Saturday, December 17, 2011

Week 59: Noel is upon us! Je ne suis pas prete!

Joyeux Noel!!!!!
Well its hard to believe that we only have one more week until Christmas, it doesn't seem possible that I have been in Europe for almost a year now. Though getting to spend two Christmases in Paris is I must say more than I could have ever hoped for. The weather has turned nasty though, it has been windy and rainy and it hailed today. I just hope that we have a white Christmas, then it will be okay that it is this cold. Though I can't complain Belgium is a lot colder than France. We had exchanges with the Strombeek Soeurs, I was only in the train station in Brussels for 45 minutes and I was freezing, I didn't even go outside. Brrr, it makes me doubly glad to be in Versailles.  
This week I got to meet Augustine; she is an amie from Africa; she is so cool. She met the missionaries through her friend Ann; who recently got baptized. Augustine loves the missionaries, though at the beginning she loved pestering them more than listening to their message. We had a really nice lesson about the Book of Mormon, she is ready for the gospel. She was on vacation in Italy and she said that she has been trying to read the Book of Mormon so she brought it with her on her trip. I know there are members that don't even do that. We were able to explain things to her and she is even more excited to read. She also said that she is going to be coming to Church!!!
We have been trying to get in the spirit of Christmas so we made some treats and called  people to see if we could deliver them. We had at least four people say yes one of those people was Solange. She is so sweet. She told us to meet her at a bus stop and there she was just outside the Palace of Vesailles. It was the first time she had seen either Soeur Emilcy and I but she gave us a huge smile and a grosse bisou (a big kiss on each cheek) and we talked for a little. It has been a long time since she has talked with the missionaries and she is having a bit of a hard time right now, so I think that the fact that we called and that someone showed that they cared about her made a big difference to her. She couldn't stay long so we just gave her the treats and a Book of Mormon with a ribbon on it, but she had a big smile and she also said she would try to come to the Christmas party and church.
Alida is the other person we met this week, she is a member but hasn't come in a long time. She is married and has two adorable little girls. She too has been having a hard time and called us to get the number of a member. She gave her the number and then asked if we could come over to share a Christmas treat. We talked about her life and about prayer and how it is sometimes hard or awkward when we first start trying to build our relationship with God through prayer. But that if we continue the relationship will come. We promised her that if she keep starts praying personally and with her family God will bless her and help her. We also told her that scripture study and coming to church help too. She also said she'd try to come either to the Christmas party or to church. I hope that someone comes to church. I have a lot of people say that they will come but never do, I am going to do my best to help them use their agency and come to church.
I love Christmas time so very much, we watched the First Presidency Christmas Devotional last Sunday night, it was so wonderful.  I love the prophet and the love and the wisdom that he has. I definitely had to stop and take a step back and ponder about my attitude and focus as to Christmas. I want to make this Christmas special and truly focused on Christ. I had a thought a few days ago that has made me ponder a lot. I was trying to think up ways to contact people and start conversations about Christmas and the question came into my head, 'What is the importance of Christ in your life right now, today?" I have been pondering that question, what importance do i give Christ? How much of my life do I allow Him to occupy?
I wish you all a very Happy Christmas and that it is a special one full of love and joy.
All my love,
Soeur Gaelin Turney

Monday, December 12, 2011

Week 58: Wonder of Wonder, Miracle of Miracles

This week has been especially wonderful,  Soeur Emilcy and I had a MIRACLE but I will save it for last.

Monday a member, Soeur Holdrinet, invited us over to her house for dinner. We had a wonderful little moment together. She fed us duck. That is the first time that I recall eating duck, it was divine. She is middle aged and lives alone, she has traveled all over the world, so we got to sit on her fancy leather sofa and look at her pictures of Egypt and Vietnam while listening to Christmas music. It was a treat. She lives in down town Versailles really close to the Château, her apartment is 300 year old! It is bea-u-ti-ful! The only downside to the evening is that we missed the last bus home so we had to walk 45 minutes in the dark to get home, but it was worth it.

Wednesday we had our Christmas Zone Conference. It was a lot of fun, Soeur Emilcy and I wore Christmas colors just to be festive. We read Luke 2:8-14 and President Poznanski compared us to the angels announcing the good tidings of great joy. I have always like that phrase "Glad tidings of great joy" For me, the gospel is just that, joyful and glad, and as a missionary my job is to share happiness. Each companionship was given a Christmas stocking, in the stocking there was a jar of Nutella and a hard sausage. The Posnanskis said that they wanted to give us things that our parents probably wouldn't send us. They were right, I can't really see my dad sending me sausage, but it was delicious. The best part was the letter from my parents, just like at girls camp, there was a special letter telling me how much they loved me, and of course I cried and felt warm fuzzies all over, it was wonderful. Then we had a Christmas treat of hot chocolate and sweet bread and a White Elephant gift exchange. It was interesting trying to explain to Soeur Emilcy why we had to find a strange present for less than 5 Euros. I got a lint roller and Soeur Emilcy got a massage thingy that vibrates. I think the best gift of the day was the gift Soeur Woodruff got. Her present was a calendar of an Elder making the Zoolander model face as the picture for every month. It was really funny that it was a Soeur that got it, especially because he is kinda weird, but very nice. We also got the rules for the Holidays, it is going to be a wonderful Christmas. Especially because of what happened Thursday morning.

So, Thursday morning while we were in the middle of companionship study, the phone rang.  I answered it was from Soeur Pelous. Soeur Pelous is one of our amis, five years ago she married a member and since then has come to church basically every Sunday and has met with the missionaries consistently the entire time. Before I got here the sisters hadn't really been meeting with her, but my first week, we saw her at church and taught her a lesson during Sunday school. When we had planned what to teach her we decided that she probably knew everything that she needed to know, now she needed to get a testimony of it. We decided that the Book of Mormon was the way to go. So, we talked about how the purpose of the Book of Mormon is to help us gain a testimony, she has a testimony of prayer already so we read Moroni 10:3-5 with her and told her, you know that God will answer your prayers and the key to knowing if the church is really true is by reading and praying. She told us that she and her husband had started reading together in the mornings, so we invited her to pray before and after they read to know if it was true. Then, right after out lesson, her husband gave an amazing talk about the Book of Mormon in Sacrament meeting. He talked about the Book of Mormon being the key to having a testimony. He held up a key and said this is not a key because I can't use it because I don't know what door it opens, he compared the Book of Mormon to the key saying that the Book of Mormon ceases to be a key for us if we do not read it. It was amazing! So, Soeur Pelous had a double whammy of the Book of Mormon, last week we didn't see her, and then Thursday morning she called and told us that she has decided that she wants to be BAPTIZED!!!!! Even cooler she wants to be baptized on Christmas eve and Confirmed on Christmas day, how cool is that! After we hung up the phone Soeur Emilcy and I jumped our of our chairs and danced around and probably shrieked with joy, then we fell to our knees and thanked Heavenly Father that we were a pert of this experience. I think this is probably the best Christmas present I could ever have. We don't know what changed and how she came to her decision, we will find out Sunday, but I am so happy, their family is so cute and now they can be together forever!!! It truly has been a wonderful week.

I hope you are all catching the Spirit of Christmas and that you have peace and good will towards men.

Tout mon amour et JOYEUX NOËL!!!!

Soeur Gaelin Turney

Week 57 1/2: A Miracle and a Migraine

Bonjour tous le monde!!!
Now that I have a French speaking companion there might just be more French in my letters; or not as the case may be. This week has been a good one, France is different that Belgium, other than just the architecture, but I am having a hard time naming what it is. I think maybe it is the pace of life, things are faster here. I am still getting used to it. Soeur Emilcy laughs at me when we go contacting because I don't speak fast enough or get to the point, so people brush me off. She tells me I just need to talk faster and not to pause or they will leave.
I had my first official rendez-vous with a Jehovah's Witness (We call them TJs for short) this week, it was an experience. Soeur Emilcy and Soeur Jorgenson contacted a girl named Aurelie before I got here and we set up a rendez-vous with her. Sr Emilcy told me that her mother was a TJ and that she wasn't officially but showed signs that she was in accordance with them. When we got to her house Aurelie, her mother and her mother's TJ friend were there to have a "discussion" with us. The beginning wasn't too bad and we actually got to talk a little, but her friend started telling us a little bit about what they believed and went on for about 2 hours, I think that Soeur Emilcy and I were able to get about eight sentences out about what we believe. I was surprised at how blatantly they bashed on the catholic church and said that basically everyone else is wrong for believing in what they do. I was very uncomfortable and I'm not catholic and we also think that they are corrupt in many of their doctrines, but they still have truth and do a lot of good. By the time we left Soeur Emilcy was fuming, for me I think it was a good moment to take a step back and think about how I approach other people and their beliefs and present my own. The TJs it felt like were bashing me over the head with their doctrine to make me believe that they were right. For me, that is the wrong way to get someone to join your church, we are here as missionaries to invite others to come unto Christ and read the Book of Mormon and to learn for themselves that it is true. I cannot convince anyone that the Church is true, that is not my job. That is the Holy Ghosts job. I just have to make sure that the Holy Ghost can be there.
We had another cool experience on Friday afternoon. Normally we had our Missionary coordination meeting on Thursday nights but this week it was cancelled, I had planned on looking at the baptismal clothes at the same time, but forgot because we didn't go to the church. Friday morning the Elders for who I was checking out the clothes for called and i told them I forgot and would check that afternoon. So, Friday morning we went and helped a member who has 7 kids, 4 or 5 of whom are autistic and all of whom are home schooled clean a bit around the house. We are still figuring out how to get places and were an hour later than we meant to be. We helped Soeur Moulin and then went straight to the church after we were done. We found the clothing that was needed and were about to leave when a group of 5 high school girls came timidly into the church. They said that they were doing a project for school about the Mormons and wanted to know if they could ask a Mormon some questions. We said, sure, we are Mormons and would be more than happy to talk to you about the gospel. We had a really good talk, they knew quite a bit already, but it was obvious that they had read a lot of anti-Mormon stuff. As we talked they commented on how much false stuff there was about our church, they asked why. I should have said because it is the truth, but I just said that is has always been like that. We gave them a tour of the church building and invited them to come on Sunday, at least two of them seemed interested and said they'd come, we also invited them to a baptism that is going to be happening Sunday afternoon, which they were intrigued by as well. We gave them two copies of the Book of Mormon and some other reading materials. It was a really cool experience, especially to see how God worked to make sure we were at the church at that exact time. I am so grateful that He is in charge. I don't know if anything will come of our meeting, but I do know that the knowledge of the truth is rolling forth and is filling the whole Earth. and I am a part of helping it grow.
Here are some pictures I hope you like them, isn't Soeur Emilcy the cutest!
Much love,
Soeur Gaelin Turney