Saturday, November 5, 2011

I did speak english once, right?

November 5, 2011

Happy Halloween! Following the suggestion of Soeur Emilcy, she and I had themed costumes this year. We decided to dress us as Mormon missionaries -name tags and everything -we went all out. ;) And then, as par tradition, at the end of the day we even went trick-or-treating. A.k.a. we went porting. ;)

Sunday we had a weird "coincidence." Soeur Emilcy and I'd planned to go contacting, but when the hour arrived, felt contacting on the street was not what the Lord wanted us to do. We thought about porting. Also not it. In the end, we decided to go to the apartment and call the people in our area books. I love area books. The first thing I do when I get to a new city is to go through the book and see if there is anyone who is no longer being taught that may still have potential. However, there are a few pages in there I don't like to deal with: potential investigators. Whenever we contact someone who gives us their name/address/phone number etc, a member gives us a referral, or the church sends us a name, they are entered into the "potential amis" page. From there, if lessons are started, there's a spot to mark that they've been taught. Generally, if they are still on the list and were never taught after being contacted, there is a good reason for that. Like...they tell us never to call them again; we're a sect; they gave us a fake number; etc. So...not my favorite list to blindly call. I just don't have a testimony of it's success. But, we felt it was what the Lord wanted us to do. So...we did it.

There are several pages of names in the book. There are a couple pages from the summer of 2010 that have virtually no information/commentary about the people, nor anything stating if they were passed to other missionaries, taught, etc. So we figured half of them had probably been passed to other missionaries around Paris, but we needed to call them anyway just to be certain. One of them is named Jean. Soeur Emilcy called him. She stated who we were and asked if he remembered meeting the missionaries. He said, "Yes. I actually have a couple of the brothers here. I think they are in your ward." "Oh really? You're sure they are members of our church and not Jehovah Witnesses?" "Umm...yeah I think so. I don't know them very well though. Their names are Elder Hall and Elder Duarte." Those two elders happen to be the assistants and are most definitely members of our Church and in our ward! Soeur Emilcy just laughed confirmed that he was right. Then told him that we'd love to see him at church and that that was proof that we were doing our best to take good care of him ha ha. Hanging up the phone, knowing Jean was a single man, I just assumed that the sisters passed him to the assistants a long time ago, but forgot to write it down. We laughed for a while about the coincidence of that timing, but moved on thinking nothing more of it. About thirty minutes later the elders called. "Did you just call someone?" (Yes. Quite a few people actually.) I told them what we'd been doing and that I figured the sisters forgot to mark that they'd passed him. Then, not believing in coincidences, I was curious about Jean. So I asked about him and their side of the story. When Elder Duarte got to the area, he flipped through the area book, found Jean and noticed that he was from the same country as Elder Duarte's father. So...sure why not. He wrote down his information and planned to contact him some day. He's carried that piece of paper around with him for three weeks now and felt impressed to visit him Sunday night. They had never met him before. They knocked on his door. He let them in. They talked for a couple of minutes then started with a prayer. Right at the end of the prayer, Jean's phone rang. "I'm sorry. But I have to answer this." Jean picked up the phone and guess who was on the other line! The sisters! God was making sure Jean had contact with the missionaries that night. He told the elders that he's very active in his church, but if this church is true, his ties to his current church don't matter and he'll join. He explained to the elders that they couldn't convince him to join though. He'd have to pray. "I know God will tell me if it's true." I love when investigators "teach" us what we'd planned on telling them all along. =) So now it's up to Jean. He could be a major miracle story as long as he does his part and listens. If nothing else, both the assistants and Soeur Emilcy and I had our testimonies of God directing us and this work strengthened that night.

Tuesday marked the beginning of a new month (Where did October go?!) Meaning, my eleven month mark. To "celebrate" we had our regular transfer exchange. This time it was with the sisters in Louise -the other ward in Brussels. (I haven't served there, but it's where Sister Woodruff was trained.) I didn't realize until our train was pulling into Brussels and I saw that city, how very much I've missed it. I felt like I had gone home. =) Walking though that gare and that city again felt so surreal. It was like this fictional city and story I have in my head; a story that says that I used to live there suddenly became real. I told Soeur Emilcy it's probably a small fragment of how I'll feel when I actually go home. I feel like everything about home could just been a story I've created, or a film I've seen. It's a story I know really well, it really true ha ha? I LOVE Belgium. =) It was just wonderful to be there again. And there were so many little things I'd forgotten that just made me smile when I saw/heard them again. (Most of them are French words or phrases that no one else says outside of Brussels, or I'd explain them to you.) I was with Sister Woodward and Sister Ingram. What cute girls! They are just dolls. It was just an amazing exchange. But, one flaw: English. They are both American. I'm American. They speak English. Doesn't sound like there's a problem there. I know. But there is. Problem: apparently I can't speak English. Not speaking it anymore has absolutely destroyed my ability to speak! I was having the hardest time staying in English - constantly slipping in French words or phrases, or just altogether forgetting how to say certain words in English. It was ridiculous. ha ha Honestly, eleven months into the field, several months left to go -there is absolutely no hope for me when I get home. ;) "I am just a disaster!"  ha ha

Last night we had our first rendez-vous with a lady named Rita. She is one of the people we found during our Sunday "finding" session. She was another person that had no information next to her name other than her number and address. She was more than willing to meet with us and fixed a rendez-vous right away when we called. We got talking with her and I honestly expected that she'd had contact with the missionaries that just hadn't been documented. Nope. Apparently, the sisters contacted her on the street, and (African that she is) she was more that happy to give them her information knowing that they wanted to talk about Jesus. But that was the last contact she'd ever had with the missionaries until now. So we got to start at the very beginning with her. I love those rendez-vous. When you get to really set the foundation without any preconceived notions from their past lessons, it's just...wonderful. =) We talked to her about the restoration of the church and the Book of Mormon (typical first rendez-vous.) I invited her to be baptized when she has her own testimony. She gladly accepted and begged us to tell her how and when she could get her hands on a copy of the Book of Mormon so she could start reading it as soon as possible. She was thrilled when we told her she could keep the one she was holding in her hands. She's fantastic! She's from Congo Kinshasa -just like Philomene. And boy is she ever like Philomene! She's toned down in personality, but her mannerisms, style of speech (not just accent), her openness to the gospel, etc. It was such a flash back to my Paris Lilas days to be with Rita. And that is never a bad thing. =) I just really hope I get to be here when we teach her about temples and can tell her there will be a new one in her home town! I'm so excited to work with her. She's going to be incredible. The only down side to that rendez-vous was leaving it. We went out and waited for our bus with two very drunk men. The one was at the point that he was struggling with his aim in getting his can of beer to his mouth (never really succeeding the whole time we were there.) In between attempts to take another drink he was doing his best to show off his German Shepherd to us. The alcohol in his system could be smelled from a mile away, but otherwise, he was pretty harmless. However, our other sauced friend was convinced he had to tell me about everything he knows about Jesus. He got down to the details of Greek vs Hebrew words. Sorry frère, the French you speak combined with the alcohol you've ingested causing you to slur something fierce, coupled with your logic about the existence and deity of Christ are more or less lost on me. But...I'll give you points for persistence. I was SO happy when that bus finally showed up. That may have been the longest four minutes of my life. We got on the bus. I greeted our bus driver and thanked him (he'd seen the situation.) He just smiled and said, "I'm sorry. I got here as fast as I could." ha ha

Last thing to tell you about from the week was our P-day today. I love today. We did our shopping then quickly ate lunch. Soeur Emilcy laughed at me a bit for my choice of how to pass my lunch hour, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Nothing beats Mango nectar, French cheese/bread, apple sauce and an episode of The District. (The District has become my favorite series! Possibly because it's the only one I can watch -not being allowed to watch TV, but I love it! They use it for training purposes with us. It's made up of clips of a district of missionaries in California. So you get to see them, their investigators, etc.) I realize it's kind of lame that training videos have become a highlight in my life, but...what can I say? ha ha =) After that, we finally went to the Chateau. Wow. Honestly, there aren't even words. It was breathtaking. Pictures just don't do it justice. I can't imagine living like that. Marie Antoinette had such a bizarre life that I will never be able to relate to (and I'm SO okay with that. If nothing else I'll pass on that whole death by guillotine thing.) I wish you could see it. It's just...amazing! Soeur Emilcy wants to go back again next week. ;) I would send you pictures, but my camera can't connect to the computers here. Maybe later.

Well, there's my week in a nutshell. I love you! Have a wonderful week. =)