Thursday, February 16, 2012

From the Frozen Promised Land of Belgium

February 6, 2012

It's been a kind of slow week for rendez-vous unfortunately. Diamondo, Sara, Meritë and half of Belgium is sick right now. So it's been a real struggle getting to see people. But we've got great things planned for this coming week. So far, it everything goes through the way we've planned, we'll be seeing eight new amis. We're keeping our fingers crossed.  

Speaking of everyone in Belgium having a cold or the flu, I wish I could have taken a picture to show you a lab that I saw on the tram the other day. He had this massive scarf on under his collar. I started petting his head and when I stopped he started whining. His owner told me not to worry about it. "He's only doing that because he's sick. That's why he's wearing his scarf." Europeans are so funny about that. The second you sneeze, you've got to put on five scarfs. However, I think that's the very first time I've ever seen a dog follow the same rule. 

I realize that in last week's email I said we'd gotten things worked out perfectly to avoid any inconveniences for P-day. Well...I spoke a little too soon I guess. We've had a cold front come through from Siberia. Yeah...All I can say is I have zero desire to ever live in Siberia now. It's been SO cold. The sad thing is, number-wise, it's not really that bad. Utah gets about the same. But the humidity here makes all the difference.  

I'm just holding out hope that someday I'll be able to feel my fingers and toes again. ;) 

Mom, that scarf you made for me, while it was the biggest scarf I'd ever owned, and I wasn't really sure how I wanted to wear it when I first got it, has saved my life! No joke. Pretty sure I would have frozen to death without it. 

We did exchanges this week with the soeurs in Villeneuve D'Ascq. I went down there with Soeur Edgerly and her companion, Soeur Johnson came up here. I just love Soeur Edgerly. She's two transfers ahead of me. So she left the MTC right before I got there. So, we've pretty much been around each other since day one. We did an exchange in Versailles, but that's been our only other assigned time together. However, we both feel like we've practically served together with all of the times we seen each other in Paris, sleepovers before stake conference, etc. So it felt like I was hanging out with an old friend from high school, little odd since I've barely known her for a year now. It was just so fun to be with her and to be able to talk about all the missionaries who "died" at the beginning of our missions who none of our last few companions ever even met. 

While down there with her, we had a rendez-vous with one of their amies who will be getting baptized near the end of the month. I liked her. She's a little crazy ha ha, but I liked her. She'd ask the most random questions, at the weirdest times. In the middle of the lesson, talking about the ten commandments, she turned to me and said, "Kimberly, what do you think of Jehovah Witnesses?" (She couldn't say "Jorgensen" and asked me what my first name was. From then on, liking my name, she said it as may times as she could ha ha.) I covered that answer as tactfully as I could, then she went off on where she disagrees with their doctrine. ha ha That was a "fun" one to try and bring back on topic. 

In the mean time, Soeur Ingraham and Soeur Johnson were up here teaching English class and then an inactive member that we work with from time to time - and doing everything they could to not freeze to death. Before leaving the gare to go to Villeneuve D'Ascq with Soeur Edgerly, seeing the thin scarf Soeur Johnson brought up, I told her she could wear my scarfs if she got cold. With the disgustingly cold temperature in Brussels, it only took her a couple seconds once in the apartment to decide to put it on. Soeur Ingraham told me that the wind was terrible that night. So saved Soeur Johnson's life on Wednesday. And then Soeur Ingraham wore it on Thursday. And I've worn it all the rest of the week. So all-in-all, one scarf, three soeurs' lives saved. Soeur Ingraham and I discussed how, you'll never be able to imagine the ripple effect you've now had in preserving three missionaries lives. ;) All with one knitting project.

I can tell you, with this cold, I feel like I'm starting to look more and more Muslim. When we went out porting Thursday night, the only part of my skin you could see was my nose and eyes. Yup... I love layers. I had on the longest skirt I own, with three pairs of socks, boots, thermals, pants (hidden by the skirt and boots,) four shirts, two sweaters, a hat, gloves, my coat, and...the scarf. Sister Ingraham was just as layered. With the two of us looking like the Stay Puff Marshmallow man, we headed out.  

I'm so excited for spring. That's all I can say. 

On a warmer note, we had a rendez-vous Saturday night at the church with Hugo and the zone leaders. Having gotten a copy of the Book of Mormon in Swedish, we called him and asked him if we could give it to him. In the process, also passing him to the zone leaders, we asked him to meet us at the church about an hour before the zone leader's ami's baptism. When we told him that there would be a baptism at 6:30 and that he was welcome to come, he freaked out a little and made us promise that we wouldn't baptize him too. ha ha Not to worry Hugo. =) 

He came and we took him in the the JA center with the elders. We talked for a few minutes about who he is and what he remembered from the last time we spoke. We planned on going over the restoration and watching the film with him. Right before I turned the movie on Elder Hoopes asked him, "What do you want to get out of these visits." To which he responded, "Well, to be honest, I'm not looking to be converted. I'm interested in learning what you believe though. In fact, it was kind of interesting the day that the sisters knocked on my door, the only class I'd had at school that day was on religion. So I'd already been thinking a lot about religion that day. I think that's why I wanted to let them in and find out what you believe too." Cool, huh?! It's just amazing to me to see how the Lord is always preparing us and those around us for the next thing He'll toss our way. It was also incredible to see the Spirit work on Hugo and soften his approach. By the end of the movie, he was comparing himself to Joseph Smith, saying that "I've asked myself a lot of those questions. And I've got a lot more. I really hope this is what I'm looking for." And when the elders committed him to read the book, he practically jumped at it saying how much he wants to do so. Just to add the icing to the cake, when we were mingling with everyone else before the baptism, one of the older German sisters asked if he was a member. "Not yet." was his answer. He quickly caught himself, realizing what he said, but...Freudian slip? ;) 

Paula was also at the baptism. She brought her two sons and her husband as well. She was so happy to be there. Through the help of a wonderful member in the ward, she was able to get a small part time job. She started crying when I asked her how it was going and said, "You were right. It's like you said, God hasn't forgotten me. I thought He did, but I see now, He really is taking care of me. I just had to wait." Then after the baptism she surprised me a little bit when I asked her what she thought. Normally people just say, "It was good/interesting/touching/etc." Her response, "I'm a little afraid of the water. Is it normally cold?" (The heater broke. So the water was ice cold.) She then spoke to Sister Ingraham using the same tone - as if we were talking about her upcoming baptism and not the one we just watched. We expected before that she's be pretty open to the idea, but, having not been able to see her, we haven't discussed it. But now there's no doubt in our minds, she's planning on getting baptized. So...we're going to try and get these lessons out of the way as soon as possible. 

Over and over and over again this week, the Lord has been really helping me learn a couple of principles. I feel like everywhere I turn, and no matter what subject I study in the mornings, it always goes back to the same things.

1- God prepares us, and is currently preparing us for what lies ahead.

2- As long as we try, as long as we have the desire to follow the Lord and do the best that we can, even when we fall short of that goal, if we've tried our best, our "sacrifice" will be acceptable to the Lord.

3- And, less specifically, the atonement. Everywhere I turn I feel like I keep running into examples of how the Savior has covered us and the efforts that we need to put forth to obtain a fullness of those blessings. 

And every time I run into one of those three topics, it quickly leads to the other two. It just been fascinating. I wish I had something more insightful than that to tell you, but...that's all I've got for the moment. I think being with Soeur Edgerly allowed the both of us to reflect a little bit together about what we've accomplished over the past year here. We both acknowledged that neither of us are the world's best missionary, nor that we've been without our fair share of shortcomings, but we both have received the answer recently that, as we do what we can do, trusting the Lord...that's enough. Maybe we won't baptize 8,000 people like in the Book of Mormon, but we did/will continue to do our best. The Lord knows us and has prepared us to be who we are, where we are, at this time. He knew ahead of time the work that we would do, and it's acceptable to Him and what He wanted of us. I love that. I love that we can trust that, as long as we're trying our best, we have no reason to worry about His approval. Hmm...I feel like that's a little jumbled, but I don't really know how to explain it for the moment. But hopefully, you get a little bit of what I'm trying to say. 

Then again this morning, I felt impressed to flip through my notes from the MTC and came across the same three things, again and again. (shocker) ;) And found this quote from President Hinckley that summed it all up, "Please do not nag yourself with thoughts of failure. Do not set goals far beyond your capacity to achieve. Simply do what you can do, in the best way you know, and the Lord will accept your effort."

Anyway, that was my happy-feel-good-thought for the morning. =)

I hope you had a great week. I love you.

With love from the frozen promised land that is Belgium,