Monday, December 26, 2011

oh, quel bonheur.

joyeux noel!
what fun it was to see your faces and talk to you on skype. the kids look so grown up! it was a perfect christmas present.
this week was a whirlwind. we had exchanges with the Nogent soeurs, Soeur Didier and Soeur Sabatino. Sister exchanges are super complicated in this mission.... It took a total of nearly ten hours of train time to get there and back and there and back again! It was such fun, though, to work with Soeur Didier for a day. We had a miracle happen our first night in Nogent:
Soeur Didier and Soeur Sabatino had received an online referral of a woman named Hilde. We took the hour-long bus ride out to pass by her house and meet her. She was home (miracle #1), she let us in (miracle #2), and she was really interested (miracle #3)! She told us about how she had met with Sister missionaries a few years ago, but then she moved and lost contact. She talked about how she had researched a whole bunch of Christian churches but was never satisfied. She said the first time she prayed with the Sister missionaries, an indescribable feeling swept over her, and she just felt so good. We gave her a "Joy to the World" dvd and fixed a return appointment. She said she would read some chapters in the Book of Mormon beforehand and prepare a list of questions to discuss. um, GOLDEN! Soeur Didier and I hopped and skipped away from the apartment building. Such a lovely Christmas exchange miracle.
Soeur Larsen and I had a picture-perfect missionary christmas. On Christmas Eve, we had dinner at Chris and Maria's house. Chris is from the Congo, so we had a full-on African dinner! (including fish with the heads still on them... I was horrified when he brought those out! he had fun teasing me and scaring me with them :) ) it was really fun, and so nice of them to invite us. Afterwards, we went home, put on our Christmas Eve pajamas, and made a little "couch fort". We read "A Christmas Dress for Ellen" (aka cried our eyes out) and then watched the Joseph Smith movie in our fort. I know, i know... a very missionary christmas!
Christmas day, we woke up, opened gifts, then headed to church for sacrament meeting. There were probably only 20 people there... it was really fun. Afterwards, we headed over to the Gatay family for lunch. This is what we ate:
Crackers & cheese with fake cocktails
shrimp and smoked salmon
(they were nice and let soeur larsen and i eat foie gras instead)
creamed ham and mushroom ramekin- things
(i don't know the name of it)
after all that, Frère Gatay informed us the appetizers were over.
oh boy.
roasted chicken with gravy,
potatoes, and green beans
and of course, a bûche de noel with fake champagne.
I felt like i was going to pass out... they fed us to the brim! They also gave us each a little pile of gifts. And then, of course, i got to talk to YOU! santa claus was very good to me this year.
a happy & joyful new year to all!
little mish.

Monday, December 19, 2011

a happy surprise.

Friday night was the Blois Branch Christmas Spectacle. Throughout the week, Soeur Larsen and I distributed 300 invitations in the neighborhoods surrounding our church building. The members all invited their nonmember friends and family. The night of the spectacle came, and there were 14 non-members there! That might sound like a small number, but it was huge to us. It was a smashing success! The young women/men and primary children put on a miniature version of "A Christmas Carol".... it was adorable. There was a buffet afterwards and we mingled and talked. Out of those 300 invitations we distributed, we had ONE woman come! Her name is Isabelle. She lives on the same street as the church, and has always been curious about us. She figured the spectacle was a perfect opportunity to come and check it out! The members took her right under their wing. She left with a Book of Mormon and an invitation to come to church.
Sunday rolled around, and she walked into Relief Society right at 9:00! It was a happy surprise. She stayed for all three hours and seemed very interested. She's a non-practicing Catholic (like usual), so when we had a sunday school lesson on how we were created in the image of God, meaning God has a body like us, she was a little confused. Other than that, she seemed really interested! Christmas miracle.
We went to see Alexandra and Kevin on Saturday night. We walked into their apartment, and they had a friend over. Alex turned to her and said, "ask the missionaries the questions you were asking me earlier. they can help you." So her friend started asking questions about who God is, where we go after we die, etc. At one point, we pulled out the Book of Mormon to read a scripture to her. Alex jumped up and grabbed her copy then said to her friend, "you're going to like this. whatever you have a problem with, this book can help you." We have the best investigators ever! When we got up to leave, the three of them were getting ready to read Alma 32 and 2 Nephi 4 together. I have never had an investigator who spends their Saturday night reading the Book of Mormon with their friends!
life is good.
christmas magic is in the air,
and miracles are happening in blois.
joyeux noel!
little mish.

with kevin, alex, and kyllian

the blois château

With Alexandra, Soeur Larsen, and Kyllian in the background

pretty cathedral.

the entrance to the christmas market

Monday, December 12, 2011

those women which laboured in the gospel.

we taught Raphael this week. i believe i've talked about him before. he's about our age and he's VERY catholic. it's weird. hardly anyone around here is a practicing catholic, and if they are, they're usually older. he makes for a very interesting investigator! we started talking about prophets and commandments. he said he believes we don't need commandments because we have the Holy Ghost that tells us what we need to do. I had a strong impression come into my mind to talk about the Word of Wisdom, but he's a big talker and I couldn't get a word in. Out of the corner of my eye, i spotted Soeur Larsen fiddling with her scriptures. I looked over and she had opened to the Word of Wisdom section in the Doctrine and Covenants! Right then, Raphael paused and I started explaining that commandments, in addition to the holy ghost, are given to us for our protection. I explained that if you were drunk, you would not be able to feel or understand the Holy Ghost. That's one of the reasons we have the Word of Wisdom. He understood and told us he would keep reading the Book of Mormon to find his answer. Afterwards, Soeur Larsen and I talked about the little experience. She had had the same thought come into her head!
we also had our Christmas zone conference this week in Angers. The Assistants had called us two days beforehand and asked us to do the musical number. Pressure! We ended up doing "Breath of Heaven". I played and Soeur Larsen sang. It turned out pretty good! It was a really fun conference... they gave each companionship a stocking with a letter from home and a jar of nutella, president and soeur poznanski each spoke to us, then at the end we all had hot chocolate & cookies and exchanged white elephant gifts. I got a bag of M&Ms... Tasted like home :)
we taught Alexandra and Kévin this week as well. we love them. they have a long way to go (they live together and they both smoke), but the progress they've made is amazing. they both love the Book of Mormon (Kévin is in 1 Nephi 17... he told us he posted it as one of his favorite books on Facebook!) and the gospel principles manual. They have made leaps and bounds. We don't have to ask them to turn off the television anymore, and they never smoke around us. I love watching how the gospel changes people!
a few days ago, i was having a rough day. During my personal studies, I prayed and asked Heavenly Father to let me know He was there. I finished praying and "Philippians" came into my mind. I turned to Philippians, and i came across this verse :
 "And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life." ch. 4, v. 3.
Clement is the name of our baptismal date! I knew then that Heavenly Father was aware of us and our "labors in the gospel". I love the scriptures. 
 love from the loire.
little mish.

check out this fun video Lindsay sent:

when Alexandra and Kevin found out that Soeur Larsen and I had made a christmas tree out of paper and stuck it to our wall, they immediately gave us this little guy.

with Kyllian, Alexandra's son. we love him. 
(and no i didn't dye my hair... don't know why it looks so dark!)

my dieter drawing :) 
(sorry it's blurry... the camera WOULD NOT focus on it)

Monday, December 5, 2011

a beautiful perspective.

Blois is covered in twinkle lights.I thought our little town couldn't get any more charming, and then they go and get out the twinkle lights. It looks so magical at night time! And they're setting up the Marché de Noel (Christmas Market) in the square next to the library. Soeur Larsen and I made a Christmas tree out of paper and stuck it to our wall.... we're pretty proud of it. It is the most wonderful time of the year, isn't it?

{sorry this video is sideways... that's how she sent it and I don't know how to fix it!}

The work is going really well. Things are moving forward and progressing quite nicely! We had a rendez-vous with Clément this week to review the Plan of Salvation. I have a little Plan of Salvation chart I made in the MTC with all the steps that velcro on to a big sheet of paper. We took all the pieces off and mixed them up and had him put them back on in order. Like a little kid. Soeur Larsen, his wife, and I had fun watching him do it :) He did it perfectly! We talked about it afterwards and he kept saying that it is such a beautiful perspective to have. He's like every missionary's dream investigator. We love teaching him. He's getting excited for his baptism on January 7th!
Maria is doing good as well. We went to see her this week and she had dark circles under her eyes. She explained that her 4 month-old daughter has been mixing up her days and nights and hadn't slept for the past few nights, meaning Maria hadn't slept either. She has an 18 month-old son as well, so she just couldn't catch a break. We felt so terrible. We said a prayer with her and asked Heavenly Father to help her little girl sleep at night. Her baby has been sleeping through the night ever since! I love that Heavenly Father helps us with even the little things.
The other day, Soeur Larsen and I were on the bus. We were sitting apart from each other so we could talk to the people who sat next to us. The bus was empty except for the two of us... our plan was not working very well. I prayed that Heavenly Father would send someone nice to sit down next to me. A few minutes later, a woman got on the bus and sat herself down right next to me! We started talking about this and that. She told me a little bit of her life story and I told her about why I was in France. I ended up giving her a Book of Mormon before we parted ways, and she gave us her phone number. Prayer works!
love from the loire.
little mish.

Château de Cheverny.

Thanksgiving with the Elders.

being silly.