Bonjour à tous!
It was a really awesome week here. There are two things in particular that I'd like to share from this week. It's not something you've never heard before...but it's something that has been so re-occurring on my mission, that I think the Lord is really trying to tell me something. He's made a few particular messages very clear to me, because I think He never wants me to forget them. For this week, it is these two principles: 1) hard work and trust in the Lord brings miracles and 2) this work can not be done successfully without the help of members!
So, I just wanted to share some cool stories to illustrate. So we had planned to go have a FHE with a sister in the ward, but unfortunately she cancelled right before we left. So, we did our back-up plan instead, which was to try to go find a potential ami that was referred to us. Well, we get to her apartment, and after getting through the front door, there's another door that is locked that has no way of opening unless you're a resident with a key. So, we just said a prayer that someone would come in or out the door so we could slip in. As soon as I had said the words "amen" a lady came through the door, allowing us access. God is so cool! But, it gets better. We then knock on the ami's door, but there was no response. So, even though it's not super enjoyable, we decided to knock the door's of the apartment residents there. That usually doesn't turn out well, as people don't like being disturbed.
We knock a few doors, getting a few "not interested" responses. One really sweet lady opened it and then sadly gave us the same answer, and so we started down the stairs as she closed the door. Half way down, she opens the door back up and yells out, "wait! Ok, ok, come on in." So we go in, and end up teaching this lady for a good while. She was extremely curious and open to all we taught her. She kept telling us that she felt a "light and peace" with us, and she wanted us to come back. She even made out a little snack bar for us after a while because she didn't want us to leave. It was pretty cool to see how and why God puts us in the places He does at the very moments He does. Every little action throughout the day is done by His hand, so that we're working on His timing, in His way, with those He has prepared for us. When we think all is going wrong, or the future prospects don't look to be the most favorable, that is when He is setting us up to receive the "witness of our faith." If there were no test, there could be no reward.
A million more cool things happened this week, but the last one I'd like to share is the wonderful work of a family who really understands what it means that "every member is a missionary." Their name is the family Orieux, and they are some of the most jovial Africans I've ever met. Out of the goodness of their own heart, they invited us over with our ami Veronique and her children. We taught the Tree of Life vision to help Veronique see that it is through following the gospel path that she will find true and lasting happiness. This lesson wouldn't have been nearly as powerful without the Orieux's help. The dad drew out the whole vision and explained it step by step. They related personal stories, analogies, and taught her in a manner that I couldn't have. They could see things from her perspective as fellow parents, and since they come from the same culture. They related with her family in ways that I can't. Especially important, they opened their hearts and home and made her feel loved and important. They became genuine friends.
I'll let everyone in on a missionary secret...We are instructed in Preach My Gospel to teach with members in every single lesson if possible. We also keep numerical record and report to our president how many times in a week we taught with a member. Why do we care so much about this? Because every single person who has entered the waters of baptism has also entered the ranks of the Lord's army! The Lord's army needs people of every walk of life and every background, because they will be able to relate to someone who is searching for the gospel in ways that others cannot. The Lord knows that. Yes, as His full-time representatives, we the missionaries are set apart to be able to teach with power and authority. But God also gives us instruction as to how we will teach with this power and authority, which is why He asks us to teach with members. You are the key! You are set apart with power and authority to teach too! And you stay! Eventually, we will leave, and these amis need a friend they can continuously turn to when they are in need. Please be that person to the investigators in your ward! I must admit, I prefer the French word for investigators--"ami." That means friend. Look at these children of God as your friends, and I promise you'll be able to make a difference in their lives. We often say that a missionary is called to a specific area to meet certain people. This is true. But have you ever thought about the fact that you are in the specific area that you're in because the missionaries have a certain someone who needs you? I promise you this is how the Lord works. This is the way! Join the ranks.
Have a great week, and a very Happy Halloween! Go do some work for the dead ;)
Soeur Shields 🎃
Bonjour à tous!
It was a busy first week of the new transfer here! We got so much accomplished this week. We both know this area pretty well now, so we were able to just hit the ground running. Even though you're very tired at the end of the mission, you've also got a whole new sense of the value of your time. Every minute is now more precious to me than ever before! I'd like to just talk about three cool experiences in particular that we had this week.
So, winter decided to roll in rather early here in Lyon. We've had a lot of RDVs fixed for each day, but of course there's always a bit of time here and there in between appointments where we've got some time to kill. So what do we do? Street proselyting. You just walk up to people and ask if they'd like to know more about the church. Sometimes God is funny...when each of these moments arrived this week, it just seemed to always fall on the part of the day where the wind was the most bitingly cold and the rain was plummeting the hardest. But do we let that stop us? No! And what's even better is that we actually even had fun doing it. We chose to laugh at the ironic misery of the conditions, because as Sister Roney says, we knew it was the "perfect storm for miracles." Your attitude makes or breaks every situation. Life is so much more enjoyable when we choose to look at it through grateful and positive eyes. Even though very few people were sincerely interested, we got to show our faith and trust in the Lord. By doing hard things happily, we show God that we love Him and trust there's a better and higher reason for doing these difficult things He asks of us. He can then entrust us with His larger purposes, because He knows we're instruments willing and worthy to carry out any task He gives us.
Next I want to share a very cool lesson we had with our awesome sister Michelle (the one who is making a huge comeback to the church after years of inactivity). We went over and she explained to us how they were already out of money for the month, and she began to panic over how she was going to feed her kids for the next two weeks. She was really scared and began praying to God to ask for help. Then suddenly a thought came to her mind, and she remembered that she had paid her tithing on fast Sunday. Immediately an all-encompassing peace came over her as she realized from the Spirit that everything was going to be okay. She said, "I realized, silly me! Why on earth am I worrying? I've got God's promise to have the windows of heaven opened to me and to be provided with even more than I need. Since I paid my tithing, I know everything will work out." She then explained how not long after, she happened to stumble upon a little savings she had put aside a long time ago and had forgotten about. It's exactly enough to get her through the end of the month. Also, she took seriously creating food storage when she learned about it not long ago. She had stocked up and realized that that food would be more than enough to get them through the rest of this month. Do you see everyone how God's promises are real? When He says that if we do our part, He'll do His, He means it! As my dad says, "we can't afford not to pay our tithing." The blessings are too great to forfeit.
The last thing I wanted to share was a cool lesson we had with one of my favorite recent converts, Diogène. He received his patriarchal blessing yesterday, and so we gave him a lesson the day before about these special blessings. This lesson just really reiterated to me the gratitude I have for my own personal blessing. I would not be here as a missionary if I hadn't received my patriarchal blessing. I would have missed out on the greatest experience I have ever had. I wouldn't have ever thought of considering serving a mission. I promise you, God knows us so much better than we know ourselves. He sees us for who we can become, He knows our potential, and most importantly He knows what it will take for us to attain it. He knew this is what I needed to help me reach higher and become more like Him. I am eternally grateful for that sacred patriarchal blessing that was given to me, that led me to the track God needed me to be on. I encourage all who haven't received their's to prepare to do so and to receive it when the time is right. For those who have their's, read it often and ask God to help you live up to your potential described therein. He can make of us what we never even imagined possible.
I hope you all have a most wonderful week!
C to Bonjour tout le monde! Comment ça va?
Well, today begins the first day of my last transfer. Woah. I can't believe that time is actually here. I am so grateful to have these next 6 weeks to continue to work here in Lyon with Sister Kimber, putting everything I've learned to use to serve my Savior with all my heart, might, mind, and strength. Yes, I've never been so physically and mentally exhausted in my entire life. But, I know that Christ isn't just at my side helping me sprint to the finish line. When I've done my very best, and think I can't go on anymore, He actually picks me up and carries me. There is simply no other explanation for being able to do what we do as missionaries.
This past week was pretty awesome! As usual, we visited with a lot of less actives and recent converts. These are the most fragile and important people to take care of, in my opinion. It is they who have made covenants with God, therefore binding them to a higher plane of promises and blessings that must be upheld. We are working very closely with several sisters (both less-active and recent converts) and they're making tremendous progress. It has come by including in their lives a pattern of habits like reading their scriptures and words of our prophets, praying, and coming to church. Does that sound like the primary answers? Well, they are. They're also the most important things that any one of us could be doing. I know with all the surety of my heart that it is through these simple, sincere acts that we feel true joy in our lives. I have seen this truth manifested too many times to ever be able to deny it. These sisters all were able to watch General Conference, and every single one of them has said the same thing: "They said exactly what I needed to hear." That's because the spirit will tell us exactly what Heavenly Father wants us to know! We must engage in daily study and habits that bring us closer to Christ if we expect to feel true happiness. And now we have 6 sessions (or 6 new chapters as I like to call it) added to our scriptures to study.
Each of these sisters has also become so enlivened by the gospel that their greatest desires are for their family members to have it also. Two of them invited us over with their children, so they would be able to learn as well. I have high hopes for all of them! They were all very receptive. One other thing that is helping these sisters stay true to their covenants is the fact that we simply just go and show them that we love them and care about them! Every recent convert and every less-active needs to feel that they have a friend at church. Someone they can rely on, turn to, and talk to. Can I ask you when was the last time you reached out to a recent convert or less-active? They need to feel the love of their home and visiting teachers, but more than that, they need to feel the love of their friends.
Lastly, I'll just tell you about a cool lesson we had with one of our amis, Veronique. She is from the Congo and has a strong Christian background. She loves her Bible, and she loves her Lord. It's wonderful! However, she doesn't see any need for additional scripture. We have explained to her how precious truths found in the Book of Mormon are not found in the Bible. She asked us for some examples, and the first one that came to my mind is described in 3 Nephi 11, as Christ teaches about the ordinance of baptism. He tells us how it should be done, and how one must have authority given to them to perform it. Then He gives that authority to Nephi. The cool part is that on Saturday, the elders in our district had a baptism, in which we were able to attend. As I heard the elder say the words exactly as they're described in 3 Nephi 11, I had an undeniable confirmation come over me that the authority found in this Church is indeed that which Christ gave. This authority, given to act in the name of Christ to perform saving ordinances, is what makes the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the only true church. Veronique is slowly but surely coming to understand that and feel that this is the way, the only way. I know it is!
Well, I hope you all have a wonderful week!
Click herBonjour à tous!
It was a pretty sick week! Literally...both me and my companion are fighting nasty colds. Haha. But it's all good! This work will still go on and we were still able to accomplish a lot this week.
I think the biggest thing I've realized this week is how there are so many hungry souls out there--spiritually hungry. And we've got to feed them! But we cannot do that before we first feed ourselves. If we have no spiritual strength ourselves, how would we be able to go administer it to others?
We made visits to quite a few less-actives and members this week. With each one we talked about two of what I consider our greatest treasures--the temple and General Conference. Why do I consider these so valuable? Because these are the occasions when we don't just spiritually snack or nibble, but it truly is a feast. You are made full in so many ways. It was so interesting to me to see the reactions of these brothers and sisters, especially the less-actives, as we asked them questions like, "How do you feel when you're in the temple? Or watching General Conference?" Immediately their eyes get watery and a light comes to them. They can't contain their smile. They have each said how much peace, joy, and clarity comes to them in these settings. The temple and General Conference are our spiritual schools. We become students to the Lord's voice in these settings. We can receive so many answers to our questions, so much peace to our troubled hearts, and so much direction as to how we can reach our full potential.
But just like a massive Thanksgiving feast requires hours and hours of shopping, cooking, and preparing, our spiritual feasts require the same dedication to get ready. If we all sat down at the table Thanksgiving day and had never even made the initial step of going to the grocery store, we'd sit down to an empty table with growling stomachs. We cannot simply just "show up" to General Conference this week and expect to retain the full benefits that we are capable of receiving. So, like we asked all of our brothers and sisters this week, I ask you, what are you doing to prepare for your spiritual feast this weekend? Here's a suggestion. Something I've been doing is reading the First Presidency's messages from the past 5 years. The more familiar we are with their words, the more easily we'll be able to recognize what their words mean to us as they speak. I've also begun to write down questions I have that I want to find an answer to. For me, it ranges to just about anything from how I can be a more charitable companion to know how to have more courage to share my testimony. How do we expect to find answers if we never even first posed a question?
But most importantly, the key to spiritual preparation is doing things that will invite the spirit in. That way, when the time comes to be fed, you will be in a state that will allow the spirit to really speak to you. What you feel during Conference is much more important than what you hear. With each message, I know the spirit is trying to communicate to each of us how it is to apply specifically to us. And it will probably apply differently to each listener. So we have to know how to listen! We can't listen or even hear if we don't make of ourselves and our home a place where the spirit can be there to talk to us. So, this week, really try to fortify yourself and your home, and make of your home a temple. Do not let music, shows, video games, books, thoughts, words, or any other influences that can push the spirit away enter into your hearts or home. But just blocking negative influences out isn't enough. You have to invite good influences in! Make an extra effort this week to study the gospel, especially the words of the living prophets. Make your prayers, both personal and as a family, more frequent and heart-felt. Look for extra opportunities to extend service to others. Just be happy and grateful. There's countless ways to invite the spirit in!
I promise you that as you make of your home a holy school, your Conference experience this week will be so much more fulfilling. You will learn how each message is to apply to you. Don't just write down what the speakers are saying, you can read all of that later. Write down what you feel. It could be completely unrelated to the topic being taught. Maybe someone will talk about tithing, and then a thought will come to your mind that a certain lonely sister in your ward could use a visit this week. It could be anything, but because of your effort to invite the spirit in to teach you, he will speak to you through any given opportunity.
If at any moment during Conference you feel your attention or interest waning, imagine Jesus Christ Himself up at the pulpit addressing us all. Because that is exactly what is happening, actually. He's just speaking through His instruments, His mouthpieces, our beloved prophet, His apostles and other servants.
Quoting Elder Robert D. Hales: "In conferences we can receive the word of the Lord meant just for us...This is possible because the Holy Ghost carries the word of the Lord unto our hearts in terms we can understand. When I take notes at conference, I do not always write down exactly what the speaker is saying; I note the personalized direction the Spirit is giving me. What is said is not as important as what we hear and what we feel. That is why we make an effort to experience conference in a setting where the still, small voice of the Spirit can be clearly heard, felt, and understood. Oh, how we need general conference! Through conferences our faith is fortified and our testimonies deepened. And when we are converted, we strengthen each other to stand strong amid the fiery darts of these last days."
T-5 days!! Are you ready?
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