February 13, 2012
I've been extremely blessed throughout my mission to be able to witness countless miracles. However, I don't recall any week like this past one. Just when you think you've reached your miracle quota, God tosses another one our way. It's been...amazing, incredible, unreal, wonderful and an endless number of other joyful words. =)
The best day started off with a rendez-vous with Paula. It was the first time Sister Ingraham ever got to teach her. (Last time I taught her with Sr Murray.) We got to the chapel a little later than expected because our tram was delayed. However, the other district was holding their district meeting and invited Paula to eat lunch with them. Once we got there, we took her upstairs to the young adult center and watched the restoration movie with her. At the beginning of the rendez-vous she was a bit disheartened. She'd potentially just lost the temporary job that a member of our ward worked out for her. However, despite her continued stress of providing for her family, she was still pointing out the good things around her. She said the biggest thing has been the members of the ward. She told us that when she got to the chapel that morning, the German sisters were there (the elderly German sister equipe in the ward) and they hugged her when she walked in. "Then they said, 'Paula are you okay?' because I held onto them for a really long time. I don't know. I just feel my mother in them. It's been a long time since I've seen my mother, but every time I see them, I see her. And every time one of the brothers shakes my hand, I feel it is one of my brothers who I haven't seen in six years. And when I see you two, or the women in the ward, you're my sister that I haven't seen in years either. It's weird. I felt all alone, but now...I really feel like you're my family. Is that weird? I...I just feel....love here." The members have just been so wonderful with her. They've reached out to her and it's majorly affected her. And it all started with them just saying "hello."
As I said, we then watched the restoration film with her. She's been coming to church, and believes that everything that's taught is true, but had yet to hear the Joseph Smith story (we've really been struggling to meet with her. Her son has chronic bronchitis and she often has to take him to the doctor at the last minute.) I've never seen anyone be so into that film/story before. As it got to the clip of Joseph translating the gold plates, she freaked out, turned to me and said, "Those are the gold plate! That's the Book of Mormon! That's what I'm reading!" (She already about half way through the book.) Then as it showed the church being organized and the congregation following Joseph in a sustaining vote, followed my the sacrament, again she turned to us, "That's like what we do here!!! We do the same thing in this church!" (Her first week at church, several callings where extended. So since the beginning, she's seen us sustaining people.) By the end of the movie, she was so excited she could hardly speak, struggling to formulate sentences. "I've never seen that before. I've never seen a church that was created based on faith and not just on man. He didn't want to create his own church. He wanted to do what God wanted him to do. There isn't another church like that. It really is God's church!" I agreed with her, testified that it really is God's church and told her "If you would like to be a part of it, you now have that opportunity too. Paula, will you prepare yourself to be baptized on the 25th of this month?" Tearing up, and giggling through her answer, she buried her face in her hands, looked at me, smiled and, practically exploding with energy at that point, "YES! Of course. Oui oui oui!!! This is the proof that I've been waiting for! Yes!" The feeling in the room was beyond words. I wish I could really explain it, but...there just aren't adequate words to do so. But for sure, we were not alone. That room was...celebrating! =) She left the room floating on air.
As if that wasn't enough, we left the church to do a pass by. Ended up not finding this old ami, but found a crazy old African lady who talked to us for a while. It's always a bit of an adventure trying to talk to people when they keep going in and out of tribal languages and French. ha ha. On the way to our next appointment, we stopped in a store to buy a drink. I might have gasped as if I'd seen a celebrity when I saw...Diet Dr. Pepper sitting on the shelf! ;) Thinking the day couldn't get any better, the senior couple (the Halls) were at the church, and told me that they had a new comforter and cover in their car for me. =) =) =) Since we moved to the Forest apartment, I've been using a nasty shredded comforter that has probably been used by missionaries for the past century. I can appreciate hand me downs, but...I have my limits. So, baptismal date, dr. pepper, new comforter and next: a new amie.
Dana was contacted by the elders on the metro. She's only been here for eight months. She's also from Romania. With her broken French and our missionary/American French, we had to move a bit slowly through the lesson, but the Spirit was still there. I'll forever be grateful for the power of the Spirit and knowing that the Spirit doesn't need perfect teachers nor perfect French to still touch people's hearts. At the end of the rendez-vous, she told us she was going to read the Book of Mormon as fast as she could so that she could give it to her sister to read as well. Then we asked her to pray to close the lesson. She prayed in Romanian then looked up at us and said, "I feel something in my chest and on my back. It's...warm. I like it." So despite our imperfections and whatever information what lost in translation, the spirit still could speak to her. It was so tender the way she went on describing her feelings and asking us what that meant she needed to do. She's such a cute gal. =)
We had a cool experience with our goal setting this week too. While doing our weekly planning last week, we felt like we should say "three amis with a baptismal date." So...we did. Having absolutely no idea who we would be setting them with. Then, you know Paula's story now, second came Chantal.
Chantal met the missionaries with her daughter in London. Chantal's brother-in-law is a member and invited the missionaries over while she and Joanna were there on vacation. We're not sure how we got their information since it's been a good two years since they were taught, but a few weeks back we got to see them for the first time. They are so great. And when we asked them to pray to know if the Book of Mormon is true and if Joseph Smith was a prophet, Chantal and Joanna both immediately said, "I already know it's true. All of it." However, despite that testimony that they already have, they have yet to make it to church (with us. They used to go all the time.) And with their work/school schedule, it's really hard to see them. So going over their last night, we almost expected to have to drop them until they were ready to really commit. But, after talking for a bit, we also set a baptismal date with Chantal. It's not until next transfer though. She didn't feel ready enough to go any earlier, but...it's still a date! We almost got Joanna to set a date too, but she said she just doesn't feel ready yet. "It's a big deal, and I want to be ready."
All in all, we got to see, in a really cool way, how if we just listen to the Spirit, trusting the Lord (setting a goal of three baptismal dates) it can happen even though we may not know how to begin. And even though we didn't get the three, it was also that proof of how other people agency comes into play too. Yet in the end, we got to end the week, knowing that we'd done what they Lord had planned on that we hadn't imagined. That, as well as now having seven new amis from the week, we're ending the transfer on a very high note. =)
I wish I had time right now to tell you about every little (and big) miracle from this week, but as you know, we just never have enough time.
With another six weeks gone, I've got transfer news for you. I'll be staying in Louise for at least another six weeks (hopefully twelve.) Sister Ingraham is going to Caen. She's so stocked. I'm happy for her. She's been here for six months now and was ready for the change. And Caen was her dream city. So it was really happy news. As for me, Soeur Johnson will be coming up to Brussels. It's kind of funny that it'll be her because I got transferred here right after doing exchanges with Sister Ingraham. And this past transfer Soeur Johnson was here for exchanges with Soeur Ingraham. ha ha. I don't know much about her yet. She's pretty new to the mission (she'll be going into her third transfer.) But, all the interactions I've had with her have been great. She's a really cute girl. I'm excited to serve with her. =)
I love you. Have a wonderful week. =)