Toulouse, France

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

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