Bonjour everyone! So, this week was a bit tough. I'm not a fan of weeks where I'm out of my sector for a long time. And this week we had a district meeting all the way in Genève, and then I went on exchanges in Annemasse for the rest of that day and the whole next day. So I felt like we got really behind on our own work. And then tonight I'm going back to Genève for another exchange, and won't be home until Tuesday night. And then on Thursday we're going to Lyon for a Zone Conference. So it's been crazy traveling all over! I feel like I haven't been able to give my sector all the concentration it needs. But, what little time we did have here we tried to take complete advantage of! Highlights of the week... we brought our favorite member, Frère Munn, with us to give our Albanian amis, Nijazi, a priesthood blessing to help him stop smoking. What a special experience that was! Nijazi was grinning from ear to ear the entire time. It was such a beautiful blessing, one full of strength and encouragement, that if he would put his faith in the Lord, he will be able to overcome this addiction. Afterwards he said he felt so good! We went back to see him the next day, and he said he had cut down his daily cigarette intake by half, just like we had set the goal with him to do. I promise you people--there is so much power in the priesthood! It is literally God's power that He allows worthy holders to exercise to bless the lives of others. It is a very REAL power. It changes lives; I've seen it first-hand. It's also really great to know how much people here really love us. When we told them we were going to Annemasse, they almost had a heart-attack, and so we reassured them we would be back in a few days, and their sweet hearts were put at ease. By the way mom and dad, they would like our family to make a trip to visit them out in Corsova when they move back...so start saving up ;) They are some people that will be heart-breaking to leave whenever I get transferred from here. A funny thing that happened after that lesson, we have such a hard time leaving their house, so we finally got out, knowing the last bus going back to Chambery was leaving in literally like 2 minutes. We sprinted to the bus stop, and got to it right as it was pulling away. So, we had no clue how to get home, and it was dark and cold, and it is not safe to be on the streets at night for us. No one was outside in this part of town though. So...we said a prayer that someone would be around so we could ask them to help us find the way back. We prayed and started walking, and lo and behold, here we were in the middle of no where, this nice young girl comes out. So of course, we ask her where to go and she directs us. A little over an hour later we made it home safe and sound. God answers prayers :) So, also, how is everyone doing with the goals they set after General Conference? How are the improvements and changes that you're trying to make going? Mine are definitely still a work in progress. But, God doesn't expect immediate perfection. He expects immediate progress. Our exchange was really great, but it made me realize how much Chambéry feels like home. I missed my comp, the other sisters, my cute little ville, and my amis so bad! When I got home, all 4 of us sisters just ran into each other's arms and were like "I missed you sooooo much! It wasn't the same without you!" Haha very typical cheesy girly stuff. But they said there was a totally different spirit without me there. That made me feel so good! Those 3 are such a great example to me and I'm learning so much from them everyday about how to be a better missionary and person. They're some of my biggest role models. God didn't put us together on accident! I love these 3 sisters so much, and they have really become acutal sisters to me. That's the great thing about missions... You expand your family big time. Well, I love you all so much! Please keep praying for all of our other amis who have seemed to drop off the face of the planet momentarily. But I still have faith that they will remember what they've felt and come back! I know though that I am just here to invite them to come unto Christ, and then they have the right to make up their mind to do what they want with that invitation. Gotta love agency... haha. Let's pray and have faith that they choose the right! Have a fantastic week! Love, Soeur Shields
Salut my dear family and friends!
We had a pretty darn wonderful week, full of teaching. I have to admit, our weeks full of teaching are much more preferable than our weeks of finding. But it takes those weeks of finding to have those people to teach! So our hard work paid off!
I'll just tell you about a few of the highlight lessons. Starting from low to high. So, our little French amis. He is so great, always coming to FHE and English class, and to church when he doesn't have to work. But, as we taught him this week, we hit a little stumbling block. After teaching the Gospel, he proceeded to tell us that he doesn't need to repent, because by his age (49) he is wise enough to not make mistakes, and therefore has nothing to be sorry for. Oh la la. Haha literally he just took some prophetic verses out of the scriptures about the last days when those who are so lifted up in pride will proclaim they need to repent. So, needless to say, we will be working on humility with him. He did tell us he would get baptized when he felt the time was right though, and if he continued to find that what we're teaching him is true.
So we also taught both of our African amis again this week, finally! The first one with Tony was good, but a little disappointing. He loved the Plan of Salvation. But, every time we talk about baptism, he keeps saying how he's already been baptized when he was a baby. (that's literally what every person tells us here) So, we're really working with him on developing a testimony of the priesthood, and that since our church holds the only valid priesthood to perform saving ordinances, he needs to get baptized again. Pray he develops that testimony please!
The second lesson with our other African, Bienvenue (thats really his name), was so incredible. He has been reading the BOM, and is such a spiritual giant, with a huge heart and desire to do good. We got to really get down deep with him about what it really means to have faith, the faith to act. To pray and know if this is all true. And he said he would, but still didn't know how to recognize the Spirit. I was so glad he told us that, because that's literally THE most crucial thing for developing a testimony. So we taught him all about recognizing the HG, and he was like "yeah! I've felt that way a lot while you've taught me!" So...we got to set a new baptismal date with him! November 15th...please pray that will happen!
Then we had a great lesson with our Albanians. Hijazi has a smoking problem (as does everyone here) and so we taught Word of Wisdom...we were really nervous though because we didn't think he'd like this too much. But guess what? He loved it! He wants to stop so bad, and thought everything about the WOW was genius. He is really working hard to cut down, and he evens wants a priesthood blessing for extra strength. I'm so proud of him! Please pray that he'll be able to stop smoking! It feels incredible to help people change their lives for the better. It's really so fulfilling.
The last lesson was the best ever. It was with the family we found while exploring the little village. Michel and Sophie...the COOLEST people ever. They are soooooo prepared, it's insane. If we had never gotten lost and decided to pull in there village, we never would have found them. The Lord really does work in mysterious ways and lead us to those who are prepared. Just for an example of how golden they are, she looked at us and said "after this life, do we still get to be married and be together with our kids?" She had such a sincere, hopeful look in her eye. I literally almost jumped out of my seat and was like " oui oui oui oui!!!!" Telling someone that they can be with their family for eternity is one of the greatest blessings I have. It's almost as much as a gift for me to give them that good news, as it is to them to hear it. She was overjoyed when she heard that. We taught them the Restoration, and I literally can't wait to go back and do plan of salvation, which we're doing this week :) I just can't express how grateful I am to have this knowledge of the gospel, and I can testify to you that sharing it really will bring you more joy than you thought imaginable.
So, that was basically the week in a nutshell. Lots of other stuff happened of course, lots of other lessons, crazy chaos, sad times, funny times, hard times, and great times. But, this is all I have time for!
I LOVE what I am doing and I wouldn't change it for the world.
Salut everyone! I have so much I want to tell you all! First of all it's weird to me how I can't remember how to type on an American keyboard anymore... I tried switching to that at first today since we're at a different internet café, and I quickly realized that I've completely adopted the French board now! Haha So...I hope you don't think that just since Conference is over that I'm done talking about it. Quite the contrary! I want to pose a question to you all: What have you decided to change about yourself after General Conference? If you can't think of anything, then you need to go back and watch/listen to it. Because that's the whole point of them speaking to us, so we can change and improve! So, what I've done is write out all my questions that I had before Conference. If you didnt do that before Conference, write out some questions you have now, and it will still work. Then go read through all the notes you took for each question. For example, one of my questions was how can I be a better teacher? So, I read through all of my notes, and took new notes on how I can be a better teacher, based off of my conference notes. I would write how I can actually apply it in my life, what I need to change, and what I need to improve. Be specific! I had 6 questions, so this means I read through my Conference notes 6 times. And every single time I gleaned something new out of it! If you didn't take notes, go read the talks. But I find taking notes and writing down spiritual impressions you have, not just what the speaker says, is more effective. Also, you will notice that you will probably write down a lot of the impressions more than once. Then you'll know that the Lord is really trying to tell you something, if you keep getting the same revelation through many different speakers. I know I did, and I know for sure now what the Lord needed me to get out of Conference, and I'm now working on making those improvements. So, let me tell you about our awesome week. Remember how I said that now since we've had a car we've been going to outer-villes, to places that have never seen missionaries before? Well, we've had some cool miracles out there. My comp and I were on the way to a member's house, and long story short, we got totally lost since our GPS stopped working. So, we decide to head back the way we came, and we pass this tiny little village. We decided to stop there. So, we do and we're going around for a while knocking on every door, seeing no succes. Then this lady comes walking down the street, literally the only person out. So we go talk to her. God prepares His children to hear the gospel, people! It's true! My comp and I had just role played that morning in comp study teaching the Restoration in under 2 minutes. So, we decided to try doing that on her. Well, I got to my part where I was going to tell her how after the death of Jesus Christ and His apostles, there was an apostasy on the earth. As I opened my mouth and said "after Jesus Christ's death..." (fully planning on saying the apostasy followed) the words "He was resurrected" came out instead. My comp and I both kind of looked at each other like "did I really just say that?" We never talk to people about resurrection on a street contact. But, the Spirit took over, and it came out. This lady's face lit up and she said "that's so wonderful! and you know what? I feel like if Jesus was resurrected, we should all be able to be as well." Boom. So prepared! So of course we testified to her that that's EXACTLY the case. She loved it, and we got her number and are going to fix a RDV with her soon. Listen to and follow the Spirit! God knows His children and what they need to hear! Another amazing thing. This week we had zone training in Geneva. Half way through, our zone leader said, "we would like to have all of the elders in the room to exercise their priesthood and go give each one of the sisters a blessing, and afterwards, give each other a blessing." We were all like what?! A little different for a zone training. So, we did it though. An elder, this meek little fella who has only been out for 3 weeks came to me. He then proceeded to give me one of the most touching blessings I've ever received. I've been struggling with a certain challenge in particular lately, and he said EXACTLY what I needed to hear. And when I say "he" said, I mean the Lord. This elder was just His mouthpiece. And my testimony of that, and the reality of the priesthood power was strengthened so much after that. It's incredible how perfectly the Lord knows us, how He answers prayers, and how when we're worthy and receptive, we can be His mouthpieces. He said words that were almost verbatim from my patriarchal blessing. It brought me so much comfort. When I opened my eyes, I saw elders all over the room blessing everyone. It was a beautiful sight. It made me think that's what it must have looked like when Christ and His angels were ministering amongst the Nephites when He came to them. The Spirit in the room afterwards was extremely powerful. So we had some great lessons with our amis this week. Our French amis and Albanian amis are progressing slowly but surely. Our African amis...one didn't show up to their appointment this week, and one was out of town all week. BUT. We had a miracle with them. We've been praying and praying to get into contact with the one who didn't show up. So, we were going on a train to Aix this week, and we ended up missing our train by 2 minutes. When we caught the next train, we were a bit frustrated, until we got off the train in Aix, and lo and behold, there is our amis right there on the platform. Had we not missed our train we wouldn't have seen him! Our conversation with him went something like this: "sisters! hello! i'm sorry i haven't seen you, but I found my brother and been taking him around Chambery all week. Oh, and I've been reading your Bible (BOM) and I made a whole list of questions I have, but I know it's true. And I want to bring my brother to be taught by you too. And when is the baptism?" Our jaws kind of dropped....so we were like "well, the baptism was actually today, but we wanted to talk to you about fixing a new date." He was super excited to do this. So, yesterday, him, his brother, and our amis who had been out of town, ALL showed up at church yesterday! My heart was just overwhelmed with joy! We are going to continue teaching them this week. But as if that wasn't enough of a miracle last week, after church this new African guy walks into the building and asks us "is church over?" And we told him it just finished. He said he just moved here and lives in an apartment behind the church, saw it, and is searching for somewhere to pray. We were like...HERE! You can pray here!! So we got his number and everything, and we will be teaching him this week as well! So awesome. France is such an interesting place. The aftermath of the apostasy is SO evident here, as literally every prophecy that you read about with the apostasy is still going on over here. So many people who could care less about God, don't think He exists, warp the ideas of Him, make up their own doctrine, condemn all who do believe in Him, worship false idols, turn their backs on Him because they think He's wronged them, putting everything else in the world before Him, etc. You name it, it's here. But, it is INCREDIBLE when you do find those few select people who are ready. We compared France to having a giant stone dome over it. The people here are tough to crack, after years and years of hardened hearts. But, each missionary is like a little chisel. And slowly but surely, we will make enough little cracks in this stone dome that it'll become so weak, that it will fall. Then France is going to be the next Brazil! Haha. But let me tell ya, the people who are members here, who DO accept God, are your strongest, most faithful members I've ever seen in my life. My love and respect for these people is out the roof. I love this wonderful place and these amazing people, and the opportunity to teach them about the person who loves them the most. This is truly the greatest thing I've ever done. I love you all! Thank you for your messages, I wish I had time to respond. I read every word and I'm so grateful for your support! Love always, Soeur Shields
Joyeux Noel everyone!! It was practically Christmas here this weekend, since we had the most AMAZING General Conference EVER! Seriously though, how incredible was that. I think it's safe to say that this was indeed a special conference. It was one of the first conferences where I think I can count on one hand the different number of subjects of things discussed. And since these topics aren't assigned, we know loud and clear the messages the Lord is really needing and wanting us to hear right now. I know I personally learned a lot about prophets, the sacrament, the keys to having a happy home, how to help the needy, and how to really be so firmly rooted in the gospel that I can truly become more like Christ. The biggest difference for me going into this Conference was that I prepared myself. I didn't realize how much I took Conference for granted growing up. I had thoughts like: "yay! we dont have to wear skirts! pajama time!" I'd come off of a week of school, show up in front of the TV on Saturday morning, sit down, and watch. After it was over, I'd think to myself "that was good!" and then I'd forget about it. What a waste!!!! You can't just show up to conference. It takes preparation. I went in this time having prayed for weeks in advance about certain questions I've been having, asking God to please open my heart and mind so I would be receptive to the answers when I heard them. Those words that were spoken are now scripture. Maybe people would take it more seriously if we put those words in black leather binding like our Book of Mormon. Because that is the equivalent to what it is. In fact, according to an Apostle of the Lord, "the words spoken by living prophets are more important to us than the words of dead prophets." Not that the scriptures are useless, those are essential to read as well, those words still apply to us today. But what is said to us today, is modern day revelation, and therefore applies to us even more. God still speaks to us today, He is still writing His holy scripture to us today. It's just that now today you can access it online, on TV, in the Ensign, etc. How blessed we are! The preparation made all the difference, and I learned loads of things. I figured out a lot of things I need to change about my weaknesses, and I found a lot of ways to improve my strengths, and made lots of goals for now and for the future. The key after hearing all that wonderful stuff, is to now act. To change. We all have something we need to improve, so suck up your pride, and do it! "It has to hurt, that's how you grow." But I promise once you make those changes, as hard as it may be at first, you will feel so much happier afterwards. So, as far as other stuff from this week. Not too much to report on. Since we now have a CAR we spent a lot of time going to distant areas and trying to talk to as many people as we could, people who might have never met missionaries before. Boy did we find some gorgeous areas...I am so lucky! We also had a cool experience as a Zone this week. One of the elders who has been AP for the past few transfers, who is in his last transfer now, just got moved to be our zone leader for this transfer. No one understood this, for one, he is the greatest missionary ever (President wrote an entire ode to him in the last newsletter) and never has an AP not ended his mission as an AP. But President said he couldn't deny the inspiration he had to make him our zone leader, as much as he didn't want to move him. So, President then had our new zone leaders come to each apartment in our zone and dedicate them. This is the only zone that that was done in. When our zone leaders came to dedicate our apartment, our new ZL told us that President told him that every missionary who is currently in our zone, the Geneve Zone, are his best missionaries in the mission. He sent is AP to be a ZL there because he wants us to be the model zone to the rest of the mission. They dedicated our apartments just to have an extra added measure of strength and protection for the missionaries in our zone. So that was a very humbling experience. We had no idea Presient had that much confidence in us. Felt pretty good to hear! The last cool thing of the week was a lesson we had with our dear Albanian amis. At the end of the lesson, we asked them to read the BOM this week. He replied by saying he has to make finding a job his priority right now. The Spirit took over, next thing I knew my mouth was moving and words were coming out. "I" promised that if he put God first, if he showed his faith by reading the scriptures and praying, that he would find a job. His eyes filled with tears after that, and he just said "thank you." It was very cool to be an instrument in the Lord's hands to help one of His children. One last update, our awesome little French amis is progressing well! He came to 2 sessions of Conference! Our 2 African amis had some conflicts this week and were also a little flakey, so we didnt get to see them, so we are going to have to push their baptismal date back. Please keep praying for them! I love you all and thank you so much for all you do! Love always,Soeur Shields