Bonjour tout le monde! It was a pretty packed week here! So I forgot to mention last week that our ward got split and then half became a new ward, combined with half the members from a neighboring ward. So, what that means for soeur Monson and me is that we are now working with 2 wards! It's super fun and we sure have plenty to do. It also means 6 hours of church...luckily both wards meet in our same building, one right after another. It was a really cool sabbath yesterday getting to feast on the spirit twice in a row! It's also fun because we have a lot of new members in the newly formed ward. So it's like being transferred while staying in your area. Pretty cool! Our elders in Annemasse also unexpectedly had to get emergency transferred yesterday, so we're taking the reigns solo over here. We've got our hands full and I love it! Being busy is such a fulfilling feeling. Having to split wards is such a great problem to have--because that means that the saints are just thriving here! Who thought France wasn't growing? Au contraire. Something I want to really just exclaim is my extreme gratitude for my home country. I love France, but as I've been away from America, I've come to appreciate the land of the free and the home of the brave like never before. I am so grateful for the heroes who fought with God on their side to make our country free. I'm also grateful for a Heavenly Father who has given us agency so we can be free from the captivity of the devil. I read Elder Hale's past conference talk this week called "Preserving Agency, Protecting Religious Freedom." I invite you all to read it before the 4th of July this weekend. I'd like to shed some light on it. So, we are promised by God that "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." You can think of liberty in whatever sense you'd like--but I'd like to look at it from the perspective of being free agents. As I've said many times before, one of the biggest lessons I've learned on my mission is the power of free agency. We can choose to be like Christ or not. Think about this for a second--the difference between Christ's plan and satan's was that satan didn't want us to have free agency, or the ability to choose for ourselves. So, what is satan going to attack? Our choices. He wants to do anything he can to make us abuse our ability to choose. Now go back to the statement "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." Ok, so looking at that from the flip side, where the Spirit of the Lord is not, there is captivity. So, satan is going to try to make us lose our liberty by making our lives emptied of God's Spirit. How can he do that? Millions of ways. But one that I'd like to focus on, that Elder Hale's does as well, is the spirit of contention. Elder Hale's says, "As disciples of Jesus Christ, we have a responsibility to work together with like-minded believers, to raise our voices for what is right. We are all invited, in our capacity as citizens, to share our personal witness with love--'every man and woman according to his or her own mind.'" My dear family and friends, every human mind on this earth thinks differently in some degree, because we all have lived different experiences. But what we all can unite on, is the plain and infinite truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. While we all may have differing opinions and points of view, one thing that is not different or changing is the laws of God. His law is to love everyone. This is one of the reasons why missionary work is so important, so we can bring more people into the unity of faith, and therefore have less room for contention. The catch is that everyone is not of the same faith, and therefore we have to share our faith with love, gentleness, and meekness. Did you ever read in the scriptures about Christ proclaiming His beliefs by arguing, by heated debates, by rash Facebook posts, or by insulting those who didn't share His same beliefs? I've never read anything like that...and if I am His disciple (which we all are), I sure would like to go about sharing my beliefs in the manner that He did. He stated His beliefs calmly and with love. He claimed what He knew to be true with peace, but never let others shake His stance, because He could not deny what His Father had confirmed to Him to be true. At times He simply had to hold His tongue, when He knew that no matter what He said, His opposers just wanted to argue. He still loved and atoned for every single one of us, even those that completely disagreed with Him. I am convinced that Christ was able to lead a perfect life because He used His agency to never give into contention. Therefore He was entitled to always have the Spirit of God with Him. Please don't forfeit this precious gift of the Holy Ghost that we so desperately need to make the right choices by giving into one of satan's most easy of traps--contention. I'd like to leave you with some advice from several apostles and then Christ Himself. "Live your life to be a good example of what you believe--in word and deed. How we live our religion is far more important than what we may say about our religion." "Disagree, but don't be disagreeable." "Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." Spread His love! Have a wonderful 4th of July! 🇺🇸 Love always, Soeur Shields
Bonjour ma chère famille et amis! It was a bitter sweet week. Lots of awesome things happened, but we also had our final conference with President and Sister Roney, as they go home in a week and a half. I'll talk more about that a bit later, but first I have some other exciting news. First of all, Rebecca was baptized and confirmed yesterday! Her whole family came, even her dad! It was really a beautiful experience that I got to be a part of and I went home last night just feeling full of light and joy. I'm so grateful to the Holy Ghost for converting the heart of this young girl and that I got to be a witness of that process. I joked with my companion that I'm just going to work with kids the rest of my mission, because Jesus knew what He was talking about when He said, "Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven." It is the truth! It was all wonderful, but the part that really hit me the most was a song that the stake president and his family sang. It's called "God Gave Us Families", I believe. I watched as all 9 of them were singing those words that are so true. As I saw them all huddled together arm in arm, I felt the confirmation from the Holy Ghost in my heart telling me that this indeed is God's plan for us, His plan for happiness--a family united under a mother and father, sealed in His holy house, striving to learn and live the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is where true happiness can be felt and continue throughout all eternity. So that brings me to the final message our President left with us. He simply told us the key to being eternally happy. And yes my dear family and friends, you guessed it, that is achieved by following the Savior through loving obedience. Love is the key. The Savior is just waiting to bless us, and He wants nothing more for us than to just be happy. Isn't that interesting to think about? Someone suffered your every pain and sin all for the sake of your happiness. He did that so we can exercise our agency and choose to be obedient to His teachings. We are obedient if we love Him. And if we love Him and obey Him, we are happy. We are entitled to true, lasting joy. Now you see how love is the key? And that is my goal here as a missionary... To help create that love for the Savior where it didn't once exist...Within myself, and with those I work with and work for. That is how we can all achieve eternal joy. There is someone I owe a big thank you to for teaching me this principle from the very beginning, and that is my dad. Something I have always admired about my dad is the testimony he has of exact obedience bringing miracles, and bringing lasting happiness. My dad is someone who works every day of his life to live according to God's standard. He wants to make God proud, and he wants to be able to look Him in the eyes after this life with confidence. He wants to hear from Him those words, "Well done thou good and faithful servant." That attitude is reflected in his every word and deed. It was no coincidence that this week we learned so much about the importance of living a life full of loving obedience as a family to achieve real happiness, the same week where we honor our fathers. Because that is something my father has done his whole life, and something I am deeply, sincerely grateful for. I have seen the difference of families where a father with that determination to honor his Heavenly Father doesn't exist. And they are not as happy as a family. I know so much of my joy comes from the diligent, loving adherence my daddy has given to the Lord. I hope you all have a wonderful week, and give your daddy's an extra hug for all the miracles that bring about for your family. Love, Soeur Shields
All of the following pictures are from a beautiful ville called La Roche Sur Foron which is just south of Annemasse, the town Kristen is in now. It is north of Albertville, where the Olympics were held in 1992 (think Kristi Yamaguchi-figure skating Gold). These towns are not far from her first area, Chambery, and are considered the Haute-Savoie area of France near the Alps. She can see Mont Blanc from where she lives. It's hard to choose if one town is more beautiful than another. Annecy, (see earlier blog photos from May), is very popular for French skiers. During the Christmas season, these Alps towns become alive with the decor of the season and many tourists come for the skiing of course.
Salut! Comment allez vous? It was a pretty great week here. I've been so pleased this week to see the progression of some of our amis. Rebecca is all on track and ready to be baptized next Sunday! I'm super proud of her and the difference that the faith of this one little girl is making in her family. Her mom has started coming to church and her dad said he will too! Gwenael is also doing really well. We had a stake activity for the youth and young adults on Saturday. It was a missionary pump-up activity, basically to get them all excited to go on missions. Well Gwenael came and we told him he'd make an awesome missionary. And he said "yeah but I have to get baptized first. But that'll be soon." We were like what! For real? So that was pretty awesome. We had a great fhe with him at this awesome family's house last night. He's starting to feel more and more like part of the family here, and that's so very important! I'm so grateful to these truly Christ-like members for opening up their hearts and home to him. Saipo as well is doing great. She's reading like 10 chapters in a week from the Book of Mormon and praying all the time! She says she really notices a difference in her life and that she just feels so good. She's so awesome! She really has a desire to learn and grow. David and Sylvia are also just on fire. They're coming to church every Sunday, and reading their scriptures and praying together daily. They said they've never been happier. It's amazing to me the difference it makes in one's life when you are consistent about doing the little daily things to strengthen your testimony. I've seen it time and time again here to the point where I'd literally be having to ask for unhappiness by not keeping up these daily habits. Because I know that it's through doing these things that unlock the door to true happiness! I just love all of these people so much. I feel really blessed to get to stay here and work with them. I know these are people I needed to find. :) And I also know that it is not me who is changing their lives for the better. It's become so evident to me that the progression and conversion of these people comes behind closed doors, between them and the Holy Ghost. He is the teacher, he changes and softens hearts. We are simply the mouthpiece and a witness to this beautiful process. It's one of the most fulfilling experiences to watch those you love make changes and become happier because of it. One other thing I wanted to talk to you all about is the importance of seeking out those who are really in need. We spent a lot of time this week with those in our ward who are really struggling, in numerous ways. The amount of hardship I see is really just shocking. The poverty, the abuse, the addictions, everything that satan can muster up to make life difficult, he does. There are so many out there who are in desperate need of simple, Christ-like service. Whether it's just a listening ear, a meal made, babysitting kids so a mom can have a break, cleaning their house, etc. the smallest acts of service really can make all the difference. Please step out of the comfort of your very blessed lives and seek to give a little bit of Christ's love to those who aren't as fortunate. It's not our job to judge, it is our job to help. Because, in the words of Jeffrey R. Holland, "are we not all beggars?" Thank you for what you already do to lighten the burdens of others. The acts of service that count the most are those that only God alone will see. He will bless you for your willingness to treat His children how He would if He were here. I hope you all have a wonderful week! Give 'em heaven! Love,Soeur Shields
Bonjour à tous! La vie est belle? It was a pretty good final week of the transfer. Yep, crazy how fast time flies huh? This next transfer I'm still here in Annemasse with Sister Monson! I'm super grateful to finally have a transfer where nothing changes...first time in like 8 months! Haha. It's awesome, we'll just get to accelerate right off the bat with the work here! So this week I have really come to appreciate and more fully understand the power of prayer. That's been something I've been working on improving my entire mission. Well, God gave me lots of opportunities this week to do so. First little story...all of our plans had fallen through, including our back-ups. So, we were left with street contacting out in centre ville in the middle of the blazing hot afternoon. On top of that, we literally stopped close to 30 people and not a single one would talk to us. (Normally you can get at least 1 or 2 conversations with that many attempts) And just to make matters even more joyful, we were getting harassed and teased a lot. So, after a while, I was at the end of my fuse. I knew I couldn't be an effective instrument in the Lord's hands with that attitude. So, all I could do was pray... .....and that made all the difference. I told Heavenly Father that I wanted to do what He wanted me to do, but I couldn't do it anymore without some extra help. So I asked for it. Immediately thereafter, 4 letters popped into my mind. I thought of the millions of bumper stickers I'd seen on cars back home in the good ole south that say "WWJD"--what would Jesus do? I told myself: Jesus would keep walking in the heat, searching for the one. Jesus would turn the other cheek to those that mocked Him. Jesus would open His mouth to speak to everyone, because He is no respecter of persons. Jesus would testify of our Father's love for us and His atoning sacrifice that He wants us all to take advantage of. Jesus would smile at every person He walked by. Jesus would never complain, but only look outward to see who else He could serve. So, as a representative of Jesus Christ, I decided to do what He would do, and to say what He wants said. I felt the strength of ministering angels walking with us, helping me to be a better representative of His holy name. The day wasn't easier after that, but it was much happier, because I had the quiet assurance that I was ministering in the manner Jesus would. Another example. I've been really trying to be more prayerful throughout the day. Before we go somewhere, before we ring that doorbell, before we talk to that person, I've been asking for Heavenly Father's help. Well, we decided to exercise some faith and try passing by an inactive sister's house, even though she had turned us down on many other attempts. Well, we prayed that this time her heart would be softened and she'd let us in. Well, we get to her house and not only did she let us in, but she was excited to see us! We got to know her a bit, and then we asked if we could watch the Mother's Day video with her "ItWasMom." She agreed and so we watched it. Oh la la the spirit that came into that room! I had been praying during the whole video that she'd feel something. After it was over Sister Monson and I just testified of very simple basic truths, I can't even remember what was said. But I do know I almost cried, and I never cry in lessons. And then this inactive sister began crying, and we all just felt this thick warm happy love for God and all He's given us. She told us we could come back any time. I also spent quite some time on my knees every night, deeply pleading with my Father for our amis. One night I woke up in the middle of the night and realized I was still on my knees...oops haha. But it occurred to me after reading D&C 9:7 that God can't just help us with things we don't ask Him for. And I've kind of been at a loss lately to know how to help some of our amis progress. And what good am I as an instrument of the Lord if I'm not using His perfect knowledge He has about each one of His children? And after all, specific prayers bring specific answers and blessings. So I spent a lot of time specifically going through each ami and praying according to their needs. I noticed a real difference in our planning for our lessons, and in the lessons themselves. I had many more moments where the promise was fulfilled that what I would need to say would be given to me in the very moment where I needed it. This work is much more effective when we're speaking through His voice and not our own, since it's His work after all. Well, that's just a little insight into my week. Keep praying, it makes the difference because He really does listen! Love, Soeur Shields
Hey y'all! So this past week we were able to take out a young sister who is preparing to go on a mission. It was really fun for me to get to work with her because just a year ago at this time I was in her same shoes. It was really cool to have that pre-mission excitement come back and she really helped rejuvenate some of those old feelings of mission hype. I got to talk to her a lot about the things that she's excited for and the things she's nervous about. She's much the same way that I was right before I left--can't wait to meet the people she'll serve, can't wait to experience a new culture, and is proud to serve the Lord. But there's also the fears of leaving home and family, being rejected, being brave, learning a new language, getting along with companions, etc. She asked a question that really got me thinking. She asked what do I wish I would have known or how would I have prepared differently to come out here. So, in light of hitting my year mark on the mission this past week, I just felt prompted to give a little message to all those who are about to serve or are preparing to serve a mission. I'm going to answer her question to all of you. I think something every missionary fears when leaving is saying goodbye to friends and family. It's not easy, but I'll tell you how it's possible. The answer you'll hear a lot is to get lost in the work. That's true, but there's a certain way to "get lost", and it's not in knocking 100 doors a day. If you make a new family in the field, your struggles of missing your own family diminish. Make everyone your family--first your companion, the other missionaries you work with, the members of your ward, the investigators you work with, the less-actives you work with, essentially everyone. Treat them as if you've known them your whole life, even upon your first time meeting them. Be yourself, open up your heart, and just love. Something else that a lot of missionaries are afraid of are the logistics of a mission life...the routine schedule, the rules, or being engaged in activities 24/7 that aren't your usual idea of "fun". I'll be honest, at first, it's rough. The hardest for me were things like not having relaxing Sunday afternoons, no movies, or only listening to church music. But I'm going to promise you something. With every time you make the decision to be obedient, you literally become more like your Savior. You will start to recognize noticeable changes within yourself of being someone who is more resistant to temptation, and more filled with love and happiness. You know why? Because you're then entitled to the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. This lifestyle soon becomes so regular to you and you laugh at yourself for the way you used to spend your time once you've realized where your priorities should be. Another fear comes with being "good enough" in terms of teaching, being brave, speaking a foreign language, etc. Well, hate to break it to you, but none of us are good enough. You'll quickly realize you aren't capable of doing this without the help of God. But oh how He gives you help. This is His work that He's in control of, do you really think He won't qualify His workers to accomplish His tasks? You can call down the power of angels to help you, yes they're there, and yes they'll help you. He gives us 2-3 hours every day to study to prepare ourselves. Use these precious study hours to gain the strength, spirit, and knowledge you'll need. You will love your study hours if you study with a purpose. You have the gift of the Holy Ghost with you, and he speaks every language. You are literally just a mouthpiece. If you're worthy, God will be able to do with you whatever He needs. Just know today's best isn't always the same as yesterday's. Agency attitude for comps Angels for help Studies
Bonjour! Ça va? So this week was pretty full of all sorts of experiences. I've been asked a lot now to share more details of the daily here and our amis...so...It started out with an awesome family home evening with a family that was just like "tell us what problems you're having with getting members to help you, and just with the work in general, and we'll fix it." They literally do all they can to help us find new amis, befriend our current amis, help us teach, and visit less-actives. This should be the attitude of everyone! We're all on the Lord's team. I'm really grateful for this family and I know how much the Lord will bless them. This whole ward really is incredible at helping us with His work. We also went on an exchange with our sisters in Lausanne. I sure love Switzerland! It was a really helpful exchange because the examples of these extremely hard-working sisters just inspired me to want to be more diligent. I have become very aware that I was called to be a sister training leader because I was in need of many lessons that these soeurs were meant to teach me. They help me and set more of an example to me than I ever could for them. Our new amie Saipo is also progressing really well. She was just so prepared. I'm telling ya, this work is done by God, through God, and for God. We are just the mouthpiece for teaching and giving out the invitation. He prepares the hearts of these people and helps them accept His gospel. She's been coming to church, all the activities, actually keeps her commitments--like reading the BOM and praying. She even accepted to be baptized when she knows these things are true! She has been humbled and has been searching for God's light for some time now. She knows she's found it! We're also teaching two kids, Mathis and Rebecca, whose grandparents want them to be baptized, but their parents aren't active, so we're teaching them. I love teaching kids! Definitely my favorite amis. Why? Because just like Christ has said, they are the most humble and teachable. They're progressing well because their sweet spirits are so accepting of the truth! We all need to be a bit more kid-like. We have two couples that we're working with. It's two less-active sisters who have a husband/fiancé that aren't members. So one of the couples is progressing really well. They've been coming to church and stake conference and meet with us regularly. The other couple really isn't going anywhere right now. You want to know why the two are having such different results, even though we're giving them the same lessons? The couple who is progressing is actually making efforts by action--they keep their engagements! They read their scriptures together and they pray and come to church. Her fiancé even told us that as they were saying a dinner prayer he felt goosebumps because he loved the spirit that came in while they were praying. Bless his heart. It's true though, it's the little daily things that make all the difference! It may seem simple, but that's how our testimony grows, little by little. By small and simple things are great things brought to pass! If you're not praying and reading your scriptures daily and going to church weekly, I invite you to do so. It works. We've also got an awesome sister in our ward who does all she can to bring every one of her friends to the gospel. She had us over to teach two of her friends. It went pretty well, but it's going to take some heart-softening by the Lord for these two. I don't doubt Him though! While we were at this sisters's house she told us about a friend from high school that had started talking to her on Facebook and how she wanted to bring up the gospel to her. So she called her up right then and there and asked if she could see her some time! And even better, she showed us a post she made on Facebook about her testimony of the BOM and she showed us all of her friends who "liked" it who aren't members. She told us she'll try to get into contact with each one of them! That's how technology should be used! I'm so proud of this fearless sister. Lastly we're teaching a young guy who has been taught by the missionaries for years now named Gwenael. (I even taught him a couple times on exchange months ago when I was in this zone the first time.) For our lessons we actually have given him a PMG and he teaches us the lessons and we pretend to be the investigator. He knows it all so well! Yet he won't get baptized because he says he's waiting for a real big conviction that it's right. You can bet your bottom dollar that we've pulled out every "answers require action", "true faith doesn't require signs", "you receive witnesses after the trial of your faith", "you feel the spirit in small and simple ways", type of stuff. So what it's a matter of now is the Lord acting according to His will and to His timing. We must be patient and trust His will and timing! I want so badly for this guy to take the step towards true happiness, and it's hard to watch him keep putting it off. But I know God is in control and we're doing what He's asked us to do by teaching and inviting; we leave the rest in His hands. We had a great family who invited us over with him, and the father shared his conversion story, which was almost identical to the situation Gwenael is in right now. Same stubbornness and same reasons for not wanting to take the next step, but then finally he did, after a long process of searching. He said it wasn't until the moment he was submersed in the waters of baptism that it was confirmed to him that what he was doing was right. He said he walked into the water having every doubt in the world and came out of the water filled with more joy than he'd ever felt before. Very grateful to this family! I think they had a hunch they could relate. Gwenael seemed pretty intrigued by it. The week was filled with lots of other stuff too as usual--walking and talking to people on the street, lots of people telling us we're crazy and God doesn't exist, lots of visits with less-actives, zone training, a beautiful hike with a recent convert and his non-member family/friends (he's such a good missionary), relief society activities and ami game nights...yes yes yes the church is true and the same wherever you go. It's a wonderful work that I get to be a part of! I hope that you're catching the drift that this work is SO much more effective when it's done the way it's supposed to be done...members and missionaries working together!! I love you all! Have a great week. Love, Soeur Shields