This week was a great week! A lot happened. We went on exchanges with the Paris Sud, Paris Est and Rennes Zone leaders, had zone conferences with the Rennes and Paris Sud Zones, and saw some really great miracles both during our exchanges and in our sectors.
We went back to teach Alain this past week, on Monday, with the single goal of trying to understand his worries about committing to baptism and why he felt like he had not had a testimony even though he had read the Book of Mormon already. We went to his home, sat down, and asked him the simple question, “What do you feel is stopping you from receiving an answer?” For a complete hour, we sat quietly listening to him pour out his thoughts about his perception of God, his idea of what the Book of Mormon is his thoughts about the Bible.
I sat there mesmerized and confused, because he seemed to take every point of church doctrine and had tried to conceive the meaning of our existence through intellectual means of reasoning. It was terribly confusing. Throughout the space of an hour, I prayed in my heart trying to figure out what to ask him or tell him and nothing came to mind, no matter how much I tried to reason and undestand what he was saying. I was just lost. It seemed like his thoughts were so complex it was like string that had been tangled up a thousand times. I wondered, “Why does the gospel seem so clear and simple to me. I know who God is, I know why Jesus Christ is my Saviour, and I know why I am here in this life. Are there things I do not completely understand yet? Sure, but do they cause doubts? Nope. Because I know through my personal experiences and through the feeling and thoughts that have come to my mind that the restored gospel is true.”
We eventually got to ask him one question, “Who is God to you?” And there was such a difference. He spoke of his relationship with God as something so spiritual and so close to his heart, even though he had struggled to comprehend himself. After much listening, we finally figured that his thoughts, doubts and his manner of reading the scriptures were too intellectually fathomed that he forgot that the way that our Father in Heaven speaks to us is through simple means – inspiration, feelings, thoughts. We gave him the simple challenge to read the Book of Mormon only, to read it with an open mind, even though he had done it before. We felt a confirmation in our hearts that we had done what we had to that day. He realised for himself what he needed to change and do.
Thankfully, that was the only lesson where we were at a complete loss for words. A few weeks ago, we met the Roth family, a widowed Cambodian mother and her 11 year old daughter, Virginie. We had initially gone out trying to find a member we did not know, and when it turned out that the member no longer lived in the same building, we decided to continue knocking some doors. That is how we met the Roth family. Mdm Roth is one of the kindest and most caring people you would meet. Though she is unable to converse fluently in French, we could just feel her desire to learn. Her daughter would sit by her side and translate our lessons if she did not understand. Virginie, as well, is one of the brightest 11 year old girls you would find. Both of them had a huge desire to learn more about Jesus Christ and about Heavenly Father. Well, we taught them this week, and both lessons were amazing. Unlike with Alain, we had to be really simple, because there were many gospel words that they did not know. We taught them from the scriptures that God is our Heavenly Father, and taught them how to pray on the first lesson. When we returned to teach them with the couple missionaries, they had been praying every morning and every night, and had even read some of the scriptures we had given them in Cambodian. They were super excited to meet with us and it made us feel happy to meet people with pure and sincere hearts. I learnt that as we teach to other’s understanding, the light will fill their minds and they will come to know of the truthfulness of the message we share.
One of the greatest miracles this week happened when I was on exchanges in Rennes with Elder Baldwin. We decided to do a couple of pass-backs to families who they had a difficult time getting a hold of. We fixed a simple goal to make sure that we prayed every 30 minutes to be guided. The first guy we passed by was not available because his family was preparing for a wedding. We prayed with him and then left shortly after. We had about an hour to spare until our next meeting, so we prayed again, and felt that we should leave the building to go contacting. On the way contacting, I felt the impression that we should go knock some doors in a building just a block away, so we made our way there. We started knocking doors, and at the 3rd door, a man answered the door. He told us that he was Catholic and we talked about what we did as missionaries, and presented the message of the restoration, about apostasy and the priesthood. We told him that we would love to share it with him, and he let us in. It was a great meeting, we prayed with him, and taught him for about 10 minutes, before having to leave for our next lesson. Miracle! At the next appointment, we knocked on the door, and no one answered. After ringing the door bell a second time, we decided to pray. We felt like we should just wait at the door, and sure enough, we heard footsteps down the steps from the floor above. The man we were supposed to meet was there! Though he did not seem too engaged in the beginning, by the end, he told us that we should come back the next day to share more of our message. Miracle! Prayer really opened up doors that day.
To end the letter this week, I had been reflecting this week on how I would need to keep pressing forward to the end of my mission, and as I was praying during sacrament meeting, a gentle thought came to my mind about how I needed to keep on taking steps to progress as a missionary, right to the very end. “You can take one more step further, because Jesus Christ took one more for you.” I know that the Savior truly did do a lot for me, and I can rely on his redeeming power to continue strengthening myself as a missionary right until the very end of my mission.
I know that God lives, I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior, and I know that the Book of Mormon and the Bible are the word of God – one cannot go without the other.
Je vous aime tous, et j’espère que vous allez continuer en étant les lumières pour les personnes dans vos entourage qui ont besoin de l’amour de notre Sauveur,
Elder Hall and I at La Defense
Elder Reiss, Elder Omohundro, Elder Nelson and I getting ready for Sushi
At the Rennes TGV station