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

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