Monday, February 24, 2014

Let Us Choose This Day

Cher ma famille et mes amies!

What another great week full of miracles. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!

Last Monday night we were supposed to go caroling around town with some of the members, but it was storming so bad that no one wanted to be out there, so we went caroling to the Poisbeau's instead.

Tuesday, Christmas Eve was super cool. We didn't have any appointments made so we went porting for about 3 hours in a really big neighborhood. After about 60 doors, we found 2 families :) We knocked on the door of a man in about his 40's and he was with his son who was 7 years old. At first, he kind of laughed at us, but then he realized we were serious and said that we could come back on Thursday in the afternoon and sing for the family when they were all home. Sweet!! So then at the very end of our porting, the last house on the street, the last house we planned on knocking on, was this man in about his 40's as well. He was home with his cute little daughter who was about 2 years old. We sang for them and it was such a tender moment with them. As we sang Away in a Manger there's a part in the song in French that says something about being in His arms and it was so cute because this father was just beaming and glowing while looking at his little girl just smiling at these two Americans singing to her. We weren't sure, but I think the mom passed away. This girl was the cutest thing I've ever seen. She had dark brown curly hair and the biggest smile. After we finished singing the dad made her give us bisous's (kisses) and she just loved having us there. It was so hard not to scoop her up in my arms. She was just so darling. The dad then asked us lots of questions about who we were and what we do in France and what we believe. They are going out of town, but after the holidays he wants us to come back and talk more with him. We then prayed and kept on our way. As we walked away from this cute little family, the daughter ran to the window and just waved and smiled to us until she turned the corner. Then she ran to the kitchen window on the other side of the house and continued to watch us and wave to us until we were far out of sight. This little girl was the sweetest and cutest thing I've ever seen. I can't wait to go back and bring the beautiful gift of salvation to her and her family. After that house we went home with our hearts full and big smiles on our faces, for we were so grateful to see the real meaning and the real beauty of Christmas-sharing the Spirit of giving, gratitude, and family. I can't even describe the joy as we walked to the bus stop and the face of this cute girl is just forever painted in my heart.

Later that night we went over to the Harris's for dinner and shared a nice meal together for Christmas Eve. The Harris's are just great. They've help us so much and I really have grown to love and appreciate Senior Couples more than I ever could without this experience of serving with them. 

Christmas was a wonderful day. We got to sleep in! I slept til 7:30 and was oh so happy and couldn't sleep after that. Then Soeur Sorenson and I watched Nemo and got ready to go to the Harris's. We went to the Harris's and we picked up Jeanne and she came over with another man in the ward who was going to be alone for Christmas. So we made our food and ate and watched Joy to the World and it was great to celebrate the birth of our Savior and Lord together. Then we skyped and that was so fun to see you for Christmas! I can't believe how everyone looks different and everyone just looks older and it's so strange! I can't believe how big Nashua is now! She looks like she is going to pop! And the Smith kids have grown! Wow! So crazy! Miss and love you all!

Thursday was another normal day. We went straight over to the family that said we could come back and sing for them. We got there a little early so we ported some more doors but didn't find any success. I have this analogy for all the people we meet as "biscuits" or "cookies" and when they reject us, that just means they're still in the oven and just not done cooking yet. They're just "still gooey" waiting for another missionary in the future to get em out of the oven. So after all that we saw this family we had an appointment with and they were so excited. The mom was super nice. She isn't super believing, but she was so nice. This family was so beautiful! Totally French and so cool. Before we sang, the mom said, "Is it ok if we film you???" Haha WHAT! That's a first! We said sure and they filmed us singing in front of their Christmas tree. We gave them a Book of Mormon and they said we can come back after the Holidays because they will be out of town. The dad tried to pay us in the end, they were just so generous and so much fun.

Later that night we went porting again. We met this lady named Sophia. Crazy Sophia. Oh man, so she opened her door and we told her who we were and offered to sing for her. At first she said no and she told us she had cancer and life was hard so we offered to pray for her and she let us in. She then said she doesn't have a lot and wanted to be baptized. Cool right? Well, then she asks us what our church does to give to the people like her..first red flag. So we read the scriptures and gave a Book of Mormon to her. We told her we'd come back on Saturday. We weren't really sure what to think of her. We had kind of a funny feeling. But the gospel is for everyone!

Friday was super interesting. We had an appointment with a man named Philbert that we met while contacting next to the beach one Sunday evening. He let us come over and we brought Frere Poisbeau and we got talking to him and he is way cool! He has these MASSIVE geneology trees hung up on his wall and he then showed us about 4 others he had. His job is so cool. He has this website and he designs really cool family waaay cool! He loves geneology and history and was really smart! He was buddhist for about 20 years and now he isn't. He knows the Bible very very well and a lot of things he was saying were right in line with the true doctrines! It was super cool. We then talked about the Book of Mormon and testified of its truth and explained the great promise in the Book of Mormon and he was interested to read it and find out for himself. He is a really cool dude. We're going to see him again this Friday and we are really excited to see what happened.

Later we went over to Jeanne's and the Harris couple met us there. Jeanne is very close to baptism but is a little nervous. We gave her a paper with all she needs to know before she gets baptized outlined, and I highlighted the things we had already taught her so she could see how much she knew. She gave me a really funny look like, "You think I know ALL those principles?" So we put it to the test. I asked her what she knew about each highlighted box and she explained almost everything wonderfully and at the end she was surprised at how much she really knew. She is starting to feel more comfortable with baptism so we are going to keep working with her and explain the other things she has trouble with. She still feels really weighed down by her divorce and it still is really hard on her, but once she realizes the healing powers of the Atonement are real and they are for everyone, I think she will find the joy and peace in her life that she is searching for. We talked a lot about prayer and shared Alma 37: 36-37 which has become some of my favorite scriptures. God wants to hear our prayers, our thoughts, our fears, our joys, our trials, our temptations, our sorrow, our questions. He wants to hear everything we have on our minds, we just have to take the time and courage to talk to Him. To really talk to Him as our Father in Heaven. 

Saturday was really interesting as well. First thing in the morning, we went to a funeral at a Catholic church. It was Frere Rousslet's funeral. He was the man that Soeur Huntsman and I visited a few times who had cancer really bad and he hadn't been doing too well. He passed away in the night on Thursday. Part of his family insisted on having his funeral in the Catholic church in the city named Donges, so we went to it. There were a lot of members from the branch who came out to support. His wife seemed to be handling everything really well. She seemed at peace with it. She had taken care of him and done everything for him for years. I think she was relieved she didn't have to continue to watch him suffer here on earth anymore. Frere Rousslet was a great guy. He apparently has done tons and tons of geneology and found thousands of names for the temple work to be done (even though he had never gone through the temple himself) So we find great joy in knowing he has thousands of people welcoming him on the other side and thanking him for finding their names. His brother at the funeral told one of the brothers how it was super nice to see all the Mormons come out to support and it really touched him, personally. It was a rainy, cold morning and so dark and dreary.  It's especially sad when people who don't quite understand the beauty of God's plan for each of us.

Later that day we went to see crazy Sophia. She ended up completely forgetting about our apointment but let us in anyways. As we stood there and she talked about how she has nothing and needs help I soon realized and had an instant image in my mind. I realized she was the woman that begged for money in front of the post office. I really didn't have the best feeling about it so we prayed and left. We were really not sure what to do about her. I didn't want to abandon her because the gospel is for everyone, but I don't think she is stable enough to understand the gospel fully. So Soeur Sorenson and I knelt down and prayed about it and decided we shouldn't bring her to church.

Later we had a lesson at the church with Edwidge. She was a really ancient ami that we had been trying to get a hold of all of last transfer. She was really close to being baptized. Saturday she called out of the blue and said she moved and really wanted to meet with us. So we met with her at the church and had a great lesson about the gospel of Jesus Christ. She told us that when she first met the Elders on the street, they gave her their card. She then waited a whole year to call them. She said life had been really hard. She is from Cote d'Ivoire. She just found out her sister has AIDS and life has been really trying. She said she wants to baptized, but her husband doesn't want her to. She has such a great testimony and has such a beautiful spirit. She wants us to come over Thursday to pray with her and her family. She's going out of town to Cote d'Ivoire for 3 weeks so I sat her down and we looked up the 3 closest churches to where she will be staying. One of them is a huge, beautiful stake center. I immediately had this vision in my head of her going to church and being so welcomed by all these incredible African members in la Cote d'Ivoire. I'm going to make sure we can get a hold of someone down there so she will have people ready to welcome her with open arms. I'm so excited!

Sunday was interesting. We walked in 5 minutes before it started and there were literally only 2 members there. Everyone is always late. Jeanne showed up and some other members and like last week since everyone was late. I just started Relief Society and welcomed everyone. We did our song and prayer and I did the announcement and just began the lesson. Half-way through we got interrupted and they said that 5th sunday was everyone together. I was kinda ticked, but we stopped our lesson and went and had a lesson with everyone else in the Sacrament room. Then they told us that no one had anything prepared because President Phillipe was supposed to give the lesson, but he was really sick. So we had a really interesting lesson. Then after that we went into the room and I restarted our lesson (since the ami teacher wasn't going to be there as well.) I taught plan of salvation and it was so rough and hard. I hate teaching without being prepared. Then in the middle of the lesson this lady walks in and sits down and I've never seen her before. I didn't know if she was a member or not so I just recapped the lesson and then we finished and later I realize she was a member visiting from another ward. So then we had Sacrament. It was like 10 people, but we still had sacrament meeting. Then the wierdest thing this week happened. As I reached out to take Sacrament, all I see is ripped up wax paper...what? I looked up at the boy passing it and gave him a look like "what the heck is that?" and he just gave me a look and shrugged his shoulders that meant, "I don't have a clue" so we took our waxy paper things and ate them..because they had been blessed and prepared. I'm not really sure what they were. They might have been some kind of flour substance thing, but they looked just like wax paper. Soeur Sorenson almost refused to eat it, but I told her it was the sacrament and it had been blessed. I was kind of glad some of our amies didn't show up to church that day. It was just so strange.

Later we went porting and door after door we were so eager to share the gospel. We knocked on one door and the lady told us she wasn't interested. I just wouldn't take no for an answer and I kept testifying and telling her she's a daughter of God. I fought it for a good 5 minutes and she still didn't want to change her mind. It was so sad. It's just so sad to me that people can't understand what we have to tell and share with them. It's the truth!

Later that night we went to the Poisbeau's for a New Year's dinner. They are so funny. They speak really fast and they're always telling jokes and I feel bad because Soeur Sorenson never understands anything they're saying (I barely understand them so I don't blame her haha) It was a fun night with our little sparkling juice. They're so funny.

Well this week feels like it was sooo long, but it was full of wonderful memories. I can't believe it's almost 2014. As I reflect on 2013 and realize that half of it was spent on my mission I can't fathom being anywhere else in the world right now than right where I am. These people really need someone who can listen to their concerns and problems; they need someone to confide in and to draw upon for hope and strength. I'm just so grateful to show them how to draw upon the healing powers of our Savior. There is joy awaiting us to claim it. Let us take this time to choose to use the Atonement everyday. Les us choose to share it with others. Let us choose to be better than 2013. Let us choose to be more like the Savior.

Be safe, stay healthy, choose good things, be something different this year and don't party too hard without me ;)

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

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