The second week was definitely less terrifying and stressful than the first week...haha. Once you get into the groove of things, everything starts to feel normal. The French is also not as much of a struggle. Don't get me wrong, there's still a LOT I don't understand and don't say well, but to see how far I've come in just one week's time is incredible. I can understand a general gist of what most people say, and I can speak to a point where they can understand what I'm trying to say. haha. The people here really are so gracious in trying to help me learn and to speak to a point where I can understand them.
So, my comp has told me over and over again this week that the Lord is really trying to show me the hardships of missions right off the bat, because we have just had struggle after struggle with the work here. She said normally it's not like this, but for some reason, right now we just aren't having a whole lot of success. She says that so I won't get discouraged and think that this is what it will always be like, which is good, because I sure hope it's not always like this!
Let me just give you some examples of how our week played out. We have FHE at our branch building every Monday night, and we invited tons of people. 1 showed up, and he's a member. So, after FHE we went and contacted. We contacted this one super cool guy, and he was interested and we scheduled a RDV (appointment) with him for the next day. We were so stoked! The next day comes, and he doesn't show up. We had lessons with our 3 amis this week. All 3 have issues preventing them from wanting to be baptized. For one it's smoking, for one it's being embarrassed as to what his friends and family will think, and for the other it's because she can't let go of her belief in reincarnation. So we're doing all we can right now to help them gain stronger testimonies so they can get past these things. We also found another guy through contacting, scheduled a RDV, and he never showed up either. 2 tombevous (no-shows) in a row!
Also, this one is kind of funny, but we found in our Area Book an Indian man and so we called him. He was super excited to meet with us and even said he would make us an Indian lunch. We were stoked! So we get to his house, and he tells us he just ate lunch with his friends...we were like dangit! Haha we really wanted to try Indian food. But then as we start bringing up the church, he makes it known to us that he invited us over to discuss the philosohpies of life and religion, because he is a very devout Jainist. In fact, he even has a book published about it. He basically doesn't believe in the existence of a God, and that every person is their own God. So, for the next hour and a half, we did all we could to bare testimony to him of our beliefs. It was nice for me because the whole thing was in English. However, every time we bore testimony of something, he proceeded to tell us how and why we were wrong, and wouldn't listen to us at all. He kept telling us what we believed. That was difficult to keep my defensive side under control, and remember that I'm a representative of Jesus Christ and needed to respond in the way that He would. He asked us things like "How do you think God can answer 7 billion people's prayers at once?" and "How can you believe in something if you can't see it?" All I could do was bare testimony of faith. After I did that, I told him he could know for himself how to have this faith, and how to know if the things we were saying were true, by reading the Book of Mormon for himself. And you know what? He agreed to it! I know that anyone who reads the BOM with a open heart and mind, and truly wants to know if it's true, can pray about it and know that it's true. I know the same can happen for this man, no matter how much he doesn't want to admit it.
Family and friends, it is through faith and faith alone that I am here, preaching this gospel of Jesus Christ. I have faith that we have a loving Father in Heaven who created all of us. I have faith that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to the earth to atone for our sins and pains. I have faith that after His death, the gospel was taken from the earth. I have faith that Jesus Christ restored His only true gospel back to the earth at the right time, through His prophet Joseph Smith. I have faith that Joseph Smith translated the ancient records of America through the power of God, and through that we now have the Book of Mormon. I have faith that we now have a living prohpet, leading and guiding our Church today. It is as Alma 32 talks about. Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge, but to experiment upon what we have a desire to know. I have this faith because as I've learned these things about the gospel, I have prayed about them. It is through prayer of these things that the Holy Ghost has touched my heart to let me know that they are true. I have those feelings given by the Holy Ghost every single day as I bare my testimony to people. Those feelings of peace and surety are what carry me through each day. It may take getting through hundreds of people who don't care to find that out for themselves before I find the one who does care. But I will keep working as hard as I can each day to find that one person. I will do whatever it takes to help someone feel the joy that I feel from knowing these truths.
I've also started to keep a Miracle Book. Every single day I look for a miracle, no matter how big or small, and I write it down. This keeps me in a spirit of gratitude, because it would be very, very easy to look at all of the success we're not having, instead of the ways that the Lord IS blessing us. Some of the things I've written down are: "I understood a lot more of what was said in our RDV today." "We saw a man looking at us on the bus, but didn't talk to him since we were talking to someone else. We got off and went to our appointment. Later that night when we were walking home, we saw him sitting on a bench. We immediately went and talked to him, and we could see it in his eyes that he was searching for the truth and was sparked by our testimonies. Even though he didn't want to hear more right now, I know someday he will." "We contaced into a really nice family today. They didn't want to know more, but they were so polite and were willing to listen to our whole message. Sometimes it just feels so good for someone to just be kind and listen." "We went porting (door to door knocking) for our first time last night. No one opened up or wanted to listen once they did open the door, except for the very last door. This girl actually let us inside, and even offered us drinks. She was so sweet and was interested in coming to our English class and checking out familysearch.org." ...So, when I look for the little things in each day, I'm reminded of how the Lord does bless us and care for us each and every day. It is best to have the attitude of gratitude, because it makes this work filled with so much happiness, and when we do have hard times, we know there will be good times too.
I love this beautiful place, and I will never stop loving it! I'm truly so blessed to be here, and I am so grateful for this special time I have to completely devote my life to the Lord.
I love you all so much! Thank you for your prayers and support!
These next few pictures are ones from my comp.