Monday, November 23, 2015

Forty days & Flying

Last Saturday marked 40 days before Christmas and the beginning of our 40 day "fast" to find one new amie every day for our Christmas present to Christ. President asked us to pray every hour on the hour to find a new amie and have the spirit with us to do so. It was off to a rough start due to the terrorist attacks and being locked in our apartment for the first two days. We prayed every hour anyway. We felt peace and many blessings.

Thank you for your prayers and love. It makes a difference.

The finding has been scarce. We have seen the forces of Satan like none other. Literal tempest and storms have tried to keep us from going out, keep people from listening, and there have been maybe 5 people who have stopped for more than 5 seconds to listen out of hundreds we have contacted.

Our week.
Tuesday after district meeting was an adventure. Our appointment fell through with Christelle. To the streets we went. And so did the wind and rain. Soeur Soileau's umbrella was flipped inside out multiple times. It was so windy it would stop us from moving at times. She was not a happy camper. We were getting soaked, our skirts flying every which way, and just about no one even gave us the time of day. She had had it. We made it to the gare and didn't know what to do. So we prayed. We had passed a pâtisserie earlier and she had mentioned she had never tried a macaron. I made a deal with her: if we contacted every single person we could on our way to the pâtisserie, I would buy her a macaron. It semi worked. I contacted every person we possibly could with no takers, she got her macaron and didn't like it too much, and it was still storming like crazy. Luckily it was time for our train to go to the Rivièrre family in Douai.

Miracle: Pauline, the redhead literature student. I sat next to her on the train to Douai and began talking to her. It turned into one of the most uplifting and beautiful conversations of which I've ever been apart. I learned about her passion for writing and literature, poetry and nature, and she in turn learned about my passion for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Once arrived in Douai, she agreed to a prayer as we stood there on the platform. We taught that God is our loving Father in Heaven and wants us to communicate with him. She had never heard that before and told us how beautiful she found it. We prayed with her and she accepted to exchange numbers. She even texted her friend to wait longer while she spoke with us. She was such a blessing.

Beffroi d'Arras
Supporting with the Flag
We got to our dinner appointment and they thought we weren't coming due to the weekends lockdown... But they hurried home. We couldn't go inside because their son was the only one home. Not a coincidence though. He was kind and stood out in the rain with us for 30 minutes until his parents came home. He is about 20, a member but not active. He hardly says anything to missionaries when we come over, but this night he takes for half an hour! He asked us questions about the Word of Wisdom, told us how once he'd like to have served a mission, he likes church and his friends there, but isn't living the commandments and doesn't quite feel like he can. He did say, "it's never too late though" to which we definitely agreed. We invited him to the Fête de Fall next week and he said he'd come and bring his girlfriend! It was a great conversation, one of which I believe he was in need.

Needless to say, we were wiped out when we finally got home. The wind had picked up even more and reminded me of my senior year when Kaysville and the valley was wiped by the massive wind storm. Boxes and all sorts of garbage were strewn all over the place, but don't worry, I Spartan-kicked a cardboard box. All is well.

Wednesday, we began our on a rampage with The District, watching it all during lunch and dinner breaks. Soeur Soileau's first trainer didn't do The First 12 Weeks/The District training so we've been trying to catch her up and get her all trained up. Gotta love The District. Especially The District 2. Good stuff.

We had a lovely long contact sesh after a member visit. She was adorable. A cute old member, 86 years old. She's dealing with a bit of a problem. Some computer system pronounced her dead to the social services records which provide her income... So she's having to prove she's still alive to actually keep living. Poor lady. I testify she is well and quite alive. She has a very strong testimony of the Book of Mormon and is at church every week. She's more alive than many.

Anyway, we met a few nice people, none of which were interested. We then went to pass by a referral who wanted to meet with us, but she wasn't there. We didn't know what we should do, so we pulled ourselves over to pray. Just as I was about to pray, Soeur Soileau leaned over and contacted a lady walking up from behind me. Sr. S asked her if we could pray with her right then and there. She said yes. What. Yes? Yes. Sarah. We prayed with Sarah, then she stayed... So we taught her the Restoration, explained the Book of Mormon, gave her one of her own, and set up a time for Saturday for a rendezvous. SARAH IS A NEW AMIE. Miracles happen. We have been praying every hour for the past 5 days for a new amie and voilà. New amie. She was Soeur Soileau's first contact of the day, and boom. New amie. I suppose I just had to weed out the rest in preparation. Haha so worth it. We gave a prayer of gratitude right afterwards and simply could not stop smiling and replaying the scene over and over. That is true joy.

Thursday we spent with Soeur Meurisse visiting less actives and serving people. Once again, she is one of the most charitable people I've met. I hope to acquire attributes like her one day.

Feels like home.
Friday has been renamed Bonday, for service and DMP meeting chez Bond every Friday. It's so far out that it takes a 45 min train, then we work and serve, lunch, work and serve, DMP meeting, dinner, Frère Bond drives us all back to Arras to the Church for Conseil de Paroisse, and PPP. This week for Bonday we patched a gigantic umbrella for a lady that has a stand at the marché next to Soeur Bonds stand for jams and jellies. It was quite the sewing project. Sewing through canvas and plasticky stuff. Kinda tricky. But good challenge. Best part of the day, stripping wall paper. Yes. Indeed. Wall paper. It brought me home. Who would have thought I'd strip wall paper on my mission? And whilst listening to the Narnia film score in a British family's home in the middle of the countryside of northern France? Not I. But it was wonderful. Soeur Soileau needed a break I between sewing the umbrellas corners, so she primed a door for painting. I love house work serving.

Conseil de Paroisse went well. The leadership of the ward is onboard and excited for the activity this weekend. It's all kind of riding on our shoulders and slightly stressful, but this will be good. It's going to have to be. We need investigators so bad, and people need this gospel so bad, so this will be great. I pray it works well.

Saturday was kind of frustrating. Sarah frudged us. So not really a new amie...she didn't answer our calls or texts... Soeur Soileau was pretty hurt. She got really excited that we'd actually have an amie to teach, and someone that she had found, and was let down pretty hard that she didn't come. I tried my best to comfort her and help her through it. I don't know if it helped that I kind of said "get used to it because it happens a lot," but it's the truth. Don't worry, I said it much nicer and she took it and we continued.

It's been kind of a rough week for the Elders too. Elder Meng finishes his mission this week, as in two days, and Elder Tibbits is a little anxious to get a new companion. Elder Tibbitts also was supposed to go into Paris on Friday for Legality but couldn't find his passport. It's gone. He panicked a bit being in a country on lock down and immigration problems and terrorist attacks and he does t have his they spent a good chunk of the day filling out forms to reapply to get a passport and visa. Poor kid.

Sunday was good, but no one we invited showed up to church. I was asked to give a last minute talk in sacrament meeting, but the counsellor showed up just in time. A homeless man came to church for the first time. He fell asleep on Elder Meng.

It has just been a weird week. Still miracles and blessings, but a whole lot of opposition, long suffering, and patience. Oh. Last night, IT SNOWED. first real snow since beginning of 2014 back in Utah. It was super wet but it stuck for a bit this morning too. It's bitter cold here. It's been pretty nice until the past 4 days and boom. Winter is here.

Transfer No. 9 district
I'm excited for another 6 weeks with my dear Soeur Soileau here in Arras. Miracles to come. We we still praying and trying. I know sometimes we just have to dig and ready the soil. One day the seeds will grow and flower. The harvest will come.

To end on a cheerful note. I got an unexpected call for Soeur Tippett Sunday evening tell me: ANNA CAME TO CHURCH. I never got to say goodbye and we thought she dropped of the face of the Earth the week after she was baptized. I was pretty sad. Ut have been praying for her to come back. Well she went to Korea for a month, which we knew, a little upsetting she didn't even send a text to say she got our calls and texts or say goodbye to me, but I don't even care because she's back. And it was perfect because it was Soeur Tippetts last Sunday of her mission.

AND PRISCILLIA GOT HER TEMPLE RECOMMEND. Priscillia interviewed with Bishop Hall and will be joining the youth as they go on their temple trip to London in January. I am so so so happy. Soeur Tippett said she is just beaming with the light of Christ.

Though a different week here in Arras, it's been such a blessing to hear of fruits being harvested back in Paris. I am ever so grateful to be a missionary.

Cheers to a new transfer and a new week,

Make it a good one

 Sœur Kate Simpson

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