Friday, September 10, 2010

An Apostle Speaks To Us

Tuesday we got to go to Paris to hear an apostle speak to us. Elder M. Russel Ballard came with his sweet wife to Belgium and France. We also got to hear Elder Gerard Causse who is the first French General Authority and Elder Ronald A. Rasband who is in the Presidency of the First Council of the Seventy.

Our Lille zone and the Brussels zone missionaries had a special meeting with these 3 great men. Our zone took the train to Paris. We had to get up very early and leave the house by 4:45 a.m. to go to the Gare Flandre (train station) in Lille. Then we had to transfer and finally arrive in Brussels at 9:00 a.m. Here we all are at the transfer station. As you can see, missionaries like to play around when taking pictures. They are all so nice to us all the time. It is always fun and uplifting to spend time with them.

Once we got to the Gare Bruxelles Midi, we were picked up by the Skousens. The missionaries all took the metro to the stop closest to the church, but we were luckily driven. We had a really great visit with the Skousens who are working with the young adult centers in Brussels. They are fairly new and have been a little discouraged because they have been trying to work with 2 centers and keep them going. That is just not physically possible. They have been driving between 2 cities quite a distance from each other, living in 2 apartments and just not able to do it all. They just recently said that they would only be able to do 1 center and we agreed that is the best solution for part of the problem. We were able to give them some hints and advice on how to handle certain things and they said that they were very happy with the help that we were able to give them. They are such a wonderful, nice couple and I know that things will work out for them because they are hard working, diligent, and close to the Lord.

President and Soeur Staheli and President and Soeur Brubaker were there also. It was so great to see the Brubakers again. Soeur Staheli bore her testimony and then Pres. Staheli spoke. He reaffirmed that our message to the world is true and that it is simple. The Lord lives and is the head of this church. Joseph Smith was and is a true prophet who restored the original church as it was in the days that Christ lived. We are not a new church. We are the restored church. We have a living prophet Thomas S. Monson. The church is here to prepare man for the 2nd coming of Christ.
Elder Causse made an interesting statement. He said that the membership in the church in Europe has doubled in 25 years as of last year. He also said that the Lord is preparing people to receive the gospel. That is why our mission is having such great success. We will have over 300 baptisms this year.
Elder Ballard was awesome. He is old now, but when he started speaking his voice was firm and yet gentle. He gave a feeling a peace and calmness. His words were powerful and you could really feel the spirit as he was speaking. He began by saying that without Christ we would have no message. We are led by a living Christ who wants us to have all of the blessings. He spoke about how Adam had the gospel but eventually his children lost it because they didn't want to live by the commandments. He said that God will not interfere with people's free agency. He will not stop us from having free agency. He also spoke about how Lucifer is raging in the hearts of many. Elder Ballard concluded by saying that we have a glorious, precious message. We have the gift of eternity to share with people.
After the meeting was over, all of the missionaries got to walk up to the stand one by one and shake hands and talk to each these great men and their spouses. It was such a spiritual high to be in their presence.
A little aside. When we were talking to Elder Causse, Dh mentioned that we would be seeing him again this week-end at Stake Conference. "Oh you're from Lille" he said, "You're the ones we've been hearing so many good things about with the young adult center." I was soooo happy to hear him say that. It sure made us feel really good and to think that they were talking about our center and it's success. It was just the best feeling.

The mural above is one of many in the Gare Lille Flanders. As you ride up and down the escalators, you get to see lots of pretty murals.

We went to Kortrijk again this week. We are now teaching Bibische. She is a lovely woman from Africa who has 3 little children. Her husband works a lot so we haven't seen him yet. She has a cute, little, fat baby Joshua. I hope to take their picture soon. She seems to be very receptive to the things that we are teaching her.

This is a photo of one of the churches in Kortrijk.

Dino and Larissa finally got all of their paperwork and a visit from the police. They will need several more visits. The visits are to prove that they are living where they claim to be living. They went to the city hall to get a date for their marriage. It will be in about 2 months. As soon as they get married they will be baptized. We are so sorry that we will not be here when they have these 2 important events occur in their lives, but we are so happy to have been able to bring the gospel to them and to see them change their lives and to be so excited about what is ahead of them. This awesome, faithful couple has a lot to look forward to.

Yesterday we drove to several appointments only to have them not at home. Missionary work is often difficult. There are many times that you go somewhere after having a set appointment and the people are not there. We do a lot of driving because the area we cover is huge.
In the evening we went to Anne Louise and Manu's home for dinner. They have a cozy, little apartment and are always so gracious. We started dinner with these yummy, beautifully arranged appetizers.

Manu and Anne Louise are about to celebrate their 1 year anniversary at the end of this month. This young couple hold responsible positions in the ward. He is the DMP (ward mission leader) and she is the Young Women's President. They try to live their life in the best possible way, following the commandments, and doing what is right at all times.. Both of the are still in school. Anne Lou just graduated with her BA and is now going for her Masters. She has a little job teaching one art class at the university. Manu is working part time as well as carrying a full load at school.

The main course was a potato pie made from Manu's grandma's recipe. It was very tasty. They also served salad and individual little apple/pear pies. We had a great evening chatting and being together. I am always so pleased and amazed that these young people are sooo
nice to us and want to spend time with us. I am very grateful for it.
We took a bunch of stuff to them that we will no longer be needing because we are leaving. I gave them things like a blow up mattress, extra things from around the apt, lots of spices, cleaning supplies, and things of that nature. I think they will be able to use these things. Before we leave we will give them our left over food storage etc. We are also giving a bunch of stuff to the Pauwels like our mini trampoline, dishes, etc.

This is Greg our neighbor whom we have been teaching. I met him when I was taking a walk one day. He and his dog, Jane, walk several times a day. He is a butcher by profession, but he loves to study and to read. He is now reading the Book of Mormon. We hope he will be touched and taught by the spirit.

Tonight we had dinner with the Voyez's again.
We have fun with this dear couple. They are so nice and we always enjoy spending time with them. This time I brought Pirog and Vinegrette (a Russian potato/beet salad) and Lemon Bars for dessert. They made the entree (first course). It was soo delicious. There was a skewer with 3 different types of shrimp, a cooked salmon with sauce, smoked salmon, and a glass of guacamole with teeny tomatoes in it.


Connie said...

The blessings of missionary work, being taught by an apostle of the Lord! What a great experience. When my son was in South AFrica, Elder Russell M. Nelson visited the mission and shook the missionaries hands.

I hope your neighbor is touched by the spirit while reading the Book of Mormon!

Head Nurse or Patient- you be the judge said...

Elder Ballard came to our town years ago when my son was 8- and we got to meet him and he challenged my son to be worthy to serve a mission. That next Sunday, he had to speak in primary and he wrote his very own talk about meeting an apostle and promising to serve an honerable mission. It was awesome.

txmommy said...


I can't believe you only have 3 weeks left, what awesome experiences you have had.

Yvonne said...

What a wonderful experience you are having. I'm so glad you share it with us. I'm so grateful for our missionaries who work so hard--Thank you. It must have been wonderful to hear Elder Ballard and the others.

Our little Elder writes about going to appointments and how it is discouraging when the people are not there. But you persevere.

Enjoy your last few weeks.

Jay said...

What awesome work you are doing. I smile as you talk about how people are SOOO nice to you. It's SOO easy to be nice to you, because you are SOO loving and SOO nice--SOO Christlike.