Monday, February 27, 2012

surrounded with beautiful things.

this week was oh, so good.
wednesday afternoon was beautiful and sunshiney. we went to see Aude-Laurène, an inactive member. She was baptized in 2009, was active for a year, then kind of faded away. We had planned to talk about the Atonement and share the story of the woman touching the Savior's clothes, but then we got there and started talking and she told us about how she used to read the Bible and the Book of Mormon, then it became just the Bible, then nothing. She sometimes recites Bible verses to herself that she memorized as a child. It was the weirdest feeling, but I found myself turning to 2 Nephi 4 and saying all these things and just testifying of the Book of Mormon, and it was just amazing in it's own little way. Soeur Larsen asked her great questions. The spirit was strong, and we just felt inspired. By the end we had committed her to read 3 Nephi 11. 
after Aude-Laurène, we went to see Carlos, another inactive member. he used to be an awesome member- super active and strong, in the bishopric, etc. he has some very difficult challenges in his life which have led him into inactivity. the members all miss him, but they haven't been able to reach him for a year or so. so we passed by his apartment about a month ago, and it was one of the weirdest experiences of my mission. It was obvious he was not in his normal state of mind, which was so sad. He had been reading the Bible a lot and letting doubts and anti-mormon things creep into his mind. he went off for about an hour in his doorway about this and that, and not knowing what to do, we read him a verse in the Book of Mormon and left.
so, we went over after Aude-Laurène with an elderly couple in our branch. We knocked on the door, not knowing what to expect and just hoping we could get a word in. Carlos opened the door with a smile on his face. I could see he had set out apple juice, cups, and a bowl of nuts on his coffee table. We walked in, and i instantly filled up with love for him. The spirit washed over all of us, and i just could not believe the difference. He had completely changed- he was glowing. we sat down, and there on the table behind him was his Book of Mormon, right next to his Bible. already knowing the answer, we asked, "Carlos, have you been reading the Book of Mormon?" "yes, every day." he replied. then he said through his tears, "I know it's true. It's the word of God." the spirit was almost tangible. we read 2 Nephi 32:3 and testified of the power of the Book of Mormon. I felt a constant flow of information to my mind and heart throughout the entire lesson. I was never at a loss as to what to say. but that wasn't the most amazing part. the most amazing part was seeing the power of the Book of Mormon. it changed him, completely. It humbled him and softened his heart. it was the most stark contrast, the most radical change i have ever seen.
Nadiha has also been seeing the power of the Book of Mormon in her life. She is so zany and spunky, and we just love her. when we first started teaching her, we had a hard time understanding her, and we felt like she didn't get what we were saying. So, we started putting a heavy emphasis on the Book of Mormon. Sometimes we even call her at night and read a chapter with her over the phone. Little by little, she is beginning to change. she understands what we teach her, and we understand what she is saying. She loves the Book of Mormon, and every time she talks about what she's read, she gives us insights we have never even thought of before. it really is miraculous what the Book of Mormon can do.
We went to see Kévin and Alexandra on saturday afternoon. we had planned to tell them we could not teach them anymore... they weren't progressing and have a very hard time coming to church. we got there and started talking and told them our purpose in teaching them is to lead them to baptism. they were like, "really?" (sometimes it's disheartening how much people don't listen to what we say) anyway. it actually turned out to be a great lesson though. Kévin told us he had read up to 2 Nephi 25 in the Book of Mormon. He told us that his life is hard, and there are a lot of things that are going wrong, but the only thing that is going right in his life is the Book of Mormon. He talked about how he loves the way we pray in our church, and he feels so much closer to Heavenly Father since he stopped doing recited prayers. He said, "well, sisters, you might just have another baptism before you leave." hah. so great.
thursday evening we went contacting along the Loire river. it was a beautiful, breezy night. we talked with people on the street and with each other, and it was just magical. we marvelled at how amazing it is that the Lord put us in this beautiful little town, and that He wants us to enjoy and appreciate it. done! i love how He surrounds us with beautiful things, and allows us to create beauty as well. sometimes i forget how huge that really is. it reminds me of a quote by Brigham Young i read this morning:
“There is a great work for the Saints to do. Progress, and improve upon and make beautiful everything around you. Cultivate the earth, and cultivate your minds. Build cities, adorn your habitations, make gardens, orchards, and vineyards, and render the earth so pleasant that when you look upon your labors you may do so with pleasure, and that angels may delight to come and visit your beautiful locations. In the mean time continually seek to adorn your minds with all the graces of the Spirit of Christ."
and from President Uchtdorf:
"The more you trust and rely upon the Spirit, the greater your capacity to create. That is your opportunity in this life and your destiny in the life to and rely on the Spirit. As you take the normal opportunities of your daily life and create something of beauty and helpfulness, you improve not only the world around you but also the world within you."
on saturday afternoon, we got on a bus to go to a neighboring town to do passbys. we don't sit next to each other when we're on the bus so we can talk to people. So, i got on and sat opposite a woman who was sitting by herself. She instantly read my tag, so I struck up a conversation. it was like we were already friends. Her name is Vanessa, and she's from Maurice Island. never heard of it? yeah, me neither. anyway, we bonded over the whole being-far-from-home-and-family thing. she said it's hard, but she relies on prayer to help her through it. I told her about a book I'm reading that comforts me and gives me counsel whenever i need it. I pulled out a copy of the Book of Mormon and offered it to her. She was really touched and said she was so happy to have met me. we exchanged phone numbers, and she said she would love to have us over to talk about the Book of Mormon and the church! it was so cool. I love how the Lord knows that a little missionary in a tiny town in a small country needed to be on a specific bus on a saturday afternoon to talk to this woman.
missionary work is the most amazing, miraculous thing. blessings are continually being poured out upon us. we are tired and worn out and sometimes it is just hard, but more often than not i feel almost as if there is a hand on my back, gently helping me along the way.
love from the loire.

 at the Blois château
pretty blois château.
we love waiting for the bus.
our little town

Monday, February 20, 2012

my cup runneth over.

firstly, thank you for your prayers. i'm feeling better! i had to spend the first half of the week confined to the couch... Not fun. But i went to the doctor on tuesday, and he gave me lots of cough syrups and such. he was asking me about what i'm doing here in France, so I explained a little bit, then he said, "oh, you're doing that thing that Mitt Romney did here when he was young." sure, i guess you could put it that way. we've been hearing a lot about Mitt Romney (or as they say it here, "Meet Ruhm-nay") lately. It's either Mitt or the temple in Paris. Oh well, at least more people know who we are now!
other than the minor sickness setback, this week has been good. Soeur Larsen and I are still as happy as clams in our little French village. We really want to just sprint to the end, so we made a goal to speak 100 percent french all the time, even in the apartment. it's been a hard adjustment, mostly because we're such good friends and we like to chat when we get home. but it's getting there, and we can feel our french getting better! we also decided to read the entire Book of Mormon in French outloud this transfer. It has been a really good experience so far. It helps our pronunciation, and it really makes an effect on our day. We feel so good when we read, and the day just isn't as good if we forget to read. Isn't that neat? It's been really fun to end my mission with Soeur Larsen. It's so funny to think back on our MTC days, stuck in a tiny classroom all day, struggling to learn all the vocabulary and speak in full sentences in French. the time has flown by.
we went to see a less active, Nathalie, this week. she's a single mother and she's been having a hard time the past few years. what do you do when someone is having a hard time? that's right, read them some President Uchtdorf! we pulled out the big guns: "Forget me Not". It went so good. How could it not? That talk could prick any woman's heart. We read from the talk and shared some scriptures and just testified of how much the Lord loves her. As we were talking, I felt so much love for her. it just filled me up, like pouring water into a glass. I just wanted to hug her and tell her everything would work out. But, we're in France, so i had to settle for the little air kisses. Not exactly the same effect, but ça va. I just love that feeling though... when we're in a lesson and we're reallyfocused on the person and seeking the spirit, my little cup fills up with love for them every time. Isn't that amazing? I don't even know these people that well. I think one of the most important things i have learned on my mission is the real meaning of the phrase "my cup runneth over." Sometimes i feel like i am so full of love for these people that i'm afraid it will spill out and run over the top of my head, down to my toes. i love these french people, even if they are sometimes like their famous baguettes: crispy on the outside, but warm and soft on the inside. France is so warm and soft and i feel so at home here.
love from the loire.
little mish.

Monday, February 13, 2012

a letter from Soeur Larsen.

Please note:: Lindsay has been sick the last few days and was feeling too "foggy" to write a big email for the blog this week... so I am posting the letter that sweet Soeur Larsen wrote to her family.  It is a wonderful letter!  These two Soeurs are SO very happy that they get to finish their missions together!  Please keep them in your prayers as they begin the final stretch of their time in France... 6 weeks to go!

Last transfer!

So, my last transfer officially begins this Wednesday. It would probably bother me less if it wasn't brought up by every member and every missionary that I ever talk to... haha. But hey, good news! So, President Poznanski told Sr. W and I that we were definitely not staying together for our last transfer, which made sense to us because we're both dying at the same time so they'd have to whitewash the ville again, which is hard on the branch. So we were mentally prepared for that and excited and nervous for a little change for the last transfer. I remember feeling so good one night after doing planning we were talking about the area and I thought, well whatever happens, I left Blois better than I found it. So anyway the anticipation was mounting all the way til Saturday, when we got the transfer email, when lo and behold... Sister Williams and I are staying together in Blois for another transfer. I don't have to leave my beloved branch and my best friend! I'm overjoyed! Which also means that I will have only served in 3 areas my entire mission... weird. Everyone is surprised, and it looks like when people kept telling us they would pray for both of us to stay in Blois, they weren't kidding. Be careful what you pray for!

The excitement of the transfer news seems to have gotten the best of Sr. W though, she's been sick ever since. Yesterday we even missed church, which was the oddest thing I have ever done. Our amis still got to church though, and according to the DMB they were well taken care of. We also got a bunch of phone calls from people checking up on Soeur Williams and offering advice, and the family who had invited us over to eat brought the meal to us instead. We have the best branch ever :) She's doing better now, don't worry.

Our amis are doing well, we invited Isabelle to get baptized last week and she said yes, so we're going to start working towards a date. She's just such a wonderful person and it's been such a miracle to teach her. She understands the gospel, everything makes sense to her, and while she was a little reluctant about a few things at first, she's been trying out the things we've asked her to do like praying differently and reading the Book of Mormon and she's opened up a lot. She feels like family already and she gets along great with the branch.

We also have several members who have invited us to come teach their friends this week, and we're so excited! That's the absolute best kind of missionary work to do! Woot! Haha.

Oh also this last week we did exchanges with the soeurs in Angers, which was super fun. I was with Soeurs Soares and Woodruff (who was in the MTC with me) and Soeur Williams was with Soeur Emilcy. It was fun to see a new area, and Angers has a super legit castle. Also we had a miracle! Tuesday night we were going to contact an American girl who had been referred by her friend. She had this super wierd address and we couldn't find it anywhere and no one we asked knew where it was. Finally, just before time to head home we found it, knocked on the door and an American girl opened the door and went, "the Mormon missionaries!" Oh sweet music to my ears. She was so excited! She even went, "Hold on, I'm talking to my boyfriend on Skype. He'll be so excited you guys found me!" Well, that's one I haven't heard before, I'll be honest. We were so thrown off to get such a joyful welcome! We got to know her and she talked about how she'd been basically raised Mormon, all her friends were Mormon and she used to go to church with them and FHE and everything. Too good! So, I was half hoping to get transferred to Angers so I could start teaching her with them, but no luck.  

I felt like I had a lot to say when I sat down, but it has fled my mind... Not a lot happened this week, outside of the usual... Tuesday and Wednesday we were on exchanges, and Friday we were inside because I was sick, and I was hoping that one day where I just forced myself to stay in bed would make everything all better. It worked, I feel great now, but I seem to have passed it. So yesterday I studied a lot, and Saturday I deep cleaned the apartment.  

Well I can tell you about my exciting studies! So one of the many great things about my companion is that she is a literature major, and she loves words. She has this giant dictionary and she taught me the fun of looking up words. Sometimes for studies she'll just take one verse and dissect it and look up all the words and just get all these new meanings out of it and it's crazy and super cool. So yesterday I did a lot of that, and did the same thing with my patriarchal blessing. It blew my mind! I got so many different meanings and a totally new understanding out of it and I would just recommend everyone to do it.

We did transfer planning on Saturday, and we have lots of good goals for this transfer to finish strong! We're doing an English fast this transfer, speaking only French together, soaking up my last 6 weeks of being surrounded by this beautiful language. Sad day. We've also been reading out loud together out of the Book of Mormon after reading something that said if you read the BOM out loud in a language you'll be fluent in it. I've been surprised how much it's helped, not only my French, but just our companionship and the Spirit in our apartment. I love that book, it's a powerful thing. I love how it has become the first thing I turn to when I need an answer or comfort or anything at all.

Well I hope you all have a super awesome week, Happy Valentine's Day!
I love you!
Soeur Larsen

Monday, February 6, 2012

freezing hands, warm heart.

i have never been so cold in my entire life.
below freezing temperatures and winds so fierce i thought it was going to blow my eyelashes right off of my face.... that was our week. finally, mercifully, we woke up yesterday to a fresh blanket of snow on the ground. more like lots of blankets: it was around FOUR inches! four inches of glorious snow. i was so happy that after all that freezing cold, we finally had something to show for it. Soeur Larsen and I walked home from church in absolute snowy heaven.
While Soeur Larsen were blissfully enjoying our snowflake day, Blois was thrown into chaos. They're not really equipped for snow: no snowplows, no shovels, no salt. that's right: no salt. they throw dirt on the snow instead, turning it into dangerously slippery mud puddles (don't worry, i only fell down ONCE!). Soeur Larsen and I found it highly amusing watching everyone sprinkle dirt on their snowy walkways.
we had some cool little experiences this week. we had some extra time before a rendez-vous on friday afternoon, so we decided to do some door-knocking (what is that called in english? we call it "porting" because the french word for door is "porte") anyway. It was a painfully cold and windy day and we looked like hoboes with all of our layers and scarves on. no one was letting us in and we were just so cold. we finally found a quiet spot and prayed. essentially we said, "Heavenly Father, we are so cold. please lead us to someone who will let us in so we can get warm". Not even five minutes later, a muslim girl let us into her apartment building. even though she wasn't interested, we were so grateful to be able to stand inside the door of her apartment building for a few minutes so we could rub our faces to get the feeling back into them. I love that He will answer even the silly little prayers from two desperately cold missionaries. He is so kind and good.
On Tuesday, we went to a neighboring town to pass by a couple that was referred to us by our branch president's wife. their son is a member and lives about an hour away with his wife. This member of ours has been reaching out to them (she gave them a Book of Mormon!) and sharing the gospel with them. She gave us their address last week, so we decided to go and check it out. the husband was there and talked with us for a few minutes. he went on and on about how much he likes all the members he's met, and we chatted about the church. He wasn't interested in anything more than that, but we felt okay about it. Afterwards, we went over to see the Branch President's wife, since she had had carpel tunnel surgery the week before and we wanted to see how she was doing. She invited us in and we talked for a few minutes and told her we had just passed by the referral she had given us. She looked surprised, then said she had felt impressed to pray for them about an hour before- right when we were getting to the town- so she did. It was a cool little miracle that strengthened her faith.
Samuel and Etienne, our two little boys, are doing so good. we went over for a lesson on friday with Frère Poznanski, our mission president's dad. At first, only Samuel was there. the last time we taught him, we asked him to try praying that night. we asked him if he did it, and he said he did and that Heavenly Father had answered his prayer. It was the sweetest thing, watching a little twelve year-old boy telling us about his very first experience with prayer and with God. we asked him what he remembered about the plan of salvation and were pleasantly surprised when he gave us a detailed description of what we had taught him the week before. yes! so, we went on to explaining prophets and scriptures. It has been an interesting experience, teaching children who had no concept of God or Jesus Christ or religion at all. It has definitely helped us simplify our teaching! anyway. we watched the Restoration DVD with them (Etienne joined in just as we started it) and they totally got it. we were just blown away by how smart they are. We gave them each their own Book of Mormon, and the two of them both opened it up and started reading the introduction on the spot. they are both so guileless and faithful and pure. pray for them!
On Tuesday, we went to see Hélène, a less-active in our branch. it had been a crazy day, and my sore ankle had spread all the way up to my leg. i was in pain and uncomfortable throughout the lesson, but we had a good time with her. at the end, we asked her to give the closing prayer. She said a sweet little prayer, and asked a blessing that our legs wouldn't be sore. She had no idea about my leg! it was a sweet little reminder that Heavenly Father is watching over us and knows what we're doing. Isn't that neat?
love from the loire.
little mish.

 too tired to put pajamas on.