I know my title starts with "When in ROME"... but we will be starting in Paris! Because that is where my parents picked me up ;)
When in Paris.
After the greatly anticipated “parent pickup” at the mission office, we grabbed a taxi and headed to the apartment to make a change of clothes before hitting the town. I wasn’t sure what my parents meant by “change of clothes” … Why would I need to change clothes? This was my most comfortable dress! And “hitting the town” … we must be going proselyting!
My family soon realized that their missionary daughter was still very much a missionary. Lol. She didn’t have a single pair of jeans in either of her two, large, 50 pound suitcases, AND she couldn’t go longer than 30 seconds without telling a mission story. It was an adjusting period ;)…
“Change of plans!” shouts mom. “We are going SHOPPING!!!”
So, we loaded ourselves back into the taxi and “hit the town!” … Well, we hit the mall ;)
My dad and little brother were great sports. While I tried on a hundred pair of jeans, and they “ooo-ed and aww-ed” and told me dad-jokes to keep my mind off the extra 30 pounds of sister missionary that I was trying to pull my pants over. HAHA. (insert laughing/crying emoji). Don’t worry… what I didn’t know then, that I know now… It MELTS off!
Our shopping trip was pretty successful. It was a miracle in itself that I found some pants that fit, haha! But the greatest miracle was while we were standing at the cash register, the sweet girl looked at me and said in French as she read my missionary badge, “Sœur! That’s French!” I told her it was a title that we use in the church because we believe we are all brothers and sisters and that God is our Father. Then she smiled and said, “Wow! Where can I learn more?!” And she wrote her contact on the back of my receipt and asked if I would please give it to the missionaries and ask them to call her as soon as possible :)
Miracles Happen!!!...Even in PARIS!
When in Vienna.
Our first day in Vienna, we were sold tickets by a very convincing Dutch salesman dressed up in a costume on the street. These tickets were very expensive, and were supposedly for an Easter weekend orchestra, ballet, and opera in the oldest opera house in Vienna! We were all very excited. The four of us felt like we had really scored a deal! That is, until we showed up at our destination. It was a little square opera house with about 400 seats and only 7 chairs for the “orchestra” and about 10sqft of hard wood floor for the “ballet”. My dad and I looked at each other with the “you have got to be kidding me…” look on our faces. We were almost certain that this little recital was NOT going to be worth our time.
Well folks… the moment that 7-man-orchestra sat down and started playing… our jaws hit the floor, we picked up a foot, and shoved it right in our mouths, where it belonged!! They were phenomenal. The music that filled the room was absolute perfection, and the spirit that accompanied it was amazing. It was truly an Easter Miracle :)
When in Prague.
First off, Prague is marvelous. For those of you planning Europe trips in the near, or distant, future… Put Prague on your list of “MUST SEES!” Plus, miracles happen in Prague ;). I have a few good friends from high school who are currently serving as missionaries in Prague and we had fun feeding them and having them take us around to see a few fun sites before we left to our next destination. We also enjoyed joining them for a little metro contacting! Determined to find someone who spoke French, I hit the isles with my “French detector” turned on high. I didn’t find any French speakers, but I did find an English-speaking family! Although I only got to talk to them for one quick stop, it felt nice to be a proselyting missionary again :)
I guess that means miracles happen in Prague too :).
When in Rome. Part ONE. Free Dessert!
For those of you who follow my mom on Facebook, you probably heard the story of the Italian waiter that was a little infatuated with me and seemed to only be catering to my side of the table… okay, maybe he was only catering to me. But we all got food in the end! And free dessert!! ;) Though even better than the dessert, was when we asked for our third refill on the water and he stopped, looked strangely at us, and said… “Why Water? Why not wine? Are you muslim?” So, we had a great little conversation about our beliefs, gave him the church website, and he said with excitement, “Thank you! I promise will read the entire thing as soon as I get off work!”
When in Rome. Part TWO: The Juice Box Food Tour.
Our final night in Rome was spent walking around to different restaurants with a food tour group and tasting lots of yummy foods and…wines? Well, we don’t drink wine. So instead, they brought us JUICE-BOXES! Hahaha. Oh boy, we sure got a kick out of that! Everyone with their fancy red and white authentic Italian wines and classy glasses, offering up a toast to our little cardboard juice-boxes. Haha! It gave us the perfect opportunity to do missionary work because they ALL wanted an explanation. Why in the world did these crazies come all the way to Rome to drink children’s juice from a little paper box!? So, we told them all about my mission, my parents picking me up, and the Paris Temple!
So, whether in Rome, Paris, Prague, Vienna, or St. George… Miracles Happen!
Until Next Week,
For more miracles, adventures, and updates on my blog, follow me on my NEW Instagram @traciewyson
No, I am not writing this from Hawaii :)…we are in Czech Republic! But I asked my mom how to say hello in German (as we have spent the past several days in Austria) and she thought I said “Hawaiian.” So, she replied with “Aloha! A-L-O-H-A.” ha-ha! In her defense, I did ask her in the middle of her nap on a noisy train ;).
Though despite the noise, and the temptation to take a nice long nap, I’m back! Just in time for P-day too! ;) Though every day is p-day, now that I am just hanging out in Europe with my family. What a wonderful experience it was to see my family again for the first time in 18 months. As you can imagine, hugging my mom and dad for the first time in so long was an absolute dream, and many tears were shed! However, not ALL those tears, were tears of joy. Many of them came sporadically over the next several days as I had moments of, “We’re not in Kansas anymore Toto!” and had to sit down to take a few minutes to hold and stare at my missionary badge, cry, read my scriptures, pray, and get myself back up and out the door for our next excursion.
Much of our missions are spent fantasizing about our reuniting with family and friends. Then, when our missions are finished, we spend our days dreaming about the mission! Having said this… I am going to take a couple minutes to do a little mission reminiscing :).
One Last ‘Mission’ Miracle.
For our last day in the mission, President Babin arranged for the “dying missionaries” to drive down to the temple for a VIP tour. Having already gone through the temple presentation several times within the past week, I admit I wasn’t jumping up and down at the thought of spending my last day in Paris this way. But I was soon to learn, after a mission full of miracles, that The Lord had one final special miracle prepared just for me.
Once the temple tour had ended, we were invited to sit in the Celestial Room to meditate and pray about our mission. As well as, to fix goals for our return home. The past several days had been very difficult for me as it was becoming clear to me that my mission ACTUALLY was coming to its’ end. So, I felt impressed to pray and ask the Lord one simple question: “Are you happy with the mission I have served?” Shortly after asking the Lord my question, we were asked to exit the room. Though I had not yet received an answer, I was sure it would come.
Then, we walked out of the temple and ran straight into…. Elder Renland! One of the twelve apostles. He took the time to shake each of our hands. Then, as he was about to leave, our mission president’s wife made a comment about us finishing our missions. Elder Renland’s eyes filled with tears and he said, “Well, then let me just say something to them please.” Then he looked at us (I felt as though he was looking directly at me) and he said, “I speak on behalf of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and I say to you… Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for the marvelous work you have done here. The Lord is grateful, and he is proud of you.”
My eyes filled with tears as I recognized my response from the Lord. I know, that he is happy with the mission I have served.
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Bonjourrrrrrr tout le monde!!!
Oh la la!!! LAST "missionary" blogpost!!... Next week I will be writing about all the awesome miracles happening back in "la vie normal" (normal life). But as for this week, well, this week consisted of lots of strange feelings, lots of packing, lots of food, LOTS of tears, Lots of a lot of other things, and most importantly... LOTS of miracles!!!
My Personal Favorite... OPERATION: Garden Miracle!
After being deeply inspired by general conference, I decided to pray for a big service opportunity. Well, after being called on an emergency gardening project to the temple until past Midnight, the Versailles Ward has asked me to keep those "service" prayers to myself from now on, Hahaha!
Why were we gardening until midnight you ask? Elder Neil L. Anderson came to check out the Paris, France Temple, saw the gardens, and said, "Not enough flowers. This isn't a French garden. It needs to be redone before the open house." One of the workers questioned, "How? The open house starts TOMORROW." To which Elder Anderson replied with, "Call members. Buy flowers. And get to work!"
Keep in mind this all happened at 6PM the night before the VIP open house. So you can imagine the workers just scrambling around like chickens with their heads cut off. Which is what we were ALL doing when we got there, hahaha. Anyways, we received the phone call at 6:30pm telling us we needed at least 40 volunteers by 7:00pm in the temple gardens, ready to work!
Lucky for us, the member whose house we had just arrived at for dinner, was ready to do just that! We all threw on clothes (her clothes) and sprinted down the street to the temple! Holy smokes there were LOADS of flowers!!! The temple supervisor said that they had literally gone and bought out the entire store just before it closed.
Within an hour of receiving call, we had over fifty members laboring away in the temple gardens! None of us knew anything about gardening, so that made everything even better because now when you see the gardens, you will know it was done with pure LOVE! Also, for the first several hours, we had no tools or gloves, so we dug everything with our bare hands. Haha! It was so great. I used my church flats from my feet as shovels, which sped up the work a little! However, I will definitely not be taking those ladies home, hahaha. #wrecked
It got so cold they brought out a bunch of cool reflective jackets for everyone. That made us all feel pretty special ;) We celebrated our success at midnight with a little pizza break before getting back to work to finish off strong! Unfortunately, the missionaries had to leave before it was completely finished because we were already 3 hours late for curfew. But my, what an incredible, once in a lifetime, experience!!!
Just as we were leaving, I had the opportunity to chat with a few members of the First Quorum of the Seventy, Mitt Romney, and the Director of communications for the church, who were kind enough to make sure that my family wouldn't leave France this week without having been through the Paris, temple. So they organized a special VIP tour for them :).
Sooooo many miracles!!
We moved into our new apartment this week! You know, just in time for both of us to move out. Haha! Sister George will be heading off to a little village called "Le Mans" and I am headed back to Zion! (Utah). The apartment is beautiful though, and right next to the temple, so we aren't complaining about sleeping over for a couple days :).
Let your 'love' so shine.
A woman stopped by us while we were taking pictures in front of the temple and asked if we Mormons were excited to finally have our temple. Of course we said, "YESSSSS!!!" Then she smiled and said, "You know, people can see love in your faces."
One Last Song.
Sœur George and I had the opportunity to sing a song called, "Teach me about the Temple" for many visiting general authorities, as well as many other members and visitors, on our last Sunday here. It was a miracle we were able to sing because our Bishop came to us last second to break the news that we would no longer be singing, because Bishop Gerald Caussé (presiding bishop of the entire church) would be presiding, and it was their testimony meeting. When we heard this, our hearts sunk. But I immediately turned around and said, "Where is he? I will ask him." Then I walked right up to Bishop Caussé and asked! Hahaha.
The members couldn't believe it. It became the joke of the day, Sœur Wyson walked right up to the presiding bishop of the church to change his mind about a musical number. He kindly informed me that he was actually not the one presiding, but that it would be another member of the Seventy. So I hunted down every single important-looking person I saw until I found, Elder Johnson! Who, after some convincing by Bishop Caussé, agreed, and we sang right after his testimony :).
We couldn't help but get emotional as we looked out at all the tear filled eyes of members who have been so long awaiting this magnificent temple. A temple that was first announced almost 19 years ago.
After church, one of the VIPs came up to us and said, "You know, Bishop Caussé looked at Elder Johnson after you came up to him and said, 'you are really going to want them to sing.'.. he was right."
To top off the perfect last Sunday as a missionary, I gazed into the congregation, and caught some familiar eyes. A family that was as dear to me as my own, From Angers, the very first city I served in. I hadn't seen them since the very beginning of my mission and I didn't know if I would ever see them again. But they showed up, in this ward, on my very last Sunday. That, was a miracle.
Missions teach us a great many things. But one thing that my mission has taught me, that I know I will never ever forget, is that Miracles happen. Even in France.
I love you all, and I will see you soon
With more love than ever,
Happy April my friends!
Last April I was in my 4th transfer serving in an adorable little French village called Angers with my trainee, Sœur Burgoyne. She was just a baby then. We both were!! Now she is in her tenth transfer and I am in my twelfth. Wow! Just doing a little reminiscing before getting started on the weekly ;)...
Lord, Fill These Empty Chairs.
While sitting on a train, traveling to another temple referral, we were surrounded by empty chairs. But, determined to see some miracles, we bowed our heads and began to pray. We boldly asked the Lord to place someone in front of us who was ready to hear and accept the gospel. As soon as we finished, a woman sat down. Without even a moment of hesitation, we gave our best shots to strike up a nice conversation with her! :)...Church, school, friends, dogs, jewelry, the weather... man this lady wasn't interested in ANYTHING!? We finally caught the message when she pulled out her earphones and stuck them in her ears. Oh, and her earphones weren't plugged into anything. Confused, we just stared at each other, wondering why the Lord had placed this very much not ready woman in front of us after we had so faithfully prayed for those empty chairs to be filled with "golden investigators".
We got off the train and after walking for about 20 more minutes, we finally arrived at our destination. It was a wonderful rendezvous with a sweet European couple, Beatriz and Antonio. After receiving many questions from Beatriz regarding the Death and what will become of us all after this life, we decided to make a last minute lesson change and teach the Plan of Salvation instead of the Restoration. An invitation to visit the Paris, France Temple, to see the place that makes it possible for us to be sealed with our families for eternity, was the perfect way to finish our lesson. :)
Upon our return, we found ourselves in a familiar situation... sitting on a train, surrounded by empty chairs. Then, a nice man got on the train and sat in front of us. He said hello, and we kindly returned the greeting. :) We began talk about the Mormon Temple that was being built in The Chesney and he said sweetly that he wished he could attend the open house, but that he wasn't welcome. Confused, we asked him why he believed that he was not welcome? He told us that it was because he was not a Christian, but a Muslim. We smiled big and told him that he was absolutely welcome, regardless of his religious background! He humbly said, "Really? Ahhhh, I would be HONORED to visit your temple and learn more about your beliefs."
I guess the Lord DID answer our prayers :) and he filled those empty chairs.
Birthday Party Galore.
Sœur George's birthday was this week and I was determined to make this week a party for her! Well... I think I did my job a little TOO well because we ended up celebrating her birthday with 5 different families, 4 different candle-lit cakes, and sang happy birthday in at least 3 different languages. And everyone gave us presents! Yup, I said US. Hahaha. I love Soeur George's birthday! I got all kinds of fun little presents just for being her companion! No one wanted me to feel left out so they wrapped me presents as well, Hahahaha. While we were walking around this week, I kept telling Sœur George how much I loved her birthday ;).
Sorry for the details--it's my journal!
A scary man on the bus was being extremely vulgar and yelling at his wife and it took every bit of my willpower, and my companions helping hand, to keep myself from standing up and storming over and giving him a piece of my mind. Instead, I just turned around and launched him a good "stink-eye". He stopped yelling and sat down. But not until after he told me that it would be a shame if he had to come cut those beautiful blue eyes out of my head. Luckily the next stop was ours!
"Sitting down takes AGES!"
On our way to the temple we saw an adorable elderly couple who was trying to get settled on a little park bench but seemed to be having some serious trouble sitting down, haha :) We ran over and asked them if we could help them and the wife goes, "Ohhh! Sitting down takes AGES!" Hahahaha, we laughed so hard. Then the old man says goofily, "Okay alright alright, come over here and hold my hand!" We ran over and held his arms while he lowered himself slowly to the bench. It was such a victory for them when he got down to the bench level, haha, adorable. They were SOOO grateful for our help. They couldn't stop telling us how sweet we were and how much they appreciated our help. :) They smiled and waved to us nonstop for the next 5 minutes as we made our way down the long road! It was one of the sweetest little experiences ever :).
Ballet in Paris.
We got permission to go watch Clémence dance this weekend and she did a wonderful job!! We were so blown away with how talented all those young ballerinas were! And the spirit was so strong as we listened to that beautiful music and watched the youth move so gracefully and emotionally to it.
I LOVE General Conference. All of the talks were amazing, the choir was wonderful, the church is true! One of my favorite parts of conference weekend was when we made a quick trip back to our apartment between sessions and were stopped by a woman in our own apartment complex asking if she and her friends could come to our temple's open house :)
My favorite miracle of the week... we got a call from the Zone leaders telling us that our companionship was selected to go help clean the temple for the open house, TODAY!!! AHHHH!!! I have been praying so hard to have the opportunity to see the temple before I left the mission. So that was an absolute miracle to me :). And to make it even more of a miracle, while I was down on my hands and knees scrubbing the beautiful marble floors, I noticed someone standing above me and I looked up to see the beautiful, beaming, smiling face of Sister Elaine Dalton, Young women's Président of the church. She threw her arms out and I jumped up and she hugged me SO tight! For a long time too! She kept saying thank you over and over again while she held me tight. I was trying to keep from getting teary eyed. Sister Dalton has been a real role model for me for a very long time and it was such an honor to be able to cross paths with her. IN THE PARIS TEMPLE!! When she left she said that she felt the real reason that she was able to come to the temple that day was for that. I think she was right, that was a miracle to me. :)
As always, it was a week of miracles!!! :) with many more miracles to come!!!
I love you all!
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.