C'est qu'ils te connaissent, Toi, le Seul Vrai Dieu
21 or nothin
Dearest family and friends,
I would like to thank you all for the plethora of birthday wishes that I have received in the last week! You are awesome! It was great to turn 21, even if in France it does not have the same significance, since the drinking age here is 18. It was a wonderful day! In the morning, my radical companion wouldn't let me into the kitchen, he was making french crêpes! We were out of nutella so we melted a bar of chocolate to cover these delights with sugary sweetness. I remember I used to hate having my birthday on sundays because it meant that I couldn't go hang out with friends and go to the Enchanted Florist on my birthday, but on mission I couldn't have asked for a better day to have my birthday! Being relatively new here I don't yet know the members as well as I got to know them in Nice, but they were super nice and we were invented to have dinner with a great family in the ward. In the evening, I got more crêpes! But they didn't have any nutella either, so we melted more chocolate! Haha, it was a great sunday. Olivier was confirmed and received the Holy Ghost and he radiated happiness. It was hilarious, after the meeting he cried "I'm a Mormon!!" Indeed.
There is a scripture in the Book of Mormon that has been a bit of a theme for me these last couple of weeks. It is 2 Nephi 27:23 "For behold, I am God, and I am a God of miracles; and I will show unto the world that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and I work not among the children of men save it be according to their faith." I love that the Lord gives a reason for why people might consider that he doesn't act, work or have influence in the world today. It is only because of a lack of faith. God is bound when we act on faith, this is how he exercises his power. This is a principle that Jesus Christ went to desperate lengths to try to drill into the minds of his disciples. I have been trying to exercise my faith, to do things that might force me to go a bit outside of my comfort zone, so that I might be able to access this divine power. I've come to realize that the more faith we have, the more the Lord will require from us. Faith is a principle of action.
About 6 months ago, when I was serving in the city of Dijon, I came here to this area, to do an exchange and to teach an investigator who was preparing for baptism. Her name was Marie and she was having a problem with smoking. She was determined to quit, but still had a long way to go. When I got to this area, I wanted to find out what happened to her. I came to find out that she never ended up getting baptized, she asked that the missionaries stop contacting her, for she wanted to have nothing more to do with the Mormon church. This made me a little sad, because I had been able to teach her and I knew that she had a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon. I decided to give her a call. I talked to her on the phone a few times, she remembered me and she agreed to meet with us. So, we saw her last weekend. Her apartment reeked of cigarettes and she did not look happy. We could tell that she was a bit apprehensive, so we tried our best to help her feel at ease. We talked about expecations, etc. and eventually we got on the topic of the Word of Wisdom. I asked why she thought that the Lord had revealed to us the Word of Wisdom. She gave the perfect answer, "To draw us nearer to Christ." She knows it is true, but she could not pull her life into conformity with her spiritual witness of it's truthfulness... so she gave up. She even admitted to us that she had turned to other philosophies frankly because it was easier and didn't require her changing her mode of life. So at this point we taught her about the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the changing power that it can have. She was very hesitant to commit herself to doing anything that she wouldn't be able to, but we gave the engagement to begin praying on a daily basis, and she accepted. It is going to be a long road, but with God, all is possible. I know that God loves her so much and that she has incredible potential in His Kingdom here on earth.
Another cool teaching experience was with a Chinese genius. He is here in Lyon studying computer science and complete his Master's Degree before he goes out into the world to be one of those Asians that puts the world one step closer into the future in the technology realm. When he was explaining some of the projects that he's working on, I literally understood less than half of it, even though he was speaking in my native tongue. Even though he has so much knowledge, he is someone who is very spiritually thirsty. He had met with the Jehovah's Witnesses in the past just because the message of the Bible and of Jesus Christ intrigued him so much. When we gave him the Book of Mormon in Chinese and a brief introduction of our message, he was so, so thankful! In the closing prayer that we taught him how to do at the end, he said, "Thank you for my new friends and for this wonderful introduction that they have made for me today!" Gratitude is awesome! I think that God really loves a grateful heart. As a missionary, it makes me really happy when people are thankful for the teachings that we give them, and it's not even my Gospel that I'm preaching!
We got some pretty exciting news this last week! It is that the sunday after general conference, which is actually the last day of the transfer, all three wards in Lyon will gather together and there will be an official change of borders and a new fourth ward in Lyon will be created! It is amazing because just 50 years ago, Lyon had only a small branch of 20 or so members. And the work of the Lord in this part of the world is still just beginning! It's exciting to be a part of the development of the work of the Lord here! I don't know if I will be finishing my mission here in Lyon, but it will be super epic to see what happens.
I love you family and friends and I wish you a happy St. Patrick's Day and a wonderful week!
In memory of the gigantuan rat that Garth found nibbling on his blanket.