Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Reason for the Season!

Cher Ma Famille et Mes Amies,

Ok, first of all, Merry Christmas! Joyeux Noel! Happy Holidays!

This week was another wonderful week. It was the second full week I have spent with my dear companion, Soeur Sorenson. Oh how I love her! We are best friends. We dress alike, we think alike, we talk alike..everything is pretty much the same. We don't even have to say anything and we know what the other is thinking. It's so weird, but so fun. I just adore her to pieces.

To start off, last monday night we sang Christmas carols to a less active member with some other members and it was so fun. Her face just glowed and she was so happy to have us in her home. 

Tuesday we had a giant Zone Conference the entire day. It was such a blast and a wonderful Christmas party, despite the 6 hours on the train to and from Paris. We had some super cool experiences though. While we waited at the gare for our train to take us to another gare, about 20 of us missionaries sang Christmas songs for about 10 minutes. It was so fun even if people thought we were weird. I also got to present my companion in front of everyone and we were so decked out with matching outfits. Everyone kept taking double-takes because they just couldn't believe how much we look alike.

So at the conference we talked a lot about using the birth of Christ and His life as a way to talk to more people and to sing Christmas songs and pray with families that we meet. We have been let into so many homes this week and been able to invite the Christmas spirit into so many. This week we met three ladies on separate days who we all contacted that had just recently lost children or husbands, who all just cried as we were able to share a quick message that we can be with our families forever, they all invited us back after christmas. Miraclessss!!!

Wednesday we had a fabulous lesson with Jeanne, our little ami from Madagascar. As we planned out her lesson, Soeur Sorenson felt prompted to change our lesson to a message about Christ and His Atonement. I'm so glad she listened to the Spirit and as we changed our lesson plan, we really felt it was right to share the Finding Faith in Chrsit film. We went over with the Harris couple and our branch president met us there and we all watched the film with her. She teared up and really appreciated the beautiful film. As we testified of Christ, we had the opportunity to feel a little glimpse of what Heavenly Father feels for Jeanne. She is taking the discussions really slow, but as long as she feels the Spirit and is touched by the Savior's love, I know she will taste the joy of living the gospel. 

Thursday was really interesting. I will just insert a part of Soeur Sorenson's email since she tells the story better than I do:

"So my companion and I, being the totals babes I mean missionaries that we are :) had a funny experience. We were knocking doors in a neighborhood and after about 30 rejections we got to our final door. I knocked and we waited patiently, at this point we were almost done but hoping that someone would answer and be excited about our message. Well we decided to name him Jason after the fact haha so Jason, a boy around our age opened the door. And about that time he jumped back and was like "woah"!!! hahaha and in the 45 seconds that Soeur Berge was telling him who we are and bearing a short testimony, the kid could not contain himself he was just like oh! oui oui, and I swear he was about to start a fire as many times as he twisted that poor scarf he was holding. He said he would defnitely come to church! Hahaha needless to say he was interested in our message and I was just trying to make it around the corner so I could let all my laughs out. Oh Jason. Good times. "

Friday we had to help the Harris's with a lot of errands and we had a lot of things we had to get done ourselves. Needless to say it was a busy, busy day. Later that night we had dinner with the Hemons and it was so fun. This family pretty much makes up the entire ward with their 5 kids and I love em to pieces. We had a great meal and laughed so hard. They're such a trip. 

Saturday we saw the less active member and sang to her and read scriptures with her. We also had our special Christmas Singing Activity. It wasn't very big (nothing is very big with our tiny branch) but it was a lot of fun and the Hemon's friends even came. Soeur Sorenson and I even sang 2 songs..but I have a strong feeling that while on a mission the angels help us out and change what we really sound like and make us sound better when we sing. As I talked with the 3 friends (grandmother, mother, and daughter) that came I told them it was so good to meet them and they were always welcome "chez-moi" (my home in the states) and they really started to warm up and they were just so cute. In the kitchen, Soeur Hemon told me she had had a feeling all day that whoever Later that night, the girl (about 15 years old) texted Soeur Hemon and said she wants to see us again. Wow! Miracles. This is what happens when the members and the missionaries work together--the power triples and the heavens open and help us out. 

Sunday we had a wonderful Sacrament Meeting and our recent convert, Esperence bore her very first testimony and man was the Spirit strong! It was just wonderful and I was so proud of her. Later we had about an hour and we decided to go porting before our appointment with some members. We knocked on lots of doors and 3 different families let us in to sing some Christmas songs for them. It was great! One of them even asked us what made our church different and we gave the whole restoration lesson with him and his son. It was so cool. He said he would read the brochure and maybe come to church. We also got let into this house that we named, "the castle." It's a beautiful home with a view of the beach. There these 2 girls our age that answered and told us to come in and sing so we did. When we first walked in, the mom was kind of annoyed and wanted us to leave because she doesn't like religious stuff, but we said we just wanted to sing for them and afterwards they loved us and gave us incredible home made chocolate truffles (chocolate from Belgium.) They were so good, we died and went to heaven. The mom really liked us and we got to talking about who we were and why were here and she was super nice. It's funny what the Spirit can do to people's hearts. They soften like a potata in boilin' water. 

We went to the Poisbeau's for dinner and they prepared a big fancy meal for us for Christmas. (Including liver fat, which we thought was yum til we found out what it was.  Then Soeur Sorenson avoided it the rest of the night.) But we ate a great African meal and shared some laughs. 

I can't believe how the time is just flying. It's crazy to think just a year ago I was opening my call and now I'm here and it's Christmas again. Where is the time going? I am so excited to skype and see everyone for Christmas! It's been a long 7 months and I can't wait to talk to ya :)

The church is true, Jesus Christ is our Savior. We celebrate this Christmas season not only His birth, but His life, death, and resurrection. He is the reason we have anything  to celebrate for we can look at death, not with fear, but with joy knowing He atoned for our sins so we can live in the presence of our Heavenly Father and our dear older Brother one day. Familes are forever. We have much to be grateful for and I ask that each of you look within your own heart this Christmas and find a way to serve someone else. The only way to find utter true joy is by giving, loving, and serving those who need us and more importantly, need Him. 

Love you all!

Stay righteous, be true, be you!
Avec amour,
Soeur Berge

President and Soeur Poznanski with Soeur Berge and Soeur Sorenson

Joyeux Noel!

Au Revoir et Bienvenue!

Ma Famille et Mes Amies,

Well this week was the start of a new transfer. 

For starters, my last companion went home from her mission. She finished all 18 months and she was such a great missionary and I'm so proud of her. 

This transfer is quite a cycle of life. My old companion going home and receiving a fresh new companion straight out of the MTC. Her name is Soeur Sorenson or better known as my TWIN. Everyone asks us if we are real sisters because we look so much alike. She is from North Carolina (they should've known better than to put two southern ladies together. ;) I absolutely love her. She has the biggest heart and is so fun. We have a great time together and I can already tell we are going to have a blast. 

This past week has been just crazy. On Tuesday we ran around all over town so Soeur Huntsman could say goodbye to everyone. And we left to go spend the night in Nantes with some other sisters. We had a huge packing party for Soeur Huntsman and Soeur Hoover who both went home. They did not want to leave.

Wednesday we all rode together to Paris to drop off Soeur Huntsman and to pick up my fresh new companion. After all of our meetings were finished, we had quite a bit of time so we went contacting in the heart of Paris and Soeur Sorenson did so great talking to people on her very first day. I was so proud of her. She has such a great go-getter attitude. Then after a long 3 hour train ride home we arrive in St. Nazaire.

Thursday we did a lot of finding. We had a few meetings with our ward mission leader and the ward counsel. We have so many ideas for ways to get the members involved here so we've been working really hard to put the ideas into actual activities.

Friday we passed by some less actives to deliver invitations for our "Special Christmas Sacrament Meeting" next Sunday. That was super interesting experience.

Later that night we passed by some amis who haven't been answering and a less active named Souer Bichon who is the sweetest old lady. She just had a few surgeries for skin cancer. We sang some songs and read some scriptures with her and she the Spirit was so strong. She said she will come to church next Sunday and the Christmas activity if someone can bring her.

Saturday we saw Mme Jouget. She bought us roses. So sweet of her. We introduced the Book of Mormon to her and talked a lot about Joseph Smith. She still struggles with understanding that God has a physical body, but she said she'd start reading the Book of Mormon and pray about it. Then we saw Therese. It's always really hard to teach her because she doesn't speak much French and can hardly read, but she likes it when we come over. We just decided to start reading the Book of Mormon with her, starting with the first chapter. She liked reading it, but it's really hard to communicate and her language is some crazy African dialect that isn't written so we're not really sure what to do about her, but she's really nice. Then we saw Jeanne and shared Ether 12:4 with her. I think she's going through a really hard time right now because she wasn't her normal, bubbly self and she doesn't want to get baptized right away so we're just taking it really slow with her and trying to figure out her needs. 

Sunday was so hectic. I didn't realize how hard it is to be in a ward without elders. We have to share a missionary minute with the men and the sisters and one of the members brought his friend to church, but we also had our recent convert Esperence and our ami, Jeanne so it was hard to try and talk to him too. I wish we had Elders here too.

Yesterday we went contacting right on the coast. There is this beautiful sidewalk right next to the beach and there are always tons of people and families walking right next to the beach. Perfect spot to find people ready to hear the gospel. Later we went over to Mata's. William, her son, just turned 8 and she really wants us to teach him all the lessons and get him ready for baptism. Normally when we try to share a spiritual thought with them it's really hectic and the kids run all over the place and the dad isn't always there, but last night was such a miracle. It was the first time that the kids were calm and Romu was there and listened. I hope we can start really teaching Romu soon. Anyways, it was a great lesson about the Principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Soeur Sorenson invited William to be baptized and he accepted. I was so proud her! :) Then we ate an incredible meal and celebrated William's 8th birthday. 

I am so grateful to be here in beautiful Saint-Nazaire and to be able serve these beautiful French people. What a wonderful time of the year to serve and to share the truth. Jesus Christ is our Savior and He lives and loves us so much. How incredible it is that we have the priesthood authority on the Earth today. How grateful I am for a loving and livng prophet who guides us and serves us willingly every day. God loves us and knows us perfectly. I love this gospel because it is true. I love you all so much! Have a blessed week :)

Stay righteous, be true, be you!
Avec amour,
Soeur Berge

Chicken Soup and Miracles

Cher everyone:


For starters, thank you all for your emails, letters, and prayers. 

Well, not much news from this week..HOWEVER..we did have miracles..even with opposition..

Last Monday night we had our FHE at the Harris's appartement. It was lots of fun as usual and we even got Esperence to come with her son, Anthony. Tuesday we had our district meeting and then went and saw a less active couple in the ward that live a little ways from the church. They're a little bit older and the husband is going through chemo right now. We shared a talk with them and listened to them and tried our best to brighten their day.

Then we had our first ever meeting with our ward mission leader. He had so many wonderful ideas and on Sunday during Sacrament Meeting he did a great job at the pulpit inviting everyone in the ward to put a picture of themselves and a letter/testimony in a Book of Mormon with some DVD to give to one of their friends as a Christmas gift. Fabulous idea.

Wednesday was the start of it all..we got hit with the plague. I woke up not feeling good so I went back to bed..a few hours later I woke up and Soeur Huntsman was in bed too. After I had slept a little, I was really blessed and wasn't sick anymore. However, Soeur Huntsman wasn't so blessed. Soeur Huntsman then turned out to be sick for the next 5 days.

So I did what any good comp would do and made my dear comp some soup and she slept for the rest of the day.

Thursday..Soeur Huntsman was sick the entire day..poor thing. We had a really important rdv that night with Mata and her non-member friend and her family (the husband plays rugby with mata's husband) they are from Kenya and so nice. Since Soeur Huntsman was so sick, we did a split and I went with the Harris's and we taught them about the Book of Mormon and sang hymns.

Friday was a super hectic day. Soeur Huntsman was sick still (she was so sick she could barely move) So I called Soeur Poznanksi and she gave me a doctor to call. That doctor didn't have any space and so I called a few other members and after calling a million people and doctors..no one had room at the inn for poor Mary. (it's definitely Christmas) So Soeur Huntsman suggests I look at the yellow pages. I pull it down from the shelf and flipped to the doctors. Well there were about 30-40 doctors in Saint-Nazaire. How do I just pick one? So I said a prayer in my head and looked through the long list. Then..I see it: Doctor Lesouef. That was the name of the family we found last Sunday!!! So I start freaking out and call his office..secretary tells me there is no room for Soeur Huntsman. Feeling very defeated I decided to call his wife since they gave us their number and we had a rdv for the upcoming Sunday. So his sweet wife answers and I asked her if she knew a good doctor around (I know I kinda fibbed, but I repented..pas grave) and she said, "Well, my husband is a doctor!" So I said, "NO WAY!" (Soeur Hunstman was dying laughing in her bed even with all the pain) So she gave me the number of his office and I told her "Oh no, I already called that number and they didn't have any availability." Then, this dear, kind Mme Lesouef told me to call her back in ten minutes and she'd talk to her husband. (We've only met these people ONCE when we frapped their porte) So I call her back and she tells me that we now had an appointment with Dr. Lesouef in less than an hour. WHAT A BLESSING! So we thanked her and off we went. Luckily we have the amazing senior couple here, Sister and Elder Harris and they took Soeur Huntsman to her appointment (which was during his lunch break! nicest man ever) At the end we went to pay him and he simply says, "No way, it's free!" He wouldn't let us pay him! He said, "If my kids were in another country and they were sick, I just hope there'd be a good person to take care of them. WOW! He is so incredible! We got her some medicine and everything was great. 

So Saturday rolls around an Soeur Huntsman is still sick with the same pain. So I called Mme Lesouef and she tells her husband who calls me a little later (this is one of his only days off.) I told him I thought she needed antibiotics because the medicine we had wasn't working. So he then asked us what our address was and he would come over and give us the prescription in less than an hour! (nicest man ever) So we got the prescription and Elder Harris came over and got that and ran over to get it at the pharmacy (Sister Harris got sick too.) So now all of Saint-Nazaire is sick (there were several members who were really sick too) except for Elder Harris and me, who are running around all over the place trying to make everyone better. I made a ton of soup and he ran soup to everyone who was sick. 

So now it's Sunday and I am just praying that Soeur Huntsman can make it to church (for her last Sunday in France) Miracles happen! Soeur Huntsman felt just well enough to go to Sacrament Meeting. So I did her hair and we got her all pretty and she went to Sacrament. Then right after that we had our miracle appointment with the Lesouef family. So we went straight there and what an incredible rdv. They had a lot of quesitons about what we do and our church. The 18 year old was really interested in the church. He left the table and said he wanted to get something. So he leaves and comes back with a BOOK OF MORMON. WHAT? They had a Book of Mormon in their house already?! So he tells us all about how his grandma (doctor's mom) gave it to him. He even said he read a few pages once. And then Doctor Lesouef tells us how missionaries came over when he was young during Christmas time and sang some Christmas songs for them (HELLO! THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT SOEUR HUNTSMAN AND I DID!) So Soeur Huntsman and I asked if we could watch the Restoration film with them. So we watched it with their family and they loved it! They're still a little unsure about everything and they're really practicing Catholic, but the Spirit was really strong. In the end we gave them another Book of Mormon and the dad was like, "You didn't even write us a note in the front!" So now we are going to go back and give them one with our testimonies in them. As we left they thanked us for coming over and said we're welcome to come back and talk more with them! 

Ok, that was a really long story, but it was even more incredible as it was all happening. Also in the middle of all that Vanessa texted us and told us she got a job. We fasted and prayed last week she would find one and she did! She said that it was because of our faith and she was so grateful for our prayers. She said her faith grew even more. Wow! Another miracle! Just goes to show that even when we're sick we can have miracles.

I'm so grateful to be here and to meet incredible people like the Lesouef family. We need lots of prayers for them that they will pray to know for themselves. I just love Saint-Nazaire and I never want to leave. I'm so grateful to be here and to serve these beautiful French people. Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. What a beautiful time to be alive and rejoice together this Christmas season. Heavenly Father loves each of us so much and has a plan for us all and it is so evident if we but take a few moments to recognize his hand in our lives. I hope you all have a wonderful week! Oh I also got a phone call last night that I will be training this transfer. Whoohoo! I'm super excited to have a fresh missionary coming to Saint-Nazaire. I'm ready for more miracles and I'm ready to work for them! Thank you all for you love and support.

Stay righteous, be true, be you!
Avec amour,
Soeur Berge

our favorite new family: The Lesouefs!

Who Says Missionaries Can't Party?

Cher everyone,

Let me just say..this week was one of the best weeks of my life!!!

Talk about miracles!

Ok, so last Monday we had a fabulous FHE with Esperence (our recent convert) and her son, Anthony. We talked about how she felt when she came out of the water. She said, "Before I entered the water I felt empty like I was missing something. Then coming out of the water, it was as if I was being filled." We decided to do an object lesson and use a cup and a bowl. We put the cup into the bowl and overfilled the cup and read the verses in 3 Nephi 12:2,4 and 6. It was such a fun lesson and it's so awesome to watch Esperence progress in the gospel so rapidly. She was really ready.

Tuesday we had a full day with RDV's (appointments) all day long. They all ended up falling through except for the last one. It really taught me about the principle of faith and how we can't lose hope and faith even when other people aren't ready for our message. At first we met our member, Chloe, who is preparing for her mission in New Zealand. She was at the church when our appointment fell through. We decided to just port around the church. After a while with no success, we knocked on the door of this older woman and she said she wasn't interested. I felt like we needed to sing for her, so I asked her if we could sing a hymn for her. She said ok and while we sang she began to cry. She thanked us for singing and said it made her whole week. She was really funny, but in the end, said she just wasn't interested in church, but we were really sweet girls. Later that day, Soeur Huntsman and I decided to go porting all around these farms. We were in the middle of NO WHERE, but it made me think that even these people on the outskirts of the city need the gospel too. Later that night we taught our "mamie" Mme Jouget. We decided to take the Senior Couple, the Harris's, with us. As we taught her there just seemed to be this wall up. She has a hard time accepting that we knew God before this life and that our Heavenly Father has an actual body. It's very interesting. She doesn't really seem to impressed with the Book of Mormon, but we testified and decided that she just needed to watch the Restoration film and ponder it for herself. Later this week we called her and she told us that it was a beauitful film. She said she loved it and that she was going to watch it again! What a contrast. She is progressing so well. I really love this lady. She just lost her dear husband not more than a month ago and she is still all smiles and super kind. I just know the gospel will bring even more peace to her life once she prays to know and receives the answer for herself.

Wednesday we went to see a less-active family in our branch. The only reason they can't come to church is because there's no bus that goes to the church and it's in the neighboring city where no other members live. They made us a really nice meal and sometimes as missionaries we do more good by just listening to members talk about their problems and allow them to solve their own problems. I've learned that a lot of people know between right and wrong, but with patience and a listening ear..they always tend to come around :) After we taught our amie, Vanessa! It was her birthday last week and we got her a warm scarf since she seems to be struggling to find a job and doesn't have any support from her family. She almost burst into tears and it was so   touching.  We watched the Jesus Christ film with her at the church. After the film ended, she told us that she believed in Jesus Christ. Before she didn't really believe, but now she believed and knew Jesus Christ really lived and was the Savior of the world. It was amazing!

Thursday, we had Thanksgiving as a zone and it was so much fun. We played games and laughed and it was so strange for us all to relax for a few hours. We had a wonderful big meal and it was so much fun. It is so fun to be with other missionaries!

Friday we had some appointments in the morning, but they ended up falling through so we visited a member who is having a rough time. After we took Chloe to "BURGER HOUSE." This American guy married a French lady and they have the best Burger Restaurant! We tried to get him to come to church, but he said he couldn't, but would love to have us over some time. We're going to go back and try to get his info, but it was super fun to have a contact in English. Super strange, but it was so fun. We got a great picture with him. He's so cool. We're going to convert his family. After we went with Jeanne to the Poisbeau's for an FHE. They are all just super nice people. It was especially cool because Soeur Poisbeau's daughter is in Madagascar as a missionary and Jeanne is from Madagascar. It was so sweet.

Saturday was a big day. We spent the whole day preparing for our huge Thanksgiving party. We spent most of the day making food and decorations and just getting all the games ready. It was so stressful, but with the help of some great members, we got everything done and it was SO MUCH FUN! We had bobbing for apples, pin the tail on the turkey, and beignet eating contests. It was such a blast and the members had such a great time. One of our members, Mata brought more than 20 non-member friends. We also had some other non members show up and we had about half members and half nonmembers. It was incredible and such a success!

Yesterday was one of the most incredible days ever. Esperence received the gift of the Holy Ghost and became an official member of the church. Later we were planning to go stop by some members on the directory that we had never met before. Our biggest goal for the past few months has been to find a family ready to be baptized before Christmas as a gift for Christ for Christmas. On the way to these non-practicing members, Soeur Huntsman felt impressed to knock on a few doors. The first door we knocked on was a cute family about to eat dinner. As soon as they opened the door their cat RAN out the door and the whole family ran out of the apartment trying to get their cat. Soeur Huntsman and I helped them corner their cat under a car and it was quite a sight to see. After about 15 minutes, we eventually got the cat and the family told us they weren't interested in listening to our message, but we were nice. We asked if we could sing a Christmas hymn for them and they let us come in and sing for them. It was great. The next few houses we didn't see any success either. Then we got to this one door. It was red and seemed very welcoming. We rang the bell and the mom answered on the machine. Soeur Huntsman told her who we were and when she heard we were missionaries she told us to wait and she was going to send her husband. (this was not normal) So he opened the door and told us to come in because it was cold. After talking with him, his wife came down and some of the kids came out and listened to who we were and what our message was about. They were very practicing Catholics and they were so loving. They seemed to hang on every word we said and were really intrigued we were American's just going door to door trying to preach the gospel. After we introduced the Book of Mormon and told them about the Restoration, they told us thanks for sharing our message and if we ever needed anything we were always welcome to come back. Of course with me being a really pushy person I asked if we could sing a song for them. The dad shut the door and said OF COURSE! And their whole family got really excited and said, "LET'S SING BY THE MANGER!" They had just set up a little Christmas manger that day that was just beautiful. We sang with this beautiful family and then we asked if we could kneel down and pray. They said yes. So we kneel down and he asked us what kind of prayers we say and we told them that our prayers are a conversation with our Heavenly Father and we close in the name of Jesus Christ. Soeur Huntsman offered a beautiful prayer and not even a second after we said 'amen,' the mom said, "You must come back to our home. We are going to feed you dinner and we want to talk with you more." WHAT?! This was crazy. We set up a time to go back and see them next Sunday afternoon for lunch after church. They are a REAL French family with FIVE beautiful kids between the ages of 9-18. After we left their beautiful home, Soeur Huntsman and I were just frozen outside of their house, not by the cold, but because we FOUND A FAMILY. We actually found a family! After 3 months of non-stop contacting only families, we finally found a big, beautiful family who we are determined to bring to the church of Jesus Christ.

After that experience we had last night, we were so grateful we had been obedient and put in everything we had to find a family. It gave me increased faith that people here are ready for the gospel. 

Oh how I love my mission. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be here! I love this work. I love this gospel. It's a great time to be alive and to be happy!

Have a great week!

Stay righteous, be true, be you!
Avec amour,
Soeur Berge