Monday, October 19, 2015

Arachnids in Arras - 19 octobre 2015

Bonjour d'Arras,

Dead suitcase...

All is well up in the North. It's freezing and I've been told I haven't seen anything yet...but it's been a great week. The weather and wearing the same clothes again as I did when I was a bleue is weirding me out a bit. This time, I'm the trainer. What? It's been a cool week though, filled with so much hard work I'm exhausted more than ever and many blessings and little miracles. My biggest suitcase completely died. It's gone. The handle broke off at gare du Nord in Paris, the wheel wore out and broke 2 meters from our building, and the top handle broke getting off the elevator into our apartment. It's a goner. It was funny. My bags were so heavy. I even left a ton in Paris. Soeur Soileau and I had to make goal check points dragging everything from the gare to our apartment. We'd probably walk 10 meters, pause, breathe, pick the next check point, and go. We hurt so bad the next few days. I'm feeling better now, no worries. Good times on transfer week.

My daughter, Sœur Chelsea Soileau
Pronounced "swallow". It's French. Cool, huh?
We actually did some of 
her genealogy for PDay today.
 Pretty cool. She found some ancestors
 thanks to a sweet 
French sister in our ward. 
Go family history! 
Soeur Soileau, my dear daughter, is great and I love serving with her. She is from all over the U.S., former military family, so she's been everywhere. Current home is Washington state. She is tall, blond, 19, and did color guard in high school, did a year at BYUI, loves her boyfriend, pants, The Office, and chocolate. She has been out for one transfer, but has had a hard time since day one dealing with anxiety and homesickness. It's been a bit of an adjustment this week for her, but she's been a champ. I can tell she wants to be a good missionary and doesn't know how exactly to do it. I do not profess to be a great missionary, but I can keep rules and work hard, so it's a start. It's been cool to see her progress and try harder just in four days.

Arras is nearly dead. We are starting at ground zero. I don't know what the missionaries here were doing before, but there is nearly nothing, not even hardly in the area book, at least not updated. We have one amie and she is not progressing nor truly interested in changing. We are going to have to drop our only investigator and literally start at ground zero. The first night after getting in, running strait to a mangez-vous with the Rivierre family, then home for planning, we cleaned and organized our area book, I showed her what the area book was and how to use it, and we got our battle strategy going.

The Elder team is whitewashing too, Elder Meng and his Bleu, Elder Tibbetts from Kaysville/Farmington! We got a new DMP on Sunday and pretty much we are rebooting the work here in Arras. I would think I'd be more overwhelmed and stressed, but oddly, I feel peaceful, hopeful, and excited. Our new DMP is Frère Bond, from the UK which is awesome. He gets how to do missionary work and is set to out our plans and ideas in action. It's an exciting time.

We are doing our best to be exactly obedient because we seriously need all the help we can get. Our strategy thus far is to go village by village, organizing old investigators, less/non active members, and finding new investigators all together. It's been a ton of planning, map drawing and finding, walking, knocking, talking, and praying. It's awesome. Soeur Soileau is a trooper.

There are spiders EVERYWHERE here and they are huge. Not like South America huge, but for me they're ridiculous. The French like to gate everything off, their yards especially, and most do so by shrubs and bushes. Spiders also love shrubs and bushes. We do a spider check every time we try to enter someone's yard because the chance of there being a spider is high. We have started naming the biggest ones we encounter. Wilfred was the first. Sir Charles, the next. Yesterday we ported into a Russian Orthodox man from Moldova named Vyktor, so we named the next giant spider Vyktor.

Saturday we spent 5 1/2 hours strait knocking doors in St. Nicolas-lez-Arras, with very few success. We gave a few contact cards out, a brochure or two, found an old investigator without meaning to which was a miracle, and finally at the VERY end, we decided to do one last tiny corner rue as we looked for the bus. It was a trio house. The first sonnerie didn't answer. The second one...she let us in. SHE LET US IN. It was wonderful. We didn't know what to say, we were nearly speechless and almost didn't believe she actually wanted to hear our message and pray with us. We sat down in her little flat and taught the lesson of the Restoration, gave her a Book of Mormon and explained and testified how we can know for ourselves if what we shared is true. There was a slight moment in the middle, she interrupted us and asked the churches stance on homosexuality, to which we replied doctrinally going off of The Family: A Proclamation to the World, also explained that God loves all his children and we still love and respect everyone, she seemed ok and we went on. She seemed very interested in the lesson and seemed to understand. Her stepfathers friend is a member, I believe and so she knows a little bit about us. We set up another appointment for this weekend and we'll see how it goes. New amie!

Slowly but surely, Arras will grow.

Sunday was great. The members are so nice and they feed us! I'm excited for some French food again. We didn't get fed much in Paris, but that's not what it's about. I love the members in Paris and I miss them already, but this ward seems awesome. Elder Tibbetts, Elder Meng, and I bore our testimonies and introduced ourselves in sacrament meeting, which went well. It's so cute to see bleus speak French. Elder Tibbetts said he's just been watching mouths and trying to catch little words here and there. He and Soeur Soileau are doing great though.

After church we continued our plan, but in Arras-même. We ported into some nice Muslim families, which two of them gave us referrals. An old investigating family was blasting music and having like a dance party, then when we rung the doorbell, everything went quiet and they hid. Kind of funny. It's the third time they've blatantly hid from the Sœurs. It might work better for them if they just answer and say they're not interested. Haha We continued the loop and came across an upper-middle aged French gentleman who answered the door, and let us in, saying to share our message, in an mocking/making fun of tone, with the intention of making us entertainment of sorts for his family and friends that were visiting, but we held our own, laughed with them, shared the full restoration and they let us pray. Thus, it turned out for our intention, their hearts were softened, and they felt the spirit. Worked out for everyone. I love the power of the truth.

Soeur Simpson, you're not in Paris anymore.
I know this work is the work of the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It is the truth. It is His truth. I know it and I love it. I'm grateful for the opportunity I have to share it with the people here in Arras. They so desperately need it. I know it is through living and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ that we can be truly happy and feel real joy.

Have a fabulous week and don't forget to pray for courage to share and then go do it.

Avec amour, Sœur Kate Simpson

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