Toulouse, France

Monday, July 31, 2017

I love our Mission!

Bonjour tout le monde!
This week was great! We spent most of the week out of our secteur, which was fun but I'm so happy to be back here in Dijon! It's been raining quite a bit here, which has been a huge blessing! So tired of the heeeeaaaat...

Monday we ate dinner with Soeur Cuisiat, Jean and Ségolène, which was a blast! Jean is super old and is confined to a wheelchair, but he was so sassy, we were all dying the whole time! We talked about patience and how that applies to receiving answers to prayer, which really helped Ségolène, I think. Plus Soeur Cuisiat makes a killer chicken and mushroom rice, so that was a nice plus.

Tuesday was pretty lowkey. We saw Ségolène again in the morning and had a great lesson on the Atonement, then made passbacks and contacted for the rest of the day.

Wednesday was also very chill. We had a rendezvous with a less-active member, proselyted for a while, then drove to Bienne, Switzerland! That place is so cool! It's the only city in our mission that overlaps with the German mission, so we got to meet the Bienne German elders, which was cool, then we slept at the French Elders' apartment.

Thursday we woke up early and drove to Lausanne, where we had an awesome district meeting (Shoutout to Elder Moss. He's been in Besançon since I got to Dijon, and he's finishing his mission in two weeks!). I love our district so much! After our meeting, we drove back to Besançon, where I got to do an exchange with Elder Nasman, a brand new bleu! We contacted and talked to a lot of people, and I got to reminisce about my first transfer days. So weird we're almost to number five already! Time's moving too fast! That evening we ate wtih some members there, and I got to try raclette for the first time! Definitely one of my top five favorite foods ever (pictures enclosed).

Friday we continued our exchange, and I got to meet some really cool people! We had a lesson in one of the parks with a girl named Henriqua, and I met a cool little kid from Sri Lanka. He spoke French and some English (but pretty much only swear words. He asked us for some new ones, and I almost had him convinced that the word "monkey" was super offensive). It was actually really nice to meet some people outside of Dijon. I'll miss this place when I'm gone, but I'm excited to hopefully see some more of France or Switzerland in a couple of weeks!

Saturday we did some service at another member's house and ate hotdogs with them before driving home. That evening we went with Ségolène to a Chinese buffet that we'd found at the other side of Dijon, which was super fun. I learned the hard way that "seiche" is French for "cuttlefish," which made Elder Lutu's day... Also, we got some sad news. Ségolène is leaving with her family for Portugal on Tuesday and won't get back til the end of August, so I probably won't be able to see her again. She'll keep progressing though, and I'm super excited for her and happy I had the chance to get to know her.

Sunday was a blast! We had so many visitors! Apparently there were like three different stake things going on, so we had like fifteen extra people from that. Then we had a random woman and her daughter show up (relatives of one of our members maybe), and they were super interested in learning, so we should start teaching them soon! I didn't have to translate today, so I got to sit with our wonderful amis. After that, the young adults got together and had pizza and invited us, which is always cool. Then that evening we saw an awesome miracle! We passed a less-active family that we've been trying to get a hold of for AGES (la famille Taukafa). They're Tongan, and are never home. But yesterday they were! So they let us in, and Frere Taukafa told us how he wants his almost 9 year old daughter to be baptized, and she agreed, so we taught her the first lesson right there! They fed us some awesome island curry and invited us to come back tonight for the next lesson! Super cool!

Today we played ping pong with an older member, then took advantage of the July soldes one last time before they're over (I bought two sweet ties, in case y'all were wondering). 

Anywho, sorry for the giant email, but it was a crazy week! Lots of fun stuff and some sad news, but overall a blast. So glad to be here in this beautiful place surrounded by incredible people. I love this church! I know it's true! I'm so grateful for a Savior who lived a perfect life so we don't have to. Thank you all for your prayers and emails and I'll talk to you later!

Gros Bisous!
Elder Suisse

The raclette maker thingy. You melt the cheese on the bottom, grill the meet on the top, then put it on some potatoes. Dream come true.
Me and Elder Nasman at an awesome park in Besançon
Me and that one kid who only knows cuss words

Monday, July 24, 2017

Miracles! And it's not as hot as last week!

Bonjour tout le monde!
This week was pretty awesome! As shown by my subject line, it wasn't nearly as hot as last week, and the high for this next week is supposed to be 28° C, which is better than it's been for a while! So that's been really nice. Other than though, it's been a pretty low-key week. Lots of passing less active members and a good number of rendezvous. We were in our secteur all week, which was nice, but I'm excited to travel some more this upcoming week. We should be in Bienne, Switzerland tomorrow, followed by Lausanne for district meeting, then an exchange in Besançon. Super psyched!

Let's see if I can remember everything that happened this week - last week's p-day feels like yesterday! I'll try to hit any highlights... 

Monday we played ping pong with Frere Ollivry, an older, classically French man in our ward, and he definitely kicked our butts.

Tuesday we had a really cool miracle!! We were contacting, and I was feeling pretty discouraged about it, as we hadn't had a single conversation all day. We were going to work our through centreville back to our apartment, and Elder Lutu stopped this girl about our age. We started talking to her, and she was like "Uh, je ne comprends pas," and we were like "Oh! Do you speak English?" and she was like "Yep!" So it turns out she was born in Macedonia, had lived in Canada all her life, and was on a week long vacation here in France by herself. We talked about the family for a bit, and she told us all about her life. After a bit, she was like "do you guys want to go sit at a cafe and talk for a bit?" and we were like, "uh, of course!" So we sat and gave the entire first and second lessons (Funny side note: She ordered coffee, and we ordered water, but the waiter messed up and brought us three coffees, and we laughed so hard). She'd been born Catholic, but didn't really believe in God. It turns out she was like 20 and had had a really hard life, and was here alone in France to "find herself". She'd seen missionaries before, but all she really new about Mormons was from the musical (we were like, "yikes"), but she was super interested and asked a lot of really good questions. We finished talking about the plan of salvation, then ended up just talking about life and books and popular TV shows (Elder Lutu wasn't home to see "Stranger Things," so we filled him in). Then we started talking about the gospel again, and had literally the coolest conversation! It was like everything that came out of our mouths hit her right in the heart. All three of us ended up sharing a lot about the troubles we'd been dealing with lately, and it was really cool! Honestly, it was an awesome conversation that touched all three of us. We ended up talking for three hours right there in the cafe. We only had french Books of Mormon, so she took a plan of salvation pamphlet. Anywho, as we were leaving she said "After today, I'm not sure I believe in coincidences. You've blessed my life." So cool! Favorite quote: at one point, she shared something really difficult she was dealing with, and me and Elder Lutu were like "Well, our problems are literally nothing compared to what you're burdened with," and she corrected us and said "there's an old Macedonian proverb that says 'we've all got our own mountain to carry.' We can't compare one person's burdens to another, because we're each unique." And that is so true! The only person who can understand us is our Savior. This is true for each and every person who has ever lived or will ever live on this earth. He came here, lived and died, and was resurrected for us and would do it again in a heartbeat. I am so grateful for Him, and for the opportunity I've been given to let go of the mistakes that weigh me down, and progress. I also realized what a difference our view on our origins makes on our lives. When we have the knowledge that we are sons and daughters of an Almighty God, with infinite potential, all of the sudden this life has meaning, and every person you meet on the street has value. I am so so thankful for this light that we've been given!

Anywho, sorry for the huge story there haha. The rest of the week was awesome too. We visited a bunch of members (including Poe, who made me eat more food than I've ever eaten in my entire life), and la famille Guerin (who made a pistachio raspberry cheesecake. Life changing.)

Sunday was awesome!! We ended up with a whole bunch of visitors and people that don't normally come. There was one guy visiting his girlfriend, who lives in our ward, and he didn't speak English, so I got to translate for the first time. It went super well! I was able to keep up probably 90% of the time, and had no problems translating when he wanted to answer a question. Awesome! We also had three catholic visitors who no one knew and who showed up separately, so that was interesting. During sunday school they kept saying stuff like "No, I'm pretty sure infant baptism is the way to go," and then agreeing with each other, which was awkward. But we got to teach them the first lesson after church, which ended up being super cool.

Anyways, awesome week and super full of miracles! I'm so grateful for the chance I have to be hear learning about myself and my Redeemer! Final thought, we sang "Mon Dieu, plus pres de toi," (Nearer my God to Thee) in sacrament on Sunday. It's also the song we got to preform in the MTC, and I love it so much! Not sure if I've shared this before, but the French version of the song has a fourth verse that the English one doesn't, and I really like it (forgive my translation mistakes):

4. Au plus profond des bois,
Dans le désert,
J’ai vu, tout près de toi,
Ton ciel ouvert.
Mon âme emplie de joie,
A pu trouver ta voie!
Mon Dieu, plus près de toi,
Plus près de toi!

4. In the deepest forest,
In the desert,
I saw, very near to you
Your open heaven.
My soul filled with joy,
I could find your voice!
My God, nearer to thee,
Nearer to thee.

I love this gospel you guys. I love my God, I love my Savior, I love my family, and I love every person I meet here in France (no matter how many times I hear "ça m'interess pas" (; ). I'm so grateful to be able to feel God's love and to know that He is there. It's this knowledge and my desire to share it with those I love that keeps me here, away from my family and friends. It's hard, but I've never felt closer to my Savior.
Merci pour tout le soutien and l'amour! Je vous aime!
Elder Suisse

The inside of one of our many cathedrals here in Dijon
The coolest name ever
Elder Lutu, ready to battle the massive spider on the bathroom door

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

6 months down! 7/17/17

I can't believe I've already been gone for six months! That's a really long time! I'm starting to realize how important it is to make use of the time you're given! 

I love it here! This week was pretty crazy! I'll see if I can remember everything that happened! First off, Dijon is still awesome. Elder Lutu and I had a lot of fun this week, and saw quite a few miracles. Weird to think I'll have to leave this place eventually haha...

We had a couple cool lessons with our awesome amis this week! We taught Segolene on Tuesday, which went super well. I love lessons with her because 1- she's a fluent English speaker, so it's easier for me to get thoughts out how I want during rendezvous, and 2- she's already received all the missionary lessons, so now we're just trying to help her find answers and solidify her faith. Our lesson was great. We ended up just talking about what she's worried about testimony wise, and sharing things that helped us. I had the opportunity to just testify of my Savior and his Atonement in English, and the Spirit was there. Really good lesson, but she's still having troubles. I just love these people so much and it's frustrating sometimes when they won't or can't accept what you know will bless their lives. Ah well, it'll work out. Anywho, we also got a new ami! Eloise is the fiance of one of our members, and I'm excited to see her progress! What else did we do this week... We did a lot of contacting and became familiar with some more of our parks. Dijon is so beautifuuuuul! I love France!

Oh yeah!! We also had district meeting in Lausanne, and we got some big news! Come the beginning of August, every France Lyon missionary will have a Facebook account to help with the work. Idk how that'll work out, but we're excited to see! What else... After our meeting, we drove to Besancon for an exchange with Elder Moss and his new bleu, Elder Nasman. Love those guys! We contacted around a lot, and had some good lessons. Weird to be doing missionary work somewhere other than Dijon! We spent the 14th there in Besancon and it was cool to hear all the fireworks. Just ten days later than I'm used to back in the USA.

We also had an awesome rendezvous with Poe on Saturday! We went to a river and had a barbecue with him and his cousin and their families. Awesome discussion about forever families and the temple. Guys, this gospel is so cool! I'm so excited for the opportunity to help people find happiness in their families for the next two years, then to do the same myself afterwards. I love the temple!!

In other news, I've been thinking a lot about the Atonement lately. I've realized that every aspect of our life here on earth and the plan of salvation, especially repentance, is for our well-being. Even the consequences of sin exist to help us learn and become more like God. I don't fully understand everything my Savior has done for me, but I am so grateful for Him, and I'm so excited to share His love with those I love for the next year and a half, as well as for the rest of my life. God is real, and He love each and every one of us infinitely. 

Love you all! Gros bisous!

Elder Suisse

Papa Moss and his bleu, Elder Nasman asleep on the way to Lausanne
The offset chairs in the Lausanne subway. Fun fact: Lausanne public transport is the steepest in the world. It's built on a bunch of hills!
Our newly organized district. Shoutout to the bleus!
Some awesome camping pics with my favorite islanders

Monday, July 10, 2017

Bonjour ! 
This week was great! Lots of changes, and some pretty awesome miracles! First off, Elder Lutu is super cool! He's in his 13th transfer, and he's way chill. He's from Idaho (Boise), but his dad is Samoan. He came in Monday, and we just worked hard all week. We did a lot of driving to outer villes, and had a lot of mangezvous with members. We also did a ton of contacting, which was less fun, but still good. Funny story, one day we were in a small village looking for a less active member, and this dude stopped us and asked who we were looking for, then started freaking out at us and asked us for identification and being super rude. Turns out there had been some robberies or something in the neighborhood and he was just extra suspicious, but we still had to practice some charity and not get mad at him. 

But I'm honestly so glad that I get to stay another transfer! I realized the other day that I'll be in Dijon for a quarter of my mission. Super excited to be able to keep working with the ward that I love here! Also our awesome amis ! I love Dijon :) 

This week has been reeeeaaaallllyyy hot, like hotter than Dijon has been for a long time. But it also rained a lot the last couple days, like huge storms, so that helped a lot. 

In other news, the Tour de France passed through our secteur on the 7th. We couldn't go, sadly, but some of our awesome members came to church Sunday with a bunch of souvenirs, so that was sweet. It's a big thing here, and everyone gets super excited about it. They closed down a bunch of roads in our secteur so they could come through, which actually messed up some of our plans haha. Really cool to be here for that! 

We had a really cool experience on Tuesday with Ségolène! We were there with one of the young women in our ward who's preparing for her mission, and I asked about how expérience with our last week's invitation went (she had no real religious background and was unfamiliar with the idea of having Christ as her Savior, so we asked her to fast, pray and study). She said she'd worked on it all week, and I asked her what she learned. She looked at us and just said super simply "yeah, I know He's my Redeemer." So cool! So we talked some more about something of her questions, and at the end of the lesson, we invited her to baptism on July 29th and she said yes! So we're hoping and praying that she continues to progress. Really really cool lesson! She texted us later with some other questions and concerns. She said she's worried with finding answers, so we asked her how she had gained the testimony that Christ loved her, and she said she didn't know for sure until we asked her in the rendezvous, then she just had this overwhelming feeling that she could and should say yes. So we're trying to help her realize how much faith she really, and how she personally receives revelation. Super awesome person! 

Also! I got to see Poe again! I thought I'd be transfered, so I was so glad to be able to hang out with him for another six weeks! He and Tatiana had their baby! Her name is super long and I can't pronounce it, but she's adorable! Love those guys! 

Anywho, pretty simple week, but really good! Thanks for all the prayers and encouragement, I love you guys! 

Elder Suisse 

First comp pic! 
Poe, Tatiana and the baby! 
One of our cathedrals with the stormy sky is  the back - awesome! 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Transfer Madness! 7/3/2017

Bonjour ! 
Okay, this week was crazy! First off, transfer calls were on Friday! I'm staying in Dijon, and I'm receiving Elder Lutu. Four transfers in Dijon, I'm super excited to be able to keep serving the people I love here! It was weird to say goodbye to Elder Johnson and still stay here, but I'm super excited to stay. 
In other news, the work is really progressing here! We had a couple lessons with Ségolène, which went super well. One less active family contacted us and said they want to have their 9 year old daughter baptized, so we'll be starting lessons with her as well. 
We had some other cool lessons with some less active members. Miracle of the week: we were passing some less active members I'd found on our ward list in this tiny village. We had passed a couple other families and none of the visits had gone well, so we were feeling pretty down about it. We (Elder Shirley and I) rang the doorbell and this old dude answered the door, and we were like "ugh, here we go..." but then he invited us in! He gave us juice and a tour of his house, then we talked and hung out for like an hour. Then his wife got home and she was like "missionaries! We haven't had contact with the church for 30 years!" They asked for our number and the address of the church, then gave us a while bunch of homemade honey and told us to come back next week! Little miracle and much appreciated! 
Other fun stuff: had a primary water balloon activity. It ended up being super cold, so all the kids were throwing balloons at each other in coats. Super hilarious. 
Anywho, I'm in Lyon rn waiting for Elder Lutu to get here, so pretty psyched for that! I can't remember a whole lot of other stuff that happened. I've been thinking a lot about the Atonement this week, and I've learned a lot. So grateful for the plan that has been prepared for us! It's not easy, but that's what makes it so great and allows us to grow. I love you all, and I can feel the support. 
Gros bisous ! 
Elder Suisse 

Pics :
The primary activity
Selfie with Ségolène, Nomena and Elder Shirley
A TWO-WAY country road. Insane.