I would like to start this letter by wishing my lovely mother the happiest of birthdays! She is the most incredible I know and I hope that tomorrow is a very happy day! I love you, Mom!
I would also like to congratulate my little brother James, who might be the biggest stud on the planet, for sending in his mission papers and getting recruited to BYU Lacrosse in the same week. You're the man! Love you!
My week here in France was simply incredible. Saturday was the most joyful day of my mission. It was the day in which I got to watch Tracey, one of our Heavenly Father's precious daughters, follow the example of the Savior and be baptized. It was a very, very special moment for all who were present. The Spirit was felt very strong in the chapel, and the members who came to support her were very touched by this Spirit. She was able to bear her testimony and she talked about her past a lot. She shared with us the fact that before, she was a Catholic, but very non-practicing. In fact, she said that she didn't even like to go to church, she would find herself sleeping rather than listening to the priests. But she always felt like she had a close relationship with the Lord. She said that she was going through a difficult time in here life when she met me on the road at Jean Jaures. She knew that the Lord knew her and was listening to her prayers, and responded just at the perfect time by sending the missionaries. She bore testimony of what the restored gospel has brought to her life: peace and the pure love of Christ. She bore testimony of the Lord's modern day servants: Joseph Smith and Thomas S. Monson. She bore testimony of the Book of Mormon. It was a very touching testimony. When our awesome bishop (Will Ferrell) welcomed her into the ward, he talked about miracles. How every time he sees someone humbly follow the Savior or here's a pure testimony or conversion story, it completely shatters the notion held by many that miracles have ceased in our day. God is a God of miracles. Tracey is a miracle. After the evening, I went back into my missionary journal to look up the day that I met Tracey in January. It wasn't a long entry. I said that it rained A TON that day, and that when I came in in the evening, I came in completely SOAKED (I remember that). I said in the middle of the entry that Elder Petek and I did some "metro boogyin' " (a form of contacting that him and I invented) and that we met a cool art student from Martinique at Jean Jaures. It was a little miracle that occured that day. The Lord truly placed in our path one of the Lord's elect daughters.
Tracey on her special day! There were angels there celebrating with us.
The musical event took place right after the baptism service. The Spirit of the baptism really resided in the chapel for the remainder of the evening. The event was a huge success. The musicians were incredible. It was really cool to see all the hard work and effort pay off and to see it really turn out. Members invited friends, and what a cool first encounter with the church, not a single soul that left was not touched! Utile (who mentioned to me yesterday that she's been thinking a lot lately about serving a MISSION!!!!!!!) and I did a groovy version of Come Thou Fount together, the missionaries sang "Nearer My God to Thee", the Tahitian young adults did a cool song about mission work, an incredible pianist in our ward did a beautiful rendition of "I Believe in Christ". To finish it all off, we showed a film of Savior, Redeemer of My Soul performed by some incredible musicians in Utah, that she had prepared with subtitles in French. It was very touching. I don't know if I've felt the Spirit and Love of Christ so much as I did that night. Even those who weren't members said that they felt very moved and unified in the faith. "It was a night to be remembered." -Bilbo (or was that Gandalf?)
Utile, her bros, the sisters and us. Fun peeps.
I thank you all for the birthday wishes. It is true that I will be turning 20 on Saturday. I don't know what we'll be doing quite yet. I know that my birthday is shared with a member, so we'll be taking her a cake and munching on it together. Maybe I'll shave my hair off or buy a spiffy French suit or something. My companion said that if I can beat him in basketball this afternoon he'll get me sushi. We'll see. In any case, thanks so much for the love! I love you all so much and wish you a fantastic week!