Woosh! It's already Fall again!? I feel like I got to Paris and someone clicked the fast forward button on my life, these past weeks went by like a whirl wind. Sometimes I feel like we are just running around like chickens with their heads cut off because of how fast paced things are here hahaha. Probably because that's what we look like! Haha. I am absolutely loving it here in Paris! We have seen so many amazing miracles, and the Lord just keeps on blessing us.
This week’s many miracles included a follow up with our bus driver Jean Michel! This guy could not be more cool. We were able to teach him twice this week! Once on the bus, and another time at home with his family. They are amazing. He even read all the materials we gave him in advance and came with questions already prepared both times. My favorite lesson with him had to have been when he told us that he had work all week and wasn't going to be able to come meet up with us... So what did we do? We got on his bus at the terminus and rode with him ALLLLL the way to the end! Which gave us 1 whole hour of solid teaching time! :) It was so cool, we even had several fellow bus riders join in on the lesson as we taught. One cute little Nun came up and said to us (pointing at our badges) "Hey!! I'm a sister too!!!" Hahaha sooo cute!!
Tuesday night one of our recent converts invited us to come and play ping-pong next to the Eiffel Tower with him and his non-member friends. Which led to us teaching all of them the gospel, while playing them in ping-pong next to one of the World's most famous monuments, no biggy.
The amount of people we talk to in a day is unimaginable; the amount of people we pass in a day, even more so! Recently, Gilbs (Soeur Gilbert) and I made a goal to never allow ourselves to miss an opportunity to teach. We have been doing pretty dang well! Almost every day, Gilbs and I walk to a nearby retirement home to visit a recently baptized member. Each time, as we walk through the hallway, we turn to wave at an old woman who is always found sitting alone in the exact same place in her room. Well, we can't miss any opportunity to teach! So, we decided it was about time! ;) At first Marie-Annette was super unimpressed with us, and not super joyful. It didn't take us long to realize that she had very little confidence in herself. She just kept telling us how ugly and disgusting she was and that she "wasn't like this before". It made my heart ache listening to a daughter of God speak so poorly of herself. When we realized that there was only one person who could convince her of her beauty, we asked if we could pray for her. In the prayer, I simply asked God to help Marie-Annette to know that she was beautiful and one of his daughters. By the end of the prayer, she was wiping tears from her eyes and kissing our faces all over (literally)! Sometimes it's difficult for us to see our divine nature, but our Heavenly Father can and will always help us to see it if we ask him to :).
On our way back from Marie-Annette's, we saw a homeless woman living in a little wooden shack on the side of the road. We see lots and lots of homeless people here, but the moment we passed this woman I felt prompted to turn around and go talk to her. With no money to offer her, I reached into my bag and pulled out a Book of Mormon. Then I looked at her and said, "I have no money to give you, but I would like to offer you the thing of very most value to me." She then reached out, took the book, and ran her hands down the pages. Then, she hugs the open book up to her heart and starts sobbing, thanking the Lord for having remembered her and given her such a special gift.
That moment had to have been one of the most tender and humbling experiences of my life.
For my favorite laugh of the week, I thought y'all would enjoy this little excerpt from Gilbs' Journal Entry haha:
"Funny story of the week;) Soeur Wyson got proposed to. Haha! The bus was so crowded that we decided to just walk the rest of the way to the church. About halfway there we hear a man scream and then running footsteps behind us. He asks us if there is any way he could convince our church to let him take us out, and we obviously said no. Apparently he didn't really get the point because then he looks at Soeur Wyson and says, "Look... I saw you walking down the street and I thought to myself... That woman would make the perfect mother for my dear children"... What!? Hahahaha. Then he launches into the story about how he saw a vision of Soeur Wyson and him married in a cute little country house with a dog and lots of children HAHAHA. We got a pretty good laugh, especially me. Soeur Wyson was flattered but definitely a little (a lot) weirded out hahahaha. But we invited him to church!.... I mean... Never say never, right!?"
This week I was called to be the new ward translator. I don't know why they trust me with so much power hahaha. I say that because along with being the ward translator, I have also taken it upon myself to be the ward "filterer" hahaha. The other day I was translating for relief society when a woman began bearing a very far-from-doctrinal testimony to our investigators. Soooo, let's just say my translation of her testimony was very "interpreted" haha. I was enjoying the extra time she gave me to teach The Gospel of Jesus Christ ;)
The other day I was looking for a way to contact the young man sitting across from me, because I mean, obviously I couldn't tell him I liked his outfit. That might be taken the wrong way haha. I thought for a minute and this is what I came up with..."Are you French?" Hahahaha. DUH.
He actually thought it was pretty funny and even agreed to come to institute next week ;)!
After several hours of transit contacting, my stomach was beginning to get verrrryyy motion sick. We jumped off the bus and I prayed that the Lord would calm my stomach so that we could finish out the day strong. Just then, a little elderly lady calls out to us from the side of the road. We rushed over to her to see what we could do to help her. She explained to us that she was having difficulty with her legs and needed someone to walk her to her bus. Holding her tight on both sides, my companion and I walked her about 4 blocks to her bus stop. It was so simple and yet she was completely convinced that we were angels. No, just missionaries :) Then she smiled and said, "Well it's too bad I am Buddhist, otherwise you could teach me!!" ... Hey! We still can! ;) We will be going on a picnic with our new friend soon :).
While we were walking home I realized as well that The Lord had answered my prayer; I had completely forgotten about my nausea and we were able to finish the day out strong before heading home for bed :).
Well, that's a wrap for today!! I wish we had more time to share all the miracles we have been having. There are just so many! I actually had to go buy a little book that I now carry around with me everywhere--dedicated to taking note of all of the miracles and funny things that happen through the day. I titled it, "Miracles Happen...Even in France!" ;). Haha. They really do!
Salut! Comment allez-vous mes amis!?
Got my adorable new companion this week, Soeur Gilbert!! We were both pretty stoked about transfer calls since we have been petitioning to serve together ever since last Christmas when we met at zone conference haha :) Then, while we were on exchanges a few weeks ago, we jokingly said, "See ya next transfer ;)!" (Indicating that she was going to be called Paris STL). So we both about died when transfer calls came in, so funny! She called me about 5 seconds after and screamed, "WE'RE GOING TO GET SIX PACKS!!" Hahahaha. Yeah!! Bring on the Holiday season!!
We kicked off our efforts by running to the Eiffel Tower the other night for our dinner hour, it was definitely the most exciting run I have ever been on, we got to run right under the glittering lights of the Eiffel Tower!
Last week Soeur Weckesser and I saw some incredible miracles that I didn't have the chance to share last week, so I wanted to do a little flashback before getting into too much detail about this week. :) The entire district was several hours late for a finding day in St. Ouen because of problems with the metro. Giving us no more than 30 minutes to actually go out finding. We said a prayer before splitting our ways. The prayer finishes, I look at Soeur Weckesser and say, "QUICK! RUN!!" and we took of sprinting down the street. Then she yells, "HARD LEFT HARD LEFT!" We hit the turn pretty fast, it was getting a little intense. But luckily we had run just fast enough to catch an elderly woman and her grown son the moment before they got into their car to leave. Noticing the 5 big dogs in the back of her car, we jumped straight into sharing what we knew about the creation of the world (including animals). Josiane and Patrick were so touched by the story. They quickly became very interested and loaded with questions, as they had never before studied religion. We ended up talking to them for an entire hour and teaching the entire Plan of Salvation as well as introducing the Book of Mormon, giving them a chapter to read, and inviting them to attend church the next day! Which conveniently happened to be located on their exact same street. After our conversation, Josiane looks up with tears in her eyes and says..."You two have been the perfect Birthday present, thank you." It was her birthday! Of course we gave her a big kiss on the cheek and sang happy birthday to her right there in the road :).
Soeur Gilbert and I had one of the most interesting weeks of my mission thus far hahaha. So much ridiculousness, and so many miracles! Our first day began by scrambling around trying to get all the missionaries to their newly designated areas, which was followed by a perplexing riddle... We came home to an open window, shattered safety glass all over our apartment, no missing plates/ bowls/ lamps/ Windows/ or other shatter-able glass objects, and nothing stolen? Pretty weird way to start off the transfer haha. We ended up having to cancel most of our rendezvous while president and a few others arrived to investigate the scene.
Later that day we were walking to our rendezvous with Lucile when a man started following us very closely behind, spitting on our feet with every step we took saying, "Good Mormon Girls. Good girls." I tried to be Christlike, but those were my brand new boots...so I may have given him a little less than “Christ-like” Stink eye.
Our second lesson with our new ami Claire was absolutely incredible. For those of you who didn't get to read Claire's story in my recent posts, Claire would really like to be baptized but her cousin (who she lives with) told her that if she continues to study with us then she will be living on the street. Then she took her Book of Mormon and phone away to make sure she had no way of doing so. So, we didn't hear from Claire for over a week. Until a few days ago when Soeur Gilbert and I were doing weekly planning and as I told her about our investigators I had a very strong prompting to text Claire and ask her if she wanted to go out to dinner with us that weekend. Almost immediately, she texted back and said, "No. I can't. But I would really like to learn the gospel with you. Can I please meet you at your church tomorrow?" We definitely did the happy dance when we got that text.
We went into the lesson prepared to teach the restoration and ended up being lead to the story of Alma the younger instead (Mosiah 27). Before reading the chapter together, we talked about the power that God has to soften even the hardest of hearts. Then we asked her if she believed that God could soften the heart of her cousin. Hesitantly, she replied with... "I don't know... She is really hard." Well, for those of you who aren't familiar with the story of Alma... Alma was the son of the prophet, who, unlike his father, did not follow the ways of the Lord. In fact, he even went out with his friends, seeking to destroy the church. As you can imagine, his father, friends, family, and others were heartbroken because of their acts. So, they decided to join together in fasting and prayer for him. Inquiring of the Lord to use His power to change the heart of Alma. In the crowning event of this story, an angel of the Lord appears to Alma and his friends and says;
"...Alma, arise and stand forth, for why persecutest thou the church of God? For the Lord hath said: This is my church, and I will establish it; and nothing shall overthrow it, save it is the transgression of my people...Behold, the Lord hath heard the prayers of his people, and also the prayers of his servant, Alma, who is thy father; for he has prayed with much faith concerning thee that thou mightest be brought to the knowledge of the truth; therefore, for this purpose have I come to convince thee of the power and authority of God, that the prayers of his servants might be answered according to their faith (Mosiah 27:13-14)."
At that moment, the angel warned Alma to go his way and "seek to destroy the church no more", causing Alma to fall to the Earth in astonishment. In the end, Alma awakes and immediately begins testified ting of the power and love of the Lord.
We looked again at Claire as her eyes glistened with tears. Then we asked the question again, this time using the story of Alma, "Claire... If the Lord can soften the heart of Alma, who was seeking to destroy the church, do you believe that he has the power to soften the heart of your cousin and provide a way for you to be baptized?"
Without a moment of hesitation, she smiled and began nodding her head quickly as she said with surety, "Yes. Yes. I know he can."
Following the example of the people in the story of Alma the Younger, the three of us decided to join in fasting and prayer with great faith that her cousin's heart will be softened, and that she will allow Claire to be baptized.
After our lesson with Claire, we walked our usual route to the metro at Chatelet. Until a strange prompting came to both of us to turn around and take the bus instead. Even though we were steps away from the metro, we turned around and walked all the way back to the bus and took it instead. Minutes after catching the bus, we received a panicked call from the zone leaders. Who sighed in great relief to discover that we had taken the bus. After news from the mission president, they were calling to confirm that we were not included in the hostages that were being held in the Chatelet metro station at that moment.
I know The Lord is aware of us and our safety, and he has promised to protect us as we listen and heed the promptings of the spirit the moment they are given to us.
To add that miracle, we even invited our Bus Driver to be baptized on our way home and he scheduled a time for us to come and teach him and his family the following week :).
Wow, what a week! I wish I could just continue to write all of the incredible miracles we saw this week but that would be a ridiculously long email/novel. I might just have to write a real one after my mission. I think I'll call it... "Miracles Happen...even in FRANCE!" :)
I love you!! Keep searching for miracles wherever you are!
Apologies in advanced for the scrambled email. My fingers are moving as fast as possible to get this email done in the small amount of time that I have today.
Since entering into the mission field I have become very familiar with a common member misconception: "missionary" also stands for.... professional piano player, singer, music director, chef, athlete, AND...Zumba instructor?!? Hahahaha. Yup... Betcha didn't see that one coming! Or maybe you did, but I sure didn't!
The Relief Society had been talking up this Zumba event since long before I arrived in Paris. So, we thought it would be a great idea to invite all of our Amis! Awkwardly, everyone showed up to find that they had prepared everything, EXCEPT a Zumba teacher... But hey, it's okay! Because missionaries can do everything! ;) right? Not sure if what I taught them would even be classified as dance, but we sure had fun! With an interesting mélange of country line dancing, hip hop routines, EFY dances, the cha cha, and free styling, we were able to whip out some pretty sick moves ;)!
OH YEAH! LUCILE GOT BAPTIZED AND CONFIRMED THIS WEEK!!!
It all started at 6:30 am, anxiously preparing for the big day. It was a classic French morning, in the words of Soeur Weckesser, "Miserable to the French but to two missionaries wearing matching outfits strutting down the streets of Paris, it was the most beautiful morning!"
Church was great! Saying goodbye to the members was bittersweet for Soeur Weckesser (who will be leaving me to spend her last 6 weeks in LUXEMBOURG) but the anticipation of the baptism was keeping us both pretty occupied!
After church ended all chaos broke loose. Members were scrambling everywhere trying to say goodbye and exchange emails. Finally we broke free and left in a hurry seeing as we only had about 40 minutes to get to another chapel (our chapel doesn't have a baptismal font), get Lucile and her husband in baptismal clothes, and set up the decorations. Oh boy...
After making it about 1/2 mile away from the church we all stopped dead in our tracks... "WHERE IS LUCILE!?"...Hahahaha we had absolutely no idea where she was! 30 minutes before her Baptism was about to take place, our cute little senile baptizee went missing... (Face palm).
Emergency member splits were assigned and everyone set out to find Lucile, haha! The idea of Lucile wandering completely lost around Paris was enough to make anyone sick. Luckily, less than 20 min later, she was found sitting quietly and patiently in a chair just outside the bishop’s office... Hahaha our mission leader found her and said, "what the?! Lucile! What are you doing?! You have a baptism in 30 minutes!!!" Apparently the cute little gal thought she needed to have an interview with the bishop. Lol.
Soeur Weckesser took Brother Akoutey (Lucile's husband) to the other chapel to find him clothes and start preparing him for the baptism while I escorted Lucile to the chapel. A bit of info about Brother Akoutey...He baptized his daughter 2 years ago and he had to do it 5 times because she was never fully submerged. So he was pretty tense about the baptism. So we decided to talk to him on the metro to calm him down a bit. Then we were filled with horror when he says, "Of course, I'm ready! This time I plan on holding her under for 5 seconds." The thought of Brother Akoutey drowning his wife on the day of her baptism was too much to bear. "NO NO NO NO!! 1 second is PLENTY!!" (Insert sweating emoji).
Thanks to much help from above, everything was ready in time! Even Lucile was all nicely dressed and we led her into the chapel holding her hand (so she wouldn't fall down) she looked like an angel all dressed in white! She even sounded like one as she let out a HUGE belch just as she was about to enter into the chapel... Hahaha! We did not see that one coming. Oh man, we love her so much.
Time for the actual baptism... Brother Akoutey managed to get into the font without falling, then Lucile, phew! They spent about 5 minutes trying to help Brother Akoutey position Lucile. Lucile ended up being the one holding Brother Akoutey to baptize him.... Haha, Nice try Lucile! Then after the position had been perfected by multiple priesthood holders, he was ready to say the prayer. The poor guy was probably so nervous. He had forgotten how to start the prayer, so they wrote it down for him, then out of nowhere, Lucile starts to say the baptismal prayer! Haha!
We all held our breath with Lucile as she plugged her nose and was lowered into the water. Meanwhile it sounded almost like there was a fan group watching because everyone began yelling unanimously, ohh, ohh OHH! as we realized just how serious he was about the 5 second thing after all...so in the midst of all the panicking and, "it's all good! It's good it's good!!!!!"...Lucile was just under water, eyes shut, nose plugged and as happy as could be! The priesthood holders on either side of the font reached over and down to help him pull Lucile out of the water. At this point we ran into the change rooms so we could greet her at the font with a towel. Just as we got to the steps, she was looking up at the mirror hanging overhead and simply looked at herself, completely unaware of the commotion around her. She was smiling so big and looked as if she were staring directly at an angel. We helped her out of the font and we asked her how it was (This is why we love Lucile so much) She said, "It was, perfect!!!" She then giggled and entered into the changing room, haha! Then Brother Akoutey said, " I told you I had promised to hold her under for 5 seconds!" He is a man of his word!
We were so relieved that it all went well! The baptism was so awesome! Definitely the most entertaining and unpredictable baptism I have ever attended!
Well I am running out of emailing time so I am going to have to push some of this week’s excitement over to next week’s email... But I just wanted to share one last miracle before finishing up :)...
This Sunday we were sitting in church when I had a strong prompting to run outside... Super strange because it was right in the middle of sacrament meeting. But, I jumped up and ran out anyways! I found myself momentarily confused and alone before spotting a family of four who had accidentally wandered their way into the church courtyard. I spontaneously invited them to come check out the church and they looked at me like I was a complete weirdo and then thought for a few minutes and said... "Hm. Okay. Maybe a couple minutes." They ended up staying for the entire meeting and they loved it! So now we are teaching a new family of four!!! :)
This week we had SIX investigators at church! Miracles happen... Even in France!
Love you all!!
Bonjour Mes Êtres Chers !
The other day we found ourselves sitting in McDonald's trying to get some wifi when a few flying arms caught my eye. Sign Language!! I quickly waved my arm and signed a simple hello to the passing group. The 5 of them came to an immediate stop and began signing with me. I explained who I was, where I was from, and how I knew sign language, along with giving a solid tap to my missionary badge and holding out a pass along card. ;) Ironically, they ALSO pulled out a pass along card! I had been teaching the gospel for the past 15 minutes to 5 Deaf Jehovah Witness MISSIONARIES. Hahahaha. We all had a pretty good laugh. We ended up signing for about an hour. They even apologized to us for all the doors that get slammed in our faces as result of people thinking that we are JW's hahaha. Then they told us that the only time they ever have a chance of getting into someone's house is when they are mistaken for Mormons LOL. We got quite the kick out of that. Hey, if that works for them, maybe we will just start answering doors by saying, "Hi! We're Mormon!!" Maybe that will work out better than our current approach.
This week we were fed more than I have ever been fed in my entire life. Now that summer vacation is coming to an end, ALL of the members are back and wanting to meet the missionaries. Let's just say, even though this is my month of Charity, I might change it to Honesty because I am getting reeeeaaaaal good at that one... "PLEASE NO MORE!! I LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH BUT I CANT POSSIBLY FIT ANYTHING MORE IN MY STOMACH!(sweating emojis)" It's taken me almost a year to figure that one out. The key is asking if you can take the leftovers home. French people hate leftovers. So they force you to eat them. Unless you offer to take them off their hands! ;) So far it's working out really nicely.
Nightly lice checks have become a thing here... Eek... Those little guys have been making their rounds around the mission, they even got to one of the sisters that we live with. Yikes! Needless to say, we have been doing lots of laundry and giving very few hugs hahaha. Luckily they haven't found me yet! (Knock on wood)... Apparently if you put lavender oil around your scalp it repels lice. Sounds like a pretty solid investment.
Lately I've been feeling like I am back at BYU. Only I am still a missionary Lol. An enormous group of BYU study abroad students just joined the ward until the end of the year, it's pretty weird seeing so many people I went to high school with here in my mission hahaha. Sometimes as a missionary you feel like you're living in a completely different universe, so seeing people from back home is probably pretty close to what it would be like meeting a time traveler.
We also saw an incredible amount of miracles on Sunday! It was fast Sunday and we joined together as a companionship and fasted to be able to set another baptismal date this week. Well, it sure didn't take long for the Lord to answer our prayers! Sunday morning we received several calls saying that there were a group of people waiting for us as the church, yes, group! We got there and turns out we had FOUR different people who had come to church on their own and wanted to be baptized. What!?! They weren't even related!
Claire heard about the church through her sister in Africa who had just gotten baptized--Elizabeth was raised in a part member family in England and had been waiting a long time to be baptized, now she is studying law in France-- Muret is the daughter of a member, also living in Africa, who just moved to France and wants to join the church-- and Mairie, a random woman from the street stood up in testimony meeting after only having known about the church for a total of 50 minutes and bore her testimony that she knew everything that was said that day was true and that she wanted to be baptized. What do I have to say to all that?... lots and lots and lots of gratitude prayers, along with... MIRACLES HAPPEN... ESPECIALLY in France!!!
Guess What!? Lucile passed her baptismal interview!! Yup! She is getting baptized this Sunday! Woot woot!! We are pretty stoked for her :) she was so cute. She walked out of her interview and we told her that she was ready to be baptized and she threw her arms up in the air and yelled, "WoooooHooooo!!!"
It was so cute. Her reaction reminded me of one of my favorite conference talks that was given in the October 2015, only a few days before I left on my mission called, "It Works Wonderfully!"
In this beautiful address, President Uchtdorf reminds us to focus on the simplicity that is in Christ and allow his grace to lift and carry us to our "glorious destiny in our Father's presence." He goes on to say that as we do so and someone asks us, "How is being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints working for you?" that we will be able to say with pride, in all humility, and with great joy, "It works wonderfully!"
Wouldn't it be wonderful if we all reacted in the same way each week as we have the beautiful opportunity to renew our baptismal covenants by taking the sacrament?... "WooooHoooo!!!!" Or every time we are asked to give a prayer, to share our testimony, to serve our neighbor, to obey our parents, come home before curfew, do the dishes, clean our room?..."WoooHoooo!!!"
To add a few of my own words to those of our beloved President Uchtdorf--once we recognize the beauty and the simplicity of the gospel, we allow it to open our eyes to the beauty and the simplicity that lies all around us. Then, we will be able to respond to life, as our sweet Lucile has shown us, by throwing our arms up in the air and shouting, "WooooHoooo!!!"
Sending my love from the city of love and MIRACLES!
Sœur Tracie Wyson
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.