk. So sweet.
10. mission life. 
it is the best kind of life there is.

-Soeur Williams