Sunday, December 22, 2013
Dearest family and friends,
My hands are freezing as I write to you from this computer screen in Grenoble, a French city lost in the middle of the French Alps. We are here so that my companion, who just served here might finish his legality, which he started just before being transferred. Its been a nice trip, but I'm really looking forward to being back to Nice, the warmth and the sun.
Did you know that Jesus Christ cried when things went wrong instead of getting frustrated or reacting otherwise? Just a thought.
This week my companion and I met a Californian. Her name is Elina and she lives in Nice for half of the year. She likes to do good things for other people. She is not that super into religion, but she does it out of good conscious. For example, when she sells something to someone on eBay, she will stick some little candies into the package before sending it to the auction winner. We met Elina on a street not to far from our apartment and talked to her for a good half hour. She started getting emotional at the end of the conversation when she expressed how grateful she was to have made our acquintance. We told her that she needed to come to our ward Christmas party in order to meet more happy and kind people like us. She enthousiastically said that she wanted to. She was so set that she wanted to go to the church beforehand just to make sure that she could find it. We offered to give her a tour of the chapel and the following afternoon we found ourselves with her in the house of the Lord.
We told briefly and simply about the mission of Jesus Christ. Then we taught her about the Great Apostasy. Then we taught her about Joseph Smith, who prayed aloud in the grove. She felt the Spirit strong and said that she would be baptized when she knows it is true. When she has a testimony.
God gives us the testimony after la mise à l'épreuve de notre foi (the put into test of our faith). She did not exercise her faith after this. She did not show up to the activity nor to church like she said she would. Actually, after the activity, we saw her on the same street that we met her on. She was on a brand new pink and purple skateboard. In the conversation that we had with her on the street, we talked about how there is a void in our soul that we all try to fill. Some with drugs, some with fornication, some with overeating. She shared with us that she loves shopping and buying unnecessary things. I found ironic, then, that we saw on the street at that time.
The void can only truly be filled by the love of God.
I think that I learned an important lesson through this experience. It is that even though we may have extraordinary experiences, like Laman and Lemuel getting rebuked by an angel or the Jews being literally in the presence of the Son of God, it does not guarantee that this will change us. The change comes, like Alma the Younger said, "after praying and fasting for many days", or in other words, after exercising our faith. The change comes when we receive a testimony after the trial of our faith, which will push us to continue on our road to conversion. I do not mean to compare Elina to Laman or the Jews. She is an excellent soul. I think that she will except the Restored Gospel someday. At her time and place. But God is not going to force anything upon her. She has her free agency, complete and pure.
Missionary work is beautiful. It is like offering 100 dollars to every single person. Even if people say "No, thank you", it is still 100 dollars that is going to buy someone either 100 little cheeseburgers, or like 2 video games, or an iPhone if you could find it cheap on eBay.
One of the coolest experiences of this last week was being able to do some Christmas caroling in the hills of Nice with the other missionaries here in Nice! One of my favorite carols is "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" or "Voici Noel, Avec Ses Chants" in French. The message is powerful. I invite all of you to read/sing it this Christmas season.
I testify that God manifested His love for us in sending His Son. Let us "Hear Him" this Christmas season!
God bless and MERRY CHRISTMAS! JOYEUX NOEL!
PS. The 25th I will be on skype atNice time, which equates to pacific time. I look forward to seeing all of you! I will have 30 minutes with mom and 30 minutes for dad.