Monday, April 30, 2012

First Baptism!

Hi Everyone!

The day before may and finally it's a nice sunny day after about two weeks of rain!  It's fabulous.  This week has been a really good week, so many things happened.

First, we went to palace of versailles on saturday after emails, a couple on a business tripi from Florida came up to us,they were LDS.  At the end of the conversation while we were walking home I said, "Whoa, Soeur Turney.  I just realized how long it has been since I have had a social interaction with an American couple."  American culture, and American LDS culture is so so so so different.  It was crazy weird.  But so great to see them!

So there was an awesome miracle that happened on Monday.  Our first week of the transfer we contacted this woman on the train.  She said she was interested in seeing us again so we got her address and phone number.  When we tried calling the number it was a bad number.  So we tried passing by her apartment a couple times, her cousin answered both times and said she was out of town and had no idea when she would be back.  So a couple weeks ago we found a woman porting who said we could come back and teach her.  She we went back, the woman wasnt home so we decided to try the train woman (Margaret)  one more time.  We knocked on the door and she answered!  Her reaction:  "you found me!  I am so happy!  Come in come in, I have to leave for work in a few minutes but come in!"  Well, let's just say that reaction does not happen every day, it was awesome!  She said she realized she had given us a wrong number and thought there was no way to find her.  So we walked in, and basically her story is that her cousin in New Caledonia is LDS and her best friend is LDS.  Her parents didnt want her to learn more about the church but recently said she could learn about whatever religion she wanted.  She said she has a lot of questions and she cant find answers to them, and she was hoping we could help her find answers.  We asked her what she was expecting from our lessons, she said, "I just want to learn everything.  I dont even know where to start.  I want to know the origins of your religion, everything."  We said, PERFECT.  So we gave her a Book of Mormon, her reaction:  "Im going to start reading this immediately, I cant wait."  So we set another lesson with her for yesterday.  Well, when we went over yesterday night, the cousin answered and said that Margaret unexpectedly moved back to New Caledonia this week because her dad is really sick.  We were sad!  But,  she has a Book of Mormon now and Im sure she will have contact with the church again.  Ive realized so much so far on my mission that it takes a lot of small and simple experiences that help people ultimately receive the gospel, it's so cool to be able to be small parts in some peoples process.

We had exchanges with Blois this week.  I went up to Blois and did an exchange with Soeur Didier.  She is from the south of France and she is so amazing.  I told her if I can be like her by the end of my mission that would be incredible.  She is so good, she goes home next transfer.  At the end of the day we were talking about what she has learned on her mission and she just said, "love yourself, be patient with yourself and forgive yourself and others, love the gospel, love the Lord, rely on the Lord."  It's so true.  Patience, forgiveness and love and three big things I am continuing to learn every day I think.  ha funny story, we went to go teach a lesson at the church in Blois, it was this guy named Cedric.  Cedric got there before the members who were coming to teach with us got there.  So we were waiting outside with him since we couldnt teach him alone.  He was not completely sober.  Suddenly he looked at me and said, "I dont know how to say this.  But I love you.  I love you so much.  Im sorry."  Soeur Didier and I just kind of looked at each other, and at that moment the member came.  And that is how that RDV started.  Very potentially awkward.

On Saturday we had a baptism!  His name is Amoury and he is nine-years-old.  He comes from a family of seven kids I think it is?  They are all homeschooled, (saint mother).  They had been inactive for years because it was hard with all their kids to come to church.  Elder Teixera when he was in Versailles last year passed by one or two inactives homes and invited them back to church.  The Moulin family was one of them.  We have been teaching Amoury because he is nine and not eight.  It has been such a cool experience to go over there because their two girls would always come and listen.  One is six the other is like eleven.  And we would always teach with Soeur Moulin.  It was such a cool experience to watch Soeur Moulin teaching her children the principles of the gospel and that we got to be a little part of it too.  And at the baptism I accompanied oneof their girls on the flute, reminded me of Danielle!  The spirit was so strong during the baptism and confirmation and I was just reminded again how much joy and happiness the gospel really brings to the lives of families.

On Saturday night we had a YSA activity, and it was so cool!  We had the YSA go on splits with the missionaries and go contacting, porting or trajet (train) contacting.  I went with Pres. Poznanski's daughter Marie and another girl named Jessica and we went trajet contacting.  Before when we were walking to the train station they were both scared and nervous.  After the first person, they got so into it, it was so cool!  Marie gave out a Book of Mormon to someone we met, we got the number of another person, Jessica talked to someone all about the role of a prophet and how that helps families today, they were so so good.  And at the end, they ended up saying they loved it and they were so excited about missionary work.  Another one of the companionships was with a girl named Nichole who just got her mission call to the Temple Square mission actually, she is amazing.  They got four numbers porting and the next day at church Nichole said, "Soeur Chard, I love porting.  Just call me when you're going porting and Im there."  Perfect, she's coming with us to teach tonight... and we'll probably porte after.

I think that's about all for today!  Mom said to tell more about people we are teaching, Bethina the one who wants to be baptized.  She wants to be baptized but there's so much that goes into that.  Law of Chastity is what we are trying to help her with right now, she hasn't told her boyfriend in Guadeloupe she's taking the lessons yet so we are trying to help her with that.  Marie-Claire is a woman we met porting a couple weeks ago, we taught her for the first time two weeks ago and are supposed to teach her tonight.  The first time we met her she said she already had a Bible and didnt need another book, but heard we had a message about Jesus Christ and so she was interested.  Tonight we are trying to teach a lesson about the role of prophets, how God has spoken to us through prophets from the very beginning and that He continues to speak through prophets today and how that is a blessing for families. 

Marie is someone we found porting a couple weeks ago, she was so sweet and has basically had every bad thing that could possibly happen to a person happen. We taught her twice, when we introduced the Book of Mormon to her she said it was too much for her to handle right now.  I meet people on my mission though who are such good people and who want to do good things, everyone is just in different circumstances and are prepared at different times and that's okay.  Rita we are going to teach tonight, she is evangelical and doesnt have a problem with the Book of Mormon, but we are trying to help her understand priesthood authority and the "why" of the gospel.  We are starting over with the Plan of Salvation tonight, where we come from and the gift of agency we each have.

Well, that's all for now!  Love you all and hope you have a great week!

Soeur Chard

Sunday, April 22, 2012

LIfe is Good in Versailles

Hi Family!
Letters from Lou is coming early this week because we got permission to switch our pday to Saturday just for today because Soeur Turney really wanted to go to the street market only open on weekdays and then we are going to the Palace of Versailles after this because it is closed on Mondays.  So, this is coming early for the week.
Let's see, this week has been great, fairly intense. I have been in cooking training this transfer under tutelage of Soeur Turney who is an incredible cook.  So lately, there have been a few times when Soeur Turney leaves the kitchen and I am on my own.  And I'm learning how to cook!  You would be so proud.  Because I've come to the realization that I really like good food and I don't want to eat frozen food my whole mission.  So... that's been quite the fun experience.
Today's my seven month mark!  This month has gone really really fast for me. 
Monday was so great.  After P Day we went and taught a lesson to a less active family.  It's three girls one who is 20, 17 and 15.  I told them that was almost the same as my sisters!  It made me so happy to be with them and it made me miss my sisters!  They were so cute and we had a lesson on the Book of Mormon.
Wednesday was a working in the rain day.  We contacted for a little while, people kind of think you are crazy when it's raining so we were walking around looking for an apartment building we could get into to porte.  There was nothing and there were hardly any people on the street because it was raining.  We met one lady and she talked to us for a little while, said she had almost given up on believing in God, biology told her there was no God really.  We talked for a while and basically she just said what we were saying wasn't possible but "bon courage."
So after walking around for a while I said, "ah, what should we even do right now?"  And Soeur Turney said, "pray."  So we did, and then we looked around for someone to talk to.  And there was this guy walking up the road.  So we stopped him and told him who we were and he said he wished he had more time to talk to us because he had heard a lot about mormons, so we started talking to him for a minute about what he knew.  Ultimately, the conversation got fairly intense.  He said we didnt know what we were talking about because we had been born into the church and didn't know anything else and Joseph Smith was this guy who had fabricated the Book of Mormon and got a whole group of people to follow after him and that now our religion was just a cultural thing that a lot of people followed because it's soothing.  So, ultimately we switched into english because his mom was irish so he spoke well and it was easier as the conversation got more intense.  We asked him if he had ever read the Book of Mormon.  He said no, he didnt need to he already knew it wasnt true.  He said, "Look, I really encourage you if you ever have the desire to come out of your little cave and see the light do so, because this is crazy."  We ultimately bore our testimonies and we ended off okay with him but that was that. 
That night we went porting and to pass by a headquarter referral.  We miraculously were able to get in the building, the girl answered the door and said she was too busy to talk to us and just needed the Book of Mormon because she was doing a research project for school.  She we ported her apartment building afterwards.  We knocked on this guy's door and when we told him we were missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ he said something like, "Who is Jesus Christ even?"  Then went on about how the only thing we can have faith in is ourselves.  We bore our testimonies of God and Christ and ultimately he said what we were saying wasn't possible but have a good night.
The next day we had an awesome lesson with a girl we have been teaching who is from Guadelupe.  Last week when we met with her she was in Jacob, one week later she was halfway through Mosiah.  It was such an example of how when people we teach will read the Book of Mormon and keep commitments, that is when they really progress and when they are prepared for what missionaries teach and that it's really not the missionaries at all who help them become converted.  She came to our lesson and had progressed so much over the week.  She said she knew the Book of Mormon is true and the Joseph Smith is a prophet and she wants to be baptized when she goes back to Guadelupe so her family can be there.  We taught her law of chastity (ha) and she was so prepared and asked such good questions.  It was really cool.
Then that night we went porting in an apartment building and it was so amazing because two or three people told us we could come back later to share our message, so we are planning on going back on Monday.
Yesterday we had our lesson with the woman we met on Easter Sunday while contacting.  We went over to her house and began the lesson.  About halfway through her brother came in the door and so we explained who we were and he said, "oh I know mormons, Ive seen stuff about you on TV polygamy, etc."  So we told him we dont practice polygamy and that we are not a sect, we are a church.  So he sat down and started listening.  So we started teaching again.  Then her husband walked through the door and sat down.  So we started again.  We started talking about the role of the Book of Mormon.  That's when the husband started having a fit.  He asked for the Bible reference and we told him it was in the BOM not the Bible.  He said there's nothing else but the Bible, we cant claim to have another book from God.  We asked him if we could just read the reference, (2 Nephi 25 about we testify and we preach of Christ)  and he absolutely refused to hear it.  He wouldnt even let us say a word.  Finally the brother cut in (he now had a Book of Mormon in his hand and had read the reference) and said, "Freddy, I just read teh reference, these sisters are talking about Jesus Christ, just read it, it's about Christ."  So Freddy let us read it.  After reading it, he went off about how dare we use anything but the Bible.  The Bible is the teachings of Jesus Christ.  Ultimately, we bore our testimonies of the Book of Mormon and told him our goal wasnt at all to tear down the Bible, it was to invite everyone to see if this book is the word of God or not.  We shared Moroni's promise with him and he had a fit and said this was blasphemy and no one is going to believe this message is true that we are sharing, what are we doing sharing this with people.  The brother cut in again (this lesson was two hours, with us hardly being able to say one word at all) and for a long time the brother was just over there in the corner reading the Book of Mormon.  He cut in again and said, "Freddy, they are talking about Jesus Christ, they love Jesus Christ.  This promise says that the Holy Spirit will tell you if it's true or not so you can judge for yourself."  Freddy had a fit and said the Holy Spirit had already told him it wasn't a book of God.  He said, "John 3:15, you know it?"  Well, I'll never forget the reference to the scripture again, but I did at that moment.  He said, "If you dont know that, then I dont know who you are following, because that is Jesus Christ."  That's when I got emotional when he told us that we didnt know Jesus Christ and we were just following the words of a prophet.   The cool part of teh lesson though was the brother because by the end of the lesson, it felt like a member present lesson.  He was defending us and he listened to the few things we were able to say.  We left a Book of Mormon on the table and are hoping that he reads it, he was really cool.
This morning both Soeur Turney ended up studying things about the Apostasy and the Restoration of the Church, being witnesses of Christ, etc.  One really great thing about a mission is that is really forces you to become more and more converted in the doctrines of the gospel, because people will tell you everything you have ever believed is completely wrong.  So you really have to know for yourself and have your own testimony of the things you are teaching.  I ended up reading some of the parts of Joseph Smith's experience after he had his first vision and the response of people to what he had seen.  How he was faced with so much controversy and people who said the experience he had was false.  And he was so confused why so many people were so fast to condemn something that he knew was true.  It took on a whole new meaning for me this morning because that is exactly how I felt yesterday.  Ultimately, experiences like that just make you dig deeper and strengthen my testimony of the gospel. 
Well, that's all I've got for now I think!
Last night, more porting and we had a lesson with a woman who is now a new ami!  So we will see how that goes!  Did a little more porting, met a man who at the end said, "well how old are both of you?"  "22 and 21"  "Oh you are young.  Well im 48.  Are you always working?"  long story short, creeper alert. 
Have a great week, I love you!  That you for all of your prayers!  You can either send your emails in the mail this week (thats great with me! :) ) or wait until next week.
Love you!
Soeur Chard

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Field Trip to Entretat (sp?)


Hello family!

I loved reading all of your emails and am so glad to hear that everything is going so well!  This week was really such a great week with the best day being yesterday.  For whatever reason Soeur Turney and I had been having a harder time just finding the desire to contact and porte this week.  We still did it, but it was more just because we did it because we knew we that's what we should be doing, but we just weren't really feeling it all week. So we decided we needed to change on Saturday night, we needed to work harder and we needed to be excited about it.  So we came home and we just really prayed that we could be filled with the desire to find people and really love contacting and porting.  We had no rendez-vous scheduled for the next day (Sunday) so we made a goal to talk to 40 people Sunday.

The next morning we got up and headed to the train station to pick up one of our amis who was coming to church (she travels 1 hr and a half to come to church).  We started contacting while we were waiting, nothing, went to church, had lunch then went out contacting.  And it was cool because that afternoon we both really were finding joy in contacting.  That night we went porting.  We had been keeping track of how many people we had talked to throughout the day.  We ended up setting a rendez-vous with a woman for next week.  After she shut the door, we realized she was the 40th person that we had talked to that day.  It was cool.  We kept porting because we had a little more time and the last lady we talked to was such a cool experience.  She has had a lot of hard things happen in her life and opened up and told us some of the things that had happened. We were able to testify of the Plan of Salvation and the Atonement and the spirit was so strong.  It was a really cool night.  And I know that it was an answer to our prayer that Heavenly Father was really helping us yesterday.

We had zone conference and interviews this last week.  It was so good, that is one of my favorite parts of being a missionary is when we are all able to get together.  I had an interview with President and also with Soeur Poznanski and they are absolutely the best.  Soeur Poznanski served as a missionary here in this mission as well and I absolutely love when I get to talk to her because she's so empathetic and at the same time she is so strong.  We talked about my last transfer in Caen and how it was hard because we had worked hard but didn't really see the fruits of our labors.  She talked about how that's one of the important parts of the mission.  When people keep rejecting us, are we still happy and do we still enjoy what we are doing?  If not it's really the opportunity to strengthen our testimony and our love for the gospel.  We talked about how no matter if people reject or accept this message, one thing stays the same: the message we are sharing is the truth and it brings joy.  A mission is so amazing because my testimony is strengthened every day as I see people who have been touched by the gospel in their lives and as I study and share the message of the gospel with other people.  It's amazing.

One of the people we are teaching is from Guadelupe and referred herself to the church.  Her brother just got baptized in Guadelupe last week.  She's still investigating the church but it's so cool to watch as she tries living gospel principles for the first time and she gains a testimony of the principal for herself.  She tried fasting for the first time last week because she had a big test and she ended up passing the test and said she wasn't hungry or thirsty the entire day.  Fasting works, I know that because I have seen it work in my own life as a missionary.

I love you all, I hope all of you have a great week!  Thank you for all of your prayers and your support!

Soeur Chard  

Monday, April 9, 2012


Hello Everyone!

Well, this week has been so amazing.  So many miracles and just so good.  I absolutely love Versailles and I love Soeur Turney.  It is gorgeous and it's so interesting because it's like serving in a completely different country compared to Caen.  In Versailles, people are very believing for the most part, very Catholic.  aka contacting is a completely different experience.  Before it's trying to help people just listen to a message that preaches that God exists and that He loves us.  Here it's much more talking to people who already have a firm belief and love for God and Jesus Christ.  

Yesterday was one of my favorite Easters of my life.  And without a doubt it was my busiest.  We saw so many miracles yesterday.  We planned our day on Saturday night and basically every public transportation change had to work out absolutely perfectly to be able to accomplish everything we wanted to.  And it did!  That in itself was a miracle.  I dont have time to go in detail but in brief:

1.  The entire church three hours was all focused on the Atonement of Jesus Christ and really the focus on the Resurrection and what that means for each of us.  It was so amazing.  If you want some good study scriptures: John 20:1-18 and 3 Nephi 9:13-15, 11:5-11.  So many good things in there.

2. We broke our fast, ate something fast at the church and then went to pass by a referral, they weren't home.  So we started porting the neighborhood.  Knocked the doors, doors kept slamming.  I pulled out a pass-along Book of Mormon from my bag and I said, "Soeur Turney, we are giving this to someone before we leave this town."  So we kept knocking doors and they kept slamming.  We started heading back to the train station to catch our train, woman with a stroller walking towards us.  We contacted her.  Set up a RDV for next week and gave her a BOM.

3. Had two lessons with recent converts, the whole mission is supposed to meet with all the recent converts over the last three years specifically this transfer.  We did and taught each a different message, but the focus was on the Atonement.  It was amazing because even though we were supposed to be the teachers, I learned really profound things about the Atonement from the people we taught yesterday.

4.  Had a lesson with someone Soeur Turney and her old companion had been teaching for a while.  We had planned a lesson to teach her, got into the RDV and anyways we ended up teaching a completely different lesson but it was so cool because Soeur Turney and i were both so unified in our teaching even though it wasnt what we had planned.  We tried committing her to baptism, not yet.  But it was such a good RDV and the spirit was so strong.

Last week we made a goal to talk to at least one person every time we got on a train. (that is fairly often).  Ultimately, we had a lot of awkward experiences with this but so many miracles as well.  We talked fixed RDV with three new people this from doing that last week.  And then we tried passing by one of the people we had fixed with, she wasnt home so we ported the building.  And fixed a RDV with a lady for this next week!   So we will see what ends up happening this week but there is so much potential for so many cool new people to teach.

Soeur Turney is absolutely the best I could ever ask for. I hope I can be more like her by the end of my mission (she goes home in 4 weeks)!  She is seriously so good, I feel really blessed to be her companion right now.

I love you all and hope you have a fabulous week!  The gospel is true, Christ is the key and the Book of Mormon is the way to find out for yourself.  Love you!

-Soeur Chard

Sunday, April 8, 2012

First Week in Versailles

Hi family,

I am so sorry this will be so short, we have fifteen minutes before p day is over and I havent even really had a chance to read your emails yet!  But quickly:

Getting ready for transfers was crazy but we made the train, and we made it to Paris.  My new comp Soeur Turney is so so so good.  I feel like her biggest strengths are some of my biggest weaknesses so I feel really grateful to be with her.  She is so good at following the spirit, at taking time to really think about what people are saying to us and then really responding by the spirit.  She is such a good listener and I think last transfer I learned... listening is what makes the difference.  It's so easy to be worrying aout what to say next or to think about something else or to be worrying about who is talking too much etc.  If you can just listen to you companion, really listen to what the person you are talking to is saying and then really try to listen to the spirit, I think that is what really makes up the difference.  Soeur Turney is so good at that.  She is also an excellent cook and an excellent navigator.  So, I have much to learn from her.  This is her last transfer before she goes home too!  That is so weird.  Now if you ask me today, six and a half months has gone by so crazy fast and I never want to leave because I love it.  And that's probably how a mission is a rollercoaster. 

As far as leaving Caen goes, I have such mixed feelings about it.  I keep trying to figure out what we could have done better, why they had to whitewash us out and what we were lacking.  Because we were definitely working.  But I think missionary work is so much more than just working as hard as you can.  It's trying to really love everyone and listening.  And it's a lot easier said than done.  I honestly don't know what I would have changed if I went back and did it again because I really feel like we tried to go out there with a positive attitude every day and we worked.  And we loved each other.  But I still just wonder too, I hope we did well enough.

General Conference was so great!  It is straight up better than Christmas for missionaries.  Most of the missionaries from the Paris area came up to teh Versailles ward to watch it. I think one of my favorites was by Elder Hales on personal revelation.  I also loved the talk about the difference between being converted and being an active member of the church.  I feel like the answers to my questions to conference this time werent necessarily just straight up anszers but it was direction of what I need to personally study.  So I'm trying to dig deeper and understand what we are teaching better so that I can try to be a more effective missionary. 

I love every one of you so much and I hope you all have a fabulous week!   This church is true, it's the fulness of the gospel and it bring more joy into lives than anything else!  I know that is true because I have felt it in my life.

Love you!
Soeur Chard