Monday, December 29, 2014

Noel 2014: In Photos (because a picture's worth a thousand words and I don't have time to write that many words)

Our little Christmas corner.

TAKE THAT, SNAIL! As much as I absolutely loathe snails, I have eaten 3. and Grenouille...
I ate pretty much every cliche French food during Christmas and its' Eve. #sorryKermit
Chez Familly Lethuaire, Christmas Eve

Bouche de Noel with little Johann Lethuaire

The Lethuaires
They hosted us for a real French Christmas Eve party. So wonderful!

Lovin the hand warmer things!

The only people on trajet on Christmas day... Heading to the Rasbands for Christmas lunch

Caroline Rasband
She and her mom hosted us for Christmas lunch. Escargots encore!

So magical.

La Tour Eiffel
Finally saw this beauty close up! A pretty cool Christmas present, I'd say!

I love you family!

The Angulo Family
They hosted us for Christmas dinner and Skype. They are just awesome. They are originally from Argentina, then to Spain, and now in France! Communicating is slightly difficult; the spirit is the only way it is possible.

Tartiflette! SO good. Cooking success.

The Allanic children "coiffur-ed" us. Don't we look beautiful?!

This week was grand.So many blessings and miracles.
I love you all! Be good. Do more. Look outward.

Sœur Simpson

Monday, December 22, 2014

Joyeux Noël - 22 décembre 2014

Joyeux Noël!

I don't even know where to start, but it all boils down to: CHRISTMAS TIME IS THE BEST TIME.

The spirit of Christmas is so real, which really is the spirit of Christ. Soeur Stevens and I have seen miracle after miracle this week of people embracing this time of family, love, and giving. We have
sweet RER station in Sucy-en-Brie
been let into houses (for the first time ever) to sing and pray and it has just been amazing. I LOVE THE FRENCH! As difficult as they can be sometimes, once you get them softened up, they are the sweetest and most wonderful people. It is so cool to see the love of Christ in action. I wish and pray that it can stay the whole year!

Claudia (an amie) me, and Sr. Stevens
at the Soiree de Noel at the church.
We ate super french appetizers,
like potato slices with
raw tuna and herbs, and then duck
and mashed potatoes,
and green beans.
The duck was delish.

This week included Pday in Paris as usual, we checked out this awesome cathedral just outside of the the Chatelet station in the center of Paris. I don't think I can handle this much incredible architecture and art all the time. Too much awesome. But I love it, I think I'll be okay.

We had exchanges in Nancy this week and oh my heavens, it was life-changing. I love exchanges. Our STLs are amazing. I was with Soeur Abigail Hosking from Oakland/San Fran, CA and has SO much energy, it kind of rubbed me the wrong way the first
Today for Pday, we went to the front
of Disneyland Paris
and walked around Downtown Disney,
because we can't actually
go into Disneyland.
It was so magical nonetheless.

time I met her, but boy was I wrong. She is awesome. We had some awesome conversations and miracles and oh man. I got to meet this Armenian lady who only spoke Armenian, Russian, and super awful English, but her spirit and love made it possible to communicate. Her husband was assassinated and she was forced to flee to France and leave everything behind. She is now alone and so poor, but she still finds happiness. :)

Just the cutest little primary
boys in the world.
I can't understand them,
but they're adorable.
SOIRÉE DE NOËL de notre paroisse was SO fun. We had 4 amis come and Sr. Stevens and I got to help do the primary childrens hair for the little program of noel all around the world. We got to watch some of the First Presidency Christmas Devotional en francais and I understood most of it. It was just so great.

Life is good. I love Nogent. I love being a missionary and CHRISTMAS IS THE BEST. I love you all!

Joyeux Noël!
Soeur Kate Simpson

Monday, December 15, 2014

Place de la République et Conference de Pieu - Décembre 15

Bonjour à tous! J'espère que vous allez bien!

It's been a good week, can't complain. Still hardly any outward success of contacting all the time, BUT we had a giant miracle. Remember Cynthia, the member referral from the Angulo family?! She's come to church a few times, bore her testimony two weeks ago, and she came to Stake Conference yesterday. So this week we had our first lesson with her, and before we even started teaching, she said, "So, I want to baptize myself, well not myself, but I want to be baptized by Frere Angulo, and I want to prepare myself for that, so will you help me to be ready?"
It actually wasn't even that good.
Slightly disappointed. but still fun.

Uh....YESS!!!! That's why we are here!!!! :) :) :)

It was awesome. She is a 16 year old girl with the soul of I don't even know what. something amazing and incredibly strong. we were SO happy. Unfortunately, her mom doesn't seem to be in complete support, so we've been praying hard for her mom's heart to be softened and be in support of Cynthia.

But how cool is that?! Miracles happen, even in France.

AND the Angulos invited us over for Christmas to Skype. This
I made a gluten-free crepe!
It was delish.
Pardon how awful I look,
but hey, mission life.
family is the answer to so many prayers. I just love them. So family, expect a Skype call around 6:00pm france time, so like 11:00am Utah time I believe, check that for sure though please. :) I can't wait!

The miracle of maison 35 ended for now... we went to follow up this week, and the husband told us to go away and not come back. So that's too bad. Maybe someday!

Caroling. Okay. This was probably one of the most cliche mission moments yet and I LOVED it. Our district, plus some members and the DMP from Paris-Lilas ward gathered at La Place de la Republique, a giant plaza with a famous fountain/statue, and we sang a bunch of Christmas hymns and some pagan christmas songs too and got to contact quite a few listeners. It was fun. Pretty sure we got instagrammed. Ali and Fran, check it out for me please. ;) "The best way to spread Christmas cheer, is singing loud for all to hear." right? It was cold, windy, drizzling, but so funny. The Paris-Lilas DMP, Frere Applegate from Oxford, England is hilarious. I don't know why everything is funnier with a british accent, but it just is. Elder Gaule is British too and I just die everytime they talk. Good times.

Saturday was awesome. We had a super powerful lesson with Marie-Pierre and a member, Soeur

Blatéron. Soeur B served a mission in Tahiti. She basically did all the talking, teaching, and it was EXACTLY what was needed. We hadn't even talked to her before hand, but the spirit was intense. M.Pierre hasn't been keeping her commitments and kind of seems like she doesn't want to change, so this was like a "do or die" lesson to see if we should continue to teach and visit her. Oh it was just so good.

Adamson Selfie.
We made christmas cookies and
shared a story from
Elder Neil L Andersen.
They're so cute!
We had stake conference this weekend and guess what?! It was at a Cinema. as in a movie theater. Super weird walking in as a missionary, but it was still so great. Also really easy to fall asleep in those awesome comfy chairs, but don't worry, I didn't. At least not for more than 5 minutes, I think. It's so cool to have the same meetings everywhere in the world. It truly is the Lord's gospel and the Church of Jesus Christ.

Soeur Stevens and I are becoming good friends. It's so nice to have a companion that is also a good friend. We laughed a lot this week and are finally getting some inside jokes. I know she still really misses Sr. Tupai, her trainer, which is understandable, but I am glad it's finally becoming the two of us.

Things are good in Nogent. Christmas is coming and you can feel it in the freezing, humid air. I am so grateful for the experiences I am having; I know they are making me become closer to who I need to become. I know the Lord has a much better plan for us than our own. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the true gospel and this is His church. I know it was restored through Jospeh Smith, a prophet of God. I love being a missionary.

I love you all! All the best.

Soeur Kate Simpson

Monday, December 8, 2014

Il est le Don - 8 décembre 2014

Bonjour a tous!

What a blessing this week was. We actually have formal lecons that didn't all fall through. Such a miracle for us. It felt so good to teach and to testify and to discuss the gospel with members, part-members, and investigators. It's about time :) I love the people of Nogent. I still can't understand everything, but I can feel their spirit and understand what I need to. Life is oh so good.

Monday: For P-day this past week, Sr. Stevens and I trekked up to Sacre Coeur, which oh man. SO cool. We successfully made it without being pick-pocketed or having Africans tie strings around our arms and make us pay them money to untie/cut the string off. They tried, but we are pros and just plowed through them. #success AND we saw/talked with two American girls at Sacre Coeur, and guess what? one of them was in Sr. Steven's home ward in Oregon. WHAT?! I know. Small world. Down the Champs-Elysees there is a Marche de Noel with everything you can think of to buy. Food galore, and every little trinket. We found this one stand with sausages sandwhiches that look to-die-for and we are most definitely going to get one today for Pday.

a l'église during our
exchange last week: Soeur Bennion
Tuesday: District Meeting was great as usual. The Elders are ridiculously funny, and yet so spiritual when they need to be. Elder Meng is our district leader, well he was. Transfers are this week, and he's leaving to Nantes, but he's been a great leader and an example of perseverance and patience like none other. Oh my, best activity during the meal part: Flan Suck. Basically you have to suck up a flan in one piece and swallow it simultaneously. It is hilarious. Elder Hall is the champion, with Elder Mattson coming in a close second. I tried it twice, doing okay the second time, but I couldn't swallow it as I inhaled. It's hard, but so fun. Flan is kind of like creme brulee jello stuff. good times. Our training was about patience, which was is always needed. It's hard to be patient, especially with ourselves, but it is possible. It's a process and we need heavenly aid to do so. We taught one lesson as we went contacting along the Marne. A Catholic lady named Martine. We had a lovely discussion about Noel and then the Restoration. We gave her a pamphlet, the Il est le Don card, and our contact info card. She was so nice and it was so great to have someone actually listen to us.

Wednesday: The best day of lessons thus far. 3 rendez-vous, including a surprise mangez-vous with the Kusslings. We visited the Zozo family from west africa and shared the "Il est le Don" video and discussed ways we can better center our lives on Christ and have the true reason of Christmas in our homes. Later that night, we met with Kashmira, from India and her two sons and also shared the video. Her boys are 11 and 8 and just so well behaved and cute. They participated so well and I was just impressed. She quickly made us some food, which turned out to be okay, except for the chicken liver. Sr. Stevens and I almost threw up. She was so nice though, so we just swallowed and kept going. Luckily, Sr. Kussling surprised us with dinner afterwards so we had some sausage-stuffed tomatoes and rice, which I don't think I could eat because of bread in the stuffing, but I haven't gotten sick yet, so ca va. It was a day of miracles. All of our appointments worked out and we got to share the spirit of Christ. So great.

Thursday was a day of contacting that didn't really bring forth anything, except helping a lost Portuguese lady in the Chatlet Metro/RER station (the biggest underground station in Paris... it's ridiculously confusing).

Making our chaines de Noel
La Famille d'Adamson:
Princess, Michael,
Sr. Stevens, Angel, and Godwith
Friday we visited the Adamson family who are from Ghana and helped the kids made chains for Noel with a service or kind gift of the heart they could do every day until Noel. They are adorable. Princess, Godwith, Angel, and Michael are the kids and I just love them. Also, we got a cordonee! (referral) Its from a girl on study abroad here from the US and wants to have us visit with her roommate while they're here. So excited.

Saturday was interesting, but so good. We had a meeting with our DMP (ward mission leader) and it was good. Elder Meng is in a temp. trio with the Elders from Aulnay due to some stuff with his previous comp. and then his temp. comp. left to the Preston MTC. So. We had Elder Strauss and Elder Tuscanos at the meeting too and they are a bit rambunctious. Okay maybe a lot. After the meeting, Frere Kussling, the DMP, took us to get Kabob. I got a salad and a plate of meat parce-que I can't eat the actually Kabob sandwhich. But it was good. It's like the middle-easterners favorite. I guess it's like schwarma? That night we met with the Famille de Lasa. Oh my. They are the nicest couple ever. Frere Lasa told us for like 20 minutes that his home is our home and they are our parents because our parents are far away. Their food is our food, etc. It was so nice. Mama Lasa even gave Sr. Stevens her scarf because it was so cold. We had such a spiritual lesson about Noel, miracles, and faith in Christ.

We had SIX (6) amis at church. SIX. Marie-Pierre actually came! Claudia, Godwith, Angel, Dani, Vivec, and our potential amie Cynthia came too and she bore her testimony... we haven't even taught her yet and she bore her testimony about the Angulo family who has been bringing her to church. She is awesome. She is 16 and friends with the Angulo's daughter Brisa. She speaks French, Spanish, and English fluently, which couldn't be better for us because the Angulo's only really speak Spanish. Oh I can't wait to meet with her. We have a rendez-vous this week. A member was baptized after church. A little 8 year old boy of the Blateron family, all of which are members. It was a lovely little baptism. We had Kashmira's two sons there and I think it helped them see what it was like. Cool experience. The Mourier family had us over for dinner, and they are amazing. Frere Mourier was Brother Markham's companion (he was in my MTC branch presidency) and I absolutely love the Markham's. It was like sort of meeting long lost family and having awesome food. We had Tartiflette, which is like super awesome au gratin potatoes but way better. We shared the video and discussed about Noel encore. Their son Elliot is our ward's Young Men's President, Soeur Mourier is the Stake Young Women's President, and they are just an awesome family.

Well. This week was great. Sorry it's such a long email, but there was just too much good stuff. I love you all and wish you the best. I found a quote by Thomas Edison  that I loved:
"You can often gage a man's ambition by whether he hates his alarm clock or considers it his best friend."
I'm going to strive to make the alarm clock my best friend and have an attitude of enthusiasm for each day I get to do the work of the Lord. It's really hard to get up somedays when it's so warm and cozy in my bed, but it is so great to get up, get out, and serve. I know we can have the energy and enthusiasme to do what needs to be done if we pray and ask and just do it. Life is oh so good.

Have such a great week. Be good. Do more. Look outward.

Bon courage!
Soeur Kate Simpson

Monday, December 1, 2014

An Attitude of Gratitude

I hope everyone had a great week with Thanksgiving! Not going to lie, super jealous of Pie Night and the annual Nerf gun war. It looked pretty intense. But Thanksgiving here in little Nogent-sur-Marne, France, was a day to remember and a day for much gratitude.

This week was a bit rough, okay really rough for my dear companion, and I am so grateful for Thanksgiving to keep my focus on being grateful. I've kept a gratitude journal since May of 2011, but slacked off pretty bad in recent years. Well, since in the field, I haven't missed a day and boy am I glad. It is such a blessing to look back on the day and see the blessings and miracles of each day, because believe it or not, there are many. Even on the harder days here, I've seen great blessings and because I've written them down, I seem to only remember the good things in the days.

It was a week of finding, and to no avail. I know that no effort is wasted, but it really hit Soeur Stevens and overwhelmed her. The stress of being a trainer, most of the responsibilities still on her, the lack of cooperation from the ward, and all of our appointments falling through pretty much crushed her this week until she broke on Saturday during comp. inventory. It was good to just get it all out and let her express her worries, frustrations, and thoughts. It's different dealing with different personalities, maturities, experiences, etc. but I know every person is put into our lives for a reason. I am grateful for opportunities to work with and serve with others.

I am optimistic for the coming week. I'm so pumped to work with members and get to know them and get things rolling again. I pray for the members and Sr. Stevens, our district, me, and pretty much just everyone to find the strength to do this work, because it is not just the work of missionaries. It is a church wide work, everyone is needed.

You've heard the phrase, "the true and living church" I'm sure a thousand times, but the word "living" really hit me this week. How can a church be living? It's a church. Well, I read in Doctrine and Covenants 1:30 that phrase, and after pondering and reading scriptures it came to me that Jesus Christ is the head of His church. He lives, therefore the church lives. Revelation continues, the Priesthood is real, therefore the church is not dormant nor stagnant, IT LIVES. It is the true and living gospel/church of Jesus Christ on the earth. SO cool. Probably self-explanatory, but I thought it was cool.

I wish you all the best of weeks. I know Jesus Christ lives. This is His gospel. It is the best thing in this world and I am so grateful to be a missionary and preach His gospel.

Avec amour,

Soeur Kate Simpson