Happy New Year! It hit me at midnight on January 1, 2015, that this is actually the year that I will be finishing my mission. I feel like I have forgotten to even count how many months I have been out on a mission, and have gotten along solely by counting how many transfers I have been out, but missionary work has become who I am to the point that it is hard to imagine what life was like before the mission. With all the miracles and all the experinces I have had on the mission, I have really come to love this work, and I know that there really is no greater joy than in helping someone through the gospel. Lives change for the better everyday, and I get to be a catalyst! So it did hit me pretty hard when I realised that I would have to plan year’s résolutions for 2 halves of the year. Every minute is precious and I am enjoying the wonderful blessings of being out here on a mission.
New Year’s Day here in France was special. We got to experience a real New Year’s Eve dinner, French style. One of the greatest parts of France is definitely the food, and it is not only in terms of the type of food that they eat, but the culture of how they go about their meal. Because missionaries are given New Year’s Eve after 6pm off till January 2nd, we were able to dine with some families – the Belin’s on New Year’s eve, and the Bussons and Bousseaus together on New Year’s Day . Both meals lasted about 3 and a half hours each! We went from appetizers, to salad, to main meal, to cheese, and finally to dessert. The food was amazing – prawn, foie gras, baguette, a tray of all sorts of cheese from Roquefort (yes, this kind has mould in it) to my favorite, Comte, chocolate mousse cake, stuffed guinea fowl (I never knew people ate them) – and the company was great, but for sure, eating for that long takes some getting used to. At least I can say I have now spent 2 new year’s days and 2 Christmas days in France. Expériences never to be forgotten.
The assistants workload was a little bit heavier this week because there was New Year’s célébrations, but also lots of planning for the 2015 Mission Goals that we presented on the 2nd of January, the day after. Some time on New Year’s day was spent planning, but thanks to the prayers of many friends and family, everything went really well. This week, I really felt like I was able to stretch my capacities as a missionary in all facets of the work.
One of my favorite days this week was Jan 2. While there was much presenting to be done at the Mission Council 2015, I had the opportunity to go on an exchange with one of the zone leaders IN the Paris Est Zone, the zone where I was previously a zone leader! It was great to here that the converts that I had been able to bring into the Church were still going strong and progressing solidly. During our exchange, we fixed the simple goal to leave everyone with a change of heart and help everyone progress closer to Christ. We taught 2 lessons that day that went really really well. But the one that touched me particularly was with a new ami, Mayling, that Elder Christiansen and I had found a week earlier.
Elder Christiansen and I were heading to a rendezvous 2 Fridays ago and were a little early. We got off the bus, noticed an asian lady waiting for the next bus, didn’t think much of it, and crossed the road to check the return-trip bus times. I turned to Elder Christiansen and asked him how much time we had before we had to start walking to our rendezvous – 7 mins. So I told him, “Let’s just cross the road and talk to the asian lady real quick.” We ended up having a really great conversation about families, and about Christ. She was Christian, and had been for the last 6 years, but could never go to Church because she had to work on Sundays. But she said that she diligently read her scriptures each day, and said her prayers. We were able to pray with her and fixed a follow up rendezvous. Well, we had our follow up rendezvous during the exchange, and just off the bat, she said that she was really going through a hard day the day that we contacted her and that she knew that God had sent us to her. “You are my angels” she said. We taught her about the Restoration of the gospel and she had the very same questions about prophets that we taught in our lesson. She was truly prepared to receive the gospel. She was really engaged to getting closer to our Heavenly Father, and when we asked her if she would follow the example of Jesus Christ by getting baptized, she responded that it was something that she really wanted to do.
I was just grateful to have been there for someone who needed a prayer the first day I met Mayling. It is really incredible to see how Heavenly Father can make us instruments in His hands so that all His children may be blessed. There is so much joy in being able to bless others lives. No wonder that missionary work is the greatest and most rewarding work!
I know that gospel has been restored and I know the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.
With love and best wishes for the new year,
857 – New Year’s Morning in Versailles
860 – A view from the Window