Wednesday, May 18, 2011

April 16, 2011

Bonjour ma chère famille!

This week has been one for the books. Literally. I'm 100% sure I've written more in my journal this week than I have any other time since the MTC. It's been out of control. So naturally, I forgot to look through it to remember everything I wanted to tell you, which means, you might be getting further details next week.

It may be different on your side of the ocean, but I feel like I haven't talked to you in months. There is no way that Mother's Day was only a week ago!

Philomene is doing so great! We met with her the other day and now we finally have the official baptismal date!!! =) She'll be getting baptized (unless something really dramatic changes things - and it would have to be REALLY dramatic) on the 29th of May! However it was a bit of a struggle getting to that appointment to set the date.

We had our rendez-vous scheduled with her for 5:00 and we needed to be at the other church (which is half an hour away) at 6:00 to teach English class. 5:00 was the only day and time she could see us, but it was going to make us potentially late for English class.

After calling to confirm with Philomene she told us she was coming, but was running  late. Even more worried at that news, we called the elders that we teach with to ask them if they could cover until we could get there. Well, both sets of elders were going to be late, leaving us to be the ones that had to be there on time. We were really frustrated though because we didn't know how we were going to be able to manage both, but couldn't justify (nor feel right about) cancelling on Philomene.

So, with no idea how we could do what we needed to do, we decided to just pray it would work, she'd be on time, and we'd make it to English class. With no reason to believe we could do it other than fully faith based hope, we headed out the door as soon as we finished praying (a good bit earlier than we "needed" to leave the apartment.) And then the miracles began.

 We got to our first metro stop just as the train was pulling in. So we didn't have to wait a second at the station. Then, at our second station where we changed trains to get to the church, the second train was just pulling in. Again, not a second of time lost. We made it to our final metro stop faster than normal and about fifteen minutes early for out rendez-vous. And as we were climbing the escalator, I saw Philomene heading around the corner the leave the station and head to the church (where we teach her.) We ran after her, caught up and walked to the church together.

So, let me pause and interpret the miracles thus far in the story. Had we not caught both trains just as we did, it easily could have taken five to ten minutes longer to get to Porte des Lilas (the metro stop by the church.) Had that happened, we wouldn't have caught up with Philomene. Had we not caught up with her, she would have made it to the church, the doors would have been locked and she would have left. (She can't call us. She can only accept calls. So she would have had no way to tell us she was there.) But because everything worked perfectly, we made it there on time to see her AND she was 15 minutes early despite telling us she'd be late. Giving us enough time to teach her and make it to English class. See the perfect orchestration that had nothing to do with us? We couldn't have even planned it that well if we tried.

After the lesson, we hopped back on the metro to head to the other church. -Again, the train was just pulling in when we got there. I'm serious, that NEVER happens. It's like hitting only green lights while driving, but times ten! We hadn't made it even one stop yet when the train shut down due to an emergency in the tunnels. After waiting a couple moments to be given the go ahead to start driving again, our driver announced that there had been a severe accident at Porte des Lilas -the metro stop we had just barely left. Over the next few announcements we heard, we gathered that there had been a suicide there. And it had happened right after we left. Had we not caught the train when we had, we would have most likely witnessed that and been stuck with no way to get to the church on time. But again, next miracle of the night, we had made it onto the right train that kept us away from that mess and could still get us to the church without anything worse that a momentary delay.

There we so many more details that are just hard to convey in words. The night was just...amazing. And Philomene is just great. She told us that her son, in Congo, found the church and is meeting with the missionaries. She was SO happy to tell us. She was just giddy that he finally made it. It was adorable. Along with fixing a new date, we taught her the word of wisdom. She agreed with all of it, but didn't love the idea of quiting coffee. However, she explained to us that, essentially, commandments are commandments. Therefore, she was willing to follow it. And on Sunday at church, we gave her  can of Caro and a box of herbal to tea to help replace her coffee.  She got all excited over them and told me that if she can have those, she has no need for coffee. "And from this point forward, my coffee drinking is finished!"

The cutest moment of the night though was after we finished our lesson and  we were walking back to the metro with her, she told us, "I've finally found my church. My search is over. I've found it and I'll never leave." =) I SO wish you could meet her -not that you'd be able to understand her or speak to her- you'd love her! I certainly do!

We saw Edinton and Anbu (the Indian men we're teaching) on Sunday. Anbu came last week, but Edinton couldn't make it. We watched the Restoration DVD last time with Anbu and apparently he's been telling Edinton about it all week long. When we finished the lesson this week, Edinton told me he had been waiting all week to see the movie.

Anbu just loved it. But apparently, his favorite part was seeing a christian baptism in the film. (He's Hindi and had never seen one before.) Luckily, there was a baptismal service after church though that we invited the two of the them. So as Edinton was explaining his having waited all week to see it, he said "but this is better. I wanted to see the film of a baptism, but now I get to see one in person." After a few more minutes, without any prompting from us, they told us that they want to be baptized and soon. Sister Williams and I had planned on bringing it up with them soon, but didn't have the opportunity yet and were a little leery of the date we felt was right, but thought they might think it was too soon. Turns out, they want to be baptized even faster than the two of us had been looking at! We'll still need a bit of time to get through all of the lessons with them, but a miracle none the less! =)

As I said we had a baptismal service after Church yesterday, actually, four of them. How crazy is that?! The St. Merri missionaries (St. Merri is the other Church in Paris) had three Chinese baptisms and one french guy all in one day! That ward will have NINE baptisms this month! They are just on fire right now! The baptisms yesterday were wonderful. It was Elder Liao's first! They were just so fantastic. And we had Anbu, Edinton and Philomene all there. The spirit at baptisms and the joy there is just indescribable.

The Egyptian woman I told you about on the phone that we're teaching...oh my heavens. I love her. (I say that a lot I realize, but it's true.) She told us this week that we're like her daughters now and will be the rest of our lives. Cute, huh? She even introduced us as her daughters to the man she rents her room from. She's just the sweetest lady. =)

I went back up to Brussels on Friday to do my legality. I LOVE Brussels -even if I was only there for the day. I can't explain why, I just love it there. We didn't have a ton of time due to a pretty major delay in train times and then in the actual legality office, but wonderful all the same. Spending copious amounts of time in the legality office, we got to looking around and couldn't help but laugh/be very confused by one poster we saw. It had the word "violence" written in all caps at the top, a picture right beneath than, and then several paragraphs on reporting violence. The picture was the confusing/funny part. It showed a couple of potted plants in what seems like a hallway leading to a bathroom with the door slightly ajar. So the whole picture was composed of three plants/flowers and an open door partially hiding the toilet inside. Um..."violence"? ha ha We didn't quite see the vision behind that one.

So P-day today, we went on a scavenger hunt around Paris with the Paris elders. We had a list of random things and places we needed to get pictures of and two hours to get as many as possible. We are exhausted now after running (literally) ALL OVER THE CITY today ha ha, but it really was fun. =)

I'll have to fill you in on all the other stuff I've forgotten next week, but for now, I love you! Have a wonderful week!