Monday, October 31, 2011

Week 53: Bone-jour, that is a French Skeleton joke, hahahahaha!


Today was beautiful, we had pancakes for breakfast, and there is a costume party tonight for the young single adults. I am going as Hermione Granger because it is still missionary appropriate and it is a costume. I love Halloween, though it is still a fairly new holiday here in Brussels. The ward had a Halloween party on Saturday, it was very funny to see all of the things that people were wearing. They don't seemed to quite get it yet but they try hard. There were a lot of costumes that were people wearing strange combinations of clothes. There was lots of food and face painting, and a donut tied to a string eating contest. Elder Smith, Soeur Ingraham, Soeur Woodward and I competed and I barely won, Elder Smith was quite chuffed that I beat him, but there will be another contest at the young adult party and he was thrown down te challenge so I have to beat him again this evening. I think my favorite costume was the Bishop, he was dressed up like the mask, that Jim Carey movie where he has the green face, it was very funny.

This week has been really good but not at all the way we planned it.We got a call last Monday saying that we were going to be getting a third companion on Wednesday because one of the sisters went hope for health reasons. Our new companion's name is Soeur Woodward. She is from Washington state and is charming. She loves Harry Potter and laughing. It is fun being in a trio again, though I had to adjust a little. Soeur Ingraham and I were finally getting into a rhythm that was working well, but change is good and Soeur Woodward is a really good teacher. She definitely keeps things interesting, she is spontaneous and bursts into song just as often as I do. It was an adventure trying to figure out how to organize all the furniture and add another bed and wardrobe, but we managed okay and still have room for activities.

Elder Marquez's birthday was Sunday, so I made him a birthday cake and brought it to Samedi Sports, have to replace all those calories I just burned off. He is a huge Harry Potter fan, he has been wearing Hogwarts house ties everyday for the entire month of October. So I made him a snitch cake, like in the sixth book I think it is, anyway, he loved it. He almost had tears of joy in his eyes. Samedi Sports was really fun too, we played American football, I scored two touchdowns. The field was muddy so you got dirty every time you touched the football.

We had a rendez-vous with a less active member, Marie-Angeles. She is from Spain and in her late 60s. When we showed up the Spanish Elders were sitting at her table. They looked kind of sheepish for being there. They had stopped by to see how she was. Marie-Angeles didn't mind at all, she fed us soup and told lots of stories half in French half in Spanish. Everyone except Elder Garcia was very confused. It was fun though, I like teaching with Elders I have only had a couple lessons where we have joint taught but they are always really good. 

Lili is doing so well, We talked about following the prophet and we asked if she would pray to know that Thomas S. Monson was a prophet. She said I know he is a prophet,so why ask for something I already know. I didn't really know how to answer that, she has so much faith. She came to church for the first time this Sunday, it was so wonderful to see her and her husband and all their little children together. Her son is five and so cute, he sat next to Elder Smith during Sacrament meeting and they drew pictures together. I can't wait for them to be able to go to the temple together and be sealed forever!

I have been studying by topic this week, I like cross references and finding treasure in the topical guide. There are so many wonderful things in the Bible, I feel like i don't know the Bible very well at all, but i don't feel like reading it straight thorough would be very effective at the moment. So the topical guide is my friend. One of the things I studied was the love of God. I found two ways to look at it. It is the unconditional love that god has for all of us, his children. His mercy and patience, but it is also the love that we have for God. I want to be better at expressing my love for God. How do you tell God that you love Him? The best answer I found was keeping the commandments. That is how we show God that we love Him. It is interesting to think about, why do I love God, how do I love Him and how can I increase my love for him. I suggest reading 3 John chapter 4. Its wonderful.

I love you all and hope that your Halloween is wonderful!!


 Soeur Gaelin Turney

Monday, October 24, 2011

Week 52: I've passed the summit and am picking up speed on the descent

Heeelllloooo Nurse!!

Well, basically this week has been amazing, we are starting to see the fruits of our labors. We have started teaching three new people and this next week is full of rendez-vous. I'm very excited for it. It has been very cold these past few days but it is supposed to be sunny and about 55 all week so it won't be too bad.

Lili is still going strong, we taught her about keeping the Sabbath day holy, and she was like yeah I should do that, I'll keep the Sabbath day holy. She is so great, I can't wait for her to come to church this next week.
Moses is one of our new investigators, he is African and speaks English and Dutch. I think it is the first time I've met a Dutch speaking African that didn't speak French, its cool, except he keeps sending us texts in Dutch that we can't understand. We have to keep finding people on the street that speak Dutch and French so they can translate them for us, they always look at us a little strangely. And who could blame them, two Americans in long skirts asking in broken French what a text message says. I'd look at us funny too. Ah the life of a missionary! Moses is cool, but we are going to have to pass him to the elders, which makes me a little sad, but at least our Elders are cool, so I don't feel as bad.

I saw a building that was "To Let." I am of course still four years old and laughed really hard about it. It made me think of the book on tape that we have called The Headmaster Went Splat I think. In it there is a very silly discussion about "to let" and I thought I should mention it.

Well, I am officially old, I reached my one year mark on Thursday. It does not seem possible to me that I have been gone an entire year. It is a little bit mind blowing. I only have six months left, that's 4 transfers, that's only 27weeks, that is no time at all!!! AAAArrggghh!! I have always felt that time is a strange thing, but as a missionary it seems to be even crazier in its pacing. These week has seemed so long and yet this transfer is half way over already. I guess the only way to deal with time is to take today and make the best of it. Sister Staheli once asked us to think about what we did yesterday. She asked if what we did brought us closer to God or not, then she said, how are you going to use today in relation to yesterday. Are you going to be better today than yesterday? I think one of the things I am coming to understand is just how important now is. The choices I am making right now effect who I am becoming. Is what I am doing right now of value? Now is really all we have. learning to use now to its fullest isn't always easy, but I am learning.

We have done some porting this week, porting means knocking on doors and asking people if they want to hear about the gospel. I think of all the ways to contact it is my favorite. People generally either say "Ce ne m'interesse pas" and shut the door, or they listen for at least a little while. We found two really cool people, Carine and Laura, both of them are Belgian which is extra special. Europeans are difficult to get to open up about religion, we usually have the most success from people who are from other countries, so two Belgians is special. Carine is a very strong Catholic and she works with the archbishop of Brussels, but she actually let us into her house for a little bit, I think that was the first time ever that someone has done that. She asked us lots of questions about being missionaries and she took a pamphlet about the Restoration. She was so nice, and it was so refreshing to meet someone who loves God and it doing her best to help others find him too. It was just really neat to meet her, she said that we could come back anytime, little does she know that we will in fact be back.  Laura is cool, she is probably 17 and is studying architecture and interior design. She seemed very interested in what we had to say and took a copy of the Book of Mormon. She said that she was going to share it with her parents because they are interested in that kind of thing. (I hope that is a good thing) It is just exciting to have someone be willing and even a little excited about the Book of Mormon. I don't meet to many, so when they are receptive it makes me really excited.

We also started teaching a girl named Ingrid, she is from Peru and works for a member of our ward. He invited her to church and then her and all the missionaries and some other young adults to his house for lunch. He lives kinda far away from the church so Ingrid and his to kids and Soeur Ingraham and I rode in his car and everyone else took the train. Ingrid is really amazing she has a Catholic background but doesn't go to church, she is looking for a way to be closer to God. She really liked Relief Society, I think she is lonely as well. Our lesson went well and there is at least one of the young adults that speak Spanish. So she was able to socialize a bit too. She is already planning on coming to church next week and seemed excited about the Book of Mormon too. It is a little overwhelming to have so many people to teach but its a good kind of overwhelming.

We found out today that we are going to become a threesome on Wednesday. Last week a sister had to go home because of foot problems, so her companion is going to be coming to work with us. I am really excited, her name is Sister Woodward and she is pretty cool, I had exchanges with her once and we got along really well. One thing is for sure, a mission is not boring, there always seems to be something crazy going on. I love it though, even when things are hard, I know that there is a reason I am here and I know that things will always work out in the end.

Tout mon amour,

Soeur Gaelin Turney

Monday, October 17, 2011

Week 51: I Love Pioneers and Mangez-vous

Happy Monday everyone!! I realize your Mondays aren't quite the treat that mine are, but I hope yours is good anyway.

This week has been a busy one. Even though neither Soeur Ingraham nor I went anywhere this new transfer, they are always exciting and tiring. On Wednesday we helped the new sisters get settled into their apartment. The other sister companionship got "whitewashed," Meaning both missionaries get transferred, so the two coming in have an interesting time figuring out how to get around. It sounds very stressful and tiring, I hope it doesn't happen to me. Anyway, we helped Soeur Larsen and Soeur Emilcy get their luggage to the train station, and then later helped Soeur Murray and Soeur Smith get their luggage to the apartment. We are going to go to Grand Place together and get them gaufres so they can experience Belgium at its finest.

Lili is doing well, we had two rendez-vous with her this week. We talked about the Plan of Salvation, I think it is my favorite lesson to teach. There is so much hope and comfort that comes from knowing where we come from where we are going and what our purpose in this life is. I can only imagine how lost I would feel without this knowledge. Lili said that she had never heard about it before, but she loves it. We gave her a pamphlet to read before our next lesson. She read it, and she was so excited to share what she learned. She especially liked the part about Adam and Eve, how the fall was part of the plan and that it was because of agency, our ability to choose, that we are here on the Earth. Because they ate the fruit, they could experience good and evil, and she was so glad that they did. She also thought it was interesting that it was Satan's choices that caused him to become the devil. I was so impressed with all the things that she learned from the pamphlet. Her comment about it was that "it was a little book but there is a lot of information in it." The second lesson we taught was about the gospel of Jesus Christ, where we teach the first principles and ordinances of the gospel, faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. Her husband, who is a member, was there and he was a big help. He testified about faith and about the gift of the Holy Ghost. It was funny because Lili hasn't told her husband yet that she is getting baptized, so there are all these connections and things I want to make to her and her baptism but I can't really because he doesn't know about it yet. My favorite part was at the end, we made her a calender to help get her ready for her baptism, and we had to give it to her without letting her husband know what it was. They were sitting on the couch next to each other when we handed her the paper with BAPTISM!!!! circled and colored really big on it. We gave it to her and said that it had some activities that are going to be happening in the near future, to let her know what we want to focus on for the next few weeks and if she has any questions to call us. I was dying of laughter on the inside because I don't think Soeur Ingraham quite got it, because it was in French. Lili looked at it and folded it a little, when her husband tried to see what was on it she told him it was not for him. I am so excited for their family. Lili told us that she and her husband were just married at the commune and not in a church because they wanted to be of the same faith and then get married in their church. The idea of them getting sealed in the temple just fills me with joy. If there is one thing that I know is true it is that the gospel blesses families.

We have been working with the members of our ward a lot lately, aka eating dinner at their house. But it has been good we have at least three referrals from members in the works, so I am excited. We ate with the Mema family and the Petersons this week. The Memas are a young couple with two little boys who are very energetic and very much little boys. It was so fun to just listen to then and be interested in what they had to tell us. Sister Mema is American and he is Albanian. We talked about missionary work and about the blessing that we receive in our own lives when we are actively trying to share the gospel. They had some pretty cool stories to share about their experiences.  The Petersons was a treat, they are on a special mission for the church as representatives to the European Union for the church. They have all kinds of crazy stories about important people that they talk to every day. Their job is the make people aware of the church and build relationships for the church with different countries. They Lord is really helping them meet people, Soeur Peterson for example met the Ambassador from Slovakia at the gym. They like us because I help them with their computer, mostly I teach them how to blog. We count it as service.

Saturday we had a special treat. There is a member in our ward who is a Professor of communications at the local university, so he is really good at organizing things that are church related that would also be interesting to the public. This time he organized a free screening of 17 Miracles, it is a pioneer movie that came out recently in America... I guess... not really sure how well known it is. Anyway, we invited some amis and less active members to come to is and Laura, our British ami, and Bernadette, one of our less actives and her son Nathan came to the movie. And because our ami came we got to go too. So I got to go to the movies on Saturday!!! The 17 Miracles is an amazing movie, I cried several times, it is heart wrenching in some parts. It was so good, but also kinda weird because I've been along parts of the trail that they traveled and that were in the movie. It made me a little homesick for pioneer trek, weird. I loved the movie and want to see it again, their faith and confidence in God, astounds me. I hope that if I was ever asked to do something that difficult that I too would have the faith to carry on. It made me think about my goals and the cause that I am striving for. Zion still can and should be our goal. I want to try harder to follow the pioneers example to be faithful until the very end and to be continually pushing and working to get to Zion.

Much love,

Soeur Gaelin Turney

PS I'm turning 1 this week. One year ago on Thursday I went into the MTC, CRAZY!!!!!!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Week 50: I Can't Believe it's Monday Again!

Bonjour tout le monde!!!!!

Well, it has started being fall. The past couple days have been very wet and windy and I wore my thick tights and boots yesterday. I am not sure I am ready for it to be really cold and be dark at 5 o'clock yet. But c'est la vie. It just means that I don't have to pay as much attention to my outfits because I just put the same coat over it everyday, it really simplifies my mornings.

Its transfers this week and Soeur Ingraham and I are staying together in Brussels! There were a lot of changes to the cities that sisters are working in. Before sister missionaries have served in big cities, especially in and around Paris. But they took both the sister companionships that were in Paris and opened up several cities that are small and in the middle of nowhere. Lots of crazy happenings, I will probably move to one more city before the end on my mission. I hope it will be in France, it will be a little strange to tell people that I served in the Paris France mission but was only in France for six weeks. Though I would enjoy seeing their confusion.

Anyway, enough blather, This week was interesting, in that we did a lot of contacting and visiting members.We had exchanges this week. Soeur Ingraham went to Liège to work with Soeur Judd and Soeur Woodward came here with me. We went to Liège to change companions and it was so strange to be back and the train station. It brought back a lot of little memories. I liked it, but it made me a little sad too. When Soeur Ingraham came back she was so excited about contacting, Soeur Judd is a contacting fiend, and Soeur Ingraham was fired up and ready to go. I have a hard time getting excited about contacting, so I am grateful for Soeur Ingraham's enthusiasm, it helps me be better.

 We eat at a member named Regina on Thursday, she is from Zambia and super cool. She speaks English and is the Young Women's President. She talked about how one of her friend's daughter's is on a mission and writes letters home every week about the people she see. She wanted to know if I was going to write about her, so I figured that I should. She gave us a box of Taquitos, which is very exciting, she also has connections at the Military base and so gets American food. It was so strange to see a bunch of boxes of Lucky Charms and Fruit Loops. We talked about Jeremiah 18:6, "O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel." I find so many ties to this scripture, having taken several ceramics classes. We need to be clay that is soft and moldable. If clay doesn't have enough water in it is is hard and breaks and you can't throw it on a pottery wheel. The water that makes us soft is humility and meekness. To get clay ready to be thrown you have to knead it kind of like dough, this gets all the particles going in the same way. God gives us trials that kneads us and helps us, if we have humility, to be soft and ready for God to shape us and change us. It is through trails that we can align ourselves with God's will. When the clay is finally ready, you smack it down exactly in the center of the wheel, it is isn't in the center the sides of whatever you make will be wobbly and not straight. If we are not centered in Christ or lives get wobbly and it is difficult keep the important things in perspective. When you throw a pot one hand is always firm guiding and stabilizing the clay while the other hand does the shaping. God is constant in out lives, we truly are in his hands as he guides and molds us.    I love making connections in the scriptures to things that I know. It was a really nice rendez-vous and Regina is pretty cool.

Friday night there was a baptism. Elder Helvey and Elder Smith's ami Merland got baptized. It makes me happy because not only is Merland solid in the gospel already, I have a part in his story. You see, Several months ago when Soeur Cope and I were in Liège, we were out contacting one day and an African guy stopped us and asked if the book we were carrying was a bible. We said no but it was like the bible would you like to learn more about it. We talked a bit and he ended telling me that I was very beautiful and if I would consider marrying him after my mission, as flattered as I was I dodged the question and we got his name (he told us it was Sarkozy) and number and left. We gave his number to the Elders and they talked with him, he was only kind interested but after a couple weeks he came to church. The next week an African guy came in to the church and sat down. I started talking to him and he said that he has been looking for a church and that his friend (Sarkozy) told him that he should come to our church because it was good. HE started meeting with the missionaries and I left Liège. I think my second Sunday he came to church with the Elder's, it took me a second to figure out who he was. He met with the elders and he got baptized. As a missionary you do a lot of things that you  don't necessarily see the results of, so it is special that I can see the fruits of contacting and how the little things we do every day really can make a difference.

Fast and testimony meeting is so interesting in our ward because there are so many languages. We already have translation for French and English, but there were several testimonies in Spanish and Portuguese that were translated to French and then to English. Savitri came one last time and thanked the ward for being welcoming and kind. She is sad that she has to switch wards. It was sweet to see how  much the church means to her. We talked to her after and she said that she feels protected now that she has come back to church. It was really funny, towards the end of Sacrament meeting a girl came up and whispered something in the Bishop's ear, then he went out. A few minutes later he came back in and said that the police were outside and whoever had this license plate needs to move their car because it is badly parked. It was Savitri's car. I can only imagine how difficult parking an excursion in Brussels would be. Plus there really isn't parking at our church which is even more difficult. I am so glad I don't have to drive. Jean, Savitri's son, was so cute, he was wearing a suit and a tie that he had tied himself, he was so proud. I am excited for them to get baptized.

One of my favorite things to say when something good happens is "THE CHURCH IS TRUE!!!" I believe it with all my heart, I hope that you know it too. I love you so much! Have a wonderful fall week!


Soeur Gaelin Turney

Monday, October 3, 2011

Week 50: I listened to the Prophet's voice in French and English too...

So, basically General Conference is my most favorite thing in the entire world. It was so amazing! How lucky are we to have the opportunity every six months to hear from the Prophet and the apostles, that is new scripture and help from God every six months! All the missionaries in Brussels got to watch it together because it was only broadcast at the Stake center. There weren't very many people at all other than the twelve missionaries that were there, but we had a good time. On Saturday we got to watch the Relief Society general broadcast and the Saturday morning session. I think President Uchdof is one of my new favorite apostles, both his talks were the kind that just give you warm fuzzies all over, I like those ones. Though I am a little intrigued to see all the forget-me-not patterned things that are going to soon be available at a Deseret Book near you. On Saturday between the RS session and the Saturday morning session the Spanish Elders had a baptism. I am constantly being reminded just how important baptism really is. It was strange because the service was in Spanish and translated into French. I could basically follow what they were talking about because there are a good number of words that are the same in French and Spanish. Baptisms are great!

So, temples. I am so excited about all of them, two temples in Provo!!!! You can walk from one to the other in 40 minutes, that is crazy!!!!!!! Not to mention that work is going forward with the PARIS FRANCE TEMPLE. I already knew that, and there haven't been any developments, the governments still isn't cooperating but my temple was announced in General Conference! Though I was almost equally excited about the Congo Kinshasa temple, I have met so many people from the Congo, and even though I've never been I feel a connection with Africa. It made me so happy for all the Congolaise that I know, I could just see Frère Kappapula doing a little dance when he heard. And we must not forget the Starr Valley, WY temple, that President Monson himself will dedicate. I love President Monson so much, he is so funny and so inspiring.

This week has been a little strange but we had an amazing day Tuesday. We did a lot of contacting and had an amazing lesson with Lili. We gave out three copies of the Book of Mormon and got the phone number of a guy who was really interested. He had the fender of a car with him on the tram, so we decided that was cool and a good way to start a conversation. He is from Cameroon and is a mechanic. We started talking and he said that he had lots of questions that his friend had asked him and that he didn't know the answer to, like who created God and what happens to spirits after we die. I was like, well I don't know about the first one, but I do have an answer for the second question. We gave him a Book of Mormon and chapter 41 of Alma to read. He was so cool. Our lesson with Lili didn't quite go as we imagined but it was awesome. We started talking about the restoration and Joseph Smith, but the subject turned into going to church and about baptism. Lili has been to church before, her husband is a member and she has been taught by the missionaries as well. She talked about how everything that she has seen in the church is good, and that she hasn't seen bad things. She likes what we teach and she likes church. She said that she is Catholic but since she got married she is always urging her husband to go to the LDS church and that when she wants to go to church it isn't to the Catholic church it is ours. She said that her children will be baptized in the LDS church. Basically we were like, well, what about you? We set a baptismal date with her and it was so good. She already knows its good, she has seen the fruits and even if she hasn't really realized it yet she has a testimony of it. It was such a good day.

There is a new rule that is a little sad to me, I guess there have been some problems recently so we were told that we are no longer allowed to teach members of the opposite sex that are single. If we find someone we have to pass them to the Elders to teach. So, we passed Ndaboli to the Elders this week, it makes me sad. It isn't usually too bad if you don't know the people very well, but after you've taught them for a while it is hard to have to give them to someone else. We also found out that Savitri is actually in the other ward's boundaries, so we have to pass them to the Sister missionaries in Strombeek. I think everybody was a little sad, especially Savitri. She kept asking if we could still come over sometimes, "like twice a month, I still have to make curry!" They came to the session of conference that was at 11 on Sunday, which was the priesthood session, but they liked it all the same. They are so good, I am going to miss teaching them a lot. But she did say that when she gets married in the temple I have to be there, no matter where in the world I am. I said okay, there aren't any men in her near future so I've got some time to save up the money. She is so enthusiastic about the gospel, it is so refreshing.

I am so grateful that I get to be a missionary right now and that we have prophets and apostles who give us guidance, encouragement, and help us be better. The church is true! What more can I say.

I love you all,

Sœur Gaelin Turney