Monday, February 29, 2016

Ça va. Ça va. - 29 février 2016

Another great week in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie. Yes. That is the new name of our department in France. Saving money or something? But not breath, it's a mouth full. Anyway. It was good. Literally every single one of our rendezvous fell through and nothing went according to plan, BUT it was still good.

Culture. It's important.
We met a few nice people as we tried to go street contacting in the cold mornings, but no one interested yet. YET is the key word. Many seeds planted. Whenever the harvest season does show up, it's going to be one giant harvest because we've been planting and nourishing a TON of seeds. All in the Lord's time.

My dear Soeur King
Tuesday was a day well spent with Soeur King, as our bleues were off at OFII for first year legality. It was a beautiful, warmer day, and we just got lost in Paris contacting. It was lovely. We ended up walking pretty much all over. We made it to the Place de la République, then over to the Champs-Elysées, Arc de Triomphe, and ended up at the Seine across from the Tour Eiffel. Pas mal for an afternoon in Paris. We met some awesome people too. We had a nice bench lesson in a park with a girl from Australia. Talked to some Koreans and French too. It was so good to catch up and talk about each other's missions. So cool to start our missions together and get a recap for a day at the end. I sure love Soeur King. She is amazing and I'm so glad we met. I am so going to Louisiana to visit.

Dinner at Notre Dame
We didn't get back with our real companions until like 5:30 and our train was at nearly 7:00, so Soeur Giordano and I headed out to find some food. I took her to the missionary classic, Genia's, the panini-crêpe place in the Latin quarter on the left bank across from the Fontaine Saint Michel. A member family from California stopped us and took pictures with us and paid for our food. It was awesome. I wonder if that is what it's like for missionaries in America? True or false? Either way, they were super nice. We took our food to Notre Dame and ate in the grand place just in front of it and ate in the heart of Paris. It was slightly magical. So good to be back. I think it was cool for Soeur G too. Good talking time and smelling the roses of life.

Contacting with Stéphane
The rest of the week was, as I said, not according to plan, but we made lots of other plans. So much in store. We went contacting with Stéphane, a RM in our ward who is an assistant to our DMP. Good experiences contacting. Super nice to have a native Francophone.

Charlotte couldn't make it to church, but said she'll be next week! Super excited for that! Also, Marie came to church! Things are good and we are blessed.

I now that the Lord has a plan, even if it is not our Plan A, or B, or C, or even D. But it is always better. We just have to keep trying. Keep working, being creative, and just enjoying the adventure. Tomorrow marks 17 months since entering the MTC. I cannot believe it. I am so grateful for the plan God has for me and for the adventure He has taken me on. I pray that I can continue to figure it out with Him and do my best.

Make it an awesome week,

Sœur Kate Simpson

Monday, February 15, 2016

L'Amour de Dieu ❤️- 15 février 2016

Elder Stanford, Elder Pumford, Elder Lucas, Elder Tibbitts 
Soeur Hogan, Soeur Giordano, Soeur Simpson, Soeur Morris
It was an interesting week. Kind of just bleh. Not typical nor filled with many exciting things, blessings and little miracles of course, but a whole lot of planning and organizing that is hard to feel like we did much. But it will pay off in the future. In our efforts to find His lost sheep, those who have been found but have strayed, we have be planning some what of an operation to rescue them. We are trying to join forces of the missionaries + members to go out and help our brothers and sisters come back. This Saturday we will be going to the cities of Lens, Bruay La Buissière, and Béthune to find and help those who were once an active part of our ward. Miracles to come.

So the week was bleh EXCEPT for Sunday.

We experienced an enormous miracle on Sunday. True love. A dear member in our ward referred us to her friend from work, to whom she had answered some questions and given a Book of Mormon. We have tried to contact and meet with Charlotte for weeks, with no avail. But Sunday after church, Soeur V took us to visit her for the first time. She is golden. I was blown away, as were we all. Absolutely prepared to receive the gospel. She described how she felt so lost and so unhappy. She 
I love this district.
God answered a mission dream,
to serve with Soeur Hogan,
though just in the same district for one transfer,
but it happened and it was wonderful.
What an incredible servant
of the Lord and fantastic friend.
She is a blessing. 
was thirsting for inner peace. She wants to believe in something but she didn't feel good about certain doctrines, beliefs, and practices of other churches. Charlotte had started reading the Book of Mormon after Soeur V gave it to her and she is hooked. She said "quand je commence, je n'arrive pas à m'en sortir. C'est comme je suis dans une boule. Je ne peut pas l'expliquer. Je me sens bien. C'est tout. Je n'ai pas les mots pour le décrié."

The discussion with Charlotte and Soeur V was powerful and filled with the Holy Ghost. We talked about prayer, the blessing the gospel is for families, and the Restoration of the church of Jesus Christ. She simply glowed as we continued to tell of the restored gospel and the joy that it brings. It was truly as if a part of her soul was beginning to wake up. She cried as she tried to explain how she felt after the first vision of Joseph Smith, only able to get out that she wants to feel like that forever. She finally feels the peace for which she has been thirsting. She asked if she could come to church one day..."YES! This Sunday! You are so welcome to come church!" Near the end of the discussion, we invited her to be baptized, to which she said she has been wanting to be baptized but by her choice. She was baptized into the Catholic Church when she was 2 months old, but doesn't believe in all of their practices and felt like it was unjust that she was baptized and it wasn't her choice. So many miracles and blessings in this lesson. I could not help but just feel the love of God for Charlotte. She has found the path to peace, the waters of life, and we are here to help her reach them.

Auto car to St. Pol sur Ternoise...
The trains were cancelled all day to repair the track....
so we took a coach bus for 1hr. 16 min.
on winding country roads.
We tried to organize our
ward list and maps, but got a bit car sick...
But we had a nice conversation
with a man sitting in front of us.
Opportunities everywhere!
I just cannot express how grateful I am for Soeur V for opening her mouth when the Lord placed someone in her path who desperately needs and was thoroughly prepared to receive the gospel. Her courage to live the gospel and answers with testimony have been an answer to the pleadings of a lost soul.

This is love. Sharing the love of God with those around us. It's doesn't have to be a grand spectacle, but simple conversations and quiet acts of service can be the opportunity and answer to someone's prayer and the love they are missing.

I love this gospel. I love our Father in Heaven and His son, Jesus Christ. I love the opportunity They give us to share their love. I cannot believe I am beginning my last transfer as a full time missionary. I will be finishing my mission in Arras with my dear Soeur Giordano. I couldn't be more grateful. I love this work, this people, and this experience.

I love you. I know that God loves you. Don't forget it. Here we go! Last the best of all the game.

Avec amour, Sœur Kate Simpson

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Frites & Crêpes, the best opportunities for missionary work - 8 février 2016

It was PDay and I could sleep through being sick. Definitely a timing miracle. Gave me the umph for the rest of the week. 

District meeting in Amiens. It was helpful and informative as usual. On the way to the gare, I talked with a lady from Yezid on the bus. It is a region in Armenia that is populated by an ethnic group wanting to be their own country. She was very kind, quite shy, but spoke about her people and culture and the wars in her country. She and her family fled to France and have been here for 5 years now. She is orthodox, basically Russian orthodox, and searched to show me a picture of her big church back in Armenia. I introduced and talked about the Book of Mormon, offering and inviting her to read, but she kindly refused. She did accept a Restoration brochure and our card. I love meeting people from new places I've never heard of. 

The frites.
Don't worry, we shared them. 
Franck's lesson of the plan of salvation went quite well. AND his neighbor friend asked if he could come over again. He played "I'm not really interested" but he totally was. This time, he was with us at the table, participated, and you could see the spirit working within him. The lesson took a really long time; we missed the train we planned on and the one after than. But it was for a reason. Earlier that day, Marie gave us 10€ to get food because she didn't have food to give us and she wanted to give us something. She refused to let us refuse it, so we took it in the objective to buy food. Well, that played a role in the miracle. So we got to the gare after Franck's lesson, about 8:00pm, and there was a train at 8:27pm. There is a little friterie, a fry shack, just outside of the gare, we hadn't eaten since noon, and we just so happened to have the blessed 10€ from Marie. The man at the friterie asked us what we wanted, we had no idea, so we asked him what was good and what he recommends. He commented on my accent and thus began our conversation with Stéphane, the friterie man. While he cooked our frites and burgers, we had a chill conversation about God, the Bible, and believing in general. He claimed to be atheist but was raised Catholic. He's read the bible, the Quoran, etc. so I told him of a book he needed to read: The Book of Mormon. As we paid and grabbed our freshly fried food, I handed him his own copy of Le Livre de Mormon, with our card and the Restoration brochure inside. He said, "Je vais le lire, je vous promet." He promised to read it, and with that, we ran into the gare to catch our train. And yes, the frites were relish. 

Hearts can be softened and people can change. A process of years and I'm sure many many prayers have helped an inactive member become interested in learning about the gospel again. Last time we visited, it was the first time he let us sit around his medical bed to teach our spiritual thought. He asked some questions about the plan of salvation and accepted for us to come back and teach it to him. This week, we did just that. He sat at the table, no small feat for this brother with many medical problems, and listened, asked questions, and learned more of our Heavenly Fathers plan of happiness for us. This man has been hardened for years, often causing verbal harm to previous missionaries who have tried to visit. Something within him has changed and his heart has been softened. A miracle indeed. 

Follow up miracle: going home from this was from the me gare of Wednesday. We ran into Stéphane the frite man just outside of it as he was buying onions from the farmer selling his produce on stands outside of the station. He greeted us with a smile and said he started reading. Wednesday night, he went home, opened it up, and started reading the Book of Mormon. He said he felt better informed about who Mormon is and what the Book of Mormon is all about. Miracles to come! 

"I don't want to be a pie!...I don't like gravy." from Chicken Run ran through my head at the Bonds. It was slaughter day and the Elders helped Brother Bond harvest their geese. And I was the photographer for the elders and their experience.  It was a wet, muddy, rainy day, fitting for the somber mood of the day's events. It was a bit of an adventure gathering all the geese, then Soeur Bond went into the goose house, grabbed one, one of the elders would grab it from her, hold it tight to keep it from flying out of their arms, and walk to "the tunnel" their green house like garden, and hold the geese while Brother Bond took the axe to their necks. It was an experience alright. Probably shouldn't describe it, but I'm grateful we don't have to see the process of from where our food comes everyday. It's gives you some perspective though. I guess it wasn't really a miracle...but interesting life lessons can be learned. 

We began the day helping Isabelle make her final move into her new apartment with her 6 children. It was great to help her begin again, start a new page, and feel love and peace. We made 2 trips back and forth but it went pretty quickly. Many hands make light work. She was very grateful for our help and invited us over for crêpes on Sunday with the Rulence family, a family in the ward which is how she met us. 
Cute Noémie came to Marie with us.
Opposition is real. Marie cancelled her baptismal date and doesn't want to be baptized anymore. Some lady came over from the previous church she went to and caused some confusion and myths. It's a bit frustrating to say the least. But it also helped us recognize some more problems. Things work out, but they aren't always fun and happy. But I know God has a plan and I know He still loves Marie. 

Church was a bit of a struggle, but handled with love and patience by many. We have decided to not push baptism and lessen our focus on Marie for now. Perhaps and I hope, one day she will come to an understanding of things and desire to be baptized and beyond. 

Our soirée crêpe with Isabelle, 5 of her kids and the Rulences and their 5 kids, was a blast and quite helpful. We all went for a walk to a park near by to get them all out of their apartment that they've been moving into 24/7. We played "tomate, tomate, ketchup!" which is duck duck goose in French, and "cache cache familiale" which is basically hide & seek + tag. It was great. We then ate a ton of crêpes. Soeur Rulence was so sweet and made me my own gluten free crêpes. So thoughtful. It was a great opportunity to get to know Isabelle, as well as spend time with her family. She invited us to come whenever we wanted, which is an amazing invitation. She is an incredible lady. Many miracles to come! 

Well, it's been a great week, even through the sickness and disappointment. Soeur Giordano is a sweet heart and so patient with me. I am grateful for her help and drive. We are seeing miracles left and right and can't seem to have enough time to do everything we need to do. It's a good thing, lots to do is good, but the days are flying and I can't seem to catch everything up. It's the last week of the transfer, so full steam ahead. It is most likely that I'll stay here in Arras training for my last transfer, but we will see on Saturday what the Lord has in store! 

Have a great week! Keep looking for the miracles God gives you each day. They are there, sometimes you just have to look a little harder.

Sœur Kate Simpson

Monday, February 1, 2016

Opera & Medicine - 1 février 2016

Opera because Soeur Giordano is practicing her opera warm ups as I type. Medicine because I'm sick and need medicine. Haha don't worry, we are headed to the pharmacie after emails.

It was a great week. Filled with blessings and miracles as usual. Biggest miracles of the week: finally got to teach Franck after a month and it went super well. And guess what? MARIE PETIT SET A BAPTISMAL DATE. Yes. March 12. So excited. She is such a sweet lady and her desire to follow Christ is inspiring. She came to all 3 hours of church this Sunday and we had the first gospel principles class since before I've been here. Many blessings.

We had exchanges in Villeneuve d'Ascq with our STLs Soeur Proudfoot and Soeur Ulrich. It was lovely. I was with Soeur Ulrich and we spent most of our time in Belgium! We got to teach the sweet Brazilian family again, such an inspiration. We bought frites for the walk to their apartment, about a 30 minutes walk. we also got to walk the walk they walked to church because we missed our train. Walked across the order back into France. It was a beautiful day. Soeur Ulrich and I had a really cool discussion about our favorite things about being a missionary and serving a mission. The spirit was so strong and the flood of memories of my mission thus far just warmed my heart and soul. What a blessing it is to serve a mission.

Things are good and many good things to come. I love these people.

I hope you have a wonderful week. Keep smiling and sharing the light of Christ with all those around you. You make a difference. Thank you for making a difference in my life.

Happy week,

Sœur Kate Simpson