Three exchanges this week. Yes, 'twas splendid indeed. I really feel lucky that I get to go on so many exchanges and learn and grow with the sœurs in this mission. Their lives, stories, testimonies, and examples inspire me. I feel incredibly blessed to get to serve at their sides and work to bring about the gospel of Christ to those around us.
Château de Vincennes
Last Pday adventure.
We forgot our OFII proof of residency
so we couldn't get in free...
So we just admired outside.
We then were nearly home, when across from the soeur's apartment, we came across a lady sitting on a bench. We decided to go talk to her, though we had 2 minutes until 9:00pm. It turns out, she has lived there in the same apartment complex as the soeurs for 30+ years and has never talked with them. She's seen them and was quite standoffish at first, but after a few rude questions and kind replies, we were able to see her heart soften and open to hear a little of our message. We prayed with her at the end and invited her to learn more. Though she refused, she said she would love to have "fate cross our paths again." Pretty cool night.
I also got to go to Versailles district meeting, which happened to be Elder Hall's last one. He was my
first ZL back when he was in
Paris Lilas before he left to Brest then became an AP. It was a great training
by Elder Reiss about miracles. Very inspiring and uplifting. It is true that
the word "miracle" has become increasingly used in my vocabulary
since serving as a missionary, as you've probably noticed. It is for a good
reason though, because it is true: there are miracles everyday, all over the
place, that show us that God is real, He is there, and He loves His children.
It makes me excited to find the little signs and miracles everyday because they
are always there.
Camilla, a BYU study abroad student
that taught Anna with us.
She's headed back to America.
+ André, a member of our Ward.
Right after district meeting, we switched back companions, met the Rouen soeurs at Saint Lazare Gare and started the second exchange. I was with cute Soeur Brazeal from Florida. She is adorable and such a powerhouse of a missionary. So driven and determined. She inspires me. Though we didn't have much outward success, I learned a lot from her stories of things she has overcome.
Thursday morning we cleaned out the ZL's apartment as a zone activity... It is being closed down because the ZLs moved in with the Mandarin elders. It is a super old, run down apartment that has survived 20+ years of elders... Needless to say, it was pretty disgusting. We had a crew of about 20 people and it took 3+ hours for the bulk of cleaning and taking out. The office elders and ZLs were working and moving stuff to Versailles until 9pm that night. It was a little different of an exchange because basically all we did was clean with everyone. Not much one on one time, but it was still great.
Right after dropping off the Rouen soeurs at the Gare, the Mulhouse soeurs came in and we went right off to work. Soeur Tippett and Soeur North headed to our relief society president's home at the other end of our secteur for a FHE/meal and Soeur Clark and I made our way home to meet the Office elders at our apartment with a new vacuum, shelf, and mattress. No worries, they are a trio, so that helps rule keeping. Well as we got off the RER for our house, it began to pour. It has been really muggy and hot lately, so the rain was a welcomed blessing. So it was pouring rain and as we turn to cross for our street and I went to get the keys, I realized Soeur Tippett had them... 45+ minutes away and the office elders were already waiting for us. Good thing I've had a break in plan for a while. We put it to the test and it worked. Elder Reiss did the job. Some neighbor of ours let us in the second coded door. Then the tricky part, getting into our apartment. It is a blessed thing we are one the first floor. We went to the courtyard and E. Reiss pulled himself up on the fence jumped/slid on a lip of the wall and climbed into our window. All while it was pouring rain. It was a pretty epic moment. And he was safe.
Scarf weather again.
Château de Fontainebleau
The Mandarin elders had an ami get baptized on Saturday, so we spent almost all day at the Paris Lilas chapel helping and participating. They asked me to play the piano. Bad idea. I willingly did so, but I basically crashed and burned the intermediate hymns while waiting for him to change. I am not a strong sight reader and I had never played any of them... I was really grateful when they finally came in. It was a beautiful service. He was baptized by David Babin, our Ward mission leader, in Chinese. Pretty cool.
Sunday was a bit of a missionaries-run-the-Ward day. I was asked to play the piano in sacrament meeting... Ya. The day after I slaughtered playing, but I prayed super hard, picked songs I knew and the Lord blessed me. It wasn't too bad. Then Soeur Tippett and I split with two members because she taught primary and I taught English Gospel Doctrine. The elders taught Gospel Principles. I then played piano again for Relief Society and then translated. It was a busy day to say the least. But it was great. We had a Ward meal afterwards, which was great to talk with the members and some visitors.
Today we didn't have conference call because President and Soeur Babin are traveling to zone conference, so we got to start Pday like the rest of the mission. We headed down to Fontainebleau, one of the only completely preserved châteaux left from the French monarchy. It was outstanding. We only had 90 minutes because we got to teach a lady, but it was absolutely breathtaking.
Well tonight we are headed to Nancy for their zone conference tomorrow then exchanges in Toul! Then in Paris most likely for the rest of the transfer. This transfer is flying. Ah. It's been so good. I love this work. I know it's the work of the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I know He lives. I know He loves me and you.
Have a fantastic week. Keep praying, studying, and serving.
Sœur Kate Simpson