Many blessings to be counted indeed. Still no new amis, and barely any lessons. We stopped quite a bit of dear children of God, but no one was ready to listen. It is a little frustrating when it is the time of Christmas and everyone should be happy and feeling the Christmas spirit, the love of Christ, but not quite yet, or at least we aren't looking in the right places.
Prayer has been our source of endurance. We have continued as diligently as possible to pray every hour on the hour. I suppose I needed/need to better rely on Him to do His work. We have been blessed to talk with a few kind people, even if they weren't interested in continuing. I'm happy to be sharing a Christmas message now, which I believe will soon soften the hearts of my dear Arrageios.
I had a lovely exchange in Villeneuve d'Ascq/Lille with Sœur Rasband. Yes her somehow-related uncle is the Apostle Elder Rasband. It was wonderful. I love Arras and life, but it is also nice to take a little break and have a new backdrop for the wonderful work of the Lord. I feel so blessed to have been able to serve with her. She was Sœur Tippett's companion right before I was, and they too were together for 3 transfers. She is wonderful. We went to Mouscron, Belgium for a rdv, which is a part of their secteur, so that was cool. Left France for a bit. We visited a recent convert of 4 months, who has lived in Belgium for 4 weeks, moving from Brazil. Absolutely solid member. They hardly have anything, but give all they have to come to church. They can't afford train tickets, so they walk more than an hour with their 6 year old twins, and 8 month old baby on chilly Sunday mornings across the French border to get to the Lille metro to get to church. That is conversion. We talked with the sweet sister and she ended up changing our lesson to Joseph Smith and the truth and happiness of the gospel. She just kept saying "I'm just so happy, I'm am just so happy." Here was a lady, struggling with languages, hardly any material means, struggling with her little family in a foreign country and a new church, but she was grasping on for dear life to the restored gospel and chose to be happy. She is a great example to me. We came away so edified. What would I give to go to church? What would you?
Wednesday was a bit rough. We had no appointments, rather they all fell through, and so we headed out into the world to find some lost souls. We searched for hours on end. It was windy, cold, gray, and absolutely no one was listening. Soeur Soileau asked if we could stop at a bench near a river so she could pray. Can't say no to that, so we sat and prayed silently. Just a few meters away in the river, an older teenaged boy was attempting to knee kayak. All suited up in his wetsuit, he slowly pushed off from the doc and wobbled, trying to keep his balance with his oar. He splashed and wiggled and tried with all his might to not fall in, though his hair was wet giving us hints he may have already fallen into the cold December water. We kept praying and thinking and talking, trying not to watch him and make him feel weird. He ventured out quite a bit. Just as we closed our eyes to pray together, we headed a big splash. He had lost balance, tipped over, and fallen in. We tried our hardest not to giggle in our prayer, and succeeded in finishing a reverent plead for help and direction. After we opened our eyes, he was back in the kayak and trying again.
I suppose it's a stretch of sorts, but it's kind of how we were feeling. We were trying and have been trying to succeed. I feel like I should be equipped with balance and experience, but the kayak of finding is wobbling and we aren't quite there yet. I am grateful for the young mans endurance and will power to get up and try again, even in the cold, gray, windy days. I know there will be a day when our practice and pleading for help will come to our aid. One day we will be blessed to balance and ride on the river smoothly, helping others as well.
I know endurance is hard. But it is necessary. I suppose the best thing to do is to find the beauty along the way and enjoy the journey of falling in the river, because one may as well make the best of it.
Make it a wonderful week this week and remember how much you are loved.
Love, Sœur Kate Simpson