I won't have time to write everyone back personally today... but I will just write a longer family one today because a lot has happened and I am learning a lot.
The new transfer has been so great so far. My companion, Soeur Ingraham just came down here from Brussels (she knows sister keesling really well, she was the YW president! Tell her hi from Soeur Ingraham!) Soeur Ingraham is so great so far.
The morning we went on the train to Paris I was on the verge of tears. Not in a bad way, just in a way of I have no idea what's going to happen the next transfer, and who my companion would be, if I would be able to lead us around, I'm the only one (sisters of elders) who knows the ward at all, etc. etc. and there's so much work to be done in Caen... to be honest we really don't have anyone promising to teach at all right now and that's how it has been the entire first two transfers.
Soeur Ingraham is also fairly young in the mission... she's in her sixth transfer. She was actually one of the sisters that my friends (I think it was Cassi and Rachel and Brindy and Lizzy) met on the way to the temple when she was at the MTC and the week after I got my mission call. Soeur Ingraham said, "oh yeah! I just remember they were really giggly and loud." Yep, that's them! I love it.
Anyways, she came into Caen and we have the same vision of what we want to see happen, we like to set goals the same say, we like to work the same way, and we like to focus on the same type of things. i honestly couldn't have hand-picked out a more perfect companion as far as a missionary who just comes in and wants to work hard and see things happen.
Well, like I said we have really been struggling to find people to teach. We have had one progressing ami for a couple months, she is about 70 and is from Guadelupe. She daughter is a member and so this woman was a referral. We were able to build trust with her and now she really likes the missionaries. Soeur Cope and I have been teaching her for a few months and the thing holding her back is just the need for a restoration of the church because she doesn't understand why you would need to be baptized in any church at all because in the end God is over all we just all do it in our own different way. So, anyway Soeur Ingraham and I decided to focus on prophets and the apostasy and the need for a restoration and then to show the restoration film. We did it, showed the movie and I felt the spirit so strongly. AT the end of the movie, we asked her how she felt. It seemed like it hadn't impacted her at all. And same response, "yeah, sure Joseph Smith was a prophet. But in the end, God is over all." I don't usually get emotional in lessons, but for some reason I just got really emotional in that lesson. I started trying to bear my testimony of the BOM and I just couldn't talk. ... that didn't affect her either. We're all sitting there in a silence for a while and I'm holding a BOM in my hand and I can't talk because I'm crying and she just says, "Allez-y" say what you want to say. Anyways, we had to wrap up the RDV because we had a meeting to go to but it probably would have ended with us dropping her because she doesn't have any desire to change right now. After the RDV I just got emotional, probably because we had just done contacting and porting before the RDV and people had been especially rude. It's not that I'm discouraged, I think it's more just sad about people's responses. The other ami we have been teaching is no longer progressing either. Last week we had a RDV and Soeur Cope and I bore our testimonies about the Atonement and her response was just, "well, the real question is, did Jesus Christ have siblings and were they mortal or gods? and was he married?" It just didn't impact her at all. It's just interesting because before my mission I never really had the experience of really bearing my testimony to someone and just having the other person not be impacted by it at all as far as we can tell. And it gets to a point where there is nothing else you can do. That's how it is with Victoria too, it's like we have tried everything, and the most important thing is that people have the desire to learn and the desire to have the gospel in their lives.
Anyways, if a mission didn't teach me anything else (which it has already taught me a lot of things) it has taught me how blessed we all are to have the gospel in our lives and to never ever take it for granted. About a month ago Soeur Cope and I were porting a neighborhood and this one man answered the door, we did our thing, and started bearing our testimonies about Jesus Christ. He walked out of his door and grabbed my shoulders and said, "you can't know that there is a God." We told him that actually we do know it. He said, "How do you know it? Faith?" well... yes. FAith. He just told us it's impossible to know that and then closed the door. Experiences like that though don't discourage me, but it just makes me so incredibly grateful for the knowledge that I do have that what we are at trying to teach to people is true.
I have loved reading the Book of Mormon on my mission because I've never really focused so much on the missionaries in the Book of Mormon as I have lately. I think it's in Alma 26? And it's the sons of Mosiah and it talks about their mission experiences and how "their hearts are depressed and they want to turn back but they don't and they go back and preach." There are so many great examples in the BOM of missionaries who just never give up and they just diligently keep doing what they are supposed to be doing.
Another thing I have really learned on my mission so far is that every missionary is called to serve in a specific mission and at a specific time with a certain companion for different reasons. For some it's to baptize 30 people for someone else they might go on a mission to bless the life of their companion, for someone else it might be challenging learning experiences on a mission that will help them learn how to be a better leader in the future. And I think with that perspective in mind, whether you have a lot of people to teach or no one to teach you know that your time is not being wasted as long as you're trying your best to serve.
I was studying in Preach My Gospel in chapter six this morning and I turned to the subject "patience" so I decided to start reading that. I like all those scriptures and I like that so many of the prayers offered were just asking Heavenly Father for a blessing of comfort and asking for the strength to keep going in the difficult times as well as in the good times. I know I have found that to be true. If you pray for a feeling of comfort, Heavenly Father is ALWAYS quick to respond. The challenge might not go away immediately but it gives you the motivation and the desire to keep moving forward and I'm really grateful for that. There's also another line in that section that says, "have faith that God will grant you the promised blessings." or something like that. I have been trying to figure out what those promised blessings are for a while. And Soeur Ingraham made a really good and probably obvious point this morning. It's blessings promised in our patriarchal blessing, blessings in our setting apart as a missionary, and also promises he promises us in the scriptures. I think that helps us keep moving forward as well.
Mom asked why they moved the zone leaders up here? I really don't know. But they are two great elders. They don't have anyone really to teach right now either, so we are all doing a lot of quality finding time. :) But the ward is still so good, I'm so impressed by them every single time I associate with them. And we're trying a lot of new things this transfer to try to work more with the ward. The great thing is we're basically at square one right now, so it can only get better! We have lots of opportunities to try new things and see what works!
Have a great week everyone! I love you so much!