Monday, January 30, 2012

we are doing a great work and we cannot come down.

we had interviews- our last ones- with president this week. it was so surreal. President and Soeur Poznanski gave an amazing training on the story of Nehemiah. They announced our mission theme for 2012:
"we are doing a great work and we cannot come down."
 it was a good little boost for us as Soeur Larsen and I get ready to head into our last transfer.
do you remember Isabelle? she is the one who received a flyer in her mailbox for our Christmas spectacle and came, then came to church the next sunday. we finally got a rendez-vous with her this week and it was so good. She was born and raised Catholic, like most people around here. But, she questions the Catholic church, also like most people around here. We taught her the first lesson: prophets and dispensations, Christ's earthly ministry, the great apostasy, the restoration, and the Book of Mormon. the spirit was so strong and she accepted all of it. she was just glowing. she is so prepared for the gospel... she just drinks it all in. we're really excited about her... we're going to invite her to be baptized this week!
it was a lovely week. as always, Soeur Larsen and I are having a blast skipping and testifying all over this town!
love from the loire.
little mish.

Monday, January 23, 2012

you can have your orange juice and drink it too.

i feel as if my heart might just burst.
this week was one of those happy, blessed weeks where everything is bright and glowy and wonderful. it's chilly outside, but i don't mind. i try not to panic when i think that january is almost over. so fast, so fast. i'm trying to soak up every second i have left like a sponge. Soeur Larsen and I just burst with happiness every week at church. Our branch is like a little family (and not just because half our branch members are related in some way)... i have so many little mamans and papas here.
yesterday at church, we scheduled appointments with all of the members for the next two weeks; we're going to be making the rounds to present the Branch Mission Plan. almost every single member that we have a rendez-vous with offered to feed us! it was really funny. we didn't even go grocery shopping today. we had the first of our appointments last night and they sent us home with a loaf of bread fresh from the oven. France rocks.
i may have already told you this story, but i'm going to refresh your memory. So about two months ago, we went to visit an AWESOME family in our branch. they have two young sons, ages 10 and 12, who love the church and were always asking us how the work was going. So we decided to use them. we promised them that if they would pray every day and ask Heavenly Father to help us, we would find a family with boys their age and bring them to church. Fast forward to thursday night. we were at the apartment when we felt that we should go visit an inactive family in the branch. We had never met them before- they've been inactive for at least 10 years and they didn't want to see the missionaries. our branch mission leader suggested we try passing by. We had them on the brain for a week or so, but every time we planned to pass by something came up. We left right away and hopped on the bus (thursday night). We easily found their apartment. someone had just gone in the building, so the door was open. we slipped right in, found their apartment number on the mailboxes, and went up. as we got to their door, it opened and a friend of theirs left. they saw us and we waved, so they HAD to let us in! it was a total miracle. we had a great lesson with them. He is French and she's English, so we got to speak a little english with her... it felt weird. anyway, they have two young sons who are not members of the church. In fact, they don't know anything about religion. They don't know who Jesus is. But the two of them sat in for our lesson and prayer and said they wanted us to come back and teach them. the parents didn't have any objection... in fact, the dad wants to come back to church! we asked them how old their sons were.... and they replied, 10 and 12. I had the hardest time containing my excitement until we got outside! 10 and 12! and they're going to come to church! we could not believe it. it was nothing short of a miracle. we told the two boys in our branch yesterday, and they were thrilled. their prayers were answered! we have an appointment to teach the boys on friday. we can't wait. :)
We had a funny experience with Nadiha this week. we were teaching her about prophets, but the discussion switched to the word of wisdom. She drinks coffee and tea, and seemed reluctant to give it up. We explained that she could still have hot chocolate and herbal tea and she looked shocked. "really?" she said. "i can even have orange juice and stuff like that?" it was pretty funny. We explained to her that the word of wisdom does not ban ALL drinks, just the bad ones. then she happily accepted to live it.
missionary life is the best kind of life.
love from the loire,
little mish.

Monday, January 16, 2012

my name is soeur williams, and i'm a mormon.

the most exciting thing ever happened yesterday: Clément blessed the sacrament! Soeur Larsen and I were glowing with happiness. I love to watch recent converts grow and progress in the church. A sweet member in the branch started crying about Clément in her talk... He is absolutely adored by all the members. Next stop... temple!
Another cool thing happened this week. Last sunday, a member in our branch came up to us and told us that she had run into an old investigator in town. The two got to talking and the investigator, Nadhia, said she wanted to see the missionaries again. We passed by her house and she let us right in and told us she had been waiting for us. She's around 50... a teeny little French woman with three cats and crazy African sculptures in her house. We like her already! (minus the cats part) She came to a branch activity with us that day and all the members remembered her name and welcomed her back in with open arms. We're excited about her! The members here in Blois are just stellar. For a missionary, that is the BEST.
We started volunteering at the Red Cross recently. When volunteering there, we are asked to take off our missionary tags and we are not allowed to initiate a conversation about our church. So, we prayed beforehand this week that the other volunteers would ask us about our church and our mission. When we walked in, before we could say anything, the volunteer ladies were bombarding us with questions. "You're mormon, right?" "what are you doing in France?", etc. It was so cool! Everyone was really accepting, and they even gave us herbal tea during their coffee break. I hope we will be able to teach them by example, since we're not able to actually teach them.
Other than that, not much has happened this week... Just lovely missionary life! I'm sorry it's so short... I'm not feeling very good today. love you all!
little mish.

we found this building in Blois... built in 1470!

 pictures from around town

Monday, January 9, 2012

the newest little fish in our pond.

Clément got baptized!
and it was so perfect. the week proceeding the baptism, soeur larsen and i would just randomly look at each other and start giggling. who would have thought that she and i would be having a baptism together in the field? it was surreal.
since there isn't a baptismal font in Blois, the baptism was held saturday evening in Orléans. the ENTIRE branch of Blois showed up for the event (all 50 of us!), plus Clément's in-laws and friends. it was a full house! everyone was chatting and laughing and bise-ing. (seriously, LOTS of kissing goes down at a french baptism!)  He was so calm and happy, despite the fact that the heating was not working at all in the building and the water in the font was cold.  It was so much fun to see him in white, then in a suit and tie. he just looked so mormon. it was the BEST.
The Branch President gave a talk after the ordinance, welcoming Clément as a member of the church. He said everyone in the world is like a little fish, swimming along the current. But we, as members of the church, have to dare to be different and swim against the current. Clément joked afterwards that he was a little frozen fish :) 
Afterwards, we all ate Galette des Rois, a french new year's tradition. it's kind of like a tart with a little toy hidden inside. the person who gets the toy in their piece gets to wear a paper crown. it was a party.
yesterday, Clément got up in sacrament meeting and bore his testimony. It was so sweet and humble. Soeur Larsen and I felt like glowing parents. He also said the closing prayer.... the branch is REALLY excited he's finally a member! He was so ready. He's getting the Aaronic Priesthood next week, and then he'll be off!
we went and had lunch with Odile, a member in our branch, this week. She's a tiny little frenchwoman and we just adore her. She 's so eccentric and so herself... for example, if she wears a purple dress, she wears purple lipstick and carries a purple purse too. she loves to laugh and to talk about beautiful things and deep things too. we had a delicious little french lunch and talked. She told us about how much she loves David Bowie and Captain Moroni, and all the gospel ties she found in the Lord of the Rings. We love to partake of her wisdom. :)
we have another member in our ward who is a pâtissier. (he is also the fiancé of one of our amis) so this week, we went over to their apartment and he taught us how to make macarons while we taught his fiancée the gospel. it was a pretty good system, if you ask me! it was fun to learn how to make something french... now i can make something a little more impressive than crêpes and quiche!
i had a little personal triumph this week: i finished the Book of Mormon in French! i was proud of myself. i even read the Isaiah chapters. It was a really cool experience to read the Book of Mormon in my mission language... something i'll never forget!
love from the loire.
little mish.

waiting for the baptism to start!

Clement's baptism!

in downtown Blois

with chris and maria

our lovely macarons

our street... rue denis papin

Monday, January 2, 2012

a charming new year.

happy 2012!
my "blackout year" has come to an end. (blackout year=when you spend all of one year as a missionary). it has flown by. we had a lovely new year celebration, french style. On New Year's eve, we went to the Liébard family's house for dinner. it was just the best. they have a perfect little french house and it was just so cozy and charming. We had raclette for dinner.... heaven. then we got to play a board game! it's been a LONG time since i've done that. It made me miss scrabble :) we were home by 9:30 and in bed by 10:00. aaaand that was the extent of our partying. it was perfect!
yesterday as we were walking into the chapel for sacrament meeting, our branch president came up to us and asked both of us to each give a 10 minute talk right after the sacrament. I was also playing the piano so I had zero time to think about what I was going to say. I said a prayer and asked Heavenly Father to help me to know what to say. My turn came, and I went up to the pulpit with my scriptures and just started talking. It was like my mouth detatched itself from the rest of my body and took off running. It felt like I had no control over what I was saying! It was a really cool, out-of-body experience. I don't even remember everything I said, but people told me they liked it. isn't that amazing? Prayer works!
after church, we went over to our branch president's house for new year's lunch. we had a great time.... that family is so entertaining. they fed us to the brim! their oldest son is a pâtissier, so he brought some delicious hand-made chocolates. after the meal, we played a mormon trivia game from like the 1970's called "Zion" (the branch president brought it back with him from his mission). It was so funny. all the question cards were in english... it was fun for us to hear them read them outloud with their thick french accents. We had hot apple cider (a special american treat just for us) and then the branch president shared a spiritual thought from Roland's website! I was so proud.
the work is going great... Clément is ready to go! We can't WAIT for his baptism on saturday. this will be my first real french person baptism!! pray that it all goes smoothly!
love from the loire.
little mish.

a drawing i did as a christmas gift for a member.

exchanges with Soeur Didier!

with Axel, Chris and Maria's little boy, on christmas eve

 our christmas eve fort

 a cute shop window: "i am with you until the end of time"