Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Week 28: Liège is Mine for Another Six Weeks!


Lots of Belgian chocolate from Jacqeline
I hope that you had a very wonderful Easter and that you found lots of eggs and eat lots of chocolate. The transfer news is out and I am staying in Liège, and Soeur Williams is going down to Paris. My new companion will be Soeur Cope, she was also in the MTC with me, so I am excited to see her again.

 This week was so good, I think that all our work this transfer is starting to pay off, yay! We have started working with two women  who have met with missionaries before, Claire and Raymonde. I am excited to see where things go with them. Ming Qi is a young adult who we have been trying to see since I got to Liège. We finally saw her Thursday, she is so nice and she invited us to come back.

This Wednesday I reached my Six Month mark. AAAH, it is crazy to me that I am a third of the way done with my mission already. I feel like I just got here, after Wednesday there will only be six sister missionaries that have been out longer than I have. To celebrate, Soeur Williams and I bought ice cream during our lunch hour. There is an artisan ice cream shop close to our apartment. I got one scoop of Melon, and one of Violet. They were both delicious, the melon was a little like watermelon jelly bellies. The violet was like violets. 

We had boulets at Rita's house this week. Boulets are meatballs, and there is a special liègoise sauce that they make with is that is sooo good, they are eaten with frites (french fries fried twice). Very tasty but must be eaten in moderation. Soeur Williams made a banana cream pie for dessert, it was a very good dinner. Then we had a very good lesson. We talked about prayer and how prayer is more than just words. And because God is our Heavenly Father he wants to talk to us. We talked about how much He loves us as His children and that is why prayer is important, because it is how we can feel his love.  

Left to Right: Myriam, Elder Duarte, Roxanne, S. Williams, S. Turney, Elder McQuay

So, In Liège on Easter morning there is a bike race that starts in the middle of the city, goes out into the country and then finishes back where it starts. Of course we didn't know that, so we missed our bus to church, and had to walk a bit of a way in order to find a stop that hadn't been rerouted. So, we were late to church, but when we finally got on the bus we met Christiane and her kids Ismael and Sabrina who where on their way to church too! Christiane has been doing really well this week, she came to church for all three hours, or at least two and a half hours. She also said that Sabrina, who is nine and isn't baptized wants to have the missionary discussions. We are really excited, Christiane's kids are so cute and it will be good for Christiane to hear the lessons again.

Christiane and Soeur Williams

Today was a strange p-day, it is a holiday of some kind, and all the stores are closed, so no grocery shopping. We went over the Skousen's house to help Sister Skousen make the food for FHE tonight and lunch for district meeting tomorrow. It was a lot of fun, the Skousens are wonderful, and it is a little like having your grandparents around all the time. The internet in the Young Adult Center at the church is working now, so we don't have to go to the internet café with all the creepers, yay!! 

I hope that your week is wonderful and bright,

Soeur Turney

The pictures below are the view from our balcony, we are so lucky!!

(click for a larger image)
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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Week 27: American Cookies

Happy Easter Everybody!!!! or rather: Joyeux Paques!!!!

This upcoming week is going to be quite the momentous occasion. I reach my six month mark as a missionary, meaning I only have a year left, crazy! It is Easter, which happens to be the most important holiday of the entire year and for which I am super excited. And it is the last week of the transfer, the email that decides my fate for the next six weeks comes out Saturday morning. So many things to look forward to and to stress about, hurray!

This week has been a good one, as pretty much every week is, but I feel obligated to give an overall summary, so this week has been a good week. Tuesday Soeur Williams and I made cookies and went to the town of Seraing. We stopped by the Branch President's house and gave them some cookies. Europeans love American cookies, I think perhaps even more than Americans love American cookies. So, needless to say they were happy to see us, we chatted for a bit and we learned so much about President Stumont and his family. We shared a spiritual thought, and they asked us what we were doing next. We said we were going to stop by another member's house, Betty  who lives in the area. Soeur Stumont said she would come with us and give us a ride. So we all went to Betty's house. We didn't say a lot, Soeur Stumont is a talker but we did share a scripture and in listening we learned even more about both Betty and the Stumonts. It was definitely worth the trip.

On Wednesday we made cupcakes with Rita and her grandchildren who happened to be over for the day. It was quite the adventure, let us say that the two weren't very good at sharing or taking turns. But the cupcakes turned out despite all the help we had. Everyone was a bit skeptical about the mayonnaise that I put into the batter but were very pleased with the outcome. I love chocolate cupcakes.

Friday there was a Young Single Adult activity. We hiked up the historic stairs (there are 384, Elder McQuay counted) and wandered around one of the oldest neighborhoods in Liege, it was so pretty. We ended up in a garden area that was everything a European garden should be, of course I forgot my camera, but it was truly magical, I kept trying to wander off, but Soeur Williams wouldn't let me. We decided that we had to come back on P-day which we did, I brought my camera the second time. We had a picnic in the shade and sat and drew pictures and looked at the scenery for a good 2 hours today. That is just another of the many reasons I love Soeur Williams, she wants to sit and be in a lovely European garden just as much as I want to.

Saturday after Samedi Sports we had a lesson with Stephan, he lives in the elders' area so we have to pass him over to them to teach. We taught the lesson with the Elders to ease the transition a little. We talked more about the Restoration and Joseph Smith. Stephan just gets it, he is ready for the gospel. We watched the Restoration movie and he basically taught us the lesson. We asked if he had any questions and after a pause he asked, how long does a person have to study to get to baptized in your church. Well, Stephan, you have to have a few more lessons with us and come to church 3 times and you are good to go. It was so exciting, he told us that he has never been baptized into a church because baptism is like marriage; you are making a covenant with God, and he wanted to make sure he did it the right way. The spirit was really strong. He shared a couple of experiences from his life, and he has definitely been prepared for the gospel, it is so amazing. I am excited to see how he progresses.

There was only one black spot on what had the makings of a perfect week, and the problem is all my fault because apparently my creeper radar is broken. We were waiting for the 17 on our way to Samedi Sports and a charming black guy started talking to us, I was thinking, 'cool a contact.' We got off the 17 and were waiting for the 13 when he comes walking towards us from the direction of the bus stop. I didn't think anything of it, but Soeur Williams, whose creeper radar does in fact work, was not pleased. She made a phone call, and in the mean time I give him our card and set up a Rendez-vous for after church, and invited him to Samedi sports. It was only after he was gone to change shoes that Soeur Williams clues me in onto the fact that he is not the desirable type. Luckily the Elders arrive before he does so we can give them the heads up. They talk to him after he arrives. He calls Saturday night to say hi and Soeur Williams more or less hangs up on him. He came to the meeting at church, the Elders were kind enough to come with us, they taught the lesson but he didn't really pay attention. We told him that we can't teach boys, which is true if it is only a boy, and that the Elders had to teach him. I don't think he got the hint as he called us again today, We didn't answer. I am not sure how it is going to end, but I hope it happens soon. Does anyone know of a good place that repairs creeper radars, cause I need one badly!

Church was amazing this week, I learned a lot. Our lesson in Relief Society was about honesty, God is perfectly honest, and He has given us everything we need to know to gain salvation. We can rely on the things He has said because God cannot lie. One of the talks in Sacrament meeting was on prayer, it was a good reminder of what prayer really is; a conversation with God. It made me evaluate my prayers and see how I can improve them, it was a little nerve wracking because I was giving the closing prayer for the meeting. The sister giving the talk's name was Fabienne; she said, prayer is a privilege but it is also a commandment. We are to love the Lord our God with all our heart might mind and strength, do the prayers we say reflect our love for God?

I love you all and this gospel, stay faithful to the end,

Soeur Gaelin Turney

Monday, April 11, 2011

Week 26: An Italian Kind of Week


Yes I realize it is Italian but I spent two days with one this week so I figure I can say it at least once. This has been a good week, though the start was a bit rough. Stephanie, the lady that contacted us on the bus home from church wasn't there for the rendez-vous we set with her, we called her and there wasn't and answer, which made us sad. We passed by on Thursday and she wasn't there either, we will keep trying though. Our lesson with Christiane was on Wednesday, we had planned to watch a talk with her online, but of course the one time we want to use the internet it was down. So, we read a chapter with her from the Book of Mormon and scheduled another Rendez-vous for Saturday night. Stay tuned for it, it is exciting.

We visited Isabelle on Thursday, we made it to Visé without incident. You would think that it would be easy to get to and from a town that only has one train that stops there, but experience says otherwise. Isabelle was in a pretty good mood, we decided that we are going to start teaching her all the missionary lesson even though she is an active member. It will be good practice for us, and she sometimes asks us strange questions that I think a lesson about the Plan of Salvation will clear up pretty well. The lesson went really well, there is something about the story of Joseph Smith and the restoration of the gospel that brings the spirit. I love talking about it, and I love it when people share their testimony that Joseph was a prophet.
Sister exchanges were this week, we hosted the Nogent Soeurs. Nogent is a suburb of Paris, like Evry, its a 30 minute RER ride from Paris too. Soeur Woyak and Soeur De Santis came up Friday and left Saturday afternoon. Soeur De Santis is Italian and Liège was the first city she served in so she was really excited to be back. Soeur Woyak only has French Legelity so this was her first and probably last time in Belgium on her mission so she was excited to be here too.

Soeurs De Santis, Williams, Woyak & Turney in Liege
 I went with Soeur Woyak to pass by a Young Single Adult, Andrew. His little sister Indiana answered and said he was at work, so we went outside and tried to figure out how to get to the next place. While we were sitting on the steps Andrew's mother came home, she is also a member but I didn't recognize her. Her name is Fabienne, she asked why we were there and we told her and asked if she had time to talk to  us. She said yes, but she didn't let people in her apartment because it is too small, so we all stood in the hall and talked. It was different but kinda fun. She has a really strong testimony, and she has sleeping problems which is why she doesn't come to church every week. We had a mini lesson with her and it was really good. What is even cooler is that she was at church on Sunday!
Soeurs Woyak and Turney. They look like cousins or something!
All four of us went to English class Jacqueline was the only one there but she loves Soeur De Santis and Italian too so it worked out quite well. Institute is also on Fridays so Soeur De Santis got to say hi to lots of people, it was funny to watch everyone's faces when they saw her. We found out that night that the Zone Leaders had bought us our new stove top and that is was being delivered the next day, Saturday. So, Soeur Woyak and I stayed and waited for the stove people to come and Soeur De Santis and Soeur Williams went to the church to pick something up and to be there for Samedi Sports even though they didn't play. Our old stove was about 50 years old and only one of the elements works. The ovne works fine, and because of the way it is wet up you can replace just the stove part and leave the oven. When the installation guys saw our stove they were slightly horrified at how old it was. We asked tham if everything was okay and they said we hope it works. One of them kept cracking jokes about it, "it was made fifty ago, fifty years before Jesus Christ! I think your stove is from the dinosaur era..." It was funny. After a bit of struggling they finally got it installed. It is the flat top kind, it is shiny and black and was made in Italy. There are buttons and it lights up, and flashes H so you know the burner is still hot even after you turn it off, it is very fancy. The first thing we made on it was stir fry and rice, it was very exciting to be able to cook the rice AND the vegetables AT THE SAME TIME!!!!!

Any time is Gaufre time. Oooh, what a beautiful new sweater!
Soeur Williams and I had a Rendez-vous with Stephan Saturday afternoon, after we took the Nogent soeurs to the train station. We asked how he liked general conference and he said he learnezd a lot and that he liked it. He said your churc is all about Jesus thats good. We asked if he had any questions about Conference. He said no, but he did want to know more about Joseph Smith, the other missionaries had talked about him and he wanted some clearification. We were more than happy to oblige. We explained about the restoration and the preisthood and he was like "oh, so the reason that God said for Joseph to not join any of the churches was because they didn't have the authority." "Yes!" He then said "So, when you use the priesthood you are doing what Jesus would do, you can't use the preisthood for yourself you have to do what Jesus would do with it." "Yes!!!" It was such a good lesson. The things to say just flowed, it was such a good experience. It made us both super excited about missionary work. We gave him the  Restoration pamphlet and he said, I am going to read all of this, yes!! He is golden and I am excited to be able to teach him at least for now, he is actually in the Elders area, but we are going to teach him a few lessons before we turn him over to them.
Saturday night was a little crazy, We had a mangez-vous with Christiane and her kids. We got to the apartment before they did, Christiane was just getting back from picking the kids up from their dad's and the new dog up from her mother's house. It was a little bit of a zoo. She prepared seafood pasta for us. We knew it was coming, she showed us the package of mixed shellfish she was going to use while we were at her house on Wednesday, she bought it Monday. So, it was quite potent having been sitting in her frigde all week, but don't worry no food poisoning occurs in this story. The pasta was a bit fishy flavored but pretty good all things considered. The exciting part of the story is that Soeur Williams ate a fourth of a mini shrimp!!!! It took her seven minutes to work up the courage but she did it!!! You should all write her letters of congratulations, this is a feat. The first fish she has eaten in her life and I was there to see it! Simply splendid. We sort of had a lesson, the dog was all over the place and the kids were quite distracted but they did like the Ammon cutting off arms part, as I knew they would. So they will probably remember that part if nothing else. 
I am out of time, but I love you all have a wonderful week full of happiness and spiritual experiences!

Soeur Gaelin Turney 

The famed curtains in the Liege apartment

Monday, April 4, 2011

Week 25: I Love General Conference!

Hello Hello Hello!!! Yes, you get three hellos this week.
I must start off by saying General Conference was awesome! More on that later however, I have to start at the beginning of the week.
Elder Duarte and Elder McQuay had the FHE lesson on Monday, they shared the story of Gideon and his 300 soldiers. They had as a visual aid a bunch of plastic army guys. The Israelite army started out with 21 thousand soldiers, and were eventually whittled down to the 300 that Gideon used to destroy the innumerable host of the Mideonites. To represent the difference there was one army guy against an army of thirty other plastic men. It is interesting to think about the faith that the 300 must have had in the Lord and in Gideon as their leader. We need to have the same kind of faith in the prophet and the Lord. This life is hard but when we trust and follow the guidance of the prophet we will conquer all the enemies in our way, even the ones with plastic grenade launchers.  

Liege's Angel Bridge (from Soeur Williams' blog)
We had interviews with President Staheli this week. At interviews all the missionaries in our zone come together and we have training, lunch and an interview in which we can talk about anything we want, problems, doctrinal questions, advice for now and after the mission. Elder Duarte made lunch, Portuguese pasta and soup, delicious. I had kind of a cool experience during training, I have had some questions and little concerns that I have been trying to figure out for a couple weeks, and during the course of the 40 minute training I received all the answers to all the questions that I had had. During my interview I asked for clarification, but it was truly a miracle and a tender mercy. Heavenly Father is so kind and loving and He knows each of us so well, He knows our strugglings and worries. He answers our prayers.
This weekend we got new curtains. In order to get new things for the apartment you are staying in, the protocol is to call Elder Haas in the mission office and ask permission to buy such and such, Once he approves whatever it is you want you then contact the nearest elder who has a "blue card," a separate credit card than the personal one each missionary has, and you get them to buy whatever you need with the blue card. Our apartment needed several things one of which was curtains, it is one of the rules that every window have them and we have a wall of windows that didn't have any. Elder McQuay and Elder Duarte are the ones with the blue card and they came and measured our windows and our stove( we need a new one but that is proving tricky to replace) and then they went off to Ikea. They came on Saturday morning after studies to install the curtains, it was very funny to watch them try and figure out the best way to install them, after a couple hours and a trip to the hardware store they succeeded and they are very nice. Elder Duarte is very proud of them, as he also picked them out. He has asked us how the curtains are every time he has talked to us since; They are doing quite well, if you were wondering. I of course forgot to take a picture, so next week you can see the lovely curtains.
General Conference was by far the best part of my week. Because of translation time and the time difference, the schedule is a bit different. Saturday at 2 was the young Women's session, which we didn't go to, and at 6 was the Saturday morning session. On Sunday at 2 and 6 we watched the Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning sessions. The priesthood session was at 11 o'clock Sunday morning. Normally they project the French translation in the chapel and they have a separate room that has it in English. They were having transmission problems so they were only able to have it in French. I understood more than I expected I would, my brain hurt a bit afterwards though. While I didn't perhaps get the finer details of the talks I definitely noticed some patterns and things that I want to study further, I cannot wait for the Conference Ensign to come out! It was interesting as I watched, I found myself thinking this would be perfect for Christiane, or Jacqueline could really use this talk. It was cool to have inspiration about how to help other people in the middle of taking notes of things for me. There really is something for everyone during general conference. We had an ami come to the Saturday session, his name is Stephan, and he moved to Liège from Brussels a couple months ago. The Sister missionaries in Brussels found out and gave us his information. We met him briefly on Friday and invited him and he came and he took notes. It was really exciting. We explained a little bit about what conference is and who all the people were. When President Monson walked to his seat, Stephan said,"so, that is the Prophet, he is a simple man." When we asked for clarification he said, " He is carrying his own binder.   He is like Jesus, who washed Peter's feet." I think that is so amazing that that was what he noticed. President Monson is a simple man, and a humble man, and I know that he is a prophet. I am excited to talk to Stephan about what he learned and what he felt. I am so grateful that I got to see conference, I am so grateful that we have a conference to watch. The church is true, and there is a living prophet on the earth!!!
I love you all,
Soeur Gaelin Turney