I hope that your week was an excellent and that the following is even better!
I had some really amazing experiences this week as a full-time missionary here in Toulouse, France. The more that I do missionary work, the more and more I realize how little it is that I actually do. I'm pretty sure that the secret to missionary work is just inviting people to do something that the Savior taught that we must do, and allow them to try it out, feel the happiness and peace that comes in following His example and wanting more. It is such an incredible blessing to watch these miracles take place in the lives of these people, to see them changed and molded by their discipleship of Christ.
Alexis is doing very well. We have taught him everything, and he has accepted everything. Elder Petek and I can obviously tell that there is something working in him. Before he was a bit of a shy person, who doesn't show a ton of emotion, now, he feels at peace, confident and very much more open and in tune with his emotions. He used to have a strong dependcy on coffee, drinking at least 5 cups a day, which he has reduced to 1 or less cups a day, and is in the process of eliminity completely (with the help of the members, who gave him a good, caffeine-free coffee subsitute). He says that he feels more in control of his life and that following Jesus Christ and the amazing gift of repentance has brought him HOPE, a concept that he didn't know before (... I find it incredible, this is pretty much exactly what Elsa said after her baptism, in bearing her testimony to the ward.) Following Jesus Christ and using his Atonement truly helps us to see the light at the end of the tunnel and to achieve it.
Last week I believe that I told you a little bit about Tracey, someone who I found just in the middle of downtown Toulouse on a rainy day. She comes from Matinique and has a Catholic base, but has not attended church since she moved to France 3 years ago to study art. I need to tell you that she is INCREDIBLE! One of the most amazing spirits I've ever known. She is so humble, so sincere, kind and Christlike. She came to church yesterday and ATE IT UP. It's true that the ward holds very good meetings and are very welcoming, but she was participating in discussions, introducing herself to members, entertaining toddlers, and paying close attention to all the talks. After church, we had the opportunity to sit and talk with her for just a few minutes before she left. My companion had to stay with David (who was ordained a priest in the Aaronic Priesthood yesterday), so we did a split and I taught with a member. I asked her about her first experience at church and she said that it was quite different than what she was used to at Catholic churches, but that she loved it. We taught her a bit about church attendance, the role of the Holy Ghost and what we can do receive personal revelation: read, pray and go to church. The member bore their testimony and decided to share a favorite scripture: Moroni 10:3-5. This ended up being from the same chapter that we gave her to read after our first visit with her. We asked Tracey, if she would like to start in verse 3 and she started reading. About halfway through the verse when she read the bit about "remembering how merciful the Lord has been towards the children of men" she stopped. We all looked up at her and she said that she was sorry. She explained that she had had this same feeling the first time she read it. This overwhelming feeling that would sweep through her and mount up to her chest. She paused for a minute and continued reading. By the time we had finished verse 4, I was in tears (I can be a bawl-baby sometimes in missionary work). We talked about these verses and I explained how the Holy Ghost speaks. I explained that it speaks to our heart, so that we can come to FEEL and KNOW truths, rather than just think they are true intellectually. She understood perfectly. I asked her that if she came to know that the Book of Mormon and the things that we had taught her were true, would she follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized on March 2? She said that she didn't know if she would be here on March 2nd, but that she already knew that the Book of Mormon is true and wants to be baptized... she proposed doing it sooner. It was a powerful lesson that taught me that the Spirit is the one who does all the work in missionary work. We just invite them to do things that will help them to feel it and help them to connect the dots.
I love you all, so much! I wish you a blissful final week of January... man, it passed by way too fast. Keep Alexis in your prayers and I'll keep you all in mine. ;)