Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Week of November 23rd

We have been so very busy that the month of November has just flown by. We have been making lots of visits to inspect missionary apts, taught lots of lessons and discussions, traveled to Calais several times, cooked, worked with our JA's and done various other things. Today we decided to take a p-day, which we hadn't done in a long time. We (read I) wanted to go and see New Moon. I really liked it a lot. I know lots of peole didn't, but I really enjoyed it a lot. I think it followed the book pretty closely and I just liked it. Of course the books are always better, but we had a good time. Dh was a little lost in places and I had to fill him in on some things. I should have done it before, but it worked out just fine.
We have a really nice theatre in Kortrijk where they play movies in English with French and Dutch subtitles. The red chair is in the lobby, which is huge, preparing for Santa to arrive this week-end. There will be a big celebration and after Santa makes his entrance, the children will be able to go and see him and tell him their wishes. In Belgium Santa comes on a horse and then there is always Black Peter. Black Peter is the one who looks for naughty children and takes them if he spots them. He is black because he is covered in soot. In many places in Belgium, one can buy the set of 3: Santa, the horse, and Black Peter. Fun for all!

These are the Petrov's again. I know I have written about this amazing couple before, but I want to write some more. Vasil and Hayrie came from Bulgaria for her to have surgery on her eyes. She has been completely blind since she was 18 months old. He also has lots of physical problems including unsteadiness, epilepsy, and double vision. The missionaries began teaching them by showing DVD's which she would listen to and then they would point to verses in the Bulgarian scriptures which Vasil would read aloud to her. Finally we came to France and I was able to start translating for them. They were baptized and have been so faithful and diligent ever since. Vasil has already read the Book of Mormon aloud twice to them. They remember everything too. They read for understanding and retention. When we are in Sunday school or Relief Society and I translate something for her, she will usually say that she has already read that and knows about it. She can then relate the story or concept back to me. She has an amazing memory. When she first found out about blessings, she asked the elders to bless her. They did and then instead of just seeing all black she began to see light at times and she was so grateful. Any concept I teach her, they immediately pick up and are so faithful in keeping it. For example, I taught her about tithing and the next week they come in with 2euros for the 20 that they receieved. They have been faithful every week since then. One Sunday I taught her about fasting. The next week she comes and tells me that they fasted and how great it felt. The week after that they come to church and she tells me that they fasted 3 times that week. I explain that it is only necessary to fast once a month, but she answers that it just felt so good to fast. They are like that with everything. Hayrie recently found out that surgery is not an option, that it will not help her. Instead of being mad or depressed she said, "I really wanted to see, but it's okay. I know why I had to come to France. I had to get not light in my eyes, but the light of the gospel. I am so grateful to have found the church and to be so close to the Lord." They are learning French. Last week we met at the church to home teach them and I had to translate from French into Russian and then she translates into Bulgarian for Vasil. Her home teachers are French and Tahitian. Sometimes Dh has to first translate from French into English. After the lesson she wanted us to say some words from the dictionary into French. It turned out to be a Bulgarian dictionary, so I had to try to read the words in Bulgarian and then say them in Russian and then translate into French. Sometimes Vasil had to read the word for me first and many times Dh had to say them in French cause, you know, French pronounciation is so hard. Anyway, it was quite the process. I also then had to write words in English from what she said in Bulgarian for the post office in Bulgaria. I was so tired after that session. In any case, I think they are just awesome.

This is Sylvie Gigant. I've pictured her before too. She and 2 of her sons were baptized earlier this year. She has 2 other sons, one of whom is very troubled, rebellious etc. We and the rest of our district missionaries are trying to help her family. One of her sons, just in his early 20's, has just recently been diagnosed with an enlarged heart. He has been given only 2-3 yrs. They all remain faithful and he wants to serve a mission. He has recently been called to be a ward missionry. Sylvie loves to cook and often cooks for the missionaries. She is an excellent cook. Well, she really wanted to teach me to cook a few dishes and so we bought the stuff and went over there. She was so excited to share her cooking skills. Here she is making mashed carrots and potatoes to which she adds a little bit of nutmeg.

She showed me how to make Poulet a la casserole, Quiche Lorraine, Sauce, and Tarte au chocolat.

We enjoyed our time spent with her and we think we were able to do some good in that family too.
Last week we also had to make 2 trips to Calais. Sunday it was for our monthly visit to the ward there where Dh gave an excellent talk on not being offended. He is the High Councilor for that ward now, so we have to travel there each month. It takes about 1hr 50 mins with no traffic to get there. We arrive early, about 9:00 so that I can teach Ceasar first.
While we were there, we also did a missionary apt inspection. One of the Elders had been in our district before and when I called him about making the visit, he right away said that he wants us to stay for lunch. We had such a nice time visiting Elder Spicer(USA) and Elder Schaunig(Austria). Elder Spicer was the one who invited us, but Elder Schaunig is the one who did the cooking. Ha. He made a yummy pasta with a sauce that he invented which included fish and meat. For dessert they had choc. pudding from the store. It was pouring rain that day, but we were warm and cozy in the apt and sure felt welcomed by those nice elders. I thought it was so nice of them to invite us. They were happy that we brought them new pillows. Sister Brubaker bought the missionaries new pillows and I get to distribute them as needed. We are trying to get the apartments up to par as well as making sure that the missionaries are keeping them nice and clean.
As I mentioned, I had to teach Ceasar again. Ceasar is the Russian fellow who lives in Calais who came to church last month when we were there. He has quite the story. Ceasar was born in Russian about 64 years ago. When he was 16, he tried to escape the country, but was captured at the border. He said he was a young, dumb kid and they caught him. Anyway, they couldn't put him in prison because he was under age, but from that day on, the KGB kept close tabs on him. Anytime he got a job, the KGB would show up at the workplace and talk to the bosses. He would immediately get fired. This kept up for many, many years. He married and had 2 children. Then he found a bible and began reading it. He said at first he only understood about 1/2 of what he was reading. His wife read it, but didn't understand anything, according to him. Anyway, KGB found out about it and called and had his wife rip it up in front of him. Then as a punishment for having a bible, they killed his daughter. He later escaped from Russia. He tried to persuade his wife to go with him, but she refused as she was working for KGB. He went to many different countries; Czech Republic, Poland, Eastern Germany, Romania, Switzerland, Belgium and some I can't remember and was not accepted in any. He was physically thrown out of many countries, being first accosted and handcuffed and literally thrown out. He spent some time in prison, in Russia, for no reason other than not supporting communism. He finally ended up in France which gave him political asylum. Ceasar is now searching for the truth. He only speaks Russian and so whenever we are in Calais, I teach him. I gave him a copy of Preach My Gospel and the Book of Mormon and he is reading both. He has lots of questions and things to discuss. What a hard life this poor guy has had and yet he is in good spirits and is doing the best he can.

Wednesday we had to go to Calais again to renew our legality. It took a long, long time. We will have to take 2 more trips there to finish up. While we were there, we decided to eat at a restaurant. We have very seldom eaten out, so this was a real treat. We ordered this lamb and potatoe dish. It was good, but I think we cook just as well and maybe a little better ourselves.
We also paid a visit to the Voyez house this week. They were so happy to see us and Bernadette said that just that afternoon while she was taking her nap, she kept thinking of me, so she was especially excited that we were there.
We had a nice visit and Jean Jacques made us some delicious hot cocoa with cream.
We cooked for family home evening and for Institute. Dh gave an awesome lesson at fhe. We also taught lessons to Emmanuelle a young woman who has been very troubled and is trying to make her way back into life and into the church. We taught Samuel and Clothilde and Dino and Larissa and some others. We had several meetings including one with the Stake President and his council. Of course, we had Thanksgiving as I already blogged about. Saturday I was sick with vertigo and so spent the day in bed. We had to miss a ward activity Sat. eve, but I just couldn't go. I felt bad for making Dh miss out. By Sunday I was recovered and feeling just fine.
This week is turning out to be just as busy.


Yvonne said...

I love reading about your experiences. They are always so uplifting. You are doing such wonderful service. Thanks so much for your great example.

nikko said...

I agree with Yvonne. I love reading all your posts and keeping up with you and your stories and your service. What amazing people you are meeting. And that Quiche Lorraine looks so yummy!

Connie said...

My heart goes out to all the people you mentioned in your post The sister who is blind, the man who was punished for having a Bible, the sister with the rebellious son...and yet the glorious thing in their life is the gospel. What wonderful things you're doing there! What experiences you're having! What good food you're eating! Thanks for sharing. I love to read all about your life as missionary!