Elder Hall and I had the chance to go on 3 zone leader exchanges this week with one in Lille, one in Strasbourg, and one here in Paris with the elders in the Paris Lilas Zone. They were all very marking for very different reasons, but all enjoyable nonetheless.
Starting off with Elder Shafer in Lille. We got there in the middle of a rain storm and despite our efforts to cover ourselves with our umbrellas, the wind was so strong, and blowing from all directions at the same time that we were completely drenched by the time we showed up to the church. The weather has a mind of it’s own during springtime. I guess I was grateful to be in touch with the water, since I haven’t been swimming for quite a while. Well, we fixed some goals and felt like we needed to head to a place in their sector called Roubaix. So we did. We said our prayers at the door and went out with great hopes for the day. We walked and talked to people on the way, and before we knew it, we found ourselves in a pretty deserted estate. We began talking to people on the road, the ones who crossed our paths, and one after the other, they would angrily turn us away. Even while we were knocking doors that day, a random car drove past us, wound down the window, and a lady in there yelled at us to get out of their area. We decided to continue on our way, and laugh, “Well, the opposition here is strong.” Despite the angry people, Elder Shafer and I were able to have really great conversations with people, teach 3 lessons on the street, find a couple of new investigators and see some miracles. We always have to get through some dirt to find the gold.
Elder Amaya then came on an exchange with me in our sector here in Versailles. Elder Amaya had a really touching story of coming out on a mission. He was 13 when the missionaries first knocked on his door in Honduras and at the time, though he was young, he had thought a lot about his purpose in life, given the difficult situation that his country was in, so he let them in. While his parents were atheist, and were not interested, he felt strongly that what the missionaries were sharing was true and decided to be baptized. He eventually went to school in BYU provo and spent 2 years there at school, studying chemistry, and during this time, he also felt that he really needed to serve a mission. However, unlike most of us missionaries who usually have support from home, his parents were strongly against him serving a mission, and threatened to disown him if he were to come, because they thought it would be a huge waste of time. Despite this, he still felt strongly that Heavenly Father wanted him to come on a mission, and has been here since, without any parental support. Elder Amaya and I taught me that day to really appreciate my mission, and to be grateful for the peace of mind that I can have out here.
My final exchange for the week was with Elder Ricks, one of the missionaries I admire greatly. He has been one of the missionaries in this mission with a rock-solid determination to find and teach and baptize, and is someone I call, a “game-changer.” Everywhere Elder Ricks has gone, he has been able to make it fruitful because he has always carried with him a strong sense of hard-work and determination. One of the greatest experiences of my week happened during the last 20 minutes of that day. We had just finished teaching an ami of theirs, and decided to head to the park with the remaining 17 minutes we had, just before the last bus home came. We walked through the park nextdoor, and found a chinese father with his little chinese girl who was picking flowers from the garden. Seeing that this was a great opportunity for me to finally use my chinese skills, something I had not used for a while, I talked to him, introducing myself, and to our great advantage, he spoke English too! He told us that he had Christian friends before, and though heard what they wanted to say, never really felt close to Jesus Christ, though he wished he could. We talked to him about prayer, and to our surprise, he had never prayed before! So we taught him how to pray and prayed with him.
Unfortunately, however, because we had been talking to him for a while, we ended up missing our bus home, and were going to have to walk home. But, just as we were crossing the street, we saw the last bus come in. It was already 13 minutes past the departure time of the last bus. “How could it be?” we asked ourselves. It turned out that a policeman had stopped the bus earlier down the road, and we were able to hop on the last bus. Heavenly Father helped us catch the last bus!
Funny thing, while Strasbourg was probably my favorite exchange and city, there was a church bell next to the Elder’s apartment that went off every 15 minutes, even throughout the night. I probably woke up 15 times that night. I guess everything can’t be perfect.
So that was my week. The cherry on top was definitely my mother’s day call. It was so great being able to speak to my family again. I am truly grateful for everything my mother has taught me, especially the principle of diligence and hard work, something that she inculcated in me since my youth. Thanks Mum! I love you very much.
Families are forever. Missionary work is the best work one can ever do. I love my Heavenly Father.
Until next week,