Already to harvest.
The Missionary Team of Arras
Elder Tibbits, Elder Meng,
Soeur Soileau, Soeur Simpson, Frère Bond
Tuesday included another voyage to Amiens for district meeting. Nothing too spectacular. No Cathédrale this time. But waiting for the bus to go to the gare, I started talking to a lady who was waiting with us, and invited her to church (super helpful having the church right across the round about from the bus stop, great advertising) we talked for a bit. She had a bright pink purse, and guess what, her name is Rose. Rose = pink in French for those who don't speak French. How cute is that. It turns out she just moved here from Cameroon and hasn't found a church yet... Perfect timing. God sure knows how to place people in life. We got all her info, gave her a Restoration brochure and the Amiens Elder's number, and wished her the happiest of days. Amiens Elders contacted her the next day and set up a time to meet as well as come to church. Cool miracle.
Wednesday we spent basically the whole day in the car with Soeur Meurisse, a ward missionary, about 65+, who fulfills and magnifies her calling quite well. She is absolutely wonderful. She sets up all the rendez-vous and drives us to them, all of which are too far away for any train or bus system. It was a day well spent and absolutely beautiful. Long drives in the French countryside, a bit of rain here and there, and visiting less actives and active members who need help. Soeur Soileau started getting sick Tuesday, so she was out most of the time in the car and was pretty silent in lessons due to sore throat. Soeur Meurisse filled in and taught as a missionary and member, such a sweet, caring, charitable lady.
We visited a home-bound sister in the ward, who has numerous health problems keeping her from coming to church and leaving her home at all. When we shared our message with her, she began to cry as the video hit home to her life with more than one of the lady's stories applicable to her own challenges. She smiled and shared how she continues to confront fear with faith and overcome difficulties and trials in life. This sweet sister has given nearly 10 copies of the Book of Mormon in the past year, including to her city's Mayor and deputy Mayor, or whatever the second in command is. Though she cannot go to the people and share the gospel, every person who comes to her sees the light of Christ and feels the spirit. They ask her about the gospel and she gladly shares. No matter the circumstance, the Lord provides a way. Always.
She didn't have any groceries and no money or any means to get more food. We opened her fridge and all she had was some cheese, mayo, and pasta. No canned anything. The cupboards were bare. Soeur Meurisse left us with this dear sister and went grocery shopping for her. We cleaned up the lunch Soeur Meurisse had brought for all of us, cleaned the kitchen, and talked with the sister until Sœur Meurisse came back, bags filled with food. You could see the relief and gratitude in the eyes and smile of the sister with food once again to get her through until the next time. Such an act of charity and example of Christ.
Thursday began with usual studies, followed by an apartment inspection by the Redd couple. They are fabulous. We began our missions at the same time and they are from Farmington! We passed. Phew. They then treated us to lunch at a Chinese restaurant. Such kind and generous people. We literally ran to the gare to catch our train for DMP meeting at the Bond's. It was the most different DMP meeting I've ever lived.
|Beet root & Swiss chard |
with Soeur Bond
We began with business, all was well and we got it done. They, sister and brother Bond, both are incredibly helpful and absolutely hilarious. Both from the UK, their accents and sayings kill me. I have the hardest time not speaking with a British accent around them. Sometimes I just do it, and they don't seem to mind. Haha Their life could be a movie. Both are computer scientists and programmers, but quit working as such to build furniture, sell jams, jellies, and vinegars, and run a little farm in the middle of nowhere in the north of France. And sing in a rock band. Frère Bond was a lumberjack, then computer scientist and programmer, then went to a ship building academy to learn how to do just that, build ships, and make furniture. Soeur Bond decided to go to university at the age of 35 in London. She knew she wouldn't do something if it was easy, so she chose computer science because she knew it would be hard. They both met in a computer science class at university, she joined the church independent of falling in love with him, and they were married. Seriously the funniest people. I can't get enough of them.
We got a tour of the yard, gardens, elder Tibbetts chased their geese, we ate fresh tomatoes, strawberries, and chives from their greenhouse, petted a chicken, and examined their worm compost pile. Had a quick photo shoot with the tractor, beet root and Swiss chard we picked, then went in for dinner. Once you go to the Bonds, you can't leave because you are basically stranded in the middle of farm land for miles and it's a 45 minute train ride back to Arras. We planned to be their long enough for our meeting and dinner and boy did we have a night of that. Dinner was fish pie. We retired to the "comfy" room for dessert, which was cupcakes for everyone and oranges + merengue for me. It turned into a concert by the Bonds and massages from their amazing Japanese massage chair. Unforgettable night.
Imagine a kitchen with jars covering the floor, every counter space, the sink over filled with them. I think I might have dreams of jam and jelly jars for the rest of my life. We went in the morning of Friday back to the Bonds to help Soeur Bond with over 300 jars for her jams and jellies. My first job was to scrape out the moldy jam, jelly, marmalade, or curd, and then soak the labels. Soeur Soileau then peeled labels and soon I joined her. Then washing the jars and switching I to the dishwasher. We tried cleaning the kitchen, as in wiping cobwebs and spiderwebs down from the walls and cupboards, organizing cupboards and disinfecting everything. It was kind of a mess, so we were more than happy to help. Frère Bond was in his shop making furniture, Soeur Bond made lunch, and we cleaned jars on jars on jars. It was good fun.
We had a layover in Béthune after leaving St. Pol sur Ternoise from the Bonds; Soeur Soileau was really sick by this point. It was pretty miserable for her. I bought her some hot cocoa and we waited for the train in the cold with nothing to sit on. When we finally made it back, we had award Council. It went really well. We deleted assignments to each auxiliary for the Fête de Fall we are throwing together. It was pretty funny to see their reactions to some of the games and activities we've planned. The French don't seem to really play games in social gatherings. I love these people, they are so willing to try new things and help to make sure it works. It's gonna be good.
Saturday Soeur Soileau basically hibernated. I made her rest and sleep most of the day. I made us some corn tortillas from the beautiful flour from Frère Sanchez. I would fail as a Mexican. They didn't turn out like Frère Sanchez's but they worked enough. Tortillas are blessed things; you don't know what you've got till it's gone. Enjoy your tortillas, they are not to be taken for granted.
Anyway. We did weekly planning, ate lunch/dinner, watched Together Forever for the first time just so we could say we've watched it, and I sent her to bed. She was pretty loopy off of NyQuil the night before and hasn't been there completely, thus sleeping. I filled out "Ma Famille" the family history booklet produced by FamilySearch. It's one of our Zone goals this transfer in preparation for the Missionary Olympics, our Zone activity on Monday. I did as much as I have information. It was fun to summarize the lives of my family and think about them, who they are and from where they come. I'm grateful for my family. Families are wonderful.
Sunday was a beautiful sabbath. Poor Soeur Soileau was a trooper all through church and afterwards as well. We visited with Madame Lebel for the first time together, the first time I taught her was with Soeur Proudfoot on exchanges. She was sick too, so we just stopped in and prayed. Soeur Koch, a sister in the ward came with us. They relate well, both growing up in the foster system in arras. Very good hearted ladies trying to give others better than they have received. Soeur Koch then invited us to pass by her house later that night to share a message and visit Soeur Maire, an elderly sister in the ward not too far from her home. We shared the message of the restoration and asked them their conversion stories, how they came to know of the truth of the restored gospel.
Soeur Maire was one of the first members here in Arras, back when they had church in the missionary's apartment. She told of primary in the kitchen, relief society out in the hall, and the many evening socials they would hold to keep the Saints together to keep building the Kingdom in Arras. It is now one of the bigger wards of France, with its own building. It was amazing to think of the growth she has seen and the good the gospel brings to people.
Well, we are off to Lille for PDay today for a special Zone activity, Missionary Olympics. Wish us luck!
I know that God lives, He loves us, and He gave us His Son, Jesus Christ, so that we could return to live with Him. It is through our faith in Christ, His Atonement, and our application of what we know, that we can become more like Him, prepared to live with Him once more. I know this is His gospel restored to the earth by a prophet called of God, and we are led by a living prophet of God today. We are so blessed.
Thank you for who you are and who you are becoming. I love you!
Sœur Kate Simpson