Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Subject line of the week: spiders, break downs, baptismal dates and blue skies...but not really.

It's been a week unlike any other. With goodbyes, cleaning, packing, etc. it has in no way felt like any other week.


I did a bit of packing/tossing out tons of stuff this weeks. In the meantime, Soeur Johnson and I have been cleaning up the apartment to get it ready for next transfer. The bookcase that we store all of our cards, book of mormons, dvds and other prossing material was falling apart when we moved in. We finally got the zone leaders to buy us a new one. So we tore apart the old one and set up the new one. In cleaning out the bookcase, we also cleaned out the corner it was in. Which corner was also where years of elders have stored, tennis rackets, soccer balls, towels, footballs etc. Since it's not a corner we notice often, we'd never touched until this week. We cleared out all that junk and found a spider that must have been living there since missionaries moved into out apartment in '96 based on how big he was. Yeah...that was a fun day. And of course, he was in a spot that was nearly impossible to get to with a shoe or anything to squish him with. Having no bug spray, we sprayed him with stuff we use on our sinks to remove the calcium build up ha ha. After a couple more tricks, our pet spider was no more. And that corner has never been so clean. We made absolutely certain we didn't miss an inch. We were not about to let any other pets stay in there.


We've both broken down way less than we thought we would have. I just haven't been able to wrap my head around going home until about Saturday and then last night. Soeur Johnson's been pretty stressed about taking over the ville and showing someone else around. It really all hit home though when we got the transfer email on Saturday. Result of the transfer email, I'm leaving Brussels. Shocked, right? Yeah me too. We were sure I was staying another. ;) No, but seriously, it was so weird to see the repertoire without my name on it. I still feel like if I look again, I'll find where I'm getting transferred too. Soeur Smith is adorable. She called us right after the email came out to see how we were feeling. She immediately wrote me title "Why it's good to go home and it's probably better that you're name isn't on the repertoire" ha ha it was hilarious. =) She also wrote out a list for Soeur Johnson of reasons she loves Soeur Bell (the sister replacing me.) I love having soeurs in the same city as us. It's been such a blessing.

Blue skies...but not really:

Belgium weather keeps teasing us. It'll be beautiful in the morning. So we leave our tights, coats, and umbrellas at home. Twenty minutes's freezing and dumping rain. Then the next day, we wake up to a heavy rain storm and by the time we leave the apartment, it's HOT outside. I've just given up guessing on the weather. It's kind of ridiculous.

Baptismal dates:

Since Paula has planned to leave for Romania, we set up a time we could see her in passing. With our schedule and her schedule, the only time we could meet up was last Monday right before she went to work. (She's currently cleaning a dental office a couple days a week.) We got to the tram stop about 15 minutes before we were actually supposed to meet up with her, but she had been called into work early. She got worried that she wouldn't be able to see us. But since we "just happened" to get there early, we were standing outside her tram right as she got there. She saw us, jumped off the tram, ran to us, and pulled us back on with her. We only had a few minutes with her as we walked her to the dental office. But it was good. It was just good to see her. It was good to be able to say goodbye. Hard. But good.She and I decided that we're having a HUGE party in heaven "with LOTS of pizza!!!" (she loves pizza, so she had to make sure it was part of the plans. ha ha) She's in good hands. It was hard to say goodbye to her, but I'm at peace with it. I feel okay leaving her now. She'll be great. And as soon as she gets back, she'll be able to get baptised. She's planning on the 19th at this point.

A couple days later, we had an appointment with Elise again, Collette friend. (I hope I told you about her.) We went in planning to teach the apostasy, but before starting, we asked her if she had any questions. She said, "Yes. Since the last time I saw you, I've been thinking a lot about baptism. I've been baptised before, like I told you, but I just keep feeling like I need to do it again but this time in your church. does it work and how soon can I be baptised?" Collette was thrilled and we of course set a date with her immediately for the June 2nd. We invited her to come to the baptism this past Saturday so she could see how everything would play out for her. She laughed and said, "It's okay. I'm not scared and I know it's what I need to do. I don't need to see it before to know it's right for me." Basically...Elise is incredible.

The next day we saw Clarette again with her daughters. We discussed a little bit of the Plan of Salvation with them (mostly directed at her three girls that were there.) Since we left the restoration movie with them last time, they'd watched it multiple times and had started all reading the Book of Mormon together. All three of the girls told us they believed it to be true and, like Elise, agreed to be baptised. They fixed a baptismal date for June 16 (they're in the process of moving, so it had to be a tad farther out.)

So with the three girls, (Melodie, Benedict, and Candy) along with Elise, Maria and Paula, Soeur Johnson and her companion are going to be pretty busy for the next couple of weeks. =)

The week all culminated with church yesterday. This is such a wonderful ward. I'm so glad I've gotten to stay here so long. Initially, when I knew I was leaving Versailles, I wanted to be here for two transfers and then go somewhere else for my lat two, but luckily the Lord knew better than I. I have such a love for these members and I'm so gratefully that I've had the time to really get to know them. It was odd however going to church knowing it would be the last time here. Hearing the sacrament prayer, singing hymns, and listening to the testimonies and lessons all given in this language that I love and's ending...was bitter sweet. I'm really excited to see you, but I'm sad to leave these people, but c'est la vie, huh? Other bonus of the day, it was fast and testimony meeting - meaning, I got to bare my testimony and tell them all goodbye. I got to end the meetings, translating the lesson in Relief Society since the normal translator wasn't there. Translating doesn't bother me, but after all the goodbyes I'd been saying, my brain was just about fried making translating rather...interesting ha ha. Luckily the sisters were all very sweet and patient as Dominique and I worked through the lesson she'd planned.

I can't believe it's coming to a close. It's been an incredible adventure full of all kinds of highs and lows, and lessons learned. I never could have imagined what I was signing up for when I submitted my papers, but I am SO grateful I did. It's crazy to think back on all that's happened. It seems to have passed in an instant, but also to have been a full life time -a wonderfully full life time. I'll forever be grateful to have been given this amazing opportunity to serve the Lord. Little did I know the plans that He had, but they couldn't have been more perfectly planned. You know, it's amazing looking back and seeing the hand of the Lord guiding us forward. For example, I used to think I knew the Book of Mormon was the word of God. I used to think Joseph Smith really did see God the Father and Jesus Christ. I used to think the church was true. But God knew the difference between the testimony I had and the testimony I could have. He knew what I thought to be true. And He also knew it would take me going all the as to France and Belgium to no longer think it was true, but to know it. If for nothing else, I will forever be grateful for that.

I love you and I'm so grateful for all your support and everything you've done. Thank you thank you thank you! I'd tell you to have a good week, like always, but I guess it'd just be more appropriate to say...have a good three days. See you soon. =)

A bientôt,

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Paula Update

April 30, 2012
I haven't given you a Paula update in a while. It's been an...interesting couple of weeks. So let me back up a bit.

As you know, she was scheduled to get baptized a few weeks back. However, during her baptismal interview, our district leader asked for her maiden name and found out the name that she is still using is her maiden name. That made him worry a little bit about her marital status. She explained to us that for her family, as orthodox members, whether the government says you're married or not, is not important. Marriage is between a husband, a wife, and God and no piece of paper makes a difference. All that is important is to be married in the church in front of the priest and witnesses (usually family.)

After talking to the President about that, he asked us to get witness signatures from her family members saying that they really did see them get married. That was a bit of a hassle, but after doing so, we got everything sent off to President. He then sent it on to the area authorities, who in turn, forwarded it to the church's lawyers in Romania to check on the validity of it. After waited a couple of weeks, President finally called us back. According to the lawyers, Paula is not legally married. And obviously would need to be before she could be baptized. He told us that only a couple of days after her husband received (after years of waiting for them) his legality papers. He told me that, while I'd probably not be able to see her baptized before leaving, it was my job to get her married before going home.

Not going to lie, when President gives me specific assignments like that, I get kind of stressed. But out of all the tasks he's ever given me, that one probably stressed me the most. How could I tell her that? AND how in the world would I ever get them to get married here? Even if she understood, would her husband? And getting married costs money they don't have, and time I didn't have. Here you have to got to the Marie and fix an appointment which usually takes a minimum (in the commune she lives in) of four to six months. President told me that he felt very strongly that I needed to help ensure they got married before going home. Not having anywhere near four, let alone, six months left, I got stressed.

We looked into every option we could think of, but just couldn't find a way to make it work. One of the biggest problems is their legality status. While her husband has received the approval to be legal, he needs to finalize some things before he can have his card...thus making the wedding possibility even farther away since one of them must be a legal citizen to get married.

See the endless cycle of stress causing obstacles?

And to top everything off, we have only been able to see her one since we got that phone call and it was for about three minutes. So we didn't have time to explain the marriage problem.


This past Tuesday we went to see her - praying really hard that she'd be ready to accept the news we had. She just been so excited to President to get back to us because she was sure they would approve and let her get baptized. But we had to tell her, she'd need to be married legally. She took it just fine. The Lord had completely planned this all out. Her husband got in contact with a friend who is going to Romania this week and can drive their family there with him. They are probably leaving this Wednesday morning. They are going specifically to get married. Going back to Romania, they can get married for free, within a day or two, and then, his Belgian legality with carry over, and Paula and the two boys will have rights here as well! =)

So, as always, the Lord knew far better than we did. With all the researching we did, we could see no possible way to get them married any time soon, especially before I left, but...He did. So while I it is extremely unlikely that I'll see Paula baptized, (it takes a day and a half to drive there, and another day and a half back, plus the actual wedding) I'll get to leave knowing she'll be baptized a couple days after I leave. And I'm perfectly happy with that. I'm just thrilled that it'll finally work out for her. =) After all this time, she'll finally get to be baptized!!! =)

So, I'll get to leave her, knowing she's in a good state. =)

However, that would mean that I'll have to leave to dead. Seriously, with all the mangez-vous we have this week...I think we might literally die this week. No joke. We had a rendez-vous with a new amie that we contacted a bit ago. She made a feast for us when we got there. She must have thought we were starving, because she just would not stop feeding us. We left SO full. We literally thought we were going to die. (Kind as it was of her, she very well could have been trying to kill us ha ha) And then...we had another diner appointment yesterday, another tomorrow, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday, and next Monday already set. I realize people are just trying to be nice in feeding us. But all I can say is I'm glad that they majority of the ward doesn't know yet that I'm leaving. Because just out of the few people who's going to be an adventure trying to eat all the food we've got ahead of us for this next week ha ha. At the very worse, they may just have to wheel me off the plane on a stretcher ha ha. Poor Soeur Johnson's got to stay living though so she can keep working. Who would have ever thought that the kindness of members could kill missionaries?! ha ha

Well, lots more happened this week, but I'm just about out of time. So I'll have to tell you about out feeding the homeless, wedding choir, and exchanges later. ('s been busy)

I love you and I hope you have a wonderful week!