Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sylvie and Alexandre

Saturday we had 2 baptisms in our wards. The first was Sylvie, a wonderful woman whose Father is from Africa and whose Mother is English. Sylvie has lived many years in England and speaks English with a British accent. She also speaks French and her Dad's African dialect. She works as a psychologist in France. She said that she has been searching for a church for about 9 years and that she has been attending many different churches looking for the truth. She was kind of nervous, but very excited to be baptized. Today she told me that yesterday was one of the best days of her life. In the morning, yesterday, she was having a lot of pain in her leg and didn't know if she would even be able to go to church for the baptism. She said that she prayed and asked Heavenly Father to help her feel better because this was the day of her baptism and she needed to go. She decided to lie down for while and after a short time she felt much better. She told me that as soon as she came up out of the waters of baptism that she felt the spirit so strongly and knew without a shadow of a doub that she had made the right decision in joining the church.
Our 2nd baptism was Alexandre. This awesome young man is 23 years old. He is a university graduate and has a great job. He is clean cut, smart, pleasant and a really nice person. He began a job working for the company of our Bishop and his brothers who also work together with their brother. As he got to know them he noticed that they did things differently. For example, they didn't drink, swear, or smoke. They went to church every week and he just noticed differences in their behavior and attitude, etc. When he asked his friend, Jacques, (1 of the brothers), Jacques told him that it was because they were Mormons. Alexandre kept asking more and more questions and Jacques would answer them. Then he wanted to read the Book of Mormon. He said that as he read the book, he would pray about things because he knew that God would answer his prayers and lead him to the truth. The more he studied and prayed, the more interested he became. He began talking more and more and learning more and more. Finally he finished the book. He said that he prayed to know if the Book of Mormon was true and he had the burning in his bosom that affirmed that indeed the book was true and was the word of God. He knew that he wanted to be baptized. Alexandre had quite a bit of opposition to joining the church from his parents. His Mom was sad because she thinks that she didn't teach him to be happy with just her. He explained to her that true happiness comes from serving God and doing what God wants. He assured her that he did love her, but that he had a testimony of the truthfullness of the gospel and that he had to act on his convictions. His parents are trying to be supportive now and even came to his baptism.
In the picture are Alexandre with his parents, his best friend and the friend's girlfriend.
The next picture is of Alexandre and Virginie.

These 3 men are Adrian, the counselor to the Bishop, Bishop Marc Duez, and Pres. Brubaker.
When Bishop was giving his talk, he said that Alexandre himself began asking questions about the church. He said that it is not a requirement to belong to any certain church to be employed by his company. He also spoke about what an outstanding young man and what a great employee Alexandre is. We are thrilled to have him join in our young adult center.
Alexandre was baptized by Jacques. Jacques served his mission in Madagascar as a young man. He is now married and has a brand new baby girl named Rose.

I am including a picture of Manu, teaching our investigators class. Manu is an outstanding teacher. He explains concepts so well.
It is interesting that in France where the membership in the church is not huge, but is in it's growth stage that many members hold more than one calling. Manu is The ward mission leader, the teacher for the investigators and he is also the president of our institute. In addition to that he is a full time student and has a part time job.
This is a picture of the class. Virginie actually lives in Calais, but she came up for the baptism yesterday and then spent the night with some of her friends in Lille so that they could all be at church with Alexandre today. By the way, the young adults went to Manu's apartment after the baptism yesterday and ate raclette and visited and had a good time until 3:00a.m. They were tired at church today and several of them told me that they would be going home, eating, taking a long nap, eating again, and then going to bed early. Ah youth!

Thursday, January 28, 2010


We are workingwith several people now, teaching them about the gospel of Jesus Christ. This first couple are Larissa and Dino. They are from Madagascar. I can't help it, but each time I think of them being from Madagascar, I think of the cartoon and the penguins. Well, anyway, they are the nicest couple. They are so gospel centered. They love Jesus Christ and have been so accepting of every concept that they have learned. They want to be baptized, but they must first get married. They are in the process of getting his paperwork completed. She is already a Belgian citizen, but although he is in Belgium legally, he has to have some additional paperwork. It is very complicated and very time consumingn. We hope that within 3 more months they will have the paperwork done. They already want to go back to Madagascar to teach their own people about Jesus Christ and what He has done for us. They live in Kortrijk and so when we teach them we have the Dutch speaking elders with us. Dh always does the teaching because they speak French although Larissa often has to translate into Malagaisy to him. I am the translator to the elders when Dh is speaking french because of course they speak Dutch. I translate into English.
The next couple we are working with are Marieta and Dourian Souren. This couple is from Armenia. He has been here for 4 years and she has been here for 1yr9mos. They are also working on getting their papers. He left first and she stayed on working at "The Bureau." Then the director of the bureau was killed for political reasons and I don't know why, but she had to leave right then. She left everything; her car, house, belongings, and even her clothing. She came with the clothes on her back. Their 2 sons escaped to Russia where she does not know. She has had no contact with them. I don't know the reasons they had to flee except for the fact that it was political. They are living in 2 separate foyers. They spend the days together and then must split up for the night. They are searching for the truth. They seem so nice and I feel really bad for their situtation.
Yesterday we went to do home teaching to Hayrie and Vasil and while we were there she introduced us to Oenchoomeek. This lady left Mongolia about 9 months ago to seek a better life for her family. She has 3 older sons; 17, 20 and 25, a 10 year old daughter, and an 82 year old Mother who is taking care of the daughter back in Mongolia. She came to church last week with Hayrie and she now wants to learn about Jesus. She said there are many Mormons in Mongolia, but she doesn't know a lot about it and now wants to learn. You should have seen us teaching the lesson. Felix, the home teacher and Dh speaking in French, Vasil reading the message in Bulgarian, me translating everything into Russian and also trying to understand what Hayrie and Oenchoomeek are saying to me using many Bulgarian and Mongolian words. It is so difficult. Sometimes I just have to guess at what they are saying from the context of the converstion because I speak neither Mongolian or Bulgarian. Then I have to say it back to them in Russian to make sure I have understood it correctly. With the help of the Lord, we get the messages across.
We are still working with Clothilde and Samuel and Kevin and Emiline as well as Emmanuelle. It's kind of hard with Emmanuelle because she stands us up about every other time when we have an appointment, but then she calls and really wants us to come back. She is just having so many emotional problems right now. Hopefully she will be able to come out of her depression.
Today is institute night. It is some sort of French holiday when they are all eat crepes, so Dh and I spent about 5+ hours fixing crepes. I don't think we will be making those again any time soon. It was a lot of work. I sure hope they will like them.
Sometimes when our kids had their birthday they wanted to have crepes instead of cake. So, that's what we would make and put the candles on the crepes for them to blow out. I guess that's what one can expect when the Dad is French.:)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Transfers again and JA's Activity

It seems like transfers come way too quickly. This transfer we had 3 missionaries leave. After the mtg. we always take lots of pictures. The missionaries especially take lots and lots of pictures. The first few are serious.

The next few are always goofy. They set up two tables one on top of the other with all of the cameras. This is only half of the cameras. We set them all up, put them on timers and then some of us have to run to our spot. The missionaries always set mine up for me.:)

Elder Cabrera is leaving for Brussels. Sister Fritsch is going home to Strasburg. She served a great mission. We will all miss her a lot. Elder Clawson is going to Liege.

Now Elder Paoli will be the only missionary in our district from France.(for a little while anyway)

The missionaries fixed a really nice luncheon. They made pork chops, mashed potatoes, and salad with cake for desset. Sister Kohler brought ranch dressing for the salad and you should have seen the success of that salad dressing. Many of us went crazy for it. Even the missionaries from France and Germany loved it. It has been a long time since any of us had had any and it tasted soooo good. Her Mom sent her a few packages of the powder to mix. The missionaries told us that we just had to show up for the luncheon and not even bring anything. Of course, I made something. This time it was strawberry and apricot bars.
Here is Dh in his typical position; doing dishes after eating.

Last Saturday we had a great young adult activity. We all gathered about 4:00 for a wonderful forum at which our institute director spoke. Dh and I had to miss most of that because just at that same time we had to teach a first discussion to Marieta and Duria a couple who is here from Armenia. They speak Russian and so it was up to me to teach the lesson. I will have to write their interesting story later.
After the forum, there was a nice buffet and a dance followed.

The decorations were very nice. The JA's did all the work.

There was a spot to write your New Year's Resolutions.
"Box for Resolutions!"
It is very simple, write your resolution or a goal for 2010
(It can remain annonymous)
Direction of the box for resolutions is on the stage."

There was lots of pizza baking in the kitchen.

Lots of chatting and goofing off.

A bit of flirting going on.

We have a couple of "special boys" in our group. Everyone loves them and is always kind to them. They love to come and to participate.

We had a great DJ. Manu is always lots of fun. Manu is the most awesome guy. We just love him. He is diligent, smart, very talented in so many areas. He is the type of guy who is a great example to all. He served his mission in Paris. He speaks English perfectly.

There was lots of food to eat and everyone always enjoys that.

Lots of dancing took place. Girls danced with girls, boys danced next to each other and boys danced with girls. It took a while for them to warm up and start dancing together, but warm up they did and a good time was had by all.

Anne Charlotte is almost ready to graduate from physical therapy school. She speaks English perfectly. Many of the young adults here speak English.

Claudine and Noemi both speak English fluently.

Virginie is studying chemisty. She is fluent in English. Next to her is Alexandre who is getting baptized this Saturday. He is already a university graduate and has a great job.

The missionaries assigned to the young adult center stopped by for a little while. Elder Porter is brand new from the MTC. Elder Harper is our district leader.

Some prefered to sit and read.

Celine speaks English too. Her design in art school was just selected as one of the top 3 to go on tour. Her Dad is our Stake Pres.

Natacha is planning to be an Enlish teacher. She will graduate this year.

Narina from Madagascar is a student of economics at the university here. She speaks Malagasi, French, and English.

Gael rocking out.

Celine and Giovanni. Celine got the surprise in the cake, but she gave her crown to Giovanni who proudly wore it for a long time.

Andryei is a Russian boy. He speaks Russian, Ukranian, French, and English. He came to France with his Mother who has since married a Frenchman and now has a new baby daughter. Andryei is the only one in his family here who is a member of the church. His Grandmother is a member who lives in Russia and she is actually coming for a long visit. I look forward to meeting her.

I want to add one little thing that happened to me that shows how the Lord watches over us and takes care of little things.
As you may know senior couples who go on a mission pay for all of their own expenses. Things here are very expensive and add to that the poor exchange rate of the euro to the dollar makes things even more expensive. Being a California girl and then a Texas girl I never had the need for lots of cold weather clothing. Knowing I was coming over here, I did bring some sweaters and of course coat, scarf, hat, and gloves. However, my skirts were not of a very warm or heavy material. I could have bought a warm skirt, but I figured I could just wear what I had. I really didn't want to spend the extra money either. Well when the weather started getting really cold, Hayrie surprised me by giving me not just 1 but 2 warm skirts. I have been so grateful to get them and have worn them happily during these cold winter days. And, even though she is blind and has not ever seen me, she knew exactly the right size to get. She is amazing. I am sure she listened to the promptings of the spirit to help out a missionary.
When we were sitting in Sacrament the other week, a black fellow went to the podium and began giving a talk. Hayrie's husband leans over and says, "That's Abu." "No it's not." says Hayrie. Then she leans over to me and says, "My husband can see, but I who am blind am the one who knows that it's not Abu." She was right. She never ceases to amaze me.