Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Best Week of My Mission!

Dear Familia and Friends,

1.  We have been teaching Bettina for months now, since before I came and up until a few weeks ago she was progressing just very slowly.  Then the last few weeks her progression has been incredible and we have literally been watching her countenance change, her entire life change and her confidence grow.  It has been the most amazing experience to actually see someone compltely be changed by the gospel.  Well, last week we had a very intense law of chastity lesson because her boyfriend is coming this week to visit from Guadelupe.  Basically at the beginning of the lesson she said in no way was it going to be possible for her to keep it, and at the end of the lessson she had changed and said, "I dont know how it's going to be possible, but I know God can do miracles."  Then that Sunday, we called her to go to church and she said she couldnt come because she had other things she needed to do.  We were devastated because we thought that was her sign of not being really dedicated to wanting to do everything she could so God could help her keep this commandment.  We had one more lesson with her on Thursday, the last before Denis came in town.  The morning we were going to teach her we talked and talked about what we should do, what we should talk about, how we could help her and what to do if she said she couldnt keep the law of chastity again.  So we prayed at the end and asked to know what to do, and we said we would ask Soeur Babin (a member who has been teaching Bettina with us) for advice.  Right before the RDV Soeur Babin came and we asked her for her advice.  She said awesome things and ultimately her counsel was, "when people feel restricted to keep and do certain things it will feel like a restriction.  You already were really bold with her, now just show her a lot of love.  When they choose to do things for themselves the commandment will become liberating."  And then Bettina showed up.  We had planned a whole other lesson on law of chastity and felt suddenly that we shouldnt even mention it this lesson.  So we started the lesson, not knowing now what to teach her.  So we started by saying how we notice a new light in her eyes and a new glow and that Denis will notice that when he comes.  She said, "I know, I hope he notices it too."  She then went on to say that when Denis comes she wants to tell him all about the Family Proclamation and about her new vision of an eternal family and a family rooted in gospel principles.  She also just told us, "and Im going to fast to know how to present it to him Saturday to Sunday" and we asked if she wanted a priesthood blessing for extra strength and she said "yes and ill come early to church to get it." It was amazing, she has become a different person.  She asked if she could have one last RDV with us before Soeur Dawson leaves, so we are seeing her for the last time tomorrow before she sees Denis.  Bettina is planning to get baptized still in December because she had a spiritual experience she needs to wait until then.

2.  We met Alejandra again!  She's amazing as ever and now we should be seeing her three times a week.  We started the lesson, it's been about 10 weeks since we were able to see her for the first time.  Seriously, she is Soeur Dawson's clone, she has such a similar background, it's not normal.  We started the lesson and asked if she had a chance to start the Book of Mormon since we saw her so long ago.  She said, "yes, but it was really confusing for me and I didnt get it very well."  She then went on to give a really good summary of Lehi and his family and nEPHI going back to get the plates, basically she had retained everything really well.  We promised her in taking the lessons and keeping the commitments we gave her that her life would change and she would be able to receive personal direction for her life from Heavenly Father.  We then talked about how in our lessons she would recognize Heavenly Father confirming the things we taught were true by the holy ghost. She said, "that's so crazy I was just asking my roommate about what the holy ghost is the other day."  Basically, she is awesome.  We are supposed to see her on Tuesday night, the very last lesson Soeur Dawson will teach as a missionary.

3.  We passed by Paola and Victoria's house (the ones we found by a miracle that was a headquarter referral), we havent been able to get in contact with them for a few weeks so we tried passing by and they were home!  We went i nand said, "we know that a lot has happpened recently for you and we havent been able to really teach you our beliefs yet and before Soeur Dawson left we wanted to tell what we really do as missionaries again."  Paola only speaks spanish, her sister Victoria speaks english and translates for us.  She said, "yeah, paola was asking the other day what's the difference between your church and the catholic church?"  So we said that's a great question and that's lesson one.  So, we started with the Joseph Smith story.  At the end we testified we know these things are true.  Then Soeur Dawson started testifying that this gospel would change her life forever, it was super powerful and it was so amazing because the entire lesson Victoria had been translating, Paola speaks zero english. I say "how are you?" and she looks at Victoria to translate.  When Soeur Dawson was speaking in english testifying how much joy this would bring her, Paola looked at Victoria and said in spanish, "stop translating, I can understand everything she is saying in english."  It was the gift of tongues, it was amazing.  We are supposed to see them again tomorrow too.

4.  Maria is a woman Marie Poznanski and I found porting while she was doing her minis mission with me.  We had our second lesson with her last week and after we did Joseph Smith story she said, "you know I havent been baptized yet and I know it's something really important.  So we fixed a baptismal date with her for the aug. 25!  Now her sister is an ami in progress too and she has two sons eight and nine who havent been baptized yet and her one son came and participated in the lesson we taught her last night.  She's amazing and it's such a miracle because the first RDV we had with her we brought a member who lives in the building over, Maria opened the door and they embraced, Soeur Ya said, "Ma fille!"  Apparently they were friends before but both had moved and didnt realize they now lived right next to each other.  Soeur Ya said she had had an impression to give her a Book of Mormon but never had.  We went in to teach the first lesson and Maria pulls out a Book of Mormon and said she already teaches her kids principles and stories from the Book of Mormon, but had never met with the missionaries or anything.  Anyways, she is amazing.  We just taught her part of the Plan of Salvation and it was so powerful.  Everytime we go teach her she starts crying.  It is amazing to see how the gospel of Jesus Christ literally blesses families now and for eternity.

So, all in all it was an amazing week.  My testimony has grown immensely that missionary work has absolutely nothing to do with our abilities at all, it is literally the Lord's work and it is only the Holy Ghost that can convert, and the Holy Ghost works when people's hearts are prepared to receive the message.  And when all those things work, it is absolutely incredible to watch people accept the gospel in their lives.  If everyone could understand the incredible joy they can have as a family, I am one hundred percent sure that everyone and their dog would listen.  but whether they listen or not, it doesn't change the fact that it is true, and I know it's true.

Soeur Dawson and I were talking because we have probably taught lesson number one, the restoration about one hundred and fifty times within the last two transfers.  We have only taught very few of any other lesson together, and we know it's not by chance.  We have testified so many times of the Restoration of Christ's church on the earth. Yesterday in church, Soeur Dawson gave her last testimony in the Versailles ward and said, "I can now say with conviction that Joseph Smith was a prophet called of God to restore the gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth today.  I couldnt say it with conviction before, but I can now.  I know it's true."  

I love you all and hope you have a great week!  Please pray for me this week, the week goal for both Soeur Dawson and I is "make it out alive" haha.  No, it will be good. :)  And please pray for Soeur Dawson this week going home.   Thank you!  Love you!
Soeur Chard

Monday, July 23, 2012

Look and Live

HI Everyone!

On Friday we actually went to the Palace of Versailles gardens to do a YSA activity.  We have been trying to work more with the YSA.  So, they planned a full-day activity at the Chateau and invited the missionaries to do an hour spiritual message thing with the theme as "Come Unto Christ."  It ended up being really fun, we based it off of Moses and the brass serpent "Look and Live."  I am so impressed with so many of the young adults here, they have such strong testimonies and so many are preparing to go on missions too!

That night we went to a baptism that the assistants had that they asked Soeur Dawson and I to do a special musical number for.  We did Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing and it was such a cool experience.  The spirit was so strong and Soeur Dawson started crying partway through and had to stop singing for a really long time.  That song has had a lot of meaning to both of us the last transfer.

Soeur Poznanski pulled me aside on Saturday and said, "Soeur Chard.  You gave me the greatest gift.  Nu Skin is amazing!"  She had given us a ride home last week and asked me if Nu Skin had some good products...  I ended up giving her an ageLOC pack to try for herself.  President said she's addicted to it now and Soeur Poznanski said she went on the website and now she knows everything about the Nourish the Children Foundation and all about NuSkin products, etc. haha so funny!

I hope everyone has a fabulous week!  Mom told me about the shooting.... that makes me so sad.  It's so sad to see how dark so much of the world is today and to see how many people are affected because of it.  it makes the light of the gospel even that much more precious.  We are so blessed to have it in our lives! 

The transfer email comes out on Saturday so we will see what happens!  Good luck getting ready for the reunion, it sounds like it will be awesome!

Soeur Chard

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Following the Spirit

Hi family!

This week was really good.  We had interviews with the Poznanski's, and for sure it was my favorite interviews and so inspired.  I honestly felt like President Poznanski was answering my prayers like it was Heavenly Father talking directly through him.  I was so thankful for it.  He said so many things that comforted me and helped me understand better my purpose.  He said something to the effect of, "Soeur Chard, Heavenly Father is putting you through a refiner's fire on your mission because He's molding you for a purpose for work you need to do later."  One thing that Soeur Poznanski and President Poznanski both said to me in my interviews that has really stuck with me:  "you are relying too much on your own abilities, you need to rely on the Atonement more." 

So the next day we had planned to go porte in Vaucresson.  I am always a person who has to know exactly where we are going, when, and then we stick to the schedule.  I kept remembering what the Poznanski's told me and made the decision that I was just going to try to follow the spirit and not be too concerned about what I thought we should be doing.  (Soeur Dawson is very good at doing that, following the spirit.)  So before we walked out the door I said, "wait, Soeur Dawson.  Tell me who you think we are going to meet who will be interested."  She stopped and then she said, "we are going to meet someone kind of like you.  She kind of looks like you, she'll have a big smile and it will seem like she doesn't really belong."  Then we prayed and left.

We headed over to Vaucresson and it takes about an hour and twenty minutes with trajet to get over there.  We got over to the apartment building we were going to porte because a member lives there and we had felt the spirit strongly last time we had been there so we wanted to go back.  We realized when we got there we only had twenty minutes before we had to head back home, unless we taught a lesson we could stay for forty minutes.  So we prayed, and then walked in to start porting.  We got inside and just felt weird.  We went to knock the first door and didnt feel good so we walked down a level and went to go knock another door.  I was about the knock on the door and I looked at Soeur Dawson and said, "how do you feel?"  She said, "weird."  So we walked out of the building.  At this point we now had about ten minutes left before we had to head back home for the night.  We felt like we should start walking back to the train station.  We were walking and I looked across the street where there were a bunch of nice, gated houses. (usually dont target those ones. :) ).  But I said, "Let's go knock those ones."  At this point we now had zero minutes left before we had to leave to be home on time.  We started walking down the street and Soeur Dawson stopped in front of a house and said, "let's do this one."  So we sonneted and this girl who is about my age who kind of looks like me with a huge smile came outside.  We started speaking in french and then she said, "Wait, do you go to Paris International School by chance?"  This girl graduated in 2010 from Paris International School and her mom is Irish and her dad is British.  I told her I went to FIS, etc. etc.  We asked her if she was religious, she said she believed in God didn't really know about Christ and was open to learning more.  So we got her number and are trying to fix something this week.  She was the one person we talked to in Vaucresson that night but it was such an example to me that when I was finally willing to stop trying to control things so much, that's when we were able to be led by the spirit.  It was awesome.

I am excited for Soeur Dawson to come home and meet all of you, she knows so much about our family, what we do, so much about each of you.  She says she already feels like she'll be calling mom and dad mom and pops.  So, basically you are possibly about to have a fourth Chard girl. :)

I know that the gospel blesses families and I know as we put our faith in the Atonement of Christ we can do anything the Lord asks us to do.  And I know without the Atonement of Christ, we are so limited in our capacities.  I know God loves us and He knows us and He knows already every choice we are going to make and He still always makes it possible for each of us to return back to Him.  I know challenges are given to us to help us learn and grow and that they are all for a purpose.  I love you all and hope you all have a great week!

Soeur Chard

Monday, July 9, 2012

Singing in the Rain


So this week, wild.  These two transfers have just been crazy.  Crazy hard hard hard.  Finally Soeur Dawson and I identified as we have from the last transfer or so that we felt like we had lost our personalities in a big way and we were taking ourselves so seriously.  The last zone conference was all about how to start teaching 21 lessons a week (the mission average right now is about 7).  The big push was to talk to EVERYONE.  If you arent talking to someone, there is a problem.  And it was good, there have been miracles in the mission thanks to this zone conference and it was definitely inspired.  For Soeur Dawson and I though we started taking ourselves so seriously and were becoming missionaries where it just seems like you are trying to stay afloat.  We got tons of phone numbers (we had 42 numbers we were trying to contact at one point) but not a lot happening as far as work went.  The more focused we became on the physical, "talk to everyone" the less it became about the actual people and the more it came about just doing things to do it.  The more keeping rules was just out of guilt and obligation.  Everything was just getting worse and worse, studies we were only studying strictly for our amis and we have taught so many first lessons these last two transfers, so studies started becoming just really routine.  In brief, we were both really struggling to make things work.

So, what happened is that a few days ago for language study Soeur Dawson turned on a movie about the Atonement in french to watch.  I was studying something else but ended up going over and sitting next to her and watching with her.  I just started crying so hard watching the Atonement and everything Christ went through and how even He was rejected by so many people.  And how He atoned for the very people who rejected Him too.  And I looked at how He reacted in the face of opposition and how calm and at peace He was.  And I realized again how through the Atonement, all of us can be healed and I realized what that meant a little bit more for each of us.  And my thought was, "I dont know how I could ever repay Christ for what He did for me."  Then it was our lunch break, and I laid down on my bed for a few minutes.  I was drifting into sleep and suddenly I heard someone in the apartment upstairs playing the piano and it was a song I have played before.  Suddenly the thought just came into my mind, "you need to go play the piano and Soeur Dawson needs to sing and you need to bear your testimony of Jesus Christ through music."  So, I woke up and told Soeur Dawson. (Soeur Dawson is an amazing singer).  She said, "okay, let's go immediately."  So we started walking.  One woman we contacted a few weeks ago named Pamela came to my mind, because I remember she had a piano in her house.  She had told us she was too busy to have another lesson after the first but had said if I ever wanted to play the piano we could come over.  We went over and she happened to be home.  We ended up singing/playing "Come thou Fount" and then "I know that my Redeemer Lives."  The spirit was strong and the lady put everything away and just sat down and listened.  She said she's been going through a difficult time and she felt so much peace when she heard the music.  She asked for the address again of our church and said she's going to try to come in a few weeks when she's able to again.

Later that night we were at home finishing our weekly planning.  We were both just feeling so mellow and like I said like we have been taking ourselves so seriously, the joy has been lost from the work and it has made it so difficult.  It was pouring rain outside and we looked outside and Soeur Dawson said, "that would be so fun to be out in the rain."  I said, "Let's go."  So we went running outside in the pouring rain for five minutes and we just got completely soaked and we really laughed for the first time in a long time and it was so good.  We came back that night and we went over to Soeur Any, a member in the ward who's entire family is in the Cote d'Ivoire in the war and she is here alone in France.  We went and sang for her and then ported some of her building.  And we just took time to really talk to each other and we laughed and it was so good.

So what I have been learning is first of all, how to measure true success.  Sometimes we can all get caught up on something that seems to be the "true measure of success."  Maybe that's reaching 21 lessons.  Which starts off as a good goal, but as you become so focused on the destination, you lost the joy in the journey.  It was to the point we would have really good things and lots of miracles happening, and we were losing sight of them because we never felt like we were measuring up.  And I'm learning to make what the Lord want what you want.  Something interesting in stake conference taht was said about a month ago that stuck with me was something that Brother Jones said.  He had just been called as a new bishop and he went and asked other Bishops for their advice.  Their advice was to listen to the Holy Ghost.  They said there will always be so many opinions and so much advice thrown at you from so many people and they are all important things to listen to, but in the end, the most important counsel and advice you will be able to receive is from direction from the Holy Ghost.  Those promptings will never lead you astray.  I am learning how important and how true that is.

Have a fabulous week!  
Soeur Chard

Pday Switcheroo


Today has been crazy because at 6:31 our district leader called to tell us district meeting was being switched to tomorrow so we quickly changed our pday until today!  its been a crazy day because we went to go grocery shopping and then waited in line for 45 minutes until they closed down the grocery store because the cash registers arent working.  So, I guess we are skrimping on food the rest of the week! haha  no we should be fine.

This last weekend we had two more mini missionaries come.  It was such a blessing in my life and I absolutely loved it.  President sent his daughter Marie and then another girl in the ward to be with us so we did splits for the whole weekend.  I was with Marie who I already absolutely loved and it only got better being companions with her for the weekend.  I told her how these last two transfers have been the hardest of my mission, ultimately she suggested us talking to her mom after church and getting her advice on what to do.  I did and it was the best thing ever, she gave me such good advice and it was exactly what I needed to hear and I felt so much better.

After church Marie and I went out because we had two RDVs that were fixed, and I even called and confirmed with the people and they said all was good for the RDVs.  Ultimately, they both fell through (oh man!)  so.... about six hours of contacting was the result.  We went out and people were being pretty nice and would talk to us for a little while but no numbers, no set RDVs and no addresses.  After a few hours Marie says, "missions are hard!"  haha.  Then we keep going and a few minutes later she says, "can I just say, missions are hard!"  and we kept going and after a little longer she said, "what are we doing wrong!  We are doing everything my dad tells us to do and nothing is happening."  haha.  a little longer passes, Marie:  "okay, this is not stopping me from deciding to go on a mission but I just hope that I dont serve in France." hahaha.  (dont worry the story ends well).  We took the metro to Ruel-Malmaison and I heard someone say, "Soeur Chard!" I looked back and it was some of the office elders.  So we went over to talk to them and Marie said, "what are we doing wrong! It's not working!"  Ultimately they gave comfort and words of wisdom, etc etc.  We were taking the metro home and last person we contacted gave us their number.  Went home and tried to call the person, it was a bad number.

So the next day we had two RDVs and they both went well;  Bettina, the one who got her answer she needs to be baptized is like a different person.  There's a new light in her eyes, she has so much more confidence and she is so much more open.  We did a FHE night with the Babin Family and Bettina and it was on following the prophet, so good.  And we went contacting and we fixed four RDVs for Thursday together!  So Marie's answer for what we were doing wrong:  you just have to persevere and keep doing what you know is the right thing to do, even if you don't see the results right away, just keep doing it for the Lord.  Anyways though, being with Marie was a tender mercy for me for this weekend, it was exactly what I needed and gave me the push to keep going with lots of optimism.  I said that never in my entire life have I felt as much opposition from basically every side as I have this transfer.  But, I know my testimony is growing stronger, I know I am changing and becoming bolder, and I know Heavenly Father is helping me in so many ways and that I'm not alone.

My testimony of fasting has increased dramatically.  Really an example of how after the trial of your faith the blessings and answer to our prayers come.  We faster for Bettina, and the week after she had her two spiritual experiences and received the confirmation she needs to be baptized.  Well this past Sunday we fasted for Alejandra because she has gone MIA and we have absolutely no idea what happened to her.  So we fasted that we would be able to find out what happened with her and get back in contact with her, because we absolutely know that we met her for a reason.

So just today on our way to do emails, (we have been calling this girl for two and a half weeks now and havent seen her for over a month) we received a text from Alejandra.  "hi girls i am so sorry i havent been answering your calls!  I have been in spain and every time you call  or i call it charges my phone.  It was really last minute and so that's why I didnt have a chance to tell you that I was going to be gone.  I get home this Friday and I am going to call you as soon as the plane touches the ground."  It was definitely an answer to our fast and prayers.  

All is good, the church is true!  Because God loves us the priesthood and the fulness of the gospel was restored through a prophet Joseph Smith and we are so incredibly blessed to have the fulness of the gospel in our lives because it brings a fulness of joy and blesses and changes lives.

Thank you for all your love and support and prayers!  Birthday shout out for Hezzy!  Going legal on July 10th!  I have a letter coming in the mail!

Love you!
Soeur Chard