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

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