Monday, August 30, 2010

Saturday evening we had the Jonda's over for dinner. We have become quite good friends with this lovely couple and have been to their home a couple of times already. We have a humble missionary apartment, but we have still been able to entertain a little bit.
We started our dinner with egg rolls and shrimp.

For the main course I made pirog followed by salad and a cheese course. When in France one must always have a yummy cheese course. For dessert we had flan.
We were stuffed after eating and we had a really fun time chatting and laughing. The Janda's are a lot of fun to be with. They have been married about a year and a half. She came all the way from Illinois to marry a Frenchman and to live in France. This past summer they went to Nauvoo to be sealed for time and all eternity.

They have invited us to come to their home just before we leave to go back to the U.S.A.. We will spend a day there and then we will have a final visit to Paris where we will go to the Orsy Museum and then take a ride on the Bateau Mouche. I am anxious to go to the Orsy because they have lots of impressionist paintings there and I love those.

It has been pouring rain here a lot and yesterday we had the most beautiful rainbow across the street from our apt. It is actually the largest rainbow I have ever seen. This photo shows about a quarter of it and only a few of the colors showed up. A few minutes after I took this picture, there was another rainbow right next to it.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Our Work Continues

We were in Kortrijk on Monday teaching with the Dutch speaking Elders. We are teaching a French speaking family Bibiche and Apo from the Congo. After the lesson we stopped by to visit this church which is so plain both inside and out. This is so unlike most of the churches in Belgium and in France which are so ornate. I thought it would be fun to post the schedule which is written in Flemish. Many of the words are so long, but, in fact, many of the words are easy to figure out because they are similar to English.

It was so dark in the church that I couldn't take good pictures.

These few statues were all that were in the church.

This tree stump was at the back of the church and the little cut-outs had names on them. I suppose it was for a class for children.

Everywhere we go, on the street corners, in front of houses, in front of parks, by the stores, in alcoves in the homes etc. we see the crucifix or statues of Mary and statues of Mary and baby Jesus. These are a few just from our little neighborhood.

Saturday we had a baptism of a 20 year old young man by the name of Romuald. He is a good friend of Stephan, who baptised him, and Tony both of whom were baptised last year. He is a good guy and has a strong testimony of the gospel.

We have 4 new missionaries with an addition of 3 more from Calais which in now in our district because of Dunkerque being closed down. Whenever it is transfer time we are sad to lose the missionaries we have become so close to, but happy to get some new ones in.

Here is Elder Raco with Tony in the middle. Tony is serving a mini 3 day mission and already has a 15 day mission scheduled in the next month. Stephan, pictured above, just finished a mini 15 day mission. These newly baptised young men get to experience first hand what it is like to be a missionary. They live with the full time missionaries and go about the day with them. There are several other young men with scheduled mini missions. I think it is a great idea. Next to Tony on the left is Elder Alexander. In the front are Elder Hann from Scotland and Elder Bodhaine.

Here we have Elder Lyman, our new district leader, Elder Collette and Elder Anderson. In front are Elder Kip and Elder Firth.

Sister Lund joins Sister Houts.

After a very nice district mtg we had typical baguette sandwiches for lunch and I made double choc. brownies.

The missionary work here in France is going very well. In fact our mission has 40 baptisms scheduled for the month of September. This is just awesome and even though it is all about the people and not the numbers we are so excited.

We have been busy teaching lots of people this week. Yesterday we went to this pretty park. While we were walking, we spotted a woman reading on a bench. I felt prompted that we should go and talk to her. It turns out that Vilma is from Lithuania and has been living in France for a year. She and her husband are both teachers and met while on a European school project of some sort. They fell in love and got married. Each of them have children from previous marriages. Hers are all grown and gone from home, but his are still young (11, 13, 15). She does not agree with some of his very liberal child raising ideas and so this has caused lots of stress in the marriage. She invited us to sit down with her and we actually spent quite a bit of time talking to her. We told her a quite a bit about the church and invited her to listen to the lessons. She then told us that we might think that this is crazy, but that she has had a few very, very difficult days and that she had been thinking of going back to her home and leaving her husband. She told us that after talking to us, her burdens felt lifted from her shoulders and she feels light. She has changed her mind about leaving. She feels that we were sent there that afternoon by God specifically for her. She invited us to her home and we will begin teaching her later this week. We hope that she will be open and receptive to all that she hears and that she will be able to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Not all is easy and fine in the missionary work. We have been teaching a woman named Lubna for about 2 months. Lubna, a Caucasian, was born to Muslim parents somewhere in Africa. When she was young, she and her brother were sent to Lebanon to a boarding school and there they learned Christianity and became Christians. She grew up and married a non practising Muslim man. Now they have been married for about 20 years with 3 grown sons and a little boy of about 10. Lubna actually sought us out and wanted us to teach her the gospel which she already knows a lot about because her brother is a member. Anyway we began to teach her and she loves everything about the gospel. She had a baptism set up. About 2 weeks ago they were all at her father's house having dinner. The father began saying untrue things about the church and Lubna's brother began defending the church and explaining how it really is. Lubna also defended the church and then told them that she, in fact, was getting baptised in Sept. The father became infuriated and told her that if she did, he would kill her. Her husband told her that he would immediately divorce her and she would be left with the son by herself. She replied to them that this was so not right and so unfair. What about her feelings and what she wanted to do? The husband then told her that he would probably kill her himself before the father even has the chance to do so. She told them that no matter what they say or do, she will always have the true gospel in her heart and that she will always know that the church is true. She also told the husband that how can he be such a hypocrite and say one thing, but not even practise what he professes to believes. It is now the holiday of Ramadan for the Muslims and they are in a state of fasting. The husband has told his friends that he too is fasting, but he really is not. Lubna called him on it and said that he is just a liar and a hypocrite. It became a very difficult situation and she went home. These threats to kill her are not idle threats. And so, we will not be teaching her anymore. She will not be baptised. We feel sad for her and for the many others who are in her exact situation.

And so the work continues. We continue teaching many. Some accept and want to follow the gospel of Jesus Christ, but many want to continue their own way of life. We have had one couple tell us this week that they want to have the blessings of eternal life and eternal glory, but they don't think it's right that they have to follow the commandments and make commitments. They only want to do the things that they want to do. They don't want to have to live the gospel standards. It's a little like someone wanting to buy a house, but only wanting to pay 1/2 of the mortgage. Will they ever be able to buy the house? I think not.

On the upside, Dino and Larissa have now received all of their paperwork from Madagascar. They have had it translated and it is all filed. Now they have an appointment at the bureau to set up a date for their marriage. As soon as that is done, they will be baptised. We are happy and excited for them. We hope that we will still be here to witness it.
We have another young adult scheduled to be baptised this Saturday with 14 more baptisms scheduled for the next 2 months. The work is progressing.
I know that this work is the work of God and that Jesus Christ is our Savior. I love Him and am so grateful to Him for all of my many, many blessings.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Day 6

Our day began early because we needed to go to the store and I wanted to take the girls to see an open air market. These markets are a lot of fun and so typically French and Belgian. Here they are in front of the roasted chickens and then by the green olives which are very, very popular here.

Here is one of the fruit and vegetable stands and one of the fish counters.

Of course there is always the cheese truck.

Then we went to district mtg which was very nice. Elder Kip did a great job teaching about the role of the Holy Ghost and about how the scriptures bring in the power of the Holy Ghost. Towards the end he asked each one of us to read one of our favorite scriptures that help us feel the power of the Holy Ghost and to bear our testimony. I am going to list the ones that each person read because I want to be sure and remember them. I encourage each of you to take the time to read and study them. I'm sure you will feel the power behind each scripture. It was a wonderful lesson and we all felt uplifted and spiritually fed.
Soeur Christensen Enos 1:4, Soeur Nielsen John 14:27, Elder Anderson Alma 7: 11-12, Elder Rakotonodranibe 3 Nephi 12: 8-12, Elder Kip JSH 1:14-19, Elder Neidhart Moroni 10: 32-33,
me Doctrine and Covenants 93: 1-2, Papa 2 Nephi 33:10 and Alma 32:28, Soeur Curran Doctrine and Covenants 121:1-8 and she read the first verse of the hymn Abide With Me, Soeur Houts Doctrine and Covenants 50: 40-42, Jenna Doctrine and Covenants 18:10

After the meeting the missionaries made a special French lunch just for Emma and Jenna. We all contributed, but they did most of the work. They borrowed Raclette machines and we had delicious Raclette. For dessert I made a banana bread and in the morning the girls and I made chocolate chip cookies. I'm pretty sure everyone really like lunch a lot. :)

Afterwards Emma entertained us with some lovely music. She is quite a talented pianist. In fact at her young age she is the ward organist. How awesome it that!!!! I could listen to her all day.

Jenna also played for us and surprised me by how much she has progressed in just 2 1/2 short years. She taught herself to play the piano and oh my goodness, she is sooooo good.

Elder Raco came to listen to them and had to hide behind the podium because they got nervous when he was there. Then he played for us again. Then they all 3 played for each other. It was so great to listen to all of the beautiful piano pieces. Elder Raco gave Jenna 2 pieces of music. A couple of the Elders got the girls addresses because they just might want to write to them.

We tried to visit some more churches, but once again they were closed. We did do a little bit more shopping and we visited Mouscron town square.

When we got home these 3 went on a "little" walk which lasted over an hour and a half. I stayed home to fix dinner.
What a wonderful, great time we had together. I am so happy and so glad that these two special, lovely young ladies were able to come and spend some time with us. We will never foget their visit.