Bonjour à tous!
I received my LAST transfer call this week...(insert sobbing emoji)... But, the great news is... I’M DYING IN VERSAILLES!! With my lovely companion, and one of my very best friends, Soeur George! Yup, we are staying together!! Meaning she will have served with me for almost one third of my mission, woah! We're practically married. So much so, that I almost titled this email, "What it's like being married to Soeur George". Hahaha.
When we got transfer calls, Soeur George looked at me and screamed, "Soeur!!! I get to kill you!!" (mission jargon for the companion that sends you home) Mission Jargon or not, it seemed like a pretty strange thing to scream at someone. We sure got a good laugh.
Becoming a Mormon.
Another thing that gave me a good laugh this week... Emelie was sitting next to me in church and she kept turning to me during relief society to make little comments like, "I need a bible", "I need that book too", "OH!! I REEEAAAALLY want a poster of Jesus like that to put in my house!!" Then, my favorite... she pauses, looks and me, and says, "Do you hear this!?! IM TURNING INTO A MORMON!!!" Hahahaha. Oh my goodness I laughed so hard. Emelie is doing INCREDIBLE lately. We found her a new member/investigator integration family and she absolutely loves them. On Friday we re-invited Emelie to be baptized with a date, she said yes!!! And this time, she is ready! So ready in fact, that during relief society, she looked at me and said... "Wait... there is a baptismal service this Saturday? Then why did you tell me that I have to wait all the way until the end of this month?!" You can imagine the expression on my face when she said this, haha! I assured her that if she wanted to be baptized this Saturday, we could DEFINITELY make it happen!!!!;) hahaha. I just love her so much.
Omar is also progressing beautifully! He has been reading, praying, and doing LOTS of studying up about Joseph Smith on LDS.org hahaha. He probably knows his history better than we do at this point!! We will be extending a baptismal invite to Omar, tonight!! :)
Singing in Church.
On Sunday, we sang one of my mom's arrangements of Jesus Once of Humble Birth during Sacrament. We had the entire audience in tears and we have also never received more dinner invitations as we did after sacrament that day. Score!
A Trip to the Red Zone.
Soeur George and I received special permission to travel to an area that normally sisters are not allowed to go to. About 6 years ago, I spent the summer with a French family in the area, who aren't members of the church and for the past 17 months, it has been my mission goal to find them again! So, with the permission of our mission president, we were sent on a special quest to Mantes-la-Jolie! It seemed like every force in the universe was against us that day as we tried to get to that area. Our first train was canceled all weekend for maintenance on the tracks. So we had to take a bus, where we then took a connecting train, that was late. Then the next train only came once every hour. So we waited. THEN, when we finally got all the way out to Mantes, ALL of the trains going to Evreux were canceled because of an accident. Luckily, the bishop of Mantes came to our rescue and drove us an hour out to Evreux. What a guy :). When we got there, the family was SO excited! I couldn't believe how big all of the once little kids had gotten! It was such an amazing experience being there with them all again. They couldn't get over how weird it was to be speaking with me, IN FRENCH! Hahaha. They made us crepes and took us on a little walk around the town while we talked about why we were serving missions and what we do as missionaries. We also had the chance to give them Book of Mormons that we had marked with the answers to all of the "questions of the soul" and personal invitations to the temple open house! We even had extras for all of their friends who were there visiting them as well!! They were so thrilled and said they would be there for sure! We saw some of the most amazing miracles of my mission that day. I wish I could write them all right now, buuuut I am saving it for my homecoming talk... so I guess you will all just have to be there ;)...
XOXO- Souer Tracie Wyson
Salut tout le Monde!
I have seen a lot of miracles on my mission... but WOW!!! Let me tell you about this week!!!
Conquering Paris, in PANTS!
No, our mission wasn't changed to a pants mission... #wishfulthinking... BUT! I had a doctor’s appointment in Paris and so we got to wear pants. It was actually quite incredible because apparently when we wear pants, suddenly EVERYONE wants to talk to us. Maybe it's because instead of looking like a couple of nuns, we just look like super stylish, cool, happy people with shiny black badges.
We were probably enjoying our pants a little too much. On our way back home to change into skirts, we saw a train going out to an inactive member's house that normally only comes every 45 minutes or it just doesn't come (usually the case). So when we saw that it was leaving in only three minutes we looked at each other slyly and said... "Heyyy ;)...Is it worth finishing the day in pants?" Then we jumped on the train as the doors closed, in our pants. We have been trying to see this lady since I got to Versailles, so we had to seize the opportunity!
When we got to the end of the line, we got off the train and headed to Alphonsine's house. Upon arriving at her house we realized there was a code to get into the building that we didn't have. Then we remembered a text we had gotten from the member who had originally given us the address saying, "Oh yeah, there is a code to get in that we don't have. But you know, with a little Fasting and prayer, you will figure it out ;)..." hahaha. So we stepped off to the side and said a prayer. In that prayer we said something along the lines of, "Heavenly Father… We are here to visit Alphonsine but the door is locked. Please help us guess the code, or send someone to open the door for us. Thanks!" Then we turned back toward the door and guessed a few codes before a woman walked out about 10 seconds later and held the door open for us. Woohoo!
We came to the second locked door, that you have to be “rung” into. So we called up to Alphonsine's apartment... and her daughter answered! Alphonsine is a recent convert and we had NO idea she even had a daughter! Neither did anyone else! But we were pretty stoked because she let us in. Alphonsine wasn't home but we were able to talk with her daughter for a while, which was super cool. She didn't know anything about the church! She didn't even know her mom was a member! But now she wants to come to church so that's amazing, hopefully she will bring her mom with her! She called her mom while we were there and let us talk to her. So we get to see her on Monday morning :)
On our way home from Alphonsine's, we met this super cool lady on the street who told us that she wasn't interested. Then we told her about modern day revelation and she was like, "WHAT!? Are you serious!? Take my number!! Here is my address!! Come back on Monday!!" So we will also be seeing her on Monday!! :D We are pretty stoked about that!
On the train ride home I met a super funny old man who invited me and my companion to come to the community swimming pool with him. Hahahaha. He cracked me up. Then he gave me chocolate and said he would come to church this week. I hope he does! Hahahaha.
All of those awesome miracles happened, while we were in pants. We were pretty giddy about it. I don't know how many of you have seen spongebob... but we kept on saying things like... "Getting on the metro!... in pants ;)... Contacting!... in pants ;)... Teaching the Restoration... in pants! ;)"
Our Valentine's Day Date.
On our way to meet up with Rounar (The African guy I met last week), whose name actually turned out to be Omar, oops. Hahah. We realized... he had invited us to go to a café in La Défense (Paris) on the evening of February 14th. Wait a minute... I sure hope this isn't... Soeur George and I laughed the whole way there. Did we just say yes to a Valentine's Day date!?! ON OUR MISSIONS!?
Luckily, as soon as we sat down, he said "Okay. So we are here to talk about religion. What have you prepared?" Hahaha, it was totally awesome. He promised us he would read the Book of Mormon every single night after work until he was finished--at least two to three chapters a night. A little more about his story... he and his wife just got a divorce and he is trying to get custody of his children. But he feels that they deserve to be raised in a good religious home. So he has been searching diligently to find the right church to raise his children in.
The Fire Side/Open House.
Last week we planned with a member family to do a fireside for our amis at their house. The only problem is... none of our amis could come at the same time, and they could all only stay for an hour. But they all said they could come! So it turned into more of an Open House than a Fireside, hahaha. We taught a new ami at 6:00. Sent her on her way. Eugénie at 7:00. Sent her on her way. And finally, we taught Omar at 8:00! Three, member present, Restoration lessons right in a row! Woot woot! Also, what are the odds that Omar works at the grocery store right across the street from this member’s house?! Omar loved the Restoration. He told us that he felt something very powerful when we shared it :).
The Nanny and the Two Second Contact.
Soeur George and I were running through a park to get somewhere when we felt prompted to contact a woman that had just passed us with 3 little kiddos. With only a couple seconds to spare, we ran back and stopped her to ask if we could come back and share our message with her this week..."Sure! Same time tomorrow?" she replied.
We came back the next day with the same member who hosted our "open house" the day before, Sister Valentin! After pulling out the Book of Mormon she (Marie) says, "Mormon? My husband is Mormon!" Turns out, Marie's husband is actually an inactive member from the old ward of Sister Valentin, and they were good friends!! Marie didn't know anything about his church because they don't talk about religion together (very common here in France). So we got to teach her and give her a Book of Mormon of her very own :)
As we finished the lesson and got up to leave, another woman (Tata) yelled at us from a neighboring bench saying, "Hey! Can you come back at the same time next week and teach me?"
Gessica and Kiddos. "God needs me to pray for my Family".
We got to teach our lovely new family again this week :) My favorite part was our invitation to come to church at the end when the mom said she had too much to do, and then the little girls DOVE onto her and began pleading, "PLEEEEAAAASSSEEEE MOMMY!!! PLEASE! WE WILL DO ANYTHING!!!"
Okay, I just thought of another favorite part... we asked the family if any of them wanted to share an experience with prayer that they had throughout the week and Natasha (8 years old) stood up and turns to her mom with tears streaming down her face and says, "When I pray I feel good. But when I didn't pray for my mom, my little brother, and my sister... I had nightmares that I was all alone... I know that God needs me to pray for my family every night so that he can keep us together."
The Crying Man.
While my companion and I were doing split-contacting on the train, I saw a young man in a suit several rows away with tears just streaming down his face. His eyes were so red it looks liked he hadn't slept or stopped crying in days. I felt so strongly prompted to get up and go sit by him. It seemed a little awkward seeing as I had just contacted the women next to me. But as the prompting got stronger and stronger, I could no longer ignore it. I stood up, walked over, sat down right next to him, and smiled, "Hi, how can I help you? Even if you just want to talk :)" He stared at me for a moment and then pulled another tissue out of his pocket, wiped his eyes. It took him a few minutes to be able to speak without choking up. I asked him if he was believing in God, he shook his head and told me he was never educated religiously. I smiled and said, "God exists. When I pass through difficult moments, I can pray to him, and I know he will give me strength. He will do the same for you if you ask him. :)" Then he smiled at me and said, "Okay, I will try :)" From that moment, our conversation was all smiles and laughs! We had such an enjoyable time talking together about God, life, and miracles :) I also told him that I wasn't French, but American. Then he said, "It all makes sense now, I was so surprised because a French person would have never done what you just did. I can't thank you enough."
As I got off the train, I met back up with my companion and put my arm around her and said... "I never want to stop being a missionary."
The Sushi Girls.
Split contacting round two! With only two metro stops to go, an adorable young girl named Camille stopped me to ask me about how I found my testimony of the church. Then she told me that she had met a missionary like me a few years ago but lost her contact information. However, when the missionary had shared her testimony, it touched Camille so profoundly that she decided to start searching for her own. It was AMAZING! Talk about planting seeds! We were able to exchange numbers and set up a rendezvous for later during the week :) It was amazing! Except...when I looked up at the stops...oops...I had missed mine...
Now that wouldn't normally be too much of a problem, except that my companion was nowhere to be seen... she, however, did not miss the stop. #oops hahaha.
There I was, wandering around La Défense, the busiest area of Paris... with no phone, and no companion. I guess I looked pretty lost because I noticed a girl (about my age) staring and laughing at me. Did she know me? I walked over to her and she said laughing, "Did you lose your friend?". Wait what, how did she know!? "She was just talking to me on the metro, she got off at the wrong stop!" Little did she know it was actually me that got off at the wrong stop Hahahah. I used her phone to call my companion. She actually happened to jump right back on another car when she saw I didn't get off. Phew! The girl (Pauline) was laughing soooo hard. Then she called her friend and they invited us to come to a sushi buffet with them for lunch! Hahaha. #YEAH! We had such a blast together. Plus we invited them to come to Family night with the young adults tonight! :)
Locked in the death closet, almost, by a scary old lady.
We were finally let in while porting!!! Granted it was by a super scary 90 year old African lady and she raged to us about black slavery and racist Americans and then told us to follow her into the basement and she tried to push my companion into a super sketchy, boarded up, pitch black, storage closet...yeah... we won't be going back there!
Teaching Primary-My super power.
I always have fun stories from teaching primary, Lol. I love it!! Yesterday we played a little get to know you game and then I drew the Plan of Salvation up on the board for the little kids and we talked about all of the different parts of the Plan. Then, at the end of the lesson, a little kid shoots up out of his chair, turned to the class, and says, "HEY!! In fact, In fact, I actually think she has some kind of super power or something because she answered ALL of our questions... AND, in fact, I actually think that is the first time I have ever learned something in Primary!" Hahahaha. I never want to stop being a missionary. It's a great super power :)
Well, the closer the end gets, the less I want to leave. I love being a missionary, I love this work, I love the people, and I just love my mission. Miracles happen, every single day... even in France :)
À la prochaine!
Happy Saint Valentines to all you love birds out there!
And happy late birthday to my beautiful sister Jaimee! I love you!
Sister Wyson Goes to Africa.
This week, Elizabeth's mystery meat continues to take its vengeance on my little missionary stomach. To add to the damage, another African member made us eat spicy chicken the other night. Hahaha. My poor stomach can't catch a break! On Thursday we were at a member’s house and I had to leave the table 4 different times (after every course) during lunch to run to the bathroom. The member was really concerned with how "pale" I was looking. I told her I was just really pale haha. It turned out to be a little more than my "lack of sunshine". I was later almost put in the hospital for dehydration. Instead, I was sent back to the apartment with orders not to eat or drink anything for at least 24 hours. Which is supposed to give my stomach time to heal. Because I can't be rehydrated until my body can actually start retaining things. So, after 24 hours of no food or drink, I will start adding clear liquids into my diet. I've lost over 6 kilos (about 14 pounds) since Saturday. I'm writing this email on Thursday.
I am starting to understand why missionaries in Africa always come back so dang skinny, haha!
Speaking of Africa...
We got on the train to do our usual split contacting. My companion went and sat by the only woman on the train, leaving me to choose between the men. Lol. Merci Soeur. One of the men was a young African man who sat with his hood on and his head pressed against the window. The moment I saw him, I felt the strongest impression to go sit by him. I wasn't sure why the spirit was sending me towards the most intimidating looking man on the train, but I went anyways. The moment I sat down, he gave me a strange look and said, "It's too cold." I smiled and said... "I agree. I'm from the Desert!" Immediately, the conversation changed from the cold to the gospel. He replied with all of the following, and more!..."Why are you here? What do you teach? I'm searching for the church of Christ. No churches today have anything unique. They are all the same. They are not his church." I wish I could include all of the details, but it was one of those experiences that you just can't recount. It was so rich, and so amazing. I wish I could relive it over and over. We are looking forward to teaching Rounar this Sunday :)
"Troisième Étage"...(third floor)
We went to visit a member and her daughter for the first time the other night. It was a freezing night with fog so thick I could hardly see my companion haha. When we got there, we rang the doorbell and no one answered. We rang a second time and a voice replied with a soft yes... "it’s us!" we replied. Then the lock clicked opened and the voice said, "Troisième Étage...(Third Floor)" The building was pitch black and none of the lights were working. We stumbled up the stairs feeling our way around, counting the floors as we reached them... 1st....2nd....3rd. There were two doors, we weren't sure which one was theirs, so we figured we would just ring both. First door, no one home. As we reached to knock on the second door, we heard someone else stumbling up the stairs. We turned to see the member’s daughter, Iris. She asked us who let us in, we said, "your mom!" She gave us a strange look at said... "My mom? She won't be home for another 15 minutes...?" Then she unlocked the second door, all the lights were on, but no one was home... her mom arrived 15 minutes later. We all had the #hibidabegibbies after that little mystery. Hahaha.
Another super creepy story... sorry to freak you all out but this week was a weird one and my blog is my journal😅...my companion and I were all alone in the train station when a woman dressed in all black came running in and slams her face against the window next to us. She breaths deeply against the cold glass, her warm breath causing the window to fog. Then she begins chanting some sort of weird gibberish and draws a bunch of Satanic symbols with her finger on the window where she had breathed. Then she whipped around and looked me in the eyes and whispers three times, "Satan can transform into Angels." We didn't give her time to say anything else, we buzzed out of that place SO fast!!! She followed us out and to the gates, then she stared at us as we quickly made our way down the stairs and to the train. Luckily she didn't have a pass to get through the gates...
talk about #hibadabegibbies.
Another Pair of Ripped Tights #Winterstruggles
Every single time we have to run to catch a bus or train, I rip my tights. Which you can imagine, happens quite often. Especially when you have to run for your life from creepy possessed women. You realize you have a problem when you are serving in the fashion capital of the world and yet you spend the majority of your money buying pantyhose at the end of each week.
Two Missionaries Walked into a Bar...
After walking around in the snow for a few hours, we were pretty iced over. So we sought out the nearest shelter. Which happened to be a bar. Apparently, we weren't the first missionaries to have that idea because the moment we walked in, the bartender (we didn't know it was a bar) brings out two hot chocolates, Hahaha. How did he know ? ;) On our way out, after savoring our little cups of hot melted chocolate, the bartender says, "I never knew there were Mormon GIRLS. We only see the men around here. But it's too bad because we would be much more willing and open to being taught be you two than those big guys in suits!" Hahaha.
What we did all in two hours on Saturday night.
Sometimes you just can't leave the apartment because you have overactive bowels...not saying this was the case... but, we were definitely stuck in the apartment all day. But the Lord understands our circumstances and he blessed us with the most incredible miracles!! That night, we had one rendezvous. After having been stuck inside all day, we were able to sneak out for the last two hours to go visit a member family. While we were there, they gave us a referral of a lady named Eugénie who just moved in across the way #YES!. They said she might not be interested but that we could give it a try. We were pretty stoked. On our way out, they offered to drive us home #thankyou. Just then, we opened their apartment door and ran into EUGENIE!! She just decided to pass by for some reason and visit the family at this random late hour. Well, we weren't mad ;). She invited us all over to her apartment and fed us oranges while we talked about the Book of Mormon. Then we fixed a return rendezvous for the following week! :D She told us "come back whenever you want!!!"... oh, oh we will!
It's just TOO great here!! :D
We received a call this week from a young mother in our ward boundaries who hasn't come to church since she was baptized as a teenager. Since arriving in Versailles, we have been trying to set up a rendezvous with this lady. So we were REALLY excited!! We went over and taught them the Restoration. She and her daughters are on the same teaching level because she doesn't remember anything. Sadly, the missionaries met her family when she was 15 years old, they were all baptized, and then her mother went inactive. Bringing all of her children except her youngest daughter with her. Now we are teaching her, Gessica, and her two daughters: Natasha 8yrs and Rebecca 10yrs. I went to Primary with Natasha and Rebecca on Sunday and by the end of church they were running up to their mom with smiles beaming on their faces and said... "MOMMY!! WE WANT TO BE BAPTIZED!!! IT IS TOO GREAT HERE!!!" That warmed the hearts of everyone who heard!!
Bisous à tous!!
This week was quite the adventure! We probably walked about 100 miles and every single one of our fixed rendezvous fell through last second (the moment we arrived at their house) Which is really unfortunate when you have to take 2-3 hours of trains, walking, and buses, to get anywhere here hahaha. We ended up teaching 26 lessons this week and not a single one of them was with an investigator, Lol. Just a lot of people on the streets! Along with the many hours of proselyting, we had a few gems that we made sure to write in our journals to share with y'all today ;)...
"God doesn't exist...he told me so."
The title explains it all. Or not? We met an atheist man on the train and asked him why he didn't believe in god and he replied with, "I know God doesn't exist because I prayed and he told me so." Wait a minute...
Eye on the Toilet
We went to Elizabeth's house this week. She is a very poor African member in our ward. We ate beforehand, knowing it was much safer. You just never know what to expect when you go to Elizabeths for dinner, hahaha. Of course, She fed us anyways...To keep it short, and without providing too many details... we had to cancel all of our rendezvous after that because we couldn't make it further than a 10 second sprint to the toilet for the next 38 hours. (Insert sweating emoji) hahaha. Oh boy!!
Miracles of Fasting
Fasting is easy when you are recovering from dinner at Elizabeth's, hahaha. But I fasted anyways on Sunday to confirm a decision I had recently made about the direction of my studies. Specifically, whether or not I should continue to include sign language in my studies or not. On my way home from church, a Deaf man stopped us on the road and tapped our badges with a puzzled look. To his surprise, I began signing back to him and was able explain why we were here. When he walked away, my companion and I looked at each other and said... that was the strangest thing, that has NEVER happened to me! Just then, I knew... it was my answer!!
Another Fasting Miracle
If the man on the street wasn't confirmation enough... Elizabeth's African food hit me again while we were on the train and we began scrambling around frantically looking for the nearest bathroom. The only one open was McDonald, but the problem is... it has a code and is only for the workers. But it was an emergency. I stopped one of the workers using my puppy dog eyes. He was just staring at me cluelessly. I couldn't figure out what I was pronouncing wrong. Then, he started moving his hands and I realized... he was Deaf!!! So I was able to sign to him and get the code for the bathroom hahaha. Lifesaver. Miracles happen my friends... even at McDonalds!
Working out Pays Off
My companion and I like to exercise to Christian rock. But who knew it would ever pay off! The music, not the exercise ;) hahaha. Still working on that part. Anyways, there was a woman in the RER who kept yelling "AMEN!" after everything I said, Hahaha. Which reminded me of a song. "Our God is an Awesome God"... that I had worked out to the day before. So, naturally, I just started singing it, hahaha. The best part, SHE TOTALLY JOINED IN! We jammed out to some good ol' Christian Rock on the RER before exchanging numbers and parting our separate ways. Until next time ;).
That's it for today because I only have 8 more P-days to enjoy all this beautiful place has to offer! Okay... just one more...to finish up with a hilarious p-day experience from just a few moments ago. We were wandering around Paris looking for something fun to do when we stumbled upon a really cool old building that turned out to be a museum, Musée des Archives Nationales. We asked how much the museum was and the man at the desk said with a wink "it's free!", the woman next to him gave him a questioning look, but we love free stuff so we grabbed a map and headed on in!!! The museum was so incredibly beautiful and so interesting! As we were on our way out the door we waved goodbye to our buddy at the desk. He waved at us to wait and ran up to where we were. He grabbed my hand and I thought he was going for the kiss hahaha, then he slipped a piece of paper in my hand and told me to call him sometime. We were dying but what made it even more hilarious was that on the other side of the paper where he wrote his number was a receipt for 8 euros that he had paid for us to go into the "free" museum. Thanks for a great p-day Steve ;)
Gros Bisous à vous tous !!
I feel very honored to have had the opportunity to serve as a full-time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the France, Paris Mission.