This week was rough! But it was good..
So Monday night Soeur Sorenson and I had about 3 hours to contact in Paris..so we just went out and talked to everyone we could see. It was so much fun! I mean life just can't be any better than teaching a Chinese girl named Rainbow on the streets of Paris..can it? We had some fun adventures..while we contacted this lady and began testifying of eternal familes and the plan of salvation, this man stopped and waited 5 minutes for us to finish talking with this lady. At first, I thought maybe he was a member and wanted to say hi, but he was not a member. He just started telling us how he has so many problems with our church and how he does not agree with certain doctrines we believe in. It was one of the most frustrating contacts ever. I would ask him which doctrines does he not agree with and he could never answer the question. I don't think he really knew what he was talking about. But in the end we told him we were really sorry if he had bad experiences with the church and that as people, we aren't perfect, but the doctrines are and he really appreciated the apology and said he would stop by the visitors center. Why do people gotta get offended so easily and assume the church is at fault for everything?
Tuesday Soeur Sorenson had her legality and I was the only sister there when she left so I just went with Soeur Wynn and Soeur Thibault to make phone calls in the visitors center..but I got to see one of my favorite senior couples, the Saunders! They are the BEST! Love them. Then later on Tuesday, Soeur Sorenson and I took a long train ride to Angers to spend the night. When we got there Soeur Denning and Soeur Hafen were there waiting for us. There was a piano at the gare so we decided to sing hymns for a few minutes and it was so fun. I love it. It is so fun to see people instantly touched by the Spirit when they weren't expecting it..it's just a spiritual punch to the face! Love it!
So by the time Soeur Sorenson and I get to Angers, we had about 30 minutes so we decided we were going to go contacting even though it's not our area and we're super tired and hungry and don't really have to do it. We really wanted to just help our sister friends out and do as much as we could with the little time we had. So we talked to a few people and after about 10 minutes we stop this girl named Lea. Oh Lea!! She is the cutest 19 year old girl. She begins to tell us she is athiest and I get so excited because athiest are my bread and butter. We just decided to testify and be really bold with her. She looks us in the eyes and says, "Where's the proof?" I turn to Soeur Sorenson and we whip out the Book of Mormon. After we explained it's the proof of everything and we can read it and pray to know, Lea had to get her hands on one. We told her that we are here in a far away country for 18 months because this book and the gospel of Jesus Christ has changed our lives and we want to share this joy with everyone. She was so touched she said, "I am so interested! Can I take the book and read it and see you again? I am so curious!" WHAT! So awesome! We were so sad we can't teach her ourselves, but we were so thrilled to give her to the Angers Sisters who had just told us they needed to find new amis. This is what happens when we go the extra mile and work as a team with our entire mission. Miracles happen after the trial of our faith!
Wednesday we had a big Zone Conference and interviews with President in Angers. I got to see Soeur Lefrandt. It was awesome. I love Soeur Lefrandt! As we were all sitting down getting ready for the meeting to start I see this sister that looks SOOO familiar! She looks at me and comes over and says, "SISTER BERGE! I've been looking for you! Do you remember me?" I honestly had no clue, but knew I had met her before. Turns out she was there when Soeur Lefrandt and I did that big Missionary Prep thing in Paris with young adults from all over France. Anyways, so this soeur, Soeur Defranchi was there as a missionary and now she is a visa waiter in our mission. So cool! So we got a picture with her and she will be leaving soon for her mission in Taiwan, which I told her all about my dad's mission in Taiwan and how cool it's going to be. She is awesome.
So in our interviews, Soeur Poznanksi told me what Elder Kearon asked President when President gave him our names in the conference to call us up on the stand. Apparently Elder Kearon asked President Poznanski for two missionaries who radiated with joy and happiness. Soeur Poznanksi said President didn't even hesitate and gave him our names. OH! SO COOL! We radiate with joy ;) Not to toot my own horn, but TOOT TOOT! haha je rigole.
Thursday we saw Philbert. It is so hard for him to feel the spirit! He just fights it and fights it! We tried to talk about the plan of salvation, but all he wanted to talk about is how he disagreed with the fact we can't drink alcohol. Come on Philbert..I just know he has so much potential, but he doesn't really agree with how we pray and we can't know the truth if we don't pray. On verra...
The rest of the evening we went porting all night in Trignac. It was pouring and it was freezing cold, but we managed to sing for 2 people. We sang for the CUTEST family! And we sang for this lady and her teenage daughter who just laughed at us..but we just kept singing with a smile on our faces. Later she kept asking us if we had boyfriends and we kept telling her no and she just laughed and said she didn't believe us. Afterwords I just looked at Soeur Sorenson with rain running my mascara all down my face and said, "We are such losers." Then we laughed for a good 10 minutes and moved on. Needless to say, it was wet, cold, dark, and we were lost, but every day is such an adventure with Soeur Sorenson. As I reflect on the past transfer and a half I have shared with Soeur Sorenson, I am nothing but grateful for her humor, southern accent, endless jokes, powerful testimony, incredible desire to share the gospel, and for her fashion-forward closet I steal from. Nothing like havin a best friend as a companion :)
Friday and Saturday I ended up being super sick and I just had zero energy for anything. Luckily I felt good enough to go to Jeanne's to give her the book we made with all the pictures from her baptisms and cut up Ensign quotes and pictures. She almost burst into tears and she said she will never forget us or her baptism. It was a really cool experience. She got out some old photos and she said "I have never smiled like this before! I have never seen my face like that! Ever!" We compared the baptism pictures with old ones and the change is so evident. It was incredible! She said her family even says she sounds different on the phone when she calls Madagascar and they tell her she sounds so happy. It is moments like that, that make all the laughs, rude comments, and rainy days worth it. Because there are people here ready for the gospel. Sometimes it is really not easy, but it is so dang worth it for people like Jeanne.
Saturday I was super sick again but rested and got just enough energy to go to the church and put on our big Missionary Night for the members. We were a little worried. Everything seemed to be going wrong. We didn't have a huge turn out, but every one of our recent converts came! Esperence, Tieta, and Jeanne were ALL there and they ALL participated! And the members that DID come were awesome! Soeur Sorenson and I had been planning this for about a month now. Everyone got a paper plaque and we shared Boyd K Packer's analogy of the oxen and being equally yoked together:
“A wooden sledge was weighted with cement blocks: ten thousand pounds [4,535 kg]—five tons. … The object was for the oxen to move the sledge three feet [91 cm]. … I noticed a well-matched pair of very large, brindled, blue-gray animals … [the] big blue oxen of seasons past.”
Teams were eliminated one by one. … The big blue oxen didn’t even place! A small, nondescript pair of animals, not very well matched for size, moved the sledge all three times.
The big blues were larger and stronger and better matched for size than the other team. But the little oxen had better teamwork and coordination. They hit the yoke together. Both animals jerked forward at exactly the same time and the force moved the load."
We taught the members how important it was for them to share the gospel and how it is totally NORMAL to talk about spiritual things outside of church. We really tried to pump them up and we made them all practice with each other and share the gospel with a friend. It was hilarious but so helpful. We split the room in half and had them find someone to share a brochure or a pass along card with and then give them an engagement. Esperence came up to me to do her practice and she was incredible! She just told me how happy she was at church and how she wanted to share the joy with me! It was so good. She was so proud and I was so proud too. Jeanne ended up sharing the gospel with Soeur Sorenson and Soeur Sorenson told me how awesome Jeanne did. Oh it brings me so much joy to see our recent converts progressing so well! They all 3 came to church the next day for all 3 hours and they are all 3 planning on coming tonight for FHE at the Harris's! WHAT COMMITMENT! It fills me with so much joy! :)
I am feeling almost back to normal health which makes me so happy. I can't wait to get back to schedule and be able to give more energy to the work this week. Soeur Sorenson and I are really pushing to find new amis and go into other small cities in our area. If you could really pray for us that we might find some new faces and families this week and for their hearts to be softened and ready for a beautiful message of the gospel that would be just great :)
I'm also attaching all our Paris P-day adventures from last Monday. Soeur Sorenson and I had SUCH a blast! We got to see the Louvre and Sacre Couer and the Eiffel tower and try all the yummy food in Paris. I have been so blessed to have such a wonderful friend as a companion. I wouldn't share my Christmas, New Year's, and Valentine's Day with anyone else! Love her.
Hope you all have a fabulous week and find our Valentine's Card in your mailbox hopefully this week ;) (and if not, that's because you gotta give me your address!!!!)
HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!
SPREAD THE LOVE PEOPLE!